Category Archives: Local history

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

Millers River Memories

That unfortunate, 6,000-gallon Athol diesel spill into a Millers River tributary named Mill Brook on Dec. 22 sent my wheels awhirl. The tanker-truck rollover that required Jaws of Life driver extraction unleashed reminiscence about my earliest newspaper days at the Greenfield Recorder. That means it took me back to the early 1980s when a previously […]

Old Roads Have Stories To Tell

One never knows where a road will lead them. Especially an old road. So, let’s talk about roads. Old roads. Ones that began as indigenous paths or, before that, game trails carved into Mother Earth’s skin by migrating herds. The discovery potential in such ancient trails is nearly limitless for those who maintain an open […]

Writer’s-Block Ramble

Daybreak Friday. Light creeping in over the horizon, sneaking through the tall white pines across the street. Waiting for the coffee-maker to gurgle its last breath, I’ve already been to Springfield and back. Deer hunters are just now entering the woods, trying to be quiet, hoping this will be the day. Tomorrow will be even […]

Who Was U.S. Deputy Marshal Leonard Arms?

South Deerfield left its mark on the Wild West, including the death of Deputy U.S. Marshal Leonard Arms, gunned down in the line of duty on April 20, 1860 in Topeka, Kansas Territory. The shooting occurred less than a year before the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, […]

Windblown Tip From An Old Newshound

I crack open my left eye to the twinkle of dawn penetrating the east window behind my upstairs bed. Silence. Not so much as a bird-chirp. I don’t linger in bed. An interesting book awaits me downstairs on the table next to my recliner. Mind fresh, day young, light low, quiet, there is no better […]

Fighting a Loyal Salmon Crusade

This all began with an email from a local environmentalist gadfly. He wanted to share a recent guest column he had written for the Northampton newspaper. What followed was a string of email correspondence between me and him and another writer still beating the dead horse called Connecticut River Atlantic salmon. The lively discussion stirred […]

Waushakum Pond: Lamprey-Eel Fishing Place?

Finally, a breakthrough concerning a longstanding, personal and vexing lamprey question – that is, did Northeastern indigenous populations utilize anadromous sea lampreys as a food source during the eel-like creatures’ annual, upriver, spring spawning runs among millions of American shad, Atlantic salmon, striped bass and river herring? This mystery I explored at length and was […]

Dr. Grave-Robber Cooley

Dennis Cooley was likely South Deerfield’s first native-born physician – one who, had he stayed put and practiced locally, may have never lived down a dark, macabre stain on his reputation. Like so many others of his time, he started over on what was then the Wild West of the Great Lakes or Northwest Territory, […]

The Rattler Strikes Back

One never knows what interesting little tidbits of local lore will appear in 19th-century newspapers, be they little blurbs of town gossip, full-length news stories, obituaries, articles of interest lifted and “localized” from faraway publications, and even advertisements. To briefly digress, I can’t help but recall aspiring young reporters who joined the newsroom from fancy […]

Trust Temple On Swamp-Fite Site

In recent years an intense spotlight has focused its beam on the Falls Fight of May 19, 1676 – the bloodiest day in the history of our splendid slice of the Connecticut Valley. Much federal money has been and will continue to be spent trying to pin down exactly what happened before, during, and after […]

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