Saturday, May 31, 2014
4) Researching the Life of a British Loyalist: Abner Wolcott's grandfather - redeemed, unredeemed or we will never really know.
The Wolcott Society's Working Hypothesis (that's my name for this theory!) is that John Wolcott of Brookfield in Massachusetts Colony and probable ancestor of Abner Wolcott as well as the Mylotts of Whitehall, Hudson Falls, and Waterford, NY, was captured as a young teen in 1708 by French allied Native Americans. He was restored to his New England Wolcott family in Brookfield after 7-8 years of living with indigenous people and acculturing into their native community. Upon his return to Brookfield, his family bestowed acres and acres of land to him, he participated in the local militia, married his sister in law Dinah Walker, impregnated her but ultimately abandoned his Wolcott family, and wife soon before their child was born.
The abandonment of his birth and wedded family, his Protestant religion, and his English colonial community caused such a trauma that a myth was created by and for his English brethren to come to terms with his voluntary withdrawal from their community and religious beliefs. The Myth said John Wolcott was killed on a hunting expedition on the Connecticut River and thus he never rejected his birth family.
The Wolcott Society Hypothesis states while the myth spread, John Wolcott was really alive and well living north of Fort Number Four along the Connecticut River and he started another family, possibly with an indigenous woman, while providing for them by hunting and trapping. He severed all contact with his English family but likely continued to be in contact with the Abenaki who were pushed northwards, out of New Hampshire lands to areas along the St Francis River and Lac St Francis in Quebec. Supporting the hypothesis, the society cites the small island in the Connecticut River that came to be called Walcott's Island! Here it is on Google Maps: Walcott Island along the Connecticut River.
At first glance the entire story appears contrived and made to fit the DNA evidence acquired by the Wolcott DNA project. However, several years ago I read, and reread, "The Unredeemed Captive" by John Demos. Being familiar with the story of Eunice Williams, a captive of the Deerfield Raid who was born within a year or two of John Wolcott and who declined restoration to her New England family, made me believe the story presented by the Wolcott Society with the support of DNA evidence may be right "on the mark". As I recall Demos's story of Eunice, her English colonial community sought her return because they believed the worst possible outcome for a captive would be that she convert to the papist faith and abandon the Puritan moral world view. That is likely the personal conflict John Wolcott struggled with when he returned to Brookfield after his captivity. Ultimately, he made his choice - if the Wilcott Society has it right!