In the Classroom > Unit Overview > Lesson 7

Lesson 7 - Readings for the Nims Family

Abigail Nims

From The History of Deerfield, Vol. I, George Sheldon, 1895, pgs. 345 & 346

Abigail Nims, aged three when captured. There was a mystery hanging over her life never fully cleared up. It is not certainly known that she was ever heard from by her friends. In her father's will, a provision was made for her in case of her return. There is no indication that the estate [property] was ever called for by her....All that is known bearing on the matter is given below.

Giving an account of an outrage in the County of Hampshire, relating to a girl brought thither by a Macqua, and offered for sale; supposed to be an English captive carryed from Deerfield, it appearing so, by her own relation, and divers circumstances concurring. Advised that a letter be written to the Commissioners of Indian affairs at Albany to acquaint them thereof, that a strict examination and inquiry be made thereinto, & that Capt. John Sheldon be desired to undertake the journey to Albany with said letter, and assist in said enquiry.

Here's what it means:
Colonel Partridge gave a letter to the Massachusetts council on July 31, 1714. He said that a girl had been brought to the area by Mohawks and was offered for sale. She was supposed to be an English captive from Deerfield. Capt. John Sheldon was requested to go to Albany to meet the girl and see if she really was a captive.

"Ensign Sheldon", now a captain, and living at Hartford, accepted the mission, and went to Albany with his son. On his return he reported its results to the Council, which took the following action on the case:-

In Council, Aug. 22, 1714. Upon reading a letter from the Commissioners of the Indian affairs at Albany, by Capt. John Sheldon, messenger thither to make inquiries concerning a young Maid or Girle, brought thither into Westfield by a Macqua and offered for sale, very probably, supposed to be English, & daughter of one [Godfrey] Nims, late of Deerfield, and carried away captive, the Commissioners insisting upon it that she is an Indian.

Ordered, that Samuel Patridge, Esq., treat with the Macqua, her pretended master, & agree with him on the reasonablest terms he can for her release, & then to dispose her to some good family near the sea side … unless Capt. Sheldon will be prevailed with to take her home with him.

Paid John Sheldon for journey to Boston from Northampton, and back to Albany, and back, with his son, L17, 16s, 7d, for time and expenses.

In Council, Sept. 20, 1714. Ordered, that the sum of L25 be paid to Elewacamb, the Albany Indian...who claims the English girl in the hands of the English, and her Relations at Deerfield...Also that a coat and shirt be given sd Indian.

Here's what it means:
At a council meeting on Aug. 22, 1714, a letter from the commissioners of Albany was read about this girl. They insisted that she was a captive from Deerfield, supposedly the daughter of Godfrey Nims. Mohawks had brought her to Westfield to sell her and the commissioners insisted that she was Indian. It was ordered that Samuel Partridge arrange to buy her from her Indian master and take her to live with a good family near the ocean, or Capt. Sheldon could take her home with him. John Sheldon and his son were paid 17 pounds, 16 shillings and 7 pence for their time and expenses.

At a council meeting on Sept. 20, 1714, it was ordered that 25 pounds and a coat and shirt be given to Elewacamb, the Indian who brought the girl to the English.

So it seems that Partridge was successful in his mission, and delivered the girl at Deerfied, before the above date. Here the curtain dropped. After this, not the slightest trace of Abigail Nims was found.

The Commissioners at Albany believed she was an Indian. But it would appear that the Council of Massachusetts, Col. Partridge and Capt. Sheldon, as well as her "relations in Deerfield", believed she was the Abigail Nims she claimed to be. Which was right? What became of her?

From New England Captives Carried to Canada, Emma L. Coleman, 1925, pgs. 103-106

"Abigail was three years old [when she was captured]. Her master took her to his mission-home where the squaw Ganastasi, probably his wife or mother, took care of her."

On June 15, 1704 she was baptized into the Catholic faith and given the new name of Marie Elisabeth Naim. Her birthday was given as June 11, 1700.

"...but we cannot know if the child retained her English speech and could understand her brother John when he came with Lieut. [Lieutenant] Samuel Williams in 1712 seeking her redemption [rescue] and that of their brother Ebenezer.

John, or some later messenger, must have seen her for the story is told in Canada that her relations..., Offered a considerable sum for her ransom [rescue], which the Indians would have accepted had she been willing to return, but she 'preferred to be a poor prisoner among Catholics than to become a rich heiress [someone who will inherit land and/or money] in a Protestant family'.'

"Nine months after the time that the Council Records say that the supposed daughter of Godfrey Nims was with 'her Relations at Deerfield' she, as Elizabeth T8atag8ach, was married to Josiah Rising!

This Indian name of Abigail's may mean...she picks something out of the water...

...and in the record of her burial, in February, 1748, she is 'Elizabeth, aged about forty-eight years, an English woman adopted into the of the bear after having been taken in the time of war."

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