Eagle Archives, June 25, 1940: A map, dated 1855, presents a vivid image of the Berkshires | Story


A vivid picture of Berkshire, industrially and otherwise, is offered in an old map of the county, dated 1855, which was offered to county commissioners if they would purchase it. The commissioners will consider the issue of its acquisition at their meeting on Tuesday.

Fred Searing, owner of the New Boston Inn, turned it over to County Engineer Harry W. Heaphy of Lee who had it on display at the County Commissioners Office at the courthouse yesterday afternoon. It came from the attic of an old residence in Sandisfield. It was rolled up in brown paper. Although it shows nearly a century’s wear, most important details are intact. It measures five square feet and is printed in full color.

An interesting feature of the map is that in each of the municipalities of the county, the names of the landowners of the time are clearly printed and the various industries of the town, with the names of the owners, in some cases, given their approximate location. They show that ancient Berkshire was full of small neighborhood textile factories, tanneries, woodturning factories, iron foundries, blacksmiths, grain milling factories, etc., making the various communities virtually self-sufficient in essential products necessary for a quiet life. of those times.

Steel engravings of four famous educational institutions of this period – Maplewood Young Women’s Institute and Berkshire Medical Institute in this city; The Sedgwick Institute of Lenox, of which James Sedgwick was then director, and the Collins Institute of Great Barrington, of which Clarkson T. Collins of New York and Great Barrington was director, adorn the four corners of the old map.

The map contains, as indicated, a directory of businesses in the department. Under Pittsfield are listed three hotels, the Berkshire House, William B. Cooley, owner; in the United States, operated by H. Heaton, and the American house by Dutton & Dunning. The town had three newspapers: Pittsfield Sun, Berkshire Eagle, Culturist and Gazette. One of the town’s commercial enterprises was a melody factory. The current Lakewood District is listed as “swampy”.

According to the 1855 state census, Berkshire had a population of 57,791. The main towns were: Pittsfield 6501, Adams 6980, Lee 4226. North Adams was separated from Adams in 1878. Sandisfield’s count was 1615.

This story within a story is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

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