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life, covering a period of twenty-six years, was devoted
to New France. He continued his explorations to the
westward, along the line of the Great Lakes, and served
his God and his King with unflagging zeal.

Champlain was, indeed, a knightly character, the
finest figure, all things considered, of all the men who
followed the fleur de lis of France into this Western
world. An indefatigable explorer, a brave soldier, a
wise administrator, a Christian gentleman, if Vermont
could have chosen her own discoverer, no finer type of
man than Samuel Champlain could have been selected
from all the captains of that age who sailed the Seven
Seas.



Chapter III
INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT



THE earliest authentic information concerning
Indian affairs in eastern America indicates the
presence of two great native confederacies, the
Algonquin and the Iroquois, which were arrayed in hos-
tile camps. The former confederacy was the more
numerous, and controlled a greater area than the latter,
but the Iroquois represented a higher type of civilization,
were better organized, and were fiercer warriors than
their rivals.

The Algonquin confederacy stretched from New-
foundland to the Rocky Mountains, and from Churchill
River to Pamlico Sound. The northern division in-
cluded tribes occupying the territory north of the St.
Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. The north-
eastern division embraced the tribes inhabiting eastern
Quebec, the maritime provinces and eastern Maine.
The eastern division was made up of tribes dwelling
along the Atlantic coast as far south as North Carolina.
The central division included tribes residing in Wiscon-
sin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, while the west-
ern division comprised three groups along the eastern
slope of the Rocky Mountains.

An important subdivision of the Algonquin nation was
known as the Abnakis, and with this group the Indian
history of Vermont is chiefly concerned. Strictly speak-
ing, the Abnakis were confined to a small territory in
Maine between the Saco and St. John Rivers. The
term, however, was applied loosely and often included
a considerable portion of the Eastern Indians. The
name is said to mean Eastlander, or people of the East.

The Abnakis were called Tarrateens by the early Eng-



32 HISTORY OF VERMONT

lish inhabitants. According to Professor Vetromile,
the Abnakis occupied the land from the shores of the
St. Lawrence to the Atlantic Ocean and from the mouth
of the Kennebec River to the eastern part of New Hamp-
shire. A map published in 1660 in "The History of
Canada," written by Reverend Father Ducreux, shows
the Abnakis occupying the region between the Kennebec
River and Lake Champlain.

At an early period the Abnakis became firm friends
of the French, who had sent missionaries among them,
and they were allies of that nation as long as France con-
trolled Canada. As the white population of New Eng-
land increased, the Abnakis gradually withdrew to
Canada, their principal settlements being at Becaucour
and Sillery, the latter places being abandoned later for
St. Francis, near Pierreville, Quebec.

Doctor Trumbull has estimated that at one time there
were 123,000 Indians in New England, but in the winter
of 1616-17, a virulent disease, thought by some to have
been yellow fever, because the victims turned yellow,
swept away, probably, more than half the total num-
ber. Whole tribes were either annihilated or reduced to
a mere handful. It is believed that soon after the land-
ing of the Pilgrims not more than twelve thousand
Indian warriors could have been assembled in all New
England, which would indicate a population approxi-
mately of fifty thousand.

The powerful Iroquois confederation and its allies
occupied a considerable portion of the valley of the St.
Lawrence, the basin of Lakes Ontario and Erie, the
southeastern shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay,



INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT 33



all of the present State of New York except the lower
Hudson valley, all of central Pennsylvania, a portion of
the shores of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, the valleys
of the Tennessee and upper Savannah Rivers, the moun-
tainous parts of Virginia, the Carolinas and Alabama,
and a portion of eastern North Carolina and southeast-
ern Virginia.

The Iroquois confederacy included the Mohawk,
Oneida, Onondaga and Seneca tribes, and was often
called the Five Nations. After the admission of the
Tuscarora tribe, in 1722, the confederacy was known as
the Six Nations. According to the "Handbook of
American Indians," published by the United States
Bureau of Ethnology, "the date of the formation of this
confederation (probably not the first, but the last of a
series of attempts to unite the several tribes in a federal
union) was not earlier than about the year 1570." The
occasion is thought to have been wars with Algonquin
and Huron tribes. When first known to Europeans this
confederation occupied the territory extending from the
western watershed of Lake Champlain to the western
watershed of the Genesee River, and from the Adiron-
dack Mountains southward to the territory of the
Conestoga on the Susquehanna River. With the coming
of the Dutch the Iroquois secured firearms, v/hich had
made possible their defeat by Champlain, and thereafter
they extended their conquests rapidly.

In a speech delivered at Plattsburg, N. Y., in 1909, on
the occasion of the celebration of the tercentenary of the
discovery of Lake Champlain, Hon. Elihu Root referred
to the Algonquins and Iroquois as follows: "The



34 HISTORY OF VERMONT

Algonquin tribes that surrounded them (the Iroquois)
were still in the lowest stage of industrial life and for
their food added to the spoils of the chase only wild
fruits and roots. The Iroquois had passed into the
agricultural stage. They had settled habitations and
cultivated fields. They had extensive orchards of the
apple, made sugar from the maple, and raised corn and
beans, and squash and pumpkins. The surrounding
tribes had only the rudimentary political institution of
chief and followers. The Iroquois had a carefully de-
vised constitution well adapted to secure confederate
authority in matters of common interest, and local
authority in matters of local interest.

''Each nation was divided into tribes, the Wolf tribe,
the Bear tribe, the Turtle tribe, etc. The same tribes
ran through all the nations, the section in each nation
being bound by ties of consanguinity to the sections of
the same tribe in the other nations. Thus a Seneca Wolf
was brother to every Mohawk Wolf, a Seneca Bear to
every Mohawk Bear. The arrangement was like that
of our college societies with chapters in different colleges.
So there were bonds of tribal union running across the
lines of national union; and the whole structure was
firmly knit together as by the warp and woof of a textile
fabric.

"The government was vested in a council of fifty
sachems, a fixed number coming from each nation. The
sachems from each nation came in fixed proportions
from specific tribes in that nation ; the office was heredi-
tary in the tribe and the member of the tribe to fill it
was elected by the tribe. The sachems of each nation



INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT 35

governed their own nation in all local affairs. Below the
sachems were elected chiefs on the military side and
keepers of the faith on the religious side.

"The territory of the Long House covered the water-
shed between the St. Lawrence basin and the Atlantic.
From it the w^aters ran into the St. Lawrence, the Hud-
son, the Delaware, the Susquehanna, and the Ohio.
Down these lines of communication the war parties of
the confederacy passed, beating back or overwhelming
their enemies until they had become overlords of a vast
region, extending far into New England, the Carolinas,
the valley of the Mississippi; and to the coast of Lake
Huron. * * *

"Of all the inhabitants of the New World they were
the most terrible foes and the most capable of organized
and sustained warfare; and of all the inhabitants north
of Mexico they were the most civilized and intelligent."

Schoolcraft says: "To such a pitch of power had
the Iroquois confederacy reached on the discovery of
New York (and Vermont) in 1609, that there can be
little doubt that if the arrival of the Europeans had been
delayed a century later, it would have absorbed all the
tribes situated between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the
mouth of the Ohio, if not to the Gulf of Mexico."
About a half century after Champlain's discovery of
Vermont the Iroquois are supposed to have reached the
summit of their power, at which time their numbers are
estimated at about sixteen thousand.

Cadwallader Colden of New York, whose name will
appear later in these pages, in his "History of the Five
Indian Nations," says that the Iroquois at an early



36 HISTORY OF VERMONT

period lived one liundred leagues above Three Rivers,
Canada, along the Ottawa River. Game becoming
scarce for the Algonquins they desired that some of
the young men of the Iroquois assist them in hunting,
and the latter gladly assented, hoping to gain some
knowledge of the chase. At first the young Iroquois
performed only drudgery, but later became expert hunt-
ers. According to Colden's narrative, the Algonquins,
on a certain hunting expedition, became jealous of the
skill of the new recruits, and killed them. The Iroquois
living on the St. Lawrence River, near the present loca-
tion of Montreal, became greatly incensed, emigrated to
the region south of Lake Ontario, and hostilities soon
began. At first the Iroquois defended themselves "but
faintly," but becoming accustomed to war they developed
great skill.

When the French arrived, the two Indian confedera-
tions were engaged in hostilities. It is known that when
Cartier visited Canada, in 1535, he found the Iroquois
at Hochelaga, on the present site of Montreal, but when
Champlain came they had vanished, and the Algonquins
occupied that region. That fighting had continued for
a long period is indicated by Champlain's account of the
proposed peace between the warring confederations in
1622, when it is related that the Indians declared that
"they were tired and weary of wars which they had had
for more than fifty years."

In an appendix to his "History of Montpelier," D. P.
Thompson wrote a valuable and an interesting article on
"The Aboriginal Inhabitants of Winooski Valley,"
which contains information that applies to a wider re-



INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT 37

gion than a single river valley. He asserted that when
the French and English began settlements in Canada
and in the northern part of the United States, they found
the Abnakis (or Algonquins) in possession of all the
New England States bordering on the Atlantic coast,
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, all of Lower Canada east
of and around the St. Lawrence up to, and some distance
above Montreal, and that part of Vermont east of the
eastern range of the Green Mountains. The old men of
the nation asserted that the western boundary of their
territory originally was, and rightfully should be, Lake
Champlain, the Iroquois having won a portion of what
is now Vermont by conquest. A map published by
Father Ducreux in his "History of Canada" in 1660,
gives Lake Champlain as the western boundary of the
Abnaki territory.

Both Thompson and Rowland Robinson have called
attention to the fact that the Indian names applied to the
lakes and rivers of Vermont are Algonquin names, a
fact of considerable significance. DeWitt Clinton, in
an address delivered before the New York Historical
Society, in 1825, said that "the supremacy of the
Iroquois probably prevailed at one time over the territory
as far east as the Connecticut River."

Thompson was of the opinion that the Iroquois prob-
ably occupied the region about one hundred years, when,
about 1640 or 1650, on account of the growing power
of the French in Canada, and the inclination of the tribes
to move westward, they relinquished their possessions
around Lake Champlain and the upper Hudson.

In the correspondence of Governor Tryon of New



38 HISTORY OF VERMONT

York with Lord Dartmouth, one of the British ministers,
in 1773, in which he alluded to a certain map, he said:
"All the country to the southward of the River St. Law-
rence originally belonged to the Five Nations or Iroquois,
and as such it is described in the above mentioned and
other ancient maps, and particularly Lake Champlain is
there called 'Mere des Iroquois,' Sorel River which leads
from the lake into the River St. Lawrence, 'Riviere des
Iroquois,' " and the tract on the east side of the lake,
Irocoisia.

Several writers speak of Vermont as the beaver hunt-
ing ground of the Iroquois. It is evident that for a
period the Iroquois exercised jurisdiction over a consid-
erable portion of what is now Vermont, but their hold
was weakened when the Father of New France fired his
arquebus in the fight at Ticonderoga in July, 1609; and
while the Iroquois later were able to menace the French
in Canada, their hold was weakened by the French
power, and finally abandoned. With the weakening of
the Iroquois control, the Abnaki Indians again came into
possession of the land.

For nearly eighty years the Caughnawaga Indians, a
tribe of Iroquois descent, on various occasions sought to
establish a claim to a large area of land in Vermont,
based on the Iroquois occupation. Their claims, made
to the Vermont Legislature, were to the efifect that their
hunting grounds in this State were included in these
bounds: "Beginning on the east side of Ticonderoga,
from thence to the Great Falls on Otter Creek (Suther-
land Falls), continuing the same course to the height of
land that divides the streams between Lake Champlain



INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT 39



and Connecticut River, thence along the height of land
opposite the Missisquoi, and thence to the Bay."

Holding that the treaty between France and Great
Britain in 1763, and the treaty between the United
States and Great Britain in 1783 extinguished all Indian
claims to the territory of Vermont, the Legislature de-
clined to vote money to the Indian claimants.

In 1779, the Stockbridge Indians, a tribe of Algonquin
affiliations, claimed a portion of Vermont, and this claim
was discharged by a grant of the town of Marshheld.
The township was soon sold, however, as the white set-
tlers came into the region so rapidly that Marshiield was
not considered a desirable hunting ground.

During the early period when New England and New
York were being settled, an Algonquin tribe called the
Mohicans (Mohican meaning Wolf) occupied both
banks of the Hudson River, their territory extending
north almost to Lake Champlain. This tribe must not
be confounded with the Mohawks of the Iroquois con-
federation, which was nearest to New England of any
of the Five Nations.

Ruttenber, in his "Indian Tribes of the Hudson
River," refers to the tradition that the country of the
Mohicans originally included parts of the present States
of Massachusetts, Vermont and New York. He says
the Mohicans occupied the valleys of the Hudson and the
Housatonic; the Soquatucks dwelt east of the Green
Mountains; the Horikans were located in the Lake
George district ; and the Nawaas were immediately north
of the Sequins in the lower Connecticut valley.



40 HISTORY OF VERMONT

At one time, apparently, the hunting grounds of the
Mohawks included what is now southwestern Vermont,
and the region, probably, was the scene of many conflicts
between the warring Mohawks and Mohicans during a
period including approximately, the years from 1540 to
1670.

The mountain passes leading from the Hudson valley
to Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River very likely
had been used as Indian trails from time immemorial.
The summer of 1668, according to tradition, saw a des-
perate conflict between the Mohawks and the Mohicans,
and the latter, driven up the Hoosac valley, are said to
have taken refuge in a narrow pass in the present town
of Pownal, beneath what is known as the Weeping
Rocks.

It is said that the Mohicans cherished the belief that
they would not be conquered until "the rocks wept," and
here, beneath the dripping rocks of this mountain pass
of Pownal, nearly all of the Mohicans were massacred.
The following year, 1669, the tables were turned, and the
Mohicans defeated the Mohawks. Title deeds are in
existence confirming patents of their hunting grounds
in the Walloomsac and Battenkill valleys.

It is said that Mohican warriors usually spent their
winters in the valleys of the Hoosac and Housatonic
Rivers, and that their campgrounds included the Wal-
loomsac and Battenkill passes of Manchester and Arling-
ton, and a camp near the junction of Washtub Brook
and the Hoosac River west of Kreigger Rocks, in
Pownal. Their planting grounds included the region
around the junction of the streams last mentioned, and



A Mao of

ntahu n




INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT 41

the land in the vicinity of the headwaters of the Wal-
loomsac and the Battenkill, respectively.

George Sheldon, the well-known Massachusetts his-
torian, is authority for the statement that a powerful
confederacy of tribes occupied the Connecticut valley
from the vicinity of Hartford, on the south, to Brattle-
boro, on the north, the Pocumtucks being the most
powerful tribe.

The Squakheags, living in the vicinity of Northfield,
Mass., occupied the northern portion of this confederacy,
their territory occupying a part of the Connecticut River
valley, now embraced in southern Vermont. It is be-
lieved that this tribe originally was a part of the Mohican
confederation of the Fludson valley, but was driven from
that region about the year 1610. The Squakheags
occupied both banks of the Connecticut River and their
northern boundary is said to have been Broad Brook,
which flows into the Connecticut near the northern line
of the present town of Vernon, Vt. The name of this
tribe is spelled in many different ways, the same thing
being true of many Indian names. The meaning of the
word is believed to have been a spearing place of salmon.
The islands in the river near the Squakheag territory,
and the mouth of the small streams flowing into the
Connecticut, were noted for good salmon and shad fish-
ing, and one of these little tributaries was called Salmon
Brook by the early settlers.

In language and appearance the Squakheags re-
sembled the tribes occupying the Merrimac valley, and
they were in close alliance with the Pennacooks. The
remains of villages and works of defence found on both



42 HISTORY OF VERMONT

sides of the river, and the large number of skeletons
discovered, indicate a considerable population. The
whole valley from the present site of Turners Falls,
Mass., to the northern limits of Vernon, Vt, was
occupied by Indian villages and smaller family groups.

The signs o-f these villages are the presence of such
domestic utensils as stone pestles, kettles, knives and
hoes; heaps of round stones showing evidence of the
action of fire and water, the stones having been thrown
red hot into wooden troughs to heat water, and left
where used as too cumbersome to remove; circular
excavations from five to sixteen feet in diameter, some-
times lined with clay, and used as underground granaries
or barns; a burial place, indicating the proximity of
wigwams; piles of stone chips, where arrow heads and
spear heads were made; cleared fields used for planting
grounds, and the site of a fort.

The most northerly of these Squakheag settlements
or villages was that which acknowledged the leadership
of the chieftain Nawelet, his territory extending from
Mill Brook, in Northfield, Mass., to Broad Brook, in the
northern part of Vernon, Vt. "From the size of his
possessions," says Temple and Sheldon's "History of
Northfield," "and the plain testimony of remains, it is
evident that this tract was inhabited by a numerous and
powerful tribe. Some were of gigantic stature вАФ a
skeleton measuring six and one-half feet having been
disinterred. They were enterprising and warlike, as is
shown by their extensive planting fields, and the strength
and resources of their main fort. Their utensils indi-
cate considerable traffic with the whites, and they were



INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT 43

undoubtedly the last of the native clans to leave the
valley. Indeed they are found here as late as 1720, and
were then of a character to command the respect of the
English settlers."

A large village was located on the west side of the
river, near the present site of the railroad station at
South Vernon. About eighty rods north of the State
line, on a hill near the old Ferry Road, the remains of
about thirty Indian granaries were visible for many
years. The hills here and farther back of Wells' plain
afforded good lookouts and there were probably planting
grounds on Second Moose plain.

Near the Great Bend of the Connecticut, in Vernon,
was the chief seat of the tribe. The meadows afforded
good planting grounds which were easily tilled, and the
annual overflow of the river fertilized these intervals.
Several streams which enter the Connecticut here af-
forded excellent fishing. As the bend in the river made
defence easier it was a strategic location for an Indian
village, and it appears to have been one of the largest
ever occupied within the present limits of Vermont.

The principal fort, probably, was on a hill on the east
side of the Connecticut, in w4iat is now the town of Hins-
dale, N. H. Stone kettles, hatchets, pestles and other
utensils have been found on both sides of the river here.

About the year 1663 the Mohawks made an incursion
into the Connecticut valley, and having defeated the
Pocumtucks, attacked the Squakheags, capturing their
forts, destroying their villages and driving the people
from their homes. The tribe never recovered from the
effects of this blow. The Squakheags did not entirely



44 HISTORY OF VERMONT

abandon their territory. Probably the villages were
partly rebuilt, the planting grounds cultivated to some
extent, and the fisheries patronized, but the old-time
prosperity never returned.

During a part of King Philip's War, the territory
of the Squakheag Indians became an important center
of operations. In the autumn of 1675 a considerable
number of River Indians encamped in the pine woods a
little way above the present site of the railroad station
at South Vernon, Vt. For a short time Philip and his
band were here but they left soon for Albany.

In December the fort of the Narragansetts in Rhode
Island was destroyed by Massachusetts and Connecticut
troops, and this capture contributed to a great gathering
of Indian tribes at Squakheag, as the Narragansetts
who had hitherto held aloof from Philip now determined
to join forces with him.

Early in March, 1676, a large company of Ouaboags,
Narragansetts, some Grafton Indians and other war-
riors, also women, children and aged persons, arrived at
Squakheag. Philip had arrived about the middle of
February and made his camp in the Great Bend of the
Connecticut at Vernon.

During the entire period of the colonial history of
America there were few occasions when so many Indians
were assembled as were gathered here during the greater
part of March, 1676. There were Wampanoags, and
Narragansetts, Pocumtucks and Nonotucks, Agawams
and Quaboags, Nashaways and Squakheags, Naticks and
Hassanamesetts, making a total numbering at least 2,500
Indians, which occupied both banks of the Connecticut



INDIAN OCCUPATION OF VERMONT 45

River. Some of the most famous of Indian chieftains
were assembled here, inckKling Philip and his kinsman
Quinnapin, Canonchet and his uncle Pessacus, and other
tribal leaders of lesser fame. King Philip's headquar-
ters were on the Vermont side of the river. Mrs. Row-
landson, a captive in Philip's camp, in an account of her
captivity, mentioned her amazement ''at the numerous
crew of pagans" assembled here. During the gathering
plans were made to secure further recruits from the
Mohicans and Mohawks of the Hudson valley, and from
Canadian tribes, and to make a formidable attack upon
the English settlements farther down the valley.

Provisions becoming scarce, a party started out to
secure corn, and on this expedition the famous Narra-
gansett chieftain was captured by the English at Paw-
tucket, taken to Stonington, and executed. Philip re-
moved his headquarters to Mount Wachusett. About
May 1 the Indians assembled here separated into four
parties, leaving only one at Squakheag for planting and



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