Golden Hill Indians History Timeline

The Golden Hill Paugussett Indians (a state-recognized tribe in Connecticut) since the arrival of European colonist settlers.

1600

1633
The First English arrive in Connecticut, establishing settlements in Windsor, Wethersfield and Harford. Estimated native American population: 12,000 to 20,000.
1637
A force of English and Indian allies attack the powerful Pequots in Mystic. Hundreds of members of the tribe are killed; survivors flee west. The Pequots took Paugussetts into a swamp in Southport during the Great Swamp Fight. The Paugussetts were unwilling hostages, not "allies" as the English alleged in order to help themselves to "conquered land."
1639
Towns of Stratford and Fairfield established on Paugussett lands by English Puritans.
1644
Black Rock and the West End of Bridgeport are settled as 'Stratfield' by Puritans from Concord, Massachusetts.
1645
Governor Kieft of New Netherlands wages war on the Siwanoy tribe, aided and abetted by 150 mercenary troops from the Connecticut colony under the leadership of Capt. John Underhill. This war culminates with the destruction of the Siwanoy fort at the village of Petuquapaens, located near Stamford, Connecticut, with a the massacre of 500 to 700 Indians.
1650
1650's: records are "lost". The first volume of land records of both Stratford and Fairfield 'mysteriously' disappear, leaving future generations unable to ascertain how legal title to the lands in both communities was obtained from the Indians. The 'official' statement was that it was all 'conquered' land due to the Paugussetts' so-called alliance with the Pequots.
1659
The Golden Hill reservation was originally 160 acres. When Washington Ave was built, it cut through tribal lands. Reservation lands were also laid out at the Great Planting Field (now Mountain Grove Cemetery) and Wolf Pit Neck (present Seaside Park).
1659
The General Court of the Connecticut Colony lays out 160 acres to create the Golden Hill Reservation in the center of Bridgeport, oldest extant reservation in America. Reservation lands were also laid out at the Great Planting Field (now Mountain Grove Cemetery) and Wolf Pit Neck (present Seaside Park).
1675
King Philip's War weakens New England Indian tribes permanently Important to add that the Paugussetts did not join the uprising and fight against their English neighbors.
1680
Construction of Washington Avenue cuts through the Golden Hill reservation, while the Indian land size was reduced down to 80 acres (from 160 acres). At the time, the reservation contained 100 wigwams, each home to two extended families.
1681
Great Planting Field and Wolf Pit Neck reservations are sold off by the Town of Fairfield in the aftermath of King Phillip's War. Refugees are relocated onto the already-overtaxed Golden Hill reservation.

1700

1710
Golden Hill reservation is reduced down to 25 wigwams as Indians flee famine conditions and population pressures from the expanding English settlements.
1730
Indian Gideon Mauwee establishes a permanent settlement at a prime hunting and fishing place on the Housatonic River in Kent, inviting displaced Indians from all over Connecticut to join him. It is the nucleus of the Schaghticoke tribe.
1763
Golden Hill Indians file protest with the Connecticut General Court that whites had taken over 7/8 of their reservation lands, pastured their hogs and cattle in the cornfields the Paugussetts needed for sustenance, and pulled down the wigwams they needed for shelter.
1765
The General Court absolves the white squatters, reducing the reservation down to its last 12 acres. The Indians are 'compensated' with an eight-acre rock-strewn woodlot three miles distant at a place that would become known as 'Chopsey Hill' after John Chops, its Paugussett inhabitant. After complaints of European settler encroachment on indian land, the General Assembly gives the Golden Hill 20 abutting acres now known as the Nimrod Lot and the Rocky Hill Lot. Golden Hill remained the seat of the chief of the tribe, Tom Sherman, and his clan, who were regarded as the keepers of this sacred place.
1776
The Revolutionary War begins. Tom Sherman joins an Indian brigade and fights zealously for the Patriot cause.
1790
The First congress of the United States passes the Indian Trade and Non-Intercourse Act, requiring that Congress approve any sale of Indian land.

1800

1802
The Connecticut General Assembly permits the sale of the Nimrod and Rocky Hill lots, with the proceeds put in trust for the Golden Hill tribe. Tribal land in other towns is sold, or purchased and re-sold.
1821
Settlement begins of an Indian village on the shores of Bridgeport Harbor a mile to the south of the town center.
1825
William Sherman, pivotal chieftain of the Paugussett tribe, is born, probably at a woodland camp in the town of Monroe. He becomes first mate on whaling ships and ventures around the world eight times.
1828
Turkey Hill Paugussett Joel Freeman moves from Derby to the Bridgeport Indian settlement and becomes its leader for the next 37 years.
1829
Nanticoke Indian John Johnson moves from Maryland, marries a Paugussett woman, and constructs a home next to Joel Freeman. The Nanticokes are culturally and linguistically closely aligned with the Paugussett tribe.
1835
Joel Freeman establishes Zion Church in the South End settlement of Bridgeport.
1841
The State of Connecticut authorizes funds for an Indian school in the South End community on the petition of Joel Freeman (sold 14 years later).
1841
A tribal overseer buys 20 acres in the town of Trumbull for the tribe and sold 14 years later.
1846
Free lending library is established for residents of the South End Indian community.
1853
A major resort hotel is constructed at the center of the South End village, financed by Indian Minot Munson of White Plains, NY.
1854
The entire 20 acres of Trumbull indian reservation was sold by the overseer. William Sherman purchased a quarter-acre across the road 21 years later.
1857
William Sherman returns from his whaling voyages and settles in the South End community. After marrying a Pequot wife from New London, he joins his Indian relatives in the rural village of Nichols, located eight miles away in the town of Trumbull.
1861
Civil War. Indians from the South End settlement enlist together and fight valiantly in many of the major battles. Several die in action.
1886
Rev. Samuel Orcutt completes his History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport. It gives a major biography of William Sherman and adds a detailed tribal history.
1886
William Sherman deeds his home and lot over to the tribal overseer in perpetuity as a permanent land base for the Golden Hill tribe. He dies a few short months later.
1893
Ethel Sherman, the daughter of a Paugussett and a Pequot, is born. She will marry four times and become Rising Star, clan mother of the Golden Hill tribe.

1900

1916
Aurelius H. Piper, the only son of Ethel Sherman, is born. His father is a Cherokee, according to a genealogy. Piper gradually assumes leadership of the tribe and becomes known as Chief Big Eagle.
1933
Ethel Sherman installed as 'Princess Rising Star' in elaborate ceremonies at the reservation. It is attended by noted Indian activists from across America.
1935
State Parks and Forestry Commission assumes oversight of Connecticut's four recognized Indian tribes.
1938
George Sherman, chief of the Golden Hill tribe following the death of his father William, dies. He is succeeded by his son Edward, 'Chief Black Hawk'.
1940
Most of South End Paugussett community is bulldozed to make way for Marina Apartments
1941
1941--Commissioner of Welfare of the State of Connecticut assumes oversight of Indian tribes from Parks and Forestry Commission.
1945
Aurelius H. Piper Jr. is born to Big Eagle's second wife. After a career as a social worker, he will assume leadership of the tribe as Chief Quiet Hawk
1959
Aurelius Piper elevated to 'Chief Big Eagle.'
1974
Chief Black Hawk dies; his leadership role is assumed by Chief Big Eagle.
1974
Chief Big Eagle named to Connecticut Indian Affairs Council.
1976
State of Connecticut demolishes William Sherman's century-old home to be replaced with a new log cabin.
1978
Tribe awarded grant to purchase 108 acres of land in Colchester for second reservation.
1982
Tribe files petition with U.S. Department of Interior seeking Federal recognition.
1985
Claude Clayton Smith authors "Quarter Acre of Heartache", delineating the struggles of Chief Big Eagle.
1991
Chief Big Eagle becomes traditional chief; his son Chief Quiet Hawk assumes his active leadership role.
1992
Chief Quiet Hawk files land claims for 12-acre Nimrod Lot and 8-acre Rocky Hill lot in Bridgeport and 19 3/4 Turkey Meadows reservation in Trumbull, taken from the tribe in violation of the Indian Non-Intercourse Act of 1790.
1992
Franz Wojciechowski publishes his Ethnohistory of the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribes, a major anthropological study.
1998
Homes of Mary and Eliza Freeman, sisters of Joel Freeman, are enrolled in the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1848, they are the last structures to survive of the historic South End community.
2007
Charles Brilvitch writes "The History of the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe", which fills in the missing gaps of 19th and 20th century history.

This is a Bridgeport Digital Humanities project.

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