Deerfield — Burial-Places

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      The "Old Burying-Ground" is doubtless the spot where the first settlers deposited their dead. It is located at the lower end of Hitchcock Lane, and was the west end of the "town-lot" set apart for the use of the ministry. For more than a century this was the only "God's acre" in the town. There rest the fathers and mothers of the settlement. In one awful grave, undistinguished save by a faint tradition, lie the ghastly slain of Feb. 29, 1704. There the murdered Mrs. Williams lies beside her husband, our first minister. Few of the earlier graves are marked by monuments; that to Joseph Barnard, killed by Indians, 1694, bears the oldest date to be found. There rest many other victims of the Indian wars,—John Allen and wife, slain at the Bars, May 11, 1704; their gallant grandson, Samuel Allen, who fell defending his children, 1746; Eleazer Hawks, Adonijah Gillet, Oliver and Simeon Amsden, who fell at the same time; Ebenezer Sheldon, killed in 1746. Many unmarked graves contain the ashes of the Broughtons, Wellses, Beldings, and other victims of inhuman war. Here repose at least nine soldiers who followed Turner through the turmoil and din of the battle which cost him his life and named the scene of the conflict,—William Arms, Eleazer Hawks, Philip Mattoon, Godfrey Nims, Robert Price, William Smead, Benjamin Wait, Jonathan Wells, the young hero of the occasion, and his brother, Thomas Wells.
      The first recorded notice of this ground was made in 1703. It was used by the larger part of the town until 1800, when a new lot was opened on Fort Hill, east of the town street, which has since been the principal receptacle for our dead. The South Wisdom ground was used for burial purposes about a hundred years ago. This does not appear to have been town property. It lies in a pasture, and has long been unused; the gravestones are in a ruinous condition. About the same time the burying-ground in North Wisdom, called the "Robber's Yard," began to be occupied. In 1804 the town voted not to take a deed of this land. In 1803 the old grave-yard at Bloody Brook, containing three-quarters of an acre, was bought by the town of Zebediah Graves. Probably it had been occupied some years before. The new ground of four acres, near the Whately line, was bought of the same man in 1848. In a pasture at Pine Nook, on the old Brigham farm, lies a deserted grave-yard of unknown origin, unused for fifty or sixty years. A new one was opened in that district about 1812. In 1816 the town voted $25 to fence it, on condition the owner give a deed to the town. No deed has been found. In 1811, E. H. Williams sold to the town half an acre north of the Baptist meeting-house for a burying-ground. This is now in use for that part of the town. In 1808 the town voted to buy a burial-place at Great River, near Jona. Cobbs', which had been previously occupied. No deed of this is found. At Mill River a burial-yard was established about ____. In 1826 the town voted to fence this ground, provided Mr. Hawks will give it a deed of the land. In 1859 the lot was enlarged by land bought of Messrs. Timothy and Charles Phelps. There are also several private burial-places,—Stebbins', at Sugar-Loaf; De Wolf and Hawks', in South Wisdom, and two belonging to the Catholics, in North Wisdom, near the Greenfield line; and a part of the new "Greenfield Cemetery" lies within our territory.

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03 Aug 2005