Tuesday, June 27, 2017


As I mentioned in an earlier post, my 8x great granduncle Joseph Abbott was the first person in Andover, Ma killed by Indians. Searching online I found two accounts by local historians of the attack.

First, from Sarah Loring Bailey's Historical Sketches of Andove, written in the highly romanticized style of the 19th century :

But, in spite of all the vigilance and precautions, the Indians surprised the town at last. This was on the 8th [or 18th, N. S.] of April, 1676. In this attack, one of the soldiers, who had passed safely through the bloody Narragansett fight in the winter, was slain within sight of his own dwelling.1 It is not impossible that the savages knew who were the men in town that had helped to murder their brethren in the swamp fight; at any rate, they, on this day, whether by accident or design, took revenge on two of these. They directed their course to the house of George Abbot, one of the garrisons. Tradition says that they were seen crossing the river, and that Ephraim Stevens, a scout, gave the alarm. The villagers fled to-the garrisons ; but the Abbot brothers were at work in the fields, and did not reach the shelter before the savages were upon them. Joseph Abbot, the soldier, a strong, athletic young man about twenty-four years of age, made a brave resistance, and killed one or more of the Indians, but was finally set upon by the whole band and cut down, — the first, and perhaps the only, Andover soldierever slain in the town. His brother Timothy, a lad of thirteen years, was taken captive. The savages then hurried off, leaving the smitten household to its desolation. That such desolation ever came to the now peaceful spot it is difficult to realize. In the calm of a summer afternoon, the writer of this sketch stood upon the ground once trodden by the hurrying feet of the fleeing citizens and red with the blood of the slain. Now the scene is tranquil, and bears no token that any deed of violence was ever done here. Broad fields stretch away, just greened after the mower's scythe; elm, ash, and maple, with the friendly apple tree, make a pleasant shade, and through their foliage the sun streaming in, tessellates the grass with a shifting carpet of light and shade. Birds nest and sing undisturbed; from distant fields come sounds of labor ; the cattle are driven into the farm-yard ; the lengthening shadows and the striking of the meeting-house clock remind of the evening hour. In vain we try to call back to this serenity the struggle, the blood, the groans of the battle, the tears and the lament for the youthful dead. May they never come again to any home of Old Andover! pp 173-174
Historical Sketches of Andover: (comprising the Present Towns of North Andover and Andover),
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, Ma.1880

And there is this by a member of the family, Charlotte Helen Abbott, in the Abbott Genealogies research papers on the Andover Memorial Hall Library website. It was written about the same time as the above excerpt but not as florid: :

April 18 1676
Timothy (2) took one of the powder horns-as he supposed- the morning that his brother went to cut elder bushes by the swamp, now Brother's Field, but it was a horn of sand, used to whet the scythes, so they had no ammunition.

When the Indians came upon them, Joseph was bound not to be taken or let Timothy go, as he knew that he would be tortured because he was among those who burned Wamesit lodges on the way back from the war. So he resisted, and was killed. Timothy was taken captive and kept with the Indians for a number of months. He was later brought back by a squaw, having suffered much from hunger.

 Early Records of the Abbott Family of Andover

The Wamesit lodges referred to were in an Indian camp the Andover militia destroyed on the way home from the Great Swamp Fight at Narragansett, R.I.

No comments: