Famous People, Places & Things Of Marblehead.

The Naumkeags

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The Naumkeags, a peaceful woodland tribe, had summer encampments in the region's coastal areas for several centuries. Much reduced in number by European epidemics by 1619, their Chief Nanepashemet was killed near the Mystic River by the warlike Tarrantines of Maine. Friendly and nonresistant, the Naumkeags were driven gradually away by the settling Englishmen. A 1684 deed officially sealed Marblehead's claim to all the land now occupied by the Town, signed by Chief Nanepashemet's surviving descendant's.

After Nanepashemet's death in 1619, his widow led the formerly powerful Naumkeag tribe as Squaw Sachem. She divided the tribe's lands between her two eldest sons., who became Sagamores. When those men died in a 1633 smallpox epidemic, Nanepashemet's youngest son, Winepoykin, Winnepeweeken became Sagamore of the territories now comprising Saugus (Lynn), Naumleak (Salem) and "Massabequash" (Marblehead).

At his mother's death in 1667, Winepoykin assumed authority over the area east of the Charles River. Called "George" by the English, he was shipped to the West Indies as a slave after the Native American wars if the 1670s but was retrieved in 1684 with the Town's minister's help to negotiate terms of purchase of Marblehead for the selectmen.

Though he died before signing the actual deed, Winepoykin's widow and other relatives did so for the tribe, selling the land for one-fifth of the minister's annual salary, which was not large. The deed is on view in Abbot.

The land occupied by Native Americans for summer encampments were the West Shore, Clifton, Goldthwaite and Devereux Beach area. The tribe would hunt and fish the plentiful waters and enjoy the land's natural beauty, as Marbleheaders continue doing to this day.

-- courtesy of the Marblehead Historical Society and first published in The Marblehead Reporter on August 22, 2002.

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