Tyringham is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 327 at the 2010 census.
Founded as Housatonic Township Number 1, the land which became Tyringham and Monterey was first settled in 1735. The two main villages were set up along two waterways, Hop Brook to the north and the Konkapot River to the south.
In 1750, Adonijah Bidwell, a Yale Divinity School graduate from the Hartford region, became the first minister of Township No. 1. When a meetinghouse was founded in the south, it led to a buildup in the north, and by 1767 the town was incorporated and named for Tyringham, a village in Buckinghamshire, England. The town was home to the Tyringham Shaker Settlement Historic District, with the Shaker holy name of “Jerusalem”, which lay just south of the town center. The town of Monterey was set off and incorporated as its own town in 1847. The town was the site of several small country estates for the wealthy, most of which are long gone, leaving Tyringham as a small, rural community.
The town of Tyringham began with an agricultural economy which soon shifted to include cottage industries and manufacturing.
In 1786, the town had 182 dwelling houses, forty shops, two tanneries, four potash works, two iron works, and four grist and saw mills. The townspeople made 1185 barrels of cider that year. More than ten thousand acres of the uplands were woodlands or unimproved land, but about 2500 acres had been improved for tillage. About two thousand acres were mowed for hay, and more than three thousand acres were used as pasturage for the townspeople’s five hundred horses, eight hundred swine, 178 oxen, five hundred cattle, and 541 milk cows.
By 1837, Tyringham farmers had incorporated sheep into their economy and owned 1678 Merino sheep as well as 598 sheep of other breeds, and produced more than 6500 pounds of wool. One tannery was still in operation. Their manufactories made boots, shoes, iron castings, forks, wooden ware, palm-leaf hats, rakes, chairs, and corn brooms. The biggest business, a paper mill, employed seven men and nineteen women, and made fifty tons of paper valued at $21,000.
Over the next three decades, Tyringham farmers diversified further, though they maintained about 1800 acres for making hay. In 1865, 63 farms employed 200, and their tillage produced Indian corn, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats, and corn. Vegetable crops included potatoes, turnips, onions, carrots, and cabbage. Most of their crops were suited to the chilly climate and short growing season of a hilltown. The Shakers raised garden seeds, devoting only three acres to those crops but selling the seeds for $2,000. Someone devoted five acres to tobacco and raised nine thousand pounds valued at $1,800. Tyringham farmers had also brought 1800 apple trees and fifty pear trees into production. Their livestock had declined in numbers, but their 317 milk cows gave enough milk to make 8,000 pounds of butter and 40,000 pounds of cheese which sold for $8,000. Tyringham farmers also sold more than a hundred thousand pounds of dressed beef, pork, mutton, veal, and pork. They also made five thousand pounds of maple sugar and four hundred gallons of maple molasses valued at $1,500. This was a cash crop for the Shakers as well as many upland farmers with slopes too steep to plow and covered with the maple trees which are a significant part of Massachusetts forests.
Manufacturing continued to grow. The Shakers’ rake factory employed nine men and made thirty thousand rakes in 1865. Two paper mills employing 22 men and 41 women made more than $110,000 worth of paper. In addition, Tyringham townspeople worked in two blacksmith shops, a boot and shoe factory, and five sawmills.
After the Tyringham Shakers left in 1875, their businesses closed and their farms were sold. One Shaker family’s buildings on Jerusalem Road became a summer resort known as Fernside.
Tyringham students are sent to Lee Public Schools by arrangement with that town. Lee Elementary School serves students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grades, and the Lee Middle and High School serves students from seventh through twelfth grades. Additionally, neighboring Lee is home to Saint Mary’s School, a parochial school which serves students through eighth grade. Other private schools can be found in Great Barrington and other surrounding towns.
The nearest community college is the South County Center of Berkshire Community College in Great Barrington. The nearest state college is Westfield State University. The nearest private college is Bard College at Simon’s Rock.
As of the census of 2000, there were 350 people, 133 households, and 98 families residing in the town. By population, the town ranks 30th out of 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County, and 345th out of the 351 in Massachusetts. The population density was 18.7 people per square mile (7.2/km2), which ranks 28th in the county and 342nd in the Commonwealth. There were 265 housing units at an average density of 14.2 per square mile (5.5/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.43% White, 0.29% African American, 0.29% Native American, 2.57% Asian, and 1.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.29% of the population.
There were 133 households, out of which 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.2% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.6% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 18.6% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 18.9% from 25 to 44, 40.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $60,250, and the median income for a family was $67,679. Males had a median income of $42,708 versus $31,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $35,503. None of the families and 3.5% of the population were living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and none of those over 64.