WYFP? has quite a history of bringing up and airing out family problems. I could use this diary to air out my own and get some perspective except that I'm just too damn tired of thinking about and talking about my relatives.
So what did I do? I dug into the archives and read some posts from my relatives. As it turns out, a couple of them have been long-time contributors to this series, in particular, but like many kossacks with low uid, they've "gone dark."
In the interest of perspective, here are some blasts from the past.*
*What is below is rarely fiction. Really. So WYFP?
WYFP is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?Deerfieldgrrl, April 5, 1704:
I found out today that my half-brother Martin took off with some other boys to head south. He's always been self-centered that way. Anyway, my life has been quite a mess since the French and Indians attacked the town on leap-year day. Mother was the smart one. She hid under the washtub until she could escape through a window. The rest of us had to walk through the snow for days and days until we reached this Mohawk town, Caughnawaga. My father was taken across the river to Mont Real, where the Frenchies live. I suppose he's going to be ransomed like most of the adults. All of the kids were left here. Well, almost all of us. My baby brother Benjamin had his head crushed against a tree because he wouldn't stop crying on the long walk.
Deerfieldgrrl, June 3, 1711:
My brother Joseph says he's going to head south and miss my wedding. He's been so full of himself since he became the first Englishman to visit the Mississippi River. What he doesn't like to talk about is how much trouble he got into near the Kankakee River when he and those French fools he was traveling with got drunk and couldn't keep it in their pants around the local girls. Anyway, Evans and I are very excited about our marriage plans and my Kaniengehaga (not “Mohawk;” that’s a slur from the Mahigans that means pretty-much “man-eaters”) family is surprisingly supportive. Not many captives marry each other. We usually marry into French or Indian families. Well, there is Evans' mother's family, the Micmac, but they're kind of out of the picture. I wish his father could be here but he died in a snowdrift with his dog a long time ago. On the other hand, if Evans had not been orphaned, he would not have been sent to live with the hospitallers in Mont Real and we would never have met! The baby gave me a swift kick today...
Deerfieldgrrl, July 8, 1729:
Mother is ill and I'm going to head south to Connecticut to be with her. I'm going to bring Nicodemus with me and Joanna's oldest, John, but I have to say good-bye to the other boys. Who knows when I'll see them again? Samuel was particularly upset about being left behind but there's just not enough money to bring him along. Joseph was able to get some cash out of the Massachusetts General Court by writing to them that I needed to be persuaded to come and that he is "obliged to take an Indian Man & Boy, with whom she lived, to make her easy, & to promise that he would use no Force with her to keep her from returning to Canada, she being bigotted to the Roman Catholick Religion." Nothing opens up a Puritans' purse quite like the possibility of snaking some converts from the Catholics. They've already spent bags of money trying to get the Reverend Williams' girl, Eunice, to be "redeemed" and go back to New England. I don't think she ever will. Anyway, my Kaniengehaga family is terribly sad that I’m leaving…
Deerfieldgrrl, May 5, 1735:
Samuel is angry beyond words at having to move to New Jersey but his strong French accent makes folks around her suspicious of him. You’d think being a cousin of the River King Dickensons would make him safe but nooooo. I’d send him to go live with his uncle Joseph at Fort Dummer but I’d always be afraid that one of the locals would shoot him. They get mighty trigger-happy at those frontier posts. As it is, he and all the other boys, plus Joanna’s boys, will live with the Reverend Dickenson (Momma’s cousin, God rest her soul) near Elizabethtown. It’s going to be awfully quiet around here after he leaves. I suppose I should look for some diversions. I hear the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, from Northampton, will be speaking down by the river in a couple of days…
Deerfieldgrrl, August 3, 1745:
The tongues of the old biddies around here are on fire since they found out Benjamin Ashley and I are a “couple.” Older women like me don’t get married to younger men (twenty years! And it’s delicious…) unless we’ve got money. I surely don’t. On the other hand, Benjamin can be hot in other places besides bed (oh, get me a fan) and he makes people uncomfortable with the passion of his religious separatist opinions. We’re going to move to Stockbridge after the wedding. My half-brother Martin (he’s a weasel and I have no reason to trust him, but…) runs a school for Mahigans and Kaniengehaga there and can get Benjamin a teaching position. I will do what I can to link up with my Kaniengehaga family; I’m sure there’s a need for an interpreter. I might even convince Samuel to bring his wife Marie and my newest grandson Nathaniel to live there. She’s a Kaniengehaga, after all. Sure didn’t hurt that my brother Joseph became best friends with King Hendrick Theyanoguin at Fort Dummer. Hendrick’s Bear Clan membership made Samuel acceptable to his future father-in-law, the sachem of the Bear Clan. I bet he gave my son the stink-eye the first time he showed interest in Marie. Well, that and how Samuel shows allegiance to the Leni Lenape (Englishmen call them the Delaware).
Deerfieldgrrl, October 9, 1751:
I am so angry, I could just spit! At the request of my Kaniengehaga family, I was hired to interpret for the Reverend Jonathan Edwards when he delivered a sermon at the treaty conference in Albany. I was overjoyed at the prospect because Edwards awoke me to the service of God. I was not only going to meet a hero in my life, I was going to help him serve God! Nevertheless, the fool spewed a sermon that could have made a huge mess of things if I hadn’t been there to soften and explain some of his metaphors. Over and over, he kept talking about how the sinner is a captive of Satan’s mercy, just like a captive of Indians. Either he didn’t know that I am a “captive” from Deerfield (and there were “captives” from many times and places at the conference) or he chose to ignore its significance. He ranted about how “being in sin” was like being taken “captive by barbarous Indians.” Then he babbled about how sinners were like cannibals ready to eat an innocent child. My “man-eater” family (how long will the “Mohawk” slur continue? Probably will never die out…) became visibly upset at the insult but he thought he was winning them over! He described the roasting of the child and the cutting open of its skull to fill with rum…I couldn’t translate that, so I made up something about catching a fish. I’m about to go talk to him and he’d better listen. His new job at Stockbridge is going to be a disaster unless he drops his captives and cannibals themes.
Deerfieldgrrl, March 2, 1757:
I have to go south to the Susquehanna to rescue my grandson, Nathaniel, Samuel’s boy. The war is going to grab him up if I don’t. He should be safe here at the mission in Onaquaga with his Kaniengehaga relatives. I suppose his mother will come along; she and Samuel are breaking up over which side to be on in the war. I’m angry with Samuel and my other sons. I know they are trying to play the middle between the French and the English but I just don’t see how that’s going to be successful. I blame Joanna’s boy, John, who now calls himself Teedyuscung. The Quakers in Philadelphia have filled his head with delusions of being the leader of the eastern Leni Lenape and a go-between with the western peoples. The fact that he’s an alcoholic sure doesn’t help. He’s charismatic and brilliant until somebody puts a jug in front of him. Maybe, just maybe, he can bamboozle his way into a treaty that will let them all live where they are now.
Delawareboy, November 11, 1764:
It is overwhelmingly cold here in the Philadelphia barracks. Many people are becoming sick and a few a dying. The Irishmen in the English uniforms who are here to protect us from those crazy white men from Paxton are being much friendlier. I wonder, though, if it’s because we’re getting to know each other or whether it’s because I share the tribe’s rum rations, paid for by the Society of Friends and a local printer, Benjamin Franklin.
I have a letter from my son Nathaniel, who goes by “Nett” these days. He is safe and happy in Cochecton, or as the locals call it, “Cusheytunk.” Thank God my mother, rest her soul, took him north. I understand the Kaniengehaga revere her as “Wausaunia” (the gate) now. I suppose it’s as pretty a name as Rebecca.
Anyway, I could do, and today can do, absolutely nothing for him. He lives as a white man and I’m an Indian on the run. It helps that my step-father married Nett’s wife’s mother. Nett is protected by his family connections, which is some joke. Look at what happened to his uncle Teedyuscung last year! Burned alive in his cabin. And earlier this very year when his mother, my ex-wife, Marie and her babies were slaughtered by that bastard husband of hers, David Owens. That animal wanted Nett to take the scalps of his own half-sisters! I have to assume Owens didn’t know that Nett was my son and just thought he was another Kellogg captive…