Elizabeth Hull Heard

Elizabeth Hull, my 11th great aunt and a daughter of Reverend Joseph Hull, was born in 1626 in England and married Capt. John Heard at York, Maine in 1642. Soon after their marriage, they settled at Dover, New Hampshire.

The story of Elizabeth's experience on an exposed outpost where for a long time she was surrounded by hostile Indians has been told in detail by Cotton Mather in his Magnalia Christi Americana as well as in Belknap's History of New Hampshire and in Pikes Journal.

It was in 1652 that Capt. Heard had grants of land "under the Great Hill of Cocheco" and he and Elizabeth built their house on the brow of The Great Hill, later renamed "Garrison Hill". In 1675 when the Indians began to be dangerous, Capt. Heard had a stockade placed around it, and it became known as "Heards Garrison". This garrison house was long the frontier post between Portsmouth and Canada, and the refuge of the families on the east side of the Great Hill.

During an unprovoked and cruel massacre of Indians by whites in 1676, Elizabeth saved the life of a young Indian boy by concealing him until his would-be slayers had left her house and then aided him to escape. Twelve years later she would fall into the hands of the Indians and would escape unharmed by the aid of this same Indian.

Heards Garrison was the only garrison that withstood the massacre of June 27, 1689, when Indian hordes came down at midnight at Cocheco Town. Although fears of Indian troubles had sent many people into the garrisons each night for safety, for some reason two Indian women were allowed to sleep before the kitchen fire in the garrison that night. Early in the morning the Indian women opened the gates of the stockades and let the Indians in while the families were fast asleep. Just as the Indians were about to enter, a dog barked and awakened Elder Wentworth who was staying there. He arose and managed to close the gate, falling on his back holding it closed until other members of the household came to his aid. The Indians fired several bullets through the gate, but no one was hit.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Heard, by then a widow, ..."happening to be at Portsmouth on the day before Quochecho [Cocheco] was cut off, she returned thither in the night with one daughter and three sons, all masters of families. When they came near Quochecho they were astonished with a prodigious noise of Indians, howling, shooting, shouting, and roaring, according to their manner in making an assault. Their distress for their families carried them still further up the river, till they secretly and silently passed by some number of the raging Salvages [sic].

"They landed about an hundred rods from major Waldern's garrison; and running up the hill, they saw many lights in the windows of the garrison, which they concluded the English within had set up for the direction of those who might seek refuge there. Coming to the gate, they desired entrance; which not being readily granted, they called earnestly, and bounced, and knocked, and cried out of their unkindness within, that they would not open to them in this extremity. No answer being yet made, they began to doubt whether all was well and one of the young men then climbing up the wall, saw a horrible tawny in the entry, with a gun in his hand. A grievous consternation seized now upon them; and Mrs. Heard sitting down without the gate through despair and faintness, unable to stir any further, charg'd her children to shift for themselves, for she must unavoidably there end her days. They finding it impossible to carry her with them, with heavy hearts forsook her; but then coming better to herself, she fled and hid among the Barberry-bushes in the garden: and then hastening from thence, because the day-light advanced, she sheltered herself (though seen by two of the Indians) in a thicket of other bushes, about thirty rods from the house.

"Here she had not been long before an Indian came towards her, with a pistol in his hand: the fellow came up to her, and stared her in the face, but said nothing to her, nor she to him. He went a little way back, and came again, and stared upon her as before, but said nothing; whereupon she asked him, what he would have? He still said nothing, but went away to the house co-hooping, and returned unto her no more. Being thus unaccountably preserved, she made several essays to pass the river; but found herself unable to do it; and finding all places on that side the river fill'd with blood, and fie, and hideous outcries, thereupon she return'd to her old bush, and there poured out her ardent prayers to God for help in this distress.

"She continued in the bush until the garrison was burnt, and the enemy was gone; and then she stole along by the river side, until she came to a boom, where she passed over. Many sad effects of cruelty she saw left by the Indians in her way; until arriving at captain Gerish's garrison, she there found a refuge from the storm; and here she soon had the satisfaction to understand, that her own garrison, though one of the first that was assaulted, had been bravely defended and maintained against the adversary."

Cotton Mather concludes that, "This gentlewoman's garrison was the most extream frontier of the province, and more obnoxious than any other, and more uncapable or relief; nevertheless, by her presence and courage it held out all the war, even for ten years together; and the persons in it have enjoy'd very eminent preservations. The garrison had been deserted, if she had accepted offers that were made her by her friends, of living in more safety at Portsmouth; which would have been a damage to the town and land: but by her encouragement this post was thus kept."

Pikes Journal states that "...she was a grave and pious woman, even a mother of virtue and piety. She was also the mother of thirteen children. It is a notable fact that, after her husband's death, although urged to secure safety in Portsmouth, she continued stoutly to hold her frontier Garrison [the Heard home] all through the War and thereby was the means of saving many lives. She is referred to in old documents as a Brave gentlewoman and also as a woman of great wealth."

Elizabeth (Hull) Heard died at Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire November 30, 1706.


I'd be happy to exchange family information.
Please send e-mail to Sam Behling.

See lineage of Hull Family

Read the Biography of Elizabeth's father, Rev. Joseph Hull

Read the Biography of Elizabeth's brother, Capt. Tristram Hull

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