POMEROY'S ISLAND


Pomeroy's Island is located in the Connecticut River approximately 500-600 yards below the mouth of the Ashuelot River in southern New Hampshire, just north of the Massachusetts state line. At one time the island measured 12 acres, but the current has eroded the eastern side so that today it is much smaller. In the summer and fall, this island is a great place to stop for a picnic while you think about the past.

July 14, 1698. Just before dark, a party of four Amerindians suddenly appeared at the upper side of Hatfield North Meadow and fired upon a number of men and boys who were hilling corn, capturing two boys. They shot at Nathaniel Dickinson, Sr., killing his horse, but he managed to escape to relay the message that his son and another boy had been captured. The Amerindians, with their captives, took to their canoes which had been concealed nearby and started up the river.

News of the incident was carried that evening to Deerfield just as a band of troopers came in to rest and eat after a two days' patrol in the woods. Snatching a hasty meal and riding fresh horses, three of these scouts with 11 other men started north to save the two captive boys. Nathaniel Pomeroy was one of the group, but he almost didn't get to go. He begged to go in his brother-in-law's place, but his mother said no. He was her only son and she could not agree to putting him in danger. But, as the young will do, Nathaniel begged and pled until his mother finally agreed to his going because she did not want to do less than her duty for the public good. So Nathaniel rode with the group that night.

Before daylight, after a ride of nearly 20 miles through the woods, the rescuers reached the Great Bend, opposite the mouth of the Ashuelot River. Here they stopped and hid their horses. In the early dawn they saw two canoes in the distance, rapidly ascending along the eastern bank. Concealing themselves on the western bank of the river, the colonists waited until the canoes appeared opposite them. Then, taking careful aim, they fired. One of the Amerindians was mortally wounded but, with the other three and one of the boys, leaped into the water and made for shore. One boy remained in the canoe, and the other quickly turned to rejoin him. An Amerindian, noticing the movement, attempted to shoot the boy, but his gun misfired so he rushed after the boy. With this action the Amerindian drew attention to himself so that he received a mortal shot from the party on the west bank. The boys, both unhurt, quickly paddled across to their rescuers.

There was much rejoicing over the safety of the two young boys. It was decided that Nathaniel Pomeroy and some of the men would cross the river to fetch the other canoe which could be seen at an island not far away. But, unknown to them, two Amerindians lay concealed in the tall grass, and they shot Nathaniel Pomeroy.

Although Nathaniel was buried on the west bank of the river, his true memorial is the island that has carried his name since 1698.

For further reading on this incident, see History of the Town of Northfield, Massachusetts by J. H. Temple and G. Sheldon (pp. 126-127), published in 1875 by Joel Munsell, Albany, New York