Biography of Thomas Sawyer

Thomas (2), son of Thomas (1) Sawyer, was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, July 2, 1649, the first white child born there. When he was about fifty-five years old, he was captured by the Indians, when he was living at the garrison during Queen Anne’s war. On October 16, 1695, he. his son Elias, and John Bigelow, of Marlborough, were at work in his sawmill when they were surprised and taken by the Indians, and carried to Canada, where Bigelow and Elias Sawyer were turned over to the French for ransom. The Indians kept Thomas Sawyer, intending to burn him to death. Sawyer offered to build a sawmill for the French on the Chamlay river if they saved his life from the Indians and gave the three captives freedom. The French were glad of this opportunity to get a much-needed mill, but it was impossible to persuade the Indians to give him up, as they had made up their minds to put him to death, knowing that he was a brave man who was not afraid of torture and death. The French governor, however, defeated their purpose by a clever trick. When Sawyer was tied to the stake, a French friar appeared with a key in his hand, and he described the tortures of purgatory so terribly, telling him that he was ready to unlock the doors with the key he held in his hand, that they gave up their victim, fearing the unseen more than the real dangers. Sawyer built the mill, which is said to have been the first in Canada, and then came home after nearly a year of captivity. Elias Sawyer was kept a year longer to teach others how to run the mill, but the captives were well treated by the French after they were found to be useful.

Thomas Sawyer married (first) Sarah , 1670. He married (second) in 1672, Hannah . He married (third) in 1718. Mary White. He died in Lancaster, September 5, 1736, and his gravestone still remains. His will was dated December 15, 1735, and proved November 3, 1736. He mentioned four sons and two daughters, and bequeathed twelve pounds to purchase a communion vessel for the Lancaster church. Children: William, of Bolton; Joseph, mentioned elsewhere; Bazaleel; Elias; Mary, married Josiah Rice, of Marlborough; Hannah, married Jonathan Moore, of Bolton; (perhaps) Sarah, married Rev. Nathaniel Whitman, of Deerfield.

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