Bidwell Lore – The Dispossession of Stockbridge Mohican Land by the Ball Family, Part VI

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 120! This week, we continue with the story of Isaac Ball and the dispossession of Mohican land around Stockbridge, written by Rick Wilcox. 

Dispossession of Stockbridge Mohican Land by the Ball Family 1772-1781, Part VI
Isaac Ball (1744-1784)
Rick Wilcox 2022

Last week we shared information from the Indian Proprietor Records concerning Isaac Ball and you can see an image of page 106 below. Ball ended up with 120 acres, but only 50 acres show up in the Indian Proprietor Records. Ironically, one of the three documents in the process of being returned to the Stockbridge Mohican community by the Town of Stockbridge contains rough draft notes by the Indian Proprietor Clerk, Jahleel Woodbridge, in which he writes about taking water rights on the Housatonic River in the area that Isaac Ball and Jonathan Ball proposed to build mills, and holding it until Isaac Ball, Jonathan Ball, Samuel Hatch, and Timothy Edwards, Esqr., resolved their disputes. In the final draft entered into the Indian Proprietor Records, that land is granted to Joseph Shauquethqueat, who in turn sells it to Isaac Ball, Jonathan Ball, and the Hatch family heirs.

Page 106 of the Indian Proprietor Records, 1772, showing the granting of fifty acres of land to Isaac and Jonathan Ball.

The draft notes were found by Stockbridge Facilities Manager Chis Marsden in the vault of the Old Town Hall, long after the building was no longer in use. The historical importance of finding this type of “behind the scenes” documentation cannot be overstated as it provides a rare opportunity to see the inner workings of the Indian Proprietorship. The four-page document is transcribed below, followed by an image of each transcribed page from the original document.

Voted and Granted to Jah Woodbridge [1] all that part of
Housatonnuck River lying within the Town of
Stockbridge and the Land lying under the Same
that has not been already Granted and for
him to Retain and Keep the Same with all
the Privileges Belonging Belonging to the Same ^ Respectively
till such Time as Mr. Timothy Esqr. [2] And Jonathan
Ball, Isaac Ball and Samuel Hatch [3] have settled
their Disputes Respecting Building Mill on
Said River and when that is Done he
has full Power to Sell and Convey Said
any and all Said River River and Land
under the Same with and all the Property as
Belonging to the Same and Execute Deed to
such persons to whom he shall sell and
he is further Authorized and impowered to
prevent ^ by legal Possession , all encroachments and abases
whereas being made on Said River in the
mean Time – he to account ^ with the proprietors for the mon
ey which he may Reserve for the Sales of
the Same. [4]
Voted and Granted to Hendrick Aumpaumut
the little Island lying in the River above the
                         Bridge in the County Road [5]

Of the Same or any part of the Same or any Privileges
or any Privileges being within the Same and to
account with the Proprietors for the money
which he may Reserve for the Same Besides
paying him self for his Trouble and for his
Services as Clerk [6]to Said Proprietors with full
Power and Authority to prevent all encroachments
and obstructions that be made by Dams
or otherwise until the Same be paid for by
the Persons so Obstructing on
the same in manner so obstructed


Voted and Granted to John Sheepuck all the
Land Lying on the South Side of the Road and
the Meeting House Spot or Yard [7] Bounding South on
Goodrichs [8] and Pepoons [9] and the River. East on
Yates and West on land sold by Mr. Kirkland [10]
to Pepoon that has not been already granted

Voted and Granted, to Aaron Cusk the fifty
acres of Land formerly granted to his brother
James Cusk upon certain conditions

Voted that whereas James Cusk [11] has given up all
Right to the fifty acres Granted to his father
James Cusk that the Same be given
to Peter Pohquonopeet [12] is made to propose
further that the money be [illegible] to other Indians
I give to James Cusk have Liberty sell
and dispose of the fifty acres granted to him
upon condition when the land is returned [illegible]
his hunting he [illegible] to his father’s Land

Voted to adjourn this Meeting to the Third
Monday of July Next at Two of the Clock
in the afternoon at the House of Hendrick
Ampaumut [13]

Voted and, Granted, to                  all that part of Housatunnuck
The bottom of this page contains the same information as above about James Cusk, Sr., and James Cusk, Jr., regarding fifty acres of land. The writing on the bottom of page four is upside down.

The final version is taken from the draft, as found in the Indian Proprietor Records:

(Page 157)
Voted and Chose Deacon Stephen Nash and Capt. Josiah Jones be a Committee to appraise the Swamp which Timothy Edwards Esq. is to have for the payment of the Proprietors Debts Due to said Edwards –
Voted to adjourn the Meeting to Monday the 28 Day of May Current at Two O Clock in the afternoon to the House of Hendrick Ampanmeet
The Proprietors being Met on the 28 Day of May agreeable to the foregoing adjournment Passed the following Votes –
Voted and Granted to John Scheepuck [14] all the Land Lying between the Town Street and the Meeting House Square and William Goodrich’s and Silas Pepoon’s Land and bounding East on Jonathan Yates Land and West on Land that Silas Pepoon Bought of Mr. Kirkland it being all the Land that the said John has lately occupied and Possessed which has not been heretofore Granted by the Proprietors –
Voted that whereas at a Proprietors Meeting held on the Thirteenth Day of April Last the Proprietors Made a Grant of a certain part of Housahunnuck River to Joseph Shauquethquot (viz.) from Bennett Bridge to a certain plan Twenty Rods below a Certain Rock Nearly South of Elihu Mishels [15] Dwelling House and so much of the Water above said Bridge and below said Twenty Rods So far as Said Water may be Usefull or Injurious for Building Mills and the Meaning was for Building Mills within the aforesaid Boundaries, which words within the aforesaid Boundaries are not Recorded in said Vote therefore voted that the aforesaid Words be added to he afore mentioned Vote – [16]
(Page 158)
Voted that whereas James Cusk [17] have given up all his Right and Title to the Fifty Acres of land Granted to his Father James Cusk Deceased be Granted to Peter Pohquonoppeet [18] to enable him further to Present his studies in order to Qualify him to be more usefull to the Indians –
Voted that James Cusk have Liberty to sell and dispose of the fifty acres of Land Granted to him upon certain conditions which conditions are now Taken of and the Grant made absolute
Voted and Granted to Hendrick Ampaumut the little island [19] lying in the River a little above the Bridge in the County Road –
Voted that Daniel Nimham’s [20] Widow have Liberty to Sell and Dispose of the Land Granted to her husband upon certain conditions which Conditions are now Taken of and the Grant made absolute –

Of course, putting aside all the fancy legal jargon and going back to the 1737 Indian Town Charter, the land was intended to be their land forever and Indian Town was meant to protect them from exactly what took place over time, which was the total dispossession of their land in Stockbridge and West Stockbridge. The last entry in the Indian Proprietor Records on page 163 on June 4, 1790, was for a survey of thirty acres on Monument Mountain for three tribal members, who were each given ten acres, including Abraham Konkapot, grandson of Chief John Konkapot. After 50 plus years of dispossession of Mohican land, a forced removal by 1783 caused a large number of the Mohican Community to leave Stockbridge. A small group of the Mohican community stayed in Stockbridge into the 1790s. After 1800 some members of the tribe would return and winter in Stockbridge, selling baskets and brooms until about 1830, making the 160 mile trip (each way), very likely on foot.

A 1799 deed from Joseph Shauquethqueat to Asa Bement contained the following language indicating Shauquethqueat was doing business long distance some 160 miles west in Oneida country: To All People to Whom these Presents Shall Come Greeting Know Ye that I Joseph Shauquethqueat & Jehoiahim Mhtocksin late of Stockbridge in the County of Berkshire & Commonwealth of Massachusetts now of New Stockbridge in the County of Harkemer & State of New York Indians were appointed by the Indian Proprietors of Stockbridge at a legal meeting of said Proprietors held at Stockbridge aforesaid on the Seventh day of February AD 1785 a committee to give deeds of such lands as said Proprietors had heretofore granted and such vacant lands as might be found within the said Town of Stockbridge belonging to said Proprietors. And whereas & whereas since Proprietors and said Jehoiakim is deceased now I the said Joseph do by virtue of this power and authority aforesaid, and in consideration of the sum of ten dollars to me in hand well & truly paid by Asa Bement [21] of Stockbridge aforesaid do give, grant, bargain, sell, alien, convey & conform unto him the said Asa his heirs & assigns forever the following tract or parcel of land & viz/ all the land lying near the meeting house [22] in said Stockbridge that was formerly given to Raahhankquech & afterwards was given to Nimham and Cockshun beginning at a large pine stump in the highway near a pond and swamp & running to the North east corner of Land granted Lidia Wauwaumpequnaaunt thence bounded on the side of said of said land and the north side of David Naunauneekunnuks and the Northwesterly side of Yokuns land to the river to Pequunnaunts land to the first mentioned bounds…. [23]

Next week, we will talk about the Town Meeting Book.

1. Probably the author of the document. Son of Joseph Woodbridge, nephew of Timothy Woodbridge.
2. A guess would be Timothy Edwards, son of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards.
3. Hatch purchased a number of properties from the Stockbridge Indians including where Hatch Pond is today on the Berle property across the river from Dugway Road.
4. The Stockbridge Selectmen petitioned the new State government for permission to buy the land from the Stockbridge Indians to build a mill on the river near Glendale Middle Road bridge in Glendale village. Permission was given. David Naunauneekannuck and Joseph Shauquetqueat were two of the signers to the deed. Isaac & Jonathan Ball purchased the land and built the mills.
5. Above (South Street) the bridge means upstream, which would be east. The island shows on earlier maps but has attached itself to the north side of the riverbank at the recreational park on Park Street.
6. Jahleel Woodbridge, son of Joseph Woodbridge, who became clerk when Enoch Woodbridge, son of Timothy Woodbridge, appears to have been forced out by the proprietors. Timothy Woodbridge, Esq., was chosen Proprietors’ clerk on June 11, 1750, and Mr. Enoch Woodbridge was chosen Proprietors’ clerk on March 23, 1774. Jahleel Woodbridge was chosen as Proprietors’ clerk on March 20, 1780. Also noted in the town meeting book section to follow in a later Bidwell Lore.
7.  Currently the site of the “old town hall” and Congregational Church as well as some golf course land in the area of the 18th hole.
8. William Goodrich, Jr., son-in-law of Timothy Woodbridge.
9. Silas Pepoon, who owned many parcels of land in Stockbridge and was an owner of the Red Lion Inn.
10. Rev. Samuel Kirkland, who married Jerusha Bingham, the niece of Ebenezer Wheelock of Dartmouth College and cousin of Silas Bingham, owner of the Red Lion Inn (to see more about the Binghams head to our March Bidwell Lore series about Anna and Silas starting HERE), lived in Stockbridge, buying a number of parcels from the tribe and was a missionary to the Oneida Indians.
11. Both James Cusk, Jr., and James Cusk, Sr., were not Stockbridge Indians and could hold and improve land and pass it to their heirs, but not sell it. It would revert back to the proprietors if they moved off the land.
12. There were two Peters. Peter, Jr., went to Dartmouth and was a deacon of the Congregational Society (now church).
13. Commonly spelled Aupaumut. His house was probably on the south side of the river across from Park Street and the island he owned in the river.
14. Triangle Park east of Town Hall, also Town Hall and Church Lots and golf course below 8 Main Street referred to as Hunt’s Meadow. For golfers, the 18th hole of the golf course.
15. Miles.
16. Not mentioned is that Shauquethqueat sold the land to the Balls.
17. Spelled “Kusk” in some documents.
18. Peter Pohquonopeet was a Deacon of the Stockbridge Congregational Society and attended Dartmouth College.
19. Island was just east of the current South Street river bridge and has “joined” the north bank of the river.
20. Sachem Daniel Nimham was killed 31 August of 1778 in a Revolutionary War battle at Kingsbridge, New York.
21. Asa Bement lived at what is now 5 North Church Street, across from Old Meeting House Road.
22. 1783 Meetinghouse on North Church Street & Old Meeting House Road.
23. Berkshire Middle Registry of Deeds, Pittsfield, Mass. Book 38, Page 505.