The Story Behind the Cavendish ‘Indian Stones’
How many times have you driven along Route 106 and seen the ‘Indian Stones’ sign? If you had a chance to examine the stones, you’d see that they describe the birth of a European descent child in 1754. While the Stones may be in Reading, the birth took place in Cavendish on what is today the Knapp Pond area.
On Sunday, August 25, the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) will be presenting a talk on the story behind the Indian Stones, including the capture of the Johnson family by the Abenaki, their captivity and their lives afterwards. The talk begins at 2 p.m. at the CHS Museum on Main Street/Route 131 in Cavendish, and will include a trip to see the stones. This event is free and open to the public. For information, call 802-226-7807 or send an email to [email protected]
Susannah Johnson, who lived to be 81, would later write about her experiences in a ‘Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson Containing an Account of her suffering during Four Years with the Indians and French.’
Her diary and story was the basis for Elizabeth George Speare’s 1957 book, ‘Calico Captive.’ It would be four years before the family was reunited.
“In justice to the Indians,” she wrote, “I ought to remark, that they never treated me with
cruelty, to a wanton degree; few people have survived a situation like mine, and few have fallen into the hands of savages, disposed to more lenity and patience. Modesty has ever been a characteristick of every savage tribe; a truth which my whole family will join to corroborate, to the extent of their knowledge. As they are aptly called the children of nature, those who have profited by refinement and education, ought to abate part of the prejudice, which prompts them to look with an eye of censure on this untutored race. Can it be said of civilized conquerors, that they, in the main, are willing to share with their prisoners, the last ration of food, when famine stares them in the face? Do they ever adopt an enemy, and salute him by the tender name of brother? And I am justified in doubting, whether if I had fallen into the hands of French soldiery, so much assiduity would have been shewn, to preserve my life.”
(Readers should note that the text appears as was written.)