Conway Massachusetts, 1890

Conway is a hilly but thriving town in the western part of Franklin County, having Deerfield River separating it from Shelburne on the northeast, with the Fitchburg Railroad following the opposite bank. On the east is Deerfield, with the Connecticut River Railroad running through it north and south. Whately lies on the east and south; Williamsburg is also on the south; Ashfield covers most of the west side, and Buckland receives the northwest corner.

Bardwell's Ferry, on the northeast side, is 119 miles from Boston by rail. The principal village is Burkeville, situated slightly west of Conway (centre). The area of the town is 24,173 acres; of which 3,483 are woodland, consisting principally of beech, maple and chest nut. Dry Hill and Poplar Hill in the south, and Pine Hill in the west, are prominent features in the landscape. The chief village is beautifully situated in a valley between Billing's Hill at the east and Beal's Hill at the west. Bear River in the north, South River at the centre and Roaring Brook at the south, each furnish power for manufacturing purposes.

Native alum, fluor-spar, galena, pyrolusite, zoisite, and splendid specimens of rutile are found in this locality. The usual crops thrive here, and tobacco has been largely cultivated. The aggregate farm product in 1885 was $266,556. There were in the town 266 horses and colts, 1,865 neat cattle, 1,132 sheep and lambs and 16,775 fruit trees. The number of farms is 179. For manufactures, there are a cotton and a woollen mill, three establishments for food preparations, a tannery, a carriage factory, two lumber mills, and others usual to our towns. The aggregate value of their product in the year mentioned was $234,093. A national bank and a savings bank are sustained here, the first having a capital of $150,000. The valuation in 1888 was $791,366; and the tax-rate $17.50. The inhabitants number 1,573, of whom 348 are voters; and they are sheltered by 296 dwelling-houses.

The schools are graded, and are provided for in fourteen schoolhouses; these having a value of nearly $8,000. A public library of about 1,500 volumes, and three Sunday-school libraries, provide for the literary appetite. The Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and Roman Catholics have churches here. The town has a substantial hall; the other notable public work being an iron bridge 200 feet in length. This town sent 146 men into the late war, of whom 22 were lost.

Conway, originally the southwest part of Deerfield, and a participator in her history, was incorporated June 16, 1767; being named, probably, for Henry Seymour Conway, one of England's secretaries of state. The Rev. John Emerson, settled here in 1769, was the first minister. This town has given to the world the following eminent men : Chester Harding (1792-1866), a distinguished portrait-painter; Harvey Rice (1800), an author, editor and poet; H. G. O. Dwight, D.D. (1803-1862), a successful missionary and editor.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 252-253