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Letter to John Sheldon
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This scrap of paper was sent to Deerfield, Massachusetts, resident John Sheldon at Quebec City, Canada. It was March 1705, and he had made a long journey in the dead of winter in an effort to redeem, or return, the members of his family who had been taken captive by Indians during the Deerfield Raid of 1704. They were his daughter-in-law Hannah Chapin Sheldon (23 years old when captured), his daughter Mary (16), and his sons Ebenezer (12) and Rememberance (11). Sheldon's youngest child, Mercy, was killed in the raid, as was his wife. The survivors were taken to Canada, and during Sheldon's mission they all were living in Indian villages near Montreal. The letter may have been written by James Adams, a Welles, Maine, resident who had been captured during a raid on that town in 1703. The letter itself offers good news: it was the first direct news he'd heard that his children had survived. Sheldon, who was seeking a general exchange of prisoners from the raid, was partially successful. During this visit, Sheldon was able to purchase the freedom of his daughter-in-law, Hannah, and another captive, Esther Williams, the daughter of Reverend John Williams.<!--ObjectID=538--> They all returned to Boston in early June, and Deerfield soon after. Sheldon tirelessly sought the return of all the captives and travelled several more times to Canada. By 1706 he was able to free the remaining two captives from his family, along with others from Deerfield; some of the children taken in the raid, though, would never return.
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