Sunday, May 23, 2010

1936 flood

This is one of the fine photos of the 1936 flood donated by Ken McKenna to the Historical Society in May, 2010.  The caption on the back of this photo is, Flood 1936 Main St., looking up Glasgow Hill - National Guardsman Gerald A. Judge in center."  I presume that World War 1 veterans were made "National Guardsmen" during the flood.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World War II museum in Natick - not South Hadley, but worth a visit

I recently visited the terrific musuem in Natick MA described at

The musuem is as good as the story suggests.  I encourage anyone with an interest in World War II to visit it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The state South Hadley census for 1905

Thanks to the Gaylord Library for this post!

The Census: Moving Forward After Mailing It Back

April 2, 2010

A tagline for the Census this year is “We Can’t Move Forward Until You Mail It Back.” To celebrate this, I have decided to provide a little perspective, by way of the Census of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1905, of the ways we have already moved forward.

Thus, in 1905:
•A total of 940 people responded as “Heads of Family” in South Hadley—785 men (84%) and 155 women (16%). In relation to these “Heads of Family,” 722 women labeled themselves as “wives,” but a category for “husbands” did not exist. 6 women were “matrons,” and presumably due to the College, 572 women were “students.” Interestingly, 4 women responded as being in “other relationships,” not including grandmothers, in-laws, daughters, granddaughters, guests, aunts, nieces, inmates, servants, or assistants. Also of interest, only one person listed themselves as a stepfather to the head of the family, and only 7 people were stepchildren.

•Of the South Hadley citizens “Native Born” (3,806), 2,689 were from Massachusetts (71%), with the second largest category being from New York (8%). Of the citizens “Foreign Born,” (1,248), 352 were Canadian French (28%), 250 were Irish (20%), and 194 were from Germany (15%).

•4 South Hadley residents registered as “colored” and 3 as “Chinese.” The only other categories were white, Japanese, and Indian.

•Occupations in ‘Trade and Transportation’ included: 9) draymen, hackman, teamsters, etc., 10) hostlers, and 11) hucksters and peddlers. For those as unfamiliar with some of these terms as I am, draymen drove wagons without sides (and may still be used by brewery companies for parades), and husksters are “retailers of small articles, esp. a peddler of fruits and vegetables; hawker” (

•A section was provided for “Defective Social and Physical Condition” which included “paupers” and “feeble-minded.” Paupers were defined as “all persons from disease, accident, intemperance, misfortune, and any other cause have become dependant upon public charity” and “feeble-minded” was assumed to be obvious, since it was not defined.

•Massachusetts held the fifth place in the production of silk and silk goods, following after New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.

•The average salary for South Hadley was $1,517.00, which was higher than Northampton ($1,051.64), Amherst ($968.06), and Springfield ($1,261.94).

•34.59% of the Agricultural Products & Property in South Hadley comprised of “Dairy products,” followed by “Hay, straw and fodder” (19.48%) and “Vegetables” (12.30%).

•Inland fisheries in South Hadley generated a $235 value—from bass, eels, perch, pickerel, pout (horned), and trout (the greatest at $150).

To find out more about statistics and data of Massachusetts in 1905, as always, please consult our archives. All the information above can be found in four volumes of the Census: I) Populations and Social Statistics, II) Occupations and Defective Conditions, III) Manufacture and Trade, and IV) Agriculture, the Fisheries, Commerce.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pelham Program for 2010



Saturday, February 27, 2010

Historical Perspectives: The Irish in Early Holyoke - Click HERE for more information.

South Hadley's 19th century Irish-Americans were intimately involved with Holyoke in one way or another.  The talk below will be of interest to their descendants:

Wednesday, March 3 at 6:00 p.m. – Historical Perspectives: The Irish in Early Holyoke

STCC adjunct professor Don D’Amato returns with a talk about the New City of Holyoke and how it was established. Professor D’Amato will discuss the city’s canals, the dams and living conditions of early Holyoke in the 19th Century. $3 admission

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Does anyone know the source of the (Village) names Woodlawn, and Plains?

From: Gary Moorman
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 10:32 AM
Subject: Does anyone know the source of the (Village) names Woodlawn, and Plains?


My wife Karen grew up in South Hadley, and we came for a visit last week. The question came up, "What were the source of the names Woodlawn and Plains parts of South Hadley?"  The "Falls" and "Center" are pretty obvious.  If I had to guess about "Plains," I picture the flat open fields and farms along 202, east of the Plains School, with the Hadley Range on the horizon. It is reminiscent of the western plains of the US.  It could just as well been named after someone named Jeremiah Plains for all I know. 

Anybody know the answer?

Gary Moorman

NOTE: Please post your response here or send it to and it will be forwarded to Mr. Moorman.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Howard and Lathrop Paper Company - Click on story below for a larger image

Old photo - 6 North Main Sreet - James Bertam

Dear Jack,

Conflicting  Information:

We find no military record for James Bertram in South Hadley. There were Richard Rutherford Bertram  who lived at 11 Maple Street and Robert Bertram who lived at 43 Bardwell Street. Our Veterans Agent did a computer check and found no James Bertram in WWI  in the State  of Mass.

Our Town directories show no Bertram people living at 6 North Main Street S.H.  from 1892 until 1940 when the house was taken down.

If you provide your mailing address I will send you the military records of Richard and Robert Bertram as they possibly might be relatives of yours.

South Hadley Historical Society
John J. Zwisler

From: Jack Bertram
Sent: Friday, February 12, 2010 7:48 AM
Subject: Re: RE: Old photo

Thanks Bob.  I am in the process of translating it from his rough handwriting.  It is not easy though.  It detailed his life on a troop ship that made several trips between Hoboken NJ and France during WW1.  He was buried in Chicago listed as a Pharmacists Mate being from Illinois when I know he lived in South Hadley during the war.  You can post the photo. 


Feb 9, 2010 09:50:51 PM, wrote:

Dear Mr. Bertram:
I will ask another member of the S. Hadley Historical Society to see if we have any record of him.

May I post the information and the photo at  If your grandfather's diary has interesting notes about South Hadley, would you be able to photocopy the pages and send them to me.  With your permission, I would also post the excerpts from his diary...

I will be back to you after we check here. Thanks for contacting us!

- Bob Judge
South Hadley Historical Society

From: Jack []
Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 10:27 PM
Subject: Old photo

Hello.  Attached is an old photo I found.  My grandfather James Bertram, far right lived in South Hadley at 6 North Main St adjacent to your location.  This photo was taken in front of the house which no longer stands.  In looking at old photos of the fire station, I see that the house was there before.  My great grandmother was waked at the residence according to her obiyuary in 1907. 

He served in the US navy in WW I as a Pharmacists Mate aboard the USS Mercury.  I cannot locate his military career etc from the area.  Can you tell me if you have him listed on any rolls etc?  I have his diary from the war and he mentions how he travelled quite a bit via streetcar from the "Falls."  Thank you.

Jack Bertram Milton, MA   

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mary Frances Buckhout McVay 1910 - 2010

Mary Frances Buckhout McVay 1910 - 2010 GRANBY - Mary Frances Buckhout McVay passed into eternal life on Saturday, January 30, 2010. A native of South Hadley, she was born to Harriet Atherton and Albert Buckhout on March 1, 1910. After graduating from Mt. Holyoke College in 1938, she went to China for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to teach English and music at the Wenshan Girls School in Ingtai. She arrived in China during the Sino-Japanese War, on the eve of World War II. As the Japanese invasion of China continued it became apparent that the students may be in danger, so they moved the school 350 miles inland, a treacherous journey, most of which was on foot over the mountains. In January of 1941 she married H. Vilroy "Bill" McVay, a U.S. Navy radio operator stationed at the American consulate in Foochow. She and Bill moved to Chung King after the attack on Pearl Harbor, not returning to the States until 1943. In 1955, after several Navy tours of duty in the U.S. and Europe, Mary and family returned to the Buckhout family home in South Hadley. They moved to Granby in 1964. Throughout her life, Mary Frances was active in her church and community... 

Monday, February 1, 2010

"Cool Machines for Cooler Planet" Radio Show & Podcast

*Connecticut Valley:**

*Wednesday, February 17, 2010
**Cool Machines for Cooler Planet
*In this episode, Back to the Future will examine non-electric machinery that used to power manufacturing, drive steamships and grist mills and accomplish all kinds of tasks as well as, if not better than, today's motor-driven technology. Penni Martorell, curator of the Holyoke History Room and Archive at the Holyoke Public Library will talk about the history of water power in Holyoke and how the current use of water power is part of the emerging "green" profile of the city. We will talk to an historian about the historical use of windmills on Cape Cod and a wind expert from the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Research Laboratory about the contemporary use of wind power. And historian Robert Forrant will talk about the pre-electric power machine tool industry in New England.

*location: *WMUA 91.1 FM Amherst, WXOJ-LP 103.3 FM Valley Free Radio Northampton, and WMCB-LP 107.9 FM Greenfield. Podcast is also available online at <>
*phone:* (413) 545-3691
*web:* <>
*cost:* free

/*funded by Mass Humanities grant program <>*/

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Louis Conti 1934-2010 - Click here for an excerpt from the book "Collision at Home Plate: The Lives of Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti

Louis Conti, opened Buddha's Restaurant
by Daily Hampshire Gazette
SOUTH HADLEY - Louis A. "Buddha" Conti, 75, died at his home of 60 years on Canal Street on Monday, Jan. 25, 2010.

Born on Nov. 9, 1934, above the Egg & I Restaurant on Main Street in South Hadley to Gino and Bruna (Bottoni) Conti. He lived all his life in South Hadley Falls. He was a 1953 graduate of South Hadley High School, where he was a standout outfielder and pitcher for the baseball team and captain of the basketball team. He played professional baseball in the Boston Red Sox organization from 1953 to 1955. He then served in the U.S. Navy for two years. He worked as a sales rep. for the former Lestoil, Inc. of Holyoke. Then he was the owner and worked along with his brother at Conti's Luncheonette from 1963 to 1973. He later owned Casa Conti's Restaurant & Lounge in South Hadley from 1974 to 1979.

He opened Buddha's Restaurant (now known as the Crack of Dawn) in 1979 which he ran until 2000 when he retired after 40 years in the food and restaurant Business. Lou enjoyed playing golf and watching his beloved South Hadley High School sports team...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010


Originally uploaded by ScribeGirl

View of South Hadley Falls from Holyoke side of the Connecticut River, January.

Uploaded by ScribeGirl on 6 Jan 07

Thank you to Bill Owens! Click HERE to visit Bill's fine blog.

South Hadley Old Fire House Museum

South Hadley, MA - The Fire District No. 1 Firehouse was constructed in 1888-89. In addition to a firehouse it was also used as a polling place, a theater, a graduate site, a meeting hall and a social hall. This firehouse was used until 1974 when a new firehouse was built in Newton Street. In 1974 the Historical Society was chartered for the purpose of preserving the Old Firehouse. The Firehouse Museum was dedicated on July 3, 1976.

The museum is staffed by volunteers, all belonging to the South Hadley Historical Society. They are always looking for memorabilia to add to their collection; so if you have something historically significant they will be more than happy to display it in their museum.

The Old Firehouse, the bell from the tower was moved to the new firehouse.

Here is a 19th century hand pumper and a 1926 Dodge Fire Engine.

A motorized Ice Saw.

South Hadley Electrical Department display.

There is much more, I can't give it all away. There are somethings I will use in a future posting (you will just have to wait and see).

I just happened to stumble on the museum when it was opened for someone to make a donation to the displays.

Hours are: MAY - SEPT. 1:30 - 4:00
JULY - AUG WED 1:30 - 4:00

There is no admission charge but donations are welcome.

Info from museum handout.

- The post above is from the fine blog by Bill Owens

Old mill, South Hadley Falls

"Texon, which made "fiber impregnated materials for the shoe, luggage, and automotive industries" was among the several industries housed here since the building was constructed in 1873.

Uploaded by ScribeGirl on 7 Dec 09"

The South Hadley Canal - Thanks again to Bill Owens - Click HERE to visit Bill's fine blog.

South Hadley, MA - The Connecticut River was used as a highway to transport stones, hides, lumber, and other raw materials from the North and brought back Iron, Molasses, Sugar, Rum, and Manufactured goods. These items were transported by Flatboats which floated down the river and had to be poled or pulled back up. The round trip from Wells, VT to Hartford, CT took 25 days. The problem was around the South Hadley area, the river bed dropped 53 feet within 2 and a half miles causing rapids. A way to by-pass the rapids had to be found so a canal was built. The South Hadley Canal was the Nations first commercially operated canal. The canal was two and a half miles long and at the South Hadley Falls a unique way of getting the flatboats over the falls was built.

It was called the "Hampshire Machine" a 275 foot long, 30 foot wide, and 53 foot high stone inclined plain; it was capable of lifting 250,000 pounds. It took two years to build and was opened in 1795. Boats were floated onto a carriage and pulled up the inclined plain, waterwheels at the top supplied the power to pull the boats up; I believe a cable or rope was attached to the boat and the turning of the waterwheels would wrap around an axle and pull the boats up. The whole trip up the ramp took fifteen minutes. This model is located in the South Hadley Firehouse Museum.

This path brings you to a section of the canal still there. I walked down the path along the canal and did see "No Trespassing" signs so you can only go a short ways along the canal.

This part of the canal is still existing, there is a path from the Hadley Falls Canal Park(see bridge above ).

This is an overlook at Hadley Falls Canal Park, where you can have a great view of the Connecticut River and what is left of the canal.

A dam was built south of Northampton, MA to raise the water level to divert water into the canal. Citizens of Northampton brought suit against the canals proprietors in 1803, saying the backed up water caused them to suffer "fevers, miasma's(bad air caused by decaying material), and malaria". The inclined plain was close and a series of locks were put in in its place.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

PVHN Survey Results Summary

From: "Cliff McCarthy" <>
To: "Cliff McCarthy" <>
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2009 9:32:24 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: PVHN Survey Results Summary

Hey, All.

As promised, for those who are interested, here are the compiled results of the PVHN survey that we conducted a few weeks ago.  The Steering Committee found the response interesting and exciting.  Overall, we believe this affirms the general direction that we have set with our PVHN Gatherings and this will help us to plan future events.

Thanks go out to all of you who participated in the survey!  We really appreciate the help.

Cliff McCarthy
Chair, PVHN Steering Committee


PVHN Survey Responses

1. Have you ever attended a PVHN gathering?
Yes: 68% No: 32% Total resp: 47

2. If yes, how many have you attended?
1: 28% 2-4: 47% 4 or more: 25% Total resp: 32

3. If no, why not?
topic not of interest: 46%
location not convenient: 31%
day of the week not convenient: 31%
time of day not convenient: 23%
time of year/season not convenient: 8%
Total resp: 13
new to PVHN (4)
date conflicts (4)
didn't know about gatherings (3)
"makes a very long day for me"
"just too busy...we fully intend to once we are better established"

4. What day of the week is best for you to attend a gathering?
Wednesdays: 42%
Tuesdays: 36%
Saturdays: 36%
Thursdays: 22%
Mondays: 16%
Fridays: 4%
Total resp: 45 (70)

5. How long would you like gatherings to be?
all day with lunch: 41%
morning and lunch: 25%
afternoon only: 25%
lunch and afternoon: 21%
morning only: 18%
Total resp: 44

6. What location do you like best?
Rotating location: 41%
Deerfield: 35%
Northampton: 30%
Springfield: 11%
Others: 19%
Total resp: 46 (69)
Comment: "would like to get out to see sites around area"

7. What format do you like best?
a mix of all three: 81%
lecture: 13%
hands-on: 9%
demonstration: 6%
Total resp: 47 (53)
"Bring-a-problem-to-share" with the group for feedback
"include time for discussion about collaboration"

8. what role would you like to see PVHN gatherings serving?
educational: 81%
professional development: 61%
social: 23%
entertainment: 9%
Total resp: 43 (82)
all of the above (3)
networking (2)
"collegial solidarity"
"building collaborations – making plans"

9. Suggestions for topics/themes for future gatherings
Total resp: 20

1. Re: "How long would you like gatherings to be?" I have no preference so checked all.
2. oral histories, document preservation, cemetery restoration
3. How to run a small museum with only volunteers - when to be open, etc.; cost effective software for inventory of collections; Creating events and exhibits - how best to focus efforts; Engaging the community at large around a theme; lessons learned with town wide events such as town anniversaries; best methods in creating town history books.
4. As a geologist, I'd suggest a view into "Deep History"....our geological heritage. Program and field trip makes a great day.
5. I derived the most benefit from sharing ideas, frustrations, and achievements with other similar historical entities with a low budget and/or an all volunteer staff. This should be a network between our various places in the area. I'm not so sure that the places that have a low budget and an all volunteer staff should be in the same company as those with a paid staff and beaucoup funds where the latter must seek to retain their income for their salary while the rest of us just try to come up with projects to preserve our collections and the history of our communities without pay.
6. personally I enjoy the topic of Travel/ vacationing in the pioneer valley.
7. Nationwide trends in historical associations/societies. Upkeep of historical properties
board development for small/volunteer societies
8. since a majority of your museums are small organizations, consider creating "work parties" where meeting participants could help out specific member organizations at an event.
9. Mix themes on one day. how-tos (scanning, cross reference filling, acquisitions, storing media, fund raising event, etc)
10. Practical display advise, you did this once, very successful. How to organize an event that brings in the public. Outside speakers from successful museum programs. How to attract and manage school groups to satisfy educational requirements and open doors for grant funding and self-promotion for the museum. Risk assessment--look what happened to the Emily Dickinson Museum--would you be prepared and financially covered? New ways to display... out with the old and in with the new.
11. Local towns (Historical info, data, etc.)
12. exhibit topics, program resources (presenters), cost-effective solutions to common concerns 13. Look at themes that cut across the region: industrial history such as sites linked to the Springfield Armory or textiles in the area, transportation such as canals or rail lines, King Philips' War, immigration perhaps of specific groups or periods, unions, agricultural technology, etc.
We would be happy to present on how to work with schools or youth groups to put a local history story on the web.
14. Conservation, care and handling of artifacts, planning and executing exhibits,
15. using the web, building the board, ways to be relevant to the community
16. PastPerfect training, what to do with house museums that no one attends, web presence for historical collections, board development and training, historic preservation
17. Life in the valley in Colonial and Early America: work, daily life, business, travel, communications.
18.--How to write larger grants, either for museum staff, or to tackle cataloging areas of a historical museum.--Hands-on historical museum management primer for historical societies where the people with knowledge have passed on or dropped out, and a small group of new members are tasked with catching up with donations, technology, and outreach without enough knowledge about proper methods.
19. area history including promotion of available sites and museums for viewing as well as current programs.
20.Folk Art, Underground Railroad

Friday, January 8, 2010

Slavery in Colonial Amherst - January 21, 2010

Thursday, Jan. 21, 7:00 P.M. at the Pelham Library -

Bob Romer will talk about "Slavery in Colonial Amherst".  Copies of his new book, "Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts" (Levellers Press) will be available.

The Pelham Library is about three miles from the center of Amherst. The fairly new large building (which also houses some town offices), on your right as you go from Amherst to Pelham, at the intersection where North Valley Road (on your left) and South Valley Road (on your right) intersect the main Amherst-Pelham road.