Littleton Massachusetts, 1890

Littleton is a handsome farming town situated in the northwestern part of Middlesex County, and bounded on the northeast by Westford, on the southeast by Acton, on the southwest by Boxborough, on the west by Harvard, and on the northwest by Ayer. The Littleton depot on the Fitchburg Railroad, somewhat west of the centre of the town, is 32 miles from Boston. The Stony Brook Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad and the Nashua and Acton Railroad have stations, the first on the northern, the latter on the eastern border. The assessed area in 1888 was 10,534 acres, including 3,592 acres of woodland.

The surface of the town is pleasantly varied by hill, valley, plain and upland. There are areas specially hilly in the south, west, east and a little north of the centre. The most noted eminence is Nashoba Hill, on the eastern border. From this, since first settlement, a rumbling noise is sometimes heard, which is locally called "the shooting of Nashoba Hill." The principal stream is Beaver Brook, which, rising in Boxborough, runs northeasterly through the centre of Littleton, and empties into Forge Pond at the corners of this town, Westford and Ayer. Long Pond in the central, Fort Pond (104 acres) in the south, and Nagog Pond (220 acres) on the southeastern border, are clear and beautiful sheets of water, and well stored with fish.

The geological structure of the town is Merrimack schist and calcareous gneiss, in which the minerals spinel, seapolite and apatite appear. There has also been found a bed of limestone. The soil in general is very good, being a dark, gravelly loam, with clay subsoil. The dairy and vegetable product is quite large. The value of the aggregate product of the 145 farms in the last census year was $174,793. The largest factory is that making elastic webs and suspenders, which employs from 25 to 30 persons. Other manufactures are lactate (which employs 10 persons), harnesses, leather, metallic goods, wooden boxes, carriages, and boots and shoes. The aggregate value of goods made was $68,570. The number of dwelling-houses was 238; the population 1,067; the legal voters 277. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $780,715, with a tax-rate of $11.10 on $1,000.

The schools are graded into primary, grammar and high, and these are provided with seven school buildings valued at about $15,000. In proportion to its population, the town has sent out a large number of accomplished teachers. The churches are Unitarian, Baptist and Trinitarian Congregational; and their Sunday schools are well furnished with libraries. The town has two weekly papers the "Courant" and the "Guidon."

The post-offices are Littleton (centre) and the Common; the other villages not already mentioned being North Littleton, on the Stony Brook Railroad, and East Littleton, on the Nashua and Acton Railroad.

The town was incorporated December 3, 1715; anterior to which date it bore the euphonious name, Nashoba, which was, probably, its Indian appellation. Its new name was adopted in honor of George Lyttelton, M.P., of England. The first church was organized here in December, 1717; and the Rev. Benjamin Shattuck was then ordained pastor. The Rev. John Eliot had an Indian church at Nashoba, which then contained about 10 families.

pp. 419-420 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer