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Dustin, Hannah,

Heroine; born about 1660; married Thomas Dustin, of Haverhill, Mass., Dec. 3, 1677. When, in the spring of 1697, the French and Indians devastated the New England frontier settlements, Haverhill, within 30 miles of Boston, suffered severely, forty of its inhabitants being killed or carried into captivity. Among the latter were a part of the family of Thomas Dustin, who was in the field when the savages first appeared. Mounting his horse, he hastened to his house to bear away his wife, eight children, and nurse to a place of safety. His youngest child was only a week old. He ordered his other children to fly. While he was lifting his wife and her babe from the bed the Indians attacked his house. “Leave me,” cried the mother, “and fly to the protection of the other children.” Remounting his horse he soon overtook the precious flock, and placing himself between them and the pursuing Indians, he defended them so valiantly with his gun that he pressed back the foe. Meanwhile the savages had entered the house, ordered the feeble mother to rise and follow them, killed the infant, and set fire to the dwelling. Half dressed, she was compelled to go with her captors through melting snow in their hasty retreat, accompanied by her nurse. They walked 12 miles the first day without shoes, and were compelled to lie on the wet ground at night, with no covering but the cold gray sky. This was repeated day after day, until they reached an island in the Merrimac 6 miles above Concord, N. H., the home of the leader of It the savages, who claimed Mrs. Dustin and her nurse as his captives. They were lodged with his family, which consisted of two men, three women, seven children, and a captive English boy, who had been with them more than a year. They were told that they would soon start for an Indian village where they would be compelled to “run the gantlet” ; that is, be stripped naked, and run for their lives between two files of Indian men, women, and children, who would have the privilege of scoffing at them, beating them, and wounding them with hatchets.

The two women resolved not to endure the indignity. Mrs. Dustin planned a means of escape, and leagued the nurse and the English boy with her in the [167] execution of it. Believing in the faithfulness of the lad and the timidity of the women, the Indians did not keep watch at night. Through inquiries made by the lad, Mrs. Dustin learned how to kill a man instantly, and to take off his scalp. Before daylight one morning, when the whole family were asleep, Mrs. Dustin and her companions instantly killed ten of the slumberers, she killing her captor, and the boy despatching the man who told him how to do it. A squaw and a child fled to the woods and escaped. After scuttling all the boats but one, they fled in it down the river, with provisions from the wigwam. Mrs. Dustin remembered they had not scalped the victims, so, returning, they scalped the slain savages, and bore their trophies away in a bag, as evidence of the truth of the story they might relate to their friends. At Haverhill they were received as persons risen from the dead. Mrs. Dustin found her husband and children safe. Soon afterwards she bore to the governor, at Boston, the gun, tomahawk, and ten scalps, and the general court gave these two women $250

Hannah Dustin escaping from the Indians.

each, as a reward for their heroism. They received other tokens of regard. The island where the scene occurred is called Dustin's Island. On its highest point citizens of Massachusetts and New Hampshire erected a commemorative monument in 1874. On it are inscribed the names of Hannah Dustin, Mary Neff, and Samuel Leonardson, the latter the English lad.

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