Eunice Williams, the young white girl who refused to return to her family after being kidnapped by Native Americans


Queen Anne's War raged along the frontier in 1704. The French and English battled for control of North America, and the Mohawk and Abenaki tribes sided with the French against England.

A band of Abenaki and Mohawk Indians attacked Deerfield on the night of February 28, 1704. They murdered 39 people, including children. They pillaged property, set fire to homes, and slaughtered cows, pigs, and sheep.

The Indians kidnapped 112 people, including the surviving members of the Williams family: John, Eunice, and five of their children, Samuel(15), Esther(13), Stephen(9), Warham(5), and Eunice, who was 7 at the time. Then they began the two-month journey into New France through the snowy wilderness. The children and their father would make it through the long winter journey alive. Their mother, on the other hand, died somewhere along the way.
A 1913 reenactment of the abduction of Eunice WilliamsPhoto by New England Historical Society

The Indians had taken the Deerfield pastor and three of his children, Esther, Samuel, and Warham, to Montreal by April 1704. The four were all handed over to French authorities. Eunice Williams was taken by the Indians to live with Catholic Mohawks in Kahnawake, a small mission fort near Montreal.

When John Williams went to see his daughter, she begged him to take her with him. He instructed her to pray and remember her scriptures. She'd told him about a French Catholic missionary who forced her to pray with him. she told her father,

"I don't understand a single word of [the prayers], I hope it won’t do me any harm.”

By 1706, five members of the Williams family had been ransomed and returned home. Eunice Williams was adopted by a Mohawk family who had lost a daughter to smallpox. The family renamed her A'ongonte, which means "she who has been planted like an ash". She was also Catholicly baptized and given the name Marguerite.

Her father attempted to arrange for her release, but the French intermediaries denied because the Mohawks were unwilling to release her. Her father would spend the rest of his life attempting to free his daughter. The Williams family was devastated to learn in March 1713 that Eunice Williams had married an Indian.

John Schuyler, a New York merchant with substantial contacts with northern Indians and traders, paid her a visit in Kahnawake. Schuyler begged her to return home to her family. She refused, even for a visit. Schuyler maintained contact with her Mohawk family in an attempt to redeem her.

Her father paid her a visit the following year. She didn't even give him a friendly smile. He never saw her again after this and passed away in 1729.

Eunice's brother Stephen took on the responsibility of bringing her home. He had become a minister in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and he persuaded her to join him in Albany, along with their brother Eleazer and brother-in-law Joseph Meacham.

On August 27, 1740, they had a bittersweet meeting, and Stephen persuaded Eunice and her husband to spend four days with them in Longmeadow. They stayed a little longer, camping in the orchard near Stephen's house.

The following summer, Eunice and Aronson took their children to Longmeadow to see Stephen, then to her sister Esther, and finally to her brother Eleazer. Eunice Williams and her family visited Longmeadow and Deerfield in 1743 to spend the winter with her brother Elijah. Stephen hoped that this extended visit would persuade her to stay, but she declined once again.

Her last visit to Stephen was 17 years later, in 1761, when she came to Longmeadow with her husband, a daughter and son-in-law, and a grandchild for a short 10-day stay.

In 1771, she wrote Stephen a letter in which she scolded him for not keeping in touch and expressed her wish to meet him again. Stephen passed away in 1782, never seeing Eunice again. She passed away on November 26, 1785, at the age of 89 outliving all her siblings.

Source: New England Historical Society

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Saurabh is a Computer Science & Engineering undergraduate student pursuing his writing interests. He enjoys researching current events/news as well as Evergreen Topics and has also been writing on Medium, Quora and Vocal.


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