Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Rev. Samuel Peters' General History of Connecticut: FROM ITS FIRST SETTLEMENT/UNDER GEORGE FENWICK TO ITS LATEST PERIOD OF AMITY WITH GREAT BRITAIN PRIOR TO THE REVOLUTION

An ancient religious rite called the Powwow was annually celebrated by the Indians, and commonly lasted several hours every night for two or three weeks. About 1690 they convened to perform it on Stratford Point, near the town. During the nocturnal ceremony, the English saw, or imagined they saw, devils rise out of the sea, wrapped up in sheets of flame, and flying round the Indian camp, while the Indians were screaming, cutting, and prostrating themselves before their supposed fiery gods. In the midst of the tumult, the devils darted in among them, seized several and mounted with them in the air, the cries and groans issuing from whom quieted the rest. In the morning, the limbs of Indians, all shrivelled and covered with sulphur, were found in different parts of the town. Astonished and terrified at these spectacles, the people of Stratford began to think the devils would take up their abode among them, and called together all the ministers in the neighbourhood to exorcise and lay them. The ministers began and carried on their warfare with prayer, hymns, and abjurations; but the powwows continued, and the devils would not obey. The inhabitants were about to quit the town, when Mr. Nell spoke and said, "I would to God Mr. Visey, the episcopal minister "at New-York, was here; for he would expel those evil "spirits." They laughed at his advice; but on his reminding them of the little maid who directed Naaman to cure his leprosy, they voted him their permission to bring Mr. Visey at the next powwow. Mr. Visey attended accordingly; and as the powwow commenced with howling and whoops, Mr. Visey read portions of the holy scriptures, litany, &c. The sea was put into great commotion; the powwow stopped; the Indians dispersed, and never more held a powwow in Stratford. The inhabitants were struck with wonder at this event, and held a conference to discover the reason why the devils and the powwowers had obeyed the prayers of one minister, and had paid no regard to those of fifty. Some thought the reading of the holy scriptures, others thought that the litany and Lord's prayer, some again that the episcopal power of the minister, and others that all united, were the means of obtaining the heavenly blessing they had received.  http://history.digitalzones.com