Mashpee Yesteryear

illustration Mashpee meetinghouse
Town Meeting at Mashpee Town Hall, 1932
Pencil drawing by Ernestine Gray
From Son of Mashpee


Mashpee, Massachusetts, located on Cape Cod, has a unique character that has been strongly shaped by the very presence of its first inhabitants, the Mashpee Wampanoags.

Mashpee, previously known as Massipee or Marshpee, was incorporated as a town in the year 1870, to be governed the way the other New England towns were governed, the English, or Newcomers', way. Before that, however, Mashpee had long been the home of Native Americans, predominantly Wampanoags.

Photo of Ernestine Gray
Ernestine Gray on the steps of the Mashpee Old Indian Meetinghouse. Photo by Alicja Mann
Ernestine Gray of Mashpee is very proud of her Wampanoag heritage and has dedicated herself to preserving that heritage as much as possible for future generations. She has been working tirelessly to educate young and old about the history of Mashpee and of the Wampanoags, and to preserve the historical landmarks of Mashpee. Saving the old South Mashpee School from further deterioration is her latest dream in action.

This 72-year-old great-grandmother, as she often calls herself, is lecturing, advising, consulting, researching, networking, and collecting old photographs and documents. She is always active, curious and ready to learn new things, and she simply loves to "connect with all kinds of people." She will continue to organize a variety of workshops, exhibit her old photographs, and work as a volunteer, as long as she sees that her efforts will benefit the future generations of Mashpee.

"I have been involved with several organizations for the last twenty years. The most rewarding experiences include lecturing to third grade, junior high and high school students. I have also lectured in various other forums. My lectures encompass the history, mythology and legends of the Mashpee Wampanoag people."

Ernestine Gray has been researching her own family history for several years, and with the help of The New England Historic Genealogical Society she learned fascinating facts about her ancestors. "Such research is tedious, time-consuming and frustrating at times," she admits. As a result of that experience, Ernestine decided to make such research a bit easier for others, to aid them in pursuing similar goals.

Receiving grant money from the Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation made it possible for Ernestine and her project team to search for and record many old documents. After several months of hard work this information is now available on CD.

Historic Documents

Military record
Military record - Mashpee veterans

Indian and Negro soldiers who were servants, 1723

1776 Town Census - shows the number of "Indians, Malatoes, and Negroes belonging to Mashpee, June 24, 1776". This list was found in the papers of Gideon Hawley.

Early 1776 Census of Indians, Mulatoes and Negroes

FBI Ethnology - early 1700 families in Mashpee according to FBA list.

Federal Census 1800 - free white males.

1808 Inhabitants of Mashpee

Earl - report of the commissioners relating to the condition of the Indian in Massachusetts in 1849.

1850 Census - "Free Inhabitants in Marshpee 1850"

Bonds and Notes from the Massachusetts Treasury

Deeds, Allotments and Proprietaries Held in Severalty by the proprietors of Mashpee

Descendants of the Fuller- Mingo Family

Fredrick W. Sawyer Proceedings on Marshpee

Freetown Intention and Marriage Certificates

Mashpee Intention and Marriage Certificates

Military record - Mashpee veterans

New Bedford Marriage Intentions

Old Cemeteries of Southeastern Massachusetts

Petition of the Estate of Roxanna Mye

Petition of the Estate of William Mye

Pocknett Genealogy

Poll taxes for Marshpee Plantation residents

Revolutionary War Pension Applications

Sepit Abstracts from Sandwich vital records

Various spellings on old petitions Will of Nathan S. Pocknet

Writ of Barnstable County

Books & Other Publications
Listed in order of their publishing dates.

Author(s), title, subtitle, publisher, date of publishing, followed by short comments by Ernestine Gray.
Page from Biographies and Legends of New England Indians
From Biographies and Legends of New England Indians

  • Pierce, Ebenezer W. Indian History, Biography and Genealogy. Zerviah Gould Mitchell. North Abington, Massachusetts.1878.

    A valuable account by a female descendant of an important leader of the 17th Century.

  • Deyo, Simeon. History of Barnstable County 1890. H.W. Blake and Co. New York.

    Extensive early geographic names and locations.

  • Dykes, Hannah S.B. History of Richard Bourne. Privately printed by Benjamin F. Bourne. Cleveland, Ohio. 1919.

  • Beale, Samuel M. "The Man of Science." Jefferson Alumnae Magazine. 1963.

    Another personal friend of Mashpee

  • Bonfanti, Leo. Biographies and Legends of New England Indians. Pride Publications. Wakefield, Massachusetts.

    There are 6 volumes that were published between 1965 and 1980. They provide valuable geographic coverage.

  • Bingham, Amelia. Mashpee. Mashpee Historical Commission. 1970.

    Well prepared early histories and treasured photos.

  • Vuilleumeier, Marion. Indians On Olde Cape Cod. William S. Sullwold Publishing. Taunton, Massachusetts. 1976.

    One of several publications by Friends of Mashpee--revolving about religious and humanitarian issues.

  • Travers, Milton A. One of the Keys. Dartmouth, Massachusetts Bicentennial Commission. ISBN 0-8158-0326-5.

  • Chase, Henry E. Note on the Wampanoag Indians. From Papers Relating to Anthropology. Brookline, Massachusetts.

    Informative. Many references listed. Obtained from Neil Good of Mashpee, Massachusetts.

  • Crosby, Constance A. "From Myth to History". The Recovery of Meaning: Historical Archaeology in the Eastern United States. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington D.C.

  • Peters, Russell M. The Wampanoags of Mashpee. Nimrod Press.1989.

    A 20th Century resident's view with interesting "then and now" photos.

  • O'Connell, Barry. In Our Own Ground. The University of Massachusetts Press. Amherst, Massachusetts.1992. ISBN 0-87023-766.

    Account of Native American human abuses and collections of the writings of William Apess.

  • Crosby, Constance A. "When Their Ancestors First Came". Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting 1992. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • Crosby, Constance A. "The Algonkian Spiritual Landscape". Algonkians of New England Past and Present. Boston University. Boston, Massachusetts. 1993.

    Local oral traditions.

  • Carpenter, Delores Bird. Early Encounters. Michigan State University Press. Lansing, Michigan. 1994. ISBN 0-87013-351-9.

    An interesting combination of Nickerson Histories and clergy on Cape Cod.

  • Burns, Rosemary H. 1870 Mashpee 1995. Town of Mashpee. Mashpee, Massachusetts. 1995.

    A celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Town of Mashpee.

  • Time-Life Books. Algonquians of the East Coast. Time-Life Education. Richmond, Virginia. 1995. ISBN 0-8094-9738-7.

  • Mills, Earl Sr. and Mann, Alicja. Son of Mashpee. North Falmouth, Massachusetts. 1996. ISBN 965-4360-0-4.

    A fresh new perspective on old Mashpee.

News Articles

Nanneta C.W. Vanderhoop Anna Louise Two bright Gay Head Girlscirca 19351A
Campfire held by Indian girls in council meeting-Gay Head Nov. 8circa 19351B
Mashpee boy six killed in his yard 11/25/35 1C
Pipe of Peace Rites to note Indian day Chiefs, James, Oakley, Howard 11/25/35 1D
Island Indians open Pow-Wow/Vanderhoop, Jeffers, Mars 8/24/35 1E/F
Lemuel Fielding of Norwich Connecticut ND 1G
The Indian Not Lost (Upton Sinclair) ND 1H
Naragansett Indians Unite & Recite Tribal Charter ND 1I pt 1
Old Ritual to be Used at Wedding of Indian Maiden 1936 1I pt 2
Esther Courchene-Assibone Indian Haskell Institute ND 1J
Neigh To Aid, Mashpee March 16 ? 1K
Black Hawk Defends Race (special to standard) Fall River Dec. 19 ? 1K
Scalping is thing of the past, say Indians ND 1K
Four Generations of Indians, Eastport ME ND 1K
The Only all-Indian G.A.R. post in the United States-Wisconsin ND 1L
Adam and his horse ND 1M
Chief Two Guns White Calf's Death alters Methodist's visit ND 1M
Beth Peace-Crow Reserve Montana, first Indian stewardess ND 1M
Pirate Pistols Uncovered 10/14/36 1N
Cape Cod Folks Take to Archaeology 10/14/36 1N

The purpose of this Web site is to inform the public about what kinds of documents are available and where to find them. For information about the availability of the CD, or any other inquiries, please contact Ernestine Gray.

Ernestine Gray
P.O. Box 314
Mashpee, MA 02649

Ernestine Gray would like to thank the following persons for their support, inspiration, for their time and for providing the information:

Rosemary H. Burns Mashpee, Massachusetts, Mashpee Archives, Historic Commissioner
Mark Choquet Lakeville, Massachusetts, Genealogist
Helen Edwards Mashpee, Massachusetts
A friend Mystic, Connecticut
Charles Hareld Jr. Providence, Rhode Island
Alicja Mann Tucson, Arizona, Word Studio, Director
Hope Morrill Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Cape Cod National Seashore, Curator
Everet "Tall Oak" Weedon Charlestown, Rhode Island
Ann M. Whitlow Mashpee, Massachusetts, Mashpee Archives, Historic Commissioner

©2001 Mashpee Yesteryear, all rights reserved.

Web site text and design by Alicja Mann of Word Studio.
Implementation by Jennifer Kano of WebWorks Design.