Monday, March 7, 2011

Joseph Gillett and the Bloody Brook Massacre 18 Sep 1675

In 1675 our ancestor, Joseph Gillett was age 34, the same age as my son, with 7 children living in the outpost of Deerfield, Massachusetts.  He and his wife, Elizabeth Hawks moved to Deerfield after they got married in 1663 to seek their fortune.  It was on the edge of the frontier at that time. During September, 1675, bands of warriors roamed the Connecticut River valley, attacking villagers as they worked in the fields or traveled between villages on business.  The villagers decided to move their families to the fort at Hadley, Massachusetts until the violence settled down.  The men went back to Deerfield along with Captain Lathrop and 80 men to bring their grain into the fort. Joseph was one of these Deerfield men.

“The force was so large, surely no warriors would attack them. As the convoy emerged from the dense forest into a narrow, swampy thicket, it slowed down to cross a brook. Realizing the crossing would take a long time as each heavily-laden cart lumbered across, the soldiers tossed their rifles on top of the wheat and prepared to relax. Some soldiers began to gather the grapes growing alongside the brook. At a given signal, hundreds of warriors, who were lying concealed all around the spot, opened fire on the convoy. Chaos followed, bullets and arrows flew from every direction. Captain Lathrop immediately fell. Of the 80 soldiers, only 7 or 8 escaped; none of the Deerfield men who were driving the carts survived.”

Battle of Bloody Brook
Our ancestor, Joseph, age 34, father of seven was killed. Because of the nature of the slaughter, the brook was renamed “Bloody Brook” by which name it is known today.  I was fortunate enough to stand at the side of that brook and stand by the monument that was erected in honor of those who were killed. 
His four year old son, John, our ancestor, was kidnapped by Indians and taken to Canada 21 years later—but that is yet another story.

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