The Wampanoag: Genealogical History of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

gpc5295Having become interested in local land records and ownership details, Dr. Jerome (Jay) Segel researched and wrote Owner Unknown: Your guide to Real Estate Treasure Hunting. His desire to produce this book came through his interest and research in uncovering land records related to his home on Martha’s Vineyard. Through this study, Jay developed and additional interest, of not a new passion, for Indian related records. He realized few details were provided in the existing histories as to the islands original owners, the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans.

Segel’s interest grew beyond land records to a desire to know every detail about these native people who made it possible for the original European colonists to survive. Without the support of the native people, the earliest colonists would likely never have learned to cultivate the local land, fish the waters, catch whales, or learn which local plants were edible. Putting together a small team of supporters and researches, chief among them Richard Andrew Pierce, a professional genealogists, they spent years researching every possible record in order to put together The Wampanoag Genealogical History of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts: Referenced to Bank’s History of Marha’s Vineyard, Mass.; Volume 1: Island History, People and Places from Sustained Contact Through the Early Federal Period.

The records uncovered provide details on some of the oldest American lineages, several dating back to the 1500s. Research for this book took the authors from coast to coast, and over to Europe; including, research in Sweden, England, Scotland, and France. Records of every type were unearthed and fully examined; including, nearly indecipherable source materials like disputes, debt cases, letters, births, marriages, and death records. Account book, sea voyages, Indian and colonial records, land, judicial, military, maritime, and religious histories all contributed varying amounts of information. Literally, every scrap of paper with names and information related to the Native population were examined and cross referenced in order to provide as detailed a book as possible. The result is nearly 680 pages of native genealogical information, the likes of which exist for few Native American groups.



About the Authors and Contributors



About Volume 1

How to Use This Book

Part 1: Background to the Research

Records, Repositories, and Resources

Historical Repositories and Services Used

Impact of Colonial Law on Genealogical/Historical Research


Native New England Chronology: In Historical Context

European Westward Efforts, Natives, and the Vineyard

The Native Vineyard Language

The Six Sachemdoms of Martha’s Vineyard

Native Vineyard Population Statistics

Part 2: Database of Martha’s Vineyard Natives and Relations

Part 3: Appendixes

Appendix 1: Alphabetical Key to Wampanoag Database

Appendix 2: Numerical Key to Wampanoag Database

Appendix 3: Cross-reference to Settlers in Banks’ History

Appendix 4: Residents of Nantucket County in the Database

Appendix 5: Blacks & Mulattos in the Database

Appendix 6: Families Highlighted in Volumes 2 & 3

Appendix 7: Indian Converts…by: Experience Mayhew: Index

Appendix 8: Early Land Transactions: Natives to Immigrants

Appendix 9: Census Sources for Martha’s Vineyard

Appendix 10: Sachems in and Around New England

Appendix 11: Native Place Names on Martha’s Vineyard

Appendix 12: Native Village Names of New England

Part 4: Three Generation Descendancy Charts

Preview of Volume 2: Family Genealogical History: Able



Map — The Six Sachemdoms of Martha’s Vineyard alias Nope


The Wampanoag Genealogical History of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is available from Family Roots Publishing.

The Schaghen Letter Goes on Display in Amsterdam

New Amsterdam 1665 The Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands’ national museum in Amsterdam, put the Schaghen Letter, documenting the purchase of Manhattan from the American Indians, on display Friday. The display also includes the first map of Manhattan, dated 1614.

The exhibit commemorates the 400th anniversary of the departure of Henry Hudson in April 1609 on the expedition that would lead to colonization of the New York area.

The Schaghen letter is a 1626 report by Dutch bureaucrat Pieter Schaghen, who interviewed a ship captain returning from the colony for government records. The captain told Schaghen colonists had purchased an island called “Manna Hatta” for 60 guilders worth of goods; including knives, chisels, pots, kettles, and blankets as well as shells” and other trinkets. Sixty guilders were equal to about a year’s pay for a Dutch soldier.

Read more about the exhibition at the Rijksmueuem website.

Read more about the exhibition in the April 3, 2009 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Our First Native American Ancestors Arrived as Two Migrations

According to new genetic evidence, it seems that the majority of the population of the Americas came into North America 15 to 17 thousand years ago, via Beringia – that being the landmass connecting Siberia and North America during the last ice age. One group migrated down the Pacific coastline, while another came in to an ice-free area just east of the Rocky Mountains. 

That being said, if you have Native American ancestry, you can pretty-well figure that your 60th great-grandparents were pioneers. Pretty interesting stuff.. Following is one of several press releases that brought this to my attention:

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and University of Pavia Study Reveals First Wave of Humans Migrating into Americas Likely Brought Along Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

America’s Earliest Ice Age People Included Diverse Genetic Groups Traveling Widely Separated Migratory Paths During the Same Time Period, According to Study by International Team of Scientists Featured on Next Week’s Cover of Current Biology. Molecular Geneticists Found Distinct Distribution and Migration Patterns by Analyzing in Depth for the First Time the Complete Genomes of Two Extremely Rare Native American Maternal DNA Groups.

SALT LAKE CITY and PAVIA, Italy (Jan. 8, 2009)—Genetic researchers from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) in Salt Lake City working with scientists from the University of Pavia in Italy today published a study shedding new light on the puzzling question of why Native Americans exhibited such extraordinary linguistic and cultural diversity when the first Europeans arrived in 1492.

Featured on the cover of Current Biology journal, the striking finding by an international team of researchers challenges the traditional idea that the first groups of humans to colonize the Americas came from a single population source, which would imply one language family, technology and culture, when they crossed an Ice Age land bridge connected to Asia 15-17,000 years ago.

By analyzing for the first time at the highest level of molecular resolution two rare lineages of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from modern Native Americans, geneticists identified separate migratory paths that marked the initial stages of human colonization. Traveling concurrently, one genetic group of Paleo-Indians followed the Pacific coastline route and arrived at the southern tip of South America, while the second group followed an ice-free corridor east of the Rocky Mountains and settled in the Great Plains and Great Lakes regions.

The evidence that separate groups of people with distinctive genetic roots entered the Americas independently at the same time strongly implies linguistic and cultural differences between them. “The origin of the first Americans is very controversial to archaeologists and even more so to linguists,” said study corresponding author Professor Antonio Torroni, heading the University of Pavia group. “Our genetic study reveals a scenario in which more than one language family could have arrived in the Americas with the earliest Paleo-Indians.” Torroni is a world-renowned population geneticist in the field of mtDNA research and the first to identify the major genetic groups to which 95 percent of Native Americans belong.

In March 2008, the same research team published a study that was the first to compile all known Native American mtDNA sequences into a single genetic tree with branches dated. Results showed almost all modern Native Americans descended from six ancestral founding mothers. They used the built-in molecular clock of DNA to establish the time the first humans moved into the Western Hemisphere, finding a narrow window between 15-17,000 years ago.

For both studies researchers combed the Sorenson database—the world’s largest collection of correlated genetic genealogy information containing DNA collected in more than 170 countries—for mtDNA belonging to Native American lineages. Then, using techniques developed at the University of Pavia, the samples were analyzed using a complete-mtDNA genome approach for the first time.

“Six major genetic lineages account for 95 percent of Native American mtDNA and are distributed everywhere in the Americas,” said first author Ugo Perego, director of operations at SMGF. “So we chose to analyze two rare genetic groups and eliminate that ‘statistical background noise.’ In this way, we found patterns that correspond to two separate migration routes.”

Today’s study analyzed two rare genetic groups. D4h3 spread into the Americas along the Pacific coast and, at the same time, X2a migrated inland through an ice-free corridor between the Cordilleran and the Laurentide glaciers. The D4h3 group is rare today in North America, while X2a is found exclusively in the U.S. and Canada, mainly in the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions. The six most common Native American mtDNA lineages are A2, B2, C1b, C1c, C1d and D1.

“This study does not end the debate,” said co-author Dr. Alessandro Achilli, researcher at the University of Pavia and assistant professor at the University of Perugia, “but the implications of our findings are significant. The distinct industries and technologies observed in North American archeological sites might be related to separate genetic groups using different migratory routes rather than being the result of in situ differentiation. Future research will dissect common pan-American lineages into sub-branches, and we do expect distribution of some of these subgroups will parallel that of D4h3 and X2a.”

The study, “Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare MtDNA Haplogroups,” was published online today by Current Biology and will be the cover story for the print version on Jan. 13, 2009.

About Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF; is a non-profit research organization that has created the world’s largest repository of correlated genetic and genealogical information. The free, publicly available SMGF database currently contains information about more than seven million ancestors through linked DNA samples and pedigree charts from more than 170 countries, or approximately 90 percent of the nations of the world. The foundation’s purpose is to foster a greater sense of identity, connection and belonging among all people by showing how closely we are connected as members of a single human family. 

From Jacob Moon, Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Public Relations