West Springfield Massachusetts, 1890
West Springfield, in the centre of Hampden County, extends along the west bank of the Connecticut River, embracing a rich alluvial valley, flanked by wild and wooded eminences on the west. The West Springfield station of the Boston and Albany Railroad, at the village of Mitteneague, on the Agawam River, is 101 miles southwest of Boston. This place, with West Springfield (northeast of it on the Connecticut) and Merrick, at the north are the post-offices.
In the northeast is the pleasant village of Ashleyville; the paper-mill village is in the northwest; and Paugatuck, Riverdale and Tatham mark other quarters of the town. A noble bridge across the Connecticut, at the southeast, connects this town with the city of Springfield. The boundary on the north is Holyoke; on the east, Springfield; on the south, Agawam; and on the west, Westfield. The assessed area is 9,427 acres; of which 2,294 are wood-land. The Agawam or Westfield River forms the southern line of the town. The other considerable stream is Black Brook, the outlet of Ashley Pond in Holyoke, which flows through the western section to the Agawam, furnishing power for the paper-mills and an excellent water for use in manufacturing. The west and northwest are somewhat hilly, and the extreme southeast marshy. The geological formation consists of the middle shales, sandstones, and dolerites; in which are found a variety of minerals, — as phrenite, aukenite, celestine, satin-spar, and bituminous coal. The soil is mostly very fertile.
The aggregate product of the 159 farms in 1885 was $211,925. The manufactures consist of writing and other papers, paper-boxes, soap, cotton goods, buttons, carriages, wagons, sleighs, steam-cars, guns, cigars, stone and lumber. The paper-mills employ about 200. persons, and the cotton-mills about the same number. The value of the paper goods made in 1885 was $594,633. The population was 4,448; of whom 943 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $3,264,171, with a tax-rate of $14.20 on $1,000. A good town-house, and 22 public school-houses (valued at $200,350) are the principal public edifices. The schools are graded, and include a high school. There is a public library of some 4,000 volumes. The churches consist of three Congregationalist, two Roman Catholic, and one each of the Baptists and Methodists.
This town was formerly a part of Springfield; from which it was detached, and incorporated, February 23, 1774. The first church was organized in June, 1698, and the first meeting-house erected in 1702. The third minister was the Rev. Joseph Lathrop, D.D., settled in 1756; his pastorate continuing over 60 years. During this time he composed about 5,000 sermons, seven octavo volumes of which were published.
West Springfield sent 228 men to aid in maintaining the Union cause in the late war, and has erected a handsome monument to honor those who were lost. Among the eminent natives of this town were Rev. Jonathan Parsons (1705-1776), celebrated for his eloquence; Gen. David B. Morgan (1773-1848) an efficient officer; and the Rev. Justin Perkins, D. D. (1805-1869) a missionary to the Nestorians, and author of " Missionary Life in Persia."
Pp. 692-693 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890