Acton Massachusetts, 1890
Acton is a thriving town situated slightly west of the centre of Middlesex County, 25 miles west of Boston by the Fitchburg Railroad. It is bounded by Littleton and Westford on the north, Carlisle and Concord on the east, Maynard and Stow on the south, and Boxborough and Littleton on the west. Its villages are Acton (centre), North Acton, South Acton, West Acton and Ellsworth (East Acton P.O.), all of which are post-offices. The Fitchburg Railroad has stations at South and at West Acton; the Nashua and Lowell branches of the Old Colony Railroad intersect the eastern part of the town (the latter having a station at Ellsworth) and connect it with the roads of southern Massachusetts. The area of taxable surface is 11,942 acres; of which 3,650 are wood-land. The population, in 1885, was 1,785; and there were 413 dwelling-houses. The town is liberally supplied with streams; having the Nashoba Brook, which enters the, town from the north and leaves it on the southeast, shortly emptying into the Assabet River near its junction with the Concord; the Ford Brook, in the southeast, drawing its supply from the Heathen-meadow Brook, coming from Stow and from Grassy Pond (33 acres) in the north-western part of Acton; and the Assabet River, just touching the town at the southeastern corner. On the northwestern line is Nagog Pond, a large and beautiful sheet of water having a depth of 47 feet in a large part of its area; its outlet entering Nashoba Brook. Both this and Ford Brook furnish several powers suitable for small mills.
The principal stone is calcareous gneiss, from which good building material is obtained. There is also a valuable bed of limestone. The surface of the town is uneven, somewhat rocky and hard to cultivate; yet the farms are generally remunerative. Their number is about 190; and the product, in 1885, was $209,633; of which the dairies yielded $ 77,065; hay, straw and fodder, $50,132; vegetables, $ 19,417. There were 29,756 fruit trees, 1,467 neat cattle of all ages and 240 horses. There are lumber mills, pail and tub factories, a powder mill, a woollen mill, pencil works, soapstone works, and others. The aggregate of goods made in 1885, is $332,345. The valuation in 1888 was $1,310,947; and the rate of taxation, $9.60 on $1,000.
Acton village, at the centre, with its neat public buildings and private residences, its well-shaded streets and common, presents an air of quiet beauty and repose. South Acton is the chief manufacturing part of the town, and a lively village, having several fine buildings and residences.
Acton has both graded and mixed schools including a high school, with six school buildings and property valued at $22,600. There are, in the town, five libraries, aggregating about 3,000 volumes. Two of these, having about 2,000 volumes, are association libraries; the others belong to Sunday schools. There are two weekly papers published here, the "Advance" and the "Patriot."
This town was settled by the Shepherd, Law and other families, as early as 1656. There were leased for twenty years to Captain Thomas Wheeler in 1688, a tract of 200 acres of upland near the Silas Holden place, and one of 60 acres of meadow on Nashoba Brook, on condition that he should keep for the inhabitants, "except twelve Sabbath days yearly," a herd of fifty cattle one shilling per head, to be paid "one third part in wheat, one third part in rie or pease, and the other third part in Indian corn." He was to protect them in a yard at night from the wild beasts. He also agreed to build a house 40 feet by 18, with a "pair of chimneys," and a barn 40 feet by 24, to be left to the town on the expiration of the lease.
The first meeting-house was erected in 1736; and the first minister, Rev. John Swift, was ordained November 8, 1738. His successors were the Revs. Moses Adams, ordained in 1778, and Marshall Shedd, in 1820. There are now four church edifices in the town; but the oldest existing society is the Congregational, organized in 1832; while the Baptist society, at West Acton, was organized in 1846, and the Universalist in the same village in 1876. The records of the Universalist society at South Acton extend back to 1866.
This town was incorporated on July 3, 1735; having been formed of a part of Concord called "The Village," or "New Grant," with "Willards Farms." In 1780, parts of Acton and neighboring towns were taken to form Carlisle. The town had, in 1885, twenty-six inhabitants over eighty years of age. At the centre stands a granite monument in memory of Captain Isaac Davis, killed in the Concord fight, April 19, 1775. Rev. William G. T. Shedd, D.D., an eminent divine and prolific author, was born here, June 21, 1820.
pp.101-102 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890
Middlesex County, Gazetteer