Bidwell Lore – Magnificent Mohicans Part IV: John Waunnacon Quinney and Mary Peters Doxtator

Welcome to week 44 of Bidwell Lore! This week we share stories of two more Magnificent Mohicans, John Waunnacon Quinney and Mary Peters Doxtator, courtesy once again of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community

John Waunnacon Quinney was born in 1797 in New Stockbridge, New York. The son of Joseph Quinney, John was destined to make a difference for his people and would eventually lead his people to their new home in Wisconsin.

John helped in the negotiations for the Treaty of 1832, securing two townships near Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin after pressure from land companies forced the move westward. In 1837 he drafted the first tribal constitution and it was ratified by the tribe and it ended the practice of hereditary chiefdom. Leaders of the tribe were going to be elected now.

For the next five years, John was a representative for the Stockbridge Mohican’s in Congress by working to settle losses from numerous relocations and was able to secure funds from the land lost in New York. In 1852, he was elected Sachem (Chief) of the tribe. John made a total of 11 trips to Washington, DC, to secure the rights of his people. During a speech made to Congress in 1852 in support of Indian self-government, John referred to himself as ‘a true Native American’, which may have been the first time that term was used to describe the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

In 1854 John gave his famous 4th of July speech where he talks about the rise in power and wealth of the settlers and the decline of his own people. He talks about the injustices his people have had to face and ends his speech by saying that he hopes that ‘the Great Spirit enables me to die in hope’ for justice for his people. John died on July 21, 1855, at age 58 and is buried in Stockbridge, Wisconsin.

We thank John W. Quinney for his leadership and for fighting for justice for the Stockbridge Munsee people.

No known photo of Mary Doxtator exists. The above sketch is believed to be of a Mohican woman from her time period (1807)

Kauknausquoh, or Mary Peters Doxtator, is an outstanding figure in Stockbridge Mohican history during one of the tumultuous periods of our “Many Trails,” when our community sought to survive and flourish in New Stockbridge, New York, after being forced from Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The time in New Stockbridge was a nation of women, owing both to our strong history of women’s leadership as well as the reality that at that time, many of the principal male leadership had lost their lives in Revolutionary War service.

Her father was Peter Pohquonnoppeet, the Tribe’s school teacher, where her English surname “Peters” derived from. Her mother was Elizabeth Quinney and her uncle was our famous Sachem Hendrick Aupaumut.

Kauknausquoh was born in 1788 and by the time she was just nine years old, she was on the back of Quaker Joseph Clark’s wagon along with three other older Stockbridge Mohican girls and two Tuscaroras for the two-week journey to the city of Philadelphia. Within four years of schooling with the Quakers far from family, Kauknausquoh wrote a request to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Indian Committee to return home as soon as possible, writing, “I want to see my Father & Mother & Brothers & Sisters, I don’t want to stay another year, I think I have learned enough, every thing necessary…”

She returned home, living in a log house in Canastota, and later a farm in New Stockbridge. She married an Oneida man, where her surname Doxtator came from, and is believed to have had three children. Along with her growing family, she also grew in community influence: she assumed the leadership of a new spinning school initiative. It began as a small school and grew by 1815 to involve 60 Stockbridge Mohican women and girls who produced 400 yards of flax and wool cloth per year. The products were shared communally among the community and sold for profit.

Following the success of her spinning school enterprise, Kauknausquoh pivoted to become involved in Stockbridge Mohican land affairs. She was present in Albany at a July 1818 treaty that sold over 5,000 acres of Stockbridge land to finance the nation’s move to the White River. She, however, wrote that she was reluctant on the part of Stockbridge women to remove any further west. She felt that the women had built up a positive network and made progress in community development, and that starting over with another move would be detrimental. She was not afraid to express this position that ran counter to her uncle, the primary negotiator, Hendrick Aupaumut.

In 1824 and 1825, Kauknausquoh was designated by the principal men of the tribe as the nation’s “Lawful Attorney to see too [sic] & Do all business relative to ourselves & the Nation as she … deemeth right.” One year later, both men and women of the tribe signed a document that certified her as the tribe’s attorney to accompany sachems John W. Quinney, Solomon Hendrick, Jacob Seth, and John Metoxen to “assist … in transacting any business relative to our Nation, with the Legislature of the State of New York.”

She passed in 1827 or 1828 after a lifetime spent organizing Mohican women in community development and representing our Nation’s voice as a stateswoman.

Thank you to the Stockbridge-Munsee community for their work on this articles and for allowing us to share them here.

Next week we will explore the life of Timothy Woodbridge, the Schoolmaster of the Mohican Mission is Stockbridge.