Canton Massachusetts Historical Society




Ahautons Were Renowned Ponkapoag Indians

The name of Ahauton is mentioned as early as that of any Indian family in Ponkapoag. Many Ahautpons became Christians and several were educated. Old Ahauton, as he was called by the commissioners who visited his wigwam in 1667, was the son of Jumpum. And before he became a Christian he was obliged to pay two beaver-skins to William Blaxton, the first settler of Boston, as a penalty for having set traps in 1635 to catch Blaxton’s pigs. In 1642 he is mentioned as a guide and interpreter. In 1658, in the signing of the deed of Nantasket, he styles himself as of "Puncapaug". He also lived long enough to sign the deed of Boston in 1685. The Apostle John Eliot writes of him, "Our Chief ruler is Ahauton, an old, steadfast friend of the English, and loveth his country. He is more loved than feared; the reins of his bridle are too long."

Old Ahauton’s son William was a man of great attainments for an Indian of that time. He was one of the councillors of Squamaug, the Massachusetts sachem, was a teacher and preacher for his people, served as an interpreter, and also performed some military services for the Colonial government. In 1690 he visited Major-General Stoughton to find out what would be the best way to assure the safety of the friendly Indians and the English. Later he accompanied the Natick Indians to consult Judge Sewall on a similar friendly mission.

At a meeting held at Pecunit in 1704, the Ponkapoag Indians agreed that this benevolent man should have the improvement of Beaver meadow during his life for his "labors in the ministry" among them.

William Ahauton’s family life on Beaver meadow must not have been as rewarding as his preaching endeavors. Hunan writes, "The tradition that is the squaw of William Ahauton, of Pecunit, after having lived for ten years in great love with her husband, was condemned at a hearing before Justice Daniel Gookin in 1688 for conduct unbecoming a wife and mother."

Huntoon does not reveal the nature of the unbecoming conduct, for which Mrs. Ahauton apparently could have received the death penalty under the harsh laws of those days. Instead of the death sentence, the unfortunate Indian woman had to stand for an hour on the Boston gallows with a rope around her neck and then be returned to prison until the day she was publicly whipped by the Indian constable. The severe whipping was not to exceed thirty stripes according to the ruling in her case.

After going back to her home in the Pecunit wigwam, William’s squaw was unable to bear the disgrace of her punishment and reputedly "dashed out her brains" by jumping headfirst from a huge rock in a nearby field. The rock was known for years as Squaw Rock.