Friday, March 30, 2007

Chapter 17: Images and clarity.

Photographs are such a lovely way to tell a story.
A "snap", and at least a milli-second of time is captured forever.

Drawings and paintings are interesting too. They may capture an event, or capture the artist's revision of an event.

Words can capture time as well; focus and precision in writing is a daunting obligation.
The writer creates images in the reader's mind that quickly takes on the sense of reality.
How careful a writer must be to avoid creating an inaccurate image, or report.

Many writer's have taken on the challenge of telling Hannah Dustin's story.
Some of the writers are household names such as John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry David Thoreau, and William Cullen Byrant to name a few.
Others are just people just inspired to tell the story as they heard it, or thought they heard it, or as they think the story should be.

Hannah visited with at least three people who recorded her tale, three very credible men.
One person wrote of her story at length, and delivered his version of the tale later in a speech.
The other two men mentioned her visiting in their daily diary, saying that they met with Hannah and heard her story. Each then briefly recounted the tale.

Ultimately it must be remembered that those three heard what they heard, and wrote what they thought they heard.

Of the story itself, Hannah never wrote a word, except to express how she felt about the time of her captivity.

How typically feminine, to report her feelings, rather than events, when she at last took to placing her thoughts in writing.

Over time, a small collection of artists have sought to tell Hannah's story visually.

Risking all kinds of copyright wrath, I have inserted below pictures of some of those artistic attempts.

Notice in the drawing above that Hannah has only one shoe on.
I wonder why this artist thought the women wore hooped skirts in 1697?
There are all kinds of resources to use when documenting mode in costume during various eras. I'm guessing this artist is probably painting in the late 1800's.

(drawing is from: )

"The Captive Maidens"
Illustration from A Popular History of the United States by William Cullen Bryant. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896.

(No, I didn't actually get BPL permission,but the Hawthorne in Salem website did. Cover my backside, HIS site, I'm grabbing your link!)

I especially like Hannah's anxious prayer posture in that picture. She looks pretty earnest!

Painting of the Capture of Hannah Duston and Mary Neff. I don't have a date on this one, but I like that it shows the snow, and the starkness of the situation. And that the dress on Hannah was historically accurate a Puritan woman at that time. What the artist missed was the fact that the Puritans never lived in log cabins, they used either brick or more commonly, clapboard.

(Ahem. The artist should have spoken with a research librarian first.)

This picture shows a much more exhausted Hannah.

I wonder why the first picture of Hannah in a canoe had sails as part of the canoe?
I actually found a photograph of a modern reproduction of an Abenaki canoe.
No sails with that one:

Abenaki Style Birch Bark Canoe.

This Abenaki style birch bark canoe was made by Henri Vaillancourt, Greenville, NH, using traditonal materials and methods. A similar example is in the Peabody Essex Museum collection.
(courtesy of Henri Vaillancourt.)

I was happy to find these pictures from the Contoocook Island (same as Penecook Is.
The pictures looked as I remembered it looking from the Island when I visited, except when I was there the sky was bright blue.

A View of the Merrimack River From Contoocook Island, Penacook, NH
The Merrimack River, from Contoocook Island.
(Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)

A View of the Merrimack River Along Contoocook Island, Penacook, NH.

Contoocook Island, also known as Dustin and Sugar Ball Island, is at the junction of the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers near Concord, NH.

It is approximately two acres, level, and protected as by a moat.

The Indians used it as a place of encampment, refuge, and council.

It was also a stopover on the several Indian trade routes of the area.

I read one account of Hannah's story as examined by an Indian who is a historian for North Eastern tribe, and he said that the route the Indian's took Hannah on was a specific Indian trail, and gave the name of the trail.

Details. Amazing how many details are out there.

A View of the Merrimack River, looking south from Contoocook Island, Penacook, NH.

Contoocook Island is approximately 40 miles in a straight line from Haverhill, but the captives of the March 15, 1697 Indian raid covered over a hundred miles as they wound their way through the late-winter wilderness of southern and central New Hampshire.
Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)

Finally, for now at least in this posting, one of the three sculptural images of Hannah:

Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)

Looking at her face, I feel I must clarify a few details that I missed earlier:

First, I should have pointed out that captives often were required to lug whatever bounty was captured with them. Mary Rowlandson tells of how her back was rubbed bloody raw with the carrying of the items that had been stolen from her home. She complained about it to the Indians, and received a firm rebuff for that effort.

This fact is important to know, because as the Indian's took people captives, they also took whatever items were looted from that person or that person's home, and the captive got to carry the items along. Perhaps it was comforting to have items stolen from your home with you, but perhaps likewise vexing to have foodstuff from your home on your back that is eaten by your captors and not shared with you.

Concerning Bampico: I made a serious mis-statement about Bampico. When I went back into reading on of the diary accounts of Hannah's captivity, I discovered that Hannah differentiated between "her Master" and "the single Indian Bampico."

It was her "Master" who had spent time in the Rowlandson home, and it was also the "Master" who rebuked Hannah and Mary for praying. The "Master" taunted them about running the gauntlet.

It was interesting to me that the French Jesuit priests spent a lot of space in their journals discussing their attempts at ending polygamy amongst the Abenaki Indians.

If the "family" of Indians who held Hannah and Mary captive included a "Master", a single man Bampico, three women and several children, I have to suspect that "Master" was a polygamist.

Perhaps he was not on the best of terms with the Jesuits, or at least a tad cavalier about his obedience to God, whether as viewed through the Puritan teaching of Rowlandson, or the Catholic teachings of the Jesuits.

According to one of the men's diary entry, Hannah identified her "Master" as the same Indian that killed her baby.


There will be another post later today.

Then tomorrow the conclusion of our story.


Lovella said...

well, I'm glad you took the chance to show the pictures, rules or not. I want you to know that I am so loyal that when I clicked on the first sight and the story of Hannah was being told . . .I stopped reading and clicked out when I got to the place you last stopped.
I'd rather hear your version of the events as they unfold . .thank you very much.

Becky said...

Thanks for such an exhaustive search. You exemplify a true researcher, and reporter. I wish my students would be as upfront about their sources as you are! I love the way you have gleaned information from the pictures. In many regards, history is only as true as the teller. It is the critical eye that distinguishes between the view point presented and the actual event ~ a challenging job!

I find it hard to believe that you are coming to the conclusion of your story when it still is in the 1600's. I had this feeling that you were about to recall your family's history up to you. How did they end up in California? The Western Trail? I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it over the last few weeks, and am sorry that it will end ~ like a good novel, the reader starts to belong to the story. Thanks again for including us in your telling of a riveting story.

Denise said...

Hi Jill, I've read your thorough account of Hannah and Thomas Duston with great interest as I am also researching Hannah's story. I am interested in one particular passage you wrote:

"I read one account of Hannah's story as examined by an Indian who is a historian for North Eastern tribe"

Would you mind sharing that source? I'd love to read the story from an Native American POV. Thanks so much.