Passing through ….Birdsall

By Carol Anne Barger
Staff Writer
The Spectator
May 21, 1989
Transcribed by: Kathy S. Bentley

BIRDSALL – Much of Birdsall’s farmland is now under water, thanks to a pair of beavers introduced to the area by a man with a penchant for trapping.

One-time highway commissioner Glen Scott thought it would be fun to trap beavers, said Birdsall historian Merle Wheeler, and in the late 1940s he brought a pair to what was then a small swamp.
Matt Keeney owned 1,000 acres of farm land, Wheeler said. Now it is all swamp because the “beavers multiplied like rabbits” and over-ran the place.

“Ever since he put them in we wished we hadn’t,” she said. A portion of the farm owned by her husband is now in jeopardy of flooding because of the busy little creatures.

Birdsall was established May 4, 1829, from parts of Almond and Allen, and named in honor of circuit judge John Birdsall, Wheeler said.

Although there are only 140 taxpayers and two working farms in the town, there were 500 inhabitants in 1831 and in 1892 the population peaked at 878.

Most were farmers, Wheeler said, although some also worked for the Shawmut Railroad which ran through the hamlet at the time, at the sawmills or at the pot ash plant. The railroad was taken out in 1945, and the pot ash plant was moved eventually to Bishopville.

Keeney, who grew grain and hay, Wheeler said, also had a cheese factory which area dairy farmers supplied with milk. Wheeler’s husband, who was born in 1898, remembers taking his father’s milk to the factory when he was a young man.

The hamet’s hotel, in existence since the founding of Birdsall, was torn down four or five years ago – although, Wheeler said, it practically fell down.
A playground across from the church now occupies the land where the hotel stood.

The Birdsall Inn is the only business establishment left in the town, although Wheeler said it used to have a post office, and a general store.


Passing through Birdsall

Photo is from the Spectator.