Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

Groton during the Indian wars online

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THE early settlers of Groton encountered many trials and
privations in planting the town. The men worked hard in
felling trees and breaking ground, and the women toiled
faithfully in their rude homes. They were used to hardships,
and took them with Christian resignation. Their daily life
taught them the true principles of philosophy. They lived
on the rough edge of civilization, and nothing stood between
them and an unbroken wilderness. These pioneers were a
devout people ; and the strength of their religious belief is
shown in no way so clearly as in the fortitude with which they
met their lot in life. The prowling Indians were their neigh-
bors, whose movements required careful watching. There
were families of savages scattered along the interval land of
the Nashua Valley, from Lancaster to the Merrimack River,
who at times annoyed the settlers by killing pigs and stealing
chickens. Judging from the number of stone implements
found in the neighborhood, there was an Indian village just
above the Red Bridge, on the west side of the river. It
probably consisted of a few families only, belonging to the
Nashua Tribe, as they were called by the English. Like all
their race these Indians were a shiftless people, and often


changed their abodes, going hither and thither, as they found
good hunting-grounds and fishing-places. They bartered skins
and furs with the planters ; and so much business was carried
on in this way, that the government sold to individuals the
right to trade with them. As early as July, 1657, Mr. John
Tinker, one of the original selectmen of the town, appointed
by the General Court, paid eight pounds for the privilege of
trafficking with them at Lancaster and Groton. A few of
these natives knew a little English, which they had picked
up from contact with the whites. Gookin refers to them in
his " History of the Christian Indians," when he speaks of
" some skulking Indians of the enemy, that formerly lived
about Groton, the principal whereof was named Nathaniel,
he and his party did this and other mischief afterward, in
burning several houses at Chelmsford." 1 This Nathaniel was
taken subsequently at Cocheco, now Dover, New Hampshire,
and hanged in Boston. Some of these vagrants took an
active part in the burning of Groton during King Philip's
War. The leader of the savages at this assault was John
Monaco, or Monoco, nicknamed " One-eyed John," from the
loss of an eye. After he had taken by stratagem a garrison-
house, he entered into a long conversation with Captain
Parker, who was stationed in another house near by, and
called him his old neighbor. From this fact I infer that
" One-eyed John " knew Captain Parker, and had previously
lived in the vicinity. Warfare among the aborigines did not
require generalship so much as knowledge of places; and
the head of an assaulting party was one familiar with the
clearings and the lay of the land in the threatened territory.
During the ensuing autumn this leader was brought to the
gallows in Boston, where he suffered the extreme penalty of
the law.

The Indians soon acquired from the English the love of
strong drink, which is sure to lead to disputes and quarrels.

1 Archasologia Americana, II. 471.


The earliest documents at the State House, relating to Groton
and the savages, give an account of a drunken brawl which
ended in murder. The affair took place in the Mcrrimack
Valley, and several men of this town were summoned to
appear as witnesses at the investigation before the General
Court in Boston. In the spring of 1668 Captain Richard
VValdron built a trucking or trading house at Penacook, now
Concord, New Hampshire, where a few weeks later one
Thomas Dickinson was murdered by an Indian while under
the influence of liquor. The homicide created great excite-
ment, and it has been supposed to have delayed the perma-
nent settlement of the place for many years. A warrant
was issued directing the constable of Groton to summon
John Page, Thomas Tarbell, Jr., Joseph Blood, and Robert
Parish, all of this town, before the General Court in order to
give their testimony, which they did under oath. It ap-
peared by the evidence that there had been a drunken row,
and that Dickinson was killed by an Indian, who acknowl-
edged the crime and expressed great sorrow for it, but
pleaded drunkenness in extenuation of the deed. The cul-
prit was tried at once by a council of the Indians, who
sentenced him to be shot, which was done the next day. It
is interesting now to note the high temperance stand taken,
more than two hundred years ago, by the Chief Tohaunto,
which places him abreast of the most earnest opposers of the
rum traffic at the present time.

Throughout this narration I purpose to give, as far as
practicable, the exact language of the men connected with
the events ; and for this reason many original documents are
printed in full. Some of the papers relating to the affair at
Penacook are as follows :

To the Constable of Groatcn

These. Require yo" in his Maj tys name, to sumone & require John
Page & such othe r of y c toune y' went vp to Inquire for y c ir catle. at


Pemicook presently on the death of the Englishman murthured by y'
Indians there lately in a drunken fitt. as is sayd & others y l yo" know-
to make theire Appearances before the Generall [Court] now sitting in
Boston on 27 th Instan'. at eight of y c clocke in the morning to give
in their euidences in y' J Case relating to y e sd murthe r & y' occasion
thereof by selling strong liquo r s & by whom as they know or have heard
making yo r return of this warrant to the Secretary at or before y' time
hereof yo" are not to faile dated in Boston, the 1 5 th of Octobe' 1668.
By the Court EDW : RAWSON Sere" '


These thre men namly John Page Thomas an Robard

Tarball Juni r & Joseph Blood are Summanced Parish

to apear e at the Generall Court, according to the premises :

Constable of Grawton
To the Constable Grawten

[Massachusetts Archives, XXX. 155.]

The words " an Robard Parish " appear in the original, in
one corner of the writing, as given above. They were evi-
dently put in after the document was written.

The Deposition of Danll Waldron being called to speak what I
know about the Death of Thomas Dikison who was killed by an
Indian as they say : my selfe with many others was sent up by my
father to see the corps and enquire into his death when we came
there we found the man dead and an Indian lying dead by him and
examining the Indians how he came by his death they said the Indian
that lay dead by him killed him with his knife : and enquiring further
why he killed him the Indians told us they asked him and he gave
them no answere but bid them shoott him : and further enquiring
whether the Indian were Drunk they answered that he was not Drunk
and after this we saw him buried presently, and we returned home the
next Day

This was taken vpon oath : this 20 : I of y e 8 : [ mo 1668 before vs

[Massachusetts Archives, XXX. i ;;.]



Wee whose names are herevnto subscribed doe testifye that in or
aboute y e Month of June last past goeing to Pennycooke to enquire
after Cattle yt were lost, rideing to y e ffort at the sayd Pennicooke,
meeteing w th some of the Indians belonging thereto told us, y' an
Englishman was Killed by an Indian, and that all our Englishmans
Laws they had Killed the Indian, wee farther enquireing of them how
and whether the Indians were drunck when the Englishman was
Killed, and they answered all Indians were then drunck or else they
had noe Kild Englishman ; And farther wee Evidence Tohaunto
a Sagamore being afrayd that wee had brought Liquors to sell desired us
if wee had any, that wee would power it vppon the ground for it would
make ye Indians all one Divill, And farther wee meeteing wth Thomas
Payne, who told us he was Cap' \Valdern's serv 1 , asking him whether
the Indians were druncke when the Englishman was Killed, and he
answered not drunck ; and after farther discourse wth ye sd Payne he
sayd that ye pson that was Killed was Peter Coffins man and farther
sayd that if the Killing of the Man did not prevent it his the sayd
Paynes Master Capt Walderne and Peter Coffin did intend to send
Carpenters to build there and also to have ground broake vpp to be
improved, and wee farther affirme that wee saw a Rundlett which
would hold at least six Gallons in the Trucking House near the sayd
ffort ; after wch wee meeteing wth the Indians then there, and telling
them yt Thomas Payne told us that they were not drunck when The
Englishman was Killed the Indians then sayd yt Payne much Lyed,
for wee had Divers Quarts of Liquors the same day that the sayd
Englishman was Killed upon and one of the Indians Cofnaunded his
Squagh to wash a Bladder, wherein the Indian sayd there was a Quart
of Liquors and wee doe adiudge it to be as much ; or using words to
the same effect

Octob r 27'.'' 1668 ROBB PARRIS


Sworne in Court, 27, octobe r 1668 : JOSEPH BLOUD

EDW : RAWSONT Secret y

[Massachusetts Archives, XXX. 161.]

During a series of years before King Philip's War the
Indians had been supplied with arms and ammunition,


though this was contrary to the laws of the colonies. The
French in Canada and the Dutch in New York had carried
on considerable traffic with the natives in these contraband
articles ; and occasionally some avaricious settler would
barter with them, giving powder and shot in exchange.
The possession of firearms made the Indians bold and
insolent, and the tendency of events was toward open hos-
tilities. This tendency was strengthened by a feeling of sus-
picion on the part of the colonists, and by one of jealousy
on the part of the savages. Distrust always grows out of
suspicion, and the fears of the settlers began to be excited
when they thought of their exposed situation. Under these
circumstances, it was wise to prepare for all emergencies;
and at an early day a military company was organized in
this town. The following entry is made in the manuscript
records of the General Court during the session beginning
May 6, 1673 : -

James Parker of Groaten hairing had the care of the military Com-
pany there for seuerall yeares. is Appointed & ordered to be their
leiftennant & W" Larkin to be ensign e to the sajd Company there

[General Court Records, IV. 718.]

The two officers of this organization were each promoted
one grade during the next autumn, which would indicate that
the company was filling up in numbers. At the session of
the General Court beginning October 15, 1673, the record
reads :

The military Company of Groaten being destitnt of military
oficers The Court Judgeth it meet to choose & Appoint James Parker
to be their captane W" 1 Lakin to be leiftennant & Nathaniel Lawrence
to be their ensigne

[General Court Records, IV. 726.]

Before this time there had been in Middlesex County a
company of troopers, or cavalry, made up of men living


in the frontier towns, of which Groton was one as men-
tioned in the General Court Records of October, 1669.

One of the prominent men in the history of the Colony at
this period was Major Simon Willard. A native of Eng-
land, he came to Massachusetts in the year 1634. He had
lived at Concord, Lancaster, and Groton, and in all these
places exerted a wide influence. He had rilled various civil
offices, and in his day was a noted military man. His farm
was situated at Nonacoicus, now included within the limits of
Ayer; and his dwelling-house was the first building burned
at the attack on Groton, March 13, 1676. During several
months previously he had been engaged with his men in
scouting along the line of frontier settlements and protecting
the inhabitants. At this assault Major Willard came with a
company of cavalry to the relief of the town, though he did
not reach the place in time to be of service in its defence.
He died at Charlestown, on April 24, 1676, a very few weeks
after this town was abandoned. Benjamin Tompson, the
earliest native American poet, pays the following tribute to
his character, in a little pamphlet published during King
Philip's War, and entitled " New England's Tears." It is
certainly rude in expression, and probably just in its concep-
tion, but not accurate as to the date of his death :

About this Time Died Major Willard Esq ; who had continued
one of our Senators many years, and Head of the Massachuset Bands.
In 23 April 1676.


Great, Good, and Just, Valiant, and Wise,
New Englands Common Sacrifice :
The Prince of War, the Bond of Love,
A True Heroick Martial Dove :
Pardon I croud his Parts so close
Which all the World in measure knows,
We envy Death, and well we mav,
Who keeps him under Lock and Ke\.


His Praises will, or are more largely celebrated ; but let this be
accepted according to the Nature of my Writings, which are but Brief
and General.

The first mention of anything in the town- records, relating
to the Indians or the War, is the following:

At a meeting of the sellect men Jully 2 July 22 75 a rat made
for the defraying of the charg of the ware and put in to the hand
of William Longiey constable to gather the sume 23! 14" 4 added 7
shill more than the Just proportion

The mutterings of warfare were now beginning to be heard,
and the colonists were looking for protection. Captain Par-
ker writes to Governor Leverett, under date of August 25,
1675, that the inhabitants "are in a very great strait" and
" much discouraged in their spirits ; " that they want ammu-
nition and twenty good muskets for their pikemen. The
letter itself, with the quaint expressions of two centuries ago,
gives a good idea of their narrow circumstances, and is as
follows :

To the honoured John Leneret Esquir Goucrnour of the Massechusets


Honoured sir with the rest of your counsell I have made bold to
enform your worships how the case stand with vs that the Indians are
aproach 5 near to vs our scouts hau discouerd seuerall tracks very
near the habetable parts of the town and one Indian they discouerd
but escapt from them by skulking amongst the bushes and som of the
Inhabitants of our town have heard them in the night singing and
halloeing. which doe determin to vs their great height of Insolency :
we are in a very great strait our Inhabitants are very much discour-
aged in their spirits and their by diseuaded from their callings I haue
receiued 20 men from the worshipfall Major Wellard and Captain
Mosselly men to help secur our town, but notwithstanding we are in a
very weak capacity to defend ourselues against the Insolency and
potency of the enemy if they shold apear in number and with that
violenc that they did apear at quabog [Brookfield] the which the
good lord forbid if it be his good pleasur, much honoured and


respected the good lord be with you In your consultations that you
may vnderstand what to doe for your new england Israel at such a tini
as this and in particular ourselues and for our dear neighbours at Lan-
chester vpon whom the enemy haue made an Inraid 6 persons are
already found and buryed the 7?^which they doe expect is kild is not
as yet found you may be pleased to tak notice that we shall want
ammunition spedily by reason that we hau parted with som to Cap'
Mosselly men and som we spent 'in the fight at quabog as also I hau
suplyed the souldiers with amunition that were sent to me that was
Imployed in the seruice they hauing spent their ammunition If you
could help vs with 20 good muskets for our pik men and I will return
them again or else giu a valluable price for them in such pay as
we can produce among ourselues not else at present but leaue you
to the guidance of the God of heauen who is the only wise counsellor
and remaine

Your seruant to cofhaund in any seruice to my power

from Groten

August 25 75
[Massachusetts Archives, LXVII. 244.]

A few days before the date of this letter, Captain Samuel
Moseley writes from " Nashowah Allies Lankcster: i6 : h Augs'
1675 " that, in accordance with instructions from Major-
General Denison, he had sent "to Groatton : 12: men."
These are among the ones alluded to in Captain Parker's let-
ter, as having arrived to help secure the town. Captain
Moseley further says:

also last nightt aboutt seaven A Clocke we martched Into Nashowah
[Lancaster] wheare we are Att Presentt butt shall as soone as the Con-
stable Hajth prest vs a dozen Horsses ; Proseed for groatton & so to
Chenceford ; according to the ord r s Majo r Willerd gaue me yesterday
Att Quoahbauge [Brookfield].

I Massachusetts Archives, LXVII. 239.]

The letter was written a few days after Major \Villard and
Captain Parker, both of Groton, had gone with forty-six men


and five Indians, to the rescue of Brookfield, on August y,
1675, and just in the nick of time saved that town from
massacre. An interesting account of this affair, written by
Captain Thomas Wheeler, is found in the second volume of
the " Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society."
Captain Wheeler was a brave soldier, and severely wounded
in that campaign. Evidently he could fight better than he
could spell, judging from the following certificate : -

To the honered Governer &> Counccll of tlic Massathusets Colony in
New England

These are to signyfie that Cornellius Consert the Dutchman was
vppon the Contryes Servis Att quabauge & by the Councle of warre
there was sent out Cap 1 of the forlorne And Afterward marched to
Grotton & Chensford & According to my best Advice Continued in
the Countryes servis six weekes Cornellius being Reddy to depart the
Country & myselfe being here att boston the Major Willard being
Absent I granted this ticket.


BOSTON October y e 13

[Massachusetts Archives, LXVIII. 7.]

In those days there was no physician here to offer his pro-
fessional skill to the government in its time of need, and
even a small military force was sure to require medical or
surgical attendance. It therefore became necessary to im-
press into the public service a surgeon, as well as a horse with
accoutrements, as we find from the following order:

2}) the Constable of Boston.

These Require you in his Majes tyq name forthwith to Impresse M r
W m Haukins Chirurgeon : Imediately to prepare himself \v lh materials
as Chirurgeon & to dispatch to Marlbory. to Capt Mosely & attend his
motion & souldiers at Groaten. or elsewhere : for wch End you are


also to Impresse an able horse & furniture for him : to Goe : w :h the

Dated at Boston if h Augus' 1675 making Return hereof to the

By y e Council

EDW. RAWSON Secret y
IMassachusetts Archives, LXVII. 241.]

The constable made the indorsement on the order that Dr.
Hawkins was duly warned. According to Savage's Genealogi-
cal Dictionary he was a butcher, but in his will he is styled
a surgeon, a union of callings which is rather suggestive.

At this time King Philip's War had begun, and open hos-
tilities had alarmed the inhabitants of the place. The Council
passed an order on September 8, 1675, that Cornet Thomas
Brattle and Lieutenant Thomas Henchman should take fifty
men, of whom thirty were to come from Norfolk, then a dif-
ferent county from the present one, and twenty from Middle-
sex, and place them in the garrisons at Dunstable, Groton,
and Lancaster, in such proportions as they should deem
expedient. The order is as follows :

For Cornet Thomas Bratle cV Leif tenant Thomas Henchman

You are herby impoured & appointed with a party of horsmen
vnder your coiuand, forthwith to march to Chelmsford to attend &
put in execution the instructions following :

i first you are ordered with fifty soldiers that are appointed to meet
you, at Leift Henchmans vizt thirty y' are to come from the county of
Norfolke & twenty out of the county of Midlesex, that are ordered to
meet you at Groton these fifty men you are ordered to sett in garri-
sons in the frontier townes of Dunstable, Groton, and Lancaster &c in
such proportion as in your discretion shal bee expedient placing them
vnder the comand of the cheefe military officers of each towne :
giueing those officers direction : to joyne & lyst other meet persons of
their owne companyes with them, & order them euery day to surraund
the townes y e y are to secure ; & if they can to carry doggs with y m to
search for & discouer any enimy that may aproch nere such towne &


at night to repaire vnto such corps du gaurd, as are appointed to them
for the security of the s d place, and there to keep watch by night ;
& furthermore you are to declare vnto the Inhabitants of each Towne
(you are herby orclerd to garrison) that the Gouerno r & council do
expect their bee meet prouisions of victual made for the garrison sol-
diers herby ordered, at y 1 ' charge of towne ; whch is not to bee brought
vnto the acco 1 of the publicke ; & if any town or people decline so to
Doe so you are herby ordered not to leaue any soldiers with them.

Secondly you are further ordered, to Vse your best endeuor to setle,
compose & quiet matters respecting the Indians our neighboars, par-
ticularly those that Hue at Wamesit, Nashubah, & Malborough ; y 1 } ou
endeuer to put in execution the printed order, relating to those indi-
ans & particularly y 1 you procure some english man or men to bee
with y" 1 or at least, to visit y'" once a day to be as guardians for securing
the english and indians, that neither the one or other may bee piudiced
or injured, &: the council are willing to allow such person or psons a
meet compensation for their seruice in y 1 Imploy. And concerning
the Indians at Marlborow who are ordered to reside at Hassanamesit
about twelue miles distant whether you are to order the cheefe officer
of Malborow to conuey them, &: if you can possibly procure, an
english man or two to reside with them, at Hassanamesit according as
the printed order proude but in case that can not bee obtained y"
those indians must be left at Hassanamesit with exp r se charge punck-
tualy to Obserue the printed order.

Lastly you are to endeauor either one or both of you (if it may bee)
to gaine the Indian Sachem called Wannalanset to com in againe and
Hue at wamesit quietly [and] pecabley you may promise him in the
Councills name y' if hee will returne &: his people <S: line quietly at
Wamesit hee shal susteyne no p r iudise by the english : only you are to
ppose to him y' he deliuer for a hostage to the english his sonne who
shalbe wel vsed by vs. & in case hee come in & can bee gained then
you are to impour him to informe the Pennakooke & Xatacook indians
& all other indians on the East side of Merrimack Riuer, that they may
hue quietly & peacable in y r places & shall not bee disturbed any
more by the english prouided they do not assist or ioyne with any of
or enimiy nor do any dammage or preiudice to y" english :

And hauing put in execution these instructions you are to returne
home and giue an acco' thereof to the Council.


And what euer is necessary for fulfiling these Instructions you arc
herby impowred by order of the Gouno r & Councel to do it.

past by y c Councel 8 September 1675

E R S.
[Massachusetts Archives, LXVII. 252.]

About this time the question of withdrawing a considerable
force from the garrisons seems to have been considered ; but

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenGroton during the Indian wars → online text (page 1 of 17)