Background

In 1724, Sheffield was purchased from the Mahican Indians for 460 English pounds, three barrels of cider and 30 quarts of rum. From this tract of land, the settling committee created two townships, the Lower Township retaining the name of Sheffield and the Upper Township becoming Great Barrington in 1761. Settlers were attracted by the fertile Housatonic flood plain and the natural resources. The town developed rapidly, giving rise to gristmills, sawmills, plaster and paper mills, forges, tanneries, smithies, limekilns and shops for making clothing, furniture, wagons and harnesses. None of these industries survive today, except for the few large farms.

Town Trivia

One of Sheffield's most illustrious son's was Frederick A.P. Barnard. He served as president of Columbia College for 25 years. He was a staunch supporter of higher education for women and was honored by having Barnard College named for him.

Sheffield's boundary has changed nine times, the most number of alterations in the Berkshires.

In the 1800's, an excellent quality of marble was found in abundance in the town and several quarries were opened, furnishing marble for numerous public buildings including part of the Washington Monument.