a fine grazing town on the Hoosac branch of the Green Mountain
range, on the easterly side of Berkshire County, 118 miles west
from Boston. Its boundaries are Washington and Middlefield on
the north, Chester on the east, Otis on the south, and Tyringham,
Lee and Washington on the west.
Much of the surface is broken, and not available for cultivation.
Benton Hill, in the north, is a commanding eminence; and Becket
Mountain, in the west, a station in the Trigonometrical Survey,
has an elevation of 2,194 feet above sea-level. Wadsworth Hill,
in the centre, is the water-shed of Westfield and Farmington rivers;
while a tributary of the Housatonic River rises in the western
part of the town. The scenery is further diversified by several
beautiful sheets of clear water, - Centre Lake, of 163 acres;
Rudd Pond, 96 acres; Yokum Pond, 118 acres, and the smaller Shaw
and Ward ponds. The climate is cool and bracing, and the people
are noted for longevity; there being in 1885, out of a population
of 938, 19 persons over 80 years, and two over 90 years of age.
The surface rocks are chiefly granite. The soil is variously sand,
loam and clay. There are about 150 farms and 245 dwellings. The
dairies yielded, in 1885, $21,917; the crop of cereals was valued
at $2,662; fruits, berries, and nuts at $4,010; vegetables, $8,388;
meat and game, $7,481; wood products, $9,784; liquors and beverages,
$1,016; the aggregate being $98,095. The number of neat cattle
was 1,249, sheep 1,058, and of fruit trees, 6,470. At the same
time the manufactured goods amounted to $109,877 in value; consisting
of lumber, wooden braid and baskets, paper, woollen goods, boots
and shoes, quarried stone, liquors, and several other articles.
The valuation of the town in 1888 was $401,285, with $18 on $61,000
as the rate of taxation. The area is 26,975 acres, exclusive of
highways and water surfaces; with 8,447 acres of woodland, consisting
of beech, birch, maple, spruce and hemlock. A noticeable feature
is the size and variety of the trees along the public ways,- many
being 50 and 60 years old. The Boston and Albany Railroad runs
along the northeastern border, the stations being Becket and Middlefield.
The villages are Becket, West Becket and Becket Centre. All are
post-offices. Becket has a high school and a graded system, with
nine public school-houses, valued, with appurtenances, at $5,000.
There is also a private school - the Claflin School, established
in 1866. There are three Sunday-school libraries, having about
1,000 volumes in the aggregate. The public library - Becket Atheneum
- was established early in 1889. Becket was patriotic in the Revolution;
and she also sent 110 soldiers into the late war, of whom nine
deaths are recorded.
This town, called in its early period "Number Four,"
was originally settled in 1755, and was incorporated June 21,
1765. Jabez Wadsworth was the first white person born here.
The first church was organized December 28, 1758; and the Rev.
Ebenezer Martin was ordained pastor on February 23 of the
following year. The Baptist church was formed in September, 1764;
Rev. Robert Nesbit was the first pastor. The church at North
Becket (Congregational) was organized September 25, 1849, and
the meeting-house dedicated November 21, 1860. There is also a
Roman Catholic congregation in the town, and a mission of the
New Church (Swedenborgian).
136-137 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890