"The first Reading Board of Selectmen was created in 1647, consisting of seven men who were assigned the task of overseeing the settlement and creating the modified, democratic government of the 1600s. The first Reading Board consisted of: Robert Dunton (1647, 1649) Francis Smith (1647, 1649) William Cowdrey (1647 to 1680, excluding 1659 and 1661) Thomas Marshall (1647-1652 and 1654) Henry Felch (1647-1648 and 1651) William Martin (1647-1848 and 1651) Richard Walker (1647-1650 and 1653). It was these first Selectmen who were charged with running the Town Meeting, a meeting which, if not attended by all the men, would punish and fine all those who did not attend. Meetings were held in the early morning, unlike those of today, which are held at night. In 1812, the town of Reading was officially divided and the area now known as Wakefield took the name of South Reading. The first Board of Selectmen for the town of South Reading included: James Gould (1812) Benjamin Badger (1812, 1814) and John Gould (1812-1820). It was during this time that the differences between the First parish (Wakefield) and the Second and Third Parishes could no longer be resolved and a division was approved after 168 years of unity. In 1868 the town of South Reading, whose citizens were contemplating changing their name, decided to honor one of its most influential and active citizens, Cyrus Wakefield, by changing its name to the town of Wakefield. The change was made on July 4th, 1868 and overseeing the change were Selectmen James Oliver, James P. Mansfield, and Richard Britton. Throughout its history as Reading, South Reading and Wakefield, the town has been ably served by hundreds of men and women who have been selected or elected to the Board of Selectmen. Among its ranks have been several generations of Cowdreys, Eatons, Hartshornes, Flints, Parkers and Emersons and individuals like Lucius Beebe. The position of Town Clerk is the oldest of town-elected offices. The first Town Clerk was William Cowdrey who was elected in 1644 an;Captions: 1. The 1902 Board of Selectmen: (left to right) John Maloney Col. E.J. Gihon George M. Tompson E.K. Bowser, Esq. Thomas O'COnnell Charles E. Walton, Clerk and Albert Flint, Town Treasurer. -- 2. The 1949 Board of Selectmen and associated town officers: (standing, left to right) Harry Marshall, John Preston, Harry Denning, Police Chief John Gates, and Charles Cox. (seated, left to right) Burt Whitcomb, William Lindsay, Raymond Dower, Philip Flanders, and William Dill.
Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1989
Photos courtesy of the Wakefield Historical Society.