Ayer Massachusetts, 1890
Ayer is a progressive railroad town in the northwestern part of Middlesex County, 35 miles from Boston. Groton lies upon the north Westford and Littleton on the east, and the latter also upon the southeast, Harvard on the south, and Shirley on the west. The land is uneven, and in the north quite hilly. Rocky Hill in the northeastern, and Brown Loaf Hill in the southwestern part, are the most notable eminences. Several beautiful ponds, together with Cold-Spring Brook, James Brook, and Nashua River, diversify the scenery. The population in 1885 was 2,190 ; the area of the town, as returned by the assessors, is 4,983 acres ; of which 2,582 acres are woodland. There were 48 farms, yielding, in 1885, the aggregate sum of $46,664. The chief income, however, is from the railroad business, and its manufactures. In the year just mentioned there were 106 steam-railroad employees residing here. Thirty-one manufactories were reported. The chief of these made "wooden goods" (furniture and agricultural implements) to the value of $122,778 ; iron and other metallic work (largely for agricultural implements), $45,240 ; clothing, $7,400 ; building material (wood and stone), $16,053 ; food preparations, $17,242. Some others are leather, straw goods, carriages, paper goods, candles and soap. The aggregate value of manufactures for that year was given at $244,617. The valuation in 1888 was $1,258,300 ; and the rate of taxation, $15.50 on $1,000. The First National Bank of this place at the last of the same year had assets to the value of $234,453 ; $75,000 of which was capital stock paid in. The deposits in the savings bank at the close of the same year amounted to $111,637. The town has a graded system of schools, with four school buildings, valued, with their appurtenances, at $15,175. There are five public libraries ; the town public library having about 2,200 volumes, and the Sunday schools nearly as many. There are two lively news-papers published here,— the "Ayer Express," and "Turner's Public Spirit." The Baptist church in this place was organized in 1851 ; the Congregational in 1861 ; the First Unitarian in 1864 ; the Methodist and the Roman Catholic (Saint Mary's) dates of establishment are not definitely ascertained.
This town was formed from parts of Groton and Shirley, its principal village — Ayer Junction — having formerly been Groton Junction It was incorporated February 14, 1871 ; being named in honor of James C. Ayer, a Lowell manufacturer. The growth of the town, though rapid, was very much checked by a fire on April 13, 1872, which swept away the Unitarian church and a long line of stores and shops. It has now long outgrown the blow, and filled the vacant spaces with better, and in some instances very handsome, edifices.
p. 130 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890