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

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 122! 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 VIII
Isaac Ball (1744-1784)
Rick Wilcox 2022

Before we continue with the main story, I wanted to mention that I was walking around the Old Section of the Stockbridge Town Cemetery in search of a grave for Isaac Ball when I came across a headstone that read: In Memory of Brother ISAAC MARSH Brigadier General who departed this life August 27th 1792 in the 45th Year of his age. Marsh had ended his service in the Revolutionary War as a Colonel. He did raise a company during Shays’ Rebellion and an element of that headed to Sheffield for the last battle of Shays’ Rebellion. One volunteer in his company was a free Black named Agrippa Hull, who had survived six years in the Revolutionary War and whose extraordinary life will be part of a future Bidwell Lore series.

Just a few steps north in the cemetery was a memorial stone for Solomon Glezen, who is actually buried in the Lenox Cemetery. The Stockbridge stone reads: Erected to the Memory of SOLOMON GLEZEN who made Prisoner by the Insurgents fell at Battle in Sheffield Feb. 27th 1786 in the 26th year of his age. Oh for a Lodge in some vast Wilderness Some boundless contiguity of Shade Where rumor of oppression & deceit Of unsuccessful or successful War Might never reach us more. [1]

There was no sign of a gravestone for Isaac Ball or his brother Jonathan Ball.

Below, you will see the Isaac March headstone on the left and the Solomon Glezen memorial stone on the right.

Now we will get back to the topic of the land dispossession. As the documents below will show, procedurally, Jonathan and Isaac Ball took all of the required steps when obtaining land. However, the Indian Proprietorship was an English invention that encouraged land sales by grants to a people who did not practice land ownership and viewed land as something to be lived on while being used collectively for the benefit of the larger group. The grantor of a deed has the burden of having it recorded at the Registry of Deeds, and by 1781 Joseph Shauquethqueat was likely doing most of the recording of deeds for the tribe. Joseph would have been 59 at the time of the sale of the land and I suspect he was hale and hearty given his father, Benjamin Kokkewenuanant, reportedly lived to 104. What follows is the transcription for a deed from 1781 along with an image of each page of the deed. We will look at one deed this week and look at others next week.

Joseph Shauquethqueat sale of land to Isaac Ball for a mill April 1781

The Honble The Senate and House of Representatives of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Humbly Shew Joseph Shauquethqueat, [2] Benjamin Waunehau=
weet and David Naunauneek, [3] That your Petitioners are pos=
essed of a certain Tract of Land containing one Hundred
Acres lying on the west side of the Houshonock River [4] in the
Town of Stockbridge adjoining the Land of Elihu Miles, [5]
That there is, on Said Land a convenient Spot for building
Mill which would be of great Advantage to the Inha=
bitants in general, as well Indians as white people;
That your Petitioners being poor and unable to build, are
desirous of Selling Said Land that it may be may im=
proved it  to better Advantage then they are able to do,
That Mr Isaac Ball is disposed, to purchase Said Land
at a Reasonable Price for the Purpose above mentioned,
provided your Petitioners may obtain Liberty of the
General Court to Sell the Same. Your Petitioners
therefore pray, that your Honors would grant them
Liberty to Sell Said Land to Said Ball and to give
and execute a good and Lawful Deed of the Same, and
as in Duty bound Shall ever pray.
Stockbridge April 3d Joseph Shauquethqueat
                                    Benjamin Waunehauweet
                                    David Naunauneek [6]

Image of page 340 of the Deed transcribed above. Written in cursive on parchment paper

The Honbe the Senate, and House of Represen
tatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Humbly Shew Joseph Shauquethqueat, Benjamin
Waunehauweet, and David Nauauneek, that
your Petitioners are in possession of a Certain
tract of Land, Containing forty six acres Lying on
the east side of the Housatunnock river [7] in the Town
of Stockbridge, adjoining to lands belonging to mr
John Sergeant, [8] & the heirs of Benjamin Willard
and opposite to Lands we own, that we have pe
titioned your honors to grant us leave to sell to
mr Isaac Ball. – That there is in said river a
=gainst said Land, a convenient spot for build=
ing mills, which would be of great advantage to
to the Inhabitants in general, as well Indians
as white people that your petitioners are being
poor and unable to build, are desirous  of Selling
said Land, that it may be improved to better pur
poses, that they are able to do – That in the Life
time of mr Mulutiah Hatch [9] of said Stockbridge
Deceased, your petitioners agreed with him to
sell him the same – Your Petitioners therefore pray
that your honors would grant them Liberty
to sell said Land to the heirs at Law to said Mu-
lutiah Hatch, & to give and execute a good and
Lawful Deed of the Same – and as in Duty
Bound shall ever pray Joseph Shauquethqueat
Stockbridge 4 April 1781 Benjamin Waunehauweet
                                           David Naunaeeneek [10]

Image of page 341 of the Deed transcribed above. Written in cursive on parchment paper

Stockbridge 20 1781
We the Subscribers hereby Certify that we
Sold to the within names Isaac Ball and Jona
than Ball, the Land with mentioned, for a
valuable Consideration & pray the honorable
Court, that the prayers of the within petition
May be granted Joseph Shauquethqueat
                             Benjamin Waunehnauweet
                             David Naunauneeknauck

Mr. Dunbar
Mr. Bailey
Mr. Tufts [11]

Image of the last page of the Deed transcribed above. Written in cursive on parchment paper

Next week we will look at a few more Deeds

1. Excerpt from “The Task, Book II, A Time-Piece,” 1784. An anti-slavery poem by William Cowper (1731-1800).
2. AKA Joe Pye. He,  Benjamin, and David were the sons of King Benjamin Kohkeweenaunant.
3. More commonly spelled Naunauneekannuck.
4. Land included what is now Chesterwood Museum.
5. Also spelled Mighalls. Land in the area of Mohawk Lake Road.
6. Harvard University – Collection Development Department. Widener Library. HCL / petitions-masa_45X_0232METS.
7. Land on the north side of Glendale Middle Road near the trolly bridge crossing.
8. Rev. John Sergeant, Jr.
9. The Hatch family purchased a number of tracts of land from the Mohican people.
10. Harvard University – Collection Development Department. Widener Library. HCL / petitions_masa_45X_0232-METS.
11. Probably a committee appointed by the House or Senate to investigate and write a Resolve to the petitioners.