South Hadley

Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley

Extracted and edited from “History And Antiquities of Every Town In Massachusetts” by John Warner Barber, 1848.

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 bell. The 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 of the common. In consequence 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, during 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 SO. 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 toils on the canal is from 10 to $18,000 annually.

Northern view of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary
Northern view of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.

The above is a northern view of “Mount Holyoke Female Seminary,” in the central village of South Hadley, 6 miles from Northampton, 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 well-balanced 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 equaled. 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.

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