Charlemont is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 1,266 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Charlemont was first settled by Moses Rice (1694-1755) who purchased 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) on 23 April 1743 that been previously set off as Boston Township Number 1 in 1735 by the Great and General Court. The town was along the distant frontier at the time, and was the subject of several raids by Native Americans. While plowing in the fields one day, Rice was shot and wounded by Indians lying in ambush. They also shot and killed another man, Phineas Arms, at the same time and captured Moses’ eight-year-old grandson Asa, who had been riding the plow horse. Moses was taken to the adjoining woods, scalped, and left for dead, but Asa was carried off to Canada. The town was incorporated as Charlemont in 1765, most likely named for the town in Northern Ireland. The town was mostly rural, with farming being the main industry until the advent of the railroad, which traveled through town towards the Hoosac Tunnel. Today the town industry also includes tourism, with a ski area and other tourist areas along the Mohawk Trail.
In the years preceding the Revolutionary War, as Charlemont’s citizens grew increasingly dissatisfied with British rule, Rev. Jonathan Leavitt was installed as the minister of Charlemont’s Congregational Church. Born in Walpole, New Hampshire, and graduate of Yale College, Rev. Leavitt arrived in Charlemont in 1767, but his Loyalist sympathies grated on his congregation.
By 1777 the situation came to a stand-off: Leavitt refused to accept his salary in rapidly depreciating colonial currency. So the town voted to simply close the church, and it stationed a constable at the door to bar the offending reverend. But Leavitt would not be deterred: He moved his sermons to the schoolhouse, where he held forth until 1785, when he was finally dismissed. He sued for his salary, as well as his loss on the depreciated colonial currency, and was awarded £700.
Leavitt’s descendants continued to remain in Charlemont and the surrounding region, and several—including Col. Roger Hooker Leavitt, who represented Charlemont in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and his brother Hart Leavitt—became notable operators of stations on the Underground Railroad, sheltering many escaped slaves on their journeys northward.
Revolutionary War soldier and historian Lemuel Roberts helped his father establish a farm in Charlemont before leaving to fight in the Siege of Boston.
Charlemont and neighboring Hawley make up the Hawlemont Regional School District, a sub-district of the 9-town Mohawk Trail Regional School District, which serves much of western Franklin County. Town students attend the Hawlemont Regional Elementary School from pre-kindergarten through sixth grades, and all students in the district attend Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. There is a private academy in town, the Academy at Charlemont, and other private and religious schools in nearby towns.
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 college is Williams College in Williamstown, with several others located southeast in the Northampton area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,358 people, 524 households, and 353 families residing in the town. By population, Charlemont ranks eighteenth of the 25 towns in Franklin county, and 314th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 52.0 people per square mile (20.1/km2), which ranks fifteenth in the county and 310th in the commonwealth. There were 628 housing units at an average density of 24.1 per square mile (9.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.07% White, 0.29% African American, 0.66% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 2.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.99% of the population.
There were 524 households, out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.8% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.6% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 25.1% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $46,548, and the median income for a family was $50,962. Males had a median income of $37,500 versus $26,667 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,577. About 6.5% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.