WILLIAMSTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS, a township of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on the Hoosick and Green rivers, in the N.W. corner of the state, and about 20 m. N. of Pittsfield. Pop. (1890) 4221; (1900) 5013, of whom 929 were foreign-born and 138 were negroes; (1910 census), 3708. Williamstown is served by the Boston & Maine railway and by an interurban electric line to North Adams. It covers an area of about 49 sq . m . and contains five villages. Williamstown, the principal village, is a pleasant residential centre on the Green river; it is surrounded by beautiful scenery and its streets are shaded by some fine old trees. Mission Park (10 acres) here is adorned by native WILLIAMS- WYNN WILLIS, N. P.
and foreign shrubs and by maples, elms, pines and arbor vitae, and " Haystack Monument " in this park marks the place where Samuel John Mills (1783-1818), in 1806, held the prayer meeting which was the forerunner of the American foreign missionary movement. Williamstown village is best known as the seat of Williams College, chartered in 1793 as a successor to a " free school " in Williamstown (chartered in 1785 and endowed by a bequest of Colonel Ephraim Williams). Besides recitation and residence halls, it has the Lawrence Hall Library (1846), containing (1910) 68,000 volumes, the Thompson Memorial Chapel (1904), the Lasell Gymnasium (1886), an infirmary (1895), the Hopkins Observatory (1837) and the Field Memorial Observatory (1882), the Thompson Chemical Laboratory (1892), the Thompson Biological Laboratory (1893) and the Thompson Physical Laboratory (1893). In 1910 the college had 59 instructors and 537 students. The fourth president of the college was Mark Hopkins (q.v.), and one of its most distinguished alumni was James A. Garfield, president of the United States, whose son, Harry Augustus Garfield (b. 1863), became president of the college in 1908.
The principal manufactures of the township are cotton and woollen goods (especially corduroy), and market gardening is an important industry. The limits of the township, originally called West Hoosac, were determined by a committee of the General Court of Massachusetts in 1749, and two or three years later the village was laid out. Two of the lots were immediately purchased by Captain Ephraim Williams (1715-1755), who was at the time commander of Fort Massachusetts in the vicinity; several other lots were bought by soldiers under him; and in 1 7 53 the proprietors organized a township government. Williams was killed in the battle of Lake George on the 8th of September 1755, but while in camp in Albany, New York, a few days before the battle, he drew a will containing a small bequest for a free school at West Hoosac on condition that the township when incorporated should be called Williamstown. The township was incorporated with that name in 1765.
See A. L. Perry, Origins in Williamstown (New York, 1894; 3rd ed. 1900) ; and Williamstown and Williams College (Norwood, Mass., 1899).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)