Deerfield — Leading Men Of The Permanent Settlement, 1683
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
John Severance, son of John, of Boston, was born in 1647. Of Suffield, Conn., 1679, he came thence to Deerfield before 1687, and settled on lot No. 36, drawn by Samuel Hinsdale, and occupied by Joshua Carter, now owned by William Sheldon. He married Mary ______. His son Daniel was killed when Castrine made his attack, in 1694. He soon after removed to Bedford, N. Y., where he was living in 1716. His father was ancestor of all bearing the name in the country.
John Sheldon, son of Isaac, of Northampton, was born in 1658. He married, in 1679, Hannah, daughter of John Stebbins, fifteen and a half years old. She was killed in the Old Indian House, Feb. 29, 1704. He was married again, in 1708, to Mrs. Elizabeth Pratt, of Hartford, Conn. He settled on lot No. 12, drawn by John Pynchon. On this lot he set up, about 1698, the historic building now known far and wide as the "Old Indian House." Active and influential from the first, he was constantly in office; was on the first board of selectmen and assessors, deacon at the organization of the church, and ensign in the first military company, appointed 1707. In 1704 his wife and one child were killed, and four children carried into captivity. To recover his children and friends from the enemy, Ensign Sheldon made a journey the next winter; on snow-shoes, through the trackless wilderness to Canada, returning in the spring with one daughter, a daughter of his minister, and several others. A second journey was made in the winter of 1706. August 1st of this year he arrived at Boston by sea with forty-four captives. Twice more he was sent on the same errand, the last time accompanied by his son John, in 1714. Died in Hartford, 1734.
John Stebbins, son of John, of Northampton, was born in 1647. He married, about 1684, Dorothy Alexander. He settled on lot No. 35, drawn by Samuel Hinsdale, now occupied by David Sheldon. In 1704 his entire family was captured. Only himself, his wife; and son John were redeemed. The other five children never came back. The three sons were alive in Canada in 1723; the two daughters had families then. His son, John, who returned from captivity, was the ancestor of all the Deerfield tribe of Stebbinses. Mr. Stebbins died in 1724, providing by will for his son, John, and grandson, Aaron Denio, with bequests to the other children, provided they return to the English colonies. Aaron Denio, ancestor of all of the name in New England, was a son of his daughter Abigail, who married James Denio here twenty-six days before the attack.
Jonathan Wells, son of Thomas, of Hadley, was born in 1659. He married, in 1682, Hepzibah Colton, of Springfield, and again, in 1698, Sarah, widow of Joseph Barnard. Settled on lot No. 16, drawn by Peter Woodward; now owned by Josiah Fogg and Mrs. Higginson. At the age of sixteen he was a soldier under Capt. Turner, and the boy-hero of the Falls fight, where he was wounded and left behind. Two days and nights of solitary wandering brought him home in a pitiable condition. In 1704 his house was fortified and successfully defended. He had succeeded to his brother as lieutenant, and had command of the garrison at this time, and the fatal pursuit in the meadows was in defiance of his orders. He was a prominent figure in military and civil affairs for more than fifty years. He was the first justice of the peace, and in his later years was known as "Justice Wells," a title higher than that of captain. He was representative in 1692-98. He died 1737. No representatives of this family have been here for nearly a century.
Thomas Wells, brother of Jonathan, was born in 1652. He married, in 1673, Hepzibah Buel, of Windsor, Conn. As lieutenant he commanded the first military company organized here; his commission, signed by Andross in 1688, is in the archives of the Pocomptuck Valley Memorial Association. He settled on lot No. 2, drawn by Eleazer Luther, and now owned by Jonathan Ashley, where a terrible tragedy was enacted June 6, 1694, his widow and three children being tomahawked by a party of Indians. His son, John, was with Ensign Sheldon on his first journey to Canada, and was killed while on a scout up the river in 1709. Lieut. Wells died in 1691. His son, Thomas, a captain and ranger in Rasle's war, died in 1750, the last male descendant.
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