Douglas Massachusetts, 1890

Douglas is a large agricultural and manufacturing town, adjoining the Connecticut line about midway of Worcester County. It is 48 miles southwest of Boston by the New York and New England Railroad, which has a station at Douglas (centre) and at East Douglas. These are also post-offices; other villages being South and West Douglas, and Tasseltop in the southern part of the town. Oxford and Sutton are on the north, Uxbridge on the east, Burrulville, R. I., on the south, Thompson, Conn., and Webster, Mass., on the west. There are 12,043 acres of woodland, and 21,286 acres of assessed area.

The geological formation is felspathic gneiss; and bowlders of almost every shape and size are liberally scattered over the surface, which is beautifully diversified by hill and valley, lake and streamlet. Good stone for building purposes is quarried quite extensively from the gneissic ledges. The most prominent elevations are Wallum Pond Hill, 778 feet high, Mount Daniel, 735 feet, and Bald Hill, 714 feet. Whitin Reservoir Pond, discharging its waters into Mumford River, covers an area of 470 acres, Bad-Luck Pond 106 acres, and Wallum Pond, on the southern border 150 acres There are several small ponds, and another large one lies on the northern line and is another reservoir for Mumford River This stream takes its rise west of Douglas centre, flows through the northeastern section affording fine mill-sites at East Douglas village. Rocky Brook, a lively stream, drains the southwest section of the town

The land, especially on Mumford River, is excellent The usual crops are cultivated, and farm products maintain their relative proportion. The aggregate value of the products of the 261 farms, in the last census year of 1885, was $78,451. The manufacture of axes and other edge-tools is carried on extensively at East Douglas, employing at present about 300 men. The goods of the Douglas Axe Factory are widely known and esteemed. There is also a woollen mill here, where about 100, including both sexes, find employment. There is also some manufacture of furniture, leather goods, wooden boxes, building stone, carriages, food preparations, in all 20 establishments, whose product reaches the sum of $519,880 in the aggregate. The tools alone make up $381,500 of this amount. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $1,020,043, with a tax-rate of $13.30 on $1,000. The population was 2,205, including 497 voters, sheltered by 430 dwelling-houses.

This town has a marked character of its own, but a pleasant one. The houses are neat, and along the village streets numerous elms and maples relieve the summer heat and beautify the town. The lawn of a Congregational church here is greatly admired. Douglas has a complete system of graded schools, provided for in eleven buildings valued at about $7,000. The Douglas Free Public Library has upwards of 1,000 volumes, and is increasing.

The Congregationalists have a church at Douglas and East Douglas, where also are one of the Methodists and one of the Roman Catholics. A church was organized here on November 11, 1747, and had the Rev. William Phipps for its first minister.

The number of men furnished by this town for the late war was 250, of whom 30 were lost.

Douglas was originally settled about the year 1722, by people from Sherburne (now Sherborn), and for that reason was for some time called New Sherburne. It was incorporated as a district in 1746; and as a town March 23, 1786. It received its present name at that time, and in honor of Dr. William Douglas, author of a history of New England, and a benefactor of the place. The centre of the town is very pleasantly situated on rising ground, near which, in olden times, the Indians built their wigwams, where also was a fort, the remains of which are visible.

An ancient tavern in this town, known as "Dudley's Hotel," once entertained General Washington.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 275-276

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