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A STORY
OF
Pequot Swamp
AND
AN INCIDENT OF MILL RIVER (NOW SOUTHPORT)
IN "YE OLDEN TIME."
BY P.D. RIDGE

 

INTRODUCTION



 
The Northwestern part of Southport is called Pequot Swamp.  Two hundred years ago, and more, was fought here the great battle between our English forefathers and the Pequot tribes of Indians.  This locality--then a lowland forest--as the scene of the Pequot massacre, was named Pequot Swamp.  It is, comparatively, but a few years ago since an effectual bugbear to frighten children into obedience, was to mention them "the Indians," who-- their youthful imaginations led them to believe--were still lurking in the dark recesses of this dreaded forest.  One of the "oldest inhabitants" of the village, relates to us, that he can recollect the time when the superstitious "children of a larger growth" were afraid to go near the "swamp" after dark, such was their dread of the red man.  Not many years have elapsed since stone tomahawks and other relics of the Pequot’s were frequently discovered in this Indian retreat.  And now at this day, when the farmer turns up its soil, flint arrow heads, such as are know to have been used by the Indians in their battles, are often found. The following account of the first white settlers in Pequot swamp is "founded on fact," although the imagination has been largely drawn upon to supply what history does not furnish.

 


                                                                                                           CHAPTER ONE

 

A short time previous to the battle between the English and the Pequot’s, Enoch Griswold, an exile from the Providence Colony, settled on the border of the Pequot Swamp.  The house occupied by Enoch, a rude log cabin, was still standing (on the site now occupied by the Congregational church) at the beginning of the present century.      Enoch's family consisted of Mary his wife, a daughter Esther, in her seventeenth year, and Josiah Morgan, a young friend and distant relative of the Griswold’s.  But a few Indians lived in the vicinity of Enoch's settlements, and these were friendly.  The Pequot’s were driven in here from the eastern part of the Connecticut colony, and all exterminated or carried away prisoners, except the few who escaped and were supposed to have fled and joined the Mohegan.  But as the sequel will appear, they returned as soon as the English had left, and secreted themselves in an almost impenetrable thicket in the swamp.  They doubtless resolved there to remain, until they had avenged, in a measure, their fallen comrades, by retaliation on the white family they had noticed in the vicinity.      Those were good old Puritanical, patriarchal days.  Enoch and his family were happy.  Their simple wants were easily supplied from the fruitful land and the bountiful sea.  Often they, in company with their Indian friends, spend the day fishing, and return with well filled baskets, for our river and the Sasco were then teeming with finny beauties.     It was while returning from an excursion of this kind, one afternoon that Esther, who had loitered behind the rest of the company, gathering wild flowers for a wreath, was suddenly missed.  No great fears  for her safety were at first entertained, as no hostile Indians were known to be within many miles, and it is a common occurrence for her to drop in at the neighboring wigwams and chat with the squaws and their children, her goodness of heart making her a general favorite.  But as evening began to approach, and no Ester returned, strange foreboding filled the minds of Enoch and his household.  Inquiries were made at the various wigwams, but no trace of her could be obtained.  All passed a sleepless, anxious night, but as soon as morning dawned, the firm lip and dauntless eye of both Enoch and Josiah, told of their determination to ascertain if possible her whereabouts.  They first retraced their steps, by the path they had come the day before, to the landing, (Now White's Rocks) near the mouth of the river, that being the usual place for hauling up their canoes; it having just occurred to them that Esther, who being accustomed to use the paddle had often taken alone might, for a little playful scare, have hidden until they were out of sight, and then returned to the boat and been carried out by a fierce squall that had arisen           soon after.  But their canoes were all there.  A wreath was found, the tell-tale wreath to the eye of Josiah, for none but Esther could have made it.  On looking further, the print of strange moccasins was discovered in the sand, an arrow was found and recognized as belonging to the Nehantics, a Long Island tribe.  At the water's edge there was a mark from the prow of a much larger canoe than any at the landing.  it flashed upon their minds at once that Esther had been seized and carried to Long Island by the Nehantics.  Who can picture to mind the anguish of the good father as he thought of the fate of his dutiful, affectionate daughter?  Who can describe the agony of Josiah, as he imagined his idol, his betrothed, in the hands of a cruel, savage, foe!

 


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