Saturday, March 31, 2007

Chapter 19: Smote

I think the best way to tell what happened on the early hours of March 30th is to let the Dustin family historian, and the diary entries of Hannah's contemporaries state the facts.

"Shortly after midnight she (Hannah) woke Mrs. Neff and Samuel. Each, armed with a tomahawk, crept silently to a position near the heads of the sleeping Indians – Samuel near Bampico and Hannah near her master."

Sleeping Abenaki Indians on the Duston Monument, Haverhill, Massachusetts. Hannah and two other English captives killed ten of the twelve sleeping Indians on an island camp in the Merrimack River in March or April of 1697.
(Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)

(courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum)

"At a signal from Hannah the tomahawks fell, and so swiftly and surely did they perform their work of destruction that ten of the twelve Indians were killed outright, only two – a severely wounded squaw and a boy whom they had intended to take captive – escaped into the woods. "

Junius Brutus Stearns, N.A. signed & dated 1847

According to a deposition of Hannah Bradley (the other Hannah taken captive from Havehill) in 1739 (History of Haverhill, Chase, pp. 308-309), “above penny cook the Deponent was forced to travel farther than the rest of the captives, and the next night but one there came to us one Squaw who said that Hannah Dustan and the aforesaid Mary Neff assisted in killing the Indians of her wigwam except herself and a boy, herself escaping very narrowly, shewing to myself & others seven wounds as she said with a Hatched on her head which wounds were given her when the rest were killed.”

From Heroism of Hannah Duston : together with the Indian Wars of New England, 1874, by Robert Boodey Caverly (1806-1887).

"Hasting piling food and weapons into a canoe, including the gun of Hannah’s late master and the tomahawk with which she had killed him, they (Hannah, Mary and Samuel) scuttled the rest of the canoes and set out down the Merrimack River.

Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)

"Suddenly realizing that without proof their story would seem incredible, Hannah ordered a return to the island, where they scalped their victims, wrapping the trophies in cloth which had been cut from Hannah's loom at the time of the capture, and again set out down the river, each taking a turn at guiding the frail craft while the others slept."

(A piece of Hannah's weaving is inside the frame laying on the table top. The knife with which she scalped her foe is in the upright frame leaning against the window. Picture taken by Jill Spriggs, August 1997 , Buttonwood Dustin Museum, Haverhill Massachusetts.)

(Map of river route between Penecook Island in New Hampshire and Haverhill, Massachusetts.) courtesy of “The Story of Hannah Duston/Dustin of Haverhill, Massachusetts” Website )

"Thus, traveling by night and hiding by day, they finally reached the home of John Lovewell in old Dunstable, now a part of Nashua, N.H. Here they spent the night, and a monument was erected here in 1902, commemorating the event."

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On this point of land dwelt John Lovewell, one of the earliest settlers of Dunstable, at whose house Hannah Duston spent the night after her escape from the indians at Penacook Island March 30, 1697. Erected by Matthew Thornton Chapter D.A.R. 1902.

"The following morning the journey was resumed and the weary voyagers at last beached their canoe at Bradley’s Cove, where Creek Brook flows into the Merrimack."
"Continuing their journey on foot, they at last reached Haverhill in safety. Their reunion with loved ones who had given them up for lost can better be imagined than described. Doubtless Samuel was a hero of the younger generation for many days."

Thomas took his wife and the others to the new house which he had been building at the time of the massacre, and which was now completed. Here for some days they rested.

In 1694 a bounty of fifty pounds had been placed on Indian scalps, reduced to twenty-five pounds in 1695, and revoked completely on Dec. 16, 1696.

Thomas Duston believed that the act of the two women and the boy had been of great value in destroying enemies of the colony, who had been murdering innocent women and children, and decided that the bounty should be claimed.

So he took the two women and the boy to Boston, where they arrived with the trophies on April 21, 1697.

Here he filed a petition to the Governor and Council, which was read on June 8, 1697 in the House (Mass. Archives Vol 70, p. 350), setting forth the above belief and claiming the reward, pleading that “ the merit of the Action remains the same” and claiming that “ your Petitioner having Lost his Estate in the Calamity wherein his wife was carried into her captivity rendrs him the fitter object for what consideracon the publick Bounty shall judge proper for what hath been herein done”, etc.

The same day the General Court voted payment of a bounty of twenty-five pounds “unto Thomas Dunston of Haverhill , on behalf of Hannah his wife”, and twelve pounds ten shillings each to Mary Neff and Samuel. This was approved on June 16, 1697, and the order in Council for the payment of the several allowances was passed Dec. 4, 1697. (Chapter 10, Province Laws, Mass. Archives.)

While in Boston Hannah told her story to Rev. Cotton Mather,....
(Surprise! HIM again!)

....whose morbid mind was stirred to its depths. He perceived her escape in the nature of a miracle, and his description of it in his “Magnalia Christi Americana” is extraordinary, though in the facts doubtless quite correct and corroborated by the evidence.

The Duston / Dustin Family, Thomas and Elizabeth (Wheeler) Duston and their descendants. Compiled by the Duston - Dustin Family Association Genealogists

Cotton Mathers' report in his "Magnali Christi Americana", is as follows, and he also recounted the story in two other writings:

Magna Christi Americana,

The Ecclesiastical History of New England

by Cotton Mather 1702

On March 15, 1697, the salvages made a descent upon the skirts of Haverhill, murdering and captivating about thirty-nine persons, and burning about half a dozen houses. In this broil, one Hannah Dustan, having lain in about a week, attended with her nurse, Mary Neff, a body of terrible Indians drew near unto the house where she lay, with designs to carry on their bloody devastations. Her husband hastened from his employments abroad unto the relief of his distressed family; and first bidding seven of his eight children (which were from two to seventeen years of age) to get away as fast as they could unto some garrison in the town, he went in to inform his wife of the horrible distress come upon them. Ere she could get up, the fierce Indians were got so near, that, utterly desparing to do her any service, he ran out after his children; resolving that on the horse which he had with him, he would ride away with that which he should in this extremity find his affections to pitch most upon, and leave the rest unto the care of the Divine Providence. He overtook his children, about forty rod from his door; but then such was the agony of his parental affections, that he found it impossible for him to distinguish any one of them from the rest; wherefore he took up a courageous resolution to live and die with them all. A party of Indians came up with him; and now, though they fired at him, and he fired at them, yet he manfully kept at the reer of his little army of unarmed children, while they marched off with the pace of a child of five years old; until, by the singular providence of God, he arrived safe with them all unto a place of safety about a mile or two from his house. But his house must in the mean time have more dismal tragedies acted at it. The nurse, trying to escape with the new-born infant, fell into the hands of the formidable salvages; and those furious tawnies coming into the house, bid poor Dustan to rise immediately. Full of astonishment, she did so; and sitting down in the chimney with an heart full of most fearful expectation, she saw the raging dragons rifle all that they could carry away, and set the house on fire. About nineteen or twenty Indians now led these away, with about half a score other English captives; but ere they had gone many steps, they dash'd out the brains of the infant against a tree; and several of the other captives, as they began to tire in the sad journey, were soon sent unto their long home; the salvages would presently bury their hatchets in their brains, and leave their carcases on the ground for birds and beasts to feed upon. However, Dustan (with her nurse) notwithstanding her present condition, travelled that night about a dozen miles, and then kept up with their new masters in a long travel of an hundred and fifty miles, more or less, within a few days ensuing, without any sensible damage in their health, from the hardships of their travel, their lodging, their diet, and their many other difficulties.These two poor women were now in the hands of those whose "tender mercies are cruelties;" but the good God, who hath all "hearts in his own hands," heard the sighs of these prisoners, and gave them to find unexpected favour from the master who hath laid claim unto them. That Indian family consisted of twelve persons; two stout men, three women, and seven children; and for the shame of many an English family, that has the character of prayerless upon it, I must now publish what these poor women assure me. 'Tis this: in obedience to the instructions which the French have given them, they would have prayers in their family no less than thrice every day; in the morning, at noon, and in the evening; nor would they ordinarily let their children eat or sleep, without first saying their prayers. Indeed, these idolaters were, like the rest of their whiter brethren, persecutors, and would not endure that these poor women should retire to their English prayers, if they could hinder them. Nevertheless, the poor women had nothing but fervent prayers to make their lives comfortable or tolerable; and by being daily sent out upon business, they had opportunities, together and asunder, to do like another Hannah, in "pouring out their souls before the Lord." Nor did their praying friends among our selves forbear to "pour out" supplications for them. Now, they could not observe it without some wonder, that their Indian master sometimes when he saw them dejected, would say unto them, "What need you trouble your self? If your God will have you delivered, you shall be so!" And it seems our God would have it so to be. This Indian family was now travelling with these two captive women, (and an English youth taken from Worcester, a year and a half before,) unto a rendezvous of salvages, which they call a town, some where beyond Penacook; and they still told these poor women that when they came to this town, they must be stript, and scourg'd, and run the gantlet through the whole army of Indians. They said this was the fashion when the captives first came to a town; and they derided some of the faint-hearted English, which, they said, fainted and swooned away under the torments of this discipline. But on April 30, while they were yet, it may be, about an hundred and fifty miles from the Indian town, a little before break of day, when the whole crew was in a dead sleep, (reader, see if it prove not so!) one of these women took up a resolution to imitate the action of Gael upon Siberia; and being where she had not her own life secured by any law unto her, she thought she was not forbidden by any law to take away the life of the murderers by whom her child had been butchered. She heartened the nurse and the youth to assist her in this enterprize; and all furnishing themselves with hatchets for the purpose, they struck such home blows upon the heads of their sleeping oppressors, that ere they could any of them struggle into any effectual resistance, "at the feet of these poor prisoners, they bow'd, they fell, they lay down; at their feet they bow'd, they fell; where they bow'd, there they fell down dead." Only one squaw escaped, sorely wounded, from them in the dark; and one boy, whom they reserved asleep, intending to bring him away with them, suddenly waked, and scuttled away from this desolation. But cutting off the scalps of the ten wretches, they came off, and received fifty pounds from the General Assembly of the province, as a recompence of their action; besides which, they received many "presents of congratulation" from their more private friends: but none gave 'em a greater taste of bounty than Colonel Nicholson, The Governour of Maryland, who, hearing of their action, sent 'em a very generous token of his favour.

(Governor Nicholson was a friend of Thomas Spriggs, my husband's ancestor. The Manorial, or ruling families of wealth sent Hannah a large sum of money as well. It pleases me to think my husband's ancestor had heard about my ancestress, and honored her at that time.)

A tankard that was presented to Hannah, either by the Massachusetts or Maryland leaders.

From: Diary of John Marshall, dated April 1697

"At the latter end of this month two women and a young lad that had been taken captive from Haverhill in March before, watching their opportunity when the Indians were asleep, killed ten of them, scalped them all and came home to Boston. [They] brought a gun with them and some other things. The chief of these Indians took one of the women captive when she had lain in childbed but a few days, and knocked her child in [the] head before her eyes, which woman killed and scalped that very Indian. This was done just about the time the council of this province had concluded on a day of fasting and prayer through the province."

In Samuel Sewall’s Diary, Volume 1, pages 452 and 453, we find the following entry on May 12, 1697:
Fourth-day, May12….Hanah Dustin came to see us:….She saith her master, who she kill’d did formerly live with Mr. Roulandson at Lancaster: He told her, that when he pray’d the English way, he thought that was good: but now he found the French way was better. The single man shewed the night before, to Saml Lenarson, how he used to knock Englishmen on the head and take off their Scalps: little thinking that the Captives would make some of their first experiment upon himself. Sam. Lenarson kill’d him.

Much later there were people who wrote the story as they had heard it.

Whittier was positive about Hannah's choice:

From: "Legends of New England" by John Greenleaf Whittier
copyright 1831

THE MOTHER'S REVENGE"..... Woman's attributes are generally considered of a milder and purer character than those of man. The virtues of meek affection, of fervent piety, of winning sympathy and of that " charity which forgiveth often", are more peculiarly her own. Her sphere of action is generally limited to the endearments of the home- the quiet communion with her friends, and the angelic exercise of the kindly charities of existence. Yet there have been astonishing manifestations of female fortitude and power in the ruder and sterner trials of humanity; Manifestations of a courage rising almost to sublimity; the revelation of all those dark and terrible passions, which madden and distract the heart of manhood. The perils that surrounded the earliest settlers of New England were of the most terrible character. None but such a people as were our forefathers could have successfully sustained them. In the dangers and the hardihood of that perilous period, woman herself shared largely. It was not unfrequently her task to garrison the dwelling of her absent husband, and hold at bay the fierce savages in their hunt for blood. Many have left behind them a record of their sufferings and trials in the great wilderness, when in the bondage of the heathen, which are full of wonderful and romantic incidents, related however without ostentation, plainly and simply , as if the authors felt assured that they had only performed the task which Providence had set before them, and for which they could ask no tribute or admiration. In 1698 the Indians made an attack upon the English settlement at Haverhill (Mass.)- now a beautiful village on the left bank of the Merrimack. They surrounded the house of one Duston, which was a little removed from the main body of the settlement. The wife of Duston was at that time in bed with an infant child in her arms. Seven young children were around her. On the first alarm Duston (Thomas) bade his children fly towards the garrison house, and then turned to save his wife and infant. By the time the savages were presenting close upon them. The heroic women saw the utter impossibility of her escape- and she bade her husband fly to succor his children and leave her to her fate. It was a moment of terrible trial for the husband- he hesitated between his affection and his duty- but the entreaties of his wife fixed his determination. He turned away and followed his children. A part of the Indians pursued him, but he held them at a distance by the frequent discharge of his rifle. The children fled towards the garrison ,where their friends waited, with breathless anxiety, to receive them. More than once, during their flight , the savages gained upon them ; but a shot from the rifle of Duston, followed, as it was , by the fall of one of their number , effectually checked their progress. The garrison was reached, and Duston and his children, exhausted from fatigue and terror, were literally dragged into its enclosure by their anxious neighbors. Mrs. Duston , her servant girl ( Mary Neff her mid wive) and her infant were made prisoners by the Indians, and were compelled to proceed before them in their retreat towards their lurking place . The charge of her infant necessarily impeded her progress; and the savages brook delay when they knew the avenger of blood was following closely behind them. Finding that the wretched mother was unable to keep pace with her captors, the leader of the band approached her ,and wrested the infant from her arms. the savage held it before him for a moment, contemplating, with a smile of grim fierceness the terrors of its mother , and then dashed it from him with all of his powerful strength. Its head smote heavily on the trunk of an adjacent tree, and the dried leaves around were sprinkled with brains and blood. " Go on !" said the Indian. The wretched mother cast one look upon her dead infant, and another to Heaven, as she obeyed her savage conductor. She has often said , that at this moment , all was darkness and horror- that her very heart seemed to cease beating, and to lie cold and dead in her bosom, and that her limbs moved as only involuntary machinery. But when she gazed around her and saw the unfeeling savages ,grinning at her and mocking her and pointing to the mangled body of her infant with fiendish exultation, a new and terrible feeling came over her . It was the thirst of revenge; and from that moment her purpose was fixed. There was the thought of death at her heart-an insantiate longing for blood. An instantaneous change had been wrought in her very nature ; the angel had become a demon,-and she followed her captors with a stearn determination to embrace the earliest opportunity for blood retribution. The Indians followed the course of the Merrimack, until they had reached their canoes, a distance of seventy or eighty miles. They paddled to a small island ( now known as Duston Island, N.H.), a little above the upper falls of the river. Here they kindled a fire; and fatigued by their long marches and sleepless nights, stretched themselves around it, without dreaming of the escape of their captives. Their sleep was deep- deeper than any which the white man knows,- a sleep from which they were never to awaken. The two captives lay silent, until the hour of midnight; but the bereaved mother did not close her eyes. There was a gnawing of revenge at her heart, which precluded slumber. There was a spirit within her which defied the weakness of the body. She rose up and walked around the sleepers, in order to test the soundness of their slumber. They stirred not a limb or muscle. Placing a hatchet in the hands of her fellow captive, and bidding her stand ready to assist her, she grasped another in her own hands, and smote its ragged edge deeply into the skull of the nearest sleeper. A slight shudder and a feeble groan followed. The savage was dead. She passed on to the next. Blow followed blow, until ten out of twelve, the whole number of the savages, were stiffening in blood. One escaped with a dreadful wound. The last- a small boy-still slept amidst the scene of carnage. Mrs. Duston lifted her dripping hatchet above his head, but hesitated to strike the blow. "It is a poor," she said, mentally, "a poor child, and perhaps he has a mother!" The thought of her own children rushed upon her mind, and she spared him. She was in the act of leaving the bloody spot, when, suddenly reflecting that the people of her settlement would not credit her story, unsupported by any proof save her own assertion, she returned and deliberately scalped her ten victims. With this fearful evidence of her prowess, she loosed one of the Indian canoes, and floated down the river to the falls, from which place she traveled through the wilderness to the residence of her husband. Such is the simple and unvarnished story of a New England woman. The curious historian, who may hereafter search among the dim records of our "twilight time"- who may gather from the uncertain responses of tradition, the wonderful history of the past-will find much, of the similar character, to call forth by turns, admiration and horror. And the time is coming, when all these traditions shall be treasured up as a sacred legacy- when the tale of the Indian inroad and the perils of the hunter--of the sublime courage and the dark superstitions of our ancestors, will be listened to with an interest unknown to the present generation,- and those who are to fill our places will pause hereafter by the Indian's burial place, and on the site of the old battle-field, or the thrown-down garrison, with a feeling of awe and reverence, as if communing, face to face, with the spirits of that stern race, which has passed away forever. END

(all above from

Henry David Thoreau, also positive, a few years later had this to say:

H. D. Thoreau’s Retelling of the Hannah Dustin Story
[From A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, “Thursday” section, 1849]

On the thirty-first day of March, one hundred and forty-two years before this, probably about this time in the afternoon, there were hurriedly paddling down this part of the river, between the pine woods which then fringed these banks, two white women and a boy, who had left an island at the mouth of the Contoocook before daybreak. They were slightly clad for the season, in the English fashion, and handled their paddles unskillfully, but with nervous energy and determination, and at the bottom of their canoe lay the still bleeding scalps of ten of the aborigines. They were Hannah Dustan, and her nurse, Mary Neff, both of Haverhill, eighteen miles from the mouth of this river, and an English boy, named Samuel Lennardson, escaping from captivity among the Indians. On the 15th of March previous, Hannah Dustan had been compelled to rise from childbed, and half dressed, with one foot bare, accompanied by her nurse, commence an uncertain march, in still inclement weather, through the snow and the wilderness. She had seen her seven elder children flee with their father, but knew not of their fate. She had seen her infant’s brains dashed out against an apple-tree, and had left her own and her neighbors’ dwellings in ashes. When she reached the wigwam of her captor, situated on an island in the Merrimack, more than twenty miles above where we now are, she had been told that she and her nurse were soon to be taken to a distant Indian settlement, and there made to run the gauntlet naked. The family of this Indian consisted of two men, three women, and seven children, beside an English boy, whom she found a prisoner among them. Having determined to attempt her escape, she instructed the boy to inquire of one of the men, how he should despatch an enemy in the quickest manner, and take his scalp. "Strike ‘em there," said he, placing his finger on his temple, and he also showed him how to take off the scalp. On the morning of the 31st she arose before daybreak, and awoke her nurse and the boy, and taking the Indians’ tomahawks, they killed them all in their sleep, excepting one favorite boy, and one squaw who fled wounded with him to the woods. The English boy struck the Indian who had given him the information, on the temple, as he had been directed. They then collected all the provision they could find, and took their master’s tomahawk and gun, and scuttling all the canoes but one, commenced their flight to Haverhill, distant about sixty miles by the river. But after having proceeded a short distance, fearing that her story would not be believed if she should escape to tell it, they returned to the silent wigwam, and taking off the scalps of the dead, put them into a bag as proofs of what they had done, and then retracing their steps to the shore in the twilight, recommenced their voyage.
[38] Early this morning this deed was performed, and now, perchance, these tired women and this boy, their clothes stained with blood, and their minds racked with alternate resolution and fear, are making a hasty meal of parched corn and moose-meat, while their canoe glides under these pine roots whose stumps are still standing on the bank. They are thinking of the dead whom they have left behind on that solitary isle far up the stream, and of the relentless living warriors who are in pursuit. Every withered leaf which the winter has left seems to know their story, and in its rustling to repeat it and betray them. An Indian lurks behind every rock and pine, and their nerves cannot bear the tapping of a woodpecker. Or they forget their own dangers and their deeds in conjecturing the fate of their kindred, and whether, if they escape the Indians, they shall find the former still alive. They do not stop to cook their meals upon the bank, nor land, except to carry their canoe about the falls. The stolen birch forgets its master and does them good service, and the swollen current bears them swiftly along with little need of the paddle, except to steer and keep them warm by exercise. For ice is floating in the river; the spring is opening; the muskrat and the beaver are driven out of their holes by the flood; deer gaze at them from the bank; a few faint-singing forest birds, perchance, fly across the river to the northernmost shore; the fish-hawk sails and screams overhead, and geese fly over with a startling clangor; but they do not observe these things, or they speedily forget them. They do not smile or chat all day. Sometimes they pass an Indian grave surrounded by its paling on the bank, or the frame of a wigwam, with a few coals left behind, or the withered stalks still rustling in the Indian’s solitary cornfield on the interval. The birch stripped of its bark, or the charred stump where a tree has been burned down to be made into a canoe, these are the only traces of man,—a fabulous wild man to us. On either side, the primeval forest stretches away uninterrupted to Canada, or to the "South Sea"; to the white man a drear and howling wilderness, but to the Indian a home, adapted to his nature, and cheerful as the smile of the Great Spirit.
[39] While we loiter here this autumn evening, looking for a spot retired enough, where we shall quietly rest to-night, they thus, in that chilly March evening, one hundred and forty-two years before us, with wind and current favoring, have already glided out of sight, not to camp, as we shall, at night, but while two sleep one will manage the canoe, and the swift stream bear them onward to the settlements, it may be, even to old John Lovewell’s house on Salmon Brook to-night.
[40] According to the historian, they escaped as by a miracle all roving bands of Indians, and reached their homes in safety, with their trophies, for which the General Court paid them fifty pounds. The family of Hannah Dustan all assembled alive once more, except the infant whose brains were dashed out against the apple-tree, and there have been many who in later times have lived to say that they had eaten of the fruit of that apple-tree.

Not all reviews were glowing.
Nathaniel Hawthorne published a highly critical review of Hannah's actions in 1836.

The final paragraphs were as follows:

"Would that the bloody old hag had been drowned in crossing Contocook river, or that she had sunk over head and ears in a swamp, and been there buried, till summoned forth to confront her victims at the Day of Judgement; or that she had gone astray and been starved to death in the forest, and nothing ever seen of her again, save her skeleton, with the ten scalps twisted round it for a girdle! But, on the contrary, she and her companions came safe home, and received the bounty on the dead Indians, besides liberal presents from private gentlemen, and fifty pounds from the Governor of Maryland. In her old age, being sunk into decayed circumstances, she claimed, and, we believe, received a pension, as a further price of blood.
This awful woman, and that tender hearted, yet valiant man, her husband, will be remembered as long as the deeds of old times are told round a New England fireside. But how different is her renown from his!"

(Sheesh, Nate, take it easy!)

You can read more about Hawthorne's literary history here

The entire Hawthorne article is below:

"The Duston Family"Goodman Duston and his wife, somewhat less than a century and a half ago, dwelt in Haverhill, at that time a small frontier settlement in the province of Massachusetts Bay. They had already added seven children to the King's liege subjects in America; and Mrs. Duston about a week before the period of our narrative, had blessed her husband with an eighth. One day in March, 1698, when Mr. Duston had gone forth about his ordinary business, there fell out an event, which had nearly left him childless man, and a widower besides. An Indian war party, after traversing the trackless forest all the way from Canada, broke in upon their remote and defenseless town. Goodman Duston heard the war whoop and alarm, and, being on horseback, immediately set off full speed to look after the safety of his family. As he dashed along, he beheld dark wreaths of smoke eddying from the roofs of several dwellings near the road side; while the groans of dying men, -- the shrieks of affrighted women, and the screams of children, pierced his ear, all mingled with the horrid yell of the raging savages. The poor man trembled yet spurred on so much the faster, dreading that he should find his own cottage in a blaze, his wife murdered in her bed, and his little ones tossed into the flames. But, drawing near the door, he saw his seven elder children, issuing out together, and running down the road to meet him. The father only bade them make the best of their way to the nearest garrison, and, without a moment's pause, found himself from his horse, and rushed into Mrs. Duston's bedchamber.
The good woman, as we have before hinted, had lately added an eight to the seven former proofs of her conjugal affection; and she now lay with the infant in her arms, and her nurse, the widow Mary Neff, watching by her bedside. Such was Mrs. Duston's helpless state, when her pale and breathless husband burst into the chamber, bidding her instantly to rise and flee for her life. Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when the Indian yell was heard: and staring wildly out of the window, Goodman Duston saw that the blood-thirsty foe was close at hand. At this terrible instant, it appears that the thought of his children's danger rushed so powerfully upon his heart, that he quite forgot the still more perilous situation of his wife; or, as is not improbable, he had such knowledge of the good lady's character, as afforded him a comfortable hope that she would hold her own, even in a contest with a whole tribe of Indians. However that might be, he seized his gun and rushed out of doors again, meaning to gallop after his seven children, and snatch up one of them in his flight, lest his whole race and generation should be blotted from the earth, in that fatal hour. With this idea, he rode up behind them, swift as the wind. They had, by this time, got about forty rods from the house, all pressing forward in a group; and though the younger children tripped and stumbled, yet the elder ones were not prevailed upon, by the fear of death, to take to their heels, and leave these poor little souls to perish. Hearing the tramp of hoofs in their rear, they looked round, and espying Goodman Duston, all suddenly stopped. The little ones stretched out their arms; while the elder boys and girls, as it were, resigned their charge into his hands; and all the seven children seemed to say. -- ' Here is our father! Now we are safe!'
But if ever a poor mortal was in trouble, and perplexity, and anguish of spirit, that man was Mr. Duston! He felt his heart yearn towards these seven poor helpless children, as if each were singly possessed of his whole affections; for not one among them all, but had some peculiar claim to their dear father's love. There was his first-born; there, too, the little one who, till within a week past, had been the baby, the picture of himself, and another in whom the looks of both parents were mingled; there was one child, whom he loved for his mild, quiet, and holy disposition, and destined him to be a minister; and another whom he loved not less for his rough and fearless spirit, and who, could he live to be a man, would do a man's part against these bloody Indians. Goodman Duston looked at the poor things, one by one; and with yearning fondness, he looked at them all, together; then he gazed up to Heaven for a moment, and finally waved his hand to his seven beloved ones. 'Go on, my children,' said he, calmly. 'We will live or die together!'
He reined in his horse, and caused him to walk behind the children, who, hand in hand, went onward, hushing their sobs and wailing's, lest these sounds should bring the savages upon them. Nor was it long, before the fugitives had proof that the red devils had found their track. There was a curl of smoke from behind the huge trunk of a tree -- a sudden and sharp report echoed through the woods -- and a bullet hissed over Goodman Duston's shoulder, and passed above the children's heads. The father, turning half round on his horse, took aim and fired at the skulking foe, with such effect as to cause a momentary delay of the pursuit. Another shot -- and another -- whistled from the covert of the forest; but still the little band pressed on, unharmed; and the stealthy nature of the Indians forbade them to rush boldly forward, in the face of so firm an enemy as Goodman Duston. Thus he and his seven children continued their retreat, creeping along, as Cotton Mather observes, 'at the pace of a child of five years old,' till the stockades of a little frontier fortress appeared in view, and the savages gave up the chase.
We must not forget Mrs. Duston in her distress. Scarcely had her husband fled from the house, ere the chamber was thronged with the horrible visages of the wild Indians, bedaubed with paint and besmeared with blood, brandishing their tomahawks in her face, and threatening to add her scalp to those that were already hanging at their girdles. It was, however, their interest to save her alive, if the thing might be, in order to exact a ransom. Our great-great-grandmothers, when taken captive in the old times of Indian warfare, appear, in nine cases out of ten, to have been in pretty much such a delicate situation as Mrs. Duston; not withstanding which, they were wonderfully sustained through long, rough, and hurried marches, amid toil, weariness, and starvation, such as the Indians themselves could hardly endure. Seeing that there was no help for it, Mrs. Duston rose, and she and the widow Neff, with the infant in her arms, followed their captors out of doors. As they crossed the threshold, the poor babe set up a feeble wail; it was its death cry. In an instant, an Indian seized it by the heels, swung it in the air, dashed out its brains against the trunk of the nearest tree, and threw the little corpse at the mother's feet. Perhaps it was the remembrance of the moment, that hardened Hannah Duston's heart, when her time of vengeance came. But now, nothing could be done; but to stifle her grief and rage within her bosom, and follow the Indians into the dark gloom of the forest, hardly venturing to throw a parting glance at the blazing cottage, where she had dwelt happily with her husband, and had borne him eight children--the seven, of whose fate she knew nothing, and the infant, whom she had just seen murdered.
The first day's march was fifteen miles; and during that, and many succeeding days, Mrs. Duston kept pace with her captors; for, had she lagged behind, a tomahawk would at once have been sunk into her brains. More that one terrible warning was given her; more that one of her fellow captives, -- of whom there were many, -- after tottering feebly, at length sank upon the ground; the next moment, the death groan was breathed, and the scalp was reeking at an Indian girdle. The unburied corpse was left in the forest, till the rites of sepulture should be performed by the autumnal gales, strewing the withered leaves upon the whitened bones. When out of danger of immediate pursuit, the prisoners, according to Indian custom, were divided among different parties of the savages, each of whom were to shift for themselves. Mrs. Duston, the widow Neff, and an English lad, fell to the lot of a family, consisting of two stout warriors, three squaws, and seven children. These Indians, like most with whom the French had held intercourse, were Catholics; and Cotton Mather affirms, on Mrs. Duston's authority that they prayed at morning, noon, and night, nor ever partook of food without a prayer; nor suffered their children to sleep, till they had prayed to the christian's God. Mather, like an old hardhearted, pedantic bigot, as he was, seems trebly to exult in the destruction of these poor wretches, on account of their Popish superstitions. Yet what can be more touching that to think of these wild Indians, in their loneliness and their wanderings, wherever they went among the dark, mysterious woods, still keeping up domestic worship, with all the regularity of a household at its peaceful fireside.
They were traveling to a rendezvous of the savages, somewhere in the northeast. One night, being now above a hundred miles from Haverhill, the red men and women, and the little red children, and the three pale faces, Mrs. Duston, the widow Neff, and the English lad, made their encampment, and kindled a fire beneath the gloomy old trees, on a small island in Contocook river. The barbarians sat down to what scanty food Providence had sent them and shared it with their prisoners, as if they had all been the children of one wigwam, and had grown up together on the margins of the same river within the shadow of the forest. The Indians said their prayers -- the prayers that the Romish priests had taught them -- and made the sign of the cross upon their dusky breasts, and composed themselves to rest. But the three prisoners prayed apart; and when their petitions were ended, they likewise lay down, with their feet to the fire. The night wore on; and the light and cautious slumbers of the red men were often broken, by the rush and ripple of the stream, or the groaning and moaning of the forest, as if nature were wailing over her wild children; and sometimes, too, the little red skins cried in sleep, and the Indian mothers awoke to hush them. But, a little before break of day, a deep, dead, slumber fell upon the Indians. 'See,' cries Cotton Mather, triumphantly, 'if it prove not so!'
Uprose Mrs. Duston, holding her own breath, to listen to the long deep breathing of her captors. Then she stirred the widow Neff, whose place was by her own, and likewise the English lad; and all three stood up, with the doubtful gleam of the decaying fire hovering upon their ghastly visages, as they stared round at the fated slumberers. The next instant, each of the three captives held a tomahawk. Hark! That low moan, as of one in a troubled dream -- it told a warriour's death pang! Another! -- Another! -- and the third half-uttered groan was from a woman's lips. But, Oh the children! Their skins are red; yet spare them, Hannah Duston, spare those seven little ones, for the sake of the seven that have fed at your own breast. 'Seven,' quoth Mrs. Duston to herself. 'Eight children have I borne -- and where are the seven and where is the eighth!' The thought nerved her arm; and the copper colored babes slept the same dead sleep with their Indian mothers. Of all that family, only one woman escaped, dreadfully wounded, and fled shrieking into the wilderness, and a boy, whom it is said, Mrs. Duston had meant to save alive. But he did well to flee from the raging tigress! There was little safety for a red skin, when Hannah Duston's blood was up.
The work being finished, Mrs. Duston laid hold of the long black hair of the warriours, and the women, and the children, and took all their ten scalps, and left the island, which bears her name to this very day. According to our notion, it should be held accursed, for her sake. Would that the bloody old hag had been drowned in crossing Contocook river, or that she had sunk over head and ears in a swamp, and been there buried, till summoned forth to confront her victims at the Day of Judgement; or that she had gone astray and been starved to death in the forest, and nothing ever seen of her again, save her skeleton, with the ten scalps twisted round it for a girdle! But, on the contrary, she and her companions came safe home, and received the bounty on the dead Indians, besides liberal presents from private gentlemen, and fifty pounds from the Governor of Maryland. In her old age, being sunk into decayed circumstances, she claimed, and, we believe, received a pension, as a further price of blood.
This awful woman, and that tender hearted, yet valiant man, her husband, will be remembered as long as the deeds of old times are told round a New England fireside. But how different is her renown from his!
Source: Nathaniel Hawthorne. "The Duston Family." The American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge. May 1836, pp. 395-97. Page citation:

Hawthorne may have been the first to write harshly about Hannah, but he is by no means the last. There is an entire page of critical journal articles about Hannah with is available here.

Tomorrow I will post the picture of the two other Monuments errected to Hannah's name, and reveal what she herself had to say about her experience. I will also attempt to explain my own feelings about my ancestress, and her actions, some of which I wrestle with even as I write.

I will also wrap up a few details that are still lingering within the story.

Hopefully my readers will allow me the honor of reading their thoughts about this saga. If you are reading these chapters, will you please just leave a post saying something like "I read them." You are certainly welcome to write more, any comments are interesting to me. But I would like to know with whom I have shared my family's history.

Life as Science Fiction: I know they sometimes look a little weird...

This happened on Saturday around 4 pm.

I'm working reference desk at the library.
The library is quiet, and there are 10 people in the computer area next to my reference desk.

A dark haired man approaches the reference desk holding two slips of paper, and asks for help “finding these books”.

He’s been looking in the reference area, so I explained the library call number lay-out, and that the books he was looking for would be in the back part of the library.

I asked if he would like me to help him find the books.

He said yes.

As we walked back to the stack he asked me “the question”…..

“Do people ever use the library?”

Please tell me that we have not become popular with alien life forms, because I always thought the folks sitting around studying and using the computers actually WERE “people.”

I am now looking more carefully at the "life forms" using our library.

(EEEEKKKK! And a lot of them smell funny too!)

Saturday afternoon matinee: "How to make a silk hat"

I found this three minute video. Now any one can see how easy it is to sew a silk hat! And the music is not bad either.

Then there is this three minute 1917's fashion show.
Check out those hobbled skirts, patterned silk stockings and furs! Whoo hoo! LOVE IT!

I'm also experimenting with the Video bar feature. If you look over on the top of my side bar you can see what looks like black and white film frames.

The top three pictures each have a movie scene that is so cute!

Just click on the picture, and a video screen will appear above the last posting. After you finish watching, just click the line "I'm finished watching this" that is above the little screen and the video screen will disappear.

Shop on girls, and do it wearing a hat!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Chapter 18: A fast, a decision, and you

Tonight as I write this I am thinking back to the events that were unfolding 310 years ago tonight.

The entire province of Massachusetts had been called to pray and fast.

According the an entry in the diary of John Marshall, dated April 1697:

"This (Hannah's actions) was done just about the time the council of this province had concluded on a day of fasting and prayer through the province."

There was a passing comment that the Merrimack river around the Penecook Island was flooded.
Perhaps the weather had warmed, or perhaps there had been heavy rain.
Either way, the Penecook Island was inaccessible save through the use of a boat, or more precisely, a canoe.

"When she learned where they were going, (Canada and a rendezvous with other Indians for a gauntlet run) a plan took definite shape in her mind, and was secretly communicated to Mrs. Neff and Samuel Lennardson.

Samuel, who was growing tired of living with the Indians, and in whom a longing for home had been stirred by the presence of the two women, the next day casually asked his master, Bampico, how he had killed the English.

"Strike 'em dere," said Bampico, touching his temple, and then proceeded to show the boy how to take a scalp.

This information was communicated to the women, and they quickly agreed on the details of the plan.

After reaching the island, the Indians grew careless. The river was in flood.
Samuel was considered one of the family, and the two women were considered too worn out to attempt escape, so no watch was set that night and the Indians slept soundly.

Hannah had decided that the time had come."

H. D. Kilgore, HistorianDuston-Dustin Family Association

Take a moment now, if you will, before we go any farther with this story, and reflect about what Hannah had experienced over the prior fourteen days.

Only this time imagine yourself in her situation.

Only this time, imagine that the events have been happening to you, in March 2007, over the past 13 days.

You are in bed, contentedly cuddling your new baby.

You have a friend that you have known your whole life over to help you out a bit with recovering from the birth of your twelveth child.

Your husband, in addition to working on your property as a farmer, is working on finishing your new home, a home that you and he have been designing and building for awhile, to make room for your growing family of children.

Brick by brick he is building you a beautiful new home.

Take a moment and picture yourself in that life. Picture yourself, your husband, your home, your babies.

You've already had to buried three of your twelve children, and you are 39 years old.
Your five year old is so much fun, and your oldest two daughters are planning their weddings. The children are a blessing in your home, and you love them all greatly.

Earlier you and your family had knelt in prayer.
You husband of twenty years had read scripture, and then you all had gathered together for a breakfast before dispersing outside to do various farm chores, which took your husband far out onto the edges of your property.

Imagine now that you've gone back to bed.

Suddenly you hear your husband yelling as he pulls up in front of your house.
Bursting into your bedroom, he screams that terrorists are swarming up the road, heading towards your somewhat isolated house.

"Where are the children?" you ask frantically.

"I told the kids to to run through the woods" he answers, his hunting rifle clenched in his hands. "They are headed toward church (or school or where ever you would send your children to safety)"

You are still weak from the difficult child birth.
Your body is still bleeding, your breasts are producing milk.
Your mind can not take it all in.

You find that you are paralyzed, you are frozen in place.
You can't get out of bed.
The adrenalin rushes into your body and you begin to shake.

"Go get the kids!" you scream in horror.

Somehow you and your husband agree he should leave you, that he must stay with the children.
Your husband races out the backdoor of your house, and jumping into his car, guns the engine, peeling out of your driveway just as the terrorist burst into the front door of your house.

Imagine seeing your friend catche up your new baby and trying to escape out the backdoor, heading away from the house.

You hear items being shoved and broken, yelling and screaming as the terrorist voices get closer and closer.

Suddenly there are what seems like a roomful of terrorist around you.
One of them shouts at you; "Get up"

Somehow you manage to stumble out of the bed.
You back into the open door of your closet, trying to become invisible as the horror around you unfolds.

"Get dressed. NOW!" one of the terrorist orders you.

You grab the first thing your hands touch, a loose slip on dress.
It is one of the few things that fit right now, and blindly you pull it over your head, then reach for your shoes.

You can only find one shoe. Slipping it on, you look about for it's mate.

As the surreal scene whirls around, you feel the terrorist leader grab onto your arm.
Shoving you harshly along, you and the others in the house spill out into your front lawn.
Down the street you can see other terrorist invading the next home over.

Imagine seeing your children's friends falling in a rain of gunfire.

More crashing sounds, and screams break through the morning air on all sides.
The terrorists have piled papers, clothing and tossing gasoline about, light a match then whoosh, your home is being burned, it's windows shattered, and the world around you is colored by flame and smoke.

You are barely aware of the snow underneath your one bare foot.

You see your friend, clutching your infant daughter being lead back to you by the terrorist. Everyone seems to be carrying stuff from your house, shoving things into back packs and bags, and then shoving you, telling you to get moving.

You look over your shoulder at your house.
You look everywhere, everywhere there seems to be houses aflame, terrorists knifing people, shouting, gun fire, cars being gunned.

The terrorists have regrouped, there are about twenty, maybe thirty of them, and they have with them thirteen of your neighbors.
Some have their hands tied behind their backs.
Some have injuries, bullitt wounds, there is blood soaking through sweatshirts, and running down cheeks and hands.
All of your friends look dazed.

"Come on, move, get going, keep moving or I will kill you!" the terrorist threaten your reluctant friends.

You see your friend just ahead of you shifting the baby to her other shoulder, trying to get balanced as she is walking through the slippery leaves and crusty snow.

You are almost to the edge of you property.
You try to get ahead, to help your friend, to take your baby.

Just then one of the terrorists, one of the ones that seems to be one of the leaders shouts at your friend.
She stumbles, taken aback at the violence in his voice.
He strides over to your friend, and roughly grabs your baby, who is now wailing in a terrorized tone you had never heard before.

You try to run to her.
The world collapses in to a small tunnel, all you can see is your baby.
Her little mouth is wide and her whole body is convulsed in the effort to put forth her tiny voice.

In slow motion, you watch as the blanket falls from your baby, and dangling the baby by her feet, the terrorist leader lifts his arm back, then in a furious swing soundly knocks your child's tiny head against your family's apple tree.

He doesn't even stop to look at the crumpled body.
Your scream seems to be taking up all the air available.
You can't stop screaming.

The terrorist shoves you again.
"Keep going!" he commands.
And somehow you do.
Your mouth is screaming, but somehow your feet manage to move, one in front of the other, over and over again.

Your one bare foot went numb immediately when you first left your house, and stepped into the snow.
Your other foot went numb moments later.

Your hands, your face, your heart one by one went numb.

The first of your neighbors stumbled, he had a gash on his head to begin with. Your neighbor, two houses down the street.
The one your husband helped build his house.
A hatchet cleaves his head cleanly, and weirdly, one of the terrorist leans over your now dead friend and slices off his scalp.

The woman three houses over is hatcheted next.
She screams and babbles as the terrorist approaches her as she collapsed on the ground, her ankle bent, fighting for breath.
They beat her until she is silent, and dead.

By the time your third neighbor falls, you have learned not to look.

Imagine watching as one by one your friends are slaughter.

It's a small town; these are people you know, and have known, since the day your were born.
These murdered people are your friends, are people who have been your neighbors all of your life.

Take a moment and think of thirteen of your friends in your area.

Imagine (briefly...) them being hacked in front of you, their blood splashing on you, and you have to keep on walking away from them as they lay screaming from the pain as they die.

As you are traveling through the fields and woods, you keep hoping someone will come and stop this all from happening.

Instead you approach a stand of trees, and out walk a lot of women, and children, who greet the terrorists with excitement, and they begin to dig through the back packs, eating the cheetos and cookies, inspecting the purses, pulling out money, trying on the jewelry.

Your cheetos, your purse, your money, your jewelry is pawed through, and shoved back into a backpack.
The back pack is then forced upon you.
It is the least of your worries.

The walking is endless. Your back is now rubbed raw and bloody from the backpack that has rubbed with each step against the slip dress you are wearing.
Your feet are bloody, your back is bloody.
Your hands are bloody from grabbing rocks as you climbed,

You are hungry, you are thirsty, you are exhausted.

It just doesn't seem real.

You have zoned out, gone numb, escaped to some corner of your mind where all the Bible verses that you ever memorized are now repeating.
As long as you can hear those verses, you know you will be alright.

As darkness falls the endless walking ceases.
You are told sit, and tents are erected.
A fire is built, and the terrorists sit in a circle talking.

Imagine you don't know what they are saying, you don't speak their language.

The food they are eating looks disgusting.
You turn away from it, it smells like nothing you would ever want to eat.

Days later, the same food, the same smell is mouthwatering to your senses.

But for tonight, you are so tired and shocked that you have no appetite at all.

Nothing tempts you to eat tonight.
Your mouth is too full of tears.

Imagine sleeping next to your friend, holding each other, shaking in the cold, in the dark, trying to stay warm.

When you awake, you are more stiff than you have ever been in your life.
But the terrorists threaten you, and you move, standing wrapping your arms around yourself trying to stay warm.

The backpack is loaded onto the scab that have formed on your back during the night.

The walking begins again.

Imagine yourself walking, stumbling, and have no idea where you are headed.
You have no idea if your husband and other children are alive.
You wonder if your brothers and sisters and your nieces and nephews are alright.
You wonder about your mom and dad.

But mostly you just stay numb. Mostly you just keep going back to that space in your head where the verses keep repeating.

And slowly you mind awakes enought to match consciously what unconsciously your spirit has been uttering.
You begin to pray, pleading with God that you will be safe, that your children are safe,that your husband is safe.
You pray the psalm in your head, the one that says you will not die, but will live.

You and your friend mutter prayers as your walk.
Imagine when you stop, that you hold each other when you can, and together you reassure each other and pray.

The farther you walk, the more the terrorist talk with you, taunting you.
They describe the horrible things that will be happening to you "once we get to where we are going."

Imagine you know the place that they are talking about.
The terrorists had won in that place.

The news had been covering the fall of your neighboring area to terrorist.
There had been attempts to route them out, but the attempts had not been successful.
All the news that you had heard of recently said there was little that could be done, save to be aware that the terrorists were attacking small neighborhoods at will.

What the terrorist described would happen to you was brutal, humiliating, and frightening.

You had heard from people who had manage to escape what happened in the terrorist camps.

You just never imagined it could ever happen to you.

This has been your life for two weeks.

One of the terrorist, a leader, the one who killed your baby, has claimed you and your goods as his own.
He travels with three women, each of whom have children of various ages, and a single man as well.

At one point the rest of the terrorist, the twenty or thirty who ravaged your neighborhood and their women and children took one fork of the trail, while the terrorist leader, the one whose face you will never forget, because he's the one who killed your baby, headed down another fork. The single man shoved you along.

Soon you are at the edge of a river.
There are several small boats beached on the river's edge.
Dumping the sacks of pilfered goods, the terrorist jumps into the boat, and the women and children climb into the other boats.
You and your friend climb into one of the boats as well.

The river is moving fast.
The water level is high, the current swift.

The terrorists skillfully row their boats out towards an island. After reaching the island everyone piles out of the boats, pulling them up into the trees, and begin to unload the loot. There are tents and stolen goods piled about inside.

As you approach the tent, out steps a young man who looks familiar.
He says his name, and you remember him; he was the one that they had the missing child bulletin about about a year and a half ago.

He tells you he was captured while he was fishing near the river by his home, and that he wishes he could go home.

A meal is cooked, and as you and your friend pray, the terrorist yells at you to stop it.
He explains that you should pray to his God, or not at all.

He tells you about how he used to live with one of your local minister's family.
Imagine you know that minister's family; it seems impossible that this terrorist could ever had been sheltered in that kind and gentle home.

Then he tells you about how he went to live with Catholic monks.
He tells you how he thought they have a better take on God.

"Just to make sure God is on my side" he boasts, "I make all my family recite a prayer three times a day." He sneers "None of that worthless constant mumbling that you two do. Three times a day, that's enough to keep God happy."

He reminds you that soon you will be tortured, and likely will die, or at least be knocked out, and beaten, and scarred.

He goes into great detail, how you and your friend will be stripped naked, and forced to run amongst all the terrorist in the newly formed terrorist town.

You will be whipped with ropes, stuck with axes, hit with rocks and fists, kicked, plummeted, dragged,and this event will be a source of great amusement to himself and all of his people.

Mocking you and your one comfort of faith, the terrorist has one final thing to say to you tonight as he left to sleep in his tent.

"But hey, don't worry about it.
Why look so downcast?
If that God you keep trying to talk to is listening, He's going to save you, right?"

The terrorist and his family and the single man with them are just glad to be back to their base camp, where they have their belongings stored, and where they can get a good night sleep.

They piled up their hatchets, knives, guns and other weapons, knowing that you and your friend are exhausted and leave you to sleep as best as you can under the trees listening to the sounds of the rushing river.

Imagine realizing that after they kill you, the terrorist will return to terrorize other neighborhoods, will slaughter other men, women and innocent babes without a moment's hesitation.

In your head though, a psalm is chanting:

"Vindicate me, Oh God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation.
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the alter of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise you
Oh God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.'
(Psalm 43)

You and your friend and the young man have communicated.

You have conceived of a plan.

What would you do to save yourself, to escape this nightmare?
What is your plan?
What are you willing to do?
What must you do to live?

I am truly sorry to have to had such brutal details in this modern rendition of Hannah's story.
But these details I felt were necessary in order for you to search your own heart and find the answer of what you would be willing to do to live.

Tomorrow I will tell you what Hannah did.

She has been acclaimed and reviled, applauded and condemned for her decision and her actions.

Before you know what Hannah did, I want to give you a chance to think about what it would be like if you had such circumstances befall you.

She has been acclaimed, and reviled, applauded and condemned since this night three hundred and thirty years ago.

Praise and judged for her decision.

These imaginary terrorists do plan to kill you.
Slowly, painfully, and they've already killed your friends.
For thirteen days you've struggle, every moment aware that this terrorist murdered your youngest child

Every day you wonder about your other children, and your husband.

Decide now. What would you do? How far are you willing to go to be free?

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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"In the Pink" with a friend

This hat is titled: "In the Pink."
Last summer I *suddenly* had an urge to make a pink hat.
I fashioned the ribbon flowers while I waited for Bernie to go through surgery, then recovery.
Ribbonry is a pleasant quiet past time.
And indeed, Bernie is back "In the Pink" today as well.

My "mentor" librarian buddy Virginia.
She showed me the ropes at the college when I first started there.
We used to ride the ref desk together on Monday nights.
Doesn't she look awesome?
Check out her complexion.
Brains and beauty.

(Of course we took our glasses off for these pictures. We librarians always take off our glasses for pictures!)

I must remember to ask her to tell me what her secret is having such great skin.

I'm seeing you in the pink, Virginia.
You: In the Pink!
You can read Virginia's blog is here!

Spring time, flowers are everywhere!

It sure is springtime around here.

Even in the pharmacy there are flowers.

Take a closer look...aren't these the cutest pens? They brighten up the counter, and never "walk" away, and when they are not in use, they are plunged into a flower pot filled with clear green glass blobs, creating a satisfying slushy crunch sound.

Nice touch.

They don't have to do this sort of thing, but I appreciated it.
It made me smile to sign my name on the receipt using a pen with a bright flower bobbing on the end.

When I drove to work today, I couldn't believe how many flowers are now banking the road sides.

It looks like God came along with cans of spray paint, and just went crazy with blues, pinks, coral orange, and lavender.

Yippie! Bluebonnet Trails, here we come!
The whole state has marvelous roadways with wildflowers stretching seemingly endlessly along the edge.
(Mother Nature has a little help...Texas Department of Highways is funded to heavily seed the road sides each year.)

The real treasure is going down little dirt roads, where unexpected fields are in bloom, with horses and long horn cattle and old fences make for an old fashioned rustic country scene.

Anyway, what I really wanted to tell you was the two things that made me laugh today.

First, reading the following phrase in the paper:

"We're up to our knees in squirrels right now..."

The mental image just make me laugh out loud.

Better that the usual expression around these parts: "We're up to our a** in alligators." Although knowing alligators actually live in my tiny zip code puts a new spin on that one.

The second thing that made me laugh I heard as I was pushing a shopping cart around the store.

I overheard a man's voice announcing authoritatively to what sounded like a group of children:

"As long as we have marshmallows, we can get through the night."

I kept walking for about another minute and a half trying to imagine any situation that would make that statement reasonable.

It was useless; I had to go back and take a look at the guy who said that.

Turns out he was a Scout Master, and walking with him were several gangly young boys, clearly on a mission to shop for an upcoming Boy Scout camping trip.

You know something? He is absolutely right about those marshmallow and getting through the night!

"We're up to our knees in squirrels right now"


"As long as we have marshmallow, we can get through the night."

Should I cross stitch these, or needlepoint them?

I think I need to see these expressions EVERY day!

Update: Add another one. Maybe this is a moldy oldie, but in the neighborhood where I grew up several of the moms were so uptight that you could get your mouth washed out with soap for saying "darn", "heck" or "guy".

As far as those moms were concerned, those words just sounded too much like d*** and h*** and G-d.

Whoa, there's conservative for ya! If I had said what I just read...I'd probably be unable to talk, they would have blow torched my mouth clean!

Anyway, here it is. I just saw it on the cop's blog and it struck me as funny:

Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you!

(Maybe I just need to get out more....)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Throwing my hat into the ring!

Ladies and gentlemen, I need your vote!

Please vote between:
Hat style #1
Hat style #2
(You are voting on the hat itself, not on the background)

Only one vote per person, please!

Above: Hat Style #1

Above: Different view of Hat Style #1

Above: Hat Style #2

Above: Another view of Hat Style #2

To see this yet un-named hat as it under went it's journey from capeline to bonnet, please visit the slide show here.
Mousing over the pictures will allow you to read a narrative about the making of this hat.

Additional photos of both styles are included in the slide show.

Remember to leave your vote as "your thought to share" before you leave!
And share a thought as well.

And thank you for your support!