Ebenezer Nims was the 18-year-old half-brother of Abigail Nims Raizenne. She and her husband, my 8x great grandparents, were our topic last week.
This week’s #52ancestors prompt, fittingly, is love. Ebenezer, his wife Sarah, and their love story will be our topic this week.
Ebenezer Nims was one of 110 captives forced on a long march to Canada, following the Deerfield raid, on Feb 29, 1704. At only 18, he had just watched most of his family massacred, and a few days later watch his step mother die in the snow. The only member of his family, still known alive was his little 4 year old sister Abigail, marching with him.
They were eventually separated. Abigail was taken to Oka, Canada. Ebenezer was brought to Lorette. He was adopted by a squaw and lived with the Indian family. By all accounts he was well liked by the Indians. He caused little trouble and helped in the village.
Sarah Hoyt was the same age as Ebenezer and was likewise captured and moved to Lorette after the raid. It is certain that they knew each other in Deerfield. If they were not close already, I am sure they grew closer in this shared trauma.
Because of her age, the Indians and the priests of the village pressed her to marry. They continually told her it was her duty and obligation. They even had a French groom picked for her.
One day, in an act later thought to be preconceived by the two English captives, Sarah loudly and boldly declared to the village that she understood it was her obligation to marry, BUT…she would rather marry one of her neighbors, and fellow captors , IF any of them will have her…
Ebenezer spoke up and claimed the honor. The priests were amused by the rouse and married the two.
There is no record the Ebenezer and Sarah converted to Catholicism, as many of the captives had. They were practically adults when they were taken and were most likely not as impressionable as the young children. The evidence we see of Sarah, we can certainly say she is strong willed.
Sarah gave birth to a son Ebenezer Nims, born on St. Valentine Day, February 14, 1712, in Lorette. The catholic priests baptized the baby.
After the raid in 1704, many attempts were made to reclaim the captives. It was in one of these attempts, in 1714, that Captain Stoddard and Rev Williams, one of the original captives, reclaimed the majority of them. The young family was among them.
Captain Stoddard asked Governor Vaudreuil for Ebenezer Nims, Sarah and their infant son. The governor sent a message to Lorette that they be transported to Quebec without priests or Indians. He sent a cart for the family, as he heard Sarah was ill. Ebenezer said very little as they departed. He may even have left in secret. He later said he was afraid to arouse the suspicions of the Indians in fear they would try to force the family to stay. We can only wonder what his true feelings were, as he had spent the last 10 years in the company of the Indians, and it appeared there was mutual respect.
The day they were to board the ship in Quebec a large group of Indians arrived and attempted to “save” the family. It was only when Ebenezer himself came on deck and told them that Sarah and he, did wish to go home, they relented. The Indian family tried to request that they leave young 2-year-old, Ebenezer with them. This request was denied.
Ebenezer and Sarah settled back in Deerfield for a while with his brother John. John had also been held in captivity by the Indians for several years in the early 1700's. Perhaps he helped his brother re-assimilate to English society. Eventually they moved to Wapping, Massachusetts. They had five more sons. There is a record that Ebenezer, the first son, was re-baptized in the puritan church. It is not known by me, if Ebenezer ever returned to Lorette or had any contact with the Indians that he lived with for ten years.
While we do not know for sure that Ebenezer and Sarah’s was a true love story, or if it was born from necessity and fear. Regardless, together the couple endured…for ten years in captivity, and another forty seven years of marriage, before Sarah died in January 1761.
Both the Puritan’s and the Catholics were surely familiar with the verse from Corinthians, that I think applies well here.
Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen. Corinthians 13:7
Source and Additional Reading
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association , History and Proceedings of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, 6, https://books.google.com/books?id=-W8MAAAAYAAJ&dq=Abigail+Elizabeth+Nims&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
Gassetteer of Hampshire Co, Mass 1654-1887, Ancestry.com.
“Nims Family Association,” https://www.nimsfamily.com/godfrey-nims/.
The story of Godfrey Nims, ancestry.com 2004.
“A history of Deerfield, Massachusetts : the times when and the people by whom it was settled, unsettled and resettled : with a-,” https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/17450/dvm_LocHist004799-00630-1/1234?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/80061917/person/190085954266/facts/citation/682049160121/edit/record.