Hannah Webster (Emerson) Duston and Mary (Corliss) Neff
Mary (Corliss) Neff was the midwife for Hannah (Emerson) Duston, and they were captured together during the Indian raid on Haverhill in 1697. From the History of Haverhill, Massachusetts:
The 15th of March, 1697, witnessed one of the bloodiest forays of the whole war, and this town was the victim. On that day, a party of about twenty Indians came suddenly, and without warning, upon the western part of the town, and, with the swiftness of the whirlwind, made their attack, and as suddenly disappeared.
The first house attacked was that of Thomas Duston (1). Of this attack, and the heroic exploits of Duston and his wife, there have been various accounts published, and traditions handed down, which, though agreeing in the main, disagree somewhat in the detail. Of them all, we think the account given by Rev. Cotton Mather, in his Magnalia, is the most reliable. Mather heard the story directly from the lips of Mrs. Duston when she was in Boston, (soon after her return from captivity,) and published it very soon after. The following is his version(2): --
On March 15, 1697, the Salvages made a Descent upon the Skirts of Haverhil, Murdering and Captivng about Thirty-nine Persons, and Burning about half a Dozen Houses. In this Broil, one Hannah Dustan having lain-in about a Week, (3) attended with her Nurse, Mary Neff, (4), a Widow, 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(5) and first bidding Seven(6) 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. E'er she could get up, the firce Indians were got so near, that utterly despairing 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 & Die with them all. A party of Indians came up with him; and now though they Fired at him, and he Fired at them,(7) 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(8). But his house must in the meantime 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(9); and several of the other Captives, as they began to Tire in their 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(10) 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,(11) 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 Favor from the Master who 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 Norming, at Noon, and in the Evening; nor would they ordinarily let their Children Eat or Sleep without first saying their Prayers. Indeed these Idolators 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.(12) Nevertheless, the poor Women had nothing but Fervant 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 delivered, youl 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 Rendezvouz of Salvages, which they call a Town, somewhere beyond Penacook(13) 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 swoon'd away under the Torments of this Discipline(14). But on April 30,(15) 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 Jael upon Sisera(16) 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 Enter-prise; 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 those poor Prisoners, they bow'd, they fell, they lay down; at their Feet, they bowed, they fell; where they bowed, there they fell down Dead. Only one Squaw escaped sorely Sounded(17) from them in the Dark; and one Boy, whom they reserved asleep, intending to bring him away with them, suddenly wak'd and Scuttled away from this Desolation.(18) But cutting off the Scalps of these Ten Wretches, they came off(19) and received Fifty Pounds from the General Assembly of the Province, as a Recompence of their Action; besides which, they received many Presents of Congratulations 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."
After recovering from the fatigues of the journey, Mrs. Duston and her two companions, accom-panied by Mr. Duston, started for Boston, where they arrived on the 21st of April. They carried with them the gun(20) and tomahawk, and their ten scalps--witnesses that would not lie. Soon after their arrival, Duston presented the following petition to the General Assembly, then in session: --
"To the Right Honorable the Lieut Governor & the Great & General assembly of the Province of Massachusetts Bay now convened in Boston
The Humble Petition of Thomas Durstan of Haverhill Sheweth
That the wife of yet petitioner (with one Mary Neff) hath in her Late captivity among the Barbarous Indians, been disposed & assisted by heaven to do an extraordinary action, in the just slaughter of so many of the Barbarians, as would by the law of the Province which-----a few months ago, have entitled the actors unto considerable recompense from the Publick.
That tho the-----of that good Law----no claims to any such consideration from the publick, yet your petitioner humbly-----that the merit of the action still remains the same; & it seems a matter of universall desire thro the whole Province that it should not pass unrecompensed.
And that your petitioner having lost his estate in that calamity wherein his wife was carried into her captivity render him the fitter object for what consideration the public Bounty shall judge proper for what hath been herein done, of some consequence, not only unto the persons more immediately delivered, but also unto the Generall Interest.
Wherefore humbly Requesting a favorable Regard on this occasion
Your Petitioner shall pray &c
The petition of Duston was read in the House of Representatives, June 8th, when it was "voted that the above named Thomas Durstan in behalf of his wife shall be allowed & paid out of the publick Treasury Twenty five pounds; & Mary Neff the sum of Twelve pounds Ten Shillings, and the young man (named Samuel Lenerson) concerned in the same action the like sum of Twelve pounds Ten Shillings."
Hannah Dustin was the daughter of Michael and Hannah (Webster) Emerson, and the eldest of fifteen children. She was born December 23, 1657, and was married to Thomas Duston December 3d, 1677, by whom she had thirteen children.(21) The time of her death, and also that of her husband, is uncertain. There is a tradition, entitled to credit, that Mrs. Duston survived her husband some years, and after his death went to reside with her son, Jonathan, who lived on the south west part of the original Thomas Duston farm. This tradition is repeated to us by Moses Merrill, Esq., who now above eighty years of age, and a man of unquestioned veracity, who received it, when quite a lad, from the lips of the mother of Joseph Ayer, then about ninety years of age. Mrs. Ayer must have been born about the year 1700. She spoke of the fact, (not tradition) that Mrs. Duston resided with her son, after her husband's death, and was buried from that son's house. His house stood about twenty feet northwest of the present foundation of the "Dustin Monument." Thomas Duston was living in March, 1729, and also his son, Thomas, Jr. (22) Mrs. Ayer must have been about thirty years of age when Duston himself died, and was certainly old enough to remember distinctly the circumstances she related to our informant.(23)
The favorite saying of an esteemed friend,--that "the true heroes are not always those who receive the most applause,"--seems to us to be especially applicable to the case of Thomas and Hannah Duston. In every version of the story which has met our eye, or ear, Thomas Duston has been made to occupy a subordinate position to that of his wife. Indeed, in many cases, his name, and his heroic defence of his children, would seem to have been introduced merely to identify the wife and mother, and to add an accessory coloring to the picture of her exploit. But, when placed side by side with his, the exploit of his wife, extraordinary as it certainly was, seems to us as the light of the moon to the brilliant rays of the sun.
Hannah Duston, to escape from a cruel captivity,--not from death, not from violation even(24),--and to revenge the death of her child; with two strong arms to assist her, courageously planned the destruction, and boldly attacked, twelve sleeping savages, seven of whom were children, and but two of whom were men. It was not with her a question of life and death, but of liberty, and revenge.
Thomas Duston, with the question of life or death for himself, and a cruel captivity for his children, distinctly before him, heroically staked his life for his children! It was a "father's love" that nerved his arm, and not revenge.
While, therefore, we would not, wittingly, detract one jot or tittle from the full credit due the mother, for her extraordinary feat, we claim for the pure and lofty heroism of the father, a larger share of the world's applause than has as yet been awarded him.
Dr. Dwight, in speaking of Thomas Duston, makes use of the following truthful language: --
"A finer succession of scenes for the pencil was hardly ever presented to the eye, than is furnished by the efforts of this gallant man, with their interesting appendages. The artist must be destitute indeed of talents who could not engross every heart, as well as every eye, by exhibitions of this husband and father, flying to rescue his wife, her infant, and her nurse, from the approaching horde of savages; attempting on his horse to select from his flying family the child, which he was least able to spare, and unable to make the selection; facing, in their rear, the horde of hell-hounds; alternately, and sternly, retreating behind his inestimable charge, and fronting the enemy again; receiving and returning their fire; and presenting himself, equally, as a barrier against murderers, and a shelter to the flight of innocence and anguish. In the background of some or other of these pictures might be exhibited, with powerful impression, the kindled dwelling; the sickly mother; the terrified nurse, with the new born infant in her arms; and the furious natives, surrounding them, driving them forward, and displaying the trophies of savage victory, and the insolence of savage triumph."
We regret that we are unable to trace more fully the history of this heroic man.(25) We cannot even say from whence he came. The name first appears in our town records among those who built cottages between the years 1669 and 16675; next we find it in a deed from Thomas Duston to Peter Green, in 1675-6; then among the soldiers in King Phillip's War, (August, 1676); then in the list of cottages built between January, 1675, and February, 1677; then the marriage of Thomas Duston and Hannah Emerson, in December, 1677; and then we find, among the names of those who built cottages between February, 1677, and January, 1679, that of "Thomas Duston 2nd." The name is first found in the record of our town meetings, under date of June 13, 1682.
We think it probable that Duston came from the vicinity of Dover, N.H., as we find the name of "Thomas Durston" among the signers of a letter to the governor of Massachusetts, dated Northam (Dover) March 4, 1640. They subscribe themselves,--"We, the inhabitants of Northam." We also find the name "Tho Durston" among those admitted freemen at Kittery, in November, 1652. It is possible, but hardly probable, that the latter was the Thomas Duston of this town. If so, he must have been at least forty-six years of age at his marriage, --(after which he had a family of thirteen children,--the last born when the father was at least sixty-eight years of age,)--and at least one hundred years of age at his death. All this is possible, but, taken together, hardly probable. It is certain, however, that the Thomas Duston of Northam, and the Thomas Duston of 1697, could not have been one and the same person.
A comparison of dates and incidents in the meagre record before us, we think favor the supposition that the Thomas Duston of 1675, and the Thomas Duston 2d, of 1677, were father and son. The former may have been the Thomas Duston of 1640, and who removed to Haverhill between 1669 and 1675, with his son, and either died or removed from the town subsequent to 1677.(26)
As there is a wide difference of opinion as to the location of Thomas Duston's house, at the time his wife was taken by the Indians, it will doubtless be expected that reference, at least, will be made to the matter in these pages.
In March, 1675, Thomas Duston, of Haverhill, "in consideration upon exchange of land," deeded to Peter Green, forty-five acres of upland, more or less, "with the house, orchard, and purtenances." The land was bounded on the east corner by a white oak, "and so bounded on hack [Hawk] meadow highway." The northwest corner was bounded by "Spicket path. [Essex Reg. Deeds, book 20, p. 2.]. This land was on the west side of Little River, but the description will not apply to any part of the "Thomas Duston farm," upon which the monument to Hannah Duston is now in course of erection.
In August, 1697, (five months after Mrs. Duston's capture) William Starlin, of Haverhill, deeded to Thomas Duston, in consideration of one hundred pounds, "my Ten acres of land where I purchased of ye said Town,"--lying at a place called ye fishing River neer ye house of Matthew Herriman, the bounds thereof as it is entered in ye Townes booke of record, with all ye houses, housing, mills, Damms, streams of water fences oarchards Trees wood timber and all other rights," &c.;--also, "my other Ten acres of Land adjoining to ye former which I had by grant from said Towne on condition that I and my heirs did build a Corne Mill which might be for ye use of sd Towne."[Essex Reg. Deeds, book 13, p. 43.] (Starlin deeded it to Duston on the same condition.)(27) This land was on the east side of Little River, and a part of the "Duston Farm," near the northerly end of Primrose Street. It was the earliest deed to Duston of land on that side of the river. This, in our opinion, makes it certain that Duston did not reside on the east side of Little River when his wife was captured; and, as the deed is dated less than two months subsequent to the vote of the General Court, granting him fifty pounds for the scalps taken by his wife, it almost confirms the old and generally received tradition, that the above place was bought with the scalp money.
In the town records, under date of March 4, 1701-2, mention is made of "the highway that leads up to Tho Duston's Mill." This is strong presumptive evidence that Duston at that time resided at Fishing River. We have no doubt that he removed there soon after he purchased the place. But that he actually did, subsequently, reside there, is, we think, made clear by the following:--
In June, 1717, Thomas Dustin deeded to his son Nathaniel,-- "in consideration of yt Love I bear to My Son Nathaniel Durston of ye town of Haverhill, *** one piece or Tract of Upland and meadow land lyinge and being in ye township of Haverhill aforesd, containing twenty acres more or less, being ye one half of my Living I formerly lived on, on ye West Side of ye Saw Mill River, and ye easterly part thereof."(28)
In March, 1723-4, Thomas Duston deeded to his son, Timothy Dustin, "in consideration of parental love and affection, *** the full possession to be given after my decease, *** my dwelling or mansion house Barn and Corn Mill now standing on the Fishing River;" also, "one moiety or half part of my homestead or house lott, containing twelve acres, part of which land I purchased of Wm. Starling [Essex Reg. Deeds, book 43, p. 107].
(1) This name, at the present time, is written in various ways. It was originally written Durston, and was changed to Duston about the time of the above-named Thomas Duston. This is shown, not only by our Town Records, but by Duston's petition to the General Court, in June, 1697. In the heading of his petition, (which is not in his own hand writing) the name is written Durstan, and it is so written in the subsequent proceedings on the petition. But his signature to the petition is "Du(r)stan," (or perhaps Du(r)stun). The letter "r" must have been interpolated subsequent to his first signing the petition, and we think it most probable that it was done by Duston himself, so as to make his signature agree with the name as given in the heading of the petition. We have adopted Duston in this work, because it is so written, in almost every instance, in our Town Records.
(2) We copy directly from the first edition of the Magnalia, published in London, 1702,--only five years subsequent to the exploits it describes. The notes are ours.
(3) Her babe was born March 9th, 1696-7.
(4) She was the daughter of George Corliss and married William Neff; her husband went after the army, and died at Pemaquid, Maine, in February, 1688. Neff lived on the farm now owned by William Swasey. It was given to Mrs. Neff, by her father.
(5) "Her Husband was at work in the field, and seeing the Enemy at a distance, ran home." --Neals Hist. New Eng., London, 1747.
(6) Their names were Hannah, born August 22, 1678; Elizabeth, born May 7, 1680; Thomas, born January 5, 1683; Nathaniel, born May 16, 1685; Sarah, born July 4, 1688; Abigail, born October --, 1690; Jonathan, born January 15, 1691-2; Timothy, born September 14, 1694. Besides these, they had had Mary, born November 4, 1681; died October 18, 1696; John, born February 2, 1686; died January 28, 1690; Mehitable, (twin sister to Timothy,) died December 16, 1694; and Martha, (the babe killed,) born March 15, 1696-7. They afterward had Lydia, born October 4, 1698.
(7) "The Indians pursued him all the while, but he kept in the rear of his little Flock and when any of them came within reach of his Gun, he presented it at them, which made them retreat." --Neal.
"A small party of the Indians pursued Mr. Dustin, as he fled from the house, and soon over-took him and his flying children. They did not, however, approach very near, for they saw his determination, and feared the vengeance of a father,--but skulked behind the trees and fences, and fired upon him and his little company. Mr. Dustin dismounted from his horse, placed himself in the rear of his children, and returned the fire of the enemy often and with good success. In this manner he retreated for more than a mile, alternately encouraging his terrified charge, and loading and firin his gun until he lodged them safely in a forsaken house. The Indians, finding that they could not conquer him, returned to their companions, expect-ing, no doubt, that they should there find victims, on which they might exercise their savage cruelty.
It is truly astonishing that no one of that little company was killed or wounded. When we reflect upon the skill of the Indians as marksmen, upon their great superiority of strength, and the advantage they possessed in skulking behind every fence and tree, it cannot but be confessed that the arm of the Almighty was outstretched for their preservation. Not a ball from the enemy took effect; but, so surely, says tradition, as Mr. Dustin raised his gun to his eye, so surely some one of the enemy would welter in his blood." --Mirick.
We feel confident that Neal is right, and that Duston did not fire his gun. Had he done so, his pursuers could and would have rushed upon him before he could possibly have re-loaded, and have made sure work of him. But by making a barracade of his horse, and reserving his fire--bringing his trusty gun quickly to bear upon the blood-thirsty, but cowardly red devils, as any of them chanced to peep from behind a tree or wall--he took the most reasonable and effective method for keeping them at bay.
(8) Precisely where, and what, this "place of safety" was, is a question of no small interest. Mirick says, that Duston ordered his children "to fly in an opposite direction from that in which the danger was approaching," and that he finally lodged them safely in a forsaken house." The first appears reasonable, but not the last. A "forsaken house" would have afforded no safer shelter than his own roof, from which he had already fled. Again, the tradition seems always to have been that the place reached was a garrison, (Vide Mather, Neal, and others,) and this appears to harmonize with the fact that the garrisons were expressly designed for,--were always considered, and were in reality,--places of safety. As the Indians must have attacked from the north, or west, Duston would naturally fleet toward the south, or east,--in which direction were all the garrisons then in the town. And, whether he lived on the easterly or westerly side of Little River at the time, the nearest garrisons were those of Onisephorus Marsh, (about halfway up "Pecker's Hill,") and Jonathan Emerson, (on the west corner of Winter and Harrison Streets). To one of these, therefore, he must have directed his flight. Among all the versions of the tradition which have reached us, we find but one which un-equivocally designates the place reached, and that one points to the garrison of Mr. Marsh. This tradition comes to us through Moses Merrill, Esq., (of which more anon,) and we have no doubt of its truthfulness.
(9) Mirick says, "We have been informed by a gentleman, that he heard his grandmother who lived to an advanced age, often relate this fact, and that she had frequently ate apples that grew on the same tree. We have also been informed by an aged female, that she had often heard her mother tell of eating of the fruit of the same tree." All the traditions which locate this tree at all, agree in locating it on the west side of Little River.
(10) Mrs. Dustin was barely allowed time to dress herself, and was even compelled to start on the long journey, at that inclement season, with but one shoe.
(11) The home of the Indian who claimed Mrs. Duston and Mrs. Neff as his captives, was a small island at the junction of the Contoocook and Merrimack rivers, a few miles above Concord, N.H. To this place they were taken. The island has long since been known as Dustin's Island. The Northern Railroad now passes directly across it. We agree with the compiler of the excellent History of Concord, N.H., (Dr. Bouton,) that a monument to Mrs. Duston should be erected on the above island;--that being the scent of her remarkable exploit.
(12) Their master, some years before, had lived in the family of Rev. Mr. Rowlandson, of Lancaster, and he told Mrs. Duston that "when he prayed the English way he thought that it was good, but now he found the French way better." --Sewell's Diary.
(13) They had not yet started for the rendezvous, but the captives were informed that they would soon start. The place of destination was Canada, where the Indian expected to obtain from the French a handsome sum for his captives.
(14) The gauntlett consisted of two files of Indians, of both sexes, and of all ages, containing all that could be mustered in the village; and the unhappy prisoners were obliged to run between them, when they were scoffed at and beaten by each one as they passed, and were sometimes marks at which the younger Indians threw their hatchets. This cruel custom was often practised by many of the tribes, and not unfrequently the poor prisoners sunk beneath it.
(15) This would make their stay at the island about five weeks, or a little more.
(16) Mrs. Duston planned the mode of escape, and prevailed upon her nurse and the boy to join her. The Indians kept no watch--for the boy had lived with them so long they considered him as one of their children, and they did not expect that the women, unadvised and unaided, would attempt to escape when success, at the best, appeared so desperate.
On the day previous, Mrs. Duston wished to learn on what part of the body the Indians struck their victims when they would despatch them suddenly, and how they took off a scalp. With this view she instructed the boy to make inquiries of one of the men. Accordingly, at a convenient opportunity, he asked one of them where he would strike a man, if he would kill him instantly, and how to take off a scalp. The man laid his finger on his temple--"strike 'em there," said he; and then instructed him how to scalp [Sewell's Diary, and tradition]. The boy then communicated his information to Mrs. Duston.
(17) She received seven hatchet wounds and was left for dead, but jumped up and ran into the thicket! --Vide deposition of Mrs. Bradley.
(18) Mrs. Duston killed her master, and Samuel Lennardson despatched the very Indian who told him where to strike, and how to take off a scalp! The deed was accomplished before the day began to break.
(19) After performing the bloody work, Mrs. Duston gathered up what little provisions there were in the wigwam,--taking the gun of her dead master, and the tomahawk [this was some years after lost in the woods, near Mrs. Duston's] with which she killed him--and, scuttling all the canoes, except one, she embarked in that, with Mrs. Neff, and Lennardson, on the waters of the Merrimack, to seek their way to Haverhill. They had not proceeded far, however, when Mrs. Duston, perceived that they had neglected to take the scalps, and fearing lest her neighbors--should she ever arrive at home--would not credit her story, she hastened back with her companions to the scene of death, took off the scalps of the slain, and wrapped them in a piece of linen cloth [this she afterward divided among her daughters, and a part of it is still preserved by some of their descendants] that was taken from her house at the time of her capture. With these bloody witnesses to their feat, they hastened again on their downward course to Haverhill.
"A long and weary journey was before them, but they commenced it with cheerful hearts, each alternately rowing and steering their little bark. Though they had escaped from the clutches of their unfeeling master, still they were surrounded with dangers. They were thinly clad--the sky was still inclement--and they were liable to be recaptured by strolling bands of Indians, or by those who would undoubtedly pursue them so soon as the squaw and the boy had re-ported their departure, and the terrible vengence they had taken; and were they again made prisoners, they well knew that a speedy death would follow. This array of danger, however, did not appall them, for home was their beacon light, and the thoughts of their fire-sides, nerved their hearts. They continued to drop silently down the river, keeping a good look-out for strolling Indians; and in the night two of them only slept, while the third man-aged the boat. In this manner they pursued their journey, until they arrived safely, with their trophies, at their homes, totally unexpected by their mourning friends, who supposed they had been butchered by their ruthless conquerors. It must truly have been an affected meeting for Mrs. Duston, who supposed that all she loved--all she head dear on earth--were laid in the silent tomb." --Mirick.
(20) This gun continued in possession of the male line to the year 1859, when it was presented to the Dustin Monument Association of this town, by Mrs. Lucia H. Dustin, widow of Thomas Dustin, of Henniker, N.H. At a meeting of the Directors of the Association, held July 9th, 1859, it was
"Resolved, That the Directors of the Dustin Monument Association accept with a lively sensibility the donation of the musket, as an interesting memorial of the perils and valor of the pioneer settlers of Haverhill.
Resolved, That the thanks of the Association be presented to Mrs. Lucia H. Dustin, of Henniker, N.H., for the gift of this valued family relic.
Resolved, That the thanks of the Association be presented to Mr. George W. Chase for his disinterested efforts to procure the musket for the Association.
Resolved, That the Secretary be directed to transmit copies of these votes to Mrs. Dustin, and to Mr. Chase."
(21) For their names, see note to a preceding page.
(22) Vide Proprietor's Records. Thomas, Sen., was moderator of most of their meetings from 1715 to January, 1721-2.
(23) Mrs. Ayer was the wife of Peter Ayer. Her maiden name was Lydia Perley. The date of her marriage is not given in the Town Records. Her first child was born October 26, 1721. The sixth, Joseph, was born in 1737.
(24) The Indians seldom killed, and never violated their female prisoners, when once captured. They were either sold to the French, or kept for ransom.
(25) The following is from Mirick: --"Thomas Dustin was a man of considerable ingenuity, and tradition says that he had a "vast deal of mother wit;" that he possessed unshaken courage and the purest and loftiest feelings of affection, cannot be doubted. It is said that he made his own almanacks, and furthermore, that he always made them on rainy days. How true this is, we will not attempt to say. He had a grandson, Joshua, who was said to have been his counterpart. He once took it into his head to weave a bed-quit, and succeeded in making an excellent one, consisting of as many colors as Joseph's coat. This curious relic is now pre-served by his descendents."
(26) Since writing the above, we have examined the recently published Genealogical Dictionary of the early Settlers of New England, by James Savage, Boston, 1860, where we find the following:
"Dustin, or Duston, Josiah, of Reading, 1647, had Josiah, born May 14, 1656, and perhaps others, and died January 16, 1672. Thomas, of Dover, 1640, perhaps removed to Kittery be-fore 1652. Thomas, of Haverhill, perhaps son of the preceding, married Hannah Emerson, December 3, 1677.
(27) February 24, 1684, the town granted Wm. Starlin two ten acre lots. One lot was "at the Fishing River, near the saw mill path." (The lot was bounded on one side by the vier); the other adjoining the above, and was granted "For encouragement of Wm. Starlin to set up a Corn Mill at Fishing River, near to Robert Emerson's." --Town Records, Vol. 1, p. 188.
(28) In March, 1723-4, Thomas Duston deeded to his son, Jonathan Duston,--"in consideration of parental love and natural affection"--"The Homestead or Lott whereon the said Jonathan now dwells"--"fifteen acres more or less,"--"bounded at a great rock by the highway, which is a corner bound of land I gave to my son Nathaniel."--Essex Reg. Deeds, book 51, p. 206.