Its remains were seen by Englishmen in 162I, as we shall learn in the next chapter.(1)
Following this disaster came a worse one in the shape of a mysterious pestilence which carried off most of those who had escaped the tomahawks of the Tarratines. This plague seems to have descended on the unhappy red men about 16I6 or 16I7, and it ravaged all the Indian tribes of eastern Massachusetts. Cotton Mather heard it said in after years that "nine parts in ten, yea nineteen parts in twenty" died of this mysterious plague, which some believe to have been smallpox. Thomas Morton draws a horrid picture of the piles of bones and skulls that he himself saw in the abandoned villages in the neighborhood of Merrymount. Another writer of a later day was told by the Indians that the Pawtuckets, who formerly numbered three thousand warriors, besides women and children, were reduced by this pestilence to two hundred and fifty fighting men.
The tribe thus enfeebled was finally attacked once more by the implacable Tarratines, and the great sachem Nanepashemet was killed defending his Rock Hill stockade. Contrary to the usual custom among the red men the authority over the remnants of the Pawtuckets fell not to another warrior but to his widow. This was the famous Squaw Sachem-we know her by no other name -whose relations with the settlers of Charlestown and of so many other of the Middlesex towns form so peculiar and picturesque a feature of early Massachusetts history. Nanepashemet had left three sons, whom the white men later came to know as Sagamore John (of Charlestown), Sagamore James (of Lynn) and Sagamore George (of Salem). But they were only boys at the time of his death, and the slaughter among the warriors had perhaps been so great that no ambitious brave cared to assume the responsibility of restoring the confederacy, shattered by war and pestilence, to its former importance.
Nevertheless the Squaw Sachem, though she may have owed
(1) Many years later (in 1862), the skeletons of five Indians were uncovered in a field belonging to Edward Brooks in West Medford by laborers who were digging there. One skeleton seemed to be that of a chief, for near it lay a soapstone pipe with a copper mouthpiece, a rare and valuable possession for a redman. It has been suggested that these may have been the bones of Nanepashemet, for they were found not far from the Rock Hill stronghold where he met his death. The skeletons were all sent to the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.
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