Overview: In the Matter of Ann Tantapan

Some years before 1789, the Town of Guilford, Connecticut, began to pay expenses for Ann (Cyrus) Tantapan, an elderly Niantic woman.  Charges for wood, provisions, clothing, board, and doctors' bills added up to a little more than thirty-eight pounds.  After her death, Guilford's selectmen sought to recover the costs by selling Ann's property -- two acres at Thirty Mile Island near Haddam, Connecticut.  The land descended to her through her mother, a Wangunk.  In May of 1789, the selectmen petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly for permission to put the land up for sale.  In doing so, they submitted affidavits from two Niantic women, who provided a Native perspective on Ann's ownership rights by discussing her genealogy.  In May 1789, more testimony from several Haddam men backed up these statements.   With that evidence, the legislature approved the sale.

On October 15, 1790, ownership of other family land at Thirty Mile Island came before the Assembly once more when Ann's sister-in-law, Sarah Cyrus, wanted permission to sell five of her late husband's twelve acres on the island to provide for her support in her old age.   She likely needed the funds because only days before, she, Daniel Wright (possibly a son or her brother), and Joseph Pumham, a Western Niantic, had recently purchased Cuff Condol, an African slave, with a view of providing him his freedom. Sarah's petition was granted the following May.  For more on the buying of Cuff, see Vicki S. Welch, And They Were Related, Too, 1-4.