Deshon, Mary Ann, 1811 - 1858

Mary Ann Deshon was born, the daughter of Theodosia Shon or Deshon, on or near the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in present day Ledyard, Connecticut.  

In December of 1833 she was enumerated in a private census of tribal members living in what was then Groton, Connecticut.  Erastus Williams, having just concluded his tenure as overseer, described Mary Ann Deshon as 22 years old and of mixed black, white, and Indian ancestry. She was included in a family grouping along with her mother, Theodosia, and brother, John George Washington Wait. According to Williams, she also had two children of her own Eliza Esther, age 5, and Peter, age 2.

Four years later the records of the state appointed overseer for the tribe indicate that Mary Ann lost a son, not the aforementioned Peter, to some unspecified cause.  Tribal member Stephen Sunsamon was paid for digging the grave.

Mary Ann was active in the political affairs of the tribe, signing a number of petitions and appearing prominently in the records of the state appointed overseer of the tribe for a period of thirty years beginning in 1829. She, along with her brother, mother and a number of other Pequots signed a January 1839 petition selecting Erastus Williams as overseer to replace Elisha Crary.   

Though not specifically mentioned in the 1840 federal census of Ledyard, CT, it is likely that Mary Ann, her mother and her children lived in one of the reservation households.  Based on the enumeration of the reservation, the community consisted of 13 households, some of which were headed by tribal members other not. reservation households included that of Charles Fagins, Mark Daniels, Betsey Wheeler, Joseph Lawrence, Hiram Lawrence, Amasa Lawrence, George Cottrell, Sullivan Fagins, Paul Baker, Frederick Toby, Basha Holt, Plowden Fagins, and Catherine Oxford.

By the mid 1840s, possibly earlier, Mary Ann had taken to signing documents using the last name Sears.  This combined with the last names of her youngest children is suggestive of a marriage at some point.  She was a signatory on petitions in 1845, 1848, and 1849, each petition requesting the removal of an overseer, as well as several tribal petitions in 1856 and 1857 remonstrating against the sale of reservation land. In an 1858 tribal census she is included in a family grouping along with her children Peter Babcock, Martha A. Sears and Edward Sears.  She is described as being "about 42" and living on the reservation. 

Mary Ann Deshon died in Ledyard on March 22, 1858, a matter of weeks after the aforementioned census.  Her death record indicates that the cause of death was a hemorrhage, she worked as a housekeeper, dying unmarried. CHS, William Samuel Johnson Papers, III, 100: December 13, 1833 letter from Erastus Williams to William T. Williams; NLCC:PbS, Indians, Mashantucket Pequot; 1840 Federal Census, Ledyard, CT; LVR

Alias(es)
Mary Ann Sears
Born: 
c. 1811
Died: 
March 22, 1858