The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 29, 2003


Historic celebrations ahead

Get out your party hat, preferably of the three-cornered variety, out of storage because Carlisle will be hosting a series of events in the next year to celebrate its history. The celebration will kick off on April 19, 2004, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the First District of Carlisle. On February 18, 2005, Carlisle will arrive at the bicentennial of its incorporation as a town.

"We'd like to see a number of different events during the year," says Carlisle Selectman Douglas Stevenson, a resident of Carlisle from birth. "The talk is to make it a year-long anniversary."

Interested in being involved? A committee reporting to the Selectmen is forming. Send a letter of interest and a resume directed to Madonna MacKenzie, Town Administrator, at the Town Hall.

A little historical background

The town of Carlisle acquired its name from early settler James Adams' hometown in England. According to legend, the dungeon of the castle in Carlisle, England once held Guinevere, King Arthur's wayward bride, after she was found guilty of involvement with Sir Lancelot.

Adams left England in 1640. Ironically, Oliver Cromwell banished Adams for his loyalty to the crown. Adams' own descendents would subsequently battle against the English crown in the Revolutionary War. He built his home on what would become South Street in modern times. The gambrel-roofed house was subsequently moved across the street, but the residence currently at 45 South Street incorporates the original chimney, making it the oldest town residence still in use today.

The First District of Carlisle (1754-1756) consisted of Northern Concord, an area covering about 6,600 acres, 60 families, and the Bloods' Farms (an additional 1,850 acres and 15 families). The early settlers in Carlisle sought to separate themselves from Concord for a variety of reasons, both religious and fiscal. They did not like to have to travel all the way into Concord to attend worship services (Carlisle did not have its own meetinghouse until 1758 nor hire its first minister until 1781). The settlers further objected to paying taxes to Concord for such services as road maintenance when they had to conduct and pay for repairs themselves.

The first district failed for a variety of reasons, the foremost being the inability to agree on a location of a meetinghouse. Records of 17 of the 20 meetings the district officers held at various private homes in the next two- and-a-half years contain articles pertaining to the location of a meetinghouse, but the groups just could not come to agreement. Perhaps the personalities involved could not compromise; however, one historian has attributed the swampy geographical nature of the original district as unsuitable for construction of a meetinghouse. Discord ultimately led to the group's dissolution.

The Second District of Carlisle, established in 1780, included the earlier territory, part of Acton (also originally Concord), the Bloods' Farms, and parts of Chelmsford and Billerica. With the Revolution behind them, the settlers established comaraderie and a renewed commitment in establishing a local place to worship and controlling their own taxes. The second effort succeeded, and the area would subsequently be incorporated as a town on February 18, 1805.

Historical Society gets ready

The Carlisle Historical Society also is looking ahead to celebrating the town's various anniversaries. Topping of the list is making the artifacts at the society's Heald House more available.

Presently members of the society are concerned with the poor condition of the barn on the site. Monetary and labor contributions are welcome. Please direct tax-deductible checks (noting this is intended for Heald House property renovation) or letters showing interest to work on the effort to the Carlisle Historical Society at P.O. Box 703, Carlisle, MA 01741.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito