HINSDALE lies in the southwestern part of the county, in lat. 4z° 48′, and long. 4° 32′, bounded north by Chesterfield, east by Winchester, and southwest by the left bank of Connecticut river, the township being triangular in outline. It originally comprised within its limits the township of Vernon, on the opposite side of the river. This land, as it originally stood, was granted by Massachusetts at a very early period. Even after the river had been declared the boundary line between the provinces of New Hampshire and New York, and the township had in this manner been divided, the different parts, though under distinct organizations, still retained their original name, and were thus known until the zest of October, 1802, when the name of Hinsdale, in Vermont, was changed to that of Vernon. The date of the first grant is not accurately known. In a petition, still extant, from Samuel Hunt, by his attorney, Oliver Willard, which was presented to the provincial government of New York on the 3d of November, 1766, it is stated, that the tract of land comprised in this township, “was purchased of native Indians and granted by the province of the Massachusetts Bay, near one hundred years ago, and was soon afterwards cultivated and settled; and that it was afterwards found to be in the province line of New Hampshire, and was then confirmed to the proprietors by power dated the 3d of September, 1753.” The power referred to was the New Hampshire charter of the township, issued in 1753.
There long existed a dispute between the provinces of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in regard to the true northern boundary of the former province, growing out of different constructions put upon the Massachusetts charter of 1692. The controversy was settled August 5, 1740, as described on page 64, thus taking a strip sixteen miles wide out of the territory of Massachusetts, her title to which had never been questioned, and on parts of which her citizens had been in quiet possession for two generations. This line, from the Merrimack river westward, was run by Richard Hazen, in March, 1741, as it now exists. It cut off from Northfield a tract four miles and 197 rods in width, though the proprietors thereof did not give up their rights therein and were not molested. As late as 1753 the common lands lying north of the Ashuelot were divided to the old grantees, and the title thus acquired held good. Till the incorporation of Hinsdale, in 1753, the people living on Northfield’s cut off territory were styled, in deeds and official documents, “of the northerly part of Northfield township above the line of the Massachusetts government.” One other point in illustration of this boundary question may be cited. The present township of Dalton, in Berkshire county, Mass., was originally granted in 1784, under the name of Ashuelot Equivalent, “because it was granted to Oliver Partridge and others, a company in Hatfield, to make up a loss they had sustained in a grant made to them on Ashuelot river, which was found, when the line was established, to be within the bounds of New Hampshire. The legislature of New Hampshire claimed it of the company, so far as they had not made a disposition of it to actual settlers, hence the name, Ashuelot Equivalent.” It is a singular coincidence, also, that the township next east of Dalton, incorporated in 1804, is named Hinsdale, in honor of Rev. Theodore Hinsdale, the first settled pastor.
In 1753 Capt. Ebenezer Alexander and ninety-four others petitioned Gov. Wentworth for a re-grant of the territory cut off from Northfield by the new province line, and the lands adjacent up to the line of township No. I, or Chesterfield. In accordance with this petition, the charter of Hinsdale, embracing the lands of both sides of the river, was issued September 3, 1753. Later on in the month, the 26th, an alteration was made in the charter by which the grant was divided into two towns, the line of separation being the west bank of the river. Both towns were called Hinsdale until that to the west of the river was named Vernon, as previously mentioned.
The surface of the town is pleasantly diversified, and the soil is rich and fertile. In the northern part of the town lies Wantastiquet mountain. extending from the Connecticut across the entire width of the town. The highest peak, Mine mountain, is about 900 feet above low water mark. South of the Ashuelot is Stebbins hill, a tract of excellent land and under a high state of cultivation. The intervales here are broad and of a superior quality. The Connecticut, extending along the town’s western border, makes a shore of nine and a half miles. The Ashuelot passes through the southern portion of the town. joining the Connecticut a short distance below Cooper’s point. The water privileges on this stream are numerous and valuable. There are a number of smaller streams, among which are Kilburn, Liscom and Ash Swamp brooks. Iron ore, beds of silicate of manganese, and other minerals are found in several localities about the mountains.
In 1880 Hinsdale had a population of 1,868 souls. In 1884 it had eight school districts and twelve public schools, seven of which were graded, and one a high school. Its eight school buildings were valued, including sites, furniture, etc., at $15,600.00. There were 392 pupils attending these schools, sixty-three of whom were pursuing the higher branches. The town employed one male and seventeen female teachers, the former at an average monthly salary of $111.11, and the latter at $26.60. The entire revenue of the town for school purposes was $4,423.85, while the entire expense of the schools was $3,834.08, with H. H. Hamilton and M. C. Dix, superintendents.