Town of Dracut
Dracut Town Office (demolished 2015)
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
|• Type||Open town meeting|
|• Total||21.36 sq mi (55.32 km2)|
|• Land||20.9 sq mi (54.1 km2)|
|• Water||0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)|
|Elevation||c. 156 ft (c. 48 m)|
|• Density||1,379.07/sq mi (532.46/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (Eastern)|
|GNIS feature ID||0618221|
Before Europeans arrived in the mid-17th century, Dracut and the surrounding area were known as Augumtoocooke. Important Pennacook Indian settlements were served by fishing at Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River and abundant game in the surrounding marsh areas. From the late 16th to mid-17th centuries, the powerful sachem Passaconaway and his family spent much of their lives on this land.
Europeans began to settle in the area around 1653, and established the town of Chelmsford, incorporated in 1655, on the opposite side of the Merrimack River from modern Dracut. In October 1665, Bess, wife of Nobb How and daughter of Passaconaway, sold the Augumtoocooke land to Captain John Evered, also known as Webb of Draucutt of Norfolk County (the Webb family is associated closely with the town of Dreycot Foliat in Wiltshire, England) for four yards of duffill and one pound of tobacco. Webb had months earlier sold 11,000 acres (45 km2) of the land — which he did not then own — to Samuel Varnum for 400 four hundred pounds; the deed for "Drawcutt upon Mirrimack" was dated 1664. Webb also sold land to Richard Shatswell, who traded it to Edward Colburn (also spelled "Coburn" or "Colborne") for his home and land in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Colburn and his family were probably the first settlers in Dracut who owned land with the intention of permanently living on it. (Samuel Varnum lived on the Chelmsford side of the Merrimack River.)
Even though this area, now known to the new settlers as Dracut (Draucutt), was across the Merrimack River from the Chelmsford town center, they agreed to pay taxes and relied on Chelmsford for protection, according to 1667 Middlesex Court documents. By summer 1669, however, protection became too costly and difficult, so the Chelmsford Mayor Henchman declared:
Wherefore, Honorable and Worshipful, I judge it highly needful and necessary that we have relief, and that speedily of about twenty men or more for the repulsing of the enemy and guarding some outplaces, which are considerable on each side of the Merrimac, as Messrs. Howard, Varnum, Coburn & company who must otherwise come in to us, and leave what they have to the enemy, or be exposed to the merciless cruelty of bloody and barbarous men.
On the morning of March 18, 1676, the Wamesit Indians burned down four of Edward Colburne's buildings, then attacked Samuel Varnum and family as they crossed the river to milk the cows grazing in the Dracut pastures. The Indians fired upon their boat, killing Samuel's two sons, and one died in his daughter's arms as she sat behind him. The accompanying soldiers and Samuel fired back, but the Indians fled.
By the late 17th century the Varnum, Coburn, Richardson, and other families of the Dracut section of Chelmsford, dissatisfied with the protection provided, began to petition to the General Court to lay out their own township.
To the Hon. Council & Representatives of his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in General Court assembled February 1701. The petition of Samuel Sewall Esq., Benjamin Walker, John Hunt & Jonathan Belcher, proprietors of part of the Tract of Land called Dracut beyond Chelmsford in the County of Middlesex on the North Side of Merrimack River and of Samuel Varnum, ..., Thomas Colburne, ..., James Richardson, ..., Ezra Colburn,... Inhabitants and Proprietors of the said Tract of Land called Dracut, ... lyes very commodious for a Township & hath about twenty families already settled thereupon in which are about Eighty Souls & Forasmuch as the making said place a Township will not only be a great Encouragement to the Inhabitants thereof & be the means for a settlement of the Ministry among them (for the benefit of which they are now obliged to go to Chelmsford, which is a great difficulty & eamiot be attended by their children & several others by reason of the distance thereof) but will also be of considerable benefit to the Publick, and be a great strengthening of the Frontier parts by reason of the people which will be desirous to settle at said place when made a Township because of the convenient positionship thereof.
Your Petitioners humbly pray that by the grant of this Honorable Court, the Tract of land aforesaid may be made a Township, and that the Inhabitants, which are or shall settle thereupon, may have and enjoy all Libertys, Privileges & Immunities as the Inhabitants of other Towns within this Province have & do enjoy. And ... the Tract of Land therein described be made a Township & called by the name of Dracut, ... Sent up by concurrence Nehemiah Jewett, Speaker.
Dracut was granted separation from Chelmsford, and was officially incorporated as a town on February 26, 1701.
Parts of the community were part of the Wamiset Praying Town, one of the preserves set aside by the colonists for Christianized Indians. The town has several large ponds, bogs and swamps, and numerous brooks (most notably Beaver Brook). Dracut's early economy relied on fishing, lumbering and milling, which led in turn to the 19th century industries of paper making and cotton textile manufacturing, including the Beaver Brook Mill. These mills attracted Irish and French-Canadian immigrants.
There has been intense modern development in Dracut with suburban residential pressures from Lowell. Twice in the 19th century, Lowell annexed large sections of Dracut into its borders. However, some rural landscapes remain intact, as do some handsome historic houses. One of the better known is the 290-year-old Colburn/Cutter House, with its massive beams, huge center chimney and fireplaces. The building, dating back from about 1717, has served as the site of the annual Dracut Craft Fair. In addition, Dracut holds an annual Old Home Day every September starting in 2001 . As of 2010, it is also the only town in the world with the name "Dracut".
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 21.4 square miles (55 km2), of which 20.9 square miles (54 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (2.15%) is water.
Dracut is sometimes referred to by its sections. They are:
Dracut is bordered by Tyngsboro to the west and the city of Lowell to the south and west in Middlesex County, Methuen to the east in Essex County, and Pelham, New Hampshire, to the north in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. Tewksbury (Middlesex County) and Andover (Essex County) border the town to the south over the Merrimack River. However, there are no crossings of the river in Dracut's town limits, and thus Tewksbury and Andover are inaccessible across the river directly, and one must instead cross the Merrimack via either several crossings in Lowell or via I-93 in Methuen, in which the Andover line is on the bridge.
|* = population estimate. |
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
The earliest census data shows the town of Dracut having a population of 1,173 residents in 1765.
As of the census of 2010, there were 29,457 people, 10,451 households, and 7,733 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,366.7 people per square mile (527.6/km²). There were 10,643 housing units at an average density of 509.3 per square mile (196.6/km²).
The racial makeup of the town was:
There were 10,939 households with the average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the town, the population had a median age of 41.1 years (U.S. Average: 35.3).
For every 100 females, there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $57,676 (U.S. Average: $41,994), and the median income for a family was $65,633 (U.S. Average: $50,046). Males had a median income of $41,873 versus $31,396 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,750. About 2.7% (U.S. Average: 9.2%) of families and 3.7% (U.S. Average: 12.4%) of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.2% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.
Dracut is one of the largest towns in Massachusetts to still be governed by Open Town Meeting, whereby every registered voter is entitled to gather at stated times to conduct the business of the Town. There is an elected Board of Selectmen and School Committee with five members each elected for three-year staggered terms. The voters also elect a Town Moderator, Library Trustees, and some members of the Housing Authority. Those who live in the Dracut Water Supply District also elect a District Moderator and Water Commissioners. The Board of Selectmen, School Committee, and Library Trustees hire a Town Manager, Superintendent of Schools, and Library Director respectively to execute their various duties.
The Town of Dracut has its own full-time police department which employs approximately 39 police officers who utilize approximately 15 various types of police vehicles to perform their duties. As of January 2014, the Dracut Police Department has a K9 unit. The Dracut Police Department's headquarters is located at 110 Loon Hill Road in the Parker Village section of the town. The town of Dracut is also secondarily protected by the Massachusetts State Police and is periodically patrolled by troopers from the A-1 barracks in Andover.
The Dracut Fire Department is a 24/7 career fire department of approximately 40 firefighters. It responds from three fire stations located throughout the town.
Station 1 – Headquarters: 488 Pleasant Street
Station 2: 15 Jones Avenue
Station 3: 1998 Lakeview Avenue
The Dracut School Department consists of six public schools: one high school, one middle school (grades 6-8), and four elementary schools (grades K-5). They are, with enrollment figures from the 2016-2017 school year:
The school department also uses the former Parker Elementary School for a small portion of its special education activities. There are about 45 public school students attending out of district SPED programs and approximately 120 public school students attending out of town charter schools, as of FY14. In addition, about 440 Dracut students attend the Greater Lowell Technical High School.
Dracut is in proximity to many major area highways. Interstate 93, Interstate 495, and U.S. Route 3 are among the largest. Interstate 95 is not far from Dracut either (roughly 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 km) to the south), and the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90) is only 30 to 35 miles (48 to 56 km) to the south in Boston. Massachusetts Route 38, Route 110, and Route 113 run directly through the town.
The Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline terminates in Dracut, connecting to the North American natural gas pipeline grid. The Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS)), Tennessee Gas and the TransQuebec interconnect here.
Arthur W. Sladen (October 28, 1860 – February 28, 1914) was a Major League Baseball outfielder. He played for the 1884 Boston Reds in the Union Association. He appeared in two games for the Reds, and was hitless in seven at-bats.B. Joseph Tully
Bernard Joseph Tully was an American politician, twice convicted on federal corruption charges, who served in the Massachusetts Senate and was City Manager of Lowell, Massachusetts.
Tully was born on January 4, 1927 and died on November 1, 2015 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He attended Boston University. Prior to his election to the state senate, Tully worked as a manufacturer's agent as was a member of the Dracut, Massachusetts Board of Selectmen.From 1971 to 1979, Tully represented the First Middlesex District in the Massachusetts Senate. He resigned from the Senate after he was selected by the Lowell City Council to serve as city manager. He remained city manager until his retirement in 1987.In 1988, Tully was found guilty of attempted extortion and mail fraud and sentenced to three years in federal prison in a case involving a land swap made with an auto dealership during his tenure as city manager.In 2011 he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud after he took $12,000 worth of bribes from a Lowell landlord who was looking for the Registry of Motor Vehicles to renew its leased with him. Tully reached out to the owner and told him that if he paid him he would pay off a state senator and help keep the Registry office open. Tully and a partner pocketed the bribes and did not pay off any public officials.Barzillai Lew
Barzillai Lew (November 5, 1743 — January 18, 1822) was an African-American soldier who served with distinction during the American Revolutionary War.Beaver Brook (Merrimack River tributary)
Beaver Brook is a 30.7-mile-long (49.4 km) river located in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the United States. It is a tributary of the Merrimack River, part of the Gulf of Maine watershed.
Beaver Brook rises in Chester, New Hampshire, and flows south into Derry, passing through Harantis Lake, Adams Pond, and Beaver Lake. Continuing south, the brook forms the boundary between Londonderry and Windham, then flows through Pelham. The brook crosses the state line into Dracut, Massachusetts, and reaches the Merrimack River in the city of Lowell.
Most of the brook's course is through gently hilly terrain that is rapidly being converted into suburban land use.Charles A. Stott
Charles Adams Stott (August 18, 1835 – October 31, 1912) was a Massachusetts businessman who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives; and as a member of the Common Council, Board of Aldermen, and the twenty-fourth mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts.Colleen Garry
Colleen M. Garry (born July 21, 1962 in Lowell, Massachusetts) is an American politician who represents the 36th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.She was an aide to State Representative John Cox, who represented Dracut and part of Lowell. In 1994 she was elected to represent a new district consisting of Dracut, Tyngsborough, and Dunstable. Dunstable has since been transferred to a neighboring district so the current district consists only of Dracut and Tyngsborough. She is a moderate to conservative member of the House Democratic Caucus.
In 2015, Representative Garry came under fire for comments criticizing an act of civil disobedience which obstructed a major Massachusetts highway. Representative Garry accused protestors affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement of being "terrorists" and claimed that "structural racism is a fraud."Dracut High School
Dracut Senior High School is a public high school in Dracut, Massachusetts, United States.
The school's colors are Columbia blue, navy blue and silver. The team name is the Middies and the symbol is an anchor, or a “Block ‘D’”. These are references to midshipmen, as historically, the town was a place where U.S. Navy uniforms were created. The original Dracut High was built in the early 1950s and was frequently overcrowded, as roughly 1,600 students attend the school that was built for a fraction of that number, approximately 900. However, in 2011, the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved funding to construct a new Dracut High School. The majority of the project is completed as of October 2014.Harry Lew
Harry Haskell Lew (January 4, 1884 - October 1963) African American, was the first to integrate professional basketball in 1902.James Mitchell Varnum
James Mitchell Varnum (December 17, 1748 – January 9, 1789) was an American legislator, lawyer, general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and a pioneer to the Ohio Country. "The career of Gen. Varnum was active, but brief. He graduated at twenty; was admitted to the bar at twenty-two; entered the army at twenty-seven; resigned his commission at thirty-one; was member of Congress the same year; resumed practice at thirty-three, and continued four years, was elected to Congress again at thirty-seven; emigrated to the west at thirty-nine, and died at the early age of forty."James Mitchell Varnum was "a man of boundless zeal, of warm feelings, of great honesty, of singular disinterestedness; and, as to talents, of prodigal imagination, a dextrous reasoner, and a splendid orator. He was a man made on a gigantic scale; his very defects were masculine and powerful, 'and, we shall not soon look upon his like again.'"John Evered
Captain John Evered (ca.1611–1668), also known as Webb, was one of the first Europeans to settle what is now known as the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts, specifically the town of Dracut, which Evered named.John Ogonowski
John Alexander Ogonowski (February 24, 1951 – September 11, 2001) was an American pilot and an agricultural activist. He was murdered by terrorists while piloting American Airlines Flight 11, which was subsequently hijacked and flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the September 11 attacks.
A resident of Dracut, Massachusetts, Ogonowski was a leading advocate on behalf of farming in Massachusetts, particularly in aiding immigrant farmers from Cambodia, whom he assisted as part of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.John Varnum
John Varnum was a United States Representative from Massachusetts. He was born in Dracut on June 25, 1778. He graduated from Harvard University in 1798, studied law, was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Haverhill. Varnum was elected as a Federalist to the Massachusetts State Senate. He moved to Lowell. Varnum was elected to the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-first Congresses (March 4, 1825 – March 3, 1831) and later moved to Niles, Michigan where he died July 23, 1836. His interment was in Silverbrook Cemetery.Joseph Bradley Varnum
Joseph Bradley Varnum (January 29, 1751 – September 21, 1821) was a U.S. politician of the Democratic-Republican Party from Massachusetts. He served as a U.S. Representative and United States Senator, and held leadership positions in both bodies.
A native of Dracut, Massachusetts, Varnum was the son of farmer, militia officer and local official Samuel Varnum and Mary Prime. He received a limited formal education, but became a self-taught scholar. Varnum became a farmer, and at age 18 received his commission as a captain in the Massachusetts militia. He commanded Dracut's militia company during the American Revolution and remained in the militia afterwards, eventually attaining the rank of major general in 1805.
Varnum took part in the government of Massachusetts following independence, including member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1780 to 1785 and member of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1786 to 1795. Despite not being an attorney, Varnum also served as a judge, including terms as a Justice of the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas and Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Court of General Sessions. He was a member of the U.S. House from 1795 to 1811, and was Speaker of the House from 1807 to 1811. Varnum served in the U.S. Senate from 1811 to 1817, and was the Senate's President pro tempore from 1813 to 1814.
After leaving the U.S. Senate, Varnum served in the Massachusetts State Senate until his death. He died in Dracut on September 21, 1821 and was buried at Varnum Cemetery in Dracut.Massachusetts Route 38
Route 38 is a state highway in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, traveling 26.5 miles (42.6 km) from Route 28 in Somerville north via Lowell to the New Hampshire state line in Dracut, where it continues as New Hampshire Route 38 in Pelham, New Hampshire. Although its southern terminus is at Route 28, some signage indicates that Route 38 continues south towards Sullivan Square in Boston.Scott Grimes
Scott Christopher Grimes (born July 9, 1971) is an American actor, voice artist, singer, and songwriter. Some of his most prominent roles include appearances in ER as Dr. Archie Morris, Party of Five as Will McCorkle, Band of Brothers as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey, and the animated sitcom American Dad!, voicing Steve Smith. He is also well known by cult movie fans for his role as Bradley Brown in the first two Critters films. Since 2017, he has been a regular on the Fox sci-fi comedy-drama The Orville.
As a singer, Grimes is best known for co-writing and performing the soft rock single "Sunset Blvd", which spent several weeks on the Billboard charts.Wendell Corey
Wendell Reid Corey (March 20, 1914 – November 8, 1968) was an American actor and politician.
Places adjacent to Dracut, Massachusetts
Municipalities and communities of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
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