More About Southwick
Southwick Town Offices
454 College Highway
Southwick, MA 01077
Town Incorporated: November 7, 1770
Population per 2010 Census: 9,502
FY 2016 Tax Rate: $17.10
Southwick was settled by people who moved south from Westfield, along the main north-south arteries now named College Highway, North and South Loomis Streets and North and South Longyard Roads. (Please see map, a copy of the oldest one we have.) Fowlers settled in the 1730's in Poverty Plains, so named because the soil was deemed poor for farming. The Loomis family settled early in the North Loomis area, and Nobles were in the South Longyard area. The Moores were established in the section nearest what was then Simsbury, Connecticut. The Roots located near the site of the original church that stood at the corner of Bugbee Road and College Highway. That is why the town cemetery was and is still located near that spot.
Attending church in the winter must have been quite an ordeal. That was one reason that fifty-two residents of the south part of Westfield petitioned on the 15th of March 1765 to become a separate town. Men whose last names were Moore, Loomis, Fowler, Root or Noble accounted for almost half of that number. On November 7, 1770, Southwick, the south village or "wick" of Westfield, was set off as a district, and in 1775, it became a full-fledged town. Records of town meetings have been preserved since that time, with the records from 1775 through 1853 transcribed in typescript form, for easier reading. Many resources of that kind can be consulted at the Southwick Public Library.
In 1774, just before the outbreak of the American Revolution, the area known as the "Jog" became part of Simsbury, Connecticut, reducing the area of Southwick by one third. With this reduction of both area and population, it would not be surprising to learn that the town had trouble supplying its allotted share of the support of the conflict. When the Salmon Brook area of Simsbury became the separate town of Granby in 1786, the "Jog" area was included. After the affairs of the war and new federal constitution were settled, it still took another several years before the "Jog" returned to Southwick and the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. Prominent residents Amasa Holcomb, Sardis Gillett, and Roger Moore all lived in that section of town during the boundary changes, and each recounted the story of living in four towns, three counties, two states, and two colonies. The house of Roger Moore, built by his father Joseph in 1751, is being restored by the Southwick Historical Society, Inc. and will become the first museum in our town.
EARLY AND MID 1800's:
The 19th century brought many changes. Although a majority of the population was still engaged in farming, several men became manufacturers of gunpowder, with one man producing telescopes of fine quality. Others ran sawmills or made flour from the grain brought to the gristmill by the local farmers. By the 1880's, six men were engaged in manufacturing cigars from the tobacco grown in the Connecticut valley. Others were peddlers or shopkeepers. Census records are available in typescript form, and each is indexed from the first enumeration in 1790 through 1910. The population did not exceed 1,200 people in any of those years.
TURN OF 20th CENTURY:
The era from about 1880 to 1920 was an important one for the Congamond Lakes. People came by train in summer to visit the lakes, to swim and fish and ride on the steamboats. Hotels and cottages were built near the lakes so those visitors could stay for a few days or a week or two. In winter, the ice of Middle and South Congamond Lakes was harvested and stored in five huge icehouses. As the weather warmed, the blocks of ice were shipped to New York and other cities where they were cut up and used in iceboxes for keeping food cold. The "Around Southwick", book published by Arcadia, has over 200 vintage photographs of Southwick prior to World War II. It is available from the Southwick Historical Society. The society holds meetings throughout the year to which the public is invited.
If you would like more information about any of these or other topics of interest, we welcome inquiries. Contact the Southwick Historical Society, Inc., P. 0. Box 323, Southwick, MA 01077-0323 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.