Delftware of Historic Deerfield

The Little Brown House on The Albany Road

issuing forth from the mouth of the oven and bearing open scrolls on which are pictured events centering around this old hearthstone, — plain matters of fact, scenes of joy, scenes of sorrowing, of triumph, of despair, details of everyday life and duty in the far off past. Shadowy and dim, growing brighter and clearer, the vision passes upward, disappearing with the smoke and the sparks. Thus impelled, the Antiquary records in homely phrase the result of his musings in the little brown cottage by the old Albany road on the evening of its dedication to a new purpose and to a new lease of life by its new occupants.

The little brown house stands on a part of the tract which in 1686 the "Proprietors of Pocumtuck" "sequestered for the use of the ministry of Deerfield forever." In this service the lot was leased from year to year by a committee chosen by the town, the income of it going, during his lifetime, to the Rev. John Williams, our "Redeemed Captive," and afterwards to his successor in office, Rev. Jonathan Ashley.

As in later days, so in the olden time, leased lands fared hardly. Every thing possible was taken from it, and little or nothing returned. In 1759, after seventy years of this kind of treatment, the selectmen in a petition to the General Court say, "the soil is poor and barren for want of manure," also that the land is of less benefit to the minister than its value in money would be, and they ask leave of the General Court to sell it. There was, however, another reason for this action, and, it may be, the main one.

Deerfield was then the center of business for a large region round about, and craftsmen of many kinds— "tradesmen" they were then called — were seeking places here on which to build shops where they could exercise their handicrafts. Suitable locations were hard to get, and the ministerial lot, lying along the Albany road, was wanted for that purpose. In 1760, under the authority of an act of the colo-

The Transformation Is Wonderful
"The Transformation Is Wonderful."

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This page was last updated on 11 Feb 2006