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This village in the heart of a quiet valley was incorporated and named Stockbridge in 1739. Earlier, the Mahican Indians had called the area W-nahk-ta-kook, the Great Meadow. When it was given to them as a grant by the Massachusetts General Court, it became known as Indian Town.
The missionary John Sergeant and the teacher Timothy Woodbridge established a successful rapport with the Indians who served as selectmen with the white settlers and as rangers in the Revolutionary Army. In 1785, they moved to Oneida County in upstate New York and later to Wisconsin, where the descendents of the tribe are still known today as Stockbridge Indians.
Today, Stockbridge is a resort town and home of a world-famous music center. Described by Norman Rockwell as "the best of America, the best of New England," Stockbridge continues to impress visitors with its charm and natural beauty.
Queensborough, later West Stockbridge, was assembled from part of Indiantown (Stockbridge) and the "Gore", a long border section disputed with the colony of New York. John George Easland, a soldier stationed at the Fort on the Abbey Farm on North Plain Road in Great Barrington, settled in the Gore in 1758.
West Stockbridge had a complex development throughout its history because it is five separate village settlements: West Center, West Stockbridge, Freedleyville, Rockdale, and Williamsville. West Center developed as an agricultural village. West Stockbridge developed as the town's commercial center because of the location of a railroad there in 1838, which hauled marble and iron ore. Colonel Elijah Williams began an iron works on a piece of land just west of the Shaker Mill in 1766. The town's commercial Main Street offers a collection of early 19th-century structures from the Shaker Mill south to the corner of Route 102. Freedleyville, Rockdale, and Williamsville developed because of available water power. In Freedleyville, a marble quarry and the Crocker Marble Saw Mill, built about 1802, were prime industries. By 1830, the export of marble was big business, with nine quarries helping supply the product. Rockdale, once a large settlement, today has only three historic houses and a mill site. Williamsville, like West Stockbridge, developed around a small iron works, established also by Elijah Williams, called Independence Forge. The furnace stack remains, a little north of the foot of Water Street. The Village of Williamsville is an unaltered potential Historic District.
Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce
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