Ashfield is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 1,737 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Ashfield was first settled in 1743 and was officially incorporated in 1765. The town was originally called “Huntstown” for Captain Ephraim Hunt, who died in King William’s War, and who had inherited the land as payment for his services.
The first permanent settlement was in 1745, by Richard Ellis, an Irish immigrant from the town of Easton. The town was renamed upon reincorporation, although there is debate over its namesake; it is either for the ash trees in the area, or because Governor Bernard had friends in Ashfield, England. The town had a small peppermint industry in the nineteenth century, but for the most part the town has had a mostly agrarian economy, with some tourism around Ashfield Lake.
Ashfield is the birthplace of prominent director Cecil B. DeMille (whose parents were vacationing in the town at the time), Alvan Clark, nineteenth century astronomer and telescope maker, and William S. Clark, member of the Massachusetts Senate and third president of Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMass Amherst).
Ashfield is a member of the Mohawk Trail Regional School District, which covers nine towns. Sanderson Academy serves the town’s students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, and also serves neighboring Plainfield. All district students from grades 7-12 attend Mohawk Trail Regional High School in neighboring Buckland. There are several private, religious and charter schools located in the Greenfield area, with the most prominent being Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, and the Academy at Charlemont in Charlemont.
The nearest community college, Greenfield Community College, is located in Greenfield. The nearest state college is Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, and the nearest state university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private colleges, including members of the Five Colleges and Seven Sisters, are located southeast in the Northampton area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,800 people, 741 households, and 500 families residing in the town. By population, Ashfield ranked thirteenth of the twenty-six towns in Franklin County, and 296th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 44.7 people per square mile (17.2/km2), which ranked seventeenth in the county and 314th in the Commonwealth. There were 821 housing units at an average density of 20.4 per square mile (7.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.33% White, 0.61% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.06% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.44% of the population.
There were 741 households, out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.6% were married couples living together, and 32.4% were non-families. Of all households, 24.0% were made up of individuals, and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 23.8% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 33.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $52,875, and the median income for a family was $56,739. Males had a median income of $38,818 versus $31,146 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,483. About 5.2% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.