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Hannah's hatchet.

Hannah Duston's Whackin' Hatchet

Field review by the editors.

Haverhill, Massachusetts

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 Native Americans 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 (her kidnappers supposedly 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!

Hannah Duston's Whackin' Hatchet

Buttonwoods Museum

240 Water St., Haverhill, MA
In the Buttonwoods Museum. East of downtown on Water St./Hwy 113/97. Turn north onto John Ward Ave. The museum will be on the right, at the top of the hill.
May-Oct. T-Su 10 am - 5 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Muffler Man with AxMuffler Man with Ax, Groveland, MA - 4 mi.
Two CastlesTwo Castles, Methuen, MA - 7 mi.
Graves of Betty and Barney HillGraves of Betty and Barney Hill, Kingston, NH - 12 mi.
In the region:
Jumbo the Elephant: Statue and Ashes, Medford, MA - 25 mi.

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