Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Elizabeth Price, Deerfield Captive

Elizabeth Price, a young widow, was one of over 100 prisoners taken to Canada after the French and Indian raid and massacre of her village of Deerfield in present-day Massachusetts on 29 February 1703 (Old Style)/11 March 1704 (New Style). She is one of three Colonial American ancestors of mine who were taken from their homes in similar circumstances in the early 1700s. The other two are Sarah Allen (1692-1764), another Deerfield captive, and Deborah Coal (Cole) (1698-1744), a 1703 Saco captive.

While going over my mother’s ancestry a few years ago, I found out that Elizabeth was my 8X great-grandmother. After some basic research, I knew she was born about 1683 in Massachusetts, was the daughter of Robert Price and Sarah Webb, and was married to a certain Andrew Stevens, who was killed in the raid on Deerfield. I also knew that within a couple of years of arriving in Canada, she married a French-born soldier, Jean Fourneau, on 3 February 1706 in Montreal. Elizabeth died there in November 1716, soon after giving birth to her seventh child, a daughter, who did not survive.

Wanting to know more about Elizabeth and Deerfield, I read what I could find, including books like Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield, by Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003).

Later, I found more information about Elizabeth in the two-volume work New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760 During the French and Indian Wars, by Emma Lewis Coleman (Portland Maine: Southworth Press, 1925). I got to see this book at the Seattle Public Library in the summer of 2010, when I was in Seattle for a few days with my husband who was there for work.

Page 114 in volume 2 of Coleman’s book had an English translation of the text of Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic baptism, which took place on 25 April 1705 in Montreal. It stated that she was “born at Northampton in New England the (13) 23d August 1683”. I knew it was important to get corroborating evidence for this date and place, but I put that task aside while I concentrated on other ancestors.

I still hadn’t checked for documents about Elizabeth’s birth when, last summer, I came across an article on Travis LeMaster’s blog TJL Genes: Preserving Our Family History titled On This Day : August 12. The very first entry in that list of events caught my attention:

“1683 - Elizabeth PRICE born. Elizabeth was the daughter of Robert PRICE and Sarah WEBB.”

I immediately thought, “Hey, that’s my ancestor!” My next thought was, “What are the chances that I would find a distant ancestor in someone else’s blog?” I posted a comment about the possibility that Travis and I were cousins, and soon afterwards, I sent him an email asking if he knew more about the exact date and place of Elizabeth’s birth.

Unfortunately, Travis couldn't remember which source gave him that information. That is, until this past Sunday. I got an email from him letting me know that he found Elizabeth’s date and place of birth in the “Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1579-2001” database at FamilySearch.org. Hooray! You can read how Travis found this record at Birth of Elizabeth Price (1683-1716) Northampton, Massachusetts.

Thank you, Travis! I'm grateful that you kept my question in mind and got back to me!

Aren’t online cousins and their genealogy blogs terrific?

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. What a small world it is with all this crazy internet stuff...imagine how jealous the family historians who have gone before us would be :)
    Congrats on your finds --a new cousin and a source citation to boot!

    1. I'm indeed fortunate in finding a distant cousin who shared his knowledge. Thanks for commenting!

  2. She's also my 8th great grandmother, a fact I was incredibly surprised to learn, given a) I didn't think I had any English lurking on the Quebecois side, and b) the events of the massacre itself (if I was ever famous enough to be on the TV show 'Who Do You Think You Are?', this would have been the 'exciting' hook, I'm sure...). Of course, this is assuming that http://www.nosorigines.qc.ca/ is correct, as I have no direct documentation of ancestry that far back. May I ask what sort of evidence you used to track back to Elis(z)abeth?

  3. Just found your blog looking for more information on what must have been an exciting life - she's my 8x great grandmother as well. Imagine the tragedy she must have encountered for us to be here today!