Heath — Geographical
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
This town is the third from the west, bordering on Vermont, and has Coleraine for its eastern boundary, while south and west are Charlemont and Rowe. Originally the greater part of Heath belonged to Charlemont, but, after the Revolution. Col. Hugh Maxwell was selected, in 1784, by his neighbors, living on the hills of Charlemont, to attend the General Court, at Boston, and procure the formation of a new town. His mission was successful, and on the 14th of February, 1785, Heath was incorporated to embrace, besides the territory taken from Charlemont, all that tract of land lying north to the Vermont line, known as the "Green and Walker Grant," and heretofore unincorporated. The name was bestowed in compliment to Gen. William Heath, of Roxbury, who was at that time a member of the General Court, and active in promoting the incorporation of the town. It was fully organized the following April. The surface is elevated and hilly, and, although generally tillable, the town is best adapted for grazing, and dairying has for many years been the chief industry of the people. The principal streams of the town are West Branch Brook and its affluents in the north. having a general easterly course; and Wilder, Avery, and Mill Brooks. flowing south. All are small and furnish but little waterpower, but their general distribution secures good drainage.
The town contained one of the cordon of forts, erected in 1744, in the northern parts of Berkshire and Franklin Counties, by the province, for defense against the Indians. The one in Heath was named Fort Shirley, in honor of the Governor of the province, and was probably nothing more than a well-constructed stockade. Some of the timbers were pine, hewed to measure 7 by 15 inches, and were removed by the early settlers to construct their barns. It is said that some of these logs may yet he found in a barn built by David White, and at present owned by O. Maxwell. The fort was on a piece of ground near the brook. between the farms of Wm. Kendrick and W. L. Cook, and was abandoned before 1754.