Friday, November 5, 2010

Did you know....

Do you know who Passaconaway is?  I bet the answer for most is no! Passconaway is an anglicized translation of Papisse Conewa which means Son of Bear.  He was the Sachem of the Pennacook tribe of the New Hampshire and the Massachusetts area back in the 1500's.  Passconaway is one of the most important Sachem in the Americas, but few have ever heard of him.  It was his people that kept the early Pilgrims from starvation and from being over run by the powerful Mohawks.  For some time, the Europeans and Pennacook lived in peace, traded goods and knowledge, until the Europeans started to get land greedy.  

Back in 1899, the Improved Order of Red Men of Massachusetts erected a bronze statue of this great sachem, which others theft upon.  My first introduction to the sachem was 1968 when we laid my grand mother, Edith Ruby Heaney Reynolds to earth.  I was a 12 year old at the time. My elders (aunts and uncles) told me about the sachem's statues, that stands in the same cemetery where my grand mother rests; Edson Cemetery, Lowell Massachusetts.  They said that we are related to the sachem through my Great Grandmother; Elizabeth Anna Waters Reynolds.  Thus far, I haven't been able to prove this link at all, but it is an interesting story and possibility.  The sachem's statue over the years has been vandalized; tomahawk, spear, hand and other parts carried off to no regard at all who he was and what he did in life.  I can only imagine that on some bookcase somewhere a green patina hand, or spear standing in a corner collecting dust. And no more a thought!

Provided by
Edson/Westlawn Cemetery

The good news is that the statue of the Great Sachem, Passaconaway has been restored this year 2010.  Though an incorrect depiction of the a Pennacook of the time, it is still a good thing.  It's a good thing to remember our past and those who made it possible for the rest of us.


  1. A wonderful post, Bill! Yes, remembering our pasts is how we connect with the Great Story, of what really matters...

  2. ACTUALLY, I did. "ONLY" because Taylor is studying AMERICAN HISTORY this year and this week - literally, this week - we are studying Massachusetts Bay Colony and John Eliot etc etc. We are now up to 1700. I think I am enjoying it more than she is, lol. I have found some amazing things. One thing was that John Eliot insisted on paying for Indian Land.

  3. Very interesting article, thank you for sharing! I learned some stuff I didn’t know. If you don’t mind, can I print that to hand out? People ask questions about him all the time. -Jade

  4. interesting! Very sad about the statue... inconsiderate people always ruin things for others. I read a little about him in my American Literature class but nothing you don't already know! Look forward to finding out more =)

  5. I am very happy you continue to search our roots. It is gratifying to have success. i know I search for years for one person and suddenly have a have a break through only to have 10 more named to search. I LOVE IT These are fascinating stories. Very informative and full of history
    thanks for bringing it to us.

    Phyllis Thompson