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[27] for so many years. In 1775 it was in the hands of Penelope Vassall, widow of Colonel Henry Vassall, who fled to Antigua with her only daughter upon the breaking out of hostilities. This house was not confiscated as so many were at the time. It became, however, the headquarters for the medical department of the army under Dr. Church, and many of the wounded from Bunker Hill were taken here. It was in this mansion that Dr. Church was confined after his arrest for treasonable correspondence with the enemy, and his name is still to be seen carved on one of the old doors. In the sitting-room over the fireplace was a panel which opened outwards, revealing a space sufficient to conceal a man. The kitchen chimney was eight feet square. For a long time there was a popular belief that there was a subterranean passage connecting this house with the Longfellow mansion, made in order that the two Vassall families could have ready communication with each other; but search has been made among the low arches of the cellar for some trace of its existence without success. Tradition says that the Vassalls treated their slaves with cruelty, and blood stains have been shown in one of the rooms where it is said a slave was killed by a member of this family; but there is no evidence of the truth of the legend. On the contrary it is on record that Madame Vassall paid twenty pounds to free the child of their slave Tony. After the war this estate was purchased by Nathaniel Tracy of Newburyport, and later, in 1792, it was bought by Andrew Cragie who also owned the Longfellow house. About fifty years afterwards it came into the possession of Samuel Batchelder, the father of the present proprietors.

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