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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 22

Thomas goes to Guangzhou. Frances is back.

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 21

It’s very quiet without letters from Frances but remember, three of her letters—November and December 1843, as well as January 1844—are missing and presumed lost at sea…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 20

When the barque Fort Warren reached the Java Sea…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 18

Nearly out of time when he received her angry letter at the end of June…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 16

As late autumn hurried toward winter, Thomas wrote to Frances…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 14

…the Dimicks return to Fort Constitution, Russell and Thomas Waldron return from four years at sea…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 13

…more from William Wall, Frances responds…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 11

Two famous women; the Company gets called up; sweet William Wall writes a letter…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 10

A new investment, a flirtation, and an Indian attack…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 9

By mid-October 1833, sixteen year old Frances J. R. Sargent had been home from the Ursuline Academy for over a year…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 7

At about the same time the Sargent family moved to Fort Constitution at the beginning of 1827, James Sargent began to…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 6

On March 29, 1827, Lieutenant Justin Dimick married Mary Waldron…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 5

Well-bundled against the northern New England winter weather, the family traveled in a sleigh with hot, flannel-wrapped bricks at their feet…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 4

Nine days before John Quincy Adams’ inauguration, on a bright and warmish Wednesday in late February 1825…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 3

In 1821, Dr. Sargent was reassigned to a small coastal garrison on the Canadian border…

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The Surgeon’s Daughter – 1

On July 19, 1817, James Hovey Sargent, the thirty-five year old Army Surgeon assigned to Fort Sewall in Marblehead, Massachusetts, delivered his wife Fanny’s third child…

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Wheeler’s Surprise-Conclusion

Wheeler’s version of what happened in late July and early August of 1675, was simple—innocent English colonists were misled by seemingly friendly but ultimately untrustworthy Indians. But as we have learned by unravelling this myth, the story is actually multi-dimensional and very complicated. First, we explored Thomas Wheeler’s Narrative and discovered that it was originallyContinue reading “Wheeler’s Surprise-Conclusion”

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Ayres’ Tavern and the Siege

One of the most mystifying things about the Siege of Brookfield is that over a hundred people sought refuge in Ayres’ Tavern. Local tradition says that all these people crammed into 4 rooms…for four days and three nights. So, what did Ayres’ Tavern look like? How big was it? We know that English Post-Medieval ElizabethanContinue reading “Ayres’ Tavern and the Siege”

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Surprise and Deception–Part Two

Let’s carefully examine the Narrative. The said Captain Hutchinson, and myself, with about twenty men or more marched from Cambridge to Sudbury, July 28, 1675; and from thence into the Nipmuck Country, and finding that the Indians had deserted their towns, and we having gone until we came within two miles of New Norwich, onContinue reading “Surprise and Deception–Part Two”

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Surprise and Deception

Historian Jill Lepore reminds us that words about war are often lies. False reports, rumors, deceptions. The words used by Wheeler to describe the Brookfield debacle as a ‘surprise’ are a good example of this kind of deceit.  According to Wheeler, he was completely unaware of Indian intentions to attack his militia company on theContinue reading “Surprise and Deception”

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Neighbors

Nothing happens in a vacuum. The years leading up to King Philip’s War and the attack on Brookfield were not peaceful. In 1672, just before the third Anglo/Dutch War began, an ongoing conflict apparently continued in the Quaboag River Valley. The colonists living at Quaboag Plantation likely had difficult relationships with their Quaboag neighbors andContinue reading “Neighbors”

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Land and Livestock

The question of why Quaboag Indians and others attacked the town of Brookfield has been well-answered for generations by the notion that blood-thirsty Indians simply couldn’t be trusted. In the words of Wheeler, they broke their promise. The continued reliance on stereotypical explanations of Indian behavior at Quaboag excuses English behavior during King Philip’s War—IndianContinue reading “Land and Livestock”

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Wilderness

Another challenge for modern interpreters of this story, is sorting out the Puritan worldview from later Eurocentric assumptions about the past. In 1887, Josiah Temple described the first settlement to be called Brookfield as “bounded on all sides by wilderness.” In 1958, Douglas Leach described it as perched “on a hill overlooking the forest forContinue reading “Wilderness”

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Wheeler’s Words

It has often been said that words matter. With regard to the study of history, words are used to memorialize historical events and people. Words help us discover the past. But, it’s important to understand that the words used to describe historical events and people can also be problematic. Words can tell us what happenedContinue reading “Wheeler’s Words”

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Kinship Connections, Geography, and Indian Voices

When discussing what happened in Quaboag/Brookfield, it is useful to be aware of what historians call ‘kinship connections’. These are family relationships. There is a strong probability that until about 1661, the old man the English called Massasoit (but who called himself Ousemequin) was sachem of at least some Quaboag Indian clans and likely diedContinue reading “Kinship Connections, Geography, and Indian Voices”

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Local History

Often viewed as the realm of amateurs, the significance of local history should not be underestimated. After all, for most Americans, local history is the most familiar. While late 20th and 21st century historical scholarship has transformed the way academia interprets American history, historical narratives at the local level have often lagged behind. Inadvertently, theyContinue reading “Local History”

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Wheeler’s Surprise – Introduction

History is the study of past human events. An understanding of history is vital to the development of the social and cultural identity of a society. It grounds us in our roots. The study of history has changed enormously in the past fifty years but old stories and outdated explanations remain dominant in some areas, particularlyContinue reading “Wheeler’s Surprise – Introduction”