Brookfield Massachusetts, 1890
Brookfield lies in the southwestern part of Worcester, 55 miles from Boston by the Boston and Albany Railroad, whose stations are at Brookfield and East Brookfield. It has North Brookfield on the north, Spencer on the east, Charlton at the southeast, Sturbridge on the south, and Warren and West Brookfield on the west. The assessed area of the town is 14,021 acres ; and of this, 4,332 acres are woodland.
The highest points of land are Cooley and Blanchard hills in the north, and in the southeast are High Rock (a ledge 40 feet high and almost a mile long), Teneriffe, Stone and Wheelock hills. There is a mineral spring north of High Rock. Quaboag, or Podunk, Pond, a very beautiful sheet of water, about a mile square, and well stored with a variety of fish, lies in the centre of the town, and is connected by a canal with South Pond, of 340 acres, lying on the line of Sturbridge. A small steamer is run on these ponds. Great Brook and East Brookfield River discharge into Quaboag Pond; and from it flows Quaboag stream, the south branch of Chicopee River. Otter occasionally visit these ponds. Extensive swamps, through which the Boston and Albany Railroad passes, spread over much of the northern portion of the town.
The geological structure of the town is ferruginous gneiss. Bog-iron ore is found at some points. The 185 farms yielded, in 1885, a product valued at $189,187. The manufactures consist of boots and shoes, lumber, carriages, iron and metallic goods, pottery, food preparations and others. The largest item was boots and shoes, amounting to $751,893 ; while the aggregate product reached the value of $1,216,746. The population was 3,013, with 553 dwelling-houses. The valuation, in 1888, was $1,256,017, with a tax of $19.50 on $1,000. The Brookfield Savings Bank, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount of $67,488.
The schools are graded, and occupy eight buildings, valued, with connected property, at $27,817. There is a superior public hall of brick, which cost about $70,000. The Merrick Library is free, and contains about 10,000 volumes, in a library building that cost $10,000. The newspaper of the town is the "Brookfield Times." There are a Baptist and a union church at East Brookfield, another union church at Podunk, near the centre of the town ; and at Brookfield, finely elevated, are churches of the Unitarians, Congregationalists, Methodists and Roman Catholics. A row of ancient elms adds beauty to the scenery of the place. The name of Brookfield may have been suggested by the natural features of the town ; but as a plantation it bore the Indian name. An act of legislature, October 15, 1673, authorizes Quobauge to be the town of "Brookefeild," when forty or fifty families shall have settled there. On November 12, 1718, another act of legislature established it as a town. The territory was originally granted to a number of citizens of Ipswich in 1666, on condition that there should be twenty resident families within three years, and that an able minister should be settled and supported.
For a long time this was an isolated settlement between the towns in the valley of the Connecticut River and the seaboard, and suffered severely from the assaults of the Indians. In 1675 a body of them rushed into the plantation, and, after burning about twenty houses and barns, attacked the garrison-house, in which the inhabitants had taken refuge. This was defended with desperate bravery, against an overwhelming superiority of numbers, for three days ; daring which time the assailants made the most vigorous attacks by a constant discharge of balls and burning arrows. At length, finding all other means ineffectual, they loaded a cart with flax, straw and other combustibles, and, by the aid of long poles, endeavored to thrust the burning mass against the building. At this moment of peril, a plentiful shower of rain, which seemed to the besieged quite miraculous, extinguished the flumes and saved the occupants from destruction. At length their resources were exhausted, and they were at the point of surrendering in despair, when Major Willard, with "a troop of 48 light-horse" from Lancaster, made his appearance. The savages then burned the meeting-house and the only dwelling-house left in the town, and hastily retreated.
The first church here was organized April 5, 1756, and the Rev. Nathan Fiske was ordained pastor two years later.
Brookfield has the credit of the following eminent men: Dwight Foster (1757-1823), an able jurist, and United States senator from 1800 to 1803; Kiah Bailey (1776-1857), an able clergyman ; Col. Enos Cutler (1781-1860), a brave soldier; William Appleton (1786-1862), a successful merchant ; Samuel Jennison (l788-l860), an antiquary and author ; Pliny Merrick, LL.D. (l794-1867), an eminent lawyer and judge.
pp. 206-207 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890