Historic Towns of New England. Lyman P. Powell, ed.. (1899) 2007. Powell conceived the idea of a historical tour of old New England towns, with a lecture on each town by a local authority. This volume,
the first in a series of such tours, collects those lectures for about a dozen early towns, including Plymouth, Boston, Hartford, New Haven, Newport and Deerfield.Powell was able to arrange for some of the leading historians and antiquarians of the late nineteenth century to prepare lectures for his tour group, scholars such as George Sheldon, Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Edward Everett Hale. As a result, this volume presents an excellent picture of the state of local historical research of a century ago. Also, by utilizing different experts for each town, we hear a different voice in each chapter, and see these towns in a variety of ways.Among the more interesting of the portrayals included here are those for some of the less well-known towns, such as Rutland and Deerfield in Massachusetts. Deerfield was famous for suffering one of the more spectacular Indian raids in the late seventeenth century, which is described here. Rutland, which narrowly missed becoming the county seat of Worcester County, was the home of Manasseh Cutler, the organizer of one of the more important companies engaged in the settlement of Ohio in the years around 1800. That story is recounted in the context of the wider picture of Rutland as a typical New England country town.The volume contains many photographs and engravings of local scenes and of prominent local citizens.