Washington Massachusetts, 1890

Washington is a town of large territory and irregular form, situated on the Green Mountain range, in the central part of Berkshire County, 138 miles from Boston and 13 miles from Pittsfield, having communication with both by means of the Boston and Albany Railroad, which crosses the northeastern section. The Washington summit on the line of this road is 1,456 feet above Boston mean-tide.

On the north are Pittsfield, Dalton, Hinsdale and Peru; on the east Hinsdale, Middlefield and Becket; on the south, the latter and Lee; the last also on the southwest; and on the west are Lenox and Pittsfield. The assessed area is 23,650, which is, probably, some 2,000 less than the actual extent. There are 12,355 acres of forest, composed of beech, birch, maple, spruce and hemlock. In 1870 there were nine small water-power and one steam-power saw mills in the town; but at present only one small water-mill is reported. Great quantities of charcoal have been manufactured here. The land is very high and wild; and the people, who number but 470, dwell mostly in the fertile valleys between the high ranges, of which the principal one extends northwest and southeast through the midst of the town. There are several pretty ponds west of the centre, one in the northeast and one in the south part of the town. Ashley, Roaring and Basin brooks drain the western half, and tributaries of the Westfield River and East Branch of the Housatonic the eastern part. The underlying rock is calcareous gneiss and Potsdam sandstone. Some graphite is found; and an immense bed of pure, clean quartz affords sand for extensive glass manufacture. The soil is a clay loam, and excellent for grazing. In 1885 there were reported 121 farms, employing 137 men, and yielding a product in that year valued at $89,691. The valuation in 1888 was was $198,910, with a tax-rate of $14.30 on $1,000. The number of legal voters was 109; and there were the same number of taxed dwelling-houses. The six public school-houses were valued at some $2,000. There is one church, which belongs to the Methodists.

This town was purchased of the Indians in 1760 by a company, most of whom lived in Hartford and Suffield, Connecticut; and some of the proprietors settled on their land the same year. The locality, at first called "Hartwood," was incorporated April 12, 1777, under its present name. Many farmers in years past have exchanged or otherwise disposed of their lands here and settled on new lands in Ohio and on the St. Lawrence in New York, and other places more remote, largely reducing the population. Edwin Dennison Morgan (1811-1883), governor of New York from 1859 to 1863, and U. S. senator from 1863 to 1869, was a native of this town.

p. 664 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890