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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 7: Conflict in the Frontier Town of Deerfield

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

Why was Deerfield a center of conflict during the Colonial Period?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

By reviewing an early map, one can see that Deerfield was at the "point of the knife blade" that constituted the early frontier. That location made the community vulnerable to hostilities by the Native Peoples and others during its early settlement. In this lesson a review of the early period of danger will occur, culminating with the 1704 Raid.

Teacher Background Essay: The Deerfield Raid

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • the political, social, religious, and economic world and national context in which the events of Deerfield occurred.
  • that there were increasingly in this period competing political agendas, and
    competition for land, power, and wealth in Deerfield.
  • that wars between France and England and local cultural conflict contributed to the volatile environment.
  • that the Deerfield region was vulnerable to attacks, and that this created an unstable environment.
  • that the past has a significant influence on present day lives and society.
  • that it is valuable to study the lives, actions, ideas, political experiences, and judgments of people in the past.
  • that it is important NOT to judge people in the past by today's notions and beliefs.
  • how historians approach their work, using both artifacts and documents.

Students will be able to:

  • identify and articulate differing points of view.
  • use a variety of primary source materials, to analyze these sources, and to make logical inferences and supported conclusions.
  • make reference to previously presented material.
  • utilize technology to research information and present projects.
  • compare and contrast events in Deerfield with world and national events.

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In Preparation for Teaching

Read the Teacher Background Essay: The Deerfield Raid

Further Background Reading:

Demos, John. The Unredeemed Captive. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Haefeli, Evan and Kevin Sweeney. "Revisiting the Redeemed Captive: New Perspectives on the 1704 Attack on Deerfield." After King Philip's War. Hanover: UP New England, 1992. Pp. 28-71.

Lepore, Jill. The Name of War. New York: Knopf, 1998

Melvoin, Richard. New England Outpost. New York: Norton, 1989. Pp. 214-223.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

1. Memorial Hall Website: "People and Places" entry about "Bloody Brook"

2. Grant, Ross. "Historic Deerfield Buys 1703 Letter that Predicts Attack." Greenfield Recorder 1999.

3. Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion. by Rev. John Williams, 1774.

4. Tables of Losses from History of Deerfield by George Sheldon V. I pages 304 - 305.

5. "What Befell Stephen Williams In His Captivity " edited by George Sheldon, PVMA, 1889.

6. Cotton Mather's Letter to John Willliams.

7. "Many Stories of 1704" - text from the exhibit about 1704 at Memorial Hall Museum.


Student Background Essay: The Relationship Between the English, the French, and the Native Peoples

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1

1. Review with the students the issues that created hostilities from the English settlers, The Native Peoples, and the French, using the student essay.

2. Instruct the students to take notes from "Peoples and Places" as short summaries of the hostilities that developed in Deerfield during the period the colonial period.

3. Instruct students to read the letter from Samuel Partridge to Governor John Winthrop of Connecticut, then ask students to respond to the following questions: What prompted the writing of this letter? What were Partridge's hopes and expectations?

4. Divide the class into groups, then each group will summarize one of the many accounts of the 1704 Raid from Memorial Hall Website.

5. Examine as a class the "Tables of Losses" from George Sheldon's History of Deerfield.

6. Ask students to read a segment of the first-hand account of the Rev. John Williams. Following that reading, read the letter from Cotton Mather. Discuss the intent of the letter and what it conveyed to Williams.

1. Write a journal entry that describes the raid from the viewpoint of two of the following:

  • A mother who learns of the raid in Hadley
  • A merchant in Springfield
  • A native woman
  • A member of the militia in Hadley
  • A minister in Brookfield
  • A farmer in Hatfield
  • A tavern owner in Northampton
  • A child in Deerfield during the raid, writing in 1744.

2. Read "What Befell Stephen Williams In His Captivity" edited by George Sheldon, and produce a work of art descriptive a segment of the story. These art descriptions will be used in the next class session as a review of the events of William's experience.



The Relationship Between the English, the French, and the Native Peoples

People and Places , entry about "Bloody Brook"

Historic Deerfield Buys 1703 Letter that Predicts Attack


"Many Stories of 1704"

Tables of Losses

Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion
(for printable transcription, click here)

Letter to John Willliams
(for printable transcription, click here)






"What Befell Stephen Williams In His Captivity "

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The art work presentation will be the assessment.

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