The Hannah Dustin Story - March 15, 1697

Hannah Dustin statue

Off track a little, the following is a story of heroism and determination of my great grandmother x8. I think it is representative of many of the females throughout the generations of my mom's side of the family.

Hannah Emerson Dustin has a monument erected in the center of Haverhill, MA commemorating the extensive ordeal she endured when she was captured by Indians on March 15, 1697.

The problem Hannah and her husband, Thomas Duston, faced when the Abnaike Indians descended on Haverhill is described by Jane James, p. 21:
"On the morning of March 15, 1697 about 20 Abinake Indians in war dress descended on the outlying homes of Haverhill. Thomas Dustin, constable of Haverhill at the time, was working outdoors and saw them approaching. He hurried to warn his family. He sent their seven children aged 17 to 2 to the nearest garrisoned house (probably Onisephorus Marsh's) telling them to run as quickly as possible. He then urged his wife Hannah to come with him on the one horse. But six days earlier Hannah had given birth to their 12th child, Martha. Although they certainly would have taken the baby with them there was a neighbor who had been nursing Hannah, Mary (Corliss) Neff, a widow, to consider. One can imagine the awful confusion of those few moments with the Indians approaching. Hannah urged Thomas to go with the children and protect them and he did. He was resolved to save at least one of the fleeing children--"the dearest one" according to [Cotton] Mather who later personally interviewed Hannah. He intended to swing that one on the horse with him and ride on. However, he could not make such a painful choice and so, dismounting and keeping the horse between the fleeing band and the two or three Indians who followed, they all arrived at the place of safety."

In the meantime back at the Dustin home, the indians killed Hannah's 1 week old daughter, Martha, and forced her and Mrs. Neff to walk for days until they arrived at an island in the middle of the Merrimack river about 6 miles north of Concord, NH. There, Mrs. Dustin met Samuel Lennardson, a young english boy who had been there about one year. They became friends and plotted to find a way of escape. They were soon informed that they were to start traveling again to a distant indian settlement, so they determined to escape before the journey. On the 31st, they got up around midnight and killed the ten Indians and escaped down the river to Hudson, NH with their scalps to prove their story and collect a bounty.

Today you can travel the distance from Haverhill to the island where Hannah escaped her captors in about an hour by car (66 miles). Leaving Haverhill on I-495 southbound from exit 50, travel to exit 40, turn north on I-93 and travel to Exit 17 which is 6 miles north of Concord, NH. Then you travel west on Route US 4 for about 1/2 mile to a Park-and-Ride parking lot beside the Merrimack River.