1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lee (Massachusetts)

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LEE, a township of Berkshire county, in western Massachusetts, U.S.A. Pop. (1900) 3596; (1905) 3972; (1910) 4106. The township is traversed by the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway, covers an area of 22½ sq. m., and includes the village of Lee, 10 m. S. of Pittsfield, East Lee, adjoining it on the S.E., and South Lee, about 3 m. to the S.W. Lee and South Lee are on, and East Lee is near, the Housatonic river. The eastern part of the township is generally hilly, reaching a maximum altitude of about 2200 ft., and there are two considerable bodies of water — Laurel Lake in the N.W. (partly in Lenox) and Goose Pond, in the S.E. (partly in Tyringham). The region is healthy as well as beautiful, and is much frequented as a summer resort. Memorial Hall was built in memory of the soldiers from Lee who died during the Civil War. The chief manufactures are paper and wire, and from the quarries near the village of Lee is obtained an excellent quality of marble; these quarries furnished the marble for the extension of the Capitol at Washington, for St Patrick's cathedral in New York City and for the Lee High School and the Lee Public Library (1908). Lime is quarried in the township. Lee was formerly a paper-manufacturing place of great importance. The first paper mill in the township was built in South Lee in 1806, and for a time more paper was made in Lee than in any other place in the United States; the Housatonic Mill in Lee was probably the first (1867) in the United States to manufacture paper from wood pulp.

The first settlement within the present township of Lee was made in 1760. The township was formed from parts of Great Barrington and Washington, was incorporated in 1777 and was named in honour of General Charles Lee (1731-1782). In the autumn of 1786 there was an encounter near the village of East Lee between about 250 adherents of Daniel Shays (many of them from Lee township) and a body of state troops under General John Paterson, wherein the Shays contingent paraded a bogus cannon (made of a yarn beam) with such effect that the state troops fled.

See Amory Gale, History of the Town of Lee (Lee, 1854), and Lee, The Centennial Celebration and Centennial History of the Town of Lee (Springfield, Mass., 1878), compiled by Charles M. Hyde and Alexander Hyde.