Genealogy in Franklin County, Massachusetts - Town of Greenfield

Genealogy in Franklin County, Massachusetts
Town of Greenfield

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Greenfield lies in the central part of Franklin County and is roughly bounded by Leyden and Bernardston on the north, Gill and Montague on the east, Deerfield on the south, and Shelburne on the west. Greenfield was organized as a district on June 9, 1753 from a part of Deerfield. It was organized as a town on August 23, 1775. On September 28, 1793, part of Greenfield was organized as Gill. On April 14, 1838, part of Greenfield was annexed to Bernardston.

In 1874, Elias Nason described the town of Greenfield as follows:
originally called Green River, is one of the most charming towns in the Connecticut Valley. It is the shire-town of Franklin County, and was taken from the north-easterly part of Deerfield, and incorporated June 9, 1753. It now contains 3,597 inhabitants, 926 voters, and 645 dwelling-houses. It is bounded on the north by Leyden and Bernardston, on the east by Gill and the Connecticut River (separating it from Montague), on the south by Deerfield, and on the west by Shelburne. It is 106 miles north-west of Boston by the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad, and 36 miles north of Springfield by the Connecticut-river Railroad.

The land is level, with the exception of some beautiful eminences in the eastern part, which are considered an extension of the Deerfield Mountains; and the soil, especially in the intervals of Green River, is excellent. The range of green-stone trap formation, which commences near New Haven, has its termination here. By the last Report of the Industry of the State, there were 115 farms, containing 10,192 acres, valued, with the buildings, at $426,000; and 842 acres of woodland, valued at $42,100. The farmers are intelligent, thrifty, and independent.

The water-power of the town is abundant. Green River enters it on the north, and winds gracefully through it to the Deerfield River. Fall River separates it from Gill on the east, and the Connecticut River washes its south-eastern border. In 1865 the town had one woollen-mill, one planing-mill, and three saw-mills. There were also establishments for the manufacture of hollow and tin ware, ploughs, saddles, harnesses, trunks, and clothing. Three men were employed in cutting marble and other kinds of stone.

The village of Greenfield is built upon two streets, which intersect each other; the handsomer one running east and west along the margin of Green River. They are flanked by many elegant buildings, and, ornamented with elm, maple, and other shade-trees, present a scene of quiet beauty seldom equalled. On the north side of the public square stands the new Congregational church, built of red sandstone; near it, the court-house; and, just below the square, the town-hall, a noble structure, built of brick. The high school is on Chapman Street. The Greenfield Institute for Young Ladies, and the Episcopal church, are on Federal Street. The jail is one of the finest buildings in the town. The Unitarian church (organized in 1825), the Baptist church (organized in 1852), and the Roman-Catholic church, are on Main Street. The Methodist church, organized in 1835, is on Church Street; and the meeting-house of the First Society is at Nash's Mills.

The first minister of the town was Edward Billings, settled in 1754; his successors were Roger Newton, D.D., settled in 1761; G. S. Olds, settled as colleague 1813; Sylvester Woodbridge; and Amariah Chandler, who settled in 1832. The present pastor is Woodbury S. Kimball. The Rev. F. A. Warfield is pastor of the Second Congregational church; and the other clergyman are the Revs. John F. Moors, Unitarian; P. V. Finch, Episcopalian; A. H. Ball, Baptist; and P. McManus, Roman Catholic.

From the summit of Rocky Mountain, eastward from the village, a most beautiful prospect may be had of the Connecticut Valley and the surrounding country. "Below you is the confluence of the Deerfield with the Connecticut, and the bridge which spans the former river; above, you just discover glimpses of the celebrated Turner's Falls, and the rapids which sweep down below them; to the south, Mount Toby rises boldly; and, far to the north-east, Mount Grace, in Warwick, lifts its dark-brown head above the horizon. On the western side of this ridge, from a niche in a rock, known as 'The Poet's Seat,' another beautiful prospect presents itself. At your feet you have Greenfield and the valley of the Green River, flanked by the hills of Leyden and Shelburne; to the south, Old Deerfield, hidden among its elms; over against it, in the boundary between Deerfield and Conway, Arthur's Seat, a noble mountain; in the middle of the picture, the enchanting meadows of Deerfield, with their many-figured, many-tinted carpeting."--From the Hub to the Hudson, p. 43.

The Bear's Den is another romantic spot in the southern part of this rocky ridge, from which a fine view of the valleys of the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers, and of the railroad-bridge, 750 feet in length, and 90 feet in height above the latter stream, may be obtained.

David Willard wrote a History of this town, which was published in 1838, pp. 180.

"The Greenfield Courier and Gazette" is the local paper.

This town furnished its full quota of soldiers for the late war.

It is the birthplace of GEORGE RIPLEY (1802), H. U. 1823, distinguished as a scholar and critic; and of Gen. CHARLES P. STONE (1826), a gallant officer. His Excellency W. B. WASHBURN, present Governor of the State, is a resident of this beautiful town.

Among the monuments in the North Burying-ground is the following:--

"Mrs. Mary Newcomb, wife of R. E. Newcomb, Esq., and last surviving child of Gen. Joseph Warren, who fell on Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775. Died Feb. 9, 1826, aged 54."
(Source: Nason, Elias, 1811-1887. A gazetteer of the state of Massachusetts : with numerous illustrations on wood and steel / by Elias Nason. -- Boston : B.B. Russell, 1874. -- p. 234-235)

Online Genealogical Resources

The following resources may provide information useful in researching Greenfield families.


The following resources may provide information useful in researching Greenfield families.


General Information

The following resources may provide useful information on the Greenfield town area.

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