Charlton Massachusetts, 1890
Charlton is a large, pleasant, agricultural town, situated in the southwesterly part of Worcester County, 57 miles from Boston, on the Boston and Albany Railroad, which passes through the northern part. It is bounded on the north by Spencer and Leicester, east by Oxford, south by Dudley, southwest by Southbridge, and west by Sturbridge.
The land is elevated and somewhat rough and rocky. The railroad station in this town is said to be at the highest grade between Boston and Springfield. It is 512 feet above low tide. Charlton Summit, about one fourth of a mile east of the station, is 907 feet above half or mean tide at Boston. Muggett Hill, near Charlton Centre, is 1,012 feet high; and from its summit rnay be seen, it is said, four States and nineteen villages. The scenery of the whole town is varied and romantic. Traces of the old "Bay Path," so beautifully described by Dr. J. G. Holland in his romance of that name, are still discernible. The streams — of which the principal are Little River in the easterly, Cady's and Globe brooks in the westerly part of the town — flow south into French, or Quinnebaug, River. Hick's Pond, of 120 acres, having Cady's Brook for its outlet, is a valuable sheet of water, and the view of it from Williams Hill is very beautiful.
Charlton City, on this brook, with Charlton Centre and Charlton Depot, are the post-offices and villages. Other villages are North Side, Dresser Hill, Leland's Village and Milward.
The geological structure of the town is mainly gneiss. It has an area of 26,500 acres of assessed land, including 7,484 acres of wood-land. The farms number 309. The value of their product in 1885 was $265,657. The town had three lumber and box mills, a woollen factory, three or more factories for wire, artisans' tools and other metallic goods, a grain mill and stone quarries. The value of the woollen goods produced in 1885 was $147,260; of the wooden manufactures, $175,600; the artisans' tools and other metallic goods, $48,746; food preparations, $46,000; the aggregate value reaching $476,131. The valuation in 1888 was $914,470, with a tax-rate of $11.50 on $1,000. The population was 1,823, and the number of dwelling-houses 425.
The town has 13 school-houses, valued, with appurtenances, at $8,150. There is a public library containing about 1,000 volumes, and three Sunday-school libraries. The churches are a Congregationalist, a Methodist, and, at Charlton City, a Universalist. The town furnished 175 men for the Union army in the late war, of whom twelve died in service.
Charlton was formerly the western part of Oxford, and was incorporated November 2, 1764. Probably the name was in honor of Sir Francis Charlton, Bart., who was a gentleman of the British privy chamber in 1755. A church was first organized here April 16, 1761; and on October 15th following, the Rev. Caleb Eustis was ordained pastor. Martin Ruter, D. D., an author of some celebrity, was born here April 3, 1735,— deceased in Texas, May 16, 1838. William T.G. Morton, M.D., discoverer of the use of ether as an anæsthetic in surgery, was born here August 9, 1819. He died in New York July 15, 1868.
pp. 227-228 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890