Great Barrington - Encyclopedia

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GREAT BARRINGTON, a township of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on the Housatonic river, in the Berkshire hills, about 25 M. S.W. of Pittsfield. Pop. (1890) 4612; (1900) 5 8 54. of whom 1187 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 5926. Its area is about 45 sq. m. The township is traversed by a branch of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad, and the Berkshire Street railway (controlled by the N.Y., N.H. & H.) has its southern terminus here. Within the township are three villages - Great Barrington (the most important), Housatonic and Van Deusenville; the first two are about 5 m. apart. The village of Great Barrington, among the hills, is well known as a summer resort. The Congregational church with its magnificent organ (3954 pipes) is worthy of mention. There is a public library, in the village of Great Barrington and another in the village of Housatonic. Monument Mt. (1710 ft.), partly in Stockbridge, commands a fine view of the Berkshires and the Housatonic Valley. The Sedgwick School (for boys) was removed from Hartford, Connecticut, to Great Barrington in 1869. There are various manufactures, including cotton-goods (in the village of Housatonic), and electric meters, paper, knit goods and counterpanes (in the village of Great Barrington); and marble and blue stone are quarried here; but the township is primarily given over to farming. The fair of the Housatonic Agricultural Society is held here annually during September; and the district court of South Berkshire sits here. The township was incorporated in 1761, having been, since 1743, the "North Parish of Sheffield"; the township of Sheffield, earlier known as the "Lower Housatonic Plantation" was incorporated in 1733. Great Barrington was named in honour of John Shute (1678-1734), Viscount Barrington of Ardglass (the adjective "Great" being added to distinguish it from another township of the same name). In 1761-1787 it was the shire-town. Great Barrington was a centre of the disaffection during Shays's rebellion, and on the 12th of September 1786 a riot here prevented the sitting of court. Samuel Hopkins, one of the most eminent of American theologians, was pastor here in 1743-1769; ,General Joseph Dwight (1703-1765), a merchant, lawyer and brigadier-general of Massachusetts militia, who took part in the Louisburg expedition in 1745 and later in the French and Indian War, lived here from 1758 until his death; and William Cullen Bryant lived here as a lawyer and town clerk in 1816-1825. See C. J. Taylor, History of Great Barrington (Great Barrington, 1882).

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