Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hatchet Pond Reservation Historical Notes

The Nipmuck (or Nipmuc, meaning “Fresh Water People”) lived in encampments or villages near bodies of fresh water. These first Americans practiced vegetation management by cutting firewood, creating and abandoning agricultural clearings, and through the use of fire for various purposes. These practices, along with natural processes such as severe weather events, maintained a mosaic of vegetation types and ages, which helped sustain abundant wildlife food sources for the Nipmuck people. The description of the vegetation in the Nipmuck’s Hatchet Lake Reservation in Woodstock as it was prior to being abandoned in 1831 probably is an accurate portrayal of most of the area before European colonization: “The vegetation… was characterized by an open forest of oak, chestnut, and hickory on the slopes; white pine and hemlock in the swamps; and bushy plains of blueberry barrens on the overly drained acid-soil plateaus and hilltops. In other words, the uplands were essentially a subclimax maintained by the conflagrations set by the Indians… in fact, the whole ecology of the Indian occupied country was primarily a symbiotic relationship among the plant associations, the Indian, and his game animals.” Source: (Bromley, S.W. 1945. An Indian Relic Area. Sci. .” (Bromley, S.W. 1945. As European settlement intensified, in the 18th and 19th centuries much of the area was cleared for farming. Stonewalls built by early settlers are found throughout the Nipmuck State Forest, along with old roads and foundations. In the second half of the 1800’s, on the heels of large-scale agricultural abandonment, the fields and pastures reverted to forest, much of it white pine. Large volumes of this pine were later cut for boxwood and lumber. Around 1900, as many as twelve water-powered sawmills were in operation in Union. In the northwest corner of the town, Hatchet Pond, best reached through Union, was an early Indian reservation, and many relics have been found. Here may be seen an undisturbed Indian cemetery. Source: THE CONNECTICUT GUIDE WHAT TO SEE AND WHERE TO FIND IT A Project of the State Planning Board Initiated under CWA and completed with FERA funds Compiled by Edgar L. Heermance Published by EMERGENCY RELIEF COMMISSION Hartford, Connecticut 1935 “THE LAST of the WABBAQUASSETS" By Oliver A. Hiscox The early white settlers- in what is now the northern part of Windham County found but few Indians. The scattered bands of the Red Man had years before in response to the demands of Uncas, the Indian chieftain, joined him at or near what is now Norwich. Here and there a few families remained, but the country was not overrun with Indians; although the few that were here were disposed at times to make trouble. Soon after the close of the Revolutionary war, Woodstock set aside 10 acres of land at Hatchet Pond in the northwestern part of the town as an Indian reservation and there, in several small houses, gathered and scattered Indians of the town; and here the last of Woodstock’s full-blooded Indians lived and died. The “September gale” tore off some of the roofs of their houses but they continued to live there until about 1850 when the land passed into the hands of Peleg Childs and the few that were living at that time moved to the vicinity of North Woodstock. Hatchet Pond was always an attractive place for the Indian. A very large rock on the south shore is still known as the “Indian rock,” the fields where they raised their corn are now covered with a forest growth. Their little grave yard is now almost covered with weeds and brush. Its few rough stones mark the resting place of the last of our Indians. A few cellar holes here and there are all that remain of their habitations, with the exception of a few old crabapple trees now almost leafless and lifeless. The war-dance ring, which has refused to grass over, is about all that is left to tell the story. It was here that the Wabbaquasset Indians last recognized that any of their own race had any authority over them. Their last chieftain lived and died here and in the dark hours of midnight they buried him with a bowl of soup, and his bow and arrows; then they carefully filled in the grave, and all hands helped roll a large stone on the grave. The Godell family who lived just southeast of the reservation were the only members of the “White trash” that were allowed to know the location of the Indian chief ’s grave, and when Lorenzo D. Godell died, the location of this grave passed from human knowledge. Perhaps Everett was right when he wrote: “Ye shall not raise a marble bust Upon the spot where I repose, Ye shall not fawn before my dust, In hollow circumstance of woes, Nor sculptured clay with lying breath Insult the_clay that moulds beneath.” Some of the Indian families were known by the English names of Hajjurd, Nedson, Dixon, Brown, Merrybee, while others were known only as Sam, Hannah, etc. Much of the land in the Hatchet country was early burned over and made into pasture and owned in large lots by farmers in other portions of the town. Hundreds of sheep and cattle could be seen grazing on the hillsides. It is remembered that the Mcrrybee family had a fine field of corn on the reservation that had got to be several inches high, when the cattle of Deacon Lyon broke through the fence and made a meal of the tender shoots. Merry [graphic] IMPLEMENTS AND WEAPONS OF THE WABBAQUASSETS From the Collection or O. A. Hiscox. bee, the Indian squaw, since she was the “man of the house,” severely up braided Deacon Lyon for the work of his steers. But Deacon Lyon assured her that there was no damage done, in fact, it was all the better for the corn as it would “make it grow stocky.” The next Monday Merrybee went to the house of Deacon Lyon to do the weekly washing, and about 10 o’clock there was a hue and cry that the cows were in the deacon ’s corn. When they asked Merrybee if she saw them in the field when she came, she said yes, but she knew that they would not hurt the corn as it would “make it grow stocky.” Nedson is remembered as a man of great strength. Many stories have been told of him. A favorite stunt of his was to pick up a barrel of cider and drink out of the bung hole, and there may be seen to this day beside the old orchard wall a large stone which he tipped up there, and he is said to have carried a barrel of cider home on his back from Mr. Godell’s cider mill. The chief industry at the reservation was basketmaking and there can be found in many Woodstock homes specimens of this handiwork. One and two bushel baskets were made of white oak splints while the smaller ones were made of black ash. These were for household use and of many sizes and patterns. One now very rarely found was the catch basket or hamper which was very large, holding sometimes as much as three bushels. This was not made with handles but had a cover and was used for storing clothing, etc. Others were work-baskets of all kinds and shapes, also dinner baskets. These were all painted and decorated with red, blue and black designs. For coloring the Indians used blood-root for the red and the juices of berries for the blue and black. A pointed stick was the “paint brush.” These baskets are now sought after by antique hunters. The “birch broom” was another production. These baskets and brooms were sold to the country stores and were as good as cash to exchange for groceries and rum ;—for the white man ’s fire-water was considered a necessity at the reservation Traces of Indian life are still in evidence in that portion of Woodstock which lies between Hatchet Hill and Hatchet Pond. Indian mounds today show that the location was used as a burying ground. An interesting Indian relic may also be found near the boundary line of the town where it borders upon Southbridge, Mass. There an ancient mortar still exists. The large stone carefully hollowed out is worn smooth from use when Indian corn was converted into meal through the pounding process. At Southbridge it receives its first tributary from Windham County out of Hatchet Pond in the northwest part of Woodstock. This pond is said to have received its name from the fact that one of the early settlers was found dead in the pond with an Indian hatchet fast in his head. It receives also at Southbridge, Lebanon Brook, which drains the northwest part of Woodstock. A Modern History of Windham County, Connecticut: A Windham County ..., Volume 1 By Allen B. Lincoln 1920 Indian #1 Cemetery located in Northwest part of town. No stones Indian #2 Cemetery located in Northwest part of town. No stones Indian #3 Cemetery located Northwest part of town. No stones Indian #4 Cemetery located in Northwest part of town. No stones Indian #5 Cemetery located in west part of town. There are a few mounds in a pasture near Crystal Pond. No stones of any kind to mark them. Indian #6 Cemetery located southwest part of town. No stones Indian #7 Cemetery located near Harlow cemetery. There are a series of mounds in a Pine Grove. They are in different directions, but there are no stones of any kind to identify them as graves Source: HALE COLLECTION Hatchet Pond, Woodstock, CT. Sold to Southbridge Water Supply (Watershed) Hatchet Pond, a naturally occurring, impounded water body, which lies at the headwaters of Hatchet Brook, upstream from No. 5 Reservoir. Lance (1993) reports that the Quinebaug Reservoir Company purchased the water rights to Hatchet Pond in 1852. According to the Town of Southbridge, the level of the pond was raised in 1925 by constructing dikes and building a dam. Hatchet Pond serves to help keep No. 5 Reservoir filled which in turn has been responsible for maintaining the high -pressure service in Southbridge. The Hatchet Pond watershed is shown below as the black line on Figure 10.5.1. The watershed area is estimated to be approximately 0.34 mi2 (220 acres). The watershed outlet is located at approximately N42o01’35” latitude W72o05’18” longitude Source: Town of Southbridge Water Dept Records

Saturday, December 7, 2013


My Mission:

To promote a deeper, broader and more accurate depiction of the history of the Native Americans/American Indians of New England before and during European contact and colonization; to protect and preserve sites sacred to, and of historic value to, the Native Americans/American Indians of New England; to create and promote related educational opportunities, preservation projects and cultural events; and to work in partnership, as much as possible, with the tribes.
I will strive to exemplify the Native American/American Indian peoples’ respect for Mother Earth and all living beings; to be mindful of our role as caretakers for future generations; and to honor our connection to the Earth and Sky and to the Creator.

                                                                                                             Dennis Donais
                                                                                                             PROJECT HATCHET