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Mary Harris (Shepard)

Birthdate: (26)
Birthplace: Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Dea. Ralph Shepard and Thankslord Shepard
Wife of Thomas Harris
Sister of Sarah Shepard; Thomas Shepard; John Shepard; Isaac Shepard; Trial Powers and 7 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Harris

Mary SHEPARD was born in 1660/61 in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts. Parents: Ralph SHEPARD and Thankslord PERKINS. Spouse: Thomas HARRIS and Mary SHEPARD were married on 17 Sep 1688 in Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

Mary in King Philip's War

  • from 39 AN INCIDENT OF KING PHILIP'S WAR CONNECTED WITH THIS PLACE Source: FHL film #1321409, item 13, "Proceedings of the Littleton Historical Society" Read at a Meeting of the Society, November 2, 1894, by Herbert Joseph Harwood.

At the time of the attack by Indians, February 12, 1675 6, the ground was covered with snow; it had been so deep that snow shoes had been worn by Indian spy, Job Kattenanit, who arrived in Cambridge February 9, from New Braintree,to warn Major Gookin of the attempt on Lancaster, and on February 11 more snow fell, as related by Mrs. Rowlandson.

February 12, came on Saturday. Isaac and Jacob Shepard were threshing in their barn, which tradition places on tbe south side of the lane to Mr. Pickard's house and near the road. Mary, their sister, had been stationed on Quagana hill nearby to watch for Indians, and a tradition told me by Charles W. Reed, places her on a boulder on the southerly side of the hill near the top. While putting very little value on tradition as compared with records and contemporary writings, yet, I will say for this spot that it seems to me a very probable place for a person on the watch as it would be sightly and at the same time easy to be brushed clear of snow, in order to sit or stand on its flattened top. It is probable the Indians approached from the northerly side of the hill and while Mary, who was a girl of about fifteen years, looked perhaps with longing eyes toward the house, or found it pleasanter to face the south, rushed up and caught her unwares. Amos Leighton, now seventy-nine years of age, gives a tradition to the effect that the chief of-the band held Mary while the others made the attack.

Isaac and Jacob were killed, the house burned and Mary Carried away, captive. That only one house was burned as related in the "Old Indian Chronicle," compiled from tracts of the time, leads me to think that perhaps it and the garrison house were the only ones Then standing, and that the garrison was strong enough to resist the attack. It also occurs to me, that perhaps this fire accounts for the construction, at or near the garrison, of the underground shelter. It was nothing unusual in those days for several families to huddle together for safety in one house, and the two dwellings may easily be imagined to have held all the persons I have mentioned and perhaps others.

Just where the Indians took Mary Shepard, or how long she was absent, I am unable to state. Traditions say that she escaped during the night of the same day, and reached home by early morning; also there is a tradition related by a lady who believes herself descended from Mary Shepard, Mrs. Adolphus Merriam, of South Framingham, to the effect that the horse on which she escaped was a mare belonging to the Shepards which was taken by the Indians leaving her colt behind, and that she came home rapidly to find her foal, and announced her arrival by a whinny. Mr. Joel Proctor adds the tradition that the horse was a pacer.

In this connection it may be interesting to mention a record of horseflesh, in the possession of the Shepards, which I found at the Registry of Deeds in East Cambridge, Vol. II, page 387. It is as follows:

July 2, 1674 Abram Shepard of Concord hath in his custody a stray mare abt. 7: years old, sorriel, Branded A on the ner (near) Buttock, a starr in her forehead.

Was this the animal on tthich Mary Shepard made her escape? Unfortunately for this interesting story of the family mare, we have contemporary history of a trustworthy kind to disprove it. Hubbard in is Narrative of the Indian Wars, written about a year after, says of Mary Shepard that she ‘strangely escaped away upon a horse that the Indians had taken from Lancaster a little before' This would indicate That her captors were among - those who attacked and burned Lancaster February 10. Hubbard also says that it was probably Netus and his band who attacked the Shepard family, and there is nothing inconsistent in the two suppositions, but I will speak of Netus later.

Mr. Foster says: Tradition says that this girl was carried by the savages to Nashaws, now called Lancaster, or to some place in the neighborhood of it. To me It seems certain that she was carried beyond Lancaster, because the notes of Samuel Gardner Drake to the Old Indian Chronicle say that Mary Shepard was the girl who escaped and gave intelligence to Capt Mosley that the Indians were in three towns beyond, Quoboge, (also spelled Quabaug,) that is Brookfield.

Upon this the Governor of Massachusetts sent out about Five hundred or Six hundred Men under the Conduct of Major Thomas Savadge and Captain Mosely as next in Command to him, who having Intelligence by a girl that had made her Escape that the Indians were in three Towns beyond Quoboge, marched thither, whence they joined Major Treat with the -Connecticut Forces; but the Enemy were fled: only skulkingly out of the Woods, they shot one of Capt. Moselys Men and wounded one or two more. But their main body being closely pursued despersed and ran into Woods and Swamps, so that it was impossible for our Men to come up with them and therefore marched away for Hadley and Northampton, etc.

This agrees with Mrs. Rowlandson's account of the consternation of the Indians and their hurrying her away in an unexpected direction, soon after which she learned that the troops nearly overtook them. As Mary Shepard was no doubt carried beyond Lancaster, it is possible that the tradition of the mare and foal is true to the extent that the colt was left in Lancaster add the mare hurried back there to it, or possibly the colt followed to the Shepard's and was left there.

Mr. Foster continues in relating the tradition, That in the dead of night She took a saddle from under the head of her Indian keeper when sunk in Sleep increased by the fumes of ardent Spirit, put the Saddle on a horse, mounted on him, swam him across Nashawa river, and so escaped the hands of her captors and arrived safe to her relatives and friends. Mrs. Rowlandson says, however, that the only time during her captivity when she saw any intoxication was just before her release, when John Hoar had given her master some liquor as part of the ransom and he got drunk on it.

Amos Leighton has the tradition that the saddle was under Mary Shepard's own head, the chief having given it to he for a pillow, and a blanket to cover her. However the saddle may bave been placèd, she escaped, and Netus, if he were her captor, must be credited with killing one less person than he might His career of butchery was soon brought to an end by a death similar to those he had caused, for in the very next month, on March 27, at Marlborough he was killed by a party Of English under command of Lieut. Jacobs and his wife was sold. Another of his band, Annecoeken, was dead before the close of summer. Others are mentioned in a warrant for their arrest issued by Thomas Danforth, Magistrate, August 11 as follows: Joshua Assatt, John Dublet Son-in-law to Jacob, William Jackstraw and two of his sons, the name of the one Joseph, also Jackstraw'S wife, all of them late of Moguncog Indians.

Three of them, William Wanuckhow, alias Jackstraw, and his two sons, Joseph and John, were examined by Mr. Danforth August 14, and confessed the Eamnes murders also accusing two others, Joshua Assatt, alias Pakananunquis, then serving under Capt. Hunting of the English force at Marlborough, and Awassaquah, who was sick at the Ponds. the three were committed prison and Joseph was indicted, with probably the others who were tried September 18.

Barry's History of Framingham, from which I have taken these facts about Netus' band, says further: How many of their accomplices, if any? were afterward brought to justice does not appear. Gookin states that ‘three were executed about Thomas Eames his burning' The execution took place September 21. ‘Two of the murderers' according to the petition of the Eames Sons, ‘Old Jacob a chief man sometime at Natick, and Josh~ Assunt returned and were pardoned and lived at Natick many years after.' Danforth's notes of the Examination mention also Accompanatt alias James Philip,


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Mary Harris's Timeline

Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts
December 21, 1686
Age 26
Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, USA
April 1, 1945
Age 26
April 1, 1945
Age 26
April 1, 1945
Age 26
April 1, 1945
Age 26
May 19, 1945
Age 26
May 19, 1945
Age 26
May 19, 1945
Age 26