Category Archives: Local history

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

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 […]

Swamp-Fight Revelation

For months now, I’ve been jumping back and forth from old Greenfield newspapers, Registry of Deeds land records and various other sources and field trips in a concerted effort to fine-tune my understanding of the land I traveled as a boy and young man, and which I still explore. I would describe my focus area […]

Stickball Memories

Just curious, do kids still play stickball? Probably not. They say it’s bad for the arm to fire a light tennis ball day after day at a strike zone drawn in chalk on a brick wall. Hmmmm? Maybe so. But playing stickball is what we did whenever we couldn’t round up enough players for a […]

Where Was Bloody Brook’s First Tavern

The question has lingered for nearly a century. That is, where did the first tavern in Bloody Brook, now South Deerfield, stand? Everyone knows the building’s location in 1932, when South Deerfield building contractor William Gass moved it to its current setting behind Old Deerfield’s Indian House. Today, there it stands as Bloody Brook Tavern […]

South Deerfield Memories

Although I’ve been a Greenfield taxpayer for nearly a quarter-century, I will always consider South Deerfield as home. It’s where I learned to read and write, bike and skate, hunt and fish, explore swamps and ridges, pick nightcrawlers, build forts and play ball. It’s also where my kids grew up through elementary school, and where […]

Workin’ A Woodshed

An attached woodshed is a grand luxury appreciated by few in these days of pellet stoves and those natural-gas, faux fireplaces that bring ambiance and warmth behind a glass-faced firebox with ornamental, fire-charred, ceramic fire logs “burning” inside. By definition an attached woodshed is a roofed structure joined to a dwelling with interior entry that […]

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