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Rockingham, VT

Last Updated Aug-2010

Wabanaki Family Names Known Here

Wabanaki Events That Occurred Here

Bits & Pieces from Books, News Clippings, etc.

"Tradition says that long before the white man came to this vicinity, there was a large Indian village of wigwams extending from the south end of Mount Kilburn, where the Fitchburg station of Cold River now is, nearly a quarter of a mile south, and that it was a sub-tribe of the great Abenaquis or Algonquins."
"... a man travelling in New York state met an Indian who gave an account of the Kilburn fight [Aug-1755] in which his father took part. He stated the "Philip's body was carried to the Great falls and buried under a flat rock that the white men might not discover it."
"A very old man, known as "Dr. Kilburn," over fifty years ago used to tell present citizens of the manner in which the Indians used to take the salmon in his childhood, previous to the building of the dam here. Their operations were confined largely to a reach of two miles or so above the falls and to the time of year when the salmon were passing up the river. Above the falls, as far as the Millikin place, a distance of about two miles, there were rapids which were difficult to navigation. Two Indians would carry their light bark canoe to the head of these rapids and launch it. One with his light paddle would sit in the stern and guide it though the devious channel in the current, while the other stood in the prow and drove his spear firmly into the backs of the great salmon which, having worked hard in coming up through the falls, were naturally somewhat spent and thus not as wary as they would have been below the falls. Fish weighting from twenty to thirty pounds were speared in this way. Day after day, the Indians would proceed in this way down into the falls, as far as the small eddy in front of the present stone house in North Walpole which was formerly used as a school-house. Here they would draw out the canoes and carry them up the river again to the head of the swift water and repeat the trip."
"... There was one class of navigators that interested the people intensely every year till as late as 1852; remnants of the Abenaqui tribe of Indians came down the river in the spring with their canoes and dugouts, pulled them up on the shore, and camped up and pitched their wigwams at the foot of Oak Hill, bringing with them baskets, bows and arrows, mats, and a great many trinkets which were purchased by the people."
"During all the the first half of the last century small parties of more civilized and peaceable Abenaqui Indians used to visit Bellows Falls nearly every summer, coming from their homes in Canada and New York state. They came down the Connecticut in their canoes, usually bringing supplies of baskets and other trinkets which they had manufactured during the previous winters, which they sold to citizens of Bellows Falls and the then large number of summer visitors. They usually encamped on Pine Hill, which was then north of the village and extended as far noth as teh residence of the late F. E. Proctor at the extreme north end of Green street. Sometimes they built their wigwams on the beach south of the falls, at times on the Vermont side, at others on the New Hampshire side. The men spent much time fishing in the river and hunting on the hills on both sides of the river, while the squaws carried on the mercantile branch of their business.
The last remnant of this tribe came to Bellows Falls early in the summer, about 1856, in their birchbark canoes. The party consisted of a chief who was very old and infirm, a young wife and their sons, one about twenty and the other about nine years old, and others. On the occasion of this last visit they made their camp on Levi Chapin's meadow a short distance above the dam and near the mouth of "Governor's brook," where now stands a part of the village of North Walpole. They build their wigwams in true Indian fashion, of poles, covering them with bark and the skins of wild animals, and during the whole summer the place was of much interest to all in this vicinity. A number of present residents well remember them and the interest which all took in them.
The older son spoke good English and was a manly appearing youth. He was an expert in the use of his rifle and shot gun and collected considerable money from visitors by giving exhibitions of his marksmanship. The little boy was shy, bare headed, bushy haired little savage. The chief himself was very intelligent and conversed interestingly with his visitors. He had fought with the English in different wars and gave many startling incidents connected with his early life and wild mode of living. He had been to England three times and he wore a large silver medal presented to him by King George III in acknowledgment of his services. He was very proud of this, and lost no opportunity to exhibit it to his calles. It bore the king's profile in relief and an appropriate inscription.
Late in the season the weather grew cold and the party prepared to return to Canada before the river froze over, but the old chief wished to die beside the "Great Falls," and be buried with his fathers. After long continued discussion his wife left him in his wigwam with his two sons, and went north with others of the party. The wigwam was removed to the higher ground near River street about opposite the present location of Taylor's livery stable.
... was buried in what was then the Rockingham burying-ground, now known as the old Catholic cemetery ..."

Source: History of the town of Rockingham, Vermont
including the villages of Bellows Falls ... [6]

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