All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lost Boy Found in Quebec 300 Years Later

In the October 2005 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Michael J. Leclerc tentatively identifies Joseph Philippe Ouabard — a resident of Cap St. Ignace, Québec, in the early 1700s — as Nathan Webber, a boy kidnapped by the Abenaki at Purpoodock (now South Portland) in 1703.

The raid was among the most violent experienced by Maine's white settlers. On Aug. 10 and 11, 1703, about 500 Abenakis and a few French attacked Purpoodock and other settlements from Casco to Wells. At Purpoodock, they killed 26 and took away several prisoners, among them four children of Michael and Deborah Webber. One of the children was rescued the next year. The other three appear all to have lived to marry in Québec.

The attack so stunned the Province of Massachusetts, that a day of prayer and fasting was mandated:
It pleased God August 10th & 11th to suffer ye barbarous and treacherous Indians to break forth upon ye people in ye Eastern parts wr in those two days were killed and taken at wells saco Casco & other places about 170 persons. upon ye acct of wch and to Implore ye Smile of heaven on our forces sent out against them Septembr 23d was appointed by ye Authority as a day of General fasting and prayer throout ye province & attended. [Records of the First Church of Plymouth, Mass., 1:197]
The settlement of Purpoodock was located along the Fore River in South Portland, which prior to 1895 was the northerly portion of Cape Elizabeth.

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