History of Hollis Militia part of Hidden Treasures event

HOLLIS – The Hollis Heritage Commission will sponsor a Hidden Treasures event from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Lawrence Barn, 28 Depot Road.

The event is free, although donations will be accepted. There will be displays, talks, horses and interactive activities centered on Hollis colonials, their march to Lexington and Concord, and their part in the battle of Bunker Hill and the Revolutionary War.

This family-friendly event is in collaboration with the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area in partnership with the National Park Service.

In preparation for the Hidden Treasures celebration, the HHC will introduce a series of Hollis historical treasures that date to its early settlers and founding charter of 1746.

Treasure No. 5 is the Hollis Militia:

Hollis settlers were active in two wars from its early days in 1731 to the Battle of Bunker Hill and call to arms in 1775. Capt. Peter Powers was commissioned by Gov. John Wentworth. In the 1750s, a militia from Hollis, led by Powers, fought the Indian wars at Crown Point, N.Y. Other early settlers are also known for service in the "Indian War," including Thomas Nevins, who served as a sergeant under Capt. N. Lovewell’s company and later became a selectman in Monson (1759).

Having defeated the French and Indian threat, the residents of the newly formed community of Hollis then armed themselves against the British.

Hollis was part of the New England network to stand ready for an encroachment from the British. That expedition came on the night of April 18, when Lt. Col. Smith crossed over from Boston to East Cambridge on the way to Lexington and Concord. Only 42 miles away, it didn’t take long for the watchmen on horseback to spread the alarm to Hollis. John Boynton, one of a committee of observers, rode into Hollis calling out, "The Regulars are coming and killing our men."

Word spread fast as mounted messengers rode through town to carry the news. By the afternoon of April 19, 92 Minutemen gathered on the Hollis common. Each carried his own musket and received 1 pound of powder and 20 bullets from the town’s supply.

Join the HHC on May 14 to honor those men of Hollis who answered the call to fight the British invasion. Learn the story of the Nevins Stone and hear the "Muster Roll of Capt. Reuben Dow’s Company of Minute Men who marched from Holles the 19th of April 1775."

Sources: Samuel Worchester, "History of the Town of Hollis," 1870; Duane Hamilton Hurd, editor, "History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men," Vol. 2, 1890.