Leyden Massachusetts, 1890

Leyden is a small, mountainous farming town situated midway of the northern side of Franklin County, having the State of Vermont on the north, Bernardston on the east, Greenfield on the south, and Colrain on the west. The distance from Boston is about 115 miles northwesterly. The assessed area is 9,500 acres, which includes 2,010 acres of woodland. The villages and post-offices are Leyden (centre) and West Leyden. The nearest railway stations are Bernardston and Greenfield, in the towns adjoining.

The chief elevations are Daniel's Peak in the northeast section and Ball Mountain in the southern part. At Beaver Meadow in the northeast part, is a small settlement about a saw and grist mill on Shattuck Brook. Budington Creek flows from the northern part through the midst of the town southward; and Green River marks, nearly, the boundary line with Colrain on the west. On the latter stream and its affluents are three or more saw mills. On a tributary stream of this river, in the southern part of the town, is a beautiful and picturesque place known as "Leyden Glen." "A large brook," writes G. W. Gladden, "has worn a passage from 10 to 20 feet wise and from 30 to 50 deep in the strata of argillo-micaceous slate. The length of the gorge is about 40 rods. Above the gorge is a deep glen, and below it the stream passes through a ravine. Two beautiful waterfalls near the mouth of the gorge greatly add to the picturesqueness of the spot."

The soil of this town is not remarkable for fertility; yet the 97 farms are reported in the last State census as having that year products aggregating $94,855 in value. The manufactures were set down at $ 3,936. There were 91 dwellings, 447 inhabitants, and 113 legal voters. The town has a high school, primary schools and a public library of some 300 volumes. The Methodists and Universalists each have a church here.

The township was detached from Bernardston and incorporated February 22, 1809. Its valuation in 1888 was $176,939, with a tax-rate of $20.90 on $1,000.

William Dorrell, a private of General Burgoyne's army, who died here in 1846 at the age of 94 years, was the founder of a sect called "Dorrellites," who believed that there was a Messiah for every generation; that life should not be taken; and that property should be held in common.

During the war of the Rebellion this town furnished as many as 69 men for the service of the country. Henry Kirke Brown, an eminent sculptor, was born here in 1814; and John L. Riddell, M.D., a scientific writer, in 1807. Dr. Riddell was the inventor of the binocular microscope and magnifying glass.

pp. 417-418 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer