By Melissa Quinn, October 16, 2016
On this day in 1780, a 27 year old mother, Hannah Hardy, saved her 7 year old son and 8 other young boys after they were taken captive during a British led Indian raid on her hometown of Royalton, in what is now Vermont. The early morning raid was conducted by approximately 300 Indians and led by British Lt. Richard Houghton. The raiding party decimated the town, attacking homes, burning buildings and fields, and slaughtering cattle, sheep, and pigs. Some of the area’s residents were killed but many were taken prisoner. Historians say that Hardy pursued the Indians and found them at a temporary camp on their way to Canada. She pleaded with Lt. Houghton and convinced him that the young children would not survive the long trek to Canada. Miraculously, Houghton allowed the boys to leave with Hardy. Unfortunately, the remaining captives were taken to Canada and sold. Over the next few years, many of them eventually got away or were ransomed out of captivity. Hannah lived a quiet life after that fateful day and is buried in an unknown grave, either in the White River Valley, or in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., where she died. A monument was erected in Hannah Hardy’s honor (a rare occurrence for female heroes of the Revolution) in Royalton, Vermont.
Another young hero, who helped neighbors on that dreadful day, was a 19 year old young man by the name of Phineas Parkhurst. He made a Paul Revere-like ride through the White River valley near Royalton, successfully warning some of the families of the impending raid and giving them time to escape. During his ride, he received a gunshot wound to his abdomen but that didn’t stop him. Phineas continued on and warned as many neighbors as he could. His ride ended at the home of a Dr. Hall and the ball was removed by a Dr. Laban Gates. He survived that wound, became a famous physician and lived to tell his story. Phineas Parkhurst passed away on October 16, 1844, on the 64th anniversary of his harrowing ride. There is a tablet in honor of Parkhurst hanging in what was once Tilden tavern, one stop on his ride and where Tilden fired a shot waking the townsmen. The tavern is now a private residence.
It is imperative that we teach children and adults alike the stories of these unsung heroes so their sacrifices and bravery, during our war for independence, will be forever remembered.
*Photo credit to State of Vermont government website.