Friday, August 29, 2008

Hammonassett Part Two

A little more about the Boulder, which I find is known as Joshua Rock, from an email from Donald Rankin:

"Hi Tim,
Thanks for writing and your interest in Native American culture and tradition. Joshua Rock, located at the entrance to Hammonasset Beach State Park was named by Native Americans for Joshua (a.k.a. Attawanhood) who was the product of the marriage around 1641 between Uncas and the Hammonasset maiden that took place following the Pequot War 1637. Uncas promptly sold Hammonasset land along the water to Col. George Fenwick and Henry Whitfield and moved the Hammonasset folks, perhaps numbering 125 souls, to the Oswegatchie Banks of the Niantic River. Joshua, who later became a powerful Mohegan Sachem himself, fought in the King Philip's War(1675-1676) and died shortly thereafter leaving behind 2 sons and a daughter. Joshua Rock, a chunk of metamorphic gneiss that was earlier iapetos ocean floor that was squeezed and fused to proto-North American in a process beginning 500 million years ago. This glacial erratic, probably from north of Hartford, was tumbled down during the last glacial period and deposited in its present location about 17,000 years as part of a "mini" recessional moraine while the glacial was melting and backing out of New England. Dale Carlson (Abenaki) and I will be part of the Schumann series presented at St. Andrews Church Thursday evenings at 7 PM. I've attached a copy of the flyer. I believe all programs will be well attended. "
Googling around, I found the blog entry of Melissa Pionzio, from June 12, 2008, where I learned a little bit more about that big boulder at Hammonassett and why it had been recently cleared:
“Here's Madison resident Phil Janssen, a really great guy I met today, who has been spending some of his free time removing tree stumps at a future park near the entryway to Hammonassett State Park.
Phil got involved in stump removal/grinding at the site, after he learned about the project from his friend and neighbor Don Rankin.…Rankin, a retired medical doctor, has a great interest in geology and Native American culture (being of Native American descent himself). Over the years, he's been keeping an eye on a huge and beautiful boulder that has been sitting on the site for just about forever. It's been dubbed by the Native American community, Rankin told me, as "Joshua Rock" after the son of "Uncas" a well-known leader of the Mohegan tribe.
Here is Joshua Rock, it's really something! Much better in person (or in Tim Macs’ photos)...

… Phil has finished removing about 50 stumps at the site and Dr. Rankin, a Vietnam War veteran, says he would like to see Joshua Rock and the surrounding grounds it sits on, become a place where people can come to commemorate the state's many service men and women."

And an unidentified writer says this of Attawanhood:

"The genealogy of Uncas is found in Trumbull ( 1885: 101-4 ) This document created by Uncas in 1679,with English legal assistance
Sons: Uncas had at least three sons, Oneko ( Oweneco) the oldest,who went to Boston with about fifty other Mohican warriors (including his brothers Attawanhood and Ben who were held hostage at Cambridge until the Mohegans proved themselves loyal) to join the Colonist against Philip in 1675. He succeeded Uncas as sachem of the Mohegans. He died in 1715 at 70 or 75 years of age
John, his second son
Joshua or Attawanhood, his third son, sachem of the Western Nahantics. His residence was at Lyme, Conn. near Eight Mile Island in the Connecticut River. Died 1776
And from Carolyne's Native American Genealogy Helper, I find an anglicised name that turned the man's Native American name into Atwood, surprising me because my house is listed in some old Woodbury histories as "an Atwood House," with probably no connection at all but coincidence:
Attawanhood aka Joshua ATWOOD

It is believed by some of our family researchers that Attawanhood, also known as Joshua, is the father of Philip Atwood. At present the evidence is circumstantial, but seems to fit.
Attawanhood, alias Ahaden, aka Attawahn, aka Attawan, aka Joshua Uncas (3rd son of Uncas Sachem of the West Nihantics) Wife Unknown (English Speaker)Children 3 (2 Sons unnamed, but known to be inlaws of Robbin Cassassinamons of the Peqout) Daughter (Indian Papers Vol. 1.30) or 2 Daughters A Man Called Sampson.According to the "Genealogy of Benjamin ATWELL of New London Ct. 1664" By Norm Ingham in an issue of THE GENEALOGIST), the cousins of Lucinda ATWELL received land in Old Saybrook as a grant of the Proprietors "of land set aside for the children of Attawanhood" He being the 3rd son of Uncas and the captain of the Mohicans that saved TREAT'S men in the Battle of Bloody Brook".
Attawanhood was kept as a hostage in the confined area of the colonists families following an Indian attack. He lived with the Atwell family. From "The Lyons Family", pg. 9-10:WILLIAM PRATT, JR., accompanied by his brother, John, came to America with the Rev. Thomas Hooker, in 1632, settling at Cambridge, Mass., then known as Newton. In June, 1636, they left with Rev. Hooker and travelled through the wilderness, establishing Hartford, Conn. William Pratt, Jr., was a member of the company from Hartford that defeated the Pequot Indians in 1637, annihilating their power as a tribe. He represented Saybrook in the General Assembly for twelve consecutive years. In his will, Attawanhood, third son of Uncas (Chief of the Mohegan Indians and friend of the English) recommended his children to the care of Robert Chapman, William Pratt, Jr., and Thomas Buckingham. In about 1640, William Jr., married Elizabeth Clark, daughter of John Clark, of Saybrook and Milford. William Jr., died in 1678.
· Change Date: 20 SEP 2007Marriage 1 Spouse Unknown
Phillip ATWOOD b: ABT 1649

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


At the State of CT website they say, "Hammonasset" means, "where we dig holes in the ground" and refers to the place where a settlement of eastern woodland Indians farmed along the Hammonasset River. They subsisted on corn, beans, and squash, and by fishing and hunting. The first colonists arrived in 1639. Property changed hands frequently between Native Americans and the first colonists."

But Wikipedia comes closer to what I'd remembered it as: (Hammonassett) "place of sand bars," just as it says at:

I sort of remembered it as (The place of) the long sandbar, but just can't remember the source.

But I do know you dig holes to get clams and that corn, beans and squash were planted together in mounds, but then again you'd dig a hole to build a fire in a stone lined pit, wait for it to turn to coals and cover them with seaweed, add what ever you harvested including clams and other seafood delights, plus some corn, cover that with seaweed and wait a while before you have a seaside clam bake, just like has been written about the excavations on Pilot's Point.

So I've just returned from a week long camping trip at the Hammonassett Beach State Park, noticing for the first time in a life time of camping there, the Great Big Boulder at the east of the entrance and the short row of stones on either side of it, plus what looks like a nice little clambake spot at the edge of the salt marsh. These pictures are from the entrance at Route 1, and you'll note the saw horses and screen in one of them, as well as a Rock Pile I can't really say is old or new. There have been excavations there, dated back 7,000 years from the present, but I haven't read any of them (and I was going to add something here about the nearby airport, but suddenly I can't copy and paste what I wanted to)...

And I'm adding this just because there's familiar names in it:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Zigzags

The rows at the edge of the Preserve also show up...


I was thinking of "plum thickets" in Westbrook, ending up here:, where I found Hayden as the name of the shipbuilder I couldn't remember who builtmy mom's house, and then somehow ended up in 1934 (the year my mom was born), looking at a photo of my house from the sky, with a view of those zigzag rows destroyed when the road was realigned.
So I lifted these photos from the the Connecticut State Library's Digital Collections (


We often watch thunderstorms from the porch on the south side of the house.
One blew in from the south east yesterday and I stepped out onto the porch to marvel at it.
About two seconds later, I saw a wall of wind, rain and hail sweep across the field. It came at me sideways, and it hurt, so I stepped back inside and tried to close the door because suddenly it was raining in my living room. The wind knocked me backwards.
"Hokey Smokes!" I'll pretend to have said, but really I used language I learned from George Carlin. The power went out and I checked on my buildings, even looked at the neighbor's house since they had had a recent direct hit by a big tree.

On the way next door I snapped some zigzag row pictures you'll find above, and that white is the hail...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mom's over Time

Showing the changes over time, I should mention that my Mom's house was built about 1760 or so, by a ship builder whose name escapes me at the moment. I've started with the earliest map I could find (1893) and have used various red markings to point it out, moving to 1944 (when another house existed on the property, now gone, but right about where I always park my ancient steam powered RV, and ending with some recent images.
I threw that old photo in there "just because." I think that's Pilot's Point (or the Hawk's Nest) in the distance.

My Mom is very active in several Historic Societies in the area (which is how she knows Nick Bellantoni) and is pretty sure that the builder of her house had his ship yard down at Pilots Point at least at the time the house was constructed. It makes me wonder if he traveled home by the River, pondering where he might have landed a boat. I don't really know...
"Shipbuilding was an important industry of the town for more than a century, the two rivers, the Pochoug and Menunketesuc, with the forests of white oak and chestnut that abounded in the northern section, fitting admirably for that purpose ("
But, yes I do believe that Native People built fire breaks to manage burning there for a long, long time. One of those links in the last post, the Pratt history above, includes mention of the white people "burning weeds": "In the 22d of February, (1637) I went out with ten men and three dogs, half a mile from the house, to burn the weeds, leaves, and reeds upon the neck of land, because we had felled twenty timber trees, which we were to roll to the water-side to bring home, every man carrying a length of match with brimstone with him, to kindle the fire withal..." It led to an encounter with Indians and you can read the rest here: (
And I thought that this was where I read about "(Wild) Plum Thickets" but I can't seem to find the quote and it's citation but it also reminded me of, where I once pondered the species "fire hardiness," only to find that the wild plum thrives in places that experience burning, but I can't find where I wrote about that.
And I'm looking at the clock and see I've got to stop here...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mom's Back Yard, Westbrook CT

I can’t find what I started writing about last, but it was after July 5, 2008, the day I discovered the bull’s eye ring associated with Lyme Disease. It was a rough 3 weeks and then some, feeling the effects of the disease and suffering from the side effects of the anti-biotic.

But I ended up camping in my mom’s back yard down in Westbrook CT at the end of those three weeks, slowly feeling better. It's the house circled in red on this 1940's map - and found an interesting Rock Pile on a Stone Row that is the big red dot:

“Westbrook was settled in 1648 as Pochoug, an Indian word meaning "at the confluence of two rivers", the Pochoug and the Menunketesuck, by the residents of the Saybrook Colony. Pochoug was the dwelling place of Obed and his tribe until 1676. The community was incorporated as Third or West Parish in 1724 by an Act of the General Assembly.

Westbrook is the birthplace of David Bushnell, the American patriot and inventor of the submarine (He called it the Turtle). It was visited by George Washington in 1776 and by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824.

Pochoug was renamed Westbrook in 1810 as a town by Act of the Connecticut General Assembly of 1840.”

That name, Obed, pops up alot in the area:

The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885J. H. Beers & Co., 36 Vesey Street, New York1884

"…(T)he Indian name of the settlement was Pochoug, a word signifying the place where a river divides, and descriptive of the location of the principal tribe at OBED's Hammock, at the confluence of Pochoug and Menunketesuc Rivers. The large quantities of arrow heads, broken pottery, shells, and other Indian remains that have been found and are being unearthed in that vicinity, are evidence that it was some time the abode of a numerous and powerful tribe.

A very common name for the western part of the town, in ancient annals, is Menunketeset, or Menunketesuc, in Indian dialect, Ma-na-qua-te-sett. The name is of Mohegan origin, and was applied to the West River, and the section bordering upon it, after its possession was claimed by UNCAS. In his deed to Saybrook, in 1666, it is written, Menunketeset, and it has been spelled and pronounced every conceivable way since. The significance of the word is lost. The soil on both sides of the rivers is a mass of shells, the remains of clam and oyster feasts before the discovery of America. A remarkable feature of the vicinity is the great number of broken or unfinished arrow heads to be found at Round Hill, on the east side of the river. The only explanation for this is, that it was the headquarters for the manufacture of these implements from the late and quartz found on the beach near by. This Indian settlement was probably abandoned at the annihilation of the powerful Pequot tribe, to which they belonged, in 1637.

The Hammock was subsequently occupied by OBED and his tribe, from Niantick, on the western border of Rhode Island, and within the jurisdiction of the Connecticut colony at that time. The small tribe were living here at the time of the arrival of the first whites, and were known as the Menunketeset Indians. They returned to Niantick about the time of the King Philip war, in 1676."

I can quote myself here:

"Histories of the Saybrook, CT area include mention of Obed and "Obed's Sacrifice Rock." Obed appears to have been a "son of a Hammonassett Chief; and after the subjugation of the Pequot, a servant to Gov. Fenwick: that Fenwick did give him...two acres more or less near the confluences of Pychaug & Menunketezuck rivers, known as Obed's Homake."

He later lived near Springbrook Rd, "passing most of his time in the retirement of his wigwam or the solitude of the chase." Obed's Sacrifice Rock was a boulder "contiguous" to his "aboriginal structure." The author continues to write in a language somewhat similar to American English, "Upon this symbol of pristine faith, was kindled from time to time, a fire which consumed the sacrifices tendered, with sweet incense from bay and birch; mingled with the fumes of tobacco." "

A little more OBED from

The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885

J. H. Beers & Co., 36 Vesey Street, New York


Pages 282-320


After the Indians were subdued, some of them were servants to the whites, and others lived near them and became partially civilized, many of them taking English names. They gradually decreased, however, till at the beginning of the present century, only a few stragglers remained. The tradition has come down to us, that Obed, one of these Indians, sacrificed a deer to the Great Spirit on a hill about half a mile north of the head of Main street. The hill is still known as "Obed's Alter Hill," though the exact rock on which the sacrifice took place is not known. It was, however, one of the high rocks on the east side of the hill, and it is not visible from the turnpike. Who this Obed was is not known, but an Indian of that name was a servant of Colonel FENWICK, and it is probable that he was the one. Years afterward he laid claim to a piece of land, which the following entry in the town acts explains: "The Teste of William HIDE and Morgan BOWERS, who certife & say that wee do well Remember that Obed the Indian was a servunt of Mr. FENWICK the space of four years, & we are able to say he was a faithful servant to him, & that for his service, Mr. FENWICK Did Ingage a parcel of Land to him, We cannot Justly Say what Quantity, But we Do conclude it was not less than four acres, and that Obed's father Did Possess the Land before the Serviss of the said Obed was out. To this we Can Safely take our oaths.

"This was given in before me, John MASON, the 19th of May 1673."

My mom's yard today - and the rock pile again in red:

There's been lots of newer stone walls built since the 1600's, but I think I see the "Indian Look" of the oldest of stone rows (built very similar to rows I've follwed in Rhode Island) and I wish I'd had the time to just follow those stone rows rather than just glimpse them from my bicycle as I rode by, especially in the property newly acquired by the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (

But here's the one at the edge of the property.

In the distance is I-95; that sort of hump in the middle of this section of stone row is a sort section of stone row that ends with a big end stone above what's now a little pond, but probably was a spring:

I stepped onto the highway side to take this photo of it, a steep bank below the big stone at the right, a curious collections of smaller stones on the row to the right of the the big boulder in the middle...

The few stones I did pick up, I turned in my ands until I found some comfortable way to hold it... .. hand axe, maybe...

...but I think it's that pile of stone tools, sitting on a stone row at a spring, maybe an old camp, maybe just a spot where tools were left rather than carry around hand axes and hammer stones, abraders and nut crackers and who knows what else, right there in my mom's backyard.