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Monday, August 11, 2008

1676 :: Ruin, Desolation and Death

On this date in our family history . . . the 11th day of August . . . in the year 1676 . . . Thomas Brackett is one of numerous people (including his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Mitton) who are killed at Old Falmouth in Maine . . . this Thomas Brackett is a 9th great-grandpa to the Keeper of this family history blog . . .

Brackett Genealogy
Herbert Ierson Brackett

Thomas Brackett, the 2nd son, and perhaps the 3rd child of Anthony Brackett, the immigrant (see Chapter II), was probably born at Sandy beach, then of the town of Strawberry Bank (Portsmouth), now a part of the present town of Rye, in New Hampshire, about the year 1635, if not earlier, and removed to Casco, ME, soon after 1662.

Little is known of him prior to his marriage to Mary Mitton, daughter of Michael Mitton. Subsequent to this event he became prominent in the town, was one of the selectman of 1672. His wife's mother, Elizabeth Mitton, daughter of George Cleeve, married for her second husband a Mr. Harvey. Mrs. Harvey lived with Thomas in 1671; during that year he entered into an agreement for her care and maintenance, and in consideration received from her a deed of land. The tract was situated on the southerly side of the upper part of the Neck; it had been occupied by Michael Mitton for several years. The house stood near to where the gas house is in Portland.

There is no doubt that Thomas prospered in his undertakings; how well is shown by his marriage into the Cleeve-Mitton family and by his having been chosen as selectman. The office at the time was an important one, as the selectmen of the town were authorized to make grants of land in the town. While he held the office in 1672, his brother Anthony received a grant of four hundred acres. As to how long he held the office or as to what other office he held, nothing is known, as the records of the town covering the period, are not extant. Probably there were few men in Casco who had brighter prospects before them or were more happily situated than he, when the fateful year, 1676, brought ruin, desolation and death to his and him.

When, on the capture of Capt. Anthony Brackett and his family, August 11, 1676, the Indians divided, a part passing around Back cove and a part onto the Neck, the first house in the course of the latter was Thomas Brackett's, on the southerly side of the Neck. Between the houses of the two brothers, was an unbroken forest. The accounts relative to their line of march are conflicting. It is thought that the Indians went along the northerly side of the Neck until they had passed the farm of Thomas Brackett. In their course they met John, the son of George Munjoy, and another Isaac Wakely, and shot the two. Others who were with or near them, fled down the Neck to give the alarm, and thereupon the Indians retreated in the direction of Thomas Brackett's house.

That morning three men were on their way to Anthony Brackett's farm to harvest grain. They probably rowed over the river from Purpooduck point and had left their canoe near Thomas Brackett's house. From there they crossed the Neck towards Anthony's house, to where they went near enough to learn of the attack by the Indians on his family; the three hastened onto the Neck, perhaps over the course pursued by the Indians, to give the alarm. On their way they heard guns fired "whereby it seems two men (perhaps Munjoy and Wakely) were killed." Thereupon the three fled in the direction of Thomas Brackett's house to reach their canoe.

The Indians reached the farm, nearly at the same time as did the men, who saw Thomas Brackett shot down while at work in his field. Two of the men succeeded in reaching the canoe; the third, not so fleet of foot, hid in the marsh and witnessed the capture of Thomas Brackett's wife and children. The three men escaped. Among the Indians who were concerned in the killing of Thomas Brackett, was Megunnaway, one of the braves of King Philip. All of the residents on the Neck, except Thomas Brackett, his family, John Munjoy and Isaac Wakely, succeeded in reaching Munjoy's garrison house, which stood on Munjoy's hill at the end of the Neck. From there they passed over to Bangs' island, then called Andrew's Island. . . .

The Story of Old Falmouth
James Otis Kaler, James Otis

THE ATTACK ON CASCO NECK. On the 9th of August, 1676, a well-known Indian named Simon, who had been imprisoned at Dover awaiting his trial on the charge of murder, appeared at the farm-house of Anthony Brackett [brother of Thomas], and was accused by him of having stolen a cow a few days previous. Simon denied the charge, but promised to bring the culprits to Mr. Brackett's home on the third day. Agreeably to the promise he came, accompanied by five other Indians, and was admitted to the house by Mr. Brackett himself, who had no suspicion that mischief was intended. Then began the work of murder, and the settlement was alarmed.

Regarding this attack by the savages, there is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a letter from Thaddeus Clark, written in the year 1676, to his mother in Boston. In this letter the unfortunate man says . . .

On Friday morning your own son with your sons-in-law, Anthony and Thomas Brackett, and their whole families were killed or taken captives by the Indians. It is certain that Thomas was slain, and his wife [Mary Mitton] and children carried away, but of Anthony and his family we have no tidings, therefore think they may have been captured the night before, for, as you know, they live at a long distance from any neighbor. Mr. Corbin and all his family; Mr. Lewis and his wife; James Ross and family; Mr. Durham, John Murphy, Daniel Wakely, Benjamin Hadwell and his family were all killed before the sun was an hour high in the morning. Mr. Wallis's house was the only one burned. There are of men slain, eleven; of women and children killed and taken, twenty-three. We that are alive are forced upon Mr. Andrews on his island to secure our own and the lives of our families. We have but little provisions, and are so few in number that we are not able to bury the dead until more strength comes to us. We entreat the Governor that forthwith aid may be sent to us, either to fight the enemy out of our borders that our English corn may be planted whereby we may live comfortably, or remove us out of danger that we may provide for ourselves elsewhere. Desiring your prayers to God for His preservation of us in these times of danger, I rest

Your dutiful son,


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I pass by this area all the time, since my friend lives on Brackett Road in Rye. Do you have a photograph of the area? I can get you photos of the memorial, the graves and the salt marsh where this all happened. I'm related to Anthony Bracket, b. 1708, through his wife Karenhappuck Proctor, but not the Anthony mentioned here (my Anthony is that one's grandson)

Anonymous said...

Thomas Brackett and Mary Mitton are my 7th great grandparents. I am through their daughter Sarah. She was one of the children redeemed by her grandparents. Sarah married John Hill and their son Joshua Hill married Rachel Goss, their son Joseph Hill married Mary Polly Johnson, their son James Hill married Sarah Guptil, their son James Hill married Almira Berry, their daughter Sarah Hill married Edwin Libby, their son Elton Libby married Ida Mae Condon ( no relation to the Condons of Matinicus Island, Maine) and their son Albert JohnstonLibby married Margaret Evelyn Fay. The last being my grandparents.

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