early settlers gave up their dairy farming when Spanish sheep were introduced,
and turned to sheep raising, thousands being raised annually for their
wool. Much of the wool was manufactured in local mills, and some was
baled and shipped to other woolen mills in the country. Hinsdale's mountainous
surface afforded, through its river, the Housatonic, excellent water
power for its grist mills, saw mills, and woolen mills. The first mill
on the Housatonic River was incorporated by the Rev. Theordore Hinsdale
in 1836, as the Hinsdale Manufacturing Co., with Frederick M. Curtiss,
D.M. and William Hinsdale, owner. In 1885 this was the Hinsdale Woolen
Mill, with 250 persons at its peak, was demolished and taken down on
October 25, 1931. It had manufactured fine suitings, and during
World War ! made Army and Navy blankets.
Nathaniel Fisk built the first sawmill in town in 1771; the first public house was built by Rufus Tyler in 1797; the first lawyer was Thomas Allen; the first physician was Dr. Abel Kittredge; and Daniel Miller was the first magistrate. In 1889 the Hinsdale Fire District was formed and water was piped from the Belmont Reservoir on Warner Hill into the first house on November 30, 1890. The Fire Department was organized and a new fire truck was bought in 1929. The cornerstone of the Hinsdale library was laid in 1866, and the building opened for use on June 1, 1867. The design of the building was copied from a house seen in England by the Rev. and Mrs. Kingsley Twining while on their wedding trip. Mrs. Twining, the former Mary Plunkett, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Plunkett, died at the age of 29, and the library was in memory of her given by her family.
Geographically, Hinsdale is a part of the Taconic Range. It has an area of 21, 26 square miles, and an elevaton of 1436 feet, in 1954 a populaton of 1,675 persons. Two roads follow the early turnpikes--The Skyline trail, through Middlefield, and the Lafayete trail, through Peru. A portion of the Appalachian Trail is near Plunkett Lake. Two high spots are Tully Mountain, in the southwest nd Warner Hill, in the south eaat. A glacial kettle hole, the "punch bowl" in Tracy Park attracts geologists. It is a hollowed out place left by the glacier. Minerals are not found in quantity, and a gold rush in 1895 proved no bonanza. Gold and silver were found on the Watkins and French farms in town but the quantity made mining impractical. A mine was built and stock sold, but the project failed a-borning.
Hinsdale's big industry is its summer camps which more than double the winter population. On Lake Ashmere are Camps Lenore, Taconic, Danby and the Baptist camp, Camp Ashmere. Plunkettt Lake has two Catholic camps , Camp Ferwood for girls, and Camp Wyoma for boys, conducted by the Stigmatine Fathers; and Camp Romaca for girls.
One hundred fifty years has seen Hinsdale in prosperity and depression.
The farms have shrunk, the mills are gone, but Hinsdale flourishes as
a summer resort and as a residential town. Its people are mostly employed
in Pittsfiield's General Electric, Co., or in Dalton's mills or in other
industries outside of town. The Christmas tree industry begun by Lewis
B. Brague about 1864 is nearing an end; peat is sold to some extent.
From 1772 when Nathaniel Tracy received a land grant, where his descendants
continue to live, families have found Hinsdale a healthy place in which
to rear their children. Hinsdale residents work for, and dream of ,
a town where their children may have the best of schools, and churches,
and recreation, now , and in the future, as in the past Thus, from August
7 to August 15, Hinsdale's men and women, and boys and girls, will celebrate
the sequicentennial of the town, looking hopefully ahead, as did their
ancestors on June 21, 1804 when in a spirit of joy, and Christianity
and brothererly love they received the charter of incorporation of their
little town, their home town---Hinsdale.