Wayland Massachusetts, 1890

Wayland is an agricultural and shoemaking town of 1,946 inhabitants, nearly central in the southerly section of Middlesex County, 16 miles west of Boston by the Central Massachusetts Railroad, which runs through the midst of its territory. Lincoln lies on the north, Weston on the cast, Natick on the south, and Framingham and Sudbury on the west. The assessed area is 9,248 acres.

The Sudbury River winds slowly northward through the "Sudbury Meadows," in the western part, receiving the Larnum Brook from Sudbury, another pretty streamlet near the centre, and forms the western line of the northern part. Dudley, Heard's, Baldwin's and Rice ponds add beauty and interest to the scenery; and Cochituate Lake covers a considerable extent of the southwest line. The gray old gristmill among the willows by a wood-encircled pond is a picturesque and pleasing bit of scenery. Reeves Hill, near the western line, is the highest elevation; being the southwestern point of a range of hills which terminates with Prospect Hill in Waltham. Near Morse's Hill lies the central village of Wayland; its long main street deeply embowered by great elms, and unvexed by the noise and smoke of manufactories, a rural village of much charm and restfulness. The land in the central and northerly part of the town lies in undulations and limited plains. The soil generally is a good loam, and the bottom lands along the river yield heavy crops of hay. The large size of the elms and maples along the village streets and about the old farmhouses on the highways, the handsome forests of hardwood (comprising 2,488 acres), attest the fertility of the upland soil; while the substantial and commodious buildings evince the general thriftiness of the region.

The busy village of Cochituate is situated near Natick, and is largely devoted to the manufacturing of boots and shoes. There are four large factories of this kind in the town, employing about 800 persons. The number and product has largely increased within a few years. The other manufactories are few and small. The value of the aggregate product in 1885 was but $103,930. The product of the 106 farms was valued at $169,357. The valuation in 1888 was $1,441,850. There were 491 legal voters, and 386 taxed dwelling-houses.

There is a new and excellent town-hall, accommodating the noble free public library of upwards of 10,000 volumes, to which, in its early period, Dr. Francis Wayland, president of Brown University, made an important contribution. Connected with it is a good aboriginal museum. The Rev. J. B. Wright, for 60 years pastor of the First Parish Church, while a representative to the General Court in 1851, introduced a bill authorizing the towns of this Commonwealth to maintain free public libraries; and this is believed to be the actual origin, and the Wayland public library the first instance, of this institution. There are 7 public school-houses, valued at nearly $25,000. The quality of the weekly newspaper of this town may be inferred from its amusing title "The Wayland and Cochituate Twins." The two villages mentioned are the post-offices. There is one church each of the Unitarians, Congregationalists, Methodists and Roman Catholics.

This town was formed from Sudbury, and incorporated under the name of "East Sudbury," April 10, 1780; and the name was changed to the present one March 11, 1835, in honor of Dr. Francis Wayland. The place has been for many years the residence of the esteemed and celebrated Lydia Maria (Francis) Child, who has been one of the most popular of American female writers, and a fearless advocate of human freedom.

pp.667-668 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890