Narrative of the Captivity of Quintin Stockwell – Indian Captivities

Quintin Stockwell, Who was taken at Deerfield, in Massachusetts, by a Party of Inland Indians, in the Year 1677; Communicated in his own Words, and Originally Published by the Eminent Dr. Increase Mather, in the Year 1684.

A particular account of the interruption in which Stockwell and others fell into the hands of the Indians will be found in the Book of the Indians, Book iii, p. 97 and 98. Out of twenty-four at that time killed and taken, we learn the names only of these; Quintin Stockwell, John Root, Sergeant Plimpton, Benjamin Stebbins, his wife, Benjamin Waite, and Samuel Russell. Plimpton was burnt in their cruel manner, Root was killed, and Stebbins escaped. Of the others I have learned nothing.

In the year 1677, September the 19th, between sunset and dark, the Indians came upon us. I and another man, being together, we ran away at the outcry the Indians made, shouting and shooting at some others of the English that were hard by. We took a swamp that was at hand for our refuge; the enemy espying us so near them, run after us, and shot many guns at us; three guns were discharged upon me, the enemy being within three rods of me, besides many others before that. Being in this swamp, which was miry, I slumped in and fell down, whereupon one of the enemy stepped to me, with his hatchet lifted up to knock me on the head, supposing that I had been wounded and so unfit for any other travel. I, as it happened, had a pistol by me, which, though uncharged, I presented to the Indian, who presently stepped back, and told me if I would yield I should have no hurt; he said, which was not true, that they had destroyed all Hatfield, and that the woods were full of Indians, whereupon I yielded myself, and falling into their hands, was by three of them led away unto the place whence first I began to make my flight. Here two other Indians came running to us, and the one lifting up the butt end of his gun, to knock me on the head, the other with his hand put by the blow, and said I was his friend. I was now by my own house, which the Indians burnt the last year, and I was about to build up again; and there I had some hopes to escape from them. There was a horse just by, which they bid me take. I did so, but made no attempt to escape thereby, because the enemy was near, and the beast was slow and dull. Then was I in hopes they would send me to take my own horses, which they did; but they were so frightened that I could not come near to them, and so fell still into the enemy’s hands. They now took and bound me and led me away, and soon was I brought into the company of other captives, who were that day brought away from Hatfield, who were about a mile off; and here me thought was matter of joy and sorrow both: joy to see company, and sorrow for our condition. Then were we pinioned and led away in the night over the mountains, in dark and hideous ways, about four miles further, before we took up our place for rest, which was in a dismal place of wood, on the east side of that mountain. We were kept bound all that night. The Indians kept waking, and we had little mind to sleep in this night’s travel. The Indians dispersed, and as they went made strange noises, as of wolves and owls, and other wild beasts, to the end that they might not lose one another, and if followed they might not be discovered by the English. About the break of day we marched again, and got over that great river at Pecomptuck [Deerfield] River mouth, and there rested about two hours. Here the Indians marked out upon trees the number of their captives and slain, as their manner’s. Now was I again in great danger, a quarrel having arose about me, whose captive I was; for three took me. I thought I must be killed to end the controversy, so when they put it to me, whose I was, I said three Indians took me; so they agreed to have all a share in me. I had now three masters, and he was my chief master who laid hands on me first; and thus was I fallen into the hands of the worst of all the company, as Ashpelon, the Indian captain, told me; which captain was all along very kind to me, and a great comfort to the English. In this place they gave us some victuals, which they had brought from the English. This morning also they sent ten men forth to the town [of Deerfield] to bring away what they could find. Some provision, some corn out of the meadow, they brought to us on horses, which they had their taken.

From hence we went up about the falls, where we crossed that river again; and whilst I was going, I fell right down lame of my old wounds, which I had in the war, and whilst I was thinking I should therefore be killed by the Indians, and what death I should die, my pain was suddenly gone, and I was much encouraged again. We had about eleven horses in that company, which the Indians used to convey burthens, and to carry women. It was afternoon when we now crossed that river. We travelled up it till night, and then took up our lodging in a dismal place, and were staked down, and spread out on our backs; and so we lay all night, yea, so we lay many nights. They told me their law was that we should lie to nine nights, and by that time it was thought we should be out of our knowledge. The manner of staking down was thus: our arms and legs, stretched out, were staked fast down, and a cord about our necks, so that we could stir no ways. The first night of staking down, being much tired, I slept as comfortable as ever. The next day we went up the river, and crossed it, and at night lay in Squakheag [Northfield] meadows. Our provision was soon spent, and while we lay in those meadows the Indians went a hunting, and the English army came out after us. Then the Indians moved again, dividing themselves and the captives into many companies, that the English might not follow their tracks. At night, having crossed the river, we met again at the place appointed. The next day we crossed it again on Squakheag side, and there we took up our quarters for a long time. I suppose this might be about thirty miles above Squakheag; and here were the Indians quite out of all fear of the English, but in great fear of the Mohawks. Here they built a long wigwam, and had a great dance, as they call it, and concluded to burn three of us, and had got bark to do it with, and, as I understood afterwards, I was one that was to be burnt, sergeant Plimpton another, and Benjamin Waite‘s, wife the third. Though I knew not which was to be burnt, yet I perceived some were designed thereunto; so much I understood of their language. That night I could not sleep for fear of next day’s work; the Indians, being weary with the dance, lay down to sleep, and slept soundly. The English were all loose; then I went out and brought in wood, and mended the fire, and made a noise on purpose, but none awaked. I thought if any of the English would awake, we might kill them all sleeping. I removed out of the way all the guns and hatchets, but my heart failing me, I put all things where they were again. The next day, when we were to be burnt, our master and some others spoke for us, and the evil was prevented in this place. Hereabouts we lay three weeks together. Here I had a shirt brought to me to make, and one Indian said it should be made this way, a second another way, a third his way. I told them I would make it that way my chief master said; whereupon one Indian struck me on the face with his fist. I suddenly rose up in anger, ready to strike again; upon this happened a great hubbub, and the Indians and English came about me. I was fain to humble myself to my master, so that matter was put up. Before I came to this place, my three masters were gone a hunting; I was left with another Indian, all the company being upon a march; I was left with this Indian, who fell sick, so that I was fain to carry his gun and hatchet, and had opportunity, and had thought to have dispatched him and run away; but did not, for that the English captives had promised the contrary to one another; because, if one should run away, that would provoke the Indians, and endanger the rest that could not run away.

Whilst we were here, Benjamin Stebbins, going with some Indians to Wachuset Hills, made his escape from them, and when the news of his escape came we were all presently called in and bound; one of the Indians, a captain among them, and always our great friend, met me coming in, and told me Stebbins was run away; and the Indians spake of burning us; some, of only burning and biting off our fingers, by and by. He said there would be a court, and all would speak their minds, but he would speak last, and would say, that the Indian who let Stebbins run away was only in fault, and so no hurt should be done us, and added, “fear not;” so it proved accordingly. Whilst we lingered hereabout, provision grew scarce; one bear’s foot must serve five of us a whole day. We began to eat horse-flesh, and eat up seven in all; three were left alive, and not killed. After we had been here, some of the Indians had been down, and fallen upon Hadley, and were taken by the English, agreed with and let go again. They were to meet the English upon such a plain, there to make further terms. Ashpelon was much for it, but Wachuset sachems, when they came, were much against it, and were for this: that we should meet the English, indeed, but there fall upon them and fight them, and take them. Then Ashpelon spoke to us English, not to speak a word more to further that matter, for mischief would come of it. When those Indians came from Wachuset there came with them squaws and children, about four-score, who reported that the English had taken Uncas, and all his men, and sent them beyond seas. They were much enraged at this, and asked us if it were true; we said no. Then was Ashpalon angry, and said he would no more believe Englishmen. They examined us every one apart, and then they dealt worse with us for a season than before. Still provision was scarce. We came at length to a place called Squaw-Maug River [Wells River]; there we hoped for salmon; but we came too late. This place I account to be above two hundred miles above Deerfield. We now parted into two companies; some went one way, and some went another way; and we went over a mighty mountain, it taking us eight days to go over it, and travelled very hard too, having every day either snow or rain. We noted that on this mountain all the water run northward. Here also we wanted provision; but at length we met again on the other side of the mountain, viz. on the north side, at a river that runs into the lake; and we were then half a day’s journey off the lake.

We stayed here a great while, to make canoes to go over the lake. Here I was frozen, and again we were like to starve. All the Indians went a hunting, but could get nothing: divers days they powwowed, and yet got nothing; then they desired the English to pray, and confessed they could do nothing; they would have us pray, and see what the Englishman’s God could do. I prayed, so did Sergeant Plimpton, in another place. The Indians reverently attended, morning and night. Next day they got bears; then they would needs have us desire a blessing, and return thanks at meals; after a while they grew weary of it, and the sachem did forbid us. When I was frozen, they were very cruel towards me, because I could not do as at other times. When we came to the lake we were again sadly put to it for provision. We were fain to eat touchwood fried in bear’s grease. At last we found a company of raccoons, and then we made a feast; and the manner was that we must eat all. I perceived there would be too much for one time, so one Indian who sat next to me bid me slip away some to him under his coat, and he would hide it for me till another time. This Indian, as soon as he had got my meat, stood up and made a speech to the rest, and discovered me; so that the Indians were very angry and cut me another piece, and gave me raccoon grease to drink, which made me sick and vomit. I told them I had enough; so ever after that they would give me none, but still tell me I had raccoon enough. So I suffered much, and being frozen, was full of pain, and could sleep but a little, yet must do my work. When they went upon the lake, and as they came to it, they lit of a moose and killed it, and stayed there till they had eaten it all up.

After entering upon the lake, there arose a great storm, and we thought we should all be cast away, but at last we got to an island, and there they went to powwowing. The powwow said that Benjamin Waite and another man was coming, and that storm was raised to cast them away. This afterward appeared to be true, though then I believed them not. Upon this island we lay still several days, and then set out again, but a storm took us, so that we lay to and fro, upon certain islands, about three weeks. We had no provision but raccoons, so that the Indians themselves thought they should be starved. They gave me nothing, so that I was sundry days without any provision. We went on upon the lake, upon that isle, about a day’s journey. We had a little sled upon which we drew our load. Before noon, I tired, and just then the Indians met with some Frenchmen; then one of the Indians that took me came to me and called me all manner of bad names, and threw me down upon my back. I told him I could not do anymore; then he said he must kill me. I thought he was about to do it, for he pulled out his knife and cut out my pockets, and wrapped them about my face, helped me up, and took my sled and went away, giving me a bit of biscuit, as big as a walnut, which he had of the Frenchman, and told me he would give me a pipe of tobacco. When my sled was gone, I could run after him, but at last I could not run, but went a foot-pace. The Indians were soon out of sight. I followed as well as I could, and had many falls upon the ice.

At last, I was so spent, I had not strength enough to rise again, but I crept to a tree that lay along, and got upon it, and there I lay. It was now night, and very sharp weather: I counted no other but that I must die here. Whilst I was thinking of death, an Indian hallooed, and I answered him; he came to me, and called me bad names, and told me if I could not go he must knock me on the head. I told him he must then do so; he saw how I had wallowed in the snow, but could not rise; then he took his coat and wrapt me in it, and went back and sent two Indians with a sled. One said he must knock me on the head the other said no, they would carry me away and burn me. Then they bid me stir my instep, to see if that were frozen; I did so. When they saw that, they said that was Wurregen. 1 There was a chirurgeon among the French, they said, that could cure me; then they took me upon a sled, and carried me to the fire, and made much of me; pulled off my wet and wrapped me in dry clothes, and made me a good bed. They had killed an otter, and gave me some of the broth made of it, and a bit of the flesh. Here I slept till towards day, and then was able to get up and put on my clothes. One of the Indians awaked, and seeing me walk, shouted, as rejoicing at it. As soon as it was light, I and Samuel Russell went before on the ice, upon a river. They said I must go where I could on foot, else I should freeze. Samuel Russell slipped into the river with one foot; the Indians called him back, and dried his stockings, and then sent us away, and an Indian with us to pilot us. We went four or five miles before they overtook us. I was then pretty well spent. Samuel Russell was, he said, faint, and wondered how I could live, for he had, he said, ten meals to my one. Then I was laid on the sled, and they ran away with me on the ice; the rest and Samuel Russell came softly after. Samuel Russell I never saw more, nor know I what became of him. They got but half way, and we got through to Shamblee about midnight. Six miles off Shamblee, (a French town, actually Chambly) the river was open, and when I came to travel in that part of the ice, I soon tired; and two Indians ran away to town, and one only was left; he would carry me a few rods, and then I would go as many, and then a trade we drove, and so were long in going the six miles. This Indian was now kind, and told me that if he did not carry me I would die, and so I should have done, sure enough; and he said I must tell the English how he helped me. When we came to the first house, there was no inhabitant. The Indian was also spent, and both were discouraged; he said we must now die together. At last he left me alone, and got to another house, and thence came some French and Indians, and brought me in. The French were kind, and put my hands and feet in cold water, and gave me a dram of brandy, and a little hasty pudding and milk; when I tasted victuals I was hungry, and could not have forborne it, but I could not get it. Now and then they would give me a little, as they thought best for me. I laid by the fire with the Indian that night, but could not sleep for pain. Next morning the Indians and French fell out about me, because the French, as the Indians said, loved the English better than the Indians. The French presently turned the Indians out of doors, and kept me.

They were very kind and careful, and gave me a little something now and then. While I was here all the men in that town came to see me. At this house I was three or four days, and then invited to another, and after that to another. In this place I was about thirteen days, and received much civility from a young man, a bachelor, who invited me to his house, with whom I was for the most part of the time. He was so kind as to lodge me in the bed with himself, gave me a shirt, and would have bought me, but could not, as the Indians asked one hundred pounds for me. We were then to go to a place called Sorel, and that young man would go with me, because the Indians should not hurt me. This man carried me on the ice one day’s journey, for I could not now go at all, and there was so much water on the ice we could go no further. So the Frenchman left me, and provision for me. Here we staid two nights, and then travelled again, for now the ice was strong, and in two days more we came to Sorel. When we got to the first house, it was late in the night; and here again the people were kind. Next day, being in much pain, I asked the Indians to carry me to the chirurgeon, as they had promised, at which they were wroth, and one of them took up his gun to knock me, but the Frenchman would not suffer it, but set upon him and kicked him out of doors. Then we went away from thence, to a place two or three miles off, where the Indians had wigwams. When I came to these wigwams some of the Indians knew me, and seemed to pity me.

While I was here, which was three or four days, the French came to see me; and it being Christmas time, they brought cakes and other provisions with them and gave to me, so that I had no want. The Indians tried to cure me, but could not. Then I asked for the chirurgeon, at which one of the Indians in anger struck me on the face with his fist. A Frenchman being by spoke to him, but I knew not what he said, and then went his way. By and by came the captain of the place into the wigwam, with about twelve armed men, and asked where the Indian was that struck the Englishman. They took him and told him he should go to the bilboes, and then be hanged. The Indians were much terrified at this, as appeared by their countenances and trembling. I would have gone too, but the Frenchman bid me not fear; that the Indians durst not hurt me. When that Indian was gone, I had two masters still. I asked them to carry me to that captain that I might speak for the Indian. They answered, “You are a fool. Do you think the French are like the English, to say one thing and do another? They are men of their words.” I prevailed with them, however, to help me thither, and I spoke to the captain by an interpreter, and told him I desired him to set the Indian free, and told him what he had done for me. He told me he was a rogue, and should be hanged. Then I spoke more privately, alleging this reason, that because all the English captives were not come in, if he were hanged, it might fare the worse with them. The captain said “that was to be considered.” Then he set him at liberty upon this condition, that he should never strike me more, and every day bring me to his house to eat victuals. I perceived that the common people did not like what the Indians had done and did to the English. When the Indian was set free, he came to me, and took me about the middle, and said I was his brother; that I had saved his life once, and he had saved mine thrice. Then he called for brandy and made me drink, and had me away to the wigwams again. When I came there, the Indians came to me one by one, to shake hands with me, saying Wurregen Netop, 2 and were very kind, thinking no other but that I had saved the Indian’s life.

The next day he carried me to that captain’s house, and set me down. 3 They gave me my victuals and wine, and being left there a while by the Indians, I showed the captain my fingers, which when he and his wife saw they ran away from the sight, and bid me lap it up again, and sent for the chirurgeon; who, when he came, said he could cure me, and took it in hand, and dressed it. The Indians towards night came for me; I told them I could not go with them. They were displeased, called me rogue, and went away. That night I was full of pain; the French feared that I would die; five men did watch with me, and strove to keep me cheerily, for I was sometimes ready to faint. Oftentimes they gave me a little brandy. The next day the chirurgeon came again, and dressed me; and so he did all the while I was among the French. I came in at Christmas, and went thence May 2d.

Being thus in the captain’s house, I was kept their till Benjamin Waite came; and now my Indian master, being in want of money, pawned me to the captain for fourteen beavers’ skins, or the worth of them, at such a day; if he did not pay he must lose his pawn, or else sell me for twenty-one beavers, but he could not get beaver, and so I was sold. By being thus sold, adds Dr. Mather, he was in God’s good time set at liberty, and returned to his friends in New England again.

Collection: Indian Captivity Narratives. A collection of first hand Indian captivity narratives from a variety of sources. For a list of sources, please see title page.

Search Military Records - Fold3
  1. See Book of the Indians, B. ii. 85.[]
  2. Friend, it is well. – Ed.[]
  3. His feet were so badly frozen that he had not walked for a considerable time.[]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top