Easton Massachusetts, 1890

Easton forms the northeastern angle of Bristol County, and is 24 miles south of Boston by the Old Colony Railroad, which runs north and south through the midst of the eastern half. It is bounded on the north by Sharon and Stoughton, east by Brockton and West Bridgewater, south by Raynham, Taunton and Norton, and west by the latter and Mansfield. Its territorial form is quite regular, but; with its western side shortest. The assessed area is 15,862 acres; and more than one-third of this is woods, consisting mostly of oak, maple, birch and pine.

Wilbur's, or Leach's, Pond, containing 197 acres, Flyaway, of 70 acres, Ames Pond and several smaller scattered over the town beautify the landscape. Leach's Stream, the outlet of Leach's Pond on the northwestern border of the town, flows south, and furnishes power near Furnace village. Cohesset River, which rises in Stoughton and Sharon, flows across the northeasterly part of the town, affording valuable power at North Easton and at Easton, near the middle of the eastern border. The underlying rock is sienite and carboniferous, in which occur beds of iron ore.

The land is for the most part level, and the soil not very good. It is, however, well cultivated, the 122 farms yielding, in 1885, products valued at $137,112. The wood product was especially large in proportion, being $25,739. The main business of the town is manufacturing; and it is chiefly noted for its shovels, produced at the various factories of the Ames family. Twenty years ago these factories turned out 35,000 of these articles weekly, which was said to be three fifths of the product of the world. Other manufactures are iron castings, agricultural implements, hinges, artisans' tools, philosophical instruments [!], lumber, thread and cotton yarn, carriages, clothing, food preparations, building stone, paper boxes, and boots and shoes, the latter made in eight small factories, and their product having the value of $148,820. The aggregate value of the manufactures in 1885 was $1,018,239. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $3,691,171, with a tax of $5 on $1,000. There is a national bank here with a capital of $300,000; and a savings bank having deposits at the close of last year to the amount of $579,555. The population is 3,948, of which 851 are voters. The dwelling-houses number 789.

There is a beautiful town-hall, Romanesque in general style, constructed of brick in the upper half, and of the pink-gray granite of Easton in the lower half and tower, with brownstone trimmings throughout, and costing about $60,000. This was a gift to the town, in 1881, in memory of the late Oakes Ames, by his sons. A few years previous another member of the family, Hon. Fred L. Ames, had presented to the town a beautiful library building, with a collection of books, to be called the Ames Free Library. The books now number 14,000 volumes. The "Easton Journal," the local newspaper, is issued weekly, and is a useful institution.

The public schools are graded, and occupy nine buildings valued at nearly $60,000. The Congregationalists (Trinitarian) have here one church; the Unitarians two; the Methodists, two; and the Roman Catholics, one. This town furnished its full quota of soldiers in the war for the Union, and those who were lost have an appropriate memorial.

The Indian name of this place was Hockamock. It was originally a part of Norton, from which it was detached and incorporated December 21, 1725; being named, perhaps, in honor of John Easton, who was governor of Rhode Island from 1690 to 1694.

The Rev. David Reed, editor and founder of "The Christian Register," was born here February 6, 1790. He died June 7, 1870. The Hon. Oakes Ames, M.C., distinguished for his business capacity and for his effective promotion of a noble enterprise, the building of the Union Pacific Railroad, was born here January 10, 1804; and died here May 8, 1873. He left property amounting to more than $5,000,000.

pp. 288-289  in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890