Fitch Bits: Redemption Rock
Redemption Rock is a glacial stone outcropping, made out of granite, and in the shape of a flat topped ledge, on a ¼ acre reservation in Princeton, Massachusetts. It’s mere feet from the main road but still eerily quiet. If it’s not obvious yet, it’s also where teenagers go to make out and drink. Damn kids.
Anyway, it also happens to be historically significant and a very important setting in the world’s very first bestselling book. Check it out for yourself and you’re going to see this inscription:
|Don’t touch it, though. You never know what some gross teenagers did to it.|
That inscription tells the story of the ransom of Mary White Rowlandson. This is really her story.
Fitch Bits: Redemption Rock
In order to fully understand the story of Redemption Rock, you really have to understand the cast of characters. It’s nothing without them and how they interacted during the long and brutal King Philip’s War and it all starts with the man himself.
We’ve covered parts of King Philip’s life before and this is yet another way that he greatly influenced the history of the world. His real name was Metacomet and he was in charge of the Wampanoag. At this point in time, he was also the quarterback for the Narragansett and Nipmuc. That’s because there was a war on and he was its chief instigator.
King Philip’s War is dense in its history and covers a lot of land. For this post, though, we’ll just talk about one raid on February 10th, 1676. That was when Metacomet allowed Monoco of the Nipmuc to lead hundreds of his men on an attack against Lancaster, Massachusetts. It was swift, severe, and ended with 24 captive colonists in tow. That’s where the story of Redemption Rock begins.
Mary White Rowlandson
|"This is my BOOM stick!"|
Mary White was an English lass born in 1637 in Somerset. Things would have been perfectly fine, if not for her family constantly being surrounded by so many filthy Brits and their fully settled society. That’s why they picked up stakes and left for the shores of the New World when Mary was in her early teens.
It was sometime before 1650 when the family settled in a rustic little place called Salem. That would only last a few years, though. I mean, seriously, can you really take that much Salem in your life?
1653 saw them relocate to Lancaster and that’s where Mary would meet Reverend Joseph Rowlandson. The two were married in 1658, when she was 19 years old. They started popping out children between the years of 1658 and 1669 and ended up with four of the things. One of them passed away very young, so Mary and Joseph were left with three children, good societal standing, and a nice house. That’s how life would find her when the night of February 10th fell.
|Like this, only in color and with more blood and stuff.|
Of the 24 captives taken that night, four of them happened to be Rowlandsons. There was the now 30 year old Mary and her three children. Her sister was also taken, but she wasn’t technically a Rowlandson.
They were all immediately taken on a grueling journey through the unsettled wilds. Mary, unfortunately, had to watch her six year old daughter succumb to the wounds she sustained in the attack. The family, numbering four with her sister, would spend the next 11 weeks and 5 days as prisoners.
A Girl's Gotta Eat
|Like this, only sadder.|
Naturally, you have to find a way to survive and eat. Mary did this by making clothes for her Native captors. She would literally sew them things to wear and they would give her food to eat in return.
She was kept separate from the rest of her family and the Nipmuc and Narragansett liked to keep changing the way they treated her. Sometimes they’d be all nice and trade her a lot of food. They also let her read a bible that kept her sane. Other times, they’d starve her for no good reason at all. That’s just how they rolled.
Meeting the Boss
|For reference, this was her home before she got kidnapped, starved, and mistreated.|
All throughout the 11 weeks, the Natives were working hard to stay one step ahead of the English colonists. They knew the terrain, so all they had to do was stay on the move until they got back to King Philip.
Mary and the other prisoners were brought before him so he could decide what to do with them. That’s when he just straight up asked her how much her husband would buy her back for. She was just like, “Meh, like 20 bucks, prolly.” That was all he needed to hear!
Enter John Hoar. This Hoar was born in 1622 and served as a militia leader and as a liaison between the colonists and the Natives. Like most Hoars, he was also a lawyer, so he knew how to law and also how to talk good.
Anyway, Joseph Rowlandson approached him and asked him how big of a pain it would be to possibly talk to the Natives about, you know, getting his freaking wife and children back. John was all like, “I got you, fam! Your favorite Hoar is on the case!”
|Trail markers probably would have helped.|
So he set off with two guides and headed for King Philip’s
crib at Wachusett Lake. This was before Uber, so it took a little while. Still,
though, the now exhausted, dirty Hoar (from all the walking) managed to win the
Hoar’s Paid Release
On May 2nd, 1676, after eleven full weeks of captivity and the death of her daughter, Mary Rowlandson was released by the Natives. Everyone met at Redemption Rock to settle the deal. Hoar handed over £20 and the Natives handed over Mary.
Don’t think that was a trivial amount of money, though. This is still in 1676 pounds. Adjust that baby for inflation and you’re talking a sweet £3,278.45. In real money, that equals $3,979.38! That’s what it took for this one dirty Hoar to get an entire family off!
Shipping off to Boston
|This whole thing got an astounding number of rock inscriptions.|
Mary White Rowlandson was finally reunited with her children, her sister, and her husband in Boston. The whole ordeal was no much that they were all just like screw it. Rather than deal with driving all the way back to Lancaster, they just bought a house in the city and stayed there.
That’s where Mary would write the world’s very first bestseller, “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs Mary Rowlandson”. It was the entire story of her encounter and sold both in New England and the original flavor England.
|Seriously, read it!|
In it, she talks about everything that happened during those eleven weeks. She talks about watching her daughter die, she talks about watching her friends die on the night of the attack, and she talks about how she was treated. You can still read it and you totally should! It’s a real piece of history written by the person who lived it!
So that’s pretty much the story of Mary Rowlandson and Redemption Rock. The family would move one last time to Connecticut in 1677. Reverend Joseph Rowlandson passed away in November of 1678.
Mary went on to remarry a feller by the name of Captain Samuel Talcott. She would move back to Boston and eventually pass away at the age of 73 on January 5th, 1711. The End.
Thanks for Reading
Hey, thanks for reading! These Fitch Bits things are just shallow dives on popular sites and stories. I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, please consider liking the Facebook page here and following the Slightly Odd Fitchburg below! If you really, REALLY liked it, please consider joining us on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive posts that no one else can read, as well as tons of sweet swag! Other than that, we’ll dig into some more odd and haunted history next time!
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|Seriously, it really does help.|
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