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.

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