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Saturday, February 13, 2010


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.

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