West Boylston Massachusetts, 1890
West Boylston, noted for its beautiful scenery, lies near the middle of the easterly section of Worcester County. The West Boylston station on the Massachusetts Central Railroad is 40 miles west of Boston. Another station of this road is at Oakdale, a busy manufacturing village in the northern part of the town; where it forms a junction with the Worcester and Nashua Railroad, which has a station at West Boylston (centre). Both are adjuncts of the Boston and Maine Railroad. The post-offices are West Boylston and Oakdale. Central Village, Depot Village, Harrisville, Lower Factory, Old Common, and Valley Village are names of other settlements.
The town is bounded on the north by Sterling, on the east by Boylston, on the south by Shrewsbury and Worcester, and on the west by Holden The assessed area is 8,826 acres; of which 1,397 acres are devoted to the growth of pine, chestnut, oak and birch. Rock maple, elm, buttonwood and oak line many of the streets in and near the villages. Some of the trees that serve an ornamental purpose are of primeval growth. There is an oak whose circumference is 14 feet, and whose age is calculated to be between 300 and 500 years. There is also a great buttonwood tree, and several elms of larger size. A large number of trees were set along the streets in 1876. The land is broken, rocky and hilly. The rock is chiefly an inferior granite. Iron-ore, tourmaline imbedded in quartz, and fine specimens of mica are found. The soil of the uplands soon gets down to sand and gravel. In the northwest is a spring whose waters are impregnated with iron and sulphur. In the same quarter there are traces, in rupture of rocks and depressions of surface, of the effects of an earthquake which occurred in 1755. About a mile south of the central depot is a curious depression in the land, about four acres in extent, called "Pleasant Valley." Steep banks, whose sides are covered with birch and oak, surround it; but the whole enclosed area is level and smooth, and when covered with fresh verdure presents a very pleasing picture. Malden Hill, in the westerly part, and other eminences, afford extended views. The Worcester and Nashua Railroad runs along a ridge above the valley of the Nashua River; and from the station, near the centre of the town, the eye sweeps over the busy manufacturing villages near by on the east; or, turning northward, enjoys a fine view of Mount Wachusett, some ten miles distant. The Quinepoxet River from Holden on the west, and the Stillwater River from Sterling on the north, unite in the midst of the northern section of the town and form the south branch of the Nashua; which flows south through the centre, then eastward through rich intervales into Boylston. These streams afford valuable hydraulic power. Three iron bridges span the rivers, one of which is 100 feet in length; and there is a massive stone bridge of three arches, 120 feet in length.
There are cotton mills both at Oakdale and the lower villages,— six in all; having a total of 42,428 spindles, and employing about 750 persons. There are a boot factory, employing in June, 1885,148 men, two small woollen mills, and two or three saw and grist mills. Other manufactures were baskets, clothing, carriages, furniture, machinery and other metallic work. The value of the textiles made in 1885 was $513,145; of boots, $31,160; of wooden goods, $19,055, and of food preparations, $54,360. The value of the aggregate product was $638,237. The value of the products of the 122 farms was $122,590. A savings bank was incorporated here in 1888. The population is 2,927, of whom 506 are legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,161,850, with a tax-rate of $18 on $1,000. There were 464 taxed dwelling houses. The public schools are graded, and include a high school. They occupy nine buildings, valued at $28 500 There Is a god library building, supplied with about 3,000. volumes The four churches are Congregationalist, Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic.
This town was formed from parts of Boylston, Holden and Sterling, and was incorporated January 30, 1808 The original settlers were from Marlborough, and occupied this place as early as 1720. A Congregational church was formed in 1797. In several of the school-houses are beautiful tablets bearing the names of the 27 or 28 soldiers lost by the town in the late war.
Erastus Brigham Bigelow, LL.D., an eminent inventor, and founder of the town of Clinton, was born here in April, 1814. Robert Bailey Thomas, who, edited "The Old Farmer's Almanac" from 1793 to 1846, was long a magistrate and surveyor here; and died at Oakdale, May 19, 1846, at the age of 80. The sale of this almanac rose to 225,000 copies in 1863. Mr. Thomas was an honest and a liberal man.
pp. 676-678 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890