Abigail Philbrick

From the book "More New Hampshire Folk Tales"
Collected by Mrs. Moody P. Gore & Mrs. Guy E. Speare
Compiled and published by Mrs. Guy E. Speare
Plymouth, New Hampshire - 1936

Abigail, daughter of Daniel and Margaret Ayers Philbrick, was born in 1769 and died in 1862. She would have been a "new woman" had she lived in these days. A cousin of Rachel Freese whose story appears in Book I, yet unlike her, she lived to be ninety-three years old. Her home was that of the late Captain David A. Philbrick and there she was born, lived and died unmarried. She was such a strong-minded woman that she needed neither the comfort nor support of husband or children, but lived alone in the homestead after her family were gone.

One day her pigs got out and were already in the pound when she discovered her loss which meant that they would be fed by the pound keeper at her expense; a foolish outlay when her farm teemed with all sorts of provender. Next morning she arose at four o'clock and with spade and hoe visited the pound at some distance from her home where she dug an outlet for the swine and drove them home to their own breakfast. She told her sister that she could not help laughing aloud when she thought of the dignified Squire Toppan, the pound keeper, going to feed the pigs with slow arm. "Of course hogs could root out of that place as well as and measured step, his bucket of corn hanging on his out of this pen" she added with a twinkle in her eye.

One night she went to the "East End" to visit her sister, in the darkness, alone and unafraid. She could hear the shouts of boyish laughter mingled with yells, and then all became silent. The boys had heard her solid step and, in the gloom of the night spied the flourish of the huge cape, which enveloped her. They had stretched out flat on their stomachs, head to feet, quite across the road. It was not too dark for her to see them. Turning neither to right nor left she went placidly on until poised on the back of one of her tormentors, she gave a good "jounce" which called forth " a grunt" and continued her way in peace.

When the Baptists, a new sect, held a meeting in a field about where the Methodist Church now stands a mob gathered. The preacher standing in a tipcart was pelted with potatoes, pulled in a nearby patch, and with stones. The pin was jerked from its place tipping the speaker out. Finally the militia came out not so much to quail the disturbance as to arrest the preacher. He fled taking refuge in the Philbrick house. When the soldiers arrived there "Nabby" stood in her doorway, rampant, and forbade them to enter. She lectured them on their cowardly action and told them to go take care of the dastards that were too mean to give fair play. "Aunt Nabby" as she called, wore as did the women of her day, a long, full scarlet, broadcloth cape with a hood, and she was very tall and had strong features she must have been, when in her prime, a striking figure.