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Indian History and Genealogy



Notes on the Nipmuc Indian Reservation at Hassanamesit or Hassanamisco and the Nipmuc People of Hassanamesit,
later Grafton, Massachusetts

By Thomas Lewis Doughton

From Hassanamesit or "Place of the Small Stones"

©1990, 1997 Thomas Lewis Doughton




1. From Contact to Conversion & Christianity

1550 An estimated 3,000 Nipmuc Indians occupy some 39 band encampments or ‘villages’ in ‘Nipnet," their ancestral homeland occupying most of central Massachusetts, northern Connecticut & northern Rhode Island

1620 English colonists arrive in Massachusetts

1630 During a time of famine for the colonists, Acquittimaug, a Nipmuc of Wabaquasset (Woodstock, Connecticut) and his son carry corn supplies into the starving population at Boston

1634 Thomas Dudley, writes in his Letter to the Countess of Lincoln, that "About seventy or eighty miles westward from these are seated the Nipnett men, whose sagamore we know not, but we hear their numbers exceed any but the Pecoates and the Narragansets, and they are the only people we yet hear of in the inland country." [1]

1644 March 7, Nashowanon [Nipmuc leader at Washekim or Sterling], Cutshamekin, Masconnamet, Wossamegon [Massasoit], & Squaw Sachem [Nipmuc leader residing near Mount Wachuset], are examined by the English and ‘submit’ to the authority of the Massachusetts Bay government:

Wossamegon, Nashowanon, Cutshamache, Mascanoment, & Squa Sachim did volentarily submit themselves to us, as appeareth by their convenant subscribed with their own hands, hear following, & other articles to which they consented.

Wee have & by these presents do voluntarily, & without any constraint or pswasion, but of our owne free motion, put ourselves, our subjects, lands & estates under the government & iurisdiction of the Massachusets, to bee governed & protected by them, according to their iust lawes & orders, so farr as wee shall bee made capable of understanding them; & wee do promise for ourselves & all our subiects & all our posterity, to be true & faithful to the said government, & ayding to the maintenance thereof, to our best ability, & from time to to time to give speedy notice of any conspiracy, attempt, or evill intension of any which wee shall know or heareof against the same & wee do promise to bee willing from time to time to bee

instructed in the knowledg & worship of God....

Certeine Questions propounded to the Indians, and Answears

F. To worship ye onely true God, which made heaven & earth & not to blaspheme him

An: We do desire to reverence ye God of ye English, & to speake well of him, because, wee see hee doth better to ye English than other gods do to others

2. Not to swear falcely.

An: They say they know not what swering is among them.

3. Not to do unncessary worke on ye Saboth day, especially within ye gates of Christian towns.

An: It is easy to them; they have not much to do on any day, & they can well take their ease on this day.

4. To honor their parents & all their superiors.

An: It is their custome to do so, for the inferiors to honor their superiors.

5. To kill no man without iust cause & iust authority.

An: It is good, & they desire to do so.

6. To commit no unclean lust, as fornication, adultery, incest, rape, sodomy, buggery, or bestiality.

An: Though sometime some of them do it, yet they count that naught, & do not alow it.

7. Not to steale.

An: They say to them this as to the 6th quare.

To suffer their children to learn to reade Gods word, that they may learn to know God aright & worship him in his owne way.

They say, as oportunity will serve, & English live among them, they desire so to do.

That they should not bee idle.

To these they consented, acknowledging them to bee good.

Being received by us, they presented 26 fathome of wampam, & the Court directed the Treasurer to give them five coats, two yards in a coate, of red cloth, & a potfull of wine.

It is ordered, that it shall bee lawfull for one smith of Boston to be appointed by the magistrates to amend the guns of those sachims which have submitted themselves to our government, & that hee set a marke upon such peeces... [2]

Nashawonan provides colonists with a deed to 80 square miles encompassing parts of contemporary Berlin, Clinton, Lancaster, Bolton, Sterling, Boxboro, Leominster, Hudson, Boylston & West Boylston with the understanding that the English would not "molest the Indians in their normal fishing, hunting or planting places." The supposed original deed of this major transaction in Nipnet cannot be located.

1646 Rev. John Eliot, "the Apostle to the Indians," first preaches to Massachusetts Indians outside Boston, at a site he will call Nonantum, ‘The Place of Rejoicing’, (modern Newton), making converts to Christianity and becoming encouraged by the possibility of converting all Massachusetts Indians

1646 Nov. 4, a commission, including Rev. John Eliot, is set up to purchase lands for Bay State Indians, the group charged to consider:

such parcells of land which they judge meete to purchase for the incouragment of ye Indians, to live in an orderly way amongst us, & to order ye payment thereof out of the tresury, out of the first guift, for ye good of Indians; ye chardge of this purchase be repaid to ye country, seting doune some rules for your improving & enjoying thereof. By both houses. [3]

1649 Eliot reports to missionary officials in London:

a Nipnet sachem hath submitted himself to the Lord, and much desires one of our chief ones to live with him and those that are with him

1650 Indians converted by Eliot from among the Nipmuc and other regional tribal groups begin moving to Natick, "A Place of Hills," unclaimed land then on the edge of English settlement, to organize into what will become the first "Praying Town" of Christianized Massachusetts Indians

1651 English colonists occupying the coastal areas continue eyeing the land in Nipnet or the Nipmuc territory which extended from the Vermont & New Hampshire borders through most of Worcester County into northern Connecticut & Rhode Island; Eliot writes from his headquarters at Natick:

There is a great country lying between Connecticut and Massachusetts, called Nipnet, where there be many Indians dispersed, many of whom have sent to our Indians desiring that some may be sent unto them to teach them to pray to God

1652 Eliot undertakes a missionary & exploratory journey into Nipnet, his mission extending some 60 miles inland through uncharted Nipmuc country as far as the Quinebaug River; he claimed his message of Christian salvation was well received by the Nipmucs he encountered

1654 Eliot visits Hassanamesit, ‘The Place of Small Stones’, a Nipmuc encampment along the Kattatuck (to the English, "Nipmuc" or Blackstone River), in an attempt to continue missionary work of converting Nipmuc tribal leaders



2. Hassanamesit: The Christian Village

1654 The "Neponset Indians" from the Boston area are organizing into another "Praying Town" at Punkapoag, ‘The Place of the Shallow Pond’, (Canton). Eliot requests the permission of the General Court at Boston to establish three new Indian communities: Hassanamesit, Nashobah, ‘The Place between the Rivers’, (the Littleton area) & Ockoogangansett, ‘The Plowed Field Place," (Marlboro). The colonial legislature decides in May:

Liberty is granted to the Indians of Hassanamesit, being about 16 miles west of Sudbury, to make a town there, provided they shall not dispose of it without leave first had and obtained from this court

1660 Nipmucs from the present Grafton, Auburn, Millbury, Mendon, Sutton, Upton & Hopkinton areas begin taking up residence in what Eliot estimated to be 10,000 acres of Hassanamesit set aside for them, some of these Nipmucs Christianized & others living in the area without accepting the new faith

1668 May, Nipmuc sagamores "submit" to English authority. [4]

The humble submission and subjection of the Native Indians sagamores and people of the Nipmucks inhabiting within the bounds of the patttens of Massachusetts and near adjoining unto the English towns so-called of Mendon and Marlboroug[h]

We the inhabitants of Mongunkachogok Chaubunkongkomuk Asukodnogest Kesapusgus Wabuhquoshish and the adjacent parts of Nipmuk being convinced of our great sinns & how good it is to turn unto the Lord and be his servants by praying or calling upon his name...do give up ourselves to God...we finding by experience how good it is to live under laws & good government and how much we need the protection of the English. We doe freely out of our own motion and voluntary choyce do submit our selves to the government of Massachusetts


Job Kattonet









1670 James Wizer, a Nipmuc connected to both Hassanamesit & Washekim, deeds away land near what’s now Clinton, claiming that only "Adagunpeke and his aunt and sister reserve one acre a year" at the site.

During this first decade of occupation, Hassanamesit becomes the second Indian church, after Natick, serving as a focus for missionary activity in Nipmuc country. Bible schools are set up to study the Christian scriptures in the Indian language. Nipmuc readers, preachers & deacons are trained at Hassanamesit as Nipmucs are urged to abandon their traditional Native lifestyles. Nipmucs from the community at Hassanamesit play active roles in assisting to create additional Christianized ‘towns’ in the area:

Waeuntug (later Uxbridge)

Quinshepauge (Mendon)

Packachoag (Auburn)

Manchaug (Sutton)

Quabog (Brookfield)

Chaubunagungamaug (Dudley)

Wabaquasset (Woodstock, Ct.)

1670 Oct. 12, the General Court extends its area of claimed jurisdiction, which had previously ended at the Nipmuc (Blackstone) River, an additional 20 miles into Nipmuc territory

Whereas this Court haue binn informed, that seuerall disorderly persons are setled & planted upon the west side of Nipmuck River, about ten or twelve miles aboue Mr Blackstons, which is apprehended to be within the bounds of this colony, it is therefore ordered by this Court, that the south ljne of this juridicstion be continued from Nipmuck River, where it was left, between Pljmouth & this jurisdiction, to to runne it about twenty miles west beyond the sajd riuer… [5]

1671 On September 23, the first permanent Christian church in Hassanamesit was built on Keith Hill in Grafton, replacing an earlier temporary place of worship. Piamboho a Nipmuc living at Natick is chosen the elder and Naos of Hassanamesit selected to deacon. the Christian community of the time consists of 12 Indian families or some 60 souls, 16 of whom were full church members and an additional 60 persons baptized into the faith

1673 An aging John Eliot surveys the more than twenty "Praying Towns" of

Christianized Indians in the colony, writing:

No Indian town gave stronger assurances of success than this at that time. Hassanamesit had become the central point of civilization and christianity to the whole Nipmuc country

1674 Sept. 16, Rev. John Eliot & Daniel Gookin hold court at Wabaquasset, four miles south of the contemporary Massachusetts & Connecticut border along the Quinebaug River, at a Nipmuc Christian community of an estimated 30 families or 150 souls; the community minister was Sampson, brother to Joseph of Chaubunagungamaug and scout for the English during the King Philip War, who would be captured and killed by the English by mistake at Mt. Wachusett in 1675 [6]

Daniel Gookin, the colonial superintendent of Indian affairs visits and describes Hassanamesit:

This place lieth about 38 miles of Boston, west southerly; and is about two miles to the eastward of the Nipmuc River; and near unto the old way to Connecticut. It hath not above 12 families...but is capable to receive some hundreds...the dimensions of this town is four miles square; and so about eight thousand acres of land. The village is not inferiour unto any of the Indian plantation for rich land and plenty of meadow, being well tempered & watered. It produceth plenty of corn, grain and fruit. It is an apt place for keeping cattle & swine; in which respect this people are the best stored of any Indian town of their size.

Their ruler is named Anaweakin; a sober & discreet man. Their teacher’s name is Tuckupawillin, his brother; a pious & sober man, and apt to teach. Their aged father...is a grave and sober christian, and deacon of the church. They have a brother that lives in the town, called James, that was bred among the English and employed as a press man in printing the Indian bible; who can read well, and, as I take it, write also. The father, mothers, brothers, and their wives, are all reputed pious persons....Here they have a meeting house for worship of God after the English fashion of building, and two or three other houses after the same mode; but they fancy not greatly to live in them....

This is a hopeful plantation. The Lord gives his blessing to it.

Eliot & Gookin visit Manchaug (Sutton), a new ‘Praying Town’ consisting of twelve families or some 60 souls converted to Christianity with Waabesktamin serving as their preacher

Eliot & Gookin also visit Maanexit (Thompson, Ct) a community of twenty families or 100 souls of converts under John Moqua, their minister

Eliot preaches at Chaubunagungamaug, at the northwest corner of what’s now called Webster Lake, to a ‘village’ composed of nine families or forty-five souls. Joseph the son of Robin or Petavit or Petuhanit of Hassanamesit was their preacher; Joseph would serve as a scout during the King Philip War, still he will be sold as a slave by the English

1675 April, Thomas Waban, "Ruler" of the Native community at Natick and one of Eliot’s first converts at Newton, warns the English of an impending armed conflict between colonists & Indians as explained in Daniel Gookin’s An Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England in the Years 1675, 1676, 1677

1675 May, Waban repeats his warnings to English authorities about the possibility of an armed insurrection of Indians. At the start of the summer, the peace & prosperity of Hassanamesit is shattered at the onset of the King Philip War, an unsuccessful year long general uprising of New England Indians against the English colonists. Nipmucs, sometimes including the Christianized members of the tribe, join the revolt; regional towns including Worcester, Brookfield, Lancaster, Sudbury, Mendon, & Groton, attacked, sacked or abandoned

1675 June 21, James Romneymarsh, Thomas Romneymarsh and Zachary Abraham function as scouts for English. Quinshepauge, the "Praying Town" on the edge of Nipmuc Pond in Mendon is abandoned before King Philip’s troops burn the English community’s meetinghouse

1675 July, several Indians from Hassanamesit, Magunkoog, (Hopkinton) Manchauge, (Sutton) and Chaubunagungamaug, (Dudley), "left their places, and came into Marlborough under the English wing, and there built a fort upon their own land, which stood near the centre of the English town...hence they hoped not only to be secured, but to be helpful to the English, and on this pass and frontier to curb the common enemy."

July, the English obtain more guides and interpreters:

named Joseph and Sampson, brothers, and son to old Robin Petuhanit, deceased, a good man who lived at Hassanamoset, together with George Memecho, their kinsman...the Indian George, was taken prisoner by the enemy, and came home afterward and brought good intelligence. The other two brothers, Joseph and Sampson, acquitted themselves very industriously and faithfully... [7]

1675 During the summer months, Nipmuc sachems provide written assurances to the General Court at Boston ‘not to assist Phillip’, the actual document signed by Peppehoba [probably Piamboho]& Wawas [James the Printer] ‘the rulers of Hassanamesit’; John ‘of Packachoog’[Auburn]; Conkeaskoyane ‘sachem of Quabog’ [Brookfield];’Bolak James of Chonbonkongamaug’; Pocamp, Nashowonea & Shockoi ‘of Manexit’ [Thompson, Ct.], Willasksoupin ‘of Manchachage’[Sutton] and two illegible signatures for ‘sachems of Wabaquasset’, [Woodstock, Ct.] [8]

1675 In August, many of the Nipmuc "Praying Towns" split into pro war and pro peace factions. All Nipmucs not joining the conflict are carried off by the insurgents or rounded up by the English, first confined at Marlboro, and then, subsequently at Deer Island, in Boston Harbor. August 30, 1675 Boston officials decided relative to the Indians:

...that they be restrained their usual commerce with the English and hunting in the woods...that all those Indians, that are desirous to approve themselves faithful to the English be confined to the several places underwritten. that they so order the setting of their wigwams that they many stand compact in one place of their plantations respectively, where it may be best for their own provisions and defence, and that none of them do presume to travel above one mile from the centre of such dwellings unless in the company of some English..on peril of being taken as our enemies, or their abettors. And in case any of them be taken without the limits aforesaid except as above said, do lose their lives, or be otherwise damnified by English or Indians; the Council do hereby declare that they account themselves innocent, and their blood, or other damage by them sustained, will be upon their own heads. Also it shall not be lawful for any Indians, that are now in amity with us, to entertain any strange Indians...

...it shall be lawful for any person whether English or Indian, that shall find any Indian travelling in any of our towns or woods, contrary to the limits abovenamed, to command them under their guard and examination, or to kill and destroy them as best may or can. The Council hereby declaring, that it will be most acceptable to them, that none be killed or wounded, that are willing to surrender themselves into custody.

The places of the Indians’ residence are, Natick, Punquapog, Nashobah, Wamesit and Hassanamesit. And if there be any that belong to other places, they are to repair to some one of these.

Gookin says about these regulations; "By this order...the poor Christian Indians were reduced to great sufferings, being hindered from their hunting and looking after their cattle, swine, and getting in their corn, or laboring among the English to get clothes, and many other ways incommoded also, were daily exposed to be slain or imprisoned, if at any time they were found without their limits."

September 1675, according to Gookin, "an expedition was sent into Nipmuc country to destroy the enemies’ cornfields that they had deserted...I was certainly informed that all they did in this enterprise, was to destroy much of the corn, and burn the wigwams, and mats and other things" at Manchauge, [Sutton], Hassanamesit [Grafton] and Chaubunagungamaug, [Dudley] but "places of Pakachooge, [Auburn] Wabaage [Brookfield] and others where there was abundance of corn, they left untouched. which after, in the winter, afforded relief to the enemy. But the praying Indians had theirs destroyed, and were the sufferers in this affair."

1675 October, The General Court considers removing the Natick community to Cambridge Neck, the Wamesit Indians to Noodle’s Island in Boston Harbor, the Punkpaog people to Dorchester Neck and Natives from Hassanamesit, Magunkook and Marlborough to Mendon, but the individual towns refuse to receive the Indian communities near them

Oct. 18, as Gookin explains:

...John Watson, of Cambridge...Guardian to the Indians at Natick, presented a petition to the General Court in the name, and on behalf of those Indians; wherein they do, with great modesty and humility, prostrate themselves at the feet of the honored General Court, desiring they would not harbour any jealous or harsh thoughts of them, nor hearken to any false informations against them; humbly desiring the Court to send some more English to reside with them to inspect their

conversation, and secure them; and not to fetch them off from their dwellings, which would expose them, especially the aged and weak, to very much sorrow and misery, both for want of food and apparel, especially considering that the winter was approaching. But, rather, if the Court pleased, they would deliver some of their principal men for hostages for their fidelity, professing their innocency and integrity both to the interest of God and the English...

But this petition obtained no favorable aspect....

Oct. 26, after first obtaining the permission of the land’s owner who insisted "that they should not cut down any growing wood, nor do any damage to his sheep kept there," the General Court planned to move Indians living at Natick to Deer Island, so Capt. Thomas Prentice:

...went up to Natick, with a few men and five or six carts, to carry such things as were of greatest necessity; and he declared to them the Court’s pleasure for their removal, unto which they quietly and readily submitted, and came down with him at a hour or two warning, about two hundred souls of all sorts. There was one family of them about twelve in number, the principal man named Old Jethro, with his sons and relations, who secretly ran away in the night...

...Good Mr. Eliot...met them...where they were to be embarked, who comforted and encouraged and instructed and prayed with them, and for them; exhorting patience in their sufferings, and confirming the hearts of those disciples of Christ; and exhorting them to continue in their faith, for through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of heaven. There were some other Englishmen at the place...with Mr. Elliot, who were much affected in seeing and observing how submissively and Christianly and affectionately those poor souls carried it, seeking encouragement, and encouraging and exhorting one another with prayers and tears at the time of the embarkment, being, as they told some, in fear that they should never return more of their habitations, but be transported out of the country...

In the night, about midnight...those poor creatures were shipped in three vessels and carried away to Deer Island....

1675 During the winter months at Deer Island, Christian Nipmucs are confined with minimal shelter, clothing & food supplies. Large numbers of Christian Indians die from neglect & disease

Nov. 6, 1675 the fate of Hassanamesit during this conflict is learned:

...intelligence came from Mendon, by two of the principal Christian Indians that escaped, viz. James Speen and Job Kattenait, how the enemy had seized upon, and carried away captive, the Christian Indians that were at Hassanamesit, who were gathering, treshing, and putting up in Indian barns (as the manner is) a considerable crop of Indian corn that grew in that place and parts adjacent; the two men, and some squaws and children, being at a little distance from the rest, made a shift to get away, but could not relate what number of the enemy there were, or whither they had carried their friends. The people captivated were for the most part unarmed, about fifty men, and one hundred and fifty women and children; the enemy’s Indians...wanted them to go with them quietly, then they would spare their lives: otherwise they would take away all their corn, and then they would be famished. And further they argued with them if we do not kill you, and that you go

the English again, they will either force you all to some Island as the Natick Indians are, where you will be in danger to be starved with cold and hunger, and most probably in the end be all sent out of the country for slaves

Among those going off with Philip’s Indians were Capt. Tom or Tom Wuttascomponom, however, Gookin claims that "some of those Christian Indians went away with the enemy with heavy hearts and weeping eyes, particularly Joseph Tuckappawill, the pastor of the church at Hassanamesitt, and his aged father, Naoas, and some others, of which I had particular information from some that were eye and ear witnesses thereof." In December, however, Eliot & Gookin travel to Deer Island:

to visit and comfort the poor Christian Indians confined to Deer Island, who were (a little before) increased to be about five hundred souls, by addition of the Punkapog Indians, sent thither upon as little cause as the Naticks were. The emnity, jealousy, and clamors of some people against them put the magistracy upon a kind of necessity to send them all to the Islands; and although it was a great suffering to the Indians to live there, yet God brought forth this good by it: first, their preservation from the fury of the people; secondly, the humbling and bettering the Indians by this sore affliction. I observed in all my visits to them, that they carried themselves patiently, humbly, and piously, without murmurring or complaining against the English for their sufferings, (which were not few), for they lived chiefly upon clams and shell-fish, that they digged out of the sand, at low water; the Island was bleak and cold, their wigwams poor and mean, their clothes few and thin; some little corn they had of their own, which the Council ordered to be fetched from their plantations, and conveyed to them by little and little; also a boat and man was appointed to look after them. I may say in the words of truth (according to my apprehension), there appeared among them much practical Christianity in this time of trials.

United military forces of the combined New England colonies begin hunting down Nipmucs and other hostile Indians

1676 Pockets of Indian resistance are eradicated one by one as the English abandon the notion of integrating Indians as ‘Red Puritans’ living in ‘Praying Towns’

February, a group of Nipmucs came into Marlborough:

But when the poor creatures came to Marlborough, they being quartered there one night or two by the constable’s order, until an opportunity served to send them on to Boston, there came some people of the town (especially women) to their quarter, some of whom did so abuse, threaten, and taunt at these poor Christians, and they being thereby put into great fears, that in the night the minister’s wife [wife of Tuckapawillin], and his eldest son, a lad of twelve years old, and another woman, a widow that had carefully kept and nourished Job’s children [children of Job Kattenait, carried off from Hassanamesit], with her daughter, being four of them in

all, escaped into the woods; the minister’s wife left a nursing infant behind her, with her husband, of about three months, which affliction was a very sore trial to the poor man, his wife and eldest son gone, and the poor infant no breast to nourish it...

Not long after, this poor minister, Joseph Tuckapawillin, and his aged father, Naaos, a man of about eighty years old, both good Christians, with three or four children of the minister’s, and Job’s children, were all sent to Boston, where they were kept a night or two, and then sent to Deer Island, where God provided a nurse (among the Indians) to preserve the life of the suckling infant; and about two months after his wife was recovered and brought in by Tom Dublet, one of our messengers to the enemy; but his eldest son before mentioned died, after he went away from Marlborough with this mother, conceived to lose his life by famine

Additionally, Gookin recorded remarks of Joseph Tuckapawill made while Tuckapawillin and his family were offered hospitality by English friends of John Eliot before they were shipped to Deer Island:

...I am greatly distressed this day on every side; the English have taken away some of my estate, my corn, cattle, my plough, cart, chain, and other goods. The enemy Indians have also taken a part of what I had; and the wicked Indians mock and scoff at me, saying ‘Now what is become of your praying to God?’ The English also censure me, and say I am a hypocrite. In this distress I have no where to look, but up to God in heaven to help me; now my dear wife and eldest son are (through English threatening) run away, and I fear will perish in the woods for want of food; also a my aged mother is lost; and all this doth greatly aggravate my grief. But yet I

desire to look up to God in Christ Jesus, in whom alone is my help...

I never did join with them against the English. Indeed, they solicited me, but I utterly denied and refused it. I thought within myself, it is better to die than to fight against the church of Christ....

April, it’s known that James the Printer or Wawaus remained at liberty since the General Court addressed a letter ‘To the Indian Sachems about Wachusett’, reading in part "We received your letter by Tom & Peter which doth not answer ours to you neither is subscribed by the sachims nor hath it any date which we know your scribe James Printer doth well understand should be...." [9]

Colonists exact harsh retribution. Worcester County Nipmucs and other Indians, even when surrendering to the English under white flags, are sometimes executed, their families deported and sold as slaves in the West Indies. Indian lands are confiscated

July 6, remaining Nipmuc sachems not yet captured or killed send an emissary to Boston under a white flag seeking to end conflict

July 8, 1676, Cotton Mather writes at Boston:

Whereas, the council at Boston had lately emitted a declaration, signifying that such Indians as did, within fourteen days, come in to the English might hope for mercy, divers of them did this day return from among the Nipmucs. Among others, James, an Indian, who could not only read and write, but had learned the art of printing, notwithstanding his apostasy, did venture himself upon the mercy and truth of the English declaration, which he had seen and read, promising for the future to venture his life against the common enemy. He and the others now come in, affirm that very many of the Indians are dead since the war begun; and that more have died by the hand of God, in respect of deseases, fluxes and fevers, which have been

amongst them, than have been killed by the sword.

In the wake of the so-called King Philip War, in September 1676, the General Court ordained that "there being many of our Indian ennemyes seized, & now in our possession," it was "meete" that "such of them appeare to have imbrued their hands in English blood should suffer death here, and not be transported into foreigne parts." [10] Children were to be utilized as "servants." When Sagamore George from the Nipmuc community of Packachooge, [at the contemporary border of Worcester and Auburn in central Massachusetts], surrendered to colonial officials in August 1676, he was accompanied by thirty-two children, all under sixteen years of age, placed in his care by their families during the conflict, many of their parents dead or executed. All were bound out to serve English masters until attaining their twentieth birthdays, dispersed to residents of Billerica, Cambridge, Charlestown, Concord, Dedham, Ipswich, Lancaster, Mystic, Rowley, and, Salem. [11]

In August, the sachem of Packachoag, (Auburn), into whose care Nipmuc and other Indian children had been placed during the conflict, surrenders to the English at Boston; some 40 children are taken from their parents, most of whom were Christians, and given to English families as servants to "be religiously educated & taught to read the English tongue". Children connected to the Nipmucs of central Massachusetts included:

...a boy named John his father named Alwintankus late of quantisit [Thompson, Ct.] his father & mother present consenting the boys age about 12 years...

...a girle named Hester her father & mother dead late of Nashaway [Lancaster] her age ten years her onkel named John wossumpigin of Naticke....

...two Boyse the one named Jabez aged about ten years the other named Joseph aged six years their father name woompthe late of Packachooge.[Auburn]..

...a Boy aged ten years, on wennaputanan his guardian & on upacunt of quantisitt [Thompson, Ct.] his grand mother was present...

...a boy aged about six years son to nohanet of Chobnakonkonon [Dudley]. The Boy named Samuel...

...a Boy named Peter aged nine years his father dead his mother present named nannantum of quantisit [Thompson, Ct.]...

a boy named Tom aged twelue years his father named santeshe of Packachooge.[Auburn]..

...A Boy named Joshua aged about eight years son to William wunuko of magunkoog;[Hopkinton] his father dead...

...a boy named John son to William Wunnako late of magnkoy[ Hopkinton] that was executed...

...a Boy named Joseph aged about 12 years Late of magalgook [Hopkinton] cosen to Pyambow of Naticke...

...a boy...son to Annaweeken Deceased who was late of Hassanamesit his mother present...

...a boy named Joseph son to Annaweken decesed Brother to the last named aged about 11 yeares...

...a boy aged about eight years his father dead late of Marlborow hee is Brother to James Printers wife...

...a Boy named Tom Aged about 11 years sonne to William Wunakhow of Magungog [Hopkinton] decesed...

...a maid aged about ten years daughter to Jame Natomet late of Packachooge [Auburn] her father & mother dead

Many of these children are related to prominent Nipmuc kin groups at most of the major tribal settlement areas. For example, young Hesther from Nashaway was related to John Wossimpigin, one of the heirs of Nashowanon, the last "high chieftain" of the Nipmucs. William Wunnako, several of whose kinsmen appear on this list, was also of a sachem’s family. One of the children is connected to James Printer and his family. Similarly, Joseph of Magungkook was related to Piamboho, one of the principal Nipmucs resident at Natick.

Perhaps because of these connections these Nipmuc youngsters were bound out to serve masters until becoming adults while other Massachusetts Indians were being deported or sold as slaves. We know from Indian informants that life as a servant in white households was often bleak but these young Nipmucs were not enslaved. They were, however, scattered, none of them remaining within tribal homelands as is indicated in the following table.

Name BYear From Masters   Residing
Abigail 1660 Shookannet Edmund Batter Salem
Absolom 1666 Manehage Jeremiah Shepard Rowley
Anne Shookannet Andrew Boardman Cambridge
Boy 1676 Quantisit Thomas Jacob Ipswich
Boy 1669 Jacob Green Charlestown
Boy 1669 Marlboro John Smith Dedham
Boy Hassanamesit Goodman Myles Dedham
David 1664 Jonathon Danforth Billerica
Girl 1665 Packachoag Nathaniel Wade Mystic
Girl 1670 Shookannet Daniel Gookin, sr. Cambridge
Girl John Flint Concord
Hester 1676 Nashaway Samuel Simonds, Esq
Hope 1669 Widow Jackson Cambridge
Jabez 1666 Packachoag Matthew Bridges Cambridge
Jane 1668 Jeremiah Shepard Rowley
John 1664 Maguncook Thomas Prentice. jr. Cambridge
John 1663 Thomas Danforth
John 1663 Goodman Read Cambridge
John 1664 Quantisit Samuel Simonds, Esq
John 1664 Cowesit Thomas Woolson Watertown
Joseph 1670 Packachoag Matthew Bridges Cambridge
Joseph 1664 Maguncook Edward Jackson
Joseph 1665 Hassanamesit Thomas Prentice
Joshua 1669 Maguncook Daniel Gookin, sr. Cambridge
Margaret 1664 Quantisit Mrs Mitchell Cambridge
Peter 1668 Quantisit Jacob Green, jr Charlestown
Rebecka 1667 Thomas Eliot Cambridge
Samuel 1670 Chaubunagungamaug Cyprian Stevens Lancaster
Sarah 1665 Natick Jeremiah Shepard Rowley
Joseph 1670 Marlboro Benjamin Mills Dedham
Tom 1665 Packachoag Goodman Greenland Charlestown
Tom 1666 Maguncook Jonathan Wade Mystic

Additionally, from August to September 1676 a combined total of 181 Native people were sold by the Masasachusetts colony. On August 24, 1676, seventy-four people changed hands, included among them "squawes," "papooses," boys," "girls," "infants" and "little children;" while in among those sold were only three individuals identified as "men" and one person listed in the inventory as "old man." Among the purchasers were Samuel Shrimpton, buying fourteen captives, and Thomas Smith acquiring twenty-six of the individuals offered for sale. On September 23, 1676 a second group of 104 Natives, simply listed as "captive," neither ages nor genders recorded, was dispersed, several purchasers buying smaller numbers of potential slaves while Thomas Smith purchased forty people. [12]

During fall months of 1676, several "friend Indians" attempted to retrieve family members from the rosters of Natives who were to be sold as slaves. [13] In some instances the General Court determined that Natives had been improperly enslaved as in the case of William Waldron who was indicted by a grand jury and tried at the Court of Assistants for seizing and enslaving seventeen Indians with his vessel Endeavour at Maine. He was found not guilty but obligated to pay a £10 fine. [14]

Several white residents also attempted to have the General Court re-confirm or certify their receipt of Indian captives. Among English petitioners, for example, were: Jonathan Fairbanks seeking to retain an "Indian girl" taken by him on a march to Quaboag, at the time held on Deer Island; Josiah Winslow asking that he be allowed to keep an Indian "girl" brought home from his time in military service; Thomas Danforth wanting to retain two "Indian" children "lately" given to him; and, John Thaxter of Hingham asking for permission to hold on to an "Indian boy," given to Thaxter’s son by Captain Benjamin Church. [15] Similarly, in 1679, George Speers petitioned the General Court seeking satisfaction for an Indian boy Speers purchased from Captain John Hull, and since taken from him. [16]

When Natives were being enslaved or doled out to residents as captives in the summer of 1676 Reverend John Eliot wrote in the records of his church at Roxbury that "some captive women & children were set downe, shipped to the be sold for slaves." Eliot detailed his concern for Captain Tom, brought to Boston after surrendering to authorities but still there "was a great rage against him." According to Eliot, Tom claimed that though he "never ingaged against the English," he was involved in a wartime conflict at Sudbury when "a devil put into his head to be willing to goe" with Native insurgents. Visiting Tom and other prisoners at jail, Eliot commented "everything looketh with a sad face. God frowneth." Captain Tom was condemned to death, Eliot affirming, "I went to the prison to comfort ym I dealt faithfully with him, to confess if were true, w’off he is accused & for which he condemned. I believe he sayeth the truth."

After additional visits to Captain Tom and other Indians in prison, Eliot went unsuccessfully to plead with Governor John Leverett that Tom "might have the liberty to prove yet he was sick at the time when the fight was at Sudbury, & yet he was not their," reminding the governor that "at the great day he should find yet chirst was of another mind" about the innocence of Captain Tom. On July 22, 1676, however, Eliot noted he "accompanied him to his death, on the Ladder he lifted up his hands & said, I did never left up hand against the English, nor was I at sudbury, only I was willing to goe away with the enemies yet surprized us." Eliot’s narrative concluded that "when the ladder was turned he lifted up his hdns to heaven prayre wise, & so held yet till strength failed, & yet by degrees yet sunke down." [17]

"So soone as we condescended to improve our praying Indians in the warr, from that day forward we allwayses p’sp’d untill God pleased to teare the rod in peeces, p’ly by conquest, p’tly by their sicknesses & death, & hath brought us peace, praised be his name," Reverend John Eliot wrote during these months when Massachusetts Bay Indians were being shipped "beyond the seas." That this enslavement of Natives was unjust for Eliot was confirmed in 1677 by a "blazing star" or comet appearing in the East, leading him to speculate:

God also drew forth another rod upon our backs in epidemical sicknesse which tooke away many of us. And yet for all this it is the frequent complain of many wise & godly that little reformation is to be seene of our cheife wrath p’voking ins, as pride, covetousness, animositys, p’sonal neglecte of gospelizing our youth, & of gospelizing of the Indians etc., drinking house mulptiplyed, not lessened, quakers openly tolerated. [18]

In Eliot’s estimation alcohol had determined interactions with Indians, "welcomed here where ever met…made them drink, & bred thereby such a habit to love strong drink, that it p’ved an horrible snare unto us," for which he wrote "I blame my selfe for it, Lord p’don all many omissions."

Writing to the governor and the Council on August 13, 1676, Eliot had claimed the triumphant colony’s policy towards Natives was wrong. He claimed "useage of them is worse than death," as the "design of Christ in these last dayes is not to extirpate nations, but to gospelize them." [19] He continued, "when we came, we declared to the world, & it is recorded, yea we are ingaged by letters patent from the king’s Majesty, that the indeavor of the Indians conversion, not their extirpation, was one great end of our enterprize, in coming to these ends of the earth." Eliot argued:

I doubt not but the meaning of Christ is, to open a dore for free passage of the gospel among them…My humble request is that you would follow Christ his designe in this matter, to prmote the free passage of Religion among them, & not to destroy—to sell soules for money seemeth to me a dangerous merchandize. To sell them away from All means of grace which Christ hath provided…is a way for us to be active in the destroying of their Soules.

Eliot’s petition and other activities on behalf of captive Natives met with little success.

1676 November 10, the insurrection over, Bay State Indians, "our friends (pro tempore)"—some 177 men and 450 women & children, were placed under the following supervision according to Gookin:

With this tally, "It must not be understood, that this compution of ye number is exact; they may be a few more or less...All these Indians meet together to worship God and keepe the Sabath: and have their teachers at six places...." wrote Gookin.

1677 May 24, Massachusetts Indians are placed under the supervision of state-appointed guardians; the colonial legislature refuses to allow Nipmucs to return to Nipnet; the survivors of the war are confined to Punkapoag (Canton), Natick and Wamesit (Lowell).

"All this time of trouble & warr with the Indians," when "the well odering & settlement of those that remains & are under under command" was a "matter of great concernment to the peace and security of the countrey," so the General Court determined in May of 1677, that "such Indian children or youths…setled or disposed, by order of authority, or with their parents or relations consents to any of the English inhabitants …shall so with servants…to be taught and instructed in the Xtian religion untill each of them attein to the age of twenty fowr years of age except by speciall contract." The Court also insisted that "such other Indian children, youths or girls, whose parents have been in hostility with us, or have lived among ennemies in the time of the warr…taken by force, & given or sould…shall be at the disposall of their masters or their assignes, provided they be instructed in civility & Christian religion." [20]

Included as part of the order were requirements that "all other Indians that are admitted to live within this jurisdiction," and the Praying Indians, "as well as others," were to be "reduced to inhabit" the Indian towns Natick, Punkapoag, Hassanemesit, and Wamesit, "where they may be continually inspected & from time to time ordered & governed." Annually there was to be produced "a list…of all the men, women, & children," while, under penalty and "displeasure" of the legislature, they were forbidden "to receave or entertaine any stranger or foreign Indians or Indians into their societies." Additionally, as being set at liberty, Indians were to be "freed from any feares of being shott," so it was ordered that "all neighbour Indians & friends, though at liberty to hunt," but if, in the woods with their guns, "enjoyned, on the sight of any English person, or being called unto, shall immediately lay down his gunne, & leaving them, repaire" to English residents, north or south of the Merrimack River, for certificates allowing Indians to retain arms for hunting purposes.

All "Praying Towns" in Nipnet country other than Natick are dissolved. Hassanamesit continued to exist on paper, but is not occupied

3. In The Aftermath of the King Philip War

1681 May 11, William Stoughton & Joseph Dudley are authorized by the General Court to investigate land titles in Nipnet

In anwer to the motion & peticion of Wm. Stoughton and Joseph Dudley, the Court judgeth it meete to grant this motion, and doe further desire & impower the worshipfull Wm. Stoughton & Joseph Dudley Esqrs, to take particullar care & inspection into the matter of the land in Nipmug country, what titles are pretended to by the Indeans or others, and the validity of them, and make returne of what they find therein to this Court as soon as soon as may be [21]

May 11, Nipmucs dispersed following the war attempt to establish their legal claim to the lands in Nipnet; the General Court receives a formal petition [22] from:

[I]nhabitants of the towns of Natick, Punkapoge & Wamasitt..being subject to his Majesty and this Government...having approved our Selves faithful to ye English in yet late warr and served them most of us as Soldiers...some of ye Relations lost their lives, we doe hereby...have a naturall right to most of the lands lying in Nipmuck country...

John Awassamugg Sen

Andrew Pittome[e]

Thomas Romneymarsh

Peter Ephraim

Anthony Tray

El[e]azor Pegun

Zachary Abraham

Sam Awassamaug


Piam Bow

Tom Tray

John Awassamaug

James Romneymarsh

Tom Dublit

Sa Somit

John Awassamaug Jr.

[MS tear: name missing]




John Magus


Wattertown William

Sept. 14, a document in the handwriting of Daniel Gookin [23] records that Nipmuc people living at Natick objected to alleged deeds selling land in Nipnet that John Wampas had previously given to English colonists:

Testimonies of Severall Aged and Principall Indians


Waban Aged About 80 Years

Piam-boa Aged about 80 years

Nowanit aged about 81 years

Jethro aged about 70 years

William Aged 68 years

Anthony Tray & Tom Tray unckles by the father’s side unto

John Woampus deceased aged 60 years & 58 years or


These men do...affirme and say that they well know John Woampus from a child and his father also old Woampus who was [MS ripped] and brother to some of them; and do say that John Woampus was no sachem and had no more right [MS ripped] and title to any lands in Nipmuk country...than other common Indians had...before he left the country in [MS rip] the said Woampus because he speaks English well and was acquainted with the English’ was claiming ‘to get selled and recorded the Indians title & right to those lands but we utterly deny that we ever gave him any power to sell, give, mortgage or other dispose of those lands...And now he is deceased without children, what right he had in common with other Indians belongs to his kindred and...we further say that there is about on[e] hundred Indians young and old living among the Christian Indians that have right & title to those lands in Nipmuck Country





Anthony Tray

Tom Tray

Sept. 15, Daniel Gookin, again in his own hand, [24] supplies additional information to the General Court about alleged deeds provided by Wampas:

In the spring of 1677 I kept a court among the Indians at Coowate near the Lower falls of Charles River. At the Court John Woampus was present...being questioned for his mistakes in claiming a great tract of land...in several places in the Nipmuk’s country challenging those lands for his posterity and suffering to sell those lands...[he] could not prove or demonstrate any Right he had in lands more than other common Indians had...all the old men & principal Indians together...in particular his onkles Anthony & Tom Tray, did beare witness against his practice & disclaim his right’, claiming he sold lands ‘to gett money to be drunk’, so they were requesting at that time that he be forbidden to put forward claims or intefere with their affairs

1681 October 17, in the interests of the colony, the General Court decides to divide lands desired by English settlers in Nipnet into three large parcels, to be purchased from Nipmuc clans & families, in the process refusing Nipmuc claims to all remaining lands in Nipnet

In pursuance of an order of this honnorable Court to inspect the clajmes of the remayning Indians to lands in the Nipmug country

In June last wee appointed a gennerall meeting of all Indian claymers to the sajd lands, & gave full notice of the same to holden at Cambridge Village, & there obtejned Mr. Elljots company & others to asist in interpretation & better understanding of their severall pleas. Wee then found them willing enough to make clajme to the whole country, but litigious & doubtfull amongst themselves; wee therefore, for that time, dismissed them to agree their severall clajmes amongst themselves, & then told them wee would further treate them to comprimise the whole matter on the countrys behalfe.

Since which time, in September last, perceiving a better understanding amongst them, wee warned severall of the principall claymers to attend us into the country, & travajle the same in company with as farr & as much as one weeke would allow us, & find that the southerne part clajmed by Black James & company is capable of good setlement, if not too scant of meadow, though uncerteine what will fall within bounds if our ljne be to be quaestioned.

The middle part above Sherborne & Marlborough, clajmed by the Hassanamesit men now resident at Naticke, but interupted by the clajme of severall execcutors to John Wampas, whom wee summoned before the Governor & Magistreates in Boston soone after our returne, and find their clajme very uncertajne, but, if allowed, will be to the ruine of the middle part of the country, of which the Indians make complaint to this Court.

The northerne part, adjoyning to Nashaway, is found the best land, most meadowed, & capable of setlement, which land, except a smale tract about Hassanamesit desired to be kept by the Natick Indians, may, wee suppose, upon reasonable termes, be, so farr as respect the Indian clajme, taken into the countrys hands, which wee offer our advise as best to be donne, least the matter grow more difficult by delays. If there be any further service for us in the matter, wee are

Your humble servants,

William Stoughton,

Joseph Dudley

The Court doe approove of this returne.

Upon the consideration of the report made to this Court of the Indian clajmes to lands to the westward by Mr. Stoughton & Mr. Dudley, and their advise that some compensation be made to the claymers for a full surrender of those lands to the Govenor & Company of the Massachusetts, to prevent future troubles & pretensions that may arise, and doe order & impower the aforesajd gentlemen to treat with the sajd claymers, & to agree with them upon the easiest termes that may be obtejned, which summe may be reimbursed by such as afterwards shall procure grants of any of the sajd lands from this Court. [25]

1682 March 17, the General Court accepts the purchase of two large parcels in Nipnet, both located in modern Worcester County, through which Nipmucs ‘sold’ a combined total of 1,000 square miles of Nipnet to William Stoughton & Joseph Dudley acting on behalf of the colony. Through these transfers ‘wast lands ...of very inconsiderable value’ were added to the Indian communities at Hassanamesit and Natick and the Nipmucs of southern Worcester County were to have a five square mile reservation along the Massachusetts/ Connecticut border. A remaining large parcel of Nipmuc land in northern Worcester County, near Mt. Wachusett was not included within the transaction and still remained a part of Nipnet not deeded to colonial authorities:

In pursuance of the last order of this Court for the purchase of the Nipmug country, the subscribers have had severall treatjes with the Indians, and at length have concluded

1. That the Hassanemesit and Natick Indeans shall have added to the sajd plantations of Natick & Hassanemet, already granted & reserved by this Court for their oune improovment, all that remayning wast lands lying betweene those two plantations & adjoyning to Meadfeild, Sherborn, Mendon, Marlborow, & Sudbury, being wast @ of very inconsiderable value. The remainder of their clajme, lying fower miles northward of the present Springfeild road, & southward to that, have agreed betweene Blacke James & them, of which wee advised in our late returne, wee have purchased at thirty pounds money & a oate.

2. The southern halfe of sajd countrey wee have purchased of Blacke James @ company for twenty pounds, provided they may, by the grant & allowance of this Court, reserve to themselves a certeine tract of five miles square for themselves, or contents, in two parcells, to be at their oune dispose, to them; their heires & assigns, forever, as is expressed in there deed The whole tract in both deeds conteyned is in a forme of a triangle, & reduced to a square, conteyneth a tract about fifty miles long & twenty miles wide. Besides the fivety pounds above, a smale quantitjes, about five pounds, wee have distributed amongst them, and payt them tenn pounds money of the price.

3. Wee have thought best to take the deeds in our oune name, which wee now exhibbit, and are ready to passe our assignement & conveyance to the Govenor & Company, at the Courts direction, in pursuance of whose service wee have donn the same.

4. Wee have promised them, that, in convenient tjme, their complaint against severall tounes & farmers who have not purchased the title to that they hold shall be heard, & justice donn them.

5. The northern part, towards Wachuset, is yet unpurchased, & persons yet scarsly to be found meet to be treated with thereabouts. The two last articles may be further pursued if this Court judgment.

Willjam Stoughton,

Joseph Dudley [26]


1682 March 17, the General Court authorizes a reimbursement of Stoughton & Dudley for the Nipnet purchases and instructs them to begin providing deeds to English towns & farmers and to pursue the possibility of acquiring the remaining lands in Nipnet near Mt. Wachusett

This Court, having perused this returne, made by William Stoughton & Joseph Dudley, Esqrs, relating to their transaction with the Indians, & purchase made of the Nepmug lands, doe approove thereof, and order, that full & ample deeds & conveyances in due forme be forthwith made by the sajd gentlemen unto the Govenor & Company of the Massachusets, & etc., and that the Tresurer of the country doe reimburse what is by them expended already, and make such other payments as are by them engaged on this account; and likewise doe allow of, and doe hereby confirme to the sajd Indians, that tract of land mentioned to be reserved by the sajd Indians.

Also, the above named gentlemen are impowred, & heereby are desired, to doe what is yet necessary pursuant to the prosecution of the fowerth & fifth articles, & to make returne of what they shall doe therein to the next Generall Court. [27]

On May 27, Hassanamesit Indians still at Natick are among the group of ‘Indian natives and all naturell descendants, of the anntient proprietors & inhabitants of Nipmug country’ signing two separate deeds: the first, ‘selling’ most of central Worcester County, and a second document ceding most of southern Worcester County to the General Court at Boston

1682 May 27, the General Court receives the following deed by which Nipmucs ‘sold’ a large portion of central Worcester County to Stoughton & Dudley

The Court past their allowanc hereof, & confirmation of ye deeds annext. To all Christian people to whom this resent deed of sale shall come, greeting. Know yee that wee, Waban, Pyamboho, John Awasamog, Thomas Awasamog, Samuel Awasamog, John Awasamog; Junior, Anthony Tray, John Tray, Peter Ephraim, Nehemiah, James Rumney Marish, Zackary Abraham, Sam Neancit, Symon Sacomit, Andrew Pittyme, Eliazer Pegin, John Maquaw, James Printer, Samuell Acompanit, Joseph Milion, Elisha Milion, & Cocksquannion, Indian natives, and naturall descendants of the anntient proprietors & inhabitants of the Nipmug country (commonly so called) and lands adjacent, within the colony of the Massachusets in New England to us in hand,...

unto the sajd Willjam Stoughton and Joseph Dudley, theire heires and assignes, for ever, all that part of the Nipmug country above named, or their tract of land scittuate, lying, and being beyond the great ryver called Kuttatuck or Nipmug Ryver, and betweene arainge of marked trees, beginning at the sajd river, and runing south east till it fall upon the south lyne of the sajd Massachusets colony on the south, and a certeine imaginary ljne fowre miles on the north side of the road, as it now ljeth, to Springfeild on the north, the sajd great river of Kuttatuck or Nipmug on the eastward, and the sajd patent ljne on the westward; ...

... this tenth day of February, anno Dominion one thousand six hundred eighty one, and in the fower & thirtjeth yeare of the reigne of our soveraigne lord, King Charles the Second, over England, & etc." [28]


1684 Sept. 10, Nipmucs at Natick are among a group of Indians protesting the proposed sale of Marlborough lands to English settlers, claiming "we doe understand that no man is to bye Indian land without leave...Thomas Waban and Great James doe appropriate to them selves the Indian land at Malbery and sell it without order and keep all the pay to themselves", so they were requesting that the General Court set up a committee to review the proposed Marlborough transaction:

Thomas Tray

John Magos

John Moquah



Capt. Tom

William Mahaughton

Thos Dublett

Andrew Pitmeh

Joseph Kewahch


Samuel Wossamog

Peter Moquamoge

John Annonquin

old Nawanont

old Jethro

Peter Bogkotoge

old Nessawaninnu

Joshua Ashott


Abraham Spee[n]

Grat John


old Sosanwinnu

old William

Razer [Eleazer] Pegin

old James [Romneymarsh]

1685 May 27, a group of Nipmucs and Nipnet-connected Indians at Natick petition the General Court [29] for the grant of an allotment of 4-square miles of lands at a place called ‘Skaucoononk’, north of Worcester, as they claimed "so our posterity may not suffer want for future or want for a place to dwell in." It was allowed by the General Court with the understanding "provided it be land that is free from former grants and this land they allowed these Indians for settlement to be for them and their posterity that they shall have noe right to alienate or dispose the right to any other, whatsoever." The actual petitioners were:


Squamaug son to Sagamore John

alias Quaquduonsick


Josias potaroo


John Robin

Israel Qunnopowit

son to James Romney Marsh

Edmund son to Nussawinoo

James Printer

Samuel Nawonot

John Namashoot

Zachary Abraham

Peter Ephraim

son to Peter Ephraim deceased

Simon Patacomb

James Wizer

Job Pompoonamam

Joseph Abraham

Joshua Ashunt

Joshua Wantcomo

Peter Puttabaug

John Aquittituo

Edward David

Benjamin Boho

Deborah & Sarah being

grandchildren of Piamboho

1698 In the mid 1690’s Hassanamesit people begin leaving their ‘plantation of confinement’ at Natick; in 1698, some 5 Indian families return to the village including the family of James the Printer who had assisted publishing John Eliot’s Indian bible

1704 A portion of Indian lands at Hassanamesit is taken for a new township, Sutton and later Millbury, the remainder of Hassanamesit reserved for the exclusive use of Nipmuc Indians; this loss of Indian land is based on a deed allegedly executed in London, England in 1679 by which John Woampus claiming to be the "Sachem" of Hassanamesit "sold" an eight x ten mile parcel or some 41,560 acres along the eastern shore of Quinsigamond Lake

  1. James the Printer, of Hassanamesit, who had the attended the Indian Annex school at Harvard College & was apprenticed in 1659 to learn printing, assisting John Eliot in the translation & publication of the Indian version of Bible, publishes an Indian language psalter of the Davidic psalms and the Gospel according to John

1715 Settlers continued to express interest in the lands near Hassanamesit. For example, on Friday, 27 May, there was petition to the House of Representatives at Boston from John Brigham, Hopestill Brown and Twenty-nine others, presented to the House, praying that "the Land lying between the Towns of Marlborough, Lancaster, Worcester and Hassanamesit, may be granted to them, and made a Township." The House ordered the petition be rejected, "all the Names affixed thereto, except one being written by the same hand."

On the same day, May 27, 1715, a petition of Francis Fullam & David Livermore, both of Weston, was presented to the House, requesting permission to purchase land "containing about Six Hundred Acres, Lying on the Easterly side of the town of Oxford, of the Indian Owner thereof, called Mallalawing David, [David Munnalaw] for Reasons therein expressed."

Saturday, 28 May 1715, Capt. Noyce [Oliver Noyes], from the committee for petitions, reported to House on the petition of Francis Fulham & David Livermore, that petition be granted, "provided the Land be no Part of Land appropriated by the Government, and the Quantity exceeds not Seven Hundred Acres." [30]

June 3, there was a petition to the House from John Brigham and thirty others praying "That a tract of Land lying between Marlborough, Lancaster, Worcester and Assanomisco," be granted them for a township "Reserving to the Interest such prior Grants as are therein included." The petition was referred to next session of the House.

June 10, the House received a petition from George Momeusque [George Memischo], an "Indian, praying, That he may have Liberty to Sell a Tract of Land belonging to him, which adjoyns to the Southern Line of the Town of Worcester. And a Petition of the Inhabitants of the Town of Worcester, praying, That they may have Liberty to purchase the said Land of the said Indian. Were both severally presented to the House and Read," with no action described prior to adjournment.

June 15, a plat or map containing "the Quantity of Eight Miles Square of Land, (Four Miles Square, belonging to the Indians of Hassanamisca being part thereof) Presented to the House for Allowance and Confirmation, by the Proprietors of the Township of Sutton. And the following Vote pass’d thereon. viz. Ordered, That the Land Described and Platted on the other side, be Allowed, and Confirmed to the Proprietors of the Township of Sutton. Provided it Intrench upon no former Grant. Sent up for Concurrence." [31]

1716 June 22, there was a petition of Moses Printer "Indian," and Joshua Underwood, "…that the said Printer may have License to Sell to the said Underwood, Two Hundred Acres of his Land lying at Assanamisco." The petition was denied.. [32]

1717 Petition of Henry Flint of Cambridge "Gent. in behalf of himself and the rest of the Children of Mr. Josiah Flint, late of Dochester Clerk, Decease’d, Presented to the House and Read, Shewing that a part of a Tract of Land Granted to his Predecessors, falls within the Bounds of the Indian Plantation, called Hassenamisco, Praying that he with those concerned may have liberty to Purchase of the Indian Proprietors, so much of their said Tract, as falls within their said Plantation." This petition from Henry Flynt, Harvard’s celebrated "Tutor Flynt" was granted. [33]

1722 Dec. 7, Thomas Drury of Framingham is given permission by the General Court for acquiring land at Hassanamesit for building a mill. [34]

Dec. 14, the General Court authorizes the building a bridge on Indian land to span the ‘Blackstone’ or ‘Nipmuc River’ at Hassanamesit [35]

1723 A road is constructed connecting Hassanamesit & Sutton as English colonists begin coveting the Indian lands for farmsteads

1724 A group of residents from Malboro, Sudbury, Stow & Concord file an unsuccessful petition with the General Court, to "buy" Hassanamesit

1725 Jan. 17, Ami Printer Jr., of Hassanamesit, petitions the General Court claiming a discrepancy in military pay owed his deceased father, Ami Printer [36]

The Native community of permanent residents at Hassanamesit consists of several families: George & Christian Misco (for whom Misco Springs in Upton is named); Joshua Misco & his wife; Ami Printer & his wife; Moses Printer, his wife & 5 children; Andrew Abraham, his wife & 6 children; Peter Muckamug, his wife & child; Ami Printer Jr., his wife & 2 children; Abimelech David, his wife Abigail Abraham & child; and Peter Lawrence; this community continues social and kinship connections to Natick and other Nipmuc groups at Quinsigamond, Packachoag & Chaubunagungamaug (Dudley)

Other Natives such as members of the John and the Romneymarsh families can be located at Hassanamesit during this time period, although they were not considered permanent residents by the English

Franklin Pierce, the historian of Grafton, has left a description of the Davids, one of the Indian families living during this period at Hassanamesit:

David Munnanaw, or as it was more commonly written and pronounced Munnalaw, was an Indian of some notoriety in the Hassanamesits, previous to King Philip’s war. After this war he went to Marlborough, where he confessed he assisted in the

destruction of Medfield...At first he denied the charge; but, finding that the proof against him could not be evaded, he at length owned that he had been led away by Philip, and had assisted in the burning of Medfield.

He was, however, suffered to live without molestation. His wigwam stood on the borders of the beautiful lake...where he lived with his family many years, till the infirmities of old age came upon him. He was accustomed to repair to the neighboring orchards for the purpose of obtaining fruit. There was one tree of the fruit of which he was particularly fond, and which was accordingly his favorite place of resort. In this spot the old warrior expired. Old David Nunnanaw died at little more than 133 years since, having lived, as was supposed, nearly or quite a century of years. According to this account he must have been a young man, nearly thirty years of age, at the time of Philip’s war. In his old age his skin was very much wasted and shrivelled.

The residence of Munnanaw, when here, was in that part of Hassanamisco which is now Saundersville...Abimelech David, the reputed son of David Munnanaw, was well known in the annals of the Hassanamisco Indians. He was a well proportioned Indian. Abimelech had several daughters, among whom were Sue, Deborah, Esther, Patience, Nabby and Betty. They lived in a wretched hovel, or wigwam, under a large oak, near the dwelling-house of Mr. Warren Brigham, when in Marlborough. They had become dissolute in their habits, and were exceedingly troublesome to their neighbors; and they are remembered with very little respect or affection. [37]

1725 Ami Printer, Peter Lawrence, Joseph Comechco, Joshua Misco, Israel Romneymarsh & Joseph Romneymarsh, Indians from Hassanamesit and Hassanamesit-connected Natives among the Nipmucs serving in company of Capt. Samuel Willard during French & Indians Wars

The General Court gives permission for English families to begin negotiations with state-appointed guardians of the Hassanamesit Indians to purchase the entire reservation; there exists no record establishing that the Indians desired the sale

1728 The first of several plans allocating lands at Hassanamesit is drawn up by which the Indians are to receive cash, church pews, parcels of land to be owned individually, common lands set aside for the Indians, and a school & church to be maintained by the expense of the purchasers

On December 28, the General Court and the guardians of the Hassanemesit Indians approve the purchase of some 7,500 acres belonging to the Indians, individual Indians to receive land for homesteads and £2,500 to be accepted by the state as a fund to meet any future needs of the Hassanamesit Nipmucs

Hassanamesit people, the proprietary families from whom many of the Hassanamesit Indians of today are blood descendants, are assigned land:

The family of Moses Printer: 174 acres

The family of Ami Printer: 262 acres

The family of Andrew Abraham: 87 acres

The family of Peter Muckamug: 183 acres

The family of Abimelech David: 23 acres

The family of George Misco: 252 acres

By this sale, Hassanamesit people received a combined 985 acres of their land, some 6,515 acres of their reservation divided among English settlers.


Notes Cited Within Text

  1. For Dudley's letter, numerous editions, here from Young's Chronicles of the First Planters of Mass. Bay, p.306
  2. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay of New England, hereafter cited as Mass. Bay Records, 6 volumes in 5 vols., (Boston: William White, Printer to the Commonwealth, 1854) Vol. 2:55-56; ibid., Vol. 2: 57)
  3. Mass. Bay Records, Vol. 3: 85
  4. MS: Mass. Archives: 30:146
  5. Mass. Bay Records, Vol. 4: Part II: 465
  6. Frederick L. Weis, "The New England Company of 1649 and its Missionary Enterprises," Transactions of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts: XXXVIII, 1947-1951:192
  7. An Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England in the Years 1675, 1676, 1677:," Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society, 2 vols. (New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1971) 2: 440, 441, 447
  8. MS Mass. Archives: 30: 169
  9. MS Mass. Archives: 30:201a
  10. September 16, 1676, see Shurtleff, ed., Mass. Bay Records, IV, 115
  11. "Memorandum of Indian Children, with Sagamore George, Bound Aug. 10, 1676 Out Until 20 Years Old," in Colonial Society of Mass. Proceedings, 19 (1916-1917) 25-28
  12. From the record book of John Hull, Mass. Bay Treasurer during the conflict, first reproduced in George M. Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip's War [shortened title], (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1906) 479-480
  13. For example, in November 1676, it was ordered that Mary Nemasit and child held in prison as captives be released and delivered to her husband, John Nemasit. According to Daniel Gookin, Mary Nemasit had been promised life and liberty by Major John Waldron but was sent in error to Boston, Waldron acknowledging the mistake, see Mass. Archives, 30:228, 228a. In a second example, an Indian named Nishacow petitioned for the release of Peter, a young man held imprisoned; Nishacow asked that Peter be allowed to return to his master John Kinsely of Milton or that his relatives have an opportunity to purchase him - see Mass. Archives, 30: 229, dated 1676, presumably summer or later in the year.
  14. John Noble, ed., Records of the Court of Assistants of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay 1630-1693, hereafter cited as Records Court of Assistants, 3 vols., (Boston: Suffolk County, 1901-1928), I, 86-87, November 1677, William Waldron and his partner Henry Haughton were presented in a complaint that they did "unlawfully surprize & steale away seventeen Indians men women & children in your vessel called the endeavour of Boston & sent them away." Both Waldron and Haughton were found not guilty but to pay a £10 fine.
  15. Mass. Archives, 30: 200, for Fairbanks petition of Apr. 19, 1676; ibid., 30:223a, for petition Oct. 12, 1676 from Josiah Winslow; ibid., 30:220, for petition of John Danforth; ibid., 30:234-234a for Thaxter petition of Jan. 11, 1677
  16. Mass. Archives, 30: 244, Speers petition of March 11, 1679.
  17. Entries by Rev. John Eliot, Roxbury Church Records, 194-195
  18. Ibid.
  19. John Eliot, "A Petition from Rev. John Eliot against selling Indians for slaves," in New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 6 (1852), 297
  20. Order of May 24, 1677, see Shurtleff, Mass. Bay Records, vol. 4:136-137..
  21. Mass. Bay Records, vol. 5: 315
  22. MS Mass. Archives: 30: 257
  23. MS: Mass. Archives: 30:260a
  24. MS: Mass. Archives: 20: 259a
  25. Mass. Bay Records, vol.5: 328-29
  26. Mass. Bay Records, vol. 5: 341-42
  27. Mass. Bay Records, vol.5: 342-43
  28. Mass. Bay Records, vol. 5: 362-364
  29. .MS: Mass. Archives: 30: 287
  30. Massachusetts General Court, House of Representatives, Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts 1715-1790, hereafter cited as House Journals,. 55 vols. (Boston: Mass. Historical Society, 1919---) vol. 1: 1715-1717, 4-5
  31. House Journals, vol. 1: 1715-1717, 15, 28, 40-41
  32. House Journals, vol. 1: 1715-1717, 144
  33. House Journals, vol. 1: 1715-1717, 199
  34. Massachusetts General Court, Council, The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 1682-1789, hereafter cited as Acts & Resolves, 21 vols. (Boston: William White, 1869-1922) 10: 1722: Chapter 231
  35. Acts & Resolves: 10: 1722: Chapter 288
  36. Acts & Resolves: 10: 1720-1726, 1725/26: Chapter 475
  37. Pierce, History of Grafton, Worcester County, Massachusetts: pp.26-27


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