Barre Massachusetts, 1890

Barre is an old town near the geographical centre of the State, which had thrifty days in the stage-coach times ; and since the railroad (Massachusetts Central and Ware River railroads, Boston and Albany system) has entered and established stations at Barre (central village) and Barre Plains, the place has taken a fresh start. Worcester lies at the southwest, about 21 miles away, and Boston is 60 miles eastward. The town lies in the western part of the middle belt of Worcester County ; having Hubbardston on the northeast, Rutland and Oakham on the southeast, New Braintree and Hardwick on the southwest, and Dana and Petersham on the northwest. Its form is nearly square, with angles at the cardinal points of the compass. The area is 26,442 acres ; or, adding the highways and water surfaces, upwards of 42 square miles. Prince River rises in the north, where there is a pretty pond, runs southward to Barre Plains, in the southern part of the town, where it joins Ware River; this being formed in the eastern part of the town by the confluence of Canesto, Burnt-shirt and other brooks ; and in the westerly part are Moose and Pine Hill brooks. All these streams have falls which afford serviceable powers; The land is elevated and hilly, with many forests of oak, pine, maple and chestnut. Haws Hill, in the northern part of the town, has an elevation of 1,285 feet. Other eminences in the town are Mount Pleasant in the northeast, Storehouse Hill in the southeast, Prospect, Allen, and Farrow hills in the central part, with Ridge and Bascom in the northwest. Barre, the central village, is situated near the summit of a broad hill, being in its highest point about 1,200 feet above the sea, — making it very conspicuous, and at the same time securing a dry, invigorating atmosphere. The wholesomeness of the town is evinced by the fact that in 1885 there were 41 residents over 80 years, and 21 who were over 85 years of age. The town is notable for its fine roads, miles of which are shaded by elm, maple and ash trees, many being very large. A huge bowlder, called the " Rocking Stone," in the northwestern part of the town, interests the curious. The principal rock formation that crops out in, the town is calcareous gneiss, in which occur specimens of rutile, pyrites, beryl and garnet. The soil is deep and strong, being loam with a clay subsoil, except in the west, where it is sandy. The town has long been noted for the quantity and quality of its dairy products, —which, in 1885, were valued at $75,967. The value of the cereals was $15,057 ; of fruits, berries, and nuts, $13,157 ; vegetables, $13,199 ; and of hay, etc., $92,569. There were 2,269 neat cattle and 21,972 fruit trees. The farms numbered 246, and their aggregate product was $289,738. The manufactures also were quite extensive. The town has a cotton factory, a straw hat factory, a machine shop and foundry, a planing mill and saw mills. The aggregate value of goods made in 1885, when some of the factories were not so fully employed as at present, was $163,831. The population, by the last census, was 2,093. The valuation, in 1888, was $1,385,375 ; with a tax of $18 on $1,000. The town has a fine hall of brick (known as the Woods Memorial Library Building), which is supplied with a free public library of about four thousand volumes. Another institution in which the town has pride for its good repute and its spacious and attractive buildings and grounds, is the Brown School for feeble-minded children. A new and excellent hotel is also thought to be a valuable addition to the place. Barre has graded and mixed schools, with twelve buildings, valued, with appurtenances, at $12,500. The public schools have a library of more than 500 volumes, and the Sabbath-school libraries are furnished in proportion. The "Barre Gazette" is a good weekly journal, and worthy of its patronage. The several villages in the town are Barre (centre), Barre Plains and Smithville, — which are the post-offices ; and South Barre, Heald's Village and Mill Village. Many of the village dwellings are of brick. The First National Bank has a capital of $150,000. At the close of last year the Barre Savings Bank held $316,723 in deposits.

The Roman Catholics have here a small brick church ; that of the Unitarians is of wood in a pretty Gothic style. The Congregational church affords sittings for 450 people ; the Methodist, for 300 ; and the Baptist, for 280.

This place was incorporated as Rutland district in 1753, and was incorporated as a town in 1774, being named in honor of Governor Hutchinson. The events of the early days of the Revolution rendered this name extremely unpopular, and in 1776 it was changed to honor that friend of America, Col. Isaac Barre, a member of the British parliament. In 1884 the woollen mill was burned, which was an interruption to the best prosperity of the town for a time.

A church was first organized here in 1753, when the Rev. Thomas Frink became its pastor.

The Rev. David Oliver Allen, D.D. (1804-1863), Gen. Joseph B. Plummer (1820-1862), were natives of Barre. Other valued citizens were Col. William Buckminster, Harding P. Woods, Henry Woods, Charles Rice, David Lee, John Smith, Edward Denny, Luke Adams, Henry E. Rice, Luke Houghton, Stephen Heald.

 

pp. 134-136 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890