July 27, 1851

 

220px-CaptureOfKingPhillipsFort

*

Saturday July 27th  Mr Ballou of Stoughton preached to day

Two young men natives of Nova Scotia were drowned

last night in the Hockemock Meadow  They were […]

working for brother Alson and at night went to the

river to bathe and it is supposed got into deep water

and could not swim  Oliver went to Stoughton for Mr Whitwell

to be in season for the funeral at 5 Oclock  We all went

to the funeral and carried Mr Whitwell

The Hockomock Swamp is a vital wetland of some 17,000 acres in southeastern Massachusetts, a minor portion of which occupies a southernmost section of land in Easton – land not far from the Gilmore farm.  It’s an ill-omened, storied spot, known today as part of the”Bridgewater Triangle,” so-named in the 20th century as a location for UFO sightings, ghost lights, foxfire, animal mutilations and the like. A “place where spirits dwell,” the Wampanoag Indians called it, and they would know. Much of King Philip’s War, in the late 17th century, was fought in the environs of the Hockomock. Metacomet hid there.

In the late 18th and 19th century, when it was known by many as The Great Cedar Swamp, some people were less superstitious about the area, eyeing it for its potential as arable land. The towns of Raynham and Easton butted heads over the construction of a road through it. According to historian William Chaffin, Evelina’s own father, Joshua Gilmore, “was going on a footpath through the swamp one day with his wife, carrying a little child in his arms[.] Mrs Gilmore was speaking of the difficulty of the passage, and her husband replied that some day the child would ride through the swamp in a carriage; and the idea struck her as so essentially preposterous that she had a hearty laugh over it.”** (It would be wonderful if the child in the story were Evelina, but the likelihood is that the child was an older sibling.)

It’s ironic that in 1851, two young farm hands who were working for Evelina’s own brother, Alson Gilmore, went for a swim in the “Hockemok Meadow” after work and drowned, adding their tragic story to the swamp’s paranormal reputation.

 

* Engraving of the Great Swamp Fight in 1675, the colonists versus the Narragansett Indians

** William Chaffin, History of Easton, 1866, pp. 454-455.