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COLONIAL laws and public policy required every new settlement to secure a sound and learned Minister to be its spiritual guide. The life stories of the many courageous men who held this post in Deerfield deserve telling. The names of a few may prompt someone to weave together this fabric of Deerfield life. Samuel Mather was the first Minister to brave this frontier but he left about 1675, at the time the first inhabitants were driven off by the Indians. The story of John Williams, although not the next Minister, is known to all who love the Valley. He came to this Ministry fresh from Harvard in 1686 when a lad of only twenty-two. His story of the trying days of his captivity in Canada, "The Redeemed Captive," ran through many editions and is one of the cornerstones of Americana in any good library. He was the leader of the religious life of the countryside until his death in Parson Jonathan Ashley brought vigor, a resourceful mind and a fighting spirit to the Community over the next half century. His part in the religious and political struggles of the day may soon be told in a biography by a capable Deerfield Academy graduate. During the next century and a half other splendid men have occupied this Pastorate.

Meeting houses appear to have been nearly as essential as Ministers in American frontier villages. Unfortunately little has been found about the details of construction of the first Meeting House in Deerfield. Doubtless it was a small building, perhaps of logs. It was erected before the breaking up of the first settlement in 1675. Old documents of that date reveal sums paid for a Ministerís house and "ye little house for a Meeting House that ye Meet in."

Soon after the resettlement in 1682, sums were voted by the Town for another Meeting House which, however, soon proved inadequate for we find that in 1694 it was voted "that there shall be a Meeting House Built in deerfield upon the Town charge" ó the record goes on to state:

"That there shall be a committy chosen and impowered to agree with workmen to begin said building forthwith and carry it on fast as may be voted affirmatively

"That ye meetinghouse shall be built ye bigness of Hatfield meeting house only ye height to be left to ye judgement and determination of ye committy voted affirmatively

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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This eight-page illustrated booklet was written in 1952 by Henry and Helen Flynt. It is one in a series of publications about life in the colonial era. The importance of the meetinghouse as both a place for religious services and for civic meetings is stressed. The particular meetinghouses discussed are those of the 17th and 18th centuries in Deerfield.


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"Deerfield Meeting House, Deerfield Mass."

printer   Privately printed or published
author   Henry Needham Flynt (1893-1970)
author   Helen Geier Flynt (1895-1986)
date   1952
location   Deerfield, Massachusetts
height   9.0"
width   6.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Books/Booklet
accession #   #L98.044

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See Also...

Fourth Meeting House (1729-1824)

Deerfield Town Meeting

Seating of the Meeting House

Articles of Faith of William Stoddard Williams

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