Spotlight on Female Ancestors #4 ~ Sarah Allen ~ Taken Captive

Sarah Marie Allen, my maternal 1st cousin 8 times removed, was born on May 1, 1692, in Deerfield, Massachusetts Colony. She was the 4th of 9 children born to Edward Allen Jr (1663-1740) and Mercy Painter (1664-1740). The following is an account of the events of her life from 1704 to 1764.

In the pre-dawn hours of February 29, 1704, during Queen Anne’s War, joint French and Indian forces (including 47 Canadians and 200 Abenaki, along with some Mohawk, Wyandot, and a few Pocumtuck, all under the command of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville) attacked the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts in what became known as the Raid on Deerfield. They razed much of the settlement and killed 56 colonists, including 22 men, 9 women, and 25 children. The attackers took 112 captives, including women and children, and forced them on a months-long trek to Montreal, nearly 300 miles to the north. Many died along the way; others were killed because they could not keep up.

Among those taken prisoner was 11-year old Sarah. The prisoners were marched from Deerfield to Montreal. It took them until April 25th to reach Fort Chambly. From here Sarah was taken to a settlement on the other side of the St, Lawrence River. She was kept here for a while before being sold to Jean Quenet, a Montreal merchant. One of his properties was at Baie D’Urfe and that is where Sarah was placed as a domestic servant.

Under enormous pressure, many of the captives converted to Catholicism including Sarah. On May 30, 1705, she was baptised by the Jesuits and renamed Marie Madeleine Helene at St Anne du Bout de I’lle before her appointed godparents Pierre Lamoureux and Etiennette Hurtubise, the wife of Jean Quenet, Sarah’s master.

The town of Deerfield quickly reestablished itself and Edward Allen Jr, Sarah’s father, was named town clerk. During the following three years John Sheldon was hired to led three expeditions to Canada to rescue the captives. Edward was a member of the third expedition in 1707. He was in Montreal in August of 1707. A war broke out between France and England while they were there, and they were prevented from completing their mission. There is no record that Edward found where Sarah was or what the result was. Sarah was living and working at the home of Jean Quenet at the time which was 10 miles west of Montreal.

Sometime in early 1710, Sarah, now known as Marie, met Guillaume Lalonde (1684-1752) whose family owned a farm near the Quenets’. He was a son of an immigrant from the Normandy region of France. On April 10, 1710, she married Guillaume and in May of that same year she was granted citizenship of New France, choosing to make her life in Canada and effectively cutting off any contact with New England and her family. To become a citizen Sarah had to agree to these terms: “they could not leave the country without express and written permission, nor be employed as go-betweens with foreigners on pain of forfeiting their right to citizenship.”

Sarah and Guillaume had 13 children, 9 sons and 4 daughters. During their lifetime they lived in the towns of Baie D’Urfe, Point Claire, Ile Perrot and Les Cedres in Soulange, Guillaume died in 1752 and Sarah died in 1764 at the age of 72. They were buried in the Parish Cemetery of St. Joseph de Soulange.

I can’t imagine the trauma and fear that little 11-year old Sarah endured on her forced trip up to Canada in the winter. She saw many people killed on this trek, some for being slow, some for being sic, and some for trying to escape. One 5 year old girl was killed because the man who carried her could not carry her and supplies at the same time. She must have lived in constant fear! She lived in “survival” mode, having been sold as soon as she arrived in Montreal and at the age of 16 she was forced to change religions in order to fit in. She also had to give up her name and her country to be able to live in peace. I believe that once she married and starting having children, she was able to begin enjoying her life. She was a very strong woman!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.