History

Alford Center Cemetery

Alford Center Cemetery

Alford Massachusetts was originally settled in 1750 as a farming community, and was bought from the Stockbridge Indians, the Shawanon Purchase of 1756. Joseph Quiniquant and Shauanum Stockbridge Indians conveyed the land to Timothy Woodbridge and others. The town was named for Colonel John Alford of Charlestown, who was known for his work in preaching Christianity to Native Americans, and for sponsoring a theology professorship at Harvard College’s Divinity School.

The first gristmill was erected in Alford in 1763. A second purchase called the Green Land Grant added 15,000 acres the same year. The town, originally part of Great Barrington, separated in 1769 and was officially incorporated in 1773. Around New Year’s Day, 1776, General Henry Knox passed into Massachusetts through the town, bringing cannons from Fort Ticonderoga eastward to help end the Siege of Boston. This route is known as the Knox Trail, and a marker is located at the state line.

Great Barrington annexed another area west of Long Pond in 1778. The primary occupation of the early settlers was agriculture; yet Alford had grown and had two sawmills, two grist mills, a forge with trip hammer, a furnace for casting hollow ware, and a tannery. The Alford Village Church was built in 1817, and the Alford Town Hall was built in 1855.

Marble became Alford’s major export in the early 19th century. Quarries were run by Sanford and Frederick Fitch, James Cook, and lastly, by the Alford Marble Works until 1872. When the railroads were laid elsewhere, the industries in Alford became unprofitable. Marble quarried in Alford was used in construction of New York City’s old city hall, and some marble from Alford may have been used for the monuments in Washington DC.

Notable Residents

  • John W. Hulbert, (1770-1831), born in Alford, lawyer and United States Congressman from Massachusetts.
  • Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (a.k.a. Amanda Cross), mystery writer, once had a summer home in town.
  • Susan Smith Anderson, first female graduate (1920) of Massachusetts Agricultural College, now UMass-Amherst.
  • William Cullen Bryant loved the woodlands and streams of Alford, he courted his wife, Frances, while on jaunts into the Alford woods.

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