Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Stone Age of Connecticut

New England Magazine Vol. 9 (1893-94)
(Last night I visited some friends who are visiting from Hawaii, staying at a cottage on Cedar (Swamp) Lake in Bristol CT, off of Witches Rock Road. There's some interesting "Indian stone related facts/stories" connected to the area, some I have posted about before, some details I had even missed such as this interesting observation: "At the reservoir on South Mountain, southwest of the Allen place, near the south end of the pond, and not far from the town line, the trail crossed what was then a swamp over a causeway of loose stones and earth, the nearest approach to a roadway ever made by the aborigines." But in the wee hours of this morning, I found something I hadn't seen before, this article for New England Magazine:)
     “The stone age of Connecticut began its decline with the advent of the whites in 1614, and in a very short time, probably not more than fifty years, it had passed away forever. The Indians of Connecticut were ignorant of the use of metal; nearly all their hardware was stone. This age was indeed a primitive one as compared with the present, but was far from primitive as compared with that which preceded it. These people were banded together in many tribes, speaking different dialects, but all belonging to the one language of the Algonquins. They fortified their villages, erected houses, wore some clothing, slept upon bedsteads, made many implements and ornaments, and sailed over deep waters in their canoes. They obtained food by hunting, fishing, and trapping, prepared it when obtained by dressing and cooking, and, not contented with natural supplies, cultivated the soil. Their crops were harvested and stored, and meat, fish, and clams were dried for future use. When we think of primitive man as he must have been, with no language, no shelter but the rocks and trees, no food but such as nature furnished in an unprepared state, and no implements of any kind, we find that these Indians were advanced far beyond primitive man…We can learn something of the Connecticut Indians from records of deeds, from numerous town histories, from Trumbull's and Barber’s histories of Connecticut, and Thatcher's “Indian Biographies” ; but the only works wholly devoted to them, so far as I know, are Trumbull’s "Indian Names,” Orcutt’s “Indians of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Valleys," and DeForest’s “ History of the Indians of Connecticut.” The latter is the largest of these works, and Orcutt calls it a very creditable work for “a youth of only one and-twenty years.” The author had, however, a hobby, and grasped at every straw upon which he could base an argument that the former estimates of our Indian population were too great, and he entirely disregarded or overlooked such evidence of their numbers and location as may be found in the most reliable of all records, —their works in stone. Trumbull has estimated the Indian population of Connecticut at its discovery as from twelve to twenty thousand souls, while DeForest put the figures at only six or seven thousand. All of the State west of Farmington he describes as uninhabited, except portions of the coast and the section near \Woodbury, where an insignificant band was known to reside. In this DeForest is evidently mistaken. Wherever stone relics other than a few arrow-points are found, it is certain that Indians resided for a time at least; and many such relics have been found in Litchfield County. Even if there was no settlement in the western part of the State at the time of its discovery, Orcutt correctly says that  “what was true two hundred years ago may not have always been true." In 1646 there was a trading post established at New Milford, showing that there must have been a considerable body of Indians in that vicinity…(page 327)”

“A class of articles said to have been worn on the heads of women is known as “bird-shaped objects” or “bird amulets,” although they have been designated as corn huskers…”

“An interesting pipe was found at Waterbury many feet below the surface. On the side of the bowl toward the stem is a sculptured face of an impressive Indian character, having large ears, neatly drilled for the attachment of drops. It is looking down upon a female figure which the artist has carved on the top of the pipestem. Closely pressed upon the body of this figure are her arms, with hands, which, by a daring stride of characteristic Indian genius, are represented as of a new variety, having only three fingers each. The stem is four inches long, and to drill it through such hard stone involved no inconsiderable skill and labor. 
(The above photo is from a different work, "Bristol CT: In the Olden Time “New Cambridge” (1907)
    Another pipe (i), said by those who have seen it to be of a make peculiar to the Northwest, was found at Waterbury twenty-five feet below the surface…(338)”

    “On the grounds of the Rev. John McCook at Niantic there is a cupped granite bowlder of about a ton's weight. The only work on it consists of six cup shaped depressions, which average about three inches in diameter and five eighths of an inch deep. It is illustrated and described in Vol. V., “Contributions to American Ethnology,” by Dr. Rau, in connection with his paper entitled “Observations on Cup shaped and other Lapidarian Sculptures in the Old World and America.” Mr. McCook believes that it was connected with the religious life of the Indians. Such was the use of similar stones in the Old World; but it is not known that Connecticut Indians ever worshipped any material object. In this paper Dr. Rau says: “Large cupped blocks fully resembling those of the Old World have of late years been observed in the United States. As yet a few only are known, but erelong I am confident the existence of others will be ascertained. Whenever investigators have their attention drawn to a new class of antiquities, they endeavor to find them, and are usually successful in their efforts.” I doubt if the majority of collectors ever found a single Indian relic, without having had a previous knowledge of some similar object…(342)"
    There is a ton of other artifact photos and drawings in the article.
   And elsewhere in the magazine are some Concord photos:

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