West Brookfield Massachusetts, 1890
West Brookfield is a picturesque and beautiful farming and manufacturing town lying in the southwestern part of Worcester County, 69 miles west of Boston by the Boston and Albany Railroad. It contains one handsome village, which has the post-office and the railway station for the town.
The territory is very irregular in form; being broad at the north, and tapering to a point at the south, serrate and convex on the north east and east, and concave on the west. New Braintree lies on the north; New Brookfield east of the main section; Brookfield, on the east, southeast and south; Warren on the southwest, but south of the western projection; and Ware on the west of the broad northern part. The assessed area is 12,138 acres. There are about 2,300 acres of oak and chestnut. At the pleasant village are many maple, elm, ash, spruce and horse-chestnut trees, some being of unknown antiquity. The village is further beautified by a shady common and adorned by a fountain. The town scenery is rendered beautiful by many wooded and cultivated eminences, and fertile valleys, through which flow many streams. Whortleberry and Ragged hills diversify the northern part; Wigwam and Foster hills, the eastern; Long Hill, the southern; and Coy's Hill, the western part of the town. A little west of the centre is Wickaboag Pond, about 430 acres ill extent, one of the sources of the Chicopee River; one branch of which, flowing from Quaboag Pond, in Brookfield, crosses the southern section of the town. Ellis River flows southeast through the western part of the town; Sucker Brook drains the north, and Coy's Brook the eastern part. The underlying rock is granite and gneiss. The soil of the hills is a clay loam, and that of the lower lands a sandy loam, — both very fertile.
[town hall and reading room, West Brookfield]
The number of farms is 98, and their product in 1885 was $144,249. They required the labor of 196 men. There were five boot and shoe factories, employing 184 persons, and turning out goods to the amount of $238,864. The manufacture of corsets employed 139 persons, and a book and job printing office employed 11. Wrought stone, wooden, leather and metallic goods, carriages and food preparations were other items of the manufactures; whose entire value for the year was $309,498. The population was 1,747, of whom 444 were legal voters. The valuation was $783,112, with a tax-rate of 1.33 per cent. There were 361 taxed dwelling-houses. There are a convenient public hall, and a fine library building containing a reading-room and a collection of about 6,000 volumes. The six public school-houses are valued at nearly $20,000. The Congregationalists, Methodists and Roman Catholics each have a church edifice here.
This town was formerly the West Parish of Brookfield; and was set apart and incorporated, March 3, 1848. The first meeting-house here was built on Foster's Hill. On what is called "Indian Rock," on the northwest side of this hill, was a tower, erected as a lookout for Indians. Mark's Garrison stood near the southwest end of Wickaboag Pond, on a knoll below the junction of its outlet with the Quaboag River. It is related that Mrs. Marks, being left here alone one day, discovered hostile Indians near, apparently watching for an opportunity to attack the settlement. She immediately put on her husband's wig, hat and greatcoat; and, taking his gun, went to the top of the fortification. Here she marched; to and fro, calling in a coarse tone, like a vigilant sentinel, "All's well! all's well!" The Indians no doubt thought the place could not now be taken by surprise; for they retired without doing any injury.
Lucy Stone (1818), prominent as an advocate of woman's rights; Rev. Austin Phelps, D.D. (1820), an able divine, and long a professor of rhetoric in Andover Theological Seminary, were natives of this town. Also natives, or long-time residents, were Jedediah Foster, a judge of the supreme court from 1776 to 1779; Dwight Foster, a judge of the court of common pleas from 1866 to 1869, and U.S, senator; Alfred D Foster, judge of probate, Worcester County; and David Hitchcock and Jabie Upham, members of Congress.
pp. 679-681 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890