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Capture of Isabella McCoy
The Capture of Isabella McCoy
Potter's 'History of Manchester'
from Potter's 'History of Manchester'
While Capt. Eastmans scout was out, the enemy appeared on
or about the twenty-first day of August, at Epsom, and made an attack
upon the house of Mr. Charles McCoy as appears by the following Petition.
Reports were spread of the depredations of the Indians in various places; and McCoy had heard that they had been seen lurking about the woods at Penacook, now Concord. He went as far as Pembroke; ascertained that they were in the vicinity, was somewhere discovered by them, and followed home. They told his wife, whom they afterwards made prisoner, that they looked through the cracks around the house, and saw what they had for supper. The next day, Mrs. McCoy attended by their two dogs, went down to see if any of the other families had returned from the garrison. She found no one. On her return, as she was passing the block-house, the dogs which had passed around it, came running back growling and very much excited. Their appearance induced her to make the best of her way home. The Indians afterwards told her that they then lay concealed there, and saw the dogs, when they came running round.
McCoy, being now strongly suspicious that the Indians were actually in the town, determined to set off the next day with his family for the garrison at Nottingham. His family now consisted of himself, his wife, and son John. They accordingly secured their house as well as they could, and all set off next morning. McCoy and his son with their guns, though without ammunition, having fired away what they brought with them in hunting.
As they were travelling a little distance east of the place where the meeting house now stands, Mrs. McCoy fell a little in the rear of the others. This circumstance gave the Indians a favorable opportunity, for separating her from her husband and son. The Indians, three men and a boy, lay in ambush near the foot of Mardens hill not far from the junction of the mountain road with the main road. Here they suffered McCoy and his son to pass, but, as his wife was passing them they reached from the bushes, and took hold of her, charging her to make no noise, and covering her mouth with their hands as she cried to her husband for assistance. Her husband hearing her cries, turned, and was about coming to her relief. But he no sooner began to advance, than the Indians, expecting probably that he would fire upon them, began to raise their pieces, which she pushed one side, and motioned her friends to make their escape, knowing that their guns were not loaded, and that they would doubtless be killed, if they approached. They accordingly ran into the woods and made their escape to the garrison. This took place August 21, 1747.
The Indians then collected together what booty they could obtain, which consisted of an iron trammel, from Mr. George Wallaces; the apples of the only tree which bore in town, which was in the orchard now owned by Mr. David Griffin, and some other trifling articles, and prepare to set off with their prisoner to Canada.
Before they took their departure, they conveyed Mrs. McCoy to a place near the little Suncook river, where they left her in the care of the young Indian, while the three men, whose names were afterwards ascertained to be Plausawa, Sabatis and Christi, went away, and were some time absent. During their absence, Mrs. McCoy thought of attempting to make her escape. She saw opportunities, when she thought she might dispatch the young Indian with the trammel, which with other things, was left with them, and thus perhaps avoid some strange and barbarous death, or a long and distressing captivity. But, on the other hand, she knew not at what distance the others were. If she attempted to kill her young keeper, she might fail. If she effected her purpose in this, she might be pursued and overtaken by a cruel and revengeful foe, and then some dreadful death would be her certain portion. On the whole, she thought best to endeavor to prepare her mind to bear what might be no more, than a savage captivity. Soon, however, the Indians returned, and put an end for the present to all thoughts of escape. From the direction, in which they went and returned, and their smutty appearance, she suspected what their business had been. She told them, she guessed they had been burning her house. Plausawa, who could speak some broken English, informed her they had.
They now commenced their long and tedious journey to Canada, in which the poor captive might well expect that great and complicated sufferings would be her lot. She did indeed find the journey fatiguing, and her fare scanty and precarious. But, in her treatment from the Indians, she experienced a very agreeable disappointment. The kindness she received from them was far greater than she had expected from those, who were so often distinguished for their cruelties. The apples they had gathered they saved for her, giving her one a day. In this way, they lasted her as far as Lake Champlain. They gave her the last as they were crossing the lake in their canoes. This circumstance gave to the tree, on which the apples grew, the name of Isabels tree, her name being Isabella.
In many ways did they appear desirous of mitigating the distresses of their prisoner while on their tedious journey. When night came on, and they halted to repose themselves in the dark wilderness, Plausawa, the head man, would make a little couch in the leaves a little way from theirs, cover her up with his own blanket; and there she was suffered to sleep undisturbed till morning. When they came to a river, which must be forded, one of them would carry her over on his back. Nothing like insult or indecency did they ever offer her during the whole time she was with them. They carried her to Canada, and sold her as a servant to a French family, whence, at the close of the war, she returned home. But so comfortable was her condition there, and her husband being a man of rather a rough and violent temper, she declared she never should have thought of attempting the journey home, were it not for the sake of her children.
This was the last attack of the Indians during the war, in the Merrimack valley.
McCoy was not the only person to have contact with the Indians .so did Samuel Blake, known as Sergeant Blake, and his story is told by Rev. Jonathan Curtis.
The ferocity and cruelty of the savages were doubtless very much
averted by a friendly, conciliating course of conduct in the inhabitants
towards them. This was particularly the case in the course pursued by
Sergeant Blake. Being himself a curious marksman and an expert hunter,
traits of character in their view of the highest order, he soon secured
their respect; and, by a course of kind treatment, he secured their friendship
to such a degree, that, though they had opportunities, they would not
injure him even in time of war.