Well-known Indians of the Bethel Area
Well-Known Indians of the Bethel Area
by Catherine Newell
Note on Indian Names: The names which have come down to us identifying certain Indians are usually corruptions of the French Christian names received at baptism in Canada. There are, for example, many Indians named Peol, or Pierre, and Susup, or Joseph. Mollyockett, really comes from the Christian name Marie Agathe (Mary Agatha) which Bethel's best-known Indian received at the time of her baptism by the French missionaries. The difficulty the Indians had in pronouncing the letter "r" led to an "l" sound, resulting in "Maliagat" or "Mollyockett," more familiar to English-speaking people.
The best-known Indian from Bethel's past is certainly Mollyockett, who was a familiar figure in the area from the first years of white settlement until her death in Andover in 1816. She was a noted authority on Indian healing arts, crafts and survival skills, and frequently shared her knowledge with her many white friends. Mollyockett was born in the early 1740's, in Saco, and is believed to have spent her early years in the Fryeburg area, the tribal area of the Pequakets, her tribe. She almost certainly was one of a group of Pequaket family members who were sheltered by the English, first in Scarborough and then in Plymouth, Mass., during a colonial war in 1749, the male members of the group having sided with the English. She was at the St. Francis Mission in Canada at the time of Roger's Raid in 1759, and told of saving herself by hiding in the bushes. She was married in Canada; her daughter being baptized at the Mission in 1764. By 1766, her first husband dead, Mollyockett was living in Fryeburg, with Sabattis, with whom she had three children. The family was friendly with many of the early settlers of Fryeburg. This period in Mollyockett's life came to an end about 1770, when Sabattis' first wife arrived from Canada, and the two women physically fought to settle claim to his affections. Mollyockett lost the prolonged battle, witnessed by Sabattis, lounging on a woodpile, and several settlers. She left and soon after joined a group of Indians in Bethel, led by Capt. Swassin. This group was visited in 1772 by Henry Tufts, whose 1804 published account relates his healing by Mollyockett. Mollyockett's remaining years were spent travelling throughout the Androscoggin Valley, from northern N.H. and Vermont to Paris and Poland. She made frequent trips to Canada, visiting her children, one of whom was a chief in Canada. Many stories about Mollyockett were recorded by white settlers, and involve her healing powers, her simple religious faith, her determined insistence on her rights as an original proprietor of Bethel, and her generosity in sharing her skills and friendship with the settlers.
Mollyockett was probably in the Bethel area at the time of the Indian Raid , and it may have been at this time that she travelled through the woods to warn a Captain Clark of Boston that his life was in danger. She arrived too late to save two of Clark's friends from Tomhegan, but did warn Clark, who held himself forever in Mollyockett's debt for the alert.
Metallak is most associated with the area of Northern New Hampshire near Lake Umbagog, and, like Mollyockett, remained in this area long after white settlement. He also developed strong friendships with whites and a reputation similar to that of Mollyockett. Lt. Sega identified Metallak as being at the St. Francis Mission, when the raiding party and captives arrived there after the Sudbury Canada incident, indicating that Metallak was known to residents of Bethel before 1781. Metallak served as a guide to many prominent figures during the latter part of his life, including Governor Lincoln of Maine, and Hon. Moses Mason of Bethel for whom Metallak drew a map of the Magalloway River on birch bark. The moose antlers on display in the Moses Mason Museum came from Metallak, as did the materials which Dr. Mason transformed into the unique moose-horn chair also in the museum collection.
Metallak traveled and camped throughout the region, with members of his family, and it was his group of Indians that brought Mollyockett to Andover at the time of her final illness in 1816. Metallak lived until the late 1840's, spending his last days, infirm and blind, in Stewartstown, N.H.
The full name of the villain in the Indian Raid saga was Tumtumhegan, who was the regional chief of the area, centered at Lake Umbagog, including the upper Androscoggin Valley. Tomhegan differed from most of the area Indians in siding with the British rather than the Americans in the Revolution. He led the attack on Sudbury Canada in 1781 and is identified with other similar episodes. Early sources link his motives with his Tory loyalties, and a "deep hatred" toward the settlers, to which certainly must be added the disputed claim to the tribal lands above Rumford Falls, threatened settlement. Tomhegan's attack on Col. Clark, a Boston trader and a favorite with other area Indians, was thwarted by Mollyockett's warning.
In his Incidents in White Mountain History, Willey describes Tomhegan's death, without giving any details as to circumstances, date, or place. "He was tied upon a horse, with spurs on his heels, in such a manner that the spurs continually goaded the animal. When the horse was set at liberty, he ran furiously through an orchard, and the craggy limbs of the trees tore him to pieces."
Sabattis is most strongly identified with the Fryeburg area. He sympathized with the American forces in the Revolution, and accompanied Arnold's March to Quebec. He also led the rescue party from Fryeburg to Bethel at the time of the Indian Raid. He was friendly with many settlers and visited Bethel in intervals until 1800. He was particularly friendly with the James Swan family, whom he and Mollyockett had known in Fryeburg, and who later relocated to Bethel. Sabattis had a fondness for rum and apparently after indulging, attempted to wring Mr. Swan's neck. Swan soundly trounced him and Sabattis ever after considered him a friend to be treated to such delicacies as choice bits of moose.
Swassin, also known as Swanson or Swarson, was the head of the small Indian group living in the Bethel area when Henry Tufts stayed with them in 1772-75. Swassin joined the American Revolutionary forces and was presented with a sword in recognition of his service. True identifies Swassin as a Pequaket.
Mollyockett's daughter, Molly Susup, was a child during the 1770's and lived with her mother in the Bethel area, attending school and playing with the children of the settlers. She was noted for her athletic prowess, and could outwrestle the schoolboys. Her later romance with the then- elderly Captain Swasin was a source of worry and embarrassment to her mother, who would not allow their marriage despite the birth of a child, Molly Peol, to Molly Susup. Molly Susup later married and left the area.
Another Revolutionary War veteran, Captain Philips was mentioned by Henry Tufts, and identified by N. T. True as a Pequaket, and Mollyockett was recorded as living with his group of Indians in Andover in 1788.
This Indian, renowned for his physical strength, called himself by the rank of sergeant, possibly for service in a colonial war.
Other Indians who visited Bethel frequently enough to be known to settlers by name included: PEOL, BLACK SUSUP, SANLOO, ASSABEEL, QUALLIMOSIT, and PASEEL, a son of Sabattis and his first wife.