Although the bulk of it lies over the border into Nottingham and Raymond, Pawtuckaway is also a part of Deerfield and its history. Deerfield families knew those hills.
Most folks think of it as a nice place to go hiking; take the kids; have a picnic up at the Fire Tower. They don’t know that it was once all rolling farms. Big farms, some of them, with a hundred head of cattle. Everywhere you go you find foundations. Houses. Barns. Places people lived.
I think of the work it took to clear this rugged land. No bulldozers or backhoes. Just oxen, horses, maybe a mule or two, and a lot of sweat. Cut the trees, drag them off, haul the rocks to build all those stone walls: an incredible amount of hard labor. What would they think, those farmers, if they could see what’s become of all their work? They had dreams: for themselves, for their children, for the future. The Deerfield they struggled to build is gone. Open space, sure, but the meadows have gone to beaver ponds and the pastures have gone to maple and oak. Maybe in the twilight you can hear the distant sound of menfolk calling in the fields, a dog barking, the clank of a cowbell; ghosts drifting among the trees.
There’s the old Goodrich place on the way to the fire tower. Big forsythia there, and daylilies gone wild. Sure signs that this was once someone’s carefully tended front yard. There’s the cemetery out behind the cellar hole. Goodrich family burial grounds; Barnard and Sally and their kids. The stones tell the cold facts. They lost baby Delia Jane when she was only 2 years old. But that was not the worst of it. Not by a long shot. David was 16 when he died in 1833. That was only the beginning. 1834 was a bad year. Pearly was the next of the children to go, in the cold beginning of February. Less than two weeks later their father, Barnard was gone. Next was Henry, in March. He was 19 years old. Then young Jacob, only 14, died in November.
Poor Sally, left a widow, and four children dead in less than two years’ time. But she was a tough bird. She endured. Sally Goodrich, wife of Barnard Goodrich, lived to be 101 years, 6 months and 21 days old.
There’s an ancient black walnut tree, tall and stout, hanging over the foundation, filling it with leaves, burying its remains. I wonder: do its inner rings remember the family who lived here? Did David and Jacob sit in its branches and swing their legs, avoiding their chores? Did Sally plant the lily-of-the-valley that blooms wild around the overgrown forsythia?
Read between the rough-hewn lines and wonder at the tragedy of a forgotten family. Wonder at the stone walls among the trees and consider the hopes and dreams buried beneath the fallen leaves, the ghosts of the past. They walk with you as you hike those trails.
The road going past the site of the Goodrich Farm on the way to the Fire Tower, with the ghostly image of the farm superimposed. From Richard Moore's "Twice-seen" collection.
Self-portrait of Geroge Goodrich on South Peak.
Click here to see more of Richard Moore's Twice-Seen photographs of Deerfield.