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WE, the undersigned, a Committee appointed at a meeting of Citizens of Deerfield, on the 23 ult. for the purpose of considering and applying the best means of obtaining the necessary aid in preserving and securing for future generations, that memorial of the dangers and sufferings of our fathers, in the infancy of our country, commonly styled, "THE INDIAN HOUSE," beg leave to address you on a subject, in which, to some extent, we have a common interest, though inhabitants of different Towns or States. That you may be able to judge whether it would gratify your feelings, to contribute a little pecuniary aid for the object proposed, we will state a few facts connected with the subject.

The owner of the Old House is on the point of taking it down for the purpose of erecting on its site a more convenient dwelling. He is willing to sell it for a Hundred and Fifty Dollars, and our first plan was, to procure another place and remove it. Two objections, however, have led us to vary our plan: First, The House would lose much of its interest, if removed; and Secondly, it may not be in a state to be removed without material injury. Our present object, therefore, is to purchase the ground on which it stands, if the owner will sell it. To this, he has had strong objections, which, though not wholly overcome, will probably yield. We cannot, however, accomplish this purpose without buying the whole lot, containing about six acres, as the Old House occupies the only good building spot on the premises. Should we buy the whole, our proposal would be to sell or lease five acres more or less, for cultivation or other objects, which would probably save from Six to Eight Hundred Dollars of the whole cost of the place, viz: Twenty Three Hundred Dollars, the price set upon it by the owner. This price we consider high compared with what other lots are sold for; but the family have a strong attachment to the ground so long occupied by their ancestors, and it is reasonable that the sacrifice of such a feeling should have some pecuniary compensation. This compensation we the more cheerfully endeavor to procure, when we consider how much we, and the public in general, are indebted to them for the cheerful and courteous reception, which for successive generations, the family have given to visitors at all hours of the day, although it has often been attended with personal and domestic inconvenience.

Should our plan be carried into effect, it might require Two or Three Hundred Dollars to put the House into such repair as would be necessary to its preservation, and in this state we suppose that the rent of the House and the acre of ground, would be a sufficient inducement for some decent family to pay the necessary attention to all the strangers who had the curiosity to view the antiquities. Such is our present plan, to which, however, we would add, that we intend to make it a repository of such Indian Antiquities as we can collect.

At first thought, perhaps it may seem that the people of Deerfield might, without sending abroad, raise the funds required for this object. To any suggestion of this kind, we would reply, that comparatively few have much of the antiquarian spirit. So little of this spirit, indeed, have a great part of the community in any of our towns, that they cannot trace their own pedigrees beyond their grandfathers. From such persons it were unreasonable to expect much. Besides, few or none of the present inhabitants of Deerfield, who are most able to contribute, are descendants of those who suffered in the destruction of the town in 1704. We add, that this memorial of what was experienced by our infant settlements, is, in a sense, common property; interesting to the antiquary, wherever he may dwell. If it be suffered to perish for the want of a little attention and exertion, it will be a subject of regret and self-reproach, more perhaps to the people of Deerfield than to those of other places; but not peculiar to them. We are persuaded, however, that we need not multiply words. With those who, on the simple statements we make, are not self-moved to aid in the undertaking, we shall not be urgent. We want nothing but free-will offerings from any, at home or abroad. Those who will be gratified by an opportunity for contributing to this object, will please to signify by letter to any one of the committee, what they will contribute. If the whole amount should be sufficient, it may afterwards be collected; if not sufficient, nothing more will be done. If, as may be the case, more should be subscribed than the object requires, abatements will be made proportioned to every man's subscription. We only add, that what is done, must be done soon, as the owner of the Old House wishes to be providing his materials for the new building, if he does not sell.

Samuel Willard,
Ep. Hoyt,
Stephen W. Williams,
John Wilson,
Pliny Arms.
Deerfield, Dec. 15, 1847.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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20th century Americans venerate old houses and historic sites in ways their 18th and 19th-century counterparts would hardly have understood. The attempt in 1847 by a small group to purchase and save the Ensign John Sheldon house in Deerfield, Massachusetts, was among the nation's earliest preservation efforts. The house had achieved local fame for its role in the Deerfield Raid carried out by French and Indians in 1704. The group failed to save the house known for generations as the "Old Indian House" from demolition in 1848. Their efforts, however, led to the founding of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and the subsequent preservation of other local buildings, artifacts and documents.


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"To All Who Feel An Interest In The Antiquities Of New-England"

creator   Stephen West Williams, M.D. (1790-1855)
creator   Colonel John Wilson (1782-1869)
creator   Reverend Samuel Willard (1776-1859)
creator   Epaphras Hoyt (1765-1850)
creator   Pliny Arms (1778-1859)
date   Dec 15, 1847
location   Deerfield, Massachusetts
height   9.5"
width   7.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Public Announcements/Broadside
accession #   #L98.021

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See Also...

"Old Indian House"

"Old Indian House" Door

John Sheldon (1658-1733) House

"Old Indian House"

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