Sheffield, Massachusetts

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Not to be confused with the city of Sheffield in the UK, or Sheffield, Vermont.

Sheffield is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,335 at the 2000 census. Sheffield is home to the Berkshire School, a private preparatory school. The former resort town includes the village of Ashley Falls, and is bordered by various other towns and villages, such as Egremont.



Originally called Outhotonnook, meaning "over the mountain," the land was purchased on April 25, 1724 from Chief Konkapot and 20 other Stockbridge Mahican Indians. Its price was 460 pounds, 3 barrels of cider and 30 quarts of rum. The lower township of Housatonic (as Outhotonnook would be corrupted) was first settled by Matthew Noble of Westfield, who arrived in 1725.

But New York concurrently claimed west of the Housatonic River under the Westenhook Patent, dated July 11, 1705, and insisted that Massachusetts cease encroachment. Indeed, one early settler was arrested and incarcerated at Albany as a trespasser on Westenhook land. Nevertheless, Sheffield, Massachusetts was officially incorporated on June 22, 1733, the first town incorporated in what is now Berkshire County Its north parish set off and incorporated as Great Barrington in 1761. Located on the fertile floodplain of the Housatonic River valley, the principal industry was agriculture.

The Sheffield Resolves, or Sheffield Declaration, was an early Colonial American petition against British rule and manifesto for individual rights, drawn up as a series of resolves approved by the Town of Sheffield on January 12, 1773 and printed in The Massachusetts Spy, Or, Thomas’s Boston Journal on February 18, 1773. Sheffield was also the site of the bloodiest (and last) battle on February 27, 1787, during Shays' Rebellion.

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