History of Village

When Nicholas Holt took his boat up the Merrimac River from Newbury, he ran onto some large boulders and that spot on the river became known as Holt’s Rock.

Because large ships could not get past the river, a thriving little village was established just upriver from Holt’s Rock and called Rock’s village.

In 1653, Robert Clement moved to Rock’s Village. (32, pg 19)

Early on, the village grew slowly because it was isolated and in constant danger from Indians.  The few families that were here, had to use the Peaslee Garrison at the top of the hill to defend themselves and

In 1710 John Swett, an Innkeeper and Ferryman of Newbury, was granted the use of part of a ‘cow commonage’ for his ferry landing just upriver from Holt’s Rocks. John Swett also ran one of the two taverns in Haverhill (1728) and lived near the ferry landing owning quite a bit of land in the surrounding area.

In 1750 there were four houses in the lower village of Rocks Village: Dr. Simeon Brown (River Road), Joseph Burrill (River Road), John Swett, and Mr. Nichols. (38, pg 160)  The village had a thriving fishing industry, shipyard, three stores (Foot, Maynard, Sawyer) and a house of worship (second baptist church).

The bridge was built in 1794 by the Merrimac Bridge Company. It was finished in 1795 and tolls were taken for any crossing.  In 1818, the bridge, that had been in poor repair, was washed away by high water and ice floats. The ferry was re instituted for 10 years until the next bridge was built in 1828.

By 1830, comb and shoe manufacturing was done throughout the village in small outbuildings and workshops bringing a bustling community to the Rocks.