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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The first known inhabitants of what became the town of Bernardston, Massachusetts, were probably elements of the Pocumtuck nation, who settled the lands as long as 10,000 years ago. The Pocumtucks, in long decline, were finally pushed from the area after the "Falls Fight," a massacre of men, women, and children by the English at Turners Falls, followed by bloody retaliation by the Indian survivors in May, 1676. In 1734, the English survivors petitioned the colony of Massachusetts for land and were granted the "Falls Fight Township," later Coleraine, Leyden, and Bernardston. This land was still frontier though, and subject to raids from French and Native Canada. A chain of forts was built to protect that northern frontier in the 1740s. A small group of settlers gathered around these forts, but Bernardston's population did not really grow until after the major fighting of the French and Indian War ended. Fall Town, as it was now known, was renamed Bernardston when it was incorporated in 1762, named after the Royal Govenor of Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor Francis Bernard.


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