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THIS town was originally a parish in Hadley; it was incorporated as a town in 1753. “This town was settled as
early as 1721 by a few families from Hadley. It was then called the South Precinct in Hadley. The first settlers
for some time continued to attend public worship on the Sabbath In Hadley, a distance of about 7 or 8 miles. In
1733 the first town meeting as a separate district was held, and it was resolved that a meeting-house, the frame
of which was put up the year before, should be in part finished. The building, however, was not completed until
the close of the year 1737. The families were few in number and indigent in their circumstances, and the house
was principally built by their personal labor; it was not large, containing only nine pews in the body of if. A
gallery was subsequently added. There was no steeple or hell. rrhe people were called together at the appointed
hour of public worship by the "blowing of a conch shell.” The house still remains, and is occupied as a dwelling-house,
on the north side of the common. In conscqucnce of the house being too small to accommodate the people, at the
meeting of the town in March, 1750, a vote was passed to build a new house, 55 feet in length and 45 in breadth,
to be placed as near the old one as might conveniently be done, and as near the center of the town as possible.
The difficulty of locating the house was almost without a parallel. It was not till thirteen. years afterwards
that the question was settled, durmg which more than fifty meetings for the purpose of agreeing on the place were
held. It was finally settled by lot. The lot fixed the place where the meeting-house of the first parish now stands.
A part being dissatisfied, a council of ministers was called, consisting of the Rev. Dr. Williams of Longmeadow,
Rev. Mr. Breck of Springfield, Rev. Mr. Ballantine of Westfield, and Rev. Mr. Lathrop of West Springfield, who
decided that both parties were under moral obligation to abide by the lot. The first pastor of the church in South
Hadley was Rev. Grindall Rawson, who was settled in 1733. A grant of land, called the “Proprietors’ Land,” was
set off to this town on its first settlement, by the town of Hadley, for the use of the ministry, on condition
that the people should settle among them "a good orthodox minister.” By a vote of the precinct, at their first
meeting, this land was appropriated to Mr. Rawson. Rev. John Woodbridge, the successor of Mr. Rawson, was installed
pastor in 1742. He died in 1783, aged 80. He was succeeded in the ministry by Rev. Joel Hays, who was settled in
1782. Rev. Artemas Boies, the next minister, was settled in 1824, and was succeeded by Rev. Joseph D. Condit, in
1835. Rev. Flavel Griswold was the first pastor of the second or canal church. He was installed pastor in 1828;
Rev. William Tyler succeeded him in 1832.
The soil in this township is light, warm, and in many places very productive. Considerable attention is paid by
the farmers in this town to the raising of sheep. There is considerable waterpower in the town, much of which is
yet unimproved. The manufacture of paper, satinet, and other articles, forms an important branch of business in
this place. There is a canal in this town, two miles long, on the east side of Connecticut river, and a dam across
the river of 1100 feet, which is constructed to overcome a fall in the river of 50 feet. This dam produces a water-power
of great extent. The canal has five locks, and a cut through solid rock of 40 feet in depth and 300 in length.
The amount of tolls on the canal is from 10 to $18,000 annually.
The above is a northern view of "Mount Holyoke Female Seminary," in the central village of South Hadley,
6 miles from North ampton, and 13 from Springfield, which is now about opening for the reception of scholars. This
institution is designed entirely for young ladies. "The design is to give a solid, extensive, and wellbalanced
English education, connected with that general improvement, that moral culture, and those enlarged views of duty,
which will prepare ladies to be educators of children and youth." One leading object in this seminary is to
raise up female teachers. This institution is designed to be permanent, and to be placed on as lasting foundations
as the colleges in our country for the other sex. An act of incorporation has been obtained, and a self-perpetuating
board of trustees appointed. The institution is designed. to furnish the best facilities for education at a very
moderate expense. One very important feature in the system to be adopted here, is that all the teachers and pupils,
without a single exception, will constitute but one family, and all the pupils are to perform a part of the domestic
work of the family. The place for an institution of this kind is well chosen, being easy of access, and. at the
same time removed from the evils attendant on a seminary of learning being located in a populous place. The view
from the upper stories of the seminary is commanding and interesting. At the north, the towering heights of Mount
Tom and Holyoke, rising in grandeur at the distance of two or three miles; the gorge between the two mountains,
through which the Connecticut passes; the beautiful interval on which Northampton is situated, seen beyond, present
a scene which is rarely equalled. There are 3 churches, 1 Congregational in the center, 1 Congregational and 1
Methodist in the village at the falls, on the south border of the town. Population of the town, 1,400.
In 1837, there were two woollen mills, 3 sets of machinery; 60,000 yards of cloth were manufactured, the value
of which was $45,000. There were three paper mills; stock manufactured, 1,250 tons; value of paper, $161,500; males
employed, 43; females, 41; capital invested, $100,000. Two pearl button manufactories; 18,000 gross of buttons
were manufactured, valued at $8,500; males employed, 13; females. 18; capital invested, $4,200. The value of leather
tanned and curried was $18,400.
Mount Holyoke, on the northern borders of this town, rises 830 feet above the level of the Connecticut at its base,
and from its summit presents probably the richest view in America in point of cultivation and fertile beanty, and
is quite a place of fashionable resort. "It is a part of a mountain ridge of greenstone, commencing with West
Rock, near New Haven, and proceding northerly. mterrupted by only occasional valleys, across the whole of Connecticut,
until it enters Massachusetts between West Springfield and Southwick, and proceeds along the west line of the first-named
place, and along the east line of Westfield, Easthampton, and. Northampton, to the banks of Connecticut. Until
it reaches Easthampton its elevation is small; but there it suddenly mounts up to the height of a thousand feet,
and forms Mount Tom. The ridge crosses Connecticut in a north-east direction, and curving still more to the east,
passes along the dividing line of Amherst and South Hadley, until it terminates ten miles from the river in the
north-west part of Belchertown. All that part of the ridge east of the river is called Holyoke; though the prospect
house is erected near its southwestern extremity, opposite Northampton and near the Connecticut."
The following view is from Mt. Holyoke, showing the appearance of the curve of the Connecticut, sometimes called
the Ox-bow, which gracefully sweeps round a circuit of three miles without advancing its ocean course a hundred
rods. "In the view from Holyoke we have the grand and beautiful united; the latter, however, greatly predominating."
"On the west is seen, a little elevated above the general level, the populous village of Northampton, with
its elegant public and private buildings; a little more to the right the neat and substantial villages of Hadley
and Hatfield; and still further east and more distant, Amherst, with its college, gymnasium and academy, on a commanding
eminence, form a pleasant resting place to the eye. On the south is seen the village of South Hadley. Springfield
and other places south indistinctly visible along the banks of the Connecticut, and even the spires of the churches
in Hartford may be seen in good weather, just rising above the trees. With a telescope the elevated peaks in the
vicinity of New Haven may be seen. Facing the south-west, the observer has before him the ridge called Mount Torn,
which rises one or two hundred feet higher than Holyoke." In the north-west the Graylock may be seen peering
above the Hoosic, and still farther north the Green mountains shoot up beyond the region of clouds. Near at hand,
in the valley of the Connecticut, are seen the insulated Sugar-loaf and Toby presenting their fantastic outlines
; while far in the northeast rises in insulated grandeur the cloud-capt Monadnoc." "Probably, under favorable
circumstances, not less than 30 churches, in as many towns, are visible from Holyoke. The north and south diameter
of the field of vision there can scarcely be less than 150 miles."
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.