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Sunday, October 05, 2008

THE PURSUIT OF DAVID ROBBINS PT 1

One morning in February 1828, Abner Hinds, a resident of Milan, NH., set
out with his 15 year old son Benjamin for the Kennebago River region to hunt
and set out trap lines, expecting to return home in the spring. But they never
returned home, and eventually their family became convinced something was
wrong, because the last time the two had been seen alive they were in the
company of a man named David Robbins.

David Robbins seems to have been the prototype for those "mountain men"
who were starting to populate the American West. He is believed to have
been the first white man to settle in the Magalloway River area of Maine and
New Hampshire, and he seems to have lived by his own rules outside the laws
of "civilization". He was already suspected to have kidnapped a young white
boy named James Wilbur, but no body was ever found so Robbins was never
formally charged with the crime. And he already had a history of violent
confrontation with Abner Hinds. Just the year before the two men had been
trapping in the same area and apparently Robbins had tricked Hinds and his partner
Seth Cloutman to set up camp with him. Then later while they two men were away,
Robbins had burned the camp and stolen their furs to sell as his own, probably
thinking Hinds and Cloutman would die from the snow and cold. But Hinds was
as good a woodsman as Robbins and not only survived but managed to track
Robbins down, confront him, and then forced Robbins to pay back what money
he'd made from the stolen furs.

When it was learned that now Hinds and his son had gone off with Robbins to
hunt once more it seemed strange given their past history. But apparently Robbins
had sworn he'd found religion and was a changed man and wanted to prove it by
further making up for what he had done to Hinds the year before. Perhaps Hinds
had felt confident he'd put the fear of God into him or that he could handle
Robbins again if he needed to do it. Whichever the case, Abner Hinds and his
son went off with David Robbins for what was supposed to be a trip of three to
four weeks. Robbins returned a week later by himself, and the Hinds men were
never seen again. A search party made up of neighbors set out, but the only
evidence they could find were some items that belonged to Abner and his son
that Robbins had sold to some of the other hunters in the Magalloway area.


Still, there was enough outrage from the Hinds family and their neighbors in Milan
to cause a warrant to be issued for Robbins' arrest. Deputy Sheriff Lewis Loomis
was ordered to carry it out, but when several townsfolk volunteered to go with him,
he took only one man from Milan, Daniel Ellingwood, the younger brother of my
3x great grandfather John Ellingwood, Jr.

Together the two men set off in pursuit of David Robbins.


(This series of posts is based on information from William Lapham's
"History of Bethel, Maine" and can be viewed here at the Oxford Triangle
website.)

2 comments:

Miriam said...

Hmmm...wonder if David was any relation to my 4th-great-grandfather, Uzza Robbins.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Okay, wonder why the Sheriff only took one local man with him to hunt for Robbins? On to the next installment....