Saturday, November 27, 2004

Roadside History



While out riding my bike near my house I came across this granite marker on the side of the road. If you can't make out the words in the picture, the inscription reads:


NEAR THIS SPOT

JACOB AMES WAS KILLED

IN 1744 HE WAS THE LAST

WHITE MAN MURDERED BY

THE INDIANS IN THIS

VICINITY.



When I read it I figured it must be related to King Philips War, the only Indian war I know much about. It wasn't. King Philips War occurred some 70 years earlier. This account from the Groton historical society tells a tale that sounds like something from a bad movie.




The three year's (or Lovewell') War, closed in the winter or spring of
1726. From this time there was a general peace till 1744 when hostilities
between England and France and the frontier towns of New
England were once more in jeopardy from savage incursions. But the
settlements at this period had extended further northward and westward;
Groton was no longer a frontier town, and it is not supposed to have
suffered to any considerable extent, during this war. One man, however
by the name of Jacob Ames is said to have been killed about this time,
in the following manner.



An Indian had been seen for several days, lurking about the town, it
was conjectured, upon some ill design. Jacob Adams who lived on the
intervals on the west side of Nashua River, now owned (1848) by John
Boynton, Esq., went into his pasture to catch his horse. Discovering
the Indian he ran for his house; the Indian pursued and shot him as he
entered his gate. The dead body prevented the gate's closing as it
would otherwise have done (closed) of itself and the Indian pressed it
to enter the house where Ames had a son and daughter. The son seized
his gun, and shot at him as he entered the gate. The ball, striking
the latch of the door, split and one part of it wounded the Indian but
not severely. As the son attempted to close the door against the
enemy, afther the shot, the Indian thrust his foot in and prevented.
The son called to his sister to bring his father's gun from the bed-
side and at the same time striking the Indian's foot with the breach
of his gun, compelled him to withdraw it and closed the door. While
the Indian was in the act of reloading his gun, the young man found
means to shoot through a crevice and killed him. Two men, at work
about a mile distant in a mill, Ezra and Benjamin Farnsworth, hearing
the reports of the guns and suspecting the cause thereof, were soon
at the place and found the bodies of Jacob Ames and the Indian both
weltering in their blood. This is the last man killed by an Indian
within the bounds of Groton.



Other historians debate the validity of this account. Dr. Samual Green writing in 1893 claims There is now no evidence to show that after
this date (1724) any white person was ever killed by the Indians in the neigh-
borhood of Groton. Certainly there was none killed in the year 1744*
.



Regardless, it's an interesting piece of New England history.



If you want to see the marker, it's in Pepperell MA on River Rd. From 495 in Littleton MA, take Route 119 West through Groton MA until you cross over the Nashua River into Pepperell MA. At the next blinking light take a right onto River Rd. The marker is less than a mile down on the right hand side.



Note: my source for the historical information was this entry from rootsweb.com

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