Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Massacre at Hurtleberry Hill

     Current town boundaries in Middlesex County, Massachusetts are considerably smaller than they were in the the seventeenth century.  Concord boundaries extended farther south.  Mt. Misery and part of the town of Lincoln were originally part of Concord. 
     The Goble family moved from Charlestown to Concord sometime around the middle of the between 1652 (records showing Thomas Goble in Charlestown) and 1657 (Thomas Goble's will).  The Goble house, still standing in 1904, was described as being on the edge of Walden Woods on the road leading west from the Village of Lincoln.  This description would put the Goble farm about a half-mile from Mt. Misery and Walden Pond(see map below1).
     Current day researchers believe that Mt. Misery was called Hurtlebery Hill during the seventeenth century.
     Metacom, a Native American leader, known to the colonists as King Phillip had come to the conclusion that the settlers were dishonest and the only solution was to drive them from his land.  The war lasted only about two years (1675-1676) but was particularly bloody.  Ten percent of the adult male colonists were killed along with many women and children.  Two-thirds of the English towns in Massachusetts were attacked.  The Native American population fared even worse.  Those who were not among the thousands who were killed, were captured and shipped off as slaves to the sugar plantations in the Caribbean.
      Life was just a precarious for those Indians who fought as allies of the English. Since some Indians had at times switched sides, the settlers decided that Native Americans couldn't be trusted.  Laws were passed which allowed the English to kill Indians who were not in their designated area.  
      A short time before the end of the war, three Indian women and three children were given permission to leave their assigned location to gather berries near Hurtleberry Hill. It seems that hurtleberry can be used interchangeably with whortleberry, huckleberry and even blueberry.  A local militia unit came upon the six indians.  A short while later four of the soldiers returned.  Daniel Hoar, Daniel Goble, Stephen Goble, and Nathaniel Wilder shot and hacked to death all six Indians2. Numerous similar incidents were known to have occurred but this was the only incident where the men were convicted.  They were all sentenced to death. Stephen Goble was hung first.  A week later Daniel Goble was hung.  The other two men appealed their conviction on the basis that they were young and didn't participate.  They were released after paying a fine.  It probably didn't hurt that their fathers were upstanding members of the community. 
     Daniel Goble was married and left a wife and four children.  His wife remarried and ironically years later she and her second husband and their child were killed in an Indian attack.  
     Stephen Goble was unmarried.

 Note: Daniel Goble was the brother of my 8great-grandfather, Thomas Goble Jr.  Stephen Goble was a son of Thomas Goble.  Ruth Goble, a daughter of Thomas and brother of Stephen, was my 7great-grandmother.  Ruth Goble married Samuel Stratton.   

1.   Google Maps Engine, Google Imagery 2013 Digital Globe, U.S. Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service Agency.
2. Pulsipher, Jenny Hale. "Massacre at Hurtleberry Hill: Christian Indians and English Authority in Metacom's War." The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, July 1, 1996, 459-86.


  1. Thank you, David, for this interesting blog. So sad!

  2. Do I understand that Stephen and Daniel were part of the militia? And that they were hanged because they killed without knowing that the Indians had permission to gather the berries?

    1. They were part of a militia but they did not kill the Indians as part of the duties of the militia. The militia came across the six Indians while with other members of the militia but then they returned later and killed them. I believe that they were aware that the Indians had permission to be there.
      The Pulsipher article is quite detailed about the episode. A good read.