Emerson W. Baker, author and Professor of History and Interim Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, Salem State University
Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua
The colonies founded in our region in the 1600s are often called “Puritan New England,” but northern New England was none of these things. The first English settlers were not Puritans. They were Anglicans, loyal to the Church of England and the king—people who ventured here for profit, not religion. Nor was this was a “new” land, as the Wabanaki had occupied the territory for thousands of years. Furthermore, much of the population was not even English. Aside from indigenous people, there were African slaves, Scottish prisoners of war, and a range of other Europeans. Ironically, northern New England would become a religious refuge for some—those Quakers, Baptists, Antinomians, and others unwelcome in Puritan Massachusetts.
This presentation views this world through the Old Berwick Historical Society’s recent exhibit Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua and its companion exhibit catalog. Inspired by archaeological research, Forgotten Frontier explores how merchants, slaves, captives and outcasts vied with Native Americans and French raiders for control of northern New England’s seventeenth-century frontier.