Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 34 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 34 of 131)
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deed of gift of this land was, no doubt, drawn by Sassamon, and is in these
words :

" Know all men by these presents, that I, Old Watuspaquin, doe graum
vnto John Sassamon, allies JFassasoman, 27 acrees of land for a home lott at.
Assowamsett necke. This is my gift, giuen to him the said John Sassamon,
by me the said Watuspaquin, in Anno 1673, [or 1674, if between 1 Jan. and
25 March.]

OLD WATUSFAQufN (^ his marke.
Witness, alsoe, NANEHEUNT -j- his marke"

As a further inducement for Sassamon to settle here, Old Tuspaquin and
his son deeded to Felix, an Indian who married Sassamon's daughter, 58 and
tin half acres of land ; as " a home lott," also. This deed was dated 11
March, 1673, O. S., which doubtless was done at the same tune with the other.

* " This Sassamon was by birth a Massachusett, his father and mother living- in Dorchester,
and they both died Christians." I. Mather.

t Mather's Relation, 74.

| The inhabitants of the place call it Nemasket. In the records, it is almost always written

Spelt also Memeheutt.

17 N


Tliis daughter of Sassamon was called by the English name Betty* but lier orig-
inal name wa~ A - "\\ KTOUGH. To his son-in-law, Sassamon gave his land, by M
kind of \\ill, which be wrote himself, not long brfon- bis death; probably
about the time he became tired of his new situation, which we suppose was al.-<
about the time that he discovered the doign of Philip and his captains to
brini: about their war of extermination.

Old Tuspaquin, as he called himself, and his son, not only confirmed Sassa-
TiimCs will, but about the same time made a bequest themselves to his daugh-
T< i. which, they say, was "with the consent of all the chieffe men of As-n-
wamsett." This deed of gift from them was dated 23 Dec. 1673. It was of
a neck of land at Assowamsett, called Nahteawamet. The names of some
of the places which hounded this tract were Mashquomoh, a swamp, uson-
kususett, a pond, and another large pond called Chupipoggut Tobias, Old
Thomas, Pohonoho, and Kankunuki, were upon this deed as witnesses.

FELIX served the English in Philip's war, and was living in 1G79, in which
year Governor ffinslow ordered, "that all such lands as were formerly John
Sassamon's in our colonie, shall be settled on Felix his son-in-law," and to re-
main his and his heirs " foreuer." Felix's wife survived him, and willed her
land to a daughter, named Mercy. Tins was in 1690, and Isacke Wanno wit-
nessed said will. There was at a later period an Indian preacher at Titicutf
named Thomas Felix, perhaps a son of the former.}: But to return to the
more immediate subject of our discourse.

There was a Sassaman, or, as my manuscript has it, Sosomon, known to the
English as early as 1637 ; but as we have no means of knowing how old John
Suxsamon was when he was murdered, it cannot be decided \vith probability,
whether or not it were he. This Sosomon, as will be seen in the life of Sassa-
cus, went with the English to fight the Pequots

Sassamon acted as interpreter, witness or scribe, as the case required, on
many occasions. When Philip and Wootonekanuske his wife, sold, in 1664,
Mattapoisett to William Brenton, Sassamon was a witness and interpreter.
The same year he was Philip's agent "in settling the bounds of Acushenok,
< oaksett, and places adjacent." Again, in 1665, he witnessed the receipt of
\() paid to Philip on account of settling the bounds the year before.

There was a Rowland Sassamon, who I suppose was the brother of John.
His name appears hut once in all the manuscript records I have met with, and
then only as a witness, with his brother, to Philip's deed of Mattapoisett,
above mentioned.

The name Sassamon, like most Indian names, is variously spelt, but the
way it here appears is nearest as it was understood in his last years, judging
from the records. But it was not so originally. Woosansaman was among
the first modes of writing it.

This detail may appear dry to the general reader, but we must occasion-
fill y irratiry our antiquarian friends. We now proceed in our narrative.

While living among the Namaskets, Sassamon learned what w r as going
forward among his countrymen, and, when he was convinced that their
iesign was war, went immediately to Plimouth, and communicated his dis-
covery to the governor. "Nevertheless, his information," says Dr. I. Mather,
because it had an IndiAi original, and one can hardly believe them when
they do speak the truth,) was not at first much regarded."

It may be noticed here, that at this time if any Indian appeared friendly,
nil Indians were so declaimed against, that scarcely any one among the Eng-
li-h could be found that would allow that an Indian could be faithful or
honest in any affair. And although some others besides Sassamon had inti-
mated, and that rather strongly, that a "rising of the Indians" was at hand,
still, as Dr. Mather observes, because Indians said so, little or no attention

* The English sometimes added her surname, and hence, in the account of Mr. Bennet, (1
I'ol. .)/">*. //// >'"'-. iii. 1.) I'l-tttj t^usemore. The noted place now called Betty's Neck,
in Middleborough, was named from her. In 1793, there were eight families of" Indians there.

f Cntnhticnt, Kctchiqunt, Tehticnt, Keketticut, Kd.icut, Teigtitaquid, Trtvhqurt, are spell -
ings of this name in the various books and r< cords 1 have consulted.

i' a Middlehorough, in 1 Cot. Mass Hist. ,S'oc. iii. 150.

(s Relation of the Troubles, &.C., 74.


was paid to their advice. Notwithstanding, Mr. Gookin, in his MS. history,*
says, that, previous to the war, none of the Christian Indians had "been
justly charged, either with unfaithfulness or treachery towards the English."
" But, on the contrary, some of them had discovered the treachery, particu-
larly Walcut the ruler, of Philip before he began any act of hostility." In
another place the same author says, that, in April, 1675, Wauban " came to
one of the magistrates on purpose, and informed him that he had ground to
fear that sachem Philip, and other Indians his confederates, intended some
mischief shortly." Again in May, about six weeks before the war, he came
and said the same, adding that Philip's men were only waiting for the tree-
to get leaved out, that they might prosecute their design with more effect.
To return to Sassamon :

Li the mean time, some circumstances happened that gave further grounds
of suspicion, that war was meditated, and it was intended that messengers
should be sent to Philip, to gain, if possible, the real state of the case. Bi;t
before this was effected, much of the winter of 1674 had passed away, and
the Rev. Sassamon still resided with the Namaskets, and others of his
countrymen in that neighborhood. And notwithstanding he had enjoined
the strictest secrecy upon his English friends at Plimouth, of what he had
revealed, assuring them that if it came to Philip's knowledge, he should be
immediately murdered by him, yet it by some means got to the chief's
knowledge, and Sassamo7i was considered a traitor and an outlaw ; and, by
the laws of the Indians, he had forfeited his life, and was doomed to suffer
death. The manner of effecting it was of no consequence with them, so
long as it was brought about, and it is probable that Philip had ordered any
of his subjects who might meet with him, to kill him.

Early in the spring of 1675, Sassamon was missing, and, on search being
made, his body was found in Assawomset Pond, in Middleborough.f Those
that killed him not caring to be known to the English, left his hat and gun
upon the ice, that it might be supposed that he had drowned himself; but
from several marks upon his body, and the fact that his neck was broken,
it was evident he had been murdered. J Several persons were suspected,
and, upon the information of one called Patuckson, Tobias one of Philip's
counsellors, his son, and Mattashinnamy, were apprehended, tried by ji jury,
consisting of half Indians,]) and in June, 1675, were all executed at Plimouth :
"one of them before his execution confessing the murder," but the other
two denied all knowledge of the act, to their last breath. The truth of
their guilt may reasonably be called in question, if the circumstance of the
bleeding of the dead body at the approach of the murderer, had any influence
upon the jury. And we are fearful it was the case, for, if the most learned were
misled by such hallucinations in those days, we are not to suppose that the
more ignorant were free from them. Dr. Increase Mather wrote within two
years of the affair, and he has this passage : " When Tobias (the suspected
murderer) came near the dead body, it fell a bleeding on fresh, as if it had
been newly slain ; albeit, it was buried a considerable time before that."U

Nothing of this part of the story is upon record among the manuscripts,
as we can find, but still we do not question the authenticity of Dr. Mather,
who, we believe, is the first that printed an account of it. Nor do the
records of Plimouth notice Sassamon until some time after his death. The
first record is in these words : " The court seeing cause to require the per-

* Not yet published, but is now, (April, 1836,) printing- with notes by the author of this
work, under the direction of the American Antiquarian Society. It will form a lasting 1 monu-
ment of one of the best men of those days. The author was, as Mr. Eliot expresses himself,
' a pillar in our Indian work." He died in 1687, aged 75.

t Some would like to know, perhaps, on what authority Mr. Grahame (Hist. N. Amer. \.
402.) states that Sassamon' 's body was found in a field.

; Gnokin's MS. Hist, of Christian Indians. This author says, " Sassamand was the first
Christian martyr," and that " it is evident he suffered death upon the account of his Christian
profession, and fidelity to the English."

His Indian name was Poggapanossoo.

|| Mather's Relation, 74. Judge Daris retains the same account, (Morton's Memorial,
289.) which we shall presently show to be erroneous.

H Mather's Relation, 75.


sonal appearance of an Indian called Tobias before the court, to make fur-
ther answer to sucli interrogatories as >hall be required of him, in reference
to the sudden and violent death of an Indian called John Sassanion, late
deceased." This was in March, Ki74, O. S.

It appears that Tobias was present, although it is not so stated, from the
fact that Tuspaquin and his son Jl'illiam entered into bonds of 100 for the
appearance of Tobias at the next court in June following. A mortgage
of land was taken as security for the 100.

June having arrived, three instead of one are arraigned as the murderers
of Sassanion, There was no intimation of any one but Tobias being guilty
at the previous court. Now, Wampapaquan, the son of Tobias, and Jllatta-
shunannamo* are arraigned with him, and the bill of indictment runs as fol-
lows: " For that being accused that they did with joynt consent vpon the
29 of January aim 1674, [or 1675, N. S.] att a place called Assowamsctt Pond.
wilfully and of sett purpose, and of mallice fore thought, and by force and
armes, murder John Sassamon, an other Indian, by laying violent hands on
him, and striking him, or twisting hisnecke vntill hee was dead ; and to hyde
and conceale this theire said murder, att the tyme and place aforesaid, did
cast his dead body through a hole of the iyce into the said pond."

To this they pleaded "not guilty," and put themselves on trial, say the
records. The jury, however, were not long in finding them guilty, which
they express in these words : "Wee of the jury one and all, both English
and Indians doe joyntly and with one consent agree upon a verdict."

Upon this they were immediately remanded to prison, " and from thence
[taken] to the place of execution and there to be hanged by the head f vntill
theire bodies are dead." Accordingly, Tobias and Mattashunannaino were
executed on the 8 June, 1675. " But the said Wampapaquan, on some con-
siderations was reprieued until a month be expired." He was, however, shot
within the month.

It is an error that the jury that found them guilty was composed of half
Indians ; there were bflt four, while there were twelve Englishmen. We
will again hear the record :

" In was judged very expedient by the court, that, together with this
English jury aboue named, some of the most indifferentest, grauest and
sage Indians should be admitted to be with the said jury, and to healp to
consult and acluice with, otj and concerning the premises: there names
are as followeth, viz. one called by an English name Hope, and Maskippagne,
Wannoo, George Wanrpye and Acanootus ; these fully concurred with the
jury in theire verdict."

The names of the jurymen were William Sabine, William Crocker, Edward
Sturgis, William Brookes, *Vath l . Winslow, John Wadsworth, Andrew Hinge,
Robert Vixon, John Done, Jon' 1 . Bangs, Jon a . Shaw and Benj a . Higgins.

That nothing which can throw light upon this important affair be passed
over, we will here add, from a hitherto exceeding scarce tract, the following
particulars, although some parts of them are evidently erroneous: "About
rive or six years since, there was brought up, amongst others, at the college
at Cambridge, (Mass.) an Indian, named Sosomon; who, after some time he
had spent in preaching the gospel to Uncos, a sagamore Christian in his ter-
ritories, was, by the authority of New Plimouth, sent to preach in like man-
ner to King Philip, and his Indians. But King Philip, (heathen-like,)
instead of receiving the gospel, would immediately have killed this Sosomon,
but by the persuasion of some about him, did not do it, but sent him by the
hands of three men to prison; who, as he was going to prison, exhorted
and taught them in the Christian religion. They, not liking his discourse,
immediately murthered him alter a most barbarous manner. They, return-

/ * /

ing to King Philip, acquainted him with what they had done. About two
or three months after this murther, being discovered to the authority of

* The same called Mattashinnann/. His name in the records is spelt four ways.

t This old phraseology reminds us of the French mode of expression, couper le cou, that is,
to cut off the neck instead of the head ; hut the French say, il sera pendu par son cou, and s
do modern hangmen, alias jurists, of our times,


New Plimouth, Josiah Winslow being then governor of that colony, care was
taken to find out the murtherers, who, upon search, were found and appre-
hended, and, after a fair trial, were all hanged. This so exasperated King
Philip, that, from that day after, he studied to be revenged on the English
judging that the English authority had nothing to do to hang an Indian for
killing another." *


Life of KING PHILIP His real name The name of his wife Makes frequent
sales of his lands Account of them His first treaty at Plimouth Expedition to
Nantucket Events of 1671 Begins the WAR of 1675 First acts of hostility
Swamp Fight at Pocasset Narroicly escapes out of his own country is pursued
by Oneko Fight at Rehoboth Plain Cuts off a company of English under Captain
Beers Incidents Fight at Sugar-loaf Hill , and destruction of Captain Lathrop's
company Fights the English under Moseiij English raise 1500 men Philip
retires to Narraganset Strongly fortifies himself in a great swamp Description
of his fortress English 'march to attack him The great Fight at Narraganset
Again flies his country Visits the Mohawks III -devised stratagem Events of 1676

Returns again to his country Reduced to a wretched condition Is hunted by Church

His chief counsellor,. Qkkornpoin, killed, and his sister captured His ic>fe and son
full into the hands of Church Flies to Pukanoket Is surprised and slain. Speci-
men of the Wampanoag Language Other curious matter.

L\ regard to the native or Indian name of PHILIP, it seems a mistake has al-
ways prevailed, in printed accounts. POMETACOM gives as near its Indian sound
as can be approached by our letters. The first syllable was dropped in familiar
discourse, and hence, in a short time, no one imagined but what it had always
been so ; in nearly every original deed executed by him, which we have seen,
and they are many, his name so appears. It is true that, in those of different
years, it is spelt with some little variation, all which, however, conveyed very
nearly the same sound. The variations are Pnmatacom, Pamatacom, Poineta-
come, and Pometacom; the last of which prevails in the records.

We have another important discovery to communicate : f it is no other than
the name of the wife of Pometacom the innocent WOOTONEKAXUSKE ! This
was the name of her who, with her little son, fell into the hands of Captain
Church. No wonder that Philip was "now ready to die," as some of his trai-
torous men told Church, and that " his heart was now ready to break ! " All
that was dear to him was now swallowed up in the vortex ! But they still
lived, and this most harrowed his soul lived for what ? to serve as slaves in
an unknown land ! could it be otherwise than that madness should seize upon
him, and despair torment him in eveiy place ? that in his sleep he should hear
the anguishing cries and lamentations of IVootomkanuske and his son ? But
we must change the scene.

It seems as though, for many years before the war of 1675, Pometacom, and
nearly all of his people sold oft' their lands as fast as purchasers presented them-
selves. They saw the prosperity of the English, and they were just such phi-
losophers as are easily captivated by any show of ostentation. They were forsa-
king their manner of life, to which the proximity of the whites was a deadly
poison, and were eager to obtain such things as their neighbors possessed ; these
were only to be obtained by parting with their lands. That the reader may
form some idea of the rapidity with which the Indians' lands in Plimouth
colony were disposed of, we add the following items :

* Present State of New England, by a merchant of Boston, in respect to the present
Bloody Indian Wars, page 3, folio, London, 1676. This, with four other tracts upon
PHILIP'S WAR, (covering- the whole period of it, with notes by myself, accompanied by a
CHRONOLOGY of all Indian events in America from its discovery to the present time, (March
7th, 1836,) has jast been published under the title of the OLD INDIAN CHRONICLE.

t The author feels a peculiar satisfaction that it has fallen to his lot to be the first to publish
the real name of the great sachem of the Wampanoags, and also that of the sharer of his
perils, Wbottrnekanuske.



111 a deed dated 28 June, J664, " William Brniton, of Newport, R. I. mer-
diant," " for a valuable consideration " paid by him, huys Matapoisett of Philip.
This deed begins, " I, Pnmatacom alias Phili/>, chief sachem of Mount Hope.
Cowsimipsit and of all territories thereunto belonging." /'hilip and his wifr
both signed this deed, and Tockomock, WecopauhMnf Nesetaquauon, Pompa-
</it<txe, .Iperniniatc, Taquanksicke, Paquonack, Watapatahue, Jlquetaquish, Joint
Sassamon the interpreter, Rowland Sassamon, and two Englishmen, signed as

In 10(55, he sold the country about Acushena, [now New Bedford,] and
Coaxet, [now in Compton.] Philip's father having previously sold some of
the same, 10 was now giyen him to prevent any claim from him, and to pay
for his marking' out the same. John Woosansman [one of the names of Sassa
mon] witnessed this deed.

The same year the court of Plimouth presented Philip with a horse, but on
what account we are not informed.

In 16(32, Wrenthain was purchased of Philip by the English of Dedham.
It was then called WoUomonopoag^ and, by the amount assessed, appears to have
cost 24 105., and was six miles square. For this tract of land the English hail
been endeavoring to negotiate five years.f " In Nov. 1(569, upon notice oi' Philip,
Sagamore of Mount Hope, now at Wollomonopoag, offering a treaty of his lands
thereabouts, not yet purchased," the selectmen appoint five persons to negotiate
with him " for his remaining right, provided he can show that he has any." {
Whether his right were questionable or not, it seems a purchase was made, at
that time, of the tract called J^oollommonuppogue, " within the town bounds [of
Dedham] not yet purchased." What the full consideration was, our documents
do not state, but from a manuscript order which he drew on Dedham afterwards,
and the accompanying receipt, some estimate may be formed. The order re-
quests them " to pay to this bearer, for the use of KING PHILIP, 5, 5s. in money,
and 5 in trucking cloth at money price" In a receipt signed by an agent of
Philip, named Peter, the following amount is named : " In reference to the payment
o/*Ki> T G PHILIP of Mount Hope, the full and just sum of 5, 5s. in money, and
12 yards of trucking cloth, 3 Ibs. of powder, and as much lead as will make it up ;
which is in full satisfaction with 10 that he is to receive ofJVathaniel Paine"

\Ve next meet with a singular record of Philip, the authorship of which we
attribute to John Sassamon, and which, besides extending our knowledge of
Philip into his earlier times, serves to make us acquainted with Sassamorfs ac-
quirements in the language of the pilgrims.

" Know all men by these presents, that Philip haue giuen power vnto Wa-
tuchpoo || and Sampson and theire brethren to hold and make sale of to whom
they will by my consent, and they shall not haue itt without they be willing to
lett it goe it shal be sol by my consent, but without my knowledge they cannot
safely to: but with my consent there is none that can lay claime to that land
which *"hey haue marked out, it is theires foreuer, soe therefore none can safely
purchase any otherwise but by Watachpoo and Sampson and their bretheren.

PHILIP 1666."

Whether the following letter were written earlier or later than this we have
no means of knowing ; it is plain, however, from its contents, that it was written
at a time when he was strongly opposed to selling his lands, and that the peo-
ple of Plimouth were endeavoring to get him to their court, where they had
reason to believe they could succeed better in getting them than by a negotia-
tion in his own country. The letter follows:

" To the much honored Governer, Mr. Thomas Prince, dwelling at Plimouth.

" King PHILIP desire to let you understand that he could not come to the
court, for Tom, his interpreter, has a pain in his back, that he could not travil

* Perhaps Uncompoin.

f Worthington's Hist. Dedham, 20 from which work it would seem that the negotiation had
been carried on with Philip, but Philip was not sachem until this year.

t Ibid.

General Court Files.

|| Sometimes Tukpoo by abbreviation. A further account of him will be found in the life of


so far, and Philip sister is very sick. Philip would intreat that favor of you,
and any of the majestrats, if aney English or Engians speak about aney land, he
pray you to giue them no an sewer at all. This last summer he maid thai
promis with you that he would not sell no land in 7 years time, for that he
would have no English trouhle him before that time, he has not forgot that
you promis him. He will come a sune as posseble he can to speak with you,
and so I rest,

your very loveing friend


dwelling at mount hope nek." *

In 1GG7, Philip sells to Constant Southworth, and others, all the meadow
lands from Dartmouth to Matapoisett, for which he had 15. Particular
bounds to all tracts are mentioned in the deeds, but as they were generally or
often stakes, trees, and heaps of stones, no one at this time can trace many of

The same year, for " 10 sterling," he sells to Thos. IVllht and others, " all
that tract of land lying between the Riuer Wanascottaquett and Cawatoquissett,
being two miles long and one broad." Pawsaquens, one of Philip's counsel-
lors, and Tom alias Sawsuett, an interpreter, were witnesses to the sale.

In 1<JO'8, "Philip Pome&zcora, and Tatamumaque\ alias Cashtwashed, sachems,"
for a " valuable consideration," sell to sundry English a tract of some square
miles. A part of it was adjacent to Pokanoket. In describing it, Memenuck-
quage and Towansett neck are mentioned, which we conclude to be in Swan-
sey. Besides two Englishmen, Sompointeen, alias Tom, and A'ananuntncu', son

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 34 of 131)