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"The Boy Captive of Old Deerfield" excerpts

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This popular children's story by Mary P. Wells Smith (1840-1930) was first published in 1904, 200 years after the attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts, on the 29th of February, 1704. The book is fiction, but it chronicles the attack on the town by a force of French and Native allies from Canada who walked down from the north in mid-winter. After the attack, they carried off captives, many of whom were children, to Canada. Stephen Williams and his sister, Eunice, children of Deerfield's minister, were two who were marched into the wilderness to several destinations in the north. The story's appeal came not only from its elements of adventure, danger, and the exotic, but also from its publication during a time of rapid change from industrialization and immigration that lead many to idealize Colonial times and Native American culture as being simpler and closer to nature.


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