The following is chapter 4 from the book "Colonial Days & Ways as Gathered From Family Papers" by Helen Eveston Smith, 1900, published by The De Vinne Press.

Among the many slow-sailing craft of petty tonnage which followed in the wake of the Mayflower , there were not a few which brought men and One women of high future importance to the infant colonies of New England, but probably few had a more notable passenger list than that of the little ship Abigail, which, after a ten weeks' voyage, reached Boston in November, 1635. Of its two hundred and twenty passengers some bore names which were already noted in old England, and the names of others were afterward to become distinguished in the New. Among the latter was the second John Winthrop, the founder of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and afterward the honored governor of Connecticut Colony for many successive terms. With him came his second wife, then newly wed, and her elder sister, Mrs. Margaret Lake, with her two young daughters. It is with Mrs. Lake, rather than with any of the more distinguished members of this notable ship’s company, that our present chapter is concerned. Not until twelve years after the arrival of the Abigail do we again hear of Mrs. Lake. This time it is as the first white woman to set foot in what is now New London County , where — and a very unusual thing it was at that time — she is named as one of the original grantees, sharing in all the grants and divisions of land. Mrs. Lake probably never took up her residence in New London, appearing to have shared the home of her sister, Mrs. Winthrop, until the latter's husband became the governor of Connecticut Colony , after which period Mrs. Lake continued to reside in Ipswich , perhaps in the house which had belonged to the Winthrops . It was on the portion of land which had been assigned to Mrs. Lake in New London County that her daughter Hannah, when, in 1643, she had become the wife of the second Captain John Gallup, lived for the first few years of her wedded life.
Although the conditions of life were necessarily of the hardest all through the early days in all the colonies, and there is no doubt that they were hardest of all in sterile New England, it must not be imagined that there were no degrees in the styles of living. In spite of the leveling effect of common sentiments , circumstances, privations, and dangers, and of the fact that men of gentle birth and cultivated minds were forced by the first law of nature to become measurably skilled in all sorts of handicraft, class distinctions were for several generations as rigorously maintained in the New England as in the Old. It was said by Daniel Neal, writing in 1720: “ In their Dress, Tables and Conversation, they [the colonists] affect to be as English as possible. ... The only difference between an Old and a New English Man is in his Religion. ” Hence it is plain that, at least after the first two or three years in any given settlement, to describe the home of a family belonging to one social class is by no means to describe that of a family belonging to another class at the same, much less at another, period.
The wills of the respective ancestors of John and of Hannah Lake Gallup prove them to have been men of considerable substance and local importance in old England. In the New World their family alliances were equally respectable, so it may be supposed that their dwelling and home belongings were fairly representative of those of the best of the pioneer families of their time.
But before the nest-building must have come the mating, with all its preliminaries, as sweet here in the wilderness as if the actors in the little love-drama had been walking beneath the haw thorn hedges on one of their ancestral manors across the sea. Between the dust-dry lines of the dim old records we imagine that we catch a glimpse of what may have been a very charming and beautiful romance; for John Gallup and Hannah Lake, as boy and girl , probably about fourteen and twelve years of age, were fellow-passengers on the ship Abigail during the long crossing of the stormy Atlantic. When, as in this case, more than two hundred passengers were packed closely together for ten or more tedious and sometimes fearful weeks, there is no doubt that the foundations were laid for many long enduring friendships, and sometimes, alas! for equally durable dislikes; and if these, why may not love also have been born in these confined and tempestuous quarters? At least, it is a pleasant thought, with some warrant of tradition and probability, that the manly boy, tall, handsome, and bold as he must have been, if in this case the boy was the father of the man, and the bright faced girl who became a brave, high-spirited, and loving matron, may have begun their mutual lifelong trust and love upon this wave-tossed little vessel, smaller than many a fishing-schooner of today. There must certainly have been many opportunities to make their respective faults and virtues known to each other.
The conditions of such a voyage are vividly painted in the elder Governor Winthrop’s journal of his own voyage five years preceding that of the Abigail. He makes no complaints, but it is easy to see that the noble spirit of the adventurer for conscience' sake had much to triumph over. On the four vessels of which the bark which bore him was one, he records that there were three deaths and three births during the voyage. Surely those were brave women who accompanied their husbands, venturing so much at such a time! One advantage that the elder Winthrop's company had, and which probably they of the younger did not have, has a picnicky sound that is droll enough to modern ears.
When “ off the banks of New Foundland the Arabella stopped to fish, ” and “ all the passengers who were so minded ” seem to have enjoyed the sport of replenishing their scanty larder . A little later we find that they were picking strawberries on Cape Ann.
The Abigail's weary voyage was not ended until in November, much too late for any such diversions. It is at least to be hoped that her passengers did not, like those of a ship which immediately followed the Arabella, “ arrive nearly starved, ” but it is certain that they had on board a most unwelcome companion in the smallpox . At that time even inoculation had not become known, and we can now but faintly imagine the well-justified terrors of those exposed to the disease.
Though the young couple were not married until eight years after their arrival in this country, it is probable that their earliest dwelling was built of logs, as were most of the houses of this date and vicinity. If so, it was soon superseded by the permanent homestead, which was not taken down until the latter part of the eighteenth century. I have talked about this house with a man who had heard it described by his mother, the daughter of a farm-laborer who had lived in it until her marriage at the age of eighteen years. Soon after that time it ceased to be used as a dwelling, and before this it had long been occupied only as a tenement house for farm-laborers, a finer residence having been erected for their own homestead by the descendants of the builders of the first. The second permanent home of the Gallups was fine for its days and must have been intended to fill, in a degree, the place of one of the old manor-houses, of which the builders of the first had probably transmitted vivid memory-pictures; but the dwelling which immediately succeeded the log house was erected with a view to meeting the needs of the new country.
That so few of the houses of the early settlers were built of the excellent stone which is over-abundant in New England was not due to the groundless prejudice against that material which arose among their great-grandchildren, but to the fact that haste — such haste as was possible in those slow days — was of the utmost consequence. No man wished to spend the best years of his life in a cabin of logs and clay while waiting for a stone house to grow, as ordinarily it must under the tedious methods of the period, layer by layer, the lower tiers almost having time to gather moss before the roof-beams could be raised.
The larger part of the best of the early houses of New England were probably much like this first permanent homestead of the Gallups. Both the external walls and those of the partitions were of heavy timbers, roughly squared by the ax, chinked with moss, and lined with hewn planks two inches in thickness. In later days coats of plaster were put on over the planks, but during the first years the walls were made warm as well as picturesque by hangings of bear, deer, otter, wild cat, and fox skins, whenever these could be spared from more pressing uses. The exterior walls were about two feet in thickness, which tells of the size of the forest trees which had been cut down to make them. The high-placed and deep-seated windows were scant in number, heavily barred and narrow. (The Pequots and Narragansetts were near, numerous, and crafty. ) It is doubtful if the first of the windows were glazed. Even in old England it was only the wealthy who at this time could afford the luxury of glass. Oiled paper was the usual substitute. To exclude the cold were heavy and close wooden shutters both outside and inside. During the coldest weather it must have been necessary to depend for light, even in the daytime, upon open fires, pine-knots, and candles, for at least the first decade or two in each new settlement.
In the center of the house rose the great stone chimney, with wide-throated fireplaces opening into three large rooms on the first story, and into four upon the second story. The unplastered and paintless ceilings were low, but higher than usual, for John Gallup is said to have stood six feet four inches in his gray knit hose, and had to bow his stately head to ebter any doorway save his own. The second story on the two longer sides projected considerably beyond the lower. In view of the constant danger from Indians, it is probable that this house was intended to be used as a fortress in case of necessity, and this projection may have been made for the sake of affording a coign of vantage to its inmates if attacked by savages, although, as this method of construction was a common one in nearly all parts of Europe at the time, this is not a necessary supposition. The third story was but a big garret with windows in each end. Beneath all were deep cellars for the storage of winter suplies, and for the manufacture and ripening of home-brewed beer, made after recipes brought from the home country. At first cider had no place in those cellars, but after the orchards had grown, there was found room for the barrels of hard cider which were made from them, and which finally quite displaced the heavier and perhaps more wholesome, certainly less stimulating, beer. In the cellers were also kept, even from the first, the casks of metheglin, made from the plentiful honoy of the wild bee, which in the utumn filled the place with the sound of its working with the sound of its working like the swarming of armies of bees - a sound which is said to be reproduced in the befuddled heads of those who were not extremely moderate in their draughts of this too potent liquor.
In the broad and high-peaked garrett were set the heavy looms at which, during all the long summer days, either men or women, as the case might be, were diligently weaving the coarse stuff which must serve young and old, master and man, mistress and maid, for all the rougher occassions of pioneer life.
Very different are the social standards of differing times. In early New England, and in all the colonis, for that matter, it was only a speically wealthy family which could afford to own its own loom, at least until they could be made here. Weaving was heavy work, and it was mostly done by weavers who went from house to house, or by the poorer neighbors, who were paid in cloth or in other needed supplies. It seems certain that, during the first two or three decades at least, much of the spinning must have been done with the distaff, for comparatively few wheels are mentioned in the inventories of those years. Whether with distaff or wheel, spinnign was winter's lighter task, and performed by both mistress and maids; but, as with weaving, it was only the well-to-do who had the materials. It was many years before sufficient wool or flax could be grown in this country to make them plentiful.
Long before cloth-weaving factories were established here, yet not until the early part of the eighteenth century, a few fulling-mills were set up; at these the woolen cloths were dyed, fulled, sheared, and pressed. A web of cloth which had passed through the fuller's processes was an object of envy to those — and they were in the majority — who could not afford to pay for his services.
The making of the plainest linens was probably all done at home, either with or without the aid of the itinerant weaver, whose services were some times bespoken months in advance, so greatly was he in demand. Even after his labors were done the fabric was not ready for use. In my dear mother's girlhood flax-spinning was still considered as an essential accomplishment for young ladies, at least among the descendants of the Huguenots. I have heard her say that to bring the fine linen for shirts to the required degree of snowiness no less than thirty and sometimes even forty bleachings were necessary. The first few bleachings were of the thread. The colonists were never sparing of their labor, yet it is probable that they were not so dainty as to the shade of white ness in the overfilled days of the seventeenth century. With their best diligence, the time required from the sowing of the flax to the end of the last bleaching could never be less than sixteen months.
Farm - laborers had come over in numbers, and there was a fair proportion of mechanics, but of maid-servants there was oftentimes a great lack. Though many a family, among the richer colonists, had brought several, the maid-servants were always fewer in number than the men-servants , and when they married, as most of them did very soon, there was no way of supplying their places. At the date when this old house was new there were few negroes in New England, and the half tamed squaws who were sometimes employed made very poor substitutes for trained house workers. As the Winthrops were sometimes most unhappily forced to make use of this very unsat isfactory form of household service, it is probable that Mrs. Lake and her daughters were also compelled to accept of it in default of better.
Scanty enough, according to our standard, were then the plenishings of the wealthy houses of old England, and really pathetic was the scarcity here of what were even then esteemed to be essential comforts in the older land. Not until well into the second half of the seventeenth century was furniture of any but the roughest sorts made in New England, and it is obviously impossible that much should have been imported in the tiny vessels then dignified by the name of ships. Their space was too important to be filled with furniture, their petty holds being always crowded with the literally indispensable articles, such as provisions, arms, ammunition, tools, seeds, and clothes, while their scanty deck space was made still scantier by the presence of the live stock of which the colonists were in such pressing need.
In 1645 Mrs. Lake sent to a correspondent in England a list of things which she desired for the furnishing of the new house of her daughter, Mrs. Gallup. She asked for:
“ A peare of brasse Andirons,
A brasse Kittell,
2 grate Chestes well made,
2 armed Cheares with fine rushe bottums,
A carven Caisse for Bottels wch my Cuzzen Cooke has of mine,
A Warmeing Pann,
A big iron Pott,
6 Pewter Plates,
2 Pewter Platters,
3 Pewter Porringeres,
A small stew Pann of Copper,
A peare of Brasse and a peare of Silver Candle sticks (of goode Plate.)
A Drippe Panne,
A Bedsteede of carven Oake, (ye one in wch I sleept in my Father's house, wth ye Vallances and Curtayns and Tapestry Cover lid belongynge, & ye wch my Sister Bread cale [ ? ] hath in charge for Mee.)
3 Duzzen Nappekins of fine linen damasque & 2 Tabel cloathes of ye same. Alsoe 8 fine Holland Pillowe Beeres & 4 ditto Sheetes,
A skellet , A pestel & Mortar,
A few Needels of differnt sizes,
A Carpet [that is , a table-cover ; the name was then universally thus applied], of goodley stuffe and colour, aboute 2 Ell longe.
6 Tabel Knifes of ye beste Steal wth such han dels as may bee.
Alsoe , 3 large & 3 smal Silvern Spoones , & 6 of horne.”

And this is all. Yet for the time and place it must have been considered a fine outfit, perhaps too much so for the wife of the frontier farmer, skipper, and fighter. At the same period in old England, in the wills of wealthy titled families, bedding, utensils of copper, and dishes of pewter were constantly named as articles of considerable value. The elder Governor Winthrop was known as one of the wealthiest of the early colonists, yet the inventory of his possessions, made in 1649, does not present a proportionately finer showing. Even a century later than this date a complete outfit of pewter plates, dishes, and spoons made a lordly wedding present, given by a grandson of Major-General Humphrey Atherton to his daughter — a gift which, according to traditions, excited some heartburnings among relatives who had not been so favored. In the absence of pewter, wooden bowls, trenchers, and noggins were considered rather fine, while the carefully dried gourds and the deep, saucer-like shells of the immense quahogs, which were then so abundant, but have now left only degenerate descendants along the New England coasts, served an ever-useful purpose when the supply of better things was short. It is said that small clam-shells, set in split sticks for handles , were used as teaspoons until the early part of this century. The large and thin shells of a kind of scallop, which is still plentiful along the shores of Maine and Massachusetts, are sometimes used even now as skimmers - a curious survival of an old custom so long after the need for it has passed by!
Many years after the old Gallup house had been torn down, the dining -table which had served the family for at least one generation was preserved in an out-house, where my informant had seen it in his youth. It was simply what once had been the cover of a large packing-box, of smooth oak boards, supported by carefully squared legs. The box might have been used to bring the bedding and other things from Europe, for on the under side of the table's top still remained the inscription : “ For Mrs. Margarette Lake, Ippsitch.”
Chairs, when found at all in the houses of the earliest colonists, were reserved for the heads of families and their most honored guests, or for the One may infirm. When one remembers what uncomfortable things the most of those chairs were, one must profoundly pity the infirm! be permitted to hope that the comfortable “ barrel chair, ” still sometimes found in the country houses, was the happy invention of this time, by some bene factor of the ill and aged. Coopers were plentier than cabinet-makers in those days, and the barrel chair has an extremely primitive look. Even in England, until after the Restoration, backless benches and stools formed the usual seats, and we must suppose that they did so for many years later than that.
Closets or pantries were not often built in the houses which first succeeded the log cabins of the settlers, chests which might also be utilized as seats, and a small room with shelves not always overnicely smoothed, answering for the safe-keeping of most articles not in daily use. A cupboard was a possession indicating a good degree of prosperity, while a “ court cup-board, ”or a sideboard, was a mark of positive affluence, even at a much later date than this.
Scanty as was the wedding house-plenishing of Hannah Gallup, she was reasonably well provided with fine clothes. Indeed, all of the better class among the colonists seem to have had dispropor tionately liberal supplies of “mantels” and “petty cotes” of velvet or brocade, with other garments to consort therewith ” ; but this was not due so much to vanity as to thrift , the best being liter ally the cheapest in the days when the finer fabrics were so honestly made as to wear for decades, and the cost of carriage was the same for a coat of frieze as for one of velvet.
Of silverware there was some, but not frequent, mention in wills and inventories, and to jewelry still less reference is made, unless mourning-rings may be thus classed. Mrs. Lake bequeathed to one of her daughters an "enamailed” and to the other a “gould” ring. An item of curious interest in this will is the following:
“To my Daughter, Martha Harris, I give my tapestry coverlid and all my other apparell, which are not disposed of to others pticulerly, and I give unto her my mantel, and after her decease to all her children as their need is.” (The italics are mine.)
Tradition runs that this “mantel” was of Russian sable, even then as costly as it was rare, and that it had been brought from the far East, perhaps China. Such a bequest brings many things to mind: long, tedious sledgings, when stalwart men took the place of horses or oxen and drew their wives or sisters through the windings of wintry forests, where the only track was an Indian trail, and where every step was shadowed by the ever-present dread of the approach of the stealthy foe. Or we see visions of night campings, made fearful by the howlings of the wolves; and, day or night, always the same benumbing cold. Often must the grandmother's fur “mantel” (worn, we may be sure, until the last hair was gone) have proved a veritable life-preserver in those bitter years.
In addition to the above-mentioned “mantel,” Mrs. Lake seems to have left a wardrobe of considerable extent and richness, besides a goodly list of linens and other household treasures, with several carved chests to contain them; but no books are mentioned, save a “grate Byble” and “another Bible.”
Of such homely comforts as could be made from the materials at hand the industrious and ingenious colonist might possess a rude abundance. Le Grand Monarque of the most luxurious country then existing might have a fine silken instead of a coarse linen slip for his bed, but it would be filled with feathers no better than those plucked from the wild water-fowl of the New England coast; while heavily lined curtains of coarse homespun wool or linen shut out the bitter winds as effectually as the bravest damask from the looms of Flanders. The absence of many things which we now deem to be essential was not felt as a privation, because the things were unknown, not only in this wilderness, but in the old country.
Some one writing of the Lady Arbella John son has said that “she came from a paradise of plenty and pleasure into a wilderness of wants .” This expression is especially correct as regards its last clause. "A wilderness of wants” this certainly must have seemed, not only to the sister of the Earl of Lincol , but also to the hardiest of the colonists; and these wants were actual, not imaginary, as evidenced by the frightful death-rates of the early years. But even the tapestried halls the delicate Lady Arbella had left would seem comfortless enough to the daughter of any small farmer of modern New England, however much she might admire its splendor, could she now suddenly find herself placed in the Lady Arbella's fine abode of “pleasure and plenty” as the latter had left it in 1630.
Floor-coverings were then a rarity even in palaces, and the sand and rushes which polished the boards or silenced the tread were as plentiful here as elsewhere. Porcelain was a luxury in any land; even delft was uncommon; and pewter was considered too fine for the daily use of any save the rich. Wooden dishes served on ordinary occasions in old England as in the New, save among the wealthiest. The sense of real privation was felt in things much closer to the needs of the primitive man.
Great, very great, must have been the suffering from the cold and from the lack of suitable food. If the colonists sometimes took undue quantities of beer and the stronger liquors, not only the traditions of the older land but the hard conditions of the new must be remembered in extenuation. They needed something besides cold water. Hot water had not been dreamed of as a beverage, and the milder stimulants of our day had not been introduced. The earliest mention of chocolate in Connecticut is said to have been in 1679. Five years later coffee is first named , and tea not until 1695.
For many years raised bread was hardly known, and this for several very good reasons. difficult matter to preserve the leaven from one baking until the next. Either it would sour from too great heat, or it would lose its vitality from the severe cold weather. To bake bread in an iron pot over the fire or under the same utensil inverted before the blaze, was an undertaking very doubtful in its results; yet there was no other way, for the brick or stone ovens of a later date did not exist during the first decade, and, except in a few instances, probably not for a score of years longer. Until a sufficiency of bread-stuffs could be raised here, which was not for several years, both wheat flour and oatmeal were imported in considerable quantities; but the first was costly even in England, and as both often arrived here in an exceed ingly damaged condition, the roughly pounded or ground meal of Indian corn was for months at a time the staff of life-a staff which, for persons of weak powers of digestion, has often proved an insufficient support.
For grinding this the only mills were of the simple Indian construction- a large stone hollowed by natural or by artificial means, and another stone into which a wooden handle had been fitted. The latter was sometimes tied to a young sapling growing near, which, by its rebound, saved the grinder the labor of lifting the pestle. In my childhood near the ruins of an ancient house stood a very large birch-tree; beneath it was a hollow stone, and still lingering amid the upper branches, which had grown in such a way as to hold and support it, could be seen one of these ancient pestles.
After the first few seasons summer vegetables were as fine and as plentiful as in old England, but it was impossible to preserve for winter use any that could not survive deep burial in trenches out of doors or in the cellars, overlaid with piles of earth mixed with dead leaves, so bitter was the winter frost and so inadequate the means of excluding it.
Poultry was more easily brought than larger live stock, and multiplied more rapidly, but it was a good many years after the landing at Plymouth before cows and sheep became plenty. Even as late as 1672, when Mrs. Lake made her will, a "cow and heifer” were evidently esteemed to be bequests of more than ordinary value; indeed, the same was then true in old England, where a man whose estate went by entail to his eldest son, and who bequeathed £1000 each to four younger sons, seems to have thought each of his daughters well portioned with £200, a cow, a heifer, ten sheep, and a feather-bed . Trumbull, in his history of Connecticut, gives the value of a good milch cow, at about 1640, as £ 30. At the same date carpenters and other mechanics were receiving from fourteen to eighteen pence per day. The work of a “paire of Oxen with tacklin ”was held to be worth two shillings and fivepence for “six howers” in winter and “eight howers” the rest of the year, these hours making the full day's work for cattle, except in heavy upland plowing, when “six howers” was considered enough. A man's work ing hours were reckoned from sun to sun in summer, and from six to six o'clock in winter; but cattle were much more precious than men. The latter usually managed to survive the long and arduous sea voyage, but of the cattle which formed the deck-load of nearly all incoming ships in summer, not more than twenty-five per cent. were expected to survive, even under exceptionally favorable conditions.
Some of the first of the colonists sent by nearly every returning ship for seeds and young fruit trees, but comparatively few of the latter survived the long voyage, and of course those that did so required some years to come to maturity. This led to the making large use of the delicious wild berries in their seasons, but the best of these, as the raspberries and the strawberries, which have sadly degenerated in size since Winthrop tantalized his home correspondents by describing individual berries as “two inches in length,” — do not take kindly to being dried, refusing to retain their favor under such treatment, and no other method of preservation was then practicable.
Of such fruits as did endure the process great quantities were gathered and dried, a labor which added not a little to the toils of the women of the families during the summer. Under these conditions, it is not wonderful that the useful, long-suffering pumpkin came into such universal favor. Preserving fruits by the only effectual method then known, except drying, — the boiling with the solid pound of fruit for pound of sugar, —was unwholesome, very costly, and but little attempted. Game and fish were abundant and delicious. Salt meats were a staple import, and swine soon became plenty; but horned cattle, sheep, and even domestic fowls were for a long time too valuable to be eaten.
For years there seems to have been little attempt at butter-making; most of that which was used here was imported from England, and often did not keep well, in spite of being frequently made unpalatable by the quantity of salt used to preserve it. On the occasion of the wedding of her daughter Hannah, Mrs. Lake writes that she had “made some very goode buttere although it seemed almost Wicket to soe yuse ye milk yt is so sore needet for ye sick & ye littell ownes."
Sheep were spared for their wool and poultry for their eggs; when the chickens were sacrificed their feathers were carefully preserved, for in those days of scarcity a bed of hen feathers would not be despised, though those of the wild geese and ducks would certainly be more highly prized.
In later times there was no lack of material to keep the hands of matrons and maids busily spinning, but at first there was neither flax nor wool to spin. Woolen yarns were among the articles sent for to England; but threads from worn-out woolen garments long supplied much of the material for the stockings and mittens for working wear.
In these pioneer days the energies of the colonists were devoted to getting together the raw materials for a civilized existence. In 1640 the “Generall Court” of Connecticut Colony issued the following recommendation:
“Whereas as yt is observed yt experience has made appear that much ground within these libertys may be well improved both in Hempe & Flaxe & yt we myght in time have a supply of lynnen cloath amongst o'selves and for the more speedy procuring of Hempe Seede It is Ordered yt every family within these plantations shall pr'cure and plante this pr’sent yeare at lest onne spoonfull of English hempe seed in fruitful soyle at lest a foot distant betwixt each seed, and the same so planted shall be pr’served and kept in husbandly manner for supply of seed another yeare."
The following year the same ordinance was repeated; after that it may be supposed that nough seed had been secured for future planting.
At what an humble distance must we now admire the indomitable and uncomplaining courage with which these colonists bore their material as well as their more than material privations. To one grievous privation I have seen no reference made as such. Perhaps it bore so heavily upon loving hearts that they feared to give expression to their feelings, and so lift the flood-gates of their suppressed sorrows.
There is preserved a letter written by Mrs. Lake when she had been living in this country twenty eight years. Her beloved brother-in -law, Winthrop, had gone to England in the interests of the colonists, and Mrs. Lake thus writes to him:
“I would desire you to inquire whether my sister Breadcale bee livinge, you may hear of her if livinge, at Iron Gate, where the boats weekly come from Lee."
There is a world of silent and weary heartbreak in this and similar inquiries in the same letter.
When Mrs. Lake had come to New England, Charles I, Strafford, and Archbishop Laud were carrying things with a high hand, driving the Puritans out from the folds as if they had been wolves. Between that time and the date of Mrs. Lake's letter the commonwealth had risen, flourished, and, when the mighty man who gave it form had passed from earth, had fallen, and the Restoration, which all good subjects were bound to call “happy,” had dropped a veil over things which it could not, and others which it would not, undo. Amid all their own troubles and overturnings, it is scarcely to be wondered at that the relatives left at “home” should sometimes have forgotten to write to their kin beyond the sea, from whose thoughts they were never long absent. The river of death could hardly have sundered chiefest friends more effectually than did the turbulent Atlantic then, but the hungry heart would still hope and cry out for certainty.
When John and Hannah Gallup happily planned and stoutly built their forest homestead on the banks of the little Mystic River, it well may be that they “laid its foundations in the feare of God and reared its walls in the terror of the Indians, "as Samuel Smith of Hadley, Massachusetts, expressed it when writing in his old age in regard to the erection of the first meeting-house in Wethersfield, Connecticut, of which his father was pastor; and Samuel could speak feelingly upon the subject, having himself, in his young manhood in Hadley, had frequent occasion to defend his own house from savage attacks. Reverence for God was a part of the inheritance of the Puritan settlers, and terror of the Indians was a very natural consequence of their situation. Whoever may have been to blame in the first instance, there is no doubt that by fifty years after the landing at Plymouth, the question of proper treatment of the Indians received but one answer from the colonists: “We must extirpate them or they will exterminate us. ” At our distance from all such apprehensions it is easy to see the faults of the white men, and to sympathize with the misused Indian he was displacing; but had we lived in that time and under the same circumstances, it is doubtful if we would have been more altruistic than were our sorely harassed ancestors. The red man may have been as unjustly as he was unwisely treated by the white: but he was savage; he was untractable; he was cruel; he was treacherous. If his provocations were great, his vengeance was terrible. His vicinity was an unending menace to the home of every settler.
The celebrated “ Great Swamp Fight ” of 1675 was so called to distinguish it from the smaller Swamp Fight, which occurred at almost the other extremity of Connecticut in 1637. In the later of these battles the power of the truly great chieftain, King Philip, and of the native tribes of New England was forever broken. Perhaps, yes, even probably, this decisive fight might have been rendered unnecessary had gentler counsels prevailed thirty or forty years before, but by 1675 it had become inevitable.
When the colonial forces assembled to attack King Philip's fort the members of the opposing parties were supposed to be about two to one in favor of the Indians, full half of whom were supplied with muskets as well as with their native weapons; besides this, they fought behind defenses which, as the assaulting party had no cannon, must have seemed to be almost impregnable. The Narragansetts were the most nearly civilized of all the New England tribes. This fort was of their construction and was well built, with a strong and high palisade in the midst of a vast pine and cedar swamp. As an additional protection, the palisade was surrounded by a defensive hedge of interlacing felled trees, several feet in height and about a rod in thickness. Both parties to the conflict felt that they were fighting for their families, their homes, even their very existence as nations in these wilds.
The second John Gallup had always maintained pleasant personal relations with the Indians of whatever tribe, possessing those qualities of justice, firmness, and kindness which win confidence; but the moment was not one for considerations of this sort to have weight with either side. The husband of Hannah Lake was no longer a young man, having been married for thirty-two years; but the hardy pioneer was always in his prime between fifty and sixty, and age had bowed neither the back nor the spirit of Captain Gallup. At the head of his company of eighty men, he led an assault upon the fort's only vulnerable point, which was a reasonably well protected and gallantly defended gateway, where he fell with twenty of his men.
Whether his body was brought home to the woman who had loved him so long and so truly, I do not know, but probably it was not. The December weather was bitterly cold, the half-frozen morass was extremely treacherous. The victorious party had already marched twenty miles that day, fought fiercely, sustained only by scant rations of frozen food, and had the same distance to walk back again, carrying more than one hundred and fifty wounded men with them, so it is probable that the bodies of the slain were hastily interred on the spot where they fell.
Neither do I know how long the wife survived her husband; but I do know that the name of the hero-sire who fell in defense of his wilderness home was long held in reverent remembrance by his descendants. In a journal letter kept by his great great-granddaughter, Juliana Smith of Sharon, Connecticut, I find this entry:
“This evening my Mother has been telling me about her great-grandfather, Captain John Gallup, who was killed in King Philip's War. I thank God to be descended from such a man. Truthful, Kind and Brave!”