Capt. Brocklebank wrote from Marlborough to Gen. Denison, March 27, 1676, asking that he and his company may be relieved to go home, giving his reason that they had been in the country's service "since the first of January at Narraganset, and within one week after their returne were sent out again, having neither time nor money (save a fortnight's pay upon the march) to recruite themselves."
Okkokonimesit was what Major Daniel Gookin called, and Ognonikongquamesit was the name by which Mr. Eliot knew, the "Praying Indian Village," situated within the limits of what became the town of Marlborough. The first English settlers went from the parent plantation of Sudbury. The Court's grant to the Indians through Mr. Eliot, in 1654, being prior to that made to the English, the latter found to their disappointment that this Indian reserve, right in the midst of their own grant, must be respected by them if they wished to retain their own rights; for it is to the credit of the Massachusetts Council, that its members were, almost without exception, in favor of upright and humane dealing with the friendly Indians. These Indians above, were a branch of the Wamesit tribe, it is said, and had submitted to the Massachusetts Colony as early as 1643, and had received assurance of its protection of their rights. In 1674 this Indian town contained ten families, and about fifty souls. They were self-supporting, peaceable, and were becoming industrious and thrifty, but were evidently regarded with contempt and distrust by many of the neighboring English, who grudged them the possession of their grant of six thousand acres, including some of the best land in the township.
The Indian name of the locality was something like Whipsuppenick, but this became corrupted with the English settlers to "Whipsufferage."
The town was incorporated as Marlborough in 1660. The first actual English settler was John Howe, who settled in 1657--8; and at the division of land, in 1660, there were thirty-eight who were then, or soon after, residents.
Rev. Wm. Brimsmead was settled as their minister, and the new plantation flourished fairly until the breaking out of Philip's War. At this time, being a frontier town, it was exposed to attacks from all directions, and being situated upon the road to Connecticut, it had been regarded by the General Court as a point of military advantage, and a fort had been built, and a small garrison was kept there. Upon the outbreak of Philip's War, the retreat of Philip and his followers to the Nipmucks, and the consequent disturbance of the neighboring tribes, the people of Marlborough, under the lead of their minister, met early in October, and adopted measures of defence in addition to that afforded by the garrison which was under the command of Lieut. John Ruddock, of whose conduct of their military affairs, his townsmen, it seems, were jealous; and the people, as was the case generally, were averse to the presence of the soldiers in their houses.
After hostilities began, the Praying Indians, who had lived so long beside the settlers, became objects of suspicion and, in many instances, of unreasoning persecutions, in spite of the constant remonstrances of their friends, Rev. John Eliot, Major Gookin and the magistrates and leading men generally. Philip used all his powers of persuasion and intimidation to draw these Praying or Christian Indians to his side; but in spite of his arts, and the bitter popular prejudices of the English, and although forced to suffer great injustice and hardships, they were nearly all faithful to their engagements with the Colonists. The "new praying villages," which under Mr. Eliot's efforts were established, in the way of missionary stations, in the vicinity of several neighboring tribes, were broken up by the "rumors of war," and the real converts came with their families into the older villages under the protection of the Colony.
The Indian village at Marlborough was increased to about forty men, besides women and children, and under the direction of the English, they built a fort of considerable strength for themselves, and were furnished with ammunition and some with arms by the government, and others had suitable arms of their own. There is no doubt that these Indians were well disposed and faithful with very few exceptions, and might have been of very great help in all the subsequent movements of the war, if the headstrong prejudices of the people had not frightened and antagonized them in manifold ways. The hostile Indians sought to fix the stigma of their own depredations, often committed for that very purpose, upon the Christian Indians; and the attack upon Lancaster, Aug. 22, 1675, in which seven persons were killed, was attributed to them by "Indian David," who was tied up to a tree and forced to implicate somebody, himself having fallen under suspicion of shooting the Irish shepherd boy at Marlborough just before this.
Those whom David particularly accused were the Hassanemesit Indians, now gathered into the Indian fort at Marlborough; and the popular clamor was so loud against them that Lieut. John Ruddock, in command of the garrison at Marlborough, demanded the arms and ammunition of the whole body of Indians to be given up. This demand was quietly acceded to, although there was no evidence against the Indians, and the act was entirely without the sanction of the Court; but the prejudices of the people were so strong, and their clamors so persistent, that Capt. Mosely, then in the vicinity with his company of sixty men, was appealed to, and nothing loth, under cover of his authority, gave the Indian fort up to the plunder and abuse of his soldiery.
Fifteen of the Indians were arrested and sent down to Boston, tied neck to neck like galleyslaves, and the integrity of the Council was sorely taxed to keep the rage of the populace from executing these poor creatures without trial; but the law did prevail, and after a long trial and imprisonment at Boston of the eleven (out of the fifteen) who were accused, all were fully acquitted except their first accuser, David, who was condemned for the suspicion as to the shepherd boy, and also for his false accusations, and also the Indian Joseph Spoonant, tried by another jury; these two were condemned to be sold out of the country as slaves. This persecution seems to have broken up the Indian settlement at Marlborough.
In the meantime the garrison at Marlborough became a rendezvous for the troops going and coming to and from the western towns, and while it was occupied by soldiers the people felt some degree of security in their homes; but when the companies were drawn off they felt the danger of their exposed condition, and after the disasters of Captains Beers and Lothrop, and the experiences of Springfield, Deerfield, etc., they resolved upon measures for better security. Upon October 1st they were called together, and took action as shown in the following paper preserved in the Massachusetts Archives, vol. 67, p. 277.
Marlborough the 1 of October: 1675.
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