Great chapter! thank you so much! she is a very clever girl. but I have to say that I'm glad I don't live back then..... but only because I would not be able to stand all those clothes the women had to wear!!! LOL! I'd have to go with my native side pretty quick!
Got the corn and rhubarb planted today... corn sells here at $2.50 cob... so it would be nice to get some. We'll see if it survives the moose.
That evening Sarah sat in the living room with Tawit and her uncle. Capt. Morden smoked his pipe and they watched the fire in the fireplace. Tawit was eating a plate of fry bread covered in blueberry preserve.
“I have three dresses to make, Uncle,” said Sarah. “With Lucy’s assistance, it will take about a week to make each dress. I will make the dress of the Commander’s wife first. Then I will make the other two so that they are delivered on the same day. I was going to have Sara and Mary work on the hem seams, but realized that you might not want them to be learning those skills.”
“As you say, life takes you in unexpected directions,” said the Captain. “They had best learn as they may well need to be able to ply a needle in the future. Now I am going to take the boys out to my field, to start to get it ready for planting. It is only a quarter acre strip, but it will enable us to have more vegetables than I could grow here. Now, what will Sally be doing? You did not mention her assisting you.”
“Sally is having some challenges adjusting to our new way of life…” hedged Susannah.
Tawit snorted. “I have been speaking with Wahta and he is to go with the men to bring back the women of Jaysburg…
“I knew it!” shrieked a voice as a body burst into the room… “I knew you would try to take Martin away from me.”
Susannah rose swiftly and smacked the hysterical girl across the face. “Enough Sally! You will not behave this way in this house. You are no longer a child and this place has no room for hysterics.”
Sally glared at her and turned to Capt. Morden. “I cannot believe that you would allow a slave and a half-breed to run this house! It is appalling that you allow properly brought-up young women to endure this!”
Tawit glowered. Before the Captain could answer, Susannah laughed.
“He is my uncle. Miss Abigail is not a slave, she is a paid servant. You are a guest, and a badly behaved one at that. Your mother would be appalled. As for Wahta, he has told you repeatedly that he views himself as a Mohawk. Temper tantrums will not bring him closer. He is going to get your mother and the other women, something you said you wanted. So be grateful.
“Tomorrow morning, you will get up at 6am and you will help prepare meals. Since you have proven that you are not willing to work with a needle, you will help Miss Abigail with the housekeeping and meal preparation. I seem to reall that this was something you were quite good at. Your mother would boast of your cooking skills in our shop to the other ladies. The boys will be dealing with the livestock and the fields. If your behaviour is not exemplary and you do not do your work, then tomorrow night, Capt. Morden shall beat you.”
“Excellent,” said the Captain. “You young lady will do as my niece has directed or you will learn a hard lesson. If I hear from any of the neighbours that you are stirring up problems or interfering in my niece’s new business, you will be extremely unhappy. They are at least contributing towards their new life. So far you are not showing yourself in a very good light. You are dismissed. Go to bed.”
Sally stood there gapping like a guppie. Then her countenance changed to pure rage. Turning on Susannah she said in a low venomous tone, “You will pay for this. You… Owe!”
Capt. Morden had caught her by her ear and pinched hard.
“I think Tawit… I believe that Sally here might benefit from a month working for Mistress Best,” he said. “They have seven children, five under six. You will stay with her and work there. Susannah, please go and collect Sally’s things. I will take her over now. Mistress best will have supper dishes to be washed and she can start there. “
Susannah went and collected Sally’s bag. It had not been unpacked and was still knotted. Catain Morden then led the fightened yet defiant-looking girl out the door.
Tawit then burst out laughing.
“What is so funny Esices?” asked Susannah.
“Mistress Best is a Mohawk woman, and the country wife of one of the 84th Highland Regiment’s soldiers. She is kin of your mother’s… and adopted sister I think... She’ll straighten Sally out quickly,” said Tawit with a smile.
The next two and a half weeks were a flurry of activity as the boys came home exhausted from working in the fields. When people had seen how well they worked, they were hired by several other soldiers to prepare their plots for spring planting. Felix and Aaron were particularly proud of themselves. They made a good team and the Captain was lavish with his praise of their efforts. It also kept their minds off their families.
Susannah with the help of Lucy and her sisters finished the first gown in five days. Madam looked very elegant as she walked into Church on the Sunday on her husband’s arm. It had cost her £11 to have made. At a point in time when £15 could be a working man’s annual income, and a family of four was in poverty at £40 per annum, even a middle class income was only £100/annum, so the ability to spend £11 on a dress was luxury beyond what most could ever hope to afford. The two ladies waiting for gowns were now doubly eager to have theirs completed. At £6 each, the printed cotton dresses a l’anglaise had their skirts draped a la polonaise were not inexpensive, but the fashion plates they had chosen the dresses from had been printed in Philadelphia in January and so they would be at the height of fashion. Altogether the ladies were thrilled with their dresses and Susannah was £23 richer than she had been. She set aside £3 for Lucy and £1.50 for each of her sisters. She then contributed £5 to her uncle for their care.
“That is very much appreciated Susannah, but I can afford your upkeep,” he protested when she tried to give him the money.
“I know that, uncle,” said Susannah, “but I would feel better knowing that I had contributed to our care. You had to hire Miss Abigail and she has been so wonderful. At home a good housekeeper was about £12 a year, so I hope that this can be added to her salary, if nothing else.”
“A fine idea! Alright Miss Susannah, I will accept your contribution towards paying Miss Abigail,” smiled Capt. Morden.
Sally sat in the kitchen of Mistress Best’s house. The weeks of hard work were taking their toll. The soft slightly pudgy child was gone leaving a fit, determined young lady. Her fury with Susannah had become tempered by the fact that she really did know that it was her own doing that had got her there. But Lordie, she had never worked so hard. Mistress Best kept an immaculate home. She had one slave and now Sally to help her and the oldest of the Best girls, Lilly and Anne, never stopped working either. Everyone was nice but they really worked and they didn’t let her slack either. She thought back to how she had wheedled her way out of work, and her mother’s exasperation but indulgence.
Sally thought about what Susannah had been through. First her mother dead, then she finds out that her father is dead but he wasn’t her father because her mother had been married to some Indian… She also thought about what being half-breed meant. It meant only that Susannah’s mother was English and her father an Indian… Susannah still seemed to be the same take charge girl she had been back in Jaysberg with her life neatly organized and… and here she had slid into her new life with barely a ripple. At church she had listened to the ladies exclaiming over the new gowns. They had asked her about Susannah and she found herself telling of Mrs. Morden’s skill and the quality she had demanded of Susannah.
Sally had to admit that her mother had always held Susannah up as an example and finding out she was a half breed seemed to her to be the appropriate means of social readjustment but Susannah was just forging ahead… People of quality were patronizing her… Sally found it confusing. Perhaps if Susannah had moaned and wailed about it, then Sally could have been magnanimous in saying it didn’t matter… well not much… perhaps just a little… But with Susannah treating the revelation as trivial, it made it impossible for Sally to be generous and yet able to put Susannah in her correct social place.
Then she had learned that Mistress Best was not the lawful wife Sgt. Best. When she had looked shocked, Lilly Best had simply quoted an old French proverb:
Boire, manger, coucher ensemble
C'est marriage, ce me semble. 1
[To drink, eat, sleep together
that's what marriage is, it seems to me].
Sally had been scandalized and yet once again people of quality broke bread at their table, treating Mistress Best as if she were the lawful, church-formalized wife. She was confused as the tidy pigeon hole boxes of Jaysberg came apart.
Later that afternoon, the Rev. Bethune had come by. Despite him being Scottish and a Presbyterian, Sally felt that he was a good person to talk to.
“The world that you live in now is much bigger and more complex than it used to be back in Pennsylvania and there are many sorts of people that you will meet here who are new and whose customs are unknown to you. If you don’t open your mind and learn to accept the differences in others,” he told her. “You know… the Canadian half-breeds often swagger with two genealogies -- a European commencing with a lieutenant du roi, and an Indian, from some celebrated chief. I met one half-breed, a man tolerably well off, who had engraved both his French coat of arms and his Indian totem, an otter, on his seal-ring2…
“You know Sally, we are all God’s children and it is not your job to stand in judgment of others. When your mother gets here, I am going to talk with her about sending you to school in Quebec City. It may seem far away, but the Ursuline Sisters run a very good school and have an excellent history of launching young women into Society. I suspect that you are going to be looking for a marriage and not a trade, so we had best position you well to catch a husband.”
“What about you, Reverend?” asked Sally somewhat boldly. “You said that you are engaged.”
“Yes,” replied the blushing minister. “I am engaged to Veronique Waden dite Vadebonnecoeur. Her mother is French Canadian and her father is Swiss, a soldier turned fur trader. He is bougoisie. This year he and his partner are licensed for 3 canoes. My Veronique is a pretty thing and well educated. Her father has been in the northwoods for the past decade. Mme Waden manages the business and very shrewd she is too. Like her girls she was educated by Les Soeurs de Congregation.”
“I don’t think I would like to have a husband who is away so much,” said Sally thoughtfully.
“No perhaps not,” agreed Rev. Bethune. “Every person is different. My father was at home and working on our farm. Veronique’s father seeks the peltry. Now, I also want to talk to you about Wahta..”
“Martin,” said Sally with determination.
“No, young lady,” said the Rev Bethune with steel in his voice. “His name is Wahta. If you want a relationship with him, then you will have to adjust to the fact that he is the adopted son of the Longhouse, that he is Mohawk. He and I have spoken at length. He has no desire to be a farmer or a shop keeper. He wants to be a warrior and a hunter. The boy Martin was died when he was captured. He became a man trying to save your father. You have been told this repeatedly. Very soon Wahta will lose patience with you and you will lose any opportunity to be a part of his life. When she arrives, your mother will struggle to accept that, as will all the other women from Jaysberg. You will have a golden opportunity to lead them in accepting what is now the truth. They should be back soon.”
Mary Ostrander sat quietly by the fire. She longed for the beautiful rocking chair her husband had carved her. She missed him desperately. He had been a good husband and father. At night her bed was empty and she longed for his presence… even his snoring… Now, her seat now was a stump. How far they had fallen. She had lost more weight since they had been set free. There is no freedom in starving to death when you are not permitted a gun and your garden has been destroyed. From time to time, small baskets of food would appear at their door. Those were days of joy as at least they could feed their children. Soon they would start to die. She stretched her hands out towards the small flames and savoured the warmth. She got cold so easily.
She heard a sound at the window for a moment her heart leapt and then it crashed before it leapt again, this time in terror. Three Indians slipped in through the door. However could she have forgotten to bar it?! One came over and knelt down in front of her. His dark red top knot, greased with bear fat and stuck with crow feathers. She could not see him. In her fear, she saw only the Mohawk man.
In stilted English, he said. “Once in another life, I called you Mommy and you called me Martin. I am now called Wahta. Sally and the others have made it to us in safety and are being cared for. Tomorrow night, we will come back and get you and the Mistresses Miller, Blauvelt, Carpenter and Seegers and the nine children. Bring only what you can carry on your backs. Sleep well tonight and tomorrow for the journey is long and we will not have horses until the evening of the first day. Good night Mommy.”
He kissed her thin worn cheek and they were gone. She sat there stunned as tears coursed down her face. She ran to the door. She flung it open but there was only the dark of the waning moon. Slowly she closed the door and this time barred it. She would have like to believe it a dream, but now she had work to do and the others needed to be told. A slow flame of hope was lit inside her. Perhaps… perhaps there was a future… She went and woke the other women.
===== 1. Source: Hunt, David. Parents & Children in History: The Psychology of Family Life in Early Modern France (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1970), p. 64. From: The Founders of Green Bay: A Marriage of Indian and White by Jacqueline Peterson https://www.uwgb.edu/wisfrench/libra...s/marriage.htm
[B]2. Source:[/B] KohL J.G. Kitchi-Gami, Wanderings Round Lake Superior (London: Chapman and Hall, 1860; Reprint ea., Minneapolis: Ross and Haines. 1956). P.297 From: The Founders of Green Bay: A Marriage of Indian and White by Jacqueline Peterson https://www.uwgb.edu/wisfrench/libra...s/marriage.htm
The next morning the women and older girls set about gathering all the food they could together. Trying to see what they had for the journey. While the others bustled about with renewed purpose, Mary was still in a daze. Had she really seen Martin the night before? In her mind she could only see the young Mohawk warrior… But the way he had said “Mah-me” was how he had said her name as a young boy… was it really possible… She fingered the beautiful woven fabric of the shawl that Thomas had given her when they were courting, and she put it beside the family bible. So few things they had… She had been going to sell it for food, but this morning there had been another basket. At the bottom, under the apples, had been five bags of pemmican. Not a lot, but enough to start a journey.
“Is it a trap?” asked Molly in her whispy voice. “Someone knows…”
“Vell zey are wanting us well and day help us,” said Constance with confidence, her Dutch speech patterns still intact after five generations in New York. She and Johan had been such a solid stable influence in the community and Mary knew that Constance missed her Johan as much as she missed her Thomas. She and Thomas had named their first born after their neighbour, the man who had helped them build a life here where all was supposed to have been possible…
“Ma!” shouted a couple of strong voices. If their windows had had glass, six year old Jacob and eight year old David would have shattered it with their yelling. “Look we caught squirrels!”
“I helped!” yelled an indignant George Seeger, six years old stomping his feet. He was determined not to be left out of anything.
“Oh thank you Lord!” exclaimed Mary as she bustled forward to take the skinned, cleaned and only slightly mangled squirrels. She quickly chopped them into the stew pot. Sixteen year old Alice had found some ramps while scavenging and they were added too. Yesterday, Mary had found a good stand of purslane and she chopped it up, using it to thicken the stew as they had no flour. She had used the purslane stalks as long noodles in soup earlier in the week and figuring out how to eat them had amused the children for quite some time. The children had also collected a mess of cattail roots and the tender young stalks.
At noon they all sat for a meal. Grace was said and then the children were all tucked into bed for a nap. The women looked around them and also settled. Except Mary who sat at in the front door in the sun with a pile of mending. Nancy Miller nodded to her and walked down the road into the village.
“George Cullen!” exclaimed Nancy Miller. “We know that you don’t have to pay the top pound you would have paid two years ago, but at least offer him enough to end his days in Philadelphia. He served the community well as Mayor. You know good and well he aided the Patriots on every possible occasion as I did myself. My husband and child being taken in a raid are not things we could have helped. What if you had been taken? Would you want to see Caroline left like this?!”
The neighbours were now listening in and nodding. George Cullen scowled and wondered how he had lost control of a good fleece. In like lambs to the slaughter, the two had finally walked in…
“George you get that fine yellow clapboard house – 12 twelve over twelve windows across the front! With a white picket fence and my mother's roses! The fine suite of Philadelphia Chippendale-style furniture is staying in the parlour and dining room. You get the home gardens – 2 acres ready to be planted with seed. You get all the farm equipment plus the 100 acres that is cleared and ready to be plowed. Moreover this land comes with both warrant and patent, so you will own it clear and without fear of Government seizure. It is worth the full £15 10s*. You saw what happened last year with some of the other cleared land on the Susquehanna when the government began to label people squatters and forced them off land they had spent ten years clearing. You will have the comfort in knowing you won’t have that happen.
“And won’t Mistress Caroline look the lady in that fine house! Doesn’t she deserve all that and more for giving you ten children in twelve years. She’ll be able to take her rightful place.”
With the neighbours murmuring their support George Cullen knew he was bested. His wife wanted that house. It would look good and that Nancy Miller always had known her stuff, but how her husband had put up with her mouth… he’d have had to beat her just for the peace of the hearth. Now his Caroline had learned quick enough…
“Right now,” said George Cullen taking control. “I’lls pay yuz the £15 10s for the 100 acres, £5 for all the equipment and animals less the horse and small cart, £20 for the house…”
“£30 for the house…” interjected Major Miller wanting some say in the deposition of his property.
Cullen nodded “£30 for the house, furniture and the 2-acres home garden, for a total of £50 10s.”
Cullen was well please. It was a full £25 less than he had offered the year before but he looked good to the neighbours for not taking too much advantage and that Nancy was right Mayor Miller had been good to him and his family.
Cullen counted out the money into the Mayor's hand.
“We’ll be gone by the end of the day,” Mayor Miller told him. The men shook hands.
It didn’t take them that long to pack up. They went through the house and took the Mayor’s clothes, the linens and quilts…
“I’m never going to need that many girl!” said the Mayor.
“No, but some of those ladies have one blanket for them and several children. You are going to be giving them to the children.”
“Really!” He swallowed hard. “Really?”
“Nancy-girl,” he pleaded. “I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Exasperated, she lifted her head and looked at him. He had become an old man and he looked grey and exhausted.
“Really Papa? You had no idea? You were with us. You knew we came back to nothing but an empty house… and some of those given away to others too. What did I have left? Nothing? We have one table, three chairs and a bunch of stumps to sit on! Now here are Mama’s things, we’ll take them. The ladies all need clothes and her trinkets we can keep or sell if we need to.”
Nancy left her father dithering over a few small items and moved down the hall past the spare bedrooms, she made a mental note to remind Caroline Cullen that the hay ticks were several years past needing replacement for all that they looked good. In one room she stopped and removed three samplers from the wall – hers, her mother’s and her grandmother’s. She looked at hers for a moment. A life in these samplers... She had done hers when she was nine, in 1756. It had the usual name and date “Nancy Miller. By the grace of God of Philadelphia in the year of Our Lord 1756.”, followed by the numbers and letters, and then her childhood view of their red brick house with its tiny garden in front. It still pleased her and she really should get her girls doing theirs. A thought struck her that perhaps in this there might be a livelihood… She had learned to do this from a widow lady… Perhaps wherever there went there might be some students to teach this to as well. In a side drawer she found the sampler she had made of all the stich patterns***. With it were the boxes of silks that her mother had kept for her needlework projects. She smiled. Perhaps her verse had been well chosen after all:
Let me O Lord my Labour So employ
That I a Competency may Enjoy**
Still looking at the sampler, she remembered with a giggle the day she had met Tom Miller, about their last names being the same. He had said it made it simple and marked her for his own. So big and handsome compared to the boys off the boat from England. He had made her feel precious and protected, instead of oversized. He had a swagger and an ease of movement to him that made him a man amongst men twice his age. He had been twenty-eight when they had met. A veteran of the French & Indian Wars, a fur trader and scout, ready to settle down with a comely lass… well he’d wanted the lass but the settling down had come hard in town.
They had married when she had turned sixteen. She had been mad that her parents had made them wait. She was almost the last of her friends to marry. She had had James the next year and two little girls before she was twenty. Her little angels, who had died of fever on the same days as her mother and been buried with her. She and Tom had wanted nothing more than to run away and so they had left Philadelphia for the frontier, settling on the Susquehanna. The hard work had made them a team and his disappearance, along with their son, had been devastating. At least, she still had Anna and Mary.
Molly Seegers sat on the bed in her house. Around her, littered on the floor were pallets filled with children sleeping. It disgusted her… So many people in her house… That was the crux of it. This was her house and she didn’t want to leave it to go off somewhere else. With everyone else gone, she could go back to her old life. She could get her garden planted and make a life her for Georgie and herself.
While the others pined for their husbands, she could only be grateful hers was gone. He’d been a hard man. Uncouth and rude in his speech and habits... She shuddered at the memory of his touch. Marriage was nothing like what her Mama had promised with a beautiful house, fine furniture, servants and elegant dinners. Instead Martin Seegers had demanded that she cook and clean. He had brought her out of Philadelphia to the middle of nowhere. He had even insisted that they share a bed! It had been outrageous. Her parents had always had their own rooms. Years of his 'abuse' had made her secretive and she had many things squirreled away... yet another skill learned from her Mama. Something that she had no intention of telling the other women about. She would not share. She would do without in the short term rather than share, they were hers.
Last week, she had gone to the new minister and asked how she could get her husband declared dead. He had seen the attractive blonde woman, heard her whispery voice, and fallen like many had for an illusion of pretty daintiness that masked a core of self-absorption and self-centeredness that beggared belief. He told her that Pennsylvania would declare him legally dead after ten to fifteen years without contact, but from the Church’s viewpoint, without a witness to his death, he would be forever alive. She was content with that. She might not be an official widow, but a grass widow was safe. She could not be forced to remarry.
She thought long and hard about Georgie. The older two boys had become like their father and she had been glad to see the back of them. Could she mold Georgie to her liking or would this coarse life make him hard too? Perhaps he ought to join his brothers… How could she contrive to be left behind?
Nancy pulled the small cart around to the back of the house. It wasn’t big but packed right it would carry what they had and some of the children too. Into it she put the last two sacks of flours, the smaller kettles, the griddles, roasting spits and cranes from the hearth. There was a small sack of oats, and two of parched corn. She took the last of the cone of sugar and the box of salt. Hidden at the back of the pantry was a casket of salt beef. She shook her head… here they were starving and her father had so much squirrelled away. She looked around and then sat for a minute.
With a burst of decision making she took out one of the bags of flour and proceeded to make a huge batch of bannock biscuits for the journey. As they cooled she put them into the pillow case. She smiled knowing that she still had three-quarters of a sack of flour left. She had been going to leave one of the smaller kettles behind but now she filled it with three diced turnips, two diced carrots, two diced onions, three cups full of the beef brine and one chopped piece of salted beef. She left it to stew while she packed the rest away in the wagon.
At this point her father finally appeared in the kitchen. He looked so old and lost, that she sat him down with a cup of cold water. She walked through the rest of the house and closed the windows and pulled the shutters closed. She fingered the drapes and smiled. The silk was still good. Perhaps they could become dresses for herself and the girls. She left the gauze drapes in place but removed the heavy green silk. She did the same with the blue silk in the dining room. She rolled it carefully so that it would not crease and then popped it into another pillowcase.
She was about to close the door when the silver caught her eye. She fitted the pieces into their box and locked it. She carried it through to the kitchen.
“Papa?” she asked softly. “Have you done your office?”
“Not much there,” he said sadly. “The Committee took most of it. All they gave me back were the letters your Mama wrote me when we were courting and those from my parents. I also got the Bible back.”
“I’ll go and get them,” she said. “You stay here.”
She stirred the pot and went into his office. She took the letters and the Bible. She found the deeds for the property and tucked them into the pocket of her apron. She then checked the secret drawers of the desk. There wasn’t much hidden away, a little bit of money, her mother’s wedding ring, and then a piece of paper that would have done them all in had it been found. She found a letter from Johan Blauvelt to herself, advising of the death of her husband and John Morden. It was dated one month after the raid. She wanted to scream… all this time… all this time that she and Alice had waited in vain, that Constance had cried… her father had known… all this time.
It was shortly after five o’clock in the afternoon that the Millers left. They met George and Caroline Cullen in front of the gate. Caroline looked so excited. Both had dressed in their best. The children were bright-eyed and on their best behaviour. The Mayor sat stiffly on the wagon and Nancy agreed with their darting looks of concern. She gave them the deeds and key to the front door. The Cullens wished them God-speed and Nancy took the horse’s lead and they headed out.
Along the Village main, women stood in doorways. Some waved and wished them well, while other glared. Other doorways stood empty. Nancy could not have cared less either way. Maybe someday it would matter but for now… now she would have to tell her girls… tell Constance… deal with her father… get them all out of town.
Hi all... life is a bit crazy right now in the Lake household. The Great Lake and I have been up to our alligators in work at Church so things have been a bit delayed here. In honour of the War for Independence that was going on, I am giving you this game that you can download for free from the Library of Congress (one of the best institutions your country ever pulled together!) Click here: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pga.03362/ and you can download it in whatever format best suites you. Have a fun Sunday after noon with this one and I hope that Susannah & Co. will be back with you soon.
In the fields of Carleton Island, Felix Carpenter was leading his team planting corn. The boys had got the job to plant all but two of the field strips. The other two were being worked by slaves.
Felix sang: What did we do when we needed corn?
The boys answered: We plowed and we sewed ‘til the early morn.
Back and forth went the call and refrain: What did we do when we needed corn?
We plowed and we sewed ‘til the early morn.
Then they all sang the chorus: For our hands are strong
Our hearts are young
Our dreams are the dreams of all ages.
Gotta keep a dream, a keep a dreamin’ on.
He sang again:
What did we do when we needed a town?
They answered: We hammered and we nailed ‘til the sun went down.
What did we do when we needed a town?
We hammered and we nailed ‘til the sun went down.
Then they sang the chorus and the third verse What shall we do when there’s peace to be won
When it’s more than a man can do alone?
So we’ll gather all our friends from the ends of the earth
To celebrate at the hour of birth. We’ll plow, we’ll sew, we’ll hammer and we’ll nail
We’ll work all day til peace is real
Mmm, mmm, mmm-mm… Corn.
The boys worked hard. Those that hired them got value for their money. Capt. Morden was pleased not to have problem attached to his name. The Commander was relieved not to have a parcel of badly behaved Monkeys adding to his troubles. The boys were glad to have coin in their pocket and they took Susannah’s lead in giving Capt. Morden some of their pay to pay Miss Abigail for their keep.
Miss Abigail, now the happily married Mistress Jones, a free woman of colour paid for her labours, was proud to work for the Captain. She and Susannah had seen each other clearly from the start, and long term Miss Abigail saw Susannah as her key to getting off the Island. Neither she nor her Jerimiah were country people. He had trained up as a cobbler and he wanted to get back to the business of fine ladies shoes. In Miss Susannah, he saw the opportunity for a partnership.
Susannah had also been doing some planning on paper. If everyone made it through, there would be a lot more kids. How to accommodate them… Well the girls could all bunk in at the house… It would be tight but they could manage in the short term. So in addition to the five mothers, there were a dozen girls. She wrote down:
Alice Carpenter age 16
Myself age 15
Sally Ostrander age 13
Lucy Blauvelt age 13
Anna Miller age 9
Sarah Morden age 8
Nancy Blauvelt age 8
Sarah Blauvelt age 8
Jane Carpenter age 8
Mary Morden age 7
Mary Miller age 7
Jane Morden age 5
And the nine boys could camp out in the yard in a tent…
Felix Carpenter age 14
Issac Blauvelt age 13
Hyrum Seegers age 12
John Carpenter age 12
Ben Carpenter age 10
Aaron Seegers age 10
David Ostrander age 8
Jacob Ostrander age 6
Davy Morden age 5
She hoped that they would all make it. With the mothers arriving, she would be shed of looking after all but her own four siblings. How were they going to feed them all here? What about schooling? The only thing she knew for sure was that the fort was a limited source of employment for herself and she needed to be in a larger center and soon.
The barn was on fire. Soon its roar would awaken the neighbours and they would come running. Nancy Miller watched it take hold before turning her horse and following the rest down the trail. They were burning any retreat. Time to press forward… Time for actions instead of passive acceptance... Her father rode behind her. He didn’t look back. His color was still really bad and his breathing was harsh. She worried about him. Her girls rode together ahead of her, on one horse, with one of the warriors. They were on their way towards something... a new life... a future.
The Mohawk had come silently about two in the morning. They had been able to bring horses after all and so the wagon had been broken and a few items had been sacrificed and now lay strewn and trampled across the farm yard. Their meager goods were packed onto several of the horses. There hadn’t been much in the house and the bits that there were had been thrown out windows, parts of the garden had been trampled. Molly had watched in dismay. Then the children had all been tossed up to the waiting warriors and were gone.
The remaining warriors had then set fire to the empty barn. When they had moved to torch the house, Molly had protested so vehemently that they had left it. The women had then been helped up and they rode pillion away from Jaysberg. The thatch on the barn had now caught fire and the erie light danced around the large clearing.
All were relieved to be going, except for Molly. She bawled and wailed until one of the warriors had smacked her. The warriors stopped only briefly about fifteen minutes after they had got underway. A few of the children had been shifted around between the riders, but while they did that, Molly tried to run back. The men turned to go after her, but Allison put up a hand.
“Let her go. She never really wanted to come. While we made plans for the future, she could only moan about what was being left behind.”
“But her son!” said Constance in a shocked voice. “Should we let him go after her?”
“No,” Allison said. “Did you ever actually watch her with the boys? She never hugged them... Never praised them... Georgie learned to read last year. At age five! Did you ever once see her give him something to read? She never spoke of the other boys. Never spoke well of their father. Don’t believe me, ask George… Also did you ever note that as thin as we all got, as thin as Georgie got, Molly never did. Bet you a dozen eggs that she has food hidden in that house…”
Constance looked at her then walked over to Georgie.
“George you’re getting to be a young man now. Do you want to go back with your mother or join your brothers.”
Constance later swore that Georgie couldn’t get his words out fast enough.
“I’ds rather bees an Injun captive than goes back.” He told Constance.
“Let’s move on then,” said Allison nodding at the warriors.
Only Hawk held back. No one had recognized him yet and Molly Seeger’s behaviour bothered him a lot. He caught up to her in the glade just outside the Seeger farm boundary. In the distance, he could hear the roar of the fire and people shouting. A thick column of smoke rose. But Molly had paused to watch the rising sun. She then proceeded to mess up her hair and to rip her clothes. He watch as she ripped them in places to reveal just a bit more than might be appropriate to show. She scooped up mud and rubbed it into her arms, legs and cheeks. She was giggling and laughing to herself. He could hear her singing…
“I am free!” She laughed and spun around, and began to sing a snatch of song… Hawk’s breath caught as she sang part of Dickinson’s Liberty Song.
“Our worthy forefathers --- let’s give them a cheer
To climates unknown did courageously steer
Thro’ oceans and deserts for Freedom they came,
And dying bequeathed us, their freedom and fame
In Freedom we’re born
And in Freedom we’ll live…"*
He notched his bow and quickly sent two arrows flying. The first caught her in the back at her right shoulder. The second caught her in the derriere. She screamed in surprise and pain. Soon people were running across the field.
Hawk walked over and knelt beside Molly. He raised her head by her pretty blonde hair.
“I will raise Georgie to hate you and all that you stand for. He will come one day for your scalp… you who are not worthy of three fine sons.”
He dropped her face in the mud and melted back into the woods to watch.
The first group of people reached Molly. The men looked at her and the arrows and recognized that she was running for home when shot down. They also recognized that she had been shot where it would hurt but do no damage. Following her footprints a short way back, they saw only her prints. There was no sign of Georgie... Had she abandoned her baby to save herself?
One man then stood-up and looked around and listened.
“They are still here. The Indians have not left. Let’s get her back quickly.”
The other man straightened and looked around wildly. Hawk smiled and slipped away.
It's Canada Day - July 1st. From the foundation of New France in 1608, we grew as a nation through our infancy and youth until in 1867 when we became the Dominion of Canada. Today, we celebrate the 147th anniversary of our formation as an independent nation.
So raise the Maple Leaf in our honour - we'll be having a weenie roast down by the river as we take turns of flyfishing for salmon.
You are having a weenie roast? - are you not sure you are going to catch any salmon, or are they for the weekend?........
Enjoying your story very much.......did you note that all Family Search LDS registrants now get free Ancestry.com, My Heritage and another site......FREE.......saves me $300 p/a - you probably know this already.
Sorry folks, life got crazy there for a bit... funny how that happens...
Chapter 18... cont.
They rode long and hard that day, putting as much distance as they could between themselves and Jaysberg. No one was sure if there would be trackers sent out after them or if a token search would be done and then they would be written off. There was a small concern over what Molly Seegers might say, but in the end it was decided that she had enough sense of preservation to keep her mouth shut.
They stopped about noon to have a bite to eat and rest the horses. The children ran around quietly and splashed in the stream. The day was warming up and the mosquitos and blackflies were already busy. A quick application of bear grease resolved that issue. After the rest, everyone was mounted up again and they headed north. They stopped a couple of times, melting back into the woods, to let groups of people go by. Only once were they seen, by a small boy. Hawk put his finger to his lips and the boy nodded and remained silent. It amused Hawk that small children could see so clearly what adults were blind to.
They rode on until sundown and on into the dark. The children dozed on the horses.
It had been late when they had stopped and there had been no fire. The last of Nancy's stew was eaten cold. By morning, everyone was chilled and stiff from the length of the ride and sleeping on the ground. Several of the girls were verging into whiney territory but their mothers shut it down pretty quickly.
Nancy Miller looked at her father and knew that he would never make it, where ever it was they were headed. He leaned back against the trunk of a huge oak, its strength seeming to make a mockery of his weakness. His skin was as grey as the bark. Hawk stepped up beside her.
“He does not have long,” he told his mother.
“I know,” she replied. “I didn’t know until three days ago that you were still alive. I had hoped in my heart, but I did not know until I found the letter. I would like to think if I had received it earlier, that I would have had the strength to let you stay. The Safety Committee* would have taken you for the Continental Army, so you have been better off. I have missed you though and missed seeing you grow.”
“It was confusing at first," Hawk told her, "but we already knew more Mohawk than I had thought, so the language came easily. English takes work now,” he smiled at his mother. “You do understand that this is a one way trip?”
“The physical one we are on? Or the one that made you an Indian?” she asked.
“Ah! You do understand…” he said.
He left her side and knelt beside his grandfather, who sat leaning back against a tree. His breathing was harsh and strained.
Leaning over, he whispered in the man’s ear. “I have her Grandpa. Mama is with me now. I will keep her safe.”
“Good boy, James,” came the reply. He tried to rally himself. “I need to see Nancy and Constance… Need to tell… Got a letter… Should have told sooner… Scared they’d get hurt if they knew…”
“Mama knows…” Hawk whispered to his Grandfather.
Nancy knelt beside her father. “I found the letter Papa. I’ll tell Constance. You rest. You’ll need your strength, we be leaving soon.”
“Have… gone… as… far… as… I… intend… to…” He was gasping hard for air now. “I… have… different… journey…” He paused and then tried again. He got, “Love… you…” then his face changed, softened, and he stilled. He opened his eyes once more, smiled at his daughter and said with wonder, “It’s beautiful.”
Nancy caught back a sob. Hawk patted her arm awkwardly. The girls crowded in seeking comfort. Nancy kneeling beside him, closed his eyes and kissed his cheek. Tears streamed down her face as she stepped away.
Hawk turned away and nodded to his friends, then and looked at his grandfather. With an efficiency born of practice, he stripped the old man’s clothes and packed them away. As he did so, two of the Mohawk took the shovels and quickly dug a grave. Hawk and Finn laid him in the grave as Nancy and the girls watched. They covered him and laid as many rocks as they could quickly reach over the grave.
One of the older men came over to Nancy.
“I am sorry about your father. I am sorry that I have to tell you that we need to be moving now. There are people on the trail behind us and we need to get out of here.”
Nancy nodded and she climbed on her horse. Mary was lifted in front of her. Hawk took Anna up behind him. Mary was murmuring.
“What are you saying, Mar-Mar?” Nancy asked her daughter.
“I am praying Mommy,” she said. “There was no preacher to say words over Grandpa’s grave, so I am asking God to look after him.”
“That is a very good idea. Please ask Him to keep an eye on us as well. We have a long way to go.”
Turning their horse, Nancy pointed them north.
* The correct name for what I called The Treason Committee was the Safety Committee.
Constance was worried. She and Nancy had been friends for nearly 20-years. Something was clearly bothering her friend, something more than her father’s passing. In the privacy of her heart, Constance prayed for forgiveness. She had never liked the old man. While he had been a good mayor, he had been domineering, without tact, and he had treated his daughter not much better than a slave. The first bit of freedom that Nancy had had was running that tavern, and then that too had been taken away. Then when they had come back, he had sat in that fancy house of his while they all piled into Molly’s house, barely a blanket between them and rarely enough food to eat. He could have helped but he hadn’t.
At the evening’s stop, they sat by a small campfire, Nancy and three of the young Mohawk had come round to sit beside her. In Nancy’s hand was a crumpled letter.
“Firstly, these young men are Hawk, Sawatis, and Towi:ne.” Nancy pointed to each in turn and Constance nodded without looking.
“I cleaned out my father’s office four days ago,’” Nancy blew out a breath and tried again. “I was cleaning out the secret compartments in his desk and I found this. It still makes me so angry… I am trying to forgive as he’s dead but truthfully I am still so mad I want to dig him up and yell at him. This letter was sent to me a month after the raid. It was to tell Alice and me that our husbands had been killed in the raid. He said he kept it back to allow us to be protected by our ignorance. You’d best read it yourself. There is no real preparation for its contents.”
Dear Mistress Miller,
It is with profound regret that I advise you of the death of your husband, several hours after the raid which took us all from Jaysberg. I can say only that he fought bravely and died with honour. We were taken by the Lenni-Lenape. Your husband and Johnny Morden were injured during the raid. Their wounds serious but the men were both still mobile.
During the night the Indians began to argue amongst themselves. Suddenly two of the men drew knives. They killed Morden and your husband as they lay on the ground. Less than an hour later, the Lenni-Lenape melted into the woods and we were rescued by the Mohawk.
I recognized Tawit, a Mohawk that Johnny Morden had known, and after much discussion it was decided that we would join the British at Carleton Island – at Fort Haldimand in Canada. Tawit has arranged for the boys – all of whom are just fine, your James included - to stay with the Mohawk. He said he would care for our children as we care for his. Really there is not much choice – either they go with the Mohawk or the Patriots will take them. At least this way we may see them again.
Please tell Constance of my love for her and my regret that I cannot get back to her more quickly. With God’s own luck, we’ll all be home soon. I will try to write soon. Again, my condolences.
Constance read through it. Then again.
“They are all alive?”
Sawatis and Towi:ne spoke quickly in Mohawk. Then both dropped down beside Constance.
“Yes,” the young men said together.
“We last saw father two moons ago when his unit left for New York to conduct raids. Our cousin, Johan Ryckman serves with him,” added Sawtis.
“I would not have recognized you,” said Constance softly. “You are both almost men.”
Constance turned to Nancy. “Don’t cringe. If your father was still living I’d have skinned him alive, but we’d best find it all out. Hawk can you get Mistress Carpenter and Mistress Ostrander to join us, then come back yourself. Time we get all the cards on the table.”
The other ladies joined them. In the fading daylight, Constance faced them letter in hand.
“It would appear that Mayor Miller knew more of what was going on than he let on. He would likely never have told us had Nancy not cleaned out his desk and found a letter of condolence from my husband. Johnny Morden and Tom Miller were injured during the raid and killed by the Lenni-Lenape that night. The men and boys were then rescued by the Mohawk and taken to Canada, to a place called Fort Haldimand. There the men joined the British colonial troops and the boys were adopted by the Mohawk.
“Hawk here is Nancy’s son.
“Sawatis and Towi:ne are my sons.
“No between the three they will tell us what else is going on. Okay men time to start talking.”
Hawk nodded to the other two and began to speak.
“Masters Blauvelt, Carpenter, Ostrander and Seegers and all the boys made it to Carleton Island. There the men joined up with Sir John Johson’s King’s Own Regiment. Johan Ryckman also joined up. The rest of us were taken by Tawit and Miss Molly Johnson and divided up amongst the Mohawk families at the Carleton Island encampment.
“We had to fight several times along the way and in one skirmish George Carpenter and Thomas Ostrander were seriously wounded. We were able to get them to Fort Haldimand but all the skills of the Fort surgeon and the medicine woman were not enough to save them. They were given a Christian burial at Carleton Island.”
Mary and Allison burst into tears. So much hoping… only to have it stripped away.
“The Carpenter boys both survive. Finn is still called Finn and he is married to Onwari and they are expecting a baby. Martin is just as tall and thin as ever and so they called him Oha:kwaront or Heron. As you know it was Wahata who came to give you the timing and he used to be called Martin Ostrander.
“Susannah Morden arrived safely with her sisters and brother and they live in their uncle’s house. She has taken in the all the other children who arrived four moons ago. She has found them work and kept them occupied so that there have been no issues with the garrison commander. Or I should say, all except Sally, who now works for another family as their maid. She has learned many skills and will now be of much help to you Mistress Ostrander.
“Susannah is as skilled a seamstress as her mother and she has being making mantuas for all the officers’ wives at the fort. She will be going soon to Montreal. You should know that she has been told that Tawit is her father, born to her mother during her captivity by the Mohawk. Her parentage will make it impossible for her to live amongst the English, so she will instead settle amongst the French. The Rev. Bethune’s soon to be mother-in-law is assisting with this.”
It was a quiet night, so much information imparted, and everyone’s emotions were raw. As it grew dark and the woods closed in, a small fire was fed and water boiled for tea – the drink of the Englishman. Despite the soothing warmth, the pemmican proved hard to swallow through tears, and so each woman sat, huddled with her children, rearranging her dreams now that new information had been input. At least each now knew what had happened on the 23rd of July 1779 and now they faced a new life in an unknown land.
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