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The Figures of Population.

The figures for the population of Franklin county as announced last week, give opportunity for speculation as to causes of increase and decrease. Greenfield's increase is a very material one. Montague's figures are disappointing, and Orange shows a considerable growth.

For an analysis of the figures, the towns might be divided into four classes. The results to be obtained from any such classification are, of course, only roughly true, because any classification is at best defective. Greenfield, for instance, classed as a manufacturing town, is not only that but it is a residence town, and has large farming interests, too. Still some results of value can perhaps be reached.

The growth is almost entirely in large towns having the largest manufacturing industries, Greenfield, Montague and Orange. To this class it might perhaps be best to add Deerfield, on account of the confusion caused by the annexation of Cheapside, and then Deerfield as shown by the census of 1895 stands fifth in the county in the number of men employed in manufacturing industries. These four towns had a population of 19,026 in 1890, 20,655 in 1895, and 21,566 in 1900. The growth of this part of the county is the only one that approaches to the general rate of increase in the State which is 25 per cent., while these four towns have grown 13 per cent.

For the second class might be taken the six towns which according to the census of 1895 have the next largest number of men engaged in manufacturing industries, and which are to be classed as largely agricultural, but depending considerably on manufacturing. These are Buckland, Conway, Colrain, Gill, Shelburne, and Erving. This group rather singularly shows a small falling off in population. The figures for the group 1890, 8177; 1895, 8068; 1900, 8146. The figures for 1895 represent the low water mark, due no doubt to manufacturing depression. This loss has now been nearly made up. It is hard to say whether this failure to make any gain is due to the agricultural or the manufacturing part of these towns. As the industries of these towns probably are of smaller size than those of the first group it might possible by argued to show that towns with large industries are prospering better than the smaller ones, but there is some question whether this inference is warranted in this case.

The next group of towns may be considered to be those distinctively agricultural, but having some special advantage. These are Northfield, Ashfield, Sunderland, Whately, Bernardston and Charlemont. Northfield has the Moody schools, Ashfield has a considerable influx of summers visitors, and the others are all on main lines of railway. This is the only group but the distinctively manufacturing class to show increase. The population was in 1890, 6078, in 1895, 6146, and in 1900, 6347. That would seem to indicate that there will be a growth for farming towns that have railroad facilities.

The fourth group of towns are the distinctively hill towns. These are Hawley, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, New Salem, Rowe, Shutesbury, Monroe, Wendell and Warwick. A few of these gain, but as a class they have lost slightly. Their population was in 1890, 5829, in 1895, 5288, in 1900, 5147, showing a regular falling off of about 90 for every five years. This is regrettable, but it by no means proves that these towns are on the whole falling behind, because various influences, like the greater spread of books and newspapers, the library movement, systematic superintendence of schools, and the like, are steadily improving them. When their loss in population is considered in comparison with the gain in the state at large of 25 per cent, there is a call for the earnest study of existing conditions, in the hope that something can be done to draw population back. Such an investigation of economic, social, and religious conditions as that begun by a group of clergymen that recently met at Northfield, as described in last week's Gazette and Courier, cannot fail to be of great value in the study of this problem.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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There is currently no available "Beginner" label. The following is the default level label: The census of 1900 shows that Franklin County, Massachusetts, towns could be divided into four types: Some towns with mostly manufacturing centers, some with mainly agricultural but with some manufacturing, some towns agricultural but with other advantages, and the last group the hill towns. The hill towns lost population steadily since the end of the civil war. The land was not well-suited to farming and manufacturing and railway lines were not accessible. Manufacturing caused Greenfield and Orange to grow dramatically at the end of the 19th century, and Montague too had various industries. The Gazette & Courier was the newspaper in Greenfield, Massachusetts, from July 20, 1841 until June 24, 1932. Before 1841 the newspaper's name changed quite frequently, with Gazette a frequent part of the title.


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"The Figures of Population" article from the Gazette and Courier newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   Nov 17, 1900
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   10.0"
width   1.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L05.098

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See Also...

"Census of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1895" Volume V

"History of Massachusetts Industries Their Inception, Growth and Success" Vol. I

"Immigrants in Industries, Part 24: Recent Immigrants in Agriculture" from Reports of the Immigration Commission

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