Volume 2, No. 2 (1978)
The Last of the Pequakets: Mollockett
Written for the Maine Historical Society by N. T. True, M.D.,
and published in the Oxford Democrat, Jan. 2, 1863
The Pequakets were a powerful tribe on the Saco River. The Lovewell Fight at Fryeburg, in 1725, broke them up, after which most of them removed to Canada and united with other fragmentary tribes to form that of the St. Francois. Still, there were few individuals who returned after the settlement of that town and resided there and on the Androscoggin river.
Mollocket was so well known to all the early settlers from Lake Champlain to the Kennebec river that it seems an essential part of the history of this portion of the country to give a sketch of her life, so far as possible from the scanty materials before us.
According to her own account, she was born on a point of land on the Saco river below the Falls, where now is Saco village. It appears, however, that she spent her earliest years at Fryeburg, and she was wont to say that she could remember when the pine trees on the plains of Fryeburg were not taller than herself.
Rev. S. R. Hall of Brownington, Vermont, in a letter to the writer says, that he has heard Mollocket give an account of the Lovewell fight at his father's house in Guildhall, Vermont, several times, when he was a child, and that she remembered it distinctly.
It is probable that she went to Canada with her tribe after the Lovewell fight. She was generally known among the settlers at Bethel as a St. Francis Indian. It appears that she came back to Fryeburg soon after the settlement of that town in 1763. Here she became acquainted with Sabattis, possibly the same Indian of that name whom Col. Rogers brought from Canada when a boy at the time he attacked and destroyed a large number of the St. Francis tribe in 1759. If so, he must have been much younger than Mollocket.
By Sabattis she had three children. They lived much of the time in the family of Mr. James Swan of that town. Sabattis spent most of his time in hunting and would bring home the lip of a Moose as a special delicacy to his master Swan. Mollocket at length refused to live with him on account of his intemperate habits and quarrelsome disposition, and after Mr. Swan removed to Bethel about the year 1779, Mollocket accompanied his family. It does not appear that Sabattis entirely left her, for he occasionally visited Bethel. His last visit recorded was in 1800. As there are so many conflicting accounts of her age, we give the opinions of those who were personally acquainted with her, simply adding that the internal evidence to our own mind is, that she was not so old as she is generally represented to have been.
The following notice of Mollocket I have taken from the History of Missisco Valley, by Samuel Sumner, M.A., with an introductory notice of Orleans County, Vermont, Rev. S. R. Hall: 1860. Published under the auspices of the Orleans County Historical Society.
"Several families moved into Troy and Potton in 1799, and in the winter of 1799 and 1800, a small party of Indians, of whom the chief man, was Capt. Susup jointed the colonists, built their camps on the river, and wintered near them. These Indians were represented as being in a starving condition, which probably arose from the moose and deer being destroyed by the settlers. Their principal employment was making baskets, birch bark cups and pails, and other Indian trinkets. They left in the spring and never returned. They appeared to be the most numerous party and resided the longest time of any Indians who ever visited the valley since the commencement of the settlement.
"One of these Indians, a woman named Molly Orcutt, exercised her skill in a more dignified profession, and her introduction to the whites was rather curious."
Here follows an account of a drunken frolic among the whites in which one of them had his hand severely bruised. The narrator then proceeds:
"Molly Orcutt was known as an Indian doc- tress, and then resided some miles off, over the Lake. She was sent for, and came and built her camp near by, and undertook the case and the hand was restored. Her medicine was an application of warm milk punch. Molly's fame as a doc- tress was not raised. The dysentery broke out that winter violently among children, and Molly's services were again solicited, and she again undertook the work of mercy, and again she succeeded. But in this case Molly maintained all the reserve and taciturnity of her race, she retained the nature of her prescription to herself, she prepared the nostrum in her own camp, and brought it in a coffee pot to her patients, and refused to divulge the ingredients of her prescription to any one; but chance and gratitude drove it from her.
"In the March following as Mr. Josiah Elkins and wife were returning from Peacham they met Molly at Arnold's Mills in Derby; she was on her way across the wilderness to the Connecticut River, where she had a daughter married to a white man. Mr. Elkins inquired into her means prosecuting so long a journey through the forests and snows of winter, and found she was scantily supplied with provisions, having nothing but a little bread. With his wonted generosity, Mr. Elkins immediately cut a slice of pork of 5 or 6 pounds weight out of the barrel he was carrying home and gave it to her. My informant remarks she never saw a more grateful creature than Molly was on receiving this gift. 'Now you have been so good to me.' she exclaimed, 'I will tell you how I cured the folks this winter of the dysentery,' and told her receipt. It was nothing more or less than decoction of the inner bark of the spruce."
This closes the sketch of Mollocket. We have to remark that she must have been to Canada on one of her visits as she had lived in Bethel and Andover several years previous to this time.
Rev. Mr. Hall, a resident at one time of Rum- ford, Me., but for many years of Vermont, adds a note for the foregoing.
"Among my earliest recollections of events was the arrival of Molly at Guildhall on the Connecticut River, soon after the event before mentioned She was almost famished as well she might be after such a journey; for if her statements are reliable she was more than 100 years old. She informed my father that her husband fell in Lovewell's war and that she then had several grandchildren. Lovewell’s war terminated in 1725. If Molly was then only 40 years old, she must have been born as early as 1685. If so she was 115 years old, when she went from Derby to Guildhall in 1800, and might have been 120 or 125. But she lived 17 years after this period. I have no doubt she was nearly 140 years old, at the time of her death. She was certainly very familiar with the events of Lovewell's fight and the war next preceding. I saw and conversed with her frequently, from 1812 to 1816 and have no doubt that she was born earlier than 1685, and that her statements were generally to be credited."
We think there must have been some mistake in regard to her extreme age as described by Mr. Hall, for she had a daughter residing with her in Bethel as late as 1785 who was comparatively a young woman.
We have received the following information respecting Mollocket from Mr. John Y. Duston of Milan, N. H., whose father Ezekiel Duston lived in what is now Hanover, Me., on the farm now occupied by Adam Willis, Esq. He was in the war of 1812 and died in the army.
"Mollocket had a camp near my father's in Hanover for several years, say about the year 1810. She kept her things in a chamber at his house. She was thought much of by the family, and when my father was weaned, she carried him off to Rumford and was gone three weeks.
She said that she was born on a point of land below Saco Village. She said that she was fifteen years old when the English attacked the St. Francis tribe which evidently was in 1759 when Col. Rogers made his expedition in that year. She saved herself by hiding in the bushes. (This accords better with our own views of her age than any other.)
She had a son in Canada by the name of Sasup who was a prominent chief there. (This was probably the Capt. Sasup spoken of by Mr. Hall of Vermont.)
"She went to Canada every year or two to visit her friends and would kiss our family very affectionately on her return first on one ear then on the other."
For several years after the settlement of Bethel, she spent much of her time in hunting in that vicinity in which she was very successful. She would go into the woods, shoot a moose, and then come out to the settlement for assistance to bring in her game, of which only the most valuable portions were saved. So abundant were ducks at this time, that she shot and saved feathers sufficient to make a good bed for her friend, Mrs. Swan.
Some times she would range off to the lakes and ponds thirty or forty miles distant, build a camp, and solitarily hunt in quest of game. One of her camps was a short distance south of the outlet of Umbagog Lake, where a large smooth rock projects into the lake. This is now called Moll's Rock, also Moll's Carry, a passage from the lake to the Magalloway River. Her name is also perpetuated by a mountain in the eastern part of Oxford County.
Indians frequently visited Bethel during her residence there, from the Pequakets in Fryeburg, and the St. Francis tribe in Canada. Some of the older inhabitants of Bethel still remember her when she had a camp on the north side of the river near Mr. Curatia Bartlett's, which she had well covered and lined with bark, far better than is usually the case with the Indians, and where she had her bed and slept, but took her meals with some white family in the neighborhood.
She had a daughter, Molly Sasup, previous to her acquaintance with Sabattis, who lived with her in Bethel, attended school with the whites and spoke the English language fluently. She possessed a vigorous frame, and engaged in sports with the boys for whom she was frequently more than a match. A circumstance is still remembered, when she and her antagonist clinched and in the contest, both rolled down the steep bank of the river together. Molly Sasup had a child named Molly Peol, (Mary Paul) by Capt. Swanson an old Pequaket Indian of revolutionary memory, who was anxious to marry her. and repeatedly came to Bethel for that purpose, but her mother opposed the match. Subsequently she was married to a Penobscot Indian, Peol Susup, who quarreled with her and left her. Willey, in his Incidents of White Mountain History, thinks that he is the one who was tried at Castine for a murder which he had committed at Bangor in 1816. It would be interesting to know if Mollyockett's posterity still continue among the Penobscots. Mollyockett was very much modified at her daughter's conduct, and felt that her own character, as well as that of her daughter was destroyed.
Like most of the Indians, Mollocket was fond of rum. When provided with a glass in any of the families which she visited, she would become very loquacious and entertain her company with stories and amusing anecdotes. Beer emptyings was a favorite beverage, of which she would drink a pint with the greatest relish. Her shrewdness was well shown on a visit at the Hon. Moses Mason's in Bethel. She asked for some rum. The Doctor knowing her weakness in this respect, poured out a half glass, being an allowance much smaller than usual, and told her this was all he had for her. "J-e-s-t enough," was her quick reply, as she divined the Doctor's motive.
She was well skilled in roots and herbs. As game grew scarce and she was advanced in years, she spent most of the latter portion of her life in going from place to place, and giving advice to the sick. A poultice for a sore, or a decoction of bark, roots and herbs, made by her, was supposed by many to possess extraordinary virtues.
She often boasted of her noble descent, and would descant upon the bravery of her father and grandfather who, she said, were prominent chiefs in their tribe, and who had passed through all the exciting scenes of warfare between the French and English during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Mrs. Martha Rowe of Gilead now living at the advanced age of 90, A.D. 1861, and who knew Mollocket as early as the year 1779, describes her as a pretty, genteel squaw. She possessed a large frame and features, and walked remarkably erect even in old age. When allusion was made to this latter trait, she would quaintly though not very aptly reply, "We read, straight is the gate." She wore a pointed cap, but in other respects dressed in Indian style.
Her skill is perpetuated in a box made by her from birch bark and which has been recently presented to the Maine Historical Society by Mrs. John Kimball of Bethel. Mrs. Kimball was a favorite of hers when a child, and accompanied her in short excursions for blueberries.
She was easily offended. She made her appearance one Monday morning with a pailful of blueberries at the house of her friend, the wife of Rev. Eliphaz Chapman of Bethel. Mrs. C. on emptying the pail found them very fresh, and told her that she picked them on Sunday. "Certainly," said Molly. "But you did wrong," was the reproof. Mollyockett took offence and left abruptly, and did not make her appearance for several weeks, when, one day she came into the house at dinner time. Mrs. Chapman made arrangements for her at the table, but she refused to eat. "Choke me," said she, "I was right in picking the blueberries on Sunday, it was so pleasant, and I was so happy that the Great Spirit had provided them for me." At this answer, Mrs. Chapman felt more than half condemned for reproving her as she did. Who could possibly judge this child of nature by the same law that would condemn those more enlightened?
Mollocket sympathized with the Methodists and professed to become a convert to Christianity. She was wont to call spiritual friends, "drefful clever folks." Occasionally she spoke in their meetings, but could not divest herself of the idea that she ought to make confession to the priest, and went to Canada several times for this purpose.
Her name represents the Indian pronunciation of Mary Agatha, and indicates that she received her baptism in her infancy by a Roman Catholic Priest. In many tribes the latter r was represented by 1, which with the board sound of a caused her name to be represented in the Indian language by the letters Mali Agat, which the English shortened to Mollocket. We might remark here that Sasup is only the Indian for Joseph, and Sabattis for John Baptist. As the Indians never sold this part of the country to the whites, she always maintained the original claim of her people to the land, whenever any sales were effected on the Androscoggin, and considered herself as one of the proprietors of the town.
The following letter is from Silvanus Poor, Esq., of Andover, Me., which militates against the popular opinion expressed in this vicinity by aged people that Mollocket was a Mohawk. The internal evidence in regard to her history seems to be entirely against such a supposition. I transcribe Mr. Poor's letter which in other respects is very valuable.
Andover, Jan. 12, 1861
Dr. N. T. True: Dear Sir: "Mollockett was living in this town, [then called] East Andover, at the forks of the river with old Phillip's (an Indian) family, when Mr. Ezekiel Merrill moved here with his family in April 1788. (Mr. M. was the first settler in town.) She was probably about 60 years at that time, for she was a great grandmother, and the granddaughter was supposed to 18 or 20 years old. Molly Susup was her daughter's name, and Abba-quas-quaw, the granddaughter's.
"Mollockett came here from Fryeburg, and it is said by the oldest people in this town that she came from the Mohawk tribe. She was now too old for the chase, but spent much of her time about the lakes and ponds in this vicinity. She also used to bring in, and dry moose meat that was killed by the other Indians in the spring of the year. Moose was very plenty here when the town was first settled.
"She spent about half of her time here when she was not trapping, and the remainder in Bethel and vicinity, making baskets, moccasins, wampam, &c. She was industrious and peaceable, and was formerly quite handsome for an Indian, and had a large supply of bracelets, jewelry, &c., but most of it was given away or disposed of before her death.
"Tradition says that she formerly had quite a sum of money and that it was buried in a tea kettle on a small hill in the vicinity of White Cap, now called Farmer's Hill in this town, by the side of a large stone with a cross on it, and that there were guides to the large stone on smaller ones from a certain point in the Ellis River in the shape of an Indian arrow with barb and quiver. Much time was spent looking for it, but the trouble was to find the starting point. Several years ago a Mr. F–––– discovered the picture of an Indian's arrow on a stone in the woods. He stated the fact to an old gentleman who remembered the tradition. Search was immediately made, and the large stone marked with a cross was found. On digging about it they discovered that excavations had been made there before. It was Saturday and night came on before the money was found, and the secret leaked out. The party who had made the discovery went on Monday morning and reached the spot just in season to see two men depart with something like a kettle hanging upon a pole, and borne on their shoulders, who had been digging on the Sabbath and found the prize.
"But to return to our subject. She was a Doctress of considerable note, and was with Mrs. Merrill as midwife when the first English child was born in town. In her old age, and not having any husband, and her daughter having got married and gone to Canada, she was dependent on the Indians in the vicinity in part for her support, of which she received no small share from Natalluck, the lone Indian, who lived about the lakes at the head of the Androscoggin River.
"In the spring of 1816 she was living at Nataluck Point on the Alleumuntehagog Lake with Natalluck and wife, and was out of health and had been so for a long time, and had almost lost her eyesight. She was assisted from there to this place (Andover) by the Indians, and was supported here in part by charity from the whites while the other Indians remained with her but they soon said, 'We must go and hunt, or you will have to give to us all.' They left her in May in a small camp on the Intervale near the Merrill Bridge so called, destitute and alone. The town authorities then took charge of her and placed under the care of Capt. Thomas Bragg where she remained until her death which took place Aug. 2, 1816, at the advanced age of 90 years as was supposed. There was a large collection of people at the funeral and a sermon was preached at the funeral by the Rev. John Strickland. She was interred in the graveyard, and a stone is laid to mark the spot.
"When taken in charge by the Selectmen, she was not willing to be carried into a house to be nursed. She said she wanted to die in a camp, where she could smell cedar. So. Mr. Bragg made a small camp for her close to his house. When moved into it, she said ‘This is the place for poor Indian.' Everything was done that could be to make her comfortable. She manifested the utmost gratitude for the care shown her. She would say, 'I ought to be thankful only for a little water.'
"She was very patient in the latter part of her life, and during her last sickness. When asked if she was prepared to die, she said, 'Me guess so. Me hear people read Bible, 'Straight is the gate,' and me try to walk very straight for good many years.'
"She was a pious Indian, and joined the Methodist class, but not the Church.
"After her death what little jewelry she had with her was sold at auction for about twenty dollars, some of which remains in our family at the present time. The proceeds of the sales were applied to pay the bills for her last sickness.” — Silvanus Poor
Such are some of the facts we have sifted out from the many stories we have heard of this woman, fifteen years past. That she possessed more than ordinary ability among those of her sex and people is evident. She gained the respect and even the love of whites at a time of life too when the mere mention of an Indian was wont to kindle up in the breasts of white men anything by pleasing emotions. If it be thought that we have made trivial circumstances matters of historical record, our only apology is, that to the historian nothing is too trivial not to find a value after the lapse of a century. It is with these feelings that we have so patiently collected the fragmentary history of the Last of the Pequakets in Maine.