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Geology and Mineralogy. Mica slate is the prevailing rock in this place, and, indeed, in this part of the country. The strata are vertical, and their direction is north and south, generally varying a little from west to east. This rock is often used for jambs, hearths, and door stones, and is sometimes so fine that handsome grave stones are made of it. Beautiful sienite is found on the summit of Deer Hill and elsewhere. A quarry of soap-stone of a good quality, though rather difficult to be worked, is opened in the west part of the town. Very fine specimens of chlorite, actynolite and talc are found at the same place. The talc is translucent, in laminated masses, frequently curved or undulated; its colour, which is very delicate, is a greenish white. Beautiful stauratide is found at Keith's Hill; its crystals are of a dark brown colour, with smooth, glistening surfaces. Two or three prisms are frequently united, generally without intersecting each other. That interesting mineral, the chromate of iron, has also been discovered in this town. Garnets are very abundant; they are of all sizes, from a pin's head to that of a bullet. Serpentine and black jasper have been found on the banks of Westfield River.
Climate. The summer on these mountains, though short, is generally very pleasant. The winter is long and dreary; and the inhabitants are frequently obliged to endure
“ The icy fang, And churlish chiding of the winter's wind.”
Literature. Eight young gentlemen from this place have received a publick education. The inhabitants have a library consisting of 72 volumes. The largest private library belongs to Peter Bryant, Esq. and contains about 700 volumes. There are six school districts, in which schools are regularly taught about half the year. A
taste for reading, and for literature in general, is evidently on the increase.
Religion. The Rev. James Briggs began to preach here in July, 1777, and was ordained July 7, 1779. He was born at Norton, in this state, January 18, 1746, old style, and educated at Yale College, the usual honours of which he received in 1775 and 1778. A church had been gathered previous to the time when he began to preach in the town; but of this event no record is to 'be found.
The following extract from the records of the town will show the terms on which he was settled : « Voted to give Mr. Briggs two hundred acres of good land, and sixty pounds, stated by rye at three shillings and four pence a bushel, for settlement ; fifty pounds the first year, and rise five pounds a year till it amounts to sixty pounds, stated by rye at three shillings and four pence a bushel, beef at twenty shillings a hundred, and fax at eight pence a pound.” His present salary is two hundred and fifty dollars a year.
There have been four general reformations during his ministry. The church at present consists, as the pastor informs me, of about one hundred and sixty members.
The edifice for publick worship is a neat wooden building, furnished with a bell, and handsomely painted. It was erected in 1793.
Besides this society, there are a few Baptists, who occasionally hold meetings in private houses.
The Heathen School Society, formed March 3, 1817.
The Cummington Peace Society, formed September 3, 1819. This society, consisting of fifty-two members, is auxiliary to the Massachusetts Peace Society.
History. Col. Brewer emigrated from Worcester, and began a settlement here in 1764. After him the principal settlers were from the towns of Hardwick, Abington and Bridgewater, with soine few from Weymouth and Hingham.
The first settler now living is an aged widow, who, with her husband, moved into the town in June, 1765. She informs me that the same week they arrived there, all the men in the town, seven in number, assembled, and built them a log house, which was finished in a day, so that they moved in before night; "and a drier house,” said she, “I never lived in.” The first person born in the town was one of her daughters, who is now fifty-one years old. .
Cummington was incorporated June 23, 1779. The first town meeting was held December 20, the same year. At this meeting, Deacon Barnabas Packard acted as moderator ; and the following town officers were chosen: Deacon Barnabas Packard, town clerk; Adam Porter, town treasurer; and William Ward, Deacon Ebenezer Snell, and Lieutenant Joshua Shaw, selectmen and assessors.
According to the census of 1810, this town contains one thousand and nine inhabitants.
Plainfield, February 1, 1820.
SUPPLEMENT. Since the preceding sketch was written, the publick have been called to lament the death of the Hon. Peter Bryant, Esq. a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He died of the pulmonary consumption, at the place of his residence, March 19, 1820, in the fiftythird year of his age. His funeral was attended on the twenty-first by the largest collection that I recollect to have seen in the town on any similar occasion.
Dr. Bryant was born at Bridgewater, August 12, 1767. He studied physick and surgery at Norton, with Dr. Prilete, a French practitioner. When about twenty-two
years of age, he came to Cummington, where he settled, and acquired a very extensive and lucrative practice, and a reputation truly enviable. His nice and discriminating judgment, and very extensive reading, fitted him for eminent usefulness in his profession. As a consulting physician, his services were peculiary acceptable to his medical brethren. He was also in the habit of instructing students in medicine. These were attracted from different parts of the country by his well selected library, his extensive practice, and his general reputation. The advantages enjoyed at this school are thought to have been superiour to any in the western part of the state.
He was also a writer of no ordinary talents. Of his poetick effusions, many have enriched the magazines and publick prints of the day.
His manuscript poems, though, generally speaking, too local for the publick eye, are admired by his friends. Hudibrastick verse, if not better adapted to his genius, appears to have been more cultivated by him than any other. He retained bis faculties in a very remarkable degree to the close of life. In 1806, Williams' College conferred on him the degree of Master of Arts, as did the University at Cambridge that of Doctor of Physic in 1818.
During the latter part of his life, he was deeply interested in politicks, and was several times a representative, and once a senator, in the General Court.
According to the census of 1820, Cummington contains one thousand and sixty inhabitants.
Plainfield, April 1, 1820.
NOTICES, BY REV. EZRA S. GOODWIN OF SANDWICH, OF THE
EFFECTS IN THAT VICINITY OF THE GREAT STORM OF 23 SEPTEMBER, 1815.
THE following notes on the storm or hurricane of September 23, 1815, and the extraordinary tide attending it, relate to a very small section of the country; being
confined to the county of Barnstable, and particularly to that part of it contiguous to Buzzard's Bay.
At the present time, (December, 1818,) it may not be improper to arrange such minutes under three heads.
Notes on the wind and its effects. 2. Notes on the tide and its effects.
3. Notes on the more lasting influence of the sea water on the land.
First. In regard to the wind and its effects. It began to rise in the latter part of the night preceding the 23d; about sunrise it had risen to a hard gale, but was not then thought much more violent than many of the severe gales experienced in this region: It however continued increasing till about 10 o'clock, from which time till near 2 P. M. it was extremely high. The gale did not consist of an uniform current, but sudden gusts or blowings of wind, at short intervals; the most severe of which were about 11 o'clock. The first abating of the gale was observed by longer intervals between the gusts. It subsided in the course of the afternoon, and by night the weather was quite moderate. The sky was cloudy throughout the day, but no rain fell. The course of the wind, early in the morning, was east; from which point it gradually changed to a few degrees west of south, and blew from the latter quarter when most violent.
But the gale was not by any means so severe in this region as in the parts of the country north and west of this. Some trees were torn up, but most of them stood in loose soil, or were so shaped, or exposed, that they could not resist any very high wind that should take them at advantage. Some buildings were prostrated, but they were old, or feeble; and, indeed, several buildings, which sustained this gale without damage, have since been blown down. No chimney was broken off or much injured. Salt works are more liable to injury from high winds than any other species of property on shore in this county; but they suffered little from the wind alone. A few covers were removed from their places and broken, and in some instances, where pecu