Biography of Thomas Sawyer, Jr.

Thomas Sawyer, Jr., son of Thomas Sawyer, was born July 2, 1649, died September 5, 1736, at Lancaster. His will bequeathed to four sons and two daughters, and twelve pounds to purchase a communion vessel for the Lancaster Church. He was the first white child born in Lancaster. His capture by the Indians forms one of the most familiar stories of the Colonial period in Massachusetts. At the time of his capture he was living in the garrison with his father’s family. Queen Anne’s War was making the lives of the colonists unsafe, especially on the frontier. Indians made frequent attacks, and massacred men, women and children. On October 1695, Thomas Sawyer, Jr., his son Elias, and John Bigelow, of Marlboro, were at work in his saw mill where they were surprised and captured by the Indians. They were taken to Canada and Bigelow and young Sawyer were turned over to the French to ransom but they kept Thomas Sawyer to put to death by torture. Sawyer proposed to the French Governor that he should build a saw mill on the Chamblay River in consideration of saving his life from the Indians and giving the three captives their freedom. The French needed the mill and were glad of the opportunity. But the Indians had to be reckoned with. They insisted on burning Thomas Sawyer at the stake. They knew him and knew he was a brave man not afraid of torture and death. The crafty French Governor defeated their purpose by a ruse to the church. When Sawyer was tied to the stake a French friar appeared with a key in his hand and so terrible did he paint the tortures of purgatory, the key of which he told them he had in his hand ready to unlock, that they gave up their victim. Indians fear the unseen more than the real dangers, and doubtless the friar took care not to specify what he would do in case the auto-do-fe was carried out. Sawyer built the mill successfully, the first in Canada it is said. He and Bigelow came home after seven or eight months of captivity, to their delighted people. Elias Sawyer was kept a year longer to run the mill and teach the others to run it. The captives were treated well after the French found them useful to them. Thomas Sawyer married (first), 1670, Sarah, surname unknown; (second), 1672, Hannah, surname unknown; (third), 1718, Mary White. Children: Mary; Hannah; William; Joseph; Bazaleel; Elias.

Mr. and Mrs. Parsons are the parents of four children: Howard Albert, born in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 2, 1911; David Bartlett, born in Dover, Massachusetts, June 19, 1913; Richard Warner, born in North Amherst, Massachusetts, June 18, 1916; and Elizabeth Kaiulani, born in North Amherst, Massachusetts, October ii, 1918. The address of Albert Parsons is North Amherst, Massachusetts.



Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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