The Rabideaus early Easthampton, Mass history

In the 1910s, the Rabideau family moved to Easthampton FirehouseEasthampton, Massachusetts from Clinton County, New York. They came in search of work and a future. As lumberjacks and forest workers, their future and earnings were becoming increasingly limited in upper New York and the promise of work in the mills of Massachusetts was alluring.  Neither Frederick Louis Rabideau nor his brothers had an education.  By 1920 the boys Alexander (18), Frederick (15) and Victor (16) were working in a plastic mill as laborers supporting the family.  Alexander Rabideau (the boy’s father) and Florinda nee Simard were unemployed.

The following history was written in the 1890s and may be found on the internet at the Historic Easthampton site.

Easthampton is a delightful and prosperous manufacturing, educational and farming town in the southern part of Hampshire County, on the New Haven and Northampton Railroad, about 90 miles west from Boston, five miles from Northampton.   It has Northampton on the north, a dissevered section of the same town (including Mount Tom) on the east, Holyoke and Southampton on the south, and the latter and Westhampton on the west.  The territory is triangular in general form, with its base to the north. It has an assessed area of 7,325 acres, of which 1,304 acres are forest, principally of pine and chestnut.  Along the well kept streets of the older villages, also, are great numbers of maple and elm, many having a growth of 75 years, and few less than 20 years. The Manhan River flows northeasterly through the middle of the town, emptying into the Connecticut at a westward curve called “The Oxbow.” Broad Branch, coming into the town from the south, and North Branch at the northwest angle, are tributaries of the Manhan River, and, with it, furnishing valuable motive-power. The formative rock is lower sandstone.   The face of the town is undulating, with mountains rising about on almost every side. The most prominent of these is Mount Tom, at the southeastern border, which attains the altitude of 1,214 feet, forming a magnificent sky outline to the landscape on that side.  The railway, which follows the valley of the Manhan River, affords excellent points of view for this mountain ridge. The soil in this town is sandy loam, with much clay subsoil, and generally fertile; uniformly yielding good crops of hay, rye, oats, potatoes and tobacco. The greenhouse product in 1885 had a value of upwards of $3,000. The aggregate farm product was $154,038.  The manufactures are numerous.  The leading establishments are the “Williston Mills” (having two mills), the Nashawannick Manufacturing Company (three mills), the Glendale Company (three mills), the Easthampton Rubber Thread Company, Williston and Knight Company, George S. Colton, and the Valley Machine Company. The principal products are cotton prints, suspenders, buttons, elastic webs, rubber and silk goods, machinery, castings, whips, bricks, and food preparations. The value of the aggregate product of these and other manufactures in the census year of 1885 was $1,945,488. There is one national and one savings bank. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $2,397,279, with a tax-rate of $14 on $1,000. The population was 4,291; of whom 785 were voters. The dwelling-houses numbered 815. The postal villages are Easthampton and Mount Tom; and others are Factory Village and New City. Easthampton has an excellent town-hall, which cost originally $65,000; also an elegant public library building, containing about 10,000 volumes. The grading of the public schools is complete; and fifteen buildings, valued at upwards of $25,000, are devoted to their use. The Williston Seminary has a library of about 2,000 volumes. This institution was founded by the Hen. Samuel Williston, and has cost upwards of $250,000. I t was opened for students December 2, 1841, and has commodious buildings and a complete outfit for a school of its kind.