Milestones in Town History

  • Hadley Residents requested and received from the town individual grants of land south of Mt Holyoke. Permission was granted for lumbering and operating sawmills in preparation for building. Fishing, hunting, pasturing had long been carried on there by Hadley men.
  • Certain sections of this land were laid out by vote of the Town of Hadley for which the pioneers-to-be drew shares according to their ratable property.
  • Settlement was begun, chiefly by younger men, women and their families. Actual settling had been delayed by Indian depredations in the region.
  • This settlement became the "South Precinct of Hadley", with limited self-government, on condition that it settle "a learned and orthodox minister" in 2 years.
  • South Precinct was made a district - South Hadley - by the General Court, with all the powers of a town except the right to its own representative in General Court. First "Town Meeting" was held April 30, 1753 in the first meeting house (built on the Common, 1722), which served as church and town hall.
  • South Hadley was incorporated as a town, with its own representative in General Court (his salary paid by the town). For some decades preceding the Revolution, the British Government, fearing the growing independence of the Massachusetts General Court, did not allow districts to become towns, with the right to representation in Boston and hence until this date, South Hadley remained a district, sharing 1 representative, usually a Hadley man, with Hadley, Granby, Amherst and East Hadley.
  • South Hadley's representative to the General Court, Noah Goodman, was a member of the convention which drew up the new state constitution, ratified in 1780, still 3 years before the end of the Revolution. (In 1788 Noah Goodman voted in state convention for ratification of the United States Constitution, unlike representatives of 2 neighboring towns).
  • First navigable canal in the United States began operation, making Falls Village, then South Hadley Canal, a busy shipping center and tourist attraction. The canal first operated with a carriage run up and down and inclined plane, carrying flatboats and rafts between the lower and upper levels ( a 50 ft difference) past the 2 and a half mile rapids. later the canal was deepened and the inclined plane replaced by locks which could tow larger craft, including the Steamboats that came in 1826. Operated until 1862, when the railroad made shipping by river boat unprofitable.
  • Mount Holyoke Seminary opened under Mary Lyon, many townspeople having contributed both money and labor.
  • Town established "The South Hadley Public Library" with 9 trustees. Voted $1000 a year. Two locations were used for the libraries, 1 in the Falls and 1 in center Village.
  • Gaylord Memorial Library opened as public library at the Center on land granted by the town (part of its old burying ground) to Gaylord Memorial Library Association.
  • South Hadley Falls Free Public Library opened in its new Carnegie Foundation building. Land and furnishings were donated by Miss Elizabeth Gaylord.
  • Combined High School and Town Hall opened in present Town Hall building. Annex needed by 1927.
  • Limited or representative town meeting was adopted by referendum, with the population of South Hadley at about 6,800.
  • First town meeting members were elected, 54 in all.
  • Senior High School opened on Newton Street, then enlarged in 1964.
  • South Hadley was divided in 2 Representative Districts: 1 included Precinct A with 3 adjoining towns, the other consisted of Precincts B, C and D with 3 other towns. Each district had its own representative.
  • Old Firehouse Museum dedicated on July 4th.
  • Town Meeting voted to have 5 selectmen.
  • Town Meeting voted approval for renovation of old bank site on Bridge Street for new police station.
  • Town acquiring from James River Corp. 244 acres of land for future development of recreation and conservation.