Saturday, March 28, 2009

Descendants of King Ben

When I'm not blogging, I work as a librarian. As it is with other professions, we librarians share tips of the trade with each other over the internet. One librarian, Bob from the public library in Lincoln, Nebraska, told the group

"There's a lot of bad genealogy out there, and people need to be aware of the pitfalls.
When we lead people to a source, we need to tell them that there may be other sources they need to check, and that even the most authoritative sources may have errors."
That comment began an active thread of messages and everybody seemed to feel Bob had made an important point.

<---The gravesite of Hannah Chicks (Since there were two Hannah Chickses, the stone clarifies that this was the wife of John Chicks) Stockbridge Indian Cemetery, Stockbridge, WI.

I know a member of the Chicks family who has done some really good genealogical work. However, he has shared his family tree only with people he knows and not publicized it.

On the other hand, my acquaintance from the Chicks family met with another genealogist who was doing Stockbridge Mohican genealogy poorly. The other man's family tree had already been circulating over the internet by the time "Mr. Chicks" told me about their meeting. He said that the other fellow was doing an ambitious tribal genealogy by getting names and dates of the ancestors of people that he came in contact with. Apparently he was accepting input from a number of people and adding it to his database or family tree uncritically.

Since I have two printouts of that family tree, and since it has circulated over the internet, misleading who knows how many people, I feel no qualms about criticizing it now.

Several years after the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts was established, the Chief Sachem of the Mohican nation came to town and made Stockbridge the main council fire or capital city of the once-mighty nation. That Chief Sachem was Benjamin Kokhkewenaunaunt, or King Ben for short. Patrick Frazier tells us that King Ben was David Naunauneekanuk's father (see pages 55 and 254). Naunauneekanuk was John W. Quinney's grandfather (Quinney said so in front of the United States Congress).

Another one of King Ben's sons was Joseph Shauquethquet. According to Lion Miles, his descendants took on the the surname of "Pye," which was certainly easier to pronounce than Shauquethquet. In the 1800's there were three Benjamin Pyes. (Duplicate names are another thing about Stockbridge genealogy that is problematic. There were also three Levi Konkapots.)

The gravesite of Lucy Pye. Stockbridge Indian Cemetery, Stockbridge, WI. ----->

The document that I somehow got ahold of a few years ago is called
"The Descendants of Benjamin Kokhkewenaunaunt."

Although I noticed a number of (arguably) relatively minor errors in this family tree, I will focus on one particularly significant error. This error is the kind of thing that sometimes results when people who speak only English may run into when they read names in another language. The genealogist who circulated his family tree on the internet listed one person as "Mary Waunquauwasquoh Naukhaunuhoshuoh." Maybe "Waunquauwaquoh" and "Naukhaunuhoshuoh" seem to be quite similar to us, but a big mistake was made in assuming that this was one person.

Based on that assumption, The Quinneys are related to the Chickses. If that were true, it would give new significance to the Citizen vs. Indian conflict. (For a number of years, the Citizen party was commonly known as the "Chicks party," and the Indian party was commonly known as the "Quinney party.") If the author of "The Descendants of King Ben" was correct, the longstanding intertribal feud would have been a feud within one extended family.

The member of the Chicks family who does good genealogy talked to Lion Miles, a current resident of Stockbridge, Massachusetts who has studied the Mohican language. According to Miles, Mary Waunquauwasquoh and Mary Naukhaunuhoshuoh are two diferent people, and, as a result, it cannot be said that the Chicks family and the Quinney family are closely related.

1 comment :

Jeff Siemers said...

Within 24 hours of this post coming into the blogospere, a reader contacted me to report another significant error in the "King Ben" family tree.