Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Information About Siwanoy Native Americans Published in 1872

In 1872, Edward Manning Ruttenber released a book entitled "Indian Tribes of Hudson's River; Their Origin, Manners and Customs; Tribal and Sub-Tribal Organizations; Wars, Treaties, Etc., Etc." The book included information about Siwanoy Native Americans believed by many to be a "tribe" of Native Americans that populated the area in and around today's Pelham.

Native Americans unquestionably inhabited Pelham and surrounding areas long before Europeans settled the area. There is a debate, however, about whether there ever was a distinct group of Native Americans that might properly be labeled “Siwanoys”. According to Ives Goddard, a noted scholar on the topic:

“Some early deeds suggest that the [Long Island] Sound-shore residents were not organized in political groups distinct from their western neighbors, but evidence has been claimed nevertheless for a Siwanoy group extending east from the Bronx River . . . However, the name Siwanois is found only among early information of a general nature, not linked to specific individuals . . . The political groupings and proper designations for the Sound-shore Indians of Westchester and Fairfield counties thus remain obscure.”

Source: Goddard, Ives, Delaware in Handbook of North American Indians: Volume 15, Northeast, 213, 214 (Trigger, Bruce G., ed.; Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institution 1978) (citing De Laet 1909:44; Ruttenber 1872: 77-85; Bolton 1920: 246-69).

Interestingly, one of the citations for Ives's proposition is the above-referenced book by E. M. Ruttenber. That book seems to assume that there was a Siwanoy "tribe" that populated the area in and around today's Pelham. The following passage appears in that book:

"7th. The Siwanoys; also known as 'one of the seven tribes of the sea-coast.' This chieftaincy was one of the largest of the Wappinger subdivisions. They occupied the northern shore of the sound, 'from Norwalk twenty-four miles to the neighborhood of Hell-gate.' How far they claimed inland is uncertain, but their deeds covered the manor lands of Morrisania, Scarsdall and Pelham, from which were erected the towns of Pelham, New Rochelle, East and West Chester, North and New Castle, Mamaroneck, Scarsdall, and parts of White Plains and West Farms; other portions are included in the towns of Rye and Harrison, as well as in Stamford. There is also some reason for supposing that the tract known as Toquams and assigned to the Tankitekes, was a part of their dominions. A very large village of the chieftaincy was situated on Rye Pond in the town of Rye. In the southern angle of that town, on a beautiful hill now known as Mount Misery, 2 stood one of their castles. Another village was situated on Davenport's Neck. Near the entrance to Pelham's Neck was one of their burial grounds. Two large mounds are pointed out as the sepulchres of the sachems Ann-Hoock and Nimham. In the town of West [End of Main Text on Page 81; Footnote 2 on That Page Appears Immediately Below]

2 This hill is said to have acquired its present name from the fact that a large body of Indians were there surprised and cut to pieces by the Huguenots of New Rochelle, in retaliation for a descent upon their place. If such a battle took place it has no official record. The story is mythical. [End of Footnote 2; Text of Page 82 Begins Immediately Below.]

Chester they had a castle upon what is still known as Castle Hill neck, and a village about Bear swamp, of which they remained in possession as late as 1689. Their ruling sachem in 1640, was Ponus, whose jurisdiction was over tracts called Rippowams and Toquams, and the place of whose residence was called Poiningoe. He left issue three sons, Omenoke, Taphance and Onox; the latter had a son called Powhag. In 1661, Shanasockerell, or Shanorocke, was sachem in the same district, and, in 1680, Katonah and his son Paping appear as such. Of another district Maramaking, commonly known as Lame Will, was sachem in 1681. His successor was Patthunck, who was succeeded by his son, Waptoe Patthunck. The names of several of their chiefs occur in Dutch history as well as in the early deeds. Among them are Ann-Hoock, alias Wampage, already noticed, who was probably the murderer of Ann Hutchinson, 1 and Mayane, spoken of in 1644 as 'a fierce Indian, who, alone, dared to attack, with bow and arrows, three Christians armed with guns, one of whom he shot dead; and, whilst engaged with the other, was killed by the third,' and his head conveyed to Fort Amsterdam. The occurrence served to convince the Dutch that in offending against the chiefs in their immediate vicinity, they were also offending those of whose existence they had no previous knowledge. 2 Shanasockwell is represented as 'an independent chieftain of the Siwanoys,' on the island called Manussing. . . . .

1 Nothing was more common among the Indians than to give to a warrior the name of his victim.

2 Documentary History, IV, 14."

Source: Ruttenber, Edward Manning, Indian Tribes of Hudson's River; Their Origin, Manners and Customs; Tribal and Sub-Tribal Organizations; Wars, Treaties, Etc., Etc., pp. 81-82 (Albany, NY: J. Munsell 1872).

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At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you please show the correct pronunciation for the tribes name, in your article/blog? i.e. How do you pronounce, "Siwanoy"? Thanks!


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