Category Archives: Local history

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

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, […]

Photo Stirs South Deerfield Memories

We’ve all heard the old adage proclaiming a picture’s worth 1,000 words – in some cases, an understatement, like, for instance, the example I’m about to share. A quick glance at an online postcard depicting a streetscape with old jalopies in mid-1950s downtown South Deerfield was all it took to unleash in me a flood […]

Whitmore’s Pond Poachers

With daybreak near, the tall clock will soon strike six in accompaniment to freezing rain drumming on the kitchen roof. I just returned from there with a cup of black, unsweetened coffee in hand, now steaming on a desktop coaster to my left. To me, early morning is the best time for introspection and creative […]

Wendell Lad Rides Rails to Fame & Fortune

I have happened upon another interesting historical character – one who passed through South Deerfield on his way to railroad immortality. His name was Jonas Brown Wilder II (1813-1906). I discovered Wilder during Greenfield-newspaper research on my Arms family. Searching for information on Dennis Arms, credited as the founder of South Deerfield’s 19th-century pocketbook-manufacturing industry, […]

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 […]

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