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duced from an accurate map.* It was originally laid out for tes miles, and this slight variation of one sixteenth of a mile, was probably owing to an error, in the original survey, which will be mentioned in the sequel; a less error it is supposed than was usual in such ancient measurements. The breadth, is very irregular; it ra. ries from 48 to 27 miles.
Roads, Mails, &c.—The public roads extend over 600 acres of land. The principal road, is the one leading from Boston, through Leominster, to Greenfield and Brattleborough : and another branch of it through Sterling, to Barre, Greenfield, &c. The mail arrives and departs daily,excepting on Sunday : thirty two mails are opened and closed, and the various stage coaches pass and repass the same num. ber of times, in the course of each week. There is a short turapike road which begins in Bolton, and terminates in Lancaster, a mile north of the church.
Soil, PRODUCTIONS, &c.—The town contains twenty thousand two hundred and eight acres of land. Of this three thousand acres, no inconsiderable part of the whole, are intervale, and about seventeen hundred, by estimate, are covered with water. Much of the soil is deep and rich. The light lands, produce large quantities of rye, barley, oats, &c. while the better part of the upland, and all the intervales, are well adapted to Indian corn, the potatoe, grass, and indeed to every kind of cultivation, with but comparatively little labor. The intervale, in particular, yields largely, and rewards the husbandman, many fold, for the little care he is obliged to take of it.
Its fertility, is owing to the annual overflowings of the river, when the ice and spow melt in the spring. The waters become turbid by the rapidity of the current, and the earth, that is wasbed into its bosom, is deposited on the land, and serves all the good purposes of every kind of manure. These freshes, undoubtedly, sometimes occasion much immediate injury: for by reason of the elevation of the country in which the river has its sources, through wbich it passes, the stream rises rapidly, and is borne along to the valley of the Nashaway,t by an accelerated and furious cur
* Made by order of the General Court in 1794. I have followed the advice of a valijed friend, and have omitted the boundaries, by degrees, rods, stakes, stones, &c.
+ It will be observed that I spell the word Nashaway; it is a better word than Nashua, the modern alteration, or refinement, as some may think it. The former, is the ancient reading, the true orthography; for which, I have the authority of Winthrop, Colony Records, Middlesex Records, proprietor's books, &c. from 1643, to a late period. The innovation should be rejected at once, as a corruption.
rent, filled with large cakes of ice, destroying mill dams, and sweeping away bridges, in its destructive course.* In the spring of 1818, it was very busy in the work of ruin : most of the bridges were dasbed in pieces by the ice, and none, I believe, escaped uninjured. Since that time, only two bridges have suffered; one in the spring of 1823, called the Centre Bridge, just below the confluence of the two branches of the river, and the other, during the last spring, (1826,) on the south branch, between the first mentioned bridge, and the late Dr. Atherton's residence. But, notwithstanding the numerous losses that have been sustained of old and of late years, they are far outweighed by the annual benefits, which the Nashaway, bestows upon the land. The principal trees on the uplands, are the ever-green, and oak of the different kinds, the chesnut, maple, &c. on the intervales, the elm in all its beautiful variety and the walnut. More attention is now paid to the cultivation of fruit trees, than formerly; but it is chiefly confined to the apple, and in fact, to the pear. A strange neglect has ever prevailed, with regard to the delicious summer fruits, as the cherry, peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, garden strawberry, &c. that might be cultivated with but little expense of time or money. No place, within my knowledge, in this state, is better adapted to these fruits, both as it respects the soil, exposure to the sun, and gardens ready made. Some few individuals are beginning to think of these things, and to set out trees : and probably in a few years, these articles of luxury that may be so cheaply obtained, will be more generally attended to. At present, excepting a few tolerable, and some intolerable cherries, and a few wild strawberries, &c. we have nothing, deserving the name of summer fruit. A few sorry peaches, the growth of other places, perhaps I should mention, are occasionally sold in town.
SURFACE OF THE COUNTRY, 8C.—The general surface is undulating, with no very high or steep ascents. The principal eminence,
The damage to bridges in 1818, amounted to $1639 71.
† Whitney says that “the river overflows the whole interval twice in a year, in the spring, and in autumn.” However, this may have been in his day, it is not so in this nineteenth century.
I of the Shagbark kind. Much attention was paid by some of the principal inhabitants, some seventy years since, in ornamenting different spots, with the elm, and we, of the present day, enjoy the beauty, and the shade. The present age is less considerate in this respect. Dumbiedikes’ advice to his son is disregarded—“ Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be aye sticking in a tree; it will be growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping. My father tauld me sae forty years sin', but I ne'er fand time to mind him.”
is called George bill;* a fertile and delightful ridge, extending about two miles from southwest to northeast, on the west side of the town. Nearly parallel with this and rising gently from the river which skirts it on all sides but the north, is what is frequently termed the Neck. Not far from its extremity, towards the south west, is the centre of the town. The prospect to the east, is confined by the range of hills in Harvard and Bolton, beyond the intervale. Το the west, beyond the intervale on that side, appears the whole length of George hill, and as the eye passes over its fine outlines, and gentle ascent, it rests upon the Wachusett as the back ground of the picture. The walnut tree, and the majestic elm are scattered in pleasing irregularity over the wide spreading intervale. The variety of foliage, of light and shade, and the frequent changes of tints, shadow out a landscape, that never fails to charm all who are alive to natural beauties. The prospect is equally inviting from George bill, and from the hill on the road to Sterling.
* The southern part of this bill, is the highest and in some points of view, may pass for a distinct bill. Tradition says, it took its name from an Indian, called by the English, George; who once had his wigwam there. The name I first find in the proprietor's records, is under the date of Feb. 1671.
† There is a number of different species of the elm in Lancaster. One kind is very tall, the branches high and spread but little. In another the branches shoot out lower upon the trunk, and exten over a much larger space. A third kind resembles in some measure the first, in form, excepting that the trunk is entirely covered with twigs thickly set with leaves, and forming a rich green covering to the rough bark, from the ground to the large branches. · Many of these elms are of great size: The following are the dimensions of a few of them, measured by Mr. George Carter and myself, in July, 1826.
One on the Boston road, between the house of the late Dr. Atherton and the last bridge on the south branch of the Nashaway, measured in circumference twenty sis feet at the roots. Another on the old common, so called, and near the burying ground, twenty five feet five inches at the roots ; eighteen feet at two feet from the ground, and fourteen feet ten inches, at four feet from the ground ; the diameter of the circular area and of its branches, measured ninety eight feet. A third, southeast from center bridge, and near what was formerly called the neck bridge, was twenty six feet six inches at the roots, and twenty feet, at four feet from the ground. A fourth, a little to the south west of the entrance to centre road, and some fisty rods south of the church, twenty four feet at the roots, and fifteen feet, at four feet from the ground. This tree, when very small was taken up and transplanted between aipety and one hundred years ago by the late Col. Abijah Willard. We also measured a sycamore tree, a little to the southwest of centre bridge and found it circumference at the ground, twenty five feet, and at four feet from the ground, eighteen feet. The height of this tree, must be about one hundred feet. There are also some large and beautiful elms in front and on one side of the Rev. Dr. Thayer's house. They were all set out by his immediate predecessor the Rev. Mr. Harrington. The two largest measure fifteen and fourteen feet at the ground. On the farm of Mr. Jonathan Wilder, on the old common so called, there is a beach tree which measures eleven feet. It is upwards of a century old. A tree of this kind, and size, is very rare in this part of the country.
There is an appearance, occasionally on a summer evening that struck me forcibly the first time I bebeld it. When the vapours are condensed and the moon is up, the whole expanse of the valley, appears like one broad sheet of water just below you, and extending as far as the cye can reach, in distinct vision. The tops of the tall trees, as they appear above the mists, look like little islands, dotting the broad bay. The illusion is perfect, without bor. rowing largely from the imagination.
Minerals, &c.—More than seventy years ago, a large slate quarry was discovered, by a Mr. Flagg, near Cumberry pond, in the north part of the town. The slates were in use, as early as 1752 or 1753, and, after the revolutionary war, were sent in great numbers to Boston, and to the atlantic states,* and formed quite an arti. cle of commerce. For many years past, however, the quarry has not been worked. The slates, I believe, though always considered as of an excellent quality, could not at least come in successful competition with those imported from Wales, &c, on account of the expense of transportation. The water is now quite deep in the quarry.
The minerals, according to Dr. Robinson, are the following: viz. Andalusite, reddish brown, in a rolled mass of white quartz, and on George hill in transition mica slate. Macle, abundant on George hill and elsewhere. Earthy Marl, an extensive bed, in New Boston, so called. Pinite, in clay slate : also, green and purple pinite, fine specimens on George hill in granite. Spodumene, fine specimens, in various parts of the town. Fibrolite, abundant in mica slate. Phosphate of lime, on George hill, in small hexahedral prisms in a spodumene rock, of about two tons in weight. Peat in the swamps and low lands, in the south west part of the town.f
STREAMS AND OTHER BODIES OF WATER.—The largest stream that flows through the town, and indeed the largest, and most important
Whitney says, “great numbers of them are used in Boston every year.” This was in 1793.
A Catalogue of American minerals, with their localities &c. by Samuel Robinson, M. D. Boston, 1825. The marl, mentioned above, is found in great abundance. It extends in strata, from the neighborhood, of Messrs. Poignand & Plant, through New Boston, almost to the middle of the town. Though very valuable as a manure it is but little used. Probably individuals are not fully sensible of its enriching, ties. Mr. John Low, who has made use of it for some years, on light soils, has assured me that it increases the product nearly one half. The few others who have tried it, are abundantly satisfied of its great service.
in the County, is the river Nashaway, formed by the junction of two branches.* The north branch rises from the springs in Ashburnham, and from Wachusett pond in Westminster, and passing through Fitchburg and Leominster, enters the town on the west. The south branch has two sources, one from Rocky pond on the east side of the Wachusett, the other from Quinepoxet pond, in Holden. These unite in West Boylston, and enter the town on the south. The two main branches, after pursuing a devious course for many miles, unite near the centre of the town, south east from the church. There are a few small streams that issue from Oak hill, Mossy, and Sandy ponds, all of which find their way to the rir
The streams fed by the two latter ponds unite, and between their junction and the river, are situated the works of the Lancaster Cotton Manufacturing Company. Besides the rivers, there are ten ponds in Lancaster, viz: Acres.
Oak hill pond
15 Fort do.
100 Cumberry do. 13 Part of White's do. 80 Clamshell do. 50 Great Spectacle do. 115
55 Whitney relates, that the "water in Cumberry pond is observed to rise as much as two feet, just before a storm," and that - Sandy pond, rises in a dry time.” However pleasing it may be to be. lieve these things true, and to have some phenomena of natural philosophy in one's own neighborhood, I cannot venture to confirm them, but contrary wise, must set them down, after inquiry, as fabulous. There are various springs in town; from three of them on George hill, the village situated a mile south west from the church, is bountifully supplied with water, by means of an aqueduct consisting of leaden pipes that extend in different directions and branches, more than two miles.t
BRIDGES.—There are no less than seven bridges over the Nasb. away supported by the town, besides one half of the bridge leading to Harvard. A bridge over the turuspike road, supported by the cor
The first Inhabitants early gave to the north branch, the name of norih river, the south branch they called Nashaway, and the main river, after the junction of the two streams, which is now properly the Nashaway, they pamed Penecook. I find Penecook used in the town records as late as 1736, and north river, in a deed dated 1744.
* A company was organized last winter by virtue of Stat. 1798, chap. 59The whole expense of the work, was not far from $2000.