Apes, Tyra, 1754 -
Tyra Apes was a member of the Eastern Pequot tribal community of North Stonington, Connecticut. It is unclear if Apes is a birth surname or one acquired through marriage. Her relationship to the noted preacher and activist, William Apes, is equally uncertain, although if they were of the same general family, she would be in the generation of William Apes' father, also named William.
On April 1, 1787, Tyra married fellow Eastern Pequot James Nedson in what was then the Town of Stonington, Connecticut, shortly after he returned home from military service. They lived in a house on the Tribe’s reservation and over the course of their marriage had eleven children.
In May of 1815 a state-appointed commission visited the Eastern Pequot reservation and conducted a survey of Indian households. It was noted that the household of James and Tyra, ages 58 and 61 respectively, had four school-aged children living with them. Given the relatively advanced ages of James and Tyra and the fact that they had a multigenerational household, it is likely that some if not all of these children were actually their grandchildren. Within their household, there was one individual that was also listed among the town’s poor. Whether this individual was James, Tyra or a child is unknown.
In the spring of 1816 Tyra Nedson was listed as receiving payments or credit for pasturing the cattle of neighboring non-natives on her portion of the Eastern Pequot Indian Town pasture. At this time, she also turned over into the common Indian Town, or great Pasture, a parcel of land, known as the Anna Jacobs lot, to which she had exclusive use right. For adding this to the common acreage, she was given two fifteen-shilling cattle.
Four years later, in 1820, James, now age 63, submitted to the federal government a deposition for a pension request based on his service in Captain Timothy Allen’s Company, 3rd Connecticut Regiment during the Revolutionary War. According to Nedson, he and his wife Tyra, age 66, had eleven children, two of whom, Anna, age 30, and Thomas, age 20, although adults, depended on his support. He also supported two grandchildren, Jane Nedson, age 7, and Sally Nedson, age 3. According to the pension request, he owned one old house, valued at twenty dollars. Despite possessing no land in fee simple, Tyra and her husband James clearly had land rights on the reservation as indicated by the credits they received for the leasing of land to their non-Indian neighbors. In addition to the leasing of land, they managed a small homestead with a garden, large enough that it took a team of oxen half a day to plow, and an apple orchard.
Tyra’s husband James died prior to April 4, 1826, when his estate was probated. The widow Tyra Nedson received an allowance for her support, a benefit derived from her husband's military service. This was separate from the benefits she received as a tribal member. Tyra appeared consistently in the records of the State-appointed overseer of the Eastern Pequot tribe from the summer of 1822 until the spring of 1836. While the majority of these entries document the receiving of staple food items such as corn, potatoes, meal, and pork, Tyra also ordered from local merchants considerable yardage of various types of cloth and multiple pairs of shoes over this almost fifteen-year period. This is not surprising considering her sizable family. Although her death is not noted, she falls from the records after 1836.
Brown and Rose, Black Roots, 265; Bates, List and Returns, 281, 325, 329; Johnston, CT Military Records, 333; Copy of the Appointment and Report of a Committee to Evaluate the State and Condition of Tribes in the State of Connecticut, IP 2.1.19,1815.05.01.00; Memorandum of Stock Allowed in Indian Town Pasture, 1816.06.01.00, ICRC; NLCC: PbS, Indians, Eastern Pequot