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WISER NEWSLETTER

Volume 4 Issue 7                                                                July 1999


 

RESEARCH FINDINGS

 

As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, our ancestor James Wiser was also known by the Indian name of what appears to be “Qualapanii”.

 

I just finished reading two books, John Eliot’s Mission to the Indians before King Philip’s War, by Richard W. Cogley, Harvard University Press, 1999, and The Name of War, (King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity), by Jill Lepore, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1998.

 

On pages 32 to 33 of  The Name of War, there is an excellent time line of the events leading up to King Philip’s War:

 

1631  Eliot immigrates to New England.

1637  Sassamon serves with the English forces in the Pequot War.

1646  Eliot begins preaching in the Massachusett language.

1647  Eliot begins publishing promotional tracts in England.

1650  Natick is settled.

1651  Sassamon becomes a schoolmaster at Natick.

1653  Sassamon attends Harvard College.

1654  Eliot publishes his first book in Massachusett.

1655  The Indian College is built at Harvard.

1658  Eliot imports press, fonts, and a pressman.

1659  James Printer begins an apprenticeship at the Cambridge Press.

1662  Massasoit dies; Alexander succeeds him.  Sassamon begins working for Alexander.  Alexander dies.  Philip [“King Philip”] assumes the sachemship and Sassamon begins working for him.

1663  The first edition of the complete Massachusett Bible is printed at Cambridge.

1664  Eliot reports that Sassamon is teaching Philip to read.  Sassamon continues to serve Philip as scribe and translator.

1671  Philip is reported arming for war but is subdued.  Eliot orders Sassamon to attempt to convert Philip.

1673  Sassamon is deeded land in Namasket, where he becomes minister.

1675  Sassamon is killed; war breaks out.

 

As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, John Eliot began preaching and “converting” the Indians in Massachusetts about 1646. 

Various groups of “Christian Indians” lived in and around what were called “praying towns”.  

 

The Puritans had been unsuccessful in “converting” most of the Indians, including Philip, son of Massasoit (remember the Indian who greeted the Pilgrims). 

  

In January 1675, John Sassamon, a Christian Indian and a trusted advisor of Philip, had met with Josiah Winslow, Plymouth’s colony governor, to warn him of Philip’s plans to start a war against the colonists.  On his way home, Sassamon was apparently murdered and his body was left under the ice of Assawopset Pond.  Three men of Philip were charged, convicted and executed for this “apparent murder”, which the colonists felt had been ordered by Philip himself.  This event became the catalyst for the beginning of King Philip’s War.

 

From this time until July 1676, the Indians attacked and killed over eight hundred men, women and children and laid waste many towns and villages in New England.

 

The “Christian Indians” were put in a precarious position between these attacking Indians and the New Englanders.  The colonists did not trust any “Indian” and as a result, most of the “Christian Indians” were put on Deer Island in Boston during the war where they suffered greatly.  The “Christian Indians” were also hated by the attacking Indians and were carried into captivity, if not killed, during the attacking Indians’ raids.

 

In February 1676, the town of Lancaster, Massachusetts was attacked.  A colonist Mary Rowlandson, the wife of the local Puritan minister, was taken captive. 

She was a captive of the Indians for three months.   With the help of a “Christian Indian”, James Printer, (himself a captive of these same Indians when the praying town of Hassanemesit had been attacked in November 1675), Mary Rowlandson’s release was obtained.  She wrote of her adventures among the Indians in a book called, The Soveraignty and Goodness of God.

 

The war essentially ended with the execution of “King Philip” on August 12, 1676, though small skirmishes with Indians continued for many years.

 

After the war, some Christian Indians taken into captivity, who returned to Massachusetts, were convicted and executed for treason (because even though they were in captivity, they must have been helping the enemy).  One such Indian was Captain Tom (who I will talk about later).  James Printer only survived such a fate because of his help in securing Mary Rowlandson’s release.

 

This is the background of a most intriguing quote (and very profound for our family history) taken from pages 143 to 144 of The Name of War:

 

“A Christian Indian named James Quanapaug, who had served with Job Kattenanit as a spy for the English, testified that when he was among the Nipmucks [the attacking Indians, not the Nipmucks converted to Christianity in the praying towns] he had seen Captain Tom and “heard him say that he was caried away from Hassanmiku [Hassanemesit in November 1675] by the enimy though he was also afraid to goe to deere island.”  Furthermore, Quanapaug had “heard som of the enimy mock Tom & som heard of the indians carried captive that they cryed when they were caried away, more like squas than men.  Capt. Tom also told me that hee was wearing of living among those wicked indians, & greatly desired to bee among the praying indians & englisshe againe...[he] told me that hee never had or would fight against the english.”  (Job Kattenanit was also available to corroborate Quanapaug’s story.)  Although Quanapaug’s testimony provided compelling evidence that Captain Tom had in fact been a captive among the enemy Indians, several Englishmen contradicted this account.  As a result, he was found guilty of treason and executed.

 

The name of Quanapaug seemed similar to Qualapanii (from my last newsletter).

 

So when I looked up the footnote to this section of the book, to my surprise and delight, it said, “James Quanapaug’s name is also rendered as Quannupokkis or Quannapohit, and he is sometimes referred to as Rummy Marsh and by an entirely different name, James Wiser (deposition of James Quanapaug [here spelled Quannupokkis] alias Rummy Marsh before the Massachusetts Council, undated, Mass. Arch. 30:172).  On James Quanapaug’s journey among the Nipmucks see the full testimony he provided upon his return, dated January 24, 1676, and transcribed in MHSC, 1st series, 6 (1799): 205-208.”

 

If there is any truth to this statement, then 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 additional research with the understanding that much more proof is needed for an unqualified statement that this is our line of ancestry:

 

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

 

Our earliest known ancestor would be James Rumneymarsh (alias Quanapaug, Wiser), who married Mary Ponham and was born in 1636.

I believe that James also had a brother Anthony (more research to follow on this).

 

James and Mary had least the following two children, and probably four, if you include the Wisers:

 

1)  Israel Rumneymarsh, born about 1675, who died Feb 1744/1745 at Natick, MA.  He married Esther and had a large family, Samuel, James, Bethia, Sarah and Mary.

 

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.

 

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, who was the son of James Printer, mentioned above), 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 Hassanemesit (in the present township of Grafton) where the Printers and Wisers Indians lived.  As I do more research, I become more convinced that we are descended from the Wiser Indians, alias Quanapaug.  Who knows, I may find that Quanapaug, means “Wise” or “Wiser” in Algonquin.  That will have to wait for my next research trip to Massachusetts.

 

POSTSCRIPT

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Ron Wiser                                         6 Baton Rouge                        Roswell, NM  88201

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