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The legend of Peter Poor during the last Indian Raid in Shelburne

October 30, 2013
SHELBURNE Many from the area have probably heard some stories about Native American legend, Molly Ockett and her ties with early white settlers, and, of course, about the last American settler killed by an "Indian," Peter Poor. Many stories about Poor have circulated throughout the years regarding his gravesite off of North Road, which is alleged to be haunted.

North Road and Shelburne itself, a very small old-country style town with a current population of around 370 people, offers spooky scenery with its centuries old graveyards, narrow winding roads, dark woods, and very old buildings. There is also a legend of an old burned down house where inhabitants suddenly fled from. Teenagers have been known to trespass and visit Poor's grave on nights, such as Halloween, where eerie encounters have allegedly taken place. Police are known to patrol the area. The headstone of Poor has been removed from the site in recent years.

On August 3, 1781, during the Revolutionary War, the "last Indian Raid" in New England led by Tumkin Hagan (also known as Tomhegan) took place in the upper Androscoggin Valley, including the Shelburne area. Hagan had a hatred for white settlers and led a small band of Indians through the regions of Newry, Bethel, and Gilead, Maine who, in their war paint, were armed with scalping knives, tomahawks and guns. They killed and captured a few settlers along the way before entering New Hampshire. In Shelburne, as the story goes, Peter Poor was working in a field with his servant, Plato. Plato was captured by the band, and later, Poor was killed. It is not clear whether he was shot or scalped. Poor was the last settler killed before the Fryeburg, Maine Militia, led by Abenaki Indian Molly Ockett's ex-partner Sabattis, hunted down Hagan's band who had fled to Canada with their captives.

Stories of Molly Ockett made her a legend herself. Born in Saco, Maine in 1740, she was baptized as Marie Agathe. She was an Abenaki and one of the last natives of the Pigwacket tribe. The French colonists took over Canada in 1763, and there were Colonial conflicts between French Canadian colonists and Protestant New England settlers, and the natives were slowly dying during this time. Ockett was a sort of mediator between the colonists and natives. Converted to Christianity, she also was a medical practitioner and known as a healer, herbalist, and an advisor for both natives and early settlers, and she helped mend ties between natives and white settlers. She was adored and respected by the whites and had close relations with them.

Around the time of Poor's death, Tomhegan, who was sometimes employed by the British, also had his own deep hatred for the whites and was adamant in protecting his homeland in the Western Maine and Eastern New Hampshire territories. He had planned to kill Colonel Clark who resided in Boston. Ockett put a stop to this. She trekked through miles of woods down to the camp of Colonel Clark and warned him of Tomhegan's plans, and he was able to avoid being captured or killed. Ockett goes down in History as a local, native hero. Many stories of her bravery, healing abilities, and other attributes have been documented and live on in history. Many stories and legends are told of her. She died in 1816 while under the care of Colonel Clark's family.

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