Friday, September 14, 2012

a romantic tradition ...

… true or false? Years ago I found a tradition in my New England lines regarding my seven greats grandparents Joseph Adams and Margaret Eames. Margaret was born 8 July 1666 in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and when she was not yet ten years old, in February of 1676, Indians attacked their home when her father was away and killed her mother and two or more of the younger children. Margaret and at least two of her brothers were taken to Canada by their captors.

The tradition I kept running across in other people’s work was that Joseph Adams and Margaret Eames met and fell in love when a group including Joseph went to Canada to redeem captives including Margaret. I finally found a source for this in William Barry’s History of Framingham, published in 1847:
"Tradition throws an air of romance upon the fortunes of Margaret, the daughter. The colonial government having despatched [sic] some agents to obtain the release of captives detained in Canada, one of their company was in his own turn captivated by the attractions of the daughter of Mr. Eames, whose release he obtained, and whom he soon after made his wife.”
Certainly it is so that Joseph Adams and Margaret Eames married 21 February 1688 in Cambridge and Joseph was some ten to twelve years older so was of an age to be part of an expedition to redeem captives at some time after the 1676 capture. So, there is circumstantial evidence that the tradition is possible, but what is the probability?

Over the years, decades actually, I had looked for additional evidence but it was not until I found Cambridge Cameos by Roger Thompson that I found any clues whatsoever. This book is subtitled “Stories of Life in Seventeenth-Century New England” and primarily relates the cases of a number of disputes in Cambridge from 1652 to 1686. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with ancestors in this time period in New England, not only in Cambridge. None of the incidents Thompson discusses directly concern the Adams or Eames families but bits and pieces appear as witnesses et cetera, most particularly Margaret Eames herself and Joseph’s parents, John and Anne Adams.

After the 1676 destruction of his home and family, Margaret’s father Thomas Eames moved back to the Menotomy area of Cambridge later West Cambridge (1807) and then Arlington (1867). John and Anne Adams had remained in that area since at least 1658. John had brought his wife and child, born in England, to Cambridge as a servant to Joseph Cooke by 1650. He later (perhaps after working out an indenture) purchased land at Menotomy.

In 1686, Elisha Bull and John Watson had a dispute about hogs, their ownership and damage done by them. This was not an uncommon difference of opinion. Margaret Eames and John Adams both testify as neighbors of Elisha Bull, placing Margaret as redeemed by 1686, age 19, and that the Adams and Eames families were living in close proximity, both neighbors to the same person. This commonality of community reduces the probability of the romance as does the fact that they were not married for at least two years after her return although I have yet to discover the timing of her redemption.

Looking again at these families and time period, I did find that Joseph’s sister Mary had married Margaret’s half-brother John Eames, brickmaker, perhaps as early as 1670, certainly before the Indians destroyed the father's farm. So these families were also already connected closely. The families continued so as later, Joseph’s niece Anna Patten, daughter of his older sister Rebecca and Nathaniel Patten married Margaret’s slightly younger brother Nathaniel who also escaped or was redeemed from captivity.

Conclusion: although the idea of this romance is intriguing, it is likely of limited or no truth as their marriage was likely anyway due to proximity and prior connections. This is especially so because we have no information yet as to when Margaret was retrieved nor if Joseph was part of any redemption mission.

1 comment:

Heather Rojo said...

Aren't Roger Thompson's books great? Everytime I pick one up I find another ancestor!