Guerre entre Anglais et Sauvages

By Juliana L’Heureux

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It is rare to find a family genealogy linked to the brutal history of colonial America’s "Guerre entre Anglais et Sauvages" (French and Indian War). Actually, the nasty, and bloody history of this colonial conflict hinders interest in stories about families who were split up and massacred as a result of this war.

From time to time readers ask questions about French and Indian ancestors. Typically, a French and Indian marriage will create problems for genealogists because the intermarriage is not generally recorded by a Roman Catholic priest. 

At least, for York resident Jim Hogan, the French and Indian wars gave his family fascinating information about their unique history. 

"My sister Gloria Kirk from Tyngsboro, MA, has done genealogical research on the Canadian side. Two of our ancestors, a boy and girl, were taken prisoner in Indian raids. As prisoners, they were taken up to Canada. Both wound up in the same location. At a tribal meeting, the Indians wanted to marry the two off to other members of the tribe. A Jesuit priest saved the day. After the tribal meeting ended, he called the two into his tent where he then proceeded to marry them", writes Hogan. 

In fact, Hogan traces his heritage back to the marriage of Samuel Gill, who was taken at the age of 9 from his home in Salisbury, MA, in 1697. He was married to Rose James, another English captive who was taken from her home near a mill in "Quenibanc" (the Indian name for Kennebunk, in Maine). The abduction and marriage of these two children was recorded in "Histoire Des Abenakis D’Odanak (1675-1937)", a French language book written by Thomas M. Charland. 

Both children were held captive by the Abenaki Indians. In another related heroic story, their abduction and efforts to rescue by them and other prisoners was attempted by "Rogers Rangers". These stories are vividly described in "Histoire".

"Samuel Gill et mademoiselle James on du s’epouser vers 1715, devant le Perre Aubery," (they were married by Jesuit Father Aubery).

In the story, it appears mademoiselle James was a Protestant who was baptized as a Catholic when she married the Frenchman Gill.

As a result of the marriage, the couple was responsible for a "large number of descendants". Some were children born of their marriage, but others were a result of their children marrying Indians of the Abenaki tribe who captured them. 

One son born of their marriage was Joseph-Louis Gill. He was born in 1719, and subsequently became an Abenaki chief named "Magwawidobait". Although Joseph-Louis was English, he thought and spoke like an Abenaki Indian. During the French and Indian Wars, he was granted a commission as major by General George Washington. Chief Magwawidobait fought with the colonials against the French. A record of his commission is on file in the US National Archives, in Washington, DC.

It's not clear from this fascinating story if the Gill clan can be traced through the Abenakis tribe, but it sure would be a golden opportunity for frustrated genealogists if records were kept of these particular marriages. Actually, some genealogies from the marriage of Gill and James can be found on the "Odanak Families Menu", on the Internet. 

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Published on April 29, 1999
Copyright 1999-2000, Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine and Juliana L'Heureux