Erving Massachusetts, 1890

Erving is a long narrow town, of irregular form, lying along the north side of Miller's River, in the easterly part of Franklin County. It is 91 miles west of Boston on the Fitchburg Railroad. It is also reached by the Vermont and Massachusetts and the Vermont Central railroads, at its eastern and western extremities. Northfield bounds it on the north, Warwick and Orange on the east, Wendell and Montague on the south, and the latter and Gill on the west.

The Connecticut and Miller's rivers separate it from the western towns. In the eastern part of the town is Keyup Brook, flowing from a pond of 16 acres on the Northfield line, through fertile valleys, southerly into Miller's River. Scott's Brook is an affluent of the same river in the western part of the town. Miller's River is here a rapid stream, running circuitously through a narrow valley flanked by rocky and wooded eminences on either side. The otter still frequents its waters, and among the wild hills above it the wild cat and the porcupine are still found. Far up in a secluded ledge which rises almost perpendicularly on the right bank of the river, there lived a few years ago (and may yet live) a long-bearded hermit, kindly, industrious and literary; spending his time in knitting stockings, picking berries, cutting wood, reading, writing, and in entertaining visitors.

The soil of this town is excellent for the growth of timber and for grazing. Large numbers of telegraph poles and railroad ties were cut here formerly, 1,495,000 having in one year been prepared for market. In 1810 the acres of land devoted to wood was given in the census as 2,983. In 1885 it was 5,496; there being 8,405 acres of assessed land. The farms now number 37, against 42 at the former date. Proportionately, values of the wood product and of fruit, berries and nuts were large. The entire farm product in the last year mentioned was $30,589. The town has three saw mills, two chair factories, a door, sash and blind, a pail, a children's carriage, a piano key, an artisans' tool, and a bit-brace factory. Considerable quantities of stone are quarried, and there are also food preparations, boots and shoes, and some other manufactures; the aggregate value, in 1885, being $149,309. The valuation in 1889 was $343,901, with a tax of $20.50 on $l.000. There were 183 dwelling-houses, and the population was 873, including 247 voters.

The primary and grammar schools occupy four school-houses, valued at $3,500. The public library contains about 1,000 volumes, and the Sunday-school library nearly 300. The churches are Congregationalist and Baptist. Erving sent 58 soldiers to the late war, of whom the large proportion of 30 were lost.

This place was originally called Erving's Grant, and was incorporated as a town April 17, 1838. A part of Northfield known as Hack's Grant was annexed to it in 1860. With its water-power, productive soil, beautiful scenery and railroad facilities, the pace seems well endowed for increased prosperity.

pp. 293-294 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer