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Local Author To Discuss Controversial Chapter in Merrimack Valley’s History At Tewksbury Library

Apr 27, 2016 10:51AM ● By Robert Hayes

Jay Atkinson

TEWKSBURY, MA – Popular local author Jay Atkinson will discuss his latest book, “Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston’s Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America,” on Thursday, May 5, from 7pm to 8pm, at the Tewksbury Public Library.

Was Hannah Duston the prototypical feminist avenger or the harbinger of the Native American genocide? Based on his meticulously researched and riveting book, Atkinson will shed new light on the answer.

Early on March 15, 1697, during the King William’s War, a band of Abenaki warriors, in service to the French, raided the English frontier village of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Striking swiftly, the Native Americans killed twenty-seven men, women, and children, and took thirteen captives, including 39-year-old Hannah Duston and her week-old daughter, Martha. A short distance from the village, one of the warriors murdered the squalling infant. 

After witnessing her infant’s murder, Duston vowed to get revenge. Two weeks into her captivity, Duston and her companions moved among the sleeping Abenaki with tomahawks and knives, killing two men, two women, and six children. After scalping their victims, Duston and the others escaped down the Merrimack River in a stolen canoe. They braved treacherous waters and the constant threat of attack, returning to tell their story and collect a bounty for the scalps.

Jay Atkinson, a Boston University writing professor, is the author of eight books, including a Publishers Weekly Notable Book of the Year, a New England Bookseller’s Association bestseller; and a Boston Globe bestseller. Atkinson, called “the bard of New England toughness” by Men’s Health magazine, has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Globe Magazine, and Boston Herald.  He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. 

Adults and high school students from Tewksbury and beyond are invited to attend this free hour-long event.  A Q&A and book signing – for those interested – will take place after the presentation.  Due to limited space, attendees are asked to pre-register and reserve their seats by calling 978-640-4490 x 205, emailing, or visiting the library’s online calendar of events at The event will take place in the library’s first-floor, handicap-accessible Meeting Room.  The library is located at 300 Chandler Street, at the corner of Chandler and Main Street (Route 38).  

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