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 2 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 2 of 22)
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to be delivered, is prompt and ready to interpret and communicate to
us in our own language, which practice, as we understand, is approved
in Scripture in the primitive times, as in 1 Cor. 14 : 27, 28, that if
one speak in an unknown tongue another should interpret. Unto
this lecture many English men and women of the neighborhood do
resort, who, by their example and communion with us in the worship
of God, it tendeth (as is evident) to promote not only religion, but
civility amongst us. Therefore, dear sir, our humble request unto
you is, that you will improve your best interest with and in the
Right Hon'ble ye Gov. & Corporation for Propagating the Gospel in
America, residmg at London, that they would please to write
eflfectually unto their Commissioners in New England, to incourage


this our worthy minister, Mr. Gookin, to persevere in his labors
among us. We understand he meets with some discouragement,
and the reason -whereof is because he does not yet preach in the
Indian language, which probably in a little more time afterward he
will obtain ; but we incline to believe that ye way whom he now
exercises may and will promote the work as much, because now the
English Christians are present and communicate with us in God's
worship, which puts a great lustre and beauty on our meeting and
tendeth to Instruct us (especially young ones,) to learn the English
language, and to carry it with a more grave deportment, in ye holy
worship of God, for you know our great poverty, especially since the
wars, that we are not able to give Mr. Gookin encouragement by any
allowance yearly, and as we heard the commissioners allow him but
10 lb. ye annum. But we hope ye most Noble, pious and worthy
patriots in England, of whose goodness and beneficence we have
often tasted, and which with all thankfulness, both to God and men
we acknowledge, will incourage the work as well as others, which we
believe will not be the least means to propagate religion and civility
among the Indians. So with our humble duty and service pre-
sented, we remain,

Your most loving and assured friends.
Old Waban, his mark, +• John Magoom,

Daniel Takawampait. Thomas Tray, his mark, -j-.

Nataniel. Nemiah, his mark, +•

Old Mounout, his mark, -{ . John Moqunk, his mark, -f .

Old Nossounomus, his mark, +• Old Jethro, his mark, +.
Weld AN Huhateu. Old Maquin, his mark, S- "

John Awagguin, his mark, -}-. Jamo.

Simon Betaghoun. Thomas Waban.

Natick, March 19, 1083-4. ''

We need not apologize to our readers for the insertion of the
above. It conveys at once the true idea of the Indian meetings,
and their own feelings towards Mr. Eliot and his associates. It
draws a picture more vividly than could be done in any other way, of
the extent of the early efforts to convert the Indians, and the manner
in which they were applied to their object.

The most interesting relic of aboriginal America in town is a copy
of Eliot's Bible in the Indian language. Many interesting associa-


tions cluster around this relic of the past. A few copies of it only
are now extant : one in the college library at Cambridge, and one
in the Mission house in Boston, are all known to the author. Some
public-spirited individuals purchased this copy from the library of
Hon. John Pickering ; and the ceremony of its presentation to the
town took place in the Town Hall on the two hundredth anniversary
of Eliot's first visit to the Indians at ISTonantum, Oct. 28, 1846, the
nominal not the actual day. The hall was crowded with the inhabi-
tants of the town, and the only lineal descendant of the Natick
tribe, a girl about sixteen years of age, occupied a central seat at the
table, and was the chief object of attention during the evening.

Rev. Samuel Hunt, pastor of the First Congregational Church, pre-
sided at the meeting, and commenced the exercises with the following
address :

^''Ladies and Ctentlemen : — That this is an occasion of more than
ordinary interest I need not assert. The evidence is here, in the
numbers which have come up to this place, notwithstanding the unfa-
vorableness of the weather, to participate in the enjoyment of this
social gathering ; in this venerable volume, around which cluster the
associations of an age without a parallel in the history of the wo^d,
for the depth and spirituality of its piety, the earnestness of its
high endeavor, and its heroic daring and fortitude in the cause of
humanity and truth ; in the object before us, the procurement of this
Bible to be deposited in the archives of the town, not only as a relic
of former days, but as a link binding the future to the past.

And yet I am by no means unaware that there are those who do
not appreciate this interest, nor sympathize in the feelings that have
brought us together. I know there are not wanting those who will
inquire, ' Of what use is all this expenditure of time, money, and
labor ? Of what value even is the volume itself which we propose
to procure ? It is not only written in a language which we do not
understand, but in the barbarous dialect of a tongue that is never to
be spoken again ; of a people which has already ceased to exist,
except this one poor Indian girl, the orphan daughter of a
departed race, reminding us most impressively by her presence of
the dead that are gone and the people that are never to return.'
True, the Bible we have purchased is written in the language of a
race which has melted away before the advancing light and warmth


of civilization, as the snow before the ascending sun. Its term-
inology is indeed barbarous and uncouth. Its words are long
and unpronounceable. And yet is it so certain it will prove a useless
possession ? Can you conceive of no advantages connected with this
dark and antique volume as it is lodged with the papers of the town ?
Is there nothing in the hallowed associations that linger around its
venerable form, that is calculated to make us better ? Is there no
eloquence even in its mute but expressive silence, that shall make us
wiser in the stern but useful lessons of truth, piety, and an earnest
self-sacrifice for the good of men ? Have we become so brutal, so
under the control of our mere animal instincts, that we can attach no
value to anything except as it shall supply our physical necessities,
and gratify our pride, our love of pleasure, or our desire of wealth ?
Can we be moved by nothing but what is material ?

' Far be from me and my friends, ' says the great English
moralist, ' such cold and frigid philosophy as may conduct us
unmoved and indifferent over any field that may have been dignified by
wisdom, patriotism and valor. That man is little to be envied, whose
patriotism would not gather force on the plains of ISIarathon, or
whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of lona.'
I^or has such frigid philosophy prevailed to any great extent among
men, even in the most barbarous periods of the world's history.

It has ever been understood that men have sympathies, that they
are susceptible to emotion, and that they can be most deeply aflfected
by Avell-directed appeals to their sensibilities. Even the savage trusts
not alone to his mere brute force, his power of endurance and his
wondrous skill in the arts of the war. He knows that, however well
endowed in these respects, there needs to be the energy of feeling
to give them greater efficiency. He would have the passions
aroused ; and the terrible warwhoop, as it rings through the forest,
stirs up his dark and bloody nature, and nerves his arm with greater
strength in his fearful work of death.

You remember that when Lord Nelson had arranged his ships in
line of battle at Trafalgar, and all was in readiness for the dreadful
onset, he ran up that signal which all could see, and which will never
be forgotten, ' England expects every man to do his duty.' That
silent appeal to his patriotism waked up the energies of every man, and
gave England one of her greatest victories.

Peter the Hermit, even amid the darkness of the Middle Ages, by


a well-directed appecal to the enthusiasm of the masses, kiiidled|a
flame that almost depopulated Europe in their burning desire to
rescue the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the Infidels.

And shall Christians, we who live in the nineteenth century in the
heart of New England, almost Avithin sight of Plymouth rock, and
almost within hearing of the surges that mingled their voices with
the prayers and praises of the Pilgrims themselves, — shall we show
ourselves more brutal in our feelings, and more destitute of sensibility ?
Shall we who dwell among the scenes consecrated by the toils, the
prayers, and the faith of Eliot, — who live on the very hills and
plains, and by the sides of the beautiful streams and lakes where
dwelt his rude but "praying Indians," — shall we sit down and
coolly calculate in dollars and cents, the value of this volume on
which he spent so many dark years of discouragement and toil ?

Have we no philanthropy to gather force and piety, to grow
warmer as our eyes gaze upon this relic of a former age ? I trust
we have. And let us take this volume which a kind Providence has
placed within our reach, and while we would not look upon it with
any superstitious veneration, let us regard it as it is, an imperishable
record of the good attempted by man for man, a precious witness
that while our fathers were laying the foundation for their own civil
and religious welfare, they did not forget the poor Indian in his dark-
ness and sorrow. And more than this, while we thus express our
grateful remembrance of their ancestral virtues, let us strive to
emulate, and by their good deeds and self-denying sacrifices for the
good of man, make apparent that we are most worthy descendants
of those we now delight to honor. The tribe of Natick is indeed
extinct, but there are other Indians within our borders, there arc
other pagans for whom we should care. For their good let us labor,
and stimulated by so noble an example in their behalf, let us, like
Eliot, be willing to endure hardship as good soldiers of the cross."

Two incidents in the life of EUot in this connection will occupy all
the space we can allow to a description of his efforts.

In 1661 he completed his translation of the New Testament, and
presented it to his Indians.

Let us take the Bible now in the archives of the town, go and
stand by the banks of the Charles, clear them in imagination of the
houses, shops and mills ; trace, instead of the wide gravelled roads, the


three long narrow streets of the ancient town ; let the bittern rise
again from her invaded haunt, the tortoise slide sidelong from the log
on which he was sunning himself. Amid all this stillness of Nature
see Eliot place in the hands of an Indian boy the Testament, and
watch the varying emotions which beam across his face, as the tones
of the young savage's voice, playing with the rugged words of the
unpronounceable language, strike his ear. Such is not an imaginary
scene, and such emotions were Eliot's only reward for his disinterested

Eliot, after learning the Indian language, lectured in Indian to an
audience at Cambridge at the annual meeting of the Synod. A
large assemblage of Indians came to hear him. They gave strict
attention to the word, and propounded various questions. Many at
that time were added to his praying Indians.

An anecdote is told, illustrative of the benevolence of Eliot's
character and of his care for the poor :

So great was his charity that his salary was often distributed for the
relief of his needy neighbors so soon after the period at which he
received it, that before another period arrived his own family were
straitened for the comforts of life. One day the parish treasurer, on
paying him the money for salary due, which he put into a handker-
chief, in order to prevent Mr. E. from giving away liis money before
he got home, tied the ends of the handkerchief into as many hard
knots as he could. The good man received his handkerchief and
took leave of the treasurer. He immediately went to the house of a
sick and necessitous family. On entering he gave them his blessing,
and told them God had sent them some relief. The sufferers with
tears of gratitude welcomed their benefactor, who with moistened
eyes began to untie the knots in his handkerchief. After many
efforts to get at his money, and impatient at the delay and perplexity,
he threw the handkerchief, money and all, into the lap of the mother,
saying he believed the Lord meant they should have the whole of it.

A son of Eliot was the first minister of Newton ; his abilities and
occupation in the ministry are said to be preeminent. Under the
direction of his father he obtained considerable proficiency in the
Indian language, and was an assistant to him as a missionary until
he settled at Newton.


Natick Indians. Number at Dipfeuent Pekiods, Oppression by the
Whites. Eliot Monument. Historical Items. Extracts erom Rec-
ords OF the Town. Dea. Ephraim, Sassamon, Takaavampait, Waban.
Anecdotes of Indians. Bi-Centennial Celebration.

. There was, as is very well known, never any separate tribe called
the Natick Indians, or the Naticks. They were mostly of the
Massachusetts tribe, and resided in different parts of Natick and
Sherborn, on the borders of Farm Pond, in Concord, and at Nonan-
tum ; and the settlement at Natick was caused by their desire to
hear the the Gospel and cultivate their lands undisturbed by the
English. They had no tools or skill, no fences to their grounds, and
their corn was spoiled by the English cattle ; and the English refused
to pay for it because their lands were unfenced.

It was necessary for them therefore to be in a settlement by
themselves, anc^ for that purpose Natick was chosen, as well as for the
purpose of establishing a church as before described.

Thus assembled at Natick, they were, at different periods of their
history, comparatively numerous.

"VVe have it from tradition, that about the year 1700, three
hundred Indians paraded near the present site of the Town llall,
at an Indian training. In 1677, two hundred of the Natick war-
riors were sent with a party of English to fight the Indians at
the eastward. In the year 1758 there were at Natick twenty-five
families, besides several individuals. In 1678 there were two hundred
and twelve praying Indians at Natick. From 1754 to 1760 many
of them were in the military service. While at the Lakes they
caught a mortal disease, of which many of them died ; in one year
(1759) no less than twenty-three. In the year 1763, according to
the census then taken, there were thirty-seven only in town (wander-
ing Indians not included.) In 1792 the Indians of Natick were
reduced to one family of five persons.

There is now (1855) only one descendant of the Indians left in


" Alas ! for tliem, tlieii- day is o'er ;
Their fii'es are out on liiE and shore ;
For them no more the wild deer bounds,
The plough is on theii- hunting grounds ;
The pale man's axe rings thi'ough their woods,
The pale man's bark skims o'er their floods,
Their pleasant springs are diy."

The two events -which contributed more than all others to destroy
the good understanding existing between the English and Indians at
Natick, and to hasten their extinction as a praying town, were King
Philip's war and the death of Eliot.

No combination of Indians so powerful, and apparently so resolved
on extermination of the whites, had ever before been effected. The
Pequods had been suppressed, and from that time New England had
been free from the fear of the hatchet and the tomahawk. The fear
of surprise and massacre was such, that it was seriously proposed in
General Court to build a wall eight feet high, to extend the whole
distance from the Charles River to Concord, for the protection of
Middlesex and Essex Counties, that the people might be securely
" environed from the rage and fury of the savages." It is no wonder
that at the first breaking out of this war the praying Indians should
be looked upon with distrust ; but the harsh measures adopted can
hardly be justified.

Representations were soon made to the Governor that the " pray-
ing Indians " of Natick and Marlborough were treacherously dis-
posed, and a force was despatched to convey them to Boston. The
company, under the command of Captain Moosely, reached Marl-
borough in the night, and early in the morning, before the Indians
had any suspicion of their design, surronj;ided their fort, seized on
their arms, and obliged them to surrender. They made no resist-
ance, were taken into the custody of the soldiers, their hands tied
behind them, and connected by a cart rope, were driven down to
Boston, in company of the Indians of Natick, thence hurried down to
Deer Island. Mr. Eliot, then over seventy years of age, met them
at " The Pines," * and endeavored to console them. The founda-
tion of this harsh treatment was the conduct of the Springfield
Indians, in the destruction of Westfield, Hadley, and other places,
in 1675.

* The Pines were near where the U. S. Arsenal is situated in Watertown.


The property still remaining, which belongs to the Indians of Natick,
is in the hands of a guardian appointed by the State, as is all other
property belonging to Indians in Massachusetts. The grovelling Dutch-
man and half besotted Irish can control his own, under the protection of
law ; the crushed and broken-hearted red man is disfranchised, and
his existence ignored by his conqueror and lord.

We gaze on the grave-stone of Takawampait, on the implements
they have left behind, the arrow, the pestle and the hatchet, while
the time-worn volume lies unread in the archives of the town.
Sometimes —

"lu the gay and noisy street
Of the great village which usiuids the place
Of the small Indian hamlet, we may see
Some miserable relic of that race,
Whose sorely tarnished fortunes have been told.
Yet how debased and fallen ! In his eye
The flame of noble daring is gone out,
And his brave face has lost its martial look.
His eye rests on the earth as if the grave
Were his sole hope, his last and only home.
A poor thin garb is "svi-apt about his frame.
Whose sorry pUght but mocks his ancient state,
And in the bleak and pitiless storm he walks,
With melancholy brow, and shivers as he goes.
His pride is dead, his coiu'age is no more.
His name is but a by- word. All the tribes
Who called these plains and hills their own
Are homeless, friendless wanderers o'er earth."

One still more enduring memento of Eliot and his " praying In
dians " exists. Near, if not on the site of the Indian town, a neat and
durable monument to the Indian Apostle has been reared. On one
side, his name and age and the date of his decease ; on the other, his
Indian Bible, open and bearing the inscription " Up Biblume God,"
the Book of God.

For a history of Natick prior to 1762, the date at which it was
erected into an English district, we are dependent on tradition and on
detached leaves in possession of the town clerk.

From 1651 to 1762, more than a century, it was an Indian
town ; and its history is little more than a picture of wild Indians
making unsuccessful attempts to clothe themselves in the robes of


That the form of government adopted by Eliot's advice at the
commencement continued for a long period, is probable, not only
because Eliot, continuing to interest himself in the ■welfare of the
town, and leaving many documents in his own handwriting, never
mentioned any alteration, but from the fact that it is 1716,
over fifty years latsr, before we learn of their having a munici-
pal organization like other towns.

What were the results ? and what was the success of the efforts of
Eliot and his coadjutors ? are interesting questions, and tbose which
we have some means of settling.

They threaded their way through the forest to this land of streams,
hills, and plains, and soon " the desert smiles." Discouragement and
uncertainty attend their steps. Water from the spring is their bev-
erage ; fish, and such game as the woods furnish, their means of subsis-
tence. By " raoyling" in the forest, with the broad arch of heaven
for shelter, and protected from savage foes around only by their fire-
locks and their trust in God, they succeed in opening, here and there,
small clearings to the sun. Patches of beans and turnips, with corn
and rye interspersed, begin yearly to appear. A few domestic ani-
mals may be seen browsing around their huts. A house for public
worship stood in the midst of the little plantation. They had no
mill to grind their corn, no artisans to minister to the necessities or
comfort of the settlers, and no physicians to afford aid in cases of
sickness. But each little tenement was a temple, from which, morn-
ing and evening, the devout and simple worship of the savage ascend-
ed, and the Sabbath, which has been less rigidly kept by other in-
habitants of the town since then, "was to them a day of peaceful rest,
undisturbed by the clatter of bells or the exhibitions of pride and

We have gleaned some items of interest relating to Natick, during
this period, from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical So-
ciety, and know no better way to give them to our readers than in
chronological order.

1671, Aug. 1. Two natives, named Anthony and William, were sent
by the " poor church of Natick " with written instructions, signed
John Eliot, with the consent of church, to the Missoghounog Indians,
and to the Enghsh of Aquidnick and Plymouth, for the purpose of
preventing a war between those Indians and the English.

1674. Gookin, General Superintendent of the Indians of Mas.


sachusetts sent Jethro of Naticlc, in September of this year, to
Nashua, (Lancaster,) to preach to his countrymen, whom Eliot had
never visited. Jethro was one of the most distinguished of the convert-
ed Indians. One of the tribe happened to be present at the Court,
and declared that he was desirously willing, as well as some others of
his people, to pray to God, but that there were sundry of that peo-
ple very wicked, and much addicted to drunkenness, and thereby
many disorders were committed amongst them, and he entreated
Gookin to put forth his power to suppress this vice. He was asked
whether he would take upon himself the ofl&ce of constable, and re-
ceive power to apprehend drunkards, and bring the delinquents
before the Court to receive punishment. He answered that he would
speak with his friends, and if they chose him and strengthened his
hands in the work, he would come for a black staff and power. It
is not known that Jethro's exhortations produce^ any effect. — (Wil-
lard's History of Lancaster.)

In 1677, 2 month, 13 day. Assembled to prepare for an ex-
change of lands between Natick and Sherborn as in our judgment
has been rendered at the Court, by Mr. Eliot and Major Gookin.

It was then voted and concluded that propositions should be made
to Major Gookin and Mr. Eliot, and to the Indians, in referring to the
exchange of lands between Natick and Sherborn, as to give fifty
pounds in current pay and as much land as a committee by the Gen-
eral Court shall think meet.

In 1684 the Indians of Natick and Wamusit, (now part of Tewks-
bury,) who belonged to the same tribe with the Marlborough Indians,
laid claim to a right in the soil of that town, which had been culti-
vated by the English nearly thirty years.

The town paid them thirty-one pounds for a deed in full, which
was signed by twenty-six Indians, beside two witnesses of the same
nation. Six of these wrote their names, the rest made their marks.
— (Allen's History of Northborough.)

In 1679, the inhabitants of Sherborn exchanged with Natick four
thousand acres of land, more or less, giving two hundred bushels of
Indian corn to boot.

There vras also to be a lot of fifty acres set out where the commis-
sioners of ye colonies. Major Gookin and Mr. Eliot and Indian
rulers shall choose, within that tract of land which Sherborn was to
have of Natick, to be appropriated forever to the use of a free school


for teaching the English and the Indian children the English Ian

guage and other sciences. (Signed,)

Daniel Gookin, Waban, (Mark.)

Nathaniel Gookin, Pimbow, (Mark.)

Edward West, John Awousdmug.

Daniel Morse, Peter Ephraim.

Thomas Eams, Daniel. (Takawampait,

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 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 2 of 22)