The woman in the monument is Hannah Duston and in 1697 she was living in Haverhill, Massachusetts, when she, her infant daughter, and her nurse-maid, Mary Neff, were kidnapped by a band of Abenaki Native Americans.
The three were marched north and at some point Hannah’s infant daughter was killed by the Abenakis.
They stopped for the night in Boscawen, New Hampshire, and while the Abenaki families slept, Hannah and her companions killed 10 of them – including six children – and then scalped each victim before making their escape back to Haverhill.
Hannah Duston’s story was revived again in the 1800s during the era of “Manifest Destiny” by writers such as Henry David Thoreau and John Greenleaf Whittier, who were looking to tell the stories of American heroes and heroines.
But as the original Cotton Mather version of the story was rewritten and retold, people changed the narrative to suit their purposes – often omitting the part of the story in which Duston and her companions kill the sleeping children.
Via Slate for the full story and additional material.