Wampey, Ann, 1760 - 1836
Ann Wampey was born circa 1760. Little is known of her parentage or early life, although in March of 1791 it was noted that one of her children died in North Groton, what is now Ledyard, CT. The documentary records suggests that she was a long time reservation resident, involved in tribal political affairs, and recognized as a skilled basket maker. Toward the end of her life her conversion to Christianity figured prominently in Rev. William Apes’ The Experiences of Five Christian Indians.
Beginning as early as March of 1816 until her death in December of 1836 , Ann Wampey appears consistently in the ledgers of the Overseers of the Mashantucket Indians as receiving goods and services paid for out of tribal funds. In addition to the typical expenses for food and supplies, the records indicate that Ann Wampey endured several illnesses with medical bills paid for by the tribe. The first was in 1819, when Dr. Daniel King was compensated for medicine and treatment for Ann Wampey. In September and October of the following year Ann once again was under the care of Dr. King. The tribe was charged for his attendance, treatment, and sundry medicines.
Ann Wampey was a signatory to two petitions for the appointment of new overseers, first in April of 1819 where she petitioned with 24 others for the appointment of Captain Eneas Morgan as overseer. Six year later, in 1825, she again petitioned the New London County Court, this time for the discharge of Overseer Elisha Crary and the appointment of Erastus Williams. Three month later, Wampey’s name was included in a list of members of the tribe, likely generated by either the incoming or outgoing overseer.
The Rev. John Avery of Ledyard recounted that, when he was a young child in the mid-1820s , Ann Wampey, in the early spring of each year would pass by his house laden with baskets of all types for sale. According to Avery, Wampey was known as a skilled basket maker and would often sell all her wares on a route from her home on the reservation to Preston, Griswold ,and Jewett City. In her sixties at the time she would cover the 12-20 mile trip in the course of 2-3 days. Ann Wampey’s stamina , however, would soon take a turn for the worse. From 1825 until her death over a decade later she was boarded and cared for by several of her fellow Pequots or their spouses.
In 1830 when William Apes and his family moved to Ledyard, CT for the purposes of preaching to the Pequots at Mashantucket and raising funds to build a church there, he spent considerable time with Ann Wampey. He, his wife Mary Apes, and Amy Daniels exerted much energy in Wampey’s late in life conversion to Christianity.
On February 7, 1831, Ann participated for the last time in community legal affairs. She, along with eight other men and women from the community, put her name to another petition to the New London County Court praying to retain Overseer Erastus Williams whom the tribe considered well suited to the job.
Wampey was living in the household of Mark and Amy Daniels for several year prior to her death. It was their she was enumerated in December of 1833 in a private census of tribal members living on the reservation. Erastus Williams, having just concluded his tenure as overseer, listed Ann, in a letter to William Williams, as a 74 -year-old member of the tribe and reservation resident.
Despite the care provided by Mark and Amy Daniels, in December of 1836 Ann Wampey died at their home in the northwestern portion of the reservation. Charles Fagins, either Sr. or Jr., was paid for digging her grave on December 3 and the cost of her coffin was paid by the overseer later that month.
CHS, William Samuel Johnson Papers, III, 100: December 13, 1833 Letter from Erastus Williams to William T. Williams; NLCC:PbS, Indians, Mashantucket Pequot; O’Connell, On Our Own Ground, 247-248; Avery, History of Town of Ledyard, 259-260; ; Petition of the Western Pequots to the Connecticut General Assembly, 1819.04.24.00; Connecticut State Library, Connecticut Archives, Indians, Series 2 (1666-1820), Vol. 1, Doc.21.