The last time I did an event at Bank Square Books (May 4), Bailey and I met all kinds of locals, tourists and authors. I was especially excited to meet author Leigh Fought, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, History, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY. She said, "I must say that seeing so many people on the street who are interested in the history of Mystic, interested in reading, and interested in supporting a local bookstore is beyond heartening!" Dr. Fought is the author of a book I used as a source in my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail. Her book, A History of Mystic Connecticut: From Pequot Village to Tourist Town, is a great read for anyone wanting to know about the life in Mystic from the Mystic Massacre to our present age as a tourist spot. I learned the following about the Mystic Massacre from reading her book. Dr. Fought goes into such well-written and understandable detail on this important piece of history, however, that I decided not to include it in my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail because I feel you should read it first hand from her (you should also read her account of Benedict Arnold's attack on this area as well). For a quick summary of my limited understanding of the Mystic Massacre and the controversy over the statue of Captain John Mason that once stood in Mystic (locals, not realizing it had been moved to a less controversial site outside of Mystic, gave me directions for finding it on Pequot Ave, the site of the massacre, because they wanted me to consider it as one of "The 7 Wonders of Mystic"). The following is an excerpt from my Mystic Seafarer's Trail manuscript, which never made it into my book;
The statue of Captain John Mason in Mystic celebrated the defeat of the Pequot Indians 375 years ago. The Pequot War, which had a major impact on early American history, involved disputes over control of the fur trade. It’s a very complicated series of retaliations over murders and kidnappings, which began when the Pequots killed an Indian tribe traveling through their territory on their way to a Dutch trading post. The English, under Captain John Mason, along with the Mohegan and Narragansett tribes, joined forces against the Pequots in their stockade-walled village in 1637, once located on the hill where my house now sits. They burned the village to the ground, killing at least 400 Pequots, including women and children. Several inhabitants managed to escape over the wall, but others who tried where captured and sold into slavery. The majority of the remaining Pequots were hunted down and killed or enslaved by native Indian tribes and European slave traders. The Treaty of Hartford officially ended the Pequot War in 1638. The English began to settle the area 16 years later.
Although the Native Americans who enslaved Pequot survivors forbade them to speak their native language or even the name of their tribe, the Pequot name is everywhere in Mystic--from trails to a health center-- but I could find nothing tangible suggesting where they once lived. Yet, when I told several locals I met while walking Bailey that I was on a quest to find “The Seven Wonders of Mystic,” many replied, “You should check out the large statue of Captain Mason at the intersection of Pequot Rd and Clift St. It marks the area where the Mystic massacre occurred.” Archeological digs continue to unearth pieces of English metal uniform buttons, musket balls and arrowheads, confirming the accuracy of the site. As I walked the backstreets near my house to get there, all I saw was a grassy mound in the middle of the road with a small evergreen tree on it. So, where was the statue? My first clue was found in a short walking-tour book published by the Mystic River Historical Society: “At the top of the hill is the site of the John Mason Monument, erected by the State of Connecticut in 1889. Following a great deal of controversy, the State recently removed the monument from Mystic and relocated it to Windsor, Connecticut [where Captain John Mason once lived].”
Although many locals hadn’t realized the monument had been relocated in 1996 as a compromise to the descendants of the surviving Pequot (who naturally resented the celebration of their near-annihilation), my neighbors were certainly aware when the Mashantucket Pequots--those who descend from the Pequot survivors enslaved by the Mohegans--opened Foxwoods, the largest resort casino in the Northeast. In fact, many of them wanted me to include its “Emerald City” exterior as one of “The Seven Wonders of Mystic.” I agreed with their assessment of the site, my first view of the resort did give me a “wow” feeling, but it wasn’t located in Mystic, it was located on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation in nearby Ledyard.
Two read the first few chapters of what DID make it into the published copy of Mystic Seafarer's Trail, visit the book on Amazon and click on the "LOOK INSIDE" feature at: http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Seafarers-Trail-Titanics-ebook/dp/B00A3RX85E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369570725&sr=8-1&keywords=mystic+seafarers+trail