Hannah Duston statue.

Hannah Duston Massacre Site Statue

Field review by the editors.

Penacook, New Hampshire

According to early historian Cotton Mather, Hannah Duston (also spelled "Dustin"), her six-day old baby Martha, and her nurse Mary Neff were kidnapped by Indians on March 15, 1697. After several days on the run north into New Hampshire, the Indians and their prisoners ended up here, on a small island. Somewhere along the way an Indian grabbed baby Martha and smashed her to death against a tree.

Hannah Duston monument.

Hannah, enraged, waited until her captors were asleep, grabbed a tomahawk, and began killing the Indians, aided by the nurse and a 14-year-old boy. By the time that they were through, 10 of the 12 Indians lay dead. Hannah collected the scalps as proof of her deed (and to collect a scalp bounty) and went home.

177 years passed. By 1874 New Hampshire had become part of the U.S., and Hannah had become an object of civic pride: the "Granite State Heroine." It may seem strange, but of all of the women who had ever lived in America, Hannah the Indian killer was the first to get a statue.

It stands on the spot where her massacre occurred, an impressive 35 feet tall. Its location on an otherwise undeveloped island adds to its majesty, but it also makes it an easy target for vandals. Hannah's pedestal has been sprayed with graffiti and splattered with red paint, and her nose has been broken, probably by a bullet. Her expression, despite the facial damage, is one of resolve, or maybe blank shock. But it seems ill-suited to a woman who has just scalped ten Indians.


In her right hand is a hatchet, in her left, a tangled mass of scalps, which could be mistaken for a bouquet of wilted flowers if you didn't know what they were. The monument's inscription poetically dismisses the Indians as "the war whoop tomahawk faggot and infanticides."

This statue is less memorable overall than the angry Hannah Duston statue in her hometown of Haverhill, Massachusetts. But it does have the scalps (which the other lacks), and it is bigger.

Don't visit at dusk or dawn in the warm weather months unless you want to be eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Also see: Hatchet Hannah Bobble Head | Hero Statue in Haverhill, MA

Hannah Duston Massacre Site Statue

Commercial St., Penacook, NH
I-93 exit 17. Drive west one mile on US Hwy 4. Cross the river and you'll see a small Park and Ride lot on the left. A footpath from the lot crosses a railroad trestle onto the island and leads to the statue. If the lot is full, continue west on US Hwy 4, turn left onto Harris Hill Rd/Tremont St., then left again onto Commercial St. This will take you to the trestle, where you can park and walk to the statue. Lots of mosquitoes at dusk and dawn.
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