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Click here to see our Early Postcard Collection of the Town

    The Town of West Stockbridge is in the western part of Berkshire County, a
hilly town with peaks ranging from 500 to 900 feet above sea level. Its
principal stream is the Williams River and the valley of the Williams is
considered a very beautiful part of the community. The town was owned
by the Stockbridge Indians whose leader, the sachem Konkapot, in 1724 sold
a huge territory including West Stockbridge and a half dozen more
communities to European settlers.

    The first colonist was Joseph Bryant from Canaan, Connecticut, who settled
his homestead in 1766. There were 40 families in town by 1774 when West
Stockbridge was incorporated. The Congregational Church was organized in
1789 and its first building was the first church structure in the town.
West Stockbridge men served the French wars in Canada and one of them
escaped capture by the Indians only by hiding in a hollow log. The Indian
scouts trailing him decided the log was empty when they saw a spider web
covering the mouth of the log, and Nathaniel Wilson got away to return home
and raise 21 children. David Bradley served in the Revolutionary War for
17 years and came home safe and sound to father 10 children in West
Stockbridge. George W. Kniffen, who was born in Rye, New York, also had an
interesting life. Having moved to Massachusetts, he was elected to the
legislature from Richmond in 1837 and 1848, and after moving again, he was
elected to the legislature from West Stockbridge in 1857.

    Unlike many of the towns in Colonial days, West Stockbridge did not rely
solely on agriculture as the foundation for its economy. Its fortune was
under rather than on the surface and a number of quarries began operation
very early in the town's history to excavate the fine marble and iron ore
that were found in a couple of locations. Much of the marble used to build
the State House in Boston, the old City Hall in New York and Girard College
in Philadelphia, came from the West Stockbridge quarries. In 1826, the
first of the iron mines was opened in the town and eventually thousands of
tons of ore were mined. Other industries in the 19th century included a
paper mill making manila wrapping paper, machine shop grist mill, iron
furnace and lime kilns. In modern times, most industry has vanished and the
town hosts a summer resident and visitor population and a mainly
residential character.

(Narrative compiled from historical materials)

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