Elisha Nims

One of the oldest remains in Hillside Cemetery are claimed by Elisha Nims, a soldier for the Colonial British Army. Nims’ remains portray a grim narrative of being a wartime casualty, and his final resting place is one of historical controversy.

Elisha Nims was one of two soldiers killed at Fort Massachusetts in modern day North Adams. The son of two Deerfield exiles, he made his living as a soldier for the colonial British Army, until his death at age 26. His plot now marks one of the oldest remains in the Cemetery

Elisha's parents, Ebenezer Nims and Sarah Hoyt were exiled to Canada after the Deerfield Massacre in 1704. While in Canada, they were married, then traveled back to Deerfield in 1714 to settle down and start a family. There, they had five children, Ebenezer, David, Elisha, Moses, and Amasa. Elisha was born June 20, 1720.

Elisha went on to join the military and was eventually stationed at Fort Massachusetts on June 9, 1746. On June 11, 1746, while gathering water near the fort, there was a native uprising where he and others were attacked, as well as the fort itself. The attack was halted and the attackers fled, but not before Elisha was shot in the back and scalped. He was taken back to the fort, and died the next day, June 12.

He was buried in a small burial plot just west of the fort. In another attack, the fort was burned. His plot was all but lost until 1852, when a man by the name of Captain Harrison found his plot marker. His remains and stone were brought to Williams College to be studied. When a replica Fort Massachusetts was erected, his original headstone was placed in a stone cairn and placed near the replica fort.

Some of his remains, namely the section of his spine with the musket-ball lodged in it, were given to the local history portion on the North Adams Public Library in 1915 where they were displayed there as well as (now) Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Eventually this section of his remains were donated to the North Adams Historical Society. In 2000, a decision was made to bury what remained of his spine in Hillside Cemetery in North Adams.

There was disagreement on when and where to bury him. He was buried at Soldiers' Circle in Hillside Cemetery which commemorates American Soldiers. He was a British soldier because the area was still a British Colony at the time of his service and death, and some felt it was disrespectful to bury him in that location. He was buried there anyway on May 20, 2000.

His original headstone's location is currently not known, and the rest of his remains likely have been reburied, but at the time of this publication, the plot's location is also unknown.

For further information on the Nims family, contact The Nims Family Association. They can be reached via email at nimsfamily@nimsfamily.com.

Map Coordinates: 42.6997878, -73.1237491