|Birth||23 Dec 1657||Haverhill, Essex Co., Mass.|
|Fact||On the morning of March 15, 1697, about 20 Abnake Indians in war dress descended on the outlying homes of Haverhill. Thomas Dustin, constable of Haverhill at the time, was working outdorrs and saw them approaching. He hurried to warn his family. They sent their seven children aged 17 to 2 to the nearest garrisoned house (probably Onisephorus Marsh’s). He urged his wife to come with him on the one horse. But 6 days earlier Hannah had given birth to their 12th child, Martha. Although they could have taken the baby on the horse with them, a neighbor had been nursing Hannah - a widow named Mary (Corliss) Neff. Hannah urged her husband to go with the children to protect them.|
Thomas resolved to pick up the “dearest” child as he passed them on the horse, but as he approached them, he coudn’t choose. Instead, he got off his horse and kept it between the fleeing children and the three Indians chasing them. They all arrived safely.
Back at the Dustin home, however, the Indians were busy ransacking and destroying belongings. The house was set on fire and the two women and the infant were taken captive. They trudged through the snow and icy mud. For some reason -- perhaps the infant cried -- one of the Indians snatched her by the feet and dashed her head against an apple tree, killing her instantly. Other people were killed and some taken captive. Those who lagged were killed and scalped in an emotionless manner. About 8 miles from home, they stopped for the night.
When the raiding party rejoined the rest of the tribe, they split up the loot and the captives. Hannah and Mary were given as slaves to an Indian family of 12 -- 2 men, 3 women and 7 children. As slaves, they were responsible for carrying the heaviest burdens and were to forage for food and firewood.
It is unlikely that the Indian men would have sexually molested the two women - it is known that that would be against their moral code. This family had another slave, a young boy Samuel Lenardson captured in Worcester the year before. They traveled over 75 miles in a zig-zag route to reach an island about 50 miles from Haverhill.
They stayed on the island for a little while until the Indians informed the captives that they would be traveling again. This time they would head towards Canada and that the captives would be stripped and run through a gauntlet of Indians. The Indians would hit them with fists and sticks and Indian children would practice their tomahawk throwing.
This news aroused the captives to action. Led by Hannah, they devised a plan. Hannah encouraged Samuel to encourage one of the Indians to show him how to use Indian tools to kill and scalp people. After the Indians were asleep on about 29 April 1697, the three obtained weapons and killed 10 of the Indians. One of the Indian women ran into the brush after receiving 7 hatchet blows. A child they had intended to take with them also escaped into the brush.
The trio gathered up supplies, scuttled all but one of the canoes and set off down the river. Shortly Hannah realized they had no proof of what they had done, so they went back to the Indian camp and scalped the 10 dead Indians. Hannah wrapped the scalps in a cloth.
They set off again down the river, wary of Indians that might be nearby and of being chased once their deed had been discovered. Hannah had no idea what to expect when they arrived in Haverhill, fearing that her husband and children had been murdered when she had been taken captive.
They arrived safely in Haverhill. Surely Hannah’s family must have been surprised to see them, for she had been gone over a month. Soon afterwards, Hannah and her husband traveled to Boston to petition the General Court for a bounty for the 10 Indian scalps. Hannah was awarded with 25 pounds; Samuel and Mary each received 12 pounds, 6 shillings. Hannah was acclaimed a heroine and news of her escape was spread through the colonies. Governor Nicholson of Maryland even sent a tankard as a gift.
Eventually, a granite monument to Hannah Dustin was built on the island in the Merrimack River where she had been held captive. In the 1970’s, a descendant who was also the wife of N.E. state’s governor, was invited to place the annual wreath on the monument. However, many Indians demonstrated, claiming that Hannah was not a heroine, but was really a murderer.
The hatchet head, the cloth used to carry the scalps and the tankard given to Hannah are all on display in the Haverhill Museum. 
|Died||6 Mar 1736|
|Person ID||I157||Owings Stone Genealogy, Ancestry & Heritage|
|Last Modified||20 Dec 2000 00:00:00|
|Father||MICHAEL EMERSON, b. 16 Apr 1627, England, Lincolnshire, Cadney|
|Mother||HANNAH WEBSTER, b. 1635, Ipswich, Essex Co., Mass.|
|Family ID||F65||Group Sheet|
|Family||Thomas Duston Dustin, b. Bef 1657|
|Married||3 Dec 1677|
|Family ID||F66||Group Sheet|
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