Hannah Duston's Whackin' Hatchet
The Buttonwoods Museum is perhaps best known for its collection of shoes. The town of Haverhill was a center of shoe manufacturing a hundred years ago, known as "The Queen Slipper City." But two hundred years before that, Haverhill was famous for a different reason. It was the capture site of Hannah Duston, a pioneer woman who was kidnapped by Indians and then turned on her captors, killing and scalping ten of them before returning to town to lead an otherwise uneventful life.
Long after she was dead, the "Heroine of Haverhill" was honored with a statue in town as a symbol of motherly rage (the Indians brained her baby). Haverhill also hung onto her relics. The Buttonwoods Museum displays several in a special case, including the hatchet head used by Hannah to kill her captors, and the knife she used to scalp them.
The curator told us that at least five other hatchet heads claim to be Hannah's, but she was fairly certain that the one in the museum is genuine. She wasn't as sure about the "scalp bag" in which Hannah carried home her grisly human trophies, so it's only displayed during the Duston Family's annual reunion in Haverhill. The rest of the year the museum just displays a piece of cloth from the bag. Hannah wove it herself!