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   Volume 6 Issue 2 February 2001   


As I mentioned last month, this newsletter will give more information on New Moon Nanapashemet, the Pawtucket Sachem, and great grandfather of our ancestor, James Wiser, alias Rumneymarsh, or Quanapohit.

The following is taken from the website;, and quoted in its entirety.

"Royalty And Morality"

“The Tarrentine Indians swept down from the North and engaged their Southern neighbors in war. When the final battle ended, King Nanapashemet, the Grand Sachem of the Massachusetts tribe of Indians was dead and his widow and followers buried him near his lodge on a high hill. This Indian Battle took place in the year 1619, one year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth and it took  place in the area of what is now Medford and Everett, Massachusetts.

King Nanapashamet left as heirs to his Indian Monarchy, his wife and three sons. His youngest son was Prince Wenepoykin later to be called "George Rumneymarsh". He lived and ruled the area known as Rumneymarsh. We know it today as Revere. His next son was Prince Monowampotate, later called "Sagamore James" (Sagamore being the Indian name for Chieftain). He ruled in the Saugus and Lynn area. The youngest son was Prince Wonohagoham called "Sagamore John" by the white man and his domain was along the Medford, Everett area where the Mystic River empties into the Bay.

Nanapashemet's widow and her three sons ruled as undisputed leaders in this area and she became known as "Squaw Sachem" or the "queen of the Massachusetts".Two years later in September 1621, Myles Standish with ten soldiers and five Indians, among them, Squanto, the famous Indian scout, left Plymouth in a small boat and made their way up the Massachusetts coast, across the Great Harbor and landed on the northern side of the Mystic River. The expedition from Plymouth was to attempt to meet the "Squaw Sachem", to make friends and to set up trade with the Massachusetts Indians. .Squaw Sachem was not at the Mystic river camp, but at her winter home in the area of Concord, Massachusetts.  However, along the banks of the Mystic a handful of Indian men and squaws met Myles Standish and his party, and at first were petrified at the sight of the whitemen and their musket. When the Indians realized their visitors were up to no harm, they prepared food and shared a great feast with their English guests. This took place on one of the hilltops in the Everett-Medford area.

As the Pilgrims were preparing to leave, Squanto, the Indian guide, suggested to Myles Standish that they kill the Massachusetts Indians and steal their furs and pelts. But the Englishmen would have no part of it. The Indian women, as a sign of friendship removed their furs and gave them to the white men. The Indian squaws then covered their nakedness with branches and leaves. In a diary kept of these events by one of the English soldiers, it makes reference to the dignity of the so-called savage women, who had much more modesty than some of the women who came over on the Mayflower. Just a little insight as to the morality of some of our early New England ancestors. Copyright ã 1974 Ed Ricci Reprinted by permission of the estate of Edward R. Ricci”

The following is taken from the website;, about the history of Winchester, Massachusetts.


“Fog shrouds a flooded meadow above the lane leading from Arlington Street to "Fairmount Spring" and "Bartlett Piggeries" in this 1901 photograph [photograph not included, visit website]. This area was the resort of Squaw Sachem and other Indians. The brook is located on Myopia Hill, now on Winchester Country Club land.

The history of the sachems of Winchester actually ends in 1650 with the death of the Squaw Sachem. By terms of a deed she signed, all Indians were to depart after that. There is, however, some further known history of the family of Nanepashemet and Squaw Sachem and of Indian presence in Winchester.

After the deaths of Nanepashemet (1619), his sons Wonohaquaham and Montowampate (1633), and the Squaw Sachem (1650), two more children of Nanepashemet and his wife survived, Wenepoykin and Yawate.

Born about 1616, Wenepoykin, called Sagamore George by the English, was heir to his brothers' lands from Charlestown up to Salem, where he had his principal residence. He was born about 1616.

Reverend John Higginson wrote that "to the best of my remembrance, when I came over with my father to this place, being then about 13 years old, there was a widow woman called Squaw Sachem who had three sons. Sagamore John kept at Mystic, Sagamore James at Saugus, and Sagamore George here at Naumkeke. Whether he was actual sachem here I cannot say, for he was about my age, and I think there was an older man, that was at least his guardian. But the Indian town of Wigwams was on the north side of the North River, not farre from Simondes, and the north and south side of that river was together called 'Naumkeke.'"

Wenepoykin married Ahawayet, daughter of Poquanum of Nahant. Their family included a son Manatahqua and three daughters, reputedly very beautiful and known as "the feathers." There were at least three grandchildren: Nonupanohow, Wutanoh, and Tontoquon.

Wenepoykin had reason to dislike the English. His brothers had died from smallpox, which he may have associated with the coming of the English. His father-in-law was lynched by the English for a crime he did not commit.

The English were taking all the tribal lands. His mother's lands were all English by 1650, and he himself had land disputes with the English.

Numerous quarrels arose between the English and the natives. Some of these were fairly settled in the Indians' favor by the courts. Others, including appeals by Wenepoykin for compensation and justice, were not.

More Indians were becoming disillusioned about the English and the hope that the English and Indians could share the land in peace and friendship. Wenepoykin was one of those.

Conversely, Wenepoykin's sister, married to Oonsamong and the mother of at least one son, had accepted Christianity and moved to the praying village at Natick. After King Philip's War broke out (1675), her family was loyal to the English. Her son, known as James Rumney Marsh or James Quonopohit, even helped the English as a spy.   [This is our ancestor, James Wiser.]

Their loyalty, however, did not prevent an order, brought on by war hysteria, that they and other Indians from the praying villages be interred on Deer Island for the duration of the war. Intended as protection, it was a misery from which more Indians died.

During the war, Wenepoykin joined the Wampanoag sachem Metacom, called King Philip, in his war against the English. He was captured, sold into slavery, and rescued after eight years in Barbadoes through the efforts of John Eliot.

According to a document in the Essex Registry of Deeds, "Sagamore George, when he come from Barbadoes, lived some time, and died at the house of James Rumneymarsh." Reportedly, he lived with his sister and nephew, who survived Deer Island, in Natick, until he died in 1684. Afterwards, his widow and heirs deeded their territory in Marblehead, Lynn, and Salem to the settlers.

From then on, the family history of Nanepashemet becomes lost. It is known that Nanepashemet and his wife had grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but what became of them after the end of the 17th century is not known.

Indians in Winchester

According to George Cooke (1885), "Traditions represent that the Indians continued to visit this region even after they were driven to distant parts. ... Stephen Swan (deceased in 1871, aged 86) frequently said to his children that his father (John Swan, born 1734) spoke of the yearly visits of the Indians to Squaw Sachem's brook, where they would remain a few days. They had planted certain roots and herbs upon the banks of this stream, evidently for medicinal purposes. They often came to his house in a friendly manner.

"Also he relates that the Indians had the custom of passing up from the tide-water through the Mystic Ponds on to Horn Pond, where they encamped and remained during some part of the warm season.

"This custom was in fact continued to a comparatively recent date, even after the completion of the Middlesex Canal.

"Mrs. Cyrus Butters remembers, and many others may also remember, the Indians coming up through the Middlesex Canal, remaining at the 'Lock House' over night, moving their canoes, tents, and other baggage around the locks upon their backs."

A solitary woman, Hannah Shiner, lived alone "in a hut by a spring upon the eastern margin of Turkey Swamp, where she made baskets and 'Indian trinkets' for sale, when not employed among the families in mending chair-bottoms, or other services."

She was also remembered to have lived in an old house at the corner of Church and Bacon streets and to have been accompanied in her travels by a little dog. "She, too, had the habit of visiting the Squaw Sachem Brook."

According to Charles Brooks, she was "kind-hearted, a faithful friends, a sharp enemy, a judge of herbs, a weaver of baskets, and a lover of rum." In 1820 she fell from the bridge that crossed the Aberjona in the village center and drowned.

Since then, there have been reports of Indian artifacts being found in the area, but otherwise the record of Indian history in Winchester ends--not with the optimism with which the story began, but with this last sad incident

*(Stories of Winchester-area men involved in Indian wars and of one incident connected with King Philip's war are told in the History of Winchester.)”


Once again, thanks for all your positive input on our family newsletter. You may contact me at or 6 Baton Rouge, Roswell, NM  88201.