Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DUSTIN, Hannah, pioneer, born about 1660. She was the wife of Thomas Dustin, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, whom she married, 3 December 1677. In the spring of 1697, when the New England frontier settlements were almost depopulated by the French and Indians, Haverhill, thirty miles from Boston, suffered greatly, forty of its inhabitants being killed or captured. Among them was the family of Hannah Dustin, who, on 15 March with her infant and nurse, was captured and carried off. Her husband, who first saw the savages approach and hastened to the rescue of his family, obeyed the entreaties of his brave wife, and fled as a protector to the remaining seven children. Mounting his horse and overtaking them, he placed himself between the foe and the little ones, and all escaped. The captive mother saw her infant, a week old, killed in her presence, and her home set on fire. The following day she was compelled to begin a long march with her enemies, walking eight hours on the first day, through snow, without shoes, and with inadequate clothing, after which they were suffered to sleep on the wet ground unsheltered.
These hardships were repeated day after day until they reached the home of the leader of the savages, who lived on the Island at the junction of the Merrimack and Contoocook rivers, near the present sight of Concord, New Hampshire Mrs. Dustin being told by the chief, to whom she had become a slave, that his prisoners would run the gauntlet at an Indian village and be subject to torture and wounds, resolved to escape. Instructed by an English lad from Worcester, who had been a prisoner of the Indians for a year, and aided by her companion in suffering, she learned how to kill instantly and how to take off the scalp.
In the night, while her captors were asleep, she obtained a tomahawk, and killed nine of them, the lad killing the leader. A squaw, unhurt, and a young Indian boy, though badly wounded, escaped. Sinking all the boats, the party prepared one for their own transfer, with provisions; but, when about to leave the place, Mrs. Dustin, remembering that she had not full evidence of the tragedy, returned and scalped the slain savages. Reaching Haverhill after many hardships, she found her family safe" and in recognition of her heroism she was made the recipient of many honors among the people of her own and adjacent colonies. To the governor in Boston she presented a gun, tomahawk, and ten scalps, trophies of her victory. The general court gave to Mrs. Dustin and her child companion $250 each. The Island is now call Dustin's Island. There, in 1874, the commonwealths of Massachusetts and New Hampshire erected a granite monument, on whose tablets are inscribed the names of Hannah Dustin, Mary Neff, the nurse, and Samuel Leonardson, the English boy.
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