The Chieftain Clan O'Flaithbheartaigh {O'Flaherty}

Iyannough, Sachem of the Mattachee Wampanoag 'Cummaquid'

This Native American ancestry connects through Sarah Miller, wife of Jacob Binks Lafferty.  The 'Wampanoag' (meaning, 'People of the Dawn'), were very light-skinned and some with flaming red hair, thus, it is presumed the Wampanoag resulted from relations of the local natives with the first Nordic explorers.  However, evidence exists that the women powdered their hair red, as red hair was considered to be a sign of beauty.

Iyannough (also Iyanough) was a Native American sachem and leader of the Mattachiest (Mattakeese, a sub-group of the Wampanoag people) tribe of Cummaquid in the area of what is now Barnstable, Massachusetts. The village of Hyannis, the Wianno section of Osterville, and Iyanough Road (Route 132), and the city of Hyannis Port are all named after him.   A sachem or sagamore is a paramount chief among the Algonquians or other northeast American tribes. The two words are anglicizations of cognate terms (c.1622) from different Eastern Algonquian languages. Some sources contend the sagamore was a lesser chief than the sachem.  A paramount chief is the English language designation for the highest-level political leader in a regional or local polity or country administered politically with a chief-based systemIyannough was born at the Mattachee Village of Wampanoag’s of Cape Cod, where what is now Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

Historic records mention the assistance and entertainment offered by him and his tribe towards the Pilgrims and later colonists. When the son of Mayflower passenger John Billington wandered away from the new settlement at Plymouth in January 1621, Iyannough assisted William Bradford and his party in finding the boy.[1] The sachem impressed the Pilgrims as being personable, gentle, courteous, and fair-conditioned.[2]

He died in 1623 when he was only in his mid-twenties. Following a surprise attack by the Pilgrims on the Massachusett tribe that winter, many Native Americans in the region including Iyannough grew fearful of the colonists and fled to hide in the area's swamps and remote islands.[3] It is believed that Iyannough himself died of exposure during this time. Upon his early death his lands went to his eldest son Yanno [4] (aka John Hyanno).

Yanno is mentioned in several land deeds on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard and appears to have been a prominent figure in the early settlement of the communities.

In the 20th century, Charles Libby was plowing his field and discovered what is believed to be Iyannough's grave. He discovered an underground tomb with baskets befitting a chief and upon contacting the historical society all contents were removed and a modern cement marker was placed at the site. He was told that public access to the site had to be maintained and a marker on 6A marks where a public trail should begin. Public access was maintained while Mr. Libby owned the property but is no longer accessible. [5] The gravesite is just north of Route 6A in the Cummaquid section of Barnstable and is maintained by a non-profit organization called "Tales of Cape Cod." A sign along Route 6A marks the spot.

A statue of Iyannough can be found today on the village green in downtown Hyannis.

Alive in Jun 1621.(56) Iyanough was sachem of Cummaquid, according to Mourt. Drake cites Mourt in the following. He then appeared about 26 years of age," but very personable, gentle, courteous and fair-conditioned, indeed, not like a savage, save for his attire. His entertainment was answerable to his parts, and his cheer plentiful and various."

The English were once again entertained by Iyanough upon their return to Plymouth when weather forced them to touch again at Cummaquid.

He was among those who came to have such dread of the English that they "forsook their wonted habitations, fled into the swamps, and lived in unhealthy places, in a state of starvation, until many died with diseases which they had thus contracted." [Drake, 78]A journal titled “Mourt’s Relation” was written primarily by Edward Winslow, although William Bradford appears to have written most of the first section. Written between November 1620 and November 1621, it describes in detail what happened from the landing of the Pilgrims at Cape Cod, though their exploring and eventual settling at Plymouth, to their relations with the surrounding Indians, up to the First Thanksgiving and the arrival of the ship Fortune. Iyannough is described as 'a man not exceeding twenty-six years of age, but very personable, gentle, courteous, and fair conditioned, indeed not like the savage, save for his attire; his entertainment was answerable to his parts, and his cheer plentiful and various.'

MOURT'S RELATION: An Eyewitness Account

As a means of documenting the Pilgrim’s progress, a journal titled “Mourt’s Relation” was written primarily by Edward Winslow, although William Bradford appears to have written most of the first section. Written between November 1620 and November 1621, it describes in detail what happened from the landing of the Pilgrims at Cape Cod, though their exploring and eventual settling at Plymouth, to their relations with the surrounding Indians, up to the First Thanksgiving and the arrival of the ship Fortune. “Mourt’s Relation” was first published in London in 1622, presumably by George Morton (hence the title, Mourt’s Relation). This version of “Mourt’s Relation” is based on a University Microfilm (Ann Arbor, Michigan) facsimile edition of the original 1622 edition, to which the spelling was updated to modern American-English standards. 

VOYAGE MADE BY TEN, of our Men to the Kingdom of NAUSET, to seek a Boy that had lost himself in the WOODS; With such Accidents as befell us in that VOYAGE. “The 11th of June we set forth, the weather being very fair: but ere we had been long at sea, there arose a storm of wind and rain, with much lightning and thunder, insomuch that a spout arose not far from us: but, God be praised, it dured not long, and we put in that night for harbor at a place called Cummaquid, where we had some hope to find the boy. Two savages were in the boat with us, the one was Tisquantum, our interpreter, the other Tokamahamon, a special friend. It being night before we came in, we anchored in the midst of the bay, where we were dry at alow water. In the morning we espied savages seeking lobsters, and sent our two interpreters to speak with them, the channel being between them; where they told them what we were, and for what we were come, willing them not at all to fear us, for we would not hurt them. Their answer was, that the boy was well, but he was at Nauset; yet since we were there they desired us to come ashore and eat with them; which, as soon as our boat floated, we did, and went six ashore, having four pledges for them in the boat. They brought us to their sachem or governor, whom they call Chief Iyannough, a man not exceeding twenty-six years of age, but very personable, gentle, courteous, and fair conditioned, indeed not like the savage, save for his attire; his entertainment was answerable to his parts, and his cheer plentiful and various. One thing was very grievous unto us at this place; there was an old woman, whom we judged to be no less than a hundred years old, which came to see us because she never saw English, yet could not behold us without breaking forth into great passion, weeping and crying excessively. We demanding the reason of it, they told us she had three sons who, when Master Hunt was in these parts, went aboard his ship to trade with him, and he carried them captives into Spain (for Tisquantum at this time was carried away also) by which means she was deprived of the comfort of her children in her old age. We told them we were sorry that any Englishman should give them that offense, that Hunt was a bad man, and that all the English that heard of it condemned him for the same: but for us, we would not offer them any such injury though it would gain us all the skins in the country. So we gave her some small trifles, which somewhat appeased her. After dinner we took boat for Nauset, Iyannough and two of his men accompanying us. Ere we came to Nauset, the day and tide were almost spent, insomuch as we could not go in with our shallop, but the sachem or governor of Cummaquid went ashore and his men with him. We also sent Tisquantum to tell Aspinet, the sachem of Nauset, wherefore we came. The savages here came very thick amongst us, and were earnest with us to bring in our boat. But we neither well could, nor yet desired to do it, because we had least cause to trust them, being they only had formerly made an assault upon us in the same place, in time of our winter discovery for habitation. And indeed it was no marvel they did so, for howsoever, though snow or otherwise, we saw no houses, yet we were in the midst of them. When our boat was aground they came very thick, but we stood therein upon our guard, not suffering any to enter except two: the one being of Maramoick, and one of those whose corn we had formerly found, we promised him restitution, and desired him either to come to Patuxet for satisfaction, or else we would bring them so much corn again, he promised to come, we used him very kindly for the present. Some few skins we got there but not many. After sunset, Aspinet came with a great train, and brought the boy with him, one bearing him through the water: he had not less than a hundred with him, the half whereof came to the shallop side unarmed with him, the other stood aloof with their bows and arrows. There he delivered us the boy, behung with beads, and made peace with us, we bestowing a knife on him, and likewise on another that first entertained the boy and brought him thither. So they departed from us. Here we understood that the Narragansets had spoiled some of Massasoit’s men, and taken him. This struck some fear in us, because the colony was so weakly guarded, the strength whereof being abroad: but we set forth with resolution to make the best haste home we could; yet the wind being contrary, having scarce any fresh water left, and at least sixteen leagues home, we put in again for the shore. There we met again with Iyannough the sachem of Cummaquid, and the most of his town, both men, women, and children with him. He, being still willing to gratify us, took a runlet and led our men in the dark a great way for water, but could find none good, yet brought such as there was on his neck with him. In the meantime the women joined hand in hand and dancing before the shallop, the men also showing all the kindness they could, Iyannough himself taking a bracelet from about his neck and hanging it upon one of us. Again we set out, but to small purpose, for we gat but little homeward; our water also was very brackish, and not to be drunk. The next morning Iyannough espied us again and ran after us; we being resolved to go to Cummaquid again to water, took him into the shallop, whose entertainment was not inferior unto the former. The soil at Nauset and here is alike, even and sandy, not so good for corn as where we are. Ships may safely ride in either harbor. In the summer they abound with fish. Being now watered we put forth again, and by God’s providence, came safely home that night.”

After an exchange of apologies and payment for the corn taken in November, Aspinet returned the boy. A warm friendship developed between the Pilgrims and Nauset. As for Chief Sachem Iyannough after this event, the Pilgrims welcomed him as a friend and in return anglo-saxonized his name of Iyannough to Hyanno as a surname, and added John as a given name. He then became known as Chief Sachem John Hyanno. The town of Hyannis, and the town of Wianno, on Cape Cod, are both proudly named this great man, after my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-(15 times great) grandfather Sachem Iyannough.

At Mount Hope in Rhode Island, the home of the Wampanoag’s in Bristol, an already tense situation grew worse. In 1621, Massasoit had made an alliance with the fledging Plymouth Colony, swearing loyalty to the Crown. This loyalty was constantly suspect.

Massasoit, therefore, had good reason to hope the English could benefit his people and help them end Narragansett domination. In March (1621) Massasoit, accompanied by Samoset, visited Plymouth and signed a treaty of friendship with the English giving them permission of occupy the approximately 12,000 acres of what was to become the Plymouth plantation. However, it is very doubtful Massasoit fully understood the distinction between the European concept of owning land versus the native idea of sharing it. For the moment, this was unimportant since so many of his people had died during the epidemics that New England was half-deserted. Besides, it must have been difficult for the Wampanoag to imagine how any people so inept could ever be a danger to them. The friendship and cooperation continued, and the Pilgrims were grateful enough that fall to invite Massasoit to celebrate their first harvest with them (The First Thanksgiving).

Very sadly, to the Narragansett of Rhode Island all of this friendship between the Wampanoag of Massachusetts and English had the appearance of a military alliance directed against them. In 1622, Canonicus, the sachem of the Narragansett, whose territory had escaped the ravages of the pestilence, sent a bundle of arrows, wrapped in the skin of a rattlesnake. Although the Pilgrims could barely feed themselves and were too few for any war, the William Bradford replaced the arrows with gunpowder and returned it. While the Narragansett pondered the meaning of this strange response, they were attacked by the Pequot, and Plymouth narrowly avoided another disaster. The war with the Pequot no sooner ended than the Narragansett were fighting the Mohawk. By the time this ended, Plymouth was firmly established.

The Narragansett subsisted by hunting, fishing and, partially, by agriculture. Their lands, for eight or ten miles distant from the sea-shore, were cleared of wood, and on these prairies they raised Indian corn in abundance and furnished the early settlers of Plymouth and Massachusetts with large quantities for subsistence. They were a strong, generous and brave race. They were always more civil and courteous to the English than any of the other Indians. Their kind and hospitable treatment of the emigrants to Rhode Island and the welcome they gave our persecuted ancestors should endear their name to us all. At that point, Canonicus, now chief of the Narragansett, had given his allegiance to the king and was at peace with the colonists.

In 1622 Princess of the Narragansett’s Canonicus lost her mother, Posh-Pw. That same year, Princess of the Narragansett’s Canonicus also lost her husband, Chief Sachem Hyannough.

During the time of what must have been a tremendous loses for Princess Canonicus, in keeping with the strange sequence of unlikely events, Samoset, a Pemaquid (Abenaki) sachem from Maine hunting in Massachusetts, came across the growing disaster at Plymouth. Having acquired some English from contact with English fishermen and the short-lived colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River in 1607, he walked into Plymouth in March and startled the Pilgrims with “Hello Englishmen.” Samoset stayed the night surveying the situation and left the next morning. He soon returned with Squanto.

Until he succumbed to sickness and joined his people in 1622, Squanto devoted himself to helping the Pilgrims who were now living at the site of his old village. Whatever his motivations, with great kindness and patience, he taught the English the skills they needed to survive, and in so doing, assured the destruction of his own people. Although Samoset appears to have been more important in establishing the initial relations, Squanto also served as an intermediary between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, the Grand sachem of the Wampanoag (actual name Woosamaquin or “Yellow Feather”). For the Wampanoag, the ten years previous to the arrival of the Pilgrims had been the worst of times beyond all imagination. Micmac war parties had swept down from the north after they had defeated the Penobscot during the Tarrateen War (1607-15), while at the same time the Pequot had invaded southern New England from the northwest and occupied eastern Connecticut. By far the worst event had been the three epidemics which killed 75% of the Wampanoag. In the aftermath of this disaster, the Narragansett, who had suffered relatively little because of their isolated villages on the islands of Narragansett Bay, had emerged as the most powerful tribe in the area and forced my weakened forefathers, the Wampanoag, to pay them tribute.

During the winter of 1622, a second ship arrived unexpectedly from England, and with 40 new mouths to feed, the Pilgrims were once again starving. Forgiving the unfortunate incident in the graveyard the previous year, the Nauset sachem Aspinet, during the very harsh winter of 1622, is believed to have brought food to Plymouth which saved many from starvation.

In 1623, John (Chief Sachem of the Cummaquid) Hyanno married Mary Epenow. John Hyanno and his wife, Mary Epenow, gave birth to Indian princess Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno in the spring of 1623 at the Mattachee Village of Wampanoag’s of Cape Cod, where what is now Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

At the time of Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s birth, Massasoit became dangerously ill during the winter of 1623. He was nursed back to health by the Pilgrims. One explanation for the Pilgrims’ goodwill gesture of medical aid could be political in nature in that Pilgrim-Indian relations were beginning to take a bad turn by 1623. In the beginning, English settlements did not intrude into the Nauset homeland on Cape Cod. Given a warm welcome they ventured out and unfortunately, this was probably the source of an epidemic which swept through the Nauset in 1623. The epidemic effected Massasoit, and he recovered, but the epidemic killed Chief Sachem John Hyanno shortly after his daughter, Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno, was born. The Pilgrim’s friend died in March 1623. Regretfully, succumbing to the same epidemic, Nauset sachem Aspinet died toward the end of 1623.

Over the next several years tension grew and Indians began fighting Indians. By 1632 the Narragansett were finally free to reassert their authority over the Wampanoag. Massasoit’s village at Montaup (Sowam) was attacked, but when the colonists supported the Wampanoag, the Narragansett finally were forced to abandon the effort.

Clearly in 1636 there was no scarcity of inhabitants near Narragansett Bay to lure European immigrants. Quite the opposite, the region had an uncommonly dense Indian population. So it is necessary to fathom the sachem’s reasons for letting in newcomers. On the Wampanoag side the thinking is easy to deduce. Ousamequin first let Williams occupy the frontier against the rivals, then granted land that his tribe claimed but no longer controlled. It is harder to puzzle out the calculations of Canonicus, and his nephew Miantonomi, the wise and canny leaders of the Narragansett, who actually made room for the first Rhode Island towns.

The Narragansett sachems quickly perceived the threat lurking in English colonization. They promptly showed their resentment when their hereditary enemy found an unforeseen ally in Plymouth. They became deeply alarmed when the Puritans began to pour in during the 1630’s.  Then it became necessary to define relations with the foreigners. Traditional Indian diplomacy failed; the outlanders did not know the protocol. Painfully, sometimes with the aid of Roger Williams, the Narragansett reached a shaky understanding with Massachusetts. This was possible because both sides, for a few years, feared the Indians farther west, especially the Pequots and their cousins the Mohegan’s.

The Puritans and Narragansett in 1636 were maneuvering toward the agreement that allied them briefly in war against the Pequots the next year. Danger on the west made it useful for Canonicus and his nephew Miantonomi to improve their safety on the east.  Accordingly, when Roger Williams sought permission to occupy land at the head of the bay, the two sachems gave him a generous tract. He had previously won the confidence of Canonicus and his nephew Miantonomi (and Ousamequin too), probably during his trading expeditions to the bay a few years earlier. He learned their language, both to carry on business and to preach Christianity, and as a result became useful in diplomacy. Installed at Providence, Roger Williams began to act as intermediary between Massachusetts and the Narragansett sachems. He served both parties well, especially during the Pequot War, but afterwards Narragansett were ceaselessly plotting against the colonists. His honest efforts, however, earned the sachems’ gratitude over and over.

Canonicus and his nephew Miantonomi rewarded Williams, most richly in the years when his services brought success, by giving land on their eastern borders to English settlers. Having given him the site of Providence, they gave Prudence Island to him and Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts, perhaps in the hope of strengthening the ephemeral alliance. Then at Williams’ prompting they gave Aquidneck to the followers of Anne Hutchinson and later still provided him with a place for a trading post on the west side of the bay. (Williams always gave lavish gifts to the sachems in return, probably in keeping with their customs, but he surely was correct in his claims that their esteem for him made them willing to grant the land.) By these donations the chiefs secured access to trade with the English and set up a barrier of Europeans against the Wampanoag’s.

During the first half of the 17th century, the Narragansett became increasingly more powerful. By the time of Roger Williams arrival, the dual sachems, Canonicus and Miantonomi, had gained ascendancy in war over their main rivals, the Wampanoag’s, who were governed by the chief sachem Ousamequin (Massasoit). At first, the Native Americans were  friendly toward the European colonists, and vice versa. Their feeling was reflected, in June of 1636, in the Narragansett’ famous greeting to Roger Williams: “What cheer, Netop (friend).” Yet, in only 40 years, friendship between the races was to deteriorate into hostility and war.

By 1637 the original one hundred and two English colonists who founded Plymouth (less than half were actually Pilgrims) were absorbed by the massive migration of the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony near Boston. Barely tolerant of other Christians, the militant Puritans were soldiers and merchants whose basic attitude towards Native Americans was not one of friendship and cooperation. Under this new leadership, the English expanded west into the Connecticut River Valley and during 1637 destroyed the powerful Pequot confederacy which opposed them. Afterwards they entered into an alliance with the Mohegan upsetting the balance of power.

In 1639 Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno married Austin Bearse under Wampanoag tribal ceremonial rights. Austin was either a full blood or half (Romany, Gypsy) and was deported from England in 1638 for being a “Gypsy.” Mention should be made that the time of the marriage no Puritan girl would have married a gypsy. It was therefore natural that Austin Bearse should marry an Indian. Further it is said that Mary Hyanno was a lovely flaming-haired Mattachee princess. Her people had an ancient tradition that a long time before white men had landed on their shores and intermarried with them. This probably indicates a Viking descent, and why the Indians were called Wampanoag’s (which means White Indians). It’s believed the Vikings came to the Wampanoag area about 1001-1016. They were fierce, red haired, pale faced men who came, to what is now Massachusetts, mixed their blood with the Wampanoag Indians and went back to the endless waters and were never heard from again.

Mary Little Dove Hyanno was a Native American princess and the daughter of Sachem (Chief) John Hyanno of the Cummaquid, grand-daughter of Hyannough, Sachem of all the Wampanoag, and great-granddaughter of Grand Sachem, Canonicus, Chief of all the Narragansett. The marriage of Austin and Mary was a major factor in the temporary peace that was maintained for approximately two generations between the Wampanoag and the English.

In Zerviah Newcomb’s diary, Austin Bearse was said to be of the Romany or Gypsy race, and the name was originally Be Arce. He belonged to a family of Continental gypsies who had emigrated to England. There was great persecution; for some minor infraction of the English law, Austin was deported to the colonies. On arriving at Plymouth, Austin was the only prisoner allotted to Barnstable.

Following the year of their marriage in 1639, new waves of Puritan settlers began arriving in New England and pushed west into native lands. While the Pilgrims usually had paid or asked permission, the Puritans were inclined to take. Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s first child, Mary Bearse, was born in 1639 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In the next year, Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s second child, Martha Bearse, was born in 1640 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

On March 10, 1641 Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno gave birth to Priscilla Bearse in Barnstable, Cape Cod. Priscilla was not an only child, in fact she was the third child of nine children.  Austin Bearse and Mary Little Dove Hyanno raised a large family of children. All ten children were born, baptized, and died in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts, except for Priscilla Bearse, she died in Yarmouth, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The evidence as to the identity of Mary Hyanno is found in an unpublished manuscript, entitled: “Who Our Forefathers Really Were. A True Narrative of Our White and Indian Ancestor,” by Franklin Ele-wa-tum Bearse (a Scaticoke and Eastern Indian). This manuscript is a certified copy of an original sworn statement now on file in the office of the Litchfield County District Court, in Connecticut, and accepted by the State Commissioner in Charge of Indian Rights and Claims as an authentic and legal declaration of lineage. It bases its claim as to the identity of Austin Bearse’s wife upon statements in the original diary of Zerviah Newcomb, who married Josiah Bearse, a grandson Austin, and who wrote from personal knowledge of the facts. Her diary is called, “A True Chronicle of the Bearse Family.” It is said that the manuscript is deposited in the Congressional Library and states that Austin Bearse married by Indian rites at the Mattachee Indian village Mary, daughter of John Hyanno, a Mattachee Sagamore, and son Sachem Iyannough who befriended the Pilgrims on their first arrival.

Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s first child, Mary Bearse, and second child, Martha Bearse, were both baptized on May 6 1643 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Their seemingly innocent baptismal marks a significant turn to their Indian way of life. For the first time Indians were now being baptized. The traditional shamanistic faith, believing in good and evil spirits, and the supreme being Cantantowit, was now being replaced with Christianity. This began about 1640 with the missionary efforts of John Elliot. He succeeded in converting most of the Nauset to “Praying Indians.” Due to my forefather’s willingness to convert to Christianity, of which Augustine Bearse and his Christian/English background probably played an important role, Cape Cod’s local Nauset tribe did not join the larger Wampanoag nation in the uprising and remained loyal to the English.  Although the colonists were inclined to suspect all natives, Christian or traditional, the Nauset were already isolated on Cape Cod, and the English did find it necessary to relocate them to “plantations of confinement.” For this reason my ancestors remained on Cape Cod. And on Mar 11 1641 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts., Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s third child, Priscilla Bearse, was baptized.

In 1643, Canonicus, in his advanced age, admitted Miantenomi into the government, and they administered the sachemdom jointly. Miantenomi was his nephew, son of his brother Mascus. During this time, the Rhode Island colony, led by Roger Williams, had received its charter from the king, and were taking no part in the war. In spite of all this, the united Colonies formed an army to attack a peaceful tribe of Indians located outside their jurisdiction. This army formed in Boston, marched through Providence and Warwick on their way to the Great Swamp. Not until their territory was actually invaded did the Narragansett offer resistance. The government of the Narragansett appears to have been a patriarchal despotism. The different small tribes, under the separate sub-sachems, composed the great Narragansett nation. The succession to chief authority was generally preserved in the same family. The sub-sachems occupied the soil and were moved from it at the will and pleasure of their chiefs.  In the war between the Narragansett and Mohegan, in 1643, Miantenomi was captured by Uncas, the sachem of the Mohegan’s, and executed. Pessecus, the brother of Miantenomi, was then admitted joint sachem with Canonicus.

By 1643 the Mohegan had defeated the Narragansett in a war, and with the full support of Massachusetts, emerged as the dominant tribe in southern New England. With the French in Canada focused to the west on the fur trade from the Great Lakes, only the alliance of the Dutch and Mohawk in New York stood in their way.

Within a few years the Narragansett solidified the buffer zone by selling territory (claimed by the Wampanoag’s) to other newcomers who created settlements south of Providence. Thus it is quite realistic to think of the colony of Rhode Island as in part a product of Narragansett Indian policy.  One further element should be mentioned in accounting for the survival of government under the patent of 1644: the sudden scramble for land west of Narragansett Bay, with Rhode Islanders hurrying to head off outsiders with stronger backing.

On 28 March 1647, Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s fourth child, Sarah Bearse, was born in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Interestingly, many of the prominent families of America today can trace their ancestry to Augustine Bearse and Mary Hyanno, especially their daughter Sarah. Most notably of lineage is George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States. President George W. Bush’s father was George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United. President George H. W. Bush’s mother was Dorothy Walker. Dorothy Walker’s father was George Herbert Walker. George Herbert Walker’s mother was Martha Adela Beaky. Martha Adela Beaky’s mother was Mary Ann Bangs. Mary Ann Bangs father was Elijah Keeler Bangs. Elijah Keeler Bangs’ father was Lemuel Bangs. Lemuel Bangs’ mother was Thankful Hamblen, Thankful Hamblen’s father was Ebenezer Hamblen. Ebenezer Hamblen’s mother was Sarah Bearse. Sarah Bearse’s parents were Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno. Simply put, the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent’s of George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, and my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-greatgreat-grandparent’s, Augustine Bearse and Mary Hyanno, are the same people.

By the year 1647, Grand Canochet (Chief) Canonicus of the Narragansett had aged a remarkable eighty two years. On June 4, 1647 in of Cape Cod, Barnstable, Massachusetts, Grand Canochet (Chief) Canonicus of the Naragansetts died.

Even though the Indians remained numerous, they were beleaguered from outside and weakened from within by disputes over the succession to Canonicus. The troubles of the Narragansett stemmed from the suspicions of Massachusetts Indians and the squabbling over the succession to the principal sachems’ position after the death of Canonicus.

Six months following Canonicus death, his great-granddaughter, Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno, gave birth to her fifth child. Abigail Bearse, was born on Dec 18 1647 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The following day, Abigail Bearse was baptized on Dec 19 1647 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s sixth child, Hannah Bearse, was born on Nov 16 1649 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Two days later, it’s recorded that Hannah Bearse was baptized on Nov 18 1649 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

On 25 January 1651 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s seventh child, Joseph Bearse, was born.

Two years later, Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s eighth child, Hester Bearse, was born on Oct 2 1653 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts. On the same day, Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s eighth child, Hester Bearse, was baptized in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s ninth child, Lydia Bearse, was born on Sep 30 1655 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Two years later, Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s tenth and final child, Rebecca Bearse, was born on Sep 26 1657 in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

In 1660 Priscilla Bearse (Mary Little Dove Hyanno’s third child) and John Hall of Yarmouth married. During the time of their marriage there was an especially large amount of immigration when the Restoration ended the military dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell, and Puritans were in extreme disfavor with the new English monarchy of Charles II. At the same time there had been a fundamental change in New England’s economy. After the Mohawk treaty, many of the Boston fur traders left New England and moved west to Albany near the Iroquois. No longer restrained by the possibility of war with the English, the Iroquois fell on the Algonquin in western New England and began driving them east at the same time English settlement was rapidly swallowing lands in the east.

By the next year, even Massasoit fell in with the adoption of English customs and before his death in 1661, petitioned the General Court at Plymouth to give English names to his two sons. The eldest Wamsutta was renamed Alexander, and his younger brother Metacomet became Philip. Married to Queen Weetamoo of Pocasset, Alexander became grand sachem of the Wampanoag upon the death of his father. The English were not pleased with Alexander’s independent attitude, and invited him to Plymouth for “talks.” The Plymouth authorities, treating Alexander harshly, immediately demanded a loyalty oath. On the return trip to Mount Hope, Alexander fell ill and died after eating a meal in Duxbury, Alexander became violently ill and died. The Wampanoag were told he died of a fever, but the records from the Plymouth Council at the time make note of an expense for poison “to rid ourselves of a pest.”

The more warlike Phillip accused the British of poisoning his brother, Alexander. Phillip, greatly embittered, began collecting a host of grievances against colonists. Chief among them were the failure to respect the sanctity of Wampanoag tribal lands and unequal justice under the English law. Phillip considered his treatment at hands of the Plymouth governors to be demeaning. He saw war as the only solution. The following year Metacomet (Wewesawanit) succeeded his murdered brother as grand sachem of the Wampanoag eventually becoming known to the English as King Philip.

King Philip does not appear to have been a man of hate, but under his leadership, the Wampanoag attitude towards the colonists underwent a drastic change. Realizing that the English would not stop until they had taken everything, King Philip was determined to prevent further expansion of English settlement, but this was impossible for the Wampanoag by themselves since they were down to only 1,000 people by this time. Traveling from his village at Mount Hope in Rhode Island, King Philip began to slowly enlist other tribes for this purpose. Even then it was a daunting task, since the colonists in New England by this time outnumbered the natives better than two to one (35,000 versus 15,000). King Philip made little attempt to disguise his purpose, and through a network of spies (Praying Indians), the English knew what he was doing.

By 1665, Indians in southern New England were simply in the way of the English settlers. The English no longer needed the Indian’s wilderness skills to survive, and fishing and other commerce had largely replaced the fur and wampum trade which had been the mainstays of the colonial economy during the early years. While there was nothing to equal the devastation of the 1614-20 epidemics, the native population had continued to decline from continuing epidemics: in 1633, 1635, 1654, 1661 and 1667. The Puritans’ “humane” solution to this after 1640 was the missionary work of John Eliot and others to convert the native population. How “humane” these efforts actually were is a matter of opinion. Converts were settled in small communities of “Praying Indians” at Natick, Nonantum, Punkapog, and other locations. Natives even partially resistant to the Puritan version of Christianity were unwelcome. Attendance at church was mandatory, clothing and hair changed to proper colonial styles, and even a hint of traditional ceremony and religion was grounds for expulsion. Tribal culture and authority disintegrated in the process.

John Hall and Priscilla Bearse Hall had two children. Their first child was named Bethia Hall, and she was born on November 15, 1668 in Scituate, Plymouth Co., Massachusetts. On April 12, 1672, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hester (Esther) Hall became the second child of Priscilla Bearse and John Hall. She was born in Yarmouth, Barnstable Co., Massachusetts.

Finally, summoned to Taunton in 1671, King Philip listened to accusations and signed an agreement to give up the Wampanoag’s firearms. However, he did not stay around for dinner afterwards, and the guns were never surrendered.

In January, 1675 the body of John Sassamon, a Christian Indian informer, was discovered in the ice of Assowampset Pond. Three Wampanoag warriors were arrested, tried for the murder, and hanged. After this provocation, King Philip could no longer restrain his warriors, and amid rumors the English intended to arrest him, King Philip held a council of war at Mount Hope. He could count on the support of most of the Wampanoag except for those on the off-shore islands. For similar reasons, the Nauset on Cape Cod would also remain neutral, but most Nipmuc and Pocumtuc were ready for war along with some of the Pennacook and Abenaki. The Narragansett, however, had not completed preparations and had been forced to sign a treaty with the English.

With offers of assistance from the Narragansett and Nipmuks, Phillip felt strong enough to strike. Superstition, however, decreed that the first side to draw blood would lose; what Phillip needed was an “incident.” On June 23, 1675, an Indian was wounded in a fracas near the village of Swansea on the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border. Phillip’s warriors raided the settlement the following day, and the Wampanoag, under King Phillip’s command, attacked Swansea and ambushed an English relief column. Other raids struck near Taunton, Tiverton, and Dartmouth.

Despite being forewarned and their advantage in numbers, the English were in serious trouble. Well-armed with firearms (some French, but many acquired through trade with the English themselves), the Wampanoag and their allies even had their own forges and gunsmiths. Drawing from virtually every tribe in New England, King Philip commanded more than 1,000 warriors, and even the tribes who chose to remain neutral were often willing to provide food and shelter. Only the Mohegan under Oneko (Uncas’ son) remained loyal to the English. Particularly disturbing to the colonists was the defection of most of the “Praying Indians.” When Puritan missionaries attempted to gather their converts, only five hundred could be found. The others had either taken to the woods or joined King Philip. Their loyalty still suspect, the Praying Indians who remained were sent to the islands of Boston Harbor and other “plantations of confinement.”

The English assembled an army at Plymouth in July and marched on King Philip’s village at Mount Hope (near Bristol, Rhode Island) burning every Wampanoag village enroute. They trapped the Wampanoag in a swamp on Pocasset Neck, but they managed to evacuate their women and children by canoe across the bay to the Pocasset of Queen Weetamoo (Alexander’s widow). King Philip and his warriors then slipped away leaving the English besieging an empty swamp!

Leaving his women and children under the care of the still-neutral Narragansett, King Philip moved west into the Nipmuc country of central Massachusetts. Although English accounts usually credit King Philip as being present at almost every battle in the war, this would have been physically impossible. King Philip provided political leadership, while others like Anawon, Tuspaquin, Sagamore Sam (Nipmuc), and Sancumachu (Pocumtuc) led the actual attacks. From King Philip’s new location in the west, the war then resumed at an even more furious pace than before.

The Nipmuc raided Brookfield and Worcester and then combined with the Pocumtuc to attack settlements in the Connecticut River Valley. After a raid at Northfield, a relief force under Captain Beers was ambushed south of town and more than half killed. Three survivors were captured and burned at the stake. In September, 1675, the towns of Deerfield and Hadley in western Massachusetts were attacked forcing the colonists to abandon their homes and fort-up together in Deerfield. Facing a winter without food, 80 soldiers under Captain Thomas Lothrop were dispatched with 18 teamsters to gather the abandoned crops near Hadley. All went well until the return journey, when the expedition was ambushed by the 700 Pocumtuc at Bloody Brook south of Deerfield. Another English force with 60 Mohegan warriors arrived too late and found only seven survivors.

Having dealt with the northern settlements on the Connecticut River, King Philip’s warriors began to work south attacking the Massachusetts towns of Hatfield, Springfield, Westfield, and Northampton (three separate times). Even with the help of the Mohegan, the English in western Massachusetts were hard-pressed, and by late fall, they were on the defensive and confined to a handful of forts. By this time King Philip felt confident enough to return to the Narragansett in Rhode Island and collect his women and children. Traveling west to the Connecticut River, he moved north to the vicinity of Deerfield and then west into the Berkshire Mountains where he established his winter quarters just across the border from Massachusetts at Hoosick, New York.

A small force from Plymouth attacked the Mount Hope peninsula. Phillip escaped eastward, sending his squaws and children to the Narragansett. Canonchet, the son of Miantenomi, the Narragansett sachem, defiantly refused to surrender his refugees to the colonists; “No, not a Wampanoag, nor the paring of a Wampanoag’s nail!” Thus Canonchet sealed the fate of his people. Declaring war on November 2, 1675, the United Colonies of New England raised a brigade of 1,000 men and sent them to attack the Narragansett at the Great Swamp in West Kingston, Rhode Island. No Rhode Island troops participated in that decisive battle.

Gaining new recruits from among the Sokoki (and even a few Mahican and Mohawk), the population of King Philip’s village at Hoosick grew to more than 2,000, and the winter of 1675-76 was a long, terrible battle with hunger. For obvious reasons, the English considered neutral tribes who helped the Wampanoag as enemies, but their efforts to stop this widened the war. At the outbreak of the fighting, the Narragansett had gathered themselves in single large fort in a swamp near Kingston, Rhode Island. Although it appeared they were on the verge of annulling their treaty with the English and entering the war on the side of King Philip, the only thing they had been guilty of during the first six months of the conflict was providing shelter for Wampanoag women, children, and other non-combatants.

On the bitter cold December 19, 1675, led by Governor Josiah Winslow of Plymouth, 1,000 man army with 150 Mohegan scouts marched from the garrison house in Cocumscussoc (Wickford) to the frozen swamp. Guided by an native traitor, they came upon a fortress containing 600 lodges ringed by palisades and blocking houses. Known as the Great Swamp Fight (December 19, 1675), the battle almost destroyed the Narragansett. Charge after charge was repulsed. Finally, a gap in the defenses was discovered and the soldiers poured into the fort. Now the fighting was hand-to-hand. Gradually, the Narragansett gave ground and were defeated. A few escaped into the swamp.

The vengeful colonists massacred about 600 braves. Women, children, and elders were burned to death in their lodges. Cotton Mather, the “Boston divine,” rejoiced at the news of the Indians “terribly Barbikew’d.” The English lost about 200, some of them dying on the terrible return march to Wickford. The power of the Narragansett had been broken. Canochet was captured and taken to Stonington, Connecticut, where he was executed.

Led by their sachem, Canonchet, many of the survivors joined King Philip at Hoosick. King Philip in the meantime had attempted to bring the Mohawk into the war against New England. New York’s governor Edmund Andros was a royal appointee with little love for the Puritans in Massachusetts and at first kept his colony neutral. This changed when he learned of King Philip’s efforts to enlist the Iroquois. From long experience, the Iroquois were not comfortable with the presence of a large group of heavily-armed Algonquin on their borders (they had been at war with them for more than a century), and after several Mohawk were killed near Hoosick under questionable circumstances, refused King Philip’s request. Encouraged by Governor Andros, the Mohawk became hostile and forced King Philip to leave New York. He relocated east to Squawkeag in the Connecticut Valley near the border of Massachusetts and Vermont. King Philip did not wait for warmer weather to resume the war.

In February of 1676 he launched a new series of raids throughout New England using his most effective weapon …fire. Victims included: Lancaster, Medfield, Weymouth, Groton, Warwick (Rhode Island), Marlborough, Rehoboth, Plymouth, Chelmsford, Andover, Sudbury, Brookfield, Scituate, Bridgewater, and Namasket.

As English encroachment continued, King Philip eventually won promises of support from the Nipmuc, Pocumtuc and Narragansett. Because the Narragansett needed time to build a supply of ammunition and guns, it appears the uprising was planned for the spring of 1676. Meanwhile, the English saw what was coming, and the tension was becoming unbearable. As English soldiers rushed about trying to cope, they fell victim to ambushes. In March Canonchet and the Narragansett almost wiped out one command (60 killed), and in another fight shortly afterwards killed 70 more. With these successes King Philip was able to gather a large number of warriors at Squawkeag, but he was unable to feed them. Although he was able to raid the English with impunity and fend off the Mohawk, King Philip desperately needed to clear English settlement from the area so his people could plant corn and feed themselves. For this reason, the Narragansett and Pocumtuc joined forces in attacks on Northfield and Deerfield during the spring of 1676. Both raids were ultimately repulsed with heavy losses. Meanwhile, King Philip’s followers needed seed corn for spring planting. Canonchet volunteered in April for the dangerous task of returning to Rhode Island where the Narragansett had a secret cache. He succeeded, but on the return journey was captured and executed by the Mohegan. Canonchet’s death seemed to dishearten King Philip and marked the turning point of the war. King Philip moved his headquarters to Mount Wachusett, but the English had finally begun to utilize Praying Indians as scouts and became more effective.

In May of 1676 Captain William Turner attacked a fishing camp at Turner’s Falls killing over 400 (including the Pocumtuc sachem Sancumachu). Before forced to retreat by superior numbers, the English also killed several gunsmiths and destroyed King Philip’s forges. Turner lost 43 men on his retreat to Hatfield , but the damage had been done. King Philip’s confederacy began to break up, and it was everyone for himself. Some Nipmuc and Pocumtuc accepted an offer of sanctuary by New York and settled with the Mahican at Schaghticook. Others joined forces with the Sokoki (western Abenaki) and moved north to Cowasuck, Missisquoi, and Odanak (St. Francois) in Quebec. King Philip and the Wampanoag, however, chose to return to their homeland in southeast Massachusetts. Throughout the summer the Wampanoag were hunted down by Captain Benjamin Church’s rangers and Praying Indian scouts. King Philip went into hiding near Mount Hope, but Queen Awashonks of the Sakonett surrendered and switched sides.

On August 1st King Philip escaped during an attack on his village, but the English captured his wife and son who were sent as prisoners to Martha’s Vineyard. Five days later, the Pocasset were caught near Taunton, and Weetamoo (Alexander’s widow) drowned while trying to escape. The English cut off her head and put it on display in Taunton. King Philip and Anawon remained in hiding in the swamp near Mount Hope until betrayed by an informer, John Alderman.

Phillip- his wife and son captured, his main fighting force destroyed- returned home to Mount Hope. Guided by Alderman, Benjamin Church’s rangers surrounded King Philip on August 12th. Alderman shot and killed King Philip (for which he was given one of King Philip’s hands as a trophy). King Philip’s corpse was beheaded and quartered. His head was displayed on a pole at Plymouth for 25 years.

It is estimated that there were 4,000 Narragansett before King Phillip’s War. Of them, 3,500 were either killed or sold into slavery and exported. The surviving 500 were relegated to servitude within the colony. The day of their glory was over, but their heritage will live forever.

Anawon was captured on August 28th and later killed by a mob, and Tuspaquin was executed by firing squad after he surrendered. King Philip’s wife and son were reportedly sold as slaves to the West Indies, but it appears they were instead exiled from Massachusetts and joined the Sokoki at Odanak. The war should have ended with King Philip’s death, but peace treaties were not signed for another two years. Meanwhile, the English continued to hunt down King Philip’s allies and those who had helped them.

An expedition under Captain Richard Waldon attacked the Nashua in the midst of peace negotiations during 1676 killing 200. The prisoners were sold as slaves. Samuel Mosely followed this with an unprovoked attack on the neutral Pennacook. Other expeditions against the Androscoggin and Ossipee finally drew the Kennebec and Penobscot of the eastern Abenaki into the war.

In November, 1676 an English army attacked Squawkeag and destroyed the corn needed for the coming winter. The Sokoki withdrew north to the protection of the French in Canada, but the English had provoked the Abenaki and Sokoki into at least 50 years of hostility.

Pessecus, brother to Miantenomi (the sachem appointed by Canonicus), was put to death by the Mohawks, in 1676.

Canonchet, the son of the brave but unfortunate Miantenomi, was captured near the Blackstone river, after the war, and executed for the crime of defending his country and refusing to surrender the territories of his ancestors by a treaty of peace. It was glory enough for a nation to have expired with such a chief. The coolness, fortitude, and heroism of his fall stands without a parallel in ancient or modern times. Canonchet was offered life, upon the condition that he would treat for the submission of his subjects; his untamed spirit indignantly rejected the ignominious proposition. When the sentence was announced to him that then he must die, he said, “I like it well, that I shall die before my heart grows soft, or that I have said anything unworthy of myself.” Thus ended the last chief of the Narragansett, and with Canonchet the nation was extinguished forever

Not one drop of the blood of Canonicus, Miantenomi or Canonchet, ever coursed in the veins of a sachem who could sit neuter in his wigwam and hear the guns and see the conflagration ascending from the fortress that was exterminating their nation forever.” “The Narragansett subsisted by hunting, fishing and, partially, by agriculture.  Their lands, for eight or ten miles distant from the sea-shore, were cleared of wood, and on these prairies they raised Indian corn in abundance and furnished the early settlers of Plymouth and Massachusetts with large quantities for subsistence. They were a strong, generous and brave race. They were always more civil and courteous to the English than any of the other Indians. Their kind and hospitable treatment of the emigrants to Rhode Island and the welcome they gave our persecuted ancestors should endear their name to us all.

The Narragansett, as to civilization, were far in advance of their neighbors.  It’s been said that “they were the most curious coiners of Wampumpeag and supplied other nations with their pendants and bracelets and, also, with tobacco pipes of stone, some blue and some white. They furnished the earthen vessels and pots for cookery and other domestic uses.” They were considered a commercial people and not only began a trade with the English for goods for their own consumption, but soon learned to supply other distant nations, at advanced prices, and to receive beaver and other furs in exchange, upon which they made a profit also. Various articles of their skillful workmanship have been found from time to time, such as stone axes, tomahawks, mortars, pestles, pipes, and arrowheads.

Respecting their reputation for integrity and good morals, Roger Williams, after a residence of six years among them and a close and intimate acquaintance with them, observed: “I could never discern that excess of scandalous sins among them, which Europe aboundeth with. Drunkenness and gluttony, they know not what sins they be, and though they have not so much to restrain them as the English have, yet a man never hears of such crimes among them as robberies, murders, adulteries.”

In the early times of the Narragansett nation, some of the English inhabitants learned from the old Indians, that they had, previous to their arrival, a sachem, Tashtassuck.. With regard to their religious belief, Roger Williams observed that their principal god seems to have been Kautantowit, or the southwest god. But they have many other objects of worship. They call the soul Cowwewonick, “derived from Cowwene, to sleep, because (say they) it works and operates while the body sleeps…They believe that the souls of men and women go to Cautantouwit his House…Murderers, thieves and lyars, their Souls wander restless abroad. “They have it from their Fathers, that Kautantowwit made one man and one woman of a stone, which disliking, he broke them in pieces, and made another man and woman of a Tree, which were the Fountains of all mankind.

A year later, in 1677, the Narragansett soon became debased and corrupted, after their interactions with the whites, by intemperance, and many of the vices with which our forefathers have charged the Indians, they never would have known, but for their intercourse with the whites. The name of the Narragansett Country became circumscribed when Canonicus and Miantinomi earlier sold off their territory. Unbeknownst to them, after the sale of Providence to Roger Williams, the island of Rhode Island to Coddington and Shawomet or old Warwick to Gorton and their respective associates, those territories virtually ceased to be called Narragansett. After East Greenwich was conveyed (to the forty-eight grantees) and erected into a township in 1677, the name of Narragansett was circumscribed to the limits of the present county of Washington, bounding northerly on Hunt’s River and the south line of the county of Kent.

The first settlement in the state was by Roger Williams, at Providence, in 1636; the others were by Coddington, at Portsmouth, in 1638; by Richard Smith, at Wickford, in Narragansett, in 1639, and by Gorton, in Warwick, in 1642-3. That Smith’s was the third settlement, and before Gorton’s, Roger Williams says, in his testimony in favor of Smith’s title to the Wickford land, sworn to July 21, 1679, where he declares, “y Mr. Richard Smith Sen., who for his conscience to God left faire Posessions in Gloster Shire and adventured with his Relations and Estate to N. Engl. and was a most acceptable Inhabitant and prime leading man in Taunton in Plymouth Colony: For his conscience sake (many differences arising) he left Taunton and came to the Nahiggonsik Countrey where by God’s mercy and the fav of ye Nahiggonsik Sachems he broke the Ice (at his great Charge and Hazards) ….

By 1680, with King Philip and most of their leaders dead, the Wampanoag were nearly exterminated. Only 400 survived the war. The Narragansett and Nipmuc had similar losses, and although small bands continued to live along the Connecticut River until the 1800s, the Pocumtuc disappeared as an organized group. For the English, the war was also costly: 600 killed and more than half of 90 settlements attacked with 13 destroyed. Edward Randolph, an agent of the crown, estimated 3,000 natives were killed, but his estimate appears to have been very conservative. From a pre-war native population in southern New England of 15,000, only 4,000 were left in 1680, and the harsh peace terms imposed by the English placed them in total subjugation. In what has been called the Great Dispersal, the Algonquins in southern New England fled either to the Sokoki and French in Canada, or west to the Delaware and Iroquois.

On May 28, 1692, Hester (Esther) Hall and John Ryder gave birth to their son, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother John Ryder, in Yarmouth, Barnstable Co., Massachusetts.

Sadly, in the year 1700, Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno died in Barnstable, Barnstable Co., Massachusetts. Twelve years later, Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s granddaughter, Augustine Bearse and Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s third child, Priscilla Bearse, died on March, 30, 1712 in Yarmouth, Barnstable Co., Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

It’s recorded that Hester Esther Hall Ryder died in 1718 in Plymouth, Barnstable, MA.

Except for the villages on the off-shore islands which had remained neutral, the surviving mainland Wampanoag after the war were relocated with the Sakonnet or mixed with the Nauset in Praying Villages in western Barnstable County. The Wampanoag community on Martha’s Vineyard has persisted to the present day, although the one on Nantucket was destroyed by an unknown epidemic in 1763. The mainland Wampanoag became increasingly concentrated near Mashpee, but Massachusetts withdrew recognition during the 1800s. Without benefit of a treaty with the United States, only the Wampanoag at Gay Head have been able to gain federal recognition. A nation has disappeared.

 

Sachem Iyanough- Barnstable, Ma


 
Statue of the Sachem Iyanough- Hyannis Village Green
Researching history is interesting in that looking into one project often leads me to another one. This is what has happened in the last few posts I’ve made. In traveling down Route 6A I have stumbled across several interesting finds worth looking into. One of these is the somewhat mysterious grave of the Sachem Iyanough.

Having grown up on Cape Cod, I had always known that the name of the village of Hyannis was of native origin. However, I never knew much more than that until I was an adult and I read the book Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick. Still, I was curious. I did not understand how the relationship between the English and Iyanough could have soured so quickly from promisingly friendly and helpful to one stained by betrayal and death.

In researching Iyanough, it turns out I could not relate his story in isolation from the native leaders who were his contemporaries or the big players in the Plymouth colony between 1620 and 1623. The tale of his fall from grace in the eyes of the New England colonists is complicated by political intrigue, outright violence, and a willingness or eagerness to take lives. However, when the Plymouth colonists are first introduced to Iyanough, he plays an important part in saving a life and establishing a working relationship.

According to Mourt’s Relation, written mostly by Edward Winslow, Iyanough was the Sachem of the Mattakeese tribe in the area of Cummaquid. The traditional territory of the Mattakeese included much of modern day Barnstable, including the modern village of Cummaquid. Although, they were theoretically part of the larger Wampanoag Confederation under Massasoit’s leadership, they still maintained a separate identity. Remember, most of the tribes of Cape Cod did not join Metacom in making war against the English colonists. In fact, when Winslow and a group of English and natives first met the 26 year old Iyanough in 1621, he was anything but hostile.
 
Edward Winslow

In the spring of 1621, a group of colonists from Plymouth, along with native guides like Tisquantum (Squanto) and Tokamahamon, traveled to Mount Hope to visit with Massasoit. On their return trip they were informed that one of the Plymouth children had gone missing in the vast wilderness of Cape Cod. Most of this same group immediately set out to find the boy, following the lead of Squanto.

They set off for Cape Cod by boat and anchored the first night at Cummaquid. The following day they were informed by several members of the Mattakeese tribe that the English boy had been found alive and well by the Nauset tribe. The Mattakeese invited the colonists to first visit their village and meet their Sachem, Iyanough. Winslow is very complimentary of the young native leader at their first meeting. According to Mourt’s relation:
“A man not exceeding 26 years of age, but very personable, gentle, courteous, and fair conditioned, indeed not like the savage, save for his attire; his entertainment was answerable to his parts, and his cheer plentiful and various.”
Iyanough and the Mattakeese fed and entertained the colonists. Except for one elderly native woman, whose children had once been abducted and made slaves by previous English visitors, a good time seemed to have been had by all.

Following the meal and festivities, Iyanough accompanied the men to Nauset (modern Eastham). When they reached Nauset, Iyanough and Tisquantum waded in ahead of the colonists to meet with the Nauset Sachem, Aspinet. The English in the search party were somewhat wary of the Nausets because the two groups had clashed the previous fall when the Pilgrims were first exploring the area. In addition, the English had unearthed and stolen stashed native corn during their previous expedition on the Cape.

Despite a somewhat tense beginning, the Nausets, English, and their native guides got along well. The Plymouth colonists promised to repay the stolen corn. The Nausets returned the missing English child, now decorated with wampum beads and necklaces. In return the colonists rewarded the Nausets with metal knives and animal skins.

Satisfied, the English traveled back to Cummaquid, where Iyanough helped them gather fresh water. As before, the Mattakeese entertained and fed the colonists. As an offering of friendship, Iyanough gave them one of his own wampum necklaces. With that, the English returned to Plymouth.

Iyanough seems to have tried very hard to convince the English that he and his tribe could be trusted friends. Sadly, the trust he earned by helping to rescue the young Plymouth boy did not last. However, whether or not Iyanough actively played a role in his own downfall is still a little unclear.

Sources like The History of Cape Cod by Frederick Freedman and the History of New England by John Goram Palfrey continually mention the fear the Plymouth colonists had of a large native conspiracy against them. Often it appears that Tisquantum, the theoretically loyal translator of the Plymouth colonists, was to blame for creating this tension. According to Edward Winslow, Squanto occasionally spread the rumor to local tribes that the colonists were preparing for war against the native population. He demanded gifts from these groups, claiming that only he could stop the English from massacring the lot of them.
Often these rumors led to nothing more than hostile talk. However, sometimes the fear of an uprising among the native groups led to acts of seemingly unprovoked violence on the part of the English. Often where violence occurred, Myles Standish, the military advisor to Plymouth Colony, was sure to be at the heart of it.
 
Myles Standish- Military Advisor to Plymouth
In comparing the sources of Freedman and Palfrey to Edward Winslow’s own Good News From New England, one gets a pretty clear picture of the events which ultimately led to the decline in peaceful relations between the English and the natives, and what ultimately led to the death of Iyanough.
According to both Freedman and Palfrey, in the fall of 1621, nine powerful Sachems signed a treaty with the English, declaring themselves loyal to King James. This act was in response to attacks and threats made by Myles Standish and his men, which in turn were in response to rumors spread by Squanto. Iyanough was not among the ones who personally singed the treaty, but the English assumed his loyalty because Massasoit, the Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederation, had signed.
From the perspective of Iyanough this may or may not have been accurate. Yes, the Mattakeese seemed to be connected to and owed some allegiance to Massasoit, but many of the Cape tribes were also very separate from Massasoit’s Pokanokets.
Additionally, in the spring of 1622 a separate group of Englishmen under the leadership of the businessman Thomas Weston attempted to create a colony about 30 miles north of Plymouth in modern Weymouth. According to Palfrey, these new colonists quickly made themselves notorious for stealing food from both the Plymouth colonists and the Massachusetts tribe in their area. In short, they were making friends with no one.
Soon matters became worse for the men in Weymouth. As winter approached, their supplies ran low. They had already aggravated their native neighbors to the point they now refused to trade with the English. The men at Weymouth begged the Plymouth colonists for assistance, even suggesting that the two colonies should team up to take food from the natives by force. Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, declined. He suggested that the Weymouth colonists subsist on ground nuts and shell fish, as the Plymouth colonists were doing. However, not all was going well in Plymouth either.
In February of 1623, according to Good News From New England, Standish took a group of men to Mattakeese to trade for corn. Previously, this tribe had been among the most trusted, supposedly because of the earlier actions of Iyanough. In a previous encounter, Governor Bradford had even left one of their stranded boats full of important supplies with this group. He asked them to guard it from animals and anyone who might try to steal from them. The English returned to find their boat and supplies had been perfectly protected and their trust had been validated.
However, during the February visit, Standish was very suspicious of the Mattakeese and their Sachem. As they arrived in modern day Barnstable a serious winter storm blew in preventing an immediate return to Plymouth. The group decided to spend the night with the Mattakeese. However, Standish noted there were strangers among the well known group of natives. Although, no reason was given, he seemingly began to suspect that the Mattakeese were planning to kill him during the night.
Captain Standish ordered that only one man should be allowed to sleep during the night, the rest would remain awake and guard their supplies and each other. Despite the constant guard, Standish eventually found that some beads were missing among their supplies. He and his six men went to the Sachem (Presumably Iyanough) and demanded the return of their property. They promised that if the beads were not returned, they would attack the Mattakeese that very night.
The Sachem asked that they return to their boat and make sure the beads were not somewhere aboard. When a volunteer returned to the ship, he found the beads. To be fair to Standish, Winslow does seem to suggest in his writing that the culprit planted the stolen property directly before the boat was re-searched. Either way, the natives gifted the English with so much corn that it loaded their boat.
Edward Winslow also suggests that because Standish had set a guard and had made such a production over the missing beads, that all the men were able to escape the Mattakeese unharmed. Whether there was a legitimate threat to begin with is another question.
At a separate March meeting with the native leader Canacum, Standish and his men were interrupted by the arrival of the warrior Wituwamat, who was well known as a killer of Europeans. The rumor, according to Winslow, was that Wituwamat enjoyed killing white men with his knife because they made funny faces, begged, and cried like children in their dying moments.
The two natives exchanged words, which Standish could not understand at the time. Although Winslow does not say who later translated the conversation, Standish came to understand the exchange to have been a plan to kill the English of Weymouth and Plymouth. In addition, Iyanough’s name was dropped as a fellow conspirator.
In the spring of 1623, Massasoit became ill. Edward Winslow was sent to Pokanoket to pay his respects. With Winslow’s help Massasoit soon recovered from what many thought was a terminal illness. According to Winslow, because of this action, Massasoit felt that the English had proven their friendship to him. In return, he warned Winslow of an impending plot against the men of Weymouth and of Plymouth.
“At our coming away, he called Hobomok to him, and privately (none hearing save two or three other of his pnieses, who are of his council) revealed the plot of the Massachusetts before spoken of, against Master Weston's Colony, and so against us, saying that the people of Nauset, Pamet, Succonet Mattachiest, Manomet, Angawam, and the Isle of Capawack, were joined with them; himself also in his sickness was earnestly solicited, but he would neither join therein, nor give way to any of his. Therefore as we respected the lives of our countrymen, and our own after safety, he advised us to kill the men of Massachusetts, who were the authors of this intended mischief.”
This proved to be the smoking gun that would condemn not just Iyanough, but many of the Sachems of Cape Cod, and honestly it was Massasoit who pulled the trigger. According to Palfrey, it was the English of Weymouth who had originally provoked the uprising. However, the natives planned to attack Plymouth as well because they knew the Plymouth colonists would attempt to help their fellow English.

I can’t help but wonder at Massasoit’s intentions here. Whether or not he was actually concerned for the English is unclear because we only have Winslow’s side of the story. However, it seems obvious that he was careful to make sure the colonists knew he was not part of the conspiracy.

In addition to the report from Massasoit, news had recently come to the colonists of a native uprising in the colony of Jamestown in Virginia the previous year. During this uprising, which had occurred suddenly, over 300 English colonists had been killed. Because of news like this, the men of Plymouth were unwilling to let matters play out on their own. Though Winslow says they were loathe to do so, on the Twenty-Third of March Governor Bradford, Myles Standish, and Assistant Governor Isaac Allerton decided to preempt what they saw as imminent war with aggression of their own.

In fact, according to Winslow, the three men decided that they would begin laying traps for the accused natives and their Sachems by first pretending to trade, then attacking when the natives were unprepared. Myles Standish gathered eight men of his choice and began marching for modern Weymouth.

However, it seemed the first blow of the conflict actually happened in Plymouth. A well know native by the name of Manomet arrived in the colony only a day or so after Standish and his men left. Manomet claimed to be there to make sure that his friends in Plymouth were fairing better than the English in Weymouth. However, Bradford was suspicious of the native’s intent. Manomet was quickly captured, chained, and made a prisoner in the newly constructed Plymouth fort.

Meanwhile Myles Standish arrived in Weymouth to find the colony rather unorganized by his standards. Natives were living right alongside the English. Some seemed comfortable with the situation, but others reported to Standish that they feared for their lives.

Standish quickly took command of the Weston’s colony and what followed was a period of building tension. Both sides eyed each other, ready for the killing to commence at any time. A Massachusetts warrior named Pecksuot even informed Hobomock, who had been acting as translator for the English since the death of Squanto, that they knew full well what Standish was planning and that they were unafraid.

Many of these native warriors were known pniese, which Winslow describes as a warrior of renown amongst the tribes. Some of these warriors daily entered the colony and sharpened their weapons in front of Standish, sometimes making threats and rude gestures.

Among these warriors was Wituwamat, who had previously bragged about how many French and English he had killed, and how he enjoyed the act. Like some of the more dangerous warriors, Wituwamat was also a pniese. He carried with him a knife, the handle of which showed the face of a woman. Of Wituwamat, Winslow writes:
“Wituwamat bragged of the excellency of his knife, on the end of the handle there was pictured a woman's face, but said he, I have another at home wherewith I have killed both French and English, and that hath a man’s face on it, and by and by these two must marry.”
Wow. Wituwamat sounds both fascinating and creepy actually. In addition, Pecksuot continued to call out Standish personally. He mentioned that although Standish was a great captain, he was a rather small man. Though Winslow writes that Standish bore these insults and threats with patience, in realty he did not take the presence of the pniese lightly. Very quickly he conspired to let the bloodshed begin with the deaths of Wituwamat and Pecksuot.

Within a day or so Standish noticed Wituwamat, Pecksuot, and another warrior gathered together in one building. Standish and his men entered and shut the door behind them. Standish grabbed Pecksuot’s knife and with it killed him. The men with Standish killed Wituwamat and the third warrior.

Though Hobomock took no part in the killing, feeling that the English had demeaned themselves, Winslow records that he said, “Yesterday Pecksuot bragging of his own strength and stature, said, though you were a great Captain yet you were but a little man; but today I see you are big enough to lay him on the ground.”

Standish and the English proceeded to kill the native men who had been living in Weston’s colony. When the Massachusetts tribe heard about the attack, they gathered to combat the English. Along with Hobomock, who was himself a pniese, Standish and the English drove the small native army into the swamp in defeat. Seeing his task complete, Standish returned to Plymouth with Wituwamat’s severed head and any of Weston’s people who were willing to return with him.

Upon arriving in Plymouth Standish confronted Manomet, still a prisoner, with the head of Wituwamat. He asked Manomet if he recognized the warrior. The prisoner replied that he did and knew him to be part of a great conspiracy to kill the English. Manomet gave the names of the other chief conspirators. Although Winslow does not say that Manomet named Iyanough directly, it seems that he must have, because the Sachem of the Mattakeese appears very soon after in a list containing the names and deaths of those who sided with the Massachusetts.

Hobomock entreated the English to release Manomet, as he said he had nothing to do with the rebellion. Though Winslow felt that Hobomock had been bribed on the man’s behalf, the English agreed to release their prisoner with a message for his Sachem, Obtakiest, of the Massachusetts.

The English explained to him that they had never wished for any violence, but the actions of the Massachusetts had forced their hand. Therefore, they claimed, the natives had only themselves to blame for what happened. In addition, Standish told the prisoner if Obtakiest ever attempted violence again, there would be no place for him to hide. He and his people would be hunted into extinction. Thus, the prisoner brought the message to his Sachem.

The sudden acts of violence against the Massachusetts and the death of their prominent pniese sent shockwaves among the native communities of the nearby areas. Winslow states that many of the Sachems accused of conspiring with Wituwamat and the Massachusetts fled their homelands in fear to hide in swamps and deserts. Although he also says that no real action had been taken against them. In those swamps many died of disease, starvation, and exposure. Among the dead Winslow lists Canacum, Sachem of Manomet; Aspinet, Sachem of Nauset; and Iyanough, the Sachem of the Mattakeese. Winslow goes on to say that many other natives continued to die because very little corn was planted or preparation done for the winter because of the fear the English inspired.

The exact location of Iyanough’s death was unknown for over two hundred years. However, in the appendix of Increase Mather’s Early History of New England, a letter is reprinted which discusses the discovery of the Sachem’s burial. The letter, authored by Amos Otis of Barnstable, mentions that there is some confusion as to who the village of Hyannis is actually named after. Otis says the land was purchased from a native known as Hyanna or Ianna, who some claim was the son of Iyanough. However, he seems to have had some doubts as to the exact genealogy of the family. Of the grave, Otis was fairly certain it was that of the famous Sachem of the Mattakeese. He offered the following story about the discovery of the grave.
On May 18th 1861, Patrick Hughes, an Irishman working for Enoch T. Cobb, was plowing in a field near Great Swamp, about a half mile from where tradition states Iyanough had his village. The plow struck something metal, which appeared to be a brass kettle. Under the kettle Hughes discovered a skull and bones. The bones  were arrayed in a sitting position. Among the other artifacts discovered were an iron hatchet, the remains of a wooden bow and arrows, a wooden bowl, iron nails, and some black and white wampum.
 
This Plaque along Rt 6A marks the entrance to the trail which leads to Iyanough's grave.
Otis states that among the natives of the 1620’s, iron nails were a thing of curiosity, so were once prized possessions. However, only a few years after, the iron nails ceased to be important to the natives of the area. He says that a bronze kettle and iron hatchet would have been articles buried only with a person of importance, as they would have been rare. He also states that the grave must have been before the time when natives commonly used firearms and had ceased to use wampum as a form of currency. Therefore, he dates the grave to right around the time and area where Iyanough was traditionally said to have died. No more exact verification had been performed. Amos Otis took the remains to Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Ma.
Today, the grave of Iyanough is maintained by an organization called Tales of Cape Cod. It can be found directly off of Route 6A, about a half mile of very pleasant walking into the swamp where the Sachem attempted to hide from the English.
 
The grave of the Sachem Iyanough, Cummaquid, Ma
In conclusion, though I have a much more clear idea of how and why the relationship between Iyanough and the early New Englanders soured, I am still unsure if he actually had anything to do with the conspiracy to murder the colonists of Weymouth and Plymouth. Of course, even in sources of purely English origin, he never got a chance to answer the finger pointing accusations of Massasoit and others for himself.
I was honestly most surprised by the behavior of Myles Standish. While the other leaders among the English seemed to work at their relationships with their native neighbors, Standish always seemed ill at ease and on the verge of violence. He was actually a bit like Wituwamat in that regard. I guess when I saw the actor portraying Standish at Plymouth Plantation, I never envisioned him decapitating an enemy in an ambush.
As I have before, I also must remark on the amazing diversity of the native population of New England during the colonial era. So much of this tradition and complexity seems to have been lost, now only reflected dimly in the names of local streets and villages. Unfortunately, this is how most people think of Iyanough, if people think of him at all. Not as a Sachem who, like his contemporaries, struggled to find a place for himself and his people in a world they no longer recognized. Rather, I think most people, like I did as a child, vaguely recognize that Iyanough might have something to do with the village of Hyannis.
It’s a shame that subjects like this are no longer regularly taught in American history classes at the high school level. Although Iyanough’s death and participation in the development of New England was certainly tragic, I can clearly see the connections that should be made between the actions of the Plymouth colonists and the echo of those same behaviors by the US government all the way up to the 20th century in its treatment of native populations. However, Iyanough is more fortunate than most. Throughout Hyannis and the Cape, there are several statues and plaques dedicated the former Sachem of the Mattakeese. Sadly, the only memorial for most of the native figures who shaped our modern New England will only be the sign at the end of your road.
 
The Plaque dedicated to Iyanough- Main Street Hyannis

 

 

 

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