The Reading Abduction Stones
Propped inconspicuously off a no-frills stretch of state route 106 in Reading, south of the attractive little village of Felchville are a curious set of stones that are too easy to miss. If you were to take a look, you might be perplexed at the strange, enigmatic hieroglyphs found on them, with pictures of a bow an arrow, people, trees and what appear to be pick axes, what do these curious images mean? Underneath is faded scrawl, scribed in eighteenth-century English. These stones are certainly vexing. So what are they?
These are actually a monument, chiseled and erected in 1799 that mark an older occurrence, an Indian abduction.
Susanna Johnson and her family were abducted by a party of Abenaki in 1754 from Charlestown, NH, and were marched by their captors across Vermont towards Canada. But when they reached the banks of Knapp Brook, Mrs. Johnson went into labor and unceremoniously gave birth to a daughter, before being forced to continue the trek shortly after.
During their years in captivity, her son assimilated into the Abnaki culture, while her daughter was sold to a French Canadian family from Montreal. The details are vague here, but Mrs. Johnson would eventually return home.
But years later, through a series of contacts, the three family members were briefly united. However, they were unable to communicate with each other linguistically or culturally.
Mrs. Johnson had the abduction stones monument made and put in their current spot, both where she gave birth and where they still sit today, and are the oldest such monument in the country. But while the 18th century English is translatable, the weird assortment of carved pictures are pretty peculiar. Perhaps we’ll never know.
In 1918, someone encased the stones in a larger stone monument, to preserve them forever, and today they rest on the side of Route 106, barely noticed by passersby.
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