Mills in Holden

One of the oldest maps of Holden, bearing the date May 20, 1795, has a marginal note which states that "There are in the Town of Holden five Grist Mills and Seven Saw Mills."

In 1831, Holden had five cotton mills, two woolen mills, two tanneries, ten saw mills and three grist mills.

Around these mills homes were built and the section became a center of business activity.

Fire was always a menace in those days, where water from some nearby pond or well was the only source of fire protection, and there were many mills in Holden, which, when thus destroyed were never rebuilt, the district reverting to a farming community, as residents sought occupation and homes in other localities.

In some instances mills replaced their early equipment with machinery for the production of wool or cotton cloth and the early settlements became thriving villages.

In 1895, the villages in Holden and their populations were as follows:

Holden Center, including South Road: 600
Chaffinville: 226
Dawsonville: 203
Jeffersonville: 826
Quinapoxet: 361
North Woods: 120
Springdale: 143
Unionville: 123

The early settlers were attracted to this region because of the abundance of ponds and brooks which furnished power for early industry, nor could they foresee the day when the march of progress would leave those banks deserted and the clear waters of their "unfailing streams" would flow undisturbed for many miles to supply the needs of a great metropolis.

This has taken place in our day, leaving only memories of a number of beautiful villages with shaded streets and well kept homes where now "many a garden flower grows wild" and "a few torn shrubs the place disclose."

Source: Florence Newell Prouty, History of the Town of Holden, Massachusetts, 1667–1941 (Holden, Mass.: 200th Anniversary Committee for the Town of Holden, 1941), 153–54.