Author Confronts History in the Wilds of Attleboro

There is no end to the variety of fascinating requests the land trust has received over the years for activities to be conducted on our preserves.  Last spring, writer Jane Breakell set out to retrace the steps of banished Puritan dissenter Anne Hutchinson, who walked from Quincy, Massachusetts, to what was to become Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in April, 1638.

 On April 10, 2018, Jane, midway through her journey, spent the night in a tent on the Leach Sanctuary. Two days later, she crossed Narragansett Bay by boat to reach her destination, Aquidneck Island, as did Anne Hutchinson before her.  Below are some brief excerpts from an essay that Jane wrote about her experience for a recent issue of the New England Review (Vol. 39, No. 3).

Write Like a Puritan by Jane Breakell

“A woodcut shows a woman in a long black dress with a square white collar and a black hood, one hand at her side, one fist held to her chest, speaking, it appears, to a group of old men who are seated at a table, pulling at their beards, peering at her. If anyone can talk to God, then anyone can justify her own choices, words, actions, with or without the approval of the elders. From this kind of magical thinking, it is no great distance to amoral anarchy. When she would not recant, they kicked her right out. She had been a voluntary exile from England, braving the wilderness of the New World. She was now also an exile from Massachusetts, but she considered neither home. The bounds of my habitation are cast in heaven, she said, and walked out of Boston, into the real wilderness. She resettled herself on an island to the south, in what became the state of Rhode Island, not far from where I grew up. What takes ninety minutes by car today took her, on foot in 1638, six days. Eventually she left Rhode Island for New York. There, after refusing to evacuate during a Siwanoy raid (against the advice of her more experienced neighbors), she was killed.

“I’ve come to understand that Anne Hutchinson’s story, the struggle between doubt and assurance, the voices of elders and the voice in her own head, must be part of mine.

“…Specifically, I must retrace Anne Hutchinson’s long journey from Boston to Rhode Island in an attempt to reconsider New England—home of self-satisfied tradition—as wilderness, frontier. By reenacting this long-past drama of belonging, I want to learn about those questions we still ask ourselves: what is the right way to live? On whom can we rely to tell us? What do I need to do, where do I need to go, to be the right kind of person?

“…Instead of woolen clothes and wooden overshoes, I wear yoga pants and hiking boots with Gore-tex. Instead of carrying or gathering food, I stop for lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s; instead of sleeping out, I book Airbnbs for all but one night. And while Hutchinson sent a scout ahead to plot a route through forests, I follow a route chosen by Google Maps. She walked through forests, dunes, and swamps that have since been replaced by paved roads, village squares, college campuses, and Dunkin Donuts. When I read the names of the towns we will pass through, they evoke not wilderness but radio commercials for discount shoes and tires.

The point is to walk where she walked, which I do. It’s just different now.”

While reenacting the journey of Anne Hutchinson, Jane Breakell pitched her tent in the Phil and Ginny Leach Wildlife Sanctuary, in a spot near this lean-to, which Jane described as “a fortuitous illustration of the kind of structure the Hutchinson party probably slept in.” The exact route taken by Hutchinson is not known, but Jane said “I passed through Attleboro because it was the only place I was able to camp out that was even close to where I thought she walked–most of the way was really lacking in anything like wilderness.”    Image credit: Jane Breakell

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Annual Survey Monitors the Health of the Ten Mile River and Its Inhabitants

On September 22, volunteers from the Ten Mile River Watershed Council assisted ranger Jacob Gorke of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council of Rhode Island in conducting a survey of fish species in the Ten Mile River at Larson Woodland. The fish are stunned temporarily with an electric shock, netted and removed to be identified, then released back to the river.  ...
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Community Garden Registration Sessions Scheduled

Dates have been set for the Attleboro Community Garden 2019 Season Registration Sessions. If interested, please join us for one of our sessions which will take place at the Attleboro Library.
  • Saturday, February 9, 10:30 to noon
  • Wednesday, February 13, 6 to 8
  • Saturday, February 16, 10 to noon
  • Monday, March 11, 6:30 pm – includes a Seed ...
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Welcome to our new upgraded website!  Have a look around.  More content will be added in the days and weeks ahead.

Lands under our protection as of June 30, 2018: 492 acres owned; 200 acres restricted; 692 acres total.

Thanks to our donors

We are grateful to the following organizations and individuals for their financial support of our mission through donations and in-kind contributions.

Corporate Sponsors and Institutional Partners, 2017-18

American Legion Auxiliary Unit # 312
Attleboro Arts Museum
Attleboro Conservation Commission
Attleboro Historical Commission
Attleboro Foundation/Bank of America, N.A.
Attleboro Rotary Club
Briggs Garden and Home
Case Snow Management, Inc.
Casey Law Offices, P.C.
Checon Corporation
County Square Pharmacy
Crossman Engineering
Cryan Landscape Contractors, Inc.
Faulkner Family Foundation
Fred M. Roddy Foundation, Inc.
Greenwood Emergency Vehicles
Fredric J. Hammerle Charitable Trust
Johnson & Johnson
Lewis & Sullivan, P.C.
Liston Portables
M S Company
Mass Audubon
Russell Morin Fine Catering
National Fence & Supply Co.
New England Grassroots Environment Fund
Norton Equipment Rental
PEP Industries
Plymouth Rock Foundation
Providence Picture Frame
Reeves Company
SeedMoney
Sensata Foundation
Sensata Technologies, Inc.

Individual Major Donors, 2017-18

Sustainer

Tom Richardson

Sponsors

Ted and Debby Leach

Caretakers

Ray Larson
Don and Laura Ouellette

Trail Blazers

Tom and Anne Marie Enderby
Lucia & Bruce Field
Geoff and Sarah Gaunt
Richard Harris
Tim and Gloria McGinn

Protectors of Flora and Fauna

Denise Antaya & Clif Ennis
Roy Belcher and Bertha Young
Maureen and Ed Canner
Laurel & Leigh Carlson
Rev David Hill
Richard & Dawn Lunn
Anne and Mike Newquist
Mike & Lynne O’Brien
Christopher Smith
Frank Wojciechowski

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Upcoming Events

Apr
13
Sat
all-day Keep Attleboro Beautiful Clean-U...
Keep Attleboro Beautiful Clean-U...
Apr 13 all-day
Please stay tuned for an update on event locations and details.
Apr
20
Sat
9:00 am Geocaching CITO (Cache In Trash ... @ Larson Woods
Geocaching CITO (Cache In Trash ... @ Larson Woods
Apr 20 @ 9:00 am – 11:30 am
Stay tuned for event details.
Apr
22
Mon
all-day Earth Day 2019
Earth Day 2019
Apr 22 all-day
Please stay tuned for possible property clean-up events scheduled around this event.
Apr
27
Sat
all-day Introduction to Geocaching (chil... @ Attleboro Library/ Richardson Nature Preserve
Introduction to Geocaching (chil... @ Attleboro Library/ Richardson Nature Preserve
Apr 27 all-day
Please stay tuned for additional information on event times and additional details.
Oct
22
Tue
7:00 pm Annual Meeting @ Attleboro Arts Museum
Annual Meeting @ Attleboro Arts Museum
Oct 22 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Please join us for our annual meeting/event taking place at the Attleboro Arts Museum.  Event is open to the public.  Additional Event details to come.

Membership dues of $25 or donations in any amount may be made online to the Attleboro Land Trust here: