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Massasoit's Children

 Native American Nations | Massasoit of the Wampanoags                   

     Pometacom, Massasoit's second son and Wamsutta's successor when the latter died in 1662, played such an important part in the affairs between the Indians and their oppressors that a separate chapter will be devoted to him and his captains.

Sunconewhew, was the third son of Massasoit. But little is known of him, his name appearing but once of which I find any mention in connection with the so-called sale of lands to the English, and that with Philip's on a deed confirming the sale of Rehoboth by Massasoit in 1641, the confirmatory deed bearing date March 30, 1668. It is said that Philip had a brother killed July 18, 1775, who was a great captain and had been educated at Harvard College. As there is no record of any other sons of Massasoit except these three, this was undoubtedly Sunconewhew.

     Amie, the only daughter of Massasoit of whom anything definite is known, married Tuspaquin of Assawamsett, commonly called the "Black Sachem." Their oldest son, William Tuspaquin, followed his father in fighting for his people in King Philip's war, in the early part of which he met his death. Their second son is said to have been a noted warrior, and to have had a part of his jaw bone shot away in battle. We are left in doubt concerning the part he played in the war, whether he was fighting with his own people or with the English. He is mentioned as a member of Captain James Church's company; and it is reported that he died suddenly after the war while sitting in his wigwam. These two statements, however, are not entirely irreconcilable with the supposition that he may have been faithful to his own people, as he might have joined Captain Church's company after the war; although how he and his family escaped slavery is almost beyond comprehension; or how he came to die suddenly while sitting in his wigwam; for while the men of note, the chiefs and sons of chiefs who followed Philip, died suddenly, it was not while sitting in their wigwams.

     There is one fact that lends color to the theory that he followed the fortunes of his Great Chief as did his father and elder brother, and that is the indignation of some of his children when their brother, Benjamin Tuspaquin, second, married Assawetough, or Mercy Felix, the daughter of John Sassamon, whom they regarded as a traitor to his people.

     The only known descendants of Massasoit now living trace their lineage through this son of his daughter, Amie.
  
  In 1917, the General Court of Massachusetts passed the following:

"Resolve Granting Annuities To Teeweleema Mitchell And Her Two Sisters, Of Tae Wampanoag Tribe Of Indians.

Resolved, That there shall be paid annually from the treasury of the commonwealth, in equal quarterly installments from the first day of December, nineteen hundred and sixteen, the sum of one hundred dollars each to Teeweleema Mitchell, Wootonekanuske Mitchell, and Zeriah Robinson, three sisters, aged and needy Indian women of the Wampanoag tribe, residents of Lakeville, who are descendants of King Philip's sister, and descendants of Massasoit. (Approved February 21, 1917.)"

     General Ebenezer W. Peirce in his "Indian History, Biography and Genealogy" traces the descent of these three women from Benjamin Tuspaquin, giving names in each successive generation, and mentioning another sister, Emma J., who marred Jacob C. Safford and had two children living at the time of the writing of his book in 1878. I am recently in receipt of a communication from Charlotte L. Mitchell, the Wootonekanuske named in the resolve quoted above, in answer to an inquiry, in which she writes that one of these children, Helen G. Safford is still living, but is confined in a hospital for the insane. She also speaks of her own brother Alonzo as still living, unmarried and in feeble health. Of the three annuitants above named, Zerviah Robinson was born (Mitchell) June 17, 1828, Teeweleema (known as Melinda) April 11, 1836, and Wootonekanuske (known as Charlotte L.), my correspondent, November 2, 1848.

     So if these five are all the living descendants of Massasoit, as Peirce asserts, the royal line will become extinct in the next generation.

     In 1917, the General Court of Massachusetts also passed the following:

"Resolve To Authorize The Payment Of An Annuity To Fannie S. Butler Through The Mayor Of The City Of Boston.

Resolved, That there be allowed and paid out of the treasury of the Commonwealth to the mayor of the city of Boston an annuity of two hundred and fifty dollars, to be expended by the mayor for the benefit of Fannie S. Butler, granddaughter of the late Sylvia Sepit Thomas and daughter of the late Mary Angeline Thomas Butler, members of the Wampanoag tribe of Indians, for the rest of her natural life, beginning with the first day of December in the year nineteen hundred and sixteen, and payable in equal quarterly installments.
Chapter one hundred and seventeen of the resolves of the year nineteen hundred and fourteen is hereby repealed. (Approved February 17, 1917.)"

     This was an increase in an annuity first granted in 1914, at which time the press spoke of the annuitant as a descendant of Massasoit, and the last of the Wampanoags. That she is a descendant of Massasoit is contrary to the conclusion of Peirce, and evidently was not satisfactorily established before the Committee of the Legislature which considered the matter, otherwise they would have been likely to set out that fact, as they did in the case of the Mitchell family. Miss Mitchell, in her letter to me, says that Fannie S. Butler is not of the family. That she is not, as was stated in the newspapers of that day, the last of the Wampanoags, is conclusively shown.

     My correspondent may, however, have followed the same family traditions that guided Peirce in his writings, which fail to take account of the possibility of other branches of the Benjamin Tuspaquin family.  This writer took great pains to

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Massasoit of the Wampanoags

Massasoit of the Wampanoags

 

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