Welcome to the Deerfield Heritage Commission Website
The Heritage Commission is a town-sponsored organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Town of Deerfield (Not to be confused with the Deerfield Historical Society, a private organization with a similar mission).
Deerfield's 250th anniverary is coming in 2016!
In honor of the 250 anniversary of the Town of Deerfield, we are making available on this website excerpts from the Bicentennial Celebration book, a spiral-bound souvenir book put together by the town in 1966 to celebrate Deerfield's 200th aniversary. Written by people in the town, topics covered much of Deerfield's present and rich past, and included photographs which capture moments of history.
Also, we will be highlighting some of the ways you can find out more about Deerfield's past. For example, at our town library you can find a simple, self-published, spiral-bound book called Back Then, written by Ruth Tilton Houghton back in 1990. The Tilton family goes back a long way in Deerfield. In fact, Ruth's grandfather Charles E. Tilton, served with the New Hampshire Volunteers during the Civil War. A plaque in his memory hangs in the library.
Also available in our town library is The Civil War Letters & Diary of Captain Jonathan Johnson. The Johnsons, Nancy and Jonathan, lived on South Road with their nine children. Their oldest son, George, worked with his father at their shoe business, located in a little shop in their house.
In 1862, Jonathan Johnson began active service as Captain of Company D, 15th Regiment, NH Volunteers, and went to war. One year later, at the age of forty-seven, Capt. Jonathan Johnson succumbed to what they called “swamp fever”, contracted while fighting in New Orleans. He was sent home to Deerfield to die. He left his wife Nancy a widow with eight children at home, four of them less than 16 years of age. His son George never returned home, and was buried in a double grave after the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864. Both had gone to war to preserve the Union, and believed that slavery was an iniquitous institution. Both died for that cause.
During his year of service, Capt. Johnson kept a diary and regularly wrote home. These fragile, precious letters were preserved by his widow and came into the hands of his grandson after her death. Alden Chase Brett was so deeply moved by the story that came out of his grandfather’s letters and diary, and the family history that was passed down to him, that he compiled it into a book. We can all benefit from the meticulous work Brett did relating in chronological order the letters and diary entries that tell this tragic story.
It makes compelling reading for any student of Deerfield History or of the Civil War. The library has a circulating copy which you may check out. It is kept behind the desk, so just ask for it.
Click here to find a complete list of the library's historical and genealogical resources.
How many of Deerfield's original one-room schoolhouse buildings still exist? Find out the answer here.
Contact our Webmaster to find out how you can share your own photos and stories with us.
Click on the images below to find out about some of the People of Deerfield, historic Places, and traditional Deerfield Activities and Events. Discover Resources to aid you in your historical or genealogical research, and learn more