Charlemont Massachusetts, 1890


Charlemont
is a long and narrow township lying along the Deerfield River, whose general course here is slightly south of east. It is in the western part of Franklin County, about 125 miles northwest of Boston by rail. The region is quite mountainous, and the outline of the town is very irregular. Rowe, Heath and Colrain bound it on the north; the latter and Shelburne on the east; Buckland and Hawley on the south; and Savoy and Florida on the west. The assessed area is 15,496 acres; and, of this, 5,100 acres are forest, consisting of maple, beech and birch. The villages are East Charlemont, Charlemont (centre) and Zoar.

The Deerfield River runs through the western half of the town, then forms the divisional line the entire length of Buckland; and, by a northward curve to receive the North River, it forms, with that stream, the eastern line. The Fitchburg Railroad follows the general course of the river, but, forced by its bends, crosses six times, delighting the traveller with the shifting views of the many rocky rapids and occasional quiet spaces, then a craggy mountain rising almost perpendicular from the river's bank, here a streamlet dashing down the wild ravines, or a hamlet nestling among the woody eminences, with now and then an intervale of the deepest verdure.

Mount Peak, in the south side of the western section, lifts its head, 1,144 feet abruptly from the right bank of the river; and a little further on, Bald Mountain rises grandly on the other side. In the valley between the two lies the pleasant little village of Charlemont. with its churches, stores, hotel, school and dwelling-houses, and the large hall of the Deerfield River Agricultural Society. At the extreme northeast, Pocumtuck Mountain rises to the height of 1,888 feet above sea-level. The entire town is rough and mountainous, presenting many wild and picturesque views of alpine forests, crags, defiles, with numerous waterfalls on the several streams flowing into the river, as Pelham, Mill, Hartwell, Avery and Wilder's brooks. The prevailing rock is mica slate, and the soil a sandy loam.

The principal business of the town is farming and lumbering. Few towns make a larger quantity of maple sugar. The aggregate farm product in 1885 was valued at $147,400. There are eight manufacturing establishments, consisting of a grain mill, four saw mills, a tannery, a farm-tool factory, and others; the aggregate of whose products reached the value of $87,630. The valuation in 1888 was $342,960; with a tax-rate of $20 on $1,000. The population of 958 were sheltered in 215 dwelling-houses.

There are nine public school buildings, worth about $5,000. The village Library Association has a collection of nearly 800 volumes, and two Sunday schools have nearly as many more. The Methodists, Congregationalists and Baptists each have commodious church edifices here. Charlemont sent 121 soldiers to the late war, of whom 16 were lost.

The date of the first settlement of this town is unknown. Col. Ephraim Williams established a line of forts here in 1754, the remains of which are still visible. In June of the next year, Captain Moses Rice and Phineas Arms were killed by Indians while at work in a meadow near Rice's fort; and, in commemoration, a monument has been erected near the river, visible from the railroad. The town was incorporated June 21, 1765; being named in honor of James Caulfield, created Earl of Charlemont, in England, October 29, 1763. A mountainous tract called Zoar, a part of the common laud, was annexed April 2, 1838. The first church was formed in 1788; and the Rev. Isaac Babbitt, settled in 1796, was the first pastor.

pp. 225-226  in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

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