Harvard Massachusetts, 1890

Harvard is a fine farming town forming one of the north east angles of Worcester County, and is 38 miles from Boston. The Worcester and Nashua Railroad (a division of the Boston and Maine) runs through the western part, having a station at the southwest, near Still River Village. Shaker Village occupies the northeast extremity of the town; and near the north line is Ayer Junction on the Fitchburg Railroad. It is bounded on the north by Ayer, east by Littleton and Boxborough, on the south by Bolton, and on the west by Lancaster and Shirley. The assessed area is 16,144 acres; 5,447 being forests of oak, chestnut, maple and pine.

The land is beautifully diversified by hills, valleys, ponds and streams. Pin Hill, of curious pyramidal form, has an altitude of nearly 200 feet. It contains a valuable quarry of blue slate, from which many gravestones are cut. A coarse variety of granite is the prevailing stone. Prospect Hill, in the western part of the town, is worthy of its name; a vast extent of country, in addition to the beautiful valley of the Nashua, being visible from its summit. Just south of Harvard Centre is Bare Hill Pond, a very fine sheet of water of about 206 acres, adorned with several islands and well stored with fish. The waters of Hell Pond, in the northwest of the town, occupying a space of about 50 acres, have a depth of 90 feet, hence the name, curiously enough. Near by is Robbin's Pond. Still River flows through the southeast part of the town to Nashua River, which forms the entire western line. On a stream at the eastern line, south, are saw and grist mills. On Bower Brook, flowing into Bare Hill Pond from the south, is a saw mill; on a stream at the eastern line, south, are saw mills and grist mills; and on Cold Stream Brook, the outlet of Bare Hill Pond, running north through the midst of the town, are also saw and grist mills. A mile or two east of these, on Bennett's Brook, is the Shaker village, a scene of neatness, industry and thrift. Here also are a saw mill and grist mill, also their herb-house, school-house and meeting-house. In 1780 this community numbered about 150; at which figure it had remained for many years. The entire population of the town at that date was 1,341; in 1885 it was 1,184.

The soil of this town is a black loam, strong and fertile, and admirably adapted to the growth of fruit and forest trees; and large quantities of apples, pears, chestnuts and walnuts are exported. The intervale lands upon the Nashua River are remarkably productive of the usual farm crops. The aggregate product of the Harvard farms, 210 in number, in 1885, was $229,533. Some canning of fruits is done by the Shakers; some agricultural implements are made; but all except one or two saw mills, and grist mills, have fallen into disuse; one having been changed to a wool-scouring mill. The entire manufactured product of the last census year was valued at $73,318. There are 271 dwelling-houses. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $933,445, with a tax-rate of $10.40 on $1,000. There are a town-hall, a town library of about 4,000 volumes, an association library of about 1,000, and the Bromfield School library, somewhat larger. Besides this school, which has buildings worth some $15,000, there are nine public-school buildings, valued at about $9,000. The churches are the Unitarian, Congregationalist, Baptist and Shakers.

Harvard was taken from Lancaster, Groton and Stow and incorporated, January 29, 1732. The Rev. John Seecomb was the first minister of the first church, which was organized in 1733.

This town furnished 162 soldiers, for the Union armies in the late war, of whom 16 lost their lives in the service.

pp. 359-360 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890