this age of hurry when steam and electricity have put the swiftness of
the eagle into the background; when portraits are painted by the sun as
quick as thought; when the phonographs can catch and hold the speech of
a President or song of Melba that may be reproduced word for word and
note for note a century hence; it will do us good to halt! And make the
acquaintance of our family."
(Madella Susan Nims, NFA Historian,1906)
TO OUR WEB SITE. An Internet presence is always changing and
evolving. NFA was fortunate to begin our web existence several years
back with one page established by Historian Susan Oathout. Later, past
president Bill Nims took the initiative to develop several pages on his
AOL member site, primarily publicizing our newsletters and reunion
news. In March of 2001, NFA's Board of Directors voted to establish a
website with our own domain registration to introduce the association
and its achievements to association members and new web visitors. A
major portion of the funding for this website came from the
K. Godfrey Nims Memorial Fund, used to help defray costs of
special projects such as this one. It is our hope this site will enable
us to share what family genealogical information we have, to attract
new members to join the work of our association, and to receive
additional contributions of family data from visitors to this site. NFA
welcomes your comments and suggestions about our association's work and
this website at www.nimsfamily.com.
CURRENT NIMS FAMILY
Nims-Seguin Reunion Report
by Betsy Wiscombe, NFA
long-anticipated Nims-Seguin Reunion was held in Vaudreuil, Montreal,
Canada the weekend of August 24-26 and it was a success. We had 32
members of NFA who traveled to this location and about 80 members of
the Seguin Association in attendance.
Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Vaudreuil where our Abigail
descendants once lived was the setting for all of our meetings and
meals on Friday and Saturday.
Church of the Most Holy Trinity
We were welcomed on Friday by receiving a packet of valuable
information such as translations of the presentations that would
be given, name tags, material for things to do in Montreal and some
souvenirs offered by the City of Vaudreuil: paper pad, pen, and lapel
pin. Our evening meal was a nice spaghetti dinner served with great
efficiency by a
Following this, Lise Rochette treated us with two presentations: “Meet Marquis de Vaudreuil” and “Meet Godfrey Nims”,
presented both in French and English.
Since the meeting was held in Vaudreuil, Lise presented us the story of
the life of Marquis de Vaudreuil, from his birth in
France, his career as a musketeer for Louis XIV and his life in Canada.
Marquis de Vaudreuil was the Seigneur (owner) of the land where the
city of Vaudreuil now stands. He was the Governor of New France who
ordered the Raid
on Deerfield in 1704. He was also the one who did manage to get the
reluctant Wendats at Lorette to release Ebenezer Nims and his young
family in 1714.
Lise provided us with an excerpt from a history written by Freda
Brackley (from the internet site 1704-Deerfield History Museum).
We learned that Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil was the
Governor-General of New France at the time of the Deerfield Massacre.
Vaudreuil had received this appointment from King Louis XIV and
subsequently ordered the successful
raid against Deerfield by a combined French and Native Indian army. In
its aftermath, he found himself caught up in lengthy negotiations both
with the English government at Boston and the Native villages near
Quebec for the release of the captives. We learned that Vaudreuil must
have had mixed feelings about the Deerfield captives. They were emblems
of the raid’s success and useful pawns for gaining the release of
held by the English. But they were fellow Europeans, and the young
people held by the Natives faced acculturation into what Vaudreuil
regarded as “savage” societies. For some of Vaudreuil’s Native allies,
fulfilled a role in traditional mourning rituals by being adopted into
the family to replace the dead. Vaudreuil continued negotiations for
release of English captives for the duration of the war, by
English governor Joseph Dudley, and in person with emissaries who
traveled to New France. Captives were redeemed from the Natives or
released by French families with whom they were living and perhaps
working as servants,
and sent to New England by ship or overland. The first envoys,
Deerfield residents John Sheldon and John Wells, returned with only
five captives. Vaudreuil allowed the second emissaries, ship captain
Samuel Vetch and Governor
Dudley’s son William, to meet John Williams and his son Stephen, but
that expedition brought only 11 English captives home. After two more
releases of small numbers of captives, John Sheldon again went to New
won Governor Vaudreuil’s release of 44 captives in 1706. John Williams
was not among them, despite Vaudreuil’s apparent fondness for the
minister. Only after Governor Dudley released Maisonnat/Baptiste and
all the remaining
French prisoners did Gov-Gen Vaudreuil respond by returning 54 English
captives, including John Williams and his sons Samuel and Warham. The
release did not include Eunice and six other girls and young women at
all of whom remained part of that community; nor the three children
(Abigail, Josiah Rising, and Hannah Hurst) who remained at La Montagne.
After the war’s end in 1712, Vaudreuil received a delegation that
included John Williams, John Stoddard and others who had
come to secure the “return of the English prisoners there.” Vaudreuil
told them that the remaining captives were free to do what they wanted,
with his blessing—but that “by force, he could not oblige the Indians
deliver their prisoners.” However, Vaudreuil did manage to get the
reluctant Wendats at Lorette to release the Nims family, in large part
because Lorette was so close to Quebec and the waiting English ship.
The Nims family
hid their desire to return to New England until they were safe on
board. The next day a large party of Wendats, thinking the Nimses had
been kidnapped, went to the ship and demanded their return—in vain.
saw Eunice, now married to Arosen, for the first time since 1704, but
he could not persuade her to look at him, let alone leave her new life
and husband behind. Apparently ambivalent about the captives till the
also told Williams and Stoddard that he would not release those who had
become naturalized French subjects, but later relented and allowed them
to leave if they wished. 26 captives sailed to Boston with Williams and
on Sep 21, 1741.
Sheila, Janet and John
order to introduce Godfrey Nims to the Seguin attendees (and as a
the Nims) Lise presented some facts about the early days of Godfrey
Nims in America (mystery about his origin—Huguenot, French descent
only), court appearances, etc. She also presented all his children and
the impact of
the Raid on his family. She presented a brief history of all the four
Cynthia, Jeff, and Betty
Saturday morning the Nims group had a short business meeting at which
we had introductions and a remembrance of our late vice-president,
Ronald Graham who was looking forward to being at this reunion along
with his wife, Mary Ann. We also had a treasurer’s report by Nancy
Garreaud, a short overview of recent work by Allan Wiscombe, and
election of officers
and board. We are pleased
to have some new people on board whose names are David Nims of
Richmond, VA, Jeff Nims of Union, ME, Frank Nims of Chicago, IL, Dina
McCrum of Arroyo Grande,
CA, and Cynthia Smellie of Norwell, MA. Cynthia has been the secretary
in the past. For the time being, the following will continue on: Betsy
and Allan Wiscombe, Nancy Garreaud, David Nims (the Pt. Charlotte
David), and Vicki
Coutu. I thank them all for their willingness to serve with various
assignments. We also express our gratitude to our long-standing board
members and faithful NFA members who have been released and they
include George Babineau,
Gordon Bean, Judy Graves, Judy Nelson, Pat Potter, and Lise Rochette.
this, we learned more from Lise about Abigail Nims, Josiah Rising, and
the Seguins. Lise gave an overview of the
history of the Seguin-Nims connection via a slide show. As you know,
our common ancestor Godfrey only had four children remaining after the
raid-massacre at Deerfield in February of 1704. We were shown a chart
family. There was also a chart which showed the town of Deerfield and
which homes were destroyed and how the raiders came into the town.
Abigail was carried to Canada and that indicated that she was chosen
and special to
the Indian chief. The English people were unfamiliar with snowshoes so
of course that was something they had to learn as they walked. Abigail
eventually married fellow captive, Josiah Rising at which time their
Mary Elizabeth and Ignace Raizenne. Lise explained that Abigail was
much too Protestant of a name to be baptized into the Catholic Church.
Since baptismal and marriage records of Abigail and Josiah are
available, a chart
of their family was given to us. With eight children, they all settled
in the Vaudreuil-Oka area where we had the reunion.
Andre Seguin giving his presentation
Seguin reviewed the history of the Seguin Family in Canada. The Seguins
in Quebec all descend from Francois Seguin who married
Jeanne Petit. At our reunion, this was celebrated by a Seguin couple
who dressed in the costume of the 1700’s and portrayed Francois and
Jeanne. They cut a special cake commemorating their marriage in
France in 1672 making it a 340th anniversary. They also danced on Saturday night and many photos were taken of them (see below for our
photo). Nicole Seguin, current president of the Seguin Family Association, was also dressed in period costume.
Seguin Family Decendants
Our tie to the Seguins is that Abigail Nims who married Josiah Rising
(names changed to Elizabeth and Ignace Raisenne) had
several children and two of their daughters, Catherine and Marie-Anne,
married two Seguin brothers, Jean Baptiste and Louis, respectively.
The Seguin Family Association is very active and they publish a
newsletter 4 times a year. If you are interested in being
on their mailing list, you can contact Association des Seguin
d’Amerique, 15 rue Jacqueline, Rigaud, QC J0P 1P0, Canada, or
www.lesseguindamerique.ca. Just be aware that the newsletter will be in
French. Nicole Seguin is
the president of their Seguin Family Association and Andre Seguin is
their current historian. Their Association was formed in August, 1990
and much information can be found on their web site.
Cynthia and Rick
Sat. afternoon we visited the lovely Church of St. Michel in Vaudreil
and had a tour led by a very competent and knowledgeable
guide. We then walked across the street to the Musee regional de
Vaudreuil-Soulanges and Centre d’histoire de la Presqui’ile. After
this, about four carloads of Nims cousins opted to drive the short
distance to Oka. We used a ferry to get across the bay and that was a
pleasant ride. We drove past acres of gardens filled with vegetables
and autumn pumpkins. We stopped at a beautiful apple orchard. Oka is
definitely a fertile agricultural
area and Abigail and Josiah had this setting in which to raise their
Our Sat. evening meal was a pot roast dinner. While we were eating, we
were treated to music by Louis Seguin and daughter
Celyne. They had beautiful voices. This was followed by a program which
included a presentation of an “achievement” award called a “Berger”
which translates to Shepherd. They honored Gilles Chartrand who helped
organizing many of the Seguins’ annual meetings, including this one in
Vaudreuil. They also acknowledged some past members of their Board of
Directors. In addition to awards and presentations given to various
there were some drawings for door prizes and dancing for anyone who
cared to participate. Several attendees said their good-byes on Sat.
night while others opted to stay for Sun. morning mass and to tour the
James and Nancy
On Sun. morning, Lise and Louis brought some of the Nims cousins to Oka
by the ferry. The sightseeing continued for some
to the Mt. Royal and downtown Montreal, including the grounds of the
Old Sulpician Seminary. They took pictures of the two old stone towers,
the only remnants of the Fort de la Mission de la Montagne where
Abigail spent her
first days in Montreal with her Indian family.
Betsy Wiscombe, NFA President
THE NIMS FAMILY ASSOCIATION
For the ‘English translation’ of this offering, click HERE. Thanks, Lise.
Those who are interested in the Godfrey
Nims family and its descendants will wish to become familiar with
Deerfield, Massachusetts, the village in which this family began, and
from which it scattered to all corners of this country and
beyond. Both links shown here will bring to you a great
amount of information concerning this historic village, then and
now. We know you will find the sites interesting and
informative, especially for those at some distance from the New England
area who may not be able to visit in person.
Raid On Deerfield: The Many Stories of
visit the museum,
view a Visitor Map of Deerfield, click HERE
Visit this page
periodically to see more "News" updates.
Dutton Nims, former president of Southwestern Bell Telephone, who,
along with New York lawyer Harry Dwight Nims and their wives, purchased
the John Nims House on The Street in Deerfield, Massachusetts for the
benefit of the Nims Family Association.
who wish to know more about the present John Nims house should obtain
Family and Landscape: Deerfield Home Lots from 1671 by Susan McGowan
and Amelia F. Miller, published in 1996 by Pocumtuck Valley Memorial
Association, Deerfield, MA. Both women have extensive
backgrounds in Deerfield research, and are especially qualified to
offer a definitive view of the Nims House, now owned by Deerfield
Academy. Susan McGowan offered a presentation about the book
and Lot 28 at a reunion of Nims Family Association several years ago.
Nims House, Part
In an earlier article about the John Nims House, we mentioned recent
efforts to gauge the age of the house, reexamining the date mentioned
as ‘about 1710’ in George Sheldon’s History of Deerfield. Newer
evidence indicates three houses were built on Lot 28, the first about
1695. The second may have been about 1710 when John Nims rebuilt on the
site where the home of Godfrey Nims was burned in 1704. John Nims
probably built a new house, the third on the site, about 1740-1750.
Here is a bit more about Lot 28, as recorded in Family &
Landscape, Deerfield Homelots from 1671 by Susan McGowan and Amelia F.
Miller. Jeremiah, son of John Nims, inherited the Nims House.
“Jeremiah’s son, Seth Nims (1762-1831) married about 1784, and in 1786
Jeremiah wrote his will, leaving his homelot to Seth, who inherited the
house and lot in 1797, and was responsible for major changes to the
third, or present, house.
The house on the main street remained in the Nims family until 1894.
Seth Nims left it to his daughter Lucinda, as long as she remained
unmarried. In 1844, following the death of her mother, Electa Arms Nims
(1763-1843), the unmarried Lucinda Nims deeded one-half of her real
estate, including the homelot and buildings, to her brother, Edwin Nims
(1791-1852), reserving for herself a life lease in the homestead.
Edwin’s daughter, Eunice Kimberly Nims (1845-1917), who married Rufus
Franklin Brown became the next owner of the combined lots 27 and 28. In
1880, Eunice mortgaged her home to the Smith charities of Northampton,
and fourteen years later, in 1894, the mortgage being unredeemed, the
Smith Charities sold the property to Mary E. Miller, the daughter of
Thaddeus Graves of Hatfield and the wife of Sylvanus Miller who came
from Brooklyn, New York.
Mary E. Miller willed the homestead to her two daughters, Ellen Miller
and Margaret Miller. In 1907, the Greenfield newspaper reported that a
barn on the property was taken down…In 1922 the town took, by eminent
domain, two acres for “the purpose of erecting thereon a building to be
used for a public school and for use as a public playground.” In 1925,
Ellen and Margaret Miller, who had been founders in 1896 of the
Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework, which disbanded in
1926, sold the property to John M. Hackley.
Nims descendants Eugene D. Nims of St. Louis, Missouri, and Harry D.
Nims of Bronxville, New York, acquired the house and land from John M.
Hackley in 1936, and presented the property to Deerfield Academy in
1938 (as a ‘deed of gift.’) The 1938 deed specified that any proposed
changes to the house must be approved by the president of PVMA. Since
1938, the Nims House has served as a dormitory and as a faculty
Revisit this website in the future to learn more about the Nims House,
its construction, occupants, and later history. Also, the
publication The Story of the John Nims House, a pamphlet published in
1993 by Nims Family Association and available on NFA’s Items for Sale
page, offers additional insights into this beautiful home.
NFA People to Contact:
General questions about the association and letters of inquiry:
Sally Phillips, 104 Mechanic Street, Shelburne Falls, MA
for newsletter-births, deaths, marriages, stories about family, etc.:
Vicki Coutu, 137 Nugget Drive, Charlton, MA 01507 Click HERE to
contributions, address changes, etc.:
Treasurer Nancy Garreaud, 921 East 100 South, Salt
Lake City, UT 84102
Allan Wiscombe, P.O. Box 186, Eden, UT 84310-01864
sale items, etc:
Betsy Wiscombe, P.O. Box 186, Eden, UT 84310-0186