14 November 2011

Introducing My Brick Wall - Molly Pegan

I am an enrolled member of a state-recognized tribe, the Nipmuc Nation, also known as the Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc Indians. We have a reservation in Grafton, MA that has been occupied by our people since long before recorded time.
(See http://nipmucmuseum.org/blog/2011/11/10/hassanamisco-reservation-on-the-national-register-of-historic-places/). Many members of my community have tried to unravel the mystery of Molly Pegan/Piggen Pollock Woodland (abt. 1753 to after 1841) but none have succeeded, yet.

Here are the known facts about Molly Pegan:
  1. Molly was the mother of Nancy Pollock Curliss and grandmother of Mary Curliss Vickers.[1]
  2. Molly was 84 years old in 1837 when she filed a claim for a widow's pension placing her date of birth about 1753.[2]
  3. Molly was raised in Killingly, CT by Rev. Aaron Brown.[3]
  4. Pegan is a surname commonly attributed to Nipmuc Indians in Natick, MA and Webster/Dudley, MA.[4]
  5. Granddaughter Mary Curliss Vickers identified grandmother, Molly, as a Dudley Indian.[5]
  6. Molly married twice – when she was 19 to Mingo Pollock and, after Mingo's death in 1798, she married Jacob Woodland.[6]
  7. Molly was the mother of four children – Nancy, Diana, Hannah and Pero.[7]
  8. Molly was living with Christopher Curliss/Corlis, husband of daughter, Nancy, in 1841 in Thompson, CT.[8]
Here’s what I think:

Molly was the daughter of Thomas Pegan, a proprietor in the Indian towns of Natick and Dudley. This speculation is based on Thomas' age and that he once resided in Killingly, CT. Also, the practice of removing Indian children from their homes and placing them in English households to be raised "properly" was common in colonial Massachusetts. It is uncertain if this was also practiced in neighboring NE Connecticut.

My main questions about Molly are:
  1. Who were Molly's parents?
  2. Why was she "raised" by Rev. Brown?
  3. Where was Molly born?
  4. Where and when did she die?
  5. Is Molly one of the Nipmuc Pegan Indians?
  6. Did she have siblings? If so, were they also raised by English families?
These records were searched:
Massachusetts Bay Indian Guardianship Records – Massachusetts Archives
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Indian Guardianship Records – Mass Archives
John Milton Earle Papers – American Antiquarian Society
Natick, MA Vital Records – Massachusetts Archives, Natick Town Hall
Dudley, MA Vital Records – Massachusetts Archives, Dudley Town Hall
Killingly, CT Vital Records – Connecticut State Library, Killingly Town Hall
Killingly, CT Town Records – Killingly Historical and Genealogical Society
Revolutionary War Pension Files
Census Records
Massachusetts Vital Records

These records need to be searched (or so I believe):
Early Connecticut Records (state and colony level) – Connecticut State Library
Rhode Island Vital Records – Worcester Public Librar
Probate and Court Records in Windham County, CT
Vital and Town Records in towns surrounding Killingly (in Windham County).

My Plan was/is:
  1. Begin with Killingly Town records. Extend investigation to Rev. Aaron Brown and his family/congregation.
  2. Search again through CT vital records for Killingly, Thompson and surrounding towns and Natick and Dudley, MA at both state and local levels.
  3. Investigate state/colony records for Connecticut and Windham County. Focus search on Indian/colored indentures and custody of Indian children.
  4. Research Mingo Pollock and Jacob Woodland – their origins, families, and neighbors.
  5. Research Thomas Pegan and other Pegans that may be related to Molly in central MA, NE CT and NW RI.
What do YOU think? How can I break this brick wall?

[1] H. Capron letter, 20 October 1859; letter to John Milton Earle, Commissioner to the Indians, Commonwealth of
Massachusetts; Earle, John Milton, Papers, 1652-1863, Mss. Dept., Mss. Boxes “E”, Octavo Vols. “E”, American
Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA.
[2] Deposition of Claimant, 27 May 1837, Molly Woodland, widow's pension application no. W 17469; service of Mingo
Pollock (Pvt., Captain Stephen Crosby's Co., Connecticut, Revolutionary War); Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land
Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca.
1775 - ca. 1900; Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files; NARA M804; Record Group
15; National Archives, Washington, DC.
[3] Deposition of Sarah Warren, 12 March 1838, Molly Woodland, widow's pension application no. W 17469; NARA
M804; RC 15, National Archives, Washington, DC.
[4] Daniel R. Mandell, Behind the Frontier: Indians in 18th Century Eastern Massachusetts (Lincoln, NE: University of
Nebraska Press, 1996), 84.
[5] H. Capron letter to John Milton Earle, 28 October 1859; John Milton Earle Papers, AAS, Worcester, MA.
[6] Deposition of Claimant, Molly Woodland, widow's pension application no. W 17469; NARA M804; RC 15, National
Archives, Washington, DC.
[7] H. Capron letter to John Milton Earle, 28 October 1859; John Milton Earle Papers, AAS, Worcester, MA.
[8] Bureau of the Census, 1840 Census of Pensioners Revolutionary or Military Services (Washington: Blair and Rives,
1841) 58.

11 November 2011

Veterans Day

The day before yesterday I lied. I wrote that my next post would be about my 6th great-grandmother, Molly Pegan. I changed my mind. This post is a tribute to my Veteran relations.

I am a warrior - descended from generations of warriors. My brother Carl recently retired from a career in the Navy and my brother AB will retire from the Air Force in a couple of years. My step-father, Alfred Bruce Shepard (6 August 1939-23 January 1988) was a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran, although he never served in Vietnam. His father, Peter Shepard (14 August 1910-16 February 1967) served in both World War II and Korea.

My maternal grandfather, Leonard Homer Hazzard (26 June 1916-11 April 1998) and my paternal grandfather, Walter Andrew Bostic (30 September 1919-27 December 1999) both served in the armed forces during World War II. Several great-uncles and cousins also served during WWII.

Albert, Frank, and Fred Toney - November 1943

WWII Enlistment Record of Leonard Hazzard

Undated photo of Walter Bostic in uniform

As far as I know, my relations did not serve in WWI but plenty - from Vermont to Connecticut - served in the Civil War. I have two Revolutionary War ancestors, Mingo Pollock, a free black man from Thompson,CT and Thomas Pegan, a Nipmuc from Dudley, MA and Killingly, CT.

I am certain that many relations fought in Metacom's Rebellion in 1675 (also known as King Philip's War) and I take special pride in believing that my ancestors burned down the English settlement in Worcester, MA, not once but twice.

Thanks for reading. Next time we'll explore my brick wall, Molly Pegan.

10 November 2011

this post shalt be nameless

I have a confession. I haven't written creatively or created a single piece of art since someone close to me passed on nearly a year ago. I still go to work everyday, write the things I have to write and do the things I have to do. I've kinda sorta maintained my other blog - Unnai. But that's work-related, anything for fun or personal fulfillment has been left by the side of the road - untouched and unappreciated. Which brings me to this much neglected blog. My children tell me that I can't lie on the couch forever. I hear my ancestors calling for me to get up and get on with it. And so I shall - hopefully. Talk with you soon about my neglected ancestors. First up will be Molly Pegan Pollock Woodland, born about 1754. Kuttabotomish, Cher