New Salem Massachusetts, 1890
New Salem is a mountainous town of 225 dwelling-houses and 832 inhabitants forming the southeast extremity of Franklin County, and about 70 miles north-northwest of Boston. The Athol and Springfield Railroad runs across the eastern angle of the town. It is bounded on the north by Orange, on the east by Athol and Petersham, south by Prescott, and west by Shutesbury and Wendell.
The assessed area is 16,142 acres. The underlying rock is calcareous gneiss. The land is generally high and broken; and at the southwest corner of the town it rises into an eminence called Packard's Mountain, whose summit is 1,278 feet above the level of the sea. The streams are a branch of Miller's River, flowing north from.Spectacle Ponds (covering 90 acres) in the eastern part, and Middle Branch of Swift River, rising in Orange, and flowing through Thompson's Pond (225 acres) in the southeast section of New Salem, where it soon after receives Hop and Moose-horn brooks from the central part of the town. Swift River forms for a short distance the west line of the town, near the southern line, receiving small tributaries. There are several other small ponds in the central and eastern parts of the town. There are 198 farms, most of which contain less than 60 acres. Their aggregate product in 1885 was valued at $102,240. The forests occupied 10,928 acres, — more than half the area of the town; furnishing ample material for fire-wood, house-lumber and staves. There are four saw-mills and a grist-mill. Other manufactures have been food preparations, wheels for infant-carriages, straw-hats, shoes and bricks. The value of goods made in 1885 was $39,278. The valuation in 1888 was $291,460, with a tax-rate of $16 on $1,000.
The post-offices and villages are New Salem (centre), Cooleyville at the southwest, South New Salem, Millington in the southeast, North New Salem near the centre, and Morse village at the extreme north.
The public buildings are a town-hall and 11 school-houses, valued at some $6,000. There are a Congregationalist and a Unitarian church here.
New Salem was settled principally by families from Middleborough and Danvers. The first minister was the Rev. Samuel Kendall, who died in 1792. The town was incorporated June 15, 1753, being named in honor of Salem in Essex County. New Salem sent 100 men into the Union armies during.the late war, of whom 10 were lost.
pp. 498-499 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890