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WISER NEWSLETTER

Volume 5 Issue 9 September 2000


RESEARCH FINDINGS

The first section of this newsletter continues selections from the book, “Nonantum and Natick”, by Sarah S. Jacobs, 1853, about members of our Wiser family. 

 

As a reminder, a short history of the Massachuset Indian is helpful.  “When the first Puritans settled at Boston in 1629, only 500 Massachuset were left in the immediate area, and smallpox killed many of these in 1633.  Shortly afterwards, John Eliot began his missionary work among the Massachuset.  The new converts were gathered into 14 villages of “Praying Indians.” 

 

Subject to strict Puritan rules of conduct, their tribal traditions quickly disappeared.  Converts from other tribes were also placed in these Christian communities, and by 1640, the Massachuset had ceased to exist as a separate tribe.  Despite this, they were still involved upon occasion in New England’s native warfare.  After the Mohawk attacked Praying Indians near Boston during 1665, the Massachuset sachem Wampatuck (Chickataubut) led a retaliatory raid on the Mohawk village of Gandouagu in 1669.  After a prolonged siege failed, his war party was ambushed on the return journey. 

 

At the onset of King Philip’s War in 1675, many of the Praying Indians took to the woods and joined Philip’s uprising.  The Puritan missionaries attempted to collect those who stayed in the vicinity of the main praying village Natick, but only 500 could be found.  Relocated to the islands of Boston harbor, the Praying Indians were on the verge of being massacred by the English for the duration of the war.  Despised by other natives because they had refused to join the uprising, many of the Praying Indians volunteered to help the English as scouts and guides.  Used with great effect during 1676, their loyalty was still suspect.  Frequently abused, many were deliberately killed by the colonial soldiers they were trying to serve.

 

By the end of the fighting in 1677, only seven of the original fourteen praying villages and 300 Praying Indians had survived.  The others had either been killed, starved or driven into exile.  They were placed in several villages with peoples from other tribes that had taken part in the uprising.  The resulting relationships in these communities are not very difficult to imagine.”

 

On page 292 of the book, “On pretence of hunting, the two [James Quanapohit, alias Wiser and Job Kattenanit] went out together and soon killed three deer.  Perceiving that they were dogged by some other Indians, they went over a pond into a swamp, where they hid themselves for the night.  At three o’clock in the morning, they prayed together and parted.  One set out on his long, cold journey, and the other went back to his more dangerous task.

 

It was only a fortnight after James’ return, when Job came, late at night, to Mr. Gookin’s [minister after John Eliot] house at Cambridge, with the intelligence that Lancaster was to be burned the next day.  Four hundred men were already on their march; the Narragansets had joined Philip and the Nipmucks, and the enemy would shortly attack Medfield, Groton, Marlborough, and other places.  Mr. Gookin instantly sent off expresses to Lancaster, Marlborough, and Concord; but his warning came too late.  Lancaster was burnt on the 10th, and the inhabitants were carried into captivity. 

 

Before Job left the enemy, he had planned the escape of his children, and of the Hassanemesits, and had agreed with them upon a time when he should meet them in the woods, and conduct them to the English.  Tukapewillin, and his aged father, Naoas, with their wives and children, were of the number.  Job petitioned the council for leave to keep his appointment, and obtained it, but meantime both he and James were sent to Deer Island again.  Although they had acquitted themselves so well, and had performed their service to the entire satisfaction of the authorities, the popular clamor was against them.  They were upbraided with bringing false information, with having a secret understanding with the enemy, who would otherwise never have suffered them to return in safety; “which shows the rude temper of those times,” says Mr. Gookin. 

 

While Job, still retained on his island-prison, is undergoing fresh privations, and bitterly grieving for the sufferings to which his children and his friends may be exposed, from his not keeping his appointment, new persecutions arise elsewhere.  The Wamesits, again threatened by some of their English neighbors, ran away towards Pennakook; all but six or seven aged persons, too infirm to go.  Some of the English not long after set fire to their wigwams, and burnt them all to death.  This fact, when heard of, says Mr. Gookin, “was deservedly abhorred by all sober persons.”

 

On page 296; “On their journey to Boston, the English soldiers plundered the poor creatures of their shirts, shoes, dishes, and such other things as they could lay their hand on…As all their corn and other provisions, enough to maintain them for six months, had been lost at Concord, these poor Christians of Nashobah were obliged to live upon clams, as the others did, with some small allowance of corn…There was much debate in the General Court, at this period, with regard to the Deer Island Indians.  Some were for having them all destroyed; others urged the sending them out of the country…A vote was passed in the General Court of Massachusetts, to raise an army of six hundred men, and Major Savage was appointed commander-in-chief.  He refused, unless he could have some of the island Indians for assistants.  A messenger was sent to them, and six brave men volunteered, willing and joyful to serve the English, and to be employed by Savage, under whose command some of them had been at Mount Hope.   These six were of the principal men on the island; James and Job were among them.

 

They marched first to Marlborough, and here Job obtained the permission of his commanders to leave the army, and seek for his friends at the place he had appointed them, twelve miles from Marlborough.  If he succeeded in his search, he was to bring in his children to the rendezvous of the army at Quaboag.  When this came to Captain Mosely’s knowledge, not long after Job was gone, he made no small disturbance.  It was impossible for this man to trust any Indian whatever.  Job, he declared, would inform the enemy of the movements of the army, and the whole design would be frustrated.  So great was his influence among the soldiers, that, to quiet them, the superior officers thought it necessary to send out two captains with James Quanapohit, to follow Job with all speed, and bring him back.  They did not overtake him, however; but the faithful guide soon returned alone.

 

His poor children and friends had succeeded in making their escape to the place where he had promised to meet them, and had lingered there as long as they dared, and long after the appointed time had expired.  Wandering about in terror and great suffering, they fell at length into the hands of an English party of horsemen, under Captain Gibbs, from whom they received most cruel treatment.  The soldiers stripped them of the few possessions the hostile Indians had left them, and took away what they valued most, and most grieved for, a pewter cup, which they were wont to use at the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper.  Mr. Eliot had given it to the pastor, Tukapewillin, for that purpose, and they had preserved it with religious care, through all their captivity among the heathen. 

 

When these poor Indians were brought in to the commander, Savage, and he found them to be the children and friends of his trusty Job, he treated them with the greatest kindness, and sent them with a guard to Marlborough, on their way to Boston…

 

”O, sir”, said Tukapewillin to the former [Mr. Eliot], “I am greatly distressed, this day, on every side.  The English have taken away some of my estate, my corn, my cattle, my plough, cart and chain, and other goods; the enemy Indians have also taken part of what I had, and wicked Indians mock and scoff at me, saying, “Now, what is become of your praying to God?”  The English, also, censure me, and say I am a hypocrite.  In this distress, I have nowhere to look, but up to God in heaven, to help me.  My dear wife and eldest son are, through the English threatenings, run away, and I fear will perish in the woods for want of food.  My aged mother is also lost, and all this doth greatly aggravate my grief.  But yet I desire to look up to God in Christ Jesus, in whom alone is my help.”

 

OBITUARIES

 

Bernice B. Storey

Syracuse, NY papers, 22 Apr 2000; Bernice B. Storey (Ruth May Hollenbeck, Minnie A. Albro, Andrew J. Albro, Sabra S. Morse, Alithea Wiser, Benjamin Wiser), 84, of 28 Kellogg St., Cortland, died Friday at Highgate Manor of Cortland.  She was born in Cuyler.  She worked at Homer Laundry.  Her husband, Charles, died in 1949; two daughters, Martha Storey, and Thelma Brown, died in 1941 and 1992, respectively, two sons, Robert and Orie, died in 1949 and 1995, respectively.  Survivors: Three daughters, Josephine Albro and Bernice Rogers, both of Cortland, and Lilliand Monty of Lafayette; three sons, Chuck of Lumber Bridge, NC, Leslie of Freeville and Cora of Apalachin; three sisters, Nellie Nefsey and Ruth Angell, both of Cincinnatus, and Pearl Hicks of Homer, two brothers, Orie Bush and Gurdon Bush, both of Cortland; 25 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren.  Services:  11 a.m. Tuesday at Wright-Beard Funeral Home.  Burial, Cheningo Cemetery.  Calling hours, 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the funeral home, 9 Lincoln Ave., Cortland.

 

Evelyn L. Chase

Syracuse, NY papers, 11 Jun 2000; Evelyn L. Chase (Frank Jacobe Smith, Cora M. Albro, Andrew J. Albro, Sabra S. Morse, Alithea Wiser, Benjamin Wiser), 72, of Cortland Street, DeRuyter, died Friday at Cortland Memorial Hospital.  She was born in DeRuyter.  She was a foster parent for many years.  Her first husband, Erwin Angell, her scond husband, Howard Chase, and a son, Robert, all died previously.  Survivors: A daughter, Mary Mercier of East Syracuse; two sons, Donald Angell of Verona and Michael Angell of Oran; two stepdaughters; two stepsons; a sister, Shirley Hall of Cortland; eight grandchildren; five great-grandchildren.  Services: 10 a.m. Tuesday at Smith Funeral Home, 42 Albany St., DeRuyter.  Burial, Lincklaen Cemetery.  No calling hours.  Contributions: Lincklaen Cemetery.

 

POSTSCRIPT

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Ron Wiser                                          6 Baton Rouge                         Roswell, NM  88201                    (505) 623-2534