On this day, August 21, 1746, Captivity Smead was born.
Captivity was the daughter of John Smead Sr. and Mary (Allis) Smead. They, along with their older sons, John Mead Jr., and Daniel, and their younger children, Elihu, Simon, and Mary, were taken captive at Fort Massachusetts, Aug. 20, 1746. The father, John Smead, and his sons Daniel, and John Smead, Jr., were paid soldiers. The mother, Mary, and three young children were in the fort in a position of dependence.
While on their march to Canada, on the second night of their captivity, Aug. 21st, Mrs. Smead gave birth to a daughter, who was named Captivity, and was baptized by the Rev. John Norton on the following day.
In the Reverend John Norton's book, "The Redeemed Captive : Being a Narrative of the Taking andCarrying Into Captivity", he wrote the following of that day;
A little before sunset we arrived at Van Der Verick's place, where we found some of the army, who had arrived before us, but most of them were still behind; and I had the comfort of seeing the greatest part of the prisoners come up: God having wonderfully strengthened many who were weak; the French carrying the women. There were some few that tarried behind about two miles, where Mrs. Smead was taken in travail: And some of the French made a seat for her to sit upon, and brought her to the camp, where about ten o'clock, she was graciously delivered of a daughter, and was remarkably well. The child also was well. But this night Josiah Read, being very ill, either died of his illness, or else was killed by the enemy; which, I could never certainly know, but I fear he was murdered.
And on the following day, he wrote;
Friday, 22nd This morning I baptized John Smead's child, he called its name Captivity. The French then made a frame like a bier, and laid a buck skin and bear skin upon it, and laid Mrs. Smead, with her infant, thereon ; and 80 two men at a time carried them. They also carried Moses Scott's wife and two children, and another of Smead's children. The Indians also carried in their canoes, Benjamin Simonds and John Aldrich and Perry's wife, down the river about ten miles.
While imprisoned at at Crown Point, the captives were housed in tents. The weather, however, proved to be unbearable.
Friday August 29th This morning Smead's and Scott's families were brought out of their tents into the house, that they might be more comfortable. It rained and was very cold all the day, and at night the wind was very high.
Captivity Smead, was now just one week old, and the mother had with her three other children, all young; and Mrs. Moses Scott had two young children also; no wonder these were taken out of their tents into the house, that they might be more comfortable. The south and east winds have a fair sweep over northeast point, where the windmill was and the lighthouse is, and the cry of a new-born child appeals to the humanity of man always and everywhere.
John, Jr., died a captive in Quebec the next April.
He was taken with me at Fort Massachusetts. He was seized with the distemper in October last, and was bad for a time, and then recovered in some good measure, and after a little time relapsed, and as he did several times, till at last he fell into a consumption, of which he died.
Daniel died also at Quebec a little more than a month later than his brother.
Died Daniel Smead, a young man. He was taken with me, and was son to John Smead. He was first taken sick in November, and by frequent relapses was worn out, and fell into a purging, by which he wasted away and died.
Mrs. Mary Smead died March 29, 1747, after an illness of eight weeks.
Captivity died on May 17, 1747, aged nine months.
The father, John Smead Sr., returned home from his captivity, along with his surviving children, Elihu, Simon, and Mary, on Aug. 31, 1747. But about six weeks after his return, he was traveling from Northfield to Sunderland, when he was killed by an ambush of Indians, and scalped.
Mary Smead was brought up by the family of Reverend Timothy Woodbridge of Hadley. She married Aaron Willard of Charlestown, NH, formerly known as Fort #4.
The fate of Elihu and Simon Smead are unknown to this writer at this time.
Below is a poem written in the Hoosac Valley News––through the generous cooperation of its proprietor, Edward A. McMillin––as a means to help raise money for the Fort Massachusetts Historical Society in an effort to purchase the site of Fort Massachusetts. The issue, which comprised of twenty-four pages, containing articles, stories, and other poems, of which five thousand copies were printed, was published on November 23, 1895.
by Annie W. McMillin
Fort Massachusetts! At the name
Rise pictures set in emerald frame.
A valley in a golden sheen
Of August sun, with mountains green,
With humane thought and willing hand,
On every side that guard it well,
Each peak a lofty sentinel.
A stream that thro’ the valley flows,
And many a graceful winding knows,
And the rude fort made firm and strong
By arts to which the time belong
—Nor does imagination fail
To find the hidden Mohawk Trail.
No peace did that green valley know
That August day so long ago.
In fancy the war-whoop I hear
That blanched the manliest cheek with fear,
See the unequal strife begun,
And the glorious victory won.
I see the lillied flag of France
Borne high amid a savage dance,
I see the blazing torch applied
And through the fort the flames spread wide.
And then, with moistened eyes, I see
A little captive company.
Now God be praised that here should be
No sight of barbarous cruelty,
No agony of black despair,
But hearts sustained by fervent prayer.
Full patiently the path they trod,
And their mercies still thanked God.
With humane thought and willing hand,
A litter rude the captors planned,
So bore the woman who that day
Must else have fainted on the way.
Strange in this wilderness to see
This touch of fine French chivalry.
But when they came on weary feet
Near where the Hoosac rivers meet,
A new life fluttered down to earth,
For here a little child had birth,
And new care on that hour of need,
Came on to John and Mary Smead.
But they were brave—they looked above--
And welcomed her with tenderest love--
Turned to their chaplain and thanked Heaven
That Christian baptism could be given,
Crushed down their longing to be free,
And named their child “Captivity.”
Well for that mother that there lies
A heaven in a baby’s eyes,
Well for that child that she could rest
So sweetly on a mother’s breast,
For days were hard and full of fear
And Canada was cold and drear.
For nine dark months did Mary Smead
The hard life of a captive lead.
Then twice the faithful chaplain said
The simple service o’er the dead,
Rose a new dawn celestial—free,
For her and for Captivity.
O Country dear! O Promised Land
Where Faith and Hope unchallenged stand,
Made rich not only by the flood
Poured over thee of heroes’ blood,
But often in these earliest years
By precious drops of mothers’ tears!
O never tender little child
On thy stern struggle looked and smiled,
And then went back to grow in grace
Before the Heavenly Father’s face,
But sent an added blessing down
Thy strife for liberty to crown.
And as we keep, as is but right,
Fort Massachusetts’ sunny site,
And honor, through the coming years,
All these—our history’s pioneers,
Sometimes in tender thought will we
Remember sweet Captivity.
- "The Redeemed Captive : Being a Narrative of the Taking and Carrying Into Captivity," by the Reverend Mr. John Norton -- Published 1870 (Originally published in 1748)
- "Origins in Williamstown," by Arthur Latham Perry -- Published 1894
- Willard Genealogy, Sequel to Willard Memorial Materials Gathered Chiefly by Joseph Willard and Charles Wilkes Walker. Edited and completed by Charles Henry Pope. Printed for the Willard Family Association, Boston, Mass., 1915