SALISBURY — It was early September in 1638 when a group of 12 men received permission to begin a plantation on the northern bank of the Merrimack River, near the spot where it spills out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The land grant went to Simon Bradstreet, secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, awarded by Colonial Gov. John Winthrop and the General Court. Large in size, it included what are now the communities of Salisbury, Amesbury and Merrimac, as well as the New Hampshire towns of Seabrook, South Hampton, Newton, Hampstead, Plaistow and Kingston.
In only two years the community, known first as Colchester, would be incorporated as Salisbury. With good land for farming, valuable salt marsh for fishing, hunting and haying, as well as the beauty and commerce of its ocean and river access and location on the early travel routes between Boston and Portsmouth, Salisbury was positioned to prosper. And it did, through a number of incarnations over the centuries.
In September, Salisbury will celebrate its 375th anniversary. That distinction is not going unnoticed nor are plans for festivities, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21, on Salisbury Green. And the planning is just getting under way.
Heading up the 375th Anniversary Committee are long-time Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and Historical Commission President Maria Miles and Bruce Macdonald, assistant vice president and branch manager of the Bridge’s Road’s Institution for Savings.
“We really want this to be about history, of and for the people of Salisbury,” Macdonald said.
“We have some plans, but we’re looking for more ideas and for volunteers,” Miles said. “The Chamber of Commerce is getting behind this and we’re hoping to get others who will get involved, too.”
Salisburys Green is an appropriate place to center the festivities. The original settlement was centered on the green. Within less than a decade, the Salisbury settlement quickly expanded into what is now Amesbury — in fact, large sections of Amesbury’s downtown as well as Point Shore were part of Salisbury until a new town line was drawn up in the late 1800s.