Catharine Montour – Women in the American Revolution


Catharine Montour, also known as Queen Catharine, (died after 1791) was a prominent Iroquois woman in the late 18th century. She has often been confused with Elizabeth “Madame” Montour, her aunt or grandmother, and with “Queen Esther” Montour, usually described as her sister.

Catharine was the daughter of Marguerite Fafard Turpin, a French-Iroquois métis also known as Margaret Montour or “French Margaret”. Her father was a Caughnawaga Mohawk named Katarioniecha, also known as Peter Quebec. Catharine had a sister named Mary (or Molly), and two brothers: Andrew Montour and Nicholas Quebec. Her brother Andrew should not be confused with Andrew Montour (c. 1720–1772), the well-known interpreter who was probably Catharine’s uncle.

Catharine Montour married a Seneca chief named Telenemut, also known as Thomas Hudson. She and her husband lived at a Seneca town that eventually became known as Catherine’s Town. After the town was destroyed by U.S. forces during the 1779 Sullivan Expedition in the American Revolutionary War, Montour relocated with other Senecas to Niagara.

Historical references to Catharine in her later years are few. In 1791, Catharine’s sister Mary sought permission to live at the Moravian mission village of New Salem, near present Milan, Ohio. Missionary David Zeisberger recorded that Catharine was then still living near Niagara.

A fictional “Catherine Montour” became the subject of a 1917 silent film, The Spirit of ’76, in which she was a mistress of King George and an adventuress in America.