This follower request came from a friend of mine, Shelley Grambley.
The story of Hannah Dustin (1657 – 1736) is not for the faint of heart.
Hannah was a Puritan living in Haverhill, MA. She had nine children and her husband, Thomas was a farmer. In March of 1697, their farm (and the village) was raided by Abenaki Native Americans who had come down from Quebec. At the time, many were coming down from Canada due to King William’s War. Sidenote: it was the number of people that fled from this war and headed for Salem/Danvers that began to overcrowd the town, deplete the resources and cause enough tension to fuel the Salem Witch Trials.
So the Abenaki killed 27 colonists during that raid. Thirteen residents were taken hostage. Thomas escaped with 8 of the Dustin children, but Hannah, her 6-day-old daughter Martha, and her nurse Mary Neff were forced into captivity and dragged through the woods towards the Merrimack River.
The accounts of her captivity say that Hannah was forced to watch her captors slam her infant into a tree, killing the baby instantly. Horror show, if it’s true.
Six weeks later Hannah, along with Mary and a 14 year old prisoner from Worcester, MA (Samuel Lennardson) used tomahawks to attack the sleeping Abenakis, killing 2 men, 2 women and six children. They escaped by canoe (grabbing the scalps as proof) and eventually made their way back to Haverhill where they were rewarded.
One should take into consideration that Hannah’s story only became famous 100 years after her death, thought to be an effort to defend the slaying of Native Americans. If everything is true- I think it’s safe to say, watching your baby be murdered 9 days after giving birth would cause a psychotic break. NOT justifying her actions, just trying to understand.
She lived for another forty years. but little is known about her life after she returned home.
Oddly enough, of all the amazing women who lived in this country, Hannah is the first to get a statue. The statue still stands and depicts Hannah with her tomahawk and a fist full of scalps.
More in-depth article here: http://people.usm.maine.edu/jdustin/hannah/hannah-story.html