More concerning early settlement of Lowell

Hav­ing traced the lin­eage of John Gra­ham, Sr., through the descen­dants of his daugh­ter, Flo­rence, and her hus­band, James Gra­ham, Sr., to the present time, the atten­tion of the read­er is now direct­ed back to the ear­ly set­tle­ment of the Low­ell neigh­bor­hood. As has been pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed, the pio­neer set­tlers of this com­mu­ni­ty locat­ed here at a time when the sav­age, red war­rior was still to be seen tread­ing stealth­ily in this val­ley, the dim paths known only to the hunters and war­riors of his own peo­ple. Thus, were those stur­dy and brave pio­neers ever kept on the out­look for ter­rors dai­ly expect­ed. While some worked to clear away the heavy for­est, oth­ers with rifle in hand watched for this treach­er­ous foe. The cause of the strange bark­ing of a cur, the snap­ping of a twig, the indi­ca­tions of fresh [89] foot­prints or the rus­tle of a leaf were looked into with as much scruti­ny and pre­ci­sion as if their life depend­ed on it, which, indeed, in many cas­es it did. There­fore, to bet­ter pro­tect them­selves from an attack from these maraud­ing Indi­ans, the pio­neer set­tlers whom we have named, very soon after locat­ing in their new homes, built a fort on the south bank of the riv­er on the exact spot where now stands the Low­ell hotel. This fort soon became a nucle­us around which set­tlers sought homes and the pro­tec­tion it afford­ed. New homes were thus made more remote from the old­er ones, yet near enough that when an Indi­an alarm was sound­ed, they sought safe­ty with­in the walls of the fort. It is to be pre­sumed that many alarms, false as well as true, were her­ald­ed from house to house in these days of dread and ter­ror. How often these alarms were fol­lowed by the actu­al pres­ence of the Red man in these set­tle­ments or whether he was on mis­sions of peace or paint­ed for war, tra­di­tion does not say; but it is believed that this lit­tle com­mu­ni­ty, though liv­ing in con- [90] stant fear, increased and pros­pered, with no known fatal­i­ties until the spring of 1777, when an Indi­an alarm was again her­ald­ed from home to home, which for once proved to be too true. This rumor seems to have been found­ed by a report of some­one hav­ing seen Indi­an signs in the neigh­bor­hood. From this report the whole com­mu­ni­ty col­lect­ed them­selves to the fort. After being in the fort for a short time, pos­si­bly two or three days, and no fur­ther signs of Indi­ans hav­ing been seen or report­ed, James Gra­ham, hop­ing the alarm to have been ill-found­ed, pro­posed to those in the fort that, if some of the men would go and stay with him a night, he and his fam­i­ly would go over home. Accord­ing­ly, they did so, some of the men in the fort vol­un­teer­ing to go with him. Short­ly after he went home, either the same night or lat­er, his house was attacked by the Indians.

The assault was made in the after part of the night before day­break. Not feel­ing well, Gra­ham had luck­i­ly lain down on a bench against [91] the door with his clothes on. The Indi­ans made the assault by try­ing to force the door open, which they part­ly suc­ceed­ed in doing. Thus aroused, Gra­ham and his men placed the heavy bench and a tub of water against the door, and in this way pre­vent­ed the Indi­ans from gain­ing an entrance. A man named McDon­ald (or Cald­well), who was assist­ing in plac­ing the tub against the door, while reach­ing above the door for a gun was shot and killed, the ball pass­ing through the door. Thwart­ed in their effort in affect­ing an entrance into the house, the Indi­ans next turned their vil­lain­ous assault upon an out­house or kitchen stand­ing near the main dwelling. in this out­build­ing slept a young negro man and two of the Gra­ham chil­dren. The negro, whose name was Sharp, tried to escape by climb­ing up the chim­ney (chim­neys in those days were large and roomy), but when dis­cov­ered was ruth­less­ly hauled down from his hid­ing place, tom­a­hawked and scalped. As this tragedy was being enact­ed, the cries of the two chil­dren who were sleep­ing [92] on the loft above next direct­ed the atten­tion of the Indi­ans to that quar­ter. They shot up through the floor and wound­ed the eldest of the two, a boy named John in the knee, then dragged him and his sis­ter down and out into the yard. Find­ing that John was wound­ed so bad­ly that he could not stand upon his feet and that he would be a bur­den­some pris­on­er, they at once dis­patched him with a tom­a­hawk and car­ried off his bleed­ing scalp as a tro­phy of their crime.

While this bloody scene was going on in the kitchen, Colonel Gra­ham had gone upstairs and was shoot­ing through a port­hole at the Indi­ans in the yard as best he could. The men in the low­er part of the house loaded the guns and hand­ed them up to him and he did the shoot­ing. About the time they were try­ing to make the wound­ed boy stand up, sev­er­al of them hud­dled togeth­er and fired at the bulk; when they sud­den­ly dis­persed. It is believed that one or more of the Indi­ans were killed or wounded.

Leave a Comment