Isaac Halfday was an active figure in Mashpee political life, putting his name to a number of petition over the years. He was born circa 1730 and while little is known of his early days, by 1773 records indicate that he maintained a home at Mashpee, likely in the Great Neck region of tribal lands. This household, however, was not enumerated in the June 24, 1776 Mashpee census performed by the Rev. Gideon Hawley. Isaac Halfday was one of the signatories, along with Lot Nye, Moses Pocknet, Joseph Amos, Ebenezer Queppish, and Matthias Amos on the 1783 deed for the Mashpee parsonage1. Several years later, he put his name, along with 31 others from the community, on a July 30, 1788 petition lamenting the encroachment of non-Natives into Mashpee.
The July 1793 Mashpee census listed Isaac Halfday and his wife, both elderly, in a household with no children of their own. According to Hawley, they " have always some poor children with them and have now a lame boy supported partly by the Guardians". Halfday also signed petitions in 1795 and 1796. The first of which led to an act to preserve the growth of woods in Mashpee. The latter being an eloquent complaint about the community's loss of liberty in the wake of the Revolutionary War. In an 1800 census of the Mashpee community, Isaac Halfday, aged 70, was enumerated, still at Great Neck, with his new wife, a Martha's Vineyard Indian and her young children by a previous marriage. It's quite likely that this was Hannah Hannit Setum, who had recently relocated from the Vineyard with her young daughter Mary and, by 1789, had given birth to her youngest Bathsheba. Both Isaac and Hannah Halfday were signatories on a Herring Pond petition to the Massachusetts Legislature in January 20, 1804. The Halfdays were not enumerated in the 1808 Mashpee census.
1800 Mashpee Census, Ms. 48: SPG, Account of Indians, Box 2, Folder 16, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Hawley Compilation of Vital Records, Richard Andrew Pierce; Petition of the Mashpee Indians to the Massachusetts General Court, 1788.07.30.00; 1793 Mashpee Census, Autograph File, Houghton Library, Harvard University; Acts and Resolves (Massachusetts, 1795), p. 409, Petition of Noah Webquish and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; 1796.02.22.00; Petition of Noah Webquish and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; 1796.02.22.00; Pierce and Segel, Wampanoag Families of Martha's Vineyard, 889-890; Petition of the Herring Pond Tribe of Indians, Massachusetts Archives, Senate Unpassed Legislation #3208, transcribed Richard Andrew Pierce; Misc. Bound Docs. 1808, MHS, Boston, MA;
- 1. There is an earlier grant of land (April 27, 1779) from the Mashpee to Gideon Hawley and an accompanying Petition from Hawley to the Massachusetts General Court. Massachusetts Archives Collection. v.223-Revolution Resolves, 1779. SC1/series 45X. Massachusetts Archives. Boston, Mass.