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Chapter 3: Berkshire County.

Berkshire is the most westerly county in the Commonwealth. It is bounded north by Bennington County, Vermont; west by Rensselaer and Columbia Counties, New York; south by Litchfield County, Connecticut; and east by Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties, Massachusetts. In parts it is rough and hilly, but has many beautiful and picturesque streams and valleys. The Housatonic and Hoosick are its chief rivers; the former empties into Long Island Sound, and the latter into the Hudson River. The Hoosack and Greylock, which are partly in the town of Adams, are its chief mountains. Under the former, a tunnel for a railroad, four miles in length, is being made; and the latter is the highest land in Massachusetts. Its largest towns are Pittsfield, the county-seat; and Adams, in which there are many large and flourishing manufactories. The largest portion of the people, however, are agriculturists. The Boston and Albany Railroad passes through the centre of the county, east and west, connecting it with Boston and the Hudson River. There are several other railroads in the county, which centre at Pittsfield.

There are thirty-one towns in Berkshire, but no city. The entire population in 1860 was 55,120, and in 1865 it was 56,960, an increase in five years of only 1,846. The valuation in 1860 was $24,186,962, and in 1865 it was $27,937,444, being an increase in five years of $3,750,482.

According to returns made by the selectmen in 1866 from all the towns in the county, it appears that the whole number of men furnished by Berkshire for the war was five thousand three hundred and fifty-six, which is not far from the exact [60] number required to be furnished; but it cannot have included the surpluses to the credit of which they were entitled. These surpluses amount to three hundred and eighty-eight men. Every town in the county furnished its full quota of men upon every call made by the President, and each had a surplus at the end of the war, with the exception of Mount Washington and Tyringham, and these had the exact number required of them. No town in Berkshire, nor in the State, fell short of its contingent.

The aggregate expenditure of all the towns in the county on account of the war, exclusive of the money raised and expended for State aid to the families of volunteers, was five hundred and ninety thousand six hundred and ninety-seven dollars and nineteen cents ($590,697.19). The amount raised and expended by all the towns for State aid to the soldiers' families during the four years of the war, and which was reimbursed by the Commonwealth, was two hundred and sixty-two thousand forty-nine dollars and sixty-one cents ($262,049.61), making a grand total of $852,746.80.

The war records of the towns are as follows:—


Incorporated Oct. 15, 1778. Population in 1860, 6,924; in 1865, 8,298. Valuation in 1860, $2,543,095; in 1865, $3,350,551.

The selectmen in 1861 were Alpheas Smith, Elisha Kingsley, John W. Richmond; in 1862 and 1863, Lysander Johnson, Luther C. Hosmer, John W. Richmond; in 1864, Lysander Johnson, A. G. Plumb, William H. Wilkinson; in 1865, John F. Arnold, A. G. Plumb, John W. Richmond.

The town-clerk in 1861 was A. J. Ray; in 1862 and 1863, Mark F. Adams; in 1864 and 1865, H. S. Millard. The town-treasurer in 1861 and 1862 was W. W. Freeman; in 1863, George A. Lapham; in 1864, C. H. Ingalls; in 1865, E. W. Wilkinson.

1861. Adams is one of the prominent towns in Massachusetts, and the mere official record of its doings during the four years of the war gives no adequate conception of the spirit of the people. A great many public meetings were held, and many prominent citizens said many and did many wise and [61] patriotic things, which do not all appear upon the official records of the town.

The first legal town-meeting, to act upon matters relating to the war, was held on the 29th of April; at which a committee of seven was appointed, with authority ‘to use the funds of the town to the amount of twenty thousand dollars, to furnish aid to such military companies from the town as may be called into the service of the United States, and to aid their families when not otherwise provided for.’ On the 22d of June the town held a meeting, and voted that the care of the families of volunteers be intrusted to the selectmen, and that they be authorized ‘to use the moneys of the town as may in their opinion be needed;’ with the distinct and separate understanding ‘that such aid is in no sense a charity, but what of right belongs to families of volunteers.’

1862. A regular town-meeting was held on the 22d of July, at which it was voted ‘that one hundred dollars be paid from the town treasury to each person who shall enlist under the call of the Governor as one of the quota of the town.’ [This was the call of the President for 300,000 three-years volunteers.] The call for three hundred thousand men for nine months service followed in August. When that call was received, and Adams was informed of the number of men which it was to provide to meet its contingent, on recommendation of the town authorities ‘all business in the town was suspended for three days, and the time was devoted to raising the quota of the town: S. W. Bowerman was the leading person in the work.’

1863. From the transcript of the town records which we have received from Adams, it does not appear that any official action was taken by the town during this year; although we doubt not that recruiting was continued all the time, and State aid continued to be paid to the families of the soldiers.

1864. At a legal town-meeting held on the 2d of July, it was voted to pay henceforth a bounty of one hundred and twenty-five dollars to each volunteer who should enlist for three years military service, and be mustered in and credited to the quota of the town; the selectmen were also instructed to continue recruiting after the present demand for men was filled, [62] ‘in anticipation of a future call.’ There appears to have been no further action taken by the town, in its corporate capacity, during the war.

The selectmen in 1866 reported that Adams had furnished nine hundred and forty-five men for the war, which we believe to have been an error of at least one hundred; for, had that number been furnished, the surplus of men would have been at least one hundred more than it was. Adams filled its full quota upon every call made by the President, and at the end of the war had a surplus of forty-three over and above all demands. Twenty-nine were commissioned officers. The whole amount of money appropriated and expended by the town on account of the war, exclusive of State aid, was one hundred and twelve thousand one hundred and three dollars ($112,103.00).

The amount of money raised and expended by the town during the four years of the war for State aid to the families of soldiers, and which was afterwards refunded by the Commonwealth, was as follows: In 1861, $2,338.73; in 1862, $9,410.17; in 1863, $11,270.23; in 1864, $14,690.38; in 1865, $10,000.00. Total in four years, $47,759.51.

A Ladies' Aid Society was organized very early in the war, of which Mrs. Miles Sanford was presidentRobinson, and Mrs. J. T. Robinson secretary. The society held weekly meetings, and their disbursements ‘amounted to more than ten thousand dollars.’


Incorporated Feb. 16, 1773. Population in 1860, 542; in 1865, 461. Valuation in 1860, $320,018; in 1865, $340,490.

The selectmen in 1861 were William Stoddard, Stephen M. Church, Horace S. Fitch; in 1862, Jonathan Baldwin, Orville J. Brusil, Russell Prindle; in 1863, Ezra C. Ticknor, Jonathan Baldwin, Orville J. Brusil; in 1864, Ezra C. Ticknor, Henry W. Smith, E. K. Williams; in 1865, William Stoddard, Elihu Church, Horace S. Fitch.

The town-clerk in 1861 was Henry W. Smith; in 1862, William K. Calkins; in 1863, Elihu Church; in 1864, William K. Calkins; in 1865, Giles S. Halett. The town-treasurer in [

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