Gardner Massachusetts, 1890
Gardner is a brisk and enterprising town in the northerly part of Worcester County, 65 miles from Boston, and 25 miles from Worcester, by the Fitchburg Railroad. By the Winchester Branch it has connection with the Montreal Railroad, while the Cheshire Railroad connects it with the Connecticut River railroads in New Hampshire and Vermont. Winchendon bounds it on the northwest, Ashburnham on the northeast, Westminster on the southeast, Hubbardston and Templeton on the southwest, and the latter on the west. The assessed area is 12,558 acres.
Upwards of 2,000 acres are occupied principally by oak, pine, chestnut, maple and birch, with some spruce, hemlock and cedar,— the latter imparting an alpine aspect to upland forests. Parker's Hill and Greenwood's Hill, near the centre, and Barber's Hill near South Gardner village, are most notable eminences. Crystal Lake, of 216 acres, near the centre, and South Gardner Pond, of equal size, are the largest natural reservoirs; and there are also several small ponds, nearly all well stocked with fluvial fish. The town has many scenes of unusual beauty. The geological basis of the town is ferruginous gneiss, which crops out in many ledges; and the surface generally is rocky and uneven.
The farms, numbering about 90, are enclosed with stone walls; and though of gravelly soil generally, they are quite productive. The dairy product is proportionately very large, being in 1885, $40,034; while the entire farm product was but $92,476. There are several small water-powers on the outlets of the ponds, and on Otter River; the latter flowing through the southern part of the town, then forming a considerable length of its western boundary line. The capital of the town is chiefly invested in the manufacture of chairs and settees of rattan and of various woods. There are upwards of a dozen of these factories, employing nearly 2,000 persons. There are also several shoe, tool, toy, wooden-ware, carriage and other factories, stone quarries, lumber and grain mills and brick-yards. The furniture made in the last census year reached the value of $1,699,067; the aggregate of manufactures being valued at $2,046,343. The First National Bank of this place has a capital of
$150,000; and the savings bank at the close of last year had deposits to the amount of $1,026,924. The valuation in 1888 was $3,889,546; with a tax of $17 on $1,000. The population was 7,283, of whom 1,698 were voters. The number of dwelling-houses was 1,252.
The schools are all graded, and occupy ten buildings valued at about $50,000. There are nine libraries accessible to the people, — the Gardner Public, a circulating and a church library, several Sunday-school libraries,— containing some 6,000 volumes in the aggregate. The town sustains three weekly newspapers, which, in their turn, are devoted to the interests of the people. There are eight churches in the town,— one to every 900 inhabitants. They are a Congregationalist, a Unitarian, Baptist, Methodist, Universalist, American Episcopal, and two Roman Catholic.
Gardner Village, especially, has many handsome residences and public buildings. Some of the shade-trees along the streets are attaining magnitude as well as beauty. The maple is the favorite here.
Gardner was formed of parts of Ashburnham, Templeton, Westminster and Winchendon (in which a part of its history will be found), and incorporated June 27, 1785. Its name is an honorable memorial to Colonel Thomas Gardner who fell in the battle of Bunker Hill. The Rev. John Osgood, ordained in 1791, served this town for nearly 30 years in the capacity of a minister, physician, and school teacher. He was succeeded in 1824 by the Rev. Sumner Lincoln.
Among the valued citizens belonging to an earlier day, may be mentioned Levi Heywood, Charles Heywood, S. K. Pierce, Amasa Bancroft, S. W. Bancroft, T. E. Glazier and Francis Richardson.
Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 322-323