Greenfield Massachusetts, 1890

GREENFIELD, the shire town of Franklin County, is one of the most charming towns in the Connecticut Valley. It lies nearly in the geographical centre of the county, on the Fitchburg Railroad and Connecticut River Railroad, 106 miles west by northwest of Boston, and 36 miles north of Springfield. It is bounded on the north by Leyden and Bernardston, east by Gill and Montague, on the south by Deerfield, and west by Shelburne.

The assessed area is 10,636 acres; and of this 2,425 acres are woodland, in which grow thriftily beech, pine, maple and elm, chiefly. There is quite an extent of red sandstone formation; and the range of greenstone trap which commences near New Haven finds its termination here. The land is level, with the exception of some beautiful eminences on the eastern and western borders, which are considered an extension of the Deerfield Mountains; and the soil, especially in the intervales of Green River, is excellent, being, for the most part loam, with clay subsoil.

By the last census there were in the town 118 farms; and while some crops were proportionately small, others were large; and the entire product, valued at $253,335, was unusually large. The water-power of the town is abundant. Green River enters it on the north, and winds gracefully through it to the Deerfield River; Fall River separates it from Gill on the east; and the Connecticut washes the southeastern border, separating it from Montague. In addition, many steam engines are used in propelling the machinery of the factories; of which, according to the last Industrial Report, there were 79. The products of these were boots and shoes, to the value of $140,700; iron, and other metallic goods and machinery, including cutlery, $175,253; stone, brick and lumber, $139,755; food preparations, $132,280. The largest factories are those making boots and shoes, rakes and other agricultural implements, and the printing establishments. In making children's carriages, several independent shops make different parts. Spirit levels, wooden boxes, paper and leather, are also made in large quantity. The aggregate value of the manufactures in 1885 was $835,475. There are three national banks, whose aggregate capital is $500,000; and the two savings banks, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount of $4,447,287. The number of dwelling-houses was 923. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $4,751,141, with a tax-rate of $13 on $1,000. The population is 4,869; and the number of voters, 1,243.

The villages are Greenfield, Factory Village and North Greenfield; the first being the largest. This village is built chiefly on two handsome streets, containing many elegant buildings, and ornamented with elm, maple and other shade-trees, some of which are 150 years old. One of these streets runs east and west along the margin of Green River, which much enhances its attractions. On the north side of the public square is the Congregationalist church, constructed of red sandstone. Near it is the court-house, and just below the square is the town-hall. The excellent brick building of the Greenfield Library Association is the most recent of these structures, and it now contains 9,000 volumes. The Greenfield Free Library contains about 5,000 volumes. In the court-house is a law library of upwards of 2,000 volumes.

The public schools are fully graded, and occupy thirteen buildings, valued at some $60,000. The Prospect Hill School is a private institution, having an excellent edifice and location. The papers, with circulation chiefly local, are the "Gazette" and the "Courier," the "Franklin Transcript" and the "Franklin County Reformer," all weeklies with good subscription lists. "Good Cheer" and "The Household" are widely and favorably known monthlies; and "The Hatchet," also a monthly, is bravely cutting its way through. There are eight churches in Greenfield, one of which has been mentioned. The other Congregational edifice, is of brick, and the American Episcopal Church is of stone; the others are the Roman Catholic, the Methodist and the German Methodist, the Baptist and the Unitarian.

The town furnished its full quota of soldiers for the war to maintain the Union, and has erected to those who fell a beautiful monument upon the Common, in the centre of the village, at an expense of $7,000.

Greenfield was the birthplace of George Ripley (1802), H.U. 1823, distinguished as a scholar and critic; and of Gen. Charles P. Stone (1826), a gallant officer. The late Hon. W. B. Washburn, governor of the Commonwealth, member of Congress and United States senator, was a resident of this place. Hon. Charles Allen, one of the judges of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, was formerly a resident.

From the summit of Rocky Mountain, eastward from the village, a most beautiful prospect may be had of the Connecticut Valley and the surrounding country. The Bear's Den is a romantic spot in the southern part of this rocky ridge, from which a fine view of the valleys of the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers, and of the railroad bridge, 750 feet in length, and 90 feet in height above the latter stream, may be obtained.

pp. 342-344 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890