When I first starting researching my ancestor Thomas Freeman (born 11 Oct 1676 son of Thomas Freeman and Rebecca Sparrow), I learned that he married a woman named Mary Smith. Initially I wasn’t able to trace her to any of the Smith’s on Cape Cod. Then another researcher informed me of her identity: She was born 24 May 1685 in Oyster River (now Durham NH), daughter of James Smith and Sarah Davis.
Mary and Thomas were married 17 October 1707 at Eastham. I wondered how Mary came to live in Eastham, as I was used to seeing so many marriages within the same towns. My romanticized version is that Thomas was a mariner who had business at Oyster River where he met Mary, fell in love and brought her home to the Cape to be married.
Mary’s sister Sarah came to Eastham to marry Joshua Harding in 1702. So a more likely scenario is that Mary came to visit, or even live, with Sarah and met Thomas then.
Thomas had married first Bathsheba Mayo, but she died four months after their marriage.
Mary was no stranger to loss either. On 18 July 1694, Mary witnessed the deaths of her mother, Sarah (Davis) Smith, and her brothers, James and Samuel, in an Abenaki attack, referred to as “The Great Massacre at Oyster River.” Reverend John Pike wrote in his diary:
The Indians fell suddenly & unexpectedly upon Oyster River about break of Day. Took 3 Garrisons (being deserted or not defended) killed & Carried away 94 persons, & burnt 13 houses- this was the f[i]r[st] act of hostility Committed by [them] after ye peace Concluded at Pemmaqd.
One account states that Indian women had asked for shelter at each garrison house, a common practice at peacetime, and during the night they opened the gates to several hundred warriors. The warriors were led by French Soldier Claude-Sebastien de Villieu. They killed and captured some ninety-four to one hundred people, nearly one-third of the population. Half of the settlement burned to the ground, crops were destroyed and livestock was killed. The townspeople that survived were left with little food or shelter. The Indians then went on to attack Groton, MA.
|Davis-Smith Garrison, now Newmarket, NH source: minerdescent.com|
Mary’s father James Smith died four years earlier, of a “surfeit” (over-exertion), on 18 July 1690. He was rushing to assist Capt. Floyd in an Indian attack at Wheelwright Pond.
At the age of nine, Mary was now an orphan who had seen unspeakable violence. Her sister Sarah and brother John also survived the attack. I do not know who took them in, but hope to search New Hampshire court records for anything relating to a guardianship. Some accounts say Mary and her sister were carried to Canada as captives by the Indians, but I have not confirmed this.
Some accounts say Mary’s grandmother Jane (Peasley) Davis and her uncles James and Moses and some of their families also died in the massacre.
|Road marker in Durham, NH source: mikenh.wordpress.com|
The attack took place during King Williams War, when the French had enlisted the Indians to do their fighting for them. The Indians did have reasons of their own to attack the English. The English settlement of what became New Hampshire began in 1638 with a trading post on the Merrimack River at Penacook village. Over the years the English took much of the Indians land as their own and broke treaties, so it was a matter of time before the Indians pushed back.
Life on the Cape must have been very welcome by Mary, as there was no warring with Indians there. Thomas and Mary had four children: Thomas, James, Bathsheba, and Samuel. I descend from their son Thomas who married Dorothy Cole.
Unfortunately after less than 10 years of marriage, Mary suffered another tragedy on 22 March 1716/17 when her husband died. She married second Hezekiah Doane, and I find one child for them, Joseph Doane, born about 1719. They may have had a second son named Joseph who died young. Hezekiah had eight children by his first wife, so Mary cared for as many as 14 children in her life.
The proof that Mary Smith who married Thomas Freeman/Hezekiah Doane is the daughter of James and Sarah Smith exists in a quitclaim deed. On 27 May 1729 Hezekiah Doane and wife Mary of Provincetown, MA, sold to John Smith of Dover New Hampshire right in the estate of James and Sarah Smith of Dover, father and mother of said Mary Doane. The same day Joshua and Sarah Harding of Eastham, MA, quitclaimed to John Smith right in the estate of Sarah's honored father and mother, James and Sarah Smith of Dover.
Mary’s brother John Smith married Elizabeth Buss and stayed in the Durham area.
Mary died at Eastham on 19 January 1766. She was 85 years of age; a very long life for that era.
I still have a lot of research to do to learn more about the Oyster River massacre and what became of Mary afterward. If anyone has any good resources, I'd love to hear from you!