Seal of Bradford, Essex County, Massachusetts Colony
Benjamin Kimball, my maternal 8th Great Uncle, was born in 1637 in Watertown, Middlesex County, Colonial Massachusetts, the youngest of 10 children born to immigrants, Richard Kimball (1595-1675) and Ursula Scott (1596-1661). He married Mercy Hazeltine (1642-1707) on April 16, 1661. On May 12, 1663, they moved to Rowley, Massachusetts, where they bought land. At this time Rowley included within its limits the present Bradford, Georgetown, and Groveland. His land was in what is now known as Bradford. On Nov. 23, 1667, he bought several tracts of land, among them was land that he gave to his older brother, Thomas Kimball. Thomas was killed by an Indian on May 3, 1676, during one of the raids on the town of Bradford during the King Philip’s War. His wife and 5 children were captured and taken prisoner, however, they were returned to the town on June 11, 1676. On Feb. 20, 1668, at the first town meeting in Bradford, Benjamin was chosen an overseer of the town. He served in this capacity until March 15, 1674. On Jan. 6, 1675, he and his wife Mercy, sold forty acres of land to the inhabitants of that town for the use of the minister.
In 1668, Samuel Appleton was chosen to serve as a deputy to the Massachusetts General Court and received the title of Lieutenant. He served in the company of his brother, Captain John Appleton, from 1669 to 1671. He then served by himself from 1673 to 1675. In 1675, King Philip’s War broke out and Appleton was promoted to Captain. On September 24, 1675, Appleton received a commission to command a foot company of 100 men which included the two Kimball brothers. (Benjamin was “cornet” of troops and was known as “Cornet Kimball.”). He proceeded to the Connecticut River Valley, where Captain Thomas Lathrop’s Company had been destroyed on September 18.
On October 4, Major John Pynchon resigned as Commander-in-Chief of the militia headquarters in Hadley and Appleton was chosen to succeed him. Not knowing where the next attack would come from, Appleton divided his army among three towns. He stationed a force in Northampton under the command of Lieutenant Nathaniel Sealy. This group was supplemented by troops under the command of Robert Treat of Connecticut. A second group, under the command of Captains Jonathan Poole and Samuel Moseley, was stationed in Hatfield. Appleton himself commanded the third force, which was stationed in Hadley.
At noon on October 19, several fires were spotted north of Hadley. Captain Moseley sent out a scouting party of ten men who were ambushed two miles outside of the garrison. Six of the men were killed and three were captured. Moseley sent to Hadley and Northampton for reinforcements. Appleton and most of his men crossed the river and joined Moseley. Around 4 pm, a large band of Native American warriors charged the settlement. Appleton defended one side of the town, Captain Poole defended the other, and Captain Moseley defended the middle. Appleton’s sergeant was killed by his side and Appleton just missed getting shot as a bullet went through his hat. After two hours the warriors retreated in confusion. The battle at Hatfield was the Native Americans’ first real setback of the war and a turning point for the English colonists, as it proved that the Native Americans could be repelled if the militia was prepared.
In November 1675, the commissioners of the United Colonies of New England had evidence that the neutral Narragansett tribe was assisting Metacomet. They chose to launch a preemptive strike on the Narragansett. On December 8, 527 members of the Massachusetts militia, led by Appleton, gathered in Dedham, Massachusetts. Plymouth Colony gathered 159 men under the command of William Bradford and Connecticut moved 300 men under the command of Robert Treat, along with 150 Mohegan warriors. Governor Josiah Winslow of Plymouth Colony was named Commander-in-Chief. On December 19, 1675, the Narragansett fort was captured in the Great Swamp Fight. 110 of Appleton’s men were either killed or wounded in the battle. Afterwards, Appleton and his remaining men returned to Boston, and he retired from active service.
Benjamin returned home to Bradford, and he continued his life as a wheelwright, carpenter, and a farmer. They raised 6 children. In 1690, he built a large 3-story house for his family. The house still stands on the junction of Salem Street and Main in Bradford. Benjamin died on June 16, 1696, and he is buried in the Bradford Cemetery.
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