Deerfield, Massachusetts

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Deerfield is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 4,750 at the 2000 census. It is nominally part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located in Western Massachusetts, it includes the village of South Deerfield. Historic Deerfield is a historic district that preserves colonial and Federal houses, has house museums, and a museum and visitor center. The district has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is a center of heritage tourism in western Massachusetts.

The town has numerous schools, including Deerfield Academy, a private secondary school preparatory school; Frontier Regional High School, Deerfield Elementary and two separate private junior boarding schools, Bement School and Eaglebrook School.

Contents

History

Deerfield was the northwesternmost outpost of New England settlement for several decades during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It occupies a fertile portion of the Connecticut River Valley and was vulnerable to attack because of its position near the Berkshire Mountains. For these reasons it became the site of several Anglo-French and Indian skirmishes during its early history, as well as intertribal warfare.[1]

At the time of the English colonists' arrival, the Deerfield area was inhabited by the Algonquian-speaking Pocumtuck nation, with a major village by the same name. First settled by English colonists in 1673, Deerfield was incorporated in 1677. Settlement was the result of a court case in which the government in Boston agreed to return some of the land of the town of Dedham to Native American control, and allowed some of Dedham's residents to acquire land in the new township of Pocumtuck. To obtain this land, their agent John Plympton signed a treaty with some Pocumtuck men, including one named Chaulk. He had no authority to deed the land to the colonists, and appeared to have only a rough idea of what he was signing. Native Americans and English had quite differing ideas about property and land use, which contributed to their conflicts, along with competition for resources.

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