Adams Massachusetts, 1890
Adams (so named in honor of the patriot Samuel Adams) is an important and flourishing agricultural and manufacturing town on the Hoosac River, in the northern part of Berkshire County, about 140 miles northwest of Boston. It is connected with the Fitchburg Railroad at the village of North Adams, and with the Boston and Albany at Pittsfield by a direct line between those two places; the principal stations in the town being Adams and Maple Grove. Its postal villages are Adams and Zylonite. Other villages are Arnoldsville, Howland and Renfrew. North Adams (formerly a part of this town) bounds it on the north; Savoy, on the east; Cheshire, on the south; and New Ashford on the west. Its area is 11,900 acres, aside from highways and water surfaces. Of this, there are 5,203 acres of woodland.
The surface is hilly, rising at the southwest to the eminence known as Saddle Ball, and at the northwest, to the noted and lofty summit of Graylock, 3,505 feet above the sea; being the highest peak in the Saddleback range and in the State. The sides of this mountain are covered with a growth of maple, beech, birch and cherry, over which the observer at the summit looks upon a most magnificent prospect. "Down at his feet," says Rev. W. Gladden, "lies the valley of the Hoosac, nearly three thousand feet below, Pittsfield with its beautiful lakes, and many smaller villages are seen in the valleys and many of the adjacent slopes. Southwestward the eye sweeps over the tops of the Taconics, away to the Catskills beyond the Hudson; northwestward, the peaks of the Adirondacks, in Northern New York, are plainly visible; in the north the sturdy ridges of the Green Mountains file away in grand outline; on the east Monadnock and Wachusett renew their stately greeting, and Tom and Holyoke look up from their beautiful valley; southward Mount Everett (the Taconic Dome) stands sentinel at the portal of Berkshire, through which the Housatonic flows. And all this grand circuit is filled with mountains; range beyond range, peak above peak, they stretch away on every side, a boundless expanse of mountain summits."
The Hoosac River, entering the town at the middle of its southern border, continues the same course, flowing through a valley of great fertility, flanked on either side by lofty bills. The underlying rock is Lauzon schist, Potsdam and Levis limestone. Beautiful marble has been quarried for the market in the town. The number of farms in 1885 was 111; and their total product was $154,017, — the dairies contributing $49,902 of this amount. The manufactures consist of cotton goods chiefly; but there are large products of food preparations, woollen cloths, lumber, paper, stone, machinery and metallic and zylonite goods, and others to the number of 48 establishments. Textile goods brought the sum of $1,948,461; building materials and stone, $108,598; food preparations, $54,530; the aggregate reaching the amount of $3,702,943. The valuation of estates in 1888 was $3,458,104; with a tax of $16.50 on $1,000. The First National Bank, on December 1st, 1888, had assets to the value of $437,836; and the amount of deposits in the Savings Bank on January 1st, 1889, was $572,254.
In 1885 there were 1,387 dwelling-houses, 8,283 inhabitants, and 1,234 legal voters. The town has graded and mixed schools, with seven school buildings, which, with appurtenances, were valued at $88,150. There were four libraries having about 5,000 volumes, — of which the town public library had about 3,500, and church and Sunday schools the remainder. There are two papers issued weekly, the Freeman and the Zeitgeist, — the latter in German. Adams has seven churches; of whose edifices two or three are quite superior. The Baptist church here was organized in 1826; the Congregational, in 1840; and the Universalist, in 1872. St. Mark's is the Protestant Episcopal church, while the Roman Catholics have two churches,— both at South Adams.
The territory of Adams, formerly called East Hoosac, was purchased in 1762 by Nathan Jones for the sum of £2,300. The first meeting-house was built of logs. The Rev. Samuel Todd, settled here in 1780, was the first minister. Fort Massachusetts, one of a cordon of defences raised for the protection of the people eastward against the French and Indians, stood at the north of Saddle Mountain, on the western side of the present North Adams. The town was incorporated on October 15th, 1778; in 1780 the plantation called New Providence was annexed; but in 1793 parts of Adams and neighboring towns were annexed to Cheshire. On April 16th, 1878, the larger part of the town was detached and established as North Adams.
In 1885 there were in this town thirty-five people who were over 80 years of age. Among the eminent persons of whom Adams was the native place, are Caleb Atwater (1778-1867), Stephen William Taylor, LL.D.; George Nixon Briggs, LL.D., governor of the Commonwealth from 1844 to 1851; and Susan B. Anthony (1820), the well-known pioneer advocate of suffrage for women.
pp. 103-105 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890
Berkshire County, Gazetteer