Committee Report on Pequot Lands in Stonington (Fragment)
and gave us such intelligence as was needed, and we find first that at a Court of Election held at Hartford on the 10th May 1683 Captain James Fitch, Captain James Avery and Lieutenant Thomas Leffingwell were appointed a committee in behalf of the Assembly to procure a suitable tract of land that might be sufficient for the Pequots under Momoho’s government to plant upon, or settle them on some country land, or if any particular persons propriety should through the necessity of the case be improved for their supply, he should be repaired out of the country lands or by the Town of Stonington, and thereupon the said committee bought and procured a deed of Isaac Wheeler of said Stonington, dated 24th May 1683 of a parcel of land said to contain 280 acres, butted and bounded as in said deed is expressed, in which said Wheeler sold and passed over his whole right to Captain James Avery and Lieutenant Thomas Leffingwell, a committee, in behalf of the honored General Court for the use of Momoho and the Indians under him; and in consideration thereof, the said Wheeler received an order to take up country land and in the said deed it is expressed in these words in the close of the deed only ‘tis provided and agreed upon, that I have the whole benefit of their fields for my cattle and horses, and the Indians are to secure themselves by fencing, And in October 1683 the said deed was returned and approved of by the court, and grant that the land shall be the use of Momoho and his company during the [Court’s] pleasure. And we find that the said Isaac Wheeler received an order to take up 500 acres of country land in consideration of the said land by them secured from him for the use of Momoho and the Indians under his government and that in pursuance of said order said Wheeler had 300 acres of land laid out to him May 9, 1685 on the east side of Quinebaug River, and another tract of 300 acres of land laid out to him June 6, 1685 on the north side of Pachaug River, which last mentioned tract of land was afterwards claimed by Owaneco, and said Wheeler for the consideration of £3 obtained a deed from Owaneco of said land, dated December 16, 1685, and in consideration of said last mentioned tract of land being claimed and bought of said Owaneco, the General Assembly at their session in October 1713 granted liberty to the Reverend Mr. Joseph Coit, who married one of said Wheeler’s daughters, to take up 300 acres of land in the country land at the choice of said Mr. Coit in lieu of the said 300 acres claimed as aforesaid.
Indians under him, and afterwards in October 1722 James Minor, in the right of said Samuel Minor brought a memorial to the General Assembly, praying for a committee to view the said tract, and to set out what they should think necessary for the improvement of said Indians, and accordingly a committee was appointed and made enquiry and drew up a report to the Assembly; and the said Minor, coming up To The General Assembly to pursue said report, William Wheeler, son and heir to said Isaac Wheeler, came likewise to the Assembly to prevent the said Minors obtaining the said land, when in May 1723, the said Minor, for the consideration of £60 released to said William Wheeler, all his claim to said tract of land. And we enquired concerning the improvement which the Indians were allowed to make of said land and find that they were used generally before the said deed of release to plant the ground, and let out to the English who dwell near them the fields for feeding, etc. without any molestation; and afterwards during the life time of the said William Wheeler, they used to plant and improve what they wanted without any molestation or complaint, and he took and fenced the large tract of land in which they used to fence their small enclosures for planting, etc. and he took the profits of pasturing, etc., and we find that on the 13th day of August 1747, he, said William Wheeler, made his last will and testament, and in some short time after died, and by said will gave the said land, with other lands adjoining, to his sons-in-law, William Williams and his wife, and Nathan Crary and his wife, since which they have divided the same between them, and said Crary hath sold and given a deed of about three and a half acres in fee to Simeon Minor, Esq., and they claim to hold the said land in fee, allowing only to the Indians liberty to plant Indian corn, etc. but denying them any liberty to keep any cattle, sheep or hogs but what is entirely at their will and mere favor, and that the Indians think themselves wronged and injured thereby, and that they have not the freedom of using and improving the said land, as in justice and by said grant they ought and therefore have made their application to this honorable Assembly for redress; and the said Williams did declare to us that he claimed the land laid out to him as aforesaid of said Indian land in fee, and that the Indians had right there only to plant their corn, beans, etc., and to take wood and timber for the use. Whereupon your honors’ committee take leave to refer to your honors the consideration in whom the fee of said land is, and whether anything is needful further to be done by this Assembly, as to any right and title the Governor and Company of this Corporation may have to it. As to the matter of the Indians’ complaint, who are in number about [ blank ]of old and young, the greatest part females. Our opinion is that they had just ground of complaint, and that have just right to use and improve so much as is needful for them, not only by planting corn, beans, etc. but for keeping and feeding their cattle, sheep and hogs, which they have.