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- 1614: Captain John Smith explores a river that he names "Charles
- 1625: Mishawum (Charlestown) is settled by Thomas Walford after
he receives a small portion of the tract granted to
Robert Gorges by Plymouth Colony with the blessing
of King James.
- 1629: The original territory includes three hills: Bunker, Breed's,
and Town. Much of Middlesex county is situated within
Charlestown's original borders: Malden, Everett, Woburn,
Stoneham, Burlington, Somerville, and parts of Medford,
Cambridge, Reading, and Wakefield. The semi-circular
street grid layout is conceived by engineer Thomas
Graves. Town records list the original settlers as
follows: Reverend Francis Bright, Engineer Thomas
Graves, Ralph Sprague, Richard Sprague, William Sprague,
John Meech, Simon Hoyte, Abraham Palmer, Walter Palmer,
Nicholas Stowers, John Stickline, and original settler
- 1630: John Winthrop lands with his followers in Charlestown where
they establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They
establish the first church in Charlestown (and fourth
in New England) under Reverend John Wilson, ruling
elder Increase Nowell, and deacons George Gager and
- 1631: A fort is constructed on Moulton's Point.
- 1632: The Great House at Market (City) Square is the first meetinghouse
in town. Thirty-five people are dismissed from the
church and subsequently follow Reverend Thomas James
Pastor (b. 1592) who founds a second congregation.
- 1641: Francis Willoughby builds Charlestown's first shipyard.
- 1677: James Russell builds a dry dock near the present day Navy
Yard, the first dry dock in the United States.
- 1678: The First Baptist Church is constructed.
- 1752: A smallpox epidemic rages through town.
- 1765: Charlestown is the principal port in the colony. The town
manufactures rum, sugar loaves, candles, and leather
and exports fur, lumber, pipe staves, pottery, and
- 1775: On the night of April 18, Paul Revere is rowed to Charlestown
where he borrows a horse from Deacon Larkin and begins
his famous ride. Before he leaves Boston, he tells
church sexton Robert Newman to hang a lantern signal
in the (Old North Church) steeple to warn Charlestown
patriots of the coming of the British march to Lexington
and Concord. The town is burnt by the British during
the June 17th Battle of Bunker Hill. After the battle,
the British build a fort on the top of Bunker Hill.
On the eve of the battle the town has a population
of 2,000 with 300-400 buildings. The population evacuates
during the British occupation.
- 1781: After the surrender of the British, people begin returning
- 1786: The Charles River Bridge becomes the first bridge linking
Charlestown and Boston.
- 1787: Malden Bridge opens.
- 1790: Population stands at 1,000.
- 1794: First monument on the site of the battle is erected by
King Solomon's Lodge of Masons to fallen Patriot leader
Dr. Joseph Warren who was killed during the battle.
- 1799: Captain Joseph Cordis' pasture is laid out as Cordis Street.
Several houses from the Federal period can still be
seen on this street.
- 1800: The United States Navy constructs one of the United States'
first shipyards at Moulton's Point.
- 1801: Construction begins on the First Baptist Church.
- 1802: The Chelsea Bridge opens.
- 1803: The Middlesex Canal opens.
- 1804-1815: Captain Archibald McNeil subdivides his land into
Washington, Union, Richmond (Old Rutherford Ave.),
and Lawrence Streets.
- 1814: Population stands at 5,000, with 670 buildings.
- 1826-1842: Construction of the Bunker Hill Monument takes place.
- 1828: St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church is established. Many of
the parishioners work at the Navy Yard and East Cambridge
- 1830s: The Charlestown Wharf Company fills in the flats around
- 1830-1860s: The slopes of Breed's and Bunker Hills are developed.
- 1834: August 11, The Ursuline Convent in Charlestown is burned
down by a mob incited by a rash of anti-Catholic newspaper
articles, venomous sermons of Reverend Lyman Beecher,
and stories of Rebecca Reed, a woman who was supposedly
held prisoner in the Ursuline Convent.
- 1837: The Fitchburg Railroad links to the Charlestown Navy Yard.
- 1843: Philanthropist Judah Touro (1775-1850), a nephew of Moses
Michael Hays, is instrumental in erecting and financing
the Bunker Hill Monument. He is also the first Jewish
settler of New Orleans and fights with General Andrew
Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
After his death, he leaves large sums of money to
the Boston Female Society, Massachusetts General Hospital,
and the Asylum for Orphan Boys.
- 1847: Charlestown becomes a city.
- 1855: Lumber and ice are the town's chief exports.
- 1857: Establishment of the Davidson Rubber Company.
- 1860-1865: Charlestown Navy Yard plays an important role in the
Civil War. The town erects a monument to its fallen
soldiers and sailors of the war in Winthrop Square.
- 1862: St. Francis De Sales Church is built on top of Bunker Hill.
- 1865: 22% of the population is foreign born; of that, 75% is
- 1874: Charlestown is annexed to Boston.
- 1875-1885: Miller's River and Charles River Bay are filled.
- 1875: The Hoosac Tunnel is opened thereby connecting the Fitchburg
Railroad with the west.
- 1901: Construction of the Charlestown Elevated line takes place.
- Frothingham, Richard Jr., The History of Charlestown, Massachusetts.
Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1845.
Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, Charlestown, Massachusetts.
Images of America Series. Dover, NH: Arcadia, 1997.