DEERFIELD, a township of Franklin county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers, about 33 m. N. of Springfield. Pop. (1900) 1969; (1905, state census) 2112. Deerfield is served by the Boston & Maine and the New York, New Haven & Hartford railways. The natural beauty and the historic interest of Deerfield attract many visitors. There are several villages and hamlets in the township, the oldest and most interesting of which is that known as "The Street" or "Old Street." This extends along one wide thoroughfare over a hill and across a plateau or valley that is hemmed in on the E. by a range of highlands known as East Mountain and on the W. by the foothills of Hoosac Mountain. Many of the houses in this village are very old. In Memorial Hall, a building erected in 1 79 7- 1798 for the Deerfield academy, the Pocumtuck Valley memorial association (incorporated in 1870) has gathered an interesting collection of colonial and Indian relics. Deerfield was one of the first places in the United States to enter into the modern "arts and crafts movement"; in 1896 many of the old household industries were revived and placed upon a business basis. Most of the work is done by women in the homes. The products, including needlework and embroidery, textiles, rag rugs, netting, wrought iron, furniture, and metal-work in gold and silver embellished with precious and semi-precious stones, are annually exhibited in an old-fashioned house built in 1710, and a large portion of them are sold to tourists. There is an arts and crafts society, but the profits from the sales go entirely to the workers.
The territory which originally constituted the township of Deerfield (known as Pocumtuck until 1764) was a tract of 8000 acres granted in 1654 to the town of Dedham in lieu of 2000 acres previously taken from that town and granted to Rev. John Eliot to further his mission among the Natick Indians. The rights of the Pocumtuck Indians to the Deerfield tract were purchased at about fourpence per acre, settlement was begun upon it in 1669, and the township was incorporated in 1673. For many years Deerfield was the N.W. frontier settlement of New England. It was slightly fortified at the beginning of King Philip's War, and. after an attack by the Indians on the 1st of September 1675 it was garrisoned by a small force under Captain Samuel Appleton. A second attack was made on the 12th of September, and six days later, as Captain Thomas Lothrop and his company were guarding teams that were hauling wheat from Deerfield to the English headquarters at Hadley, they were surprised by Indians in ambush at what has since been known as Bloody Brook (in the village of South Deerfield), and Lothrop and more than sixty of his men were slain. From this time until the end of the war Deerfield was abandoned. In the spring of 1677 a few of the old settlers returned, but on the 19th of September some were killed and the others were captured by a party of Indians from Canada. Resettlement was undertaken again in 1682. On the ,5th of September 1694 Deerfield narrowly escaped capture by a force of French and Indians from Canada. I.n the early morning of the 29th of February 1703-1704, Deerfield was surprised by a force of French and Indians (under Hertel de Rouville), who murdered 49 men, women and children, captured III, burned the town, and on the way back to Canada murdered 20 of the captured. Among the captives was the Rev. John Williams (1664-1729), the first minister of Deerfield, who (with the other captives) was redeemed in 1706 and continued as pastor here until his death; in 1707 he published an account of his experiences as a prisoner, The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, which has frequently been reprinted. From the original township of Deerfield the territory of the following townships has been taken: Greenfield (1753 and 1896), Conway (1767, 1791 and 1811), Shelburne (1768) and a part of Whately (1810).
See George Sheldon, A History of Deerfield (Deerfield, 1895); the History and Proceedinas of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (Deerfield, 1890 et seg.); and Pauline C. Bouve, "The Deerfield Renaissance," in The New England Magazine for October 1905.
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