Deerfield — Settlement, Indian Purchase

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

      May 23, 1670, the proprietors, who were now a body distinct from the town, met and agreed to draw lots for the location of their respective rights. Through transfers of ownership the whole number of owners at this time was but thirty-one, holding from three to sixty cow-commons each. At this meeting it was voted "that an Artist be procured on as Moderate terms as may be that [shall] lay out the lots at pa-comp-tuck to each proprietor, according to their lawful interest in each sort of land which is to be divided, and to draw and return to the town a true [plan] of what he do there." This work was put in charge of a committee "empowered to order the situation of the town for the most conveniency as in their discression shall appeare best," "appointing the highways and laying out, and a place for the Meeting-house, Church officers' lot or lots," and "to proportion each several sorts of land there according to the qualitie therof, that equitie might be attended to each proprietor, according to their proportion in every-sort of land divisable."
      The committee attended to their duties in the summer of 1670, and reported, May 16, 1671, the result: "For the Situation of the Town plat," they say, "it shall be on that tract of land begining att the southerly side of it att a little brook called Eagle Brook, and so to extend Northerly to the banke or falling ridge of land at Samson Frary's celer, and so to run from the banke or ridg of land fronting on the Meadow-Land westerlie to the Mountain easterlie." A "highway for the common street" was laid out six rods wide through this tract from south to north. From each end and from the middle of this street a three-rod highway was laid, west to the meadow and east to the mountain. "That as to more higher sort of Land, called Intervale or plow-land," they ordered "two divisions made of the same out of both, which all the proprietors shall receive their proportions." The first division covered the North Meadows east of Pine Hill, and the South Meadows to Second Division Brook. The second division extended across the river westerly from this point and south to Long Hill. Highways two rods wide were laid out through these divisions, "so that every man may come to his land."
      The committee found Samuel Hinsdale, a squatter, on the tract, and recommend he be not disturbed, as he is occupying but "3 or 4 acres, and he abating as much in the 2d of his division of plow-land." The lots were all to run east and west, and no more than twenty cow-commons to be laid in one lot. These lines, and the highways laid out by this committee in 1670, are essentially those of to-day. In drawing lots for location, the first lot was always on the north end of each division, and the last at the south, varying so far on the town-plat that the lots on the east side of the street were numbered from south to north. The amount of land assigned to each cow-common varied with the size of the division; on the street it was 56½ rods, giving the owners house-lots of from 1 acre 9½ rods to 7 acres 10 rods, the last being the amount for twenty cow-commons. The whole number of house-lots was thirty-nine, including the "church lot." Few, if any, of these lots are identical with those we now occupy, and when they are named it is to be considered but an approximation.
      The settlement had scarcely commenced before Hatfield complained that the grant encroached on her territory, and an appeal was made to the General Court for redress. May 10, 1672, a hearing was had, and a committee of three appointed "to regulate and settle this affair." This committee reported, September 20th, in favor of Hatfield, and directed the grant to be extended northerly. The report was accepted Oct. 9, 1672, and the present north line of the town was then established as the north line of the 8000-acre "Dedham Grant."

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