The Indian Fort at Fort Pond

Littleton Massachusetts

 

 

Daniel V. Boudillion 14 December 2009

 

 

 

Note: this report should be read in context of the article: Vision Quest and the Nashoba Praying Indian Village

 

 

   The Indian Fort at Fort Pond

Fort Pond in Littleton is named after the Indian Fort of the Nashoba Praying Indian Village era of 1651 to 1714.   This was a small palisaded enclosure, similar to other Indian forts recorded by the Puritans in the 1675/76 King Philip's War.  It is recorded that the Nashobas would abandon the fort and leave the area the minute the Mohawks (their ancestral enemies) would appear in the area, so it likely that the either the fort was poorly constructed or there were not enough men to defend it, or both.  However this may be, its exact location has been lost, but there are several possible places it could have been. 

 

Typical Indian forts of the era were situated in the low islands in swamps, a practice called "enswamping" by the Puritans.  There are several such low islands in the swamp around Fort Pond, and it is recorded that as late as the 1920s Indians would pass through to honor their ancestors buried on the islands.  This lends weight to the idea that the Fort was also on one of the "islands."

 

Another location put forth is Speen's Point, a peninsula on Fort Pond named after a prominent Nashoba Plantation Praying Indian.  This site has appears quite defensible from a European perspective, but there is no historical evidence to connect it with the fort.

 1615 Indian Fort at Castle Hill

 

A third location is an earthwork on the side of Speen's Field, high on a western slope of Fort Pond Hill in the Sarah Doublet Forest.  There is a 1910 photograph in possession of the Littleton Historical Society which is labeled as follows: "This shallow well (now filled with rocks) is believed to be the site of the Nashoba Indian fort in Speen's Field on the Northerly* slope of the hill near Fort Pond." 

*Note: the location is actually westerly on the hill.

 

Using a copy of the photograph and a knowledge of the general area, I was able to match a distinctive shaped stone in the stonewall in the picture with the actual stone in a wall - and thus locate where the picture was taken and the remains of the well/earthwork.  Incidentally, this particular site is adjacent to one of the three springs in the Sarah Doublet Forest.  However, locating where the picture was taken does not conclusively locate the Indian Fort, all it really means is that this is where people believed it to be in 1910. 

 

  

Site of Indian Fort at Speen's Hill

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Note: the picture to the left is the 1910 Speen's Field Indian Fort site.  In the picture, in the part of the stonewall to the far right, note the long stone with the hooked tip.  I was able to locate this distinctive stone, now recumbent  in the wall, and conclusively locate the site of the picture (and the earthwork).  The picture to the right is of the distinctive now-recumbent stone.  Unfortunately, this site is on private property. 

 

  

Algonquin village of Pomeiock & an Algonquin couple

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Note: The palisade around the village is typical of Algonquin Indian Forts and fortified Indian villages. 

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Note: In regards to Contact Period palisaded Algonquin Indian Forts, is this excerpt from the Molly Ockett webpage:  "A major focal point of Molly Ockett's world was Pigwacket, the ancient Indian enclave at present-day Fryeburg, Maine.    This late 16th century representation of an East Coast Algonquian village conveys something of Pigwacket's appearance in the decades before Molly Ockett's birth.  [See picture of palisaded village.]

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A description of the semi-abandoned Pigwacket village made in 1703 by an English scouting party led by Major Winthrop Hilton states: "When we came to the fort, we found about an acre of ground, taken in with timber [palisaded], set in the ground in a circular form with ports [gates], and about one hundred wigwams therein; but had been deserted about six weekes, as we judged by the opening of their barnes [storage pits] where their corn was lodged."  The bark-covered wigwams or longhouses in this view (excepting "A") are typical of Abenaki dwellings used in this region.  By tradition, "Pigwacket" is said to mean "at the cleared place."

 

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Copyright 2009 by Daniel V. Boudillion

 

 

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