To the editor:
Many street names in Salem reflect its history of maritime and merchant enterprise.
Saunders Street, for instance, was named for John Saunders, an 18th-century merchant who lived on his property here for many years. After his death, the land was sold by his son to Benjamin Webb, a retired sea captain who ran a tavern on Essex Street.
Osgood Street was named for Capt. John Osgood (1757-1826) who became a merchant after his career at sea. He bought his Bridge Street land, which included the site of his wharf, from the Derby family. The Rev. William Bentley was well acquainted with Capt. Osgood, and in his diary gave a description of the Osgood property.
Warner Street was named for Caleb Warner, who lived and worked mainly in Salem during the 19th century. He was a silversmith and optician. Some of his silver spoons, etc., are probably still at large. At a 2005 auction, a three-piece silver tea set made by Warner sold for $1,840.
Rice Street appears to have acquired its name from Andrew J. Rice, who made heels for shoes. It seems he was living in the right place at the right time to have a street named for him. The 1874 directory places him on Rice Street the year of the street's first listing. His address is noted simply as "house Rice, near Bridge."
Ferry Street (not to be confused with Ferry Lane) has one of those landmark names that indicates a history of ferry boats. Perhaps a ferry boat operated there, or perhaps the street was named to memorialize the Old Ferry Tavern, which stood nearby for more than a century.
A local resident told me that she still remembers coal being delivered by boat to the beach in that area. Trucks would then deliver the coal to houses. Way in the back, in the open fields, is where the town circuses were held. The parade would come down Bridge Street, and there were tents, booths, and a Ferris wheel.
Pleasant Street has a descriptive name, being laid out Dec. 12, 1796, and accepted by the town the following year.
Pierce Avenue was named for Jerathmeel Peirce, one of Salem's most prosperous merchant ship owners.
Waite Street was named for Aaron Waite, a longtime commercial business partner of Peirce's. The 1820 map of Salem shows the large Pierce and Waite lot in the Bridge Street Neck area where the two streets were later laid out. There used to be a lime kiln on Pierce Avenue on property owned by the Salem Gas Light Co.