Plainfield Massachusetts, 1890

Plainfield occupies the northwest extremity of Hampshire County, having for its bounds, Hawley on the north, Ashfield on the east, Cummington on the south, and Windsor and Savoy on the west. It contains about 20 square miles. The assessed area is 12,498 acres; and there are about 3,000 acres or forest, consisting of beech, maple and spruce.

Except in the north, Plainfield is occupied by hills, mostly in northwest and southwest ranges; between which, Meadow, Mill and Bartlett brooks run southward to Westfield River, which flows along the southern base of Deer Hill, in the southwest corner, the highest eminence in the town. Crooked Pond, and Plainfield, or North Pond, in the northwest are the principal bodies of water. The underlying rock is talcose and mica-schist; in the latter of which occurs cummingtonite, a variety of hornblende. Rhodonite and pyrolusite —ores of manganese— are also found.

The soil is a heavy loam. The sugar maple is a source of profit, having afforded in some years more than 26,000 pounds of sugar; and in later years corresponding quantities of syrup. The value of the aggregate product of the 99 farms in 1885 was $72,272. There were a saw mill or two, a factory making butter boxes, pails and broom handles. Other manufactures were brushes, leather, boots and shoes, metallic goods, beverages and other food preparations. The value of all goods made was $10,875. The population was 453, of whom 134 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $149,070, with a tax-rate of 20 on $1,000. The number of taxed dwelling-houses was 116.

The post-office and village is at the centre. The nearest railroad station is Charlemont on the Fitchburg Railroad, 12 miles northward. The six public school-houses are valued at some $4,000, The only church edifice is that of the Congregationalists.

The Indian name of this territory was Pontoosuc.* The settlers mostly came from Bridgewater. They organized a church here in 1780; and five years later were incorporated as a district; and as a town June 15, 1807. The Rev. Moses Hallock was settled here in 1792. This town is the scene of the labors of Deacon Joseph Beals, the "Mountain Miller," whose life, portrayed by W. A. Hallock, has been translated into several languages. Sixty-one men went from Plainfield into the Union armies during the late war; of whom six were killed in battle, or died in consequence of their service.

pp. 541-542 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

*[Nason also says Pontoosuc was the Indian name for Pittsfield, and there are several Pontoosuc features there, so this is apparently an error regarding Plainfield.]

Gazetteer