Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mohican Reserved Land

Occasionally I see a reference to the Mohican reservation in Berkshire County.  It perplexed me until I began my research.  The reservation was not as we know reservations today, poor land where Native Americans were forced by the United States government to live in poor housing with little food.  This reservation was only land reserved by the Mohican Nation for themselves.  There was a Mohican settlement nearby at one time in the vicinity of Big Springs, but not during the 1700s. 

On 20 October 1740 the Mohican Nation leased the northern half of the reserved land to Andrew Karner, Van Gelder's brother-in-law.  The  Mohicans deeded the southern half of the land to Van Gelder on 19 June 1744 and he deeded part  to his other brother-in-law Lodowick Karner 15 June 1745.    They all lived in the northern half of the land.  It is possible that this was part of a survival strategy by the nation, to make sure they had land they could move to if need be.  This practice was followed by their relatives in northwestern Connecticut.

In this map that I created, the extended family lived on the land between the purple dashed lines.  There was a  Mohican burial ground at the mouth of Guilder Hollow and it was probably used by my family.  It was dug up in the 1950s to be used as roadfill, even though there was a headstone and bones visible in the dirt.

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