Sunderland Massachusetts, 1890

Sunderland, is a pleasant rural town of 700 inhabitants on the east bank of the Connecticut River, and in the southern part of Franklin County, about 107 miles west of Boston. It is bounded on the north by Montague, east by Leverett, south by Amherst and Hadley, and west by Deerfield.

Its length is 6 miles and width 3 miles; the assessed area being 8,184 acres. The inhabited portions are the southwest and a small area in the north. In the last, near the Connecticut, is the village of North Sunderland; while Sunderland (centre), which is the post-office, lies on the river midway of the town. An iron bridge 900 feet in length connects it with South Deerfield, on the Connecticut River Railroad. The New London and Northern Railroad crosses the northeast angle of the town, having stations in Leverett, Amherst and Montague; connecting in the latter with the Fitchburg Railroad.

The formative rock is lower sandstone and dolerite. From the rich intervale along the margin of the river the land rises grandly toward the east to an elevation of about 1,000 feet, which is called Mount Toby. It is heavily wooded to its summit with oak, chestnut and white pine. It has several beautiful cascades, glens and ledges; and this locality is named "'Sunderland Park." On the northerly side of the mountain there is a remarkable cavern, about 56 feet deep and 148 long east and west. Its walls are of conglomerate of various color, resting on a base of micaceous sandstone; the floor being covered with fragments of rock. The view of this mountain and of Sugar Loaf in South Deerfield, from the centre, is truly magnificent; while the river between, beautiful in itself, by its contrast perfects the picture and deepens its impression. The village extends for a mile or two along the margin of the river, its streets shaded by large elms and maples; and there is an unusual air of rural simplicity and peacefulness. Several small streams — Long-plain, Mohawk, Dug and Great-drain brooks — flow through the southern section, and Cranberry Brook through the northeastern.

The alluvial soil of the level parts yields abundant crops, and the uplands afford excellent pasturage. The number of neat cattle belonging in the town in 1885 was 1,065. The dairies yielded $39,016; the tobacco crop, $22,565; and apples, melons, strawberries, pears, maple sugar and molasses made large figures in the aggregate, —which was $197,398. The number of farms was 136. There is one lumber mill; and other manufactures were commercial tobacco, metallic articles, domestic carpetings, etc. The value of the manufactured product was $29,420. The valuation in 1888 was $422,789, with a tax-rate of $11.50 on $1,000. There were 198 legal voters and 159 dwelling-houses. There is a good town-hall of brick, having offices, and also one or more school-rooms. The three other schoolhouses are valued at some $2,000. There are a high school and others of two lower grades. The public library contains upwards of 2,000 volumes. The churches are one each of the Baptists and Congregationalists.

This town was originally a part of Hadley, and was called "Swampfield." It was incorporated November 12, 1714, and named in honor of Charles Spencer, Earl of Sunderland, and prime minister of England. The first church was organized in 1718, and the first pastor, the Rev. Josiah Willard, ordained the same year.

pp. 627-628 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890