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1/99 Mrs. Sarah Sentney Dies at Owensburg - 1933 (handwritten notes)

Mrs. Sarah E. Sentney, seventy-four, one of the oldest residents of Owensburg, died Friday morning at her home in Owensburg. Mrs. Sentney fell Monday, October 16, while at the home of a neighbor and fractured her leg near the hip.

She had been a resident of Owensburg for more than thirty years. She was born at Campbellsburg. She was first married to William Smith of Salem, and he and a child, Walter G. Smith, preceded her in death. Later show as married to John Sentney, who died thirty years ago.

Survivors are four sisters, Mrs. Olivia Wells of Indianapolis; Mrs. Mary Patterson, Norwood, Ohio; Mrs. John Bundy and Mrs. Elmer Driscoll both of Bedford, and three brothers, E. M. Green of Bedford, James E. Green and Ernest Green of Louisville. A granddaughter, Gwnedolyn Smith of Owensburg also survives.

Funeral services were conducted Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock, in the Owensburg M. E. Church. Interment in the Owensburg cemetery, Rev. T. M. Waggoner officiating. (Handwritten note - buried October 29, 1933.

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From "Historical Collections, Being a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, &c., Relating to the History and Antiquities of Every Town in Massachusetts, with Geographical Descriptions" by John Warner Barber, published 1839 by Dorr, Howland & Co.

On the 15th of March, 1697, a body of Indians made a descent on the westerly part of the town, and approached the house of Mr. Thomas Dustin. They came, as they were wont, arrayed with all the terrors of a savage war dress, with their muskets charged for the contest, their tomahawks drawn for the slaughter, and their scalping knives unsheathed and glittering in the sunbeams. Mr. Dustin at this time was engaged abroad in his daily labor. When the terrific shouts of the blood-hounds first fell on his ear, he seized his gun, mounted his horse, and hastened to his house, with the hope of escorting to a place of safety his family, which consisted of his wife, whom he tenderly and passionately loved, and who
had been confined only seven days in childbed, her nurse, Mrs. Mary Neff, and eight young children. Immediately upon his arrival, he rushed into his house, and found it a scene of confusion - the women trembling for their safety, and the children weeping and calling on their mother for protection. He instantly ordered seven of his children to fly in an opposite direction from that in which the danger was approaching, and went himself to assist his wife. But he was too late - before she could arise from her bed, the enemy were upon them.

Mr. Dustin, seeing there was no hope of saving his wife from the clutches of the foe, flew from the house, mounted his horse, and rode full speed after his flying children. The agonized father supposed it impossible to save them all, and he determined to snatch from death the child which shared the most of his affections. He soon came up with the infant brood; he heard their glad voices and saw the cheerful looks that overspread their countenances, for they felt themselves safe while under his protection. He looked for the child of his love - where was it? He scanned the little group from the oldest to the youngest, but he could not find it. They all fondly loved him - they called him by the endearing title of father, were flesh of his flesh, and stretched out their little arms toward him for protection. He gazed upon them, and faltered in his resolution, for there was none whom he could leave behind; and, indeed,
what parent could, in such a situation, select the child which shared the most of his affections? He could not do it, and therefore resolved to defend them from the murderers, or die at their side.

A small party of the Indians pursued Mr. Dustin as he fled from the house, and soon overtook him and his flying children. They did not, however, approach very near, for they saw his determination, and feared the vengeance of a father, but skulked behind the trees and fences, and fired upon him and his little company. Mr. Dustin dismounted from his horse, placed himself in the rear of his children, and returned the fire of the enemy often and with good success. In this manner he retreated for more than a mile, alternately encouraging his terrified charge, and loading and firing his gun, until he lodged them safely in a forsaken house. The Indians, finding that they could not conquer him, returned to their companions, expecting, no doubt, that they should there find victims, on which they might exercise their savage cruelty.

The party which entered the house when Mr. Dustin left it, found Mrs. Dustin in bed, and the nurse attempting to fly with the infant in her arms. They ordered Mrs. Dustin to rise instantly, while one of them took the infant from the arms of the nurse, carried it out, and dashed out its brains against an apple-tree. After plundering the house they set it on fire, and commenced their retreat, though Mrs. Dustin had but partly dressed herself, and was without a shoe on one of her feet. Mercy was a stranger to the breasts of the conquerors, and the unhappy women expected to receive no kindnesses from their hands. The weather at the time was exceedingly cold, the the March-wind blew keen and piercing, and the earth was alternately covered with snow and deep mud.

They travelled twelve miles the first day, and continued their retreat, day by day, following a circuitous route, until they reached the home of the Indian who claimed them as his property, which was on a small island, now called Dustin's Island, at the mouth of the Contoocook river, about six miles above the state-house in Concord, New Hampshire. Notwithstanding their intense suffering for the death of the child - their anxiety for those whom they had left behind, and who they expected had been cruelly butchered - their sufferings from cold and hunger, and from sleeping on the damp earth, with nothing but an inclement sky for a covering - and their terror for themselves, lest the arm that, as they supposed, had slaughtered those whom they dearly loved, would soon be made red with their blood, - notwithstanding all this, they performed the journey without yielding, and arrived at their destination in comparative health.

The family of their Indian master consisted of two men, three women, and seven children; besides an English boy, named Samuel Lennardson, who was taken prisoner about a year previous, at Worcester. Their master, some years before, had lived in the family of Rev. Mr. Rowlandson, of Lancaster, and he told Mrs. Dustin that "when he prayed the English way he thought it was good, but now he found the French way better."

These unfortunate women had been but a few days with the Indians, when they were informed that they must soon start for a distant Indian settlement, and that, upon their arrival, they would be obliged to
conform to the regulations always required of prisoners, whenever they entered the village, which was to be stripped, scourged, and run the gauntlet in a state of nudity. The gauntlet consisted of two files of
Indians, of both sexes and of all ages, containing all that could be mustered in the village; and the unhappy prisoners were obliged to run between them, when they were scoffed at and beaten by each one as they passed, and were sometimes marks at which the younger Indians threw their hatchets. This cruel custom was often practised by many of the tribes, and not unfrequently the poor prisoner sunk beneath it. Soon as the two women were informed of this, they determined to escape as speedily as
possible. They could not bear to be exposed to the scoffs and unrestrained gaze of their savage conquerors - death would be preferable. Mrs. Dustin soon planned a mode of escape, appointed the 31st inst. for its accomplishment, and prevailed upon her nurse and the boy to join her. The Indians kept no watch, for the boy had lived with them so long they considered him as one of their children, and they did not expect that the women, unadvised and unaided, would attempt to escape, when success, at
the best, appeared so desperate.

On the day previous to the 31st, Mrs. Dustin wished to learn on what part of the body the Indians struck their victims when they would despatch them suddenly, and how they took off a scalp. With this view she instructed the boy to make inquiries of one of the men. Accordingly, at a convenient opportunity, he asked one of them where he would strike a man if he would kill him instantly, and how to take off a scalp. The man laid his finger on his temple - "Strike 'em there," said he; and then instructed him how to scalp. The boy then communicated his information to Mrs. Dustin.

The night at length arrived, and the whole family retired to rest, little suspecting that the most of them would never behold another sun. Long before the break of day, Mrs. Dustin arose, and, having ascertained that they were all in a deep sleep, awoke her nurse and the boy, when they armed themselves with tomahawks, and despatched ten of the twelve. A favorite boy they designedly left; and one of the squaws, whom they left for dead, jumped up, and ran with him into the woods. Mrs. Dustin killed her master, and Samuel Lennardson despatched the very Indian who told him where to strike, and how to take off a scalp. The deed was accomplished before the day began to break, and, after securing what little provision the wigwam of their dead master afforded, they scuttled all the boats but one, to prevent pursuit, and with that started for their homes. Mrs. Dustin took with her a gun that belonged to her master, and the tomahawk with which she committed the tragical deed. They had not proceeded far,
however, when Mrs. Dustin perceived that they had neglected to take their scalps, and feared that her neighbors, if they ever arrived at their homes, would not credit their story, and would ask them for some token or proof. She told her fears to her companions, and they immediately returned to the silent wigwam, took off the scalps of the fallen, and put them into a bag. They then started on their journey anew, with the gun, tomahawk, and the bleeding trophies, - palpable witnesses of their heroic and unparalleled deed.

A long and weary journey was before them, but they commenced it with cheerful hearts, each alternately rowing and steering their little bark. Though they had escaped from the clutches of their unfeeling master, still they were surrounded with dangers. They were thinly clad, the sky was still inclement, and they were liable to be re-captured by strolling bands of Indians, or by those who would undoubtedly pursue them so soon as the squaw and the boy had reported their departure, and the terrible vengeance they had taken; and were they again made prisoners, they well knew that a speedy death would follow. This array of danger, however, did not appall them for home was their beacon-light, and the thoughts of
their firesides nerved their hearts. They continued to drop silently down the river, keeping a good lookout for strolling Indians; and in the night two of them only slept, while the third managed the boat. In this manner they pursued their journey, until they arrived safely, with their trophies, at their homes, totally unexpected by their mourning friends, who supposed that they had been butchered by their ruthless conquerors. It must truly have been an affecting meeting for Mrs. Dustin, who likewise supposed that all she loved, - all she held dear on earth - was laid in the silent tomb.

After recovering from the fatigue of the journey, they started for Boston, where they arrived on the 21st of April. They carried with them the gun and tomahawk, and their ten scalps - those witnesses that would
not lie; and while there, the general court gave them fifty pounds, as a reward for their heroism. The report of their daring deed soon spread into every part of the country, and when Colonel Nicholson, governor of Maryland, heard of it, he sent them a very valuable present, and many presents were also made to them by their neighbors.
************************************************
The Story of Hannah Duston
Published by the Duston-Dustin Family Association, H. D. Kilgore Historian Haverhill Tercentenary - June, 1940

On March 14, 1697, Thomas and Hannah Duston lived in a house on the west side of the Sawmill River in the town of Haverhill. This house was located near the great Duston Boulder and on the opposite side of Monument Street.

Their twenty years of married life had brought them material prosperity, and of the twelve children who had been born to them during this period, eight were living. Thomas, who was quite a remarkable man, - a bricklayer and farmer, who, according to tradition, even wrote his own almanacs, and wrote them on rainy days, - was beginning to have time to devote to town affairs, and had just completed a term as Constable for the "west end" of the town of Haverhill.

He was at this time engaged in the construction with bricks from his own brickyard of a new brick house about a half mile to the northwest of his home to provide for the needs of his still growing family, for Baby Martha had just made her appearance on March 9.

Under the care of Mrs. Mary Neff, both mother and child were doing well, the rest of the family were in good health, his material affairs were prospering, and it was undoubtedly with a rather contented feeling that Thomas, to say nothing of his family, retired to rest on the eve of that fateful March 15, 1697, little knowing what horrors the morrow was to bring.

Of course, there was always the fear of Indians. However, since the capture in August of the preceding year, of Jonathan Haynes and his four children while picking peas in a field at Bradley's Mills, near
Haverhill, nothing had happened, and apprehensions of any further attacks were gradually being lulled. Besides, less than a mile on Pecker's Hill, was the garrison of Onesiphorus Marsh, one of six established by the town containing a small body of soldiers. It was believed that there was little ground for uneasiness.

But this was only a false security. Count Frontenac, the Colonial Governor of Canada, was using every means at his disposal to incite the Indians against the English as part of his campaign to win the New World for the French King. The latter, due to the need for troops in Europe, where the war known as King William's War was going on, was unable to send many to help Frontenac. So, with propaganda and gifts, the French Governor had allied the tribes to the French cause and bounties had been set on English scalps and prisoners. Every roving band of Indians was determined to get its share of these, and even now, such a band was in the woods near Haverhill, preparing for a lightning raid on the town with
the first light of dawn. The squaws and children were left in the forest to guard their possessions, while the savage warriors moved stealthily towards the house of Thomas and Hannah Duston, the first attacked.

Thomas, like all good farmers, had risen and was at work near the house, attending to the morning chores, when he suddenly spied the approaching Indians. Instantly seizing his gun, he mounted his horse and raced for the house, shouting a warning which started the children toward the garrison, while he dashed into the house hoping to save his wife and baby. Quickly realizing that this was impossible, and urged by Hannah, he rode after the children, resolving to escape with at least one.

On overtaking them, and finding it impossible to choose between them, he determined, if possible, to save them all. A few of the Indians had pursued the little band of fugitives, firing at them from behind trees and boulders, but Thomas, dismounting, and guarding the rear from behind his horse, held back the savages by threatening to shoot whenever one of them exposed himself. Had he discharged his gun, they would have closed on him at once, for reloading took considerable time. He was successful
in his attempt, and all reached the garrison safely, the older children hurrying the younger along, probably carrying them at times. This was probably the garrison of Onesiphorus Marsh on Pecker's Hill.

Meanwhile, a fearful scene was being enacted in the home. Mrs. Neff, trying to escape with the baby, was easily captured. Invading the house, the savages forced Hannah to rise and dress herself. Sitting despairingly in the chimney, she watched them rifle the house of all they could carry away, and was then dragged outside while they fired the house, in her haste forgetting one shoe. A few of the Indians then dragged Hannah and Mrs. Neff, who carried the baby, towards the woods, while the rest of the
band, rejoined by those who had been in the village, killing twenty-seven and capturing thirteen of the inhabitants.

Finding that carrying the baby was making it hard for Mrs. Neff to keep up, one of the Indians seized from her, and before its mother's horrified eyes dashed out its brains against an apple tree. The Indians, forcing the two women to their utmost pace, at last reached the woods and joined the squaws and children who had been left behind the night before. Here they were soon after joined by the rest of the redskins with their plunder and other captives.

Fearing a prompt pursuit, the Indians immediately set out for Canada with their booty. Some of the weaker captives were callously knocked on the head and scalped, but in spite of her condition, poorly clad, and partly shod, Hannah, doubtless assisted by Mrs. Neff, managed to keep up, and by her own account marched that day "about a dozen miles", truly a remarkable feat. During the next few days they traveled about a hundred miles through the unbroken wilderness, over rough trails, in places still
covered with the winter's snow, sometimes deep with mud, and across icy brooks, while rocks tore their have shod feet and their poorly clad bodies suffered from the cold - a terrible journey.

Near the junction of the Contoocook and Merrimac rivers, twelve of the Indians, two men, three women, and seven children, taking with them Hannah, Mrs. Neff and a boy of fourteen years, Samuel Lennardson (who had been taken prisoner near Worcester about eighteen months before), left the main party and proceeded toward what is now Dustin Island, situated where the two rivers unite, near the present town of Penacook, N.H. This island was the home of the Indian who claimed the women as his captives, and here it was planned to rest for a while before continuing on the long journey to Canada.

This Indian family, strange as it may seem, had been converted by the French priests at some time in the past, and was accustomed to have prayers three times a day - in the morning, at noon, and at evening - and ordinarily would not let their children eat or sleep without first saying their prayers. Hannah's master, who had lived in the family of Rev. Mr. Rowlandson of Lancaster some years before, told her that "when he prayed the English way he thought that it was good, but now he found the French way better." They tried however, to prevent the two women from praying, but without success, for as they were engaged on the tasks set by their master, they often found opportunities. Their Indian master would
sometimes say to them when he saw them dejected. "What need you trouble yourself? If your God will have you delivered, you shall be so "

During the long journey Hannah was secretly planning to escape at the first opportunity, spurred on by the tales with which the Indians had entertained the captives on the march, picturing how they would be
treated after arriving in Canada, stripped and made to "run the gauntlet;" jeered at and beaten and made targets for the young Indians' tomahawks; how many of the English prisoners had fainted under these
tortures; and how they were often sold as slaves to the French. These stories, added to her desire for revenging the death of her baby and the cruel treatment of their captors while on the march, made this desire stronger. When she learned where they were going, a plan took definite shape in her mind, and was secretly communicated to Mrs. Neff and Samuel Lennardson.

Samuel, who was growing tired of living with the Indians, and in whom a longing for home had been stirred by the presence of the two women, the next day casually asked his master, Bampico, how he had killed the English. "Strike 'em dere," said Bampico, touching his temple, and then proceeded to show the boy how to take a scalp. This information was communicated to the women, and they quickly agreed on the details of the plan. They arrived at the island some time before March 30, 1697.

After reaching the island, the Indians grew careless. The river was in flood. Samuel was considered one of the family, and the two women were considered too worn out to attempt escape, so no watch was set that night and the Indians slept soundly. Hannah had decided that the time had come.

Shortly after midnight she woke Mrs. Neff and Samuel. Each, armed with a tomahawk, crept silently to a position near the heads of the the sleeping Indians - Samuel near Bampico and Hannah near her master. At a signal for Hannah the tomahawks fell, and so swiftly and surely did they perform their work of destruction that ten of the twelve Indians were killed outright, only two - a severely wounded squaw and a boy whom they had intended to take captive - escaping into the woods. According to a deposition of Hannah Bradley in 1739 (History of Haverhill, Chase pp.308-309), "above penny cook the Deponent was forced to travel farther than the rest of the captives, and the next night but one there came to
us one Squaw who said that Hannah Dustan and the aforesaid Mary Neff assisted in killing the Indians of her wigwam except herself and a boy, herself escaping very narrowly, shewing to myself & others seven wounds as she said with a Hatched on her head which wounds were given her when the rest were killed."

Hastily piling food and weapons into a canoe, including the gun of Hannah's late master and the tomahawk with which she had killed him, they scuttled the rest of the canoes and set out down the Merrimac River. Suddenly realizing that without proof their story would seem incredible, Hannah ordered a return to the island, where they scalped their victims, wrapping the trophies in cloth which had been cut from Hannah's loom at the time of the capture, and again set out down the river each taking a
turn at guiding the frail craft while the others slept.

Thus, traveling by night and hiding by day, they finally reached the home of John Lovewell in old Dunstable, now a part of Nashua, N.H. Here they spent the night, and a monument was erected here in 1902, commemorating the event. The following morning the journey was resumed and the weary voyagers at last beached their canoe at Bradley's Cove, where Creek Brook flows into the Merrimac. Continuing their journey on foot, they at last reached Haverhill in safety. Their reunion with loved ones who had given them up for lost can better be imagined than described. Doubtless Samuel was the hero of the younger generation for many days.

Thomas took his wife and the others to the new house which he had been building at the time of the massacre, and which was now completed. Here for some days they rested.

In 1694 a bounty of fifty pounds had been placed on Indian scalps, reduced to twenty-five pounds in 1695, and revoked completely on Dec. 16, 1696. Thomas Duston believed that the act of the two women and the boy had been of great value in destroying enemies of the colony, who had been murdering innocent women and children, and decided that the bounty should be claimed. So he took the two women and the boy to Boston, where they arrived with the trophies on April 21, 1697. Here he filed a petition to
the Governor and Council, which was read on June 8, 1697 in the House (Mass. Archives, Vol. 70, p. 350), setting forth the above belief and claiming the reward, pleading that "the merit of the Action remains the same" and claiming that "your Petitioner having Lost his Estate in that Calamity wherein his wife was carryed into her captivity redrs him the fitter object for what consideracon the publick Bounty shall judge proper for what hath been herein done," etc.

The same day the General Court voted payment of a bounty of twenty-five pounds "unto Thomas Dunston of Haverhill, on behalf of Hannah his wife," and twelve pounds ten shillings each to Mary Neff and Samuel. This was approved on June 16, 1697, and the order in Council for the payment of the several allowances was passed Dec. 4, 1697. (Chapter 10, Province laws, Mass. Archives.)

While in Boston Hannah told her story to Rev. Cotton Mather, whose morbid mind was stirred to its depths. He perceived her escape in the nature of a miracle, and his description of it in his "Magnalia Christi Americana" is extraordinary, though in the facts doubtless quite correct and corroborated by the evidence.
*****
In Samuel Sewall's Diary, Volume 1, pages 452 and 453, we find the following entry on May 12, 1697:

"Fourth-day, May 12 . . . . Hannah Dustan came to see us; . . . She said her master, whom she kill'd did formerly live with Mr. Roulandson at Lancaster: He told her, that when he pray'd the English way, he thought that was good: but now he found the French way was better. The single man shewed the night before, to Saml Lenarson, how he used to knock Englishmen on the head and take off their Scalps; little thinking that the Captives would make some of their first experiment upon himself. Sam. Lenarson kill'd him."

This remarkable exploit of Hannah Duston, Mary Neff, and Samuel Lennardson was received with amazement throughout the colonies, and Governor Sir Francis Nicholson of Maryland, after reading Cotton Mather's account of her escape, had a silver tankard, suitably inscribed, made in London, and later presented it to Hannah Duston. Monuments have been erected on the island (1874) and in G. A. R. Park, Haverhill (1861), commemorating the exploit, and an enormous boulder marks the site of the
house on Monument Street, Haverhill, where she died.

The first monument, commemorating the fame of a woman, to be erected in the United States was one to Hannah Duston on June 1, 1861, in Haverhill.

Samuel Lennardson, on his return to Worcester, found that his father had removed to Preston, Conn., and there he grew to manhood, married Lydia -----, and died May 11, 1718, leaving three sons and two daughters.

Little is known of Hannah's life or that of Mary Neff after this event.

And now, let us return to Thomas Duston after his escape with the children. The fear induced by the massacre caused Haverhill to at once establish several new harrison houses. One of these was the brick house which Thomas was building for his family at the time of the massacre. This was ordered completed, and though the clay pits were not far from the home, a guard of soldiers was placed over those who brought clay to the house. The order establishing Thomas Duston's house as a garrison was
dated April 5, 1697. He was appointed master of the garrison and assigned Josiah Heath, Sen., Josiah Heath Jun., Josep Bradley, John Heath, Joseph Kingsbury, and Thomas Kingsbury as a guard.

It was about this time that Hannah returned home. After the return from Boston, Thomas remembered that while constable the preceding year he had advanced the sum of ten pounds, fourteen shillings, and eight pence to Col. Nathaniel Saltonstall for money due several men as soldiers under the latter for service in 1695, and received an order from the Province Treasurer as security, which order was destroyed in the fire. As his request, Colonel Saltonstall wrote to the Province Treasurer on May 31,
1697, acknowledging receipt of the money in return for the order which was burned in Thomas's house the preceding March, and the order for payment of this sum to Thomas Duston was approved by the Council on Jone 4, 1697. (Mass. Archives.)

The details of an adventure of such an extraordinary character as that just described soon became public property, but little is known of Hannah's life after she settled down again to her accustomed round of household duties on her return home.

In fact, except for the record of the birth of her thirteenth child, Lydia, on October 4 1698, and the knowledge that she died early in 1736, -her will being proven in Ipswich on March 10 of that year and recorded in Salem Registry of Essex Probate, -nothing further was known until 1929, some two hundred and thirty-two years after her escape from captivity.
*****
From Cheney History------

But in March, 1929, behind an old gallery pew in the Haverhill Center Congregational Church, the sexton, Marchus C. Jean, found several papers over two hundred years old. Among these was a letter from Hannah Duston to the elders of the church, applying for admission to the membership of the church. This letter is so unusual in character that it is presented here in full, as follows:

I Desire to be Thankful that I was born in a Land of Light & Baptized when I was Young : and had a Good Education by My Father, Tho I took but little Notice of it in the time of it :--I am Thankful for my Captivity, twas the Comfortablest time that ever I had; In my Affliction God made his Word Comfortable to me. I remembred 43d ps. ult-and those words came to my mind--ps. 118.17. ... I ave had a great Desire to come to the Ordinance of the Lords Supper a Great while but Unworthiness has kept me aback; reading a Book concerning +s Suffering Did much awaken me. In the 55th of Isa. Beg. We are invited to come:-- Hearing Mr. Moody preach out of ye 3rd of Mal. 3 last verses it put me upon Consideration. Ye 11th of Matthew has been Encouraging to me-- I have been resolving to offer me Self from time to time ever since the Settlement of the present Ministry: I was awakened by first Sacram'l Sermon (Luke 14.17) But Delays and fears prevailed upon me:-- But I desire to Delay no longer, being Sensible it is My Duty--. I desire the Church to receive me tho' it be at the Eleventh hour; & pray for me--that I may hon'r God and obtain the Salvation of my Soul. Hannah Duston wife of Thomas AEtat 67.

And so ends the story of the escape from captivity of one of America's