The Raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts of 1704

Happy Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Founders' Day (1638)
Richard Nixon was born on today's date in 1913
deerfield_monument

Monument to the victims of the Deerfield (Massachusetts) massacre of 29 Feb 1704

Deerfield, Massachusetts was the northwesternmost outpost of New England settlement for several decades during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It occupies a fertile portion of the Connecticut River Valley and was vulnerable to attack because of its position near the Berkshires highlands. For these reasons it was the site of intertribal warfare and several Anglo-French and Indian skirmishes during its early history.

In the winter of 1704, a group of about 300 French soldiers and Native American warriors of various tribes attacked the English settlement of Deerfield. Around 50 colonists were killed, half of which were children, and more than 100 were taken captive and forced to march 300 miles through the New England winter to Quebec, Canada. Many died on the way, and some were killed because they could not keep up.

Those who were killed in the settlement were all buried in a mass grave that can be found in the corner of a small cemetery at the end of Albany Road in Deerfield that is sometimes called “Deerfield Cemetery” and other times “Old Albany Cemetery”. At the top of a small hump of grave land there is a squat, pointed monument with inscriptions on two of its four sides. On one side it states, “The Dead of 1704”. On the opposite side, it states, “The grave of 48 men women and children, victims of the French and Indian raid on Deerfield. February 29, 1704.”

Deerfield_signMy family has connections to some of the early settlers of Deerfield, who died in the massacre:

  • Benjamin, Waite was born about 1645 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He was the son of Thomas Waite (1601-1665) and Eleanor Paine (1605-1676) – my 10th g-grandparents. Thomas was born in England, arrived in Massachusetts in the mid-1630s and settled in Rhode Island in 1638. His wife, Eleanor, arrived in Rhode Island before 1640. I have written up a full account of what is known of the Waite family on his own blog article: http://wp.me/P2HCbU-wH. Thomas and Eleanor’s son, Benjamin, removed to Hadley, Massachusetts and married Martha Leonard. He was slain at the taking of Deerfield on 29 Feb 1704, and he is buried in Deerfield Cemetery, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
  • Joseph Ingersoll (1675-1704), was also killed in the same attack. He was a son through his third wife of my maternal 9th g-grandfather, John (of Westfield) Ingersoll (1626-1684), who is discussed under his own heading: http://wp.me/P2HCbU-iv.

 

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One comment

  • I was related to many who lost their life in this attack. I’m a direct line decedent of Isaac Sheldon and also to the publisher of this site. Recall a good account of this in a book called Antiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton. Very good read.

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