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WISER NEWSLETTER

Volume 4 Issue 5                                                                May 1999


As discussed in previous newsletters,  I believe that our Wiser family are of  Indian (Nipmuck) descent.

 

From the “Concise Dictionary of Indian Tribes of North America”, page 311, there is a good summary of the Nipmuck Indians.

 

“Nipmuc: A small Algonquian tribe located in the central plateau region of Massachusetts, between the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers.  Nipmuc translates as “freshwater fishing place.”  Numbering about 500 in 1600, they were extinct as a tribe by the late 18th century.

 

Their villages had no strong political connection with each other, resulting in their being dominated by their stronger neighbors, the Massachuset, Pequot, Narraganset, and Wampanoag tribes.  Tribute was paid to these, as well as to the Mohawk, further west.

 

The Nipmuc were Christianized by New England missionaries, including John Eliot, who translated the Bible into Indian languages.  By 1674 the missionaries claimed ten villages of Christian converts, the largest of which was Hassanamiset (now Grafton).  [Wisers lived here, as well as in Natick, another Indian Christian village]

 

The Nipmuc located their villages along streams and ponds.  Houses were of pole framework covered with mats woven of bark.  A smokehole was left in the roof for the cooking fire within, as well as a door at either end. 

 

The women engaged in agriculture and sometimes constructed the wigwams.  The men hunted deer, beaver, raccoon and other animals, but the staple food was corn.  They grew apples, introduced by the English, in large orchards and made cider.  They made clothing of animal skins and furs and wove fine mantles of turkey feathers. 

 

In 1675, the Nipmuc joined with surrounding Indians in King Philip’s War, a vain effort to drive out the English.  After the war, the Nipmuc were dispersed, some fleeing to Canada or to the tribes along the Hudson.  Those who remained in the vicinity eventually died out or were absorbed by the white population.

 

Bibliography: Freeland, Mary DeWitt.  The Records of Oxford.  Albany: Joel Numsell’s Sons, 1894.”

 

As mentioned in the above book, Reverend John Eliot was primarily responsible for the Indian conversion to Christianity.

 

A history of Rev. Eliot is found in the book, “Ancient Middlesex, with brief Biographical Sketches”, page 43:  “Rev. John Eliot, known throughout the Christian world as “The Apostle of the Indians of North America,” is inseparably connected with the annals of ancient Middlesex.  No history thereof can be considered complete which fails to deal with his sincere and earnest consecration to the civil advancement and moral and spiritual uplifting of those semi-nomadic tribes which hunted, fished, and generally inhabited the confines of the Charles and Merrimack...He was born at Nazing, County of Essex, in 1604, and educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating therefrom in 1623.  He came to America in the “Lion” (Captain William Pierce), arriving at Nantasket November 2, 1631...On a subsequent trip of the same vessel came his betrothed, gentle Anna Mountfort, to whom he was married in October, 1621, a few days after her arrival.  In the same year he was appointed pastor of the church in Roxbury, holding this position during a period of fifty-eight years, until the day of his death, which occurred on the twentieth of May, 1690, aged eighty-six.  In addition to his pastoral duties, he was devoted to the civilizing and Christianizing of the Indians of Middlesex County, among whom he persistently labored for more than half a century. He was a man of sincere charity, with an irresistible impulse to uplift and benefit humanity.  It is said of him that the parish treasurer, knowing his weakness, on one occasion when paying his salary, tied it up in a handkerchief with many hard knots.  On his way home he stopped to console a poor woman who was sick and destitute, and, wishing to help her with a portion of his salary, he endeavored to untie the several knots which his cautious friend had so carefully tied, but, finding it impossible, left the bundle upon the table, saying that it was evidently the Lord’s will that she should have the whole of it!...The first Bible printed in American in any tongue was published in Middlesex County, at Cambridge, in 1663.  It was in the Indian language, and was translated by John Eliot, aided by one Job Nestuan, an aborigine who had become an excellent linguist.”

Research Findings

From “A History of Framingham, Massachusetts, Including the Plantation, from 1640 to the Present Time”,  by William Barry, Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1847, p.18; “Indian History of the Plantation”, Boman and Roger have already been noticed as grantors of land near the Falls, and as commemorated in the names of Bowman’s Brook and Roger’s Field.  Other Indian names of hills, ponds and streams, (and those in some instances corrupted), are meager, yet pleasant memorials transmitted to us, of the aboriginal race (Indian arrow-heads have been frequently found in ploughed fields in this town.  Bowman’s Brook may be named after the Bowman Indian family who married into the Natick Wiser Indian family, who I believe that we are related to.

 

I copied the grantor index for Middlesex County, MA where a number of Wisers are listed.  I am going to Salt Lake next month, and will copy of the grantee index for Middlesex County and the grantor/grantee indexes for Worcester County.

 

Land Records of Middlesex County, MA:

Grantors Index-

1685, Apr 7-all Wiser/Wyser;

James Wiser et al to Town of Marlborough, Volume 9 page 293

(9-293)

1714, Apr 15-James Wiser to H. Willard et al, 16-511

1715, Aug 31-James Wiser to J. Prescott, 17-489

1741, Nov 30-James Wiser to B. Wiser, 42-430

1742, Apr 29-Joseph Wiser to J. Parker, 43-15

1743, June 13-Benjamin Wiser to J. Perry, 43-440

1743, June 13-Benjamin Wiser to J. Lealand, 43-442

1749, May 2, Benjamin  Wiser to J. Ephraim, 49-3

1751, Mar 11, Benjamin Wiser to J. Winn, 48-284

1754, Dec 20, Benjamin Wiser to N. Smith, 53-40

1763, Feb 3-Benjamin Wiser et al to S. Bacon Jr., 59-638

1763, Feb 21-Benjamin Wiser to B. Kendall, 60-338

1763, Apr 11, Benjamin Wiser to C. Drury, 61-49

1763, Jul 8, Benjamin Wiser et al to J. Travis, 62-5

1763, Jul 8, Benjamin Wiser to J. Travis, 62-7

1765, Oct 30, Benjamin Wiser et al to S. Wells, 65-382

1771, Jan 5, Benjamin Wiser admr to A. Dewing, 71-145

 

The deeds that I have copies of are as follows (I will copy and summarize the rest on my next trip to Salt Lake):

Vol. 42, page 430; James Wiser of Sudbury in County of Middlesex, in consideration of the parental love and good will which I have and do bear to my son Benjamin Wiser and that he may have some of my estate as for and in consideration of the sum of a bond .....given by my son Benjamin Wiser of Worcester, ....a certain piece or parcel of land which was my brother Benjamin Wiser’s ....being in Natick, containing thirty acres .....30 Nov 1741...

This record was actually recorded after James death which occurred on July 1741.

This would indicate that James brother Benjamin had no heirs, though further research is needed to prove this.  Notice that James was living in Sudbury at this time, not Natick.  Sudbury was also the home of Isaac Wiser, whose relationship I have not been able to identify.

Another land record is found in Vol. 49 p.3; Benjamin Wiser of Worcester, Worcester County to Joseph Ephraim of Natick... Yeoman [farmer] for the sum of thirty pounds all that thirty acres laid out to my uncle Benjamin Wiser, 2 May 1749...

Benjamin’s daughter Hannah married John Ephraim, who is a relative of this Joseph.

Further research of the land records may give some important clues on our family.  I will also research the Bowman and other Natick Indian land records for the same reason.

In the map of Natick, that I attached to the September 1998 newsletter, the thirty acres mentioned previously are identified as number 8.  Notice that James land is next to this piece and is listed as number 7. 

POSTSCRIPT

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Ron Wiser                                     6 Baton Rouge                   Roswell, NM  88201

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