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Major Rogers and the Abenakis' Treasures
Written and contributed (August 1998) by: Jacques Boisvert
Originally published: Sherbooke Daily Record, March 20, 1987
"Wabo Madahondo- the white devil", was the name given by the Abenakis of St. Francis of the Lake to Major Robert Rogers. Sir General Jeffrey Amherst (*) ordered the latter to go on an avenging expedition against the Indians.
On the 4th or 5th of October, 1759, heading 142 colonial soldiers called the "Rangers" (ancestors to the Commandos) he attacked an indian encampment, taking the occupants by surprise.
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.
As they arrived at night before the Rangers discovered 600 to 700 scalps displayed on stakes as trophies for everyone to see. This surely did not attract their pity.
After this raid, the Rangers carrying the loot, returned up the St. Francis River in order to reach the Magog River. Their main goal was to reach Fort no. 4 located on the East bank of the Connecticut River in Charlestown. After walking for eight days, they found themselves on Lake Memphremagog. Their provisions were diminishing fast. Were they carrying with them the famous treasure which was to be hidden on the banks of Lake Memphremagog or its surroundings?
In his journal dated December 24, 1759, General Amherst wrote "A small group returned loaded with "wampum" (objects made of shells and used as ornaments) and lovely things brought back from St. Francis of the Lake. Father Maurault who later served there as a missionary mentioned in a book written in 1866. "The portion of Rogers's booty is estimated at $933.00 and consists mainly of "wampum" and provisions.
Father Charland in his book, History of St. François du Lac (1942), states: "The objects seized by the Rangers were silver plated copper chandeliers, a small statue of Our Lady of Chartres and valuable objects. "Father Gravel in his book Suagothel (name of Major Rogers' expedition) mentions on page 14: "The Church was ransacked and burned; the Rangers took valuable objects, namely a relic containing a gold case, a solid sterling statuette of Our Lady of Chartres and sterling plated chandeliers."
Around 1816, a journal published that: "Two golden candlesticks worth $1,000.00 were found in the woods in Hatley, East Canada" (taken from the Stanstead Journal, March 3, 1949).
On the 15th of November 1869, a letter written in Magog by Mr. Harrington was sent to Mr. Louis Gill, mentioning: "In 1827, an incense vessel, believed to have been left by one of Roger's men, was found on an island in the Watopeka river where it empties into the St. Francis, at Windsor Mills, Quebec, and in 1838, one Robert Orme, of Vermont, found a large image of a saint at the mouth of the Magog river, and gave it to a priest then living in Sherbrooke", "Could this have been part of Rogers' loot?"
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. You can find these two objects at the Knowlton Museum, source: volume 11 published in 1910, pages 93 to 102.
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)
Leonard Auger, our local historian, published a very well documented article relating this event in 1939. This article was also published by the Vermont Historical Society in volume 27, no. 4, pages 287 to 304.
Metro Goldwym Meyer, a Hollywood film Company, inspired by Kenneth Rogers' romantic novel of Northwest Passage, made a coloured film in 1959. Part of the action takes place on Lake Memphremagog. The shooting of the film was done in a corner of the Idaho State. The great Spencer Tracy portrayed Major Rogers. Father Gravel does not give this book much historical value.
Tradition was preserved and we often hear people recalling that some of their relatives were saying that they knew where the treasures were buried.
Twenty five (35) years ago I was even approached by a Cherry River resident who asked for $5,000.00 payable in advance, to tell me on which farm the treasure was buried. I did not have that kind of money at the time and he later told me the name of the farmer who happened to own more than 700 acres. Good thing I did not take him seriously for I, in all probability, would still be digging....
An intensive study should be made on this subject because according to Mr. Auger, Rogers' attack means the extermination of the Abenakis. We find a similar conclusion: "The abenakis were eliminated as a danger to frontier settlements for ever". (2) In 1985, around 60 people only who can understand and speak Abenakis, still remain. We owe all these beautiful names: Memphremagog, Massawippi, Coaticook, etc. to this enchanting language.
Rogers returned to England in 1782. He was jailed upon arrival for his numerous debts. Half his salary was given to pay his creditors during the years 1784 to 1794. He died in Borough on May 18, 1795 and was buried during a rain-fall in the church yard which later became the Elephant Hotel and Castle.
"Finis Coronat Opus" (the end crowns the work).
(*) We are referring to Jeffrey Baron Amherst, 1717-1797, English general in French and Indian War; appointed governor general of British North America. (Funk and Wagnalls- New Practical Standard Dictionary- J. G. Ferguson, Publishing Company.)
(1) Burt's illustrated Guide: 1867- page: 196
(2) Page 30- The Queen's York Rangers by Stewart H. Bull. - courtesy of Mr Ralph Plaskett- Toronto
Jacques Boisvert, crypto-dracontologue - crypto dracontologist
Societe internationale de dracontologie du lac Memphremagog
Société d'histoire du lac Memphremagog, Magog, Québec, Canada
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We at Ne-Do-Ba would like to thank Mr. Boisvert for sharing this article with us. His research into the artifacts taken by Rogers is very interesting and well researched. We would like to suggest that you read all of the material in the section of our web site concerning Roger's Raid, as there are some important points about the actual raid which require additional information to fully understand.