Committee Report on the Wangunk Land in Middletown
To the Honorable General Assembly to be Convened at New Haven, October 1756
We, the subscribers, appointed a committee by the General Assembly in May last to look into the circumstances of Indian lands lying in the Third Society in Middletown and all other matters referred to in a memorial of the inhabitants of said society, representing to said Assembly that there were two tracts of land lying in said society belonging to the Indians, that Cushoy, the only sachem left, was desirous said land should be sold and that by the sale thereof the interest of said society would be much advanced, etc., and to report to this Assembly what we should find and give our opinion thereon did on the 22nd day of September last at the desire of said society repair to said society where, being met by many of the inhabitants of said society and the said Cushoy, we proceeded to view said land and enquire into the circumstances of it and of the Indian owners or proprietors of said land and report thereon as follows, viz.,
We find that there are two pieces of land in said society which in May 1675 were recorded to thirteen Indians by name, one piece said to contain fifty acres, more or less, abutting on the Great River west and on other land of theirs east. The other pieces containing two hundred and fifty acres, more or less, abuts on their own land east, etc., by a survey whereof taken by Mr. William Welles, one of the county surveyors in Hartford County. The first piece contains but twenty eight acres and one hundred and fifteen rods, including five acres said to be disposed of by the Indians. The other part contains by said survey two hundred and seventy nine acres, including the land on which the meeting house stands and forty eight acres and three roods said to be sold of said land. That the first mentioned piece lies upon the Great River and is very commodious for building of vessels and the water being deep there and very shallow just above and at certain seasons of the year not navigable but by small vessels might in time be very serviceable for building storehouses and loading and unloading vessels of burthen. The other piece lies round the meeting house in such form as to prevent inhabitants building near said house and is of little or no service, as it lies unfenced and not improved. That the whole of said land is very valuable, fit for building on, plowing, feeding, and various improvements and, if to be sold, would procure a large sum of money. That there were no Indians on said land who claimed the same, except the said Cushoy, who was said to be more than seventy years old. That the said Cushoy informed us that there were not more than twelve or thirteen besides himself that were descendants from the original Indian proprietors of said land and that they were so dispersed that they could not be found without great difficulty. That he, the said Cushoy, was willing and desirous said land should be sold to the English and the effects secured for himself and such other Indians as had a just claim to said land.
We would, therefore, humbly offer it as our opinion that, considering the little profit said land is of under its present circumstances or will probably ever be of to said Indians1 and the great benefit and advantage it might be of to the public and to particular persons that might purchase it if it were to be sold, it is best said land be disposed of by order of that Assembly in small parcels or allotments to such persons as will build and dwell upon it, and that a committee be appointed for that purpose and also to receive and let out to use the money said land shall be sold for and the interest thereof secured for such Indians as have a just claim to said land and given to or disposed of for them as they shall shall need the same. And that the General Assembly give such other and farther directions respecting said money as may appear just from time to time, which is humbly submitted by your Honors’ most obedient humble servants,
October 11, 1756
Legislative Action: In the Upper House, the question being put whether the within report of the committee should be accepted and approved was resolved in the negative. Test, George Wyllys, Secretary. In the Lower House, concurred with the Honorable Upper House in negativing the within report. Test, Elihu Chauncey, Clerk / General Assembly / October 1756
Cataloguing: 132a, 132b, 132c
- 1. The committee's argument here ignores the ability of the Wangunk to lease out their land at prices they themselves would set.