New Family Story Find: My 18th Century Uncle Jonathan Dore

Last year I wrote about my relative Elizabeth (Meader) Hanson (1684-1737) who, along with her children, was kidnapped by Abenaki Indians on 7 September 1724 and taken to the Indians’ village along the St. Francis River in Canada. They were held there for over two years. (See: Find & Preserve Your Family’s Stories.)

Powerful. Memorable. That story has been told and retold in our family for the past 290 years. Every night when we were young we asked our grandfather to tell us that story. We loved it. It was real—it was our family story.

Indian Raids Continued

Recently I found this 1749 newspaper article with a report from Timothy Brown about his attempts to learn more about—and to free—captives still held by the Indians.

He was able to get in and around the Abenaki village and learned about multiple captives, including this specific reference:

There is also a Boy who was taken from Rochester in New Hampshire, with the Indians at St. Francois, his Name is Jonathan Dore.

article about Jonathan Dore being taken captive by Abenaki Indians, Boston Post Boy newspaper article 10 July 1749

Boston Post Boy (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 July 1749, page 2

Jonathan Dore?
Rochester, New Hampshire?
St. Francis Indians?

This is sounding just like the story of my relative Elizabeth Hanson, who was also taken prisoner by the Abenaki Indians from St. Francis.

This Jonathan Dore has to be one of my relatives, too—the same Jonathan Dore who was my 5th-great uncle.

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New England Had Had Enough

The Abenaki and the French were taking American women and children captive so that they could sell them back to their families.

It was time to stop these atrocities—and that was one of the reasons the French & Indian War was launched (1754-1763).

Attack on Fort William Henry

During the war there was an attack on Fort William Henry in August of 1757.

The following account comes from Terror in Rochester by Linda Sargent, 2008:

“The fort was manned by the British, including many New Hampshire men. The siege had ended and the British had surrendered the fort to the French who were being aided by the Indians. There are various accounts of what happened next, but British soldiers were massacred after they had surrendered.

“One man who managed to escape from the fort was from Dover, NH. When he returned to Dover, he told how he had been pursued by Indians. One of them had caught up to him and lifted his tomahawk.

“When their eyes met, under the war paint and Indian dress he recognized the eyes of a young boy he had known well when he worked as a teamster logging on the Salmon Falls River and visiting at the Dore’s home in Rochester. He knew this white Indian was Jonathan Dore. Jonathan recognized him, as well, and dropped his tomahawk to his side and left. No one believed the man’s story when he returned to Dover.”

See: http://bit.ly/Vj2ZVD

Jonathan Dore had been sighted again, 11 years after he was taken by the Abenaki.

New Englanders Settle the Score

The Abenaki had been terrorizing New Englanders for decades. The old scores were settled on 4 October 1759 when Robert Rogers and his Rangers attacked the Indians’ village.

The following account comes from Wikipedia:

“Rogers and about 140 men entered the village, which was reportedly occupied primarily by women, children, and the elderly, early that morning, slaughtered many of the inhabitants where they lay, shot down many who attempted to flee, and then burned the village. Rogers and his men endured significant hardships to reach the village from the British base at Fort Crown Point in present-day New York, and even more hardship afterwards. Chased by the French and vengeful Indians, and short on rations, Rogers and his men returned to Crown Point via the Connecticut River valley.”

Jonathan Dore Witnessed Rogers’ Attack on the Abenaki Village

Digging deeper into GenealogyBank’s archives, I found out more of the story.

Jonathan Dore, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 5 January 1905

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 5 January 1905, page 2

The above historical newspaper clipping is only part of the long account about Jonathan Dore that appeared in the Aberdeen Daily News. The whole article gives a good overview of what had happened to Jonathan Dore.

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According to the article, Jonathan Dore (1734-1797)—my 5th-great uncle—was kidnapped on “Salmon Falls Road in Rochester [New Hampshire]” by the Abenaki on 26 June 1746, when he was only 12 years old!

Jonathan Dore married an Abenaki Indian woman and they had two children. When Major Robert Rogers attacked their village in 1759 to avenge the attack on Fort William Henry, Jonathan Dore “witnessed the massacre.”

Everyone in the village was killed and it was set on fire. “Among the ruins he found the bodies of his wife and children. He buried them in one grave and with them his attachment to the Indians.”

In 1760 Jonathan Dore returned home to Rochester, New Hampshire. His family had moved across the Salmon Falls River to Lebanon, Maine, where he also settled.

The newspaper article concluded:

He settled in Lebanon, Me., married again and spent there the remainder of his days, famous for his marksmanship, especially with the bow and arrow, and known to every one as “Indian Dore.”

Wow—we would have loved to have heard that family story as kids!

Our “uncle” was not much older than we were when he was captured by the Indians, and then held captive for over 13 years—what a great story.

Preserve your family’s stories.

Find them in the old newspapers in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives—preserve those stories and pass them down to the rising generation.

Related Family Story Articles:

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Find & Preserve Your Family’s Stories

I grew up hearing the old family stories.

There was no television in New Hampshire in those days, but my grandfather remembered the family stories and passed them down.

collage showing picture of an Indian attack and the title page of Elizabeth Hanson's account of being captured by Indians in 1724

Credit: Wikipedia & Internet Archive

As kids there was one particular story we always wanted to hear every night: the story of when Indians attacked the family cabin in 1724. This story has been passed down in the family for almost 290 years!

I wondered if there was a contemporary account of this in the old newspapers of the day. After a steady search, I found nothing about the attack on my ancestors’ cabin published in 18th century newspapers.

But—I did find this, in an 1825 newspaper.

ad for Elizabeth Hanson's book about being captured by the Indians in 1724, New Hampshire Republican newspaper advertisement 25 January 1825

New Hampshire Republican (Dover, New Hampshire), 25 January 1825, page 10

One hundred years after the attack occurred, an announcement about my ancestor Elizabeth Hanson’s story was published in the newspaper.

She had written about her ordeal, and eventually her personal account was finally published.

title page for Elizabeth Hanson's book about being captured by Indians in 1724

Credit: Internet Archive

I already knew about the story—but now I had a near-contemporary account and it was the same story that my grandfather told us, almost word for word. What a wonderful keepsake to have and pass down to keep her story alive!

Search the old newspapers and other online genealogy resources and get your family’s stories.

Find what has been written about them for the past 300 years.

Don’t let your family’s history be lost.

The Disappearance—and Mysterious Reappearance—of Matthew Brayton

Here’s a 19th century mystery concerning a certain Matthew Brayton, who disappeared as a small boy, was held an Indian captive for 34 years, then one day reappeared.

But, was it really him?

An Indian Captive Reclaimed after Thirty-five Years’ Absence, Evening Post newspaper article 3 December 1859

Evening Post (New York City, New York), 3 December 1859, page 1

This is a gripping story about a young boy being kidnapped and then returning home as an adult. You will want to read all of An Indian Captive Reclaimed after Thirty-five Years’ Absence – Incidents of his Life in the Evening Post (New York City, New York), 3 December 1859, page 1.

On 20 September 1825 Matthew Brayton set off from home to gather the family’s cows. He was about eight years old—and wouldn’t be heard from again for 34 years. Kidnapped by the Indians, he was one of thousands of Indian captives in America from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Imagine his family’s joy when he finally turned up again!

A great, heartwarming story of a missing boy finally returned home, except—it apparently isn’t true.

Digging deeper into genealogy records we find Matthew Brayton’s obituary and even his photograph—and the true story comes to light.

Mathew Brayton obituary, Salem Register newspaper article 23 February 1863

Salem Register (Salem, Massachusetts), 23 February 1863, page 2

Matthew Brayton’s old obituary, printed in the Salem Register (Salem, Massachusetts), 23 February 1863, page 2, gives us the rest of the story.

After returning from his long Indian captivity, Matthew Brayton lived with his supposed father, Elijah Brayton, for the next nine months. Then in June 1860 he told his “father” that he really wasn’t Matthew Brayton at all. Was this a 19th century scam? Perhaps—but Matthew Brayton didn’t give any further details of why he had lied about who he was.

Perhaps he simply didn’t want to “manage the farm that Mr. Brayton had promised to give him.” After telling the Braytons the truth, Matthew left their farm and joined the 4th Michigan Cavalry as “Matthew Brayton.” He died a few years later in 1863 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Here is a photograph of him in uniform.

photo of Mathew Brayton in Civil War uniform

Credit: Find-A-Grave

Genealogy Search Tip: Just because something is in print doesn’t make it true.

Don’t stop at the first story you find about your ancestor. Keep digging and make sure you uncover all of the facts.

Find the stories of your family’s history. Document them, preserve them and pass them down.