Wilbraham Massachusetts, 1890

Wilbraham occupies a central position in the eastern section of Hampden County, and is 89 miles southwest of Boston. The Boston and Albany Railroad has a station at North Wilbraham in the northeast part of the town. This village and Wilbraham (centre) are the post-offices; and the other villages are Glendale and West Wilbraham.

Ludlow forms the boundary on the north; Palmer and Monson, on the east; Hampden, on the south; and Springfield, on the west. The assessed area is 12,901 acres; and of this 3,403 acres are woodland. The underlying rock is calcareous gneiss and upper conglomerate. A range of hills, entering near the middle of the southern side, extends northeastward past the centre. The local scenery is remarkably beautiful; the land spreading out into winding glades and valleys, or rising into picturesque eminences, from or near which small streamlets flow in various directions through the territory. The Chicopee River washes the entire northern border, and Mill River has its origin in the town; the south branch gathering its rills in the southern section, and the north branch flowing southwestward from Nine Mile Pond in the north, then, running northwestward for a couple of miles, it enters Springfield. This branch, for nearly its whole length in the town, is bordered by a cedar swamp. Apple orchards are numerous, and huckleberries are a source of some profit.

According to the recent census report, the value of the product of the 144 farms in 1885 was $143,818. The largest manufacturing establishments are the paper mill, employing, in 1885, 148 persons; the twine mill, employing 30; the woollen mill, 31 persons; and the grain mill, employing 16 men. The value of the aggregate product was $644,622. The population was 1,724; of whom 356 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $625,715, with a tax-rate of $10.40 on $1,000. There were 303 assessed dwelling-houses. The nine public school-houses were valued at $9,200.

[boarding house, Wilbraham Academy, Wilbraham.]

The Union Philosophical Library has about 1,200 volumes, and the Wesleyan Academy upwards of 4,000. The latter institution was incorporated in 1824, and is one of the oldest and best known schools in the country. Pupils are received from 10 years of age and upward, and of both sexes. The course of study is systematic and extensive, and includes all those branches which prepare the pupil for the common business of life, or for a higher course of collegiate or professional study. There are three Methodist churches, and one each of the Congregationalists, Adventists, and Union churches.

The Indian name applied to the original territory of the town was Minechaug, meaning "berry land." The first white settler was Nathaniel Hitchcock, who came to the place in 1730. The Rev. Noah Merrick, the first minister, was ordained in a barn in 1741; and in 1748 the first meeting-house was erected. The town was very patriotic during the Revolutionary struggle. During the late war it furnished 243 men for the army of the Union, of whom 26 were lost in or by reason of the service. Joseph Badger (1757-1846), an early missionary west of the Alleghanies; John Stearns, M.D. (1770-1848), an eminent physician; Abraham Avery, an eminent Boston printer; and the Rev. Rufus P. Stebbins, D.D., were natives of this town.

pp. 699-701 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890