is a beautiful town between the Taconic and Green Mountain ranges,
in the central part of Berkshire County, 162 miles from Boston.
It is quite irregular in form, and has Lenox on the northwest,
Washington on the northeast, Becket on the east, Tyringham and
Great Barrington on the south, and Stockbridge on the west.
assessed area is 15,749 acres, 4,242 of which are forest, consisting
of maple, oak, beech, chestnut and elm. Lakes Laurel and May add
variety and charm to the landscape. The Housatonic River, a rapid
and beautiful stream, separates for two or more miles the northern
angle of this town from Lenox, then pursues a serpentine course
through the midst of the town to a range of hills along the southern
border, where it turns westward and enters Stockbridge. With its
affluents, Basin-pond Brook, Goose-pond Brook and Hop Brook, it
furnishes valuable hydraulic power. The central village is built
on the rich intervale of this river; along whose margin winds
the Housatonic Railroad. From the intervale on the river, the
land has for some distance an undulating aspect, then gradually
rises towards forest-crowned mountains; one of which, partly on
the eastern border, is Becket Mountain, 2,194 feet in height.
Toward the west the land is finely diversified with hills and
valleys easy of cultivation. The soil is chiefly a sandy loam.
Congregational Church, Lee.]
102 farms, in 1885, reported an annual product amounting to $166,872.
The cereal crop was large, and the flocks and herds numerous.
The town is rich in minerals. The marble quarry near the centre
furnished material for the extension of the Capitol at Washington;
and a quarry in the southwest part supplied the stone for the
Roman Catholic cathedral in New York. In addition to building
stone, there are found granulated quartz, iron ore, sphene, tremolite
and other minerals. Lee has long been celebrated for the manufacture
of paper. The first mill was established at South Lee, in 1806,
by Samuel Church. Other leading manufacturers here in this line
have been Harrison Garfield, Prentice C. Baird, Platner &
Smith, and Elizur Smith. There have been as many as 25 different
mills running here at once. The number of persons employed in
this industry in 1885 was 542; and the value of the product reported
was $1,346,291. Other manufactures are iron and metallic goods,
machinery, carriages, furniture, carpetings, clothing, boots and
shoes, leather, food preparations, and bricks and tile. The value
of the total manufactures was $1,605,509. There is a national
bank with a capital of $200,000, and a savings bank having deposits,
at the beginning of 1889, amounting to $656,354. The number of
dwelling-houses was 763; the population 4,274; and the legal voters
1,105. The valuation in 1888 was $2,215,010; with a tax-rate of
$16 on $1,000.
villages and post-offices are Lee (centre), South Lee and East
Lee, the first two being also railway stations. The schools
are graded from primary to high, and provided for in fourteen
buildings valued at about $15,000. The Lee Public Library and
the Lee Town Library have about 5,000 volumes. The "Valley
Gleaner" is a long-established weekly journal of good circulation.
The American Episcopal Church here has a beautiful stone edifice.
The other churches are the Congregationalist, Methodist Episcopal,
Baptist, African, and the Roman Catholic.
October 21, 1777, the legislature established parts of Great Barrington,
Washington, the Glass Works Grant, and part of Williams' Grant,
as the town of Lee. The first white man who settled in its limits
was Isaac Davis, who built a house on Hop Brook in 1760. The town
was named in honor of Gen. Charles Lee, a Revolutionary officer.
The first church, consisting of thirty members, was organized
May 25, 1780; and on July 3, 1783, the Rev. Elisha Parmelee was
ordained as pastor. The first religious meeting was held in the
barn of Deacon Oliver West, his hay-mow accommodating the orchestra.
The children of Samuel Foote were the principal singers.
406-408 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890