Ashland Massachusetts, 1890


Ashland
is a brisk and beautiful town in the southwest of Middlesex County, on the Boston and Albany Railroad, about midway between Boston and Worcester. Southboro lies on the northwest and Sudbury on the southeast; on the north and northeast is Framingham, and on the south, Hopkinton and Holliston. From the last three towns its territory was taken. It was incorporated March 16, 1846. Its area is near 7,832 acres (about 14 square miles, including highways); of which 1,774 acres are woodland. The inhabitants number 2,633, having 447 dwelling-houses. The valuation in 1888 was $1,340,107; and the rate of taxation, $14 on $1,000.

The Sudbury River runs through the town from west to east, affording seats for several factories. Indian, Wiremill and Cold-Spring brooks, its tributaries, are noted for trout. There are a woollen, a cotton, and several boot and shoe factories in the town, affording employment to about 600 persons, and having a yearly product (1885) of $1,261,358. The largest item is boots, shoes, and slippers, $1,026,370. The emery mills here have for many years prepared more than one half the emery used in the country. The largest agricultural product is that of the dairy, $16,841; the total product being $80,604, from about 100 farms. The soil is chiefly loam, and the surface rock is granite. Wildcat Hill in the northwest part of the town, and Bullard's Hill in the north, are the principal eminences. A wooded eminence on the west of Ashland centre bears the Indian name of Magunco, where John Eliot once had an Indian church, and where eleven Indian families resided. The name is said to signify "place of great trees," and an old chestnut here a few years ago, 22 feet in circumference, seems to justify the application. On the southwest declivity of this hill, now crowned by a fine growth of chestnut, is "The Frankland Place," described by Dr. O. W. Holmes in his fine poem of "Agnes,'' and by Mrs. H. R. Stowe in her "Old-Town Folks," and also in the "Life of Sir Charles Frankland " by Rev. Elias Nason. The railroad to Hopkinton passes eastward of this hill, and through the Valentine and Frankland farms. The tract of land included between the Wiremill Brook, Indian Brook and Sudbury River, was granted to Hon. William Crowne in 1662 for services rendered by him in England. It was conveyed to Saville Simpson, a cordwainer in Boston, July 4, 1687 The Indian title was relinquished June 20, 1693; and it was set off to Hopkinton December 13, 1717.

The post-office is Ashland (centre), which is also the railroad station and the principal village. Other villages are Chattanooga, Lincolnville and Oregon. The centre village was formerly called Unionville. The town has eight public school buildings, valued at about $18,000. The schools are graded, and include a high school. There are five public and society libraries; the town public library containing about 2,000 volumes. The papers are the "Ashland Advertiser" and the "Ashland Advocate," both weekly.

A Congregational church was organized here January 21, 1835, and the edifice dedicated just one year later; when also Rev. James McIntire was ordained pastor. The succession was Rev. Joseph Haven (ordained 1839), Rev. Charles L. Mills (ordained 1847), Rev. William M. Thayer (ordained 1849). There are also a Baptist (organized in 1843), a Methodist, and a Roman Catholic church, each having substantial edifices.

Wildwood Cemetery, occupying a beautiful grove on the right bank of the Sudbury River, and commanding a fine prospect of the village, streams and surrounding hills, was dedicated June 24, 1870. There is an old Indian burial place upon a sandy knoll intersected by the main road from Ashland to Hopkinton, near the Valentine Place, from which several skeletons have been exhumed.

This town seems a wholesome one, as there were reported, in 1885, 25 persons over 80, 16 over 85, and 2 over 90 years of age. Among the eminent citizens of Ashland should be mentioned Benjamin Horner, William F. Ellis, Charles Alden, Adrian Foote, S. W. Wiggin, Charles H. Tilton and Albert Leland.

Pp. 121-122  in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer