Committee Report on Pequot Land

To the Honorable General Assembly of his Majesty's Colony of Connecticut, to be convened at New Haven, on the second Thursday of October in the year of our Lord 1749

We, your Honor’s committee, appointed at your sessions in May last to repair to Stonington there by all proper ways and means to examine and enquire of the matters set forth and complained of in the memorial of Mary Momoho, Simon Sokiant, and others, Indian natives of the tribe of Momoho, late sachem of the Pequots, and to inspect all records or writings that should be produced before us relating thereto, and to examine all evidences or persons concerned therein; and of what we should find, together with our opinion thereon, as also how or by whom the costs and charge of such enquiry ought to be born, to make report to this Assembly at their sessions in October instant, take leave to report as follows, viz.

That on the 4th day of this instant October we repaired to said Stonington and there on the 5th and 6th days of the instant, we proceeded on the examination and enquiry of the matters complained off and had laid before us the records relating to the case and the persons and evidences concerned therein appeared.  And we find that at a court of election held at Hartford on the 10th May 1683, Captain James Fitch, Captain James Avery, and Lieutenant Thomas Leffingwell were appointed a committee in behalf of the Assembly to procure a suitable tract of land that might be sufficient for the Pequots under Momoho’s government to plant upon or settle them on some country land or if any particular person’s propriety, should through the necessity of the case be improved for their supply, he should be repaired out of the country land, or by the Town of Stonington, and thereupon the said committee bought and procured a deed of Isaac Wheeler of said Stonington, dated 24th May 1683 of a parcel of land said to contain 280 acres,butted and bounded as in said deed is expressed in which said Wheeler sold and passed over his whole right to said land to Captain James Avery and Lieutenant Thomas Leffingwell a committee in behalf of the honored General Court for the use of Momoho and the Indians under him; and in consideration thereof the said Wheeler received an order to take up country land; and in the said deed in the close thereof it is expressed in these words, viz. “Only ‘tis provided and agreed upon, that I have the whole benefit of their fields for my cattle and horses, and the Indians are to secure themselves by fencing.  In October 1683 the said deed was returned and approved of by the Court and granted that the land shall be the use of Momoho and his company during the Court’s pleasure. And we find that the said Isaac Wheeler received an order to take up 500 acres of country land in consideration of the said land by them secured from him, and in pursuance of said order, said Wheeler had 300 acres of land laid out to him May 9th 1685 on the east side of Quinebaug River and another tract of 300 acres of land laid out to him June 6, 1685 on the north side of Pachaug River, which last mentioned tract of land was afterwards claimed by Owaneco, and said Wheeler for the consideration of £3 obtained a deed from Owaneco of said land dated December 16, 1685, and in consideration of said last mentioned tract of land being claimed and bought as aforesaid, the General Assembly in October 1713 granted liberty to the Reverend Mr. Coit who married one of said Wheeler’s daughters to take up 300 acres of land, at the choice of said Mr. Coit in the country land in lieu of the said 300 acres claimed as aforesaid.

And we further find that Samuel Minor and Josiah Grant, having purchased several ancient grants made to some Windsor men, did obtain a survey made by one Palmer April 28th 1716 of the land purchased as aforesaid for the use of Momoho and the Indians under him, and afterwards in October 1722 James Minor in the right of said Samuel Minor brought a memorial to the General Assembly, praying for a committee to view the said tract, and to set out what they should think necessary for the improvement of said Indians, and accordingly a committee was appointed, to make enquiry and drew up a report to the Assembly; and the said Minor came up to the Assembly to pursue said report.  William Wheeler, son and heir to said Isaac Wheeler, came to said Assembly to prevent the said Minor’s obtaining the said land, and then in May 1723, the said Minor for the consideration of £60 released to said William Wheeler all his claim to said tract of land.  And we find that from the time that said land was first secured to this day there hath been more or less of said Indians improving on said land, and they used generally before the said deed of release to plant the ground, and let out to the English who dwell near them, their fields for feeding without any molestation; and since during the life of the said William Wheeler, they used to plant and improve what they wanted without any complaint or molestation.  And the said William Wheeler fenced the large tract of land, in which the Indians fenced their small enclosures for planting, and the said Wheeler took the profits of the herbage.  And we find that on the 13th August 1747, he, said William Wheeler made his last will and testament; and in some short time after died, and by said will gave the said land, with other lands adjoining, to his son- in-law William Williams and his wife and Nathan Crary and his wife, since which they have divided the same between them; and said Crary hath sold, and given a deed of his right to three and a half acres in fee to Simeon Minor, Esq., and they claim to hold the whole thereof in fee, allowing only to the said Indians liberty to plant Indian corn, and denying them any liberty to keep any cattle, sheep, or hogs but what is entirely at their will or mere favor and that the Indians think themselves wronged and injured thereby, and that they have not the freedom of using and improving the said land, as in justice and by said grant they ought, and therefore have made their application to this Honorable Assembly for redress; and the said Williams did declare to us that he claimed the land laid out to him as aforesaid of said Indian land in fee simple; and that the Indians had right there only to plant their corn and beans, and no further.  Whereupon your Honor’s committee take leave to refer to your Honors the consideration in whom the fee of said land is, and whether anything is needful further to be done by this Assembly, as to any right or title the Governor and Company of this corporation may have to it.

And as to the matter of the Indians’ complaint, who are in number about thirty-eight of old and young, and the greatest part females, who are not disputed to be the proper descendants of said Momoho, this company of Indians, and there are many more who claim a right, yet the English dispute it.  We are of opinion that they had just ground of complaint, and that they have just right to use and improve so much as is needful for them, not only by planting corn, beans, etc., but for keeping and feeding their cattle, sheep and hogs, which we are informed they have some of each sort; and that therefore the said William Williams and Nathan Crary ought to be holden to pay the just costs and charges of this enquiry; and that some suitable person or persons be appointed a committee fully authorized and empowered by this honorable Assembly to inspect the affairs of said Indians, and see that they have the liberty of such improvements on said lands as is needful for their support and benefit, as well for the keeping their creatures as planting the ground, so that justice may be done and they saved from disquietude.   All which is humbly submitted by your Honor’s obedient servants.

October 9, 1749                                              

Jonathan Trumbull, Jonathan Huntington, John Dyer, Committee                                                          

            Legislative Action:       Committee’s Report / Pequot Indians / Oct 1749 / Passed Upper House /

                                                Passed Lower House / Entered

            Cataloguing:                41a-c