Springfield Massachusetts, 1890

SPRINGFIELD, the capital of Hampden County, is a beautiful, industrial, and progressive city, in latitude 42° 6' 4'', north and longitude 72° 35' 45'', west, 98 miles southwest of Boston by the Boston and Albany Railroad, having a population of 37,575. It is finely situated on the east bank of the Connecticut River, and embraces many elegant public buildings and private residences, together with the ample grounds and structures of the United States Armory, established here in 1795. The city has for its boundaries Chicopee on the north, Wilbraham on the east, Longmeadow on the south, and Agawam and West Springfield on the west. The assessed area is 16,635 acres. There are 2,934 acres of forest. The post-offices are at Springfield, Indian Orchard (a pleasant village in the northeast section), Brightwood and Sixteen Acres.

The formative rock consists of middle shales and sandstones; and the land rises a little distance from the river into pleasant eminences, which afford fine building sites, and then extends in gentle undulations to the eastern border. There are several handsome ponds at Indian Orchard, which find an outlet into Chicopee River; and Mill River, with its branches, drains the central parts of the city, and furnishes important motive power.

Springfield is the grand railroad and commercial centre for the western section of the State, and is admirably situated for the transaction of mercantile or industrial business. The Boston and Albany, the Hartford, New Haven and Springfield, the New York and New England, by its Longmeadow Branch, and the Connecticut River railroads, come together here, and give the city immediate and direct communication with every other city in the country. An immense amount of freight and travel passes through or terminates at this central point. The marks of enterprise, vigor, and activity manifest themselves on every hand. The principal avenue, and seat of business, is Main Street, which extends along the river to the distance of about three miles. It is a broad and beautiful avenue, shaded with trees, and flanked with handsome buildings, generally of brick. Other pleasant streets run parallel with this, or intersect it at right angles. In the centre of the city there is the beautiful Hampden Park, adorned with shade-trees and marked by winding promenades. Among the conspicuous buildings are the granite court-house, the city-hall, the public library (a handsome structure of brick with yellow-stone trimmings), several churches, hotels, business blocks, and the solid brick structures of the U. S. Armory.

The industries of the place are remarkably varied, almost every trade and mechanic art being represented, to the number of 511 different establishments. Some of the leading articles are cotton, woollen, jute and silk goods, hosiery, needles, artisans' tools, hollow ware, steam engines and boilers, steam-valves, machinery, wire goods, railroad coaches, locks, skates, buttons, paper and paper boxes and collars, photographic albums, jewelry, eye-glasses and spectacles, watches, military goods, pistols and other firearms, cartridges, brass and tin ware, wooden boxes, doors, sashes and blinds, bricks in large quantity, tobacco in its various forms, leather, paints, confectionery and other food preparations. The Morgan Envelope Company, noted for the large quantities of postal cards it has made for the government, the Smith and Wesson Pistol, and the N.E. Card and Paper Company, are very large establishments. The United States Arsenal and Armory, situated on Arsenal Hill, about half a mile east of Main Street, is enclosed in a square of about 20 acres. The buildings are substantially constructed of brick, and contain vast stores of firearms, arranged in perfect order and ready for immediate use. From the tower of one of the buildings a magnificent view of the city and the suburbs may be had. The workshops, comprising about 20 water-wheels and 80 forges are on Miller's River, in the southern part of the city. These vast works are under the charge of a superintendent, a master armorer, and a storekeeper, and employ at times as many as 2,800 hands who can turn out as many as 1,000 small arms daily.
The value of goods made in this city in 1885, according to the last census, was $12,528,823. The value of the products of the 211 farms was $218,787. The capital stock of the nine national banks amounted to $3,300,000; and the three savings banks, at the close of last year, held deposits amounting to $14,305,262. The number of dwelling-houses was 6,402; and the number of legal voters 8,699. The valuation in 1888 was $39,863,255, with a tax-rate of $13.60 on $1,000.

There are a good city-hall set in ample grounds, two city hospitals, and the usual fire department and police buildings. The public school buildings in 1885 were 28 in number, and valued with other school property at $458,940;and the schools, graded as primary, grammar and high, have a high degree of excellence. There are several private schools, as the Springfield Collegiate Institute, the Sacred Heart Parochial School, St. Michael's School, The Elms, Geer's Commercial School, and several kindergartens. The public library has about 60,000 volumes, the Boston and Albany Railroad Library here contains upwards of 2,000, the county library has about 6,000 and there are several school and circulating libraries The journals are the daily "News," "Union," and "Republican; the Sunday and the weekly "Republican," "Union,"Arbitrator," "Democrat," Herald," "New England Homestead,"Springfield Homestead;" the bi-weekly "Good Housekeeping," the semi-monthly "Farm and Home," the monthly "Domestic Journal," the "New England Stove, Hardware and House Furnisher," the "Paper World," the "Wheelman's Gazette," and "Work and Wages." The churches are three Baptist, seven Congregationalist, five Methodist, five Roman Catholic, a Protestant Episcopal, a Unitarian, a Universalist, a Second Advent, and a Church of the New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian).

[School for Workers, Springfield.]

Springfield originally bore the Indian name of Agawam. It was organized as a town, May 14, 1636; when it included also the territory now embraced by the towns of West Springfield, Chicopee, Wilbraham, Ludlow, Longmeadow, Enfield, and Somers (the last two afterward granted to Connecticut), and parts of Westfield and Southwick. The name was changed to Springfield in 1741, in honor of William Pynchon, the leader of the colony, who had a mansion-house in the town of Springfield, in Essex County, England. Springfield was incorporated as a city April 12, 1862. The first mayor was Caleb Rice, who died March 1, 1873, aged 81 years. The settlement was commenced by eight men and their families, who built house upon the west side of what is now Main Street. The first minister was the Rev. Pelatiah Glover, from Dorchester, who was ordained June 18, 1661. On the 5th of October, 1675, about 300 savages made an attack on the town, killed three men and one woman, wounded many others, and reduced 30 dwelling-houses and 25 barns to ashes. On the 20th of December, 1786, Daniel Shays, at the head of 800 insurgents, took possession of the court-house. On the 5th of January following, he made an attempt, at the head of 1,100 men, to take possession of the arsenal. Gen. William Shepard, who commanded the State forces, ordered them to fire into the ranks of the insurgents; when three were killed and several wounded. This settled the affair. The rebels fled disheartened; and soon the insurrection was closed by the capture of the leaders.

Springfield has produced many men of eminence, of whom the following may be mentioned; Enos Hitchcock, D.D. (1744-1803), an able divine and author; Calvin Chapin, D.D. (1763-1851), an eloquent preacher; William Harris, D.D. (1765-1829), president of Columbia College from 1811 to 1829; Benjamin F. Wade (1800), a distinguished United States senator; Rev. Francis Warriner (1805-1866), an able writer; Worthington Hooker, M.D. (1806-1867), an able author; Samuel Bowles (1826), an able journalist and editor; David A. Wells (1828), an editor and author of works relating to political economy and general science.

pp. 611-614 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890