Miantonomo (Alt: Miantonomoh, Miantonomah)
A Very Brief History:
Miantonomo was the Chief of the Narraganset Indians and nephew of Grand Sachem (‘Great Leader’) Canonicus. Miantonomo was friendly to all settlers, especially the Rhode Island settlers. Even though he helped the settlers in the war against the Pequot nation, he was viewed with distrust by the Massachusetts and Connecticut settlers. He was constantly at war with Uncas, Sachem of the Mohegan Tribes.
During a rocky peace treaty with the Mohegans, Uncas had killed Sequassen (Sequasson), a relative and friend of Miantonomo. Miantonomo complained to the Mr. Haynes, Governor of Hartford, about Uncas, and was told that the Settlers could and would do nothing about it. If he wanted justice, he would have to get it himself.
Miantonomo secretly (he believed) gathered a band of warriors to attack Uncas. Unfortunately for Miantonomo, Uncas had set up scouts and knew of the war party well in advance. A confrontation then ensued which can be read about here.
While running away, Miantonomo was supposed to have leaped over Yantic Falls suffering a broken leg. Moments later, Uncas was supposed to make the same leap unharmed. Slowed down by the broken leg, Miantonomo was captured. The picture to the left is of Yantic falls, also called ‘Uncas Leap’, supposedly where this had happened. The danger of the rapids is very real, and people still fall in and die.
This part of the story isn’t recounted very often and is probably an old wives tale. Another accounting of the confrontation between Miantonomo and Uncas, has Miantonomo wearing armor borrowed from a English friend. This armor weighed a lot and slowed down the Narraganset Sachem, thus resulting in his capture by Uncas.
Either way, Miantonomo was captured and taken to Hartford by Uncas, where he handed him over to the government. He was tried by the Commissioners of the United Colonies of New England, who recommended the death penalty, but didn’t wish to carry out the sentence. They instead handed Miantonomo back to Uncas and told him to carry out the execution on Mohegan land.
Now the actual place of execution is in doubt. Some say Miantonomo was executed where we was captured and subsquently buried. Others say he was executed elsewhere, but was buried where he was captured. In any case, Miantonomo was unaware of his fate would be on September 28, 1643. Wawequa, at the sign of his brother, Uncas, buried a tomahawk in his head, killing him. At this point Uncas may have cut a piece of flesh off of the shoulder of the now dead Miantonomo and ate it, afterwards saying, “It is very sweet;it makes my heart strong.” Again this may be an old wive’s tale, but it may be truth.
Uncas buried Miantonomo under a pile of stones at what was then known as Sachem Plains and now known as Sachem Park. Members of his tribe would come every year in remembrance and add a stone to the cairn. After a number of years, the visits by his tribe had stopped, and the owner of the land didn’t know that the large pile of stones was in fact a grave. The owner ended up using the stones in the foundation of his house and barn, leaving nothing to signify the burial place of Miantonomo. On July 4, 1841, the people of Greenville, Connecticut erected a granite monument to Miantonomo at the site of his burial. The monument was a simple granite block carved with the inscription:
The monument can be visited on Elijah street off of Boswell Ave (Route 12) in the area little known as Taft Station (in between Taftville and Greenville) It is a residential area, so please be polite while visiting and don’t litter.
A sign for Miantonomo Monument on Elijah Str.
A plaque with a short history of Miantonomo. Note the spelling of ‘Miantonimo’.
Miantonomo’s Monument, close up. Note the small rocks that people leave on the monument in recognition of the old tradition.
Photo of the area of which Miantonomo was to have been executed and buried.
As you can see, the monument is very small, and the area isn’t visited that often. Compared to the monument dedicated to Uncas (Large granite obelisk, cornerstone laid and dedicated by President Andrew Jackson. I have no personal photo as of present), it’s quite small and easily over looked.
I hope this entry in Exploring Forgotten Connecticut will get some of you out and visiting this site, or at least reading up on the history. Thank you for taking time to visit our site! Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you. Please take a minute to add yourself to our Frappr Map.
List of Sources:
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Technorati: Connecticut, Miantonomo, Uncas, Monument, 1631, Narraganset, Mohegan, Lynx, Greenville, Taftville, Taft Station, Shetucket River, Quinebaug River