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     Indian History and Genealogy     

 

CHAPTER III. KING PHILIP

[51] The name of Massasoit's second son was Pometacom, but this, as used by early English writers, was subjected to the following variations: - Pumatacom, Pamatacom, Pometacome and Pometacom. Mr. Samuel G. Drake, late of Boston, an excellent authority on such matters, says that Pometacom was the form of spelling usually adopted in official records.

Like Wamsutta, his brother Pometacom, alias King Philip, was too ready to gratify the covetous appetites and grasping desires of the English settlers by selling them the Indian lands; and hence, from the white man's record, we find that soon after Philip assumed the reins of government, as successor of Wamsutta, alias Alexander, new sales of land were effected. The territorial limits of the red man's domain was thus made to grow less and less, so that even though no war had afforded the christian whites a plausible pretext for wresting from the red heathen the last vestige of the once goodly inheritance of their fathers, that last foot of land would have been demanded in the way of trade - a practical illustration of their obedience to the command, "thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor's." Thus, in 1662, the territory [52] afterwards constituting the town of Wrentham (Appendix, No. 18), was purchased of Philip by the English; and on the 23d of June, 1664, William Brenton, of New Port, R.I., "for a valuable consideration" (or at least so said the deed), bought Mettapoisett, as it was then called, now known as Gardiner's Neck, in Swansea. The deed was signed by Philip, chief sachem of Mount Hope, Cowsumpsit and all the territories thereunto belonging, and also by his wife and the following named Indians: - Tockomock, Wecopauhim, Nesetaquason, Pompaquase, Aperniniate, Taquanksicke, Paquonack, Watapatahue and Aquetaquish. Two Englishmen and two Indians witnessed the signing of that deed. This tract of land was given by William Brenton to his son, Maj. Ebenezer Brenton, who under date of Dec. 30, 1693, and in consideration of the sum of L1,700, current money, sold the same to Lieut. Samuel Gardiner, of Newport, and subsequently of Freetown, and Ralph Chapman. Gardiner and Chapman divided their purchase, Feb. 4, 1694, and much of that which fell to the former has remained in the possession and ownership of his lineal descendants until now, a period of one hundred and eighty years, thus acquiring and still retaining the name of "Gardiner's Neck."

In 1665, King Philip quit-claimed his right in land about Acushnet, including what is now New Bedford. Part or the whole of this was what had been bargained away by his father, Massasoit, and L10 were now paid to King Philip to remunerate him for marking out and defining the boundaries, and to prevent his laying claim to this tract, or any part of the same.

In 1667, King Philip, for the sum of L16, sold to Constant Southworth and others all the meadow land (doubtless salt-marsh), from Dartmouth to Mettapoisett. He also, in 1667, sold to Thomas Willett and [53] others a tract of land, two miles long and one mile wide, for L10 sterling. In 1668, King Philip and an Indian named Tatamumaque, alias Cashawashed, sold a tract of several miles square, adjacent to Pokanoket, and probably within the limits of what is now Swansea; and the next year, the same sachems, in consideration of L20, sold 500 acres of land in that town. In 1669, Philip sold John Cook, of Dartmouth, an island near that town; and in the same year, he and Tispaquin sold a considerable tract in Middleborough. In 1671, Philip and an Indian named Monjokam, for L5, sold to Hugh Cole, a shipwright residing in Swansea, a piece of land in Dartmouth lying near a place then called Acashewah. In 1672, he sold to Wm. Brenton and others, for L143, a tract of land containing twelve square miles; and a few days after, to Constant Southworth, a tract of four square miles, adjoining it. To the deed conveying the larger tract, were also appended the signatures of the Indians, Nunkampahvonett, Umnathum alias Nimrod, Cheemaughton and Annawan. One or both of these tracts became a part of the township of Taunton, and was known as South Purchase; it was incorporated as a new and distinct town, May 30, 1712, and called Dighton. (Appendix, No. 19)

King Philip had, in 1668, sold a tract of land within the limits of what subsequently became the town of Rochester, but stipulated in the deed that the Indians, then living upon it, should be permitted to live there still. In that deed, it was mentioned that the Indian, Wattachpoo, consented to the sale of the same, and its stipulations. (Appendix, No. 20)

Mr. Drake, in his Biography and History of the Indians of North America, remarks that "for about nine years succeeding 1662, very little is recorded concerning Philip. During this time, he became more intimately [54] acquainted with his English neighbors; he learned their weakness, and his own strength, which rather increased than diminished until his fatal war of 1675. For, during this period, not only their additional numbers gained them power, but their arms were greatly strengthened by the English instruments of war put into their hands. Roger Williams had early brought the Narragansets into friendship with Massasoit, which alliance gained additional strength on the accession of young Metacomet. And here we may look for a main cause of that war; although the death of Alexander is generally looked upon, by the early historians, as almost the only one. The continual broils between the English and Narragansets (we name the English first, as they were generally the aggressors) could not be unknown to Philip; and, if his countrymen were wronged, he knew it. And what friend will see another abused, without feeling a glow of resentment in his breast? And who will wonder if, when these abuses had followed each other, repetition upon repetition, for a series of years, that they should break out, at last, into open war? The Narraganset chiefs were not conspicuous at the period of which we speak; there were several of them, but no one appears to have had a general command, or ascendancy, over the rest, and there can be little doubt that they unanimously reposed their cause in the hands of Philip. Ninigret was, at this time, grown old; and though he seems to have had the chief authority for many years after the murder of Miantunnomoh, yet pusillanimity was always rather a predominant trait in his character. His age had probably caused his withdrawal from the others, on their resolution to second Philip. Canonchet was, at this period, the most conspicuous; Pumham next; Potok Magnus, the squaw-sachem, whose husband Micksah had been dead several years; and, lastly, Mattatoag."

[55] Mr. Drake continues, "Before proceeding with later events, the following short narrative, illustrative of a peculiar custom, may not be improperly introduced. Philip, as tradition reports, made an expedition to Nantucket, in 1665, to punish an Indian who had profaned the name of Massasoit, his father; and, as it was an observance or law among them that whoever should speak evil of the dead should be put to death, Philip went there, with an armed force, to execute this law upon Gibbs. He was, however, defeated in his design; for one of Gibb's friends, understanding Philip's intention, ran to him, and gave him notice of it just in time for him to escape; not, however, without great exertions, for Philip came once in sight of him, after pursuing him some time among the English from house to house; but Gibbs, by leaping a bank, got out of sight, and so escaped."

The Indian name of this Gibbs was Assasamoogh. He was a professor of the christian religion, and a preacher to his countrymen, an Indian church being gathered at Nantucket, which in 1674, I am informed, numbered thirty members.

The History of Nantucket notices the event, with a little variation from the foregoing, setting forth that the name of the culprit was John Gibbs, that Philip found him on the south-east part of the island, captured him, and made preparation to execute vengeance upon him, when the English spectators commiserated his condition, and made offers of money to ransom his life. Philip listened to these offers, and mentioned a sum which would satisfy him, but so much money could not be collected. In short, he received, as a ransom, the sum of L11; and thus it was that he who had spoken evil of a former ruler of his people was allowed to escape. As the testimony upon this matter is somewhat conflicting, we present to our readers the [56] essential points of difference, leaving it to their calm reason to decide wherein the error lies. (Appendix No. 21.)

As early as the spring of 1671, the English settlers became alarmed at the evidence they discovered of war-like preparations on the part of King Philip, and their suspicions that a plot was going forward for their destruction were further confirmed by the reluctance that he showed to comply with their request to visit Taunton. On the 10th of April, in that year, he came to a place about four miles from Taunton, attended by a band of his warriors, attired, armed and painted as for a warlike expedition. From that place, he sent messengers to Taunton, to invite the English to come and treat with him, which they declined to do; but they then, or soon after, sent Roger Williams and several other persons to inform him of their good disposition towards him, and to urge his attendance at Taunton. The wisdom of King Philip, as shown in the precaution that he took when repairing to Taunton, to be accompanied by a band of his followers, prepared for battle, and also the falsity of the English in their pretensions of good disposition towards him, needs no further proof than what occurred immediately after he complied with their oft repeated wish. For, leaving the bulk of his forces at a considerable distance from that settlement, he with a few of his warriors came near the village, where he stopped short on discovering the warlike parade of the English, *(III-1) many of whom were for attacking him at once; and, but for the Commissioners from Massachusetts Colony who had come here to meet the governor of Plymouth Colony to confer with King [57] Philip, doubtless this rashness and desire for truce-breaking on the part of the soldiers of Plymouth Colony, would have been proceeded with. But the wiser counsels of the Massachusetts Commissioners prevailed, and in the end it was agreed that a council should be held in the Taunton meeting-house, one side of which should be occupied by the English and the other by the Indians. (Appendix, No. 22)

 

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