Miller, Hannah, 1792 - 1866

Hannah Miller, also known as Hannah Fagins, was a longtime reservation resident and the matriarch of a large Pequot family.  It is likely she was born on the reservation, in what was then North Groton, Connecticut. She had at least eight children, five of whom (Charles, Joseph, Henry, Nancy, and Samuel) were living when the family was enumerated in a December 1833 private census of tribal members living on the reservation.  It was then that Erastus Williams, having just concluded his tenure as overseer, described Hannah Miller as 41 years old and of "clear" Indian ancestry. Although a marriage record isn't extent, documents suggest that her husband was also named Charles Fagins, quite likely the same Charles Fagins identified in the 1830 census for North Groton as the head of a household of eight.

Hannah Miller first appeared in the historical record in 1818 as the recipient of goods and services from the state appointed overseer of the tribe.  The records suggest that either a house was repaired or built for her in 1823, likely to accommodate her growing family.  The family suffered the death of a son in 1822 and two additional children in 1832 and 1836, respectively.  Coffins and associated burial expenses were billed to the tribe.

Hannah herself took ill in 1833 and was visited by Dr. Mason Manning on four separate occasions.  Whether a discrete or lingering illness, by the second half of July 1834 Hannah's account was billed for seven separate doctor's visits, advise, and medicine.  It is likely she recovered as there are no additional mentions of medical care for Hannah Miller for the next thirty years.

By 1840 the Miller/Fagins household consisted of only four individuals, the smaller household explained, in part, by deaths and the maritime employment of a number of her sons. Based on the enumeration of the reservation, the community consisted of 13 households, some of which were headed by tribal members other not. Neighbors of Charles Fagins and Hannah Miller included 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.

She 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 over forty years. She signed a January 1839 petition selecting Erastus Williams as overseer to replace Elisha Crary.  She was a signatory on petitions in June of 1848 requesting the removal of an overseer, in February 1849 and February 1851 requesting the replacement of overseer William Morgan with Luke Gallop, as well as several petitions in the 1856 and 1857 remonstrating against the sale of reservation land.

A March 1858 census of the members of the tribe revealed that Hannah, then in her mid to late sixties, was living on the reservation, with her daughter Nancy.  By then son, Henry, was in California, Joseph had "gone to parts unknown" and there was no mention of her oldest child Charles or her youngest, Samuel. 

Hannah Miller appeared consistently in the records of the state appointed overseer of the tribe until her death in January 1866.  Over the course of her life, she enjoyed interests in a specific lot of land on the reservation and occasionally received disbursements for rents.   

Hannah died on January 3, 1866.  She was, according to her death record, married at the time of her death.  The overseer records indicate that her coffin, plate, shroud, cap and handkerchief were paid for out of tribal funds. CHS, William Samuel Johnson Papers, III, 100: December 13, 1833 Letter from Erastus Williams to William T. Williams; NLCC:PbS, Indians, Mashantucket Pequot; 1830 Federal Census for North Groton, CT; 1840 Federal Census for Ledyard, CT; Brown and Rose, Black Roots, 122/ LVR 

Born: 
c. 1792
Died: 
January 3, 1866
Ethnicity