Hadley Massachusetts, 1890

Hadley is a very pleasant and fertile farming town of 286 farms, 396 houses, and 1,747 inhabitants, situated midway in the northerly side of Hampshire County, about 109 miles west of Boston. The Massachusetts Central Railroad passes through Hadley village a little south of the middle of the town, connecting it closely with all the principal lines in this section of the State.

This town is bounded on the north by Sunderland, on the east by Amherst, on the south by South Hadley, and on the west by Northampton and Hatfield. The Connecticut River forms the entire western line, and the long ridge of Mount Holyoke divides it from its neighbor on the south. The assessed area is 12,757 acres. There are 2,191 acres of forest, consisting of pine, hemlock, oak, chestnut, maple, ash and white birch. The underlying rock is the lower sandstone, sienite, calcareous gneiss and dolorites. Mount Warner rises boldly midway of the western side, while at the southwest Mount Holyoke looks down upon the Connecticut River from a height of 830 feet. This eminence, though steep and somewhat difficult of ascent, is much frequented by lovers of the beautiful, and affords a prospect of great extent. On the summit are a public house and an observatory. One of the curiosities of this locality is an immense bowlder, which, because of its remarkable attractive power, is called "The Magnet."

The principal affluents of the Connecticut in this town are Mill River on the north and Fort River on the south, both furnishing motive power. The alluvial meadows on the Connecticut River are among the most productive of the State, yielding large quantities of hay, grain, broom-corn and tobacco. In 1870 as many as 583 acres were devoted to the culture of the last-named article, yielding 1,006,000 pounds, valued at $150,000; and about 110 acres were in broom-corn, yielding 60,000 pounds of broom-brush, valued at $9,000, and 9,510 bushels of seed, valued at $5,000. The census of 1885 shows a general reduction in the figures of all the statistics of this town. In the item of tobacco, the yield was 920,000 pounds, worth $99,938. The other crops bear the usual proportion; the aggregate product having a value of $389,840. In manufactures there are two grain mills, three lumber mills, five corn-broom factories, one carriage factory, a brick-yard, and one or more stone quarries. The value of the manufactures in the year mentioned was $78,533. The valuation in 1888 was $971,852, with a tax-rate of $12 on $1,000.

The public schools are completely graded, and occupy ten buildings having a value of nearly $20,000. There are three churches in the town, all Congregationalist, the edifices being of the early style, with tall slender spires visible from afar over the tree-tops. On Mill River are the pleasant villages of North Hadley and Plainville; and in other parts are "Fort River," "Hart's Brook, " Hockanum, and Russellville, The largest settlement is Hadley village, built principally on a long and level street running north and south across the neck of a peninsula formed by a westward bend of the Connecticut River. The street is wide and well shaded with ancient trees. A noble iron bridge 1,200 feet in length connects it with the village of Northampton, two or three miles distant on the western side.

Other objects of interest are the free High school, the two public libraries in the two larger villages, the town-hall, and Mount Holyoke with its hotel, its curious and impressive features and its magnificent extent of beautiful landscape. Hopkins Academy, located in this town, was burned in 1860; and the fund has since been applied to the improvement of the public school. In four neighboring towns are five flourishing institutions of high rank, and these, with the manufacturing advantages of other towns along the noble river, have become stronger centres of attraction, leaving Hadley, as it has been from its early days, simply a wealthy agricultural town.

The Indian name of Hadley was Norwattock. Gov. John Webster and the Rev. John Russell, the first settlers, came here in 1659 from Connecticut. The place may have been named from Hadleigh, in Essex County, England. The first church was established under the pastorate of the Rev. John Russell in 1659, and the town was incorporated May 30, 1661.

Hadley was attacked by a large body of Indians during Philip's War, who after along and sharp encounter were compelled to retreat. It is said that the people ascribed their deliverance to Gen. William Goffe, the regicide, who with his father-in-law, Gen. Edmund Whalley, were living under assumed names in the family of the Rev. John Russell.

Eminent men: Worthington Smith, D.D. (1793-1856), president of the University of Vermont from 1849 to 1856; Parsons Cooke, D.D. (1800-1864), an able theologian, editor and author, Simeon Nash, (1804), an able lawyer and author; Gen. Joseph Hooker (1815), major-general U.S.A., commander of the army of the Potomac; Frederic Dan Huntington, D.D.; an able divine, bishop of Central New York since April 8, 1869.

pp. 350-351 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer