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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Captivity

On the night of the massacre, it is believed that only one of the Barbary family members was killed. The records are sketchy, but suggest that Marie Magdeleine, the eldest of the children, was killed with her husband, Andre Danis dit Larpenty, a soldier with the di Lorimier Company.

Magdeleine had been married before, in 1684 to Jean Tillard, when she was about 16. The couple had one child, a girl who they named Marie Madeleine. Unfortunately, the baby only lived for nine months. Then, in 1688, Jean died leaving Magdeleine alone. Six months later, on June 21, 1688, Magdeleine married Andre.

The couple had been married just over a year, and may have been staying with an unmarried Barbary neighbor, Noel Charmois. Andre was probably on leave at the time and enjoying the company of his new wife before returning to his duties at the fort. Records show that both Larpenty and Charmois were killed, along with an unnamed wife. Although this provides strong evidence, the conclusive location of Magdeleine's death may always remain a mystery, as many bodies in Lachine had been burned by the Iroquois, and couldn't be identified.

The six remaining members of the Barbary family - Pierre, Marie, Madeleine, Philippe, Marie-Francoise and two-month-old Marguerite - survived the massacre only to be taken as captives, along with between 90 and 120 others. An eyewitness, Geodon de Catalogne, wrote, "around 10 o'clock, we saw them go around the island of La Presentation as there was a well-manned fort there where three Iroquois were killed".

I try to imagine the Barbarys, exhausted and frightened, huddled together as the Iroquois launched their canoes into the water. They must have watched with sinking hearts as the shore disappeared, along with their still-burning village.

Most likely, Pierre Jamme dit Carriere was at the fort, as he was not taken captive that night with his wife, Madeleine. One can only imagine his anxiety as he waited, unable to attack, with the rest of his troops. It is not known how long it was before he received news that his wife was still alive.

As the canoes floated within view of the Iroquois village, the Barbarys would have seen many longhouses built on terraced land and connected by a network of paths. The Iroquois longhouses were 20 to 30 meters long and about 7 meters wide and covered in bark. Inside, each longhouse had several fireplaces and raised platforms around the edge where related families slept and where food was stored. Close by, there would have been cultivated fields with crops of corn, squash, beans and sunflowers. Perhaps they saw Iroquois women working in these fields as the canoes drew closer.

As the Barbarys stepped from the canoes that day and onto the soil of the Iroquois village, I wonder if any knew what fate had in store for them.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lachine

Lachine, the home of Pierre and Marie Barbary dit Grandmaison and Pierre and Madeleine Jamme dit Carriere, was a center for the fur and alcohol trade. Located on the Island of Montreal it was a natural stopping point for ships. Further on, the ships would reach the unnavigable Lachine Rapids where they would have to transport their goods overland to reach calmer waters. Warehouses stood by the river's edge that stored the furs and alcohol, ready for transporting to their markets.

The Mohawk Indians, part of the Iroquois nation, brought furs to the warehouses to sell. At first, they were not overly concerned about the French fur traders in the area, as they benefited from their trade. But by the latter half of the 17th century, they became agitated as settlers moved into the area and cleared land that had been valuable hunting grounds. Relations between the settlers and the Mohawks became strained.

In 1687, two years before Pierre and Madeleine married, the governor of the area, M. Denonville, invited the local Indian tribes to a festival of games and feasts to be held at Cataraqui. As the tribes arrived, a number of tribal chieftans were seized and placed into captivity. Later, they were forced into hard labor and taken to France to be exhibited as curiosities. Needless to say, this added to the tension between the Mohawks and the settlers.

With their chieftans gone, it took some time for the the tribes to regroup, but when they did, they created a plan for revenge.

The night of August 4, 1689, was stormy with rains falling heavily as the settlers in Lachine went to bed. By then, there were 320 people living in this community of farms and homesteads. As they slept, 1000 to 1500 Iroquois paddled silently across the river in their canoes and set up a base camp to the west of Lachine. Then they moved swiftly through the wooded areas along the river and surrounded the farm houses and homesteads. At a signal, they attacked and slaughtered a good number of the settlers.

But some escaped. A doctor hid in the woods and returned later to offer help to those who were still alive. Anther man ran to the closest military camp of 200 soldiers only to discover that the commanding officer, Subercase, was at a dinner in Montreal with governor Denonville. The soldiers did not want to act without his command, so the man was sent on to Montreal to find Subercase.

When Subercase arrived back at the camp, he was angry to find that his soldiers had done nothing as they waited for his return. He quickly organized them, along with other residents in the area, to launch a counter-attack. His scouts reported that the Indians had broken ino the warehouses and had consummed much alcohol. Subercase realized he had a good opportunity to attack while his enemies were drunk, but orders arrived from the governor to hold a defensive position and not to attack.

Subercase and his soldiers watched helplessly as the Iroquois eventually left their base camp with over 100 prisoners and paddeled to the opposite shore. All night, torture fires could be seen burning along the river and the screams of the victims filled the dark hours.

But what happened to Pierre and Madeleine Jamme dit Carriere and the Barbary dit Grandmaison family?