Ancestors Taken Captive by Native Americans

Ancestors Taken Captive by Native Americans

The colonial wars of the 1600s and early 1700s in America witnessed a lesser-known yet poignant aspect of conflict: the taking of captives. This practice, a byproduct of the complex interactions among European colonists, indigenous peoples, and colonial powers, involved many of our ancestors along with many others. The captives were predominantly women and children, as the French and Indian captors considered them more likely to successfully integrate into their societies. Some captives faced tragic ends during raids or on the grueling 300+ mile trek to Canada, but many found themselves integrated into Francophone society, baptized into the Roman Catholic faith, and even married in New France, their lives taking new and unexpected paths. Some captives were adopted into Native families, reflecting a practice of cultural integration and replacement for lost tribe members, others were ransomed and returned to their original communities. These events of captivity were deeply intertwined with the broader themes of cultural misunderstandings, territorial disputes, and power struggles of the era. Each group—be it indigenous tribes or colonial powers—was navigating a rapidly changing world, vying for survival and dominance. The captives found themselves at the intersection of these complex dynamics, their experiences reflecting the intricate web of human relationships and survival strategies in colonial America.

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Elizabeth (Meader) Hanson Captivity
Elizabeth (Meader) Hanson Captivity
There is a small possibility that we are related to the Hanson family from Dover, so I spent some time researching them. During my research I came across this extraordinary story. It is a first-hand account Elizabeth Hanson (maiden name Meader) from Dover, NH. Although I have yet to find a familial connection, I am including it here because it is a remarkable account by a woman living in the same place and time as our ancestors. 

Wikipedia article

Elizabeth experienced a harrowing ordeal of Native American Abenaki capture and captivity in 1725, along with four of her children. Five months after their capture, Elizabeth and two of her children were ransomed by a French family in Canada. Her husband, John Hanson, managed to secure their release and find another daughter, but their eldest daughter, Sarah, remained behind.

Elizabeth and John Hanson had nine children together. During Dummer's War, when the Abenaki first attacked their area, Elizabeth, a Quaker, refused to take refuge in a garrison. On August 27, 1724, she and four of her children, Sarah, Elizabeth Jr, Daniel, and her two-week-old daughter, were taken captive. Two of her other children, Caleb and Ebenezer, were killed during the capture.

The journey to Canada was particularly challenging for Elizabeth, who had recently given birth. The lack of nourishment and clothing made it difficult for her to feed her newborn. However, Native American women showed her how to make a nut and corn infant formula, which saved her baby's life.

Elizabeth's captivity narrative, "God's Mercy Surmounting Man's Cruelty," published in 1728, provides a detailed account of her experiences. It reflects heavily on her Quaker faith and views on her captors and the French who eventually helped secure her freedom. Her narrative became popular for its insights into Native American captivity and the role of women in colonial New England. Elizabeth Hanson passed away in Dover, New Hampshire, in 1737.

An engraving depicting Native Americans returning captured white colonists to their families
An engraving depicting Native Americans returning captured white colonists to their families
By After Benjamin West - Library of Congress, originally published in William Smith, An historical account of the expedition against the Ohio Indians in the year 1764, 1766., Public Domain,  

Linked to AUSTIN, Mary, BRACKETT, Anthony, BRACKETT, Capt Anthony, BRACKETT, Elinor, BRACKETT, Joshua, BRACKETT, Keziah, BRACKETT, Mary, BRACKETT, Samuel, BRACKETT, Seth, BRACKETT (DADEY) (HILL), Sarah, BRACKETT +, Mary, CORSON, Abigail Louise, Living, Living, HILTON, William, MESTRE** DIT PLAGNOL-ADAMS, Marie-Ursule "Mercy", MITTON, Anne, MITTON, Mary, MOORE, Mary, MOORE, William, NASON, Richard, PARKER, Mary, PARKER, Mehitable, PITMAN, Abigail Gabrielle, PITMAN, Mary, SARGEANT, Mary, SARGENT, John, SARGENT, Thomas, SIRIEN DIT LANGLAIS, Louis Philipe, TOZIER, Ann, WILLEY, Abigail, WILLEY, Elizabeth Marie, WILLEY, Judith

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