Sunday, May 08, 2011

Godfrey Nims (Godfroi de Nismes) my 8th great grandfather

See other formats Full text of ""The story of Godfrey Nims," as read to the Nims family association, at Deerfield, Massachusetts, on August 13, 1914"
The Story of Godfrey Nims



"The Story of Godfrey Nims,"

as read to

The Nims Family Association,


Deerfield, Massachusetts,


August 13, 1914,


Francis Nims Thompson.


Copyright, 1914


Francis Nimb Thompson

All Rights Reserved


AUG 14 1914


Often has Old Deerfield been the shrine toward which a band
of pilgrims has been drawn by some common interest; bnt never
before has the family of Godfrey Nims gathered in this way on
his home lot to honor his memory.

Children of his children, we have come home to tread the
soil upon which fell the sweat, tears and blood of our fathers
and mothers in those early days of labor, suffering and savage
murder. Periods of calm there were too, when the spinning
wheels hummed in the primitive homes of this little village and
the scythes swung and swished in the golden fields out yonder,
and the settlers forgot for a time that the dark bordering for-
ests hid wild beasts formed as men but fierce as fiends.

Here, Godfrey Nims builded — and, after fire devoured it,
builded anew — his home, as pioneers have built and will build
while there shall remain a frontier; and he and those about
his hearth loved it as we love that for which we have planned
and worked. As our minds revive the personality of our com-
mon ancestor, that common blood which inseparably links us
should thrill in our veins. This Nims lot was, not so long ago,
the stage upon which was enacted one of those pioneer tragedies
too blood-curdling and awful to adeciuately picture in words: —
the naked Indians — painted demons — slaughtering children by
the lurid light of a flaring home, amid the din of savage yells
and the shrieks of terrified w^omen and of children butchered
or burned.

"Not so long ago" — for I remember my grandfather Nims,
big in both brawn and brain, and all heart; his grandfather
was the Greenfield settler, and his grandfather was the head
of that suffering household. So recently did the Great Spirit
release the first waves of civilization to break on the eastern
shore of this broad land, and so recently did his red children,
wild denizens of the wilderness, seek to turn that irresistible
flood back from the land their fathers had possessed for un-
counted generations.

Long enough ago, however, were these events, to be veiled
in that mist of time which, half concealing, half revealing,
lures curiosity and charms imagination. The Honorable
George Sheldon, in our well-thumbed bible of local history,
says: — "A family tradition places Godfrey Nims here, as
third settler before 1671." "Keal estate here was sold to
such men only as were approved by Dedham. " He "bought
liome lot No. 85, in 1674, but I do not find him living here
until the Permanent Settlement." In "True Stories of New
England Captives" Miss C. Alice Baker says:— "The third
settler, Godfrey Nims, came from Northampton to Deerfield
HI 1670, living there 'in a sort of house where he had dug a
hole or cellar in the side hill,' south of Colonel Wilson's. At
the allotment of the homesteads in 1671, he built a house, on
what lot is not known." Mr. Sheldon says that in 1704 Thank-
ful Nims and her husband were living on this Wilson lot "in
a sort of side-hill cave, which was so covered with snow as to
escape the observation of the enemy" and that the Nims
houses burned in 1694 and 1704 each stood "on the site of the
present Nims house."

Of the time earlier thrin these dates we find another tra-
dition, pointing back to France, and a colonial public record
not inconsistent with the tradition: David Nims, junior, told
his grandson, the late Brigham Nims of Roxbury, that he had
l)een told by David, senior, a graiulson of Godfrey, that God-
frey Nims was a Hnguenot, came to America as a mere lad
and at first spelled his name Godefroi de Nismes, but changed
tlio spelling to suit the colonial way of pronouncing it.
Deacon Zadock Nims of Sullivan received and transmitted a
similar tradition as to the spelling.

A few miles north of the IMediterranean and west of the
Rhone lies the ancient city of Nimes, or Nismes. Now a place
of seventy or eighty thousand people, and the eai)ital of the
department of (iai-d, it was the Roman Nemasns. Con-
(|U('red l)y the Romans 121 y(>ars ])efore Christ, it l)ecame one
oT the chief provincial cities; was plundered by the Vandals
in 407, suffered from the West Goths and Saracens, and was
n\ 1258 united to France. Nimes suffered in the Huguenot
wars, and was in 1815 the scene of reactionary atrocities
against the Protestants. I^he city still retains the coat of
arms used when it w;is a Roman province: This r(>presents a
I)alm tree, to wliicli a crocodile is chained, and bears the ab-

breviation Col. Nem. for its old name Colonia Nemasus. Here
are notable Roman anti(iuities, including an amphitheatre
which, although one of the oldest buildings in the world, is
still used in the good old barbaric way. Here, in 1787, was
born (xuizot, the distinguished French historian and states-
man ; and here in Nimes, if we may credit tradition, was born,
sometime about 1650, Godfrey, whom the English in New Eng-
land called Nims.

What of the public record? Well, the records tells very
solemnly, but graphically, of a boy, much out of humor with
life in an English colony, conspiring with two other young
scamps to run away to the French; and, when all the good
folk had gone to meeting, 'ransacking about the house' to find
the wherewithal to furnish the expedition. An Indian in it,
too! Can you beat that? Boy all over; and French boy
at that. If he wasn't Godefroi de Nismes, where did he come
from and where were all the other Nimses?

So much for speculation and for sympathy with the boy:
Now here are the very cold facts, and no sympathy at all: —
(The first book of Hampshire probate records, at pages 88 and

"Att the County Courte holden Att Springfield Sept:
24 : 1667 : For holding this Courte there were Present Capt
John Pynchon One of ye Honnoble Assists of this Collony:
Also Mr. Henry Clarke Leiut Willm Clarke Leiut Sam '11 Smith
And Eli Holyoke Recorder Associates and ye Jury were" etc.
qIq ***********

"James Bennet, Godfrey Nims & Benoni Stebbins, young
lads of Northampton being by Northampton Comissionrs bound
ouer to this Corte to answer for diverse crimes & misdemeanrs
comitted by them, were brought to this Corte by ye Constable
of yt Towne wch 3 lads are accused by Robert Bartlett for that
they gott into his house two Sabbath dayes when all the family
were at the Pul)like Meeting: On ye first of wch tymes, they
vizt. Nims & Stebbins did ransack about the house & tooke
away out of diverse places of the house vist. 24 shillings in
silver & 7s in Wampum wth the intention to run away to the
ffrench: Al which is hy them confessed, wch wickednesse of
theires hath also been accompanyd with frequent lying to ex-
cuse & justify themselves, especially on Nims his pt, who it


seemes hath been a ringleader in their vilainys: ffor all wch
their crimes and misdemeanors this Corte doth Judge yt the
said 3 lads shalbe well whipt on their naked bodys vizt. Nims
& Bennet wth 15 lashes apeece & Benoni Stebbins with 11
lashes. And the said Nims & Stebbins are to pay Robert
Biirtlett the summe of 41 being accounted treble according to
law, for what goods he hath lost by their meanes. Also those
psons that reed any money of any of the said lads, are to
restore it to the s'd Robert Bartlett. But there being made
to the Corte an earnest petition & request by Ralfe Hutchin-
son father-in-law to ye said James Bennet & diverse other
considerable psons yt the said Bennets corporall punishment
might be released by reason of his mothers weakness, who it
is feared may suffer much inconvenioncy thereby, that pun-
ishment was remitted upon his father-in-law his engaging to
this Corte to pay ffive pounds to ye County as a fyne for the
said Bennets offence, wch 51 is to be paid to ye County Treas-
urer for ye use of ye County. Also John Stebbins, Junior
being much suspected to have some hand in their plotting to
run away. This Corte doth ordr ye Comissionrs of Northamp-
ton to call him before ym & to examine him about that or any
other thing whereon he is suspected to be guilty wth ye said
lads, & so act therein according to their discretion, attending
law. Also they are to call the Indian called Que(iuelatt who
had a hand in their plott & to deale with him according as
they fynd."

Before the year was over the Indian "Queciuelett was
'whipt 20 hislies' for helping Godfrey Nims and Benoni Steb-
bins 'about running away to Canada.' " At a court held the
following March John Stebbins, junior, a brother of Benoni,
acknowleged that he had been privy to the plot of Bennett
and Stebbins to run away, and the court, because he had
concealed his knowledge of it, sentenced him to be "whipt on
the naked body with ten stripes or else to pay 40s to the
County Treasurer." His father paid the fine.

On page 143 of the same book of records it appears that: —
"At the County Cote holden at Northampton March 25th
167 2-3 * * * Godfrey Nims * * * James
Bennett Ze])ediah Williams * * * Benoni Stebbins * * *
all of Northampton took the Oath of Fidelity to this Governmt."

There were other names, which I have not copied, but these
were the three bad boys, now loyal men, with presumably the
same Zebediah Williams who "sold out his land in Northamp-
ton, in 1674. lie was here in 1675, and was one of the team-
sters killed with Lothrop. His widow, Mary, daughter of
Wm. Miller, married Godfrey Nims" November 26th, 1677.
In 1692 the Court ordered Patience Miller, as the grandmother
of Zebediah, junior, "to take him and educate him, or get him
out for education ' ' ; Init his stepfather, Godfrey Nims, ob-
jected, and the case was postponed. This Zebediah Williams
was captured with John Nims and died in Canada. His widow
married again, as had his mother. His grandmother had mar-
ried three times. Deerfield in Indian times was no place for
single blessedness.

In 1674 Godfrey Nims bought from William Smead, whose
daughter he married in 1692. the north part of lot No. 25; and
m 1701 he sold it to his brother-in-law Ebenezer Smead.

May 19th, 1676, Nims, Bennet and Stebbins proved that
their "Oath of Fidelity," taken three years earlier, was no
idle formality; serving, as they did, under Capt. William Tur-
ner of Boston in the Falls Fight against the Pocumtuck Indians.
Spurred by the enemy's bold harassment, about 140 whites
marched in dead of night through the primeval wilderness
against unknown numbers of a savage tribe. Surprising them
at the salmon fishing falls near the mouth of Fall river, some
400 Indians were slain; but the white men lost Capt. Turner,
James Bennett and forty others. A grave discovered during
my Iwyhood days, in the gravel bank on tlfe farm of my
grandfather Nims, is thought by Mr. Sheldon to have been
that of Capt. Turner, who was shot on the retreat as he rode
up the west bank of Green river.

January 6th, 1685, "Godfrey Nims, for five acres want,
had fourteen acres 'at the south end of the commonly called
Martins Meadow: that to be his south line: to run in length
from the Grate river to the Grate hill & so take his breadth
northerly.' "

February 5th, 1687, a committee was chosen to measure the
common fence and lay out to each proprietor his proportion
on a basis of eleven feet to an acre, and Godfrey Nims was
assigned 27 rods and 11 feet to maintain.


The first meeting of the inhabitants of Deerfield which
was recorded as a "town" meeting "appears to have been held
December 16th, 1686." Here the names of William Smead
and Benoni Stebbins again appear, now as two of the six
selectmen, and among other transactions of this meeting was
the laying out of wood lots. "A list of the wood lots as they
were Drawn April 20 1688" shows that "Godfrey Nims" drew
No. 38 and held 14 cow commons, and that each of his two
lots at Long Hill was 21 rods wide. In "A List of Wood Lots
on the Mountain, the first Lot beginning at Deerfield River
Laying along by the River side: — " Lot No. 1 fell to "Gorfre
Nims"; who, with his 14 cow commons, was entitled to a lot
28 rods wide.

"May 30th, 1689. Att a legal Town meeting in Deerfield
Godfre Nims was chosen constable for the year ensuing until
anothr be chosen & sworn. ' ' A month earlier Governor Andros
had been deposed liy a revolution of the people, and our friend
Stebbins was one of the selectmen who had sent a representa-
tive to confer with the "Counsell of Safety".

December 14th, 1691, Nims was chosen one of the five
selectmen. This was at a critical time, as the previous month
"about one hundred and fifty Indians came here from the
Hudson, complicating affairs, and increasing the alarm."

Our ancestor was the owner of house lots 27 & 28. The
numbering of lots began at the north end of the street on the
west side, and ended at the north end on the east side, and the
lots were drawn May 14th, 1671. The history of this tract
and of the buildings on it is worthy a separate paper, and it
is sufficient to say here that he purchased lot No. 27 in 1692,
it being conveyed by the administrator of the estate of Ben-
jamin Barrett to Godfrey Nims, cordwainer. The house
burned January 4th, 1694; and November 21st of that year
he bought lot No. 28 from Benjamin Hastings, a carpenter.
The Nims house stood within the stockade and burned Feb-
ruary 29th, 1704, and the present house is more than two cen-
turies old.

A manuscript, (probably an official report), found among
the papers of Fritz John Winthrop, governor of Connecticut
1698 — 1707, and giving "an account of ye destruction at
Derefd", bears a long list of losses, headed by "The Rev'nd
Mr. John Williams" and "(Jodfrey Nims"; by which it ap-
pears that theirs were among the most valuable houses burned,
and that each lost house and barn and all in them. The white
church, town office, town hall and school building and the old
academy building, now ^Memorial Hall, all stand on the Nims

January 4th, 1694, when the Nims house burned, the step-
son Jeremiah Hull perished. The jury of inquest reported: —
"The said Jeremiah Hull, being put to bed in a chamber with
another child, after some time, Henry, said Godfrey Nims's
son, a boy of about 10 years of age, went into the chamber with
a light & by accident fired some flax or tow, which fired the
house. Sd Henry brought down one child, & going up again
to fetch sd Jeremiah, the chamber was all aflame & before
other help came, sd Jeremiah was past recovery." Poor little
Jeremiah was but four years old, and his sister Elizabeth Hull
was five. Did our little ancestress so narrowly escape death?
Or was the "one child", whom Henry brought down, Thomas
Nims — just then the baby of this growing family?

This year, 1694, Godfrey Nims bought a part of house lot
No. 1 (at the north end of the street, west side,) from John
Weller, junior. In 1719 Godfrey's son John owned real estate
there, and in 1774 Abner Nims sold it for ninety pounds.

August 21st, 1695, our ancestor and four other men "com-
ing out in ye Morning on Horses goeing to mil & wth Baggs
under ym. Had 7 or 8 guns discharged upon ym, unexpectedly,
& seeing noebody till ye guns were shot of, wherein eminent
gracious providence appeared that no more mischiefe was done
to ors. For except Joseph Barnard, who was shot downe off
his horse and sorely wounded, not one more hurt, wheras ours
were surprised & ye Indians had time." So John Pynchon
wrote to Gov. Wm. Stoughton ; and Stephen Williams adds
to the "Redeemed Captive" a statement that "then N(ims)
took him up & his horse was shot down and then he was
mounted behind M(attoon) and came of home." Barnard,


who was the town clerk of Deerfield, died September sixth, and
Mr. Sheldon says that his gravestone bears the earliest date in
the old graveyard.

That year the meeting- house, thirty feet square, was build-
ing; and "Att a legal Town Meeting in Deerfd Novemb: 22
1695 Godfrey Nims was chosen Collector to collect and gather
two rates yt is to say a Town rate and a Meeting House Rate
both j\Iade in ye year 1694 which Rates he is to deliver being
gathered to the Selectmen." He was one of the selectmen in
1695 and 1696.

March 3rd, 1701, Godfrey Nims, Sergt. AUyn and Corp.
Wells were chosen to lay a road to the land on the west side
of the river. Their report was made June 14th, and they also
reported a "hie way to ye Green River lands", which high-
way led through the present Main street of Greenfield, and
then northerly through Greenfield Meadows, where now live
Nims decendants of the fifth generation.

In 1702 Nims and Stebbins were again associated — this
time on the school committee; the town having in 1698 adopted
a liberal policy of education, and voted that "a school be con-
tinued in ye Town : That all heads of families yt have Child-
ren whether male or female between ye ages of six and ten
years, shal pay by the poll to sd school whether yd send such
children to School or not".

Godfrey Nims had six children by his first wife, Mary Mil
lei', who was the widow of Zebediah Williams and had a son
and daughter by her first husband; and the second wife,
Mehitable Smead, also a widow, had a son and daughter by
her first husband Jeremiah Hull and five children by Mr.

Of course the Williams boy and girl were thus half- brother
and -sister to the ]Miller-Nims children, and step-brother and
-sister to the Smead-Nims children ; but not related to the Hull
boy and girl, who were, however, half-brother and -sister to
the Smead-Nims children, and step-brother and -sister to the
Miller-Nims children.


Among them, the four sets of children had but five parents,
of whom four were ancesters of the Greenfield branch of the
family, as John Nims (the son of Godfrey by his first wife)
married Elizabeth Hull (the daughter of Godfrey's second
wife by her first husband), and their son Thomas went to
Greenfield, married Esther JMartindale, and assisted in popu-
lating the new town.

Godfrey Nims' first wife, Mary, the Widow Williams, had
two children ; Mary Williams, born December 24th, 1673, whose
fate I do not know ; and Zebediah Williams, junior, born in
1675, Avho was captured with his half-brother John Nims in
1703, and died in Canada in 1706, leaving a widow and two

Godfrey's first child, Rebecca, was born and died in August
1678. John and another Rebecca were born August 14, 1679:
John was captured October 8, 1703, and escaped May 14,
1705; married Elizabeth Hull, as stated above; Rebecca mar-
ried Philip IMattoon January 15, 1702, and was slain with their
only child in the massacre of 1704. Henry, born April 20,
1682, was also slain in 1704. Thankful, born August 29, 1684,
married Benjamin INTunn and they were unharmed at the time
of the massacre.

Ebenezer was l)orn ]\Iarch 14, 1687, captured in 1704, re-
deemed in 1714.

Their mother died April 27, 1688 ; and, June 27, 1692, their
father married the Widow Mehitable Hull, whose daughter
Elizabeth Hull (born December 23, 1688,) was also captured
in 1704, and after her redemption married John Nims; Mrs.
Hull's son Jeremiah (born Januarj^ 15, 1690,) was the child
I)urned in the Nims house in 1694. Thomas Nims was born
' November 8, 1693, and died September 10, 1697. Mehitable,
born May 16, 1696, and the twins Mary and Mercy, born Feb-
ruary 28, 1699, were all liurned in the later house February
29, 1704. The youngest child, Abigail, born May 27, 1700,
was captured in 1704 and carried to Canada, "whence she
came not back." Mrs. Nims, also taken captive, was slain on
the trail; probably Saturday, March 4, 1704.


When the flame-lit night of February 29th, 1704, gave
place to the cold dawn of ]\larch first; and Godfrey Nims,
standing here, looked upon what had been his own hard-won
home and was then the smol^;ing funeral pyre of his three little
daughters, there was left to comfort him but one member of
his family.

His eldest son and his step-son captured the fall before;
His son Henry, aged 22, slain; His eldest daughter and her
baby boy slain; His wife, his boy Ebenezer, his baby Abigail,
Elizabeth Hull his step-daughter, and Mattoon his son-in-law, —
all led away into the night by bloody and brutal savages:

One alone was there: — Thankful, his daughter, whose snow-
covered home had concealed its inmates.

Mrs. Nims and Philip Mattoon were slain on the march.
Her mother (Elizabeth Smead) and her brother's wife and two
children were killed. Deerfield sulfered that night. It is
written : —

"48 dead. 111 captives in Canada; only 25 men, as many
women and 75 children, 43 of whom were under ten years of
age, were left."

The next year John escaped from the enemy and made his
long way back to Deerfield; but his father, Godfrey Nims, had
escaped the bonds of mortality, and his body had been borne
down the Albany road and laid in the old burying ground
near the ford of the river, where rest those who hewed their
own way into the wilderness and blazed a trail for civilization.

Zebediah Williams remained a captive in Canada and soon
died. Ebenezer and Elizabeth Hull were redeemed, but Abi-
gail grew up among the French and Indians, and refused to
return to New England and protestantism. The fascinating
stcry of her life is beautifully told, under the title "The Two
Captives", by Miss Baker, whose genius for accurate research
was supplemented by the power to read between the lines and
to express her discoveries and her opinions in most charming

In the old Hampshire probate records, book 3, page 127, is
this entry :—" Power of Administration on the Estate of God-
frey Nims late of Deerfield Deceasd was Granted on the 10th
day of April Annoqne Domini: 1705 to Benjamin Mun of sd
Deerfield— He Having Given Bond for the faithful Discharge
of his Trust" and on the next page follows: —


"All Inventory of Godfrey Nims Estate Taken March ye
12th: 1705.

One Muskett L

One pr of pistolls 1

One Simmeter
Powder And Lead
One Coat and 2 Wast

Coats 1

One pr Leather Britches
2 pr Stockins
A pr of Shooes
One pr of Boots
2 Pewter Platters
One Pot and Pot hooks
Sixteen yds and a Halfe

of New Cloath at 2|8d

p pr yd 2

One Brass Kittle
One Iron Kittle
One pr of And Irons 1
One Trammel
One Saddle and Bridle 1
2 Neckloaths
One Coverlid
One pr of Sheets
One Hatt

One Barrel of Pork 2
13 Bnshels of Wheat
To one Ilomelot Containing Six Acres
To one Honielot Containing- Two Acres
To one Lot In Great Meadow Containing Eight Acres
To one Lot in Great Meadow Containing Seaven Acres.
To one Lot In the Plain Containing Seven Acres & Halfe
To Two Lotts In old fort containing Six acres
To one Lot In Second Division Containing Twelve Acres
To one Lot In Second Division Containing Four Acres
To Thirty Acres of Wood Land at the Great River
The aforesd Inventory being Taken In Deerfield by us Eleazr
Hawks, Edward Allin, Ebenezer Smead


To 2 Howes

L 5



1 4


One Piece of a




6 8

One Horse



2 oxen



one Cow



one Calfe


3 6

One Cow

2 10


One Cow

2 6


One Cow

2 5


One Heifer

1 9

One Heifer

1 1

One Mare Colt



One Cart and Wheels

1 12

6 6

One Plow and Irons



One Plow Clevy &

Pins 2


One Chain


3 6

One Harrow



By old Irons Burnt

In the

4 4

House which were

brought to


Northampton and


1 Prised

8 4

by Medad Pumry

& John A


Ward the whole




at five Pounds

1 19

April 10th 1705



Hampshr Ss, April 10th. 1705 Benjamin Mun Adm. on the
Estate of Godfrey Nims Deceased made oath Before Saml
Partridge Esqr. Judge of Probate of Wills &c for sd County
that the aforegoing Inventory was a true one of the Estate of
sd Deceased So farr as he knows and if more Appear He will
Readily make Discovery thereof from time to time

Test John Pynchon Regr. "
Following the record of the administrator's account on
page 198, is the following entry, in which appears what must
have been one of the first attempts by a Massachusetts probate
court to appoint a receiver of the property of an absentee : —
"Springfield Januy 11th 170 8-9 As To a Settlement of the
p]state of Godfrey Nims of Deerfield Deceasd. I order that
the Admin istrar Have the Dispose of Moveables to Pay the
Debts and as to the land I settle as follows (viz) To John Nims
Eldest Son to the Deceased 27 lb. Being a debt due to sd John
Nims In Right of his wife Elizabeth Hull out of land of sd
Deceased Also a Doul^le Portion of the Remainder of sd Land
to sd John Nims, and to Ebenezr Nims, And to Benjamin Mun
in Right of his wife Thankful Nims, and Abigail Nims Equal
shares of sd land to be set out to them Equally both as to
Quantity and Quality according to the The above sd Division by
Capt. Jonathan Wells Edward Allin Eliezr Hawkes Thomas
French Ebenezer Smead or any Three of them to be sworn
Before the Judge of Probates, Ebenezr Nims and Abigail Nims
share to be under the Improvemt of John Nims and Benjamin
Mun Till they Return from Captivity or be otherwise Disposed
according to Law. Sd John Nims and Benjamin Mun to be
accountable for the Rents of sd lands to sd Ebenezr Nims and
Abigail Nims, And in Case the Moveables will not Amount to
Pay the Debts Then Each Legatee to Refund there Ratable
Part to sd Administrator, And in Case the Moveables Amount
to more Then The Debts Then to be Divided in proportion as
abovesd. And in Case John Nims the eldest son see Cause
to Purchase the Land of the other Three Children he is allowed
five yeares time to do it in Paying the Just value of the same
According to a Just Apprizemt to be made at the five yeares
End by three Indifferent men upon oath as the sd Children shall
agree or as the Judge of Probate Shall Appoint

Saml Partridge"


From these four of Godfrey's children are those today of
the Nims name or blood descended: John; Thankful; Ebene-
zer; Abigail.


October 8th, 1703, according to the written account by the
Reverend Stephen Williams, "Zebediah Williams & John Nims
went into ye meadow in ye evening to look after creatures, &
wer ambushed by indians in ye ditch beyond Frary's bridge,
who fird at ym, but missd ym, and took W. quick, and N ran
to ye pond, & then returud to ym (fearing to be shot,) ye
Indians wound cattle and went oft'. Ye men were carried to
Canada, where W. dyd, & N ran away in ye year 1705, wth
Joseph petty, Thos Baker and IMartin Kellogue. My father
escaped narrowly ye nt before at Broughtons hill." By reason
of this event John was not at Deerfield in 1704 when so many
of the family were slain.

October 22nd, 1703, Reverend Solomon Stoddard, writing
from Northampton to Governor Dudley, adds this postscript
concerning Godfrey Nims: —

"Since I wrote: the father of the two Captives belonging
to Deerfield, has importunately desired me to write to yr Ex'ey
that you wd endeavor the Redemption of his children — I re-
quest that if you have any opportunity, you would not be back-
ward to such a work of mercy."

Mr. Sheldon says:— "There is a tradition in the Nims
family, that when DeRouville's expedition was being planned,
some of the leaders made John Nims the offer to save harm-
less all of his friends, if he would act as their guide. The
proposition was joyfully accepted by Nims, with the expecta-
tion of being able to escape and give seasonable warning. But
when the matter came to the ears of the Governor, he forth-
with put a stop to the project, as a dangerous experiment.
Soon after John Sheldon left Canada for home in 1705, four
young men, disappointed at not being allowed to return with
him, made their escape and reached home about June 8th.


* * * They had no arms, but probably a small
stock of provisions, and reached our frontier more dead than
alive from hunger and fatigue." Joseph Petty 's own account
of this escape, addressied to Rev. Mr. Williams and preserved
in Memorial Hall, details the incidents and sufferings of their
journey from Montreal to our frontier in May and June, 1705.

John Nims was married in 1707 by Rev. John Williams to
Elizabeth Hull, and they lived on the old homestead. Miss
Baker says: — "In the summer of 1712, the Canadian governor
proposed that the English captives in Canada should be
'brought into or near Deerfield, and that the French prisoners
should be sent home from thence.' Gov. Dudley ordered Col.
Partridge to collect the French captives here. When it was
known in Deerlleld that an escort was to be sent with them, there
was no lack of volunteers. 'We pitclit upon Lt. Williams'
says Partridge, 'with the consent of his father, who hath the
Frentch tongue, Jonath Wells, Jno Nims, an absolute pilot,
Eliezer Warner * * * and Thos. Frentch, who also hath the
Frentch tongue, but think of the former (Nims) most apt
for the design.' The party under command of Lieut. Samuel
Williams, a youth of twenty-three, started on the 10th of July,
returning in September with nine English captives. Godfrey
Nims had died some years before. Ebenezer was still in cap-
tivity, and John Nims evidently went as the head of the family,
hoping to effect the release of his brother and sister. I judge
that in urging Abigail's return, John made the most of the
provision for her in his father's will, as the story goes in
Canada that the relatives of the young Elizabeth, who were
Protestants, and were amply provided with this world's goods,
knowing that she had been carried to the Sault au Recollect,
went there and ottered a considerable sum for her ransom, and
the savages would willingly have given her up if she herself
had shown any desire to go with her relatives. To her
brother's entreaties that she would return with him, she re-
plied that she would rather be a poor captive among Catholics
than to become the rich heiress of a Protestant family, and
John came back without his sister and brother."


John Nims, and his wife Elizabeth, were blessed with a
dozen children and more than five dozen grandchildren. She
died September 21st, 1754, aged 66 years; and he died Decem-
ber 29th, 1762, aged 83; and their son John died October 6th,
1769, aged 54 ; as we may read on the mossy stones down in the
old graveyard.

Of their other sons, Thomas settled in Greenfield, as before
mentioned; Jeremiah lived in his father's house and was fol-
lowed by his son Seth, deacon and revolutionary soldier, who
kept the post office here from 1820 to 1831 in the old house,
and was in turn followed by his son Edwin, town clerk from
1832 to 1834 and the father of Mrs. Eunice Kimberly Nims
Brown, who sold the place in 1894 (after it had been in the
family for more than two centuries) to Mrs. Silvanus Miller,
whose daughters are now its hospitable owners. Mrs. Brown's
maternal grandparents were also descended respectively from
John Nims, junior, and the fourth brother, Daniel, who re-
moved to Shelburne.

Godfrey — John — John — Reuben — Joel — Dirixa — Eunice K.
Godfrey — John — Jeremiah — Seth — Edwin — Eunice K.
Godfrey — John — Daniel — Asa — Betsey — Dirixa — Eunice K.

Thankful Nims, at the age of nineteen, married Benjamin
Munn, aged twenty; and bore him eleven children, most of
whom were given the names of Godfrey's children. As has
been stated, the young couple's humble and snow-covered home
preserved them from death or capture in 1704, when all at
the Nims home, except her father, were taken. Abigail, named
for her captive aunt, married Joseph Richardson of Keene; and
three younger daughters married Northampton, Springfield and
Medway men.



Ebenezer Nims, captured in 1704, was then seventeen years
old and made the march to Canada, was adopted by a squaw
and lived at Lorette. Of his romantic marriage to Sarah Hoyt
(born May 6th, 1686, to David & Sarah Wilson Hoyt) Mr.
Sheldon says: —

"The priests urged her to marry. They pertinaciously in-
sisted upon it as a duty, and had a French officer selected as
her mate, thus assuring themselves of a permanent resident,
and popish convert. Professing to be convinced of her duty in
the matter, Sarah declared one day in public that she would
be married, if any of her fellow-captives would have her.
Ebenezer Nims, a life-long companion, at once stepped forward
and claimed her for his bride. The twain were made one upon
the spot. The wily priests had met their match, for it is easy
to believe that this was a prearranged issue on the part of the
lovers. ' '

They and their first son, Ebenezer, came home with Stod-
dard and Williams in 1714; and it is said that so much at-
tached to them were the Indians of Lorette that they came to
Quebec in a body to rescue this family, having heard it had
been by force taken on board the ship. Ebenezer, junior, is
supposed to have removed to Keene about 1739. There were
four other sons, of whom David removed to Keene about 1740,
and IMoses removed to Connecticut after the Revolution. Elisha
was killed by Indians at Fort Massachusetts in 1746, and Amasa
removed to Greenfield.

It was among the thirty-six or more grand-children of God-
frey that the dispersement of the Nims name began, as his sons
had remained in Deerfield. The census records of the United
States show that in 1790 there were nineteen families named
Nims: — 15 in ]\fassachusetts, and 4 in New Hampshire, — and
126 persons in these 19 families. In N. II. Alpheus' family,
3 males and 3 females, and David's, 6 males and 4 females, all
of Keene; and in Sullivan were Eliakim's of 2 males and 2
females, and Zadock's of 4 males and 3 females.



Abigail Nims was captured when less than four years old,
and her after-life remained a mystery for more than two
centuries. Then Miss Baker's "Hunt for the Captives" re-
vealed the record of her life in Canada. The child, "living
m the wigwam of a squaw of the Mountain" was baptized in
the Roman Catholic mission on the fifteenth of June, 1704, as
Mary Elizabeth; was married at the age of fifteen to Josiah
Rising, a fellow captive; and lived, and (February 19th, 1748,)
died, among the Christian Indians, leaving eight children. The
eldest son became a priest, the younger the fattoer of ten
children. One daughter was a nun, and another a distin-
guished Lady Superior.

Thus was the seed of Godfrey Nims sown in the new world.
Others may tell of its fruitage. Few of the family became
famous; none notorious. Many beside those here today bless
the name of the former president of this association. Col. Or-
mand F. Nims, or remember "Nims battery" which he com-
manded when the Union called on her sons to protect her: but
in all generations have the rank and file of the Nims name or
blood, brave and gentle men and women, fought the good fight
and whether led by the loud call of trumpet or by the "still,
small voice" of conscience, advanced civilization.

It is right and fitting that we should take granite, torn by
Nature's power from the foundations of the earth and clothed
by her tenderness with lichens, and set it here — on this home-
stead — to commemorate those events and typify those qualtities
which should never be forgotten by any present or future de-
scendant of Godfrey Nims.


014 077 403


014 077 403 0*

1 comment:

Janis Aaron Moore said...

Godfrey is my 8th great grandfather also (if I count right). My lineage goes: (1) Godfrey, (2) John 1, (3) John Jr., (4) John III, (5) Silas, (6) Alpheus J. & Wife #2 Melvina, (7) William Edgar, (8) Fred Victor, (9) Blanche Louise Nims, (10) Beverley Louise Moore, (11) me. I keep looking to see if anyone has actually identified where Godfrey originated because I have learned there are more than one "Nismes" in Europe. How did he get to America and why? Thanks for your blog!