History Of North Adams, Massachusetts
Reminiscences Of Early Settlers.
-Extracts From Old Town Records.-
Its Public Institutions, Industries And Prominent Citizens,
Together With A Roster Of Commissioned Officers In The War Of The Rebellion.
By W. P. Spear.
North Adams, Mass.: Hoosac Valley News Printing House. 1885.
CHAPTER XII. - MISCELLANEOUS
[Transcribed by Dave Swerdfeger]
APRIL 16, 1878, the old town of Adams was divided, the southern half retaining the old name and the northern half taking the name of North Adams. Up to this time the two villages had been as twin sisters, sharing their prosperity and adversity alike. But the south part was growing so rapidly that the fathers of the town and, in fact, nearly all the inhabitants of both villages, were unanimous in the belief that the division was a very advisable thing. Since the division both towns have been prospered, even beyond the hopes of the most sanguine, and to-day are called the smartest towns in the western part of the state, and, in fact, stand very near if not at the head of the whole state as thrifty, energetic and prosperous settlements.
For the past few years the town has enjoyed the benefit of a brisk railroad competition from the roads centering here. This superiority of North Adams as a shipping point has effected a marked change in the method of disposing of the production of the mills. This change includes the storage of goods here under the low insurance of the Mill Owners' Association, selling the goods to the trade direct, thus keeping accounts but once. This method contrasts most favorably with the old method, by which goods were sent to a commission house as soon as made and insured against fire at high rates, with the possibility of total loss in case of great fires, as at Chicago and Boston; the old method, also, having the disadvantage that the commission house might sell at a sacrifice to get funds.
The Arnold Print Works and the Freeman Manufacturing Company have sold their goods for some time direct to customers, and in some instances have shipped goods to St. Louis a dollar on a hundred pounds' weight cheaper than they could be shipped to the same point from New York.
During the past twenty years the growth of North Adams has been rapid and permanent. In that period it has more than quadrupled in manufacturing and commercial importance. One illustration of its remarkable growth is afforded by the fact that where only one or two mongrel or mixed trains did all the business of the day a few years ago, there are now many full-fledged passenger, express and other trains to do the work.
In the summer of 1884 the town of North Adams received a great impetus in the way of building. Large brick business houses were built, as well as private tenements. On Main street was built the new North Adams Savings Bank building, with its handsome granite front; on Bank street was built the Reardon and Wright brick blocks, with pressed brick and marble fronts; on State street was erected the H. W. Clark block, for a wholesale grocery store, and on Ashland street the shoe factory of Whitman, Canedy & Co. During the year there were 170 new dwellings erected.
Following is the population of the town as per each census since 1790 to 1580, inclusive, showing the loss and gain for each year:
In 1885 the population of the north village alone is 12,540 inhabitants.
AID TO THE WAR OF THE REBELLION.
For nearly half a century after the war of 1812 peace brooded over the green hills and fertile valleys of the town. Youths had grown to manhood and old age, and now, as gray-haired grand-sires, they trotted the children on their knees and rehearsed to them the tales they loved best to hear—tales of the battles fought and won. Each morn the sun shone on a prosperous, happy, contented people. But, alas! as its rays wreathed with a glad smile the mountain summits on the morn of April 12, 1861, it awakened no answering smile in the hearts of the people. The first shot on Sumpter had frightened away the angel Peace, and grim war usurped her place.
The first call for men found the town up and ready and doing. Side by side with her sister towns, she sent the very flower of her young blood to endure the weary marches and the brunt of battle, and side by side with their sons to sleep the long sleep-some 'neath the sun-kissed plains of the wilful South, some rocked in the bosom of the broad Atlantic, while others have been borne to rest among their kindred by sympathizing friends, who, year by year, to muffled drum beat, wend their way to their consecrated tombs to deck their "couch of dreamless sleep" with the beautiful spring flowers-a national tribute to a nation's honored dead.
It is impossible to tell how many men from this town took part in the late war, as many enlisted in other towns, and even in other states. The amount of money expended, however, by the town, including both villages, and exclusive of state aid, was $112,103. The number of commissioned officers furnished was thirty-three, as follows:
NORTH ADAMS FIRE DISTRICT.
The work in this department began in the spring of 1867, and was so far fiinshed as to let the water into the street pipes in the fall of that year. For some time previous to this date the matter had been under consideration, the fathers of the town urging it at town meetings and in private conversation with voters. They saw that the town must ultimately have works of the kind, and that the town was in as good shape to stand the expense then as it would ever be. Contract was made with the North Adams Water Company, which was formed merely for construction work, to build the Water Works, the town agreeing to pay the Water Company the entire cost of constructing the same.
The company employed Edwin Thayer to superintend the building of reservoirs and laying the pipes. Mr. Thayer furnished the first money to the concern, taking in return for same $500 in town bonds at par. Shepard Thayer was made treasurer of the Water Company, and, finding the treasury empty, immediately went to work raising funds for the immediate necessities. That he found his office no bed of roses is assured from the fact that his account as treasurer amounted to $140,000, including his loan and rolling account.
According to the books and vouchers of the Water Company, it paid $87,073.37 for construction up to the time the works were accepted by the Fire District, which occurred on the 1st of April, 1869, John F. Arnold, A. P. Butler and A. W. Preston being a committee to audit their books and report to the district. The first financial report of the Fire District, made April 28, 1869, showed the following:
Total expenses to date $96,399.24
Total available assets 2,398.78
Balance of indebtedness $94,000.46
The water is taken from a spring brook flowing from the side of Greylock mountain, at a distance of two and one-half miles from the village, giving a fall of 650 feet from the dam in the Notch to Main street. This fall is divided into three parts—from the dam to the upper reservoir, from the upper to the lower reservoir, and from there into and through the streets.
The lower reservoir, located on the hillside at an altitude of 230 feet above Main street, at a distance of one-half mile:therefrom, gives a force of pressure on the pipes of 115 pounds to the square inch at the Berkshire House on Main street. The upper reservoir, situated on a plateau of land some sixty rods above the lower reservoir, gives a fall of 240 feet into the lower reservoir. The fall from the dam to the upper reservoir is 180 feet in a distance of 600.
O. Wells & Son brought a suit against the district for diverting the water of the Notch brook from their several mill sites. The district paid them $2,170.97, which, with the costs, amounted to $2,581.97.
During the first year or two considerable trouble was experienced. by the freezing of the pipes, and especially the hydrants, which were made for the Southern trade, and practically useless during our rigorous winter months. From the first year in the history of the Fire District until the present time the water rents have constantly increased in amount.
In 1883 the town had increased so much in population that during the dry months of the year there was a great scarcity of water. All sorts of plans were talked over in order to meet the immediate demands of the district. It was finally decided to supply the town from artesian wells. These were, begun in the summer of 1884, two wells being sunk at a cost of about $15,000, which included land damages of $8,000. A contract was made with the Knowles Steam Pump Works to furnish house, boiler and pumps for forcing the water from the wells into the reservoirs. The contract was finished and the pumps used first-in the summer of 1885.
THE NORTH ADAMS GAS LIGHT COMPANY.
In the winter of 1863, a charter was issued by the legislature of Massachusetts incorporating the North Adams Gas Light company, with a capital stock of $50,000. John B. Tyler, S. Johnson and A. W. Richardson were the incorporators. A contract was made with the Providence Steam and Gas Fitting company to lay all the pipes then needed and furnish the retorts, the incorporators furnishing buildings. April 2d 1864, the company was formed with officers as follows: Directors, A. W. Richardson, John B. Tyler, S. Johnson, S. W. Brayton and W. S. Blackinton. John B. Tyler was elected first president, W. W. Freeman treasurer and H. Clay Bliss clerk.
The price of gas per thousand feet was $5.00. A. W. Richardson, was elected president in 1866, at the same time the office of clerk and treasurer was made one, and H. Clay Bliss re-elected. S. Johnson was president from 1867 to 1873; John B. Tyler from 1873 to 1878; A. W. Richardson from 1878 to 1884; W. L. Brown was elected in 1884.
In 1878 Frank S. Richardson succeeded Mr. Bliss as clerk and treasurer, and in 1884 this office was divided and Arthur D. Cady elected clerk, Mr. Richardson still continuing the treasurship. The price of gas has been reduced from $5.00 to $2.15 per thousand feet. The plant has cost to the present day about $150.000.
BOSTON, HOOSAC TUNNEL & WESTERN RAILROAD.
In the winter of 1878 this railway company was organized, consisting of a few Boston capitalists, with General William Burt at the head, and to him is due the energy and push which surmounted all opposition and procured the necessary legislation. In carrying out his project Mr. Burt was opposed by the Troy & Boston and New York Central Railway Companies. The courts were appealed to in New York, and the aid of the Legislature invoked. The Troy & Boston Company tried the same tactics in Massachusetts, but the victory was final with the new road, which was formally opened on Monday, the 21st of December, 1879.
SKETCH OF HOOSAC TUNNEL.
About 1820, the possibility of building a canal from Boston to Albany was presented to the legislature, which was more seriously entertained after the completion of the Erie canal in 1823. In 1855 three commissioners and an engineer were appointed, to ascertain if it was practicable. Several routes were tested, though their report in 1826, favored one across the northern part of Worcester county, up the Deerfield river, through the Hoosae mountain, and, by the valley of the Hoosac river, to the Hudson near Troy.
About this time, railroads began to attract attention, and their superiority was immediately recognized, and the project of a canal abandoned. In 1840, the Troy & Greenfield railroad company was chartered. The company proposed to build a road to and through the mountain, thence to Williamstown, there to connect with any road leading to, or near the city of Troy. The length of the road from Greenfield, was 45 miles. The estimated cost of which, including the tunnel would be $80,000 per mile.
It is hardly necessary to give a history of the tunnel here, as excellent accounts of this stupendous feat of engineering have already been produced. A few facts will suffice. Ground was first broken for the tunnel in the spring of 1850. Two shafts were sunk, called the West and Central shafts. The latter was sunk a distance of 1,028 feet, requiring four years of continuous labor, and an expenditure of not less than half a million dollars. This gave the workmen, six working points. The first passage of cars, occurred on February 9th 1875, after 25 years of labor, during a portion of which time upwards of a thousand men were employed, and the work pushed night and day. The first freight train passed through on the 5th Of April, and consisted of 22 cars from the west, loaded with grain. Passenger trains began to run from Boston to Troy in October of the same year, though the tunnel was not officially declared to be ready for business until July 1st 1876.
In round numbers the tunnel is 25,031 feet in length, 20 feet high, 425 feet in width. From it was excavated 1,900,000 tons of rock, while it has 7,573 feet of brick arching, in which are 20,000,000 bricks. Its entire costs was $14,000,000 and 195 human lives. The Pittsfield & North Adams railroad company was orignally incorporated in 1843. Nothing was done under this chartar however, so it expired and was renewed in 1840. During that year the road was commenced and compleated, at an expense of $450,000, the last rail being laid at 11 o'clock, October 6th 1840.
BANKS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS.
The Adams National Bank of North Adams was organized in 1832, with Caleb B. Turner as president; William E. Brayton as cashier; and Caleb B. Turner, Josiah Q. Robinson, Nathan Drury, David Anthony, Sanford Blackinton, Edward Richmond, Isaiah U. Hoxie, Samuel Bowen and James Wilbur, directors. The presidents since Mr. Turner, have been Nathan Drury, Daniel Smith, Duty S. Tyler, W. E. Braytan and Sanford Blackinton, who held the office at his death, on the 24th day of July 1885. September 14th Shubael Brayton, the vice president was elected to the office. The cashier is Edward S. Wilkinson. The original capital was $100,000, which upon the reorganization of the bank under the national law, in 1805, was increased to $350,000 and has since been increased to $500,000.
The Berkshire National Bank was organized in 1878, with Jarvis Rockwell, president; A. W. Hodge, vice-president; J. Rockwell, A. W. Hodge, James Hunter, A. D. Cady, W. H. Gaylord, S. W. Ingalls, Joseph White, James Chalmers and J. R. Houghton, directors; C. H. Ingalls cashier. About the first of the year of 1885, Mr. Ingalls was obliged to resign the cashiership, because of failing health, and A. D. Cady was appointed in his stead. Upon the death of Judge Rockwell, on the 14th of May 1885, the office of president was made vacant, and in June of the same year, James Hunter was elected to the office. The original capital of the institution was $100,000, which has since been increased to $200,000.
The North Adams Savings Bank, was incorporated in 1848, with William Brayton treasurer, who continued to 1858, when E. D. Whitaker was appointed. The bank has been very successful in all its ventures, and to-day stands at the head of the list as a solid, careful and well managed institution. The present treasurer is V. A. Whitaker, who succeeded his father in the office in 1873.
The Hoosac Savings Bank was organized in 1871 with Austin Bond as treasurer. The present treasurer is W. W. Butler.
NORTH ADAMS HOSPITAL.
On the 21st of October, 1882, an accident occurred in the local freight yard, whereby 35 workmen in the tunnel were killed, or injured severely. The want of a suitable place to care for the injured was severely felt.
That same day Messrs W. L. Brown and W. S. Johnson headed, and circulated a subscription paper for the purpose of erecting a hospital in the village. The result of their labor is the present building on the sightly eminence in the northern part of the town. The property comprises the building and 30 acres of land surrounding it, which represents an expenditure of $19,900. Of this amount $11,378 was raised by subscription, $295 for the rent of land for two years previous to the completion of the building, $127 from an entertainment given by Prof. David Roberts, and a loan of $7500 from the savings bank. This left a deficit of $600 to be raised when the building was opened. The building was formally turned over to the board of control, by the building committee, on March 2d 1885 and the building declared to be ready to receive patients. Experienced nurses were engaged from New York, and all the arrangements were of the most complete character. The opening day it was estimated that fully fifteen hundred persons visited the building, where appropriate exercises were conducted, by the local clergymen.
Following is the list of the first officers.
While the hospital was being agitated and before its completion, the question was repeatedly asked, "what are we going to do with it?" Such good. work has been done at the institution, that now, less than four months after the opening day, the question is asked, "how have we ever done without it?" Such demonstrates the change of public sentiment
The first newspaper printed in North Adams was called the Berkshire American. It was a weekly paper, neutral, and edited by Dr. Asa Green, who issued the first number early in the winter of 1826 or '27. The enterprise was not a success, and after a sickly struggle of two years died a natural death. At the same time a paper called the Socialist was also published, being merely the matter of the Berkshire American reprinted on a smaller sheet without the advertisements.
About a year after the paper had ceased its issue, Atwell & Turner were induced to take hold of it, and began the publication in 1830. With the same old Rampage press, but with some additions to the type, they issued a very respectable sheet for those days, and served some 500 subscribers for two years. Herman Atwell was the editor. William Mitchell next purchased the press, type and furniture, publishing what was called the Adams Gazette and Farmers' and Mechanics' Magazine. This was a neutral paper, and lasted about one and one-half years with 450 subscribers.
In 1833 A. H. Wells appeared in the field, and, with the aid of some enterprising citizens, a new press and modern styles of type were added to the old concern, and a paper appeared advocating Whig doctrines, under the head of the Berkshire Advocate. It had 400 subscribers, and lived about one year.
William M. Mitchell again put his shoulder to the wheel and brought out the Greylock Mirror, with 400 subscribers, which was published about six months. For several years after this none could be found bold enough to undertake the revival of a press here, the want of which was sadly felt by all classes of the community.
The North Adams Transcript—This paper was established as a Whig journal, under the title of the Adams Transcript, September 7, 1843, by John R. Briggs, with 600 subscribers. In April, 1844, Mr. Briggs associated with him Henry Chickering, and in the following year retired from the firm. Later, Messrs. Burton & Winton purchased the paper, merging it into the Free American.
They in turn disposed of the concern to William S. George, and it then became the property of William H. Phillips, who united it with the Hoosac Valley News, and took into partnership Francis S. Parker. Parker subsequently withdrew, and in 1866 Phillips sold to Hon. James T. Robinson, who, in company with his son Arthur, still conducts the paper.
When the News was united with the Transcript the title was changed to the Transcript and News, and soon after Mr. Robinson took the paper the name was changed to the Adams Transcript, which was retained until the division of the town, when the title was again changed to The North Adams Transcript, which title it now bears. It is a large ten-column paper, published every Wednesday.
February 15, 1851, the Greylock Sentinel was started as a Free Soiler, with A. J. Aiken as editor. In February, 1852, Mr. Aiken retired, and his chair was filled by A. D. Brock. The Sentinel had a circulation of 650, and in the autumn of 1852 was changed to the Free American. In 1853 it was sold to Burton & Winton, who subsequently united it with the Transcript.
The Hoosac Valley News was originally established by Clark & Phillips, in 1857, Mr. Phillips subsequently becoming sole owner, who united it with the Transcript, as above stated.
In January, 1867, Mr. Phillips, in company with John Mandeville, re-established the News. Mr. Phillips soon sold his interest to James C. Angell, the firm becoming Angell & Mandeville, which firm was continued three or four years, when James L. Bowen purchased Mandeville's interest, and about a year after this Angell became sole proprietor. In 1877 his son, E. D. Angell, became publisher, the father still acting as editor. July 1, 1879, Charles T. Evans, became a partner. October lst, 1882, the office was leased to H. T. & W. J. Oatman, who failed in a little less than one year, and the office was then run by Mr. Hardman, Mr. Angell's son-in-law.
October 1st, 1884, E. A. McMillin purchased an interest, and the paper is now conducted with Hardman & McMillin as editors and proprietors. The News is a bright, lively and reliable eight-page paper of fifty-six columns, being enlarged in October of the present year, from a nine column to four page paper.
NORTH ADAMS LIBRARY ASSOCIATION.
At a very early day in the history of the town, the need of libraries of some kind, became very apparent. Ezra D. Whitaker in 1830 kept a circulating library in his store, in the building now occupied by L. Childs. This library he continued for a good many years.
In 1844 Edwin Rogers had a circulating library of some 800 volumes in his store at the corner of Main and Eagle streets. About 1856 Edward Spaulding, then superintendent for Ingalls & Tyler, was the means of starting a library, which was placed in the store connected with that mill.
In 1859 Frank Shephard, Frank Stever and Charles H. Williams, began agitating the question of a public library. Their efforts were finally crowned with success for in the next year the North Adams Library Association was formed.
The first meeting was held in the stone office, corner of Main and Bank streets, then occupied by Dawes & Porter. Charles H. Williams, then a student in the office, was elected the. first president, Frank Shephard first librarian and A. G. Potter, first clerk of the association.
The library was placed in a room in Thayer's block, which was the same building as the Adams house described in these sketches. The first object of the association was to form a reading room in connection with the library, but this idea was given up after a time. When this building was burned on the 9th of February, 1867, the books of the library were all saved by members of the association.
A room was immediately engaged in the old Burlingame block, and Charles D. Sanford became librarian. He took great interest in the work, classified and arranged the books, and issued the first catalogue. The organization became very prosperous, having at one time several hundred members. The library remained here until about 1870, when it was removed to a room in Martins block, against considerable opposition from the older members.
It prospered and flourished here until about 1880, when the membership began to decrease, and during 1882 and '83 the decrease quite alarming. About this time the subject of a free public library and reading room was talked of, and during the winter of 1883 and '84 the present quarters were engaged, and the books of the old association moved in. In the spring of 1884 at the annual meeting of the town, the library was accepted by the town as a gift from the association, and a sum appropriated for its maintenance.
The wisdom of this course was very apparent the first year, as will be seen from the following facts taken from the report of the manager at the end of the first year of the maintenance of the free public library in town. The number of persons registered as takers of books up to the first of March 1885, was 2629. The number of books drawn during the year, as shown by the records of the librarian was 42,562: an average of 3547 per month, or 136 per day, allowing 26 days to the month.
At this time there were but 4000 volumes belonging to the circulating department, and the above figures would indicate that books equal in number to the whole number of volumes admitted to circulation, were drawn once in each month of the year. This fact is of importance, not only in showing the demand on the library, but as disclosing also, to some extent, the labor, the constant care and watchfulness of the librarians, in keeping proper records of the books drawn and returned, and in seeing that none were lost or destroyed.
The librarians, who have had charge of the books at different times as near as can be ascertained, are Frank Shephard, Charles Sanford, E. S. Wilkinson, A. B. Wright, S. H. Fairfield, E. A. Wright, E. D. Tyler, Arthur Witherell.
All these before the library became free after this Miss Augusta C. Dunton was placed in charge and still continues. On the first of March 1885, the library contained 4750 volumes, of which 4129 were for circulation and 621 for reference. Of these 988 were purchased from the receipts of a fair for the benefit of the library and 787 were purchased with money appropriated by the town. During the first year were some donations of books —one of special value by William L. Brown, comprised 77 bound volumes of the "London Illustrated News," and 133 volumes of the "London Quarterly Review."
The benefit of a reading room, so far as they go are essentially the same as those of a library. As now conducted, the reading room is a source of little expense aside from the cost of reading matter and lights. It has been orderly, well kept, frequented by large numbers of people in the day time and evening, and furnishes a kind and variety of reading not easily obtained elsewhere. That the library and reading room are held in high esteem by the voters of the town is evinced from the fact that at the town meeting in 1885, $3000 was appropriated for its maintenance.