150th Reunion

2020 HISTORICAL GRAVESTONE PRESERVATION PROJECT

The Laurel Hill Cemetery is a historic burying ground in Deerfield, MA.  Its location is east of Old Deerfield Village, across U.S. Route 5.  The postponed 150th reunion of the Dickinson Family Association will take place in Deerfield, and since the DFA has contributed toward a major cleaning and restoration project undertaken in the summer and fall of 2020, we are posting here a few photos of the cemetery showing the work that was done and some of the Dickinson gravestones and monuments found there.

BEFORE

AFTER

The work was carried out by Chris Harris, and a more detailed description can be found at this link: Project Report.  Chris and his crew are to be commended for a magnificent and important job done.  As members of one of the prominent families buried here, we of the DFA are grateful to them for this outstanding preservation project.

Maps of the cemetery may be found at the cemetery website.  Dickinson graves are found in the West section, in rows 10, 16 and 18. We hope to arrange for some guided tours during the 2021 reunion, but all attendees are welcome to visit the cemetery and explore it on their own.

IF STONES COULD TALK

Notes on some of the Dickinsons buried at Laurel Hill

[More information on several of these people is available in Ken Dickinson’s articles in the DFA Newsletters of November 2019, and January, April, and December 2020]

Thomas Dickinson (1718-1814) was born in Hatfield and moved to Deerfield around 1753.  Several of his nine sons have gravestones in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

             Eliphalet Dickinson (1749-1827)

Eliphalet Dickinson served in the Revolutionary War and was called “Uncle Liff”.  He and his brother,  Thomas Wells Dickinson (b. 1751) were among the 15 “Proprietors of the New School” which met in 1787 to establish a school for Deerfield.  The schoolhouse was built by 1788 and opened in that year.  This school was the seed for Deerfield Academy, which was founded in 1797.  Four men from the original proprietors (not the Dickinsons) were among the first trustees of Deerfield Academy.

Two of Eliphalet’s sons, Jackson and William are buried in Laurel Hill. Their stones are pictured below.

Thomas Wells was a colonel in the Revolutionary War.  One of his sons, Rudolphus, is the subject of an article by Ken Dickinson in the December 2020 DFA Newsletter.  Another son, Thomas Wells Dickinson, M.D. (known as “Wells”) was a farmer and physician.  His gravestone and that of his wife, Lucy, are pictured below.

Lucy Hoyt Dickinson (1799-1854) Thomas Wells, M.D. (1784-1849)

Another brother of Eliphalet and Col. Thomas Wells was Consider Dickinson. He was the youngest of the nine children born to Capt. Thomas Dickinson.  A large granite monument stands at the gravesites of Consider Dickinson (1761-1854) and his two wives.  One side of the monument tells of his first wife, Filana Field, and another of his second wife, Esther Harding.

Consider was a farmer and fur trader and served in the Rev. war.  He had no children.  His widow Esther lived until 1875 and when she died she left her land to the town of Deerfield. The inscription on the fourth side of the monument describes her bequest:

“The large property of this family, acquired by years of careful industry and frugality, was given for a High School, Library and Reading Room, free to the inhabitants of Deerfield.”

The private school, Deerfield Academy, had done very well financially in its early years, but by the time Esther died it was not prospering.  Therefore, funds from Deerfield Academy were transferred to Dickinson Academy and a new building was built on Esther’s property.  It was known as Dickinson Academy and Deerfield High School and included a free library and reading room for the town.  In time, Dickinson Academy faded, and Deerfield Academy re-emerged and grew to its present prestigious state.

[Currently, the high school for local youth, and those of some surrounding towns is Frontier Regional H.S. in South Deerfield.]

refs. A History of Deerfield Massachusetts, vol. 2, George Sheldon, 1896;        Descendants of Nathaniel Dickinson, 3rd ed., Dickinson Family Association, 2006.

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Dickinson Family Association

Volume XVII, Number 2

Brushmill at the Waterfall, Chester, CT
Site of Friday Dinner, 2019 Reunion

A message from the DFA Board


Hello Cousins,
 

** 150th Annual Reunion to be Re-Scheduled **

  2020 has proven to be a challenging year for the majority of everyone worldwide.  Due to increasing health issues, travel restrictions, and economic concerns our 150th Annual Reunion will need to be rescheduled.  Historic Deerfield and PVMA are temporarily closed; however we are coordinating with them to hold our reunion events in June 2021.   In the interim, the DFA will continue to work on other projects.  We apologize for any inconveniences and look forward to seeing you next year!
 

The Fate of Nathaniel Dickinson
An account of a Loyalist from Deerfield, MA:

 
Nathaniel, first son of Samuel Dickinson and Hannah (Field) Dickinson, was born on October 7, 1734 in Deerfield.  Samuel owned a house on Old Main Street; sawmill and a large 300 AC farm in “The Bars” section of Deerfield amongst other lots in the area. Nathaniel lost his mother and a sister when he was only 5 years old.  He later served as a solider during the French and Indian War and became closely aligned with Col. William Williams, who had moved to Pittsfield and married Nathaniel’s sister, Hannah, in 1765.  Both Nt’l and his brother Samuel continued to acquire several properties in Deerfield, Conway, Shelburne, and Barnardstown.  Nt’l continued to be a highly regarded, trusted citizen of Deerfield until the Revolutionary War period when he became a very outspoken Loyalist.
 
Nathaniel was connected with other “high tories”; i.e. Col. Israel Williams, nephew of Col. William Williams, who fled from Hatfield to Pittsfield during the Rev War.  Nathaniel was mobbed, tied up to be hanged, and his life threatened; however he remained a Loyalist.  After a trip to Pittsfield in Jan. 1775, he traveled to Boston where he was mobbed again three times and sent back to Deerfield.  He was found with letters from Col. Williams to Gen. Gage; eventually being charged with treason.  On Jan. 26th, Nt’l was in Hatfield when another mob drove him into Sunderland.  The mob couldn’t find him, and he fled to Boston joining British Troops with Gen. Gage where he served active duty in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  On March 17, 1776 along with Gen. Gage and others, Nt’l retreated to Halifax, NS.  In Boston, Nova Scotia, and NYC he held key positions as a commissary, conductor of artillery, and lieutenant.
 
Meanwhile, back in Deerfield, the Committee of Correspondence confiscated his estate. It was initially auctioned on Dec. 17, 1776.  Nathaniel’s brother, Samuel, was allowed to rent a portion of the farm; however this decision changed per a MA General Court session in 1779 and a subsequent Council Order issued on Feb. 29, 1780.  The “Committee” was directed to manage the farm for purposes of pasturing cattle for the use of the Army.  On Nov. 30th Samuel Dickinson, age 44, perished in Deerfield.  He left no will; however his sister, Hannah, inherited his property.
 
Nathaniel continued to be “loyal to the crown” throughout the remainder of his life.  By 1778, he was permanently banished from MA; however he continued to serve as a commissary in NYC where he met and married Hannah Cock on Jan. 27, 1781.  After the British evacuation, they were granted land in St. John’s, N.B. and had two children.  Within a few years, Nathaniel had purchased properties in several towns throughout New Brunswick and began to improve them. In 1786, he eventually returned to Boston and Deerfield for a short period; however he was unsuccessful in a trial to reclaim his lost property which was valued in excess of 1,000 lbs.  NH Governor, John Wentworth amongst several other notable men, served as a witness for Nathaniel’s claim testifying that he was a “man of good character”. 

His sister, Hannah, had retained possession of the majority her brothers’ property.  She offered to split ownership; however Nt’l could not stay in Deerfield as he remained banished.  Nt’l was allowed to sell some of his remaining property before his return to Canada and eventually was compensated for a portion of it.  Hannah (Madame Williams) continued to rent out the farm and other properties in Deerfield until her death on May 21, 1821 in Pittsfield.  Hannah was a strong willed woman who was respected locally for her wealth and influence.  Several articles in the Berkshire Eagle have been written about her.

Nathaniel was a resident of Westfield, N.B. when he suddenly died in Gagetown, N.B. on May 6, 1788.  Per N.B. probate records, his entire estate was inherited by his wife Hannah and their daughter Amelia.  Their son, Samuel, perished in 1790 in St. John’s, N.B.  Unfortunately very little is known about either Amelia or Samuel.  Nathaniel selected his friend, Major Benjamin Woosley, and Hannah as executors of his will.  Benjamin and Hannah married in 1789 in St. John’s Trinity Church; however they eventually resided in Bridgeport, CT and had four children.  In essence, Nathaniel paid a high price for his allegiance; however everyone respected him for his persistence. Both Canadian/British online records and MA Archives documents were sourced for this article.  We will focus on another Deerfield descendant’s story for our Summer Newsletter.  In the interim, continue to stay safe, practice social distancing, and avoid mobs.  Genealogical research can offer reprieve during these challenging times.

Ken Dickinson,  President

Williams House, Deerfield, Massachusetts

2020 SCHOLARSHIP – LAST CALL

Application forms are available for the 2020 DFA scholarship.  Applicants must be descendants of Nathaniel Dickinson and must be accepted to a four-year college or university.  The deadline for submission is April 30, 2020.  Full information on requirements and an application form may be found on our website.  For additional information you may contact our scholarship chair, Lisa Butler, 12 Cove St. Noank, CT 06340, dickinsonfamilyassociation@gmail.com.

PLEASE NOTE: ADDRESSES – POSTAL & E-MAIL

Newsletters are now sent only by email to those members whose email addresses we have.  If you are receiving this newsletter by postal mail and you have an email address, we ask you to send your email address to our membership clerk, Beth Landolina at:  bethland719@yahoo.com.  This will help save us time and money.
Be assured, we use these addresses only for sending the DFA newsletters and will not share them with anyone.

Check out our NEW WEBSITE!

The new site is very interactive.  Viewers can do searches, send us messages and feedback, order books, donate and even join the association online. Newsletters will be sent only by email to those members whose email addresses we have, so it’s more important than ever to keep us informed of any changes.  We will still send newsletters in January and April by postal mail to those members who do not have email.

Web site:  www.dickinsonfamilyassociation.org
  Newsletter editor:  Dale Williams

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