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Ashby #59: Central MA’s Best Communities

Monday, June 25, 2012

 

Ashby

Ashby comes in at #59 on the Central MA Best Communities list.  

This pretty, rural town on the New Hampshire border is home to the popular campground The Pines.  Although the town's 250th anniversary is not until 2017, the town has already established a steering committee to plan the celebration.  

In a cost saving move, the town has opted to share its town administrator, Doug Briggs, with the neighboring town of Ashburnham.

The town ranks second to last in affordability, ahead of Ayer, and is tied for last in its restaurant rankings. It ranks 4th overall in the safety category.  

 

The Ashby Market and Hardware store has been a country store since 1850. Photo courtesy of John Phelan

Ashby by the numbers

Established: 1767
Population: 3074
Median household income: $80,143
Median housing price: $362,790

2012 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 59
Affordability ranking: 71
Education ranking: 41
Economic condition ranking: 32
Safety ranking: 4
Arts & Culture ranking: 53

History in a nutshell:

Settled in 1676, Ashby's three founding families of James Coleman, James Locke and John Fitch helped to grow the community, although faced some obstacles throughout the way. During the French and Indian War in 1748, one of the leading members of the town's foundation--John Fitch--was captured by Native Americans and taken to Canada. Fitch and other members of the Ashby community were frequent traders with the Native Americans and his release was obtained through a bribe. The town was eventually incorporated in 1767. The town's residents' power was determined by the amount of property they owned and therefore by the seat they held in the communal house of worship. By the 1800s small industry began, centered around the manufacturing of palm-lead hats-- almost 60,000 manufactured in 1837 alone. 

Famous residents:  

Prince Estabrook, slave who fought alongside the Continental Army in the battle of Lexington

Famous residents source: Wikipedia
 Additional reporting by Grace Fenton

 

 

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