Petition of Joel Rogers and Other Gay Head Indians to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives in General Court Assembled

The petition of the subscribers, Proprietors of Gay Head, humbly states that Joseph DeGrass, a man of Colour and a Portuguese, has resided among them many years, that for several years past,1 he, the said Joseph, by reason of age,2 has been unable to support himself, that your petitioners have during the three last winters, afforded him some relief to prevent extreme suffering.  They, therefore, request, that his situation may be taken into your wise consideration, that his name may be enrolled on the list of those who receive their maintenance from the Commonwealth or otherwise be provided for.  Your petitioners would further request that provided the said Joseph should be considered as entitled to a support from the Commonwealth, that Matthew Mayhew of Chilmark, Esq., may receive whatever may be allowed for his support with directions to appropriate the same for the payment of what your petitioners have already expended and to provide for the future maintenance of him, the said Joseph.

And as in duty bound shall ever pray,

Joseph Cooper, his mark
Joseph Bates, his mark
Matthew Gershom, his mark
Joshua Johnson, his mark           

Legislative Action:

House of Representatives. January 26, 1821.  Read and committed to the Committee on Accounts.  Sent up for concurrence, Josiah Quincy, Speaker.  In Senate, January 27, 1821.  Read and concurred,  John Phillips, President / Petition from Gay Head / Messrs. Whitman of Pembroke, Reed of Yarmouth, Hedge of Plymouth / Accounts

  • 1. DeGrass was from Cape Verde, arriving at Martha’s Vineyard in 1775. With his marriage to Rhoda Sowamog sometime before 1786, he lived within the Gay Head Indian community.
  • 2. DeGrass was 65 at this time.