Oliver N Bacon.

A history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 18 of 22)
Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 22)
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brickes and tiles for the building of our houses. For stone here is
plentie of slates at the Isle of Slate in Masathulets Bay, and lime-
stone, freestone and smooth-stone, and iron-stone, and marble-stone
also in such store that we have great rocks of it, and a harbour hard
by. Our plantation is from thence called Marble Harbour.

Of minerals there hath yet been but little triall made, yet we are
not without great hope of being furnished in that soyle.

The fertilitie of the soyle is to be admired at, as appeareth in the
aboundance of grasse that groweth everie where, both veric thieke,
veric long, and verie high, in divers places. But it groweth verie
wildly, with a great stalkc and a broad ranker blade, but it never had
been eaten with cattle, nor mowed with a sythe, and seldome
trampled on by foot. It is scarce to bee believed how our kine and
goates, horses and hogges doe thrive and prosper here, and like well
of this countrey.

In our plantation we have already a quart of milke for a penny ;
but the abundant encrease of corne proves this countrey to bee a
wonderment. Thirtie, fortie, fiftie, sixtie, are ordinarie here. Yea,
Joseph's encrease in ^gyp*" is outstript here with us. Our planter8
hope to have more than a hundred fould this yere ; and all this
while I am within compasse ; what will you say of two hundred
fould and upwards ? It is almost incredible what great gaine some
of our English planters have had by our Indiane corne. Credible
persons have assured me, and the partie himselfe avouched the truth
of it to me, that of the setting of 13 gallons of corne hee hath had
increase of it 52 hogsheads, every hogshead holding seven bushels


of London measure, and every bushell was by him sold and trusted
to the Indians for so much beaver as was worth 13 shillings ; and so
of this 13 gallons of corne, which was worth 6 shillings 8 pence, he
made about 327 pounds of it the yeere following, as by reckoning
will appeare ; where you may see how God blessed husbandy in this
land. There is not such greate and plentifull eares of corne, I sup-
pose, any where else to bee found but in this countrey. Because
also of varletie of colours, as red, blew, and yellow, &c., and of one
corne there springeth four or five hundred. I have sent you many
eares of divers colours, that you may see the truth of it. Little
children here, by setting of corne, may earne much more than their
owne maintenance.

They have tryed our English corne at New Plimmouth plantation,
so that all our several grains will grow here verie well, and have a
fitting soyle for their nature.

Our Governor hath store of greene pease growing in his garden
as good as ever I eat in England.

This countrey aboundeth naturally with store of roots of great
varietie and good to eat. Our turnips, parsnips, and carrots, are
here both bigger and sweeter than is ordinary to be found in Eng-
land. Here are store of pumpions, cowcombers, and other things
of that nature which I know not. Also divers excellent pot-herbs
grow abundantly among the grasse, as strawberrie leaves in all places
in the countrey, and plentie of strawberries in their time, and penny-
royall, wintersaverie, sorrell, brookeline, liverwort, camell, and water
cresses ; also leekes and onions are ordinarie, and divers physical!
herbs. Here are also abundance of other sweet herbs delightful to
the smell, whose names we know not, &;c., and plentie of single
damask roses, verie sweete ; and two kinds of herbes that bare two
kinds of flowers very sweet, which they say are as good to make
cordage or cloath as any hempe or fiaxe we have. Excellent vines
are here up and downe in the woods. Our Governor hath already
planted a vineyard with great hope of increase.

Also, mulberries, plums, raspberries, corrance, chestnuts, filberds,
walnuts, smalnuts, hurtleberries, and leaves of whitethorne neere
grow in plentie here.

For wood there is no better in the world, I think, here being found
sorts of oke differing both in the leafe, timber, and colour, all excel-
lent good. There is also good ash, clme, willow, birch, beech, saxa-


fras, jumper, cipres, cedar, spruce, pines, and firre that will yeeld
abundance of turpentine, pitch, tarre, masts, and other materials for
building both of ships and houses. Also, here are store of sumacke
trees — they are good for dying and tanning of leather ; likewise
such trees yeeld a precious gum called wine benjamin, that they say
is excellent for perfumes. Also, here be divers roots and berries
wherewith the Indians dye excellent holding colours that no raine
nor washing can alter. Also, wee have materials to make sope —
ashes and salt-peter in aboundance.

For beasts there are some beares, and they say some lyons, also,
for they have been seen at Cape Anne, Also, here are several
sorts of deere, some whereof bing three or four young ones at
once, which is not ordinarie in England. Also, wolves, foxes, beavers,
otters, martins, great wild cats, and a great beast called a molke, as
bisise as an oxe. I have seen the skins of all these beasts since I
came to this place taken excepting the lyons. Also, here are great
store of squirrels, some greater and some smaller and lesser ; there
are some of the lesser sort, they tell me, that by a certaine skill will
fly from tree to tree, though they stand farre distant.

Of the Waters of New England, loith the things belonging to the


New England hath water enough, both salt and fresh — the great-
est sea in the world, the Atlanticke Sea, runs all along the coast
thereof. There are abundance of islands along the shore, some full
of wood and masts, to feed swine ; and others cleere of wood, and
fruitful to bear corne. Also, wee have store of excellent harbours
for ships, as at Cape Anne, and at Masathulets Bay, and at Salem,
and at many other places ; and they are the better because for
strangers there is a verie difficult and dangerous passage into them,
but unto such as are well acquainted with them they are easie and
safe enough. The aboundance of sea fish are almost beyond beleeving,
and sure I should scarce have beleeved it except I had scene it with
mine own eyes. I saw great store of whales, and crampusse, and
such aboundance of mackerils that it would astonish one to behold ;
likewise codfish in aboundance, on the coast, and in their season are
plentifully taken. There is a fish called a basse, a most sweet and


wholesome fish as ever I did eate ; it is altogether as good as our
fresh sammon, and the season of their comming was begun when wee
came first to New England in June, and so continued about three
months space. Of this fish our fishers take many hundreds together
which I have seen lying on the shore to my admiration ; yea, their
nets ordinarily take more than they are able to hale to land, and for
want of boats and men they are constrained to let a many goe after
they have taken them, and yet sometimes they fill two boates at a
time with them. And besides basse wee take plentie scate and
thornbacks, and abundance of lobsters, and the leest boy in the
plantation may both catch and eat what he will of them. For my
owne parte, I was soone cloyed with them, they were so great, and
fat, and lussious. I have scene some myselfe that have weighed 16
pound, but others have had, divers times, so great lobsters as have
weighed 25 pounds, as they assure raee. Also, heere is abundance
of herring, turbent, sturgion, cuskes, hadocks, mullets, eeles, crabbes,
muskles, and oysters. Besides, there is probability that the coun-
trey is of an excellent temper for the making of salt. For since
our comming our fishermen have brought home very good salt, which
they found candied, by the standing of the sea water and the heat
of the sunne, upon a rock by the sea shore ; and in divers salt
marshes that some have gone through, they have found some salt in
some places crushing under their feete and cleaving to their shooes.

And as for fresh water, the countrey is full of dainty springs, and
some great rivers, and some lesser brookes ; and at Masathulets Bay
they digged wcls and found water at three foot deepe in most places.
And neere Salem they have as fine cleere waiter as we can desire,
and we may digge wels and find water where we list.

Thus- we see both land and sea abound with store of blessings for
the comfortable sustenance of man's life in New England.

Of the Aire of Neio England, with the Temper and Creatures

in it.

The temper of the aire of New England is one speciall thing that
commends this place. Experience doth manifest that there is hardly
a more healthfull place to be found in the world that agreeth better
with our EngUsh bodyes. Many have been weake and sickly in Old



England, by comming hither have beene thoroughly healed and growne
healthfull strong. For here is an extraordinarie cleere and dry aire,
that is of a most healing nature to all such as are of a cold melan*
choly, flegmatick, rheumatick temper of body. None can more
truly spcake hereof by their owne experience than myselfe. My
friends that knew me can well tell how verie sickly I have bin, and
continually in physick, being much troubled with a tormenting paine
through an extraordinarie weaknesse of my stomackc, and aboundance
of melancholicke humors ; but since I came hither on this voyage?
I thanke God, I have had perfect health and freed from paine and
vomiting, having a stomacke to digest the hardest and coarsest fare?
who before could not eat finest meat ; and whereas my stomacke
could onley digest and did require such drinke as was both strong and
stale, now I can and doe often times drink New England water verie
well ; and I that have not gone without a cap for many yeeres
together, neither durst leave oif the same, have now cast away my
cap, and doe weare none at all in the day time. And whereas
before time I cloathed myselfe with double deaths and thick waist-
coates to keep me warme, even in the summer time, I doe now goe
as thin clad as any, onley wearing a light stuffe cassocke upon my
shirt, and stuffe breeches of one thickness without linings. Besides,
I have one of my children that was formerly most lamentably
handled with sore breaking out of both his hands and feet of the
king's evill, but since he came hither hee is very well ever he was,
and there is hope of perfect recoverie shortly even by the very
wholesoranesse of the aire, altering, digesting, and drying up the
cold and crude humours of the body. And therefore I think it is a
wise course for al cold complections to come to take physick in New
England, for a sup of New England's aire is better than a whole
draught of Old England's ale.

In the summer time, in the midst of July and August, it is a good
deale hotter than in Old England ; and in winter, January and Feb-
ruary are much colder, as they say. But the spring and autumne
are of a middle temper.

Fowles of the aire are plentiful! here, and of all sorts as we have
in England as farre as I can learn, and a great many of strange
fowles which we know not. Whilst I was writing these things one
our men brought home an eagle which hee had killed in the wood.
They say they are good meate. Also, here are many kinds of excel-


en t hawkes, both sea hawkes and land hawkes. And myself -walking
in the woods with another in company sprung a partridge so bigge that
through the heaviness of his body could fly but a little way. They
that have killed them say they are as bigge as our hens. Here are
likewise aboundance of turkies often killed in the woods, farre greater
than our English turkies, and exceeding fat, sweet, and fleshy, for here
they have aboundance of feeding all the yeere long, as strawberries ;
in summer al places are full of them, and all manner of berries and
fruits. In the winter time I have scene flockes of pidgeons, and have
eaten of them. They doe fly from tree to tree as other birds doe,
which our pidgeons will not doe in England. They are of all colours
as ours are, but their wings and tayles are far larger, and therefore
it is likely they fly swifter to escape the terrible hawkes in this coun-
trey. In winter time this country doth abound with wild geese,
wild ducks, and other sea fowle, that a great part of winter the plant-
ers have eaten nothing but roast meate of divers fowles which they
have killed.

Thus you have heard of the earth, water, and aire of New Eng-
land ; now it may bee you expect something to bee said of the fire
proportionable to the rest of the elements. Indeede, I thinke New
England may boast of this element more than all the rest. For
though it bee here somewhat cold in the winter, yet here we have
plenty of fire to warm us, and that a great deal cheaper than they
sel billets and faggots in London. Nay, all Europe is not able to
afford to make so great fires as New England. A poore servant
here that is to possesse but 50 acres of land, may afibrd to give
more wood for timber and fire, as good as the world yeelds, than
many noblemen in England can afford to do. Here is good living
for those that love good fires. And although New England have no
tallow to make candles of, yet by the aboundance of the fish thereof
it can afford oil for lampes. Yea, our pine trees, that are the most
plentifull of all wood, doth allow us plenty of candles, which are very
usefull in a house. And they are such candles as the Indians com-
monly use, having no other, and they are nothing else but the
wood of the pine tree cloven in two little shces, something thin,
which are so full of the moysture of turpentine and pitch that they
burn as cleere as a torch. I have sent you some of them that you
may see the experience of them.

Thus of New England's commodities ; now I will tell you of some
discommodities that are here to be found.


First, in the summer season for these three months, June, July,
and August, we are troubled much with little flyes, called muske-
toes, being the same they are troubled with in Lincolneshire and the
Fens ; and they are nothing but gnats, which except they bee
smoked out of their houses are troublesome in the night season.

Secondly, in the winter season for two months space, the earth is
commonly covered with snow, which is accompanied with sharp
biting frosts, something more sharpe than is in Old England, and
therefore are forced to make great fires.

Thirdly, the countrey being very full of woods and wildernesses,
doth also much abound with snakes and serpents of strange colours
and huge greatnesse ; yea, there are some serpents, called rattle-
snakes, that have rattles in their tails, that will not fly from a man
as others will, but will flye upon him, and sting him so mortally that
hee will dye within a quarter of an houre after, except the partie
stinged have about him some of the root of an herbe called snake-
weed to bite on, and then hee shall receive no harme ; but yet seldom
falles it out that any hurt is done by these. About three years
since an Indian was stung to death by one of them, but we heard of
none since that time.

Fourthly, and lastly, here wants, as it were, good company of
honest Christians to bring with them horses, kine, and sheepe, to
make use of this fruitfuU land ; great pitty it is to see so much good
ground for corne and for grasse as any under the heavens, to ly
altogether unoccupied when so many honest men and their families
in Old England, through the populousnesse thereof, do make very
hard shift to live one by the other.

Now, thus you know what New England is, as also with the com-
modities and discommodities thereof. Now I will shew you a little
of the inhabitants thereof and their government.

For their governors they have kings, which they call Saggamores,
some greater, and some lesser, according to the number of their sub-
jects. The greatest Saggamores about us can not make above three
hundred men, and other lesse Saggamores have not above fifteen
subjects, and others neere about us but two.

Their subjects above twelve years since were swept away by a
great and grievous plague that was amongst them, so that there are
verie few left to inhabite the country.

The Indians are not able to make use of the one-fourth part of


the land, neither have they any settled places, as townes, to dwell
in, nor any ground as they challenge for their own possession, but
change their habitation from place to place.

For their statures, they are a tall and strong limmed people, their
colours are tawney, they goe naked, save onley they are in part
covered with beasts' skins on one of their shouleers, and weare some-
thing before ; their haire is generally blacke, and cut before like
gentle-women, and one locke longer than the rest, much like to our
gentel-men, which fashion I think came from hence into England.

For their weapons they have bowes and arrowes, some of them
headed with bone, and some of them with brasse. I have sent you
some of them for an example.

The men for the most part live idley ; they do nothing but hunt and
fish. Their wives set their come and doe all their other worke.
They have little houshold stuffe, as a kettle, and some other vessels
like trayes, spoones, dishes, and baskets.

Their houses are verie little and homely, being made with small
poles pricked into the ground, and so bended and fastened at tho
tops, and on the sides they are matted Avith boughs and covered on
the roof with sedge and old mats ; and for their beds that they tako
their rest on, they have a mat.

They doe generally professe to like well of our coming and plant-
ing here ; partly because there is abundance of ground that they
cannot possesse nor make use of, and partly because our being here
will bee a meanes both of reUef to them when they want, and also
a defence from their enemies, wherewith (I say) before this plan-
tation began they were often indangered.

For their religion they do worship two Gods, a good God and an
evil God. The good God they call Tantum, and their evil God,
whom they fear will doe them hurt, they call Squantum.

For their dealing with us, we neither fear them nor trust them,
for fourtie of our musketeeres will drive five hundred of them out
of the field. We use them kindly ; they will come into our houses
sometimes by half a dozen or half a score at a time when we are at
victuals, but will ask or take nothing but what we give them.

We purpose to learn their language as soon as we can, which will
be ft means to do them good.



Of the Present Condition of the Plantation^ and ivJiat it is.

When we came first to Nehum-kek we found about half a score
houses, and a faire house newly built for the Governor ; we found also
aboundance of corne planted by them, very good and well liking.
And we brought with us about two hundred passengers and planters
more, which by common consent of the old planters were all com-
bined together into one body politicke, under the same Governour.

There are in all of us, both old and new planters, about three
hundred, whereof two hundred of them are settled at Nehum-kek,
now called Salem. And the rest have planted themselves at Masa.
thulets Bay, beginning to build a towne there which wee do call
Cherton, or Charles Town.

We that are settled at Salem make what haste we can to build
houses, so that within a short time we shall have a faire towne.

We have great ordnance, wherewith we doubt not but we shall
fortifie ourselves in a short time to keep out a potent adversary.
But that which is our greatest comfort, and meanes of defence above
all other, is, that we have here the true religion and holy ordinances
of Almighty God taught amongst us. Thankes be to God, wee have
here plenty of preaching, and diligent catechizing, with strict and
carefull exercise, and good and commendable orders to bring our
people into a Christian conversation with whom we have to doe with-
all. And thus we doubt not but God will be with us, and if Cfod
he with uSf who can be against us ?

A Letter sent from New England by Master Graves, Engynere,
nozo there resident.

Thus much I can affirme in generall, that I never came in a more
goodly country in all my life, all things considered. If it hath not
at any time been manured and husbanded, yet it is very beautifuU in
open lands mixed with goodly woods, and again open plains, in some
places five hundred acres, some places more, some lesse ; not much
troublesome for to clear for the plough to goe in, no place barren,
but on the tops of the hills the grasse and weeds grow up to a man's
face ; in the lowlands and by fresh rivers aboundance of grasse and


large meddows, without any tree or shrub to hinder the sith. I
never saw, except in Hungaria, unto which I always paralell this
countrie, in all our most respects, for every thing that is heare
eyther sowne or planted prospereth far better than in Old England.
The increase of corne is here farre beyond expectation, as I have
scene here by experience in barly, the which because it is so much
above your conception I will not mention. And cattle doe prosper
very well, and those that are bredd here farr greater than those
with you in England. Vines doe grow here plentifully laden with
the biggest grapes that ever I saw, some I have seen foure inches
about, so that I am bold to say of this countrie, as it is commonly
said in Germany of Hungaria, that for cattel, corne, and wine, it
excelleth. We have many more hopefull commodities here in this
country, the which time will teach to make good use of. In the
mean time we abound with such things which next under God doe
make us subsist — as fish, fowle, deere, and sundrie sorts of fruits,
as musk-milUons, water-millions, Indian pompions, Indian pease,
beanes, and many other odde fruits that I cannot name — all which
are made good and pleasant through this maine blessing of God, the
healthfulnesse of the countrie which far exceedeth all parts that
ever I have been in. It is observed that few or none doe here fall
sicke, unless of the scurvy, that they bring from aboard the shin
with them, whereof I have cured some of my companie on.



The invention of the Cherokee alphabet is one of the most
remarkable events in the history of the aborigines. The best
account we have seen of it is by Samuel L. Knapp, 'who was
acquainted with its author. The English name of the celebrated
Indian was George Guess. He is said to have been a half-breed,
but whether he was so or not he never associated with the whites,
or spoke any language but that of the Cherokees. Prompted by
his own curiosity and urged by several friends, Mr. Knapp applied
to Seequayah through the medium of two interpreters, one a half
blood, Capt. Rodgers, and the other a full-blood chief, whose assumed
English name was John Maw, to relate to him, as minutely as possi.
ble, the mental operations and all the facts in his discovery. He
cherfully complied with the request, and gave very deliberate and
satisfactory answers to every question, and was at the same time
careful to know from the interpreters if Mr. Knapp distinctly under,
stood his answers. No Stoic could have been more grave in his
demeanor than was Seequayah. He pondered, according to the
Indian custom, for a considerable time after each question before he
made his reply, and often took a whiff of his calumet while reflecting
on his answer. The substance of his communications to Mr. Knapp
was as follows. That he, Seequayah, was now about sixty-five years
old, that in early life he was gay and talkative, and although he
never attempted to speak in council but once, yet was often, from the
strength of his memory, his easy colloquial powers, and ready com-
mand of his vernacular, story-teller of the convivial party. His
reputation for talents of every kind gave him some distinction when
he was quite young. In the St. Clair defeat, or some one that soon
followed it, a letter was found on the person of the prisoner, which
was wrongly read by him to the Indians. In some of their delibera-
tions on this subject, the question arose among them whether this
mysterious power of the talking leaf, as the printed page was called,
was the gift of the Great Spirit to the white man, or a discovery of
the white man himself. Most of his companions were of the former


opinion, while he as strenuously maintained the latter. This fro
quently became a subject of contemplation with him afterwards, as

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Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 22)