Connecticut General Assembly Orders Regarding the Sale of Wangunk Land in Middletown

Upon the report of John Chester, Elisha Williams, and James Wadsworth, Jr., Esq., a committee appointed by this Assembly on the memorial of the selectmen of Middletown in Hartford County, Moses Bush, Jeremiah Goodrich, David Sage, Nathaniel White, Daniel Shepard, and others of the Third Society in Middletown and by Samuel Ashbow, an Indian, for himself and agent for sundry Indians, proprietors of land in Middletown at a place called Wangunk, shewing to this Assembly that the Town of Middletown in the year 1675 granted and recorded to twelve Indians, to them and their heirs forever three hundred acres of land at or near a place called Wangunk, which said land is situate near the center of said society and the meeting house being placed about the middle of said land, and the land so situate is a great disadvantage to the settlement of said society and that the present owners and claimers to said land, men, women, and children, were but about forty in number, and that they had dispersed themselves and lived in diverse places, all of them, except one squaw and two or three children that lived on said land and one old blind squaw, the widow of Cushoy, a late sachem, and she, not being able to help herself, is supported by said selectmen and that said Indians, many of them are civilized and Christianized,1 and are settled in other places and have leased out some of the land and some encroachments made on it, etc., said report being read, on which it appeared to this Assembly that the said three hundred acre granted as aforsaid, has, part of it, about seventy acres been formerly bargained and sold with the liberty of the Town of Middletown (by the Indians for the settlement of a minister and building place for a meeting house and highway that was needful to accommodate travelers2 and that the Indians had sold and conveyed several small pieces of land and that what remains is now about two hundred acres and what has been by them sold there has no disputes arisen about the sale thereof and that the number of those that at presents claimers to have a right in said land is about thirty and that the Indians have bought and sold to one another3 and given deeds, well acknowledged by the civil authority, and that the selectmen have already for the support of said blind squaw expended twenty one pound, fifteen shillings and ten and a half pence, and that one Tom Cushoy, deceased, who was an agent and proprietor of said land was justly indebited to Doctor Aaron Roberts who took care of and did for him in his last sickness4 to the sum of five pounds two shillings, and that this Assembly had aparted to an Indian called Dick Ranney ten acres of said land and the said committee were of the opinion that it would be most for the benefit of said society and for the interest of the Indians that said remaining part should be sold by a committee to be appointed by this Assembly to ascertain the proportion each one ought to have and that the avails of said land should be laid out for the benefit of said Indians claiming to be owners thereof (the debt due to the Town of Middletown and the said Roberts, being first paid) in equal shares or proportion in such way and manner as said committee shall judge most for advantage and most agreeable to those of them who are in some degree able to judge for themselves unless it should be thought that some part thereof be held in the hands of said committee until it be known whether any other owner or owners should hereafter appear and make out his or their claim and some of the chief of said Indians with divers others appeared before this Assembly and by a writing under their hands, praying said report may be accepted and a decree thereon, as may appear whereupon, this Assembly accept and approve of said report and thereupon by the desire of said Indians, it is ordered and decreed that the above named John Chester, Elisha Williams, and James Wadsworth, Jr., with William Welles, Esq., be and they hereby appointed a committee with full power to hear examine and determine who are the rightful heirs of said remaining land and how and to whom and in what proportion it ought to be disposed of after the aforesaid debts are paid out of the avails of said land and to join with and assist the owners of said land in disposing thereof, either in part or whole for other lands, as said committee shall see fit and to save for the use of such of them as incline to live on said land a sufficient quantity thereof for that purpose and set and sequester the same to them accordingly and in all respects do what shall appear to be just and right with regard to said Indians and every of them according to their best skill and judgment in the premises.

Legislative Action:       Passed in the Upper House. Test, George Wyllys, Secretary.  Concurred in the Lower House.  Test, William Pitkin, Jr., Clerk

Cataloguing:              145a, 145b

  • 1. For more information, see William DeLoss Love, Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England (Boston, 1899).
  • 2. Deleted text: about seventy acres of said land
  • 3. The transfer of property to other Wangunk may have been a planned strategy used by the tribe to keep the reservation intact.
  • 4. Deleted text: and many of said Indians civilized and became Christian