The Insider admittedly opted not to conduct a scientific poll (we failed statistics class - but we aced English!), but our guess is that if we asked a dozen people if they'd visited the Hannah Dustin monument in Boscawen, the answers would range from "the what?" to "You do know what a restraining order is, right?"
Alas, the first U.S. monument erected to honor a woman is nestled anonymously behind the park-and-ride at Exit 17 on Interstate 93, flanked by a river on one side and unused train tracks on the other. There's only a small walking path to guide the way, and most of the visitors to the site these days are teenagers who enter in the evening and aren't there to, um, brush up on their knowledge of historical artifacts.
Enter the members of the Hannah Dustin Society, a Concord-based chapter of the Children of the American Revolution, who have taken it upon themselves to beautify the stone likeness of their group's namesake.
Hannah Dustin famously escaped Native American capture in the late 1600s, leading a nighttime revolt after six weeks of captivity and killing several of her captors before escaping in a canoe with the scalps of the dead, which she later used to collect a bounty.
The organization spent much of a recent afternoon planting perennial flowers around the perimeter of the monument's base as the first step in restoring the site's charm.
"Being named after Hannah Dustin, the monument is obviously very important to us," Katherine Snaith, the group's senior president, said.
It's also important to the state, as Snaith said plans are in the works for an overall beautification project. The Hannah Dustin Society coordinated its efforts with the upcoming rejuvenation plans and intends to continue working at the site in the future.
"We're going to do some upkeep. The state has a larger plan that will require cutting down certain trees and some landscaping that's going to be going in, but it's something we will make sure is an ongoing project for the society, specifically."
The Concord society has been active since 2010, when Snaith helped form it, inspired at least in part by a conversation over confections.
While attending a Children of the American Revolution state conference several years ago, Snaith spotted a man piling his plate high with cookies before lunch had even started and couldn't help chuckling while envying the man's approach.
"I said, 'Here's a guy after my own heart, going for dessert first,' " she joked.
It's what the man said, though, and not what he did that left the lasting impression.
"He said, 'I'm just getting some cookies for everyone at my table,' and I said, 'Wow, that's so polite and thoughtful,' " Snaith said. "He said, 'That's CAR. That's what I learned here, being courteous.' And I thought, that's the kind of thing I want to see my children exposed to."
So she exposed them to it.
Her daughters have been members since the organization began, with her oldest daughter, Madison, contributing at the state level of CAR, as well. The group's focus is largely on community service, though the meetings foster "not only interest in preserving history and giving time to the community, but it also develops confidence and promotes positive leadership," Snaith said.
The society has visited veterans homes, made wreaths to lay at gravesites of fallen soldiers and picked up trash along the side of highways. Membership is open to boys and girls up to the age of 22, and meetings often feature a formal tone, with girls wearing skirts and dresses and boys donning ties and coats in hopes of enforcing manners and a sense of courteousness.
"I've definitely enjoyed it, just getting to meet new people, make new friendships and have experiences I probably wouldn't have through my school or other activities I'm involved in," Madison Snaith, a freshman in high school and the group's current president, said. "It's been fantastic."
Added Savannah Smith, a home-schooled senior in high school: "I like how we do a lot of community service projects, just meeting different people. It's definitely rewarding. It feels really good. It actually feels like we're making a difference."
The benefits spread beyond meeting new people in your own age bracket, too. Saturday's work featured several senior members, including three generations of the Snaith family, and the work was done in front of Hopkinton's Merle Dustin, who married a direct descendent of Hannah Dustin.
"It feels really cool because most of my friends, they can't say, 'I got to go to a monument and I got to plant flowers,' " 10-year old Lydia Monroe said. "It's really cool because some of my friends have been asking what it's like (to be involved), and I can't really explain it. It's just getting to really do stuff for the community and working together."
And working at the Hannah Dustin monument sort of brings the journey full circle, as the group gets to learn the history of a strong-willed woman who escaped captivity against all odds after a violent attack.
"The Hannah Dustin story is bone-chilling, but it's incredible, especially for the girls and the women," Snaith said. "It's a pretty cool story of an independent and strong woman living back in that time and having to do things you wouldn't normally have thought you'd have to deal with." (next page »)