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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life Goes On in Lachine

In the years that Pierre and Madeleine were apart, life continued for them in separate cultures. As far as I can tell, Pierre continued as a soldier while the Iroquois revenge continued around the Montreal area until the end of fall. On October 12, 1689, Pierre lost a friend and comrade-in-arms, Michel LeBourgeois. A soldier from Pierre’s hometown of Lantheiul in Normandy, France, he was killed in battle. Then, On October 25, Louis Frontenac returned from France and replaced the ineffective Denonville as governor. He journeyed to the massacre site in order to evaluate the situation himself and began work to improve the morale of the terrified Lachine population.

Despite the unease of the village, marriages still took place and babies were still being born. People began to rebuild their homes and figure out how to make it through the winter with limited provisions. On December 2, at the Lachine church, Frontenac witnessed the marriage of Jacques Chasle Duhamel, another comrade-in-arms of Pierre Jamme.

The people of Lachine – and of Quebec in general – were used to living simply, working hard and making do with what little they had, so they knew how to rebuild their lives. Pierre Barbary dit Grandmaison and Pierre Jamme dit Carriere would have been typical of the settlers in the area. Once their service was concluded, such soldiers would receive a concession of land. Pierre Barbary was older and had been in Lachine for many years, so he was fairly prosperous by Lachine standards, with a larger house on his concession and some simple furnishings. Pierre Jamme was still a soldier and, most likely, did not have his land concession yet.

But getting a land concession was just the beginning of many years of hard work. First, the land must be cleared, little by little, and the wood used to build the first dwelling – a small log cabin about 15 by 20 feet. Some of the logs were carved to a sharp point at one end and secured into the ground, while the other logs formed the walls and ceiling. Bark and grass were used to plug the cracks between the logs and make it water tight. Once the log home was built, the settler continued to clear the land and put aside the best logs to make a permanent, more solid home. Usually, the only tool used for this part of the work was a hatchet. The smaller tree stumps were pulled out, but the larger ones had to be left in the ground to rot – which took four to five years. Wood that was left over was used for heating. Next the brush had to be burned and finally, the ground could be tilled for the first crops. It took an entire year to clear a few acres and several years to finish clearing the entire concession of land.

The first furnishings were apt to be one or two wooden chests, a storage bin, a table and a few chairs. Early on, most settlers slept on pallets on the floor or in alcoves built into their homes. Most did not have linens – they used dog, moose, bear or ox skin as blankets. The storage bin was used to store flour, peas, bacon, lard and butter. With increased prosperity would come a cupboard for pots and utensils, some better bedding, curtains and, sometimes, a mirror.

So, the people of Lachine began to rebuild their lives and their homes as the winter progressed and they began to feel more at ease. In the meantime, Frontenac discovered that the Iroquois raids on Lachine and the Montreal area had been supported by firearms from the English. He asked his general, Iberville, to organize a raid into the heartland of the English colonies, and in February of 1690, Corlaer, now called Schenectady, was burned and destroyed, along with the villages of Salmon Falls and Casco.

"I don't see,” Iberville said, “the reason why we don't do to them what they've done to us in Orange (Albany) and in Manatte (New York) where they've provided arms and pay to the Iroquois to come kill the French of Montreal."

By July, the English and French were fighting in earnest. The skirmishes were so numerous, they could not be counted. The English had many successes from 1689 to 1692, then, in 1693, a detachment of 625 men struck the Mohawks hard in the Albany area. This convinced the Five Nations to negotiate peace with the French and their allies. The negotiations continued throughout 1694.

These negotiations would have an important impact on the fate of Madeleine and her brother, Pierre.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Unknown

The Barbarys had survived the Iroquois attack, with the exception of Magdeleine and her husband, but now they were captives. There were six remaining family members: the parents, Pierre and Marie, and the four children, Madeleine, Pierre, Marie Francoise and baby Marguerite. I try to imagine what it was like for them as they entered the Iroquois village. Were they able to remain together, or were they dispersed among the many longhouses? Or perhaps they were dispersed among several villages? I don’t know the answer.

What I do know is that the parents, Pierre and Marie, did not survive for long.

At the time of their captivity, the Iroquois tribes had reputations as fierce warriors. Becoming a skilled and feared warrior had gained in importance among the men as the tribes had become more dependent on agriculture. While hunting still played a large part in their lives, it did not bring the men the same type of prestige as it had in the past. The cycle of the tribes’ existence revolved around establishing a community for 15 or so years, until the soil became depleted from their crops, and then moving on to a more fertile area. This caused tensions in and between the various tribes as they sought to grab more fertile land. Waging war became a pressure release that focused animosity outward, against others, and a way for successful warriors to gain power and respect.

Taking and handling captives, an essential part of warring, became ritualized and helped bind the community together. Captives were adopted into tribal families, especially those that had lost members due to war or other calamities. Women and children were eventually assimilated, but adult males were handled differently. Here is a description of what happened to the male captives, from A Short History of Quebec:

“Captives were brought into the village and symbolically adopted into the family of a recently killed warrior before being subjected to a long ceremony, during which the whole community – men, women, and children – spent hours mutilating the victim before opening the body and eating the vital organs. The prisoner was expected to show his bravery by singing his war song and threatening his tormentors.”

Reports from Lachine captives who had survived their ordeal suggest this was done to some of the captives, while others were burned at the stake.

I don’t know what happened to Pierre, if he was mutilated or burned at the stake shortly after his arrival in the village, but his death was surely not pleasant. As to his wife, Marie – my 8th great grandmother – she may have been burned at the stake or died of grief or natural causes. All that is written is that she did not survive.

The two youngest Barbarys, Francoise and baby Marguerite, were probably adopted into families and assimilated. They were never heard from again.

To Madeleine and her brother, Pierre, it must have seemed that life with the Iroquois would be their destiny, too. What is not known is whether the newly wed Madeleine was pregnant at the time of her capture. If so, the baby would have been raised as an Iroquois.

I wonder how long Madeleine waited to be rescued before giving up all hope. As time passed and she realized no one would come for her, she must have felt that she would never again see her husband, Pierre Jamme dit Carriere.