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Hannah Dustin’s Letter to the Elders of the Second Church in Haverhill, 1724  (Haverhill Historical Society)

 

 

[From Helen deN. Ford’s The Starshine of Mrs. Hannah Dustin, 1978]

 

 

 

 

 

" AS THE HART PANTETH AFTER THE WATER BROOKS..."

[Psalm 42:1]

 

 

  The Scriptures were the spiritual bulwark of the Pilgrims and the Puritans and they strove to apply their teachings to their daily living knowing that all grace and power are of God.  The harmony of spirit that they received from them is clearly evident in their writings.  In none is it more evident than in this letter written by Hannah Dustin to the Elders of the Church in 1724--twenty-seven years after her escape from the Indians in 1697 and twelve years before her death in 1736 at the age of seventy-nine.

Hannah Dustin asked for and received the full covenant of the Church, which was the "Second Church in Haverhill built in 1696-1699 at the lower end of the Common facing down towards the River.  The statue of Hannah Dustin stands on the site of this Church.  " (From Mrs. Harold G. Look).  Afterwards this letter was placed in a repository of the Church for safe keeping.  It was preserved and concealed and presumably forgotten--for more than two centuries.  It came to light along with other early documents in 1929 when it was found in a vault of the Center Congregational Church of Haverhill.  The Church was being renovated at the time and the vault was cleaned by Marcus Jean.  He found the tightly-sealed box which had not been opened in years.  On opening the box, he found Hannah Dustin's letter still intact.  " (From Mrs. Harold G. Look).  The Center Congregational Church was razed a few years ago to provide space for a parking lot.  The letter is now in possession of the Haverhill Historical Society and on view for all to see.

We are much favored to have it to present here.  It is given in its entirety exactly as it was written—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I desire to be Thankful that I was born in a

Land of Light & Baptized when I was Young; and

had a Good Education by My Father, Tho I took

but little Notice of it in the time of it; -I am

Thankful for my Captivity, twas the Comfortablest

time that ever I had; In my Affliction God made

his Word Comfortable to me. I remembered 43d

ps.ult--  and those words came to my mind—

ps118.17….I have had a great Desire to come to

the Ordinance of the Lord's Supper a Great While

but fearing I should give offence & fearing my

own unworthiness has kept me back; reading a

book concerning  Suffering Did much awaken

me. In the 55th of Isa. beg. We are invited to

come; --Hearing Mr. Moody preach out of ye 3d of

Mal. 3 last verses it put me upon Consideration.

Ye 11th of Matthew has been Encouraging to me-I

have been resolving to offer my Self from time to

time ever since the Settlement of the present

Ministry; I was awakened by the first Sacram 'l

Sermon (Luke 14.17)  But Delays and fears

prevailed upon me; - But I desire to delay no

longer, being Sensible it is My Duty-, I desire the

Church to receive me tho' it be the eleventh hour;

and pray for me-- that I may hon'r God and obtain

the Salvation of my Soul.

 

Hannah Dustin wife of Thomas Aetat 67"

 



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