From the Connecticut Historical Collection
BY John Warner Barbour
Published 1836


MONTVILLE originally, belonged to New London. It was incorporated as a distinettown in 1786. It is bounded north by Bozrah and Norwich, west by Salem and Lyme, east by the river Thames, and south by Waterford. Its length from east to west is about eight miles, and its breadth averages about five miles. This township is embraced within the granitic district, bordering on the sea coast, is uneven, being hilly and stony. The soil is a coarse, dry, gravelly loam, considerably strong and fertile, affording good grazing.

The road from New London to Norwich passes through this town, is a turnpike and is said to be the first which was ever made in the United States. " The former road was perfectly fitted to force upon the public mind the utility of turnpike roads. As New London is the port of entry for Norwich, the merchants of Norwich must often visit it upon business; and the convenience of dispatch in cases of business I need not explain. Yet few persons formerly attempted to go from one of these places to the other, and return the same day. Pleasure carriages on this road were scarcely used at all. The new road is smooth and good; and the journey is now easily performed in little mor9 than two hours. These towns, therefore, may be regarded as having been brought nearer to each other more than half a day's journey."

There are 2 post offices in this town, the Montville and Uncasville post offices. Uncasville post office is in the southern section of the town. The central part of the town is about 8 miles from New Lon don. Chesterfield is a parish in the southeastern section of the town. There are 3 Cotton, 2 Woolen Factories and an Oil Mill in the limits of the town. There are five houses for public worship within the limits of the township, 2 for Congregationalists, 2 for Baptists, and one in the Mohegan Reservation; a tract of land reserved by the state for the maintenance of this tribe of Indians, a remnant of which still remain in this town, "on the land of their fathers."

It appears from the most authentic information which can now be obtained, that at the time of the first settlement of Connecticut, that Uncas, the Mohegan Sagamore, had under him between four and five hundred warriors. Allowing the proportion of the warriors to the whole number of inhabitants to have been as three to ten, the Mohegan tribe must have consisted of nearly 1700 people.

The Pequot and Mohegan country lay to the south and east of the Nehantic, (in Lyme,) from Connecticut river to the Rhode Island line on the east, and extended northward to near the northern boundary of the state. This tract was nearly thirtv miles square, and included the counties of New London, Windham, and the principal part of the county of Tolland. Historians, (says Dr. Holmes,) have treated the Pequots and Mohegans as two different tribes; and have described the Pequot country as lying principally within the three towns of New London, Groton, and Stonington. All the tract north and east as has been described, they have represented as the Mohegan country. Most if not all the towns in this tract hold their lands by virtue of deeds from Uncas, or his successors, the Mohegan sachems Dr. Trumbull, however, thinks it doubtful whether the Mohegans were a distinct nation from the Pequots. "They appear to have been a part of the same nation, named from the place of their situation. Uncas was a Pequot by birth, and of the royal line both by his father and mother; and his wife was a daughter of Tatobam, one of the Pequot sachems. He appears to have been a captain, or petty sachem, under Sassacus, the great prince of the nation. When the English first came into Connecticut, he was in a state of rebellion against him, in consequence of some misunderstanding between them; and his power and influence among the Indians were inconsiderable. Having revolted from his tribe, he was expelled his country.

"In 1637, when the English conquered the Pequots, Uncas readily joined them to save himself, and be avenged on his warlike adversary. After this period Uncas was the most powerful sachem in the state. Part of the miserable remnant of the Pequots fell to the lot of the Mohegans, and became subject to the government of Uncas. He seems, however, to have swayed the sceptre with a heavy hand ; for the Pequots withdrew themselves from his dominion, and the Commissioners found it necessary to fine him, and repeatedly to admonish hhn for his tyranny. He was however a brave warrior, and formidable to his enemies ; on the murder of one of his principal Indians, by some of the men of Sequassen, a sachem on Connecticut river, lie demanded satisfaction of him. It was refused. Uncas and Sequassen fought. Sequassen was overcome. Uncas killed a number of his men, and burned his wigwams. Sequassen appears to have been a sachem under the influence of Miantonimoh, the chief sachem of the Narragansetts. After the destruction of the Peqnots, Miantonimoh attempted to set himself up as a kind of universal sachem over all the Indians in New England. The old grudge and hatred which had subsisted between him and the Pequots, he now transferred to Uncas and the Mohegans. Without any regard to the league made between him, the English, and the Mohegans, at Hartford, in 1638, when the Pequots were divided between him and Uneas, he practiced murder and war against him. After the defeat of Sequassen, Miantonimoh, with 900 or a thousand men, marched against Uncas. These hostile chiefs met on Sachem's Plain, in the east part of the town of Norwich ; Miantonimoh was defeated, taken prisoner, and some time after was put to death. Uncas appears to have pushed his conquests in different directions beyond Connecticut river. About 1654, he had a quarrel with Arrhamamet, sachem of Mussauco, or Massacoe, (Simsbury,) which brought on a war. Uncas sent one of his warriors to take and burn an out wigwam in the night, kill and burn, and leave the marks of the Mohawks. His orders were executed. Arrhamamet, supposing the Mohawks had done the mischief, went in search of them to the north west. Uncas gained time to equip his men; and afterwards subjugated Arrhamamet. Podunk, near Hartford, was ever afterwards tributary to Unas."

On the conquest of the Pequots, the Mobegans Claimed most of the Pequot country as their hereditary right ; they also laid claim to the Wabbequasset territory by virtue of conquest. This last named territory was conquered from the Nipmuck Indians, whose principal seat was about the great ponds in Oxford, in Massachusetts, but there territory extended southwardly in Connecticut, more than twenty miles. This was called the Wabbeqnasset and Whetstone country. The original Mohegan country was surveyed in 1705, and a map of it drawn. The occasion of this survey was a claim brought forward in 1704, by Owaneco, the son of Uncas, to certain lands in Connecticut. The Masons and others preferred a petition and complaint to Queen Anne, in favor of the Mohegan Indians. The Masons claimed the lands purchased by their ancestor, deputy Governor John Mason, in virtue of a deed given to him by Uncas in 1659, while he acted as agent of the colony ; and denied the legality of his surrender of them to the colony, in the General Assembly, the next year. They insisted that it respected nothing more than the jurisdiction right, and that the title to the soil was vested in their family as guardians and overseers of the Indians. This celebrated "Mohegan case," was kept in agitation for nearly twenty years. It was always on a legal hearing, determined in favor of the colony. The final decision was by king George III. in council, just before the Revolutionary war.

Uncas appears at the first very unfriendly to the Christian religion. The commissioners of the colonies endeavored to reclaim him. In 1672, they wrote a letter to him "to incurrage him to attend on the ministry." Whatever effect this letter may have had on his outward deportment it seems not to have reached his heart. in 1674, the Rev. Mr. Fitch, of Norwich, mentioned him as manifesting some respect to the Christian ministry, but with an entire distrust of his sincerity. About two years afterward, however, a providential event made such an impression on the mind of this pagan chieftain, as gave this pious minister some hopes of his real conversion to Christianity. " In the summer of 1676, there was a great drought in New England, which was extremely severe at Mohegan, and in the neighboring country. In August the corn dried up; the fruit and leaves fell off as in Autumn and some trees appeared to be dead. The Indians came from Mohegan to Norwich, and lamented that they had not rain ; and that their powows could get none in their way of worship ; desired Mr. Fitch that he would seek God for rain. He appointed a Fast day for that purpose. The day proved clear ; but at sunset, at time close of the service some clouds arose. The next day was cloudy. Uncas went to the house of Mr. Fitch, with many Indians, and lamented the great want of rain. If God shall send you rain, said Mr. Fitch, will you not attribute it to your powows? He answered, no; for we have done our utmost ; but all in vain. If you will declare it before all these Indians, replied the minister, you shall see what God will do for us ; remarking at the same time, their repeated and unfailing reception of rain, in answer to fasting and prayer. Uncas then "made a great speech" to the indians, confessing that if God should then send rain, it could not be ascribed to their powowing, but must be acknowledged to be an answer to the Englishman's prayer. On that very day, the clouds became more extended; and the day following, there was such a copious rain, that their river rose more than two feet in height."* Whether Uncas died in:the faith of Christianity, cannot now be ascertained. It is agreable however to find him acknowledging the God who is above, and paying homage to the religion of his son "The same year, (1676,) Oneco a son of Uncas, commanded a party of Mohegans in an expedition with Captains Dennison and Avery, against the Naragansetts.

Ben of Benjamin Uncas appears to have been the last of the Mohegans dignified with the title of king. He died suddenly, in May, 1769. He was buried about half a mile south of the present Mohegan chapel. His son, Isaiah Uncas, was a pupil in Dr. Wheelock's school, at Lebanon. He is represented as a corpulent person, of dull intellectual parts, as was his father before him. "Isaiah died about one year after his father, and the royal line became extinct. The body of king Ben was dug up, and was carried with that of his son, and buried at Norwitch."

Although there seems to have been considerable pains taken to induce the Mohegans to embrace the gospel, yet these efforts appear to have been attended with but little or no success till about time year 1644, when the zea'ous Mr. Davenport at that time directed his efforts towards their conversion. He is said to have been very sucassful. To the converts gained at this time, Dr. Trumbull probably refers. when he says, "some few of the Mohegans have professed Christianity, and been, many years since, admitted to full communion in the north church in New London.

About the year 1786, a few Indians went from Mohegan with Mr. Sampson Occum, the celebrated minister to time country of time Oneidas. A considerable number of their brethren emigrated to that country, at the same time from Farmington, Stonington, Groton, and Nehantic, in the eastern part of Lyme: and from Charlestown, in Rhode Island. The inducement to this removal, was a tract of excellent wild land given to them by the Oneidas. These emigrants being most of the scanty remnant of the Muhhekaneok Indians, formerly called "the seven Tribes on the sea coast," constitute what are called the Brotherton Indians," whose entire number, in 1791, was 250, and in 1796, 150 only. On their first emigration, they were under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. Occum

The Mohegan Reservation consists of about 2700 acres. It was holden by them in common till the year 1790, when it was divided to each family by the legislature of Connecticut. The Mohegahs are under the care of guardians, or overseers, appointed by the Legislature. A part of the lands are occupied by the Indians themselves, and a part by white tenants, of which there are as many as Mohegans living on the Reservation. The rents go into a common fund, from which the Mohegans derive individually a small sum annually.

Return to [ Connecticut Towns ]

All pages copyright 2009. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy