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United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Suffolk Gotoarrow.png Chelsea

This is a historical and genealogical guide to the town and city of Chelsea. You will find help with town histories, vital records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, deeds (i.e. land records), town and city records, newspapers, maps, and libraries. There are detailed guides for the towns set off from Chelsea: North Chelsea (now Revere) and Winthrop.

Contents

Brief History

This area was settled by the Rumney Marsh Indians of the Pawtucket Tribe. English Capt. John Smith discovered it in 1614. Samuel Maverick settled here in 1624. Called Number Thirteen, it was annexed to Boston in 1634, where its earliest history lies. Rumney Marsh was divided among twenty-one citizens of Boston, but consolidated into seven farms by 1639. The village of Winnissimet grew up where the ferry linked it to Boston one and a half miles away (twenty miles by land). The northern part of Boston was set off as Chelsea in 1739. The last divisions were the northeast side was set off as North Chelsea in 1846 and shortly after the southern portion of this new town was set off as Winthrop in 1852.

Historical Data

The basic data is from the "Historical Data" publication series[1] with additions from various sources.

Associated names

Parts of Chelsea at one time were called Number Thirteen, Pullen Point, Rumney Marsh, and Winnissimet.

Village or section names include Bellingham, Forbes, Powser Horn Hill, and Prattville.

Border changes
Dates Events
10 Jan. 1739 Set off as the new town of Chelsea from parts of Boston called Winnissimet, Rumney Marsh, and Pullen Point or otherwise called Number Thirteen (except Noodle and Hog Islands) [Prov. Laws, 2: 969].
22 Feb. 1841 Part annexed to Saugus.
19 Mar. 1846 Northeast two-thirds set off as the new town of North Chelsea (later called Revere).
23 Mar. 1857 Chelsea incorporated as a city by act of 13 Mar. 1857.
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Town Histories

Works written on the town include:
MassachusettsSuffolk CountyNorfolk CountyPlymouth CountyMiddlesex CountyEssex CountyNorfolk CountyBostonChelseaRevereWinthropNeedhamBrooklineDedhamWestwoodNorwoodCantonRandolphBraintreeWeymouthHinghamHullQuincyMiltonNewtonWatertownWalthamLexingtonWoburnWinchesterArlingtonBelmontCambridgeSomervilleMedfordStonehamMelroseMaldenEverettSaugusLynnNanhant
Town of Chelsea in Suffolk County, Massachusetts.


  • Roll of honor of the city of Chelsea, a list of the soldiers and sailors who served on the quota of Chelsea, in the great Civil War ... (Chelsea, Mass., 1880), 213 pp.
    Biographies for each man listed.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL fiche 6072002.
  • Charles Bancroft Gillispie, The City of Chelsea, Massachusetts ... her history, her achievements, her opportunities (Chelsea, Mass., 1898), 203 pp.
    No digital version available online (except through FHL, next).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL film 1698103 Item 3 with digital link.
  • Mellen Chamberlain, A Documentary History of Chelsea: including the Boston precincts of Winnisimmet, Rumney Marsh, and Pullen Point, 1624-1824 (Boston, 1908), 2 vols.
    This books includes at the end of volume 2 the admissions for the Rumney Marsh church, along with its baptisms, deaths, and marriages. A list of marriage intentions and inscriptions from the Rumney Marsh burying ground are included.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive (v. 1 and v. 2), Google Books (v. 1 and v. 2), and Ancestry ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL film 1035580 Item 4.
  • Chelsea Wikipedia page.









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Vital Records

The town's vital records are available in many locations:

Original records
Published records
This includes, in part, church records from the First Unitarian Society of Revere (C.R.1) and Evangelical Congregational Church of Revere (C.R.2). Deaths are included from Revere Cem. (G.R.1), Revere Cem. as compiled by Mellen Chamberalin in history (G.R. 1a), Garden Cem. (G.R.2), Woodlawn Cem. (G.R.3), Winthrop Cem. (G.R.4), and John Tewksbury's sexton's record (P.R. 1).
Online records
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City Directories

Chelsea was published in 1847/8, 1850, 1852, 1856, 1858-1861, 1864, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1884, 1886-1890, 1892-1893, 1895/6, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1902/3, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1918, 1921/2, 1925, 1928, 1932, 1934/5, 1937, 1940, 1946.

The Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) has one of the largest collections of city directories in the country. They are likely to own most of the years listed above. Their collection is in microfiche, microfilm, and books, but there is no online inventory of their holdings except for microfilm. See their guide online.

Other holdings:

  • Ancestry ($) has 1847/8, 1859, 1861, 1864, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1884, 1886-1890, 1892-1893, 1895/6, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1902/3, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1918, 1921/2, 1925, 1928, 1932, 1934/5, 1937, 1940, 1946.
  • Boston Public Library has 1902/3, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1918, 1921/2, 1925, 1928, 1932, 1934/5, 1937, 1940, 1946.
  • Family History Library (Salt Lake City) has 1847/8, 1850, 1852, 1856, 1858, 1860-1861, 1864, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1884, 1886-1890, 1892-1893, 1895/6, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1902/3, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1918, 1921/2, 1925, 1928, 1932, 1934/5 on FHL various film records.
  • fold3 ($) has none.
  • Massachusetts State Library has 1847/8, 1850, 1852, 1856, 1858, 1860-1861, 1864, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1884, 1886-1890, 1892-1893, 1895/6, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1902/3, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1918, 1921/2, 1925, 1928, 1932, 1934/5, 1937, 1940, 1946.
  • New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston) ($) has unstated years on 129 fiche.
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Maps

  • Alonzo Lewis, Plan of Winnisimmet, in Chelsea (S.l., 1836).
    Digital version at Boston Public Library.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • J. H. Shearer, Plan of the Lands of the Winnisimmet Co. and others in Chelsea & Malden (S.l., 1846).
    Digital version at Boston Public Library.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Map of the city of Chelsea (S.l., 1867).
    Digital version at Boston Public Library.
    Not in WorlDCat or at FHL.
  • John Sales, Map of the City of Chelsea from Actual Surveys (S.l., 1884).
    Digital version at Boston Public Library.
    Not in WorldCat or at FHL.
  • Samuel Orcutt, City of Chelsea With the Location of Its Church, Schools and Principal Industries (S.l., 1892).
    Digital version at Boston Public Library.
    Not in WorldCat or at FHL.
  • Map of Chelsea, Everett, Revere & Winthrop (Boston, 1897)
    Digital version at Boston Public Library.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Atlas of the Boundaries of the City of Chelsea, Suffolk County ([Boston?], 1898.
    Not a detailed map, but defines the borders.
    Digital version at The State Library of Massachusetts.
    Not in WorldCat or at FHL.
  • Atlas of the City of Chelsea and the Towns of Revere & Winthrop Massachusetts (Philadelphia, 1914).
    Not in WorldCat or at FHL.
  • Plan of the city of Chelsea, showing public buildings, manufactories, ward boundaries, churches and water front facilities (Chelsea, Mass., 1927).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • James F. Hendry, City of Chelsea, Suffolk County, Mass. ([Chelsea, Mass.], 1972.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
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Cemeteries

The following is a list of cemeteries in Chelsea. For more details regarding these cemeteries, see the state guide under cemeteries for books on the subject.

  1. Garden Cemetery, 1842. (A)

Note: Henry Weld Fuller, The Woodlawn Cemetery in North Chelsea and Malden (Boston, 1856) -- This cemetery is actually in Malden.

Abstracts of the cemeteries above are marked and keyed to:
(A). Vital Records of Chelsea, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 (Boston, 1916) [see links above under Vital Records].

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Churches

The following is a list of churches established in town in order of organization date (if known) by 1908 and condition of records in the 1889 survey if listed. For churches that do not have their own website, find location and other contact information from the Chelsea's online guide for current churches.

Note: The oldest two Congregational churches (1715 and 1828) are now within the town of Revere. The oldest Methodist Episcopal Church (1835) is now within the town of Winthrop. In 1908, a disastrous fire destroyed thirteen of the seventeen churches in Chelsea and five synagogues.

  1. Walnut Street Methodist Episcopal Church, later First Methodist Episcopal Church in Chelsea, then occasionally Carey Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church (after 1904), 1835-1940, records good.
    Records, 1837-1937, in 16 vols., including baptisms (1839-1935, gap 1875-1897), marriages (1859-1934), and membership (1837-1860, 1871-1928) held by the School of Theology Library, Boston University.
    Microfilm of these records are at FHL film 1508945 Items 5-6.
  2. First Baptist Church, 1836, records good.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
    Church still active by has no website.
  3. Mount Bellingham Methodist Episcopal Church [2nd Methodist church], now called Mount Bellingham United Methodist Church, 1839-1912, records incomplete.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
    Account book (1839-1845), treasurer's records (1840-1858), and trustee's records (1841-1912) held by the School of Theology Library, Boston University.
  4. Third Congregational Society (1840-1853) and later First Unitarian Society (1853), 1840-after 1926, records good.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
    Location of the church and its records are unknown.
  5. Chestnut Street Congregational Society (1841-1874), then First Congregational Church of Chelsea (1874-1905), First Congregational Church (1905), and finally First Congregational and United Church of Christ, 1841, records good.
    The Winnisimmet Congregational Society was the parent of two churches: Chestnut Street (here) and Broadway Street (below).
    Merged with the Third Congregational Church (below) in 1905.
    Manual of the First Congregational Church, Chelsea, Mass., containing a historical sketch ... (Boston, 1875), 73 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  6. St. Luke's Protestant Episcopal Church and now St. Luke's Episcopal Church / Iglesia Episcopal San Lucas, 1842, records good.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
    The Parish Church of Chelsea, Massachusetts; St. Luke's, Washington Avenue, 1840-1930 (Chelsea, Mass., 1930), 72 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  7. First Universalist Church, by 1912 called Church of the Redeemer, 1842-extinct after 1946, records good.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire. The second church building was sold and demolished in 1969.
    Location of the church and its records are unknown.
  8. Broadway Congregational Church (1843-1851), then the Central Congregational Church of Chelsea (1851-1949), 1843-1949, records good.
    The Winnisimmet Congregational Society was the parent of two churches: Chestnut Street (above) and Broadway Street (here).
    The Broadway Church joined with the original First Church and Third Church to form the second iteration of the First Congregational Church in 1905.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
    Confession of faith and covenant of the Winnisimmet Congregational Church, in Chelsea: with a list of the officers and members (Boston, 1849), 22 pp., (Boston, 1864), 64 pp.
    Digital version at Internet Archive (1849 ed.)
    1849 edition: WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
    1864 edition: WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  9. St. Rose Catholic Church now Saint Rose of Lima, 1849, records good.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
    Michael James Scanlan, An Historical Sketch of St. Rose, Chelsea, Massachusetts (Chelsea, Mass., 1927), 119 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46/C1 K2s or film 2055184 Item 6.
    Baptisms (1851-1955), Marriages (1851-1912), Confirmations (1908-1935), and Sick Calls (1931-1934) held by the Archdiocese of Boston Archives with records after 1930 closed to the public.
  10. Plymouth Congregational Church, 1855-1859, not in survey.
    Location of records is unknown.
  11. Cary Avenue Baptist Church, 1859-extinct bet. 1901-1908, records good.
    Location of records is unknown.
  12. Second Advent Church, by 1912 called Advent Christian Church, 1867-extinct after 1940, records good.
    Location of records is unknown.
  13. Park Street Methodist Episcopal Church (1871-1875), then Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church or the Third Methodist Church, 1871-1883, not in survey.
    Baptisms, marriages, and membership, 1871-1883, held by the School of Theology Library, Boston University.
    Microfilm of these records are at FHL film 1508945 Item 7.
  14. African Methodist Episcopal Church, by 1912 called Peoples African Methodist Episcopal Church, by 1940 called Peoples Church, 1876, records good.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
    Active church without a website.
  15. Third Congregational Church, 1877-1905, records good.
    This church merged with the First Congregational Church (above) in 1905.
    Historical Sketch, articles of faith and covenant, and regulations of the Third Congregational Church, with a list of officers and members of the church and sabbath school (Boston, 1878), 23 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  16. Horace Memorial Free Baptist Church, 1887-extinct after 1946, not in survey.
    Location of its records is unknown.
  17. Ohabei Shalom of Chelsea (1887), later called Congregation Agudas Shalom (by 1900), 1887.
    Combined with Ahavath Achim / Agudas Achim.
  18. St. Andrew's Church, extinct by 1889.
    Location of records is unknown.
  19. Congregation Ohab Shalom, later became Ahavas Shalom, 1890.
  20. Congregation Ahavath Israel, 1893.
    Nothing further is known about this congregation.
  21. Elm Street Shul and now Ahavas Achim Anshe Sfard, 1895-2004.
    Elm Street Synagoguebuilding destroyed in the 1908 fire. The rebuilt building was destroyed again the 1973 fire. They then merged with Shaare Zion. They new congregation closed in 2004 and merged with Agudas Shalom.
  22. Congregation Agudas Achim, 1896-before 1908.
    Merged with Ahavath Achim before 1908 and then another merger with Agudas Shalom.
  23. Evangelical Church, 1896-extinct before 1908.
    Little is known about this church except it was at 441 Broadway Street. Location of records is unknown.
  24. Chester Avenue Chapel (Congregational), before 1901-extinct between 1908 and 1912.
    Location of records is unknown.
  25. First Church of Christ, Scientist, before 1901-extinct after 1946.
  26. Independent Ahavas Achim Anshe Sfard, 1901-1941.
  27. Shmatashe Shul (1902) and later Beit Hamidrash Hagadol (1908), 1902.
  28. Anshei Lebowitz, 1903-1946.
  29. Agudath Achim Anshe Onixt, 1905-1984.
  30. Ahahath Achim, 1905-before 1908.
    Merged with Agudas Achim before the fire in 1908 and then again with Agudas Shaolm.
  31. Saint Stanislaus (Polish Catholic Church), 1905.
    Church building destroyed in the 1908 fire.
  32. Congregation Shearith Israel, 1906-1966.
    Merged with Toars Chaim in 1966.
  33. Poali Zedek, 1907-extinct.
    Merged with Shomrei Linas Hatzedek.
  34. Christ's Mission, est. bet. 1901-1908.
  35. Salvation Army, est. bet. 1901-1908.
    Active but without a website.

Note: There were 82 Jewish families in Chelsea according to the 1890 census. By 1910, almost one-third of Chelsea's residents were Jewish. Most have moved away and might be the reason for finding information about any shul. The following synagogues were named as destroyed in the 1908 fire, but it has not been determine which applies to the ones in the list above: Everett Avenue Synagogue, Popular Street Synagogue, Synagogue at 4th and Elm, and Synagogue at 5th and Elm. The best history is online at the Chelsea Historical Society. Check there to give a better chronology than presented above.

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Town Records

Microfilm
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Newspapers

A brief description and history of some of Chelsea's newspapers can be found online at Chelsea Historical Society.

  1. Winnisimmet Chronicle, 1838-1845
  2. Chelsea Record and Temperance Advocate, 1843.
  3. Chelsea Pioneer', 1845-1857.
  4. Winnisimmet Chronicle and Chelsea Advertiser, 1847.
  5. Village Guide, 1848.
  6. Chelsea Union, 1851.
  7. Chelsea Telegraph, 1856-1857.
  8. Chelsea Herald, 1857.
  9. Chelsea Telegraph and Pioneer, 1857-1906.
  10. Chelsea Bulletin, 1865.
  11. Mystic Press, 1869-1871.
  12. Chelsea Public, 1872-1874.
  13. Chelsea News, ca. 1874-????.
  14. Little Giant, 1874.
  15. Chelsea Record, 1878-2007.
  16. The Leader, early 1880s.
  17. Chelsea Gazette, 1886-1941.
  18. The Catholic Citizen, 1888-1937.
  19. Free Lance, 1890s.
  20. Chelsea Leader, 193?-1941.
  21. Chelsea Transcript, 1954-1955?.
  22. Chelsea Weekly News, 1976-1990.
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Libraries and Historical Societies

The following is a list of research facilities in town:

Chelsea Public Library
569 Broadway
Chelsea MA 02150
Phone 617-466-4350
Email coclibrary@chelseama.gov
Note: The library does not have its own website or online catalog
Historical Archives Guide online

Chelsea Historical Society
No building or post office address given
website hosted by Our Lady of Grace Parish
The website has much content online covering:
Historical photographs, timeline (with links), biographies sketches,
newspapers, streets, city departments, military hospitals,
fires of 1908 and 1973, governmental officials, notable people, residents service in wars,
church histories, school histories, parks, cemeteries, and much more

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References

  1. William Francis Galvin, Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts (Boston, new ed., 1997), 32. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 H2h 1997
Adjacent towns: Suffolk Co.: Boston | Charlestown (Boston) | Revere | Middlesex Co.: Everett


 

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  • This page was last modified on 16 November 2012, at 15:47.
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