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WISER NEWSLETTER

Volume 5 Issue 2                                                        February 2000


RESEARCH FINDINGS

In the August 1999 newsletter, I discussed James Quanapaug, also known as James Quannupokkis, Quannaphohit, Rumneymarsh or Wiser, who may be our ancestor.

 

I have been asked why our ancestor would have used multiple names.  This is explained in detail in the book, “Dispossession by Degrees, Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650-1790”, by Jean M. O’Brien.

 

On page 94; “Mixed use of Massachusett and English is also evident in Natick naming practices.  Since the beginning of English colonization, Indians throughout New England had blended English and Indian naming conventions.  Into the early eighteenth century, some Natick Indians continued to use two names: one Massachusett and one English. 

 

Capt. Thomas Waban, the most prominent writer of Massachusett and English in Natick, also used his Indian name, Weegramomenit.  Dual name usage included women and men, such as Susannah Ephraim (Muttassonshq), and John Thomas Sr. (Naamishcow).

 

Changing naming practices did not represent a rejection of Indian identity, but a blending of English and Massachusett signifiers.  Indians used several methods when altering names to reflect more typically English usage. 

 

Some families inscribed a distinctly Indian signifier upon themselves and their progeny instead of borrowing English names wholesale, by using an aboriginal name as a surname, such as the Wabans, the Awassamugs, and the Wamsquans.  Then they passed surnames down, patrilineally, in English fashion.  This had been the case for some families since the founding of Natick.

 

 Others used shortened versions of a Native name, including the Peeguns (Unqunpeegun), Comechos (Sokmecho), and Paugenits (Kenepaugenit).  Still others adopted an English surname, often choosing names usually thought of as Christian names, such as Ephraim, Abraham, and Thomas. 

 

Territorial associations may account for some surnames, such as the Rumneymarsh family, which had ties to the Pawtucket region and English town of that name.  [there is a Rumney Marsh Brook, a stream in Bristol County, MA near Pawtucket, RI].

 

Some Massachusett surnames may have indicated clan associations, as is likely in the case of Kenepaugenit (codfish). 

 

Indians had begun to change their names in the seventeenth century, and this practice continued into the early eighteenth century.  For example, sometime before 1719 John Takichape became known as John George.”

 

As mentioned in previous newsletters, our James Wiser, alias Qualapanii, is actually James Wiser, alias Quanapaug, Rumneymarsh, possibly the son of John Oonsamog and “Princess Yawata”, but more likely the son of Old John and Joan, as I detailed in the December 1998 newsletter.

 

So I would suggest the following for his children with the understanding that much more proof is needed for an unqualified statement that this is our family.  Jean O’Brien helps us understand why his children had different surnames.

 

John Quanahphkit married Joan and lived in Natick, MA.  They had at least one child:

 

James Rumneymarsh (alias Quanapaug, Wiser), who married Mary Ponham and was born in 1636.

I believe that James also had a brother Anthony.

 

James and Mary (Ponham) Wiser probably had at least the following four children:

 

1)  Israel Rumneymarsh, born about 1675, who died Feb 1744/1745 at Natick, MA.  He married Esther and had at least five children, Samuel, James, Bethiah, Sarah and Mary.  More follows on this family at the end of the newsletter.

 

2)  Sarah Quanahpohkit (Quanapaug), born 1679, died after 1759.

 

3)  Benjamin Wiser, born about 1680,

died Nov 1737 in Natick.

 

4)  James Wiser, born about 1685, who died July 1741 in Natick, who probably married Hannah, and was the father of at least four sons:

 

a)  James Wiser, born about 1715, died about 1744, probably in the Caribbean [on the Expedition to Cartagena,  Columbia],  possibly married Ruth Bowman, and was the father of our probable ancestor, Benjamin Wiser, who was born about 1743, and died after 1812 near Cazenovia, NY.

 

b) Joseph Wiser, who died 25 Dec 1745.

 

c)  John Wiser, who was born about 1721 and died 9 Jan 1746 in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in a English battle with the French.

 

d)  Benjamin Wiser, who was born about 1725 in Natick, who married Sarah Printer (daughter of Ammi Printer), 19 Oct 1747 in Southboro, Massachusetts and who died as a dignified colonist farmer in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1771. 

 

As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, Alathea Wiser (known daughter of our Benjamin Wiser) and wife of Luther Morse, was born 27 Sep 1768 in Westborough, MA according to Morse family records (sent in by descendants of Luther and Alathea Morse).  Westborough is adjacent to Hassinamisco (which is now known as Grafton, MA) where the Printers and Wisers Indians lived. 

 

The more research I do, the more I am convinced that we are descended from the Wiser Indians, alias Quanapaug.  As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, I may find that Quanapaug, means “Wise” or “Wiser” in Algonquin.

 

Israel Rumneymarsh (brother of James Wiser) also lived in Natick. 

From the same book by Jean M. O’Brien, on page 159; “Although no evidence survives that describes proprietor Israel Rumneymarsh’s perspective on the land market, his land activities suggest that he resisted its influence.  Granted sixty acres in the initial division, Rumneymarsh had no other land laid out in his right until after 1737.  A total of just over 220 acres were laid out between 1737 and 1763. [Samuel Rumneymarsh, son of the proprietor, died three years after his father.  No personal estate was inventoried for him, either.  In 1759, at age eighty, Samuel’s widow, Sarah, petitioned to sell this “unimproved” land (ten acres) for her support].

 

During his lifetime, Rumneymarsh sold a total of 8 ½ acres in three parcels to two Indians, and he exchanged land once with an Englishman.  Twenty acres more went to his daughter Sarah and her husband, Jeffrey Henry, for “affection.” [Jeffrey later married Mary Toss].  He and his wife, Esther, had five children, who had survived to adulthood (Samuel, James, Bethiah, Sarah and Mary), but all five had died by the time their father’s estate was settled in 1750. [The Rumneymarsh family usually used this surname, or Rumbleymarsh, but sometimes used Pumhammon.  An Israel Bumhainun appears on a 1702 petition of Natick Indians, and Samuel Rumneymarsh’s estate settlement is filed under Pumhammon alias Rumneymarsh].

 

Israel Rumneymarsh’s grandchildren inherited land after his death in 1745.  Just about 140 acres valued at 1,282 pounds were inventoried as Israel’s estate, including lands laid out in settling the estate. When the final division of common lands was being negotiated in 1763, the proprietary right of Israel Rumneymarsh was represented alternatively by Sarah Rumneymarsh, Sarah Lawrence (an Indian with unknown connections to the family), and Englishman Samuel Morse.”

 

Notice the similarity of given names to our family, Samuel, James and Sarah, and some type of relationship to the Morse family of Natick.

 

Also on pages 130-131 of the same book, there is more information on Jeffrey Henry; “ Proprietor Samuel Ompetowin and his wife, Hannah, daughter of original convert Robin Speen, both died in 1722, leaving no children who have been identified.  In the course of a long and complicated settlement, Samuel’s sister Mary Toss was made beneficiary of estate proceeds that were to earn interest for her support, and she became sole heir to his proprietary right.  Mary and Jeffrey Henry married in 1739 [after the death of his first wife, Sarah Rumneymarsh], and they attempted to establish an English-style farm in Natick.  Jeffrey moved to sell land in 1742 so he could procure oxen and some husbandry tools, needed because he had “cleared, fenced, and Brought to English grass a Good piece of Ground,” and desired a “convenient Dwelling house.”  He also had care of his father, who was old and had been blind for twenty-five years.  Jeffrey claimed to be a proprietor, but is was his wife who held the common right. 

 

Mary and Jeffrey Henry gave up their residence in Natick permanently sometime between 1742 and 1753.  In 1755 they moved to sell “Divers Lotts of Land” in Natick descended to the said Marcy from her brother Samll Umpinton Late of said Providence” as resident of Providence themselves.  Needing a means of support because they were, “So far advance in years that they are at present past hard Labour,” the couple asked that the proceeds be managed by Englishmen Jonathan Olney and John Andrews of Providence, whom they had chosen as their English guardians, and John Jones and Jonathan Richardson, English guardians of the Natick Indians. 

 

When Mary Henry’s estate went to probate in Middlesex County in 1770, the small proceeds of her remaining assets went toward paying costs of administration, as well as Mary’s board and nursing charges brought by her daughter.  The tiny inheritance left after discharging the debts was split between Mary’s daughters, Hannah Toss and Mary Caesar, the nieces of proprietor Samuel and Hannah Speen Ompetowin.”

 

I am also including a census that was taken in Natick in 1749.  Just a few years previous to this, our Wiser family had left Natick and relocted in Worcester County, Massachusetts.

It would be likely that some of the following are relatives of the family.

This census is taken from the Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 1st Series, Vol. 10 (1792): pages 134-135.

 

A LIST OF THE NAMES OF THE INDIANS OLD AND YOUNG, VIZ.  PARENTS WITH THE NUMBER OF THEIR, CHILDREN BOTH MALE AND FEMALE, WHICH LIVE IN OR BELONG TO NATICK; TAKEN JUNE 16, 1749. FOUND AMONG THE PAPERS OF THE LATE THADDEUS MASON, ESQ., OF CAMBRIDGE, AND PRESENTED BY HIS ELDEST DAUGHTER TO THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 

Deacon Ephraim, wife and her 3 children

Isaac Ephraim      

Jacob Chalcom, wife and 3 children 

Jeremy Comacho, wife and one child

Joseph Comacho, wife and one child     

Daniel Thomas, wife and one child

Elizabeth, Ann and Unice Brooks

Abram Spreen, wife and one child

Widow Comocho                

Judith Ephraim and 2 children

Prince Nyar and wife                          

5 children of Samuel Abram

Widow of said Samuel Abram and one child 

Widow of Hezekiah Comacho and 2 children                         

 

These 42 above named belong to the south side of Charles river by Dedham.

 

Peter Brand, wife and 2 children       

Peter Ephraim,wife and 4 children

John Ephraim, wife and 3 children

Thomas Awonsamug, Jun. wife and one child

Widow Rumnemarsh and Zipporah Peegun   

3 children of Solomon Thomas         

2 Widow Sooducks, Widow Tray and Thomas Scoggin             

Benjamin, Jonas, Hannah and Mary Tray       

Joseph Sinee, wife and 3 children

William Thomas and 2 children

Mary George                        

Nat Hill, wife and 7 children

Widow Womsquon, and 4 children

Solomon Womsquon,wife and 3 children                       

Jonas Obscow                     

Widow Pitimee, Ruth and Ruth's 2 children

 

These 64 south of Sawpit Hill on Peegun Plain and nearer now to meeting than said hill is, unless there be a mistake in Sol. Womsquon.

 

Thomas Peegan, wife and 3 children

Josiah Sooduck and wife   

Widow Tom and one child and Sarah Francis               

5 Pogenits            

 

All before mentioned are within two miles and an half of our meeting house.

 

Nathaniel Coochuck, wife and child

Josiah Speen, wife, child and grand child       

Moses Speen and child     

Widow Speen      

Betty Babesuck and her niece Rhoda               Patience Pequassis             

  Zachary son of Hannah Speen       

  Daniel Speen      

  Samuel Speen    

 

These 16 live west, or own land most of them west of Sawpit Hill, and it is to be noted that Deacon Ephraim's wife's 4 children, which by mistake are said to be 3, own land west of said hill, so doth Samuel Lawrance and it may be Mary Peegun.

 

Ester Thomas and child     

Thomas Awonsamug, wife and 3 children      

Sarah Rumnemarsh             

Samuel Lawrance, Thomas and Hannah Waban

Widow Mary Peegun and 5 children

Oliver Sooduck, Job Speen's child

Bethia Cole                                           

Mary, daughter of Sarah Wornsquon

Joseph and Joshua Brook

Hannah Peetimee's child

Esther Sooduck                   

Elizabeth Wages

 

The most of the last 26 usually resided on the south east of  Peegun plain, and so are accommodated as the meeting house now stands.

 

Having carefully considered the within list, and being well acquainted with Natick, we hereby signify that we are well assured it may be depended on as a true one, except that perhaps we have not thought of every one, and we hope some may be alive who have been soldiers or at sea, not here named.  [Many of our family were lost in military service during this time, see James and John Wiser mentioned above].

His

   Joseph X Ephraim.

Mark

Jacob Chalcom.

John Ephraim.

Daniel Thomas.

 

[A note appeared at the bottom of the census which is a small chronological history of Natick].

 

In 1651, an Indian town was formed at Natick.

In 1660, an Indian church was embodied there.

 

In 1670, there were two teachers, John and Anthony, and between 40 and 50 communicants.

In 1753, in Natick 25 families, beside several individuals.

In 1763, 37 Indians only; but in this return, probably the wandering Indians were not included.

In 1797, the Rev. Mr. Badger, of Natick, estimated the number of 11 “clear blooded" Indians, then in this place, and belonging to it, to be "near twenty”. The number of church members was then “reduced to twenty three.”

 

OBITUARY

Placerville [CA]Mountain-Democrat, Friday, 8 Oct 1999, p. A-9; Louise Wiser Kiholm (Samuel Glenn, Samuel Frost, John McCormick, Samuel, Benjamin), 77, died on Oct. 5 in Burlingame.  Mrs. Kiholm was born Oct. 16, 1921 in Lewiston, Utah.  She was a resident of Camino since 1973.  She was preceded in death by her son, Robert Kiholm.  She is survived by her husband of 57 years, A.T. "Ki" Kiholm of Camino; son Richard Kiholm of Camino; daughters Teri Ellison of Florence, Ore., Gayle McAllister of Camino and Mary Lou Williams of Salt Lake City, Utah; brothers Wendall Wiser of Bountiful, Utah, Farrell Wiser of Centerville, Utah, and Cordell Wiser of Long Beach; sisters Maretta Jess of St. George, Utah; Cara Lou Vance of Salt Lake City and Maxine Cummings of Prove, Utah; 25 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren. Interment will be at the Lewiston City Cemetery in Utah.  Arrangements were made by Green Valley Mortuary in Cameron Park.

POSTSCRIPT

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Ron Wiser                                          6 Baton Rouge                         Roswell, NM  88201

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