The Ransom of Mercy Carter: Separating the Fact from Fiction Cheryl Metz, NBCT Teaching American History Grant 2010
Captives: Real or fiction? Mercy Carter was born on Dec. 17, 1693, to Samuel and Mercy Brooks Carter. She was taken captive during the 1704 attack on Deerfield and adopted into a family in the Kanienkehaka village of Kahnawake. Eventually she married someone from that village. There is a story that two of her sons were sent to Deerfield to see where their mother was born. When Mercy's father died in 1728, he promised her 100 pounds if she and her family would live in Norwalk, Connecticut, for ten years. This is where he had settled in 1706. She chose not to do this; however, the two sons who were sent to Deerfield, also visited Mercy's brother Ebenezer, in Connecticut, in 1751.
Captives: Real or fiction? The Bearers hereof, two of the Sons of Mercy Carter an English Woman taken Captive at Deerfield Anno 1703 and Since Married to a Caguanaga Indian, being desirous to Travel to Norwalk in the Colony of Connecticut to visit the Relations of their Mother there. This is to desire Such persons in Said Colony as may see them of their way thither to direct them in roads and afford them necessary and proper Support, and if any Expect to be paid therefor to bring in their accounts to us the SubscribersAlbany; July the 5th 1751Wm PitkinJohn Chester Transcript of travel passport given to two of Mercy’s sons
Captives: Real or fiction? Mary Brooks (Jr.) Mary was the oldest child of Nathaniel and Mary Williams Brooks. She was born on Aug. 16, 1696. During the 1704 attack, the Brooks home was burned and the entire family was taken captive. Her mother was slain on the ninth day of the march. Mary stayed with Monsieur de Fleury in Canada. She was baptized into the Catholic faith on July 19, 1705, and her name was changed to Marie Claire. In 1710, she was granted Canadian citizenship and she spent the rest of her life in Canada.
Captives: Real or fiction? Ruth Catlin Ruth was born around 1684 to John and Mary Baldwin Catlin. She was captured, and along the journey to Canada it is said that she showed great courage by throwing off a heavy pack that she had been forced to carry. Her captors were impressed by this behavior and did not kill her. She was redeemed in 1707.
Captives: Real or fiction? Sarah Hoyt Sarah Hoyt was born to David and Sarah Wilson Hoyt on May 6, 1686. She was captured during the 1704 attack and taken to Lorette in Canada, where she was being pressured to marry a Frenchman. She refused, but offered to marry any other fellow captive. Ebenezer Nims became her husband. By the time they were redeemed in 1714, Sarah and Ebenezer had a son. Leaving was made difficult because the priests and Native people who had adopted Ebenezer wished to keep them, or at least their child. The family did return to Deerfield and had four more children. Sarah died on Jan. 11, 1761.
Captives: Real or fiction? Joseph Kellogg Joseph was born in Deerfield November 5, 1691, to Martin and Sarah Dickinson Kellogg. He was taken captive along with one brother and two sisters. Another brother was killed in the attack. Joseph remained in New France for 10 years, traveling amongst the French and Indians as a warrior and fur trader. It is likely that he was the first Anglo-American to see the Mississippi River. In 1714, his brother Martin convinced him to return home with the promise of lucrative government work. That year he married Rachel Devotion, of Suffield, MA. They had five children. Joseph was named a Captain in 1723. He continued to serve as a soldier, diplomat, interpreter, and magistrate until his death in 1756.
Captives: Real or fiction? Eunice Williams Eunice was born in Deerfield on September 17, 1696 to the Reverend John Williams and Eunice Mather Williams. She was taken captive with her parents and four siblings. Two younger siblings were killed in the attack. Her mother was slain two days into the march north. Eunice was adopted into a Mohawk family at Kahnawake. Many attempts were made to redeem her, but she refused to return home. She stopped speaking English, was given the Indian name Kanenstenhawi, and married Arosen, a Mohawk Indian, in 1713. They had three children. In her adult life, she made several visits to family members in New England, only once returning to Deerfield. Eunice lived to be 95. She died November 26, 1785.
Statistics The following is a rough tally of those who experienced the 1704 massacre and the march to Canada. Starting population 283 Killed on 29 February 1704 In town 39 meadow fight 2 (+7 more but not from Deerfield) – 41 Survived attack 242 Left at home 130 Taken on march 112 (+10 garrison soldiers) Died along way 21 Arrived in Canada 91 Mortality on the way StartedDiedSurvived Infants < 2 4 3 1 Children 3 to 12 35 4 31 Teenagers 13 to 19 21 21 Adult women 26 10 16 Adult men 26 422 112 21 91
Later events… “On the 22d of last month our village was visited by two or three families of Indians, amounting in all to twenty three of various ages, calling themselves by the name of Williams on the ground of being descendants of Eunice. If these persons truly inherit the name of Williams according to their statement, their kindred in Deerfield must be numerous, and it is but just to say, that those of the name were not slow to admit their claim, but uniformly called them "our cousins." During their short stay, a little more than a week, they encamped in the vicinity of the village,--employed their time not otherwise occupied, in making baskets,-visited the graves of their ancestors, the Rev. Mr. Williams and Wife, and attended divine service on Sunday in an orderly and reverent manner. They refused to receive company on the Sabbath, and at all times, and in all respects, seemed disposed to conduct themselves decently and inoffensively. During their sojourn with us, partly perhaps on account of the unusual nature and circumstances of the visit, and partly no doubt on account of the rarity of any of the descendants of this race of people in our vicinity at the present day, their encampment was frequented by great numbers of persons, almost denying them time to take their ordinary meals, but affording them, as if to make amends for such inconvenience and privation, a ready sale for their fabrics. On the 1st of September, they decamped and commenced their homeward progress towards Canada. “ From sermon preached to 1st Congregational Society in Deerfield, Mass. 1837
Why did this event happen? In your group, discuss and identify whether evidence in the novel demonstrated each theory. Canada was a French government undertaking. Inherent in all such is the need for progress reports, "body counts," and such documentation establishing the benefits to the government for its financial support. The New Englanders had been pressing on the Abenakis of Maine. They demanded the French show their sincerity by an attack on the English. The English, in Boston, held Jean-Baptiste Guyon, whom they termed a pirate. The French considered him a naval officer and needed a hostage of standing for exchange. So they specifically targetted Rev. John Williams for this purpose.
Extended Response Prompts • What qualities did Mercy possess that led the Indians to call her “their hope for the future?” • Mercy ultimately decides to remain with the Indians, as did Eunice Williams. Using evidence from the story and your own ideas, tell why you agree or disagree with their decision. • Ruth often refers to the Indians as “savages.” Do you believe they were savage? Support your answer with evidence from the story and your own ideas.
Resources The Redeemed Captive Reverend John Williams. HR Huntting, Co. 6th ed. 1906 http://www.archive.org/stream/redeemedcaptive00willrich/redeemedcaptive00willrich_djvu.txt “Sermon Preached to 1st Congregational Society in Deerfield, Mass” Reverend John Fessenden Aug. 27, 1837 http://www.americancenturies.mass.edu/collection/itempage.jsp?itemid=5731 The French and Indian raid on Deerfield Massachusetts, 1704 http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/gen/deerfild.html#n7 Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704 http://1704.deerfield.history.museum/home.do Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Mohawk Chiefs (title slide) http://ftp.rootsweb.ancestry.com/pub/review/2009/0513.html#Darkroom Source info: My 3rd great grandfather, Chief Joseph Delisle, is pictured with five other Mohawk chiefs of the Kahnawake’s Council of Chiefs: 1840-1889. I’ve had this photo for a long time and only recently located information on the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) historical website telling me about him. Joyce Newell Sundheim