Blandford Massachusetts, 1890
Blandford is a large and geologically interesting town in the westerly part of Hampden County. In form it is nearly square, with an area of 30,457 acres, beside highways and water surfaces. There are 9,975 acres of woodland. Blandford is bounded by Chester and Huntington on the north, Russell on the east, Granville and Tolland on the south, and Otis and Becket on the west. The nearest railroad station is at the northeast and just across the line, at Huntington, on the Boston and Albany Railroad, 119 miles from Boston.
Dug Hill, a little north of the centre of the town, rises to the height of 1,622 feet, and Jackson's Hill, in the southwest, to 1,717 feet above the level of the sea. Other prominent elevations are Green Mountain in the north (at the base of which there is a sulphur spring), Tarrot Hill in the east, and Beach Hill in the south. In the northwest corner of the town, a singular depression in an elevated tract has the appearance of having been a volcanic crater. The town is rich in minerals: marmolite, actinolite, schiller-spar, serpentine, chromic iron, rose-quartz in bowlders, and other interesting specimens occur. North-meadow Pond, 80 acres in extent, Long Pond, 150, and Blair Pond, of 125 acres, are fine sheets of water lying in the westerly section. From the latter issues Pond Brook, whose waters, uniting with streams from two other ponds, form Pebble Brook; which, after curving about a hill containing a soapstone quarry, leaves the town at its southeastern angle, and helps to swell the Westfield River.
The town has two tanneries, a grist mill, and six sawmills. There are manufactories of wagons, bedsteads, cardboards, whip-butts and several others. The aggregate product, in 1885, was 23,918. The chief employment, however, is agriculture. The butter and cheese here made, from the milk of cows fed on the rich grazing lands of the hillsides, are of superior quality. The growing of wool also receives much attention. The aggregate product, in 1885, of the 183 farms was valued at $156,059. The number of neat cattle kept in the town at that time was 1,543. The valuation in 1888 was $368,651, and the tax-rate $19.50 on $1,000. The population, by the last census, was 954, with 222 dwelling-houses.
There are thirteen school-houses, valued at about $4,500. The four Sunday schools have libraries containing in the aggregate about 1,500 volumes. There are a Congregational church and a Methodist church at the centre, and another of the Methodists at North Blandford. The central Congregational church edifice stands on the summit of the local elevation, and commands a most enchanting prospect.
This town was settled by a company of Scotch-Irish; who, becoming dissatisfied with the Rev. Samuel Barrett, of Hopkinton, removed hither. They at first called the place New Glasgow, from the city of Glasgow, in Scotland. Among the family names of the first settlers are Hamilton, Blair, Stewart, Montgomery, CampbeII, Wilson, Sennett, Young, Knox and Gibbs. The first team which reached the place was that owned by Israel Gibbs and driven by Widow Moses Carr. The first white child born in the town was Israel Gibbs, junior. The first money appropriated for education was "three pounds, to be laid out to hyre a schoolmaster." This was in September, 1756. The school was taught by a sea-captain in the house of Robert Black, who also had come from Hopkinton. Their first minister was Rev. Mr. McClenathan. The church (Congregational) was organized in 1735 in Hopkinton, before the emigrants started on their journey. The Rev. Dorus Clarke, D.D., was settled here in 1823, and continued as pastor until 1835. The town was incorporated April 10, 1741; deriving its name from the title, Marquis of Blandford, the second of the honors belonging to the Duke of Marlborough. Governor William Shirley, who succeeded to the chief magistracy of the Commonwealth a few months later (August 17th) came to Boston in a ship called "The Blandford," which may have suggested this name.
There were, in 1885, twenty residents of the town who were over 80 years of age, and four over 90. Blandford has given to the country the Hon, Eli P. Ashmun (1770-1819), an able lawyer, and United States senator; John H. Ashmun (1800-1833), a legal scholar of distinction; and Rufus P. Ranney (1813), an able jurist.
pp. 153-154 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890