Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Brackett Massacre, 1691 - Tombstone Tuesday

These fieldstones mark graves as headstones and footstones. None are engraved with any markings.

On 29 September 1691 about forty Indians came down the coast from York, Maine, bent on vengeance. Ten settlers were killed in the marsh whilst cutting hay, three killed when their homes were burned, and seven captured and taken to Canada, mostly from the Brackett and Rand families. Anthony Brackett, an original settler who arrived at Sandy Beach (now Rye, New Hampshire) in 1630 was killed, along with several of his children and grandchildren who were captured. His home was burned in the raid. He was 81 years old. Children too young to survive the trip to Canada as captives were “dashed [killed] against a large rock that stood on what is now Wallis Road, near Brackett Road”.

The Brackett Burial Ground is located on Bracket Road, Rye, New Hampshire. Look for the sign marking the path to the cemetery opposite house #605 Brackett Road. The area is known as Massacre Woods or Massacre Marsh, and has been cleared by the Boy Scouts and the Rye Conservation Commission. There is a hike around the marsh, with boardwalks. Beware, this area is marshy, and the mosquitoes are bloodthirsty.

In 1692, my ancestor, John Locke, was murdered by several Indians on the opposite side of this same marsh. There is a marker on Locke Road on Locke’s Point with historical information. I blogged about the story of John Locke in January 2010 at this post http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/01/indian-without-nose.html. Several distant cousins have married descendants of Anthony Brackett and John Rand from the 1691 massacre.  Below, I have copied Anthony Brackett's will, which was witnessed by John Locke, his neighbor.

For more information:

Available at Google Books http://www.archive.org/stream/brackettgenealog01brac/brackettgenealog01brac_djvu.txt

Bracket Genealogy: Descendants of Anthony Bracket of Portsmouth and Captain Richard Bracket of Braintree, (Two Volumes) by Herbert Ierson Brackett, Washington DC, 1907

From the Rye Historical Society, “Rye Reflections” which used to post a new story once a month, but now you can click on “previous issues” to find the stories from June 2005 – September 2010. This story posted on March 2006 and includes stories of several massacres in Rye http://www.ryereflections.org/servlet/pluto?state=3030347061676530303757656250616765303032696430303431333338

From the Hampton, New Hampshire Lane Library website (a very good genealogy library and website, by the way), this excerpt from the book More New Hampshire Folk Tales collected by Mrs. Moody P. Gore and Mrs. Guy E. Speare, published by Mrs. Speare, Plymouth, NH, 1936 [from which I took the quote above, in the first paragraph of my post] http://www.hampton.lib.nh.us/hampton/history/military/brackettslanemassacre.htm

Anthony Brackett made his will only a short time before the massacre:

In the name of god amen y° 11th day of sep 1691

I Anthony Bracket sey being in perfict memory doe make this my Last will & testament,Comiting my soul into the hand of my redemer the Lord Jesus Christ, & my body to the earth

Itim I give & bequeath to my daughter Jane hains fouer acors, in part of marsh being more or Les, which shee formerly made use of & so upward to yº head of yº cove & to young oxsen Affter my desece

Itim I give & bequeath that three acers of marsh mor or Les being at black poynt to my daughter Ellener Johnson, which marsh I have a deed for, which deed doe assign over to my daughter Ellenor, & shee to take it into hur possestion Affter my deseac

Item: I give & bequeath unto my grand daughter kasia bracket three cows to be payed at age of Eightenn years or day of marridg

I give to my grand daughter Roose Johnson on heffer

I give to my grand son samuel bracket one heffer,all the Rest of my cattle & sheep I doe give equally devided amoung the Rest of my gran Children of what is lefft After my wiffs deseac, I doo here ordain & make my sonn John Bracket Executor of this my last will & testament, and him pay all Just debts & to gather all debts which is Justly dew unto mee, my housall good I Leve with my wiff for hur one use to this I set my hand.

Witness                              Anthony Bracket
Nathaniel drack                          X
John Lock:
                                           by his mark

[Proved July 11, 1692]
[Rockingham County Deeds, vol. 5. p. 82]


Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Very interesting, Heather! Very tragic and sad, but to be pioneers!

  2. Thank you for sharing this portion of your family history. I think we too often romanticise the pioneer times....tough going all around. When I am blogging about mine who traveled from Maryland to Morgantown, WV back in the late 1700's, I try to envision them in wagons and walking through those mountains to an unsettled land...dealing with the unknown....I don't think I would have the courage.

  3. I agonized and chose against using the word massacre when writing my article on the so-called Oyster Bay Massacre. I think we need to rethink 19th century historical terms in light of what we know about history today. How would you like it if some group suddenly came into Derry and took your town over? Not much. How can we blame the Native Americans for fighting back (especially egged on by the French?)

    1. Awesome responce, My Mother was a Brackett,Im so glad that we can now call ourselves Sisters and Brothers with our 1st people.

  4. Martin, I thought about this, too. But the signage, the name of the forest and the name of the marsh all use the word "Massacre". It's not politically correct, but neither were the words "Negro" in the documents I have written about on Queen Lili'uokalani, nor the words "colored" in Luis Emilio's book that I wrote about last month. I decided to use the historical words.

  5. I am a Brackett and I have been working on tracing my family, this might have helped! So very interesting!

  6. I appreciate the printing of the will--Anthony Brackett was my eight times great-grandfather. I have not started researching the Brackett side until now, and this was all quite surprising to me. If you know of any other sources for information on this family, I would greatly appreciated it being passed on to me. Thank you!

  7. FYI . . . I linked to this article on this page . . . thanks for sharing the newer photos . . .

  8. Great pictures!

    My mother is a Brackett; both my grandpa and her were born in Los Angeles, but my great grandfather was born on Maine. I've traced my family all the way back to Anthony Brackett. I just found the Brackett Geneology book has been reprinted and is available on Amazon...pretty neat stuff!

    Reading all this family history, I really understand my grandpa better now even though he's gone. He was a rugged man that built almost every home he lived in and loved fishing!!!

    One of these years I'd like to take a trip back there with my wife and children, i'll have to hit you up for some good sites to see!

    If you have any other Brackett history I'd love see it.


  9. Thank you for the pictures! Anthony Brackett is one of my ancestors and I had read about the tragedy but have been unable to get their for pictures!!!

  10. HI John,, I do have some of the Brackett history.. I've just come across some paperwork/folder that i knew nothing about. If you are still looking for some info... for how ever big or little it may mean to you... I would share..

  11. Greetings to the Brackett Familys

    I have just found this site through my travels on the internet and by following up through the branches I have traced all the way up to Anthony Brackett Sr.
    If anyone has other info I would be interested in drop me a line.
    wtb3886 at Yahoo


  12. These are my ancestors. I am a Brackett-Coste

  13. My mother is a Brackett. Anthony Brackett was my 11th great grandfather. I just started researching a few days ago and find all of the information I can get my hands on just amazing. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. My mother was a Rand and I am also part Maine Indian. I don't blame the Indians considering that the White Man didn't ask or offer to pay for the land that they took.

    Kim Hansen kimskustoms@yahooom

  15. I have been trying to connect my Samuel Brackett, b. 12/16/1794, in Dudley, Ma, d. 7/5/1850 in Preston, CT to
    Anthony for many, many years. His father may have been Moses Brackett born 1751, but I can't connect Moses
    to any other Brackett either. The MA Bracketts beginning with Richard who married Alice Blower seem to have been in MA from Richard, John, Ebenezer, and Aaron who died in Weston, MA in 1791. Can anyone find a place for my Samuel?

  16. Thank you for all your hard work. My husband's line, I have discovered recently, goes back to Anthony Brackett.

  17. Massacre is the correct word, for killing women and children, living on a farm. They were not killed in the midst of battle. They were murdered. There is no more justification for violence and killing now than there was back then. Feeling sorry about how American Natives were treated doesn't excuse evil on either side of the issue. If anyone is a Brackett descendant it is only because an older son moved away before the family was wiped out.

  18. Thank you so much for this information.

  19. Anthony Sr. and Capt. Anthony are GGF's of mine ... what are the odds of a father & his son both being killed by Native American's virtually two years apart from one another (son was first though, in Portland - then Falmouth - Maine ... in what is now Deering Oaks Park)

  20. Hello felloe Bracketteers. I am a direct descendent of Anthony also. I ended up in Portland Maine, living (unknowingly)very close on the site of the farm where he was first captured. His wife (our gggggggggrandmother) was the daughter of George Cleeves, founder of Portland. I had no idea when I moved here from Portsmouth. History is so strange.

  21. Steve Paul Brackett, Sr
    Direct descendant to Anthony Brackett.
    More recent descendant from Morgan David Brackett, Blairsville, Ga.

  22. I'm a direct descendant of Anthony Brackett. More recent family came from Morgan David Brackett of Blairsville, Ga.clan. I actually traced our ancestors to Portsmouth , England , 1500's .