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Archive for the ‘Emerson’ Category

An Interesting Woman Ancestor in your Family Tree is the assignment for a genealogy group meeting tomorrow. I think I’ll dust off the one I did in Sept. 2006 and also post it here. Back then, we were going to do a presentation as an evening newscast and based on an article I just read, I eagerly volunteered to present the entertainment news. So here’s the report for G! Genealogy Entertainment News

This is the G! Genealogy Entertainment News Report and today’s story is about Cowgirls and Indians … from the frontier town of Haverhill, Massachusetts. The 1697 frontier, that is.

On August 23 of this year, The Eagle-Tribune reports big interest in bringing the Hannah Duston story to the big screen.

Hannah Dustin statue, Haverhill MA

Hannah Dustin statue, Haverhill MA

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, made famous by the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, the Reverend Cotton Mather, and chronicled in several books, some of which sit on our own Library shelves, here is the tale …

Hannah Emerson Duston, one week out of childbirth, was kidnapped by the Abenaki Indians on March 15, 1697. Also taken were her newborn daughter and her nursemaid, Mary Corliss Neff. Hannah’s husband and seven other children escaped. The baby was brutally killed.

Story plate 1

Story plate 1

Story plate 2

Story plate 2

Carried 100 miles up the Merrimack River to an island near today’s Concord NH, the Indians paused with their captives, promising the gauntlet for the next day. That night Hannah and an English boy captured a year earlier killed 10 of their captors and escaped with Mary in a stolen canoe. The trio turned back to take the scalps of their captors as proof and made their way back to Haverhill.

Story plate 3

Story plate 3

Story plate 4

Story plate 4

The Mass General Court received her as a heroine and granted her 50 Pounds. Over time the island was named for her and a statue of her wielding an axe was erected on Main Street in Haverhill.

Movie producers are wrestling with two versions of the story – the Abenaki descendants describing her as a bloodthirsty murderess and the Colonial Record, embellished with Cotton Mather’s enthusiastic report.

But the producers don’t need a screenwriter; they need a genealogist to determine the real story …

From a research of Hannah’s line, it turns out that four years earlier, Hannah’s aunt Elizabeth Emerson was executed on Boston Common, convinced by the very same Reverend Mather to plead guilty for the death of her twin infants.

It has been said that Hannah went back for the scalps to prove their story of a fighting escape, and I believe the fear was more of Cotton Mather than the Indians where the death of her infant was involved!

A genealogist would also find a love story from another Indian capture 6 years after Duston, involving her relatives. Hannah’s 1st cousin, Hannah Green Eastman, was captured 8 days after childbirth and again the baby, her daughter Abigail, was killed. Brought to Canada, Hannah eventually escaped and was befriended by a French woman. Not knowing how to return, she stayed with her new friend hoping her husband Jonathan would find her.

And find her he did when she saw him passing the house where she was staying, a house he passed three times in his desperate search. They then made the lengthy journey back to Haverhill.

Jonathan’s aunt was Hannah Corliss Neff, the nurse captured along with Hannah Duston. And Jonathan and Hannah Eastman are my 6th great-grandparents.

Presentation sources:

Regan, Shawn. (2006, August 23) Movie Makers Interested In Hannah Duston Story The Eagle-Tribune Online. North Andover, MA. URL: http://www.eagletribune.com/hhnews/local_story_235165434?page=0

Reference sources:

Coleman, Emma Lewis. (1989) New England captives carried to Canada : between 1677 and 1760 during the French and Indian wars. (2 vols) Bowie, Md. : Heritage Books. IRC Main Library R-GEN 974 COL V.1

HannahDustin.com (1999-2006) The History of Hannah Dustin / Duston and the Genealogy of the Cheney Family. URL: http://www.hannahdustin.com/

James, Jane Emerson. (1983) The Haverhill Emersons: Revised and Extended. Jane Emerson James, Lake Winnebago, MO., p. 25

Mather, Cotton. (1663-1728) Diary of Cotton Mather. F. Ungar Pub. Co. [1957?] (note: located through Worldcat)

Photos by the author, ©2007 All Rights Reserved

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