Monday, May 18, 2015

Cochecho Massacre, 27 June 1689, Dover, New Hampshire

The Damm Garrison House in Dover, New Hampshire
is located inside this pavilion at the Woodman Institute

This map is located inside the Damm Garrison at the Woodman Institute in Dover, New Hampshire
It explains the events of Cochecho Massacre, and maps out the locations of the garrisons

The first recorded captives carried to Quebec, Canada to be sold to settlers and native Indians occurred at the Raid on Dover, also known as the Cochecho Massacre, in Dover, New Hampshire on 27 June 1689.  This makes this raid very interesting to genealogists, since some of the women and children who were taken north converted to the Catholic religion.  These same English people later married French spouses and left descendants in Canada.  Some of the captives were redeemed and came home, and some of the redeemed refused to return because they preferred life in Canada!

At the beginning of King William’s War (1688- 1697) there were many raids on New England settlements by the French, and the English raided French villages in Penobscot Bay and Chedabouctou (Guysborough, Nova Scotia).   In June 1689 several hundred Abenaki and Pennacook Indians raided Dover and killed more than 20 and took 29 captives.  This was one quarter of the Dover population. The raid was quite a blow to the English settlements in New Hampshire.

The Dover Raid was revenge on Major Richard Waldron who had  tricked and captured many Abenaki and Wampanoag in 1676 during King Phillip’s War.  These Indians he captured were taken to Boston where some were executed and some were sold into slavery in the Caribbean.  Twelve years later the Abenaki retaliated with the help of the French in Canada.

Waldron's garrison was attacked with a vengeance.  The Major was singled out for a particularly horrendous torture and execution.  His nose and ears were removed and stuffed in his throat.  Each Indian slashed his chest, and he was forced to fall on his own sword.  Waldron had been well known as a cheat at trade with the Indians and he had been a particularly cruel leader to the English settlers (especially to Quakers).  You can read more about Waldron at this blog post:

There were five garrison houses in town at Dover, and others in outlying areas.  Five Indian women came into town and asked to shelter at the garrisons, one at each.  In the middle of the night, each woman opened the gates of the garrison to the attackers.  The rest was history…

According to the book New England Captives Carried to Canada, pages 142 -  these are some of  the identified captives, all traced to French records in Quebec:

John Church (sometimes misspelled Chase)
John Evans
Sarah Gerrish,  7 year old granddaughter of Major Waldron,
Mrs. Elizabeth Hanson, wife of Tobias
----- Heard “a young woman of Cochecho”
Esther Lee, daughter of Richard Waldron, along with her child
Grizel Otis, wife of Richard, daughter of James Warren
Margaret Otis, rebaptized Christine in Quebec
Rose Otis
John Otis
Stephen (rebaptized Joseph Marie)
Nathaniel (rebaptized Paul), son of Stephen Otis and Mary Pitman
Joseph Buss
William Buss

Here is a list of some members of my family tree who were victims of the Cochecho Massacre:

I'm forced to admit that I'm closely related to Major Richard Waldron (1615 – 1689).  He was married to my 9th great aunt, Ann Scammon.  I descend from Ann’s sister, Elizabeth (about 1625 – abut 1680) who married Thomas Atkins.   Major Waldron, as I described above, was killed, along with most of his family, and his garrison was burned to the ground, along with his grist mills and trading post.

I'm proud to tell you about Elizabeth Hull Heard (about 1628 – 1706),  my 8th great grandmother.  According to stories in Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana and Belknap’s History of New Hampshire and other books, she was a witness to Waldron’s deceit in 1676, and sheltered a young native Abenaki boy from death.   On the night of the Cochecho Massacre she was hiding In the woods when an Indian pointed his weapon at her, but suddenly spared her life and ran away.  The Heard garrison house was one of the few homes that were successfully defended that night by William Wentworth because Elizabeth's husband had died a few months before the attack.  It is suggested that the Indian who spared her life was the young Abenaki boy in 1675.   Elizabeth's children survived, too, including her daughter Mary (1650 - 1706), my 7th great grandmother, and her husband John Ham and children. 

[You can see that I am related to both the villain and the heroine of this massacre]

Ensign John Tuthill, born 1634, is my 9th great grand uncle.  I descend from his brother Simon Tuthill (1637 – 1691) who married Sarah Cogswell.   He was killed in Cochecho, but his son Thomas escaped.  His wife was Judith Otis and that family was killed or taken captive (see the list above), and the Otis garrison was burned to the ground.  John Tuthill left his wife a widow with six children, the oldest only fourteen years old.

Richard Otis (1626 – 1689), John Tuthill’s father-in-law, was killed in the massacre, along with his son Stephen and granddaughter Hannah.  Stephen’s wife, daughters and some grandchildren were captured.  Some were freed by the captors at what is now Conway, New Hampshire, the rest were taken to Canada. 

For more information:

New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760 During the French and Indian Wars, by Emma Lewis Coleman, published in 1925, reprinted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012.

From the Dover, New Hampshire Public Library website

An online article from Portsmouth, New Hampshire historian J. Dennis Robinson

Magnalia Christi Americana, or "The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, from its First Planting in the year 1620 Unto the Year of Our Lord, 1698", Cotton Mather, in seven books (reprint), New Haven, CT,1820

The Hull Family in America, Compiled by Col. Weggant, Hull Family Association 

"A Genealogical Memoir of the Family of Richard Otis" -- 1851 -- by Horatio N. Otis. NEHGR for July 1848 & April 1850 has the Genealogy of the Otis Family Descending from John Otis, who immigrated to New England & settled in Hingham, Mass. about 1635.

Click here for blog post about the DAMM family garrison, which survived the Cochecho massacre in 1689.  The DAMM garrison was built in 1675, and is the oldest surviving garrison house still standing in New Hampshire. 

UPDATE -  3 June 2015
Roger W. Lawrence has written a new book "English Captives and Prisoners Remaining in New France" (for those with ancestors who were carried to Canada from New England in the colonial period). You can pre-order this book from the American Canadian Genealogical Society at this link 

The URL for this post is
Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. this sounds like a great place to visit. I am descended from Elizabeth Hull Heard who was a survivor. Going to be in New Hampshire this summer, what would you consider the best museum/sights to visit to get a feel for those who lived in NH and Massachusetts in the 1600s and early 1700s?

    1. You should definitely visit the Woodman Institute in Dover, where the Damm Garrison is located. You might also want to visit Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, which is a living history museum that represents all the time periods from the 1600s to WWII. The Ipswich, Massachusetts Historical Society has two houses that represent first period architecture, and of course Plimoth Plantation is another living history museum set in 1627. So we are cousins through Elizabeth Hull Heard! Wonderful! Have a terrific summer in New Hampshire.

  2. As to my other comment, maybe you could write a blog about it. :)

    1. I was thinking the same thing about a blog post! And I thought of another great museum, The Fort at No. 4, which is on the Connecticut River in Charlestown, New Hampshire. If you visit on one of the great re-enactment weekends (see my calendar blog post or the Fort at No. 4 website) you can witness some French and Indian war action, with Natives coming down the river in canoes, French Troops, British Troops and New Hampshire militias all gathering for skirmishes in the fields. The Fort has several garrison houses and is surrounded by a wooden stockade.

  3. Hello, I am a descendant of Anne Heard and Sarah Hanson and I also have Tuthill's and Hulls in my tree. I've traced the trees of these girls back into Medieval England. Surprisingly, both have deep ties to well documented nobility.