Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Testament on Birch Bark

The following account was assembled from writings scratched on pieces of birch bark found in a horsehide trunk measuring 13" x  8"  x 10"  and painted  bright blue.* The trunk also contained three porcupine quills and a broken drumstick.


Nahum Balch—his last word and account of the weekes in the co. & service of Captn Renfrow in the Yeare 1686. The Co. being in the command of Captn Renfrow and numbering 9 stout men fr the King's Colony of Massachusetts.

The Men—
Benj Clifford                Boston
Elihu Nash                        "
Roger Tolland             Charles Towne
Robt Hettrick               Danvers
Lemuel Putnam           Cambridge
Peter Cleary                 New Towne
J. St. John                         "
Monroe Cathcart         Beverly
NH himfelf                 Duxbury

Their Armes—
Mufkets                      4
Piftoles                       2
Pikes                          3
Axes                          1
Daggers                     2

May the Lord shineth His Countenance upon us All.


On orders from Gov. Andros our Party is to seeke out and smite the Indians now under the controll of Madawadoc, a Sachem said to speake English passing well. Also French. Mad'woc has made Treaty with Father Jean the Jesuit who keeps Company with an Indian maide and stokes the savage breast to lay waste to every honest English home. 6 dwellings burnt in Pemaquid under the watch of his dark Eye. Captn. Renfow has a silver piece in his keeping as a Prize for the Man who takes savage scalps in the greatest number. There is no delay in the whetting of the Axe and Daggers.


June 21. We sail fr Bos. Harbour aboard the Dove. She bobs & skips lively upon the sea. Captn reckons by the Heavens. At nightfall, Toby, Mr. Putnam’s Hound, barked most loudly. The men speake of a Comett that passeth like a Cannon Shot all aflame. Of these sights the Men keep silent, for the Captn is a Man of Science and not given to idle musings.


 The 23rd June. The Canvas hangs slack upon the Maft. A sickly Wind, and that distant upon the waters. A quarrell amongst Messrs Nash & Cleary. Hot oaths are sworn yet not a blow is cast. The Hound grows snappish. Mr. Putnam chains the Beaste to a hogshead of salt codd.


24th J. A sea as flatt as hammered iron. Three casks of pork are fouled, the fleshe being black and unfit for eatyng. Capt. Renfrow puts the Co. to oars. E. Nash standes watch at nyght. He wakens the Capt to take sight of two fyres on the Western shore. Would that they be not Englishe dwellings put to the savage torch.

*Or not


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