Sunday, June 7, 2009


Deed signing kicks off Norwich 350th
Descendants re-enact founding of Norwich
Norwich Bulletin June 6, 2009

Norwich, Conn. — Ron Ward only recently discovered he was descended from one of Norwich’s founders.
But it was that link that brought him to the Royal Mohegan Burial Grounds Saturday, leaning over a piece of paper and signing his name and that of his ancestor, Major John Mason, during a re-enactment of the original 1659 deed signing for Norwich.

“I just think it’s great that my path brought me here to honor my grandfather 13 generations back,” Ward said.

On June 6, 1659, settlers from Old Saybrook purchased a nine-mile square, now known as Norwich, from Chief Uncas of the Mohegan tribe. The original deed signing took place on the burial grounds, and marked the sale of the land for 70 pounds of silver, or approximately $350. Mason, one of Norwich’s founders, took part in the signing.

Saturday, an estimated 200 people gathered around the members of the Mohegan Tribal Nation and re-enactors, all dressed in period clothing, for the ceremony, the first public event of Norwich’s 350th celebration.

At noon Saturday, all of the city’s church bells tolled for 350 seconds to mark the start of the celebration, which will continue throughout July.

Approximately 40 members of the Mohegan tribe and 40 re-enactors posing as settlers and founders filed into the burial grounds from different directions, meeting at the signing table for the ceremony to begin. After a reading of the history of the deed signing, City Council members and 16 direct descendants of original signers signed a new deed commemorating the occasion.

“It gave me chills, but good chills,” Mayor Benjamin Lathrop said. “To be a part of history, it’s overwhelming.”

Martha Kendall of Lebanon said she came to honor her ancestor and one of the original signers, Deacon Hugh Caulkins.

“It really gave me a good sense of history to what my ancestors may have looked like,” Kendall said.

Harry O’Keefe of Norwich said he attended the city’s 300th celebration when he was 9, and found Saturday’s ceremony a fitting way to begin the next milestone.

“I thought it was kind of cool,” O’Keefe said. “Original — not something you’re going to see everyday.”

EDDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: A great job of reporting by the Norwich Bulletin. The Mohegan Tribe could have had more paticipation, if the the tribal government had not been so critical, demanding that the Tribal members wearing Regalia. There were at least 20 tribal members there watching who were not wearing regalia. The Tribe should have partcipated better. We (the Mohegan Tribe) fell down on the project. Some tribal members said that maybe the the tribe shouldn't have been there at all. The reason given was that most of the orginal burial ground is under private homes, etc. Sixty (60) tribal members out of a possible eighteen hundered (1800)? What do you think? Was it a good day for Mohegans?

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