Middlefield Massachusetts, 1890

Middlefield is a mountainous town forming the southwest corner of Hampshire County. Middlefield station, in the southern extremity of the town, on the Boston and Albany Railroad, is 131 miles from Boston. The town is bounded on the north by Peru and Worthington, on the east by the latter, on the southeast by Chester and Becket, and on the west by the latter and Washington. The assessed area is 14,165 acres, which is some 2,000 acres less than the actual extent. Included in these figures are 4,239 acres of woodland.

The land is broken, and the scenery bold and picturesque. The hills, though not lofty, are extensive, their long ridges having a northwest and southeast trend. The highest point in town is a broad plateau on which are situated the Highland Agricultural Grounds. It is 1,200 feet above the level of the sea; and the grand and beautiful views spread out on every side are an inspiration to the crowds which attend the annual exhibitions. The geological formation is calcareous gneiss and the Quebec group, in which occur specimens of glassy actinolite, rhombic spar, steatite, and radiated pyrites. Soapstone has been quarried in two or more places. The soil is strong and excellent for grazing. The Middle Branch of Westfield River forms the eastern line, receiving in the town Tuttle Brook and Den Stream; while the West Branch marks the southern extreme of the town, receiving Cole's Brook in the western part and Factory Brook at Factory Village (Middlefield station). There are here a paper mill, employing in 1885, 23 persons; a woollen mill employing 22, and other smaller manufactories. h that year there were made in the town 32,364 pounds of maple sugar. The apple crop was 10,499 bushels; and 1,115 quarts of blackberries were marketed. The number of neat cattle was 661; and there were 1,260 sheep, of which about one third were merinos. The dwelling houses numbered 115; the population was 513, including 112 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $250,450, with a tax-rate of $10 on $1,000.

The post-offices are Middlefield (village) near the centre, and Bancroft (village) at the southwest border. The public library has some 500 volumes. There are nine public school-houses, valued at some $4,000. The churches are Baptist and Congregational.

Middlefield was formed from parts of Worthington, Chester, Becket, Partridgefield, and all of Prescott's Grant, and incorporated March 12, 1783. The first grist-mill was erected by Mr. John Ford about 1780. The Rev. Jonathan Nash, settled in 1792, was the first minister. David Mack was the first merchant in the town. He began life poor, and extremely unlettered, but amassed a handsome property, and gave freely of his substance for many beneficent objects. He became a man of great influence, and was much in public office; dying at the goodly age of 94 years.

The people of this town sympathized with the leaders of Shays' Rebellion; and 59 men under Captain Ludington, of Middlefield, were taken prisoners during that insurrection. The place was very loyal in the late Rebellion, sending 85 men into the Union armies, of whom 15 were lost.

pp. 461-462 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer