the North corner of Mr. Allen's farm," or not far from opposite the
Two Brothers rocks, "to begin to state a straight line over the highest
place of the great hill, called by y* Indians Puckatasset, till it come
to Chelmsford line," inclnding all the land between the Bloods farms
and Chelmsford line, "till j'ou come to a little brook at Concord
village, [now Acton line,] and so down to the great river by Concord
old bonnds." This description includes meadows which Billerica had
gi'anted to her own citizens twenty j'ears earlier, and to which her
right was confirmed, in 1700, by the General Court. When Billerica
obtained her Indian deed, it was probably felt to be prudent to
secure whatever title the natives could give, and not leave the benefit
of it to the unjust claim of the Bloods.
With the increase of English neighbors, the Indians at Wamesit
found their home there less satisfactory-, or the prices offered for their
lands more so, and gradually sold their reservation. "Wanalanset,
Sachem," and others sell to Jonathan Tyng, 1687, December 2, two
parcels, of which one was on the east of Concord River, and is
described as containing " the old Planting ground, which the Indians,
who were the former proprietors thereof, and their associates, used
to employ & improve, by planting, fishing, & Dwelling thereon, for
many years past, and contains 212 acres, more or less; and is
bounded by Merrimac river four score pole, and so runs in a straight
line nearest the south, to take in the greatest part of the old Fort
Hill ; and bounded south b}' the fence of the old Indian field, and
West by Concord river." ^
Tliis description includes less than half of the five hundred acres
granted by the Court to the Indians there ; but it is improbable that
they would have sold this angle between the rivers first, and, if the}^
did not, then this is the date when the Indian title there ceased.
Mr. Tyng, however, deemed his Indian title not quite sufficient,
and petitioned the Governor,- reciting that he had given satisfaction
to the Indians to leave the same, and pra3'ing for a grant of the said
lands, under "such moderate quit-rents and acknowledgment as to
yo"^ Exc^' shall seem meet."
The Winthrops had alread}' raised the question, whether the lapse
of the Indian title would not open the way for them to reclaim thej
full bound of their earlj' grant. When the Indian reservation at
1 Middlesex "Deeds." Vol. XVI, p. 647.
- Massaclmsetti Archives. Vol. CXXVIII, 274.
INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 125
Wamesit was taken from their grant, the Court gave them leave to
locate an equivalent elsewhere ; but, for some reason, they did not
avail themselves of this permission. Thej^ may have anticipated
the depai-ture of the Indians, and preferred to retain the chance
of recovering here. For this purpose, as early as 1679, Mr. Wait
Winthrop presented a petition to the Court. ^ After reciting the fact
and motives of the grant to his grandmother, he adds that "about
y^ yeare 1661 or 1662 some psons, zealous To settle 3" Indyans in
some civil and ecclesiastical state, moved y'' Gen' Court to gi'ant pt
of s** laud, called, as I suppose, Waraeset, for an Indian plantacon,
which y" Gen' Court granted, ordering y^ like quantity or value of
other lands To be laid out to us in Lew thereof." He explains why
the interests of the family were not defended, in opposition to this
action, and proceeds to say, "that noe land hath been laid out since
for our family ; and Though God has pleaded our Right by expelling
y* Indian inhabitants and leaving 3'^ land in statu quo prius, 3"et I
have informatcon that some English have, 1)3' Addresses to 3'" Honr*^
Court, petitioned for 3* same or part thereof. M3' humble request
therefore is, that That which was soe long agoe, and upon such good
and grateful consideracons granted to us, ma3' not be disposed from
us, or, if an3' grant to that purpose be alread3' made, the same ma3'
bee suspended Till our Cla3'mes and right ma3', at 3'*^ Appointment
of this Hon'ble Court, further appeare." The Court, however, seems
not to have favored Winthrop's petition, and Mr. T3'ng secured the
title, which he sold to Borland, in 1687.
The peace secured by Billerica and other towns from Indian
assaults was precarious and maintained onl3' b3' constant vigilance.
In 1689, Dover suffered a deadl3' assault, in which Major Richard
Waldron, one of her oldest and foremost citizens, was barbarousl3^
murdered. European policy was perhaps the occasion of this out-
break, for the Revolution in England gave the French, who ruled
Canada, a pretence for instigating this attack. Five da3's litter,
July 12, Lieutenant Henchman reports^ Indian spies around the
garrisons in Dunstable and asks for relief, "20 men or more," a
request soon repeated b3' the selectmen of that town.
There was need enough for the military company which existed
in Billerica, and of which an interesting glimpse is preserved in a
report to the "onered govinev and counsel and jentlemen represent-
3 Massachusetts Archives. Vol. XLV, 173.
* Massachusetts Archives. Vol. CVII, 198.
126 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
atives," giving account of the choice of officers, 1689, June 17.*
Captain Danforth led the company out, gave them liberty of choice,
manifested his own unfitness for the place and willingness that
another be chosen. Only those who were twenty-one j'ears old
voted. They took Captain Danforth at his word, and gave him only
twelve votes, to thirty-five for Lieut. Joseph Tompson. Sergt. John
Marshall was chosen lieutenant and Oliver Whiting ensign. Samuel
Frost, whose spelling is marvellous, if he was "Clark," makes this
return, and craves confirmation of the company's choice from the
authorities. The representatives confirm it, but the governor and
council "consent not"; and, disregarding the popular will, they
"insist that Danforth remain Captain and Tompson Lieutenant,
though Oliver Whiting is allowed as ensign."
In 1690, the English, moved by these constant perils, and feeling
that there would be no security as long as the French held Canada
and sent their Indian allies on such blood}^ expeditions, laid their
plans for the reduction of Canada. The result was disastrous.
With great effort and cost an expedition set forth under Sir William
Phipps against Quebec. But the delays were so great that it did not
arrive in season for action, and could onl}' return discomfited.
In this expedition Billerica was represented by no less a person
than Captain Danforth, as appears from an order, ^ dated July 15,
1690, "that Capt. Danforth, now going forth in their Maj'^' service,
in the intended expedition for Canada, have liberty to hire some meet
person in said town to serve his domestic occasions in his absence,
and that the said person be exempted from impress to any public
service other than attending duty in town during said expedition."
In "1691, the Indians fell upon Dunstable, September 2d, and
murdered Joseph Hassell, his wife Anne, his son Benjamin, and Mary
Marks. Hassell's father Richard lived for a few years in Billerica,
and was a ty thing-man here in 1679. They came again to Dunstable,
September 26th, and killed Christopher Temple and Obadiah Perry.
The latter, when fleeing from Dunstable on the alarm of 1675, had
been permitted to hire in Billerica and resided here for some j'ears.
The following winter an expedition was sent "to the Eastward,"
in which a son of Billerica did good service. Belknap, in his
History of New Hampshire, repeats the account of it from Mather's
Magnalia : "A young man being in the woods near Cochecho was
5 Massachusetts Archives. Vol. CVII, 118.
Massachusetts Archives. Vol. XXXVI, 166.
INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 127
fired at by some Indians. Lieut. Wilson immediately- went out with
eighteen men, and finding the Indians, killed or wounded the whole
party, excepting one. This struck a terror and kept them quiet the
remainder of the winter. But on the tenth day of June, an army
of French and Indians made a furious attack on Storer's garrison at
Wells, where Capt. Convers commanded ; who, after a brave and
resolute defence, was so happy as to drive them off with great
Capt. James Convers was from Woburn, and his plucky lieutenant
was John Wilson, of Billerica, who richly deserves to have his long
forgotten part in this expedition recorded here for remembrance in
Billerica. He came from Woburn in 1683, and built the mill, which
long bore his name, on Vine Brook ; and there no doubt he lived.
In 1700, he was granted three pounds for service and use of his own
horse at this time.
The Indian assault so long dreaded and guarded against fell at
last upon Billerica soon after, and two homes were made desolate.
This sad event occurred, 1 August, 1692, and the place was near the
turn in the road by Mr. Russell's house, a half-mile south of North
Billerica. In the earl}^ clays, there was a "cross-roads" at this
point, an old road running south towards Fox Hill and the village.
On the east side of this I'oad, and south of the other, now leading to
the Rev. Elias Nason's place, was the home of John Dunkin, who,
in 1670, received twent3'-fiVe acres of land here for the "fat ox,"
presented by the town to its deputy, Mt. Huraphrej' Davy, of Boston.
He married Joanna, daughter of Henry Jefts, and died in December,
1690, of small-pox, leaving seven children. His widow married
Mr. Benjamin Dutton, whose father Thomas lived not far south on
the same road.
The other fated family lived opposite, or on the northeast angle
between the two roads. Zachary Shed was the son of Daniel Shed,
one of the early settlers. He married Mrs. Ann Bray, in 1677, and
their home was blessed with five children at the time.
Of the circumstances of this attack we know nothing. None of
the histories of the period mention it ; and Danforth's record, giving
the names and adding simples "all slain by y^ Indians," is our only
iauthority for the fact of this first Billerica massacre. Lancaster
suffered a similar attack two weeks earlier. Whether the same or
' History of Woburn, p. 178, and Massachusetts Archives. Vol. LXX, 196.
128 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
other Indians came here, and whether it wei-e in the morning, at
noon, or in the night ; wliether the homes were burned or left to the
smitten surAdvors, we can not tell. We only know that in each, the
mother with her eldest and youngest child perished at the bloody
hands of the savages ; but that is enough to stamp the dark da}' in
the memor}' of Billerica, and make it fit that we glean and record all
the little that we can of such sufferers. Mrs. Button was thirty-six
years of age, one of the earliest natives of the town. Her daughter
Mary Dunkin was sixteen, and her son Benoni, "son of her grief,"
was less than two, born two months after his father's death. If
Mrs. Shed's age were the same as her husband's, she was also
thirt3'-six ; her daughter Haunah was thirteen, and Agnes was a
child of two 3'ears. None seem to have been made captives in this
assault. Four families at least were living as far north, or beyond,
which were for some reason spared b}' the savages. Mr. Shed's
brother Daniel lived beside him. Beyond wa's Roger Toothaker,
who at this ver}' time was wasting his time and substance in pursuit
of the witchcraft delusions at Salem, and leaving his famil}' to
charitable aid ; and farther north were John and Thomas Rogers,
and probably John Levistone ; names all involved in the still more
dreadful experience to come. The wives of both the Rogers brothers
were sisters of the Sheds, and of these four brothers and sisters
living within a mile of each other and of North Billerica, the family
of Daniel Shed onl}' escaped in both attacks.
The Records, Februar}' 27, 1692-3, show us the vigilance which
the town needed to maintain under these trying circumstances.
" At a meeting of the milicia in Bilerika, both of horse & foot, in
observance of a warrant from our honoured Major, for the renueing
of watching and scouting in our Town, ordered b}' the militia presnt
that the watch at Capt. Hill's & in the centure of the Town, & a
corporall for the end of the Towne, be careful!}^ observed, & notice
unto the other outskirts of the Town to stand upon their gard, & to
require to keep such a watch in their several quarters as the}' are
capable of keeping.
' ' At the same time it was agreed upon by the milicia, both gf the
hors and foot, that a petition be drawn up in behalf of the Towne,
to be sent by our deputie, Capt. Hill, & b}' him to be presented unto
his excellency & y^ honoured Cowncell & Representatives assembled,
or when assembled, for some easement of our scouting required
of us, or metigations iu our public charges ; this was agreed upon
INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 129
by the milicia and b}' the selectmen & severall other inhabitanee
Another aspect of the life of these anxious patriots comes out in
the subjoined line of the record : ' ' We expended this evening at
Bro. Crosbey's two pots of Rosted cider."
Six months later we find the following order, addressed by
Thomas Hinchman, Sergeant-Major, to Lieutenant John Lane, of
Billerica, 23 August, 1G93 :* "By virtue of an order from the
hour''' Lt. Govern'', bearing date 22 Aug., 1693, these are in his
majisty's name to require you forthwith to Impress eight Troopers
out of yo' troop und"" yo"" command, well appointed with arms and
ammunition for his majisty's service ; four of which are to be daily
Imployed as a scout about yo' town, especially towards the great
swamp. The other foure you are to send to me, upon moon-day
morning Nexte : you are also to send to me the names of the sold'*
imprest who are to enter into sarvice on said moon-day. Wreof you.
may not fail."
With watching and service like this, diversified with witchcraft
excitements and trials at Salem, and with an assault on (iroton,
27 July, 1694, in which William Longlej-, the town clerk, his wife
and five children, with two other children, were slain, the people of
Billerica passed these trj'ing 3'ears. The second massacre fell upon
them, 1695, August 5, four days more than three years after the
first. The town clerk, who rarely turns aside from official record to
mention incidents, gives four lines to this massacre:^ "This day
received that awful stroke by the enem}' of fivetene persons slain &
taken, more sad than that we met withall three ^-ears before, when
we mett upon the like occasion." Mr. Farmer's narrative of this
event was the result of careful inquiry- sixty ^ears ago, and is as
"â€¢In the northerly part of the town, on the east side of Concord Kiver,
lived a number of families, who, though without gan-isons and in a time of
war, seemed to be under no apprehensions of danger. Their remoteness
from the scenes of Indian depredations might have contributed to their
fancied securitJ^ The Indians came suddenly upon theui in the day time.
Dr. Mather, the only early writer who has mentioned the event, says it was
reported they were on horseback, and from that circumstance â€¢ were not
suspected for Indians, till they surprised the house they came to.' They
entered the house of John Rogers, son of one of the earl}' settlers, about
Â« See p. 99. s Records, Vol. II, p. 58.
" Farmer aud Moore's Historical. Collections. Vol. II, p. 71.
130 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
noon, and while from the fatigues of the daj' he was enjojing repose upon
his bed. they diseliarged one of their arrows, wliieh entered liis neck and
pierced the jugular vein. Awakened with this sudden and unexpected
attack, he started up. seized tlie arrow, which he forcibly withdrew, and
expired with the instrument of death in his hand. A woman being in the
chamber threw herself out of the window and. though severely wounded,
effected her escape by concealing herself among some flags. A young
woman was scalped and left foi- dead, but survived the painful operation
and lived :for many years afterwards. A son and daughter of Mr. Rogers
w'ere taken prisoners. The family of John Levistone suffered most severely.
His mother-in-law and five jn)ung children were killed and his eldest daughter
captured. Thomas Rogers and his oldest son were killed. Mary, the wife
of Dr. Roger Toothaker. was killed, and Margaret, his youngest daughter,
taken prisoner. Fifteen persons wei'e killed or taken at this surprisal. The
records of the town give the names of fourteen who were killed and
taken into captivity. Ten were killed, of whom five were adults. Though
the Indians were immediately pursued by the inhabitants of the center of
the town, yet so eftVctually had they takeu precautions in their fiight. that
all ettbrts to find them were unavailing. It is said they had even tied
up the mouths of their dogs with A\ampum. from an apprehension that
their barking would discover the direction they had taken. The shock
given to the inhabitant's by this melancholy event was long had in painful
remembrance." And, in his BiUcrica. Mr. Farmer adds: "Through the
lapse of years, it is difficult to give a very circumstantial account of it,
and the few particulars I have collected ought, perhaps, to receive some
deductions from the brevity of human memory."
The name of one sufferer on that day has escaped record. The
other fourteen belonged to the four families already named. The
family which was smitten most heavily was that of John Levistone.
The site of his house has not been identified, but it was doubtless
near that of John Rogers, probably southeast^ He was a Scotchman,
and first appears in the employ of Carrier. He had married, in
IG81, Margaret, the daughter of Thomas Ross, another Scotchman,
who lived on the west side of Loes Plain, near Miss Allen's, and
whose wife was Seeth Holman, of Cambridge. She had now been a
widow about four months, and was cither visiting or living with her
daughter, Mrs. Levistone, when death came so terribly at tlie hand
of tlie savages. The parents escaped and their eldest son John ;
but the daughter Sarah, aged eleven, was made captive, and the five
younger children were all slain. Their names were Seth, Thomas,
Mary, Margai-et, and Alexander. A more desolating sorrow could
hardly fall upon a happy home in an hour.
John Rogers lived nearly north of Mr. Talbot^s, about eighty
rods. The well by his house may still be seen, and bricks from
INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 131
England may be dug from the cellar. He was nearly fift3^-four yeai's
old and had lost his wife, Mary Shed, seven years before. Of his
six children, four escaped ; but Daniel, aged twelve, and Mercy
were made captives.
Thomas Rogers, a younger brother, lived near. The spot has
not been identified, but it was probabl}^ ver^' near where the village
hall and school-house now stand. His first wife had been Hannah
Shed, and after her death he married Mary Brown, a step-daughter
of his father. He perished with his eldest sou Thomas, while his
wife with two children escaped. It is a reasonable conjecture that
the father and son were surprised awa}' from their home.
There was one other victim of that bloody day, whose case was
if possible more tragic. She was the wife of Dr. Roger Toothaker,
and her home stood at the point where, in later yeai's, the Middlesex
Canal left the Concord River. Tradition sajs it is still standing, as
the ell of the old brick Rogers' house. Her personality and trials
deserve special notice. Her name was Mary Alleu, and she was
sister of that Martha Allen who married Thomas Carrier and was a
victim of the witchcraft delusion at Salem three years before. Not
only was Mrs. Toothaker's sister thus fatally involved, but her
husband, with more freedom and foil}', neglecting the claims of his
family and disregarding the a^Dpeals of the selectmen to return to his
duty, left wife and children to the charity of his neighbors. Two
of the children were apprenticed b}- the selectmen to Joseph Walker
and Edward Farmer. Trials like these were mingled in the bitter
cup of Mrs. Toothaker, with the Indian alarms and the massacre of
her neighbors. At last the warwhoop of the savages sounded her
death-knell, at the same time that her j'oungest daughter Margaret
was borne into captivity-. If the remembrance and sympathy of
later generations could aflTord any compensation for the sorrows of
such a life, we might search far to find a person better entitled to
them than Mary Allen Toothaker.
The agitation and alarm which ran through the town, as the
tidings of this bloody work spread, we can form slight conception of.
The day was Monday, not, as some traditions affirm, the Sabbath.
The "garrisons" would be soon filled with excited women and
children ; the men would prepare for defence and attack, for pursuit
of the retreating foe was the first impulse ; every nook, every tree
and bush would be watched for a concealed foe ; and for many days
the dread of another and deadlv blow must have shaken their hearts.
132 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
Three weeks passed and the alarm continued. Colonel L3-nde, of
Charlestown, was commissioned to pursue the foe, and his report
discovers to us glimpses of what Billeriea was passing through.
'â€¢Aug. 23. 1695.^^ Receiving commission from the Honorable William
Stoughton. Lieutenant-Goveinor, Comniander-in-Cliief over all the province
of ^Massachusetts, with instructions for his Majesty's service in the county
of Middlesex : persuant whereunto I went that night to Billeriea, where I
found about tliree liundred men in arms from Woburn. Reading, Maiden,
Medford. Cliarlestov\n. Cambridge, AV'atertown. under conduct of ]\rajor
William Johnson. Major Jei-emiah Swaine. Major Wade, Capt. William
Greene, Capt. John Greene, Lt. Remington, Lt. Homan, Capt. Gerfield,"
Sergeant Bond, and Mr. Sherman.
"That night we maivhed to the river of Merrimack, guaixled the fords,
there being three between Andovei- and Chelmsford, with about foity men
at each foi-d, and with about one hundred men encam])ed that night at
Prospect Hill, that lies between Chelmsford and the river, on the northern
side of the great swamp ; leaving the remaining forces to guard the town.
As soon as it was light, on the 24th of August instant, we sent men to thi^
top of the said hill, where we had a view of the said swamp and the
country far about, but could discover no fire anywhere. Thence we pro-
ceeded to range the woods between Andovei' and Chelmsford, but finding
no sign of our enemies, we rendezvous at a place called Sandy Pond, about
eight miles from Billeriea eastward; from whence about eleven of the
clock that day we went to the great swamp, dismounted half our men. the
other half talcing their horses. We caused the men on foot to pass through
the swamp in a rank, each man at a distance as much as was convenient ;
appointed to i-endezvous again at Prospect Hill ; Major Johnson, with about
forty men, compassing the swamp on the west side, and mj-self with the
rest of the soldiers on the east side. Our men on foot, with nuich difficulty
having got through the swamp, gave us account that they saw a new track
and smelt Indians in one place, but did not judge by their track there were
above two ; having again rendezvous about four o'clock, afternoon, near
Prospect Hill, having before noon ranged the woods belonging partly to
Andover to the eastward of Prospect Hill, we proceeded to range the
woods towards Chelmsford; rendezvousing again near the time of sun
setting at the chief fording place on the Merrimack below Hunt's gan-ison,
where 1 advised with all our officers. Having no prospect of doing service
against the enemy, considering the evil that had accrued by drawing oft
all forces at once, 1 left a guard of ten men to guard that ford, under the
11 Massachusetts Archives. Vol. LI, 41.
12 This "Capt. Gerlield" was Benjamin Garfield, of Watertown, and his name has
already appeared (p. 81) as a member of the committee appointed by the General Court to
run the important lines and decide the contest between Uillerica, Concord, and Chelmsford.
He was the sou and grandson of successive Edwards, of Watertown, and was the aucestor
of James A. (iartield, our lamented President, whose recent death has filled the world with
sorrow. The line of descent is Edward, i Edward,- Benjamin, ^ Thomas,'' Thomas,'"' Solo-
mon," Thomas,' Abraham,* who married Eliza Ballou, and settled in Ohio.
INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 133
direction of Hunt and Foster, of Billerica. until the 29th day of August
instant, at night, and then to be dismissed witliout further order. Marching
then up to Billeriea town in diverse parties, we rendezvous at the Ordinary,