Work in progress, October 26, 27, 28, 2015


A day on the river 10/13/15, Northfield to Turner’s Falls


Aunt Sally Harris Stockwell, lived to be 104 years old, 1779-1883


Source books for this research:

True stories of New England captives carried to Canada during the old French and Indian wars by C. Alice Baker

Captive Histories: English, French, and Native Narratives of the 1704 Deerfield Raid (Native Americans of the… Jun 23, 2006 by Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney

The Stockwell Family: Adventures Into the Past 1626-1982 1982 by Stockwell, Irene, Dixon

A history of Deerfield, Massachusetts: the times when and the people by whom it was settled, unsettled and resettled… by George Sheldon

The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America Mar 28, 1995 by John Demos

The Old American: A Novel (Hardscrabble Books-Fiction of New England) Nov 1, 2001 by Ernest Hebert

The Buttonwood Tree, Deerfield


The spot where Quinton and Abigail built their home in Deerfield is easily identified. Its location is diagrammed on the map which is for sale at Memorial Hall, and it is shown as being inside the fortified stockade. A dormitory for Freshman boys attending Deerfield Academy stands there today, and a plaque on a large granite boulder in the front yard marks this as where the young minister, Samuel Mather, boarded with a Deerfield family. Though the plaque doesn’t give the name of tat family, we know from many other sources that it was Quinton Stockwell’s We have stood on that little knoll where the house was located, and we have read the inscription which, before giving an account of the minister’s life and accomplishment, says:

In Memory of Rev. Samuel Mather, M.A. Pioneer Minister of Deerfield 1673-76 who lived in a house on this site

We have studied the surroundings, trying to visualize this stout little fortified house on Meetinghouse Hill to which settlers came for refuge and which was known as “Stockwell’s Fort.” We know that in the fall of 1675 it was burned in the savage assault of Indians just before the massacre at Bloody Brook, and as our story unfolds we shall follow the attempts of Quinton Stockwell to rebuild his home. What is there to be seen while we stand here to form a bond for us with the past? The soil? The gentle rise of slope on this low hill? “The Street,” stretching to north and south, lifeline of the village? From the first it was laid out to be wide enough for two ox teams to meet and pass easily. The very air? As we lift our heads to breathe deeply of the quiet and peacefulness to be experienced there now, we spot our symbol across the common on the campus. The old buttonball tree! Of course! The Pocumtuk buttonball! It was a full grown specimen long before Deerfield was even a gleam in the eye of a New Englander. It has seen the whole history of the town…it [may be] 550 years old in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Would that it could tell the history it has witnessed!…Did Quentin and Abigail find pleasure and comfort in glancing across at it as they paused momentarily while at some household or barnyard task? The tree was almost directly across the wide road from them, and its beauty at each season of the year must have been outstanding even then.

-From The Stockwell Family, Irene Dixon Stockwell, 1982

A walk from West Brattleboro to Marlboro, VT

On September 25, 2015, my daughter Willa (b. Brattleboro, 10/23/89) and I, walked and biked from Marlboro to West Brattleboro. We biked down Ames Hill Rd. to the West Brattleboro Cemetery then walked back up visiting sites along the way.

Finding the Cemetery in Marlboro, VT

Abel Stockwell was the first settler of Marlboro, VT, arriving in 1763. In 1961 Clayton Stockwell and his son, Dick, were able to find the remote cemetery in Marlboro where Abel Stockwell, his son Perez, and two infant sons of Perez were buried in 1777. During the summer of 1777 about 20 people died of something called “the “black fever.” They were buried in a remote location,  in a common grave, probably because they were considered infectious.

In 2011 I was teaching at Marlboro College and became curious to find this old cemetery. I contacted a local friend, Malcolm Wright, and he contactyed Gail MacArthur to help us find it. In November Gail led Malcolm, his wife Marge, myself and a teaching colleague from Marlboro to the remote site. A few weeks later, I took my siblings, who were visiting for the holidays, back to the site. This September I decided to re-locate the site and set out on a and walking loop to find it. I couldn’t find it, although I thought i was near.


Two weeks later I tried again:


Finally, I contacted a local surveyor and native of Marlboro, Malcolm Moore. He put me in touch with Sally White, whose family owns the land and she had grown up there visiting the remote place. We found it and in the process I realized that my two previous trips had put me very close to the spot:

42 degrees, 51 minutes, 57.064 seconds North

72 degrees 42 minutes, 32.66 seconds West