Eunice Williams, taken captive in the Deerfield, Massachusetts raid in 1704, at the age of seven, lived the rest of her life among the Kanienkehaka (Mohawks).
Eunice bridges the cultures of the indigenous and colonists in America. A true example of courage, love and peace.
In 1704, the Williams' home was attacked during a raid led by French and Mohawk fighters that became known as the Deerfield Massacre. Eunice's six-week-old sister and brother were killed by hatchet . Eunice, her parents, and four of her siblings were taken captive and forced on a strenuous march northward. The next day, her mother was killed by hatchet after she fell while crossing the icy waters of the Green River.
One Who is Planted Like an Ash
Eunice and the surviving members of her family reached the area near Montreal, where she was adopted by a woman who had recently lost her own daughter in a smallpox epidemic. Eunice was given the symbolic name Waongote, meaning "one who is planted like an Ashe", and was instructed in the Mohawk language and customs. The years passed.
The Unredeemed Captive
Negotiations were commenced to ransom Eunice and her 2 siblings.
In 1713 Rev. Williams learned she had married a Mohawk brave, named Arosen. He hired a trader in Albany, who was friendly with the Mohawks, to visit her in Canada to urge her to return to her family in Deerfield. The trader, John Schulyer, reported that the girl and her husband were brought to him, but the girl no longer knew English.
artist: Francis Back
"She looking very poor in body, bashfull in the face, but proved harder than steel in her breast"
Eunice had several children and remained married to Arosen. Eunice and her Mohawk family frequently travelled to Albany, NY to trade furs. Her Deerfield family heard of her Albany visits. Eunice visited her 'white' family in Deerfield -- actually 4 times. Eunice, her husband and children camped out in the woods, near Deerfield. In that era the story of Eunice was troubling to the Puritans: the mixing of the "heathen" culture was outside their realm of thought.
A wonderful Opera about Eunice's life has been produced, "The Captivation of Eunice Williams". Opera info: The opera explores the incredible journey this young girl made and how she bridged cultures. The production was present on the Mohawk Reservation, Kahnawake, where she had lived.
Bridge to Cultures
In the words of Kenneth Williams, her descendant:This (story) speaks of the most powerful force in the universe, whether a Mother's love for a child, a brother for a sister, or love of one's country. We should not forget these things."
Video - Opera excerpts & descendants of Eunice Williams speak: