Deerfield — Permanent Settlement

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

      Meanwhile, within the palisades all was activity, but not confusion. Capt. Wells had been for years training the people for just such an emergency. Each yeoman snatched his loaded musket from its hooks on the summer-tree, his powder-horn and bullet-pouch from the mantel-tree, and in an instant was ready to meet the invader. Castrine had led his army three hundred miles through the wilderness to surprise this little plantation, butcher its inhabitants, and carry their scalps in triumph to Canada. Failing of a surprise, he was bravely - met and driven ignominiously back into the northern forest. Our loss was John Beaman and Richard Lyman, wounded. It was a narrow escape.
      No large parties were sent against New England in 1695. Small bands, however, lurked about the frontiers, waylaying roads and fields. As Joseph Barnard, Godfrey Nims, Philip Mattoon, Henry White, and one other were going on horse-back to mill, August 18th, they fell into an ambush at Indian Bridge. Eight guns were fired at them,’Joseph Barnard shot off his horse, and one man thrown by his horse starting. One called, as if more were behind, which kept the Indians in check while Barnard was mounted, and all turned for home. A second volley was fired at this moment, and Barnard's horse killed. Once more Barnard was mounted, with one to hold him on, and the party started for the garrison. One of the Indians ran out, and, picking up Barnard's gun, fired, and its owner was again struck. All reached the fortification, where Barnard died, September 6th. A force at once turned out in pursuit. Tracks were followed eight or nine miles up the Pocomptuck River, but the enemy were not discovered. They were very skillful in hiding in swamps and thickets. Their canoes were found and broken. At this time the garrison was but 24 men. Lieut. Hollister came up from Connecticut with 38 men for three weeks. He left 12 men to remain until the Indian corn was harvested. The woods were full of Indians watching a chance for booty, and a large part of the garrison was constantly under arms. Indians appeared on the west side of the Pocomptuck, as if to draw our people into an ambush. This was repeated, but Capt. Wells suspected that the tactics of the enemy were to weaken the garrison by drawing out the soldiers, then fall upon it from another direction, and take it.
      About this time a Maqua reported that an army of 600 French and Indians were on the march to assault Albany, and were to take Deerfield in the way. On the 25th of September, Capt. Clapp, of Northampton, came up with his company for a few days, and shortly after the garrison was increased to 52 men. This activity and vigilance saved the town.
      Sept. 16, 1696.—A small party surprised John Smead and John Gillet upon Green River, and captured the latter; pushing on to the town, they found most of the inhabitants collected in the fort attending a lecture. Daniel Belding, having just come in with his team, was belated, and his family were waiting for him. The Indians fell upon this party, and in less than fifteen minutes they had taken Belding and two children, killed his wife and three children, and wounded two others. All this was within gunshot of the palisades, and one Indian was wounded before he got off. A return shot wounded Zebediah Williams as he was rushing out of the gate. The assailants were pursued, but nothing effected. The Beldings returned by the way of Albany in June, 1698; Gillet by the way of France and England a short time before.
      June 12, 1698.—Notice was received of a party on the route to this place. Not finding the desired opportunity, they passed on to Hatfield, where, on the 15th of July, they killed two and captured two more. Notice of this reaching this town, a party of fourteen started and made a night march to what is now Vernon, Vt., where, just at dawn, the party of Indians was discovered coming up the river in canoes. Several Indians were shot, the two prisoners rescued, but Nathaniel Pomeroy of our town was killed. "Pomeroy's Island" marks the place of his death. He was the last man killed in that war.
      The close of King William's war left the inhabitants in an impoverished and destitute condition. Their cultivated fieldshad been neglected and were overgrown, the fences broken down, their cattle and sheep reduced in numbers, their provisions exhausted by quartering soldiers and fitting out scouts. Domestic industry had fared little better; were the settlers able to raise flax and wool, the overburdened women, crowded into the few houses within the stockades, could neither card, spin, nor weave to any advantage. Their clothing was nearly worn out, and their children almost naked. The taxes were unpaid, the minister's salary largely in arrears. With a nominal peace no one felt safe from Indian incursions; "for," writes Gov. Stoughton, "these barberous salvages are not to be trusted on their most solemn protestations of fidelity;" and the military service was still burdensome. Mr. Williams, with seven children, the oldest but ten, must have shared all the hardships of his people, and conjecture is at a loss as to how he lived and attended his official duties; still, on the 2d of March, 1702, before the death of William III. could be known and Queen Anne's wars anticipated, he gave up several years' salary, and caused an acquittance to be recorded on the town book, "to prevent any future trouble;" "although," he says, "they never asked it of me."

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