The Chocorua Legend

 In several versions the legend’s sequence relates the mysterious death of Chocorua’s son while in the care of a settler named Campbell. Suspicious of the cause, the Pequawket chieftain took revenge on the settler’s family. Then, in retaliation, Campbell killed Chocorua on the peak of the mountain now bearing the Indian’s name.

Located by Chocorua Lake on the west side of NH 16, 3.5 miles north of its junction with NH 113 in Tamworth.

BOB AND I started bagging sign photos on the first full day of our honeymoon. As a child, I had ridden past this sign innumerable times, never reading past the title. We decided that our wedded bliss should also bring driving leisure, and we finally stopped the car. The years have passed, the back seat’s gained an occupant, and we continue to visit the markers and the interesting sites around them.

Chocorua’s story is the stuff of true legend. By most contemporary accounts, there was indeed a man named Chocorua who died in 1725. From there, the reader will have to make shift. Some say that Chocorua’s boy was accidentally poisoned by a concoction intended for foxes, and that, at the fateful moment when the Abenaki stood facing the musket muzzle, he uttered a curse that killed off livestock in the following years. The animal deaths really happened, too but it was discovered that muriate of lime in the local wells poisoned the animals.

If you are of a less romantic bent, you might buy the simpler story that Chocorua was a victim of bounty hunters who carelessly, maliciously, or greedily targeted an Indian who had always kept cordial relations with the settlers. A theory bearing less controversy than either of the above suggests that Chocorua died in a hunting accident, or simply fell from the peak.

However Chocorua’s soul left this world, his legend remains. Chroniclers, poets, and painters all immortalized this poignant battle of Native versus Settler. Thomas Cole, influential artist of the Hudson School, painted Chocorua’s Curse, which depicts the final scene’s drama quite poignantly. Author Lydia Maria Child and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow both modeled works after the legend, and respected White Mountain historian Frederick W. Kilbourne recorded a version of the curse in his Chronicles of the White Mountains.

Marker #31.

Tamworth

 1965

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