Thursday, January 21, 2016


In my previous post about my ancestor Thomas Chamberlain Jr I mentioned I'd found a research
paper entitled "John Chamberlain,The Indian Fighter At Pigwacket." It was presented by George
Chamberlain to the Maine Historical Society in 1897. I was fascinated by the title, so I read pat
the part about Thomas Jr to see what it was about. It turns out that John is my 1st cousin 8x removed, being Thomas' grandson, and Pigwacket was the Indian name for the location of the
Battle of Lovewell's Pond. The theme of the paper was whether John Chamberlain was the man responsible for the death of the Indian chief Paugus.

Here's the story:

The Chamberlain-Paugus tradition was first published at Fryeburg, Maine, in the year 1799, by Elijah Russell in his edition of Rev. Thomas Symmes' "Memoirs of the Fight at Piggwacket." It runs as follows: —
Several of the Indians, particularly Paugus their chief, were well known to Lovewell's men, and frequently conversed with each other during the engagement. In the course of the battle Paugus and John Chamberlain discoursed familiarly with each other; their guns had become foul from frequent firing; they washed their guns at the pond, and the latter assured Paugus that he should kill him; Paugus also menaced him, and bid defiance to his insinuations. When they had prepared their guns they loaded and discharged them, and Paugus fell.

This story was printed seventy-four years after the battle occurred, and one year after Noah Johnson, the last survivor of the battle, had died. Was this story a fabrication invented by Elijah Russell? Did it exist before 1799 in other parts of New England? Does it contain any of the elements of truth?

 Collections of the Maine Historical Society, published by the Society, Portland, Me. 1898
Ironically many other accounts of the battle credit another of my cousins, Seth Wyman, as being the man who'd killed Paugus.

It's an interesting paper, although it seemed to me that while George Chamberlain admits that there
was no factual evidence about the incident, or that his ancestor was even actually at at the battle, George wants to believe it's true.

If you are interested in judging for yourself, you can read the paper here.

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