I have the honor of being the Tribal Historian for the Massachusetts Punkapoag Indians, and every so often I stumble upon a new historical fact of interest.
This time it was a fragment of a newspaper article that appeared in the Boston Traveller on November 21, 1928, a copy of which can be found at the Stoughton Historical Society.
The lady in the photo was familiar to me (Jeanette Rose Beauty Bancroft [Burrell] Crowd), and I knew her great-grand daughter. But like the story of the Punkapoag Indians most do not realize there are living descendants of the tribe.
Many of the local Indians were relocated in what was called a Praying Town called Punkapoag in 1657. The majority of this 6,000 acres was situated in what is now Canton (formerly Stoughton until 1797).
The newspaper article from 1928 echoed another myth about the Punkapoag’s – That this woman, known as "Beauty" was the “reported last survivor of the tribe.”
This was not the first time that there were published reports about someone being the "last survivor" of the Punkapoag Tribe, and it was not the last time either.
In actuality, many descendants live across the country and one of Beauty’s great-great grandson’s, Gill Solomon, a.k.a. “Feather on the Moon,” is the current Sachem of the Massachusetts Punkapoag people.
References to oral history dating back to the 1700’s are mentioned in this 1928 Boston Traveller article.
Beauty is quoted by saying “Dina[h] Moho was murdered for her land, but I never worry about mine!”
Dinah Moho was the widow of Samuel Moho who died in the 1760’s in Stoughton. The Moho family was very large and Dinah is brought before the guardians as not being a member of the tribe but only married into it. It is possible Dinah was from another tribe or of African-American descent.
The story of Dinah’s death occurs in Huntoon’s History of Canton in two separate accounts. One is the fact she got scared during a lightning storm and died of a heart attack while at the threshold of someone's house.
The other account says her neck was slit and she was found in a cellar hole in Punkapoag.
I have yet to find any inquisition into her murder so the story is still oral tradition.
As is the tradition with Native Americans, they have an Indian name. And until I read this article I had no idea about Beauty’s Indian Name, “The Hawk."
The article also explains the origin of her name Beauty. Her full name was Jeanette Rose Beauty Bancroft (Burrell) Crowd, however in the article her original Indian name is revealed “…the little baby known as ‘Rose Beauty’ to the Indian custom, the new little papoose received its name from the first flower which the mother saw after the child came. It happened to he a rose and the name Beauty was added.”
Beauty lived on Indian Lane, and until recent years the cellar hole of her house could still be seen by travelers. Within the walls of her house were family artifacts including “…an enormous rattler preserved in a jar of alcohol, caught by old ‘Jeremiah’ [Bancroft], the sachem.”
Jeremiah Bancroft was the uncle of Beauty who died in 1914.
A genealogical sketch of her ancestors is outlined in the Boston Traveller article:
“The Hawk is perhaps the most remarkable example of direct Indian descent in New England. Her grandfather Jeremiah Bancroft, chief of the important tribe of what is now Canton, Stoughton, Sharon, Braintree, Mattapan and other territory, lived to a very old age and long enough states The Hawk to witness the rapid decline in the numbers of braves and their families.
"Olive Bancroft Burrell, his daughter and mother of “The Hawk” was born in the wigwam of the chief, and for the greater part of the 44 years of her life dwelt inside a birch bark tent. So the did the father of The Hawk though in his later life he took residence in a white man’s dwelling, which he bought and which was later the home of Beauty.”
A historical clarification, which the article is in error. Beauty’s father was not a Native American, but of white European origins. Her father was born in Randolph and served in the Civil War. His name was David Linfield Burrell and he married Olive Bancroft, who was Native American.
The home on Indian Lane was that of her husband’s father and grandfather. They had actually purchased property from the Guardians of the Punkapoag Indians to preserve a section of their disappearing allotment of 6,000 acres.
The last of the Punkpoag Reservation was sold by the Guardians of the tribe in 1827. The Bancroft’s and Crowd’s ancestors had lived there from the mid 1600’s but never needed to own their land as the Punkapoag Plantation was their home.
Many people think of King Philip's War in the 1670s as the last Indian uprising in Massachusetts. However, the oral history given by Beauty speaks of a standoff with her Uncle Jeremiah Bancroft and local developers in the 19th century.
According to the article, Beauty is “a busy woman but will, if urged, halt to tell the tale of old Uncle Jerry, son of the Sachem, who, when cranberry bog builders usurped some of the Indian land, took his loaded gun and squatted on the bog threatening to shoot anyone who tried to pick the berries. ‘His Indian danger was up’ said the old lady, and only after a siege of more than a week was he persuaded to vacate his position. He was a veteran of the tribe.”
As a tribal historian I wish this article went on and on. However, this gives you a glimpse into just one of the 19th century Native American’s that knew Glen Echo and the surrounding area as their home.
Beauty was married to John Samuel Crowd in Canton, Mass. on December 18, 1870 by Rev. A. St. John Chambre.
John and Beauty lived in Stoughton and Canton, and after the death of John’s sister they moved to Indian Lane where John was born in 1850.
After being married over fifty years, John died August 27, 1922. Beauty then resided with her family on Indian Lane until her death on October 29, 1946.
John and Beauty had eleven children, and their descendants number the descendants of the Massachusetts Punkapoag Indian tribe till this day.