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Reverend John Williams II

More about Reverend John Williams:
Williams graduated from Harvard College in 1683, was ordained and went to Deerfield in 1688, eight years before the arrival of the Price family. This location at the end of the frontier was odd for a man of his stature, but he felt it was his calling. It seems he tended his flock with discipline as a good Puritan minister would while allowing for the peculiarities of the setting. I tried to reflect this in FEARFUL PASSAGE NORTH.
He lived at home with his wife, two daughters, and five sons. During the raid his home was burned, and two of his children were killed. The remainder of the family was taken hostage. His wife, Eunice, had just given birth a few weeks before the raid and could not keep up with the march. Early in the ordeal, she was killed with a Mohawk ax for falling while crossing a river. Read More 
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Reverend John Williams

Reverend John Williams
Was the Deerfield raid really about capturing the minister?

History seems to think so. Indian raids on the towns of the New England Frontier were quite common. Their purpose was to keep the English from advancing on the western lands, taking captives for profit or revenge, and keeping the English off balance enough to prevent an invasion of Quebec. Even though he ministered at the ends of civilization, Reverend John Williams was somewhat renowned if for nothing more than his family. His wife, Eunice, was a niece of the Reverends Increase and Cotton Mather and John’s nephew was Jonathan Edwards.
During this period, both French and English used privateers, independent ship captains who would raid the other side’s ships and keep the military at bay. This was especially important for the French to protect access to the St. Lawrence River. The most famous and feared French Privateer was Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste. In 1704 he was held prisoner by the English on Castle Rock near Boston. The French needed him and his pirating skills desperately, and conceived the capture of this famous clergyman as a means of negotiating Baptiste’s release in an exchange. Read More 
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Winter in Montreal

Winter in the city
Are winters really that bad in Montreal?
An interesting question on a 90 degree day in Port Huron.
Quebec winters are often worse but Montreal, as well as Vermont, can be bad. Lows of 5 degrees Fahrenheit are common as well as daily snowfalls as great as 45 cm. The average annual snow fall is 82.5 inches with the greatest recorded year 150 inches (almost 12 feet!)
The all-time low recorded temperature was -36 degrees Fahrenheit (Brrr). Read More 
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Robert Price

More Questions: Was Robert Price really a drunk?

I was probably a bit harsh with Robert’s character, but what little history we have is not particularly laudatory. There is no information on Robert’s parents or his origin so I assume he emigrated alone from somewhere on the British Isles. The only existing record about Robert pre-Deerfield is from 1734, thirty years after the raid. It is a list of men who fought in the Battle of Turner’s Falls and offers him or any surviving sons the opportunity to claim land in Deerfield which was again growing. This would have applied to Samuel, but neither he nor Robert ever made a claim.
The Battle of Turner’s Falls in 1676 was a one-day debacle when a group of New England militia and volunteers raided a group of Indians camping near the falls. Many were killed on each side and nothing more came of the raid. It is unknown if these natives were in anyway involved in any previous hostilities in Deerfield. It is from this document that some historians suggested Robert may have been a soldier, but he was more likely a temporary member of a militia.
Robert is next seen in history when he shows up in Northampton to marry the widowed Sarah Field in 1677. Their first child was stillborn followed by successful births of Mary, Elizabeth and Samuel. There is no record that Robert owned land in Northampton before he moved his family to the poorer town of Deerfield between 1692 and 1700. I suspect it was closer to the earlier date.
The records of Deerfield show Robert owning a small, low value farm and a woodlot. The church records record him as Episcopalian rather than Independent (Puritan). This would reflect badly on his position in the community. There is no record of Robert after the raid of 1704 other than he survived. He is never again found in the records of Deerfield or anywhere else in New England including burial ground records. The next census of Deerfield in 1715 does not include him. Most importantly, he is one of the only, if not the only, survivor of the raid who made no attempt to contact or redeem his lost family members.
His son, Samuel, chose to return to New England in 1714, but instead of Deerfield, went to Connecticut where his half-brothers, Ebenezer and John Field had settled. He apparently made no effort to contact his father or respond to the offer of land from the Battle of Turner’s Falls. Read More 
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Fictional Characters

The Raid
More questions: If this is a true story, were all the characters real people?

It is a true story and almost everyone in the book is based on an actual person using their real name. Fictitious characters and those based on people whose names are unknown include Potter, the tavern owner, his sister Lenore, Moses Gunn, Willard Otis, Sister Marie-Angelique, Sister Marie-Clare, LeDuc and LeMieux.
There was a tavern in Deerfield and I only have the name of the first owner, Potter is my invention. His wayward sister, Lenore, is a fabrication who helped me develop the character of Robert Price. (I have had lots of questions about Robert and will deal them in a future blog). There was a shop/trading post as well as a Moses Gunn, but I don’t think he was in Deerfield at this time. The names of the two nuns are my invention although it is likely such people existed. Sister Marguerite Roi is real and did work with the Indian missions. Her mother and family, including her outrageous brother, Pierre, are real. I have used Pierre in two of the Allard books and portrayed him as a larger-than-life stereotypical voyager. He was possibly among the first men in Detroit before Cadillac, and did have an Indian wife. I have taken some liberties in developing his wonderful personality. He is ancestor to a number of Canadians and Americans and I hope they enjoy him as much as I do. Two historically unnamed Frenchmen accompanied Jacques de Noyon to Deerfield and were taken hostage to Montréal. I have given them the names LeDuc and LeMieux as well as their wonderful characters. Read More 
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