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The town of Richmond resulted from a land deal that investors made with two Mahican Indians. Ephraim and Yokun, both of whom were Mahican "sachems," sold settlers two tracts of land that sat just north of Stockbridge, which had been settled a decade before in 1746.
The land they sold had been appropriately dubbed Mt. Ephraim and Yokuntown. But Mt. Ephraim would one day evolve into the township of Richmond in 1765, and Yokuntown would ultimately form most of what now comprises the town of Lenox.
At first, Richmond was primarily an agricultural community. There were no rivers nearby, so without a sufficient power source, Richmond struggled to build an industrial base. But the locals discovered iron ore on the nearby Cone Farm in 1829, which led to the production of important iron works, an industrial pursuit that stabilized the economy and lasted well into the 20th century.
At 53 miles, Sandisfield is the largest town in area in Berkshire County, . Today it is an isolated rural town that, except for three villages along Route 57, is heavily forested. Little is evident that this as once one of the most prosperous towns in the county.
It began as Housatonic Township No. 3 under a group of Westboro Proprietors in 1737. Nine meadow lots were laid out, and settlement began in 1754. Daniel Brown is believed to have been the first settler in the township, but it is also suspected that a family by the name of Sandy had established themselves along Sandy Brook in South Sandisfield.
Streams feeding into the Farmington River furnished adequate waterpower, and the soil proved productive. Rye, flax, potatoes, and corn were raised. Cider was an important product of the hillside orchards. Small industries added by the mid-19th century included 6 saw mills, 4 smaller mills, 4 blacksmith shops, 2 chair shops, a bedstead shop, a wheelwright's shop, a shingle mill, a tannery, and a silk mill.
Sandisfield, like Otis, suffered with the failure of proposed railroads along the Farmington River in 1873. Economic activities had peaked in the town in the first half of the 19th century, and, with a population outflow, many of the farms were abandoned by the early 20th century.
The Southern Berkshire Chamber
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