Cemeteries are interesting places. They all have an history to relate, but do it in different ways. Some are beautiful, garden-like areas, some are plain and barren. Some feel serene and others are a bit spooky. Age doesn’t seem to matter as much as the pasts of those that now reside inside the spot. Not all the residents are a peace and some do not rest. The Old Burying Ground in historic Deerfield Village dates back to colonial times. It isn’t scary, but it isn’t at rest, either. Sometimes things happen to people that takes more than one span of life to get over.
Back in the late 1600’s, Deerfield Village stood as a British settlement on their most northern frontier in Massachusetts. It was home to about 200 +/- people who settled in the fertile land between the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers. Deerfield Village was incorporated in 1677. The area was prone to Indian attacks…..or Native American attacks for those more politically correct… but during the winter of 1703/1704 an offshoot of the French & Indian War – Queen Anne’s War – the colonial settlement was ravaged by invaders. About a quarter of the villagers were brutally massacred including women and children. 112 people were captured, taken prisoner, and marched to Canada. Many died along the way. On their way out of town, the raiders burned the village. Almost half the houses were left in ashes
This gruesome incident left the remaining 112 settlers to pick up the carnage and carry on with life as it now was. The 56 dead were taken to the burying ground where they were interred into a common mass grave. The mound sits to the left rear of the cemetery and is marked by a single stele on top of the rise. Many years ago when we visited that spot a friend took a picture. When it was developed it showed a grey mist resembling a woman standing at the bottom. Nothing showed on the negative, but it was clear on the print. Wish I knew what happened to that shot so I could share it.The small cemetery is located on Albany Road just off of Old Main Street in the town’s center. It’s a pretty spot and its age shows.
On a more recent visit we spent some time reading all the headstones and marveling at the many intricately designed markers which depict the funerary artwork of the day. If you stay awhile, walk around, and read the stones in stone, a lot can be learned about some of the inhabitants and their families that lie close. You also get the feeling you aren’t alone. Twigs crack as if someone was stepping on them. Shadows move through the markers. And, the place has an energy of its own. It’s a palpable energy. It tells its own story. If you go, how did it make you feel?