North Brookfield Massachusetts, 1890
North Brookfield is an enterprising, public-spirited and prosperous farming and manufacturing town in the southwestern part of Worcester County, 67 miles southwest of Boston. It is bounded on the north by New Braintree, east by Spencer, south by Brookfield, and west by West Brookfield and New Braintree.
The assessed area is 12,942 acres, including 2,658 acres of forest. The geological formation is ferruginous gneiss. The land is elevated and broken; but the soil is moist and deep. Apple orchards are numerous. Batchellor's Hill in the northeast, overlooking Brook's Pond, and Buck Hill, near the line of West Brookfield, are the two most commanding eminences. Horse-pond Brook, in the northeast, is an affluent of Five-mile River, which runs from Brook's Pond to Furnace Pond, at the southeast corner, and drains the eastern part of the town. Moore's Brook drains the southern; Coy's Brook the southwestern; and Sucker Brook the northwestern, parts of the town. These streams afford some motive power, which is but partially improved. The scenic aspect of the place, abounding as it does in hill, valley, forest and glade, is very pleasing.
The central village is beautifully built on rising ground, and its public and private buildings and well-shaded streets give evidence of the industry and prosperity of the inhabitants. The boot and shoe business, begun here by Mr. Oliver Ward, has grown to large proportions in a single establishment, that of Batcheller & Company. Their factory has a floor area of about three acres, and has employed above 1,200 persons at once. According to the State census of 1885, there were 20 females employed in making corsets, and 13 men in making wooden boxes. There were six carriage shops, 7 shops making metallic articles, one brickyard, one tannery, a grain mill, and two establishments making beverages. Only 118 persons reported themselves as "farmers," yet there were 198 farms; the value of their aggregate product, in 1885, being $148,703. The savings bank, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount of $535,172. The population was 4,201, including 947 legal voters. The taxed dwelling-houses numbered 640. The valuation in 1888 was $1,883,607, with a tax-rate of $14 on $1,000.
The North Brookfield Railroad, 4 miles in length, extending from the centre to the Boston and Albany Railroad at East Brookfield, in the next town, was built in 1876 at a cost of $100,000, and was paid for by taxation in ten years. The town has a commodious public hall, built at a cost of $20,000, and nine school buildings valued at some $45,000. The school system includes a high school, with two lower grades. There is a free public library of about 4,000 volumes, while an association — the Appleton Library, sustained by a fund — has nearly 5,000. A weekly newspaper called the "Journal" is published here. The churches are the First and the Second Congregationalist, the Methodist and the Roman Catholic.
This place was incorporated as the Second Parish of Brookfield in 1750, and as a town February 28, 1812. The first church was organized May 28, 1752; the Rev. Eli Fobes, D.D., being the first minister. The number of soldiers furnished by this town for the Union cause in the late war was 250, of whom 31 were lost. A very handsome monument has been erected to their memory, at a cost of about $4,000.
Hon. William Appleton (1786-1862), a successful merchant, and for several years a member of Congress, was a native of this town. He gave a large sum to establish the Massachusetts General Hospital, and a valuable library of 3,500 volumes to the First Parish in North Brookfield Another native is Ebenezer S. Snell, Walker Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in Amherst College. Hon. Amasa Walker and Charles Adams, Jun. (son of Charles Adams, M.D., of Brookfield), both political economists, and the latter a treasurer of the Commonwealth for several years following 1871, have long resided in this town.
Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 514-515