Deerfield — Permanent Settlement

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      Another descent from Canada was expected, and on the 8th of March, 1693, Connecticut held 150 men in readiness to march here on notice. It does not appear that they came. In May of this year a party of Hudson River Indians were encamped at Carter's Land, for the purpose of bartering the furs collected in their winter's hunt for such supplies as the white settlers could furnish. Capt. Wells became suspicious that mischief was brewing there, and employed Cotasnoh to find out what was going on. He failed to discover anything, and no precautions were taken. On the night of June 6th a party of Indians, probably from this camp, made an attack upon the families of Thomas Broughton and Widow Hepzibah Wells, who lived where Messrs. Amidon and Ashley now live, at the north end of the street. They had no design to take prisoners; were only bent on wanton murder. One Holmes, who was in the chamber at Broughton's, heard "the people plead for their lives: the man pleaded that if his own life might not be spared, his children's might; but they answered in Indian, 'We don't care for the children, and will kill you all.'" Accordingly, Broughton, his wife, and three children were tomahawked and scalped. Widow Wells had gone to watch with a sick child near by, leaving four children at home,—Mary, Sarah, Daniel, and Hepzibah,—and Nathaniel Kellogg, who slept in the chamber with Daniel. The girls were all tomahawked and scalped; Kellogg, jumping from the window, escaped. Daniel, a boy of ten years, slept soundly through the whole horrid affair in the chamber. When the alarm reached Mrs. Wells, the heroic, true mother, without waiting one moment for aid, ran to the rescue of her children. She was too late for assistance, but not too late to share their fate. Mary lived a day or two. Mrs. Wells and Hepzibah, after years of suffering, finally recovered. Young Hepzibah, then seven years old, married, about 1717, John Dickinson, and was grandmother of "Uncle Sid."
      The next morning after this assault two Indians were arrested at Carter's Land, and confronted with the mangled victims. Mary Wells recognized one, and Broughton, who was still living, the other. The chief, Ashpelon, defended them, insisting that the wounded persons were not in a condition to testify. The prisoners were sent to Springfield and confined. There was great commotion among both whites and Indians about Albany when the news of these events reached them. Gov. Fletcher went up from New York. Messengers were sent here and to Boston, and much correspondence was had between the governors of Massachusetts and New York. The question of the arrest was debated at the grand council of the Mohawks, under whose protection the prisoners lived. A Dutchman recognized the war-clubs found with the murdered people as belonging to Canada Indians. Meanwhile, the Indians escaped from prison and fled, the controversy thus coming to an end, and the feared rupture with the Mohawks was averted. The truth appears to be that Canada Indians were the murderers, and that some young Indian bloods from Carter's Land came over to witness the exploit.
      July 27th, Brookfield was attacked, and, on the alarm reaching here, Capt. Wells with 30 men made an extended scout through the eastern and northern woods, but failed to encounter the marauders. There was no safety outside the stockade, but the crops must be looked after, or starvation stared them in the face; so the settlers ventured, at the peril of their lives. While thus employed at Wapping on the 13th of October, Martin Smith was captured and taken to Canada Mr. Williams, as it afterward appeared, had a narrow escape at Broughton's Hill the day before.
      November 6, 1693, the town again petitioned the General Court for aid, without which they say they "must of necessity forsake their habitations and draw off to some neighboring towns." They were relieved of taxation, £40 allowed toward fortification, and a company of soldiers stationed here for the winter. The spring and summer of 1694 passed without molestation from the enemy. During this period the allied enemy had been engaged on a successful foray to the eastward. On their return, flushed with victory and loaded with spoil, an expedition was suddenly determined upon against this town. No notice of this movement reached this frontier. Eluding the scouts that were ranging the woods, Castrine, the commander, reached the vicinity of the town undiscovered September 15th. Coming down from the East Mountain to make his attack at the north gate, he was discovered at the rear of William Sheldon's home-lot by Daniel Severance, who was shot, and the alarm given. Mrs. Hannah Beaman, the school-dame, from the lot next north of Sheldon's, at once started with her flock for the fort. It was a race for life or death,—the school in the road, the Indians up the swamp to intercept them. All escaped, but the bullets of the pursuers whistled about their ears as they crossed the causeway in front of the present Grange Hall.

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