Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War

Testimony and Petition of William Wannukhow and Sons

James Printer successfully advocated for others to come in under the amnesty declaration, beyond the two weeks allowed by the Council. William Wannukhow and his family, from Magunkoag, travelled to Thomas Prentice’s house in August. Three weeks later, William Wannukhow, Joseph Wannukhow and  John Appamatahqeen were charged with burning the home of Goodman Eames, who had a farm near Magunkoag.  In the petition, the men describe the incident, state their innocence, and advocate for amnesty.

           To the Hon. Court of Assistants sitting in Boston, Septr the 5th 1676.
           The humble Petition of William Wannuckhow, Joseph Wannuckhow and John Appamatahqeen, all prisoners at the barr; Humbly imploreth your favor to hear and consider our application. We know that your Honours are men of truth, fearing God, and will faithfully perform your promises especially when it concerns so great a matter as the lives of men. You were pleased (of your own benignity) not for any desert of ours, to give forth your declaration dated the 19th of June, wherein you were pleased to promise life and liberty unto such of your enemies as did come in and submit themselves to your mercy and order and disposal within a time limited which afterwards was enlarged to a longer time, and tidings thereof sent by James Printer unto us, which offers of grace, as soon as we heard of it, we readily embraced it, and came in accordingly ourselves wives and children, as Capt. Prentice and his son, with others, to whose house we were directed to come, are ready to testify; and those orders of yours are upon record, the copies whereof we are ready to present. If it should be said that we are known to be notorious in doing mischief to the English, we answer, none can so say in truth, or prove any such thing against us. Indeed we do acknowledge that we were in company of those that burnt Goodman Eames his house. But we did not act in it. It was done by others, who were slain in the war, and so have answered God’s justice for their demerits; as for our part we came along with that company upon a necessary and just occasion, to get our corn which we had planted gathered and put up at Magunquog. But finding our corn taken away, we intended to return. But Netus and another man that were our leaders earnestly moved to go to Goodman Eames’s farm for to get corn, and they said they did believe he had taken our corn. But we were unwilling to go. But they by their persuasion and threatening carried us with them. But as we said before, we neither killed nor burnt nor took away any thing there. But were instrumental to save Goodman Eames his children alive, one of us carried one boy upon our backs rather than let them be killed. This is the truth of things, so that we cannot be reckoned among such as have been notorious in doing mischief. Indeed we were enemies, being tempted to go among them by example of our choice men Capt. Tom and others. But we had no arms and did not hurt the English as many others have done, that upon their submission to your mercy are pardoned. Besides it was a time of war, when this mischief was done; and though it was our unhappy portion to be with those enemies yet we conceive that depredations and slaughters in war are not chargeable upon particular persons, especially such as have submitted themselves to your Honours upon promise of life, &c. as we have done.
            Therefore we desire again to insist upon that plea, that we may receive the benefit of your declarations before mentioned. Our lives will not be at all beneficial to Goodman Eames. Those that slew his wife and relations and burnt his house have already suffered death, and the satisfaction of Goodman Eames in our death will not countervail the honour and justice or authority of the country that may be blemished thereby.

The petitioners admitted to being present with those who burned Eames’ home, but clarified their involvement stating “but we did not act in it.” They cite Anaweekin, James Printer’s brother, as having been involved in the burning. Further, the petitioners report that those who did burn the home were killed in the war and “so have answered God’s justice for their demerits…” The men also make note of their role in helping Eames’ children to safety. 
The petitioners went before magistrate Thomas Danforth on August 14. Eames and Danforth were “well acquainted,” and that Eames’ land was originally acquired from Danforth. Further, the attack took place on land owned by Danforth and settled by Eames with Danforth’s consent.[2] Eames’ land was in Magunkoag, the homeland of the Wannukkow’s. In fact, they had at that time traveled back to Magunakoag to harvest their corn, which they found missing. They went to Eames’ farm, one of the few colonial homes in the area, because they suspected they would retrieve their corn, finding only his wife and children there.
Despite the petition, the men were eventually convicted and hanged in Boston on September 21 at Wind-mill hill  [3].

Eames Children

It’s unclear how many children were at Eames’ home at the time of the burning. Temple writes that likely “eight or nine of his own, and one or two of his wife’s children were living at home.”[4] Eames later states that he lost nine children in the raid, some of them being killed and others being taken into captivity by the Indians. The actual number and exact stories of the children remain unclear as many of the published accounts feature conflicting details. Temple, however, attempts to make definitive conclusions, writing “it has been deemed safe to follow the statements of Mr. Eames and his sons, who certainly knew the facts,” another example of binding up (rather than unbinding) of a narrative that features various strands and possibilities.
For example, the petition provides details of the Wannukhow’s responsibility in aiding the Eames family, countering the narrative of their act in burning the home. As stated in the testimony above, Wannukhow and his sons made efforts to save Eames' children during the attack, as one of them carried "one boy upon [their] backs, rather than let them be killed."
 Following the raid, some of the children were brought near Wachusett while others went to Wennimisset. Three of the children managed to escape during the first few months of their captivity, including one of Eames’ sons. At the age of 11, he escaped from his party and, because he did not know the way to any of the English towns, he is said to have found plantain, or "the English Foot," and to have followed it home. Plantain was not Native to the land pre-contact. It was likely brought over with the English cattle, carried in their systems and excreted into the soil. The sight of plantain signaled to the child that he must be near an English town. Abenaki poet Cheryl Savageau offers the story of this child, but reverses the narrative, including various associations with plantain in her poem "Englishmen's Footprints."
In addition to the Eames child that used plantain to find his way home, reports of the whereabouts of other Eames children also persist. On May 14, 1676, a soldier named Thomas Reed wrote of seeing Thomas Eames' daughter and her child at a camp near Turner's Falls.[5]
In his testimony, Joseph Wannukhow reported that he had inquired after Eames’s two daughters “two months since,” and “understood they were at a great hill about middle way between Wachusett and Pennacook,” perhaps Mount Monadnock, “in good health and not in a starving plight.” William Wannukhow reported the daughters, “were alive at planting time,” and were under the care of the Nipmuc leaders Muttaump and Pumapen, who he believed might now be “toward Auranea,” perhaps Schaghticoke, near “Albany,” formerly called Orange.
According to William Barry in his History of Framingham, Massachusetts, 1847, “Margaret, age nine, seems to have had a different, rather romantic fortune for she was taken as far away as Canada and it was a year or longer until she was discovered and ransomed paid for her return. The colonial government ‘dispatched some agents to obtain the release of captives detained in Canada, one of their company was in his own turn captivated by the attractions of the daughter of Mr. Eames, whose release he had obtained.”[6]

[1] Transcribed in J.H. Temple,History of Framingham, Massachusetts, early known as Danforth's Farms, 1640-1880; (Framingham: 1887)
[2] J.H. Temple, History of Framingham, Massachusetts, early known as Danforth's Farms, 1640-1880; (Framingham: 1887), 72
[4] History of Framingham, Massachusetts, early known as Danforth's Farms, 1640-1880; (Framingham: 1887)
[5] William Barry, A History of Framingham, Massachusetts, Including the Plantation, from 1640 to the Present Time. 1847
[6] William Barry, A History of Framingham, Massachusetts, Including the Plantation, from 1640 to the Present Time. 1847

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