Dr William Brownhill

Hanging of Dr. William Brownhill


I know, I know, I’m cheating today. But really, this story has high seas adventure, tragedy and romance nothing I could write would do it justice. Thank you to all of the people on ancestry.com who posted it and the dedicated cousins who have kept the story alive for over 300 years.


Sarah Webb


Sarah Webb Price

We all know Colonial times were rough and tumble and comforts were scarce. But how many realize how many “wars” went on before the Revolution. There were a number of Indian Wars such as Powhatan Wars(1610-1646), Pequot War(1636-1637), King Phillip’s War(1675-1676), King William’s War (1689-1697), Queen Anne’s War (1702-1711), the French and Indian War (1689-1763), the War of Jenkin’s Ear (1730’s) and Pontiac’s Rebellion(1763-1768) not counting the Seven Years War going on in Europe. English colonies were at war with the French, Spanish and various native tribes. So our colonial ancestors were pretty used to war and the brutalities associated with it. Sometimes these ancestors got stuck right in the middle of a battle while tucked in their beds asleep.

Sarah Webb was born about 1646 in Hartford, Connecticut to John Webb and Anne Basset. She married Robert Price around 1677 and among their children were daughters Elizabeth Stephens, whose husband Andrew was a Native American of unknown tribe, and Mary Smead and a son, Samuel. On the night of February 29, 1704 a group of French and a mixed band of native warriors (a mix of Abenaki, Mohawk, Wyndot and Pocumtuc met at Chamby to attack the small town of Deerfield. The raid had been planned since about 1702 and was under the command of Jean-Baptiste de Rouville and Wattanummon. The raid was not entirely unexpected and Deerfield had increased the pallisaides around the community and there were soldiers being housed in the town. Unfortunately, heavy snow fall had drifted making walk ways directly over the barriers in areas.

The first home attacked was that of the Reverend John Williams who was taken captive after his attempt to shoot the intruders failed when his pistol misfired. Not all of the household was so lucky, two of his children and a female slave were slaughtered in front of him. At the end of the raid 17 homes were destroyed, 44 residents were killed, mainly small children and infants and 109 were taken captive and marched to Canada roughly 300 miles away. Andrew Stephens was one of the men killed that night Mary, her in-laws and her two small children were also killed in the village. About 20 of captives including Sarah did not survive the march through the frozen land. Samuel was later ransomed and was able to return home around 1714. Elizabeth stayed with her captures and eventually married a Frenchman named Jean Fourneau.

Some people in the community had managed to escape the raid and ran for help, however, by the time help arrived it was deemed unsafe fo chase after the raiders due to the snow and the villagers lack of snowshoes.