Topsfield is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts. The Agawam tribe inhabited Topsfield prior to and during the British colonization in the early 17th century. The English had settled within the bounds of modern-day Topsfield by 1643, naming their settlement New Meadows. Tradition has long held that the Agawam called the place Shenewemedy, meaning “the pleasant place by the flowing waters.” The General Court of Massachusetts renamed the place Topsfield in 1648, undoubtedly after Toppesfield, England, a small parish in the county of Essex north of London.
The automobile, affected Topsfield more than any other technology, by allowing its residents to disconnect where they lived from where they worked. To accommodate all the new automobiles, the quality and quantity of road-building accelerated during the 20th century. Massachusetts Route 128, with Boston at its center, quietly but powerfully influenced Topsfield’s history and character.
Originally known as the”Circumferential Highway, Route 128 was the first limited-access beltway in the United States. The Route 128 number dates from the origin of the Massachusetts highway system in the 1920s. By the 1950s, Route 128 ran from Nantasket Beach in Hull to Gloucester. With the rapid growth of high-technology industry in the suburban areas along Route 128, the highway came to symbolize the Boston high-tech community itself.