Salem Firsts

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  • The first ice cream cones in New England were made at the E.W. Hobbs stand at the Salem Willows.
  • The first elephant to step foot in America, nicknamed the Stoned Elephant
  • Capt. William Driver of Salem was the first to call the American flag "Old Glory."
  • The first recorded autopsy was done in Salem on September 1639.
  • The country's first insurance actuary was Salem mathematician, astronomer and navigator Nathaniel Bowditch.
  • First brick kiln was established in 1629.
  • The first potter was John Pride who in 1641 had permission from the General Court to dig 'tyle earth' or clay to make sale ware.
  • Salem sent the first American missionaries to a foreign country when Ann and Adoniram Judson set sail to India in February 1812. For more see First Baptist Church and the Tabernacle Church entries.
  • The first playground in America was built in 1904, either at the end of Turner or Broad Street, by Christian Lantz.
  • The Salem Fraternity Boys Club was the first boys club in the country. Started in 1869, it is now known as the Boys and Girls Club of greater Salem.
  • Joseph Dixon started the first lead pencil factory in Salem in 1824.
  • First Fire Alarm System (electric) patented by M. G. Farmer on May 19, 1857.
  • The country's first candy company opened in Salem in 1806, selling "Gibralters"
  • Salem merchant Elias "King" Derby became the country's first millionaire.
  • The first yacht was built in Salem, called "Jefferson" in 1801 and owned by Capt. George Crowninshield, Jr.
  • The first American sea-going yacht was launched from the docks of Salem in 1816 when Capt. George Crowninshield sailed Cleopatra's Barge to sea.
  • Salem sisters Elizabeth and Mary Peabody opened the first kindergarten in America in 1861.
  • On Feb. 12, 1877, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated an invention called the telephone at Lyceum Hall.The Boston Globe's Salem reporter became the first to use the phone to call in a story.
  • Alexander Graham Bell received the first telephone patent on Mar. 7, 1876.
  • The first blood was shed in America's War of Independence was at Leslie's retreat on Feb. 26, 1776.
  • The first X-ray machine was developed in 1898 by Frank Balch who lived on Essex Street in Salem.
  • Charlotte Forten was the first black graduate of Salem Normal School (now Salem State College).
  • Pioneer Village, a re-creation of Salem in the 1630's was the first outdoor museum in the United States.
  • Anne Bradstreet, who lived in Salem in the 1600's, became the first woman poet in America and published the first book of poetry in the New World.
  • First Salem vessel that circumnavigated the globe was the ship "Minerva" owned by Clifford Crowninshield and Nathaniel West.

See Also

Vertical File in Salem Collection - Firsts, Salem

"At last a look at Salem's many first" Salem Evening News, Oct. 7, 1988, p.9

"Ideas for when guests drop in: Salem has its share of "firsts" Salem Evening News, June 18,1993 p. 10A

Old Naumkeag Webber, p. 136 (ship Minerva)