Hampden Massachusetts, 1890
Hampden is a new and thriving agricultural and manufacturing town in the eastern section of Hampden County, bordering on Connecticut, and about 90 miles west by southwest of Boston. The Boston and Albany, the New London and Northern and the Connecticut River railroads pass through, the adjoining towns on the north, east and west. Wilbraham bounds it on the north, Monson on the east, Long-meadow on the west, and the town of Somers, in Connecticut, on the south.
The territory is nearly square; having an assessed area of 11,751 acres. Of this, 5,472 acres are forests, consisting of chestnut, oak and birch, chiefly. The scenery is rather wild, but beautiful. Rattlesnake Hill rises grandly at the Connecticut line to a height of 1,077 feet; and a range of hills extends from this northerly and. medially through the town. Scantic Brook, rising in Wilbraham and Monson, flows through the central village westward through the town, furnishing power at several points on its course. The underlying rock is mainly calcareous gneiss, and good building stone is quarried at several points. The soil is sandy loam, of considerable fertility.
The town is somewhat noted for its various wild berries, which have been a source of profit. Its 138 farms in 1885 yielded products whose aggregate value was $118,189. The manufactures amount to a much larger sum. In the southeastern part of the town is a paper mill; in various quarters are three lumber mills, a carriage factory, and at the centre are a five-set mill making union cassimeres, a four-set, devoted to ladies' dress goods, and a three-set mill making blankets. The population is 868, of whom 212 are voters; and there are 210 dwelling-houses. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $405,610.
The public schools consist of the grades of primary and grammar, occupying four buildings valued at nearly $5,000. There is also a private educational institution bearing the name, "South Wilbraham Education Society," which has a school building and appurtenances valued at $2,200. The Lacowsic Circulating Library has a nucleus of upwards of 500 volumes, and there are two Sunday-school libraries. The churches are the Congregationalist, Baptist and Methodist.
The Indian name for this locality was Minnechaug, meaning "berry-land." The town was formerly the southern part of Wilbraham (established June 15, 1763), from which it was taken and incorporated, March 28, 1878. It has the honor of bearing the county name.
pp. 353-354 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890