Sunday, June 21, 2009


Some four years after the last documented evidence I have of Stephen Greenleaf Jr.'s
military presence in Maine, he was involved in Massachusetts and much closer to

Although many of the defeated Indian warriors of the King Philip's War had moved
north into Maine and Canada, there were still occasional raids back into Massachusetts.
It was during one of them that Captain Greenleaf received a serious wound. I found
the sequence of events at Googlebooks in "A Sketch of the History of Newbury,
and West Newbury":


October 7th. On the afternoon of this day, five Indians attacked and plundered the house of
John Brown, who lived on the westerly side of Turkey hill, and captivated nine persons;
only of the family escaped to tell the tale. On the same day, colonel Daniel Pierce sent
following letter to colonel Appleton and colonel Wade, of Ipswich.

' Sir, this afternoon there came the enemy to a house in our town and went in and took and
carried away nine persons and plundered the house, and as near as we can gather, they
went southwestwardly between Boxford and Bradford. We can not gather that there
were above five
of the enemy, but night came on So that we could not pursue them, but
we have lined Merrimac
river with about fourscore men to watch lest they should carry
the captives over the river, and
do design in the morning to pursue them and range the
woods with all the force we can make,
and think it advisable that you range the woods towards Andover, and that Rowley towards Bradford, for if they escape us it will be an encouragement to them. Sir, I do think the case requires our utmost industry who am
your friend and servant,

D. Pierce.
October 7th, 1695.'

To this letter was appended the following.
' Colonel Gedney,
Honored sir, it is thought advisable on the consideration abovesaid yt it may be beneficial
the several companies in the several townes to range ye woods with all possible speed towards Bradford and Andover and so towards Merrimack river, so that if it might be ye enemy may be found and destroyed, which spoyle our people.
Ipswich, October eighth, at five in the morning.
Your servant,
Samuel Appleton.'

Three hours after this, colonel Thomas Wade thus writes from Ipswich.

'Honored sir,
Just now captain Wicom brings information that the last night captain Greenleaf with a
of men met with the enemy by the river side, have redeemed all the captives but one, which they doubt is killed. Three of the Indians got into a canoe and made escape, and the other two ran into the woods. Captain Greenleaf is wounded in the side and arm, how
much we
know not, which is all at present from your servant,
Thomas Wade.'

Judge Sewall, in his journal, says, ' all the captives were brought back, save one boy,
was killed. The Indians knocked the rest on the head, save one infant.'

Reverend John Pike, in his journal, states, that' the captives were all retaken but some
of their wounds.'

On the fifth of March, 1696, captain Greenleaf addressed the following petition to the

' The petition of captain Stephen Greenleaf of Newbury, ' Humbly sheweth,
' That upon the seventh of October last about three o'clock in the afternoon a party of
surprised a family at Turkey hill in said town captivated nine persons, women and children, rifled the house, carrying away bedding and other goods. Only one person
escaped and gave notice
to the next family and they, the town. Upon the alarm your
petitioner with a party of men pursued
after the enemy, endeavouring to line the river Merrimack to prevent their passage, by which means the captives were recovered and brought back.

' The enemy lay in a gully hard by the highway and about nine at night made a shot at
petitioner and shot him through the wrist between the bones, and also made a large wound in his side, which wounds have been very painful and costly to your petitioner in
the cure of them and
have in a great measure utterly taken away the use of his left hand
and wholly taken him off from
his employment this winter.

' Your petitioner therefore humbly prays this honored court that they would make him
compensation as shall seem fit, which he shall thankfully acknowledge and doubts
not but will be
an encouragement to others speedily to relieve their neighbours when assaulted by so barbarous an enemy, And your petitioner shall ever pray,
Stephen Greenleaf.

'March 6th. Read and voted that there be paid out of the province treasury to the
petitioner the
sum of forty pounds.'

From one of John Brown's descendants, William G. White, I learn the following particulars
as a
family tradition. The Indians had secreted themselves for some time near the house, waiting for the absence of the male members of the family, who, about three o'clock,
departed with a load
of turnips. The Indians then rushed from their concealment, tomahawked a girl, who was standing at the front door. Another girl, who had concealed herself as long as the Indians remained, immediately after their departure gave the alarm, which resulted as before related. The coat, which captain Greenleaf wore in his pursuit of
the Indians, is still preserved by his descendants, together
with the bullet, which was extracted from his wound. This, I believe, is the only instance, in which the Indians either attacked, captivated, or killed, any of the inhabitants of Newbury."

Joshua Coffin and Joseph Barlett. "A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport and
West Newbury" Samuel Drake, Publisher, Boston, Ma. 1845 (pp161-163)

From the description of the incident and the fact that there was only one bullet recovered,
I'm guessing that Greenleaf was shot through the left wrist and the bullet continued on into
his side. Maybe it was the hand holding his horse's reins, if he was mounted?

Despite his wounds, Stephen Greenleaf Jr went on to a successful career as a merchant and
shipbuilder, and among his many descendants are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John
Greenleaf Whittier.

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