DUNBARTON - 25 April 2015: Residents and Calvary adorned the Common in Center Dunbarton today to celebrate the life of General John Stark.
Originally granted as Gorham's-town in 1735, and re-granted as Starkstown in 1748, the town was incorporated in 1765 as Dunbarton. The name came from Dunbartonshire in Scotland, hometown to Archibald Stark, a prominent settler. John Stark (August 28, 1728 – May 8, 1822) was a New Hampshire native who served as an officer in the British Army during the French and Indian war and a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He became widely known as the "Hero of Bennington" for his exemplary service at the Battle of Bennington in 1777.
John Stark was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire (at a site that is now in Derry) in 1728. His father was born in Glasgow, Scotland to parents who were from Wiltshire, England, who met his wife when he moved to Derry in Ireland. When he was eight years old, he and his family moved to Derryfield (now Manchester), where he lived for the rest of his long life. Stark was married to Elizabeth "Molly" Page, with whom he had 11 children including his eldest son Caleb Stark.
On April 28, 1752, while on a hunting and trapping trip along the Baker River, a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, he was captured by Abenaki warriors and brought back to Canada but not before warning his brother William to paddle away in his canoe, though David Stinson was killed. While a prisoner of the Abenaki, he and his fellow prisoner Amos Eastman were made to run a gauntlet of warriors armed with sticks. Stark grabbed the stick from the first warrior's hands and proceeded to attack him, taking the rest of the warriors by surprise. The chief was so impressed by this heroic act that Stark was adopted into the tribe, where he spent the winter. Alternatively, in The Invasion Within, Axtell describes how colonists were often abducted by Indians and inducted into their tribes as members through such a ceremony of running the gauntlet.
The following spring a government agent sent from the Province of Massachusetts Bay to work on the exchange of prisoners paid his ransom of $103 Spanish dollars and $60 for Amos Eastman. Stark and Eastman then returned to New Hampshire safely.
Stark served as a second lieutenant under Major Robert Rogers during the French and Indian War. His brother William Stark served beside him in Rogers' Rangers. As a member of the daring Rogers' Rangers, Stark gained valuable combat experience and a detailed knowledge of the northern frontier of the American colonies. While serving with the rangers in 1757, Stark went on a scouting mission toward Fort Carillon in which the rangers were ambushed.
General Jeffery Amherst, in 1759 ordered Rogers' Rangers to journey from Lake George to the Abenaki village of St. Francis, deep in Quebec. The Rangers went north and attacked the Indian town. Stark, Rogers' second-in-command of all ranger companies, refused to accompany the attacking force out of respect for his Indian foster-parents residing there. He returned to New Hampshire to his wife, whom he had married the previous year.
At the end of the war, Stark retired as a captain and returned to Derryfield, New Hampshire.