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Francis Indians, and it was held tenaciously by them,
being yielded with great reluctance. Their attitude
toward the early settlers was sullen and they cherished
a deep-seated hatred, it is said, for the Sheldons, the
founders of the town. The Indians frequented Highgate
long after the town was settled by white men. Many
Indian implements were found near St. Albans Bay by


early settlers and tradition says this region was a
favorite place of resort for the Indians.

Champlain refers to the occupation of the islands of
Grand Isle county by the natives at a time previous to
his visit, before tribal wars had made occupation of that
region too dangerous for permanent abode. There is
a tradition to the effect that an Iroquois tribe invaded
this section, then occupied by a number of the Algonquin
group, and drove them from their homes. Several ref-
erences are found to an Indian settlement in South Hero,
near the sandbar which formed a natural bridge to the
mainland during low water. These Indians are sup-
posed to have been Loups, or members of the Wolf clan.
It is said that there was an Indian village at Alburg,
Some Indian relics have been found at North Hero.
L. B. Truax has said that probably there is not a farm
in Grand Isle county that does not contain some evidence
of ancient Indian occupation.

Indian tomahawks and other implements have been
found in the Lamoille River valley in Lamoille county.
There was a camp ground in Cambridge at a place called
Indian Hill, where many relics have been unearthed.

In Williamstown, in Orange county, the Indians culti-
vated corn in the valley and hunted and trapped fur bear-
ing animals. When the town of Barton, in Orleans
county, was settled, decayed cabins, or wigwams, were
numerous there. Members of the St. Francis tribe said
in 1824 that about fifty years earlier their ancestors
had lived there for about nine years. Troy was long
a place of rendezvous for Abnaki Indians.


Lake St. Catherine and the Hubbardton Lakes, in
Rutland county, were favorite fishing resorts of the
Indians. Members of the Caughnawaga tribe fre-
quented Pittsford and other portions of the Otter Creek
valley. Every year they would ascend the river in large
numbers in their canoes, construct wigwams, and fre-
quent their favorite fishing and hunting grounds. Evi-
dences of Indian village life, including implements and
burial places, have been found at Wallingford.

Fragments of a rude sort of Indian pottery and Indian
implements have been found about two miles above
Montpelier, in Washington county. When General
Davis surveyed the boundaries of the town, he found
what appeared to be an Indian monument. Indian im-
plements have been discovered at the mouth of Mad
River. Waitsfield was once a hunting ground for the
St. Francis tribe, and here a tomahawk and a large num-
ber of beads were discovered.

Mention has been made of Indian occupancy at Ver-
non, in Windham county. Evidences are found of a
considerable Indian occupation in Rockingham. These
were particularly noticeable in the vicinity of Bellows
Falls, which was a noted fishing resort. Several Indian
skeletons have been exumed at Bellows Falls, the bodies
having been buried in a sitting posture.

Space forbids the mention of all evidences of Indian
occupation. No doubt such evidences have been found
in every township in the State. The Indian occupation
of Vermont, as we know it, seems to have been confined
to the borders of this State — the Squakheag territory,
extending into Vernon ; the Coos settlement at Newbury


and vicinity; the Missiassik village at Swanton; the
Mohican camp sites and planting grounds in the Batten-
kill and Walloomsac valleys. It is very evident, how-
ever, that this was not the extent of the Indian occupa-
tion of Vermont. There are evidences of Indian settle-
ments at the mouth of the Otter Creek, the Winooski
and other rivers, and along many of our streams. There
is abundant evidence of many Indian encampments, of
the manufacture of implements of war and domestic
utensils, and of the burial of the dead.

The western portion of the State seems to have been
an Iroquois hunting ground for a considerable period.
The forests contained an abundance of deer, moose,
beaver and other objects of the chase, while the lakes
and streams were filled with fish. The hunting and fish-
ing, therefore, attracted many Indians to this region.
There may have been a considerable Indian occupation
of Vermont prior to the rise of the powerful Iroquois

So far as we know there was no permanent occupation
of any considerable portion of Vermont in a manner
corresponding to the Iroquois occupation of parts of
New York State, but such occupation by Indians seems
to have been the exception rather than the rule. It must
be remembered that the Indians were a migratory people.
Their mode of living w^as so primitive that a removal
of habitation was a comparatively simple matter. With-
in certain prescribed limits they seem to have moved
freely from place to place, hunting in one section for a
few weeks, fishing in another locality for a longer or
shorter period, dwelling in one place long enough for


the squaws to raise corn and beans, and abandoning it
for winter quarters elsewhere. They knew little of fixed
habitations as we understand the term.

It seems probable that the Indian population of
America always was much smaller than has been sup-
posed by persons who have given the subject no careful
study. The multitude of tribal names has been respon-
sible in part for an erroneous impression as to numbers.
Different names appear to have been used at different
times by different individuals, for the same people.
There were divisions and subdivisions of tribes, each
having separate designations, but not indicating, of
necessity, a large number of Indians. There were
frequent changes in tribal relations, so much so that the
shifting often is exceedingly difficult to follow.

A study of Indian occupation leads to the conclusion
that so far as Vermont is concerned the Indian popula-
tion generally has been underestimated, while the Indian
population of southern New England and other portions
of the country has been overestimated.

An interesting phase of Indian life was their roads,
or trails. This subject was discussed by Samuel Carter
in an address before the Pocumptuck Valley Memorial
Association, in which he said: "Between the frontiers
of New England and New France was a wilderness of
vast extent, characterized by great mountains, numerous
rivers, great lakes and dense forests, which were the
hunting grounds and battlefields of savages. The
Indians traversed it in all directions with the ease and
certainty with which we travel the roads which modern
civilization establishes for its convenience. The Indian


highways were the rivers and lakes ; and with the moun-
tains and hills for their landmarks the whole of this
wilderness was open to them, and the illimitable region
beyond. In the summer they skirted afoot the banks of
the stream, or traversed in their bark canoes the rivers
and lakes along whose frozen surface they travelled in
winter. Whenever navigation on a stream was inter-
rupted by falls, they made a detour around the obstruc-
tion, carrying their canoes and luggage with them.
These places were called portages or carrying places;
other portages existed at the passages between lakes, and
others again separated the upper waters of streams run-
ning in opposite directions.

"Lake Champlain, the westerly boundary of this
wilderness, was the all important division in the great
Indian thoroughfare between Canada and the English
colonies. The Connecticut River, a great and command-
ing central driftway through the wilderness, was an
important counterpart to Lake Champlain. * >«= *
On the easterly side of the Green Mountains the water
courses are tributaries of the Great River, as the Con-
necticut was familiarly called; on the westerly side of
the mountains they flow into the lake. Some of the more
important of them were well known Indian roads, and
used by the savages as the exigencies of hunting, fight-
ing or journeying gave occasion. But they had one
principal thoroughfare between the lake and the river,
which may be denominated the trunk line. This was the
Winooski River; and so commonly was it used by the
French and their Indian allies in their raids upon the

English, that it came to be called the 'French River.'

* * *


''From the upper waters of the Winooski there was a
choice of ways to the Great River, to wit: southerly by
available branches of the Winooski and corresponding
branches of the White River, or easterly by the Wells
River ; the two ways forming with the Connecticut a kind
of delta. The easterly way afforded a direct access to
the planting grounds at the lower Cowass in the vicinity
of the present town of Newbury, and easy communica-
tion with the eastern Indians beyond ; the southerly way
reached farther down the Great River on the way to
the frontier settlements of the 'Boston Government.'
These two waterways, the White and Wells Rivers, lead-
ing up from the Connecticut toward the Winooski, need
to be well fixed in the mind."

The "Indian Road," so called, was the route from
Lake Champlain up the Otter Creek to its source, across
the ridge of the Green Mountains to the head waters of
the Black and West Rivers, and thence down the Con-
necticut. This trail was used, not only by war parties,
but was a favorite route for Indians coming from the
north to the trading post established later at Fort

What Mr. Carter called the "trunk line," the Winooski
valley, along which many sorrowing captives were car-
ried to Canada, ascended the Connecticut River, followed
the Third branch of the White River, thence crossed
the height of land to the source of Stevens Branch, which
was followed to the junction with the Winooski River,
the latter stream being the route to Lake Champlain.

The great trail from the Merrimac River to Lake
Memphremagog was the route chosen later for a line


of railroad. Another trail following the Connecticut
River northward, turned aside at the mouth of Wells
River and ascended the valley of that stream. In his
"History of Newbury," Wells says: "In various
places in this town where the woods have never been
cut down, are paths which may be clearly discerned for
long distances, which were here when white men came
to Coos, and are believed to be sections of prehistoric
trails. The settlers used these woodland paths in their
journeys, and they gradually became public roads."

In addition to the route from Canada to southern New
England by way of Lake Champlain, another important
trail passed through northeastern Vermont. From the
St. Lawrence River the Indians would come up the St.
Francis and Magog Rivers in canoes, pass through Lake
Memphremagog, and ascend the Clyde River to Island
Pond. A short portage led to the headwaters of the
Nulhegan River, by means of which the Connecticut
River could be reached.

The paths made by the Indians at the carrying places
on the Nulhegan route were plainly discernible when
the region was settled by the whites. It is said that
these trails could be seen in the town of Brunswick when
the Grand Trunk Railroad was built in 185L

The trail from Canada to the Penobscot region of
Maine followed the route mentioned by way of Lake
Memphremagog, Island Pond and the Nulhegan River
to the Connecticut, thence to the upper Ammonoosuc
and up that river to some point in the present town of
Milan, N. H., where it crossed to the Androscoggin,


which was descended to the sea coast, the shore being
followed to Penobscot Bay.

Mrs. Sigourney, referring to the Indian inhabitants
of America, in one of her poems, said:

"Their name is on your waters,
You may not wash it out."

While many of the Indian names have vanished from
the geography of this region, some of them remain, and
others have been preserved. The late Rowland E. Rob-
inson, the well-known Vermont author, assisted by his
nephew. Dr. William G. Robinson, made a study of
Indian names in this State. Some of these names were
obtained by the author from John Wadso, an intelligent
member of the St. Francis tribe, and others were given
to his nephew by aged St. Francis Indians.

According to Robinson, the name Missisquoi origi-
nally was Masseepskee, The Land of Arrow Flints,
while the river now bearing the name was called
Azzusatuquake, the Backward-running Stream. The
Lamoille, or La Mouelle, River was Wintoak, or Marrow
River. The Winooski was Winooskie-took, or Onion
Land River, so called from the leeks or wild onions grow-
ing along the stream. The La Plotte River appears on
an old map as the Quineaska, and was called by the
Indians Quineska-took, from the name given to Shel-
burne Point, meaning Long Joint, as it was supposed to
represent a man's forearm.

Rock Dunder was Wujahose, The Forbidden, a refer-
ence to a spirit supposed to guard the rock. Grand Isle
was K'chenamehau, The Great Island. Split Rock was


called Tobapsqua, The Pass Through the Rock, and
Thompson's Point, Kozoapsqua, The Long Rocky Point.
Lewis Creek was Sungahnee-took, Fish-weir River, and
Little Otter was Wonaketookese, meaning Little Otter
River. The stream now called Otter Creek had two
Indian names, Wonakake-took, Otter River, and Pecouk-
took. Crooked River. The falls at Vergennes were
known as Netahmepuntook, The First or Lower Falls
of the River.

Neshobe, the original name of Brandon, indicated
Clear-running Water. Camel's Hump Mountain was
called Tah-wah-be-de-e-wadso, or Ladelle Mountain,
and Mount Mansfield was known as Moze-o-de-be-
wadso, or The Moose Head Mountain.

In addition to the Robinson list other names may be
added. Lake Champlain was called by the Iroquois,
Caniaderi-Guarunte, The Door of the Country; also by
the Abnakis, Petoubouque, The Waters that Lie Be-
tween, and Peta-pargow, The Great Water. Lake Dun-
more was Moosalamoo, The Lake of the Silver Trout.
The Connecticut River was Quinni-tukq-ut, or Quoneh-
tu-cut, The Long Tidal River. White River was called
Cascadnac, or Pure Water. Wells, the Newbury his-
torian, says that Coos was interpreted in a variety of
ways, including A Crooked River, A Wide Valley, A
Place of Tall Pines, and A Great Fishing Place.

Probably Lake Bomoseen was named for an Indian
chief, Bommozeen, who lived in the vicinity of Norridge-
wock, Me. Maquam is said to be a corruption of the
original name Bopquam. The name of the Taconic
Mountains comes from an Indian word meaning The


Forest Plantation, or The Field in the Woods. Lake
Memphremagog is said to derive its name from the
Abnaki word, Mamhrahogak, Large Expanse of Water.

Chapter IV

FOLLOWING the disastrous defeat of the alHed
Indian tribes of New England under the leader-
ship of King Philip, and the death of that famous
chieftain in 1676, there was an extensive migration from
southern New England of the survivors of these tribes,
some going to Canada, while others fled to the Hudson
River. The French had been successful, as a rule, in
establishing friendly relations with the Indians, more
successful than the English, and they welcomed the
refugees, realizing the value of such accessions. The
New York authorities also encouraged the New Eng-
land Indians to settle in that colony.

About 1676 fugitives from the Pennacook, Pocum-
tuck, Narragansett, Nipmuc, and Wampanoag tribes,
driven out of New England, founded the Indian village
of Scaticook, on the east bank of the Hudson, near the
mouth of the Hoosac River. The greater part of the
Pennacooks, however, fled to Canada. In 1683 the first
village of St. Francis was established at the falls of
the Chaudiere, in Quebec, by Indian converts from Sil-
lery, the latter place being abandoned soon after. In
1700 the village of St. Francis was removed to a loca-
tion near Pierreville, Que. This village became a rally-
ing place for many New England Indians, driven out by
the fortunes of war, or dissatisfied by the growing
strength of the English colonists. In 1725 the remnant
of the Sokaki and Pequamket tribes removed to St.
Francis, and later other bands of Indians followed.
Indeed, there seems to have been a pretty steady stream
of Indian migration to Canada for many years.


The New York authorities sought to win away the
St. Francis Indians to Scaticook, while the French
attempted a counter attraction. The Canadian officials
were so successful that the Scaticook settlement, which
numbered about one thousand souls in 1702, had
dwindled to two hundred in 1721, and during the
French and Indian War the last of the tribe withdrew
to Canada.

It is not strange that these fugitives became embittered
toward the English settlers. They had seen their hunt-
ing grounds in New England appropriated for farms
and villages. They could not fail to observe their own
waning power, while the strength of the English waxed
greater with every passing year, and the situation was
one that, unchecked, indicated ultimate extermination for
the native tribes. Already they had suffered humiliat-
ing defeats at the hands of the colonists, and they were
ready to listen eagerly to the suggestions of the French
that they join that nation in an attempt to check, and
perhaps to destroy, the rapidly growing power of the

A careful study of the Canadian incursions into
Massachusetts during the Colonial period tends to estab-
lish the fact, heretofore not given the importance that
it deserves, that one of the most important centers of
Indian hostility to New England, second only to the
St. Francis settlement, and, perhaps, at times equal to it,
was the native village near the mouth of the Missisquoi
River, described in a previous chapter. This village
was situated only a few miles south of the present inter-
national boundary line. Until the close of the French


and Indian War all the region around Lake Champlain
was controlled by the French, so that a raid from the
Missisquoi was considered a raid from Canada as truly
as one originating at St. Francis.

The date of the establishment of the Abnaki settle-
ment on the Missisquoi may not easily be determined,
but there are indications that it was soon after the migra-
tion of New England tribes to Canada began, following
the overthrow of King Philip. Peter Schuyler of
Albany, a commissioner for Indian affairs, in a letter
to Governor Dongan of New York, dated September 7,
1687, regarding some of the River Indians, who had
visited Montreal with a party of Abnakis, said :

"They putt our Indians upon the way hither giving
them provisions as much as carried them to a castle of
Pennacook Indians, where they wanted for nothing."

The greater part of the Pennacook tribe, which was
located in the Merrimac valley in southern New Hamp-
shire, fled to Canada in 1676, the year of King
Philip's defeat. While most of their emigrants are
supposed to have settled near Quebec, and later to have
removed to St. Francis, it is not impossible that some
of them may have settled on the Missisquoi River, as the
relation between the Missisquoi and St. Francis villages
seems to have been close. The direct route, and the
natural route, from Montreal to Albany was by way of
Lake Champlain. The Indian village of St. Francis at
this time was located in the Beauce district of the
Chaudiere valley, between the city of Quebec and the
Maine border, and was far away from the route to
Albany. There is nothing improbable in the assumption


that a portion of the Pennacook tribe, or some of the
Indians who had recently fled from southern New Eng-
land to Canada, had established themselves near the
mouth of the Missisquoi as early as 1687.

In the ''Jesuit Relations" reference is made to a meet-
ing held at Quebec, October 10, 1682, at the house of the
Jesuit Fathers, at which many of the provincial officials
and leaders were present to take action "against the
secret machinations of the Iroquois," and to protect out-
lying Indian settlements. This determination was
reached: ''Consequently, the utmost efforts must be
made to prevent them (the Iroquois) from ruining the
natives as they have heretofore ruined the Algonquins,
Andastag, Loups, Abenaquis and others, whose rem-
nants we have at the settlements of Sillery, Laurette,
Lake Champlain and others scattered among us." This
would indicate that some of the fragments of Indian
tribes which sought refuge in Canada, located at Lake
Champlain very early, as soon as the location at Sillery.
The only Indian settlement on Lake Champlain of which
we have any positive and definite knowledge, is the one
near the mouth of the Missisquoi.

There are scattered references to the Missisquoi settle-
ment in the ''History of the Catholic Church in the
United States," as follows: "Fort St. Therese (on the
Richelieu River) was abandoned in 1690. It is about
this time that the Abnaki Indians appeared on the
Missisquoi River, on the Winooski and on Otter Creek,
having been driven from Maine by the English in 1680."


"From 1687 to 1760 we find them on the Missisquoi
River, on the Winooski and on the Otter Creek.
* * * Having been driven from Maine by the Eng-
lish in 1680, the Governor of Canada gave them the
country which extends from the River Chaudiere on
the St. Laurent, to the River RicheHeu and Lake Cham-
plain. * * * Catholicity flourished among the
Abenaquis for lengthened periods on the shores of the
Missisquoi and Winooski Rivers, Otter Creek, and other
places. * * * They (the Indians) had a permanent
chapel on the Missisquoi River, near Swanton, on the
Highgate side, for a good many years. * * * This
chapel was in existence in 1775. * * * Another
chapel built of stone and containing a bell existed near
Ferrisburg, and doubtless there were others throughout
the State."

Although unmistakable evidences of Indian settle-
ments have been found near the mouths of Otter Creek
and the Winooski River, evidence is lacking to prove
that either settlement was as important or as enduring
as that on the Missisquoi in Swanton.

In a letter to Dr. George McAleer of Worcester,
Mass., who has made a most exhaustive study of the
entire Missisquoi region in order to determine the deriva-
tion of the name, William Wallace Tooker, author of
the "Algonquin Series," and a well-known Indian
scholar, writes : "After the English forces from Fort
Richmond, under Capt. Johnson Harmon, attacked the
Abnaki Indians of Maine at Norridgewock, on the Ken-
nebec River, August 12, 1724, burnt their fort and vil-
lage, and slew Father Rasles, the French missionary


there, the survivors migrated west to the head of Lake
Champlain, then under the control of the French colo-
nists of Canada."

Some other historians say these survivors went to the
St. Francis village, but the close relations between the
St. Francis settlement and that on the Missisquoi, make
it possible that the fugitives may have gone first to St.
Francis, and later to the Champlain village, or that some
historians, not realizing the importance of the Missisquoi
village, have assumed that the Indians went to St.
Francis because they went to Canada.

Doctor McAleer concludes ''that the territory now
known as Vermont, including Missisquoi Bay and
environs, was in early times under the domination of
the Iroquois.

"That they were supplanted by the Abenaquis.

''That the Abenaquis had for the time a large settle-
ment at Swanton Falls that was in existence some
seventy-five years or longer."

He also says that the Abnakis, or Abenaquis, "made
quite a large settlement during the early part of the
eighteenth century, if not earlier, on the Missisquoi
River at Swanton Falls, and which was there main-
tained for more than half a century."

It is stated in "Despatches and Orders of the King"
(of France), under date of May 24, 1744, that "The
establishment of the mission at Missiskoui may also
conduce to this end (the further settlement and develop-
ment of this region) by means of the spiritual aids which

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 34)