Nedson, John, 1815 -
John Nedson was born in either Stonington or Groton, Connecticut circa 1815. While his parentage is unknown, he was very likely one of the many members of the Mashantucket Pequot community that also had ties to the neighboring Eastern Pequot community, as evidenced by the surname Nedson. He spent most, if not all, of his formative years on the Mashantucket reservation in the household of Amy George Daniels and her non-Native husband Mark Daniels. According to Erastus Williams, an Overseer to the tribe, Amy Daniels was the grandmother of John Nedson. The Daniels household was a busy place. Not only was it an active and productive farm, it had a steady stream of boarders over the years and served as a centralized meeting place for certain tribal events, some of them quite significant. So it stands to reason that John Nedson at a young age was as immersed in the activities of the community as any other Pequot youth of the time might be, if not more.
From March of 1821 to April of 1826 the records of the State appointed overseer show a reimbursement to Mark Daniels for the cost of the caring and providing for John Nedson who would have been only 6 years old at the beginning of this fostering period. It is likely that this care and support preceded March of 1821, but the records are not extent. The fact that Mark Daniels was reimbursed despite an extended family connection, is not necessarily remarkable. Nedson may have been orphaned or abandoned and as minor and a Connecticut Native, the Overseer had the responsibility of seeing that Nedson was supported.
Records indicate that from September of 1820 to January of 1822 John Nedson required the attendance of Dr. Dan King on a number of occasions suggesting the possibility of a lingering condition during this year and a half. While not enumerated by name, Nedson was counted among those in the Daniels household in the 1830 Federal Census. He was more than likely one of the unnamed males between the ages of 10-23 recorded as living there.
Like many of the young men in the Pequot community, John Nedson embraced a life at sea at an early age. On May 16th of 1832 Nedson, age 16, and fellow Pequot, Charles Fagins, age 18, departed the busy port city of New London on a nearly year-long whaling voyage in the South Atlantic. Nedson and Fagins returned in April of 1833. Several months later John Nedson was enumerated in a December 1833 informal census of tribal members living on the reservation. Erastus Williams, having just concluded his tenure as overseer, described Nedson in a letter to William Williams, as the 18 year old grandson of Amy Daniels and as being of mixed African-American and Indian ancestry. Also resident in the Daniels’ household at that time was tribal elder Ann Wampey. Nedson’s grandmother, Amy George Daniels, would died shortly after this census was taken.
Despite his continued presence in the Daniels household, compensation for his room and board are no longer sought by Mark Daniels, which conforms with Nedson reaching an age and position of relative self-sufficiency. He did have at least one bout of poor health in 1834 while in neighboring Norwich CT which required the attention of Dr. Robert Farnsworth and some form of support by Ebenezer Carew of the same town. The Overseer of the tribe paid the bills associated with these goods and services. This would be the last occasion that John Nedson would appear in the records of the overseer. This illness may have kept Nedson on shore and off the high seas for a short time, but it wouldn’t be long before he again gravitated to the sea. In 1836 and two year later in 1838 John Nedson applied for Seaman’s Protection Certificates with his citizenship being attested to respectively, by Daniel Babcock and then Mark Daniels, both members of the Mashantucket community by blood and/or marriage.
CHS, William Samuel Johnson Papers, III, 100: December 13, 1833 Letter from Erastus Williams to William T. Williams; Bill from Mark Daniels to Eneas Morgan and Stephen Billings, Overseers to the Western Pequot Indians, 1822.03.08.01; Bill from Mark Daniels to Eneas Morgan, Overseer to the Western Pequot Indians, 1823.06.18.00; Bill from Mark Daniels to Eneas Morgan, Overseer of the Western Pequot Tribe for Goods and Services Provided, 1824.04.01.00; Bill from Mark Daniels to Elisha Crary, Overseer to the Western Pequot Indians,1825.02.25.00; Bill from Mark Daniels to Erastus Williams, Overseer to the Western Pequot Indians, 1826.01.13.00; Bill from Dr. Daniel King to Eneas Morgan and Stephen Billings, Overseers to the Western Pequot Indians ,1821.02.10.00; Bill from Dr. Daniel King to Eneas Morgan and Stephen Billings, Overseers to the Western Pequot Indians, 1822.03.06.00; 1830 Federal Census, North Groton, CT, Ancestry.com; Crew Lists, Mystic Seaport; Whalinghistory.org, CSL, NLCC:PbS, Indians, Mashantucket Pequot