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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Queen's Rangers and the Shaman

TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE YEARS AGO...Major Robert Rogers and his Rangers was originally a provincial military company from the Colony of New Hampshire which was attached to the British Army during the French and Indian War (also known as the The Seven Years' War).  

The British used Major Rogers to train an independent ranger company who rapidly became known for their skilled reconnaissance and special operations.  The militia was so successful that the ranging corps grew into over 1,200 men at one time. They adeptly collected intelligence against the enemy and the British Crown held them in high esteem.

Roger's Rangers functioned mostly in the Lake George and Lake Champlain regions of New York, and was formed in 1755 from forces stationed at Fort William Henry. They commonly raided "against French towns and military emplacements, traveling sometimes on foot, sometimes in whaleboats and, during winter, on snowshoes."

"Wobomagonda" , or ""Wabo Madahondo" - also known as the White Devil - was the name given to Rogers by the Abenakis from St. Francis, Quebec.  This native village was the site of one of the most famous raids by the Queen's Rangers, as they had been ordered to avenge and destroy the Abenaki settlement.  Rogers lead his forces from Crown Point, New York "deep into French territory" - and on October 3, 1759, St. Francis was attacked by surprise- destroying most of the settlement.  

"Early in the morning, the "Rangers" attacked the St. Francis of the Lake village with incredible brutality. Three hours after they arrived, 200 men, women and children laid dead amongst the smoking ruins of their homes, of their Church and of the small Jesuits' Convent."  It was recorded by Rogers that 200 enemies were killed but he left behind 20 women and children to be taken prisoner.  Ultimately, he took 5 children prisoner and freed the rest.  

It is said that Roger's forces acquired a great deal of treasure, and took it with them as they fled on foot toward the Connecticut River toward the abandoned Fort Wentworth where he hoped to supply his troops after the raid.  The fort held no supplies, so Rogers left his men there, and traveled down the Connecticut River to "Fort Number 4" (now Charlestown, New Hampshire) for reinforcement and to gather food and supplies for his men.  And, the Abenaki gave chase to the Rangers, all the while on their respective coat-tails.  
During the raid, the Rangers killed a priest (Shaman or Witch-Doctor), and stealing items from the St. Francis church to include a golden chalice, gold statues - which reportedly included a Christ Child statue, gold candlesticks and a silver crucifix, as well as "a relic containing a gold case, a solid sterling statuette of Our Lady of Chartres and sterling plated chandeliers.".   As the Abenaki followed, they had brought with them a Shaman (Witch Doctor) who allegedly was also Christian, continued to have visions of the Christ Child and put a curse on all that was stolen.  

As the Rangers made their way south, the Indians continued their pursuit and, it is told that they stopped near Derby, Vermont and buried all of the treasure on a hill overlooking a lake - all except the Christ Child statue - that reportedly Rogers kept in his knapsack.  She Shaman would ask the Christ Child every night where the white men were, and every day the Indians would be closer and closer to the Rangers. 

Perhaps Rogers felt a prickling down his spine or intuitively felt the curse, but he finally left the Christ Child by a waterfall of the Passumpsic River, allegedly near St. Johnsbury, Vermont and once statue was lost from his possession, the Abenaki could no longer locate them, but they did recover their statue.  

The treasure is still sought after today, and a few items have been recovered, which may have come from this raid.... 

From nedoba.org: 

*In 1862, a farmer, Dennison Brown, while ploughing his land on the banks of Lake Memphremagog, found a hatchet at the very spot where 3 Rangers are presumed to have been captured by the Indians as they returned from their expedition.

*In 1800, a bayonnette was found by James Bodwell on the bank of the Tomifobia River, near Stanstead.  It is believed that the hatchet would have belonged to one of the Rangers. 

*Around 1880, Mr. B.F.D. Carpenter in his history of Derby, talks a lot about the Rangers' treasures which are presumably buried on Nathaniel Sevrens's farm located on the banks of Lake Memphremagog. 

*Mr. Sevrens is pioneer who arrived from New Hampshire in 1832. He discovered a 5 foot copper rod rising above a hillock in the middle of a man made clearing. It is believed that the Rangers would have buried their treasures in this very same spot.

*Many attempts were made by money diggers in order to recuperate the treasures. Cabalistic formulas, ceremonials and plots were used for this purpose. The result was that one day as they were digging and pounding with an iron bar, the sound of a metallic box was heard (tradition said that the treasures were kept in a metallic box), a voice was raised and the box disappeared never to be found again.

*A 1867 publishing about Magoon's Point, South of Georgeville, relates that: "An unexplored cavern exists in this locality, and it has been believed that a large amount of treasure stolen from a Roman Catholic Cathedral was secreted there. Indeed, there are persons who claim to have seen two massive gold candlesticks which were found buried in the road near the cave" (1)Having reached Lake Memphremagog, Rogers cites in his report to General Amherst: "Rogers broke his detachment up into small companies". Everything leads us to believe that part of his men passed on the West of the Lake while the others went to the East side. We know for sure that they split at the head of the lake. (Where Newport is today)"

Rutland Herald:  (Ed Barna quoting Lyndon State Anthropologist Mariella Hakey) 10/31/1989