Monday, April 16, 2018
The Gruesome Story of Hannah Duston, Whose Slaying of Indians Made Her an American Folk "Hero" | History | Smithsonian
Such was the context in which one group, most of whom were likely Abenaki, attacked the town of Haverhill on March 15, 1697—and encountered 40-year-old Hannah Duston at home with her neighbor Mary Neff. The Indians captured the women, along with some of their neighbors, and started on foot toward Canada. Duston had given birth about a week before. The captors are said to have killed her child early in the journey.
The group traveled for about two weeks, and then left Duston and Neff with a Native American family—two men, three women, and seven children—and another English captive, a boy who had been abducted a year and a half earlier from Worcester, Massachusetts. 14-year-old Samuel Leonardson may have been adopted by the family; he certainly had their trust. At Duston’s request, he asked one of the men the proper way to kill someone with a tomahawk, and was promptly shown how.
One night when the Indian family was sleeping, Duston, Neff, and Leonardson—who were not guarded or locked up—armed themselves with tomahawks and killed and scalped 10 of the Indians, including six children. They wounded an older woman, who escaped. A small boy managed to run away. Duston and her fellow captives then left in a canoe, taking themselves and the scalps down the Merrimack River to Massachusetts, where they presented them to the General Assembly of Massachusetts and received a reward of 50 pounds.
Hmm. Sounds like that statue had to come down, by golly. Even if she was a woman. Killing children! OTOH the Native Americans had just killed her child. Bound to make one irritable. Probably best just not to think about it.