Gill Massachusetts, 1890

Gill is a very beautiful town lying in the north central part of Franklin County, 97 miles from Boston by the Fitchburg Railroad, which runs along its south side, with Connecticut River between. The New London and Northern Railroad (Vermont and Massachusetts) has a similar position on the eastern side, while the Connecticut River Railroad sweeps about it on the west and northwest, separated from it on the west by Fall River; so that, as to both rivers and railroads, the town is a peninsula.

Bernardston and Northfield bound it on the north, the latter on the east, Montague on the south, and Greenfield on the west; the rivers mentioned forming the dividing lines, except on the north. The assessed area is 8,061 acres; being six miles in length and nearly that in width. About one quarter of its area is forest, composed mainly of oak, maple hickory and chestnut. The geological basis of the northern portion of the town is conglomerate and calcareous gneiss, with sandstone about the Connecticut on the south side.On a promontory setting diagonally into this river and forming the southernmost part of the town, are found in the sandstone the gigantic bird-tracks which have been the subject of so much attention.

The surface of the town is charmingly diversified. Stacy Mountain, in the sharp bend of the Connecticut in the southeast, commands a delightful view of the river with its green intervales and islands, Black Rocks at its southern base, Miller's Falls a little westward, and, all about, the vast amphitheatre of mountain ridges. From Darby Hill, rising beautifully from the margin of the river at the middle of the eastern line of the town, and from Grass Hill at the northern angle, are other admirable prospects. Woodward's Brook drains the northern part; and Otter Pond and Lily Pond, at the north and the south, with two or three small ponds at the centre, glimmer like gems among the hills. The celebrated Turner's Falls are in the river at the southwest, between this town and the village in Montague, with which there is direct connection by a magnificent suspension bridge some 500 feet in length.

Here are the town's largest manufactories, the mills of the Turner's Falls Lumber Company, and the Fibre Pulp Manufactory. There are also a carriage factory and a stone quarry, with some other small industries. The aggregate product in 1885 amounted to $120,810. There is a very good soil loam overlying clay. In addition to the usual crops, broom-corn and tobacco have been largely cultivated. The farms number 108; and the product, in the year mentioned, reached the value of $140,733. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $433,633; with a tax-rate of $13.10 on $1,000. The population is 860, finding shelter in 163 dwelling-houses.

There is a town-hall, and a public library of some 2,000 volumes, while the Mt. Hermon School for Boys has about 1,500. This nourishing institution occupies eight buildings, at the village which bears its name; its property being valued at $72,500. This is one of the schools founded by the influence of Moody the evangelist. The town has good primary and grammar schools, occupying seven buildings. The post-offices are Gill and Riverside. The Congregationalists and Methodists have churches here. The town sent 66 men into the war for the Union, of whom four were lost.

[Recreation Hall, Boys' School, Mount Hermon.]

This place, originally the easterly part of Greenfield, was named in honor of Lieut.-Governor Moses Gill; and was incorporated September 28, 1793. A part of Northfield was annexed to it February 28, 1795; and Great Island, in Connecticut River, March 14, 1805. The Rev. John Jackson, the first minister, was settled here in 1798.

On the 18th of May, 1676, Captain Turner, with 160 men, suddenly attacked a body of Indians encamped around the falls, since named for him, and slew about 300 of the enemy. His own loss was about 37 men. Aroused from their slumber, the Indians rushed to the river, exclaiming, "Mohawks, Mohawks!" and many were swept down the cataract, and lost. Others were killed upon the margin of the stream.

pp. 327-329 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890