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.

If you wish to find them, look for the dirt pull off on Route 106, near the junction of Knapp Brook Road in Reading. dsc_0375_pe-2

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As seen driving down Route 106. What’s in a name anyway?

As seen driving down Route 106. What’s in a name anyway?


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3 Comments on “The Reading Abduction Stones

  1. I always enjoy these. I wonder if the Hollow Tree is a GeoCache? I looked briefly, but I’m not familiar enough with the Geocache site to track down the location. The Reading site is quite something!

    Ann Cousins Preservation Trust of Vermont Director, Historic Places Revolving Fund Field Service Representative 104 Church Street Burlington, VT 05401 802-343-8180 802-329-2032 (fax)

  2. All of the stories were awesome and well written! I saw a little toy Robot from Lost in Space in the hole of the tree! So cool….. reminds me a bit of the story To Kill a Mockingbird, when Boo Radley put treasures in the hole in the tree in front of his house, for Jem and Scout. The Abduction Stone story was so sad, but unfortunately common for the time it took place. We don’t think of that much in New England. More down south and out west. Very, very interesting. And wonderful that the woman placed those very stones in that meaningful place for us all in the future to see and learn about her story. Great photography too Chad!

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