Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War

Covenant between Massachusetts Colony & the Nipmuc “Praying Towns,” 1668

In May 1668, several leaders from Nipmuc "praying towns" signed an agreement of "submission" to Massachusetts in return for the colony's protection, at a time when these communities were both forming alliances with Massachusetts settlers, and facing raids from Mohawk warriors, from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to the west. It is important to note that this was not an agreement with the Nipmucs as a whole, but rather with leaders from communities "adjoining Mendon and Marlborough" who had already accepted Christian "rule." A transcription of the document, from the Massachusetts Archives (30:146) follows:

The humble submission & subjection of the Native Indians sagamores and people of Nipmuk inhabiting within the bounds of the pattens [patents] of Massachusetts; and neare adjoining unto the English towns seated of Mendam and Marlboroug
We the inhabitants of Quanutusset [Quantisett], Mônuhchogok [Magunkaquog], Chaubunakongkomuk [Chabonokonomum], Asukodnôcog, kesepusqus, wabuhqushish [Webquasset] and the adjacent parts of Nipmuk being convinced of our great sinns & how good it is to turn unto the Lord and be his servants by praying & calling upon his name. We do solemnly, before God, & this Court, give up ourselves so to God. Also we finding by experience how good it is to live under laws & good government & finding how much we need the protection of the English. We doe freely, out of our own motion, and voluntary choice, submit our selves to the government of the Massachusets. To the honored Gen: Court. To the honored Governor, deputy Governor & Assistants to be unto? & protected by them. And we do humbly intreat that we may be favorably accepted. May 19th, 1668.
The mark of Wutasakompanin 
Job Kattennit
The marks of
These have subscribed in the name & with the consent of all the rest

Some of these leaders would go on to play key roles in King Philip's War. Ketuhhoonit, known also as Keehood, and Wusamahchkin, known also as Willymachen, leaders at Webquasset, were among those sachems who first gathered at the inland sanctuary of Menimesit to council when war first emerged in summer 1675. Wutasakompanin, known also as Captain Tom, was a leader at Hassanamesit, James Printer's town, engaged in diplomacy at the beginning of the war, and was among those taken by his relations to Menimesit in the fall of 1675, along with James and his family. James's brother, Job Kattenanit, the only man who signed his name on this document, was a teacher at Magunkoag and also at Okkanamesit, which was adjacent to Marlboough. He served as a scout for colonial troops from the beginning of the war. He also traveled to Menimesit, as a informant, and warned colonial leaders about the impending raid on Lancaster, which, despite his effort, resulted in Mary Rowlandson's capture. 

Like many Nipmuc towns, Keehood and Wusamahchkin’s town of Webquasset and its sister town, Quantisset sat at the intersection of multiple inland trails and political jurisdictions. Trails from this gathering place led toward Mohegan country, via the Nipmuck Path and the Quinebaug/Mohegan River; toward the Narragansett country via the Narragansett trail; and toward Kwinitekw, via the Native trail that colonists called "the Bay Path," to Agawam (Springfield) and Nonotuck (Hadley). The "Connecticut path" led south to lower Kwinitekw and northeast from Wabquasset and Quantisset toward the other Nipmuc towns in the agreement, including Manchaug, Chabanakongkomug, Hassanamesit, and Magunkaquog. Thus, this covenant was made with towns that lay directly on the paths that Massachusetts settlers most often took in their inland travels toward Connecticut colony and the Connecticut River Valley.[i]
Just as Webquasset and Quantisset were situated at a crossroads of trails and waterways, they also represented a convergence of political relationships, which can be seen in colonial court records from this period. In May of 1668, this covenant solidified an agreement between the Nipmuc praying towns and the Massachusetts colony amidst a new round of negotiation over overlapping political claims. Such networks of converging indigenous and colonial interests, and struggles, are crucial to understanding James Printer’s story and his unlikely entry into war. The complex context of the interior Nipmuc country is often elided or simplified in histories of King Philip’s War. But focusing in on the specific places and relationships at stake in the Nipmuc country enable us to better understand the histories of this vast and vital inland region on the eve of war. 
[1] Dennis Connole, Indians of the Nipmuck Country in Southern New England 1630–1750 (Jefferson, NC: McFarlane, 2007) 20-23; Louis Roy, Quaboag Plantation alias Brookefield: A Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts Town (Brookfield, MA: L. E. Roy, 1965), 9-11; Levi Chase, The Bay Path and Along the Way (Norwood, MA: Plimton Press, 1919) 175–211; Daniel Gookin, Historical Collections of the Indians of New England (1674) (North Stratford, NH: Ayer, 2000), 45-52. . Josiah Howard Temple, History of North Brookfield, Massachusetts (Brookfield, MA: North Brookfield, 1887), 24-6.

This page has paths:

This page references: