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Deerfield Street

Nothing of special importance has happened here for some time. We need new life and a greater variety of activity. Old Virginia was said to have lived six months on oysters, and the other six on past recollections. In our case, tobacco literature fills every phase of social life, while past recollections specially include the "Flower of Essex" and the "Fathers in the Wilderness." Gen. Hoyt and Dr. Stephen W. Williams devoted a great amount of time to antiquarian research; many pages they have written concerning pioneer warfare with Mr. "Lo! the poor Indian!" and Col. Elihu Hoyt published a little book. called, we believe, the "Deerfield Captive." And George Sheldon is writing a history of Deerfield, while Nathaniel Hitchcock gives a good share of his time to the study of antiquity. All this is well--very well. We need variety: we need farmers, mechanics, tin-peddlers, poets, artists, antiquity hunters, and last, but not by any means least, we need--"Pocumtuck." At any rate, he thinks so, and sincerity of belief should be respected,--at least, the sincerity part of it. Messrs. Sheldon and Hitchcock have, during the past few years, given the early inhabitants such a thorough handling that those "old covies," if they are looking on, must have come to the conclusion that they were "some," if not more, in their day and generation. Let no Mrs. Grundy infer from any sportive sentence in this that we are making light of the sufferings, the toils, the privations, of the fathers and mothers, who laid on so broad and secure a foundation, the cornerstone of New England civilization. If the Athenians sometimes wearied of hearing Aristides called "the Just," it by no means indicated a lack of reverence for his integrity and his talents. Past recollections are fitting and beautiful in their place; but we would like to see this portion of the town more alive to the necessities of the present time. We need mechanical industries which will send a fresh breeze through dry bones and conservative stagnation. Such an establishment as neighbor Arms at South Deerfield, or a manufactory of almost any description, would do more for Deerfield Street than five solid cords of musing over Indian battles, or a string of monuments commemorating them from Pine Hill to George Fuller's cranberry lot.

Last Monday evening the people here had an antiquity feast. Prof. James K. Hosmer, of Antioch (O.) college, gave a lecture upon the "Legend of the Old St. Regis Bell." Like everything from his pen, it was both ingenious and beautiful. Mr. Hosmer, probably, has a stronger hold upon the affections of Deerfield people than any other living man. But many who earnestly wished to hear him refused to do so, because it was announced in the printed posters that "the proceeds of the lecture would be appropriated toward erecting a monument over the grave of those who were killed at the destruction of the town in 1704." Mr. Hosmer had nothing to do with the monument plan; he gave the lecture because he was invited. Of course the proceeds would cover a very small portion of the expense of a respectable monumen--such an one as those who are troubled with "monument on the brain" would like. It is well to have monuments when they are really needed. The writer of this used his pen several times in behalf of our beautiful soldiers' monument. But it is very proper for people to know when to stop in this monument business. This year the taxation in Deerfield has been greatly increased over any previous time. Taking the heavy taxation and the general tendency to all sorts of extravagance into consideration, we can see no sufficient reason for the erection of a monument over bones which have been pulverized more than a hundred and fifty years. Deerfield Street can not, or will not, support a blacksmith's shop! Would it not be well to have the latter first? A cheap monument would be worse than none; and if there are any who desire an expensive one, it seems to us they are the proper persons to pay for it. There is a large marble shaft at South Deerfield to perpetuate the memory of Capt. Lathrop's men. On the Common in Deerfield Street, a splendid work of art, with a granite soldier on top, tells the tale of our brave boys who fell on Southern soil, or died of starvation at Libby and Andersonville. At the Pocumtuck hotel can be found the old "Indian door," inclosed in a glass case, with friend Canning's splendid tribute to it framed and attached. It cannot be said out people have been backward in antiquity matters. If any visitor wishes for information concerning the early history of the town, he will find either neighbor Sheldon or neighbor Hitchcock a complete encyclopedia of Connecticut Valley antiquity.

The fathers did their work faithfully and well. Like everything human they had their good qualities and their bad ones. Their story we have all learned and committed to memory; and granite monuments, should they pierce the skies, would not increase our respect and admiration. William Wirt has told us that no tombstone ever marked the grave of Patrick Henry, and still his name and eloquence do not seem to be quite forgotten. The best way to honor the worthy dead is to copy their good example and deal justly with the living. POCUMTUCK.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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There is currently no available "Beginner" label. The following is the default level label: When Massachusetts began erecting monuments and memorials in the 1860s, few public voices opposed the movement. This article represents the opponents' view. Although the author was careful to assure readers that he honored the past, he argued that money spent on monuments diverted funds from the necessitiesof the present time. Here he openly criticized the otherwise generally popular movement by town leaders to erect memorials on historic sites.

 

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"Deerfield Street"- Rebuttal on Monuments

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
author   James C. Pratt (1832-1890)
date   Sep 6, 1869
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   10.25"
width   2.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L02.155


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See Also...

"Deerfield"- Sheldon talks about Monuments

"Deerfield" regarding Monument Banter

Union Battery Invoice for Cannon and Expenses


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