Introduction to US History/Deerfield Massacre

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Subject classification: this is a history resource.
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Work by: Aaqib A. (December 2021)



After the Deerfield Massacre, Eunice Williams became as famous as her father. Why? She “declined to return . . . and spent the rest of her life among the Indians.” Eunice forgot her English, married a local Indian brave, and raised a family with the Indians. And as if that wasn’t enough, 15 other captives made a similar choice, opting to remain with the French Canadians—and not returning to Deerfield (or any other English Colonial Town).

What does that tell you about life in Deerfield? Why do you think she refused to return to her friends, family, and old way of life?



The Deerfield Massacre was a raid perpetrated by French and Indian forces against an English village, named Deerfield, in the winter of 1704 in New England. At around 4am, the Indians (who were the majority perpetrating the attack) set off and damaged property and killed many of the villagers. By 9am, a "numbness" settled over a village that once was thought to be safely protected. 48 villagers were killed and 112 villagers were taken captive. The raid was a part of a series of conflicts that had all involved parties, the English, the French, and the Natives, fighting against each other - decades preceding the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763.

One of those villagers held captive was Eunice Williams, the daughter of notable town pastor John Williams. Eunice was, fortunately, one of the captives who was able to make it back to French and Indian territory (as captives that were unable to continue the long journey were killed). She was notable in that she refused to return to English land and desired to assimilate with the Indians. Although she maintained contact with her English relatives, she refused any offers to come back to New England despite many negotiations set by John Williams.

Eunice William's refusal to return to her old English way of life implies that life in Deerfield wasn't favorable. The citizens of Deerfield were in New England, the center of mass attacks from the French and Indians. They constantly had to live every second of their life in fear of harm, to which that fear became reality in the winter of 1704. If she were to live with the Indians, she wouldn't have had to live in such fear as she would be away from all the militaristic conflict. In addition, a few of her immediate siblings were killed in the attack (including her mother), so she may believe that the Indians were an adequate "replacement" for her lost family. Her forgetting her English after living her life loyally with the Indians infers that she was young at the time of her capture, so she may have been easily coerced to live with the Indians and agree to their religious views due to her immaturity. After she reached an age of where she was able to make her own decisions, she was married to a local prominent Indian and felt that life as an Indian was more suitable.


  • "Deerfield Massacre" John Desmos, accessed Dec. 19, 2021.