Deerfield — Permanent Settlement

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

      In 1682, Richard Weller and others made petition again to the General Court, respecting the land of non-residents. In reply the court answer, "they may not give away other proprietjes without their consent," and advise giving up every tenth acre as a good way to further the settlement. "And as for the orphants," the county court was authorized to appoint guardians for such as are too young to choose, and said guardians are authorized to act in the premises for the best interests of the "orphants."
      For a year or two land was freely granted to new-comers by the committee. The exact date of re-occupation is unknown,—probably in the winter and spring of 1683-84. For some two years the prudential affairs of the colony were managed by the committee, and for a short time there was a mixed authority.
      Dec. 17, 1686, a town organization was effected by the choice of William Smead, Joshua Pumry, John Sheldon, Benoni Stebbins, Benjamin Hastings, and Thomas French, Selectmen; Edward Allen, Thomas Broughton, and Thomas Allison, Surveyors; Philip Mattoon, Jonathan Church, and Robert Alexander, Haywards. Jonathan Wells and the selectmen were made commissioners of rates. Joseph Barnard doubtless acted as clerk.
      About the middle of June, 1686, the inhabitants had invited Mr. John Williams to be their minister, offering him land and to build him a house (see notice of Mr. Williams, farther on). At the December meeting more land was granted Mr. Williams. Jan. 5, 1686-87, all these grants were ratified by the committee, on condition Mr. Williams settle here in the ministry. The last act of the committee was Dec. 20, 1687, confirming the appointment of Joseph Barnard as "clerk and recorder." So the leading-strings were loosed and the town left to its own devices. After preaching about twenty-eight months, Mr. Williams was ordained and a church gathered Oct. 17, 1688.
      Down to this time the new settlement had prospered greatly. The planters had turned their furrows and sowed their seed in peace. The labors of the husbandmen received rich returns. Their flocks and herds had increased in safety. The streams were stocked with choice fish, the forest abounded in game, and no fear of lurking foes prevented full enjoyment of both. The plantation seemed grounded on a basis of enduring prosperity. No formal treaty of peace had been made with the river Indians, but friendly relations had gradually grown up between their hunters and our people, and it was no occasion of surprise or fear when, on the night of July 26, 1688, a party of fifteen came to lodge at the house of Lieut. Thomas Wells. It turned out that part of these were spies; those who were friendly warned Lieut. Wells against their treachery. Probably this notice saved the town from attack.
      Three weeks later, these, with others, fell upon Northfield and killed six people. This raid was instigated by De Nonville, Governor of Canada, who offered a bounty for every scalp, and this after the treaty of peace between France and England, made December, 1687, was known in Canada. These facts had been revealed by the friendly Indians, and the alarm here was serious and general. The woods were filled with scouts, but no Indians were discovered. Deerfield was the frontier town, with little provision for defense. The policy of Gov. Andross increased the distress, for it almost invited invasion. From this source of unquiet, however, relief was at hand. News that William of Orange had landed in England was received at Boston, April 12, 1689, and on the 18th Andross was imprisoned by the people, and a council of safety, assuming the government of the colony, issued a call for representatives to meet at Boston on the 22d of May.

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