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For geographic and demographic information on the village of South Deerfield, please see the article South Deerfield, Massachusetts.
At the time of European arrival, the land that is currently Deerfield was inhabited by the Pocumtuck nation.
Deerfield's white settlement was the result of the Dedham treaty, in which the Government in Boston agreed to return the town of Dedham to native control and required the residents of Dedham to move to the new township of Pocumtuck. To acquire this land, they signed a treaty with a Pocumtuck known only as Chalk, who as it turned out had no authority and only a rough idea of what he was signing.
The settlers expelled the Pocumtuck by force and the Pocumtuck went to seek French protection. At Bloody Brook on 18 September 1675, they destroyed a small force under the command of Captain Lathop before being driven off by reinforcements. Colonial casualties numbered about sixty.
In retaliation, on the dawn of May 19, 1676, Captain William Turner led an army of settlers in a surprise attack on Peskeompskut in present day Montague, a traditional native gathering place, killing 200 natives, mostly women and children. When the men returned, Turner was routed and died of a mortal wound at Green River.
On February 29, 1704, during Queen Anne's War, in what has become known as the Deerfield Massacre , joint French and Native American forces under the command of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville and consisting of 47 Quebecois and 200 Abenaki, Kanien'kehaka (Mowhawk) and Wyndat (Huron), as well as a few Pocumtuck attacked and Deerfield at dawn, razing the town and killing 56 colonists including twenty-two men, nine women, and twenty-five children. One hundred and nine residents, including women and children who survived, were taken captive and forced on a months-long trek to Quebec. Many died along the way, and eventually some made their way back to New England but others remained in French and Native communities for the rest of their lives.
After the frontier moved north, Deerfield became just another Colonial town with a heavy burden and the writings of Geoge Sheldon to record its history, until a wave of Slavic, particularly Polish, immigration changed its demographics and culture.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 4,750 people, 1,965 households, and 1,310 families residing in the town. The population density is 56.8/km² (147.1/mi²). There are 2,060 housing units at an average density of 24.6/km² (63.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 97.24% White, 0.48% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.86% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.48% from other races, and 0.82% from two or more races. 1.56% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 1,965 households out of which 28.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.9% are married couples living together, 8.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% are non-families. 26.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.41 and the average family size is 2.92.
In the town the population is spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 29.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 41 years. For every 100 females there are 97.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town is $49,764, and the median income for a family is $64,909. Males have a median income of $40,413 versus $31,069 for females. The per capita income for the town is $24,555. 4.5% of the population and 2.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 4.3% of those under the age of 18 and 6.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
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