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Captive Histories

English, French, and Native Narratives of the 1704 Deerfield Raid

edited by Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney

Publication Year: 2006

This volume draws together an unusually rich body of original sources that tell the story of the 1704 French and Indian attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts, from different vantage points. Texts range from one of the most famous early American captivity narratives, John Williams’s The Redeemed Captive, to the records of French soldiers and clerics, to little-known Abenaki and Mohawk stories of the raid that emerged out of their communities’ oral traditions. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney provide a general introduction, extensive annotations, and headnotes to each text. Although the oft-reprinted Redeemed Captive stands at the core of this collection, it is juxtaposed to less familiar accounts of captivity composed by other Deerfield residents: Quentin Stockwell, Daniel Belding, Joseph Petty, Joseph Kellogg, and the teenaged Stephen Williams. Presented in their original form, before clerical editors revised and embellished their content to highlight religious themes, these stories challenge long-standing assumptions about classic Puritan captivity narratives. The inclusion of three Abenaki and Mohawk narratives of the Deerfield raid is equally noteworthy, offering a rare opportunity not only to compare captors’ and captives’ accounts of the same experiences, but to do so with reference to different Native oral traditions. Similarly, the memoirs of French military officers and an excerpt from the Jesuit Relations illuminate the motivations behind the attack and offer fresh insights into the complexities of French-Indian alliances. Taken together, the stories collected in this volume, framed by the editors’ introduction and the assessments of two Native scholars, Taiaiake Alfred and Marge Bruchac, allow readers to reconstruct the history of the Deerfield raid from multiple points of view and, in so doing, to explore the interplay of culture and memory that shapes our understanding of the past.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix

List of Maps

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pp. xi

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pp. xiii-xv

Captivity narratives have a special place in American culture, and Deerfield has a special place in the history of both, thanks to the Reverend John Williams’s The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion. There are clear historical reasons for Deerfield’s prominence in the history of captivity narratives and the narrative of American history. ...


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pp. xvii-xviii

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Editorial Procedures

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pp. xix-xx

This collection brings together a variety of texts written down in three different languages, from four distinct cultures and spanning over three centuries from 1684 to the present. To ensure that they are all equally accessible to modern readers, we have modernized the spelling, punctuation, and grammar of all of the texts. ...

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pp. 1-31

On the morning of February 29, 1704, 250 to 300 Hurons, Mohawks, Abenakis, Frenchmen, Pennacooks, and Iroquois of the Mountain attacked Deerfield, the northwesternmost village in Massachusetts. By evening half of the village’s population was gone, men, women, and children. The raiders killed 50 and captured 112, the largest number ever taken in a single raid on the New England frontier. ...


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Quentin Stockwell’s Relation of his 1677 Captivity and Redemption, 1684

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pp. 35-48

Quentin Stockwell (c. 1640–1714) came to Deerfield in 1673, when it was still known as Pocumtuck. He and his wife, Abigail, were from Dedham, Massachusetts, the town that had been granted the Native lands at Pocumtuck by the government of Massachusetts. He boarded the village’s first preacher, the young Samuel Mather,1 a nephew of Increase Mather.2 ...

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The Capture and Death of Chepasson, 1690

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pp. 49-53

In June 1690 two Native men, Chepasson and John Humphry, arrived in Deerfield. Chepasson, who had had prior dealings with Deerfield residents, came from Schaghticoke, a Native village on the east bank of the Hudson River not far from Albany, New York. This village was populated largely by Native peoples who had fled New England after King Philip’s War (1675– 1677) and placed themselves under the government or jurisdiction of the Mohawks of the Iroquois League. ...

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Daniel Belding’s 1696 Captivity, c. 1729

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pp. 54-60

This account of the captivity of John Gillett, Daniel Belding, and members of Belding’s family, including his daughter Hester and his son Nathaniel, was recorded by the Reverend Stephen Williams (1693–1782) sometime around 1729. During this period Williams made several trips to Deerfield to gather stories of “the remarkable providences of God towards the people in that place in the wars with the Indians.”1 ...


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An Account of the Destruction of Deerfield, 1704

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pp. 63-66

Colonel Samuel Partridge (1645–1740) of Hatfield was a county judge, a member of the Governor’s Council, and the most important political leader in Hampshire County, the westernmost county of Massachusetts, when he assumed command of the county’s militia regiment in 1703 following the death of Colonel John Pynchon of Springfield. ...

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Letter from William Whiting to Governor Fitz-John Winthrop, 1704

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pp. 67-69

Major William Whiting (1659–1724) wrote this letter to Governor Fitz-John Winthrop (1638–1707) of Connecticut Colony to accompany the report and request for aid from Colonel Samuel Partridge that Whiting forwarded to Winthrop. Whiting was a member of the colony’s Council of War, which was located in Hartford, and “Commander-in-Chief ” of four hundred Connecticut soldiers raised to defend the colony and neighboring Hampshire County, Massachusetts. ...

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Letter from Isaac Addington to Governor Fitz-John Winthrop, 1704

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pp. 70-71

Isaac Addington (1645–1715), secretary of the colony of Massachusetts and a member of the Governor’s Council, wrote this letter to Governor Fitz-John Winthrop (1638–1707) of Connecticut undoubtedly under instructions from Governor Joseph Dudley of Massachusetts, who was also the wartime commander-in-chief of the military forces of all of the New England colonies. ...

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Partridge’s Lament, 1704

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pp. 72-78

The following letter by Colonel Samuel Partridge (1645–1740), the militia commander in western Massachusetts during the early 1700s, came to light only very recently, after the publication of Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield.1 It survives as a typescript transcription in the correspondence of the Deerfield historian George Sheldon. ...

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Letter from Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil to the Minister of the Marine, 1704

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pp. 79-82

The following document was the first French report of the raid against Deerfield, written within days of the French raiders’ return to Canada. It was sent by the governor-general of New France, Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil (c.1643–1725), to Jérôme Phélypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain et de Maurepas (1674–1747), the minister of the marine who was in charge of the colonies from 1699 to 1715. ...

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Letter from Claude de Ramezay to the Minister of the Marine, 1704

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pp. 83-86

Claude de Ramezay (1659–1724) came from a Burgundian noble family whose prominence and wealth allowed him to enter with ease the highest levels of society in New France. Only five years after arriving as a lieutenant in the colonial troops in 1685, he purchased the post of governor of Trois-Rivières and married into one of the colony’s leading families. ...


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The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, 1707

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pp. 89-158

In his lifetime the Reverend John Williams was often compared to Job because of his sufferings and those of his family.1 Born in 1664 into the family of a well-to-do Roxbury, Massachusetts, tanner and farmer, he graduated from Harvard in 1683. He began preaching in Deerfield in 1686 and was ordained in 1688. ...

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What Befell Stephen Williams in his Captivity, c. 1707

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pp. 159-170

Stephen Williams (1693–1782) was a ten-year-old boy when he was captured along with his father, John Williams, and 110 others at Deerfield. As such, he was of prime age for adoption into a Native community. Almost all of the captives who lived out their lives in New France in either a French or a Native community were under thirteen years old when captured (appendixes C and D). ...

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Letter from John Williams to Stephen Williams, 1729

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pp. 171-174

The Reverend John Williams of Deerfield wrote the following letter to his son the Reverend Stephen Williams exactly a quarter century after the raid and approximately three months before his death in June 1729. At the time, Stephen was collecting material on the 1704 Deerfield raid and other incidents for a history of what he describes as “the remarkable providences of God towards the people in that place in the wars with the Indians.” 1 ...

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Joseph Petty’s 1705 Escape, c.1729

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pp. 175-180

Not all of the captives taken at Deerfield in 1704 patiently awaited their redemption and return to New England. In the spring of 1705 three of them—Thomas Baker (1682–1753), Martin Kellogg (1686–1753), and Joseph Petty (1672–1746), along with another Deerfield man captured in October 1703, John Nims (1679–1762)—took matters into their own hands. ...

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When I was Carried to Canada, c.1740

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pp. 181-187

More than death itself, the New England captives feared conversion to Catholicism. Yet some of them did convert. Because few of the converts returned home, however, relatively little is known about how the conversion process worked. Until recently the major source has been John Williams, who had plenty of reasons to portray the process in as negative a light as possible. ...


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A Letter Concerning the Mission of Lorette in New France, 1710

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pp. 191-204

The following narrative is a letter describing life in the Huron community of Lorette, from which came some of the raiders who attacked Deerfield. The author was a Jesuit priest, Louis d’Avaugour (1669–1732). More than just a report on conditions at the Lorette mission during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–1713), the letter is also a work of propaganda. ...

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Hertel Memoire, c. 1712

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pp. 205-210

Joseph-François Hertel de la Fresnière (1642–1722) is a famous figure in French Canadian history. He rose to prominence from a humble origin: his father was a common soldier and early immigrant to New France who died when Joseph-François was only nine years old. Often called “the Hero,” Joseph-François made his reputation as a soldier fighting against the Iroquois and English enemies of New France. ...


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The Story of the Bell, 1882

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pp. 213-220

This document is an early transcription of an oral tradition still present at Kahnawake (figure 16). With the probable exception of the final paragraph, it is not a word-for-word version of what was said. The transcriber, “Mrs. E. A. Smith,” did some interpolation of her own as she wrote the story up. It is hard to imagine that a Mohawk would have so condescending an attitude toward the spirituality of his or her own ancestors as is evident in the text. ...

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The Fair Captive: The Life and Captivity of Miss Eunice Williams, 1842

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pp. 221-243

No Deerfield captive has inspired more stories than Eunice Williams (1696–1785). The daughter of the Reverend John Williams, she was taken captive with the rest of her family. Unlike her relatives, however, she never returned from captivity. Instead, she forgot how to speak English, converted to Catholicism, and married a Mohawk man. ...

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A Different View: A Descendant Recounts the 1704 Attack, 1995

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pp. 244-252

On February 13, 1995, Taiaiake Alfred came to Deerfield to make a presentation to the guides and employees of Historic Deerfield, Inc., and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. Taiaiake was born in Montreal in 1964, grew up in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, and earned a Ph.D. in political science at Cornell University. ...


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The History and Traditions of Eunice Williams and Her Descendants, 1922

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pp. 255-261

Elizabeth Mary Sadoques was born in 1897, grew up in Keene, New Hampshire, and died in 1985. She was the great-great-granddaughter of a woman who was part of a group of Abenakis who visited Deerfield in 1837. That visit, and a subsequent one the next year, drew the attention of the local media and ministers. ...

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Abenaki Connections to 1704: The Sadoques Family and Deerfield, 2004

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pp. 262-278

Marge Bruchac is a scholar, consultant, historical interpreter, and traditional storyteller of Abenaki Indian descent. Born in 1953 in Saratoga Springs, New York, she grew up in Greenfield Center, New York, and was graduated from Smith College. She is now a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a Five College Fellow at Amherst College. ...


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pp. 279-284

Suggested Readings

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pp. 285-287


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pp. 289-298

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761021
E-ISBN-10: 1613761023
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558495425
Print-ISBN-10: 1558495428

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Abenaki Indians -- Wars.
  • Abenaki Indians -- History -- Sources.
  • Indian captivities -- Massachusetts -- Deerfield -- History -- Sources.
  • Indians of North America -- Wars -- 1600-1750.
  • United States -- History -- Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713.
  • Deerfield (Mass.) -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
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