Page images
PDF
EPUB

gave the whites reason to dread their proximity. But there was no alternative to the removal of the Indians from their settlements.

Eliot and Gookin stood resolutely and most affectionately for the championship of the objects of their care. They did no distrust, po wavering in their love. They pleaded, remonstrated, and offered themselves to be sureties for the fidelity of the wretched and cowering converts. Gookin was confronted and insulted for his conduct in the case, and even Eliot was treated by some with reproaches and disdain. The courts were compelled to yield to the wishes of the panic-stricken whites.

The fate of the “Praying Lucians" at Vatick was less distressing than that which befell those in other towns "herd men, women, and children were killed while living quietly and pursuing their industries in their homes. None of these outrages committeil by white people seem to have been punished by law, the juries failing to render a verdict against ono guilty of the offence of killing Indians.

The story of the Vatick Indians is briefly as follows: The town lay on the road from the west to the east; and through the little town one June day in 1675 passed Oneco, son of Uncas, with filty Mohicans, on their way to Boston to join their British allies. As they passed they were joined by two English men and some Vatick Indians. Three months later, just as their crops were ripening, these Christian Indians were hurried off from their village home with a few movables, the sick and lame be. ing taken in carts. They were brought to the site where the arsenal now stands in Watertown, Mass. There John Eliot and a few friends met them and sougut to comfort them with prayer, being “deeply moved by their submissive patience.” At midnight, October 30, the tide serving, they were shipped in three vessels to Deer Island, in Boston Harbor. Indians from other of the praying towns joined them later, until over five hundred were huddled upon the barren island. John Eliot, then seventytwo years old, visited them with Mr. Gookin, who writes: “I observed in all my visits to them that they carried themselves patiently, humbly, and piously, without murmuring or complaining against the English for their sufferings (which were not few), for they lived chiefly upon cla ms and shell-fish that they digged out of the sand at low water. The island was bleak and cold, and their wigwams poor and mean—their clothes few and thin. Some little corn they had of their own, which the Council ordered to be fetched from their plantations and conveyed to them by little and little."

Finally, as the war pressed harder and harder upon the colonists, the help of these persecuted Indians was reluctantly sought, and by their faithfulness they turned the tide of war and saved the English. It is stated that had it not been for the 3,000 “ Praying Indians” of Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies, who were thus withdrawn from Philip's support, and many of them turned actively against him, there would hardly have remained a remnant of the white race upon the New Eng. land coast.

In the following year the exiles on Deer Island were permitted to return to their desolated homes. At Vatick their inill was burned, their

1 The Red Man and the White Man, pp. 4;1–163. Boston, 18-2.

[ocr errors]

» 3

fields and houses wasted. It was bard to rally them or to make them forget the unprovoked outrages and hard treatment put upon them merely because of their race. Prosperity can hardly be said to have ever returned to the Natick Indians.

“Daniel Takawambpait was ordained November, 1681, ye first Indian minister," writes Judge Sewall, in his diary. The ordination of this Indian minister was John Eliot's legacy to his Natick flock. In 1691 the Indians petitioned the General Court for permission to sell a “nook of land” that they might pay the carpenter for a new church, their old one having “fallen down.” This was granted, and their native preacher ministered to them until his death, in 1716.

In 1677 the General Court reduced the number of “praying towns” to four, and their inbabitants were forbidden to entertain strangers or to “ travel with guns." Those who desired to remain with the settlers as servants could do so, but they must be instructed in the Christian religion until twenty-four years of age. Indians that had been captured and sold as slaves must be “trained in civility and religion.”

In 1681 the towns were reduced to three, and all the Indians in the Massachusetts colony were ordered to live within these limits under “pain of going to prison.”

Education.-Rev. John Eliot was born in Essex, England, in 1604; graduated at Cambridge, in 1623; and came to New England, in 1631. He accepted the pastorate of the First Church at Roxbury, in 1632, and continued his charge until his death in 1690. His attention and sym.

Proceedings of the Hist. Nat. Hist. and Library Asso., South Natick. Mass. a Records of Mass., Vol. V, p. 136.

* Ibid., p. 327. In 1721 a white minister came to labor among the Indians, and an old record says: “Great enthusiasm prevailed.” A new meeting-house was built at the cost of 40 acres of land. That site was the same as the first one built, and the people, as they came and went on Sunday, “ used to step across the ditch which surrounded the fort in Eliot's time.” White families had gathered at Natick, and some of them lived on terms of friendship with the natives. Joshua Brand, a noted native physician, was near neighbor to Jonathan Carver, the father of six daughters. Betty, next to the youngest, was an energetic, executive, and kindly person, teaching school among her many doings. Her sayings and ballad singing, “keeping time on the treadle of her spinning-wheel,” are part of the town traditions. Between the home of this cheery woman and the house of Joshua Brand was a “beaten path,” made partly by “the children of the two families,” that were “equally welcome in both houses.”

These pleasant relations seem to have continued, for in 1753, when the new pastor, the Parson Lothrop, of Mrs. Stowe's “Oldtown Folks,” built his house, the Indians brought elms on their shoulders and planted them about the new home as a testimonial of their regard.

Up to 1733 all the town officers were Indians; but as the white inhabitants increased white men served with the natives, and finally superseded them. In 1762 Natick was incorporated as an English town after having remained for one hundred and eleven years as an Indian reservation. The Indians gradually disappeared. In 1792 there remained but one full blood family. In October, 1846, at the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Eliot's first visit to the spot, a young girl of sixteen was present, the only lineal descendant of the Natick. Indians known to the present inhabitants.

1

[ocr errors]

pathy were early drawn to the condition of the Indians, and plans for helping them occupied his mind. He began the study of the language of the tribes in his immediate vicinity, instructing those Indians who visited him, as well as he could, in the Christian doctrine. In his let ters to the agent of the colony in England and to other persons he sought not only to arouse sympathy for the Indians, but to secure pe. cuniary aid to carry on the work of Christianization. This came later, but not until John Eliot and other laborers had proven the practicability of the work proposed.

One of the ablest of Eliot's coadjutors was Mr. Daniel Gookin, born in Kent, England, in 1602. Having secured a grant of land in Virginia he undertook “to transport a great multitnde of people and cattle thither, and arrived in 1631. He settled in Newport News. When the nonconformists were banished from Virginia in 1643, divers Godly disposed persons came from thence to New England." Mr. Gookin arrived in 1644, and was that year admitted as a freeman of the colony. B. lived in Boston, and afterward in Cambridge. He became commanderin-chief of the military of the colony, speaker of the House of Deputies in 1651, and was made superintendent of the Indians in Massachusetts in 1656. He continued to hold this office, which was magisterial in char. acter, until his death in 1686.

The duties of the superintendent required Mr. Gookin " to make and execute good orders for keeping holy the Sabbath day; and that the people do attend the public worship of God; and that schools for the education of youth be settled and continued among them; and to provide that the Indian teachers and rulers have some small encouragement distributed among them, according to the people's ability, which is done out of the tenths of their yearly increase of all sorts of grain and pulse.” He was also required to make and enforce orders " for promoting and practicing morality, civility, industry, and diligence in their particular callings; for idleness and improvidence are the Indians' great sins, and are a kind of second nature to them, which by good example and wholesome laws, gradually applied, with God's blessing, may be rooted out."

John Eliot gave as his reason for engaging in work for the Indians : First. The glory of God in the conversion of some of these poor desolate souls.

Second. His compassion and ardent affection to them as of mankind in their great blindness and ignorance.

Third. And not the least to endeavor as far as in him lay the accomplishment and fulfilling of the covenant and promise the New England people had made to their King when he granted them their charter.?

That a man capable of so large a Christian feeling toward a race that was characterized as a “nation of wretches, whose whole religion was the most explicite sort of devil worship,” 3 and proposing their elevation from motives of the broadest humanity and patriotism, should fail to meet

Archæologia Americana, Vol. II, p. 425. Mass. Hist. Coll., 1st series, Vol. I, p. 175. 3 Magnalia, Vol. VII, p. 6.

a cordial response from the colonists, was not surprising. It has taken this nation two hundred and forty years to secure the legislation that makes it possible to take up the work begun by John Eliot in the midst of the pioneer life of New England.

In October, 1646, John Eliot, accompanied by several friends, made a visit and preached to the Indians of Nonantun (East Newton), a few miles from Roxbury, where he was kindly receievd by the natives and their chief Waban, a warm friend of the English, whose son was being educated in an English school at Dedham. One of the questions asked by the Indians after the sermon was whether God or Jesus Christ could understand prayers in the Indian language. Eliot's visits to the Indians were continued with such success that in December they offered all their children to be instructed by the English, and lamented their inability to pay anything for their education. Many of the Indians appear to have cut off their scalp.locks at this time, for one of the converts complained at the December meeting that the other Indians called the Christian Indians rogues for wearing their hair short like the Eng. lish. · The General Court having set apart for their use a tract of land at Nonantum,' he furnished them “by the public aid ” with agricultural implements, and induced them to build ditches, walls, better wigwams, and to engage in husbandry and learn certain trades. Among the articles they carried to market for sale were brooms, staves, baskets, cranberries, and fish. The women learned to spin, and Eliot took it upon himself to see that they were supplied with spinning wheels. The Indians desired a form of civil government, and the General Court ordered that one or more of the magistrates appointed should hold a court quarterly and adjudicate all civil and criminal causes, not being cap. ital, concerning the Indians only; and the sachems were empowered to bring any of their people before his court. They also held among themselves a monthly court for the trial of inferior causes. The executive officers of both courts were appointed by the sachems, and all fines col. lected were to be used for building schoolhouses or for other purposes of public benefit. At the same session (May 26, 1647) the Court passed the following order:

It is ordered that £10 be given Mr. Eliot as a gratuitie from this Court in respect of his paynes in instructing the Indians in the knowledge of God, & that order be taken that the £20 per annum by the Lady Ermin for yt purpose may be called for & imployed accordingly.5

The next year an unknown geutlemen in London sent to Eliot £10 to be expended in instructing the children in letters, and the latter, while remarking on the good it had done, laments the prospect of his being unable to keep the children in school for want of means. Considerable interest in behalf of the Indians was awakened in England, and in 1649

Severalty act, signed February 8, 1887. 2 Mass. Hist. Coll., 1st series, Vol. I, p. 168. 3 Records of Mass., Vol. III, p. 85. 4 Ibid., p. 106. 5 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 188.

S. Ex. 95

Parliament instituted the corporation entitled “The President and Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England,” and enacted that a general contribution should be made throughout England and Wales for its benefit. Though much opposition to the plan of converting the Indians was displayed, a considerable sum, yielding between five and six hundred pounds a year, was collected and the income properly expended. On the accession of Charles II in 1660 the enemies of the society endeavored to destroy it by persuading him that the charter, never having received the royal assent, was illegal, and inducing him to divert its revenues to the royal coffers. The friends of the society were on the alert and succeeded in getting the charter confirmed by Charles, an act that made possible the continuation of work by Eliot and others in behalf of the Indians.

The Indian titles to lands in Massachusetts had been generally alienated, and such improvements as the Indians made seem to have been at the mercy of the English, so that the General Court in October, 1652, took cognizance of the subject as follows:

*** It is therefore ordered and enacted by this Court & the authority thereof, that what landes any of the Indians, within this jurisdiction, have by possession or improvement, by subdueing of the same, they have just right thereunto accordinge to that Gen: 1: 28, chap: 9: 1, Psa: 115, 16.

It was further provided that any Indians who became civilized might acquire land by allotment in the white settlements on the same terms as the English. It was also decreed that when "a competent number of Indians shall be capable of a township, upon their request unto the General Court they shall have grant of lands undisposed of for a plantation as the English have.” “Any Indian unjustly put from his planting or fishing ground, upon their complaint or proof thereof, they shall have relief in any of the courts of justice amongst the English as the English have."

Under this ordinance the first town was established at Natick. Thither John Eliot took a small colony of Indians in 1651. Three wide streets were laid out, one on the south and two on the north side of the Charles River. An arched foot-bridge, resting upon wooden abutments weighted with stone, was thrown across the stream. The bridge was 80 feet long and 8 feet high, and proved to be a substantial structure. Separate lots were set off for each family, and each dwelling was to have a garden patch. Orchards were planted, clearings made, and fields cultivated, and all of these were inclosed by wooden or stone fences. The meeting house was 50 feet long, 25 feet wide, and 12 feet high. It was built of squared timber, hewn by the Indians under the supervision of John Eliot, and carried on their shoulders from the forest to the buildingsite. All the work was done by Indian labor, except two days' service by an English carpenter. The house was two stories; the lower served as a school room on week days and as a place for worship on Sunday.

Records of Mass., Vol. III, p. 201-282.

« PreviousContinue »