Thursday, November 23, 2017

By Rev. Nahum Gale

   After harvest, the Pilgrims prepared to keep Thanksgiving. "That they might," as Winslow says, " after a special manner, rejoice together, after they had gathered the fruit of their labors."
   The Pilgrims had special reason for gratitude, that they had been so successful in raising their first crop of Indian corn. This was the beginning of a long and increasing series of corn harvests, over which many millions have now occasion to rejoice. Corn seems designed by Providence to hold the first rank among the rich and various productions, by which the teeming population of our land is fed.
In 1850, the crop of Indian corn in the United States amounted to " five hundred and ninety-two millions, seventy-one thousand, one hundred and four bushels." The value of this crop was not less than $300,000,000! The Old World, after so long a time, is beginning to appreciate the value of this grain. Last year " about eight millions of bushels" were exported.

As the corn began to be harvested about the first of September, old style, which would be the eleventh of the month, according to our calender, we must place this first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts earlier than the day is now appointed. It was probably kept the latter part of October, while the weather was pleasant for out-door exercise. This Thanksgiving was not for a single day, as with us, but it seems to have been kept up for nearly a week.
   Winslow, in a letter written soon after to a " loving old friend " in England, thus speaks of this harvest festival. "Our governor sent out four men on fowling. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us; among the rest, their great King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. And they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed on the governor, and upon the captain and others." As Winslow, in another place, speaks of the "abundance of wild turkeys" which are about Plymouth, we cannot doubt that they are "fowl" which the sharp-shooters brought home for this. first New England Thanksgiving dinner. No Thanksgiving, therefore, can be perfect now, if the turkey be wanting.
With turkeys and venison in abundance, with fresh cod, which Winslow says "is coarse meat with us," with lobsters, which in September could be taken, "a hogshead in a night," with clams, which they could dig from the sand, and oysters, which they could have brought by the Indians, when they wished, with corn and barley cakes, with "nokake," made from pounded parch corn, " sweet, toothsome and hearty," the Pilgrims did not want for good cheer. Perhaps the "Indian pompion," as the pumpkin was called by the early settlers, was as abundant there as it has been at Thanksgivings of a later date in the Yankee land.
For drink on this occasion, they doubtless used the spring water, which they regarded so delicious; and they may even then have learned the art of domestic brewing, in which they afterwards were so skillful. According to an old song, perhaps the very oldest that tradition has preserved of thisperiod, it seems that they very early found a good substitute for English beer.

"If barley be wanting to make into malt,
We must be contented and think it no fault;
For we can make liquor to sweeten our lips,
Of pumpkins, and parsneps, and walnut tree chips."

The Pilgrims did not enjoy their festival alone. The red man was welcome, and for three days at least, the guests from the forest wilds were twice as numerous as the people of Plymouth. Thus they, as friends and neighbors rejoiced together at their "feast of tabernacles," for this Jewish feast seems to have been the model of the first harvest festival at Plymouth.
Some sports of the more manly kind were certainly allowed. For Winslow says, "Amongst other recreations we exercised ourselves in arms." Captain Standish, no doubt, manoeuvred his company of some twenty men, with drum and trumpet, astonishing the guests. Perhaps the "ordnance" at the fort were discharged and all listened to the roar, as it died away in the distant forest.
It may be, Winslow and Hopkins, who could take down a crow at eighty paces, showed their skill in shooting at a mark, while Massasoit, in his "cotton coat," called out his best marksmen to show how deer were killed by the bow and arrow, their shrill war whoop rivaling the notes of the Pilgrim's trumpet. Perhaps the young men, Alden, Howland, Doty, and Leister, man the shallop, and taking in Priscilla and Mary, Elizabeth, Remember and Constance, sail over to Clark's Island, after dinner, and return by moonlight.
Without drawing in the least from imagination, after reading the Puritan's own record of this, their first Thanksgiving, how can our popular writers represent them, as they do in the literature of the day? Take the following, from " Twice Told Tales," as a specimen:

"Not far from Merry Mount was a settlement of Puritans, most dismal wretches, who said their prayers before daylight, and then wrought in the forest or the corn field till evening made it prayer-time again. Their weapons were always at hand to shoot down the straggling savage. When they met in conclave, it was never to keep up the old English mirth, but to hear sermons, three hours long, or to proclaim bounties on the heads of wolves and the scalps of Indians. Their festivals were fast days, and their pastime the singing of Psalms."
   Such gross misrepresentations of Puritan character need no other refutation than a candid perusal of the facts of history.
   Surely our annual Thanksgiving is rich in the memories of the past. We trace its origin to the very infancy of our Commonwealth. Let the day, therefore, never cease to be appointed by the successors of Governor Bradford. And let us provide, as did our fathers, for the poor in the " highways and hedges."
   Let the autumnal Thanksgiving be the feast day of the sons and daughters of the Pilgrims, "where'er they roam, where'er they rest." From ocean to ocean, let them hail the coming of this harvest festival with glad and grateful hearts. Let them consecrate the day to friendship, to home joys, to family reunions, to social reminiscences, to the memory of a sainted ancestry and to the praise of a covenant-keeping God.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


{Popular Science Monthly, 1882.]
BEING one of the grand army of sufferers from headache, I took, last summer, by order of my physician, three small daily doses of Indian hemp (hasheesh), in the hope of holding my intimate enemy in check. Not discovering any of the stimulative effects of the drug, even after continual increase of the dose, I grew to regard it as a very harmless and inactive medicine, and one day, when I was assured by some familiar symptoms that my perpetual dull headache was about to assume an aggravated and acute form, such as usually sent me to bed for a number of days, I took, in the desperate hope of forestalling the attack, a much larger quantity of hasheesh than had ever been prescribed. Twenty minutes later I was seized with a strange sinking or faintness, which gave my family so much alarm that they telephoned at once for the doctor, who came in thirty minutes after the summons, bringing, as he had been requested, another practitioner with him.
I had just rallied from the third faint, as I call the sinking turns, for want of a more descriptive name, and was rapidly relapsing into another, when the doctors came. One of them asked at once if I had been taking anything unusual, and a friend who had been sent for remembered that I had been experimenting with hasheesh. The physicians asked then the size and time of the last dose, but I could not answer. I heard them distinctly, but my lips were sealed. Undoubtedly my looks conveyed a desire to speak, for Dr. G ,
bending over me, asked if I had taken a much larger quantity than he ordered. I was half sitting up on the bed when he asked me that question, and, with all my energies bent upon giving him to understand that I had taken an overdose, I bowed my head, and at once became unconscious of everything except that bowing, which I kept up with ever increasing force for seven or eight hours, according to my computation of time. I felt the veins of my throat swell nearly to bursting, and the cords tighten painfully, as, impelled by an irresistible force, I nodded like a wooden mandarin in a tea-store.
In the midst of it all I left my body, and quietly from the foot of the bed watched my unhappy self nodding with frightful velocity. I glanced indignantly at the shamefully indifferent group that did not even appear to notice the frantic motions, and resumed my place in my living temple of flesh in time to recover sufficiently to observe one doctor lift his finger from my wrist, where he had laid it to count the pulsations just as I lapsed into unconsciousness, and say to the other: "I think she moved her head. She means us to understand that she has taken largely of the cannabis Indica." So, in the long, interminable hours I had been nodding my head off, only time enough had elapsed to count my pulse, and the violent motions of my head had in fact been barely noticeable. This exaggerated appreciation of sight, motion, and sound is, I am told, a well-known effect of hasheesh, but I was ignorant of that fact then, and, even if I had not been, probably the mental torture I underwent during the time it enchained my faculties would not have been lessened, as I seemed to have no power to reason with myself, even in the semiconscious intervals which came between the spells.

These intervals grew shorter, and in them I had no power to speak. My lips and face seemed to myself to be rigid and stony. I thought that I was dying, and, instead of the peace which I had always hoped would wait on my last moments, I was filled with a bitter, dark despair. It was not only death that I feared with a wild, unreasoning terror, but there was a fearful expectation of judgment, which must, I think, be like the torture of lost souls. I felt half sundered from the flesh, and my spiritual sufferings seemed to have begun, although I was conscious of living still.
One terrible reality—I can hardly term it a fancy even now— that came to me again and again, was so painful that it must, I fear, always be a vividly remembered agony. Like dreams, its vagaries can be accounted for by association of ideas past and passing, but the suffering was so intense and the memory of it so haunting that 1 have acquired a horror of death unknown to me before. I died, as I believed, although by a strange double consciousness I knew that I should again reanimate the body I had left. In leaving it I did not soar away, as one delights to think of the freed spirits soaring. Neither did I linger around dear, familiar scenes. I sank, an intangible, impalpable shape, through the bed, the floors, the cellar, the earth, down, down, down! As if I had been a fragment of glass dropping through the ocean, I dropped uninterruptedly through the earth and its atmosphere, and then fell on and on forever. I was perfectly composed, and speculated curiously upon the strange circumstance that even in going through the solid earth there was no displacement of material, and in my descent I gathered no momentum. I discovered that I was transparent and deprived of all power of volition, as well as bereft of the faculties belonging to humanity. But in place of my lost senses I had a marvelously keen sixth sense or power, which I can only describe as an intense superhuman consciousness that in some way embraced all the five and went immeasurably beyond them. As time went on, and my dropping through space continued, I became filled with the most profound loneliness, and a desperate fear took hold of me that I should be thus alone for evermore, and fall and fall eternally without finding rest.

"Where," I thought, "is the Saviour, who has called his own to his side? Has he forsaken me now?" And I strove in my dumb agony to cry to him. There was, it seemed to me, a forgotten text which, if remembered, would be the spell to stop my fatal falling and secure my salvation. I sought in my memory for it, I prayed to recall it, I fought for it madly, wrestling against the terrible fate which seemed to withhold it. Single words of it came to me in disconnected mockery, but erased themselves instantaneously. Mentally, I writhed in such hopeless agony that, in thinking of it, I wonder I could have borne such excess of emotion and lived. It was not the small fact of life or death that was at stake, but a soul's everlasting weal.
Suddenly it came. The thick darkness through which I was sinking became illuminated with a strange lurid light, and the air, space, atmosphere, whatever it might be called, separated and formed a w de black-sided opening, like the deadly pit which shows itself in the center of a maelstrom. Then, as I sank slowly into this chasm, from an immeasurable distance above me, yet forcibly distinct, the words I longed for were uttered in a voice of heavenly sweetness: "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life, and shall not come unto condemnation." My intense over-natural consciousness took possession of these words, which were, I knew, my seal of safety, my passport to heaven. For one wild instant a flash of ineffable joy, the joy of a ransomed soul, was mine. I triumphed over sin and hell and the unutterable horrors of the second death. Then I plunged again into the outer darkness of the damned. For the talisman which had been so suddenly revealed was, as if in mockery, as suddenly snatched from me, and, as before, obliterated from my recollection.
Then all the chaos beyond the gap into which I was falling became convulsed, as if shaken by wind and storm. Hideous sounds of souls in torment, and still more hideous peals of mocking, fiendish laughter, took the place of the hitherto oppressive silence. I was consumed by a fearful, stinging remorse for the sins done in the body. Unlike the experience of the drowning, my sins did not present themselves to my remembrance in an array of mathematical accuracy. On the contrary, not one was specifically recalled, but, if my daily walk and conversation had through life been entirely reprobate, and the worst of crimes my constant pastimes, my consequent agony of self-reproach could not have been greater. My conscience, in its condition of exaggerated self-accusation, was not only the worm that never dieth, but a viper that would sting eternally, a ravening beast that, still insatiate, would rend and gnaw everlastingly:
I began then, without having reached any goal, and for no apparent reason, to ascend with neither more nor less swiftness than I had gone down, and in the same recumbent position in which my forsaken body lay upon the bed a fathomless distance above, and which I had been all the time powerless to change. Even the dress, a thin, figured Swiss muslin, was the same, although a hundred times more diaphanous. Even in my agonies of remorse I noticed how undisturbed by my falling were its filmy folds. There was not even a flutter in the delicate lace with which it was ornamented. As I rose, a great and terrible voice, from a vast distance, pronounced my doom in these words of startling import: "In life you declared the negation of the supernatural. For truth you took a false philosophy. You denied the power of Christ in time—you shall feel it in eternity. In life, you turned from him—in death, he turns from you. Fall, fall, fall, to rise again in hopeless misery, and sink again in lonely agony forever!" All space took up the last four words of my terrible sentence, and myriads of voices, some sweet and sad, some with wicked, vindictive glee, echoed and re-echoed like a refrain, " In lonely agony forever!" Then ensued a wild and terrible commingling of unsyllabled sounds, so unearthly that it is not in the power of language to fitly describe them. It was something like a mighty Niagara of shrieks and groans, combined with the fearful din and crash of thousands of battles and the thunderous roar of a stormy sea. Over it all came again the same grandly dominant voice, sternly reiterating the four last words of doom, "In lonely agony forever!" and all the universe seemed to vibrate with them.

Silence reigned again. A strange, brassy light prevailed; rapid and fierce lightning flashed incessantly in all directions, and the shaft, like opening about me closed together. Impelled by a resistless force I still rose, although now against a crushing pressure and an active resistance which seemed to beat me back, and I fought my upward way in an agony which resembled nothing so much as the terrible moment when, from strangling or suffocation, all the forces of life struggle against death, and wrestle madly for another breath. In place of the woful sounds now reigned a deadly stillness, broken only at long but regular intervals by a loud report, as if a cannon, louder than any I ever heard on earth, were discharged at my side, almost shot into me, I might say, for the sound appeared to rend me from head to foot, and then die away into the dark chaos about me in strange, shuddering reverberations. Even in the misery of my ascending I was filled with a dread expectancy of the cruel sound. It gave me a feeling of acute physical torture, with a lingering intensity that bodily suffering could not have. It was repeated an incredible number of times, and always with the same suffering and shock to me. At last the sound came oftener, but with less force, and I seemed again nearing the shores of time. Dimly in the far distance I saw the room I had left, myself lying still and death-like upon the bed, and the friends watching me. I knew, with no pleasure in the knowledge, that I should presently reanimate the form I had left. Then, silently and invisibly, I floated into the room, and was one with myself again.
Faint and exhausted, but conscious, the seal of silence still on my lips, with all the energy I was capable of I struggled to speak, to move, to make some sign which my friends would understand; but I was as mutely powerless as if in the clutch of paralysis. I could hear every word that was spoken, but the sound seemed strangely far away. I could not open my eyes without a stupendous effort, and then only for an instant. "She is conscious now," I heard one of the doctors say, and he gently lifted the lids of my eyes and looked into them. I tried my best then to throw all the intelligence I could into them, and returned his look with one of recognition. But, even with my eyes fixed on his, I felt myself going again in spite of my craving to stay. I longed to implore the doctor to save me, to keep me from the unutterable anguish of fallinsr into the vastness and vagueness of that shadowy sea of nothingness again. I clasped my hands in wild entreaty; I was shaken by horrible convulsions—so at least, it seemed to me at the time—but, beyond a slight quivering of the fingers, no movement was discernible by the others. I was unable to account for the apathy with which my dearest friends regarded my violent movements, and could only suppose it was because my condition was so hopeless that they knew any effort to help me would be futile.

For five hours I remained in the same condition—short intervals of half-consciousness, and then long lapses into the agonizing experience I have described. Six times the door of time seemed to close on me, and I was thrust shuddering into a hopeless eternity, each time falling, as at first, into that terrible abyss wrapped in the fearful dread of the unknown. Always there were the same utter helplessness and the same harrowing desire to rest upon something, to stop, if but for an instant, to feel some support beneath; and through all the horrors of my sinking the same solemn and remorseful certainty penetrated by consciousness that, had I not in life questioned the power of Christ to save, I should have felt under me the "everlasting arms" bearing me safely to an immortality of bliss. There was no variation in my trances; always the same horror came, and each time when sensibility partially returned I fought against my fate and struggled to avert it. But I never could compel my lips to speak, and the violent paroxysms my agonizing dread threw me into were all unseen by my friends, for in reality, as I was afterward told, I made no motion except a slight muscular twitching of the fingers.
Later on, when the effect of the drug was lessening, although the spells or trances recurred, the intervals were long, and in them I seemed to regain clearer reasoning power and was able to account for some of my hallucinations. Even when my returns to consciousness were very
partial, Dr. G had made me inhale small quantities of nitrite of
amyl to maintain the action of the heart, which it was the tendency of the excess of hasheesh to diminish. Coming out of the last trance, I discovered that the measured rending report like the discharge of a cannon which attended my upward way was the throbbing of my own heart. As I sank I was probably too unconscious to notice it, but always, as it made itself heard, my falling ceased and the pain of my ascending began. The immense time between the throbs gives me as I remember it an idea of infinite duration that was impossible to me before.
For several days I had slight relapses into the trance-like state I have tried to describe, each being preceded by a feeling of profound dejection. I felt myself going as before, but by a desperate effort of will saved myself from falling far into the shadowy horrors which I saw before me. I dragged myself back from my fate, faint and exhausted and with a melancholy belief that I was cut off from human sympathy, and my wretched destiny must always be unsuspected by my friends, for I could not bring myself to speak to any one of the dreadful foretaste of the hereafter I firmly believed I had experienced. On one of these occasions, when I felt myself falling from life, I saw a great black ocean like a rocky wall bounding the formless chaos, into which I sank. As I watched in descending the long line of towering, tumultuous waves break against some invisible barrier, a sighing whisper by my side told me each tiny drop of spray was a human existence which in that passing instant had its birth, life and death.

"I low short a life!" was my unspoken thought.
"Not short in time," was the answer. "A lifetime there is shorter than the breaking of a bubble here. Each wave is a world, a piece of here, that serves its purpose in the universal system, then returns again to be reabsorbed into infinity."
"How pitifully sad is life!" were the words I formed in my mind as I felt myself going back to the frame I had quitted.
"How pitifully sadder to have had no life, for only through life can the gate of bliss be entered!" was the whispered answer. "I never lived—I never shall."
"What are you, then?"
I had taken my place again among the living when the answer came, a sighing whisper still, but so vividly distinct that I looked about me suddenly to see if others beside myself could hear the strange words:
"Woe, woe! I am an unreal actual, a formless atom, and of such as I am is chaos made."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Travels in New England and New York

                                    Timothy Dwight 

As to the opinion, that the Climate has already become milder, and is gradually advancing towards the mildness of the European Climates in the same latitudes, I can only say, that I doubt the fact. Indeed, the observation of this subject has been so loose, and the records are so few and imperfect, as to leave our real knowledge of it very limited. Within my own remembrance no such change has taken place. It is unquestionably true, that very severe seasons existed in the early periods of New-England; and it is equally certain that they exist now. The winters of 1780, 1784, 1788, and 1805, were probably as severe, as those of 1641 and 1696; and the snow, which fell in 1717, was, I am persuaded, not so great, as that which began to fall on the 20th of February, 1802. In 1641, and 1696, sleighs and sleds crossed the Harbour of Boston; and some of them went down on the ice to Nantasket, nine miles. In 1780 the British Dragoons passed from New-York to Staten Island: a distance of ten miles. In 1784 the sound was frozen entirely across at Fair-field; where it is eighteen miles wide. The effects of the cold on the apple trees, and peach trees, were in 1788 greater in the County of Fairfield, than are recorded of any other period. The Western sides of the Apple trees were, in many instances, killed to a considerable extent: a fact, unprecedented within the knowledge of any living inhabitant: and the peach trees were destroyed in very great multitudes: a fact, which rarely, if ever, from the same cause, takes place in a single instance. The Sound was, indeed, not frozen: but the reason was obvious. The wind blew violently, with hardly any intermission, either by night or by day. The water was, of course, too much agitated to admit of its being frozen. In streams, and ponds, thicker ice was, I believe, never known in this country. In 1792 the Sound was frozen at Fairfield about five weeks. The snow in 1717 fell six feet deep. It fell to an equal depth, in Northampton, in 1740. From February 21, 1802, it fell during the principal part of a week. It ought rather to be called hail; for it was a mixture of hail with snow, in which the former predominated, and was so dense, that it contained more than double the quantity of water usually found in the same depth of snow. Had it been snow only; it would, at least, have been eight feet deep.So far as I have been able to make myself acquainted with the subject, about which, however, accurate information cannot he obtained, there have been here, and not improbably throughout the world, certain periods, in which the seasons have for a considerable time assumed a milder temperature, succeeded by others, in which they have been more severe. Such I suppose to have been the fact on the other Continent, as well as on this. In examining, some years since, a long-continued Register of mortality, collected by Mr. Webster, I observed, that the whole time, which it occupied, was divided into sickly and healthy periods. These consisted, each, of between ten and fifteen years. The winters from 1779 to 1790, inclusive, were universally severe; and all the summers, except that of 1779, were cool. From 1791 to 1803, inclusive, all the winters, except those of 1792, 1798, and 1799, were mild; and all the summers hot. Accordingly, the maize, which is a good thermometer for measuring the aggregate of heat during a season, was, throughout the former period, with the above exception, indifferent; and, in the latter, yielded great crops. From the year 1804 to the present time, (April 1810,) the winters, except the last, have been universally cold; and the summers cool. The summer of 1804, and that of 1809 were the two coldest, which I remember. In the month of July, 1804, although it contained almost all the hot weather of the season, snow fell in Salem and its neighbourhood; and there was a considerable frost in several parts of the country; facts, which have never occurred, during the same month, at any other time within my knowledge. You will observe, that I always speak of the winter, as belonging to the year, which commences during its progress.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Great Swamp Fight - July 13, 1637


   Mr. Stoughton, with about eighty of the English, whereof Mr. Ludlow, Capt. Mason, of Connecticut, were part, sailed to the west in pursuit of Sasacus, at Quinepiack, they killed six, and took two. At a head of land a little short they beheaded two sachems; whereupon they called the place Sachem's Head. About this time they had given a Pequod his life to go find out Sasacus. He went, and found him not far off; but Sasacus, suspecting him, intended to kill him, which the fellow perceiving, escaped in the night, and came to the English. Whereupon Sasacus and Mononotto, their two chief sachems, and some twenty more, fled to the Mohawks. But eighty of their stoutest men, and two hundred others, women and children, were at a place within twenty or thirty miles of the Dutch, whither our men marched, and, being guided by a Divine Providence, came upon them, where they had twenty wigwams, hard by a most hideous swamp, so thick with bushes and so quagmiry, as men could hardly crowd into it. Into this swamp they were all gotten. Lieut. Davenport and two or three more, that entered the swamp, were dangerously wounded by the Indian arrows, and with much difficulty were fetched out. Then our men surrounded the swamp, being a mile about, and shot at the Indians, and they at them, from three of the clock in the afternoon till they desired parley, and offered to yield, and life was offered to all that had not shed English blood. So they began to come forth, now some and then some, till about two hundred women and children were come out, and amongst them the sachem of that place, and thus they kept us two hours, till night was come on, and then the men told us they would fight it out; and so they did all the night, coming up behind the bushes very near our men, and shot many arrows into their bats, sleeves and stocks, yet (which was a very miracle) not one of ours wounded. When it was near morning, it grew very dark, so as such of them as were left crept out at one place and escaped, being (as was judged) not above twenty at most, and those like to be wounded; for in the pursuit they found some of them dead of their wounds. Here our men gat some booty of kettles, trays wampom, and the women and children were divided and sent some to Connecticut and some to the Massachusetts. The sachem of the place, having yielded, had his life, and his wife and children, &c. The women, which were brought home, reported, that we had slain in all thirteen sachems, and that there were thirteen more left. We had now slain and taken, in all, about seven hundred. We sent fifteen of the boys and two women to Bermuda, by Mr. Peirce; but he, missing it, carried them to Providence Isle.

John Winthrop

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Story of Pequot Swamp

Pequot Swamp


The Northwestern part of Southport is called Pequot Swamp. Two hundred years ago, and more, was fought here the great battle between our English forefathers and the Pequot tribes of Indians. This locality--then a lowland forest--as the scene of the Pequot massacre, was named Pequot Swamp. It is, comparatively, but a few years ago since an effectual bugbear to frighten children into obedience, was to mention them "the Indians," who-- their youthful imaginations led them to believe--were still lurking in the dark recesses of this dreaded forest. One of the "oldest inhabitants" of the village, relates to us, that he can recollect the time when the superstitious "children of a larger growth" were afraid to go near the "swamp" after dark, such was their dread of the red man. Not many years have elapsed since stone tomahawks and other relics of the Pequot’s were frequently discovered in this Indian retreat. And now at this day, when the farmer turns up its soil, flint arrow heads, such as are know to have been used by the Indians in their battles, are often found. The following account of the first white settlers in Pequot swamp is "founded on fact," although the imagination has been largely drawn upon to supply what history does not furnish.

  A short time previous to the battle between the English and the Pequot’s, Enoch Griswold, an exile from the Providence Colony, settled on the border of the Pequot Swamp. The house occupied by Enoch, a rude log cabin, was still standing (on the site now occupied by the Congregational church) at the beginning of the present century. Enoch's family consisted of Mary his wife, a daughter Esther, in her seventeenth year, and Josiah Morgan, a young friend and distant relative of the Griswold’s. But a few Indians lived in the vicinity of Enoch's settlements, and these were friendly. The Pequot’s were driven in here from the eastern part of the Connecticut colony, and all exterminated or carried away prisoners, except the few who escaped and were supposed to have fled and joined the Mohegan. But as the sequel will appear, they returned as soon as the English had left, and secreted themselves in an almost impenetrable thicket in the swamp. They doubtless resolved there to remain, until they had avenged, in a measure, their fallen comrades, by retaliation on the white family they had noticed in the vicinity. Those were good old Puritanical, patriarchal days. Enoch and his family were happy. Their simple wants were easily supplied from the fruitful land and the bountiful sea. Often they, in company with their Indian friends, spend the day fishing, and return with well filled baskets, for our river and the Sasco were then teeming with finny beauties. It was while returning from an excursion of this kind, one afternoon that Esther, who had loitered behind the rest of the company, gathering wild flowers for a wreath, was suddenly missed. No great fears for her safety were at first entertained, as no hostile Indians were known to be within many miles, and it is a common occurrence for her to drop in at the neighboring wigwams and chat with the squaws and their children, her goodness of heart making her a general favorite. But as evening began to approach, and no Ester returned, strange foreboding filled the minds of Enoch and his household. Inquiries were made at the various wigwams, but no trace of her could be obtained. All passed a sleepless, anxious night, but as soon as morning dawned, the firm lip and dauntless eye of both Enoch and Josiah, told of their determination to ascertain if possible her whereabouts. They first retraced their steps, by the path they had come the day before, to the landing, (Now White's Rocks) near the mouth of the river, that being the usual place for hauling up their canoes; it having just occurred to them that Esther, who being accustomed to use the paddle had often taken alone might, for a little playful scare, have hidden until they were out of sight, and then returned to the boat and been carried out by a fierce squall that had arisen soon after. But their canoes were all there. A wreath was found, the tell-tale wreath to the eye of Josiah, for none but Esther could have made it. On looking further, the print of strange moccasins was discovered in the sand, an arrow was found and recognized as belonging to the Nehantics, a Long Island tribe. At the water's edge there was a mark from the prow of a much larger canoe than any at the landing. it flashed upon their minds at once that Esther had been seized and carried to Long Island by the Nehantics. Who can picture to mind the anguish of the good father as he thought of the fate of his dutiful, affectionate daughter? Who can describe the agony of Josiah, as he imagined his idol, his betrothed, in the hands of a cruel, savage, foe!
A pursuit was once resolved upon.  Hastily filling up their largest canoe with supplies, and accompanied by two faithful Indian allies, Wampeag and Catoonah, all were well armed, they started for the islands (now Norwalk Islands) a short distance from the mouth of the river, thinking that if their fears were true, and Esther had been abducted by that tribe, they had probably stopped their over night, and might not yet have left.  Love, filial affection, and revenge nerved the ears, and they were not long in reaching the islands.  As they had surmised, the Indians had stopped there; but they were now gone.  The embers from a recent fire were still warm; the print of the same moccasins was visible; the prow of the same canoe had left its mark in the sand.  Burning with impatience and rage, and resolved to lose their lives if need be, in the attempt to save her, they started at once for Long Island, feeling sure from so many indications, that their foes were Nehantics, living near what is now known as Eaton's Neck.  But to return to Esther, whom we left gathering flowers, little dreaming of danger.  She had wandered from the path in quest of some rare colors with which to deck the brow of her lover, and having sufficient for her purpose, seated herself near a thick copse and finished her wreath.  As she was looking with admiration upon her work, her cheeks flushed with the thought of how pleased Josiah would be, she was suddenly seized by four dusky Pequots.  Before she had time to make any outcry, she was gagged, tied, and hurried into the woods.  Making a wide detour through the woods, which were then continuous from Pequot Swamp to the Sasco, the Indians dragged the almost insensible Esther to a bend in the Sasco, (where now stands the dwelling of Capt. Thorp,) and there meeting two comrades in waiting with a canoe, hastily embarked and glided down the river to a dense clump of woods near  itsmouth, where they waited until under cover of the darkness,  they could proceed in safety.  As soon as it was fairly dark they left the river, and hugging along the land, stopped at the place where Esther, a few hours before, had so happily tripped ashore.  Here they purposely dropped the wreath, and the arrow which had formerly belonged to the Nehantic, and leaving plenty of traces in the sand, they started for the islands.  Staying there until near midnight, and leaving fuel enogh on the fire to last till morning, they then doubled their track, and returning to Sasco River, were long before daylight, snugly ensconced in their Pequot lair; succeeding well, as we have seen, in throwing his party off trail.
   So intent were the pursuers on the object they had in view, so earnest in their purpose to rescue Esther, that they had hardly noticed the heavy swell of the sea noticed the heavy swell of the sea from a violent northeaster, which then, as now, was common to September.  The wind blew almost a gale, and was increasing every moment.  They had proceeded about half the distance fromLong Island, when Enoch, who seemed to have a presentiment of his fate, exclaimed to his companions, "we shall never reach the shore!  O, my poor Esther, I shall never see you again!"  Their frail bark soon after began to take in water.  Still by bailing and using the utmost skills to keep her trimmed, they succeeded in getting within a mile of the shore, near the reef, when they were capsized.  Enoch, with one look of despair, sank, and was not seen after.  Josiah and the two Indians clung to the boat, and nearly exhausted, drifted ashore.   The Nehantics, though not friendly to the tribe on this side, yet had enough of human kindness in their hearts to befriend a shipwrecked company. Josiah and his companions were tenderly cared for, and they learned from the Nehantics, without exciting their suspicions, that none of their tribe had made any voyages to the north shore within several days.  Grief, the double bereavement, the loss of his beloved and of him who was a father, had well-nigh unmanned Josiah, and with a heavy heart he made preparations for returning.  The next morning, the storm having subsided, they started.  On their way they stopped again at the islands to see if they could discover any more traces of Esther and her captors.  That her abductors had been their was plain; but the Nehantics were not the guilty party.  Who could it have been?  They again examined the beach.  The footprints of Esther were plainly visible, for the Pequots had unbound her after reaching the islands.  On looking further, where there was a spot of smooth clean sand, the tracks appeared to have a method--a design about them, and examining them closely, they could plainly make out the word "Pequot" imprinted by her feet in the sand.  this gave them a clue, and yet a faint one.  Of the history of the battles they were familiar, knowing that the Pequots were all killed or taken away prisoners, except the few that joined the Mohegans.  Had some of that few returned, and with their whites captive gone back to the Mohegans? Oh, with what a feeling of loneliness and almost utter despair Josiah gazed upon that word in the sand.  He could imagine how she, intently watching her masters lest they should discover her intentions, had endeavored to guide her friends in their pursuit.  those dear footprints seemed to him the last of Esther.  Hope of seeing her again had nearly fled.     Sadly they turned the prow of their boat homeward.  No Esther-no Enoch.  How could Josiah break the tidings to the mother, the wife.  Had they come back--this party of rescuers--bringing the darling object of their search, with what alacrity their little craft would have sped over the intervening water.  But now, instead of one to them as dead, another, Enoch, the head--the chief of the little family, was gone.  How languidly the canoe crept towards the landing.  How they dreaded to meet the anxious bereaved one.
   To Mary the blow was overwhelming.  To be deprived of her husband and her daughter, and she in a strange land, an exile from the home of her kindred; it was well nigh insupportable.  The sympathy of the little community was aroused, and not only their sympathy, but their anger.  It seemed to be the one opinion among the Indians, that Esther had been carried off to the Mohegans.  The Sachem was indignant that a sneaking Pequot should dare to steal his pale faced daughter, as he regarded her.  Wampeag and Catoonah offered to go in disguise to the Mohegan country, and if they found her, one of them was to return for help to assist in the rescue, and the other to remain near, to shield her, as far as possible, from harm.  They started on their hazardous journey, but with little hope of success.  The anguish and excitement of the last few days was too much for the not over robust Josiah.  The Pequots in their secure retreat were gloating over the prospect of revenge their captive they treated kindly in their rude way, not being ready to take her life--the final satiation of their hate.  They knew the value of their prize, for, unperceived, they had often been near the dwelling of Enoch, before the capture of Esther, and knew the high esteem in which she was held. The torturing--the death of one such pale face, was to them an equivalent to the torturing and death of scores of red men.   During the day they did not venture far from their hiding place, except to fish on the thickly wooded banks of the Sasco. They avoided the friendly Indians, and if seen, being dressed like them, they escaped detection.  At night, leaving one or two in charge of their prisoner, the others would travel miles away to gather clams, oysters, and other food.      Esther had become almost a stoic.  Sorrow had benumbed her faculties.  She did not dread death; to her it would be a relief.  The past happy life was like a dream. The few weeks that she had been imprisoned seemed an age.  Where she was she knew not.  The islands to which she was taken immediately after her capture, she was familiar with, having often visited them with her parents and Josiah; but before they returned, the Pequots had blindfolded her.  She little thought that not a mile intervened between her and her home.
   Three months rolled by.  The two Indians had come back, but brought no tidings of Esther.  They found that the remnant of the Pequots had not joined the Mohegan Tribe.  Josiah had recovered in some degree his wonted strength, but the fire of his manhood was gone; the light of his life had, to him, been put out.  Sometimes he would fish or hunt with his Indian friends, but these sports had lost much of their zest.  Twice, lately, on the banks of the Sasco, after a light snow, they had noticed tracks of a moccasin similar to those seen in the sand, at the landing, the morning after her abduction.  They appeared to proceed from and go towards the dense thick in the swamp.  This copse had never been entered since the battle.  It was the most difficult of access, and a sort of supernatural dread seemed to affect the minds of the Griswold family and the Indians regard to it; and no wonder, for around it lay bleaching the bones of many a Pequot.  The more Josiah thought of the similarity of the tracks in the snow and those in the sand, the more he felt convinced that they were made by the same feet.  All at once it occurred to him that Esther was in that thicket.  So sudden was the thought that his brain fairly reeled with excitement.  As soon as he became more calm, he resolved to immediately explore this part of the swamp, and hastily told a few trusty Indians of his plans.  Knowing well that if the Pequots were there, they would naturally leave at night, or most of them, for their food, as soon as it was dark, Josiah and his friends stealthily approached the thicket on the side toward Sasco river, until they were as near as possible without being discovered.  They had not long to wait, when five Pequots passed out, so near as almost to touch them in their place of concealment.  Waiting until they had gone far beyond hearing, Josiah, with feelings excited to an intense degree, led the way in the direction the Pequots had just come.  With a panther like tread, they slowly entered the tangled passage.  those minutes were hours!  Soon, a light in the far end of the opening guided their footsteps!  Two figures could be plainly seen!  It needed iron nerves just then!  A few more steps, half walking, half creeping, and Josiah had the swooning Ester clasped in his arms!  Her guard, asleep, was quickly dispatched by Josiah's comrades.  Loosing her bonds, they at once made their way out.  Leaving the Indians to watch for the Pequots, who, returning towards morning, were riddled with bullets, Josiah and Esther, with feelings too happy for utterance, returned to their home, to meet with still another joy; the father--the good Enoch was there!  Was it truly him, or his spirit from the dead!      When the canoe upset, the box containing their supplies had drifted near the spot where he arose, and clinging to it, he had been carried by the current some miles below the Neck, and had been picked up, more dead than alive, by a tribe just starting for the Hudson.  He had finally escaped from them, and after many adventures, had returned just in time to make the happiness of that family complete.  The lone settlers were soon made glad by an accession to their number, several more families emigrating from the Providence colony.  Josiah and Esther were married a few months after, and some of their honored descendants are now living in our midst.  Enoch and Mary lived to a good old age, happy in their declining years, in having such a son and such a daughter.




Saturday, February 20, 2016

Roger Ludlow


From the beginning, in 1630, Ludlow had been identified with the interests of the people of Dorchester; and now this "principal lay citizen," well knowing that possession was nine points of the law (and he alone of the commission from Massachusetts knew what the law was), at once assumed the responsibility of organization, and the occupancy of the domain very dimly defined as "the Ryver of Conecticott" in the agreement. This was no easy task. It was one of finesse, of diplomacy, and finally one of arms. Who were the parties already represented there, and zealous to maintain their claims or rights?

First, the Indians, — original land-owners and proprietors,—the Sequins and Nawaas of the river valley, hemmed in by the Mohawks on the west, and on the east by the conquerors of the river tribes, the Pequots, who could set a thousand warriors in the field; the Dutch, who had discovered the country, bought lands of the natives, established trade with them, and built the "House of Hope" at Hartford, ten years before any Englishman came to the " Quonehtacut"; the men of Plymouth, who had been treated with scant courtesy at Boston, as to the Connecticut occupation, and then had set up a trading house at Windsor, on lands purchased of the Indians; and lastly, the company sent out by Saltonstall under the Say and Sele patent, which also sought to settle at Windsor, finding the pioneers from Plymouth in possession, and a party from Dorchester breaking ground and arranging for the arrival of the people from that plantation. It was long before "ye controversie ended." It is needless to follow in detail the many steps to the end of the fierce and bitter strife for domination and ownership of the coveted lands. It resulted in the supremacy of the Dorchester claimants, by the withdrawal of the Dutch, the abandonment of their territorial claim by young Winthrop and his party and their settlement at Saybrook, and the ultimate driving out of the Plymouth men, with whom an adjustment was last made.

"The trading house at the mouth of the Farmington, which William Holmes and his Plymouth company had built, despite the blustering of the Dutch, seemed to the practical, godly people of Dorchester set apart for their own uses; and it became the rallying point of the congregation guided and inspired by John Wareham, and in secular affairs byLudlow." Who won the victory in this contest for the Dorchester man? Who stood unmoved in the storm of promises, persuasions, and threats, and with signal ability and tact and force held fast to the possession of their new homes, for the little band of his people, and saved them from disaster? Sir Richard Saltonstall answered these queries for all time in a letter describing the efforts of his company to seize the lands, when he said of Ludlow, "He was the cheffe man who hindered it." The Dutch cared more for trade than colonization; and their claims of discovery, of purchase, of sovereignty, vanished when CapL John Underhill pasted this notice on the doors of their " House of Hope," at Hartford: "I, John Underhill, do seize this house and land for the State of England, by virtue of the commission granted by the Providence Plantation "; and the General Court of Connecticut sequestrated all the property, on its own authority, despite the duplicate sales and title deeds of the braggart captain. The demands of Saltonstall and his company, represented by Francis Stiles and his men, instructed to impale in ground where Saltonstall appointed them, were set aside by the Dorchester pioneers under Ludlow, on the ground of prior right to this "Lord's waste and for the present altogether void of inhabitants." The real controversy as to the Dorchester usurpation is set in a clear light in a letter of Jonathan Brewster, the leader of the Plymouth men, who had been two years on the ground, and who had purchased from the Indians the open meadows — the bone of contention — on the right bank of the Connecticut, from opposite Podunk River northward nearly seven miles. Brewster writes, July 6, 1635:

"Ye Massachusetts men are coming almost daily, some by water, some by land, who are not yet determined where to settle; though some have a great mind to ye place we are upon. . . . What they will do I cannot yet resolve you. ... I shall do what I can to withstand them. ... I hope they will hear to reason, as we were here first, and bought the land, and have since held a chargeable possession." Small parties from the three Bay towns, Dorchester, Newtown, and Watertown, came to Connecticut, to choose locations, and make ready for their families in 1635 ) tne chief immigration taking place in 1636. Ludlow was among the first comers, that he might hurry on the Dorchester occupancy before stronger forces gathered from any source, and before Saltonstall's agent could get further instructions from England. Matthew Grant, the surveyor, says he began to set out men's lots in 1635, and a large one was allotted to Ludlow in this first distribution. When Sir Henry Vane, John Winthrop, Jr., and Hugh Peters demanded a "pertinent and plain answer from Mr. Ludlowe, Mr. Maverick, Mr. Newberry, and Mr. Stoughton, and the rest engaged in the business of Conn, plantation in the town of Dorchester," the answer was written in Ludlow's presence there, who had returned from the new plantation, after opening his campaign for possession, and was then supervising the departure, and in the busy stir of the people to join their friends on the river,—more than all, in the unyielding spirit of the men who had wrung from the government a reluctant leave to remove, and who counted in their ranks the ministers, soldiers, statesmen, artisans, husbandmen, who were to plant the three towns, the nucleus of the State, and stand fast in the storm of war and the sunshine of peace. At the fall of winter in 1635, the advance parties from Massachusetts were scattered along the river from Windsor to Wethersfield; and the pioneers of the Saltonstall patentees were holding out against the Dutch at the river's mouth. Snow came early to a great depth, food and clothing were lost en route, and the settlers suffered the extremes of hardship and privation. Some went back to their homes by land or water; others withstood all perils and distress, and stayed through the winter. Among those who remained were some of Ludlow's Dorchester company with their families, who encamped in part near the Plymouth trading house, and in part in the open meadows on the east bank of the river.

Scarcely had the colonists in the three settlements on the river—Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield—made good their claims to ownership and occupancy under Ludlow's leadership, and set up their standards of independence under exigent laws and orders of their own making, when a crisis came that threatened their destruction. Only instant, resolute action saved them. It was taken May 1, 1637.

"It is ordered that there shalbe an offensive warr ag' the Pequoitt, and that there shalbe 90 men levied out of the 3 Plantacons, Hartford, Weathersfield and Windsor (viz'), out of Hartford 42, Windsor 30, Weathersfield 18: under the Comande of Captain Jo: Mason." In this order of the General Court held at Hartford is written the story of a great tragedy, itself the outcome of lesser tragedies more poignant and terrible to their victims. The Pequots, enraged at the sale of lands on the river by the tribes they had conquered, resolved upon a war of extermination against the settlers. They had already opened their campaign of murder and assassination, arson, captivity, and torture. Ambush and surprise, torch, tomahawk, and scalping knife were the instruments of their hellish vengeance. This is but a partial record of Indian atrocities before the declaration of war:Murder of Captain Stone, and crew of twelve men, when going up the river to trade. Murder of two men above Saybrook, one, Brookfield, dying by torture.Murder of John Oldham, the founder of Wethersfield, at Block Island. Murder of Mitchell, brother of the Cambridge minister; burned at the stake. Murder of two soldiers in the Saybrook cornfield; bodies cut in halves and hung on trees. Attack on Gardiner's fort at Saybrook, in which he and two others were wounded, and two were killed.Massacre at Wethersfield, April 23, 1637,when one hundred Indians fell on the settlers at work in the fields, and killed one woman, one child, and seven men, and carried two young women into captivity. More than thirty English lives were sacrificed before the famous order was written. In the presence of such horrors, who values the sentimental charge that the war was cruel and unrighteous? It was civilization against barbarism. It was a mighty blow struck in self-defence, by a handful of settlers against a horde of demons; sachem and sagamore against soldier and legist, sannup and squaw against husbandman and housewife ; war-drum against church-bell; wickiup against meetinghouse; war-whoop against psalm; savagery, squalor, devilish rites and incantations, against prayers, and hymns, and exhortations; the native in his paint and feathers against the Englishman of sand with his pike and musket; Sassacus and Sowheag, Tatobam and Sunckquasson, against Ludlow and Hooker, Stone and Mason; warfare, rapine and desolation against peace and plenty, enlightenment and culture, and all the social forces that bear fruitage under the sunlight of civilization. Down the river in "a pink a pinnace and a shallop " went the little company (seventy-seven in all when they went into action), and sailing eastward to Narragansett Bay, they landed, and after a wearisome and perilous march through the Narragansetts' country, with some scared and useless Indian auxiliaries and guides, in the early morning of May 26, 1637, they fell upon the sleeping Pequots in their fort on Pequot Hill, smote them hip and thigh, and wiped out between six and seven hundred warriors — the flower of their race, according to the Indians' own admission. It was courage and endurance that wrought the great deliverance. Ludlow presided at the court which declared the "offensive warr." It was chiefly due to him that the desperate task was undertaken. He knew the Indians in Massachusetts and Connecticut; he had studied their character, had a personal acquaintance with some of the chiefs, and was alive to the vital necessity of prompt action, of destroying the conspiracy at one bold stroke; and it was done. Upon Ludlow chiefly fell the duty of defence of the settlers and their families, in the stockade at Windsor and along the river, while the soldiers were away on the Pequot expedition. More than one-half of the fighting men had gone. Watch and ward night and day, anxiety and alarm, waited on the little companies in their villages until news of the victory brought relief. Deep are the pathos and devotion in his letter of those days to his friend Pynchon, in a like stress at Agawam, May 17, 1637.

"I have received your letter, wherein you express that you are well fortified, but few hands. I would desire you to be careful and watchful that you be not betrayed by friendship. For my part, my spirit is ready to sink within me, when upon alarms which are daily I think of your condition; that if the case be never so dangerous, we can neither help you nor you us. But I must confess both you and ourselves do stand merely by the power of our God: therefore he must and ought to have all the praise of it. I can assure you it is our great grief we can not, for our plantations are so gleaned by that small fleet we sent out that those that remain are not able to supply our watches, which are day and night, that our people are scarce able to stand upon their legs; and for planting, we are in like condition with you; what we plant is before our doors, little anywhere else. Our fleet went away tomorrow will be seven night."

Westward, toward the Mohawk country, in the following July, fled the remnant of the Pequots, after the battle at their stronghold; and they finally stood at bay in a dense thicket in Fairfield. Ludlow was present at this socalled " Swamp Fight," having joined the forces of Mason and Stoughton and their Indian allies at Saybrook. After a gallant defence, several of the sachems and warriors were killed; about two hundred prisoners were taken and allotted to the Mohegans and Narragansetts, and an end forever put to the " Pequoitt Potencie"; and after the death of the noted Sassacus, a compact of peace was made at Hartford with Uncas and Miantonomo, by the magistrates of Connecticut in behalf of the colonies, under which full mastery was given to the English, until King Philip's war. It was not a "benevolent assimilation." It was on this march, and in scouting the adjacent country, that Englishmen first saw the beautiful region about Quinnipiac. Fair Unquowa, "beyond Pequannocke," with its hills and streams, rich intervales and forest lands, captured the imagination of Ludlow. At the earliest moment he made another visit there, sent out some planters from Windsor, and there he stood for his last service to his state, when in his conscientious and hazardous defence of this frontier post against the Dutch and Mohawks he was left alone, and made the target of criticism and reproof by his associates in office. Ludlow's services to Connecticut, from the inception of its colonization to the adoption of the Fundamental Orders at Hartford, Jan. 14, 1639,— as shown in a later summary,— were of the highest order, and always equal to the greatest demands upon his experience, tact, courage, foresight, and judicial qualities.