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Indenture of Zechariah Gilson of Northfield
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In 18th century America it was not uncommon for children to be bound into an apprenticeship. For many parents, apprenticeship offered an opportunity for a child to learn a craft outside their own. Probably the most famous apprentice was Benjamin Franklin, who used the skills he had learned at a printer's to become one of the most famous and wealthy men in America. In this indenture, Michael Gilson of the part of Northfield, Massachusetts, that would become Westmoreland, New Hampshire, bound his son Zechariah (Zachariah) over to John Belding of Hatfield, Massachusetts. Zechariah was to learn husbandry, or the care of horses and other large farm animals. But at the age of nineteen, at the start of the French and Indian War in 1755, he became a soldier. He was at Ft. William Henry when it was forced to surrender to the French and their Indian allies in August, 1757. Although the French had guaranteed their safety and allowed the British to leave the fort with their arms and possessions, the Indians refused to recognize that agreement and in a famous ambush killed and captured most of the British. This episode was most famously told in James Fenimore Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans." Gilson was taken to Canada as a captive. He returned to Westmoreland after his release and later settled in Westminster, Vermont.
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