Monadnock Moments No. 22: Blake Among the Indians
Nathan Blake came from Wrentham, Massachusetts as one of the first settlers of Keene in 1736. He built a home here and began a family with his wife Elizabeth.
Several years later, during 1745, war was declared between France and England. The local Indians became allies of the French and the Keene residents were soon in danger of attack. On April 23rd of 1746 the fort at Keene was indeed attacked by a war party of about 100 Indians. Nathan Blake was at his homestead when the alarm was sounded. In an attempt to save his cattle, he took a few moments to open his barn door. By the time he finished this chore, his escape route was cut off, and the Indians captured him. Blake was bound and led away as a captive.
He was taken to Montreal where his captors forced him to run the gauntlet. His strength so impressed the Indians that he was able to gain their respect. Shortly thereafter he was sent as a military prisoner to an Indian village just north of Quebec. Once again he gained acceptance and great respect among his new community. Consequently, upon the death of one of the local chiefs, Blake was given the chief’s authority and privileges, and his wife.
Despite his rank among the Indians, Blake longed for Keene. He made a deal with the Indians whereby they agreed to release him if he would build them a house such as the English had. Blake’s Indian wife opposed the deal, but he refused to stay in the village. The house was built. Blake turned himself over to French authorities in Quebec, and was given his freedom in an exchange of prisoners of war in April of 1748, two years after he was taken prisoner.
Blake returned to his wife Elizabeth and to his children. They all returned to Keene in 1749. He lived in Keene for 62 more years until his death at age 99.