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Hancock is a town in Berkshire Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, United Statesmarker. It is part of the Pittsfieldmarker, Massachusettsmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 721 at the 2000 census.


Hancock was first settled in 1762 as the Plantation of Jericho. The town was officially incorporated in 1776, and renamed for John Hancock.

Hancock Shaker Village

Shaker dance and worship
In 1790, the Shakers established Hancock Shaker Village. The Shakers were a religious order which believed in pacifism, celibacy and communal living. Worship could take the form of singing and ecstatic dance, which is why they were called the "Shaking Quakers," or "Shakers." The utopian sect is renowned today for its plain architecture and furniture.

After reaching peak membership in the 1840s, with 19 "societies" scattered from Mainemarker to Kentuckymarker, and west to Indianamarker, the Shaker movement gradually dwindled. Today, only one village remains in the control of the last Shakers, located at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucestermarker, Mainemarker. Hancock Shaker Village, now operated as a museum, is famous for its "Round Stone Barn," built in 1826.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 35.8 square miles (92.6 km²), of which, 35.7 square miles (92.5 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.08%) is water.

Hancock is bordered on the north by Williamstownmarker, on the northeast by New Ashfordmarker, on the east by Lanesboroughmarker and Pittsfieldmarker, on the south by Richmondmarker, on the west by Canaanmarker, New Lebanonmarker, Stephentownmarker and Berlinmarker, New Yorkmarker.

Most of northern Hancock is bound by the Taconic Mountainsmarker, between which the valley of the west branch of the Green River begins and continues northward, and the Kinderhook Creek valley begins and flows southwest into New York. To the west, along the New York border, stands the western escarpment of the Taconic Mountains including Misery Mountainmarker and Rounds Mountainmarker, while northeastern town line is bordered by the eastern Taconic escarpment peaks of Brodie Mountain, Sheeps Heaven Mountain, and Jiminy Peak (home to a ski area of the same name). Southern Hancock, where the Shaker Village is located, is dominated by the Taconic peaks of Pittsfield State Forest, including Tower Mountain, Smith Mountain, Berry Hill, Honwee Mountain, Doll Mountain, and Shaker Mountain.

U.S. Route 20 passes through the southern end of town, from Pittsfield to the New York state line. Route 43 also passes through town, from the northern border with Williamstown, and is the main route through town, turning along Kinderhook Creek and into New York. There are no roads within the town that connect the two roads, however.

There is no rail, bus or air service within the town. The nearest services are in Pittsfield to the south, and Williamstown and North Adams to the north. The nearest airport with nationally connecting flights is Albany International Airportmarker, approximately forty miles northwest of town.


As of the census of 2000, there were 721 people, 296 households, and 209 families residing in the town. Hancock ranks 25th out of the 32 towns in Berkshire County by population, and 335th out of the 351 in Massachusetts. The population density was 20.2 people per square mile (7.8/km²), making it the least densely populated town in Berkshire County, and thirteenth-least in the Commonwealth. There were 472 housing units at an average density of 13.2/sq mi (5.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.36% White, 0.28% African American, 0.55% Asian, 0.14% from other races, and 1.66% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.39% of the population.

There were 296 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.2% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.1% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 3.6% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 29.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 110.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $45,347, and the median income for a family was $50,625. Males had a median income of $35,000 versus $28,750 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,250. About 6.1% of families and 5.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.


Hancock is governed by the open town meeting form of government, and is governed by a board of selectmen. The town has its own volunteer fire department. The town has its own library, Taylor Memorial Library, and other public services.

On the state level, Hancock is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the Second Berkshire district, which covers central Berkshire County, as well as portions of Hampshire and Franklin Counties. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The town is patrolled by the Fourth (Cheshire) Station of Troop "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.

On the national level, Hancock is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, and has been represented by John Olver of Amherstmarker since June 1991. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator John Kerry and interim junior senator Paul Kirk. A special election is scheduled to be held on January 19, 2010 to fill the Class 1 seat currently held by Kirk.


The town has a single school, Hancock Elementary School, which serves students from kindergarten through sixth grade. Upper grades students attend either Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, or Pittsfield High School. The nearest private schools are in Williamstown and Pittsfield.

The nearest community college, Berkshire Community Collegemarker, is in Pittsfield. The nearest state colleges are Westfield State Collegemarker and Massachusetts College of Liberal Artsmarker in North Adams, and the nearest university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Williams College in Williamstown is the nearest private college.


  1. Senators and Representatives by City and Town
  2. Station B-4, SP Cheshire
  3. Governor sets date for special Senate election, presses for interim appointment

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