Genealogy in Franklin County, Massachusetts - Town of Leyden

Genealogy in Franklin County, Massachusetts
Town of Leyden

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Leyden lies in the north-central part of Franklin County and is bounded by Guilford (in Windham County, Vermont) on the north, Bernardston on the east, Greenfield on the south, Colrain on the west. Leyden was organized as a district March 12, 1784 from part of Bernardston. It was organized as a town February 22, 1809. On May 7, 1886, part of Leyden was annexed to Bernardston.

In 1874, Elias Nason described the town of Leyden as follows:
is a small farming-town, with a population of 519 inhabitants and with 105 dwelling-houses, situated in the extreme northern part of Franklin County, and having the Vermont State-line on the north, Bernardston on the east, Greenfield on the south, and Coleraine on the west.

It was detached from Bernardston, and incorporated Feb. 22, 1809. The distance from Boston is about 115 miles north-westerly. In 1865 there were 94 farms, comprising 9,828 acres, valued at $197,535; and 1,469 acres of woodland, valued at $29,749.

The surface of the town is mountainous, and the soil not very strong or fertile. On Bald Mountain the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is sometimes found.

The Deerfield River receives two considerable streams from the town. On a tributary of Green River, in the southern part, a beautiful and romantic natural scene, called "Leyden Glen," attracts the attention of the curious. "A large brook," says Mr. Gladden, "has worn a passage from 10 to 20 feet wide, and from 30 to 50 feet deep, in the strata of argillo-micaceous slate. The length of the gorge is about 40 rods. Above the gorge is a deep glen, and below it the stream passes through a ravine. Two beautiful waterfalls near the mouth of the gorge greatly add to the picturesqueness of the spot. It compares not unfavorably with the famous Flume at the White Mountains. Not far from the entrance to the glen, the place is pointed out where Mrs. Eunice Williams was murdered on the march to Canada."

The town has three saw and three grist mills, five public schools, and one church-edifice belonging to the Methodist society, of which the Rev. T. E. Marcy is pastor. The Rev. T. E. Danforth is the pastor of the Universalist society. There is no immediate railroad communication with the place. The rate of taxation is $2.30 per $100; and the valuation, $230,411.

During the war of the Rebellion, this town furnished as many as 69 men for the service of the country. William Dorrell, a private in Gen. John Burgoyne's army, who died here Aug. 28, 1846, aged 94 years, was the found of a sect called "Dorrellites," who believed that there was a Messiah for every generation; that life should not be taken; and that property should be held in common. His sect was brought to an end by physical force. "At one of the meetings," says Dr. Holland, "Ezekiel Foster of Leyden attended as a spectator; and when Dorrell in his harangues dwelt upon his mysterious powers, and stated that no arm of flesh could hurt him, Foster, a man of giant frame, disgusted with his imposture, stepped up to him, and knocked him down, Dorrell, almost senseless, attempted to rise, but received a second blow, at which he cried for mercy. Foster promised forbearance on condition that he would renounce his doctrines in the hearing of his dupes; which he immediately did."

HENRY KIRKE BROWN, an eminent sculptor, was born here in 1814; and JOHN L. RIDDELL, M.D., a scientific writer, in 1807. He was the inventor of the binocular microscope and magnifying-glass.
(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. 295-296)

Online Genealogical Resources

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



The following bibliography lists sources that may be useful in researching the genealogy and history of families that have lived in the Leyden area. The bibliography is arranged by subject category and alphabetically by author and title within each category. Information on library holdings is recorded in the box following each citation. For published items, only holdings of libraries profiled on the Archives and Libraries page are given when known. For unpublished and other rare sources, any library known to hold the item is listed. Many of the items listed here are also available at other libraries and research centers in New England, New York, and elsewhere.

Original records and other items microfilmed by the LDS Family History Library (also known as the Genealogical Society of Utah) are also listed below. These microfiches and microfilms are available via interlibrary loan through the LDS family history centers. Make a note of the microfiche or microfilm reel number(s) needed in order to place a request at one of the LDS family history centers.


General Information

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

Related Pages

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