In 1605 Captain Weymouth sailed to the new world to explore the coasts of Penobscot (Maine and Massachussets). While in the New England region, he had his men captured two Indians, thinking his financial backers in England would be interested in seeing some natives from the region. Additionally, they gave three more bread and canned peas. One “brought back our can and presently staid aboard with the other two; for he being young, of a ready capacity, and one we most desired to bring with us into England, had received exceeding kind usage at our hands, and was therefore much delighted in our company.” His companions also joined the ship, totaling five that made the trip to England with Captain Weymouth. Among them is listed Tisquantum (Squanto).
Weymouth’s sponsor, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, treated the five Indians well and returned them to their native homes, as recorded in various ship logs. Between 1605 and 1614, there is no definitive record of Squanto. It is assumed that Gorges and his associates taught Squanto English so they could learn of the lands of the New World such as the names of tribes, harbors, rivers, fish and what crops grew well.
Squanto was trained to be a guide and interpreter for the sea captains who explored the New England coasts. It is possible Squanto accompanied some of the expeditions to New England prior to 1614. In 1614 he sailed with Captain John Smith in conjunction with a second ship under the command of Captain Thomas Hunt. He was promised that he could return to his people at Pautuxet.
In New England, Smith left about thirty-five men to fish, while he set out with eight or nine men in one small boat to range the coast, taking Squanto with him. He explored and mapped the region and landed Squanto at Patuxet which was his native home.
Then Smith turned northeastward, intent on completing a cargo. Capt. Hunt remained behind to cure a load of dried fish. He was under instructions to sail for England as soon as he had loaded his cargo of fish and had traded for a cargo of beaver skins with the Indians. With Smith gone, Hunt Used Squanto as an interpreter and lured a number of Indians aboard where they were promptly captured and bound. Squanto was among the twenty Patuxets kidnapped at that time.
Hunt sailed to Malaga, Spain and tried to sell the Patuxets as slaves at 20 pounds each. Some of the local monks discovered what was happening and took the remaining Indians from Hunt, thus “disappointing this unworthy fellow of the hopes of gain he conceived to make by this new and devilish plot.”
After living with the monks for a year or two, Squanto joined an Englishman who was traveling back to Bristol (London).
While in London, Squanto met and lived with Sir John Slaney in Cornhill. Sir John Slaney was a wealthy merchant and Treasurer of the Newfoundland Company. In 1617 John Slaney sent Squanto to Newfoundland, probably as an interpreter and guide on one of the expeditions. There he was recognized by Capt. Thomas Dermer who had worked for Sir Ferdinando Gorges in the past. Capt. Dermer wrote a letter to Gorges, stating he had found “his Indian” in Newfoundland, then Dermer took Squanto back to England.
In 1619 Gorges organized an expedition under the command of Capt. Dermer. Squanto accompanied him as interpretor and with the promise that he could return to his home at Patuxet. They landed at Monhegan, an important fishing station in Maine. There, Samoset was taken on board. Together they set sail southward and dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor about one year before the Pilgrims arrived. Squanto found that every man, woman and child at his home of Patuxet had been wiped out by the plague since he had visited in 1614. Squanto was the only Patuxet known to be alive. If he had remained he would have died with them.
Because of the terrible effect of the plague, the place of Squanto’s tribe was left untouched. No one would go near it, or attempt to reestablish a home in that choice place. Samoset later confirmed that they believed the place to be haunted by evil spirits because they had been hostile to the white men who had visited.
Therefore, when the Pilgrims arrived, little more than a year after Squanto’s return, it was deserted, ideal for what they were seeking, so they established Plymouth Colony there.
Part II will be posted on Wednesday.