Cornelius Sweetser

  • Cornelius Sweetser
  • Sweetser, Cornelius
  • "Born in South Reading in 1808, Cornelius Sweetser was the eldest son of Cornelius and Phoebe (Eaton) Sweetser. At the age of 20 he entered into the shoe business in Boston and later moved his trade to East Cambridge, Lowell, South Reading and finally to Billerica where he took up farming, in addition to shoe manufacturing. In 1846 he moved to Saco, Maine where he spent the remaining years of his life. As a resident of Saco he continued to manufacture shoes and boots and also opened a retail store. Eventually Mr. Sweetser became a very wealthy and influential member of the community of Saco and held several positions within the town. He also paid special attention to real estate investments and through sound judgement and foresight, he increased his considerable wealth. Mr. Sweetser died in 1881, leaving a widow but no children. In his will he made numerous bequests to the town of Wakefield. He provided $1000 to the Baptist Church as well as $1000 to the town of Wakefield for the repair and beautification of the burial lot of his parents and $10,000 for a public park. He bequeathed a sum of $10,000 in trust to the town with the directions to 'expend the income yearly in provding such lectures as will tend to improve and elevate the public mind and to impose a reasonable fee for admission to such lectures and pay over the proceeds of the same to such charitable organizations in Wakefield as the municipal officers of the town may designate to be distributed among the worthy poor of the town.' As a result, the Sweetser Lecture Series has provided a number of fascinating lectures for the community. The first lecture was held in 1886 and lectures were conducted each year until 1942. The lectures resumed in 1974. Several charitable organizations have benefited from the lectures throughout the years." -- Text from calendar by Jayne M. D'Onofrio.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1990
  • Photo courtesy of the Wakefield Historical Society.
  • Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


Sweetser, Cornelius, “Cornelius Sweetser,” NOBLE Digital Heritage, accessed September 27, 2020,


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