Elizabeth Howe 1675 -1764
Elizabeth Howe was my 10th Great Grandmother, and her story is unique. The descendant line goes Howe, Keyes, Weeks, Goodell, Brace, Hancock. So this would be Grandpa Hancock’s line.
According to Historical Reminiscences of the Early Times in Marlborough, Massachusetts by Ella A. Bigelow, in 1692 when Elizabeth Howe was 17 years of age she was taken captive by the Indians.
It was a bright summer day when Elizabeth Howe, who was engaged to be married to Thomas Keyes, left her home in Marlborough to go to Lancaster to visit her sister who had married Peter Joslin and were the parents of three little children with one on the way.
Peter left to work in the fields that day, as he usually did and the women were left to make wedding plans, bake bread for the day and other household duties. Elizabeth had started singing one of the old time songs to the children. Quietly creeping up to the door the Indians rushed in and before an alarm could be given, “all were butchered or borne into captivity.”
“History tells us that upon poor Mrs. Joslin the savages later indulged their cruelty in the most atrocious manner. She had with her a child of two years old and was soon to give birth to another. Tired of her importunities they gathered a large company, and pushing her unclothed into their midst they danced about her in their hellish manner for a long time and then knocked her and the child in her arms in the head. They then made a fire and put both victims in it, threatening the other children and captives who with trembling, witnessed the terrible scene, to serve them in like manner if they attempted to go home.”
When the house was attacked, Elizabeth had been captured and taken away with one of her sisters children. When the child became a burden the Indians murdered the child and Elizabeth was “snatched up by an Indian chief.” He thought her voice possessed a charm which worked on their superstitious natures. Her singing probably saved her life.
About four years later she was ransomed by the government and returned to her home in Marlborough where she married her long waiting fiance, Thomas Keyes, and lived to 89 years old, never forgetting the shock of the horrors of that time.
Ironically her father, John Howe, was also killed by Indians on April 20, 1676 at Sudbury during what was called King Philips War. Philip was the name taken by Metacomet the son of Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Massasoit had a strong alliance with the early Puritan settlers and had befriended Goerge Soule our Mayflower ancestor until Massasoit’s death. Metacomet did not maintain this alliance. With the Puritan excursions into the tribal planting fields and the spread of disease by new colonist arrivals in the mid 1600’s, rebellion was predictable. The Indian attacks were vicious but no more so then those of the Puritans and were waged with less provacation on the Indians.