3 September 2014
The Unredeemed Captive- A Family Story From Early America, John Demos, Vintage Books, April 1995, New York
Finding out who you are, through hardships and ease, is the main focus of this book. John Demos wanted to write a story, and in this story the main focus is figuring out how to adapt to your surroundings and the circumstances that you have cannot control to best survive. With this he weaved a tale about a colonial town that was not prepared for what happens to it, and its residents.
The story starts in Deerfield, in October of 1703 with a time of trouble. The town is in danger of being ransacked and taken over by Indians. The townspeople contemplate reinforcing their stockade but before any decisions can be made or building begin, a couple of young men in a field are ambushed and dragged to Canada. After this incident the town leader, Reverend John Williams, pleaded for the taxes put on the town to be relieved temporarily during the war that is breaking out. The governor allows for taxes to be abated and adds sixteen soldiers to guard the town; the townspeople start to build more into their fortification and begin to feel better about their safety. After a couple of months the soldiers are withdrawn and some of the families housed in the fort return back to their original homes. By February of 1704 there have been reports of Indian attacks near to Connecticut Valley, alarming Deerfield that attacks may be coming nearer to them. The garrison soldiers’ return and the townspeople move back into the fort to protect themselves from any attacks that may occur. The book’s setting then switches to Montreal, Canada in October of 1703, where the French are preparing for war using domiciled Indians as their soldiers. Theses Indians, joined with small parts of the French army go attack the English colonies in New England, loot their villages, and capture their people. The French and Indians travel to Deerfield and wait for an opening in their defenses, at about four in the morning on February 29, 1704, they sneak into the village, and break into houses, breaking windows and doors to gain access. The townspeople will try to escape, some succeeding, others captured or killed in the process, others hide in cellars to escape the attack. The minister’s house, the house of Reverend John Williams was specifically targeted as he was a precious character to the town’s function and acted as a leader for the community. The Indians bound him and left him for an hour while killing two of his children and his slave, insulting him, and threatening to burn all he owns (Demos 19). They then transported John Williams and the rest of his family with them, to Canada. Some of the townspeople attempt to take back their neighbors but end up barely escaping. On the way to Canada John’s wife dies, and he and his children separated into different tribes and different parts of the country. Eventually John ends up going back to New England and getting most of his family back. The Indians refuse to give his daughter, Eunice Williams, back and “that the Indians would rather cut out their hearts than part with their adoptive captives.” He bribes the Indians and after many years of arguing and bribing they finally let him visit Eunice. By this time she is sixteen and married, she goes by either here Mohawk name, Kanenstenhawi or her Catholic name, Marguerite. She dresses as an Indian and only speaks Mohawk. Her husband, possibly a spy in 1709, is with her, he is also an outsider to the Mohawk community as he was not born into it and did not live with the Mohawks most of the time. They sit through the meeting with her father, although she never speaks. In 1720 she has a son, although he is barely recorded. In 1729 John Williams dies and Eunice inherits part of his estate, though she was not aware of either his death or her inheritance. After her father’s death her brother, Stephen...
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