Magnifying Glass

Richard DeSorgher

This is the second article in honor and recognition of November being Native American Heritage Month. As in the first article, this second column takes a look at some of the Native Americans whose names are assigned to a number of streets and roads in Mashpee. Four names were discussed in the last issue; three more are explained here.

Tuspaquin Road: Tuspaquin was the son of Pamontaquask, the sachem of the Assawompsett-Wampanoag at Nemasket (now Middleborough). He succeeded his father’s leadership role, inheriting significant tracts of land. He gained significant prominence with his marriage to Amie, the daughter of Ousamequin (Massasoit). Through the marriage, Tuspaquin became brother-in-law to Metacomet (Philip) and served faithfully to him during King Philip’s War.

Tuspaquin led Wampanoag forces against the English at Scituate, Hingham, Weymouth, Bridgewater, Middleborough, and Plymouth. He was one of the last to hold out after Philip’s death. In midsummer of 1676, English Captain Benjamin Church captured a number of Tispaquin’s men as well as his wife and children, holding them hostage to negotiate the possibility of having Tispaquin surrender. Church promised that if Tuspaquin surrendered, his life, along with his family, would be spared. When Tuspaquin did surrender himself, Church being absent, he was brought to Plymouth where Tuspaquin was immediately tried and executed. He and fellow Wampanoag warrior Annawon, together, were shot by firing squad and then beheaded.

Quinapen Road: Quinapen (Quinnapin) of the Narragansetts was the son of the Narragansett sachem Ninigret and grandson of the sachem Canonchet. He married Weetamoo, sachem of the Pocassets. During the King Philip War, Quinapen was one of King Philip’s (Metacomet) chief advisers.

Quinapen was active with his warriors in raids on English settlements. He fought in the Great Swamp fight in Kingston, Rhode Island, where he was next in command to Canonchet and was in the attack on Lancaster on February 10, 1676, and 11 days later on Medfield.

Later, when he and his warriors were suffering greatly for want of food, some of his followers suggested they surrender. Quinapen declared he “would fight it out to the last rather than become servants to the English.” Quinapen was captured in August 1676 and brought to Newport, where he was tried by the English for being loyal to Philip, found guilty and shot to death.

Samoset Road and Somerset Road: Samoset (Somerset) was an Abenaki Sagamore from coastal Maine and the first Native American to make contact with the Pilgrims. He startled the colonists on March 16, 1621, by walking into Plymouth Colony and greeting them in English, which he had begun to learn from fishermen frequenting the waters of Maine.

Samoset was visiting Wampanoag chief Ousamequin (Massasoit) at the time of the historic event. The name Massasoit was Ousamequin’s title, which means “Great Sachem.”

After a brief stay with the Pilgrims, Samoset returned with another Native American named Squanto (Tisquantum).

Squanto had been kidnapped from his family just before the outbreak of the plague that devastated much of the indigenous population in New England starting around 1616. The European explorers and fishermen brought with them diseases such as smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, cholera and bubonic plague, to which the Native Americans had no immunity.

Squanto was kidnapped in 1614 by Captain Thomas Hunt, who lured him and 23 other friendly Native Americans on board Hunt’s ship with the promise of trade. Once on board, Hunt locked them up below deck and sailed off with them to Malaga, Spain, where he sold them off as slaves. Squanto later was taken to Great Britain and then to Newfoundland, where he finally made his way back to his village of Patuxet, only to find all his family and tribe members dead, he now being the last surviving member. As far as historians can tell, Squanto was the only one of the kidnapped Wampanoags to ever return to North America. It was at the now-vacant village of Patuxet that the Pilgrims settled and which they called Plymouth.

It is assumed Samoset came to Cape Cod from Maine on a ship with Captain Dermer around the time of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth. In their conversations, Samoset provided much beneficial information to the Pilgrims, describing the land, the people, places, and distances. Samoset and Squanto conducted some business with the Pilgrims, offering dried herring.

But the real reason for Squanto’s visit was to inform the colonists that the great sachem, Ousamequin of the Wampanoag was waiting. As Squanto spoke better English than Samoset, he was the one who arranged the meeting, which was the beginning of Ousamequin’s long-term friendship and defense pact with the Pilgrims.

Samoset appears again in historical accounts in 1624 in his home region of Maine when he made trade deals with English traders. He later disappears from historical records and is believed to have died in what is today Bristol, Maine.

Richard DeSorgher lives in Mashpee.

(1) comment


A belated "Thank you!" for these two articles, which I just found. Having moved to Mashpee last summer, I am very interested in its history, especially Native American.

I first lived on the corner of Tuspaquin Road, around the corner from Ninigret Avenue, so I found the information about those names particularly of interest. I'll make it a point to look for the other streets in your articles. Thanks again!

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