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George Sheldon 


     George Sheldon was born in the Sheldon House in Old Deerfield on November 30, 1818 to Seth Sheldon and Caroline Stebbins. The house in which he was born has been in the Sheldon family since 1708 and was owned by Col. Joseph Stebbins, the grandfather of George. Col. Stebbins fought at Bunker Hill and many speak of the house as the Bunker Hill House. George Sheldon was historian and author of the history of Deerfield, MA and was the founder and president of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. He was instrumental in advising C. Alice Baker, his first cousin, once removed, to purchase and preserve the Frary House. George and C. Alice were descended from Lucy Frary Stebbins, daughter of Capt. Nathan Frary and granddaughter of Nathaniel Frary who probably built the Frary House.
     George was listed as age 31 in the 1850 census for Deerfield, MA living with his wife and two children. He was shown as a farmer. He was listed as age 41 in the 1860 census for Deerfield, MA living with his wife and two children. He was shown as a farmer. He was listed as a 51 year old farmer in the 1870 census for Deerfield, MA living with his wife, daughter and a 71 year old Susan M. Sheldon. He was shown with $4250 of real estate and $4000 of personal property. He was listed as age 61 in the 1880 census for Deerfield, MA living with his wife and his daughter's family. He was shown as an historical student. He was listed as age 81 in the 1900 census for Deerfield, MA living with his second wife. He was shown as the father of three children with one still living. He was shown as an historian. He was enumerated next to C. Alice Baker. He was listed as age 91 in the 1910 census for Deerfield, MA living with his wife and two housekeepers. He was buried at Deerfield, MA in the Laurel Hill Cemetery.
     From "Guide to George Sheldon Papers
PVMA Library Scope and Content Note -- The papers of George Sheldon, historian and antiquarian, consist of autobiographical and biographical writings, text of addresses he delivered, manuscripts of a few of his published writings, research notes, newspaper clippings of the serialized version of his A History of Deerfield, business papers, and an extensive correspondence which forms more than half of the collection. Sheldon's papers number approximately 4,000 items and date mainly from the last quarter of the 19th and first decade of the 20th centuries. Biographical Note -- George Sheldon was born in Deerfield on November 30, 1818, a member of the sixth generation from Ensign John Sheldon, who had accompanied early settlers to Deerfield in 1664. He was educated in the common schools of Deerfield and Deerfield Academy. His early life was passed on a farm. In 1844 he married Susan Stearns, daughter of J. F. Stearns of Dummerston, Vermont. The couple had three children: Frank, who died in childhood, John, and Susan. After suffering a sunstroke, Sheldon and his family moved in 1853 to Chicopee, Massachusetts, where he was employed for five years in the Dwight Cotton Mills. The time there also marked the beginning of his political activities. Sheldon, an ardent abolitionist, served as treasurer of the Chicopee auxiliary of the Kansas Free Soil movement, and gained state-wide prominence as secretary of the "Know-Nothing Party" in Chicopee. In 1857 he returned to Deerfield and took an active part in town affairs, serving as justice of the peace from 1857 to about 1911, moderator of town meetings from 1865 to 1880, census enumerator in 1880, and notary public beginning in 1886. In 1870, he was a founder and first president of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, an office he held until 1915. Sheldon served for one term in the General Court of Massachusetts (1867); as U.S. Marshal under General Francis A. Walker (1870); and for one term in the Massachusetts Senate (1872). His wife Susan died in 1881. Six years later he married Jennie Maria Arms, daughter of George A. Arms of Greenfield. She was a prominent teacher of natural science in Boston. Jennie Sheldon was supportive of her husband's many works, the most extensive of which were a history of Northfield (with the Reverend J. H. Temple) and a history of Deerfield. In the latter years of his life Sheldon spent summers in Deerfield, in the house which belonged to Colonel Joseph Stebbins, his grandfather, and winters in Boston. He died in Deerfield in 1916 at the age of ninety-eight."
     An obituary from the Boston Globe (MA) of December 24, 1916: "DEERFIELD HISTORIAN DEAD -- Hon George Sheldon Passes Away in 99th Year -- Founder of Pocumtuck Memorial Association -- Deerfield, Dec. 23 -- Hon George Sheldon, the historian of Deerfield, and founder and president of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, died this afternoon in the Bunker Hill House, the home of his grandfather, Col Joseph Stebbins, who fought at Bunker Hill, and where Mr. Sheldon lived many years. He had a slight cold, but aside from that had no sickness. This morning he was in excellent spirits. He had felt for years that he would celebrate his 100th birthday. On Thanksgiving Day he observed his 98th anniversary. As a historian Mr. Sheldon was better known than any man in Western Massachusetts. As the founder of the Memorial Association and its president and active director, the experts say that he performed a work of the highest value. It preserves the history of the Indians and pioneers by 50,000 articles and books, all housed in a fireproof building owned by the association."
     Another obituary from the Brattleboro Reformer (VT) of December 26, 1916: "Deerfield, Mass. -- George Sheldon, the venerable Deerfield historian, who, on Thanksgiving day observed the 98th anniversary of his birth, died at his home at 1.30 o'clock Saturday afternoon. He was a native of this place, born Nov. 30, 1818, sixth generation descendant from Ensign John Sheldon, who went to Deerfield with the first settlers in 1684. He was born in the residence in which he died, the historical site marking today the old homestead of Ensign John Sheldon. Mr. Sheldon obtained his early education in the district school and since 1868 devoted his entire time to literary, historical and antiquarian pursuits. He was author of the history of Deerfield, over which he worked 20 years. He was founder, and served as president until he died, of Pocumtuck Valley Memorial association. He made careful study of Indian relics that furnished considerable material for the history of the Pocumtuck tribe in the time of Philip's war, and in 1864 he was instrumental in erecting the first Soldier's monument in the state, which was dedicated in Deerfield Sept. 4, 1867. Mr. Sheldon was active in politics in earlier life and in 1867 represented the Republican party and this district in the legislature. In 1872 he was in the state senate, and assistant United states marshall in 1870. In 1880 he was enumerator of the state census. Almost up to the time of his death Mr. Sheldon retained his faculties and until a few weeks ago engaged in his literary labors, which occupied the greater portion of his life. Until age diminished his activities he was frequently called upon to speak at public occasions, a task at which he was highly gifted. His last appearance upon a local platform was at a reunion of the Fifty-second regiment in August, 1906, when he delivered an interesting paper on events in the country during war days. Mr. Sheldon's writings upon the Revolution were largely based upon actual talks with veterans in that conflict, who in the historian's boyhood days were men of the age of Civil war veterans of today. This year Mr. Sheldon completed and published a pamphlet upon his grandfather, his last work, Col. Joseph Stebbins, the Deerfield leader in the Revolution. It is recalled that Mr. Sheldon was born when James Monroe was in his first administration as President of the United States. Historical interests in these parts are well taken care of and preserved by Mr. Sheldon's valuable writings, and great value is attached to his collections and relics of the Indian days. Mr. Sheldon leaves his second wife, a son, John Sheldon of Greenfield and great granddaughter, Miss Hazel Sheldon of Greenfield. The funeral arrangements have not been made."

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