Cummington Massachusetts, 1890

Cummington is a farming and grazing town lying among the Green Mountains, in the northwestern part of Hampshire County, about 110 miles west of Boston. It is nearly central in a large area between the several railroad lines; the Hinsdale station on the Boston and Albany Railroad, about 15 miles distant, being the nearest. It is bounded on the north by Plainfield and Ashfield, east by Goshen, south by Chesterfield and Worthington, and west by Peru and Windsor. The area is nearly 23 square miles, the assessed land being 13,600 acres.

The geological formation is calciferous mica-schist and the Quebec group. Cummingtonite, a variety of hornblende, is found here in mica-slate; rhodonite, or manganese spar, in masses; and white pyrites and garnets. Parallel mountainous ridges run southeasterly through the town; and through the intervening valleys flow the Westfield River and parallel tributaries that enter it when it has taken a southward turn. Swift River comes down from the north and joins the Westfield River in the eastern part of the town, where is located the village and post-office called "Swift River," formerly "Babylon " post office. Near the centre of the town, on Westfield River, is Cummington village, and on the same river, at the extreme northwest, is West Cummington, where an iron bridge, 100 feet in length, spans the river. At these and other points are small mills. There are in the town, paper, wood-turning, grain and other mills, a tannery, and the usual mechanical shops of a rural community. The largest products at present are paper, and penholders and other articles turned from wood; the aggregate value of the manufactures in 1885 being $93,782. There are 3,972 acres of woodland, consisting of hemlock, beech , birch and maple.

Without large ponds, the scenery is romantic. The soil is generally a clayey loam, moist and well adapted for grazing. About the average stock is kept and the usual crops raised. The product of the farms, in 188S, was valued at $91,009. The population at the last census was 80S, of whom 244 were voters. The dwellings in 1870 were reported as 223, with 180 farms; in 1885 the returns give but 107 farms and 186 dwelling-houses. The young people abandon the hill farms, and the passing away of the aged owners leaves them to become a part of the wilderness again. The valuation in 1888 was $313,604, with a tax-rate of $17.80 on $1,000.

The town has eight school buildings, valued at about $4,000. There is a town-hall, and a free public library of some 6,000 volumes. The nucleus of this library was presented by William Cullen Bryant, who was a native of the town.

Other eminent men, natives of the town, were Thomas Snell, D.D. (1774-1862), clergyman and historian; Luther Bradish, LL.D. (1783-1863), a lawyer of learning and eminence; and Henry Laurens Dawes (1816), United States senator.

The Baptists and Universalists each have a church here; and the Congregationalists have one at East and one at West Cummington.

This town was sold by the General Court to Colonel John Cummings in 1762. The first settler was a Mr. McIntire from Scotland, who moved into the place in 1770. Many of the early settlers came from Bridgewater and Abington; and among them was Dr. Peter Bryant, father of the poet Bryant.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 257-258

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