Stockbridge Massachusetts, 1890

Stockbridge is a beautiful town in the westerly part of Berkshire County, 186 miles from Boston. The eastern branch of the Housatonic Railroad runs across the southern section of the town, having stations for Glendale and Stockbridge village. Near the centre of the territory is Curtisville, the other village; and all are post-offices. Lenox lies on the north, the same and Lee on the east, Great Barrington on the south, and West Stockbridge on the west. The assessed area is 13,596 acres. The forests, containing usual flora of the region, occupy 3,835 acres.

The highest point of land is Rattlesnake Mountain, rising grandly at the east of the central village. Icy Glen, in the southeast angle of the town, is a charming grotto, where the rocks are piled together in wild confusion, and where the ice is said to remain the whole year round. A beautiful eminence near the centre, called "Laurel Hill," is much frequented. Evergreen Hill rises beautifully from the left bank of Konkapot River, at the south, and forms a pleasing feature in the landscape. Lake Mahkeenac, of about 250 acres, is a very handsome sheet of water in the northern section of the town. Southwest of this there is another small expanse of water, called the "Mountain Mirror," which is worthy of its name. A fine echo is heard from the face of the mountain that rises over it. The Housatonic River winds gracefully westward through the southerly part of Stockbridge, and with its tributaries -- Mohawk, Agawam and Marsh brooks, and Konkapot River -- furnishes valuable hydraulic power and beautifies the scenery.

The town has one woollen and two paper mills, a cotton mill, a tannery and two or three grist and saw mills. There are several other small manufactures. The value of all goods made in 1885 is given in the recent census as $280,678. The 129 farms yielded the usual products to the amount of $l82,078 in value. The Housatonic National Bank, in this town, has a capital stock of $200,000; and the Stockbridge Savings Bank, at the close of last year, held deposits in the amount of $248,252. The population was 2,114, of whom 532 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was 2,700.809 -- with a tax-rate of $10.10. There were 480 taxed dwelling-houses. The five public school-houses are valued at nearly $30,000, and are occupied by a high school, and others of the grammar and primary grades. The most conspicuous public building is the handsome stone library, the gift to the town of Hon. John Z. Goodrich. It contains the Stockbridge Social Library of upwards of 6,000 volumes. There is also a fine mineral collection presented by the late Prof. Albert Hopkins. There are two Congregationalist and two Methodist churches, and one each of the Protestant Episcopalians and Roman Catholics. Stockbridge village is a suitable climax and coign of vantage for its beautiful town, with its broad, level street, grass-bordered, with rows of noble elms separating it from the foot-walks, and shadowing many a plain but elegant old mansion. The favorite Laurel Hill and others rise near by; and away southward Monument Mountain rears its noble mass; while shadowy peaks signal each other on every side. The old Sedgewick mansion still squarely faces the world; an old red house on the Barrington road is noted for its whilom occupancy by G. P. R. James, the novelist; and another quaint old cottage on the Lenox road sheltered Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Stockbridge, whose Indian name was Housatonic, was incorporated June 22, 1739; and may have been named from Stockbridge in Hampshire County, England. The township was granted to the Housatonic Indians, since called the "Stockbridge Indians," in 1734, when a mission was commenced amongst them by the Rev. John Sargeant and Mr. Timothy Woodbridge. The celebrated Jonathan Edwards succeeded Mr. Sargeant, August, 1751; and was dismissed January 4, 1758, to become president of a college. The site of the mission church is now marked by a tower of gray stone, containing a clock and a chime of bells. This town was gradually settled by the English, who bought out the Indian rights, one after another, before their emigration. Some of the earliest white settlers next to Mr. Sargeant and Mr. Woodbridge were Colonel Williams, Josiah Jones, Joseph Woodbridge, Samuel Brown, Samuel Brown, jun., Joshua Chamberlain, David Pixley, John Willard, John Taylor, Jacob Cooper, Elisha Parsons, Stephen Nash, James Wilson, Josiah Jones, jun., Thomas Sherman, and Solomon Glezen.

The house occupied by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards while he resided in this town is still standing. Within its walls lie completed his celebrated production, "The Freedom of the Will," which has been thought by many to be the greatest production of the human mind. After President Edwards left, it was occupied by Jehiel Woodbridge, Esq., then by Judge Sedgwick, then by Gen. Silas Pepoon, and has since been a school-house, and later a boarding house. A beautiful monument of Scotch granite has been erected near the First Church in honor of the distinguished theologian who once preached to the whites and Indians of this town. Another handsome monument is that in honor of soldiers from this town who perished in the war for this Union; and still another to the Mohican Indians whose burial-place on a hill covered with locust trees has long been a pathetic reminder of a race now passed away. Stockbridge was attacked by a body of strange Indians in 1754, and a Mr.Owen and two children were killed; and again in the subsequent year, when several persons fell beneath the merciless tomahawk.

[the Edwards Monument, Stockbridge]

From its earliest days Stockbridge has been the home of distinguished persons. Among those not previously mentioned are Catherine M. Sedwick, the celebrated authoress, born in this town in 1789, and dying at Roxbury in 1867; Theodore Sedgewick, son of the judge, a leader of the movement which resulted in the building of the Boston and Albany Railroad; John Bacon, a graduate of Princeton College, associate pastor of the Old South Church in Boston from 1771 to 1775, subsequently a magistrate in Stockbridge, State senator, and member of Congress (deceased in 1820); Barnabas Bidwell, Henry W. Dwight, and John Z. Goodrich, able representatives in Congress; Judge Horatio Byington, and Rev. David Dudley Field, pastor of the Congregational Church, and the first historian of the county. The sons of the latter have all attained distinction, -- David Dudley as a lawyer and politician; Cyrus W. as the originator of the Atlantic telegraph cable; Henry M. as a clergyman, author and editor; and Stephen J. at the bar, and on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court.

pp. 616-619 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

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