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by John Irving Clapp
It’s a familiar story here in western Massachusetts; a once-thriving neighborhood is dismantled in order to supply drinking water for the benefit of many. It happened in Northampton, piece by piece; first one dam, then another, then a re-routing of the little brook, the taking of homes and farms, the creation of a watershed, etc. By no means as dramatic or far-reaching as the Quabbin Reservoir project that dis-incorporated and flooded four entire towns, this outlying neighborhood situated in Northampton’s northwesterly corner, nonetheless, was similarly dismantled and claimed for the “greater good.” Like Dana, Prescott, Greenwich, and Enfield, Northampton’s village of Roberts Meadow has all but vanished.
Of the many aspects of writing local history well, chief among them are accuracy, information not yet known or discovered, and the telling of a good story. John Clapp’s Lost Village of Roberts Meadow fulfills all criteria handily. Told from the perspective of a direct descendant of that particular area of the village of Florence, Massachusetts, it is a compelling, intimate description, indeed, a viewpoint of the people and places which made Roberts Meadow a distinct community from the late 17th to the 20th centuries.
—Elise Bernier-Feely, Forbes Library Special Collections