Blood, Ice and Stone
A little history, a little mystery, and a whole lot of ice…
Just off Route 140 in Princeton, Massachusetts sits a massive ledge with a short paragraph carved into one side. Folks pass by it often as they use the popular Midstate Trail, which runs by the rock. Some may stop to read its chiseled-in words, but not all. Those who use the trail often tend to run, walk or bike right past. Even those who stop to read the words may not give them too much thought:
Upon this Rock May 2nd 1676 was made the agreement for the ransom of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson of Lancaster between the Indians and John Hoar of Concord. King Phillip was with the Indians but refused his consent.
King Philip? Indians? Don’t hear too much about them these days. Who was Philip, again? Some sort of rogue king?
A highway-side Historic Marker also relates part of the tale:
“Upon the rock fifty feet west of this spot Mary Rowlandson, Wife of the First Minister of Lancaster, was Redeemed from Captivity under King Philip. The Narrative of her experience is one of the classics of Colonial Literature.”
The former captive, Mary Rowlandson, did indeed later write a book about her captivity, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, which went on to become the equivalent of a 17th century bestseller, though forgotten, now.
I headed to Princeton and Redemption Rock to see the landmark stone and also because I’d heard there was a rockshelter nearby. Instead of a rockshelter, I found a stone chamber in the vicinity, on the other side of what appeared to be a constructed stone waterway, seemingly designed to keep water from flowing into the chamber on its way to a beaver pond just beyond.