Monday, October 15, 2007

Tales of the Past

We set out Sunday afternoon in search of some kind of leaf color, as it seems a little overdue.

Still not too much color change going on, but there was plenty of other color to be seen as we drove through Hatfield.

Yankee Candle in Deerfield was overflowing with visitors, the parking lot was so full they were parking on the grass.

We saw the sign for Historic Deerfield a little farther up, and decided to check it out.

A quick history...

Deerfield is one of the oldest towns in Western Mass. It was settled on Pocomtuck Indian land after that tribe was nearly wiped out by the Mohawks from the west.

The settlers came from Dedham in 1671. The settlement lasted four years, then was attacked and burnt down by the natives in 1675. It was eventually reoccupied, only to be attacked again in 1704, this time by the French and Indians. About 50 were killed and about 112 were taken captive and led off to Canada. Only 60 would later make it back.

There are a lot of 18th century houses along the mile or so of the historic district. Many are open to the public as little museums. You can purchase a self-guided tour ticket at the visitor center.

Ever seen anyone actually use their shutters?

Some houses were dark, others painted with happier colors. This one with a very light shade of blue.

A ways down the road there is a trail through some farm land. There are plaques along the way with some information on the local geology, and how the Deerfield Valley was formed

We continued on into big sky country. Along what is left of the ancient bed of Lake Hitchcock.

Speaking of ancient beds, from there we followed a path behind Deerfield Academy to this old graveyard.

Reading some of the tombstones, I pieced together something of a tragic story concerning a Mr. Samuel Childs, a Deacon in 18th century Deerfield.

I saw a tombstone for one of his children named Simeon, who died at the age of 2 years in 1755. Nearby, another grave for a daughter named Experience who died in 1758, at one year seven months. Not far from there, a single tombstone for two more of his children who died within a week of each other, in 1777. Israel, age eight, and another named Experience, aged 2. I'd guess they died from sickness.

Ever wonder why old farm families had so many children? There's one reason, incredibly high mortality rates.

There were other stones that told sad tales, like a mother and 2 week old daughter that were buried together.

On the other hand, there were some people that had made it into their 80's. Remarkable.

Death must have felt always nearby, which explains the skulls on the earliest tombstones from the 1700's.

Later on from the mid 1700's to the early 1800's, these cherub looking faces were predominant, probably by then, death was a little less close to the bone.

After that, it was Urns and other other pictures. Life a little more certain.

We headed back to the car. Though we didn't see signs of fall in full color mode yet, there was this leaf pile, the first I'd seen this year.

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