“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Dover in Strafford County, New Hampshire — The American Northeast (New England)

Dover's Early Settlers

The Cochecho Massacre

Dover's Early Settlers Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 9, 2019
1. Dover's Early Settlers Marker
Dover’s early settlers lived in relative peace with the local Pennacook tribe, learning hunting, fishing, and farming skills from the natives in the early 17th century. Passaconaway, highly respected leader of the Pennacook Confederacy, forged a respectful co-existence with Richard Walderne (Waldron), an English immigrant and leader of the colonists at Cochecho. By 1666 there were 41 families living in what is now downtown Dover and tribe leadership transitioned to Passaconaway’s son Wonalancet who carried on his late father’s peaceful traditions.

In 1675, the colonists and Native Americans in southeastern NH were still living peacefully, but in Massachusetts a bloody war had erupted among the tribes of the commonwealth. Over 3000 Native Americans were killed, with hundreds more sold into slavery and many fleeing to New Hampshire, hoping to escape death or capture. By September 1676, over 400 Indians were at Cochecho, half of them strangers and the other half Wonalancet's people. Massachusetts soldiers arrived at Cochecho with the orders to recapture the escapees. Not wanting the local Pennacooks harmed, Waldron invited all
Dover's Early Settlers Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 9, 2019
2. Dover's Early Settlers Marker
(looking west along Cocheco River, from bridge)
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to a nearby field (see map) for war games and a mock battle. Unsuspecting, there they were surrounded by the soldiers. The locals were freed but the rest were taken back to Massachusetts. Walderne felt he had saved Wonalancet's people from harm; but the Pennacooks saw it as a betrayal. Tensions mounted further when Chief Kancamagus, a warrior, replaced Wonalancet as Sagamore of the Pennacook.

There were about 50 garrisoned homes within 15 miles of downtown Dover. The five at Cochecho were Richard Walderne’s, Richard Otis’s, Elizabeth Heard’s, Peter Coffin’s and Tristam Coffin’s. On June 27, 1689 several female Native Americans asked for refuge inside each of the garrisons (not unusual during peacetime). In the early morning hours these women opened the gates and admitted several hundred Penacooks. Richard Walderne was brutally murdered and his family members were killed or taken captive. His garrison was looted and burned. The Otis garrison suffered a similar fate. The other three garrisons were pillaged but not burned and those families escaped captivity. 23 people were killed and 29 were taken captive, about 25% of the population. For the next 60 years there were skirmishes, but by 1770 Native Americans had mostly disappeared from the area.

The Cochecho Massacre — June 27-28, 1689
(locations illustrated on marker background map)
T.R. Wells
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— Dover, N.H. — 1989

In the 1600’s, the area of Dover shown above was called Cochecho. In Sept. 1676, Chief Wonalancet and about 400 Indians assembled here for a peaceful meeting with Major Richard Walderne (Waldron). However, soldiers from Boston came with orders to seize certain Indians.

To avoid bloodshed, the Major suggested a “sham battle.” The Indians agreed, lost the “battle” and were disarmed. About half of them were then arrested and taken to Boston where several were hanged and many sold into slavery.

This action so incensed the Indians that they planned a revenge on Major Walderne in particular. They returned in June 1689, raided five garrisons, looted and burned, killed 23 residents, and took 29 captive.

It is believed that the 1676 sham battle took place at this site where First, Second, and Chestnut Streets are today.

Capt. Peter Coffin’s garrison was looted but not destroyed (*some histories vary) since the Indians had no grudge against him. He was taken as a captive to his son’s garrison.

Tristam (*or Tristram) Coffin was Peter’s son. His garrison withstood the attack, but the Indians threatened to kill Peter if not admitted. Tristam let them in. They looted the garrison and made the Coffins captives, but they were able to escape.

During the attack, Mrs. Heard and her family, returning from Portsmouth by
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boat, landed somewhere in this area.

The mills at Cochecho Falls were destroyed.

Major Richard Walderne’s garrison was destroyed. The Major was brutally murdered on his own sword.

Richard Otis’ garrison was destroyed. Richard, his son Stephen and daughter Hannah were killed. Many taken captive.

Capt. John Heard’s garrison was saved when Elder William Wentworth closed and held the gate against the Indians.

The Indians headed for Canada with 29 captives. They were pursued and some were freed near present day Conway.
Erected 2015 by Faces of Dover, and Dover Main Street, Inc. (Marker Number 2.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraNative AmericansSettlements & SettlersWars, US Indian. A significant historical date for this entry is June 27, 1689.
Location. 43° 11.789′ N, 70° 52.464′ W. Marker is in Dover, New Hampshire, in Strafford County. Marker is on Central Avenue (New Hampshire Route 9) south of First Street, on the right when traveling south. Marker is mounted on the west-side bridge railing, overlooking the Cocheco River. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dover NH 03820, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dover's Black Day (a few steps from this marker); Early 19th Century Storefronts (within shouting distance of this marker); The Dover Mill Girls (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Central (Lower) Square (about 500 feet away); The Two Morrill Blocks (about 600 feet away); Dover NH WWII Memorial (about 600 feet away); Central Square (about 600 feet away); The American House Hotel (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dover.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. The Cochecho Massacre. Faces of Dover website entry (Submitted on July 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. The Cochecho Massacre. Dover Public Library website entry (Submitted on February 1, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.) 

3. Cocheco Massacre, 1689. Heroes, Heroines, and History website entry:
In the early morning of June 28, 1689, the settlement of Cocheco, New Hampshire (now part of the city of Dover) was attacked by Indians. Five fortified garrison houses were targeted, including that of Richard Otis, the town’s blacksmith and one of its leading citizens—my ancestor. (Submitted on July 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

4. Raid on Dover. Wikipedia entry:
Thirteen years had passed and settlers believed the 1676 "sham battle" incident to be forgotten, when members of the newly formed Wabanaki Confederacy arrived at Dover. Citizens expressed concern to Waldron, but he told them to "go and plant your pumpkins, and he would take care of the Indians." Led by Chief Kancamagus, the 1689 "Raid on Dover" began King William's War, a series of Indian massacres orchestrated by Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin and Father Louis-Pierre Thury. (Submitted on July 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 2, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 590 times since then and 260 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Jun. 30, 2022