Pontine Theatre Presents PLAINS SPEAKING: PORTSMOUTH'S 1696 MASSACRE IN FACT AND FICTION

Pontine Theatre Presents PLAINS SPEAKING: PORTSMOUTH'S 1696 MASSACRE IN FACT AND FICTION

During the months of September and October, Pontine Theatre presents Plains Speaking: Portsmouth's 1696 Massacre in Fact and Fiction a series of events exploring the history and legacy of the massacre that occurred on the Portsmouth Plains on June 26, 1696. Pontine's present home at the 1845 Plains School is located on this site. Our community's longstanding interest in place-based history and historic preservation gave rise to the development of this program examining this important and overlooked part of Portsmouth's history. Plains Speaking is made possible through a grant from New Hampshire Humanities. All activities are free and open to the public. Due to limited space, however, preregistration is required. Reservations may be made by contacting Pontine Theatre via email info@pontine.org or phone 603.436.6660. All activities, unless otherwise indicated, take place at Pontine's residence at The Plains School, #1 Plains Avenue, Portsmouth NH. The space is fully accessible with free parking conveniently located onsite.

A New Hampshire State Marker (#75), located at the Portsmouth Plains, reads, "In the pre-dawn hours of June 26, 1696, Indians attacked the settlement here. Fourteen persons were killed and others taken captive. Five houses and nine barns were burned." In fact, there are scant historical records documenting the facts of this event and the veracity of accounts given in local sources, such as Brewster's Rambles About Portsmouth (1859), has been challenged by local historians. Little progress has been made in understanding or to finding a context for this dramatic event,

A recent exhibit mounted at the Counting House Museum in South Berwick, Maine, has provided new scholarship that sheds light on the Portsmouth Plains Massacre. Forgotten Frontier curator, Nina Maurer, and project scholar, Emerson Baker, have articulated a meaningful connection among a series of attacks that took place here in the Piscataqua region in the late 17th century, including the Cocheco Massacre at Dover Point (1689); the Salmon Falls Raid at South Berwick (1690); and attacks at Sandy Beach (1691), York (1692), Oyster River (1694) and Portsmouth Plains (1696).

Tracing historical forces in operation at that time reveals motivations and circumstances that fueled an increase in aggression and conflict between the Wabanaki people and the area's colonial settlers. Plains Speaking, elucidates the facts of the raid increasing public understanding of the cultural conflict underlying the massacre. This program is designed to expand appreciation of the multiple viewpoints inherent in the conflict and to explore the legacy of colonial conflict for Seacoast residents today.

Plains Speaking features the following activities:

Tuesday 10 September, 7-8:30pm, Emerson Baker, historical archeologist and professor of history at Salem State University, will speak to the patterns of English settlement in the Piscataqua that gave rise to conflict with Natives in the region in the 1690s.

Thursday 26 September, 7-8:30pm, Lisa Brooks, Abenaki scholar, historian and professor of American Studies at Amherst College will provide a Native perspective of historical documents pertaining to the aggressions and outbreaks that took place in New England following King Phillip's War (1675-78).

Saturday 28 September, 1-3pm Walking Tour. Adjoining the site of Pontine's residence at the Plains School is a five hundred acre tract of publicly owned undeveloped land known as The Great Bog. A 19th century railroad line running through the bog is being transformed into a walking trail that runs from Portsmouth to Breakfast Hill Road in the neighboring town of Greenland. This is the site where, the morning after the massacre, the Wabanaki raiders and their captives were overcome by pursuing settlers.

Working with Denise and Paul Pouliot, Abenaki specialists in Native plant use, project leaders will lead a trail walk. Participants will enter an environment that retains features that existed at the time of the massacre and will learn about native species and their traditional uses. We will follow in the footsteps of the Wabanaki raiders on a likely route of their retreat. Along the way, stops will be made to share narratives written by those captured in historic raids.

October 8 at 7pm, Nina Maurer, curator at Old Berwick Historical Society and project humanist for Plains Speaking, will present the findings of new research into the Portsmouth Plains Massacre and its connection to other raids in the Piscataqua region. This presentation will also include a panel discussion with Seacoast historians: Sandra Rux, curator at Portsmouth's Warner House, who will present her research into the various families living at the Portsmouth Plains who were impacted by the 1696 massacre. Who survived? Who was captured? Did someone really live for decades after being scalped? Stephanie Seacord, director of marketing at Strawbery Banke Museum, will discuss the reinterpretation of the Sherburne House, planned to open in 2021, and the connections to the Sherburne farm, still located at Portsmouth Plains.

Lisa Brooks, Abenaki Scholar, historian, and professor of American Studies at Amherst College, will present a talk on Thursday 26 September as part of PLAINS SPEAKING: PORTSMOUTH'S 1696 MASSACRE IN FACT AND FICTION



Related Articles View More New Hampshire Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You