Bidwell Lore – Widow Bingham’s Tavern, Part II

Welcome to week 91 of Bidwell Lore! Last week, we introduced you to Anna Bingham and began the story of how she, and her husband Silas, ended up owning land in Stockbridge. Some of this land later became the location of the famous Red Lion Inn. We continue the story this week, with a diversion into the background of land purchased by Anna herself in 1784 along with some details about the early years of the Inn.

“We Hendrick Aupaunmut & Solomon Wauquochomeet both of Stockbridge in the County of Berkshire & Commonwealth of Massachusetts Indians for and in consideration of the sum of Seventy Two Pounds Current Money of the Commonwealth aforesaid to us in Hand paid before the ensealing hereof by Anna Bingham of the Town, County and Commonwealth aforesaid Widow the Receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge and are fully satisfied, contented and paid, HAVE given, granted, bargained, sold aliened, released, conveyed and confirmed, and by these Presents do freely, clearly and absolutely give, grant, bargain, sell, aliene, release, convey and confirm unto her the said Anna her Heirs and Assigns forever one certain Tract or parcel of Land lying in the said Town of Stockbridge is the tract of land on which the said Hendrick & Solomon now live & is bounded as follows, (viz) Beginning at a Hemlock tree standing on the South side of the River then running South West 31 rods 17 links to a stake and stones, then West 22 degrees North 20 rods & 20 links, then North 20 degrees East 18 rods & five links, then West 21 degrees, North 25 rods & ten links, then North 30 degrees East twelve rods to the River, then up the River to the Bounds begun at, containing five acres, one hundred & fifty five rods of Land.”
This land (see map below for approximate location) was south of the Housatonic River across from the Recreational Park on Park Street with a sale date of February 18th, 1784. It is clear from the signatures on the deed that at the time both Hendrick and his brother Solomon were still living in Stockbridge.

Hendrick Aupaumut and Solomon Wauquochomeet were the sons of Solomon Uhaunnuhwaunnuhmut, who, in English terms, was the Chief of the Mohicans. He was replaced by Joseph Shauquethqueat, and within a few years, tribal leadership shifted to a group of sachems. (I would suspect that was the case earlier, but the English made a lot of assumptions about who was in a leadership position.) In that shift, Aupaumut became more prominent among the group of sachems.
By 1783, at the end of the Revolutionary War, dispossessed of most of their Stockbridge land, the Mohicans of Stockbridge accepted an offer of land from the Oneida tribe in New York State and started to resettle there. The Oneida, being the only tribe of the Six Nations to support the patriot cause during the Revolutionary War, settled a significant number of tribal members in West Stockbridge at the invitation of the Mohicans.
In the book The Indian World of George Washington by Colin G, Calloway, he recounts a story involving George Washington and the aforementioned Hendrick Aupaumut:
“Just one week later, Monday, February 11, (1793) (George) Washington’s dinner guests included several chiefs from the Six Nations – the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois – a Christian Mahican [1] named Hendrick Aupaumut, and Akiatonharonkwen or Atiatoharongwen, the son of an Abenaki mother and an African American father, who had been adopted by Mohawks but now lived in Oneida country, and who was called ‘Colonel Louis Cook’ after Washington approved his commission for services during the Revolution. Before dinner the president thanked his Indian guests for their diplomatic efforts in carrying messages to tribes in the West.” [2]

The Red Lion Inn today, at the corner of Main Street and South Street in Stockbridge

Early in 1775, “the Bingham family moved north to Stockbridge, a lively town of 900 English settlers, 300 Mahicans, and four busy taverns.” [3] Anna & Silas Bingham’s Inn stood at what is now 30 Main Street, the site of the current Red Lion Inn.

In 1750, that land had been granted to Muhshenaunauk. [4] When he died, it was passed to his wife Rhoda Quanpaunwos. On July 2, 1768, Rhoda sold the land to Phineas Morgan, a shoemaker, for five pounds, which was described as: “a certain tract or parcel of land lying & being situate in the said Town of Stockbridge & lies on the South side of the highway that crosses the Plain by the Meeting House & lies opposite to Matthew Caldwell’s home lot upon the other side of the Road & Bounded Northerly upon said road crossing the Plain, Westerly upon the Road that goes thro the Meadow [5], Easterly on Land of  Sohonpit Wautauwauoowawempehs, & Southerly upon the land that Joseph Woodbridge has now in possession, it being all that Land that lies on the east side of the road upon the Plain that was originally laid out to Muhshenaumauk, Reference always to be had to the Record thereof for the more certain Boundaries of said tract, containing five acres by estimation more or less.” [6] The land involved about half of the current business block on Stockbridge’s Main Street.

On July 12, 1769, Morgan sold the same land to Abraham Brinsmaid, a Cordwainer, [7] for twenty-four Pounds
“One certain Tract of parcel of Land lying & being situate in the Town of Stockbridge aforesaid and is bounded as follows, viz. North on the Highway called the Plain Westwardly on a road that goes through the Meadow Southwardly on land belonging to Elijah Stoddard that he bought of Mr. Joseph Woodbridge & Eastwardly on land of Johannis Mautanwaumpeh [8] it being all the Land that lies on the East side of the Road upon the Plain that was originally laid out to Muhshenanmauh containing five acres by estimation more or less also another tract of land lying in Stockbridge of  aforesaid  in the Meadow and North of the River & East of the Road that crosses the Meadow & is bounded as follows, viz. North of Land belonging to Johannis Wanytauwampey West on Land belonging to Lt. David Pixley South on Land belonging to Elizabeth Wenaumpey and East on land belonging to said Abraham Brinsmaid [9] said Tract containing by Estimation four acres be it more or less.” [10]

Clearly, the Indian Proprietorship did not slow down the dispossession of Mohican land in Stockbridge.

There has been some public debate over the years about when Bingham’s Tavern began operating. The Red Lion Inn has long used the date of 1773 and local historian Lion Miles would write letters to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle disputing that timeline. Miles provides some supporting data for a later day. My deed research indicates that Silas Bingham appears to have had a lease agreement for use of the land with Abraham Brinsmaid. James Orton, Anna Bingham’s son, purchased the property in 1793 from the heirs of Brinsmaid, and Anna acquired it in 1795. There is a gap between 1795 and 1807 when we find Anna Bingham again buying the same property, with 80 acres added, from Silas Pepoon, Esquire, for the sum of three thousand dollars: “A certain piece or parcel of land lying in Stockbridge being the same land on which the said Anna now lives bounded as follows, viz., beginning at the South west corner of the Garden, thence running Northerly the east line of the road leading from Great Barrington to Lenox to the Northwest corner of the said lot on which the said Anna now lives, thence Eastwardly in the South line of Stockbridge Main Street to the Northwest of the lot included within a fence lying between the House now occupied by the said Anna, and by lands owned by Cyrus Williams,[11] thence southwardly parallel to said East line of said County road as far south as the south line of said Garden thence westwardly to the place of beginning containing about two acres be the same more or less with the buildings thereon standing – Also one other piece or parcel of land lying in Stockbridge aforesaid containing about 80 acres be the same more or less bounded as follows, viz. Easterly on land of Joseph Woodbridge, Northerly on the Housatonic river and westerly on the County road leading from Great Barrington to Lenox for a more particular – of Said land reference to be had to the said Anna’s Deed to the said Silas of the same land of equal date with the presents.”[12]

There appears to be a mortgage attached to the deed, which Pepoon defaulted on at a later date.

We will stop there for today and be back next week with more of Anna Bingham’s story.

[1] Mahican or Mohican are both acceptable. The Mohican word for the Hudson River is Mahicannituck and the Mohican people have said they are Muh-he-con-neok or People of the Waters that are never still. Or more recently Mã’eekaneyak [mŭ-ē-kŭn-ĭ-yŭk] or People Of the Waters That Are Never Still.
[2] Calloway, Colin G. The Indian World of George Washington. (Oxford University Press, 2018), page 1.
[3] Miles, Lion. “Anna Bingham: From the Red Lion Inn to the Supreme Court.” The New England Quarterly 69, no. 2 (1996)
[4] Also spelled Moosheenamuak.
[5] Now Elm Street. Was a 4 rod road (66 feet) established in 1745.
[6] Berkshire Middle Registry of Deeds (BMRD), Book 15, Page 434.
[7] A maker of fine shoes (a cobbler repairs shoes).
[8] Mautanwaumpeh owned what is now 46 & 48 Main Street.
[9] Brinsmaid owned 3 acres of land on South Street, which Anna Bingham purchased from his widow in 1782. See BMRD Book 14, page 134.
[10] BMRD Book 9, Page 99.
[11] Stockbridge Library lot, where Williams owned a store. Building later moved to 3 Church Street.
[12] South side of the Housatonic River across from Park Street.