I have been doing a lot of genealogical research recently. I’ve always been interested, but recently I’ve had lots of inspiration after attending the dedication of a historical marker for my 3rd great grandfather, Joel Perkins, on the 17th of April in the town he founded, Lafayette, Oregon. Joel has his own interesting story.
Today I wanted to share the story of Nathaniel Brooks, my 7th great grandfather (a lineage chart is included at the bottom of the post), and the 2nd great grandfather of Joel Perkins. Both he and his family were made captives after the French and Indian Raid on Deerfield on February 29th, 1704 during Queen Anne’s War, the second of four conflicts of the French and Indian Wars.
Nathaniel was born in the town of Springfield (in what is now the state of Massachusetts) on May 9th, 1664 to William Brooks and Mary Burt. He was a second generation settler in the New World having both parents born in England. In 1696 at about age 32 Nathaniel married his first wife Mary Williams (born 1673) in the town of Deerfield (also in present day Massachusetts). They had their first child, Mary, in August of the same year and their second, William, in December of 1698.
At the time of the Raid on Deerfield, Nathaniel was 39, his wife Mary was 30, and his children Mary and William were 7 and 5 respectively. The whole family was taken captive in the raid. Over 50 people were killed in the raid and a total of 109 were taken captive.
The wikipedia article discussing the raid has this to say of their initial capture and the ordeal:
For the 109 English captives, the raid was only the beginning of their troubles. The raiders intended to take them to Canada, a 300-mile (480 km) journey, in the middle of winter. Many of the captives were ill-prepared for this, and the raiders were short on provisions. The raiders consequently engaged in a common practice: they killed those captives when it was clear they were unable to keep up. […] Most of the slain were the slow and vulnerable who could not keep up with the party and would likely have died less quickly en route. Only 89 of the captives survived the ordeal. Survival chances correlated with age and gender: infants and young children fared the worst, and older children and teenagers (all 21 of whom survived the ordeal) fared the best. Adult men fared better than adult women, especially pregnant women, and those with small children.
I first learned of the Raid on Deerfield after finding a family record for Nathaniel in the Deerfield town records (the image to the right links to the original document). In the column under deaths was this record: “Mary Brooks, wife to Nathaniel Brooks, head of this family, was slain by the enemy March 1st, 1704.” In the document there is a faintly written “7th” below the date which is what most other accounts seem to suggest. Either way Mary was killed on the march.
The account in Mary Burt and William Brooks’ biography in the book Early days in New England. Life and times of Henry Burt of Springfield and some of his descendants says:
He, his wife, and two children, were captured in the attack on Deerfield by De Rouville, in 1703-4, and with his cousin, Benjamin Burt, and wife, were taken to Canada. Nathaniel’s wife was massacred on the road and he returned from Canada with Ensign Sheldon, in 1707. The children were never heard from.
In fact, Mary was baptized in Montreal in 1705 and naturalized in 1710, likely staying in New France. Nathaniel returned to Deerfield. In 1710 he remarried to Mary Allis (b 1682), a captive in the 1704 raid whose brother Samuel was killed by Indians in the raid.
Nathaniel and his second wife, Mary, went on to have 6 children: Nathaniel (b 1710), Samuel (b 1712), Eunice (b 1714), Aaron (b 1717), Moses (b 1722), and Dina (b 1725). Nathaniel died sometime in 1725, the same year as Dina’s birth.
While the 1704 raid is the most notable, the settlers continued to have conflicts with the French and Indians. Mary’s cousin Joseph Allis was later killed in 1724 in an attack. Mary and Nathaniel’s son Nathaniel was also captured by Indians in 1756 and taken to Canada, during the fourth conflict known as the French and Indian War.