Oakham Massachusetts, 1890


Oakham
is a pleasant and quiet farming town, lying in the westerly part of Worcester County, about 59 miles west of Boston. The Massachusetts Central Railroad and the Ware River Railroad pass through the town, each having a Coldbrook (Springs) station. The boundaries are Barre, on the northwest, Rutland and Paxton on the northeast, Spencer on the south, and New Braintree on the southwest.

The assessed area is 13,054 acres, of which 4,097 are forest, consisting mostly of oak and chestnut. The prevailing rock is ferruginous gneiss, and the soil, to a large extent, is clay. The surface of the town is elevated, though not mountainous. Prospect Hill is a fine eminence. Muddy Pond in the east and Brownings Pond in the southeast add to the variety and beauty of the scenery. Five-mile River, proceeding from Great Swamp, with its western tributaries, drains the southerly part; and Canesto Brook, flowing southwest by the village of Coldbrook Springs, with Bell and Burrow's brooks, all affluents of Ware River, drain the northern and western parts of the town.

Two saw mills and a grist mill constitute the larger manufactories. There are also made here boots and shoes, agricultural implements, carriages, metallic goods and food preparations. The value of these products in 1885 was $38,033. The product of the 107 farms was valued at $115,478. Potatoes, corn and butter were principal items. Apple trees yield well. The population was 749, including 197 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $351,358, with a tax-rate of $16.50. There were 185 taxed dwelling-houses.

The town has erected a good memorial hall, which contains the civil offices. There is a small public library. The five public school-houses are valued at about $2,500. The church edifice belongs to the Congregationalists.

Oakham, originally called "Rutland West Wing," was incorporated June 11, 1762. Its name May have been adopted from its noble oak woods, or in honor of the old town of Oakhampton, in Devonshire, England. The Rev. John Strickland, the first minister, was ordained in 1678. The town furnished some 100 men for the Union cause in the late war of whom about one fifth were killed. The post-offices are Oakham (centre) and Coldbrook Springs. The latter is a pleasant village in the northeast corner of the town, somewhat noted for its mineral springs.

pp. 522-523 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer