TARBELL (Tharbell), JOHN, b. 6 July 1695 in Groton, Massachusetts, the fifth of ten children of Thomas Tarbell and Elizabeth Wood; d. after 1740.
On 20 June 1707 John Tarbell, a younger brother Zachariah (b. 25 Jan. 1699/1700), and an older sister Sarah (b. 29 Sept. 1693) were captured in an Indian raid on Groton during Queen Anne’s War. The three children were first taken to their captors’ home, the mission and Iroquois settlement at Caughnawaga (Sault-Saint-Louis). Sarah later went to live with the sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame in Montreal. John and Zachariah remained at Caughnawaga, where they were adopted into the tribe. They learned the Mohawk language and took up the Mohawk way of life. John became known as Karekowa (Karikohe), and Zachariah was called Torakaron. It is believed that they married daughters of Sakonentsiask and Atawenta, chiefs at Caughnawaga, and that they themselves became chiefs, but this information cannot be verified because the mission’s records for the period have been destroyed.
John and Zachariah apparently became fully accustomed to their new situation. Although their elder brother Thomas arranged to have them visit Groton during the winter of 1739 in hope of persuading them to settle there, they decided to return to Caughnawaga. In the following autumn John Tarbell and Henry Rice, also a captive at Caughnawaga, conferred with the governor of Massachusetts and received presents. They visited the Tarbell family in Groton and returned to Caughnawaga by way of Albany, New York. One of the Tarbell brothers is said to have been seen again in Albany in 1744.
About 1755 the mission of St Regis was established on the upper St Lawrence River as a French military outpost and as a place to which Mohawk converts to Catholicism could immigrate from the Mohawk valley. According to oral tradition the Tarbells moved there about 1760. Their descendants make up a substantial portion of the present St Regis Mohawks.
There is no record of the deaths of John and Zachariah Tarbell in the church records of Caughnawaga or St Regis.
Vital records of Groton, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849 (2v., Salem, Mass., 1926–27), I, 237–41. Caleb Butler, History of the town of Groton . . . (Boston, 1848), 96–97, 440. Coleman, New England captives. S. A. Green, Groton during the Indian wars (Groton, Mass., 1883), 109–24. F. B. Hough, A history of St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, New York, from the earliest period to the present time (Albany, 1853), 111–13.