(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Although we do not know the situation that brought Henry Stevens to the bankruptcy that led to this auction, it is entirely possible that he was brought to that point by the great Depression of the 1890s. It had begun as early as 1891 in some parts of the country particularly those like Franklin County, Massachusetts, which were reliant on agriculture. It reached its peak from 1893 to 1896, and in many ways was as severe as the Great Depression of 1929-1940. Unlike the years of the Great Depression when people relied on the federally funded programs of the New Deal to alleviate some of the suffering, in the 1890s there were few social programs and none of them federally funded. When Mr. Stevens was forced to sell his home, his choices would have been few: relying on family charity, working at the town's poor farm, or taking his employment chances elsewhere.