Brushell, Tamer, 1822 - 1915
The daughter of mariner Moses and Sylvia Brushell, both of the Eastern Pequot tribal community, Tamer Brushell was born and raised on the tribal reservation in North Stonington, Connecticut. As a child, Tamer may have spent some time as an indentured servant in the household of Captain Elam Eldridge when her father was at sea. In 1830 and 1831, when she was around 8 years old, she received clothes, shoes, and funds for her support from the Eastern Pequots' overseer account.
Not much is known about her early life from that time until she was an adult. At age 26, Tamer married Emanuel Sebastian on December 3, 1848. With Emmanuel concentrating on farming, the Sebastian family grew large. In 1860, the family was living in Center Groton with children, Moses E. m. (b. 1849), Calvin H. (b, 1853), Francisco (b. 1852), Maria (Mary) (b. 1855), Solomon (b. 1858), and Albert D. (born in 1858). Ten years later, the Sebastian family was enumerated on a farm valued at $500, at Mystic River in Groton. Emmanuel was working as a farm laborer. His personal estate was $100. Tamer was a homemaker taking care of Mary, Albert, Solomon, and new additions Sylvia (1861), Tamer Emiline (1865), Sarah E. (1867). Solomon and Albert, ages 12 and 10, worked on the farm with their father.
Oral history has the Sebastian family living on the reservation in a house "east of the road and north of the brook." The tract of land was sold in 1879 to Sarah H. Mallory. Census records indicate that in 1880, Manuel and Tamer lived with three of their daughters, Silvia (age 19), Tamer (age 17), and Sarah (age 12, the two younger children going to school. In 1900, Sebastian was living at the Fishtown section of Groton, with Manuel, now 84, living with his daughter Jane.
While Tamer lived outside the Lantern Hill reservation for some time during her life, oral tradition and documentary evidence indicates that she kept in touch with her family and other Eastern Pequot families there and later in her life removed back to Indian Town. Photographic evidence showed her with Gad W. Apes (a Western Pequot nephew of the noted preacher William Apes), his wife Emily Waity Tanner Apes, and Emeline’s niece, Leona Thomas.
When Leonard C. Williams, the community's overseer in 1873, petitioned the General Assembly for permission to sell a portion of the reservation, a number of tribal members protested against the proposal. Among those Eastern Pequots on the counter-petition were "Tamar s. and Har nin cheldren." Her name continued to appear on overseer records from 1888 to at least 1905. On and off reservation, Tamer was an expert basket maker, as was one of her daughters, Liney. Oral history has Tamer as a medicine woman or herbalist, as well.
Brown and Rose, Black Roots, 50. List of Indian baptisms, admissions, marriages from History of First Congregational Church of Stonington, CT, ICRC Doc. ND02868. Federal Enumeration of Connecticut (Groton, 1860, 1870, 1880, 200), Ancestry. Grant-Costa and Glaza, Report IIIC, 134. BIA, Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Final Determination, [Eastern Pequot], 88-90, 93.Speck & Butler, Eastern Algonkian Block-Stamp Decoration, 41.
Died:September 24, 1915