Posted By:Bruce Cox
Email:
Subject:Re: Myth of Mary Hyanno
Post Date:July 17, 2001 at 15:08:29
Message URL:http://genforum.genealogy.com/bearse/messages/110.html
Forum:Bearse Family Genealogy Forum
Forum URL:http://genforum.genealogy.com/bearse/

"The American Genealogist", Vol. XV (1938-9) AUSTIN HEARSE AND HIS ALLEGED INDIAN CONNECTIONS By Donald Lines Jacobus, M.A., of New Haven, Conn.. (The following report was prepared for a private client, a descendant of Austin Bearse, and is published with his consent.) A strange story was given circulation in the Utah Genealogical Magazine, July 1935 (vol. 26, pp. 99-100), concerning the wife of Austin Bearse, as follows: The evidence as to the identity of the wife of Austin Bearse is found in an unpublished manuscript, entitled: "Who Our Forefathers &ally Were. A True Narrative of Our White and Indian Ancestors," by Franklin Ele-watum Bearse (a Scaticoke and Eastern Indian). This manuscript is a certified copy of an original sworn statement now on file in the office of the Litchfield County District Court, in Connecticut, and accepted by the State Commissioner in Charge of Indian Rights and Claims as an authentic and legal declaration of lineage. It bases its claim as to the identity of Austin Bearse's wife upon statements in the original diary of Zerviah Newcomb, who married Josiah Bearse, a grandson of ' Austin, and who wrote from personal knowledge of the facts. Her diary is called, "A True Chronicle of the Bearse Family." It is said that the above manuscript is deposited in the Congressional Library, and states that Austin Bearse married by Indian rites at the Mattachee Indian village Mary, daughter of John Hyanno, a Mattachee Sagamore, and son of the Sachem lhyannough who befriended the Pilgrims on their first arrival. In Zerviah Newcomb's diary Austin Bearse was said to be of the Romany or Gypsy race, and the name was originally Be Arce. He belonged to a family of Continental gypsies who had emigrated to England. There was great persecution; for some minor infraction of the English law Austin was deported to the colonies. On arriving at Plymouth, Austin was the only prisoner allotted to Barnstable. No Puritan girl at that time would marry a gypsy, as there were eligible Puritans to select from. It was therefore natural that he should marry an Indian Princess. Further it is said that Mary Hyanno was a lovely flaming-haired Mattachee princess. This story beam within itself such improbabilities that a genealogist familiar with the place and period would hardly give it serious consideration, were it not for the two facts that it has been published in it reputable periodical, and that the claim of 112 THE AMERICAN GENEALOGIST documentary evidence is made. The present writer therefore made an attempt to locate this evidence. The Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Litchfield County, Conn., had no knowledge of it; neither had the State Librarian, Hartford, Conn. A letter directed to the State Commissioner in charge of Indian Rights and Claims, Hartford, Conn. was referred. to the State Park and Forest Commission, which is authorized to act as Overseer of all tribes of Indians residing in the state. An official of this agency has replied: Mr. Franklyn Bearse (Ele-wa-tum) has filed with us a copy of "Who Our Forefathers Really Were" which he claims is a true history of his ancestors. During the past two years I have spent some time in looking up the genealogies of families now living on the three Indian Reservations in the state and in a very few instances have found connections with the persons mentioned in Mr. Bearse's paper. In every case, as I recall, there has been no conflict and although we have no proof that his statements are all correct we have no reason to doubt them. Mr. David C. Means, Acting Superintendent of the Reading Rooms, Library of Congress, prepared a careful memorandum, which states: We find no record of a diary of Zerviah Newcomb Bearse in our collections. We do have in the Rare Book Room two manuscripts, both by F. E. Bearse. One is entitled "Who Our Forefathers Really Were," 1933 (CS71.B42 1933) and the other "From out of the past," 1935 (CS71.B42 1935). Both of these works say that Austin Bearse married Mary Hyanno, a daughter of John Hyanno, a full blood Wampanoag Indian. The Library of Congress has no means of checking the authenticity of the statements contained in these books. The memorandum further states that the 1933 manuscript contains an affidavit on the first page signed by Franklin Elewatum Bearce and gives additional particulars. The manuscript not bearing claim of copyright, it was possible to obtain photostatic copies of two pages, which we shall discuss shortly. It will be noted that none of the agencies addressed had knowledge of the alleged original Zerviah .(Newcomb)* Bearse diary, nor possessed either the original or a photostatic or certified copy of it. Until the diary can be examined and its exact statements considered, it can hardly be cited as evidence for the statements made in Mr. F. E. Bearce's manuscript account. The present writer must state emphatically that he has no knowledge of and is not concerned with Mr. Bearce's immediate ancestry, which is presumed to correct as stated. Our sole concern is with the alleged Indian ancestry of the wives of Austin' Bearse, AUSTIN BEARSE AND HIS INDIAN CONNECTIONS 113 of his son Joseph 2, and of his grandson Josiah3. Austin was born over 300 years ago, and his grandson Josiah died in 1753, nearly 200 years ago. Any statement as to their wives cannot therefore be based on personal knowledge, and any tradition passing by word of mouth through several generations requires verification from contemporary record sources before it can safely be accepted. The second page of Mr. F. E. Bearce's 1933 manuscript contains the following statement: The Following Historical and Genealogical Notes and Facts is A true record of our correct line of descent and is Based on Correct Information Handed down from generation to generation by my ancestors and imparted to me by word of mouth by my grand father William Henery Bearce [etc.] and the written Narrative Codgial [sic] of Zerviah Newcomb's Dairy- written by the hand of Zerviah herself-after the death of her husband by law Josiah Bearce lst at New Fairfield Conn. On the fifth page the pedigree of the first three generations of the Bearse family is set forth. According to this, Austin Bearce married in Summer of 1639 Mary Hyanno, born 1625, daughter of John Hyanno, Mattachee Sagamore (and wife Mary), son of lhyannough, Mattachee Sachem (and wife, a princess of the Narragansetts). This is a great deal of detail to be handed down by word of mouth for three centuries. What is actually known about Austin Bearse? He is named as Augustine Bearce, aged 20, in the shipping list of the Confidence of London, which sailed from Southampton the last of April, 1638. Most of the passengers on this ship came in family groups, and a large number of these families settled in Essex County, Mass. The name Augustine (of which Austin is a corruption) is, be it noted, a Christian name, in good usage in England. There is no evidence whatever that any of the passengers on this ship were deported criminals. There is no evidence whatever that Austin was sent to Barnstable as a prisoner. On the contrary, he came to Barnstable with the first company in 1639; he became a member of Mr. Lothrop's church, 29 Apr. 164,3, and he is the first person named on the present record of those who joined the church after its removal to Barnstable, He was proposed to be admitted a freeman, 3 June 1652, and was admitted 3 May following. He was called Goodman in the records, bespeaking his good standing. He was a grand juror in 1653 and 1662, and a surveyor of highways in 1674. To quote "Barnstable Families"-(1888) by Amos Otis (vol., 1, pp. 52, 53), "He appears to have been very exact in the performance of his religious duties, causing his children to be baptized 114 THE AMEBICAN GENEALOGIST on the Sabbath next following the day of their birth........... He was one of the very few against whom no complaint was ever made; a fact which speaks well for his character as a man and a citizen." The wife of "Brother Berce" joined the church, 7 Aug. 1650 [New Eng. Hist. and Gen. Register, vol. 9, p. 281]. To suppose that a Gypsy, a deported criminal, and the husband of an Indian, would have enjoyed such standing in a Puritan community is absurd. In explanation of his marriage to an Indian, the story is told that he was a Gypsy and hence the Puritan girls would not consider him in marriage; yet his children married into the best families of Barnstable and Yarmouth. But would the children of the girls who allegedly stuck up their noses at a Gypsy, have married the half-breed children of that Gypsy and an Indian? Obviously, although the actual evidence is strongly in favor of the conclusion that Austin Bearse was an Englishman and a strict Puritan, and that his wife was one of his own people, it is not possible, until his wife is identified by record proof, to make the negative declaration that she was not an Indian. Unfortunately, any person can claim that the unknown wife of any early colonist was Chinese or Hottentot or Malay, and improbable or impossible as such an assertion might seem, it cannot be absolutely disproved until the real identity is established by records. The burden of proof, therefore, must fall on the person who makes any positive assertion to sustain it by evidence. No such evidence has been presented for the claim that the wife of Austin Bearse was an Indian, and until it is presented, it is the part of discretion to pronounce it unproved and extremely unlikely. The F. E. Bearce manuscript makes statements also relative to the wives of Joseph2 and Josiah Bearse, the son and grandson of Austin', and these statements will be examined as a test of the reliability of the manuscript account. It states that Joseph2 Bearse,. born 1652, married 1676 Martha Tayler [sic], born at Yarmouth 1659, daughter of Richard Tayler of Yarmouth by his wife, Ruth Wheldon, daughter of Gaberiel [sic] Wheldon who came in 1628 and his wife Margaret, a full blood Indian princess, daughter of a Wampanoag Sagamore, a younger brother of Massasoit. There are two errors of date in this statement. The birth of Martha Taylor on a precise date in 1650 has appeared in print, presumably from the Yarmouth records; and she died 27 Jan. 1727/8 aged 77 [Barnstable records in New Eng. Hist. and Gen. Register, vol. 2, p. 316], which also places her birth in 1650, not 1659. Her parents married on or shortly after 27 Oct. 1646, at which date Gabriel "Whelding" gave (consent to his daughter Ruth's marriage. to Richard Taylor [Plymouth Colony Records, vol. 2, p. 110]. A IJSTIN BEARSE AND HIS INDIAN CONNECTIONS 115 According to "Early Wheldens of Yarmouth," by J. W. Hawes (Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, No. 43], Gabriel Whelden, born in England, first appears in Plymouth Colony in 1638, hence he could hardly have come in 1628 as claimed, for the very full records of that region and period did not ignore a settler's presence for a decade. To quote from Mr. Hawe's account: "His children were no doubt born in England and were probably by a first wife. When he died in 1654 his wife was Margaret, who, it seems clear, was his second wife and not the mother of his children. He apparently came to Yarmouth about 1639 with a family of grown children. He left Yarmouth about 1648." Another account is found in "The History of Malden" (1899), by D. P. Corey, p. 158: "Gabriel Wheldon, or Welding, who appears to have been a personal friend of Mr. Matthews, was with that minister at Yarmouth, and took the oath of fidelity with him. He came here [i.e., to Malden] with Mr. Matthews, and in his will calls himself 'of the 'Towne and church of Mauldon.' With his youngest son, John, he sold . . . four parcels of land in Arnold, county Nottingham. Essex Deeds, i. 24. This forbids the conclusion that he was a fellow countryman of Mr. Matthews; but from the apparently close connection of the parties, I am inclined to believe that his wife, Margaret, was from Wales, and perhaps owned a relationship with the pastor.", Further, as to Gabriel: "He died in Malden in January, 1653/4. . . With the exception of a legacy of ten shillings to the Malden church, his estate, valued at 40,11,8, was left to his wife; but the claims of his elder children caused a contention. . . . The widow, who may have been a second wife, returned to England. " She went back in 1655 with Mr. Matthews. Now since Gabriel Wheldon first appears in New England in 1638, and his daughter Ruth was married to Richard Taylor eight years later, it is almost certain that Ruth was born in England. Yet according to the Bearse manuscript, the mother of Ruth Wheldon was Margaret, an Indian princess. (Strange, how every Indian ancestress was a princess !) Did Gabriel Wheldon, one wonders, find the Indian girl straying about the British Isles? And why should the widow Margaret, if born an Indian, return to England with her pastor ? It is also to be noted that two independent students reached the conclusion, from the record sources examined, that Margaret was most probably a second wife, and hence not the mother of Ruth. No conscientious investigator, with any knowledge of conditions in colonial New England, could accept-the statement of the Bearse manuscript, totally undocumented, that the wife of Gabriel Wheldon was an Indian. Finally, we come to the account of Josiah3 Bearse, son of Joseph2 and Martha (Taylor) Bearse. The Bearce manuscript A IJSTIN BEARSE AND HIS INDIAN CONNECTIONS 115 According to "Early Wheldens of Yarmouth," by J. W. Hawes (Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, No. 43], Gabriel Whelden, born in England, first appears in Plymouth Colony in 1638, hence he could hardly have come in 1628 as claimed, for the very full records of that region and period did not ignore a settler's presence for a decade. To quote from Mr. Hawe's account: "His children were no doubt born in England and were probably by a first wife. When he died in 1654 his wife was Margaret, who, it seems clear, was his second wife and not the mother of his children. He apparently came to Yarmouth about 1639 with a family of grown children. He left Yarmouth about 1648." Another account is found in "The History of Malden" (1899), by D. P. Corey, p. 158: "Gabriel Wheldon, or Welding, who appears to have been a personal friend of Mr. Matthews, was with that minister at Yarmouth, and took the oath of fidelity with him. He came here [i.e., to Malden] with Mr. Matthews, and in his will calls himself 'of the 'Towne and church of Mauldon.' With his youngest son, John, he sold . . . four parcels of land in Arnold, county Nottingham. Essex Deeds, i. 24. This forbids the conclusion that he was a fellow countryman of Mr. Matthews; but from the apparently close connection of the parties, I am inclined to believe that his wife, Margaret, was from Wales, and perhaps owned a relationship with the pastor.", Further, as to Gabriel: "He died in Malden in January, 1653/4. . . With the exception of a legacy of ten shillings to the Malden church, his estate, valued at 40,11,8, was left to his wife; but the claims of his elder children caused a contention. . . . The widow, who may have been a second wife, returned to England. " She went back in 1655 with Mr. Matthews. Now since Gabriel Wheldon first appears in New England in 1638, and his daughter Ruth was married to Richard Taylor eight years later, it is almost certain that Ruth was born in England. Yet according to the Bearse manuscript, the mother of Ruth Wheldon was Margaret, an Indian princess. (Strange, how every Indian ancestress was a princess !) Did Gabriel Wheldon, one wonders, find the Indian girl straying about the British Isles? And why should the widow Margaret, if born an Indian, return to England with her pastor ? It is also to be noted that two independent students reached the conclusion, from the record sources examined, that Margaret was most probably a second wife, and hence not the mother of Ruth. No conscientious investigator, with any knowledge of conditions in colonial New England, could accept-the statement of the Bearse manuscript, totally undocumented, that the wife of Gabriel Wheldon was an Indian. Finally, we come to the account of Josiah3 Bearse, son of Joseph2 and Martha (Taylor) Bearse. The Bearce manuscript 116 THE,A4MERICAN GENALOGIST states that be married first, Nov. 1716, Zerviah Newcomb, "By Whom he had no Children"; and that he married second, 1718 at Mashpee, Mary Sissell, mother of all his eleven children. She is described as a full blood Indian princess (another princess), daughter of Isaac Sissell, a Momenet Sagamore, by his wife Mary Tuspuquin, daughter of Watuspuquin-Black William, Sachem at Nahant, by his wife Amie, full blood Indian princess, daughter of Massasoit. Now it is true that Otis in "Barnstable Families," vol. 1, pp. 55, 59, states that Josiah Bearse married first, 2 Nov. 1716, Zerviah Newcomb of Edgartown, and second, Mary --, and that he had no children by his first wife. Whether or not this was one of the numerous errors of Otis, the Newcomb Genealogy (1874) by John Bearse Newcomb gives a different account which is repeated in the revised edition of this work (1923), p. 21 in both volumes. According to this account, Zerviah Newcomb. Daughter of Lieut. Andrew and Anna (Bayes) Newcomb, married 2 Nov. 1716, Josiah Bearse. He resided at East Barnstable but was dismissed from the church there 29 Dec. 1734 to the church at Greenwich, Conn., to which place he soon after moved. In 1738 they removed to New Fairfield, Conn., where he died 31 Aug. 1753. The inscription on his wife's gravestone reads: In Memory of Zerviah Bearss died Sept. 5th in the 91st year of her age 1789." The eleven children are then given, born between 1719 and 1741. No mention is made of an alleged second wife, Mary, and the children are all attributed to Zerviah. It will be noted that Zerviah was married in 1716, survived her husband, who died in 1753, and died herself in 1789. Josiah could not therefore have had a second legal wife. Mr. F. E. Bearce admits this in his reference to Zerviah "after the death of her husband by law." The story therefore is that Josiah Bearse either committed a bigamous marriage, or kept a concubine, and that in spite of this his legal wife accompanied him on his removal to Connecticut. Such a story cannot be accepted, and is seemingly based on an error, either in the book by Otis, or in an original record at Barnstable. Both offenses were serious in the eyes of the law, and although committed occasionally, ,resulted in legal action against the sinner and usually also in divorce. Yet here we find that the church, after the birth of many of Josiah's children, gave him an honorable dismissal to the church in his now home. This proves that he remained in good standing with his church, as had his grandfather before him. If the story were true, he would have been cast out of the church. The vital and land records of New Fairfield were unfortunately destroyed. However, the Danbury Probate records (vol. 2, pp. 43, 45 AUSTIN BEABSE AND HIS INDIAN CONNECTIONS 117 and files at the State Library) afford quite conclusive evidence:- 1 Oct. 1753. "Josiah Bearss & Zurviah Bearss are appointed Administrators on the Estate of Josiah Bearss late of Newfairfield in sd District Deceised." 3 Dec. 1753. ".Joseph Bearss son to Josiah Bearss Late of Newfairfield in sd District Decesd Being of Lawfull, age to Chouse his Gardian and having maid Choise of his mother Zurviah Bearss to be his Gardian the Court Doth allow and approve thereof ." Distribution of the estate was not made until I July 1791, in other words after the death of the widow (Zerviah Newcomb). This distribution of "the Estate of Josiah Barss late of Newfairfield decest"; was made to "the heirs of Josiah Decst who was the eldest son of the Decest"; "Thomas Barss the second son of the Decst"; "Martha"; "Anna late wife of Benjamin Stevens her heirs"; "Mary the wife of Gideon Beardsley"; "Josep the third son of the Decst"; and "Benjamin Bars the fourth son of the Decest." So! Are we to believe that the legal wife and widow served as co-administrator on Josiah's estate with his eldest son by a concubine? Are we to believe that one of the younger sons by the concubine chose the legal wife for his guardian, calling her "his mother," and that Zerviah and the Court accepted the choice? And are we to believe that distributors, appointed by the Court, distributed Josiah's estate after his lawful widow's death to his illegitimate children? Such preposterous conclusions are forced upon us if we accept the statements made in Mr. Bearse's manuscript, "Who Our Forefathers Really Were." The children of Josiah and Zerviah (Newcomb) Bearse honored their mother by names which were bestowed on the next generation; "Zerush Bearse" and "Newcomb Bearss" both, married at Danbury in 1778 [Danbury Vital Records, 1-442, 406). It is not our province to inquire why a later descendant prefers to disown Zerviah Newcomb in favor of an alleged Indian concubine, and to besmirch the character of Josiah Bearse by making bastards of all his children. Not an atom of evidence has been adduced to show that Josiah ever had an Indian concubine or secondary wife; and the records quoted above prove conclusively that Zerviah Newcomb was his only wife and the mother of his children. When in three successive generations, such claims of Indian marriage are made, in several details at variance with primary record sources, and involving an entire sequence of improbabilities, we are justified in concluding that this account, whatever its source, traditional or otherwise, cannot be accepted as authentic. 118 THE AMERICAN GENEALOGIST Since the alleged claims of Indian marriage and descent in the second and third generations have been exposed as false and unacceptable, we have a legitimate basis for the deduction that the statement about Austin Bearse, the first settler, is of the same unsubstantial texture. In conclusion, a few general observations may be apropos. First: very few white immigrants to New England in colonial days married Indians; differences of race, language and culture were too great, and for much of the colonial period, relations between the European settlers and the native Americans were unfriendly if not actively hostile. Second: many traditions of Indian ancestry have been encountered, but such traditions have rarely been proved, and usually they can be disproved or their improbability clearly demonstrated. Third: some people do not wish to have Indian ancestry proved, while others like the "romance" of a remote Indian "princess" in the ancestral tree. The present writer has no bias in the matter, one way or the other, and desires only to ascertain the historic fact when investigating such a tradition or claim. Every person has a right to examine the historical basis for genealogical statements that have been published either in printed form (as this was in the Utah magazine above cited) or by the gift of manuscript data to libraries (such as the Library of Congress) where they may be consulted by the general public; and every person has the right to publish his own conclusions, based on such an examination. The present writer, in availing himself of this privilege, wishes it clearly understood that the bona fide nature of statements herein criticized is not questioned, merely their historical accuracy.