Williamstown Massachusetts, 1890
Williamstown forms the northwestern extremity of Berkshire County and of the State. It is noted as the seat of Williams College, and contains 3,729 inhabitants. The town is about 140 miles west by northwest of Boston, and some 25 miles north of Pittsfield. The Fitchburg Railroad has stations at Blackinton on the northeast border, and at Williamstown (North). These, with South Blackinton and Sweet's Corners, Are the post-offices; and the other villages are Beechdale, Coleville, Slab City and North Williamstown.
The town is bounded on the east by North Adams and Adams, south by New Ashford and Hancock, west by Berlin and Petersburgh in New York, and north by Pownal in Vermont. The assessed area is 28,184 acres; of which 9,594 are forests. About the town on every side are lofty mountains. Mount Hazen, in Clarksburg, on the northeastern border, rises to the height of 2,272 feet; Greylock, the highest elevation in the State, lifts his head to an altitude of 3,565 feet, in the southeast; Berlin Mountain, in the Taconic Range, which forms the western barrier, has an elevation of 2,814 feet; and the mountains on the north ascend to nearly this height. The township, therefore, occupies in the main a beautiful valley, enclosed by these lofty wooded eminences; through which the Hoosac River finds an opening on the east and north, and the two branches of the Green River an entrance on the south. The view of these bold mountain ramparts from the college buildings, in the central village, is on every hand magnificent. The valley in which the two branches of the Green River meet is rich and beautiful; and. the land of the whole town is productive, and remarkably well adapted to grazing and to the growth of the cereals and timber. The underlying rock is Levis limestone, Lauzon schist and the Potsdam series, with here and there a bed of clay and iron-ore. Fine crystals of quartz are sometimes found. Near the south village is a mineral spring, the waters of which remain at a. temperature of about 70 degrees throughout the year, and are said to be efficacious in the cure of some diseases of the skin.
The mountain sides are admirably adapted to sheep-husbandry; and the sheep in 1885 numbered 2,361. At the same time the number of neat cattle was 1,606. Apples, maple sugar and molasses are considerable products. The value of the aggregate product of the 177 farms, according to the census of 1885, was $285,469. Manufactures are slowly increasing in the town; the largest, in the year mentioned, being the woollen mill, employing 161 persons; and the cotton-mill, 191. Ten men were employed in brick-making. There were three lumber mills, and one or more grist-mills. Other manufactures were furniture, leather, boots and shoes, wood and metallic goods. The aggregate of manufactures amounted to the sum of $591,364. The Williamstown National Bank has a capital of $50,000. The number of legal voters was 736; and the number of dwelling-houses, 662. The valuation in 1888 was $1,984,350, with a tax-rate of $12.50 on $1,000. The 12 public-school buildings were valued at $7,800. There are two high schools, and the necessary ones of lower grades. The Glen Seminary and the Greylock Institute, in this town, are well-appointed private schools. The two or three village libraries aggregate nearly 6,000 volumes; the Greylock Institute has some 500 volumes; two learned societies nearly 10,000; and the College upwards of 22,000. The "Williams' Fortnight," a bi-weekly journal, is the principal periodical publication in the town. There are three Congregational churches (including the college church), a Baptist, a Methodist, a Protestant Episcopal, and an undenominational church having the somewhat romantic title of the "Church of Christ in the White Oaks."
This town, previously called "West Hoosac," was incorporated June 21, 1765, being named in honor of Col. Ephraim Williams. The first church was organized in the same year, when also the Rev. Whitman Welsh, the first pastor, was settled. Williams College, named, like the town, for Colonel Williams, was established in 1790 (inc. 1793); the legislature accompanying the charter with a giant of $4,000. The institution has now 21 buildings, several of them modern and elegant structures. Under the conduct of Dr. Franklin Carter, the present president, the college has received gifts to the amount of about $700,000. The first president was Dr. Ebenezer Fitch. The celebrated Dr. Mark Hopkins presided over the institution from 1836 to 1872; during which period the institution attained high rank. President Paul A. Chadbourne succeeded him; and on his decease in 1881, Dr. Carter was selected for this important place.
The college buildings are situated on a broad and beautiful street which runs over three charming eminences, forming apparently a part of the fine grounds of the institution. In this locality stands a fine monument of freestone, honoring the memory of the soldiers from Williams who fell in the late war for the Union. Near by is a marble shaft surmounted by a globe, which indicates the spot where Samuel J. Mills and his companions met by a haystack in 1807, and there made a consecration of themselves to foreign missionary labor; which occurrence proved the origin of the American Board of Foreign Missions. Both the central villages are places of unusual beauty; and one by one the mansions of summer residents are rising on the hills which encircle the college village.
Charles A. Dewey (1793-1866), attorney-general, also a justice of the supreme court of the State, was a native of Williamstown. He was the son of Daniel Dewey, a member of Congress and judge of the supreme court, and a resident of this town; which has been the residence of many eminent men.
pp. 702-704 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890