March 22, 1987


To understand ourselves it is important to understand our ancestors, and a part of them, and their heritage, lives on in us today.  As one of our ancestors, Rebecca Bearce, is a part of us, to know ourselves we must learn of her.  Yet, to learn about her it is necessary to learn the stories of her ancestors.  These people were predominantly American Indians mixed with some English colonists in early New England.

This book is designed primarily to be a genealogical record.  But, more than just names and dates, it is hoped that, by relating the histories of these people, they might truly come alive in our minds and in our hearts and that we might more clearly understand ourselves as we better appreciate those who went before us.

To the world the American Indians seemed like a forgotten people when the English colonists first arrived and began to occupy their lands. But, to the Lord, they were not forgotten.  Indeed, He was in the process of awakening them to their own heritage. Two thousand years earlier the Lord made promises to the descendants of Lehi through His prophets.  Enos wrote:

“And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him--that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation ...

“Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.

"And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time" (Enos 13, 15, 16).

"But behold, I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men.

"After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.

"For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust” (2 Nephi 26: 14-16).

“Now these things are written unto the remnant of the house of Jacob; and they are written after this manner, because it is known of God that wickedness will not bring them forth unto them; and they are to be hid up unto the Lord that they may come forth in his own due time.

"And this is the commandment which I have received; and behold, they shall come forth according to the commandment of the Lord, when he shall see fit, in his wisdom.

"And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go--that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant;

“And also that the seed of this people may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles; for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a dark, a filthy and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us, yea, even that which hath been among the Lamanites, and this because of their unbelief and idolatry.

"For behold, the Spirit of the Lord hath already ceased to strive with their fathers; and they are without Christ and God in the world; and they are driven about as chaff before the wind.

"They were once a delightsome people, and they had Christ for their shepherd; yea, they were led even by God the Father ...

"And behold, the Lord hath reserved their blessings, which they might have received in the land, for the Gentiles who shall possess the land.

“But behold, it shall come to pass that they shall be driven and scattered by the Gentiles; and after they have been driven and scattered by the Gentiles, behold, then will the Lord remember the covenant which he made unto Abraham and unto all the house of Israel.

"And also the Lord will remember the prayers of the righteous, which have been put up unto him for them" (Mormon 5: 12-17, 19-21).

These were special people with special promises.  Many of the blessings we enjoy today come to us as a result of being born into their lineage and inheriting the blessing promised to them.  May we honor and respect them for the greatness of their character without condemning them for some of the acts we may not understand.

I want to give special thanks to my cousin, Mary Hilliard, for her assistance and encouragement in researching and preparing this book.  She has a great love and understanding for the people discussed herein and was especially helpful in sharing feelings and encouragement.


I have tried, as much as possible, to document the genealogical data in this record.  I can not say with certainty that everything is correct.  I have worked on this for many years, and it is with some reservation that I make this work public and subject to the criticism of others.  Such a work as this can never be completed, as there is always more to be researched and vacancies to be filled.  Perhaps, however, it is better to make this information available to those who are interested than to worry about the criticism that may come.

Wherever possible I have tried to find at least two sources for the genealogical data, but this has not always been possible.  I have had to rely heavily on historical records which are not considered by genealogists to be preferred sources.  In the case of the American Indians, however, there is little else. (Actually I found more discrepancies among those “preferred" sources for the English colonial genealogy, than among the “historical" sources for the American natives.)

I have also found Franklin Elewatum Bearce's history, Who Our Forefathers Really Were,  A True Narrative of Our White and Indian Ancestors,  to be very helpful. At first I was very skeptical of this record as it was a family tradition passed down for many generations.  However, the more research I performed, the more it agreed with Bearce’s narrative.  Everything that I was able to document from other sources (except in the case of Mary Baldwin being the wife of Azariah Canfield and the mother of Oliver Canfield) agreed with Bearce's narrative.  In several other areas where cursory research appeared to disagree, a more thorough search showed Bearce's record to be correct. This gave me the courage to rely on his record in a few instances where there was no other record at all.  All such instances are specifically brought to the reader's attention throughout this work.

Bearce received most of his genealogical information from his Grandfather and Great-aunt.  These two individuals were well aquainted with their Grandparents, Josiah Bearce III and his wife, Freelove Canfield.  Josiah III had the original diary of Zerviah Newcomb with a written genealogical supplement (referred to by Bearce as a "Codgial"). Bearce's Great-aunt, Mary Caroline, lived with Josiah III and Freelove Canfield Bearce for several years, listened to their ancestral stories, and made her own personal copy of Zerviah's diary supplement.  It was this copy that Bearce studied and used to produce the record that is so often quoted in this book.  He gives the following account for the source of his information:

“And at age 19 (I) went over the manuscripts again and discussed the genealogical history of my family with my Grandmother, Mary Ellen (Tuttle) Bearce after my Grandfather's death and shortly before my Grandmother migrated to Puget Sound Country. (Great) Aunt Mary Caroline (sister to Bearce's Grandfather) was very fond of discussing her Indian ancestors and was familiar with their tribal strains and many historical facts concerning them ...

“In 1831 Mary Caroline and her older brother, James Monroe Bearce, went to live with their Grandfather, Josiah Bearce (III) and Freelove Canfield, at Penfield, Monroe County, N.Y. She was very fond of her Grandmother, Freelove, knew all about her and stated on several occasions that Freelove's Mother was Sarah Mauwee, daughter of Joseph Mauwee, Sachem of Choosetown, and not Tabitha Rubbards (Roberts). She obtained her copy of Zerviah Newcomb's Chronical from Zerviah's original diary, in the hands of Josiah 3rd himself.  Mary Caroline stated that the original diary was written with India ink and on several different lots of paper, some of it of very poor quality, and that the supplement codgial (the portion with the genealogy) was written by Zerviah, in her old age and after the death of Josiah Bearce 1st.  The supplement was clear and readable when she lived with Josiah 3rd at Penfield" (9).

It is certainly possible that such a record may contain errors, but it is also very fortunate that we have access to this record as it presents firsthand knowledge of some of the individuals discussed in this book.  I only wish we had more.

{Note:The footnotes throughout this book contain two numbers.  The number to the left of the colon “:” refers to the corresponding book number in this bibliography.  The number to the right indicates the page of that book where the information can be found.}


Chapter                       Title                                                                                                                                   Page

1                                  New England Natives                                                                                                          1

2                                  European Exploration                                                                                                          5

3                                  Pilgrim's Settlement at Plymouth                                                                                        8

4                                  Pokanoket—Wampanoag

                                              Massasoit                                                                                                                  15

5                                  Pokanoket—Wampanoag
                                              Alexander and Philip                                                                                                18

6                                  Pocasset—Wampanoag
                                              Corbitant; Weetamoo; Weecum                                                                             26

7                                 Assawampsetts—Wampanoag
                                              Pamantaquash;  Tuspaquin & Amie;  Benjamin & Weecum;

                                              Mary Tuspaquin & Isaac Sissel;  Mary Sissel                                                       31

8                                 Newcomb
                                              Cpt. Andrew;  Lieut. Andrew & Anna Bayes;  Zerviah                                        36

9                                  Pokanoket—Wampanoag
                                              Quadaquinna;  Margaret & Gabrial Wheldon;
                                              Ruth Wheldon & Richard Taylor;  Martha Taylor                                                 43

10                                Mattachee--Cape Tribe—Wampanoag
                                              Highyannough;  Iyannough;  Mary Hyanno                                                          47

11                                Bearce
                                              Augustine;  Joseph;  Josiah I;  Josiah II;  Josiah III                                              53

12                                Potatuck—Housatonic
                                              Waramaug;  Mercy Caroline                                                                                    59

13                                Iroquois History                                                                                                                  63

14                                Onondaga & Mohawk--Iroquois; and Ramapoo—Delaware
                                              Dekanassora;  Koistine;  Kyne;  Catoona;

                                              Old Chicken Warrups (or Sam Mohawk);  Ann Warrups I;
                                              Cpt. Thomas Chicken Warrups;  Ann Warrups II                                                 68

15                                Baldwin
                                             John Sr.;  Josiah;  Sarah;  Richard;  John (Nauasee);  Rebecca                             76

16                                Pequot
                                              Nuck-quut-do-waus;  Woipequand;  Sassacus                                                      81

17                                Mattabeseck--River Tribes
                                              Sowheag;  Montowese                                                                                              87

16                                Aquiniuh (Gay Head)--MVI—Wampanoag
                                               Noh-took-saet;  Metaark                                                                                          91

19                                 Scatacook—Housatonic
                                               Isaac Siem;  Gideon Mauweehu;  Joseph (Chuse) Mauwee;  Sarah Mauwee     95

20                                 Tabitha Roberts
                                               Ford;  Thorpe;  McKay;  Braithwait;  Preston;  Mallory                                      101

21                                 Bassett
                                               Thomas I & Joanna;  Thomas II & Sarah;  Mercy                                                104

22                                 Canfield
                                               Thomas & Phebe;  Jeremiah & Alice;  Azariah & Mercy;
                                               Oliver & Tabitha & Sarah Mauwee;  Freelove                                                     106

23                                 Rebecca Bearce                                                                                                                110


1                                   Wampanoag Royal Family                                                                                          116

2                                   Narragansett Royal Family                                                                                          117

3                                   Pequot Royal Family                                                                                                    120

4                                  Massachusetts Royal Family                                                                                      122

Bibliography                                                                                                                                                      123

Maps:                          Major Federations of New England                                                                                 1

                                    English Towns of S.E. New England                                                                               8

                                    Wampanoag Tribes                                                                                                          15

                                    Western Connecticut                                                                                                       59

                                    New York                                                                                                                          68

                                    Eastern Connecticut & Rhode Island                                                                            61

                                    Marthas Vineyard Island                                                                                                91

{Note: The above chapters and page numbers were for the paper copy of this book.  In the electronic form on this CD the chapter headings are still applicable but the page numbers no longer fit the new format.}

Pedigree chart of Rebecca Bearce

Descendants of Massasoit, and others

Descendants of additional ancestors of Rebecca Bearce

Pedigree of Zerviah Newcomb, wife of Josiah Bearce I

Pedigree chart for Rhoda Jane Perkins

3rd Great Granddaughter of Rebecca Bearce, and

Grandmother of the author of this book


Chapter 1


Before the arrival of Europeans, most of the native Americans east of the Rocky Mountains could be grouped into two major linguistic families: the Algonquians, who occupied most of eastern Canada and the northern half of the U.S.; and the Iroquoians, who lived primarily in the southern United States.

Sometime before the colonial period, the Iroquoian tribes began moving from the southern plains eastward across the Mississippi River and then northeasterly between the Appalachians and the Ohio River Valley, into the Great Lakes region, then through New York and down the St. Lawrence River.

Though they were neighbors and had similar skin color, these two groups of Indians were as dissimilar as the French and the Germans in Europe.  These were not united peoples but were splintered off into numerous sub-groupings or tribes.  They fought vicious wars against all surrounding tribes, and each generation grew up experiencing bloody combat every few years.

The Indians of New England were of the Algonquian group.  Although the Iroquois of New York were arch enemies they did not have to go that far to carry on their warfare.  Numerous small tribes, ranging anywhere from just a few families to many villages subdivided all of New England.  Eventually, for their common protection, small tribes began to unite into larger Federations.  Others, who preferred to remain aloof, were swallowed up by stronger tribes, forced to pay an annual tribute and support a "Great Sachem" (or Chief of an entire federation.)

Federations, as well as the individual tribes, were fluid organizations to the extent that the sachem was supported as long as he had the strength to maintain his position.  If he became weak, some of his followers might choose to support a rival sachem, or be conquered and forced to support another sachem, while others might just wander off to avoid all alliances.

Belonging to a federation meant that an annual tribute had to be sent to support the great sachem and his household, warriors had to be sent if he called for a given number to go to war, and strictest obedience and fidelity was demanded.  Still, most tribes willingly adhered to a federation for what the received in return.  They had the assurance of mutual protection, by the federation, if they were attacked by an enemy.  They were less likely to be attacked by another tribe within the federation.  Their sachems and principle men were made a part of the governing council and could represent the wishes of the tribe.

At the time the Pilgrims landed in America the major federation in southern New England were as follows:

Federation                      Great Sachem                Location

Wampanoag                   Massasoit                      Southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Marthas Vineyard & Islands

Narragansett                   Canonicus II                 Rhode Island

Pequot/Mohegan           Sassacus                       Eastern Connecticut

River Tribes                    Sowheag                       Central Connecticut

Massachusetts               Squaw Sachem             Eastern Massachusetts

Nipmucks                        ?                                    Central Massachusetts

Some of these federations had as many as thirty member tribes supporting their Great Sachem, although many of these tribes would be counted by more than one sachem, as any tribe that was forced to pay tribute was considered as part of that Great Sachem's federation.  Some small tribes, on the boarders between federations, had the misfortune of paying tribute to every strong tribe that confronted them.

The position of tribal Sachem, or "Great Sachem" of a federation, was traditionally hereditary to the oldest son but that son had to have the respect of his peotle.  Indian society had misfits and undesirables but since the people lived in small villages and shared a semi-communal life style everyone in the society was well known by the others.  A person's honor, integrity and strength determined his reputation.  A sachem could not retain his title without the respect of his people.  A leader was expected to be physically strong, brave in battle, wise in counsel, eloquent in speech and honorable in actions.

Any member of the society who dishonored himself, in anyway, was no longer worthy of the respect of his people.  Such persons would either accept their low state in the tribe, or would wander away to another tribe to make a fresh start among another people.  In this way, youths were raised to respect the honorable virtues of their society.

The Indians of New England were large, strong people.  Almost every account of them, by early Europeans, talks of their large size.  Few of them were actually measured, but an Indian skeleton found by early colonists in Connecticut measured six feet, six inches.  The record does not.say whether that was shorter or taller than other Indians of that day.  In subsequent chapters of this book, descriptions will be given of Indians who were from six, to six and a half feet tall. (With the average American male today at 5'9"--5'10," it is not likely that the early English colonists were any taller than this.  It might be estimated that the average Englishman, in his prime, may have been about 5’6” to 5’8” and 170 lbs; while the average New England Indian male, in his prime, may well have been closer to 6’2”—6’3” and 220 lbs.)

"The New-England Indians were large, straight, well proportioned men.  Their bodies were firm and active, capable of enduring the greatest fatigues and hardships.  Their passive courage was almost incredible.  When tortured in the most cruel manner; though flayed alive, though burnt with fire, cut or torn limb from limb, they would not groan, nor show any signs of distress.  Nay, in some instances they would glory over the tormentors, saying that their hearts would never be soft until they were cold, and representing their torments as sweet as Englishmen's sugar.  When travelling in summer, or winter, they regarded neither heat nor cold.  They were exceedingly light of foot, and would travel or run a very great distance in a day.  Mr. (Roger) Williams says,  'I have known them run between eighty and a hundred miles in a summer's day and back again within two days.'  As they were accustomed to the woods, they ran in them nearly as well as on plain ground.  They were exceedingly quick sighted to discover their enemy, or their game, and equally artful to conceal themselves.  Their features were tolerably regular.  Their faces are generally full as broad as those of the English, but flatter; they have a small, dark coloured good eye, coarse black hair, and a fine white set of teeth.  The Indian children, when born, are nearly as white as the English children; but as they grow up their skin grows darker and becomes nearly of a copper colour.  The shapes of both the men and women, especially the latter, are excellent.  A crooked Indian is rarely if ever to be seen." (30: p.25)

When viewing the typical Indians of America, one would describe them as having a dark brown skin.  The Indians of New England, however, were of a lighter, and more ruddy, complexion than most of the other tribes.  They were described as having a skin color similar to that of burnished copper, and not too dissimilar from an Englishman with a fresh sunburn.  Consequently, they became known, by the colonists, as "redskins".

They were not lazy, although they appeared to be to some of the colonists.  They had little means of preserving food and as they often moved from one location to another, they did not try to accumulate great stores of possessions.  If they had enough for today, they made little effort to worry about tomorrow.  When they got hungry they would seek out what they needed.  It was a subsistence kind of life where the men spent their time in hunting, fishing and war.  "They were excellent marksmen and rarely missed their game, whether running or flying."  The women (squaws) did all of the menial tasks, such as gathering wood, planting, and carrying home the hunted animals.  When they moved, the women carried the children, packs and belongings.  In the Indian's society this was not regarded as ill treatment, as it would be by us today.  It was accepted as their role in life, as the men accepted the duty of fighting wars and hunting game.

They wore relatively little clothing, especially in summer, although the women were usually somewhat more modest than the men.  Even in the bitter cold of winter, the men often wore only a breach cloth and mockasins.  An animal hide thrown over their shoulders, provided added protection from the elements.  They also dressed themselves with carved ornaments of bone and shell which were hung from their ears and nose.  Feathers, signifying great deeds or accomplishments, adorned their hair and were a normal part of the daily dress.  Pictures of great beasts or designs were tattooed on their faces, arms and body.  Belts or necklaces of wampumpeog (or "Wampum" for short) added an air of status.  (Wampum was made of rare shells some black and some white, which were perforated and strung on long strands of deer sinew.  Many strands together made wide belts which were worn as a girdle, or over the shoulder of the sachems, or other prominent Indians.  Wampum was used as money; a measurement of wealth, and a medium of exchange.)  For special occasions their faces would be painted bright colors: red, yellow or black and the skin of a moose or deer would be worn over their shoulder along with the skin of a wild cat or bear draped over their arm.  In this manner, their appearance was ferocious and they commanded the respect of their own tribal members, and their enemies.

The Indians of New England lived in "wigwams," or little huts in the forest made of small young trees which were bent over to make a framework and covered with mats to shed the rain.  A hole was left in the top to allow the smoke to escape.  These were smelly, dark and dirty with insects being more comfortable than the people.  They were a temporary housing as the Indians moved from one area to another to take advantage of game, fish, weather or wood for fuel.  They drank only water, but ate the flesh and entrails of any animals available.  Their most common foods were moose, bear, raccoons, geese, turkeys, ducks, fish, and eels.  They ate very little produce of their own, but did grow corn, beans and squash which they augmented with nuts, acorns, fruits and berries that grew naturally.

They had no furniture.  They sat on the ground with their legs crossed and elbows resting on their knees.  They slept on mats, or skins on the hard ground and ate with their fingers, knowing no utensils.  They had no metal instruments.  Even their knives and axes were made of stone.

The Indians of New England believed in a great spirit, or god, whom they called Kitchtan.  He was a good god and lived far away in the southwest.  If they were good they would go to him in his heaven, or happy hunting ground, after their death.  Kitchtan didn't do everything by himself.  There were other gods for the wind, fire, thunder, water, etc.  In total there were almost forty gods respected by these Indians.

The god of the underworld was Hobbamocko.  He was Kitchtan's opponent but was not viewed as being as diabolical and wicked as Satan.  He was not in harmony with Kitchtan, and was more understanding of human frailties, being more in tune with the "natural man."  While Kitchtan was the greatest, or the supreme god, he was largely unapproachable and gave little attention to the cares of the Indians.  Therefore, if the people wanted to change the coarse of their lives they prayed to Hobbamocko to intercede on their behalf.  If Hobbamocko was strong enough they might get their wish, if not, they recognized the greater strength of Kitchtan and were more convinced that he would not respond to their needs but they thanked Hobbamocko for trying.  While this was a form of devil worship, it would be wrong to think of it in the same sense that we regard "Satan worshippers" today.  For the most part, they were just trying to find someone who would help them with their problems and Hobbamocko seemed to be the most likely one to listen.

The English resented the fact that the Indians wouldn't convert to Christianity as soon as the missionaries came among them.  They never stopped to consider that the Englishman's religion was almost as foreign to the Indians as was the Indian religion to the English.  In fact there were a lot more Indians who converted to Christianity than English who converted to the Indian religion.

"When a young Indian wished to marry, he presented the girl, with whom he was enamoured, with bracelets, belts, and chains of wampum.  If she received his presents, they cohabited together for a time, upon trial.  If they pleased each other, they were joined in marriage; but if, after a few weeks, they were not suited, the man, leaving his presents, quitted the girl, and sought another mistress, and she another lover.  In this manner they courted, until two met who were agreeable to each other.  Before marriage the consent of the sachem was obtained, and he always joined the hands of the young pair in wedlock.

"The Indians in general kept many concubines, and never thought they had too many women.  This especially was the case with their sachems.  They chose their concubines agreeably to their fancy, and put them away at pleasure.  When a sachem grew weary of.any of his women, he bestowe them upon some of his favourites, or chief men.  The Indians, however, had one wife, who was the governess of the family, and whom they generally kept during life." (30: p.31)

"The Indian government, generally, was absolute monarchy.  The will of the sachem was his law.  The lives and interests of his subjects were at his disposal.  But in all-important affairs, he consulter his counsellors.  When they had given their opinions, they deferred the decision of every matter to him.  Whatever his determinations were, they applauded his wisdom, and without hesitation obeyed his commands.  In council, the deportment of the sachems was grave and majestic to admiration.  They appeared to be men of great discernment and policy.  Their speeches were cautious and politic.  The conduct of their counsellors and servants was profoundly respectful and submissive.

"The counsellors of the Indian kings in New England, were termed the paniese.  These were not only the wisest, but largest and bravest men to be found among their subjects.  They were the immediate guard of their respective sachems, who made neither war nor peace, nor attempted any weighty affair, without their advice.  In war, and all great enterprises, dangers, and sufferings, these discovered a boldness and firmness of mind exceeding all the other warriors.

“To preserve this order among the Indians, great pains were taken.  The stoutest and most promising boys were chosen, and trained up with peculiar care, in the observation of certain Indian rites and customs. They were kept from all delicious meats, trained to coarse fare, and made to drink the juice of bitter herbs, until it occasioned violent vomitings.  They were beaten over their legs and shins with sticks, and made to run through brambles and thickets, to make them hard, and, as the Indians said, to render them more acceptable to Hobbamocko.

"Among all the Indians in New England, the crown was hereditary, always descending to the eldest son.  When there was no male issue, the crown descended to the female.  The blood royal was held in such veneration, that no one was considered as heir to the crown, but such as were royally descended on both sides.  When a female acceded to the crown, she was called the sunk squaw, or queen squaw.  There were many petty sachems, tributary to other princes, on whom they were dependent for protection, and without whose consent they made neither peace, war, nor alliances with other nations." (30: p.31-32)

The various tribes of New England spoke basically the same language and could understand each other well.  It is interesting to note the great length of many of the Indian words as translated by the early English settlers, (e.g. Noowomantammoonkanunnonnash, means "our loves." Kummogkodonattoottummooctiteaongannunnonash, is a single word meaning, "our question").  Not all of their words were quite this long.  Not being able to pronounce the letter "L,"' they called the English "Yengeese".  Some people have proposed that this may be the origin of the word "Yankees" a term used to identify the white settlers of this country.

There are many words used commonly in our language today that were learned from these New England Indians: Squaw, wigwam, wampum, pow-wow, moccasin, papoose, etc.  Many Americans may think that these words were universally used among all Indians of North America.  In reality, some tribes first learned these words from Americans and thought "Squaw" was the white man's word for an Indian wife.

"All New England Indians expressed the pronouns both substantive and adjective by prefixes and affixes, or by letters or syllables added at the beginnings or ends of their nouns.  In this respect there is a remarkable coincidence between this and the Hebrew language, in an instance in which the Hebrew entirely differs from all the ancient and modern languages of Europe.

"From this affinity of the Indian language, with the Hebrew, from their anointing their heads with oil, their dancing in their devotions, their excessive howlings and mourning for their dead, their computing time by nights and moons, their giving dowries to their wives, and causing their women, at certain seasons, to dwell by themselves, and some other circumstances, the famous Mr. John Eliot, the Indian apostle, was led to imagine that the American Indians were the posterity of the dispersed Israelites.  They used many figures and parables in their discourses, and some have reported that, at certain seasons, they used no knives and never brake the bones of the creatures which they ate." (30: p.345)

Chapter 2


Today there is little doubt that prior to Columbus's voyage, the Norsemen sailed to the coast of North America early in the eleventh century.  Artifacts, drawings and legends among the Indians corroborate the written records of Viking explores such as Lief Erikson who, in the year 1000, sailed west from Greenland to the shores of what is now Canada.  From there he made his way south along the coastline as far as Rhode Island.  He called this new land Vinland, because there were so many grapes there.  Two years later Lief's brother, Thorvald, led another expedition to Vinland.  It is believed that he named Cape Cod "Kearlanes” (Keel Cape) because it looked so much like the keel of a ship.  While on this trip Thorvald's party had a skirmish with the local Indians in which Thorvald was shot by an arrow and killed.  Legends on both sides of the ocean agree that some of these early explorers left grieving wives behind who were soon to bare the children of these visitors.  Other excursions by Norsemen periodically followed that of Erikson but we have no record of any real attempts to make a permanent settlement.  Norse settlers in Greenland continued sailing as far as the Labrador coast, to cut timber, as late as 1347, which was within 150 years of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus.  In fact, Columbus was aware of Scandinavian legends which spoke of early sailors finding a large land to the west, and this in part strengthened his resolve to make a voyage in search of Japan and the East Indies.

We do not have a record of all of the European contact and influence on the Indians in the early years of exploration because the greatest exposure came from the early European fishermen and trappers who kept no records of their adventures, as opposed to the explorers.  In 1497, just five years after Columbus's first voyage to the Bahamas, John Cabot claimed Newfoundland for England.  On his first trip Cabot found Indian fishing nets and other tools, but did not meet with any Indians.  The next year he returned and claimed the coast of Labrador and Nova Scotia.

Gaspar Corte-Real, of Portugal, explored Newfoundland in 1500 and again in 1501.  On this trip he kidnapped 57 Indians to show in the cities of Europe and to sell as slaves.  The kidnapping of Indians became common on subsequent voyages, but mostly as a novelty in Europe; and also to return as guides on future trips after learning a European language.

By far the most common European exposure to the Indians was the fishermen.  English, Bretons, Normans, Basques, Portuguese in the very early 1500's were telling stories in European markets of cod so thick on the Newfoundland Banks that you could almost walk on their backs on the water.  By 1506 fishing activities had increased so much that a tax was levied on Portuguese fishermen for Newfoundland codfish.  Annually the numbers of fishing vessels in these waters increased.  By 1550 the French had also joined in the take with 30 vessels to compete with similar numbers from the other nations.  In 1578, the fishing fleet consisted of 50 English ships, 150 French, 100 Spanish.  Throughout this period the fishing expanded from Newfoundland to Cape Cod.  Most of the early fishermen salted their catch on board ship and returned to Europe with relatively little contact with the natives.  But later it was found that drying the fish was preferable and camps began to be built along the Canadian coast for curing the fish.

Sometime before the year 1519, the value of the fur trade began to be realized.  Particularly, the beaver pelt was sought in the European markets.  The fishermen, before returning with their load of fish, found it convenient to also return with a load of furs.  When Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence in 1534, he found the Indians were already used to trading furs with Europeans.

In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano wrote the first known description of a continuous voyage up the eastern coast of North America.  He met with Indians the full length of the continent and reported no ill feelings with any peoples until he reached Maine.  Of the Indians in present day Rhode Island, he wrote: "These people are the most beautiful and have the most civil customs we have found on this voyage.  They are taller than we are... the face is clear-cut... the eyes are dark and alert, and their manner is sweet and gentle."  When he reached the coast of Maine and met Indians who had had quite a lot of contact with European fishermen and traders, Verrazano had a different report.  "We found no courtesy in them, and when we had nothing more to exchange and left them, the men made all the signs of scorn and shame that any brute creature would make." (2: p. 88)

As the fur trade became increasingly more important to Europeans, they relied heavily on the Indians to do the trapping for them.  We get an idea of what one of these early traders thought of the Indians when he wrote:  "You will find thee people very false and Malitious in which respect you must bee the more cautious how, you deal with Them, they are plentifull in Corne and Tobacco but have not many Scinue (skins) if you cannot otherwayes Deale with them, first making Tryall of all Fayr Courses, then do yor best to Seize their Corne and provisions for that will inforce them to commerce and supply (your) wants and necessities...”  (2: p. 80)

In 1609, Henry Hudson explored the New England coast.  He reported his style of trading with the Indians: "We manned our boat and scute with twelve men and muskets, and two stone pieces or murderers, and drove the savages from their houses, and took the spoyles of them.”  (2: p.82)   From there, Hudson sailed up, what is now known as the Hudson River in New York, where his party traded with some Indians, killed others, and made some Indians drunk for the first time.  One month earlier, Champlain travelled overland from the St. Lawrence to what is now known as Lake Champlain where his party killed several Mohawks in a show of European strength and musketry.

Another problem with which the Indians had to contend was the White man's diseases for which they had no tolerance nor immunity.  The Europeans brought measles, smallpox, typhus as well as other plagues which ravaged the country.  Between 1616 and 1619 an epidemic swept across New England killing thousands.  In 1622 and again in 1631 whole communities were exterminated.  In 1633, 700 Narragansetts died in just one bout.  In 1634, a Dutch trader, on the Connecticut River, reported that only 50 persons, of a tribe of 1000, survived the winter epidemic.  In 1646, one Indian on the Hudson River stated that their numbers had decreased because of disease to only one tenth of what it was before the arrival of the white man.  Many Indians were anxious to accept Christianity feeling that white man's religion would be the answer to white man's diseases; diseases against which their Powwows had no cure.

In the late 1500s, many settlements were tried, but none met with success.  In 1605, Captain George Weymouth was commissioned, by Lord Arundel of Warder and the Earl of Southampton, to find a suitable location for a settlement.  He was told to not mistreat the Indians as the settlers would have to live among these natives and they also wanted to send missionaries to convert them to Christianity.  However, Weymouth returned with five captured Indians from the Cape Cod area and gave them to Sir Ferdinando Gorges.  These Indians were: Manida, Skettawaroes, Dehamda, Assacumet and Tisquantum (or Squanto).  Gorges taught them to speak English and asked all about their native land as he was interested in sponsoring a settlement there himself.

In the spring of 1606, Gorges sent Assacumet and Manida, as guides on a ship with Captain Henry Chalons, to New England to search for a site for a settlement.  Enroute, Chalons became ill and headed for the West Indies instead.  After his recuperation, and before they could reach New England, they were captured by a Spanish War Ship and taken to Spain where the two Indians were sold into slavery.  Assacumet escaped and found his way to England.  Manida presumably remained a slave.

In 1611, Captain Edward Harlow abducted some Indians in New England.  While at Martha's Vineyard he captured Coneconam, Sachem of Manomet (a location about 20 miles south of Plymouth), and Epanow, Sachem of Aquiniuh (or Gay Head, on Marthas Vineyard Island.)  Disappointed that he did not get his price at the slave market in Spain, he brought them to London to exhibit.  When the interest died down, he eventually sold, or gave these to Gorges.  Assacumet and Epanow devised a scheme to arrange their own passage home again.  They told Gorges that Epanow, as Sachem, knew the great secret of where gold could be found in New England.  A ship was prepared and sailed for Marthas Vineyard where the two Indians jumped overboard and swam to shore and to freedom.

In 1614, Captain John Smith, who had already been involved in the colony at James Town, Virginia, was again commissioned to take two ships to New England in search of gold, whales or anything else of value.  As an interpreter he took Squanto on one of his ships.  They first went to Maine but found they were too slow to catch whales and unsuccessful in finding gold.  Smith then had Captain Hunt remain off the coast of Maine fishing, while he, with Squanto, sailed south in the other vessel to explore and trade for furs.  Squanto led him to Patuxet, an Indian village located on the spot where the town of Plymouth was later established.  This was Squanto's own village and his people, glad to have Squanto returned to them, entertained them well.  This village, over the years, had received many European visitors and always welcomed them warmly.  Smith returned to Maine to tell Hunt to continue catching fish and then to sell them in Spain.  Smith then returned to England.  Hunt finished his fishing and then sailed south along the coast until he arrived at Patuxet.  Here, he too was well treated by Squanto's family and friends and a great feast was prepared out of thanks for Smith’s kindness to Squanto and for returning him home.  After the feast Hunt invited Squanto and 26 of his friends on board the ship.  Once there, they were all captured, including Squanto, and confined in stanchions below decks.  They were sold as slaves for 20 pounds sterling each in Malaga Spain.  Squanto was purchased by a monk, and escaped to England in the winter of 1618-19.  Here he met John Slanie who arranged passage for him to Newfoundland where he met Captain Thomas Dermer, a man who worked for Gorges.  Dermer at last took Squanto to his home at Patuxet but there he found only a deserted village.  In 1615, the Terratines (a tribe from Maine) had gone on the warpath against the Penobscots, and after defeating them, continued south raiding the various tribes all the way to Narrageneet Bay.  In 1616-17 another epidemic swept over southern New England killing 80 percent of the affected population.  This was thought to be either smallpox, yellow fever, or infectious hepatitis.  It is not known whether Squanto's village was destroyed by the Terratines, or the plague, or both.  Although he was finally home and free, Squanto now had no home or family with which to be reunited.

Dermer wanted to trade with the local Indians of the Wampanoag Federation and asked Squanto if he would guide them and be their interpreter.  Squanto first took them inland to the Nemasket tribe (at Middleboro, MA.)  Here, Dermer was seized and sentenced to die, and would have except for Squanto's intercession.  The Nemaskets told of a recent visit of a ship into Narragansett Bay.  After trading with the friendly Indians, the English had invited a large number of them to a party onboard their ship.  The Indians were taken into the hold of the ship.  The Captain and crew suddenly withdrew and began firing upon the Indians mercilessly.  Some of the survivors tried to climb out and jump into the water but most were shot in the attempt.

Next, Squanto took Dermer to the Pokanoket tribe (near present day Bristol, R.I.). Massasoit was the Sachem of this tribe, as well as being the Great Sachem over the entire Wampanoag Federation, which consisted of over 30 tribes in central and southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.  Massasoit and Quadequinna, his brother, were well respected by all of the local tribes.  Together they were known as the "Two Kings of the Wampanoag."  The Pokanoket tribe was located on Narraganset Bay and may well have been the tribe which had recently been victims of the treachery on board the ship.

Derner was given safe passage through Wampanoag land by Massasoit and soon returned to his ship.  He next sailed to Martha's Vineyard where he traded amicably with Epanow.  While trading, Dermer mentioned that he was in the employ of Gorges.  Epanow (who had previously been captured, sold into slavery in England and made his dramatic escape) now suddenly felt Dermer had been sent to recapture him, and called upon his warriors to fight.  In the battle that followed everyone of Dermer's men, who had come ashore, except Dermer himself, was killed.  Dermer, though wounded, made it back to a small boat waiting on the beach and was returned to his ship.  From there, he sailed to Virginia where he died the following year, either from the wounds received on Martha's Vineyard or from some disease.

Chapter 3


When the Pilgrims left England in the Mayflower, their stated intent was to establish a settlement on the mouth of the Hudson River, at the site of present day New York City.  For some unknown reason however, they first landed on Cape Cod, where the town of Truro is today, in December 1620.  Going ashore in search of a location for a settlement, they found a cash of corn to which they helped themselves, perhaps feeling that it was divinely supplied for their needs.  The local Indian (Nauset) tribe however, who had stored the corn for their winter supply, did not see it that way.  Later the Pilgrims found some burial mounds and began to dig them up out of curiosity.  The Indians became enraged and a skirmish ensued.

The Pilgrims returned to the Mayflower and, after many days of exploration, found a more suitable location.  They sailed across the bay to the present site of Plymouth, where about half of the original settlers died before spring.  Still, the weak and defenseless Pilgrims set about to build a fort and a plantation.  During this time they were under the constant surveillance of the Indians who knew of their losses and difficulties, but otherwise no direct contact was made.  This may partly be due to the fact that the Mayflower was still anchored in the bay and represented a threat to the Indians.

On March 16, 1621 the Pilgrims were surprised by a tall Indian who walked boldly into the plantation crying out, "Welcome! Welcome, Englishmen!"  It was a cold and windy day, yet this Indian, who introduced himself as Samoset, Sachem of a tribe in Monhegan Island, Maine, wore only moccasins and a fringed loin skin.  Over his shoulder he had a bow and an emplty quiver.  In his hand he held two arrows, one with a stone tip, the other with no tip.  The English took this to mean that the Indians were prepared for either war or peace.  In his broken English he told the pilgrims he had been visiting the Wampanoags for eight months and was about to return home.  He also told them that Plymouth was on the site of the former Patuxet tribe, who had all died due to an epidemic about four years earlier.  He told them that the nearest people were the Nemaskets, a tribe of about 300 (located at the site of present day Middleboro, Mass.). He further told them that Massasoit, the Great Sachem of the Wampanoags, was at Nemasket (a distance of about 15 miles) with many of his Counselors.  Samoset left the next morning but returned on Sunday with five more Indians, who returned some of the Pilgrims tools found in the woods, and also brought furs to trade.  The pilgrims refused to trade on Sunday but asked them to come again on another day.  On Thursday following, Samoset again returned, this time bringing Squanto who amazed the Pilgrims with his almost flawless English.  He told them that Massasoit was not far off in the woods and intended to visit the plantation later that day.  A short time later the Great Sachem appeared with his brother Quadequina at the top of a nearby hill attended by 60 of his men.

The Pilgrims gestured for Massasoit to join them in their fort but, he in turn, gestured for them to come to him.  When neither side would give in, the Pilgrims sent Edward Winslow and Squanto to assure Massasoit that he would be in no danger if he entered the plantation.  Winslow brought gifts to both Massasoit and Quadequina, and expressed the desire that the English and the Wampanoags might live together in peace forever.  Still Massasoit would not agree to enter the village until Winslow agreed to remain with Quadequina as a hostage.  Leaving their weapons behind, Massasoit, and a few of his men, entered the settlement to meet Governor John Carver.  The two leaders drank to each other's health from a bottle of liquor, which was the first Massasoit had ever had, and it made him tremble and sweat profusely throughout the rest of the afternoon.

When the amenities were ended, the English brought out a treaty they had prepared in advance, which specified that the Wampanoags would be allies to the English in the event of war with any other peoples and that they would not harm one-another; and that when any Indians came to visit the plantation they would leave their weapons behind.  For this, King James would esteem Massasoit as a friend and ally.

After the ceremonies were ended, Governor Carver escorted Massasoit to the edge of the settlement and waited there for the safe return of Winslow.  But Squanto soon reappeared and said that Quadequina was now coming to see them.  When Quadequina first arrived in the settlement, he refused to sit until all of the English weapons were removed from the room.  The English agreed and a friendly reception followed.

Part of Massasoit's willingness to make an alliance with the English must be credited to his weakened condition after suffering from the recent epidemics which left his followers at about half of the strength of his enemies, the Narragansetts.  The Indians already knew of the English guns and such a weapon could be very useful in defending a Federation.  In commenting on the newly signed peace treaty, Edward Winslow stated, "We cannot yet conceive but that he is willing to have peace with us, and especially because he hath a potent adversary, the Narrowhigansets that are at war with him; for our pieces (guns) are terrible unto them." (7: p.23)

The Pilgrims estimated Massasoit to be about 40 years of age at this time.  “In his person, he is a very lusty man, in his best years, an able body, grave of countenance, and spare of speech; in his attire, little or nothing differing from the rest of his followers, only in a great chain of white bone beads about his neck; and at it behind his neck, hangs a little bag of tobacco, which he drank (smoked) and gave us to drink (smoke).  His face was painted with a sad red like murrey; and oiled both head and face so that he looked greasily.  All his followers likewise were, in their faces in part or in whole, painted, some black, some red, some yellow, and some white, some with crosses and other antic works; some had skins on them, and some naked; all strong, tall men in appearance.  The King had in his bosom, hanging in a string, a great, long knife." (7: p.30-31)

In June of 1621, about three months after the signing of the treaty, a young boy from the Colony was lost in the woods.  He survived five days on his own by eating berries and other natural foods.  He was found by some Indians, fed and brought to Coneconam, Sachem at Manomet (located at the present site of Sandwich, Mass.).  Coneconam was one of the Indians captured and taken to England by Edward Harlow.  They were only about 20 miles south of Plymouth but, instead of returning the boy, he sent him to Aspinet, Sachem of the Nauset.  This was the tribe, on Cape Cod, that had a battle with the Pilgrims when they first landed.  It is possible that they might have killed the boy but more likely they would have used him as a hostage to obtain reparations for damages done by the Pilgrims six months earlier.

When the English could not find the boy, Governor William Bradford, (who replaced John Carver, who died in April) sent to Massasoit for help in locating the boy.  Massasoit sent word that the boy was safe at Nauset and could be picked up anytime.  The English sent a group of armed men to Nauset but were courteously received.  The boy was returned unharmed with his arms and neck covered with great strings of wampum (a string of shells used by the Indians as money.)  The safe return of the boy was credited to the influence which Massasoit exercised over all these tribes, rather than to the kind feelings of the Nauset people themselves.  At this time, the Wampanoag Federation may have included as many as 25,000 people, who recognized Massasoit as their Great Sachem.  Their numbers had been even larger before the epidemic of 1616, which killed about one third of their people.

That summer Governor Bradford sent Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins, with Squanto, to Pokanoket (Massasoit's own tribe, on the peninsula where Bristol, R.I. is today) to visit with Massasoit and to learn the way to his village.  Massasoit was not at home when they arrived but he hurried home when a messenger brought him the news.  He was very pleased to have guests visit him and he made them welcome at his village.  They gave him gifts of a red coat, which he immediately put on, and a bright copper chain for his neck.  They told him that so many Indians were visiting the plantation each day, expecting to be fed, that the Pilgrims were concerned they would run out of food before their first harvest.  They asked Massasoit to talk to his people and ask them not to visit, unless they came to trade furs or came on official business from Massasoit.  If Massasoit sent them he should send the copper chain with them, as a token that they represented him.

From this trip of Winslow's, we learn more about the daily life of the Indians in this area.  He recorded that when they retired for the night Massasoit invited, not only Winslow and Hopkins to spend the night in his lodge and bed but, he also invited two more of his chiefs.  The lodge was one large rectangular room with a large bed about one foot off the ground made of wood planks and covered with mats.  They all shared the one bed, which would have slept four of then comfortably but with six, Winslow said, "... we were worse weary of our lodging than of our journey."  The next morning as members of the tribe entertained the guests, the host, Massasoit, went fishing and soon returned with two large fish for the midday meal.  When this was shared with 40 guests the Englishmen were about as hungry after eating as before.  Not so, however, with the Indians, who always carried a pouch of corn meal with them and used it to supplement their meals.  They were completely satisfied.  The Indians were always very hospitable and expected their guests to eat with them.  Likewise, when they went visiting they expected to be fed but were always prepared to supplement each meal with their own corn meal and water.

Massasoit urged his guests to stay longer but they insisted they must return to Plymouth before the Sabbath.  It also seems, they did not completely appreciate all the comforts of Indian life for, on their irritable return, Winslow complained, "...for what with bad lodging, the Indians' barbarous singing, (for they use to sing themselves to sleep), lice and fleas within doors, and mosquitoes without, we could hardly sleep all the time of our being there; we much fearing that if we should stay longer, we should not be able to recover home for want of strength."  The Indians proved to be more generous than the English for they were fed by two villages on their way to Pokanoket, and by one of these again on their return.  The two Englishmen would not share their cornmeal with their Indian guides on the trip but did give a string of dried oysters to them, which they received at one Indian village.  On the way home they arrived at a fish weir where one of the Indians caught a squirrel and a fish which was shared with the two Englishmen and then caught some more fish for all to share on the journey.

Less than a month following this visit, Massasoit sent Hobomock, a high ranking member of the Wampanoag Council, to Plymouth to act as his ambassador and to aid the Pilgrims in whatever way they needed.  He and Squanto visited the various tribes to tell them that Massasoit wanted them to trade their furs only with the English at Plymouth.  In August, these men stopped at Nemasket on one such excursion planning to spend the night before going on.  Squanto still maintained a wigwam there.  They were surprised to find Corbitant (or Caunbitant), Sachem of the Pocassets (a tribe located near Swansea, Mass., along the Taunton River and a sub-tribe within the Wampanoag Federation.)  He was there with his warriors rallying the Nemaskets against the English.  He said it would be better to die fighting the English than to allow them to stay until they became strong enough to drive the Indians out.  He criticized Massasoit for becoming an Englishman's puppet, and told the listeners that Massasoit had already been captured by their perpetual enemies, the Narragansettes, who would support Corbitant, as the next Great Sachem of the Wampanoags, in a war against the whites.

Hobomock and Squanto were surprised at what they heard, and quietly withdrew from the camp to Squanto's wigwam but were captured there before they could get to Plymouth.  Although they held a knife to Hobomock's chest, he was a "paniese" (valiant warrior) and broke away from his captors and outran them back to Plymouth.  The Pilgrims sent their military leader, Miles Standish with ten men, to either rescue, or avenge the deaths of the friendly Indians.  Corbitant had already left for Pocasset with most of his war party, leaving only a handful in Nemasket to guard Squanto.  These too, left suddenly when they heard the accidental discharge of a gun from the approaching Englishmen.

Although the Narragansetts and Wampanoags were historical enemies and continually feuding over land, they did not usually put hostages of high rank to death.  This was a wise move as it normally would lead to further retaliation and bloodshed on both sides.  Instead they used them to acquire concessions.  In this case, the two Nations had been fighting for some time over the island they called Aquidneck (today it is called Rhode Island).  Massasoit was safely returned when he gave up his claim to this island.

Normally, treason was punishable by death and Massasoit would certainly have been justified in executing Corbitant for his part in the plot against him but, for some reason, Massasoit complete forgave him.  In fact, he interceded on his behalf so eloquently that the English also forgave him.  It is likely that Corbitant was a very close relative of Massasoit's or the outcome would certainly have been much different.  On September 13, 1621, Corbitant's signature is one that appears on a treaty of submission to King James.

Squanto had been a valuable friend to the English.  They all would have died had he not taught them how to plant Indian corn in hills, with three herring used as fertilizer.  He also taught them how to fish, Indian style, and how to eat lobsters and shellfish.

Their first harvest was not a large one but the Pilgrims were.happy to have anything at all.  In the autumn, September or October, of 1621, Governor Bradford proclaimed a three day feast to give thanks to God for their first harvest.  This seems to have been a tradition in Leyden, Holland where the Pilgrims found refuge before sailing to America.  Governor Bradford sent four men into the woods for wild fowls.  In one day they obtained enough wild birds to feed them for almost an entire week.  It is not known for sure whether the Indians were actually invited to this feast in advance or whether they just showed up at the right time but, Massasoit and ninety of his men, appeared at the beginning of the feast with five deer and participated in the first Thanksgiving.

During the winter, a rivalry developed between Squanto and Hobomock, the two Indians who now lived continually at Plymouth.  Each tried to prove to the English that he was their most loyal friend.  At first the English were amused and took advantage of both Indians.  In March 1622 , it became apparent, that Squanto had been telling the Indians that the English had the "Plague” locked up in a bottle at Plymouth.  He further told them, if they would pay him, he had the influence with the English to keep them from releasing the Plague.  Sqanto was using this, and other subtelty, to gain influence over the Indians with the design to overthrow Massasoit and become the Great Sachem himself.  When this became known, Massasoit was angry and came to Plymouth to demand Squanto's head.

According to the treaty he had signed with Plymouth, they were to turn over to him any Indians guilty of offense.  Squanto had been a great friend of the English and Bradford did not want to turn him over to be executed.  Massasoit was angry and returned home.  Later, he sent a delegation of his men to Plymouth to again demand the head of Squanto.  Fearing to further offend Massasoit, Bradford was about to give in when a ship was sighted in the bay.  Using that as an excuse, Bradford told the Indians that he did not want to execute Squanto until he found out what ship that was.  This excuse was so weak that the Indians did not wait for the ship but returned to Massasoit to report the refusal.  Squanto never again left the protection of the English.  To do so, would have meant certain death for him.  Squanto remained with Bradford for one more year before a sudden illness took his life.  The fact that his punishment for treason was so much worse than was Corbitant's, again indicates that Corbitant was probably a close relative and Squanto was not.

In June and July, three ships arrived at Plymouth with occupants who expected to be taken in and cared for.  It became evident they could not remain at Plymouth without endangering the survival of the entire plantation.  They subsequently moved twenty five miles north and made a settlement on the south side of Massachusetts Bay, at what is now known as Weymouth, Mass.  Their settlement, although short lived, was called Wessagussett.  These settlers came primarily for economic exploitation and had no religious organization.  They did not try to get along with the local Indians but stole food when they could, traded unwisely and generally caused ill feelings with both Pilgrims and Indians.

In the winter of 1622-23, Governor William Bradford made trips to the various Indian tribes around Cape Cod to buy food to keep the Pilgrims from starvation.  He treated them fairly and improved relations with each of the groups.  The Indians sold him so much corn and supplies that they were unable to carry it all back to Plymouth in their boat.  In February Miles Standish was sent to pick up the purchased food.  He went first to Nauset (Easthan) where the food was waiting and the Indians received him courteously.  While there however, an Indian stole something from the group and Standish reacted with a show of military strength to frighten the Indians.  Aspinet, the local Sachem, invited the Pilgrins to stay overnight and he would find the missing articles and see that they were returned.  Standish refused his hospitality and retired to the beach where they spent a miserable night.  The next morning Aspinet brought the missing goods and the party departed in the shallop but relations with this tribe were harmed by the incident.

Next, Standish went to Cummaquid (Barnstable, MA.) where Iyanough was Sachem of the Mattachee Tribe.  Here the Indians brought in the half frozen Pilgrims, warmed and fed them and sold them more corn.  But, before they left, some trinkets were again found to have been stolen by the local Indians and the hot tempered Standish again made a military show of strength.  The trinkets mysteriously reappeared and the Pilgrims departed for Plymouth with a full shallop of food.

There was still a large cash of corn to be picked up.  It was at Manomet (Sandwich.) Standish returned with the Shallop to pick up this last store of food provided by the Indians.  He felt that he was not received as warmly as Bradford had been.  This may have also been due to the way he had treated the other two tribes on the Cape when he last visited them.  He had scarcely arrived when two Massachusetts Indians came in, Wittuwamet, a Sachem, and Pecksuot, a courageous warrior.  Both of these Indians were known by the English to hate the Europeans, and both bragged about having killed both French and Englishmen.  Here, they openly talked with Coneconam about a plot to kill the white settlers at Wessagusset (Weymouth.)  They said the were happy to find the little red haired captain, (Standish), there at Manomet.  They proposed to kill him then to make their future uprising easier.  Standish understood only a part of the conversation but was offended by their manner and knew enough of what they were planning.  Coneconam invited Standish to stay the night but was rebuffed by the angry captain who ordered some squaws to carry the corn down to the beach and there he made a campfire and spent the night on his guard.

Following his return to Plymouth, Standish met with the Colonial leaders.  It was decided that Standish should take eight men in the shallop and sail to Wessagusset to protect that settlement by attacking the leading Indians in that area to show that Europeans were not easily conquered.  Although the Pilgrims were disgusted with Wessagusset, they felt they could not stand by and watch the people get massacred.  Further, if the Indians saw how easily they could kill Europeans in one settlement, it was feared they might be encouraged to attack Plymouth.

It was late March when Standish and the soldiers approached the settlement.  They were alarmed by the laxness of the settlers and the haughty pride of the Indians.  They told the Indians they came to trade but the Indians were not deceived and knew they had come to fight.  Standish and his men invited four of the leading trouble makers into a room at the fort and attacked and killed all of them.  From there, they ran out to kill all of the warriors but found only two still there.  The others had retreated into the woods where they began to shoot arrows at Standish and his men.  When the skirmish was ended, the remaining settlers knew their stay at this location was ended.  They were invited to return to Plymouth but most chose to go to Maine and from there many of them returned to England.

Word of this massacre soon spread throughout the Indian tribes of the region.  Several Sachems of tribes close to Plymouth retreated into hiding places in the swamps for fear of further reprisals.  Whether this was an indication of their involvement in the plot or just fear of the white man's revenge, is not known.  It seems there was at least sympathy, if not direct support for the plot by Coneconam.  He, along with Iyanough and Aspinet, spent the next several months hiding in the swamps where each of them became ill and died by summer.

In March, word was received that Massasoit was gravely ill and not expected to live.  Edward Winslow had become a close friend of Massasoit and Governor Bradford sent him, along with Hobomock, to visit the Great Sachem in his illness.  All along the way they found villages almost deserted except for some women and children.  Everyone was paying their last respects to a great leader.  At one village they met an old woman who told them Massasoit had already died.  At that point the faithful Hobomock began an emotional repetition: "Neen womasu, Sagimus" (My beloved Sachem) "many have I known but never any like thee." Winslow adds Hobomock's comments that, "Whilst I lived I should never see his (Massasoit’s) like among the Indians.  He was no liar; he was not bloody and cruel, like other Indians; in anger and passion he was soon reclaimed; easy to be reconciled toward such as had offended him; ruled by reason in such measures as he would not scorn the advice of mean men; and that he governed his men better with few strokes than others did with many, truly loving where he loved.  Yes, he feared we had not a faithful friend left among the Indians; showing how he ofttimes restrained their malice, etc., continuing a long speech with such signs of lamentation and unfeigned sorrow as it would have made the hardest heart relent." (7: p.26)

Thinking that Massasoit was dead, they went instead to Pocasset, where they sought Corbitant who, they were sure, would succeed Massasoit as the next Great Sachem.  When they arrived, one of Corbitant's wives told them Massasoit was not yet dead so they hurried on to Pokanoket.

Winslow describes their arrival, where the Indians had gathered so closely that it took some effort to get through the crowd to the Great Sachem.  "There were they (the pow-wows) in the midst of their charms for him, making such a hellish noise as it distempered us that were well and, therefore, unlike to ease him that was sick.

"About him were six or eight women who chafed his arms, legs, and thighs to keep heat in him.  When they had made an end of their charming, one told him that his friends, the English, were come to see him.  Having understanding left, but his sight was wholly gone, he asked who was come, they told him 'Winsnow' (for they cannot pronounce the letter l, but exchange “n” in the place thereof.)  He desired to speak with me.  When I came to him, and they told him of it, he put forth his hand to me, which I took.  Then he said twice, though very inwardly, 'Keen, Winsnow?'  which is to say, 'Art thou Winsnow?’  I answered, 'Ahhe,' that is to say, ‘Yes'.  Then he doubled these words, 'Matta neen wonchanet, Winsnow!’  That is to say, 'O, Winsnow, I shall never see thee again.’"  (27: Vol 1, p.42)

Since the Pow-wow's medicine had not produced any results, Winslow asked permission to try to help the ailing Sachem.  He first made a broth of strawberry leaves and sassafras roots, and using a knife he pried Massasoit's teeth open far enough to pour the soup down him.

Massasoit began, immediately, to feel better, and his sight soon returned.  He arose and took Winslow throughout the village asking him to treat the other sick of his tribe.  He arose too soon however and soon his nose began to bleed which took several hours of administration to stop.  Winslow sent a runner to Plymouth to get some medicines and some chickens for broth.  By the time the runner returned Massasoit was up and feeling well enough that he refused to let the Chickens be killed.  Instead he used them to start a poultry flock for his tribe.

In the summer of 1623 more Pilgrims arrived.  The original settlers were happy to see some of their friends but were concerned because of the lack of food and provisions to go around.  No rain fell from the third week in May until the middle of July.  The crops were burned and there was great fear that the entire crop would be lost.  If that were to happen it would likely mean starvation.  Their record says, "Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in this great distress and He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer both to their own and the Indian's admiration."  When they began their prayers, in the morning, there was not a cloud in sight.  But, by late afternoon, before they stopped, praying, it began to rain "with sweet and gentle showers." It lasted all night and completely soaked the earth.  From then on, sun and rain alternated until they had a good harvest.

Their second Thanksgiving was combined with the wedding celebration of Governor Bradford and Alice Southworth.  To this feast "Massasoit had been invited and he brought three or four bucks and a turkey.  With him came the principal of his five wives, four other chiefs, and about one hundred and twenty warriors, and we had a very good pastime in seeing them dance with such a noise that you would wonder."  (l: p.186)

In 1628, some Puritans arrived in New England and began settlements at Massachusetts Bay.  This group was very well organized and backed by business and government in England.  Governor John Winthrop had a royal charter which made him Governor over the entire area, including the Plymouth Plantation.  His zealous Christian rule bordered on being tyrannical.  There was a great deal of intolerance for those who would not worship as Winthrop felt they should.  As a result, Roger Williams eventually left the two colonies and purchased land of both  Massasoit, of the Wampanoags and from Canonicus, of the Narragansetts.  Roger Williams treated both of these men, and their tribes, with respect and was, in turn, highly regarded by each of them.  This turned out to be a blessing as he provided something of a buffer between the two nations, even though it was a precarious place to be in times of war.  The land he purchased was called Providence Plantation and eventually included the much disputed island called Aquidneck (Rhode Island.)

During the years 1630-1642, New England saw unprecedented immigration.  It is estimated that between 14,000 and 20,000 Europeans came to these shores in that short time.  Towns sprang up all over.   Massachusetts was by far the most populous and dominant colony.  The Pilgrims of Plymouth proposed an expansion into the Connecticut River Valley.  Massachusetts was, at first, reluctant but, in 1637, some of their settlers wandered down into Connecticut to start a new village.  They began clearing land belonging to the Indians.  Their new village was attacked and nine men were killed.  As a result, the colonies waged a war of extinction against the Pequot Federation.  With the help of hostile Indians as scouts, they surrounded the Pequots and killed or captured about 700.  Those not slain were sold into slavery in the West Indies.  Even the Narragansetts, who helped the English, were so appalled by the slaughter of men, women and children that they were ashamed and afraid of the wrath of the English.  The Pequots never recovered and this lead the way for more English to begin moving into the two newer colonies of Connecticut (Hartford) and New Haven.

The Indians were now beginning to get squeezed by the Englishmen.  Four allied colonies, plus the independent colony of Rhode Island and the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (New York) were making the European population rival the Indians in numbers.  The English were more advanced in weaponry and more united in their cause.  The Indians were still hampered by too much mistrust and resentment of their historical enemies to wage a united fight against the encroaching white settlers.

As more and more Europeans arrived, they had an insatiable appetite for land.  The Indians could not understand the concept of land ownership.  To them it was perhaps even humorous that the whites spoke of "owning" the land.  The land was their mother.  No one could "own" the land.  People came and went but the land remained.  That was proof enough to them that no one could own the land.  If the whites were silly enough to pay for the land the Indians would certainly sell it to them, thinking this was easy money.  Indians were only too glad to offer land to sell to the eager Europeans who bought it up right and left on an ever westward advancement.  At first there was plenty to sell but eventually, conflicts began to arise as the whites interfered with the Indian's historical hunting, fishing, and migrating across the land they had always occupied.  Massasoit, himself, was one of the leading sellers of land.  Each time he felt he had made a wise choice as he obtained hoes, axes and implements for cultivating the soil and improving his people's circumstances.  By the time the Indians realized what was happening to their lands it was too late to reverse the flood.

Even the old colony of Plymouth began to slowly spread out.  The town of Sandwich was the first on the Cape in 1637 and, for the most part, was populated by Massachusetts settlers.  Yarmouth was next, where Indian lands were again bought up and divided among white settlers.  In 1639 Barnstable was founded not far away.  Both of these two towns were on the Mattachee's land, where the friendly Iyanough had once proudly lead his people.  In 1644 the original old town of Plymouth was declining and some of the younger citizens decided to make a fresh start by settling a new town, Eastham.

By 1657 most of the original settlers had died.  The endless string of immigrants no longer needed the Indians and soon outnumbered them.  To this generation, Indians were just an obstacle to their dream of land ownership.

[Sources: 1, 7, 27, 31, 32]

Chapter 4



Because of Massasoit's honored position, more was recorded of him than of other Indians of his time.  Yet, relatively little is known of even the "Good and Great Massasoit." From their first meeting, the Pilgrims estimated his age, in 1621, to be about 40 years.  This would mean that he was born about 1580-82, and probably in the area of eastern Rhode Island.  Nothing is known of his parentage, although it can be assumed that his father was probably a Great Sachem before him.  The names of only two of his brothers are known.  The older of the two, Quadequinna, was known as one of the "Two Kings of the Wampanoag" an indication that he was Massasoit's closest adviser and friend.  Both were described as being very tall, and very large men.  The other brother, Akkompoin, was several years younger and was stilll young enough to be a vigorous war captain in 1676 (when Massasoit would have been 96 years old.) Akkompoin served Massasoit's son, Philip and lost his life in July 1676 in one of the last battles of the King Philip War.

Massasoit most likely became Sachem of the Pokanokets, and Great Sachem of the Wampanoags, between 1605-1615.  Squanto, who was captured and taken to Europe about this time, knew, upon his return, that Massasoit was the Great Sachem.  The names of his wives are unknown.  The record of the second Thanksgiving mentions that he brought the "principal of his five wives." (1: p.189) Otherwise, we know nothing of his wives.

Mention is made of only five of his children, three sons and two daughters.  The oldest-son was Wamsutta, (alias Mooanam, or Alexander), (27: Vol II, p.4) who was born some time after the Pilgrims arrived, between 1621 and 1624.  By that time Massasoit would have been over 40 years old.  In their society, where men married young, and polygamy was expected, especially among the ruling class, it is difficult to believe that Alexander was his first child.  It is logical to suppose that Massasoit had an earlier family, which may well have fallen victims to the epidemics that swept across their land in 1616-19, in which fully one third of the Wampanoag Nation was destroyed.  Still, Alexander is the oldest known son.

The second son of Massasoit was Pometacomet, (alias Pometacom, Metacom, Metacomet, Metacomo or Philip.)  Philip was born in 1640, at least 16 years younger than Alexander.  These brothers, like their Father and uncle before them, were known as the "Two Kings of the Wampanoags" in their generation.  Upon the death of Alexander, Philip became the Great Sachem of the Wampanoags at age 22.  He led the Indians of Southern New England in a bloody war against the Europeans that almost succeeded but, instead, resulted in the ultimate conquest of the English over the local Indians and the complete destruction of the Wampanoag and Narragansett Federations.

The third son, Sunconewhew, was sent by his Father to learn the white man's ways and to attend school at Harvard.  After returning home, there was little evidence that he had grown closer to the Englishman's customs or religion.  He molded back into his own society and little else is heard of him except that he fought and died in one of the early battles of the War.

Amie was probably the older of two known daughters.  (The other one's name was not recorded and nothing else is known of her.) (23: p.211)  Amie must have been close to Alexander's age.  She had two sons, William and Benjamin, who were old enough to fight, with their Uncle, in the King Philip War.  She was married to Tuspaquin, (Watuspaquin) who was the Sachem at Assawamsett Pond (south of Middleboro, Mass.)  Tuspaquin was the most aggressive and most merciless of Philip's war captains.  His name struck terror in the hearts of the English throughout the war.

When his two oldest sons were old enough to marry, Massasoit made the arrangements for them to marry the two daughters of the highly regarded Corbitant, Sachem of the Pocasset tribe.  This is another indication that Corbitant was probably closely related to the royal family.  Alexander married the older daughter, Weetamoo, in 1653.  (23: p.37)   She was her father's heir and later became Squaw Sachem of the Pocasset tribe.  Philip married the younger daughter, Wootonekanuske, shortly before he became Great Sachem of the Wampanoags. (27: Vol.  II, p.39)

Massasoit was a warm, hospitable Sachem.  The records of his dealings with the English give evidence of his trust, as well as being trustworthy.  He labored among his people with his own hands and provided his own living.  In appearance, he was not significantly different from his followers.  His love and concern for his people was evidenced following his serious illness when Winslow sent for chickens to be brought and made into a broth for the ailing Sachem.  By the time they arrived, Massasoit was feeling better and would not allow the chickens to be killed but, instead, used then to start a flock of poultry for his people.  It is also recorded that as he sold some of his lands to the English, he made the purchase price include metal hoes and utensils whereby his people could improve their position through farming.

As affable and congenial as he was, Massasoit could not be a "Great Sachem" unless he were also a great warrior.  Tribes were constantly fighting neighboring enemies and whole nations, or federations, were formed for the mutual protection of many united tribes.  The most critical determinant for any small tribe to decide which federation to join was their confidence in the military leadership of the Great Sachem and his ability to defend them from all enemies.  Massasoit was a respected military leader and could command an army of between six and seven thousand warriors.  His main strength came from those tribes of southeastern Massachusetts closest to him but, if he called for warriors, all tributaries had to provide the numbers he demanded.

The tribes of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, as well as some of the Nipmuck tribes of central Massachusetts, looked to him for Military defense and leadership.  In 1621, Massasoit listed at least thirty tribes that yielded allegiance to him as their Great Sachem.

Following the plagues of 1617, which reduced his nation so drastically and left his greatest enemy, the Narragansetts of Rhode Island, so unaffected, Massasoit was in a weakened position.  Canonicus, the Great Sachem of the Narragansetts, took advantage of this opportunity to invade the Wampanoags and challenge their disputed claim to Aquidneck (Rhode Island) in Narragansett Bay.  This may account for why Massasoit was so eager to make a treaty with the English when they landed at Plymouth in 1621.  Shortly thereafter, in the plot with Corbitant, Canonicus captured Massasoit but released him in exchange for title to Aquidneck Island.

In 1632, following a battle with the Narragansetts in which he regained the Island of Aquidneck, Massasoit changed his name to Ousamequin (Yellow feather) sometimes spelled Wassamegon, Oosamequen, Ussamequen.  He retained this name for the remainder of his life but the English, who were not used to the Indian's custom of changing their names for special events, continued to call him Massasoit.

Skirmishes continued between the two federations until Roger Williams came in 1635.  He convinced both Sachems that their wars were futile.  In a show of generosity, Massasoit, who held possession of Aquidneck Island at this time, gave Williams all rights to Aquidneck, Providence and Prudence Island.  Williams later insisted on paying both Sachems for their lands.  Williams’ fair and honest dealings with both federations provided a peaceful buffer between the two historic enemies.

In 1637, the English waged an unprovoked war of extermination against the Pequot Federation of Connecticut, which shocked both the Wampanoags and the Narragansetts so much that both Nations wanted to avoid hostilities with the feared English.  In 1639, Massasoit traveled to Boston to reassure himself that rumors were not true that the English were planning a similar expedition of extermination against the Wampanoags.  Governor Winthrop assured him there was no truth to the rumor and Massasoit returned home, at least partially convinced.  In the same year, he and his oldest son, Wamsutta (Alexander) traveled to Plymouth to sign an extension of the treaty of 1621 reaffirming that the Wampanoags and English were still allies.

By the time Massasoit was 60 years old, most of his wars seemed to be behind him.  The remaining 20 years of his life saw a large scale sale of his lands to the English immigrants.  His and Wamsutta's names appear on many deeds of large tracts of land for what would seem to be a ridiculously low price by today’s standards. 

After hearing of the death of his good friend, Edward Winslow in 1655, Massasoit realized that his generation was passing away.  In an effort to perpetuate the good relationship between his people and the English, he sent his two sons to Plymouth to be given English names.  To the Indians, the bestowal of a new name was associated with a great honor.  "The magistrates at Plymouth were so impressed with the regal bearing of the young giants that they named the older one Alexander and the younger Philip, after the two great Macedonian kings."  (27: Vol 1, p.48)

As Massasoit's health began to decline, he turned more and more of the responsibilities over to Alexander who was a very capable leader and who was already leading the warriors on expedition against some of their enemies.  Massasoit spent his last years visiting his various homes at Quaboag (Worcheater, Mass.),  Mt. Wachusetts, Mass. and his winters were spent at Mt. Hope (Bristol, R.I.)

Sometime in the winter of 1661-62, Massasoit died at about 80 years of age.  His regal funeral was attended by representatives of many tribes throughout New England.  As another author (Leo Bonfanti) has pointed out, Massasoit’s greatest eulogy may have been given many years earlier by his faithful friend, Hobomock, when in 1621 he said, (The English) “should never see his like among the Indians.  He was no liar; he was not bloody and cruel, like other Indians; in anger and passion he was soon reclaimed; easy to be reconciled towards such as had offended him; ruled by reason in such measure as he would not scorn the advice of mean men; and that he governed his men better with few strokes than others did with many, truly loving where he loved.  Yes, (the English) had not (such) a faithful friend ... among the Indians.” [27]

[Sources: 1, 7, 12, 27, 31, 32, 35]

Chapter 5



Massasoit was succeeded, as Great Sachem, by his son Alexander, assisted by his brother, Philip.  Together they were again known as the "Two Kings of the Wompanoags”  The older generation had entirely passed away for both the Indians and the original Plymouth settlers.  A new generation had taken their place.  In this generation the whites had not needed to rely on the Indians for their survival.  In fact, they were almost twice as numerous as the Indians in Southern New England.  They held together in their towns mistrusting the local natives.  At he same time, the new generation of Indians watched as an endless stream of Englishmen began filling up the Indian's land, prohibiting them from hunting and fishing where they had done so for generations, treating them with contempt and disgust and then expecting them to adopt the Christian religion.  The ill feelings that were developing were not the fault of one side more than the other.  It was an almost inevitable result of two widely differing cultures so closely confined.  Neither side was willing to give up their own way of life to become like the other.  The English felt obligated to bring civilization and Christianity to the "savage heathens." The Indians couldn't see why "civilization," as the English called it, would be any better than the life they already led.

The younger generation saw, in Alexander, a strong, new leader who could see the danger of catering to the English.  Even some of the historical enemies began to look toward Alexander as the opportunity for all New England tribes to unite against the encroaching white man.  Alexander shared their concerns.  Following the funeral of Massasoit and the inauguration of Alexander as Great Sachem, the delegations from tribes all over New England remained for a long time at Pokanoket discussing the remedy to the English problem.  Concerned that the English would become suspicious of their meetings, Alexander tried to disperse the throng.  When that didn't work he took his men and went on a hunting expedition to Monponsett River, (Halifax, Mass.)  It was not soon enough however.  Plymouth had already heard of the large gathering at Pokanoket and sent a messenger for Alexander to appear before the Magistrates at their next sitting, in June, to explain the reason for amassing and to give assurances of their good intentions toward the English.  Alexander agreed to appear but forgot to do so and went hunting again instead.

Plymouth became alarmed when he failed to appear.  Rumors that he had been seen in Narragansett country fueled speculation that Alexander was planning an uprising.  The thought of a unification of these two large federations presented a real threat to the English.  Major Josiah Winslow was sent to bring Alexander in, no matter how much force it took.  Winslow's army had gone only a few miles from Plymouth when they came upon Alexander's hunting party eating breakfast.  The Indians made no attempt to resist or to go for their guns but instead made ready to go to Plymouth with the army.

The Magistrates questioned Alexander for four hours.  He answered every question so candidly that they were truly convinced of his peaceful intentions and released him to go home.  The weather was so hot at this time that two days later Alexander returned to Winslow's home to ask if any ships were going toward Pokanoket so his men could ride, rather than walk.  Winslow entertained the entire group for several days.  During this time Alexander suddenly became violently ill with stomach pains and was convinced that he was going to die. His men hurriedly obtained canoes and returned him to Pokanoket by water.  Two of his sons remained behind at Winslow's home. (35: p.2)  Alexander lived long enough to convince Philip and his wife, Weetemoo, that he had been poisoned by the English.  Alexander died just a few days later in the summer of 1662, scarcely half a year after becoming Great Sachem.

Both Philip and Weetamoo were very vocal in their condemnation of the English and word of their accusations soon reached Plymouth.  The colonists denied any wrong doing in Alexander's death but the Indians were not convinced.  This experience further infuriated the Indians against the English and although it was thirteen more years before the outbreak of hostilities, this event was one major contributor to the Indian's motivation to be rid of their English neighbors and the cause of the “King Philip War.”

Philip was only twenty two years old when he became the Great Sachem of the Wampanoags.  During the next thirteen years he, rather consistently but subt1y, tried to organize a unified rebellion against the whites.  He had to be very careful and patient as the English were suspicious of his every move.  He met with Canonchet (Nanuntenoo) (23: p.183) now the Great Sachem of the Narragansetts (son of Miantonomo, and great nephew of Canonicus II) and for the first time, formed an alliance to overthrow the English.

Together, Philip and Canonchet reasoned that it would take a great deal of preparation for such a war.  Tribes all over New England would need to be enlisted, food would have to be stored, families provided for, and warriors would have to be retrained in the use of bows and arrows as they would no longer be able to obtain guns and ammunition from the English.  Messengers sent to the various tribes to solicit support were not always successful.  Many tribes were convinced that such an effort could not succeed.  Some felt this was a ploy of Philip’s to expand his control over their tribes.  Many tribes liked the English and felt Philip was just a young trouble maker.  Some of these tribes had been enemies for generations and uniting them was not a simple task.

News of Philip's efforts periodically leaked to the English resulting in the rather constant surveillance of his moves and an occasional summons to Plymouth to account for the rumors.  Each time he appeared in Plymouth he made such a convincing presentation that he was released only to be more careful, more patient, less trusting, but to still keep talking to surrounding tribes of their need to unite.

Since the arrival of the English, many Indians had been converted to Christianity.  These were commonly called "Praying Indians." Many of these now felt closer ties to the English than to their former tribes and congregated in villages close to the English towns.  One such praying  Indian, who had been a friend of Philip, was Sassamon.  He left Pokanoket to live with other praying Indians for a time but wanting to convert other Indians to Christianity, he went to Assawampsetts Pond where Tuspaquin was Sachem.

It was not long before Sassamon heard of Philip's plot against the English and he secretly made his way to Plymouth to relate it to the authorities.  He also told them that if Philip knew he had given the information to the English, he would surely be killed.  Sassamon returned home and went ice fishing on Assawampsetts Pond.  When he failed to return home someone went looking for him but found only his hat and his gun.  Later, when the ice melted, Sassamon's body was recovered and found to have a broken neck. Three Assawampsett Indians were charged with the murder: Tobias, his son, Wampapaquan, and Muttachunanno.  These were found guilty on the testimony of one unreliable witness and hanged on June 8, 1675.

Philip was also ordered to appear at court for questioning in this case but the emotional resentment and excitement of the Indians over the handling of the case was so high that the authorities thought it best to let the whole thing quiet down without further disturbances.  Two men were sent to Pokanoket to tell Philip that he would not have to appear.  When they arrived they found Philip surrounded by a large number of warriors all painted for war who asked Philip's permission to kill the two Englishmen immediately.  Philip refused, allowing the messengers to return safely.  The young warriors were in such a frenzy that Philip agreed to let them expend some of their energy by going to Swansea on the following Sunday to ransack some buildings and kill any unattended cattle while the settlers were in Church but they were not to kill any people.  Philip believed in an old tradition that stated, the side that shed the first blood would lose the war.

Before Sunday, June 20, Philip agreed to meet with a Mr. John Easton of Providence, R.I., in an attempt to avoid open war.  They both agreed that war was the worst possible solution but Philip was at a loss for any other.  Easton suggested it be done by arbitration to which Philip responded that his people had lost many square miles of land through English arbitration since Englishmen were always the mediators.  Philip then began a long speech recounting the injustices of the English against his people which included: confiscation of their guns due to no reason other than fear; levying heavy fines of money; the continual taking of Indian lands.  If 20 honest Indians went to court to testify against one Englishman no one would believe them but, if one dishonest Indian would testify against an honest Indian, or even against his Sachem this would be believed as the English were willing to prosecute anything that would weaken the Wampanoag Federation.  He further stated that when he sold land to the English they would often claim more than was sold to them and when he sought redress in the English courts they always found against him.  The English further supplied many Indians with alcohol to take advantage of them while intoxicated.  If Indian cattle got into a settlers field and destroyed some crops the Indian had to pay for damages (this sometimes included public whipping which was a degrading humiliation to the Indians) but, if a white man's cattle got into the Indian's corn it was the Indian's fault for not protecting it better.  Easton acknowledged that he knew of these matters but, felt if they had the Dutch in New York arbitrate perhaps it would be fair to both sides.  The parting from this meeting was so amicable that both sides were still hopeful for peace but time was running out.

On Sunday, June 20, as had been promised, the young warriors went to Swansea to harass and scare the inhabitants but did no real damage.  A second group also went to Swansea where they burned two houses and ransacked several others while the people were attending church.  Messages were sent to both Boston and Plymouth of the matter.  Soldiers were called out by Plymouth to protect Swansea and Thursday, June 24, was set aside as a day of fasting to resolve the situation.  When Philip's warriors learned that most of the town would again be in Church on Thursday they decided to return again to do some more damage.

An old man discovered the Indians slaughtering cattle in a field and sent a young boy for a gun.  When the boy returned, the man ordered him to shoot the Indians, which he did, mortally wounding one.  The Indians returned to Mt. Hope to show Philip they had suffered the first casualty and were now ready to fight the English.

Two other groups of Indians headed for Swansea.  One met a group of settlers on the way who had heard of the incident of that morning and inquired after the state of the wounded Indian.  When told that he was dead, they began to laugh so heartily that the Indians opened fire on them, killing one and seriously wounding two others.  Two of the men went for help but the Indians followed a short distance and killed both men.  The other group of Indians met the worshipers returning from church and killed six of them.

Philip was concerned when he heard of the events.  He knew the war was starting and his people were not ready.  Alliances had not yet been agreed to.  At this point, it was just Philip's Pokanokets rather than a general uprising of all tribes.  Boston sent messengers to the Narragansetts warning them to stay out of the fight and to withdraw all of their people from Wampanoag country.  Other tribes were questioned as to their loyalties and warned not to join with Philip.

Philip had only a thousand armed warriors at this time and they were not really prepared but he knew that his tribe was now involved and if he was to ever make a stand it would have to be now.  Surrounding tribes cautiously waited to see which way the war would go.  Philip sent his warriors in small raids which so terrorized the area that Swansea was evacuated.  This town was completely destroyed by the Indians, as was parts of Taunton, Middleboro, Rehoboth and Dartmouth.  The early part of the war consisted mostly of burning homes and buildings, as the settlers were abandoning their villages for the safety of the larger towns.  There were 23 homes burned in Swansea, 30 in Dartmouth, almost every home in Rehoboth and Taunton.  At Mendon 6 settlers were killed.

Companies of soldiers were at Swansea by the 24th of June with more by the 26th and 27th.  These men were poorly trained in Indian fighting and did little good for the first several weeks of the war.  They manned some expeditions into the surrounding swamps but on two occasions managed to pitch a battle against their own forces by mistake, suffering many casualties.  The Indians were quite successful in luring the armies into the swamps and then ambushing them on quick "hit and run" tactics.  When the army was better organized, they began searching the swamps in a systematic manner but were unable to catch the Indians.  One group covered the ground north to Rehoboth.  Another headed west to Warren, R.I. where they found eight poles stuck in the ground with an Englishman's head on the end of each.  Moving south, through Mt. Hope Neck, they came to Philip's deserted village.  Only one old man remained who told the army that Philip had taken his entire tribe across the river into Pocasset country.  The army took all the corn, cattle and hogs they could and burned thousands of acres of corn in the field before returning to their garrison at Swansea.

Not knowing what to do next, the army marched into Narragansett country to sign a peace treaty in an effort to keep those Indians from joining Philip.  It was mid-July by the time they returned.  During this time, Philip had been able to gather his people in the swamps, add to his ranks young warriors from other tribes and convince some whole tribes to unite with him.  He still had less than 1500 warriors and had to worry about the aged, the women and children, as well as moving all their possessions.  The swamps of southern Massachusetts were too close to English towns to be safe for his entire tribe and he decided to move north, to Mt.  Wachusetts, in Nipmuck country in central Massachusetts.

The exodus began on July 18 by crossing the Taunton River.  Philip's younger brother, Sunconewhew, one of the leading war captains, led the rear guard.  His warriors were secreted on both sides of the path to ambush any pursuers.  A large group of Major Thomas Savage's men happened to patrol that trail and accidentally stumbled into the ambush where five were killed and several others wounded in the first volley.  The soldiers tried to make a stand but the brush was so thick they couldn't tell where the Indians were and are thought to have killed some of their own men.  Eventually, they retreated leaving their dead and wounded.  The valiant Indians had not only protected their tribe's crossing of the river but had also inflicted severe casualties on the soldiers.  Only three Indians were killed in the skirmish but, they were all leaders in the Wampanoag Council, including brave Sunconewhew.

Once across the river, Philip's tribe would have been safe for their long, slow march north, were it not for an army lead by 50 Mohegan Indians hired by Boston to hunt Philip down. On August 1, this group met up with Philip's rear guard.  The Wampanoags made a valiant fight against superior numbers and might have won the battle had it not been for the Mohegans.  Eventually 13 of Philip's best men were killed and the English army began attacking the main camp of women and children.  At this point, the fleeing victims dropped much of their possessions and began to run.  The route would have been a disaster for Philip except that the Mohegans stopped fighting and began collecting spoils.  The English would not pursue Philip without the Mohegans so the whole battle was abandoned in favor of pillaging the discarded goods.  By the time the army could be reorganized, Philip was far enough ahead that no further attempt was made to catch him.

From his new headquarters in Mt. Wachusetts, Philip could direct his forces against the settlements from a safely remote distance.  A buffer of Praying Indian towns were between Philip and the larger towns around Boston.  Philip continually sent emissaries to these towns to recruit young men to fight.  Many joined him but most wanted to stay at peace with the English.  In the late summer and early fall Philip directed many of his attacks against towns close to the Praying Indians.  This encouraged many of the young men to join, scared some of the older ones into joining, and made the local settlers mistrust their praying Indian neighbors.  After all, one Indian looked about like another and the settlers were not really sure of the sentiments of any Indians.

Many of the Praying Indians were gathered up and sent to Deer Island in Boston Harbor, for their own protection from both hostile Indians and angry whites.  This soon degenerated into an overcrowded concentration camp.  Indians were mistreated and starved.  Everyone was happy to see them go to the island but no one cared much what became of them once they were there.  With each successful attack by Philip on towns close to Praying Indian villages, the whites became more suspicious and more hostile to the friendly Indians, forcing even more to join Philip.

During the summer and fall of 1675, the Indians met with such success from Springfield and Hartford in the West to Marlboro in the East, that the English began to believe the Indians could not be beaten.  Soldiers were conscripted and marched from one location to another searching for the illusive Indians but not finding them, or suffering the worst casualties when they did find them.  In November, Philip settled his forces down to wait out the winter at Mt. Wachusetts

The lull gave the colonies time to plan.  It was decided that a winter campaign would not be expected by the Indians and could be effective.  In winter, the Indians would not have the thick covering of leaves that the swamps provided in spring and summer.  Although the Narragansetts had not joined the war the colonists were suspicious of their intentions and felt that an unexpected attack on them first could destroy their ability to support Philip.  More than 36 inches of snow fell in November and remained on the ground.  Canonchet, with about 3000 of his people, had retired to an island about five acres in size in the middle of a swamp where South Kingston, R.I. is today.  This island had been made into a well protected fort and the wigwams were stacked with corn around the walls for winter food but also for protection from enemy bullets.  The Indians had fallen logs all the way around the island with just a single log across the water to gain access to the fort.  This log was well protected by warriors as it was the only gateway into the fort.

On December 9, the combined Massachusetts and Plymouth armies, under General Josiah Winslow, began their march into Narragansett country.  First they came to Pumham's tribe which retreated before them but they captured 54 prisoners who were sent to Boston and sold into slavery in the West Indies.  From here they moved on, burning Indian villages, killing stragglers and capturing more Indians for sale as slaves.  On the 18th, these men met up with the Connecticut forces making a formidable army but their food was almost spent and they had not yet located Canonchet's winter quarters.  The next day they captured 36 more Indians and, threatening one with his life, got him to agree to show them the way to Canonchet's fort.

The attack began about noon and resulted in heavy losses for the English as the fort was so well protected.  Determined to take the fort they sent more and more soldiers across the fallen trees to assault the island.  Eventually, the English forces gained access to the fort but the Indians boldly counter attacked and drove them back.  After consulting with the leaders, Winslow gave the order to set oil and gun powder around the edge of the village and light it on fire.  The strong wind quickly spread the flames across the island forcing most of the Indians to flee in the snowstorm or be burned to death.  Following the fire the soldiers searched each Wigwam for survivors.  Estimates of the casualties vary but were probably at least 600-700 dead and more than 300 prisoners, most of whom were women and children.  The English lost 93 on the battlefield and had 150 wounded.

Throughout January, the English continued mopping-up operations against stragglers in an effort to find and destroy Canonchet.  Their own troops were so ill, from the inclement weather, that they could not mount a major offensive.  Each small act of aggression further infuriated other neutral Indians causing some Niantics and even some Pequots to join with Philip.  Canonchet was angry and led his people north, where he joined Philip on February 3, 1676.  He brought with him 3000 warriors, which was about double the total number Philip had.  Philip was glad to welcome him and gave him the military leadership.  Not only did Canonchet command the largest force, he also had more experience in warfare.

Canonchet first divided the forces into smaller groups able to strike quickly and cause terror to settlers and soldiers alike.  Quinnapin was one of the Narragansett's six leading sachems.  He had recently married Weetamoo, Alexander’s widow, making him Philip's brother-in-law.  He was also Canonchet's first cousin and leading military advisor.  With a force of 400 men, he led the first strike of 1676 on Lancaster where they had most of the houses on fire by daybreak.  In the attack they killed or captured 55 people and retreated before the garrison of soldiers could come from just 10 miles away.

On February 21, 300 Indians attacked Medfield, burned 50 homes and killed 20 people even though there was a garrison of soldiers in the town.  On the 25th, there was another attack on Weymouth.  Wampanoag warriors under Tatoson attacked a garrison of soldiers on March 12.  Nipmucks attacked Groton on the 13th.  Quinnapin killed 11 men and burned 11 buildings at Northampton on March 14.  Here, they also drove off a large number of horses, cattle and pigs and took them to feed their hungry families at Vernon, Vermont.   On March 16, a group of Indians burned almost every building in Warwick, R.I. The same day, there were several attacks including one at Springfield, another at Marlboro and one at Seekonk.  In this latter attack, a company of soldiers spotted five Indians across the river who appeared to be wounded.  Captain Michael Pierce ordered his men to capture the Indians who disappeared into the woods.  While the English were crossing the river, Canonchet had 100 of his men emerge from the forest, on the bank behind the soldiers causing them to hurry on to the other side where he had most of his men.  Once on the bank, they were attacked from both sides.  The soldiers formed two lines, back to back, and fought in both directions but when the battle was ended only eight English and 12 of their friendly Indian guides remained.  Two days later, Rehoboth was attacked; 66 dwellings and several buildings were burned.

In late March and into April, Massachusetts tried to talk with Philip about exchanging prisoners and perhaps even ending the war.  A few prisoners were released by the indians but nothing further resulted

In March, Canonchet returned to Rhode Island to get some corn and provisions his people had buried the previous fall and bring them to Mt. Wachusetts.  While there he made a few forays against various settlements and was so encouraged that he sent the food back to Philip but decided to stay in Rhode Island for a time to regain his lands.  He attacked Providence on March 29, burning 70 houses and 30 barns.  Connecticut became alarmed to know that Canonchet was so close.  They organized an expedition of 47 colonists and 80 Indians (Pequots, Mohegans and Niantics) to search him out.  When they arrived in the vicinity where he was, they first captured two women and two men belonging to Canonchet's tribe.  They forced the two women to watch them execute the two men, then on peril of their life they made the women tell where Canonchet was.  After the camp was encircled some of the Indians spotted the enemy and warned the others.  Canonchet ran in the opposite direction with his enemies right behind him.  As he jumped from rock to rock in an attempt to cross a creek he slipped and fell in the water getting his gun and powder wet.  Realizing that he could not shoot his weapon, he stopped and waited for his pursuers to catch him.

The first to reach him was a young man named Robert Staunton who was so impressed with Canonchet's regal bearing that he tried to talk to him.  The Narragansett's Great Sachem replied, "You much child.  No understand matters of war.  Let your brother or your chief come.  Him I will answer." The leaders did question Canonchet and were so impressed with him that they offered him his freedom if he would get his nation to surrender, otherwise, they explained they would have to kill him.  He refused their offer telling them he had thousands of warriors who would continue to fight after his death.  This threat worried the English who ordered the immediate execution of the 43 prisoners and took Canonchet back to Stonington.  When they told Canonchet of his sentence to die he replied, "I like it well; I shall die before my heart is soft, or I have said anything unworthy of myself." (27: Vol. IV p.43-44)  As a reward for their part in his capture, the Pequots were allowed to shoot him, the Mohegans quartered his body and decapitated him, the Niantics burned all but his head which was sent to Hartford as “a token of their love and fidelity.”

Canonchet's death brought even more fury from the Indians who staged an attack on Marlboro on April 20, burned a few buildings and kept bon fires going all night in the forests surrounding the town.  This was to draw the soldiers out of Sudbury which was their real target.  While the soldiers marched to Marlboro most of the Indians crept through the forest to Sudbury.  When the soldiers realized the Indians had gone to Sudbury they turned and marched back again but were intercepted outside of town.  Following a short skirmish they followed the retreating Indians into a trap in the forest where 400 Indians attacked and eventually killed a large number of the soldiers.  At day break, the main body of Indians attacked the town burning many buildings.  Runners were sent to neighboring towns for help but 12 men from Concord were attacked and 11 were killed before they reached the town.  Brookfield sent 19 men to help but they too were attacked before they arrived, 4 were killed and one wounded.  In the Sudbury attack 74 of the English were killed but only 5 Indians.  The entire town might have been destroyed had it not been for the arrival of Captain Hunting with 20 Englishmen and 40 Praying Indians.

Until mid May of 1676, the war had favored the Indians.  Many English settlers were discouraged and felt that a war against the Indians could not be won.  But, the tide turned suddenly.  Philip had sent most of the women and children of the warriors to the Connecticut River to grow food and dry fish for the Indians.  There were too few soldiers left in that area to go out scouting for Indians.  There were only enough to provide some measure of defense for the towns.  Neither did the Indians have many warriors in this area.  When Captain Turner realized how few Indian men were guarding this village he devised a plan to attack the women and children.  At dawn on May 19, his men sneaked into the poorly guarded camp, stuck their guns into the wigwams and, on Turner's orders, commenced firing at close range.  Women and children were franticly running for canoes to cross the river.  Many were shot as they tried to paddle away.  Others were drowned or thrown into the river.  Many were washed to their death over the falls where they were camped, (now called Turner Falls.)  Lt. Holyoke decapitated three old women and two children as they hid in the bushes.  Other atrocities were attributed to this massacre.  One such story says that the soldiers lined up captives in a straight line to see how many could be killed by a single bullet.  It is not known if all of the stories of this battle are true.  It is known however, that they brought back no prisoners.  The Indians lost between 200 and 300 persons at the falls.

This was a great loss to Philip and the Wampanoags.  Not only was it a military defeat but it involved the wives and families of so many of the warriors.  It also was a loss of needed food and provisions.  In addition it encouraged the settlers to think they could win a battle.

About the same time Philip suddenly returned south to Wampanoag country which.gave the English the feeling that Philip was discouraged.  The English now pursued the war with new enthusiasm.  By mid June, Philip's forces were consolidated in southern Massachusetts leaving the Connecticut River Valley to the English.

In June, Captain Benjamin Church enlisted a large number of Sakonnets (Sagkonates) to assist him in tracking down the hostile Wampanoags.  He received his commission on July 24 and set out at once to capture Tuspaquin, Sachem of the Assawampsetts, because he was so close to Plymouth and also because he was one of the most notorious and feared war captains.  With his force of 300 men, Tuspaquin, on April 20, had attacked Scituate, burning 19 buildings, and 17 more at Bridgewater on May 8, where more damage would have been done had it not been for a downpour of rain which extinguished several of their fires.  On May 11, he was so bold as to attack Plymouth itself, where he burned 11 houses and 5 barns and returned again on May 30 to burn another 7 houses and 2 barns.  Church went to Assawampsett and captured several of Tuspaquin's men.  One promised to lead the English to Tuspaquin in exchange for the promise that he would not be sold into slavery.  With his help, many more Assawampsett Indians were captured but not Tuspaquin.

On July 29, 1676, the Bridgewater men and Taunton men joined to search out Philip.  A group of soldiers came upon Philip's men and a battle commenced in which ten of Philip’s men were killed, including Philip's Uncle, Akkompoin, who was also the chief war captain at that time.  In that same battle, Philip's sister, Amie, Tuspaquin's wife, was captured and returned to Plymouth as a prisoner. (27: Vol IV p.54)  Nothing further is known of her fate. 

The following day the Bridgewater men again attacked the Indians capturing another 17.  The next day they met up with Church's men and further pursued the Indians.  Sneaking through the brush they spotted a lone Indian sitting on a stump, lost in thought.  Church raised his gun to shoot but  was stopped by one of his men who thought it might be one of their own guides.  The lone Indian heard the voices and looked up in time to be recognized by one of the Sakonnets as Philip but he ran into the thicket before any one could get a shot off.  The English didn't know it but they had stumbled onto the main camp of the Wampanoags and in the ensuing attack captured 130 Indians, including Philip’s wife and nine year old son, who were also sent to Plymouth.

Day after day, the soldiers chased Philip’s band through the swamps.  Each day more Indians were captured and taken to the towns to await being sold as slaves.  Sensing the end was near, Philip returned with his band to their Pokanoket homeland at Mt. Hope.

In the early morning of August 12, Church found the Indian camp and surrounded it.  He sent one group of soldiers in on one side while others waited on the other side.  The Indians ran for cover and Philip ran directly into an Indian by the name of Alderman who had turned traitor to Philip and led the soldiers to this camp.  Alderman's gun was loaded with two bullets and he fired at close range killing Philip instantly.  After the battle, Philip's body was pulled from the mud.  His head was cut off, his body quartered and left unburied.  His head was triumphantly carried to Plymouth, where it was placed on the end of a pole and displayed for 20 years.  Alderman was given one of Philip's hands which he exhibited, for a fee, for many years thereafter.

Even though Philip was dead, the remaining Indians would not give up.  Annawan, an old war captain, led attacks on Rehoboth and Swansea as well as other towns.  He was pursued by Church until his final capture, when he was taken to Plymouth and shot.

Tuspaquin was the last of the Wampanoag Sachems in freedom.  On September 4, Tuspaquin sent his remaining followers to gather food and supplies from the surrounding area.  The authorities learned of his position and sent Captain Church to find him.  On September 5, Church found their camp and captured most of the Indians there but did not get Tuspaquin.  He took the captives back to Plymouth but left two old squaws at the camp to tell their Sachem that, if he would surrender, he and his family would be pardoned.  Several days later, Tuspaquin walked into Plymouth to surrender and end the hostilities.

Tuspaquin was not only a renowned sachem but was also a Pow-wow, or medicine man, who could do "much magic."  Stories were circulated that he could not be killed by bullets, even if fired at close range.  When he surrendered, Captain Church was in Boston on business and was surprised when he returned to find that Tuspaquin had surrendered and that, both he and Annawan, had been shot.  They told Church they had killed Tuspaquin just to see if the stories were true that he couldn't be killed by a bullet.  Philip's, Annawan's and Tuspaquin's heads were each displayed on the ends of poles for twenty years at Plymouth.

There is no record of what happened to Amie (Philip’s sister and Tuspaquin’s wife) after the war.  It is certain that she, and her younger children, were still captives at the time Tuspaquin surrendered.  One can only imagine the grief she must have felt to look up, at the decapitated heads of her husband and brother, on the ends of poles, at the town gate while she remained in captivity.

By the end of September, the King Philip War was over.  The English now had control of almost all Indian lands to use as they wished.  They still held thousands of Indian prisoners, who, if turned loose could pose a future threat to English settlements, or land claims.  Some Indians were eventually released but it was more advantages for the English to be rid of these Indians entirely.  Two options remained for the disposal of most of the prisoners: execution, or selling as slaves.  The latter would bring a good income and would be easier on Christian consciences.  Thousands were crowded into ships and sold as slaves in Barbadoes and the Bahamas.  Among those sold as slaves, in the West Indies, were Philip's wife and nine year old son.  If they survived it is quite possible that somewhere in those Islands, Massasoit may have descendants living today.  With Amie being of royal blood it is not likely the English would have wanted her set free in New England.  However, she would have been in her mid to latter fifties by this time and may have been too old to bring a "good price" as a slave.  One can only speculate on the remainder of Amie's life.

[Sources: 6, 7, 27, 35]