The Indians of the Mystic valley and the litigation over their land.
The renowned sachem of the Pawtuckets was Nanepashemit
, who removed from Lynn
in 1615, and took up his abode on Mystic river
where he was killed in 1619.
During his short and eventful residence in Medford
his house was placed on Rock hill
, where he could best watch canoes in the river.
So says Medford
Other histories show him as living in Medford
not far from the river or from the pond and on the tops of hills.
This eminent grand sachem was the father of Sagamore John
, Sagamore James
and Sagamore George
George finally became sachem of the Pawtuckets.
Their chief enemies were the Tarratines on the Penobscot
, who at harvest would come in their canoes and reap the fields in this neighborhood.
One hundred of them attacked Sagamores John and James August 8, 1631, by night and wounded them and killed seven men. Sagamores John and James died of the smallpox in 1633.
After the death of Nanepashemit
, his wife as queen and squa sachem reigned.
She married Webcowit, the physician of the tribe, ‘its powow, priest, witch, sorcerer, and chirurgeon,’ but as is asserted, setting a precedent which Queen Victoria followed, he became princeconsort but not prince-regnant.
In 1636 a deed is recorded granting a tract of land to Jotham Gibbons
Middlesex Deeds, B. I, P. 174
This testifies that I the Sachem
which have right & possession of the ground which I reserved from Charlestowne
which lyes against the ponds at Misticke; with the said ponds I do give freely to Jotham Gibbons
his Heyres Executors and Assignes forever not willing to have him or his disturbed, in the said gift after my death.
And this I do without seeking too of him or any of his, though thay have been put upon it many times, but I [p. 74]
receiving many kindnesses of them am willing to acknowledge their many kindnesses by this smal gift to their sonne Jotham Gibons
Witness my hand the 10th of the 11.
|The Squa Sachem||X mark|
Entered and Recorded 23 (8) 1656 by Thomas Danforth
This deed implies the transfer of a tract of land to Charlestown
of which there is no record.
In 1639 she deeded a tract to Charlestown
Deeds B. J, P. 175 apr. 15, 1639
The 15th of the 2d.
mo. 1639 We Web Cowit & Squaw Sachem do sell unto the Inhabitants of the Towne of Charlestowne
, all the land within the lines granted them by the Court
excepting the farmes and the ground on the west of the two great Ponds called Misticke ponds, from the south side of Mr. Nowell
's lott neere the upper end of the ponds unto the little runnet1
that cometh from Capt. Cooke
's mill which the Squaw reserveth to their use for her life for the Indians to plant and hunt upon and the weare2
above the Ponds
they also reserve for the Indians to fish at whiles the Squaw liveth, and after the death of Squaw Sachem shee doth leave all her lands from Mr Mayhues
to near Salem
to the present Governor Mr. John Winthrop Senr
. Mr. Increase Nowell Mr. John Wilson Mr Edward Gibons
to dispose of, and all Indians to depart and for sattisfaction from Charlestowne
, wee acknowledge to have received in full sattisfaction twenty and one coates nineteen fathoms of wampum & three bushels of cone In Witness Whereof we have hereunto sett our hands the day and year above named the mark of Squa Sachem X the mark of Web Cowet O
Subscribed in the presence off
This is to testifie that the aforenamed purchase was made at the [p. 75]
charges of the Inhabitants of Charlestowne
and to their use, and for so much as lyeth within their limitts we do accordingly resign and yield up all our interest therein to the use of the said town according to the trust reposed in us.
Dec. 18, 1639 10th. mo. 18th. 1639
Jno. Winthrop Govrnr
Oct. 23, 1656 Entered & Recorded 23th 8 mo. 1656
by Thos. Danforth Recorder
The last clause of this deed is more fully explained in this affidavit of John Wilson
These may serve to certify whomsoever they may concern that whereas I undeawritten together with the Honord Mr Jno. Winthrop
& Mr Increase Nowell
both deceased have sett my hand unto a certain writing wherein wee resigned up all our interest that wee had in a certaine tract of land comitted to or trust by Squaw Sachem as may more amply appeare in the said instrument reference thereunto being had unto the Towne of Charlestowne
I do hereby declare that in that Act of mine I did not nor now doe yield up any part of that Tract of Land that was given unto Jotham Gibbons
by the Squaw Sachem
, neither doe I think that it was any part of the meaning or intention of either of those Gentlemen that sett their hands to it.
This is the truth as witness my hand this 15th.
of December 1662.
John Wilson Sen.
This is owned in Court 17. 10. 62 as signed by Mr Wilson
The bound for the commencement of the Indian
grant was ‘from Mr. Mayhews
house to neere Salem
’ Affidavits of Edmund Converse
, Benjamin Crisp
and Joseph Hills used in Gleason v. Norton
& al. in 1662 say that Davison
lived in ‘Meadford house’ in 1633, and Richard Beers
, Benjamin Crisp
and Garret Church say that Mayhew
lived there in 1636.
On the thirteenth of November, 1639, the squa sachem gave another deed to Jotham Gibbons
for the same tract of land as follows:
Middx. Deeds B. I, p. 176
Be it known unto all men by these presents that we Webcowites and the Squa Sachem
of Misticke wife of the said Webcowites
calling to mind and well considering the many kindnesses and [p. 76]
benefits we have received from the hands of Captain Edward Gibons
in New England
in part of requitall whereof and for our tender love and good respect that we do beare to Jotham Gibones Sonne & Heyre Apparent of the said Captain Gibones
Do hereby of our own motion and accord give & grant unto the said Jotham Gibones
the reversion of all that parcell of land which lies against the ponds at Misticke aforesaid together with the said Ponds, all which we reserved from Charlestowne
late called Newtowne and all hereditaments and apurtenances thereunto belonging after the death of me the said Squa Sachem To have and to hold the said reversion of the said parcell of lands and ponds and all and singular the premises with the Apurtenances unto the said Jotham Gibones
his Heyres and Assignes forever.
In Witness Whereof we have hereunto sett our hands and seals the thirtenth day of the Eleventh month in the yeare so declared by Christians One thousand six hundred thirty and nine and in the fiftenth yeare of the Reigne of King Charles of England
&c willing that these be recorded before our much honoured friends the Governor
of the Massachusetts Bay
in New England
and the rest of the Magistrates there for perpetual remembrace of this thing.
|The Squa Sachem marke||X|
|& a seal|
|& a seal|
Signed sealed and delivered in presenee of
This writing is acknowledged to be the deed of Squa Sachem and Web-Cowites, and the marks and seals thereunto affixed to be their marks & seals and have manifested and explained the bounds of the said grant or deed to be distinct from the land which was given to the Governor Mr Nowell Mr Wilson
and Capt. Gibones
, Benedict Arnold
being interpreter, and that they did not sell it to Charlestowne
In the presence of us
Jno. Winthrop Governr
Recorded 3 (6) 1643 by William Aspinwall Recorder Entred &
Recorded 23 (8）1656 by Thomas Danforth Recorder
The Major Gibbons farm
or the Squa Sachem
's reservation was a tract of about five hundred acres4
on the [p. 77]
west shore of Mystic
ponds, reaching along the shore of both ponds, from the stream5
that runs into the pond from the old Fowle
and grain mills, north to the point just above the upper pond where the Middlesex canal
formerly crossed to the long point (now a part of the Metropolitan park reservation) which reaches out between the upper pond and what is now known as Bacon
The squa sachem described that boundary as the south end of Mr. Nowell
A witness, in the suit to be mentioned, described the [southern] as ‘the little brook that runneth from Capt. Cook
's mill to Mystic pond
Col. George Cooke
had early built a mill a little above the present site of the old Fowle
grain mill and was a man of repute.
He returned to England
on the breaking out of the Civil War
, was made a colonel under Cromwell
and was killed in Ireland
Administration of his estate in this country was granted to Henry Dunster
, first president of Harvard, and Colonel Cooke
's older brother Joseph in 1653.
Some three hundred feet or so above the present dam just where a street [Water street] comes down to the west side of the pond [mill pond] are projections reaching out from each side of the pond towards a small island in the center [part of the old dam] and Judge Parmenter
pointed this out as the remains of the original dam to Colonel Cooke
The reservation extended back from the pond about five-eighths of a mile well up to the crest of the hill (or further) at the north end and narrowed down to the west side of the road at the south end some twenty rods north of the bridge [over Sucker brook
In 1658 by indenture dated December 3 but signed December 9 Thomas Gleason
leased of Capt. Samuel Scarlett
acting for his wife ‘the messuage etc. lying and being within the bounds of Charlestowne
—commonly known and called by the name of the Major Gibbons
farme’ for ten years at a rental of eight pounds a year.
This lease and attendant litigation is briefly as follows:
In 1650 the Squa died, according to the deposition of Richard Church in Scarlett v. Gardiner
, and Edward Gibbons
took possession of the land in behalf of his son. In 1655, 9th of 5 mo. (July 9) Jotham, describing himself as of Bermuda
, appointed Thomas Lake
: Scottow general attorneys for many purposes, and among other things to recover possession ‘of the parcell of land belonging unto me sometimes called by the name of Squa Sachem's hill.’
It was mortgaged to Scottow, redeemed by Scarlett
in the right of his wife, leased by him to Thomas Gleason
who entered under the lease and soon had his hands full of work and trouble.
In the summer of 1659 men employed by Henry Dunster
as executor of Colonel Cooke
began to mow the grass in the meadow below the mill.
, assisted doubtless by his brawny sons, set upon the men, drove them off and carried off the hay.
In the County Court
held at Cambridge
April 3, 1660, Thomas Gleason
in behalf of Capt. Samuel Scarlett
sues ‘Ri: Gardiner
in an accord of ye case for laying claim to a parcell of land belonging to ye farme that was sometimes Maj. Edw. Gibbons
April 23, 1660, the jury found for the plaintiff.
In the files belonging to this case are several very interesting documents, and especially the original indenture of lease signed by Scarlett
But the Charlestown
people returned again to the charge: At the County Court
held in Cambridge
April 1, 1662, Capt. Francis Norton
and Mr. Nicholas Davison
in the behalf of the Inhabitants of Charlestowne
brought action against Thomas Gleison
in an action of the case for witholding their interest in a parcel of land formerly in the possession of Web Cowitt and Squa Sachem with due damages, etc. Upon trial the jury brought in their verdict for the plaintiff an interest in and to three parts of the land in controversie on the west side of mistike ponds and the other part thereof to [p. 79]
the defendant as land belonging to Jotham Gibbons
and for the defendant costs six shillings and two pence.
At the County Court
held in Charlestowne
Dec. 16, 1662, Thomas Gleison
as plaintiff brought action against Capt. Francis Norton
and Mr. Nicholas Davison
in an action of review of judgment granted against him as above.
But the verdict was against the plaintiff, affirming the former decision.
The plaintiff appealed to the Court of Assistants.
It may be noted that in the writ in this case we get the name spelled ‘Gleison.’
See County Court Records, Vol. 1, page 245:
The attachment was dated March 24, served March 25, 1662.
County Court was held apr 1, 1662 Norton
, verdict gave plaintiff 3 parts defendant one part
1662—Gleason brought suit to have the verdict reviewed
See County Court Records, Vol. 1, page 270:
Jury brought in verdict for Deft.: Confirmation of Judgement in April [This was a verdict with costs.
W. H. G.]
The Plaintiff—Gleason appealed to ye next Court of Assistants to be held in Boston March Next And in October had a verdict in his favor.
See Volume 4, page 427, Records of General Court:
Second Session of the General Court, Boston
, October 20, 1663.
Court Judgement in the Case between Capt Norton
and Thos Gleason
for Capt Scarlett
In the case now depending between Capt Francis Norton
and and Mr Nicholas Davison
plaintiffs in the behalf of Charlestown
aforesaid and Thomas Gleason
aforesaid defendant in refference to a certain parcel of land now in the possession of said Gleason
given by Squa Sachem to Jotham Gibbons
in a hearing of the Case and All persons concerned doe finde for the defendant.
Cost of Court forty-four shillings and four pence.
aged 60 yrs. witnesseth that about one or two & twenty years ago This deponent being at the Wigwam of Squa Sachem, there was present Mr Increase Nowell Major Edward Gibbons Ralph Sprague
& Edward Converse
& some others of Charlestown
at which time according to the interpretation of her and her husbands meaning by the above named Major Edward [p. 80]
Gibbons they did grant and sell unto Charlestown
all their land within the limits of Charlestown
, except that on the west side of the ponds called Mystic
where their wigwam then stood which they reserved for term of her life & after her decease they did then declare it should come & remain to Jno Winthrop Esqr
Mr Increase Nowell Mr Jno
& the above named Major Edw. Gibbons
& the persons & [illegible] this deponent on his return home did enter into his day book for remembrance thereof This is the whole truth remembered so saith
This Indian deed to Winthrop
and others was a most unlucky piece of conveyancing.
(History of Cambridge
) evidently thinks there was another deed from the Indians releasing the lands within the bounds of Watertown
If so, it is apparently hopelessly lost.
From the expression in the first deed to Jotham Gibbons
in 1636, ‘which I reserved from Charlestowne
’ it seems there must have been an earlier conveyance, probably in 1635, perhaps by the symbolical delivery of turf and twig upon the ground itself.
But the decision to give one-quarter only of the reservation to Jotham Gibbons
, grantee, is absolutely incomprehensible.
The deed is so clumsily expressed as to require explanation.
This we get from the Indians in their two deeds to Jotham, and from Governor Winthrop
in the Council certificate attached to the second deed to Jotham.
probably drew this himself and it was only four years after the Charlestowne release.
At this time Jotham was only ten years old (baptized October 27, 1633). His power to Lake
and Scottow is dated July 9, 1655, soon after he became of age. Edward Gibbons
did not sign the memorandum on the Charlestown
release, and his acceptance of the gift to his son shows his view of the matter.
At the time of making the lease to Thomas Gleason
all four trustees except John Wilson
were dead, and his affidavit tells what he understood, and shows that the gift to the
family was well known.