Northampton Massachusetts, 1890


NORTHAMPTON
is a beautiful city of large territory, situated on the west side of the Connecticut River, in the midst of Hampshire County, of which it is the court town. It is nearly 90 miles west of Boston in a direct line, and 115 by the Boston and Albany and the Connecticut River railroads. The latter also connects with the Fitchburg Railroad at Greenfield. The New Haven and Northampton connects it with Williamsburg and towns southward to the seaport of New Haven. A fine carriage bridge, 1,080 feet in length, connects the city with Hadley, on the eastern side of the Connecticut.

It is bounded on the north by Williamsburg and Hatfield, east by the latter and Hadley, south by Easthampton, and west by Westhampton. The assessed area is 21,634 acres. This includes a long mountainous tract lying on the west bank of the Connecticut southeast of Easthampton. In the southern extremity of this tract rises Mount Tom, to the height of 1,214 feet, forming the grandest feature of the Connecticut Valley. The scenery of the entire city is picturesque and beautiful. On the east the broadly spreading and fertile meadows extend along the winding river; and west of these the land rises into graceful knolls and verdurous uplands. In the western section is an extensive group of eminences bearing the name of Saw-mill Hills; and along the western border is a line of hills. There is also a group of smaller hills in the northern part. Of the territory of the city, 4,425 acres are woodland. The Connecticut River marks the eastern line of the larger part of the town, forming at the southern angle a loop westward called '' The Oxbow," and enclosing a marshy island. Near this is a long sheet of water covering about 80 acres, known as Danke's Pond. Mill River crosses the city diagonally, coming from the northwest, and entering the Connecticut at the southeast. This is the stream on which, in the spring of 1874, occurred the disastrous flood known as "the Mill River disaster," arising from the bursting of a reservoir dam in Williamsburg. Upon it are the villages of Leeds, Florence, and the city proper. Robert's Brook, a pretty stream from Westhampton, joins Mill River at Leeds Village; and a tributary of Manhan River drains the southwestern section of the town.

The soil of this place is exuberant, and remunerative crops of all the staple articles are annually produced. The value of the aggregate product of the 211 farms in 1885 was $296,308. The manufactures are numerous, and consist chiefly of silks, machines, cutlery, wire, tacks, tin ware, buttons and trimmings, baskets, cotton hose, paper and paper boxes, lumber, agricultural implements, spools, emery wheels and cloth, furniture, brushes, brooms, leather, wrought stone, brick, clothing, and others. The Florence sewing machines are made here, giving name to a village where the factory is located, and employing; in 1885, 88 men. There are 3 silk mills, employing 252 males and 599 females; 2 button factories, employing 101 persons; 2 saw mills, employing 39 men; a paper box factory employing 21 girls; a cotton mill employing 32 females; and a paper mill employing 23 persons. Brass work employed 48 persons; tack making, 19; basket-making, 85; and hoe-making, 24. The value of the textiles made in 1885, according to the State census for that year, was $1,559,736; machinery and metallic goods, $478,657; buttons and trimmings, $121,520; paper goods, $74,433; wooden goods, $188,716; leather, $14,442. The aggregate product reached the value of $3,720,028. The Northampton National Bank has acapital of $400,000; and the Institution for Savings, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount of $2,257,086. The population was 12,896, including 2,558 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $9,295,715; with a tax-rate of $14 on $1,000. The taxed dwelling-houses were 2,192 in number.

The post-offices are Northampton, Florence, Leeds, Loudville, West Farms, Smith's Ferry and Bay State. Other villages are Cole's Meadow, Herdsdale, Hospital Hill, North Farms, Pine Grove and Robert's Meadow. Some streets in these villages are very charming. The principal village is finely situated at the margin of the uplands; and has broad streets beautifully shaded with great elms, and bordered with smooth lawns and charming gardens, surrounding tasteful and elegant dwellings. The more marked public buildings are the court-house, the city-hall, the Smith Charity Building, and the State Lunatic Asylum, on Hospital Hill. Round Hill, site of a famous school of which Bancroft, the historian, was at one time principal, is now occupied by the Clarke Institution for Deaf Mutes, erected in 1867. More interesting still is Smith College, founded in 1875, but having already several elegant buildings. The public schools are graded, and include an excellent high school. The school buildings are valued, with appurtenances, at some $120,000. There are also several excellent private schools in the villages, as the Florence Kindergarten, and the Mary A. Burnham Classical School for Girls. The public library had, in 1885, 22,548 volumes; and has a branch at Florence. There were also a private school library of 1,200 volumes, the Smith College Reference Library, the Hampshire Law Library of 2,300, and the Hospital Library of 2,736 volumes. The newspapers are the "Northampton Daily Herald;" and the weeklies the "Hampshire Herald," the "Hampshire County Journal, "Le Jean Baptiste," and "Rateau." The churches consist of one Baptist, three Congregationalist, one Free Congregational, two Methodist, one Trinitarian, one Protestant Episcopal, and two Roman Catholic.

The society of this city is refined and intelligent; and the place presents great attractions for residence, education or business. The first meeting-house here was built in 1655; and the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, distinguished as a theologian, was settled over it as a colleague February 5, 1727. The old house in which he lived, surrounded by immense elm trees, still remains. In this house, too, died the Rev. David Brainerd, missionary to the Indians, in October, 1747, aged 29 years; and Miss Jerusha Edwards, affianced to him, died in the February following, aged 17 years, and was buried at his aide. Several of the old houses here are described in Henry Ward Beecher's "Norwood." In 1704 Captain John Taylor and 20 others were killed by the Indians at Paskhommuck, near the foot of Mount Tom.

The town was incorporated October, 1654; and from it have been formed the towns of Southampton, Westhampton and Easthampton. Northampton was incorporated a city June 23, 1883. The number of soldiers furnished by this town for the Union cause in the late war was 739, of whom about 100 were lost. Among the eminent persons having their origin here are Caleb Strong, LL.D. (1745-1819), governor of the Commonwealth for several terms; Timothy Dwight, LL.D., D.D; (1752-1817), an eminent divine, author and poet; Theodore Dwight (1764-1846), a fine writer, and a member of Congress; Benjamin Tappan (1773-1857), an able and witty jurist; Arthur Tappan (1785-1865),a distinguished philanthropist; Ebenezer Lane, LL.D. (1793-1866), a celebrated lawyer; Dorus Clarke, D.D. (1797), an eminent divine and author; Henry Lyman (1810-1834), missionary and author, killed at Sumatra; and Josiah Dwight Whitney (1819), an able geologist and author.

pp. 507-510 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer