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THIS town was originally a part of Hadley. It was incorporated as a town in 1718, and the Rev. Josiah Willard
was ordained the first minister the same year. Mr. Willard died in 1790, aged ninety years. The following ministers
have succeeded him, viz. William Rand, who settled here in 1724; Joseph Ashley, in 1747; Asa Lyon, in 1792; David
H. Williston, in 1804; James Taylor, in 1807; Henry B. Holmes, in 1833.
The central village of Sunderland is pleasantly situated on a fine interval of land on the east bank of Connecticut
river. It coonsists of about fifty dwelling houses and a Congregational church. The village street is about three
fourths of a mile in extent. The North village is about three miles from the center, and contains about fifteen
or twenty dwellings, and a Baptist church. Plum Tree village is three miles south, and is about the size of the
north village. At the central village there is a bridge over the Connecticut, 858 feet in length; it was built
in 1832, at an expense of $20,000. The village is handsomely built, and the scenery in the vicinity is uncommonly
interesting: the Sugar-loaf mountain rises at about half a mile's distance, on the western bank of the river, in
solitary and striking grandeur; while Mount Toby rises to the eastward. Population, 729. Distance, 10 miles from
Greenfield, 10 from Hadley, 5 from Montague, 29 from Springfield, 70 from Albany, N. Y., and 85 from Boston. The
value of corn brooms manufactured in this place in 1837 was $11,415.
Mount Toby is a sandstone mountain, elevated about a thousand feet above Connecticut river, and lies partly in
Sunderland and partly in Leverett, and is almost covered with forests. On the north-west side of this mountain,
in the north part of Sunderland, are a cave and fissure which have attracted some attention. "The follow.
ing section will, I apprehend" says Prof. Hitchcock in his Geological Report, "render intelligible, not
merely the form and situation of this cave and fissure, but also the mode of their production. They occur in a
conglomerate rock of new red sand-stone, on the north west side of Mount Toby. in the north part of Sunderland.
The conglomerate strata are several feet thick; and immediately beneath this rock lies a slaty micaceous sand-stone,
which is very subject to disintegration; as may be seen a little north of the cave, where the conglomerate projects
several feet beyond the slate, whose ruins are scattered around. The spot is, perhaps. 300 or 400 feet above Connecticut
river; yet there is the most conclusive proof in all the region around, that water once acted powerfully, and probably
for a long period, at various elevations on the sides of this mountain; and not improbably this aqueous agency
assisted in undermining the conglomerate rock by wearing away the sand-stone."
At A and B, the rock is but slightly removed from its original position; but in the space between these points,
the slate appears to have been worn away, so as to cause the whole conglomerate stratum, which is from 50 to 60
feet thick, and consequently of immense weight, to fall down, producing the fissure a and the cavern b. The fissure
is 9 feet wide at the top, and open to d, 40 feet; below which it is filled with rubbish. The cavern is wider than
this in some parts, though very irregular in this respect. Its bottom also is rendered very uneven by the large
masses of rock that have tumbled down. In the deepest spot (56 feet) the rocks are separated to the surface, so
as to let the light from above. The whole length of the cavern is 148 feet. Its general direction is nearly east
and west; but towards its eastern part it turns almost at right angles to the left, in consequence of the rock
A having been broken in a north and south direction from the mass of the mountain."
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.