Shelly, Cyrus, 1797 - 1846
Cyrus Shelly, Jr. was born ca. 1797 in North Stonington, Connecticut, the son of Cyrus Shelly and Hannah Sowas. In November of 1815 along with fellow Eastern Pequot Jesse Ned, Cyrus Shelly, Jr. began a journey aboard the brig Commerce sailing out of New London and destined for trade in Bermuda. The extent of his maritime career is unknown but by 1827 he had returned to North Stonington appearing frequently from that point on in the ledgers of the state-appointed overseers of the Eastern Pequots. He continued receiving goods and services from the overseers periodically for the next 19 years. That he was a basketmaker is evidenced by several charges over the years for “basket stuff”.
Cyrus Shelly raised a family in a house on the reservation located halfway up Lantern Hill. Even many years after his death it was still referred to as “Si Shelly’s lot”. It was on this lot that Cyrus Shelly repaired his house and made it fit for his young family. By 1830 he had at least one school-aged child. In the summer of 1836, the family suffered the death of an infant child. Cyrus Shelly was a signatory on an Eastern Pequot petition for the removal and replacement of overseers on February 8, 1839. In 1840 his household on the reservation consisted of only two individuals ages 55-100, suggesting that any children were either bound out or had reached adulthood and had established their own households elsewhere.
Shelly was a signatory on another Eastern Pequot petition for the removal and replacement of overseers in January 1841. An April 10th 1846 entry in the overseers’ accounts references the purchase of “graveclothes” and by April 20th the overseer is settling the debt associated with making a coffin for Cyrus Shelly. An earlier entry reimbursing Clarissa Shelly for providing care for him suggests a family connection. Perhaps she was a cousin.
Brown and Rose, Black Roots, 370; Crew Lists, Mystic Seaport; Protection Certificates, Mystic Seaport; NLCC:PbS:Indians, Eastern Pequot; Butler, Basket Makers, 41; Stonington Historical Society, Mss.; 1840 US Federal Census, North Stonington.