One of the least-known seminal events of American history is King Philip's War, 1675-1676, a hundred years before the American Revolution. Metacom was the real name of the Native American warrior, son of Massasoit, the famous Indian guest at the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving. Metacom, or Philip, managed to put together an alliance of tribes in the area which is now New England, for the purpose of driving out the colonists.
Rowlandson farmland They almost succeeded. This war remains the most deadly, per capita, on both sides, in the history of our country. Victory was undecided until the very end, after Metacom was killed. His head was placed on a stake and displayed in Plymouth for over twenty years. Many of the captured Indians were sold into slavery and shipped off to the West Indies. They never again had the strength and unity to challenge the encroaching Europeans successfully. It took years for the colonists to reestablish the towns and farms that had been destroyed. Their English governors across the sea -- instead of berating themselves for not supporting the fledgling colonies -- put the blame on the colonists, and proceeded to apply a heavier hand of government in the person of the hated Edmund Andros.
The colonists felt they had survived the worst the land and its aboriginal inhabitants could throw at them, without either representation or support from the remote English monarchy. They politely obstructed Andros' measures, reestablished their own colonial governments by petition to the crown, and were from that moment on effectively independent. They trained their own ministers, elected their own local and colonial representatives, coordinated with their fellow colonies, and managed their own affairs successfully. The English leadership apparently never even thought of the possibility that a people unrepresented in their own Parliament, but fully governing themselves in a remote location, might someday lose their desire to remain subservient to English Two current-day schools government.
Elsa and her college roommate Nancy, together for a Girls' Day Out on a beautiful autumn morning, set out to see some of the ways in which these events have been remembered. Specifically, we were interested in Mary Rowlandson, the wife of John Rowlandson, one of the first licensed preachers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. When the Indians attacked Lancaster, Mary and her youngest child were taken prisoner during King Philip's War. Her child soon died, and Mary stayed with the Indians for about three months, from February till May as they moved through the snowy woods from one hidden camp to another. She was finally ransomed by Elsa's 8th great grandfather, John Hoare. After her return, Mary Rowlandson published the diary of her ordeal, which became a best-seller.
The Rowlandson family lived near what is now Lancaster, a tiny, picturesque village about an hour west of Boston. Our first trace of them is the Mary Rowlandson Elementary School, a modern school named in honor of Mary. However, at the town center, we found that the 19th and 20th century residents had memorialized later Famous Sons: the Redemption rock beautiful church building was designed by the famous architect Charles Bulfinch (he also designed the State House in Boston); another plaque commemorates a Post-Revolution visit by General Lafayette. But most of the attention is centered on Luther Burbank, who was born in Lancaster in 1849.
We found the fields where the Rowlandson family had lived before the attack, but our chief target was farther on, in the next town, Princeton, Massachusetts. Redemption Rock, an immense boulder in the forest near our road was the site of the negotiations for her release. It has been preserved thanks to a family donation of land to a conservation trust, so we were able to photograph the rock and imagine the events of more than 300 years past, and then we enjoyed the forest itself.
Massachusetts is filled with these places and these stories, and the very effort of finding them is fun -- the narrow roads twist off in all directions, through small villages and towns where houses from hundreds of Old Mill Restaurantyears ago are still occupied and maintained, past farmstands and old mills next to rivers which, since this week's rains, are torrential -- and beautiful to see. Leaving Nancy's home in Lexington, we passed the town common, where groups of tourists admired the Minute Man statue, and drove through the beautifully preserved Minute Man National Historic Park -- the participants in the Revolution were the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of the survivors of King Philip's War.
We completed our day with a delicious lunch at The Old Mill in Westminster, another small tree-filled town, where dozens of ducks swam in the millpond observed by busloads of Fall Foliage tourists. We felt quite settled into multiple layers of history.