Sarah Strong (1656–1733), daughter of Elder John Strong (abt. 1610–1699) and Abigail Ford (1619–1688), married a second time after her husband Joseph Barnard (1650–1695) was killed by Indians. She married Captain Jonathan Wells/Welles who, at age 16, had become known as the “boy hero” at the fight of Turner’s Falls.
The Battle of Turner’s Falls, also known as the Peskeompscut massacre, was fought on May 19, 1676, during King Philip’s War, in present-day Gill, Massachusetts, near a falls on the Connecticut River. The site is across the river from the village of Turners Falls. A band of English colonists under the command of Captain William Turner fell upon the poorly guarded Indian village of Peskeompscut near the falls at dawn, slaughtering many of its inhabitants. Many of the warriors in the camp escaped, and they regrouped with those from other nearby camps to dispute the English retreat, during which Turner was killed.
The monument reads: CAPTAIN WILLIAM TURNER WITH 145 MEN SURPRISED AND DESTROYED OVER 300 INDIANS AT THIS PLACE MAY 19, 1676.
After the massacre of 100–200 Algonquian Indians, mainly women, children, and the elderly, the warriors regrouped and attacked the English retreat. This is where we join Jonathan Wells. The following came from the older Strong Family Association of America web site, and appears to be from Volume 8 of the Mary and John Clearinghouse.
At age, 16, Jonathan became known as the “Boy Hero” of the Fight at Turner’s falls, on 19 May 1676. After the massacre of a group of Indians at Turner’s falls, the militia was attacked by hundreds of Indians, who rushed in at the news of the fight. Jonathan was in the rear guard, with 20 men covering Capt. William Turner’s retreat. He wrote about his experiences after the battle.
As the rear guard protected Turner’s forces, three Indians shot at Jonathan at close range. One bullet brushed his hair, one hit his horse and another struck him in the thigh. In danger of falling off his horse, the grabbed the horse’s mane and recovered himself. Believing him to be badly wounded, some of the Indians charged him, but he kept them back with a couple of shots. He picked up Stephen Belding, a 16 year old companion, and they escaped on Jonathan’s horse. When he reached Capt. Turner, he urged the commander to either turn back or at least wait until the rear guard caught up. But Capt. Turner replied, “Better to save some, than to lose all”, at which time the main force broke up and went different directions.
Jonathan fell back to the rear again with some men. They ran into some Indians and most of the men with him were killed. The remaining force split again. Ten men stayed with Jonathan, but as his horse began struggling with his wound, and with Jonathan weak from the loss of blood, he was left behind, with another wounded man, John Jones. Jonathan had a gun and Jones had a sword. Neither knew the woods, nor could they find a trail. They decided to split up to find a trail, and since Jones’ wound appeared to be fatal, Jonathan was glad to leave him, so he would not be slowed down. At one point, with Indians on his trail, he nearly fainted, but he ate a nutmeg his grandmother had given him, and he revived. He reached Green River and started up a mountain, but he fainted and fell off his horse.
When he came to, he found the bridle reins in his hands and his horse standing beside him. He tied his horse and laid down again. After a while he grew so weak he could not get back on his horse. He thought he was going to die there, so, pitying his horse he released him, never thinking about keeping some provisions in the saddle bags.
At noon he was bothered by flies, so using his flintlock he started a fire and set the woods on fire. The fire soon spread so fast his hands and hair were burned. Then, realizing the fire would attract the Indians, he resigned himself to the fact they would find him and he would be killed. He flung his powder horn in one direction and his bullet pouch in another so they would not find them. He kept a little powder so he might have one shot before he was killed. He stopped the bleeding of his wound, crawled to a different spot to rest, away from the fire and fell asleep.
When he awoke, he found he had new strength, and he could walk using his gun as a staff. After a few miles, he reached a river. He laid down and fell asleep again. When he awoke he saw an Indian approaching him in a canoe. He was greatly frightened because his gun was full of sand and he was in no condition to fight. But he aimed his gun at the Indian and the frightened foe jumped out of his canoe and fled. The Indian, upon reaching his people told them the English army was coming because he had seen one of their scouts.
Jonathan, expecting the Indians to return, hid among some fallen trees in a swamp. Finally, he reached Hatfield, and safety. It took him four years for his wounds to heal, one and one half years he laid in one spot on a bed, without being turned once and the skin came off his back from laying in one position.
Jonathan Wells was the military commander of Deerfield, when it was attacked in 1704 and he survived because his house was fortified and not attacked. The next day he led a force that drove the French & Indians out of town, but he did not order a pursuit, in the three foot snows, possibly remembering his experience at Turner’s Falls and not wanting to be drawn into an ambush. (Volume 8 Mary and John Clearinghouse.)
The Connecticut River Homepage of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has a good writeup of several incidents along New England’s largest river. The Turners Falls Massacre page has beautiful photographs of the location with the narrative.