Today’s history lesson is brought to you by the French and Indian Wars, a series of battles that were fought between the French and the British. The French explorers had already been here on the continent, trading with the Native Americans and attempting to open up the area, particularly the Great Lakes region. When the British colonists showed up, however, it became a fight for control of this land.
Henry Thresher was an early settler of Casco Bay, Maine, who was born sometime in the mid 17th century. He was married to a young woman, Deborah Southwick, the grand-daughter of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick who had been persecuted as Quakers.
During this time period, Henry and his family fled for their own safety from Indian attacks by moving to Boston. Records show that they were admitted as inhabitants there on 25 August 1684, although they soon made their way back out into the frontier and returned to their home along the coast in Maine. It was during this time that Indians from Canada and Maine attacked the unprotected New England settlements – for eight years this went on. Today, we know this as “King William’s War”, but then – to Henry and his family, it was just a matter of survival from one day to the next with no end in sight.
Eventually, the Thresher family had to leave their home once again for the sake of their own safety, and we can find them being taxed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1691 and also in 1700 when Henry paid a poll tax on three “heads”. Shortly after that time, the Salem Town records show that he had departed – without his family. It was at that time that Henry had left to go home to Casco Bay, Maine, leaving his family behind for the fear that it was still too dangerous of an area for them to return to.
That was the one decision that would have been difficult for Henry to make, and yet it turned out to save his family members’ lives.
History has taught us about “Queen Anne’s war” beginning in 1702, which was shortly after Henry returned to Maine. For the colonist’s who were living there, it must have seemed like a repeat of what they had just come through. The Indians and Frenchmen swept through the coastline of Maine killing or taking prisoner whoever was in their way – men, women, and children
The summer of 1703 began a series of campaigns along the northeast coast,led by six French batallions and their allied Indians against a number of different coastal communities. On the 10th of August, the settlement known at the time as Purpooduck, was nearly completely annihilated. The complete casualty list for the inhabitants there lists Henry Thresher as being among those killed by Indians, leaving behind his wife and children in Salem to mourn his tragic death.