Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War

Remove 1: George Hill

Rowlandson's first "Remove" was at George Hill, located in present day Lancaster. The raiding party, led by the Monoco, and their captives, including Rowlandson, climbed about a mile, according to Rowlandson, and spent the first night on this hill above the English settlement.

The abandoned house where they camped was likely the former trading post of Thomas King. The town of Lancaster had its origins in an agreement between King and the leader Showanon to foster trade at Nashway. Showanon was trading pelts at Boston when he first invited the trader to build a post near the Nashaway confluence, a traditional crossroads, which would provide a central location for Nipmuc and Penacook trappers to exchange their beaver and other pelts for English goods, including the guns and ammunition which facilitated hunting for both trade and subsistence.

Although this initial exchange was based in reciprocity, other traders, drawn to the fertile confluence, pulled local Native men into debt, especially as the beaver population declined, the demand in Europe for beaver hats exceeding the supply of pelts. The traders sometimes held local leaders responsible for paying the debts of their kin. For example, Nanacocomuck, a leader at Wachusett, was imprisoned for two years in Boston when some of his kinsmen were unable to pay the debts they had incurred when they leveraged future pelts. Nanacocomuck was released only when his father and brother, the sachems Passaconaway and Wanalancet, agreed to sell their own fertile land at Wicasauke Island, on the river Molôdemak (Merrimack River). 

As they left George Hill, Monoco and his company traveled through his home territory of Weshawkim, the town situated between two ponds, where many Nashaway people lived. By the time of the war, Lancaster's settlers and bounds were encroaching upon this territory, impacting the subsistence of the people who lived by the ponds. 

Today, there is an orchard at the top of George Hill, and, while doing research, we took advantage of the seasonal blueberry picking opportunity. Blueberries were among the most important summertime foods that the people of Nashaway gathered, not only a delicious staple, which could be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked in stews, but a medicine that increased immunity and supplied vital nutrients.  

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