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About Sarah Gerrish

She was taken prisoner by Indians during the Cocheco Massacre in 1689. She was taken to Quebec and held captive there for 16 months, until released through a prisoner exchange.


Sarah 3

was born 31 July 1681 and died 29 July 1697 —Captured by Indians: Gathered Sketches from the Early History of New Ham pshire and Vermont,  collected  and edited in 1856 by Francis Chase, M.A., reprinte d by New Hampshire Publishing  co., Somersworth, N.H. 1970:  The captivity and sufferings of  Miss Sarah Gerrish
who was taken at the sacking of Dover,  in  1689  by  the  Indians,  as  communicated  to  the  Rev.
 Dr.  Cotton  Mather  by  the  Rev.  John  Pike, Minister of Dover. 
             Sarah  Gerrish,  daughter  of  Capt.  John  Gerrish,  of  Quochecho  (or  Cochecho)  was  a  very beautiful and ingenious damsel, about seven ye ars of age, and happened to be lodging at  the  garrison  of  Major  Waldron,  her  affectionate  gra ndfather,  when  the  Indians  brought  that  horrible destruction upon it, on the night of 27 th
June 1689. She was always very fearful of the  Indians; but fear, may we think, now surprised her  when they fiercely bade her go to a certain  chamber and call the people out. She obeyed; but fi nding a little child in bed in the room, she  got in to the bed with it, and hid herself in the c lothes as well as she could. 
             The savages quickly pulled her out, and made her d ress for a march, but led her away  with  no  more  than  one  stocking  upon  her,  on  a  terri ble  march  through  the  woods,  and  a  thousand other miseries, till they came to the Norw ay Planes (Rochester, N.H.). From thence  they made her go to the end of Winnipiseogee lake;  thence eastward, through horrid swamps,  where sometimes they were obliged to scramble over  huge trees fallen by storm or age, for a  vast  way  together,  and  sometimes  they  must  climb  up
 long,  steep,  tiresome  and  almost  inaccessible mountains. 
             Her first master was an Indian named Sebundowit, a
dull sort of fellow, and not such  a devil as many of them were; but he sold her to a  fellow who was a lot more harsh and mad  sort of dragon. He carried her away to Canada.

A long and sad journey now ensued, through the mids t of a hideous desert, in the depth of a dreadful winter. And who can enumerate t he frights she endured before the end of her journey! Once her master commanded her to loose n some of her upper garments and stand against a tree while he charged his gun; whereat th e poor child shrieked out, “He is going to 11 Chapter 14 THE GERRISH FAMILY kill me.” God knows what he was going to do; but th e villain having charged his gun, he called her from the tree and forebore doing her any

             Upon another time,  her  master ordered her to run a long the shore  with some Indian  girls, while he paddled up the river in his canoe.  As the girls were passing a precipice, a tawny  wench violently pushed her headlong into the river;
but it so fell out that in this place of her  fall  the  bushes  from  the  shore  hung  over  the  water.
 So  that  she  was  enabled  to  get  hold  of  them, and thus saved herself. The Indians asked her
how she became so wet, but she did not  dare  to  tell  them,  from  fear  of  the  resentment  of  h er  that  had  so  nearly  deprived  her  of  life  already.  And  here  it  may  be  remarked  that  it  is  alm ost  universally  true  that  young  Indians,  both male and female, are as much to be dreaded by  captives as those of maturer years, and in   many  cases  much  more  so;  for  unlike  cultivated  peop le,  they  have  no  restraint  upon  their  mischievous and savage propensities, which they ind ulge in cruelties surpassing any examples  here related. They often vie with each other in att empting excessive acts of torture. 
             Once, being spent with travelling all day, and lyi ng down wet and exhausted at night,  she fell into so profound a sleep that in the morni ng she awakened not. Her barbarous captors  decamped from the place of their night’s rest, leav ing this little girl asleep, and covered with a  snow that in the night had fallen; but at length aw akening, what agonies may you imagine she  was  in  on  finding  herself  left  a  prey  for  bears  and
 wolves;  and  without  any  sustenance,  in  a  howling  wilderness,  many  scores  of  leagues  from  any
 plantation!  In  this  dismal  situation,  however,  she  had  fortitude  sufficient  to  attempt  to
 follow  them.  And  here  again,  the  snow  which had been her covering upon the cold ground, t o her great discomfort, was now her only  hope,  for  she  could  just  discern  by  it  the  trace  of
 the  Indians.  How  long  it  was  before  she  overtook them is not told to us, but she joined the m and continued her captivity. 
             Now the young Indians began to terrify her by cons tantly reminding her that she was  shortly to be roasted to death. One evening much fu el was prepared between two logs, which  they told her was for her torture. A mighty fire be ing made, her master called her to him, and  told  her  that  she  should  presently  be  burnt  alive.  At  first  she  stood  amazed;  then  burst  into  tears;  and  then  she  hung  about  her  tiger  of  a  maste r,  begging  of  him,  with  an  inexpressible  anguish, to save her from the fire. Thereupon the m onster so far relented as to tell her “that if  she would be a good girl she would not be burnt.” 
             At  last  they  arrived  at  Canada,  and  she  was  carrie d  to  the  Lord  Intendant’s  house,  where  many  persons  of  quality  took  much  notice  of  h er.  It  was  a  week  after  this  that  she  remained in the Indian’s hands before the price of  her ransom could be arranged. But then the  Lady Intendant sent  her to the nunnery,  where she  w as comfortably provided for; and it  was  the  design,  as  was  said,  for  to  have  her  brought  up
 in  the  Romish  religion,  and  then  to  have  married her unto the son of the Lord Intendant. 
             She was kindly used there, until Sir William Phipp s, lying before Quebec, did, upon  exchange  of  prisoners,  obtain  her  liberty.  After  si xteen  month’s  captivity,  she  was  restored  unto her friends, who had the consolation of having
their desirable daughter again with them,  returned as it were, from the dead. But this dear c hild was not to cheer her parent’s path for a  long  period;  for,  on  arriving  at  her  sixteenth  year ,  July  1697,  death  carried  her  off  by  a  malignant fever
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Sarah Gerrish's Timeline

Age 16