fleetingly in the French and English records, which offer tantalizing glimpses
rather than a composite picture of Vermont and New Hampshire's Indian inhabitants. (Calloway 1990b:xvi-xvii).
The effect of the paucity of primary sources leads to some degree of speculation and hypothesis by all the scholars who have investigated these people. The dominant feature of the eighteenth century is the ebb and flow of the population of the Indians at Missisquoi. The century ends with their retreat to the safety of Odanak/St. Francis in Canada. The central question for this time period is to what extent was there a permanent settlement of an independent tribal entity at Missisquoi.
The eighteenth century can be divided into roughly five periods to describe the
population changes at Missisquoi. The first period is the one in which Missisquoi was dominated by Chief Grey Lock, from 1711 to 1730. The second period, from 1730 to 1740, is known for an epidemic and its aftermath. The third period, from 1743 through 1760, was marked by the movement of Indians from Missisquoi to Odanak/St. Francis, resulting in an abandonment of the Missisquoi village. The fourth period, from 1763 to 1775, saw a return of Abenakis from Odanak to Missisquoi. Around 1775, with the start of the American Revolution, the Abenakis retreated to Odanak/St. Francis and were largely absent from Missisquoi for the rest of the century.
As one traces the Abenaki population at Missisquoi through the 1700's, it often bears an inverse correspondence to the population at St. Francis/Odanak. That is because when the Abenakis retreated from Missisquoi, they usually went to Odanak (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 4). At Odanak, they were farther from their English enemies and were surrounded by their French allies. Missisquoi was essentially the Southern frontier for the
At the end of the eighteenth century, the bulk of the Indians from Missisquoi
Ultimately settled at St. Francis. As Day concluded in his article "Missisquoi: A New Look at an Old Village," the Missisquoi culture and language continued to survive for centuries at Odanak, and nowhere else (Day 1973:56, Day, 1971:passim, especially 121).
Grey Lock's Dominance
The dominant character of the first period in the eighteenth century at Missisquoi was Chief Grey Lock. He was a Worronoco Indian from the Westfield River region of Massachusetts. His Indian name was Wawenorrawot. 10. Historians believe he was a refugee from King Philip's War (1675-76), who was pushed out of Massachusetts and went to the Hudson River region of New York (Calloway 1987, Day 1966). He settled for a time at Schaghticoke in Mahican territory, and was at Missisquoi as early as 1712. (Haviland & Power 1994:230). By 1723 Grey Lock was the leader of a large group of warriors from Schaghticoke who settled with him in the Missisquoi region of Lake Champlain. His base
9. They wrote: If around 1710, the population of the missions approached 3,000, it shrank to around 2,300 in 1715. But the tensions between Abenakis and British became newly embittered starting in 1722, creating a new wave of migrations [to the missions in New France].
10. Day traces this name to Wahawanulet and Wawanolet at St. Francis/ Odanak, and to the Nolet family at Odanak in the twentieth century (Day 1981b:99).
Epidemic and Slow Repopulation: 1730- 1740
In 1730 there was a smallpox epidemic at Missisquoi. 11. As a result, the Indians abandoned the village and went north to St. Francis (Perry 1882:954, Haviland & Power 1994:233, Day 1981b:64). Some of these Indians began to return to Missisquoi in 1731, but the village was not completely resettled until 1740. So, during the decade of the 1730's there was a gradual movement of Indians from St. Francis down to Missisquoi (Day 1981b:38-40, 64). As Professor Dickinson points out, there is no definitive proof as to whether or not the Indians who settled at Missisquoi during this period were originally from the area (Dickason Affidavit, Attachment B, 4).
As a general matter, the French saw their friendship with (indeed, their reliance upon) the Abenakis as the best possible protection against their enemies, the English and the Iroquois (Dickason 1990:91, 93-94). The French encouraged the Indians to return to Missisquoi to provide a buffer between their own settlements to the north and the English settlements farther south (Haviland & Power 1994:233). They undertook several efforts in
11. One source states there was a plague at Missisquoi in 1725. It is unclear whether this was a separate event from the smallpox epidemic or not. The effect seems to have been the same (Aldrich, 1891:27-28).
Missisquoi Villagers Move to Odanak/ St. Francis: 1744-1760
The third period, from 1744 to 1760, saw a general exodus, in varying degrees, from Missisquoi to St. Francis. While the first four years of this period saw two seemingly contradictory trends, the last decade saw the abandonment of the village at Missisquoi. The years of 1744-1748 were the years of King George's War, the wars of the Austrian Succession. Most of the Indians evacuated the Missisquoi village during this war (Calloway, 1986:218). Missisquoi warriors aided the French in military campaigns during these years (Charland 1961:9-10).
At the same time, King Louis XV of France sought to find ways to wean the
Abenaki from the English and keep them at Missisquoi (Day 1973:53). So, the French
The net effect of these movements by the end of the war was a fairly empty village at Missisquoi, no missionary presence, and no significant buffer against the English. So, in 1748 the French King, granted a seigneury at Missisquoi to Levasseur, the King's shipbuilder. He built a sawmill in 1749 (Haviland & Power 1994:234). In this same year French court documents reveal that the King was once again seeking to establish a mission for the Abenakis at Missisquoi and thereby protect the French by creating a buffer against the hostile
The population counts on page 32 are speculative. There was a lot of population movement, but it is unlikely that the Abenaki of St. Francois and Missisquoi would have grown to more tha[n] 1300-1500 in the period. The Missisquoi population for the 1750s seems very optimistic since the village was on the front line and the growth of Odanak is probably attributable to families moving back there from Missisquoi. The number of hunting bands in the interior would have been based at a permanent settlement (probably St-Francois). (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 4).
The petition calculates a population of 500-750 at Missisquoi based on Bougainville's count of 100-150 warriors (Petition:33). According to Dickinson, this is a misreading of Bougainville's figure:
Bogainville's report concerns warriors that were with the army and they came from St-Francois as well as from Missisquoi. I believe that it would be wrong to assume that the 100 to 150 men were all from Missisquoi. (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 4-5).
This resettlement at Missisquoi was short-lived. The Seven Years' War, from 1754 to 1760, caused further upheavals. The French were defeated at Lake George, just south of Lake Champlain, in 1755, bringing the war closer to Missisqoui. In 1757 the British burned the sawmill at Missisquoi (Haviland & Power 1994:236). By 1757 Abenakis stopped going to Fort St. Frederic because it was unsafe: they went north to Chambly or Fort St. Jean in Canada instead (Haviland & Power 1994:236). Then, in 1759, the French blew up Fort Carillon and Fort St. Frederic to prevent their capture and use by the British (Charland
[N]othing is more prejudicial to the Service as such Journeys of Indns. To strange Nations. That wch. Would make the Abinaquis a faithful People is to draw them to their native Country, some to Acadia & others to Albany where they come from. (Calloway 1990b:191).
He makes no mention of Missisquoi. Although the petition claims (at page 33) that there was a flourishing Indian village at Missisquoi, in 1759, this is highly speculative. The claim is based on the report of an English soldier returning from war in Quebec. Day explained the unlikelihood of this statement being accurate. He concluded it was either incorrectly reported or that it referred to an empty village that the soldier knew to be normally occupied perhaps before he went off to war (Day 1981b:45).
The end of the war also created a boundary line between Canada and New York.
12. This created somewhat of a separation between St. Francis and Missisquoi, but a separation that the Abenakis sought to minimize (Day 1973:55). We know that at this time the Abenakis in general were closely affiliated with the Abenakis at St. Francis (Haviland & Power 1994:240). The question of how closely tied politically Missisquoi was to the St. Francis Abenaki is an enduring puzzle. It is one that we put to Professor Dickinson of the University of Montreal. Based on his extensive knowledge of the history of New France and native cultures in the region, he concluded that:
Abenaki movement to Missisquoi clearly fit in with French imperial policy but only in as much as Missisquoi was still a subdivision of the St. Francis Abenaki. Until the American Revolution, nothing disrupted the unity between two villages sharing common family ties and political goals. "Authority" was
12. Vermont was considered part of New York at this time.