Westfield Massachusetts, 1890

Westfield is a large and flourishing town in the westerly part of Hampden County, 108 miles from Boston and 10 from Springfield. The Boston and Albany, the Holyoke and Westfield and the New Haven and Northampton railroads intersect at the centre. At this point is the principal village, which is the post-office for the town. The other villages are East Farms, Little River, Middle Farms, West Farms and West Parish.

The boundaries are Southampton on the north; Holyoke, West Springfield and Agawam on the east; Southwick on the south; and Granville, Russell and Montgomery on the west. The assessed area is 24,931 acres; of which 6,924 were forest. There is such diversity of soil that the flora is unusually interesting to the botanist; and it is said that a greater variety of native trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers is here presented, than in any other township in the State. The geological structure is miocene tertiary and calciferous mica-schist, in which serpentine, steatite, scapolite, kyanite, schiller-spar and actinolite are found. Grindstone Mountain, in the northwest, is an extensive elevation, but the most prominent is Pothassic[?] Hill, a beautiful and sightly eminence northwest of the centre. The Westfield River, a clear and rapid stream, flows south-eastward through the middle section, affording valuable hydraulic power. Its affluents in this town are Westfield-Little River, entering it near the centre; another stream entering at Little River village, in the southeast; and on the north side, Sacket's Brook,—each affording useful power. Pond Brook, the outlet of Hampton, Horse and Buck ponds, in the northeast, and Arm Brook, are affluents of Sacket's Brook. The scenery of the town is very pleasing. The central village occupies a basin-like valley in the midst of wooded hills and bluffs; and these, with the river, conspire to form a landscape of striking and unusual beauty.

The agricultural productions are those usual to the region, except that tobacco receives more attention. This crop in 1885 was 406,030 pounds in quantity,— worth $47,780. The stock of neat cattle was 1,604; the horses and colts numbered 511; and. the sheep and lambs 326. The number of fruit trees was 17,114; and there were 92 tobacco barns. The total farm product of the 329 farms was valued at $446,093. The manufactures consisted of textiles, metallic goods, whips, tobacco and cigars, paper of various kinds, coffin trimmings, piano legs, organs, carriages, trunks, clothing, powder, stone, lumber, furniture, and other articles. There are iron-works, a powder-mill, three paper-mills, three saw mills, and two or three grain mills, and numerous establishments making whips and cigars. The whole number of manufactories in 1885 was 163. At that time 481 persons were employed in making whips; 386, in working tobacco and making cigars; 257, in making iron goods; 171, in paper-making; 36, in making cigar boxes; 46, in making coffin trimmings; 36, in making piano legs; and 27, in making organs. The value of the machinery and other metallic goods made was $411,321. The value of all manufactures was $3,009,048. The aggregate capital of the two national banks was $400,000. The savings bank deposits at the close of last year amounted to $832,778. There is also a co-operative bank with a fair volume of business. The population was 8,961; of whom 2,346 were legal voters,— which is an unusually large proportion for a manufacturing town. The valuation in 1888 was $6,576,514,— with a tax-rate of $15 on $1,000. There were 1,610 taxed dwelling-houses.

Westfield has a good town-hall, and the libraries more or less accessible to the public embrace in the aggregate 21,563 volumes. The Westfield Atheneum library building is valued at $10,000, and contains a reading room and upwards of 12,000 volumes. The Union Street Improvement Society has a small collection of books, and the Normal School has some 6,000 volumes. The latter has also a cabinet of minerals. The newspapers are the "Times and News-Letter" and the "Valley Echo." The town has mixed and graded schools, including a high school. They occupy 22 buildings, valued in 1885 at $69,950. The State Normal School in this place has a fine set of buildings. The appropriation for the third edifice (a boarding hall, just completed) and. the necessary land was $150,000; making the value of the entire property $315,000. The institution is now admirably fitted for the education of the excellent young men and young women who naturally seek its advantages. The town has nine religious societies, some of which have very handsome edifices. These are two Congregationalist, two Methodist, a Baptist, a Protestant Episcopal, a Roman Catholic, a Second Advent and a Universalist. Many of the residences are beautiful places. The streets of the chief village especially are ornamented with ancient trees, and have neatly paved sidewalks. The water-supply is excellent.

[Old Normal School Building.]
[Normal Hall, Westfield, Mass.]

The Indian name of this place was Woronoack. The English settlements were commenced a little after the middle of the 17th century. The town was incorporated on May 16, 1669, and named from its location. It suffered much from the incursions of the savages, and troops were stationed here for its defence. The sound of the drum served as the call to worship as well as to battle. A church was organized here, August 27, 1679; and the first pastor was Rev. Edward Taylor. The soldiers from this town lost in the late war for the Union are commemorated by a suitable monument.

pp.682-685 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

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