Montour Discovers Roots in Historic Deerfield
When he submitted his application to Deerfield, Jordan Montour ’13 had yet to learn about the deeply rooted familial ties he had with the town.
His family story began during the legendary Deerfield Raid, in which French and Native American forces attacked the settlement of Deerfield, killing 56 and capturing 109. The attackers led their captives on a 300-mile march to what is now Quebec.
Among those abducted was seven-year-old Eunice Williams, who is also Montour’s great-grandmother “eight or nine times back.” Eunice was the daughter of John Williams, a Puritan minister who lived in Deerfield during the 17th and 18th centuries and whose name is bestowed upon a Deerfield dormitory.
Eunice and the other captives were taken to Kahnawake, a Mohawk reservation located just south of the island of Montreal. Entering as a young girl, she soon became a fully integrated member of the Mohawk tribe. She married a Mohawk man, François-Xavier Arosen, and had children with him.
Montour and his family still reside in Kahnawake, alongside many others of Mohawk descent.
Despite being able to trace his lineage even further back to John Williams, Montour thinks of Eunice as really beginning the family he identifies with. “I usually link my heritage back to Eunice, because she kind of really started the Mohawk family, not John,” he said.
Today, many of the settlers who were involved in the Deerfield Raid are buried in the cemetery behind Field. “As a family we’ve gone to the cemetery and looked for and eventually found John Williams and his wife’s tombstones,” Montour said. “Obviously there’s more of an emotional attachment to [Deerfield].”
Montour embraces his family history and said it even had some influence on his choosing Deerfield. “I think it’s really cool to have some ties to the school and town that most people don’t have,” he said. “There’s a contrast between two sides of my family, one planted here and one still in Kahnawake.”
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