As Reverend Abbot describes it, in those earliest years of white settlement, the Merrimack was teeming with fish and the forest filled with game. "The [native] inhabitants were able safely and quietly to pursue their business..." But some thirty years later, by his own account things had changed. After a single generation, although he doesn't state it, the colonists had begun to encroach upon the natives' way of life. What he does say is that they rebelled, they fought, and lost. "It is probable, that the Indians left Andover, at the commencement of Philip's war , and that few, if any, families have resided there since. The residence of an Indian family in Andover is not now recollected by the oldest inhabitants."
Actually, according to Claude M. Fuess's history of Andover, there was a direct Indian attack on Andover in 1676, on April 8th, to be exact. In recounting those so-called Indian Wars of 1676, Fuess calls the Native Americans “savages” (Fuess, Andover: Symbol of New England, p. 70); “red men” (p. 73); and “copper-colored inhabitants” (p. 11). Likewise, Abiel Abbot's is, of course, in every way an account from the perspective of himself. There is no attempt at seeing the town's history from any other point of view. And yet I need to read it to learn about the early days of the colonists in the place they named Andover. And so I hold it at arms' length and read on, trying to accept the reverend as someone who isn't a caricature, someone I probably would have agreed with, and commiserated with, if I had been born in his time and place instead of mine. The exercise is part of my attempt at trying to accept and understand people who don't agree with me today. They too strike me as caricatures, but the fact is, they are real -- as real as Abiel Abbot once was.
To be continued.