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Monadnock Moment No. 159
Era 2: Colonization and Settlement - 1623 to 1763
The First Hermit
Mark Ferry was one of the first settlers of Keene, and probably its first hermit. Ferry arrived in Keene in the late 1730s. He soon tired of the activity in the settlement and moved into the woods to be alone. He dug a cave which he used as his home in the bank of the Ashuelot River near North Swanzey.
A severe flood in 1739 drove him from his cave. Ferry was forced to seek refuge upon a high stump. His neighbors eventually found him sitting on the stump with a calf resting in his arms. Because of the damage caused by the flood, Ferry moved northward into the area of Sullivan. In 1746 a band of Indians attacked Keene. It was feared that they had captured or killed Ferry because he did not seek refuge at the fort. When the Indians had gone, a group of militia went out to search for him. They found him sitting peacefully far up in a large tree, mending his clothes. Ferry's appearance indicated that he had not had a shave or a bath for several months. The militia led him back to the safety of the fort.
Although he played a minor role in local history and was viewed as peculiar by his neighbors, Ferry left behind a legacy for the region. Two brooks were given his name, one near his cave and one near the tree where he was found by the militia. Mark Brook in Swanzey and Ferry Brook in Sullivan were named for the early hermit, Mark Ferry.