Saturday, October 22, 2011

Daniel Belden and the Deerfield Massacre

William Beldon (1609-1655) was born in Heptonstall Parish, Yorkshire, England. He settled in Wethersfield in the Colony of Connecticut in 1641. (Wethersfield is just south of Hartford.)

William Beldon married Thomasine Sherwood (1615-1655) and they had the following children.
  1. Samuel Beldon (1647-1737)
  2. Daniel Belden (Belding) (1648-1732)
  3. John Belden (1650-1713)
  4. Susannah Beldon (1651-1706)
  5. Mary Beldon (1653-1724)
  6. Nathaniel Beldon (1654- )
I descend from John Beldon (1659-1713) and his wife Ruth Hale Hayes (1646-1700). But this is story about his brother, Daniel Beldon (sometimes known as Daniel Belding).

Daniel Beldon married Elizabeth Foot (1654-1696) and they eventually settled in Deerfield in the Colony of Massachusetts. Deerfield is in the western part of the colony (see map) and in the 1690s it was at the leading edge of the western settlements in the colony. This was a time when England was fighting a war against France (The War of the Grand Alliance). In the Americas it became one of the French and Indian Wars known as King William's War (1688-1697). (King William and Queen Mary were very popular British monarchs.)

At the time, the Mohawks (one of the Iroquois tribes) were allied with the French who occupied New France. On September 16, 1696 a band of Mohawks raided the Belden homestead killing Elizabeth Foot and three children: Thankful (one year old), John (four years old), and Daniel (16 years old). Samuel (nine years old) and Abagail (11 years old) were wounded. Another child, Sarah, escaped death or capture by hiding in the barn.

"Sept. 16, 1696. The Indians came along from up Green River to the town, and assaulted Mr. Daniel Belden's house; took Mr. Belden, his son Nathaniel and daughter Esther captive, killed his wife and three children, and wounded Samuel and Abigail, but they recovered, altho' Samuel had a hatchet stuck in his head, and some of his brains came out at his wound. Samuel was born Apr. 10, 1687.

"The Indians making an Assault upon Deerfield, in this Present War, they struck a Hatchet some Inches into the Skull of a Boy there, even so deep that the Boy felt the force of a Wrench used by 'em to get it out. There he lay a long while Weltering in his Blood; they found him, they Dress'd him' considerable Quantities of his Brain came out from time to time when they opened the Wound; yet the Lad recovered, and is now a Living Monument of the Power and Goodness of God." [Belden]
Daniel Beldon, his son Nathaniel (21 years old), and his daughter Hester (13 years old) were captured and taken north to Caughnawaga just across the St. Lawrence river from Montreal. (Now called Kahnawake.) Nathaniel was sold to the French in Montreal while Daniel and Hester remained in the Mohawk village.

DANIEL and his daughter were at first kept by the Indians. Later he was sold "...& lived as a servant with the jesuits at the Seminary; his business was to wait upon them & cutt wood, make fires & tend the garden &c. He accounted himself favorably dealt with." NATHANIEL "worked for the Holy Sisters." After Ryswick, "the Dutch Gentlemen" gathered up what captives...they could and returned june 8 & took Mr. B. and his xdren and Martin Smith...& arrived in Albany in about 15 days." There Belding and his children were clothed at the expense of his brother who lived in Norwalk. They returned to Deerfield by way of New York and Connecticut ...[Belden]
On his return to Deerfield, Daniel Belden married Hepzibah Buell (1650-1704). (Married on Feb. 17, 1698.)

On Feb. 29, 1704 Indians attacked the Beldon farm and killed Hepzibah. Daniel's daughter Sarah (1681-1759) was among the people captured in that raid and taken to Canada. (This was part of the renewed war in Europe—The War of the Spanish Successsion. Marborough's victory at Blenheim was on Aug. 2, 1704).)

Daniel then married Sarah Hawkes (1657-1751) and spent the rest of his life in Deerfield, fighting off another Indian raid in 1709.


  1. Larry, I used to live in Heptonstall before I moved to the US. If you haven't visited then you should try if you travel to the UK. It's a beautiful place...if a little "gentrified" now.


  2. I just found out that I descend from Daniel Belden and Elizabeth Belden (through their son William). What a tragic story.

    1. Hello, I am also descended from Daniel and Elizabeth through their son William (via his son Daniel). There is a fairly extensive tree of Beldens on, should anyone be interested:

  3. Me too, I descend through their daughter Sarah who was taken captive later in 1704 with her husband, Benjamin Burt. Their son, Seaborn, my ancestor, was born on the voyage home from Canada in 1706. His daughter, Thankful Burt Folliett is my ancestor.

  4. Wow. Daniel and Elizabeth were my 7th grands and the living Hester whom married Ephraim Clark My 6th grands. Pretty wild to know some of the sum of people it took just to make ME and some of the hardships they survived.

  5. The map shows the location of Deerfield, Vermont. Deerfield, Mass., where Daniel Belding lived, is quite a substantial distance down the Connecticut River. I am descended from Daniel Belding's third wife, Sarah (Hawks) Mattoon Belding, by her first husband Philip Mattoon.

  6. Larry - Your story is excellent and I'd like to copy it with your permission for family members to see. I'm related through Elizabeth Foote. Her grandfather, Nathaniel Foote Sr is my 8th great-grandfather so that makes me Elizabeth's first cousin, eight removed.

    Let me know about permissions,

    David Sadler

  7. This is great historical story and as Daniel Belden is my husband's 8th Great Grandfather through his daughter Esther Belden. It is the stories that make the history come alive. Thank you.
    Suzy Burlock