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History of Billerica, Massachusetts, with a Genealogical register online

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wliere paying off the army with thankful acknowledgments for their ready
and willing service, at their request I dismissed them according to their
desire, to make the best of their way home, whicli without doubt they
attended: though with difficulty by reason of the darkness of the night.

'"So concluding. I am. sir.

"Your servant,

Joseph Lynde, Lt.-Col.

•'Dated at Charlestown. Aug. 25, 1695."

"P. S. We have left about five hundred of bread in the hands of
Capt. Datiforth, who was ilot so prudent in the disposal of some of wliat
was silent as. in my way home I was informed, he should have been. I
directed him at my coming away to preserve wliat was left until furtlier
order. Yours, as above. J. L.

Eight months later, we read the situation in the following from
the Town Records : —

"Aprill 6, 1696. Training day evening. At a meeting of the com-
mision officers, both of horse and foot, by vertue of a warrant from our
Major, we new erected our watches and ordered the repairing of garisons,
and appointed the masters of them and the number of souldiers belonging
to them, and otlier persons & families.

"At the same meeting the comitiou officers with the selectmen ordered
that the remainder of the old pouder be dispersed among the severall
gai-isons acording unto the number of souldiers appointed unto them, to be
eaqually distributed, and the master of the garison or the masters of the
severall garisons unto whom the pouder is distributed to becom responcible
for it. and to secure it and return it, or tlie valine of it in money, except
there be occation for to make use thereof in tlieir own defence.

••The same day the selectmen compounded with our drummers, John
Shead & Samuel Frost, To pay forthwith unto John Shead twenty shillings,
to clere with him while that day ; & to pay to Samuel Frost ten shillings,
& to clere with him while that day ; but it hath not been attended."

Account was taken in July of the ammunition stock in the hands
of Capt. Danforth. It consisted of a barrel of powder, 110 pounds,
part of an old barrel, 68 pounds, lead, 120 pounds, flints, 130,
bullets, 38, and match "sufficient."

These savage and desolating assaults on Billerica are incidents
of what is known as "King William's War," dascribad by Mather,
in his De(:('n)iiinii Lnctiio,siu)i, and extending from 1688 to 1698.
There is no evidence that either of these attacks were preceded by
any warnings, or that any other towns suffered at the same time.



134 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.

The dusky foe chose to fall upon some unsuspecting settlement and
beat a hastv retreat before neighbors could rally to the i-eseue. This
method of warfare must have been peculiarly trjiug, and demanded
ceaseless vigilance. Of the situation and anxiet}' of the time, we
have a picture in a letter of Christopher Osgood, of Andover, which
must apply nearly as well to Billerica. It is dated, 1696, Aug. 14,^'
and describes the danger, a number of men having been impressed
from the town for the eastward expedition, the river being low and
fordable, and the enem}' coming between Exeter aud Haverhill.
"The people of our Town ai'e under such discouragements to stand
their ground, that they are in y'' amazement of their spirits about
contriving to break up and Remove, and every one to shift for their
lives, though it be to y*" loss of their estates ; and some garrisons
already are upon removing, and extremity of fear and dangers will
not suffer men to know their duty"; for which and other reasons,
he "makes our speedy application to y"" honor for present relief."
Another letter relates, "that William Peeters, belonging to Samuel
Blanchard's garrison, went to his house with one Hojt to fetch his
horse, and not returning search was made and* both men were found
killed and scalped. The house was about half a mile from the
garrison, on the Bildrekey road, in an open plaj-n plase."

During all these years of danger, the inhabitants must have
grown unpleasantly familiar with the trouble and annoj'auce, as
well as the peril, of garrison life. Houses not ample for a single
family must be made to serve often a half-dozen families for shelter
and defence ; and the comforts of life could have had small consid-
eration. No list of the "garrisons" is given after 1675, but that
changes and additions were made after so long a time is certain.
The tradition is probable, that the Manning house, still standing on
the Chelmsford Road, was in use as a garrison ; and it is certain
that Samuel Hunt's house at Wamesit was so, and from its exposed
situation it was probabl}' the most important. It stood a half-mile
south of the Merrimack, at "Hunt's Falls," on what is now the farm
of John Clark, somewhat south of a line connecting Mr. Clark's
house and that of General Butler, and about equally distant from
them. It was just east of the limits of Lowell. Here scouting
parties must often have made a rendezvous, as they passed and
repassed from Chelmsford to Andover, Prospect Hill, and the Great

'2 Massachusetts Archives. Vol. LI, 59.



INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 135

Swamp. - The latter were plainly points of special interest and
solicitude to the watchful inhabitants.

In the history of these Indian Wars, the name of .John Lane
conies into view as the leading militar}' man in the town. He
appears in rapid succession as lieutenant, captain, and colonel, and
is often mentioned. He is in command of a troop in 1693, and, in
1696-7, Februar}' 12, received this order from Maj. Jonathan T^mg,
of Dunstable:" "Having advice from the Lt. -Governor, that at
the spring near approaching, it may be expected that the enem^^ will
make fresh attacks, both by sea and land, I do therefore order that
you make inquiry into the state of y^ troopers under your command,
and see that every one of them be mounted on a good, serviceable
horse for war, and furnished with a good, well-fitted carbine, besides
pistolls, and to see that the whole troop be in Readiness to pass upon
duty ; and in case of alarum upon * Discovering the approach of
the enemy by sea, you are hereby ordei-ed with the several Troopers
under your command, forthwith to repair to the port or place wuthin
your county where the Alarum is first given, there to receive and
attend to further orders," etc. But no call came to such service,
and the nearest approach of the Indians during the years 1696 and
1697 was at Dunstable, Haverhill, and Lancaster.

Captain Tyng, of Dunstable, writes, 1696, September 1,'* of one
person killed and one taken captive -'yesterday, both belonging to
my garrison." He sent a negro and a Spanish Indian to do some
haying across the river, and a soldier, a Plymouth Indian, to guard
them. As they did not return and the dogs barked and howled, he
became alarmed and sent word to Dunstable and to Captain Bowers,
of Chelmsford, who speedily mustered twenty men, crossed the river,
found the men dead and the Spanish Indian asleep.

In 1697, Mai'ch 15, came the attack on Haverhill, immortalized
by the heroism of Hannah Dustin, who was taken captive and borne
as far as the Contoocook. There, on an island in the Merrimack,
aided by her nurse and a lad who were taken with her, she joined
consummate womanly tact and masculine heroism, killed and scalped
ten of her captors, and reached her home safely with her trophies
not man}' days after.

A treaty of peace between France and England was signed,
1697, September 11 ; but there were no ocean cables or steamships



1* Lane Papers. *^ Massachusetts Archives. Vol. LI, 63.



136 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.

to bring the glad news to America, and, eleven days later, the
treacherous Indians fell once more upon the settlements at Lancaster,
burned two garrison-houses, and killed twenty-one, wounded two,
and took six captives. This massacre brought special sorrow to
Billerica, for one of the victims was the Rev. John Whiting, the
3'oung pastor of the church, and .son of our Billerica pastor. It is
said that he was oftered quarter, but chose rather to "fight to the
last than resign himself to those whose tender mercies are cruel."

The welcome peace was little more than an armistice, and, in
1703, another ten years' war broke out, known as "'Queen Anne's
War." A practical sign of its coming took the form of an order
from Major Tyng to Capt. John Lane, 1702, April 22, requiring him
"forthwith to take effectual care that there be strict execution of
the act for regulating of y^ Malitia," and especially to inspect the
force and see that it was duly provided with arms and ammunition.
This order was not neglected. In the T>\a.ry of Judge Sewall, we
have a glimpse of the fruit which it bore,'" and also of Billerica's
aged pastor. Monday, 1702, October 26, he writes: "Waited on
Gou"" to Wooburn ; dined there. From thence to Billericay. Visited
languishing Mr. Sam' Whiting. I gave him 2 Balls of Chockalett
and a pound of Figgs, which very kindly accepted. Saw the
Company in Arms, led by Capt. Tomsou. Went to Chelmsford."

At this point, the Lane Papers contribute a useful letter from
Gov. Joseph Dudley to Major Lane.

"Cambridge. 5 Nov., 1702.
'"Sir: I desire you with two of your troops to repayr to the towns
of Marlboro". Lancaster, Groten, Chehnsford, and Dunstable, and there
deliver severally the letters given you. and encourage the officers in their
duty, agreeable to the several Directions. You are also to labor, by all
means, to speak Avith Wotanunmion and the Penacooke men, and to assure
them of friendship with the Gouernor and all the English; but that we are
fearful the french Indians will be amongst them soon and do mischief to
the English, and that therefore we must have our scouts out. and if they
will come and reside in any propper place near the English, they shall be
welcome; if their hunting will not allow that, they must keep a good
Distance from the English towns, and send one man only to Colonel Tyng,
when they would speak with me, and they shall be welcome at all times,
and 1 will never depart from my friendship to them if they will continue
friends. Let the officers in the several towns use all prudence not to make
the first breach, and let me hear from them on every ocation."

•8 Massachusetts Historical Society's Collections. Fifth Series. Vol. VI, p. 67.



INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 137

Of training and guard duty, we may be sure that the Billeriea
farmers had enough ; and the kind of service often called for is
suggested by another order from Colonel Tyng to Captain Lane,

1703, September 3:'" "These are to order 30U forthwith to give
out your warrant to 3'our soldiers in Chelmsford, to watch, Two in
a night and the daj- following, at the wading place at Wamesit ; and
to continue in that service till they have gone Round. The soldiers
are to keep at the said wading place till they are relieved, as the
custom hath been, by Capt. Bowers' men." In 1704, more serious
work awaited these soldiers. Early in that 3'ear, or in February,
1703-4, a party assailed Northampton, surprised the guard, and
made captives of Rev. John Williams, the pastor, his wife, and
manv others. Mrs. Williams, with two of her children and more
than twenty other captives, were put to death. Mr. Williams was
afterwards redeemed, and published The Redeemed Captive.

In July following, a force of seven hundred French and Indians
again invaded Massachusetts, and finding Northampton well guarded,
turned eastwai'd and fell upon Lancaster, Jul}" 31. The Boston
News-Letter tells the story briefly : ' ' On Monda}^ morning past, the
enemy, French and Indians, fell upon Lancaster, about four hundred
of them, assaulted six garrisons at once, where the people defended
themselves verj' well until assistance came in from all parts by the
governor's order, so that in the evening there were three hundred
men in the town. And the enemy was beaten off with loss, but are
3'et hovering on the head of those towns, to make some farther
impression if not prevented." The meeting-house was burned, with
several dwellings and barns, and Lieutenant Wilder was killed and
three soldiers ; but the rail}- was so prompt and the defence so
vigorous, that the loss of life was smaller than in the previous
assault. Among others, twelve Billeriea soldiers went to the rescue,
and fortunately Captain Lane has preserved their names for us.
They were " Samull Hill, Corporal, John Needham, Clark, Raph Hill,
Centinell, John Farmer, Samull Hunt, Andrue Richardson, Thomas
Ross, Nathanell Bacon, Samull Hill, Junr., William Grimbs, John
Hunt, Steven Richardson," with four men from Chelmsford and three
from Groton. "These nineteen were sent out * August y'' forth,

1704, with ten days' provisions, and marched to Lancaster to inforce
Major Taylor ; and they never as yet received anything for their

" Lane Papers.



138 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.

provision ; there fore, they pray that they may be considered." It is
to be hoped that so reasonable a request was properly answered.

In November, Colonel Tyng received from the (General Court £24
for building four blockhouses, one in Dunstable, two in Chelmsford,
and one in Billerica. A blockhouse is referred to in the Records,'^
"nere Andouer line," and may be the same.

It was probably in the same year, 1704, that Robert Parris was
murdered, with his wife and daughter, at Dunstable ; and Joseph
Hassell, Samuel Butterfield, and Samuel Whiting, Jr., taken captive.
Thus a second time did the bittei'uess of these trying times enter the
home of the aged pastor of Billerica. This son afterwards returned,
but the injuries and sufferings borne probably shortened his life.

To this period belongs an incident reported b}' tradition. It is
good enough to be true, and comes with sufficient directness to
strengthen its probability. We have it from Mr. Leander Hosmer,
who is a grandson of the heroine, Mary Lane, daughter of Colonel
John Lane. During a period of alarm, the familj- was left with only
one man on guard. A certain stump excited the suspicion of Mar}-,
as she looked out of the window, and she called upon the man to
shoot it. He declined, and laughed at her apprehensions. At last
she told him that if he would not shoot, she would take the gun and
do it herself. This she did, and the stump rolled over, a dead Indian.

The 3'ear 1705 passed without special incident, but, in 170G, a
second attack at Dunstable alarmed Billerica and called out her
militia in defence. A scouting party under command of Captain
Pearson, of Rowley, was surprised at Weld's garrison, the Indians
being equally- surprised, and a blood}- encounter followed in which a
number were slain. Another party fell upon Blanchard's garrison,
and killed Mr. Blanchard, his wife, a daughter, and Mrs. Hannah
Blanchard. Seven days later, July 10, there was another encounter
between the troopers and Indians, in which Joseph Kidder and
Jeremiah Nelson, of Rowley, were killed, and John Pickard, of
Rowle}', was mortally wounded, dying in Billerica, August 5th.
Billerica was prompt in sending relief, and the Papers of Captain
Lane give us : —

•' A List of the Xaiues of the Troopers which sei'ved under my com-
mand to the reliefe of Dunstable. July the fourth, seventeen hundred and
six, being- twenty-nine men, two days, with the sustenance.

'8 Vol. II, 246.



INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTOEY.



139



"Thomas Eoss.
Thomas Richardson.
Andrew Richardson.
Jonathan Richardson.
John Farmer.
Ohver Farmer.
Thomas Pollard.
Sam" Hill.
Daniel Hill.
Ralph Hill.
John Stearns.
Sam" Fitch.
Mathew AVhipple.
Josiah Bacon.



Nathi' Page.
Nath" Bacon.
Henry Jeflfs.
Benjamin Bacon.
Sani> Sadey(?).
John Hill.'
Edward Spaldin.
Sam" Chaml)erlin.
Benoni Periliam.
John Colborn.
James Dutton.
Quar'. Joseph Foster.
Corp Sami Hill.
Josiah Fasset.'*



Another list follows : —

"Those which served under me in my march to Groton and Dunstable
and Dracut, from the 11'^ August to the 13*, by Command from his Exel-
ency, are as followeth ; and served 3 days and found their own sustenance.

Corp'. Thomas Tarbell.



"Henry Jefts.
Isaac Stearns.
Nath" Hill.
Thomas Richardson.
Thomas Pollard.
Jonath. Richardson.
Jonath. Hill.
Josiah Fasset.
Simon Crosbe.
Oliver Farmer.



Josiah Bacon, Trumpeter.
Benjamin Bacon.
Danniel Hill.
Edward Spaldin.
Benoni Periham.
Sam" Sadey(?).
Sam^i Barron.
Henery Spaldin.
Samii Cliamberlin."



Of the names on this roll, Edwai'd Spalding and those which
follow probabl}' belonged to Chelmsford, and Tarbell was of Groton.

Two other rolls are found which must be of a date near this time,
but the nature of the service is not mentioned, except that one roll is
headed: "The Names of the men that went the rouns with INIager
Lane." Most of the above names reappear, and these in addition :



Jonathan Bacon.
Joseph Bacon.
Nathaniel Bacon.
Hugh Ditson.
Thomas Farmer.
William Grimbs.
John Hunt.
Samuel Hunt.
John Kittrege, jr.



Jobe Lane.
John Lane.
John Xeedham, Clerk.
Kendall Patten.
Steven Richardson.
Isaac Stearns.
John Stearns.
Benjamin AValker.
Jacob Walker.



140 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.

These names of men who were ready to meet the hardships and
dangers of this Indian warfare, in defence of their imperilled homes,
are as worthy of honored remembrance from a grateful posterity as
those which we carefully record and tenderl3'' cherish, in the later
wars of the Revolution and the Rebellion. .

In the unsuccessful expedition of 1707 against Port Royal and
that which had a better issue, in 1710, we may assume that some of
the sons of Billerica had a part, as well as in the disastrous invasion
of Canada by way of the 8t. Lawrence, in 1712. But the only
record found of this period is another roll among the Lane Pitper.s,
giving the names of twenty-six men all found above. The service
is thus explained : —

"BiLiHACY. September 18, 1708.
"Reseved of Capt. John Lane the sum of eight pounds, three shillings
and sixpence; 1 say. reseved by me foi' the solgers that bilar3' [sent?] unto
Chelmsford and Groton.

"James Dutton."

Another ten years' peace came, in 1713, with the treaty of
Utrecht, and was most welcome to the wear}' colonists. But the
time had not arrived when they could safely remit their vigilance.
In 1723 came another outbreak. It was more brief than the earlier
wars, ending in two 3'ears ; but it is stamped more deeply in the
memory and imagination of later times, by the heroism and tragic
incidents of the Love well expedition.

This was preceded, in 1724, by an attack at Dunstable, which
Penhallow, in his Inrlhin Wars^'^^ describes: —

••September 4th. they fell on Dunstable, and took twO in the evening;
next morning. Lieut. French with fourteen men went in quest of them ;
but being wav-l:iid. both he and one half of his company were destroyed.
After that, as many more of a fresh company engaged them, but the enemy
being much superior in number overpowered thera, with the loss of one
man and four wounded.''

A muster-roll is preserved,^" dated 1722, July to November,
which gives these Billerica names, under command of Sergeant
Jonathan Butterfield, of Dunstable : John Farmer, William French,
P^benezer Frost, John Patten, Joseph and Thomas Pollard, William
8tickney, and John Whiting. They were probably employed in

1" Collections of The New Hampshire Historical Society. Vol. I, p. 109.
*" Massachusetts Archives. Vol. XC, 30.



INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 141

scouting and guard duty. When the outbreak came, one soldier
from Billerica, and no doubt others with him, were emplo3'ed in
more distant service. Tliomas Westbrook writes from York, 1724,
April 21, that "Lt. John Lane has been so imprudent as to suffer
his men to kill sundry Creatures belonging to the people of the
Count}' of York." On summons, "he did not deny the fact, and
made satisfaction to the people."

A few months later, the government offered a bount}' for the
scalps of Indians, as a measure of defence. Capt. John Lovewell,
of Dunstable, at once raised a company of thirty men and set out
on an expedition into the wilderness ; struck the Indian trail about
forty-four miles above Winnipesaukee, and soon returned w^ith one
scalp and a captive boy, for which they received, January 7, £200.

Again he set out, January 30, with a larger company- of eighty-
eight men, came up with the Indians by the pond which has since
borne Lovewell's name, in Wakefield, New Hampshire, killed the
whole party of ten, and returned to receive a bount3' of £1,000.

The third and more memorable expedition set out with forty-
seven men, 172.0, April lo. Its story has been often told and can
not be repeated here. The swift march into the wilderness, the
discovery of the Indians by Lovewell's Pond, the fierce encounter,
in which the leader, with Chaplain Frye nnd nearly a third of his
com|)any, lost their lives, at a cost to the savages of their chief,
Paugus, and so many of his men, that the tribe never rallied from
the blow : sermons and songs, chapters and volumes, have been
devoted to the recital.

Beyond the general interest of the Colony in this brave and in
fact successful, though costly and sad, enterprise, Billerica had
special connections with it. Jonathan Kittridge, who fell with
Lovewell, was from this town, as was Solomon Keyes, one of the
survivors. Chaplain Jonathan Frj^e, of Andover, who died of his
wounds, and is commemorated in the name of the town of Fryeburg,
Maine, was a teacher in Billerica, in 1724. And Lieutenant Seth
Wyman, who succeeded to the command when Lovewell was killed,
and with a« much skill as courage continued the contest and brought
off the survivors, had a Billerica wife, Sarah Ross, and was of that
Wyman family which lived just east of the Woburn line and was
often intimately connected with l^illerica history.

This vigorous and telling encounter gave the fathers a peace of
twenty years. Then the mazes of European politics involved them



142 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.

again, and a declaration of war between England and France, in
1744, stirred New England with the summons to arms. During the
peace, the French had fortified and garrisoned Louisburg. It was a
very strong fort, and in hostile hands was a constant and serious
menace to the English colonies. Governor Shirley at once instituted
a correspondence with the Government and the other colonies, which
resulted in an expedition under Sir William Pepperell, who sailed
from Boston, 1745, March 24. His entire force consisted of four
thousand troops I'rom the various colonies ; and he was aided by
four war vessels, mounting one hundred and eighty guns. The siege
was prosecuted with singular courage and skill, and resulted in the
surrender of the stronghold on the sixteenth of June. The whole
enterprise was well conceived and bravely executed, and reflected the
greatest credit upon the New England j'comanry, whose character it
illustrated. "The plan for the reduction of a regularly constructed
fortress," it has been well said, "was drawn b}' a lawyer, to be
executed by a merchant, at the head of a body of husbandmen and
mechanics."

Billeriea was well represented in this expedition. Only scattered
and imperfect rolls of this heroic service are preserved f^ but glean-
ing from these and ignoring, as we are entitled to do, the lines then
recently drawn of Tewksbury and Bedford, we may record these
names, most of which certainl}' and all probably belong to the old
town : Captains Josiah Crosb}', Peter Hunt, and John Stearns,
Lieutenant John Lane, Ensign Samuel Hunt, Corporal Solomon
CrosV)y, and Privates Nathaniel Cumings, Samuel Farmer, Samuel
Galusha, John Hill, Francis Kidder, Thomas Richardson, Jr., and
David Tarbell ; and perhaps William Thompson, as the difljereuce in
spelling does not weigh against the identity of this soldier with our
William Tompson, so prominent a citizen during the Revolution.
Doubtless other names should be added to this roll of honor.

Emboldened bj' this splendid achievement. Governor Shirley
pushed forward plans for an invasion the next year of Canada.
France, on the other hand, alarmed by the fall of Louisburg for the
safety of her American possessions, sent a powerful fleet under the
command of Duke D'Anville. The design was supposed to be the
rectovery of Louisburg, the desolation of the New England towns,
and perhaps the conquest of the Colonies. The alarm was great

=1 See articles by Charles Hudson, in The New England Historical and Genealogical
Register. 1870, October, and 1871, July.



INDIAN AND MILITARY HISTORY. 143

and not unreasonable, and the troops found service nearer home



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