Colonial

The Attack on Peter Bent’s Mill

At some unknown time, Peter Bent, who had previously built the bridge over the Sudbury River, had also constructed a mill in today’s Southborough on land now flooded by the Metropolitan system near the Framingham line.  It probably served the farmlands established in Southborough and west Framingham.  It was somewhat isolated, however, and was attacked by Indians who had been raiding the Praying Indian towns of Maguncog (now Ashland), Hassanamesit (now Grafton) and Chobonokomomum (now Dudley).  In response, the colonial authorities had sent a party to investigate including two Indians from the Praying Indian town of Natick.  On November 9, a scouting group including the Indians and twelve soldiers came across seven enemy Indians keading away a young boy.  

George Madison Bodge takes up the story: “The hostiles fled, but were so closely pursued by the Natick scouts that they were forced to abandon the boy, who was taken by our Indians and brought back to Capt. Sill. This boy’s name was Christopher Muchin, a servant or apprentice of Peter Bent, a miller at Marlborough; and he told the Captain that he was seized the day before at Bent’s mill, and that Bent’s son, a lad of about nine years, was taken at the same time, scalped and left for dead — who, however, recovered.”

It seems that the story does not end there.  After the attack and abandonment in Marlborough in March of the following year, it was asserted that there were no fatalities and only one wounded.  Later, however, it was determined that one of the Bent boys had died after departing for Cambridge with the family.  He was believed by some  to have been wounded in the attack.  I believe it more likely to be the boy previously scalped and, under the duress of hasty travel, may have succumbed to sickness or injury.

As for the rest of the family story, it is told in the petition of Elizabeth Bent to the General Court.

“To the Honoble Gov. and Councill sitting in Boston the 29th May 1679:

“The petition of Elizabeth Bent, relict, widdow of Peter Bent of Marlborough deceasd, Humbly sheweth that your Petitionrs Habitation and almost all that she had was consumed by the Indians in the Last Warr and her husband went for England and there dyed and Lost all that he carryed with him and Left your petitioner a very poore Widdow with seven children, and in the time of the Late Warr, Shee billeted severale Souldiers so Long as that her bill did Amount to six pounds and Capt. Hull gave her a Note to the Constable for the payment of the same who will pay her onely Thre pounds in money. So that she is an Extraordinary Looser thereby. Also she had Two Horses Imprest (viz) one from Watertowne and another from Charlestowne wh. were out many months and at Last dyed never being returned home to her againe, and being a poore Ignorant widdow She never Looked after any Tickett or pay for them to this day. Yor Poore petitionr therefore humbly Intreats the favor of yor honor to Impute this Neglect of Duty onely to her Ignorance and that the Law which doth exclude all persons from making further claims to debts due from the Country after the time therein Limited may nott debarr your Petitior from that wh. is justly due, so shall your Petitior and her poore fatherless ones Ever pray for yor honole Ct.

The Bent farm was located at the corner of Williams and Forest Sts. and remained in the Bent family for many generations.  It is unknown whether Elizabeth received compensation for her losses during the war.

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