Monadnock Moments No. 83: William Phipps and the Indian
In 1745 the Cheshire County towns along the Connecticut River had been settled by families from towns further to the South. These settlers were drawn by inexpensive land or were sent to protect the frontier against the Indians.
In March of 1744 England had declared war on France, known as King George’s War. This declaration disturbed the settlers, as the local Indians were allies of the French. Bands of Indians were seen in the region early in 1745.
On July 5th of that year, William Phipps was hoeing his cornfield outside the fort at Great Meadow, now Westmoreland. He was surprised by two Indians, who captured Phipps and led him into the forest. The group stopped at the top of a hill and one of the Indians went back down the hill to retrieve something he had left behind. Phipps was determined not to be taken hostage, however, and attacked one of his captors with the hoe and took his away his gun. He then shot the second Indian. Phipps ran toward the fort, but three more Indians suddenly appeared. They quickly shot Phipps and scalped him.
William Phipps was the first casualty of Indian hostilities in the region. He left behind his wife Jemima and daughter Mary, both of whom were later captured and taken prisoner by the Indians. The lives of the Phipps family and other settlers like them have not been forgotten. Many publications have told their story, including the novel Not Without Peril based on the life of Jemima Phipps.