Monday, July 09, 2012


During the period of the colonial New England Indian Wars, summer was the
season when raids and casualties increased on both sides. As a consequence,
I've several ancestors who died violently in the summer months. One such was
my 8x great grandfather John Ames of Groton, Ma. John was no stranger to
deaths caused by the wars: his wife was Priscilla Kimball whose father
been killed when she was a child and who had been taken captive . So John
probably took precautions but it didn't save him. The incident was described by
the historian Samuel Abbott Green in his book "Groton in the Indian Wars".(He
quotes several sources which excerpts I've boldfaced since Green omits
the quotations marks for some of them):.

"It was on Thursday, July 9, 1724, that John Ames was shot by an Indian, one of
a small party that attacked his garrison in the northwesterly part of the town.
Ames lived on the north side of the Nashua River, a short distance below the
Hollingsworth paper-mills. He is said to be the last person killed by an Indian
within the township. The Indian himself was immediately afterward shot by
Jacob Ames, one of John's sons. "The Boston Gazette," July 13, 1724, thus refers
to the event: —

A Man was kill'd last Week at Groton, by the Indians, and 't is suppos'd one 

Indian was kill'd by one of our Men in the Garrison; the Indians left their 
Packs, 5 in number, which were taken and secur'd by the English.

In the Gazette of July 27, it is said that " An Indian Scalp was brought to Town 

last Week from Groton."

"The New England Courant," July 13, 1724, reports that "Last week the Indians
kill'd a Man at Groton, and had one of their own Men very much wounded."
The same newspaper, in its issue of July 27, says that "The Scalp of an Indian
lately kill'd at Groton is brought to Town."

"The Boston News Letter," July 16, 1724, gives the following version: —

From Groton we are inform'd, That 5 Indians came into that Place, and kill'd
one Man, upon which one of our Men shot out of the Garrison and kill'd an
Indian and got his Scalp in order to bring to Town, and have likewise taken
the Indian Packs.

The same paper, of July 30, says that "An Indian Scalp from Groton was brought
in here last Week."

These accounts, taken in connection with Jacob Ames's petition, found in the
printed Journal of the' House of Representatives for November 20, 1724, and
herewith given, show conclusively that they relate to the assault in which
John Ames was killed. It is equally certain that Penhallow, in his History, refers
to the same attack when he speaks of the damage done at Groton in the
summer of 1724.

A Petition of Jacob Ames, shewing that he was one of the Weekly Scouts near
the Garrisons on the Westerly part of the Town of Groton; and on the Ninth Day
of July last, when it was the Petitioners Week to be on Duty, a Number of 

Indians appeared at the Garrison of the Petitioners Father John Ames, and 
killed him at the Gate, and then rush'd violently into the Garrison to surprise 
the People there. And the Petitioner did with Courage and Resolution by 
himself defend the Garrison,  and beat off the Indians, Slew one of them and 
Scalp'd him; praying, That altho' it happened to be his Week to be on Duty, 
that this Court would take the Premises  into their wise and serious 
Consideration, and grant what other Allowance more than the Establishment 
by Law, shall to them seem meet, for his aforesaid Service.  Read, and in 
Answer to this Petition. Resolved, That over and above the Fifteen rounds 
due to the Petitioner by Law, for recovering the said Scalp, and the good
Services done this Province thereby, the Sum of Fifteen Pounds be allowed 

and Paid out of the Publick Treasury to the said Jacob Ames for his good 
Service as aforesaid.

Sent up for Concurrence.

Mr. Butler, in his History, gives the following version of this affair, which was
gathered largely from grandchildren of the Ezra Farnsworth mentioned in it. 

The account was taken down in writing more than a hundred years after the
occurrence of the event, which will explain any inaccuracies due to tradition.
Mr. Butler refers the assault to a period much later than the actual fact: —

`An Indian had been seen, for several days, lurking about the town, it was
conjectured, upon some ill design. Mr. Ames, who lived on the intervale, on 

the west side of Nashua river, now owned by John Boynton, Esq., went into
his pasture to catch his horse. Discovering the Indian, he ran for his house; 
the Indian pursued and shot him as he entered his gate. The dead body 
prevented the gate's closing, as it would otherwise have done of itself, and 
the Indian pressed in to enter the house, where Ames had a son and daughter. 
The son seized his gun, and shot at him, as he entered the gate. The ball, 
striking the latch of the door, split, and one part of it wounded the Indian, 
but not severely. As the son attempted to close the door against the enemy, 
after the shot, the Indian thrust his foot in, and prevented. The son called 
to his sister to bring his father's gun from the bedside, and at the same 
time striking the Indian's foot with the breach of his gun, compelled him 
to withdraw it, and closed the door. While the Indian was in the act of 
reloading his gun, the young man found means to shoot through a 
crevice and killed him. Two men, at work about a mile distant in a 
mill, Ezra and Benjamin Farnsworth, hearing the reports of the guns,
and suspecting the cause thereof, were soon at the place, and found 

the bodies of Ames and the Indian both weltering in their blood. This 
is the last man killed by an Indian within the bounds of Groton. 
(Pages no, 111.)'

Mr. Butler says, in his History (page 100), that "in the summer of 1723,

one man was killed at Groton." I am inclined to think that this allusion 
is to John Ames,as I can find no other authority for the statement.

(Groton During the Indian Wars
Samuel Abbott Green pp131-133).

Nearly 20 years later, on 30Jul 1743, John Ames' son, likewise named John
(who was my 7x great grandfather) was, like his father, also killed by Indians.  

There are some who say it was he, not his father, who was the last man killed
by Indians in Groton.

1 comment:

MHD said...

Of course, another great post, Bill! Thank you for sharing. May I ask how you access these specific old newspapers?