Monday, March 5, 2012

Uncas the Mohegan

Uncas and Miantnomoh

The latest signature of the sachem Uncas is found under date of June, 1683. A deed to Samuel Chester was signed June 13th, and a grant of several thousand acres in Colchester, or the south part of Hebron, to the Stebbins brothers, was acknowledged before Samuel Mason, about the same period. In June, 1684, Owaneco, in a deed to James Fitch, styles himself son of Uncas, deceased. This is the nearest approximation obtained to the death of Uncas. He is supposed to have been very aged, and there are traditions that during the latter years of his life, he was generally found sitting by the door of his wigwam asleep, and that it was not easy to rouse his mind to activity. The sachem was undoubtedly buried at Norwich, in a select position on the banks of the Yantic, which is supposed to have been the place of his father's sepulture, and which has ever since been exclusively devoted to the descendants of Uncas. In this cemetery an obelisk of granite was erected by female gifts in 1842, which has for its inscription a single name, Uncas.

His much honored Governor John Winthrop.

Providence, February 28, 1637-8

Sir, Some few days since I received letters from Mr. Hooker, who had safely received your packet with thanks. He intimated that according to Miantunnomue's information by myself, William Baker was hid at Mohegan, but they had made Uncas and Wequash to bring him in. Since which time (Sergeant Holmes bailing him) he is again escaped.

He also signified the desire of the Magistrates at Connecticut that there the meeting should be: as also that in the mean season they had charged the Mohegans not to molest any natives in their passage and travel, &c., requiring the same of the Narragansetts towards the Mohegans.

Accordingly I have been since at Narragansett and find Miantunnomu willing to go to Connecticut by the time limited, the end of the next month; only first he desired to know Mr. Governor's mind: secondly, in case his father-in-law Canonicus his brother, (whom I saw near death with above a thousand men mourning and praying about him) in case he recover, otherwise it is unlawful for them (as they conceive,) to go far from home till toward midsummer. Thirdly, he desires earnestly my company, as being not so confident of the English at Connecticut, who have been (I fear) to full of threatening: secondly, he cannot be confident of Thomas Stanton's faithfulness in point of interpretation. These things make me much desire (as I have written back) that you would both please by some deputed to make my poor house the centre where seems to be the fairest offer of convenience, and I hope no question of welcome.

Visiting Canonicus, lately recovered from the pit's brink this winter, he asked how Mr. Governor and the English did, requesting me to send him two words: "first, that he would be thankful to Mr. Governor for some sugar (for I had sent him mine own in the depth of the winter and his sickness.) Secondly, he called for his sword, which said he, Mr. Governor did send me by you and others of the English, saying Mr. Governor protested he would not put up his sword, nor would he have us put up ours, till the Pequots were subdued, and yet saith he, at Mohegan there are near three hundred, who have bound and robbed our men (even of the very covering of their secret parts) as they have past from Connecticut hither: after much more to this purpose, I told him that Mr. Governor had promised him to set all in order this spring.

Sir, I understand that Uncas the Mohegan hath Sassacous his sister to wife, and one of the wives of Sassacous his father Tattoapaine and that is one reason, beside his ambition and nearness, that he hath drawn all the scattered Pequots to himself and drawn much wealth from them: more I could trouble you with, &c.

Canonicus and Miantunnomu both desired that there might be a division made of these surviving Pequots (except the Sachems and murderers) and let their mare be at your own wisdom.

I may be humbly bold to present mine own thoughts concerning a division and disposal of them: since the Most High delights in mercy, and great revenge hath been already taken, what if (the murderers being executed) the rest be divided and dispersed, (according to their numbers may arise, and division be thought fit) to become subjects to yourselves in the Bay and at Connecticut, which they will more easily do in case they may be suffered to incorporate with the natives in either places: as also that as once Edgar the Peaceable did with the Welsh in North Wares, a tribute of wolves heads be imposed on them, &c., which (with submission) I conceive an incomparable way to save much cattle alive in the land.

Sir, I hope shortly to send you good news of great hopes the Lord hath sprung up in mine eye, of many a poor Indian soul enquiring after God. I have convinced hundreds at home and abroad that in point of religion they are all wandering, &c. I find what I could never hear before, that they have plenty of Gods or divine powers: the Sun, Moon, Fire, Water, Snow, Earth, the Deer, the Bear, &c., are divine powers. I brought home lately from the Narragansetts the names of thirty-eight of their Gods, all they could remember, and had I not with fear and caution withdrew, they would have fallen to worship, O God, (as they speak) one day in seven, but I hope the time is not long that some may truly bless the God of Heaven that ever they saw the face of English men. So waiting for your pleasure and advice to our neighbors concerning this intended meeting for the establishing of peace through all the bowels of the country, and beseeching the Most High to vouchsafe his peace and truth through all your quarters, with my due respects to Mrs. Winthrop, Mr. Deputy, Mr. Bellingham, &c., I rest

Your worship’s in all true respect and affection

Roger Williams.

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