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Judging Hannah Duston | Woman Scalped Captors

Judging Hannah Duston | Woman Scalped Captors
1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (89% score)

Thomas, Hannah’s husband, is out in the fields. He’s looking them over, seeing where the water collects, thinking where he might ditch the meadow. He has his gun with him, the long rifle, as it is known. Last summer, in Haverhill, four were killed while in their field, picking beans. But what can he do? It’s terrible living inside the garrisons; it’s crowded and boring. Their land, their house need them. If Thomas keeps his wits about him, and if the Lord wills it, he and his family will make it through this difficult time.If the Lord wills it. Do Thomas and Hannah truly believe that? They must. They are constantly encouraged to examine all incidents in the light of how they illustrate God’s plan. A priest may be an agent of Satan, smallpox the instrument of God.

But they must be motivated by deeper, more primitive instincts as well. They are human, and they want to live. They like to eat, laugh, drink beer, smoke tobacco, have sex. They are willing to fight. When they examine their hearts, they may secretly accept their small daily lapses, their lusty appetites.

Let us meet some other instruments of God, hidden at the edge of the clearing where Thomas is staring at the sky. They have feathers in their scalp locks and their faces are painted red. They are carrying tomahawks and flintlocks.

Thomas catches a movement out of the corner of his eye. Ten Indians step from behind the trees. They level their guns at him and a series of shots break the morning stillness. Thomas leaps on his shying horse and gallops toward the house, screaming as he rides. “Indians! Run to the Marsh garrison! Now! Lord save us!”

The children drop their sticks and stones, their rag dolls, and do as bid, grabbing the young ones up. But the garrison is a mile away, the Indians are already near. Their chances of making it are slim.

Thomas rushes into the house. Hannah is getting out of bed. Mary grabs the infant and runs out the door.

“Indians,” Thomas says.

“Run,” Hannah tells him. “Save the children.”

“But,” he says.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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3 Responses to Judging Hannah Duston | Woman Scalped Captors

  1. Christian Whitton April 9, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    I am a volunteer at the Buttonwoods Museum (Haverhill Historical Society). I’m currently renovating the Hannah Duston exhibit. I’ve done a lot of extensive research on the saga of Hannah Duston, and your story is the best I’ve read. It paints such a detailed and rich picture in my mind, that no other narrative has been able to do. Hopefully you’ll come back to our once great city and see that there is a small group of us that still care about her story, and the plight of our ancestors. Thank you.

  2. Andrea Neahusan June 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    I am so thrilled to find your poignant account of Hannah Duston! Thank you!

    Hannah was my maternal great, great, great, . . . great grandmother. I’ve always admired her courage, her strength, and her fortitude to overcome the odds. My brother was named Dustin because of that family line. I have four daughters of my own. One of them we gave the middle name of Hannah, after our ancestor, and it fits. Over the years I have occasionally told my girls the story of Hannah. I’ve always wanted my daughters to grow-up knowing they can BE anything and DO anything they want in life. They can surpass any and all barriers and obstacles that life may throw at them. With the Lord’s help, and with their own inner strength, they can overcome and thrive no matter what. Just like Hannah.

    I hope I too can visit Haverhill someday and have my own cathartic moment of nostalgia.

  3. Linda Carpenter July 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    What a wonderful telling of the story of Hannah Duston. I, too, am descended from her, but the specifics of the genealogy remain with my mother who died in 1993.

    I visited the town of Haverhill in 1987, & the Historical Society & the statue. I don’t recall the area being as run down as described by the author. I walked through the little museum at the Society, but I don’t recall a guide being there, although there must’ve been someone there to keep it open & looked after. I remember visiting a nearby farm that was owned & operated by a cousin in my father’s father’s generation (born around the turn of the 19th-20th century – 1895 or thereabouts). He was elderly at the time, but he & his wife were keeping up with the work & the farm appeared well-run. There was a cemetery I also visited with tombstones of other ancestors of mine who had lived in the area.

    I ran across this magazine story on a lark. I was cleaning out a drawer & found a notebook I had stashed away around 2002. In the notebook was a list of accounts of Hannah Duston’s story which I had intended to find & read. Sybil Smith’s account is on that list, along with Notable American Women, A Weekend on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers, & Cotton Mather’s account. That’s as far as I had gotten. Glad I reconnected with this, & that Smith’s account has been posted online to read.

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