The Cochecho Massacre: More Forgotten American History
|Columbus and Taino Indians|
Looking at that progression, it’s easy to think Native Americans were doomed as soon as the first Europeans stepped onshore. Not quite. Around 1000 A.D., when Greenland’s Vikings tried to colonize Vinland (coastal New England), an arrow shot into their leader’s heart by a one-footed Indian discouraged them for good.
620 years passed before Englishmen created a
permanent toehold at Plymouth, Massachusetts. They succeeded primarily because
the native occupants were wiped out two years before by disease introduced by
transient fishermen. The Pilgrims were severely weakened by their own
illnesses, but Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag tribe let them stay, and sent
the English-speaking Squanto to help the starving Pilgrims raise crops. An
American legend was born.
A half-century later New England’s tribes regretted their
tolerance. Their croplands were purchased or seized, their game shot or driven
away, and they could no longer support themselves by trapping fur or making wampum
to sell. In 1675 Massasoit’s grandson, King Philip, led a concerted effort to
push the invaders back, but New England’s tribes were defeated by the settlers’
superior firepower. Most Wampanoags and Narragansetts were slaughtered or
enslaved, but some took shelter with other tribes.
|Vikings at Iceland|
|Squanto and Pilgrims|
I am in the preliminary stages of a novel about King Philip’s War. Peni Jo Renner’s forthcoming historical novel, Cochecho, covers the aftermath of that conflict. Like my historical novels Rebel Puritan, The Reputed Wife, and The Golden Shore (coming in spring 2017), Peni is exploring her ancestry in fiction, beginning with Puritan Witch and Letters From Kezia, and continuing with the doomed settlers of Cochecho in her latest work, appropriately titled Cochecho.
That was the Indian name for Dover, site of the first English settlement in New Hampshire. In 1676 the Christianized Pennacook Indians were friendly with their English neighbors, but also gave refuge to several hundred fugitive Wampanoags. Alarmed by that threat, Major Richard Waldron asks Massachusetts for help, and two companies of militia are dispatched to Cochecho.
Grace Hampton was only six when her parents were killed by Indians. She and her sister are sent to live with an uncle in Cocheho. Now nine, Grace overhears Major Waldron plotting with the militia captains, but it means little to her.
|1689 attack on Dover, NH|
|Peni Jo Renner|