By Capt. Franklin Ellis91


     This town lies on the east border of the county, north of the centre.  It is bounded on the north by Chatham and Canaan, on the east by Canaan and by the town of Alford, Mass., on the south by Hillsdale, and on the west by Ghent.  It contains twenty-seven thousand seven hundred and ninety-two acres, about one-quarter of which is unimproved lands, and ranks fourth in size among the towns of this county.  It is centrally distant a little north of east from Hudson about fifteen miles.  In population it now ranks as the sixteenth town of the county, having a population of thirteen hundred and eighty-eight,--a loss of five hundred and one in fifteen years, and of fifty-four in the last five years previous to 1875.

    The surface is hilly and broken.  Along the east side of the town the range of the Taghkanic mountains stretches in a series of high, rounded peaks, and at their foot the beautiful valley of the Green river winds along. West of this valley the surface rises in a series of high, irregular hills, again descending a little west of the centre to the valley of Punsit creek.  To the westward of this the country is undulating.  Most of the hills are arable to their summits, but in the north centre of the town they are rocky, barren and sterile.  The soil is generally composed of a slaty or gravelly loam of varying fertility.  In some parts traces of clay are found.  The principal and almost sole occupation of the inhabitants is agriculture, the main crops being rye, oats, corn, potatoes, and buckwheat.  Stock-raising and dairying are carried on to a considerable extent, and considerable hay is shipped.

    The hills are in many parts thickly wooded,--chestnut, maple, elm, oak, butternut, and birch being the principal kinds of timber, while pines and hemlocks occasionally appear.

    There are but two ponds of any considerable size.  The largest of these lies near the northeast corner of the town, and, from a tradition that at one spot in it no soundings, however deep, have ever found the bottom, is called "No-Bottom Pond."  It lies in the extreme north, bordering the Canaan line, at the foot of a rocky eminence that incloses [sic] it on the west, and covers about twenty acres.  In most parts it is rather shallow, and sometimes in a drought it becomes almost entirely dry.  It empties its waters through the Green river.  The second pond is formed partly by artificial means.  It is on the farm of W. J. Cadman, near Mount Pleasant, in the north centre of the town, and covers about ten acres.  It has been plentifully stocked with trout until within a few years.  It is the source of "Indian Brook," which runs northwest into Canaan, crosses into Chatham, and then, deflecting southward, crosses the northwest corner of Austerlitz into Ghent, and from that point flows in a northwest course till it empties into Kinderhook creek in Chatham.  It is sometimes, especially in Ghent and Chatham, called "Kline Kill."  This creek, Green river, and Punsit creek are the principal water-courses.  Green river issues from No-Bottom pond, and flows south across the east end of the town.  The valley is noted for its quiet beauty and the many picturesque scenes through which it passes.  Leaving this town, it crosses the northeast corner of Hillsdale, passes into Massachusetts, in the town of Alford, which it crosses into Great Barrington and unites with the Housatonic.  It was formerly noted for the great numbers of trout that thronged its waters.

     The name was derived from the translucent green color of the water, and its fame was sung in charming verse by the poet Bryant, while he was a resident of Great Barrington, in his younger days.

     Punsit creek (called "Grist-Mill Brook" in the olden time) rises in the southwest part of the town, and flows in a northerly course nearly across the town.  It then turns to the west, and entering Ghent unites with Indian brook.  It has two tributaries of some size which flow into it from the east.  On each of these streams is a picturesque fall.  The largest one is known as Davenport falls, and is located where the stream crosses the highway, half a mile southeast of Spencertown.  On the east line of the town, near the northeast corner, is Harvey mountain, which rises to an altitude of about twenty-five hundred feet above the tide.  Mercer mountain is a high ridge south of No-Bottom pond.  Fire hill is an elevation in the south part.

     This town was principally a purchase made by a number of Massachusetts and Connecticut men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  The western part, however, bounded by a line entering near the northwest corner and crossing in a southeasterly direction, belonged to the Van Rensselaer patent.