1704 Raid on Deerfield and Captivity
Just before daybreak on
February 29, 1704, the town of Deerfield was
surprised by an attack from a force of about 300
French and Indians from Canada.
The Indians were from a number of tribes, including
Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), Wendat (Huron), Abenaki,
Sokoki, and Pocumtuck.
By the time the attack ended, 41
Deerfield residents and 6 attackers were dead
and 17 houses and barns were in flames.
Deerfield men, women and children were abducted
and force-marched to Canada in harsh winter
Reverend John Williams and his family were among
those who were captured.
Two of his young sons and his female
slave, Parthena, were killed during the raid and
his wife (who was recuperating from childbirth)
was killed 2 days into the march north. When
they encamped in Greenfield, his male negro
slave, Frank, was lashed to a tree and burned.
In Canada, the family was separated and
Stephen Williams was taken by an Abenaki family
to a village in present-day Vermont.
Eventually, all of the living members of the
Williams family in captivity, except for
daughter Eunice, were redeemed and returned to
Daughter Esther was redeemed first, then
Stephen Williams in late 1705.
Rev. John Williams and his sons Samuel
and Warham were redeemed last, arriving in
Boston on November 21, 1706.
Rev. John Williams and his son, Stephen
Williams, wrote accounts of their captivity
which were published and became best-sellers of
The Williams family never stopped their efforts
to redeem daughter Eunice and return her to New
However, Eunice, who had been adopted by
a Mohawk family, refused all attempts at
She converted to Catholicism, married a
Mohawk Catholic, and raised her family in
Eventually, she reestablished
communication with her family and returned to
New England to visit them during the summers of
1740, 1741 and 1761.
She and her family visited Longmeadow
each of these years.
Even though Stephen Williams had witnessed so
many brutalities inflicted by Indian peoples
during the raid and his subsequent captivity,
throughout his life he harbored no animosity
towards them and strove tirelessly to convert
and educate them.
Over the years, he took a number of
Indian youths into his Longmeadow home whom he
clothed, fed, and educated.
In addition, he, along with Rev. Samuel
Hopkins (pastor of West Springfield) and Rev.
Nehemiah Bull (pastor of Westfield), were
instrumental in establishing the mission to the
Mahican Indians on the Housatonic River in
In 1771, he was recognized by Dartmouth
College for his efforts towards Christianizing
Indian peoples by the award of an honorary
by Elizabeth Hoff