For the young ones in the family here is a story of the Indian friends of Pilgrim George Soule. These stories are taken from the Soule Kindred Newsletter Volume Xii, No. 1, January 1978.
There were at least four individual Indians who were close friends with the Pilgrims. One famous Indian was the Great Sachem (Chief) of the Wampanoags. This assures us that George was very familiar with Indians and their ways.
The first acquaintance the Pilgrims made was with a handsome man called Samoset. On a fair warm day in March 1621, Miles Standish had called George Soule, John Alden, and John Howland along with all the other stronger men together to finish some military orders they had started before but had been interrupted. Suddenly the men looked up to see a nearly naked savage. They were alarmed, but they watched as he walked on very boldly between the newly built houses. He presented himself to them where they stood and said in perfect English “Welcome!” Can you imagine the surprise and amazement George felt?
We know Samoset was handsome because the Pilgrims called him “seemly” a word which meant the same.
“He said his name was Samoset,” we read from Bradford’s Journal. “And he was not of these parts, but from Mortiggon, it lying a days sail with great wind, and five days if by land.”
He had learned English from the English fishermen who came to fish at Monhiggan Island. He had come to Plymouth eight months before. The wind came up a little and they put a coat about his shoulders as he wore only a leather about his waist with a fringe about a span long. He was a tall, straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, short before and no hair on his face at all. He carried a bow and two arrows, one headed and one unheaded.
They talked all afternoon with him and when he did not choose to leave they decided to put him on shipboard for the night as a safety measure. The Mayflower lay at anchor in the bay but the wind was high and the tide running out so they lodged him that night at Stephen Hopkins house. They watched him throughout the night but he slept soundly and left in the morning. He left with a promise to return later with a friend of his who could speak even better English than he. He said the name of his friend was Squanto.
Very little is known of Massasoit before the Pilgrims came to Plymouth. He was born in 1580 and became Sachem of the Wampanoags in 1607. He had the reputation of being a great warrior in his youth. He had an able body, was grave of countenance and spare of speech. In his dress he appeared little different from his followers except a great chain of white bone beads about his neck.
He signed a treaty with the Pilgrims which was kept until he died. He was well respected by the Pilgrims and became a close friend of Edward Winslow whom he called, “Win-snow.” Once when Massasoit thought he was dying, Winslow traveled to his home in the tribe and treated him. Winslow wrote of this very touching time of warmth and understanding between them.
In 1655 Edward Winslow died. (George Soule came to America on the Mayflower as a tutor to Edward Winslow’s children.) Massasoit knew his time was running short so he turned over his leadership to his sons, Wamsutta and Pometacon. Thinking it might keep up good relations with the Pilgrim Colony, he ordered his sons to go to Plymouth to adopt English names. The magistrates were so impressed with the regal bearing of the two young giants that they named the older one Alexander and the younger, Philip, after Alexander the Great and Philip of Macedon the two great kings who lived long ago.
Sometme in 1662, Massasoit died. Many Indian dignitaries came, and many beautiful words were spoken at the services for this man of peace, but perhaps the most moving tribute was made almost forty years earlier when Hobomok spoke the tribute (below) to the Great Sachem when he told Edward Winslow.
Hobomok led Winslow on journeys into Indian areas. He lived all his life with Miles Standish, so of course George Soule would have known him well. Hobomok respected Massasoit. Once he spoke of Massasoit to Edward Winslow saying, “You will never see his like again among the Indians, he was not a liar, nor was he bloody and cruel like some other Indians. From anger he was soon reclaimed, easy to be reconciled toward those who had offended him. His reason was such that he could receive advise from lesser men, and he governed his people with fewer strokes than others gave. He was truly loving when he loved, he oftimes restrained the malice of the Indians against the English. He is the most faithful friend the English have.”