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at Arrowsic, in August, 1717, Captain Penhallow, who was present, says,
" One thing I cannot here omit: three days after our departure, a number
of Indians went a duck-hunting, which was a season of the year that the
old ones generally shed their feathers in, and the young ones are not so
well flushed as to be able to fly ; they drove them like a flock of sheep
before them into the creeks, where without powder or shot they killed
at one time four thousand and six hundred ; for they followed them so
close that they knocked them down with billets and paddles, and sold a
great number of them to the English for a penny a'dozen, which is their
practice yearly, though they seldom make so great a slaughter at once.'


in large numbers, they build on an island a church which they cover
with bark, and near it they erect a little cabin for my residence. I
take care to transport thither a part of our ornaments, and the service
is performed with the same decency and the same crowds of people
as at the village.

You see then, my dear nephew, what are my occupations. For
that which relates to me personally, I will say to you, that I neither
hear nor see, nor speak to any but the Indians. My food is very
simple and light. I have never been able to conform my taste to the
meat or smoked fish of the savages, and my nourishment is only com-
posed of corn which they pound, and of which I make each day a kind
of hominy, which I boil in water. The only luxury in which I indulge,
is a little sugar which I mix with it to correct its insipidity. This is
not wanting in the forest. In the spring the maple trees contain a
liquor very similar to that which is found in the sugar-canes of the
southern islands. The women employ themselves in collecting this
in vessels of bark as it is distilled from the trees. They then boil it
and draw off from it a very good sugar. That which is drawn off first
is the most beautiful.

The whole nation of Abnakis is Christian and very zealous to pre-
serve their religion. This attachment to the Catholic faith has induced
them, even to this time, to prefer our alliance, to advantages which
might be derived from an alliance with the English, who are their
neighbors. These advantages, too, of very great importance to the
Indians. The facility of trading with the English from whom they
are distant but one or two days journey; the ease with which the
journey can be made; the admirable market they would find there
for the purchase of the merchandise that suits them; these things
certainly hold out very great inducements. In place of which in go-
ing to Quebec, it is necessary to take more than a fortnight to reach
there; they have to furnish themselves with provision for the journey,
they have different rivers to pass and frequent portages to make.
They are aware of these inconveniencies, and are by no means indif-
ferent to their interests, but their faith is infinitely more dear to them;
and they believe if they detach themselves from our alliance, they
will shortly find themselves without a missionary, without a sacrifice,
with scarcely any exercise of their religion, and in manifest danger
of being plunged into their former heathenism. This is the bond
that unites them to the French.


Hutchinson says of Rasle :

He was ranked by the English among the most infamous villains
and his scalp would have been worth an hundred scalps of the Indians.
His intrepid courage and fervent zeal to promote the religion he pro-
fessed, and to secure his converts to the interest of his sovereign were
the principal causes of these prejudices. The French, for the same
reason, rank him with saints and heroes. He had been nearly forty
years a missionary among Indians commencing in 1690, and their
manner of life had become quite easy and agreeable to him. They
loved and idolized him and were always ready to hazard their own
lives to preserve his. His letters on various subjects discover him to
have been a man of superior natural powers, which had been improved
by an education in a college of Jesuits. He had taught many of his
converts, male and female, to write, and corresponded with them in
their own language, and made some attempts in Indian poetry. When
he was young he learned to speak Dutch, and so came more easily to
a smattering of English, enough to be understood by traders and
tradesmen, who had been employed in building a church and other
work at Norridgewock.

This description was written by Governor Hutchinson
while some of the public men were living who had known
the missionary personally, or had held correspondence with
him. His own father was one of them.

During the session of the general court in December, l|>21,
the governor was requested to send an expedition to Nor-
ridgewock and seize Rasle, the missionary, and bring him to
Boston. An order was issued to Colonel Thomas Westbrook,
then in the military service of the province under Colonel
Walton, at Falmouth, to enlist, if possible, if not to impress,
two hundred and fifty men for the expedition. The force was
raised with much difficulty, and fell some short of the author-
ized number. This hastily organized expedition was led to
Norridgewock in January, 1722, by Colonel Westbrook,
traveling more than one hundred miles on snow-shoes and


carrying all their provisions, ammunition, tools, and blankets
on their backs ; in addition, of course, each man must carry
his musket. The Indians learned of the march of the expedi-
tion and left their village.* In " The Early Jesuit Missions
in North America," is the following copy of a letter from
Father Rasle, which describes Colonel Westbrook's arrival
and his proceedings at Norridgewock, as follows :

I had remained alone in the village, with only a small number of
old men and infirm persons, while the rest of the Indians were at the
hunting grounds. The opportunity seemed to them a favorable one
to surprise me, and with this view they sent out a detachment of two
hundred men. Two young Abnakis, who were engaged in the chase
along the sea-shore, learned that the English had entered the river,
and they immediately turned their steps in that direction to observe
their progress. Having perceived them at ten leagues distance from

* " Col. Harmon was intended for Norridgewock with about 120 men at
the same time with Col. Westbrook and set out on the 6 of Feb. but the
rivers were so open, and the ground so full of water that they could neither
pass on land or ice and having with great difficulty reached the upper
falls of Androscoggin [Lewiston] they divided into scouting parties and
returned without seeing any of the enemy." Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V.,
page 289.

This expedition of Harmon's was by order of Colonel Westbrook, as
the certificate of Joseph Bane, the pilot, shows. Williamson says this
was in 1723, but the following document fixes the date to be 1722:


" I Joseph Bane having been appointed pilot to a party of the forces
detached by Col Westbrook to march up Androscoggin river to near
Narriegook, but finding the freshet high, the lowlands full of water, this
river open not only below but even to these falls, thirty miles above
Pejepscot, I am therefore of opinion that the proposed march can not be
performed at this time by the reason of the great thaws that broke up

the rivers.

"Witness my hand,


Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V., page 107.

This detachment was probably intended to strike Sandy river and
follow it to Norridgewock.


the village, they outstripped them in traversing the country to give
me warning and to cause the old men, females, and infants, to retire
in haste. I had barely time to swallow the consecrated wafers, to
crowd the sacred vessels into a little chest* and to save myself in the
woods. The English arrived at the village in the evening, and not
having found me, came the following morning to search for me, even
in the very place to which we had retreated. They were scarcely a
gunshot distant when we perceived them, and all I could do was to
hide myself with precipitation in the depths of the forest. But as I had
not time to take my snow-shoes, and besides had considerable weakness
remaining from a fall which took place some years before, when my
thigh and~leg were broken, it was not possible to fly very far. The
only resource which remained to me was to conceal myself behind a
tree. They began immediately to examine the different paths worn
by the Indians when they went to collect wood, and they penetrated
even to within eight paces of the tree which concealed me. From
this spot it would seem as if they must inevitably discover me ; for the
trees were stripped of their leaves; but, as if they had been restrained
by an invisible hand, they immediately retraced their steps and re-
paired again to the village. f It is thus through the particular protec-
tion of God, I escaped from their hands. They pillaged my church
and humble dwelling, and thus reduced me almost to death by famine

* This " little chest" was probably the " strong box " which has been
preserved to this time, of which a cut, engraved from a photograph, is
given. The "sacred vessels" must have been small. In a letter to his
brother the priest describes his journeys with the Indians. He says, " I
carry with me my plate and everything which is necessary to ornament
the choir, and Divine service is performed there as at the village."

t" BOSTON February 12, 1722.

" Last week, his Excellency received a letter from the forces at the
Eastward giving an account that they were marching to seize Father
Ralle, he made his escape out of the house with so much haste, that
(being then writing) he left his papers on the table, among which was
found a letter from the governor of Canada directing the Indians to use
their utmost force to keep the English from settling at the eastward, and
promising to supply them with powder and ball for that end ; at the same
time charging the Jesuit to keep the matter private. Tis said that his
excellency has wrote to England of this affair." New England Courant.


in the midst of the woods. It is true that as soon as they learned of
ray adventure in Quebec, they immediately sent me provisions; but
these could not arrive until very late, and during all that time I was
obliged to live destitute of all succor.

The " little chest," into which Father Rasle " crowded the
sacred vessels " of his church, was probably the same which
held his papers and writing materials, and which Colonel
Westbrook brought away. In a compartment, of which it
was hard to discover the entrance, were Rasle's letters from
the French Governor of Quebec, confirming the conjectures
of the Massachusetts Province officers, that the French
officers in Canada were the instigators of the Indian raids on
the settlements of the northern provinces, hoping, finally, to
discourage and drive off the settlers north and east of Casco
Bay and leave the territory to the French, who claimed it as
a part of Acadia. Rasle was a " Jesuit of the four vows,"
the fourth of which is to undertake any mission to which
they may be ordered. A part of the Jesuit creed is that the
end justifies the means, hence the encouragement of the
Indians to drive off the settlers.

In this little chest was also a manuscript dictionary of
Abnaki language, prepared with great labor by the Jesuit
missionary. It contains five hundred quarto pages of manu-
script. At the commencement, in Rasle's own handwriting,
is this memorandum in French: "1691. Having been a
year among the savages, I begin to arrange in the form of a
dictionary the words which I learn." The manuscript, in a
strong binding, is now in the library of Harvard College, to
which it was presented by Middlecott Cook. It was published
under the supervision of the learned John Pickering, LL. D.,
in 1833, and is the best authority for the Abnaki langugage.

Another relic of much interest, which was a part of the con-






tents of the priest's box, is a hand-book for Catholic worship.
Its title is "Medulla Theologia Moralis" This well-worn
book, showing the thumb marks of the devoted missionary,
is now in the Willis room of the Portland Public Library.
The box was brought more than one hundred miles by men
on snow-shoes. Its own weight is twelve pounds, and its
contents must have weighed as much more.

The " little chest," into which the missionary " crowded "
what he knew to be his most valuable treasures, was the
means of preserving a knowledge of the man, and of his great
labors in the wilderness. The chest, with its contents, was
brought to Falmouth, and remained here while Colonel West-
brook lived. Its contents were carried to Boston and were
turned over to the governor and council. The captured
letters of the Marquis de Vaudreuel, governor of Canada,
were considered valuable by the Massachusetts government,
and in some measure atoned for the failure to capture Father
Rasle, for a hostage, with De Castin of the Penobscots.
These letters were the subject of an angry correspondence
between the Massachusetts and the Canadian governors, and
was the cause of much confusion to the latter, refuting, as
they did, his assertion that he had nothing to do with the
raids of the Indians.

The "little chest" is now a relic of much interest. It is
ten by fifteen inches in size, and eight inches deep, divided
into ten compartments, two of which are filled by a square
inkstand, and a sand-box. These are of metal and fitted
into wooden boxes which have sliding covers overlaid with
leather and gilt. The entire outer surface of the box is cov-
ered with sheet-brass, embossed. There are riveted iron straps
on all the edges, and a similar strap of iron encircles the chest
at each end of the iron handle in the middle of the top.


The lock is double and protected by a broad plate of iron,
having two key-holes, the principal one of which is covered
by a long hinged drop, which is secured by a second key
below the first one. This " little chest " is well entitled to
the name " The Jesuit's strong box," which was undoubtedly
given to it by Colonel Westbrook, at the time of its removal
from the cabin of its owner, and by which it has been known
by historical writers for more than a century and a half.

The box seems to have been carefully and strongly made
by the direction of its owner, probably in France, to be carried
in the hand in all his wanderings. He was for a time sta-
tioned with the Algonquins on the Mississippi, and also for a
time with the Hurons and Iroquois. He embarked at
Rochelle, France, for Quebec, in July, 1689, and came to
Norridgewock in 1690. It adds to the interest of the strong
box to read his letter to his nephew, from which we learn
that in the visits of the Indians to the sea-shore in summer,
a chapel was erected and an altar set up. He says : " I
take care to transport thither a part of our ornaments, and
the service is performed with the same decency, and the
same crowds of people as at the village. ... I always carry
with me a beautiful board of cedar, about four feet in length
with the necessary supports, and this serves for an altar,
while above it they place an appropriate canopy." From
these letters we learn that the removal of the " consecrated
wafers " and the crowding of the " sacred vessels " that held
them, into this little chest, at the time of his flight, was not
the first time the same thing had been done by the missionary.
There is no mention of the final fate of these altar vessels,
which were probably of silver, and made to fit into each other.
A Puritan soldiery would not hold them in high veneration.

Historians disagree as to the custodians of the strong box.


Some assert that it is in the library of the Massachusetts
Historical Society. The History of Portland said, in 1865,
it was in the library of the Maine Historical Society, but all
were in error. It was for a few years intrusted to the custody
of the Massachusetts Historical Society, but, by the agree-
ment of the Waldron family, it became the property of one
member. In 1871, the writer was commissioned by the
Maine Historical Society to make an effort to obtain that
valuable relic of the military service of Colonel Westbrook.
Professor Packard recollected that it was sent to Brunswick
from its owner in Portsmouth, at the request of President
Allen, for his examination, and returned. From Portsmouth
it was traced to the possession of Rev. E. Q. S. Waldron,
priest of the Catholic church of St. Charles Bonares, at
Pikesville, Maryland. The head of the Order of Jesuits of
the United States claimed that the box should finally go to
their Order, but, after twelve years' correspondence, the box
was, by its owner, presented to the Maine Historical Society,
and is now in the custody of their committee. We give a
very correct cut of the Jesuit's strong box.

Colonel Westbrook's raid upon Norridgewock fort and
village roused in the Indians the savage spirit of revenge,
which soon burst forth in a similar raid on the settlements
of the whites. The planting and hoeing of their corn, on
which they largely depended tor subsistence, must be attended
to in the season for it, which, with their rude tools, was
accomplished with great labor. Their fertilizer was ale wives,
which were caught at the mouth of the Sandy river, near
their planting ground, in immense numbers.*

Bradford's History of Plymouth, page 100, is good authority concern-
ing the Indian mode of planting corn. He says: "Afterwards they [the

Pilgrims] began to plant their corn, in which service Squanto stood them


In the letter to his brother written from Norridgewock,
October 18, 1723, Rasle describes at much length the Indian
habits of life. He says :

Our Indians have so entirely destroyed the game in this part of the
country that during ten years they have scarcely found either elk or
roebuck. The bears and beavers have also become very rare. They
have scarcely anything on which to live but Indian corn, beans, and

pumpkins At a particular season of the year, they repair to a

river not far distant, where during one month the fish ascend in such
great numbers that a person could fill fifty thousand barrels in a day
if he could endure the labor. They are a kind of large herrings
very agreeable to the taste when fresh, crowding one upon another to
the depth of a foot. They are drawn out as if they were water. The
Indians dry them for eight or ten days and live on them during all the
time they are planting their fields. It is only in the spring that they
plant their corn, and they do not give it their last tillage until Corpus
Christi day (12 of June). After this they deliberate as to what spot on
the sea-shore they shall go to find something to live on until harvest.

These annual summer visits to the sea-coast, of the entire
tribes of Indians, account for the great extent of clam and
oyster shell heaps along the coast of Maine. They had no
other means of opening oysters but by heat, hence the fre-
quently occurring circles of shell heaps at Damariscotta.

In 1722, immediately after finishing the cultivation of their
corn, of course the Indians were short of provisions, and were
also desirous for revenge for Colonel Westbrook's raid on
their village. It was the time for their annual visit to the
sea-coast. They made a war party to attack Brunswick and
obtain present supplies. In the fifth volume of the Pejepscot

in great stead, showing them both ye manner and how to set it, and after
how to dress and tend it. Also he told them that except they got fish
and set with it (in those old grounds) it would come to nothing and he
showed them that in the middle of April they should have store enough
come up ye brook."


Papers, (page 277,) is an account of this attack and the pun-
ishment of a party of the Indians therefor. It is in the hand-
writing of John McKeen, taken partly from Penhallow and
partly from tradition in McKeen's time, who lived at Bruns-
wick. He says :

In July 1722, Col. Harmon was stationed at Arrowsic with a num-
ber of men and whaleboats. He discovered that the settlement of
Brunswick was on fire, and at once concluded that the Indians had
made an attack upon it. He immediately manned two whaleboats and
with Major Moody proceeded up the river to the relief of Brunswick.
It was night when he entered Merrymeeting bay and he soon discov-
ered the fires kindled by the Indians on Somerset Point. They quietly
landed and found the Indians asleep. Knowing that they were return-
ing fatigued from the destruction of Brunswick, Harmon and his party
fired upon them but did not wait to see how many were killed.

The destruction of their village, fort, and church, and a
large number of the Norridgewock tribe, was cruelly accom-
plished in August, 1724, but I am pleased to be able to say
that our townsman, Colonel Westbrook, was not in command,
nor was he one of the party. It was done by four companies,
consisting, in the whole, of two hundred and eight men, under
Captains Harmon, Moulton, Bourne, and Bean. The Indians
were surprised in their houses and fired upon as they came
out, killing indiscriminately men, women, and children.
Their minister was the last one killed, but it was done con-
trary to the orders of the commanding officer. He, with the
Indian dead, old and young, male and female, were scalped,
and these bloody trophies were paraded in the streets of
Boston with much triumph, as the following from the diary
of Councilor Sewall shows :

SATURDAY August 22 1724.""

The Sheerness (man-of-war) comes up, and Capt Harmon with his
Norridgewock scalps, at which there is great shouting and triumph.
The Lord help us to rejoice with trembling.


The manuscript journal of Rev. William Holmes, of Chil-
mark, Cape Cod, under date August 30, 1724, gives an
account of Harmon and Moulton's attack on the Norridge-
wock village. He says, " The scalps of twenty-eight of them
were brought to Boston, of which their priest's and Boma-
zeen's were two."

There is an order recorded on the province records, Decem-
ber 24, 1724, in these words :

The Indian scalps, now in keeping of the treasurer, to be buried in
some private place, so as not to be discovered or produced again.

After shooting and scalping the Indians, and with two
children as prisoners, Harmon and Moulton, with their whole
force, "lodged in the wigwams, keeping a guard of forty
men." They started early on their return march, leaving
the chapel and wigwams standing. " Christian," a Mohawk
Indian of Harmon's force, was sent, or went back of his own
accord, and set fire to the wigwams and to the church in the
turret of which hung a bell. Of course all these buildings
were destroyed and the village and the cornfields were left

[Massachusetts Archives, Vol. 52, page 34.]

FALMOUTH Augt 18 th 1724.
May it please your Honour

Cap 1 ? Harmon arrivd this day with

the Fryars and Twenty Six Scalps more from Norridgewock and
brought Bombazees Squaw and three more Indian Captive's retook
three English boys, he Inf ormes a great number of Indians are come-
ing on our fronteir Sundry from Canada and Two Hundred from
Penobscutt for a more account I refer to him; They have taken
Leiu*. Kenadys Coat at Norridgewock who resided at Saint Georges
which makes us doubt they have taken the garrison, I am Sending
Cap 4 ? Sanders in his Sloop strongly guarded to that place and am like-
wise dispatching orders to all the fronteirs to be strict on their guard.


Cap* Harmon and the officers Judge, that by the modestes Computa-
tion besides the Scalps and Captives they brought in, what they killd
and drownded' there could not be less than thirty or forty, God has
now been pleasd to Crown your Honours unwearied Endeavours with
success, which I desire to rejoyce at I hope y r Honour will smile
on Cap*" Harmon and favour him with a Commission for a field Officer
I am your Honours most Dutiful

Humble Servant

I have Imprest M r Dokes Scooner
to convey Cap*. Harmon to Boston.

It will be noticed that Colonel Westbrook's letter from
Falmouth to Governor Dummer, announcing Captain Har-
mon's arrival here, is dated August 18th ; he must have

Online LibraryWilliam GooldPortland in the past; → online text (page 14 of 43)