Monday, December 25, 2006

A Gruesome Tomb Robbery From History

by JimP
I came across this item while perusing Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County: Volume III - 1662-1667. The item is from the Ipswich Quarterly Court, March 1667 - pg. 440.

Robert Crose, jr., for his barbarous and inhuman act of digging up the grave of the Sagamore of Agawam and carrying his skull upon a pole, was sentenced to be imprisoned until the next lecture day, and immediately after meeting to sit in the stocks for one hour, thence to be conveyed to prison, there to remain until he pay a fine of 6li. 13s. 4d., and he was also bound to good behavior. It was further ordered that within ten days after, he should bury the skull and bones that can be found or brought to him in the place where it was dug up, and erect a cover of stones upon it two foot high or otherwise to pay a fine of 20 nobles more. John Andrews jr., was to assist him when called to it by him under the same penalty.

John Andrews jr., having upon examination freely acknowleged the offences charged upon him, was admonished and ordered to make public acknowledgment next lecture day in public in the meeting house, or pay a fine of twenty nobles. He was also to assist Robert Crose in making up the Sagamore's tomb.
This item, gruesome as it is, is one of the very few pieces of historical evidence we have that gives us clues about how Indian graves, particularly the tomb of a sagamore, would be constructed. It is very unlikely that the erection of a two-foot-high cairn over the grave would be a European idea. It is far more likely that the court was ordering the restoration of the tomb to its original condition, or at least their best idea of how the tomb should be reconstructed.

Yes, folks, this is historical proof that cairns were built over Indian graves in Massachusetts during the 17th century.

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