Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Frances Slocum Story: A Recap

This past Thursday night, Srac hosted the Frances Slocum Project. Around 40 people attended and it was a huge success on all accounts. Florence Howanitz who played Frances Slocum in the film featured that evening gave me a big hug after that show and told me that she loved being at SRAC, because it was "so full of energy and excitement." I smiled and thanked her for such a warm compliment not unlike what we so often hear from people who have not visited us before...

Below is a report on the night by SRAC's summer PR specialist and friend, Emma Miran!

The Frances Slocum Story: A Recap, by Emma Miran

How much does our culture and upbringing make us who we are? On November 2, 1778, a red haired Quaker child was stolen from her family in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania by a Delaware Indian raiding party. The child’s name was Frances Slocum, and she would not see her biological family for the next sixty years. Instead, she was taken to Fort Niagara and given to a Native American family who had lost a child. Frances was renamed Maconaquah or “Little Bear Woman.” She spent the next sixty years of her life living in Native American culture and society. She married a Miami Indian Chief and had four children, two sons who died in infancy and two daughters.

On Thursday, May 6, SRAC held an event dedicated to telling the story of Frances Slocum. The event involved the showing of a film production of the Frances Slocum’s story. Commentary was provided by the producer of the film, Bill Bachman, who is a professor at Penn State University. He spoke of the enthusiasm he had for the story and how important he felt it was to make this film. Bachman spent time answering questions about Frances Slocum and the film.

Also attending the event was Jonathan Pineno, who wrote and arranged the music for the Frances Slocum film. He played the Indian flute for the audience and spoke of his experiences with Native American music.

A highlight of the event was the appearance of Florence Howanitz, the actress who portrayed Frances Slocum in the film. She introduced the film through a monologue as Frances Slocum. Speaking as Slocum, she told the audience how pleased she was to be able to see the area she was born and the Susquehanna River.

Towards the end of France Slocum’s life, she was reunited with her biological family. Slocum related her story to a tradesman and colonel, who then sent a letter to the editor of a newspaper in Lancaster, Pa. At first, the letter was not printed since the editor believed it to be a joke. However, eventually another editor did print the letter. It was read by a minister who knew Slocum’s brother. The Slocum family traveled to Peru, Indiana to see their sister. While her family encouraged her to return to white society, she declined saying “You cannot re-plant an old tree.”

This lecture and film leaves us with some interesting and important questions. It leads us to look deeper into our history and social background. The lecture at SRAC was inspiring and encouraged those attending to research family and local history.

To learn more about the Frances Slocum Project, visit:

DVD's and CD's of the Francis Slocum Story are available at the SRAC gift shop which is open weekdays 1-5 and Saturdays 11-3.

To learn about upcoming events at SRAC - please visit

We hope to see you soon at 345 Broad Street in Waverly, NY!

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