Category Archives: Local history

Historical posts about the Connecticut Valley, most likely the Pioneer Valley.

The Brooks Brook Conundrum

A new player recently entered my orbit, temporarily reorienting my focus about 10 miles north. Her name is Andrea Liebenow Varney, daughter of my late neighbor and friend, Sylvia Smead Gallagher. Three years younger than me, Varney grew up and graduated from high school in Greenfield, and has lived for decades in Proctor, Vermont. She […]

Colonial Roots Are Shallow Indeed

What does it mean to be connected to a place, to have a sense of a place… and how does it change over time? I pondered that question during a recent daybreak walk along the shoulder of a lonely, gray, Upper Meadows road in Greenfield. Since then the thought has reappeared, darting through my consciousness […]

Gass Family Built a Local Legacy

Unexpected diversions and distractions can sometimes strike historical gold… like the one I stumbled across last week. Most often these unexpected discoveries come to light as what I refer to as “peripherals” – that is, random findings unveiled entirely by dumb luck while reading, researching, or engaged in informal conversation. Nowhere do such bits of […]

Take Heed of Looming Climate-Chaos Signs

It was a peculiar summer to say the least. A harbinger? Who knows? Time will tell. On a recent daybreak walk over the bridge spanning Hinsdale Brook behind my home, finally an audible flow. Ah! Sweet music. Hadn’t heard it for some time. About a quarter mile up Green River Road, I stopped to listen […]

Beaver Stone, Billings Place

Under the microscope today is a peculiar carved stone and a forgotten colonial home that met the wrecking ball many years ago, both from Deerfield. First, the stone. Round in form and about the size of a human hand, it surfaced recently in parched Fuller Swamp Brook, where it was picked up by a curious […]

1951 Plane Crash Shakes South Deerfield

It occurred two years before I was born: a Saturday-morning plane crash that exploded on impact in bucolic Mason, New Hampshire, instantly killing four prominent South Deerfield townsmen and shaking the village to its core. The date was July 28, 1951, the time about 9:30 a.m., visibility poor in foggy rain. The crash made the […]

Punch Brook

We meet as neighbors each morning, soon after subtle chips and chirps have burst into a joyous symphony of birdsong to greet the new day. By then I have strapped on my left-knee brace, and my robust, two-mile, daybreak ramble is underway. Our paths cross about a quarter mile east and a hair north of […]

Deerfield’s First Mill Site Lives On

I recently visited an old South Deerfield mill site I discovered some 60 years ago as a young lad trout-fishing on the Mill River. The field trip with historian friend Peter Thomas ignited a research adventure, beginning at the dam and steep ravine below and ending at the expansive old farm today owned by the […]

Bloody Brook’s Old Wright Place is Long Gone

I was on the road around 7:30 a.m. for an hour’s drive up Interstate 91 to Claremont, New Hampshire, a Connecticut River mill town south of Cornish and Windsor, Vermont – Mount Ascutney looming large on the northwestern horizon. There I would for the first time meet Avis Dodge Rogers, a dignified 92-year-old bundle of […]

Family Matter in Montagnais-Naskapi Land

My overstuffed December woodshed has been hollowed out by now, leaving a tall, thin reminder along the back edges that the happy sound of spring birdsong is near. “Don’t let the frigid mornings fool you,” I have many times told myself in recent days, looking up at what’s left. “It’ll soon be over.” That’s obvious, […]

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