08 November 2010

Cisco Homestead Restoration is Underway!

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By – D. Rae Gould, Ph.D, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Nipmuc Nation
This fall the restoration of the Cisco Homestead on the Hassanamisco Reservation in Grafton began. This work has been made possible through a generous Community Preservation grant through the Town of Grafton CPC (Community Preservation Commission) and state Community Preservation Act funds.
The current work is a first-phase stabilization of the building that included installation of a new roof and gutters, stabilizing interior floor components, securing the building from entry by animals, replacing a bulkhead, and re-grading of land around the building to improve drainage. The most visible and perhaps significant transition to the Homestead has been the removal of the front porch, which returns the building to its c. 1900 appearance. The stabilization phase was completed in early November.

ABOVE: The Cisco Homestead as it appeared around the end of the 19th century (or c. 1900), and
BELOW: The Homestead as it appears today undergoing restoration to its appearance during this time period. Photo credit: Margaret Haynes.

In addition, this fall a completed nomination to have the Hassanamisco Reservation and Cisco Homestead placed on the National Register of Historic Places is being submitted to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (for final submission to the National Register). The completion of the nomination was made possible through grant funding provided by Preservation Massachusetts (http://preservationmass.org/).
In 2009, the Cisco Homestead was added to the list of Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources, along with seven other sites, in an effort to increase awareness about the need to preserve and restore this important historic and cultural resource. The completion of the National Register nomination and the placement of this property on the State’s Register of Historic Places will enable the tribe to apply for other state and private funding to move forward with the more extensive restoration of the building. Overall the restoration is estimated to cost around $300,000. With the complete restoration of the homestead, the museum building will again be open for tours, indoor education programs, tribal functions, and will also house the tribal archive and museum collections, which are now in storage.
Anyone interested in assisting with the restoration activities or helping to raise funds through grant writing or contributions is welcome to contact Rae Gould at rgould@snet.net.

28 September 2010

Tombstone Tuesday – Indian Burying Ground, Grafton, MA

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This graveyard contains the remains of the “Praying Indians” of the Hassanamesit Praying Plantation established by English missionary John Eliot in 1664. In an attempt to civilize the Native population, plantations or towns were created in Nipmuc territory where Nipmucs could live in frame houses, attend church, and otherwise emulate the English surrounding them. In the mid-1800s, the road pictured above was created bisecting the original graveyard. Remains found over the years as the road was continually improved and widened were placed to the west of the roadway. Sometime in the 1920s, a structure of granite retaining walls and steps were placed to formalize the graveyard and create a resting place for any other remains found. The graveyard is kept and watched over to this day by both the Nipmuc tribe and the Town of Grafton.

22 September 2010

2010 Deer Island Memorial

Information courtesy of Pam Ellis, Natick Nipmuc Tribal Council

2010 Deer Island Memorial

Friday, October 29, 2010 & Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30, 1675 marked the forced removal of American Indians from what is now South Natick to Deer Island in Boston Harbor, roughly two months after  the outbreak of what the English called “King Philip’s War. “ Without  adequate food, clothing, shelter or medicine, the majority of the people, mostly  women, children, and elders, perished during their imprisonment.

Some survived to return to Natick and the other Praying Towns and joined their relations who had fought and survived the military engagements of the war. Through this Memorial, we honor the sacrifice and survival of all of our ancestors.

Please feel free to join the program at any point along the way.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunset to

4:00 am Fasting, Prayer, Pipe Ceremony, Spirit Fire @ Hassanamisco Nipmuc Reservation , Grafton, MA

5:00 pm Spirit Fire

6:00 pm Prayer Circle and Pipe Ceremony conducted by Chief Natachaman, Walter Vickers

Donations of firewood and bottled water gratefully accepted. Please bring a chair and blanket. The fast will begin Friday at First Light – some will end the fast at First Light on Saturday. Others will continue to fast until the Community Meal at the Potluck Feast.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

5:00 am – 1:30 pm Sacred Run and Paddle

5:00 am Sacred Run from the Falls at S. Natick to Watertown boat ramp on Charles River Road

The Sacred Run is twelve miles and will proceed along Route 16 to the boat ramp in Watertown on Charles River Road. Runners must provide their own transportation from Watertown.

8:00 am Sacred Paddle from Watertown to Deer Island

The Sacred Paddle will proceed down the Charles River and through the Inner Harbor to Deer Island. Paddlers must provide their own canoes or kayaks and transportation from Deer Island.

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Deer Island Prayer Circle and Pipe Ceremony

4:00 pm – 10:00 pm Potluck Feast & Social

Host Drum: Quabbin Lake Singers (Nipmuc)

MC: Larry Spotted Crow Mann (Nipmuc)

Location: Natick Elks, 99 Speen St., Natick MA 01760

Please bring a potluck dish to share.


Hampton Inn

319 Speen Street

Natick, MA 01760

(508) 653-5000


Red Roof Inn

650 Cochituate Road

Framingham, MA 01701

(508) 872-4499



1350 Worcster Road

Rt 9

Natick, MA 01760

(508) 655-2222


04 August 2010

57th Annual Hassanamesit Indian Fair

The Fair (or Powwow as some call it) was held on the last Sunday of July on the reservation.  Our Fair tends to be small and casual, no paid Head Dancers, no prize money for best dancers - just family, friends, and some tourists.

Here are some pictures taken at the Fair by Nia Holley:




20 June 2010

The Storms of Vermont, part 1

My favorite ancestors these days seem to be the Storms. Originally from Panton and Vergennes, Vermont, several members of the family moved to Worcester and Boston, Massachusetts in the 1870s. Once in Worcester, the Storms and other transplanted Vermonters of color formed the Vermont Club at John St Baptist Church, one of the few Black churches in Worcester.

Hattie Storms, my great-great grandmother, was born on 8 October 1871 in Vergennes to (Jonathan) Robert Storms and Orphia Mason. She married Walter St.Clair Bostic, the son of William Bostic and Rachel Ann Steemer of Pennsylvania on 6 Feb 1890 in Boston MA. She married twice more – the marriage record to Richard Taliaferro on 20 May 1901 lists her as a Hettie E. Perkins, widow. It also lists the “Talioferro” marriage as her second when it should be her third.
hettie storms

I haven’t located a marriage record for Hattie and Mr. Perkins. It is possible that the marriage record is wrong and her last name was “Bostic” at the time but I think it would be difficult to mix up the names Perkins and Bostic on an official record. Another puzzle in Hattie’s marriages is what happened between her and her first husband, Walter Bostic. In the 1920 Federal census, Walter St. Clair Bostic is listed as divorced. I have not yet found that record either.

Hattie died 28 Apr 1926 and was buried by her son, my great-grandfather, Walter Andrew Louis Bostic in Hope Cemetery in Worcester, MA.

Cheryll Toney Holley

15 June 2010

What Freedom Means to Me

This post is in response to the Carnival of African-American Genealogy, 4th edition.

I have always lived in the Northeast of the United States, except for the 10 years that I lived in the Washington, DC area after college. I never thought much about freedom growing up. I lived in a small city where minorities had always been present and few. In fact, most of us lived in one of two neighborhoods in the city. While I had been called the N-word every now and then through the years, I never thought that being who I was gave me less freedom than others.

During my senior year in high school, I accidently found an application to Howard University in Washington, DC in the school library. DC seemed far enough away so I applied. I had never heard of Howard before that moment. I got accepted to Howard and more than a few other schools but Howard gave me a full scholarship so I accepted and my parents made plans to drive me down to DC.

My mother had never been out of our city before and I had never been further than Long Island. Driving down Georgia Avenue, we were stunned. The sidewalks were full of Black people – the whole sidewalk! We had never seen such a thing. We were awestruck! We had lived our entire lives in a place where most of the people didn’t look anything like us and neither of us ever even considered that there might be a place where everyone looked like us.

That is when I knew what freedom really was. I didn’t have to be smarter or prettier or quieter or better than anyone else. I could just be me. I was in a place where the color of my skin didn’t matter (much). And there were plenty of folks my shade. Growing up I always felt different even if I didn’t really know why.

I loved my years in DC and the surrounding areas. I moved back to Massachusetts for family reasons several years ago but go back frequently to visit. I hope to retire to Maryland if I live that long.

So What is Freedom to Me? The Opportunity to Be Me.

Guess I Need an Intro

This is a new blog so that I can document my own ancestries (Native American and African-American sprinkled with a bit of European) and other African and Native American families from here in New England.

Family names I hope to document here include:

Toney, Scott, Hazzard, Hazard, Pegan, Quow, Harry, Storms, and Bostic.

Hopefully I will update on a regular basis with new and exciting info. And maybe even meet some distant cousins researching the same names.

Aquene, Cheryll