Pepperell Massachusetts, 1890

Pepperell is a busy and beautiful town in the northwesterly part of Middlesex County, having the Nashua River for its eastern line, except where it crosses an extensive eastern projection of the territory. The Worcester, Nashua and Portland Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad has its Pepperell station at Babbatasset village, on the Nashua, near the paper mills. The Nissitisset River, coming across the town from the northwest, and furnishing power at East Village, enters the Nashua a short distance northward of the station. The last-mentioned place and Pepperell (centre) are the posy-offices. The other villages are North, South and West Pepperell.

[the Pepperell Paper-Mills, Pepperell.]

The town is bounded on the east by Dunstable and Groton, on the south also by the latter, on the west by Townsend, and on the north by Hollis in New Hampshire. The assessed area is 13,652 acres; of which 3,236 acres are forests principally of pine and chestnut. In the northeast are the twin eminences, the Nissitissit Hills; on the southwest border is the fine eminence called "The Throne;" in the west is Oak Hill, a long and handsome elevation. At the southwest of this is a group of smaller hills; and in this vicinity, about 2½ miles west of the centre, is a remarkable channel, or cañon, from 75 to 150 feet deep and 250 wide, extending north and south, cutting through the soil and ledges. The sides have an inclination of 45° to 70°; and a streamlet flows through the chasm. Near this is Heald's Pond, and at the southern opening of the cañon is Heald's Mine, penetrating the rock more than 100 feet. This work was done about or soon after 1780; but what mineral was sought is now unknown. The geological structure of the town is the St. John's group, or Andalusite slate. The soil in general is clayey.

The value of the aggregate product of the 132 farms in 1855 was $132,118. The paper-mill employed 170 persons, and the two shoe factories 287. Other manufactures were machinery, cutlery, carriages, house lumber, boxes, leather, wrought stone, brick, soap and food preparations. The total value of the goods made was $1,158,993. Some manufactures have recently been added. The population was 2,581 of whom 721 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,674,945, with a tax-rate of $13.33 on $1,000. The dwelling-houses numbered 586. There is at the centre an elegant town-house of granite and brick, containing a large hall, the public library, the city offices, and stores. It fronts upon the Common, opposite the Unitarian church. The other churches here are one each of the Congregationalists and the Roman Catholics. The Methodists have a church edifice at East Pepperell. There were 10 public school-houses valued at some $7,000. Two weekly papers the "Clarion" and the " Star" are published here.

This town was formerly the "Second Precinct of Groton." It was incorporated as the "District of Pepperell" April 6, 1753; and became a town by the general act of August 23, 1775. It was named in honor of General William Pepperell, a native of Maine, who conducted the successful expedition against Louisburg in 1745, and was subsequently knighted. The first church in this place was organized in 1747; and the Rev. Joseph Emerson, settled in 1775, was the first minister. He accompanied a band of his parishioners to Cambridge, where, it is said, he made the first prayer in camp of the Revolution. William Prescott, LL.D. (1762-1844), the father of William H. Prescott, the historian, was a native of this town.

pp. 534-536 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890