GENERAL HISTORY

OF

THE TOWN OF SHARON,

LITCHFIELD COUNTY, CONN.
FROM ITS FIRST SETTLEMENT
BY CHARLES F. SEDGWICK, A. M.
AMENIA, N. Y.
CHARLES WALSH, PRINTER AND PUBLISHER.
1877

CHAPTER IV

INDIANS IN SHARON

THERE was a somewhat numerous tribe of Indians in Sharon before its settlement by the white inhabitants. Their principal village was on the eastern border of Indian Pond, in the northwest corner of the town, where they had considerable clearings. The Indian name of this pond was Weequagnock. There were numbers of them too on the borders of the other pond, and in the valley of the Ten Mile River. The Indian name of this stream was Webotuck. They were never sufficiently numerous to prove dangerous to the safety of the settlers, but their dissatisfaction because of the refusal of the proprietors to acknowledge their claims to a certain quantity of land which they insisted was reserved to them in their sale to Thomas Lamb, and the agitation of that matter for nearly fifteen years was a cause of fear and anxiety to their immçdiate neighbors during that period. The matter was brought before the Assembly by a joint memorial of the Proprietors and Indians, presented in 1742, which will at once give an explanation of the pending troubles, and which was in the words following:--

To the honorable, the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut, in General Court assembled, at Hartford, in said Colony, on the second thursday in May, A. D. 1742.

“The memorial of Peter Pratt, Nathaniel Skinner and Jonathan Dunham, agents for said town, and Stephen Nequitimaugh Nanhoon, and others of the Indian nations, residing in said Sharon, humbly showeth.—

“That they, the said Stephen Nequitimaugh Nanhoon, and others of the Indian natives, residing in Sharon, were the proper owners of the lands contained in the said township of Sharon, and Salisbury, adjoining to said Sharon, and that a considerable part of said lands was honorably purchased of said Indians, and paid for by Thomas Lamb of said Salisbury, and that he, the said Lamb, in negotiating the said purchases of said Indians, did take advantage of their ignorance, and as they have since understood, did obtain a deed or deeds from them or some of them for more of said land than ever they sold or intended to sell to said Lamb, and particularly the place at the northwest corner of said Sharon, where the said Indians live and improve, and always designed to reserve to themselves for a settlement, besides several other parcels that have never been sold to the English; That the Government’s Committee have obtained therights purchased by said Lamb of the Indians, and have sold all the lands in the townships of Salisbury and Sharon to the proprietors of said Towns, who are now improving and are entering on the said lands still claimed by the said Indians, which has aroused a great deal of uneasiness among the Indians, they looking upon themselves defrauded of their rights.

“That many of the Proprietors of Sharon are likewise inclined to believe, that the said Indians, who were the proper owners of said land, did never, to this day sell to the said Lamb or to this government, all the lands in said Sharon or Salisbury, but that they have still an honest right to that said tract where the said Indians now live, as also to one mile in width across the south end of said town of Sharon, and that they are willing the said tract where the Indians now live should be restored to them and confirmed to the said Indians, though the Proprietors have purchased the same the government, Provided they can have it made good to them by other reasonable satisfaction.

“Whereupon your Honors' memorialists humbly pray that the Honorable Assembly would take the case into their consideration and would appoint a Committee to repair to Sharon to hear and examine and to enquire into the claims of the said Indians, and purchases that have been obtained from theni either by the said Lamb or others, with power to agree, settle and determine all matters of difference and controversy relating to the premises, and for the quieting the said Proprietors and the said Indians, or that your Honors would in some othet way, as in your wisdom you shall think fit, find a remedy.

" Your memorialists further show, that there is a very considerable number of said Indians, living at said northwest corner of said Sharon, and others not far from them, that are desirous of being instructed in the Doctrines of the Gospel to be taught to read the Holy Scriptures, and he informed of the way of salvation therein revealed ; and that their children may be educated according to Christianity istianity; which your memo + tialists also recommend to your Honors’ consideration, hoping that your Honors will be inclined to do something towards their encouragement; and your Honors’ niemorialists as in duty bound shall ever pray. Dated in Hartford this 13th day of May A. D., 1742.”

Upon this memorial a committce was appointed, consisting of the Hon. Thomas Fitch, afterwards Governor of the Colony, Daniel Edwards, Esq., of Hartford, afterwards a judge of the Superior Court, and Robert Wa!ker, Esq., of Hartford. who was a large proprietor of the lands in Salisbury, whose duty it should be to investigate the subject matter of the memorial; and they met the parties in Sharon. on the 11th day of Octo- her, 1 742, and heard them by their interpreters and. witnesses.

They made a long and elaborate report in which they gave a history of Lamb’s purchase; and believing that the Indians had misunderstood the bargain, recommended that a certain quantity, not exceeding fifty acres should be set off to them; that some equivalent should be allowed the proprietors, and that some provision should be made for the religious teachings of the Indians.

The Assembly approved the views of the Committee and requested Mr. Pratt, the minister of Sharon, to devote some time to the advancement of the spiritual interests of the tribe, but as they made no provision to remunerate the proprietors, no final adjustment of the difficulty was effected. The Indi3n improvements contained some ninety acres, and besides this, they demanded a large tract on the adjoining mountains, for fire wood. To this the proprietors would not consent without a compensation from the government, and the old troubles returned with increased acrimony.

In 1745 another effort was made to call the attention of the Assembly to these Indian troubles. The proprietors of Sharon advised their Honors that the Indians were uneasy and restless, in view of the state of their affairs, and they added: “We can't but think needful for some proper care, in this difficult time, to be taken.”

This memorial was continued in the Assembly till 1746, when William Preston, of Woodbury, and Samuel Canfield, of New Milford, were appointed a committee to lay out the Indian lands by metes and bounds. This committee, in the prosecution of their duties, employed the celebrated Roger Sherman, then a humble shoemaker, at New Milford, to lay out the Indian lands, in his capacity of County Surveyor, and to mark out definitely their boundaries. All this was acccomplished by Mr. Sherman; but nothing was done to remunerate the proprietors, and both parties were left to contest their rights as best they could. The Indians were stimulated in their quarrel by certain disorderly persons, who made them believe they were their special friends, whose counsels were prevalent in shaping their course. Under the guidance of those persons, they were emboldened to resistance, and gave great uneasiness and trouble to the proprietors. One Van Arenan, a Dutchman, pretended to make a new purchase of their lands, and it became necessary to take strong measures to prevent open and forcible collision. This state of things portended so much danger that Governor Law found it necessary to issue a formal Proclamation to the intruders, warning them that their Indian titles were worthless, and that the rights of the proprietors would be protected at all hazards.

About the year 1750, Thomas Barnes moved into the town from New Fairfield, in Fairfield county, and purchased a large tract of land in the neighborhood of the Indian territory. In the course of a year or two, he persuaded the Indians to sell out their lands to him, and took a formal deed of their possessions from two of their chiefs, Nequitimaugh and Bartholomew. It was contrary to law to take deeds of the Indian proprietors in that way, but the Legislature, on the petition of Barnes, confirmed his title, and he took possession of the disputed territory, the Indians having gone to other parts. They carried with them, however, a deep sense of the wrongs they had suffered, and some of them were often back among the inhabitants, complaining that they had been overreached, and often giving significant hints of the resentment which was rankling in their bosoms. The old French war commenced about this time, and the stories of Indian atrocities which were borne on every breeze, filled the whole country with terror and alarm. Four persons were murdered about this time, between Stockbridge and Lenox, and this, with other alarming incidents, produced a very general consternation in Sharon.

In 1754 one Thomas Jones had purchased a tract of land near the Indian Pond, which had been claimed by the Indians, and built a log house upon it. His family were frequently disturbed in the night season by what they supposed to be the noise of Indians about the house, and an armed guard was kept there during nights for several weeks. A memorial was presented to the Assembly, detailing the causes of danger from the Indians, by which the settlers were alarmed, and the statements. of the memorial were fortified by the depositions of some half dozen persons, who kept the guard, detailing with minuteness the incidents of one night. The testimony of one witness was as follows:-

"John Palmer, of lawful age, testifieth and saith, that some time ago I came to dwell, as a hired man, with the above named Mr. Thomas Jones, and have been a member :of ‘his family in the time of the late disturbances, which he has testified about, but ‘have not seen any Indians but one night, when I was upon the watch with several other men, but: have frequently heard their whoops and. whistles near his house, which noises of the Indians I am well acquainted ‘with, having been a considerable time a captive among them and released from them last May. The time when I saw the Indians near Mr. Jones’s was the latter part of the Sabbath day night before last. He came and put his head partly in at the. door way, against a blanket that hung before the door. This he did twice.. A man near me proposed to shoot, but I prevented him, hoping for a fairer shot,’ but he not coming there again, I went to the side of the house and looked through a crack between the logs of which the house was made, and saw. an Indian but a few rods from the house, it being clear moon light.’ I then put my gun through the crack and shot, but tot having advantage to take good sight, suppose I did not hit him. I then ‘went to a place cut out for a window, and saw him clearly, and shot again with a gun that was put into my hands, and supposed I had killed him, for I thought he fell down, upon ‘which I took another man’s gun and went out to see what I could discern, but not finding him at the place, scouted some time for him, at length discovered. him at a small distance behind a tree. I endeavored to shoot again, but my gun missed fire. I called to know if any one of the company was near me, when’ one man came to me. He went further in search of him and presently had a sight of him, when the other man presently shot. Afterwards I shot at him again, but don’t know that we hit him, except my second shot. I supposed him to be much wounded then, for he walked very poorly, stooping near the ground, his left hand holding up his blanket to his right side and his right arm hanging as if it was broken. But the men all coming out of the house after I had shot the last time, I run to the house, fearing lest some other Indians might get into the house in our absence and kill the women and children, so I saw the Indians no more. I saw no more Indians, but one of the company said he saw another, which by his account I believe he did. I have since seen no more, but heard their whoops and whistles as aforesaid. Dated October 14, 1754, and sworn before John Williams Justice of the Peace.”

Such is a specimen of the exciting incidents of the early
years of the history of the Town. The peace between England and France in 1761 put an end to all Indian claims.

There is no tradition on record bearing upon the history of the Town, which has any reference to the old French War, other than these Indian alarms, except the simple fact that Colonel Elmore, of the War of the Revolution, was a Lieutenant in the service in the previous war.

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