52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 3 prompt — Unusual Name

Looking through my family tree I found that I have a few unusual female names all from one particular family.  I am actually related to this family only through marriage. These ladies are the great aunts of the husband of my 3rd great aunt. (Glad my Family Tree Maker program will generate the relation to me automatically because I would probably still be trying to figure that one out. Ha!Ha!)

Anyway, this family has the surname BIGELOW. They were a Puritan family who lived in Berlin, Massachusetts. They had 3 daughters; Thankful, Comfort & Freedom. In the Puritan society these were not really too unusual as names go.  But the story that goes with the naming of Comfort & Freedom is what is really interesting.

The father of Thankful, Comfort and Freedom Bigelow was John Bigelow born 09 May 1675 at Watertown, Middlesex county, Massachusetts. 

In the early 1700's the Queen Ann's War was in full swing. The French and British were at war over the control of the North American Continent.

The French with the help of Indians intended to capture large number of English Puritan settlers, convert them to Catholicism, then naturalize them as French citizens to increase the ranks of inhabitants of "New France".

The Indians would capture settlers in exchange for the hefty ransoms that the French authorities paid them.

On the 16th of October 1705 John Bigelow, a carpenter, was working in Lancaster, Massachusetts at a sawmill owned by Thomas Sawyer. The village was attacked by Indians and  John Bigelow,  Thomas Sawyer and Thomas' son Elias (age 16) were taken prisoner. 

The Indians took the men 320 miles on foot to Montreal where they were paid a handsome ransom by the French Governor, Pierre Vandreuil.  

John and Thomas proposed to the Governor that if he would release them and let them return home to their families they would build a sawmill for his city of Montreal, there being no sawmills as yet in that part of Canada. The Governor accepted their offer, a sawmill was built on the river Chamblay, and after about a year Bigelow and the elder Sawyer returned home, the younger man stayed behind for another several months to run the mill and train workmen. 

John Bigelow returned to his family in fall of 1706, his daughter Comfort was born 23 of September 1707 and daughter Freedom was born 14 February 1709. It is said that his daughters were given these names because of the gratitude he had at   returning home after being taken and held prisoner by the Indians & French.

In all John Bigelow and his wife Jerusha (Garfield) Bigelow had 11 children.  Eight of those children being born after John's abduction and release.


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