Hannah Duston: The Mother's Revenge
Every town wants its own champion, and Haverhill has Hannah Duston, the frontier fury. Her monument in the city park tells her story: how she was captured by Indians, how her husband blasted the "savages" who tried to grab her children, and most importantly how she later massacred ten of her captors with their own tomahawks (and the help of two fellow prisoners). Dubbed "The Mother's Revenge" (the Indians had killed her baby), it happened in what is now New Hampshire, and when a statue of Hannah was erected on the site, her home town in Massachusetts soon followed with one of its own. She had been dead for 143 years, but better late than never.
Unlike the statue of Hannah in New Hampshire, which depicts her in a post-massacre pose with scalps in her hand, the one in Haverhill captures her at the moment of attack. Hannah grips her hatchet, her eyes set in a deadly glare, and her finger pointing toward the traffic on Main Street. The pose of the statue is reproduced on a small plaque on its base titled, "Her slaying of her captors." It's only when you see the bas relief of the incident that you realize Hannah is pointing at the sleeping Indians she's about to whack.
Hannah's Haverhill statue has been co-opted for numerous political agendas over the years, from Manifest Destiny in the 1880s to Indian oppression in the 1980s (when it was splattered with red paint). Historians say that Hannah did nothing noteworthy either before or after her kidnapping (we've heard that gripe before with another axe mistress). But Hannah's one burst of activity was enough for Haverhill, which has dodged the sharp edges of conflicting passions and maintains the monument with great care.
The Friends of the Library gift shop across the street still sells Hannah Duston t-shirts, and refrigerator magnets of the statue.