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Not-So-Good Old Days
This week's selection of the woes of old might seem at first glance to be a "good new" item. However, reflection on the social and ethical issues that allowed it all to happen could swing one's thinking the other way. Certainly it seems rather recent for such an abduction/adoption to have taken place here in the east, where the "Indian Wars" were already in the Oxford County Democrat on September 21, 1847.
The Lost Child Found
It will be recollected by many of our readers, that a notice appeared in the Argus, a few months since, signed by James Wilbur of Bethel, advertising for his lost child. Mr. Wilbur resided at the time of losing his son, near Sandy River Pond, in Franklin County. He has since moved to Bethel, because the sight of the place where the child wandered was so painful. to his wife, that after his loss she could not reside there longer.
The facts of the case were, that in 1827, twenty years ago, the child, a boy two years and ten months old, went out one day to meet the other children, and never returned. Screams were heard, but the child they never saw again. The neighbors turned out and spent days and nights in fruitless search. Universal sympathy prevailed. But at last they wearied, returned to their avocations, and newer wonders crowded it from their minds. Not so, however, with the parents.
The father wandered up and down the earth, wherever he heard of a strange child, or the rumor of one being found. The mother wept for the lost one and would not be comforted. Notices were issued, and every body that heard the tale pitied the parents, and each did all he could to relieve their distress But it was of no avail. The child was lost, and no clue could be found to its recovery. Whether he had fallen prey to the wild beast or the Indian, or had wasted to death by starvation, who could tell? The horrid phantom of such a death was ever before their eyes.
Some thought that an old hunter by the name of Robbins had stolen the child. He had been seen at the time lurking about the premises. He was an old offender, had been tried for petty thefts and afterwards was imprisoned for the murder of Hinds & Son in 1828, but made his escape. But not evidence or confession could be got from him, and the matter faded away, with the lapse of years, from the memory of man.
The parents however persevered. They could not forget and again issued their advertisements calling for information of their lost child.
A week or two since, two of Mrs. Wilbur’s daughters at work in the Saco factories, saw among a body of Indians encamped there, a white young man, in whom they thought they recognized a resemblance to their family. They accosted him, and soon claimed hymn as a brother. Of course he had no knowledge of them, but wished to see their father. They sent for the old gentleman, and the recognition on his part was completed. The young man, now 23 years old, had been told many stories of his parents, but knew nothing certain of his abduction. The Indians are now encamped at Cape Elizabeth, opposite to this city, with the youth and his wife, for he married an Indian girl last Spring.
He has promised his father he will go with him to Bethel, where the old gentleman intends to build him a house, and give him all the license he wants to roam about in the woods, in consonance with the habits of almost his whole life.
The father came into our office on Thursday, to tell us of his success. He was as happy as a boy just let out of school
The mother has not yet seen him. From her intense and lasting affection, as manifested through long years of disappointment, we judge the meeting will be worthy the pencil of a Hogarth. — Argus
One wonders how the story played out. Was the young man and his family truly welcomed and accepted, or did their ways so clash that they were forced to move on? Did they reject the re-found family and alien culture? Perhaps some of our readers who know will contact us via the Advertiser Democrat at 743-7011.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today.
Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.