GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2006-03 > 1142989404
Subject: History of Harvard, Mass. 1643-1732 -Henry S. Nourse - 1894 p. 36 to p. 38.
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 20:03:24 EST
The History of Harvard, Massachusetts, 1643-1732, by Henry S. Nourse,
1894. - W. J. Coulter, Printer.
No inmate of the eastern garrisons was slain, wounded or captured during
the war, but the yeomanry who defended them were not exempt from days of
dread and nights sleepless with care; from un-remunerative toil and soul-
killing anxiety. Their chosen spokesman, Thomas Wilder, in a petition dated
November 15, 1704 says of them:
"....most of the Inhabitants on ye side have had but little or no help or
protection in their garrisons, but have been necessitated to watch and
ward a third part of their time at least, besides rangeing the woods often
when rumours and alarms have happened, so that near halfe our time is spent
in actuall service and when we are about our own worke we cannot keep to
it but lose a great part of what we labour for, being forced to get our
bread with ye peril of our lives which hang in doubt continually & but
little peace day or night."
The meeting-house of Lancaster having been burned by the enemy, a contest
arose in 1705 about the location of a new one. The votes in town-meeting
proved that the householders living east of the Nashua outnumbered those
on the west. They were nearly two to one, but it was only after two years
of wrangling and sundry petitions to the Great and General Court, that
the majority secured the building of the house on their own side of the
river; and then it was placed as near the bridge as a proper site could
be found safely elevated above the flood plains. Thenceforward the families
about Bare Hill, Harvard, each Sabbath journeyed four miles, instead of
five as heretofore, to listen to the pointed exhortations of Rev. John
Prentice, the youthful new minister; and as there was always an after-
noon as well as a morning service, the first day of the week could hardly
be called a day of rest, unless the tithing men were negligent in their
The Puritan under all circumstances took life in saddest earnest, treating
himself as a sojourner in hell's suburbs; but the pious fathers and mothers
of the Nashaway valley, at this period more than ever, needed the conso-
lation of their Puritan belief that the more complete their discomfort in
this world the more ecstatic would be their joys in the world to come.
Small bands of savages were constantly prowling about the settlement, and
every year they surprised one or more victims in Lancaster and Groton,
usually some lone
traveller, or a farmer at work in his outlying field. To every man,
sleeping or waking, on the road, at his work, even at church, his musket
became an inseparable companion. The whole people were greatly impover-
ished through wasted labor, inability to properly plant and till their
crops, and the expense of sustaining the garrisons. The hooting of an
owl, the howling of a wolf, indistinctly heard, every unusual sound sent
pallor to the cheeks and a shudder of fear to the hearts of wives and
mothers, lest it might be the dread war-whoop of the savage demons from
Canada, or the last cry of despair from the absent husband, son or father;
and murky forms with fiendish faces made terrible the dreams even of
Every man of military age able for service took his turn with the scouting
parties that were frequently sent out to discover signs of the enemy's
presence near the towns, under direction of Capt. Thomas Wilder, military
commandant of Lancaster.
A company of soldiers drafted for the service under command of Capt. William
Tyng of Chelmsford, was distributed among the garrisons and billeted upon
the inhabitants. That officer and some of his men lost their lives in en-
counters with the savages. The bills for the burial expenses of some of
these soldiers are found in the state archives [volume LXXI, 128, etc]
and well illustrate certain customs of the period and especially the
funeral feast. In a well-to-do family the refreshments expected by those
who came to pay their tribute of respect to the dead, often doubled the
expense and trouble of the sad occasion. The burial of Private John
Carter of Lancaster was probably not exceptional in ceremony:
An Accompt of Funeral Charges, etc: of John Carter, a soldier under ye
Command of Capt. William Tyng, who deceased March ye 26, 1704/5:
Imprimis to two jurneys to Concord for ye doctor - £ 0. 7. 0.
To one jurney to Boston for things for said Carter
in his sickness - 0.
To nursing one week - 0. 10. 0.
To 4 gallons Wine - 0.
1/2 a barrill Cyder 0. 04.
To sugger fruit & spice 0. 05.
To 6 pairs of gloves (for the bearers) 0. 09. 0.
To ye coffin and grave - 0. 08.
£3. 10. 3.
p.38 History of Harvard.
An official review of the frontier garrisons in November, 1711, gives us
a more detailed account than usual, though it unfortunately omits the
names of the heads of families.
The garrisons of Bare Hill and Still River, Harvard, had then increased to
Hezekiah Willard 3 families 4 men 1 soldier: 8 souls.
Mrs. Houghton's 4 5 1 25
Mr. Priest's 6 7 0 25
Caleb Sawyer's 2 3 1 11
15 19 3 69
This was the census in 1711 of the Lancaster portion of what is now
Harvard. There had been in the seven years between 1704 and 1711 but
slight increase in the number of families and men of military age. "Mrs.
Houghton" was Mary Houghton the widow of James Houghton, he having died
The garrison houses of the time were not distinctively different from other
dwellings. They were built of wood - sometimes perhaps of logs or squared
timber, but much oftener framed - the spaces usually left vacant between
the outside sheathing and the inside plastering or wainscot being filled
in solidly with brick, flat stones or oak plank, so as to render the
walls everywhere bullet-proof. The windows were protected with plank
shutters in which were loop-holes for muskets. The flankers projecting
from diagonally opposite corners of the building, often mentioned as
belonging to the more noted of the earliest garrisons, seem to have been
generally omitted at a later period; either because awkward adjuncts
to a dwelling, or because, after the savages were provided with fire-arms,
they were unsafe stations for the defenders. The building and its
offices had to be commodious, for therein in times of alarm were crowded
by night and by day, all the families of a neighborhood with their pro-
visions, clothing and such of their more precious moveables as could
easily be brought with them.
To be continued - p. 39.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth