From the Fortress of Solitude
With the end of the school year comes hours of extra work for anybody that works in education. That is why the posts have been weekly instead of almost every day. That will remedy itself soon enough when the last bell rings at Central School (home of the Space Education Center) and all the younglings trample each other into the tiles as they compete for first out of the building, first into the freedom of a hot summer afternoon and first into to cool waters of Pleasant Grove's Veteran's Memorial Pool.
Of course there is no break for those of us that must work for a living. The Center's Space Camps begin the evening of the last day of school. I like to complain about the work load but take no heed. I enjoy what I do or I wouldn't do it.
Today started with weather reminiscent of late Fall. It was cold accompanied by a deep and silent fog which hung closely to the mountains around the Fortress. I expect the temperatures to hover around 60 today. Strange weather indeed. A word of warning to family and friends in the East. Our cold fronts, which bring mild rain and modest breezes to us, turn into violent thunderstorms after they rise and fall over the Rockies and bear down on the Great Plains.
Today we are going to spend some time together learning about our 9th Great Grandfather and Grandmother Edward and Elizabeth Riggs. Let's begin with the Relationship Chart for reference.
9th Great Grandfather and Grandmother
Edward Riggs and Elizabeth Roosa
Edward Riggs and Mary Munn
Edward Riggs and Alphia Stoughton
Mary Riggs and Daniel Morris
Issac Morris and Rebecca Hathaway
Benjamin Morris and Mary Spinning
Isaac Morris and ?
Nancy Morris and Whitty Victor
Effie Helen Victor and William Jonathan Williamson
Vennie, Ima, Inez, Lille, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles and Maurice Williamson
Our 9th Great Grandfather Edward was born in England about 1614 and came to this county along with his father and family, landing in Boston, Mass. in 1633. He assisted his father in preparing a new house and in taking care of the sick until April 5 1635, when he married Elizabeth Roosa, whose family also came from England.
In 1637 he was a sergeant in the Pequot war, and distinguished himself by rescuing a body of his companions from an Indian ambush. In latter years he became a settler at Milford, Conn. and had land assigned to him.
In 1655, associated with Edward Wooster, Richard Baldwin, John Browne, Robert Dennison, JohnBurnett and perhaps others, they bought from the Indians the county on the Naugatuck, then known as Paugusset, some ten or twelve miles above Milford. They established a plantation which was afterward called Derby. The Riggs family lived on what was known as "Riggs Hill".
Edward built a strong stockade as a protection against the Indians. In this house Edward secretly hid and protected Whaley and Goff, two members of the English Parliament that had condemned and executed Charles I. Emissaries of Charles II were making a most diligent search for them in 1661.
The province of New Jersey was named as a grant from the Crown in 1664. In 1665, Edward, with some of his associates in the plantation of Derby, visited New Jersey and were so well pleased with the prospects that they founded a new plantation on the Passaic and the site of Newark was decided upon. The next year he spent most of the summer preparing the colony with his wife and family. Our 9th Great Grandmother was the first white woman to spend a summer in Newark. The fundamental agreement which organized the colony was executed on June 24, 1667. His sons Edward and Joseph were designated as "Planters", that is, original proprietors. The other son Samuel remained at Derby.
In 1668, the next year after the colony was fully organized, Edward died. His widow then married Caleb Carwithie (sometime before 1671)
In a letter to William Bradford dated 28 July 1637, John Winthrop wrote of the exploits of Edward Riggs in the Pequot war:
... they gave order to surround the swamp, it being about a mile about; but Lieutenant Davenport, and some twelve more, not hearing that command, fell into the swamp among the Indians. The swamp was so thick with shrub wood, and so boggy with all, that some of them stuck fast, and received many shot. Lieutenant Davenport was dangerously wounded about his armhole and another shot in the head, so as fainting, they were in great danger to have been taken by the Indians, but Sergeant Rigges, and Jeffery and two or three more rescued them, and slew diverse of the Indians with their swords"Facts on the Pequot War:
In the 17th century the Pequot tribe, rival of the Narragansett, was centered along the Thames River in present-day southeast Connecticut. As the colonists expanded westward, friction began to develop. Points of tension included unfair trading, the sale of alcohol, destruction of Pequot crops by colonial cattle and competition over hunting grounds.
Further poisoning the relationship was the disdain in which the Indians were held by the colonists; many felt no qualms about dispossessing or killing those whom they regarded as ungodly savages.
In July 1636, John Oldham, a trader of questionable honesty, was killed by the Pequot. The incident led Gov. John Endicott to call up the militia. What followed was the first significant clash between English colonists and North American Natives. Allying themselves with the Mohegan and Narragansett, the colonists attacked a Pequot village on the Mystic River (near present-day New London) in May 1637. Encircling their foes under the cover of night, the colonists set the Indian dwellings ablaze, then shot the natives as they fled from their homes. From 400 to 700 Indian men, women and children were killed; many of the survivors were sold into slavery in Bermuda. The Pequot chieftain Sassacus was captured by the Mohawks and executed. His tribe was virtually exterminated. Renowned warrier Uncas, son in law of Sassacus, allied his forces with the English colonists in the war and defeatrf the rival Narragansett in 1643.
The colonists and their allies set an unfortunate precedent in the Pequot War by ignoring the conventions of European warfare to punitively devastate the homes and lives of men, women and children.
A Brief Description of one of the Bloodiest Battles our Great Grandfather fought in.
It is a moonlit pre-dawn in May 1637. English Puritans from Massachusetts Bay Colony and Connecticut Colony, with Mohegan and Narragansett allies, surround a fortified Pequot village at a place called Missituck (Mystic). In the village, the Pequots sleep. Suddenly, a dog barks. The awakened Pequots shout Owanux! Owanux! (Englishmen! Englishmen!) and mount a valiant defense. But within an hour, the village is burned and 400-700 men, women, and children are killed.
Captain John Underhill, one of the English commanders, documents the event in his journal, Newes from America :
Down fell men, women, and children. Those that 'scaped us, fell into the hands of the Indians that were in the rear of us. Not above five of them 'scaped out of our hands. Our Indians came us and greatly admired the manner of Englishmen's fight, but cried "Mach it, mach it!" - that is, "It is naught, it is naught, because it is too furious, and slays too many men." Great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of young soldiers that never had been in war, to see so many souls lie gasping on the ground, so thick, in some places, that you could hardly pass along.
The massacre at Mystic is over in less than an hour. The battle cuts the heart from the Pequot people and scatters them across what is now southern New England, Long Island, and Upstate New York. Over the next few months, remaining resistors are either tracked down and killed or enslaved. The name "Pequot" is outlawed by the English. The Puritan justification for the action is simply stated by Captain Underhill:
It may be demanded, Why should you be so furious? Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion? Sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents. Sometimes the case alters, but we will not dispute it now. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings.