Meet the brothers, Sampson and Joseph Robin, and George Memecho
The Nipmuc Indian Interpreters whose bravery and quick thinking saved the English troopers under Capt. Wheeler from annihilation were brothers, Sampson and Joseph Robin.
Sampson & Joseph Robin
Sampson and Joseph Robin, sons of “Old Robin” Petuhansit, a faithful Christian Indian, who had been Ruler at Hassanamisco, were friendly with the settlers. In 1674, Sampson was a teacher at Wabaquasset, Joseph was a teacher at Chaubunagungamaug. They had been under Mr. Eliot’s instruction and were intimately acquainted with the Indian country and tribes. The entire force under Capt. Wheeler would have been destroyed but for the fidelity and skill of Joseph and Sampson in conducting the retreat and avoiding the ambush set by the enemy at Wheelers Surprise in New Braintree. Although this was known and vouched for by the officers, the popular feeling was so bitter, that these two were threatened and insulted by the soldiers, so in utter discouragement they turned to Hassanamisco for shelter and protection and joined Philips forces. They did not last long as freedom fighters, however, for Sampson was killed in battle at Mount Wachusett during the early part of the winter.
Praying Indians – the name for Native North Americans who accepted Christianity.
The Nipmuc brothers, Sampson and Joseph, had spent some 4 years preaching and organizing Praying Indians in northeastern Connecticut. In 1675, they became scouts for the English. They received a certificate from English Captain Thomas Wheeler on August 20, 1675 commending them for their courage and faithfulness.
WABAQUASSET – The largest of the three northeastern Connecticut Praying Towns, Wabaquasset held 150 people composed of 30 Nipmuc families. It was located 6 miles west of the Quinebaug River in present-day Woodstock. Sampson and Joseph, the only sons of Petuhansit, sachem of Hassanamisco, came to Wabaquasset as Christian missionaries and preached throughout the area for four years. Sampson was the community minister and lived at Wabaquasset. Under his direction, wigwams were built “the like of which were seen in no other part of the country”. It is reported that the longhouse there measured 60′ long by 20′ wide; and a ripening crop of corn there in 1674 would yield no less than 40 bushels to an acre!
CHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUG – Joseph was at Chaubunagungamaug in 1674. John Eliot preached at Chaubunagungamaug, at the Northwest corner of whats now called Webster Lake, on Sept. 16, 1674. The village consisted of about 45 people composed of 9 families. Joseph was their preacher. Joseph served as a scout during King Philips War, still he was sold as a slave by the English. Joseph was taken prisoner in Plymouth Colony. He was sold to some merchants at Boston and sent to Jamaica. His two children were taken prisoner with him, and his wife was taken captive. John Eliot later redeemed Joseph’s wife and sons. Eliot also intervened and had Joseph brought back to Massachusetts, but Joseph was still held as a slave.
George Memecho was a Christian Indian of Natick, a man of some education, good general information, and tried courage, who was true to the English. He served as a scout in many important missions. He was taken prisoner by Muttawmp’s men at Brookfield and confined at one of the Menameset towns on the Ware River. He found means to escape, and came home afterwards, bringing some good intelligence. He was present when Philip came to Menameset, and was able to give authentic details as to his condition and his following. Memecho remained with the patriot Indian forces until late spring, when he was at last convinced that the Indian cause was a hopeless one and returned to the English. He told the English he had been captured by the Nipmuc shortly after Brookfield, and they had spared his life only because he promised to join them in the war against the Colonists. The English believed his story and agreed to spare his life in exchange for detailed information about the Indians who were active in Philips army. After the war, Memecho returned to Natick where he again became a respected member of the community until his death some years later.
In King Philip’s War (1675-76) the praying Indians were practically destroyed by the other Native Americans, who viewed them as traitors, and by the English, who thought they were secret allies of King Philip. From a population of 1,100 in 1674, they were reduced to 300 by 1680.
Sources: Nipmuc Indian Association of Connecticut, Historical Series, Number 2, Second Edition 1995; History of North Brookfield, Massachusetts by Josiah H. Temple, p. 89 and “New England Indians” by Leo Bonfanti, Vol. 3
Nine of the Nipmuc Praying Villages