Dalton Massachusetts, 1890

Dalton, celebrated for the manufacture of paper, is a long, narrow township in the central part of Berkshire County, 146 miles from Boston by the Boston and Albany Railroad, which runs across the middle. It is bounded on the north by Cheshire, east by Windsor and Hinsdale, south by Washington, and west by Pittsfield, Lanesborough and Cheshire.

The population is 2,113, and the number of dwelling-houses 376. The township is about ten miles in extreme length north and south, and about two miles at the narrowest part. The assessed area is 13,493 acres; of which 5,704 acres are woodland, consisting chiefly of pine, oak, maple and elm.

A range of compact hills crosses the midst of the northern half of the town; and the southeast is occupied by four or five hills of larger area. Among these are, of things curious or beautiful, the Wizard's Glen, Cold Spring and Waconah Falls. There is a tract of level country at the northeast and a smaller trace at the southwest, the latter well occupied. The middle section of the town is a broad and beautiful valley, into which gather numerous streams, there forming the east branch of the Housatonic River, and furnishing very convenient motive power for several mills. The principal manufacture here is paper, for which there are three establishments, having one or more mills each. These, with a woollen and cotton mill, employ in the aggregate about 800 persons. There are other manufactures; as boxes, lumber, and food preparations. The value of the paper made in 1885 was $697,583; and of woollen goods $14,192; thc value of the entire manufactured product being $1,072,755.

There are 70 farms cultivated. The soil is gravel and loam, and yields fairly well. Of animals, swine are proportionately numerous. The value of the entire farm product in the year just mentioned was $118,074. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $1, 869,469; and the tax-rate $11.25 on $1,000.

Dalton has seven school-houses, valued at about $14,500; and these accommodate primary, grammar, intermediate and mixed schools. There is a town-hall, a free public library of about 2,500 volumes, and the Crane Library, which has, also, a reading-room, both open to the public on easy conditions. The Methodists, Congregationalists, and Roman Catholics have each a church here. One is of stone and two are of wood; one is Gothic and one in Queen Anne style of architecture. Of the soldiers furnished by this town for the late war, only three were lost.

Dalton was originally a part of Pittsfield; and was once known as the "Ashuelot Equivalent," granted to Oliver Partridge and others of Hatfield in lieu of a township in New Hampshire supposed by the early surveyors to be in Massachusetts. A settlement was commenced in 1755. The place was detached from Pittsfield, and incorporated, March 20, 1784. It was named in honor of Hon. Tristram Dalton, then speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

The manufacture of paper was commenced here in 1802 by Henry Wiswall, Zenas Crane and John Willard. Their establishment was called "Old Berkshire," and goods of this stamp were long in the highest repute. The next paper mill was built in 1809.

The Rev. James Thompson, the first minister of the town, was settled in March, 1795.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 258-259