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Magunco

by Frank J. Metcalf

 

This name is the name of an Indian Village that once stood on the south side of the Sudbury river and it has become intimately connected with the town in that it has been applied in these later times to the first hand fire­ engine, to one of the markets, a club, and the hill on whose slope the village stood, as well as to one of the largest farms that is situated on that hill. The spelling of the name is by no means uniform in the contemporary documents. Magunsquog, Magunkook, Makunkokoag, and Megonejuk are found, and Mr. Eliot, the missionary to the Indian and one who knew the Indian language well, spelled it Magwonkkomuk. The word means "place of the great bend" or as some say "place of the great trees," but either signification agrees with the facts for the place lies between the bend of the Sudbury river and Cold Spring Brook which flows into it, and it is covered with big trees.

"This tract of land was called "country land", that is, land not appropriated to white settlers, and was early occupied by the Indians. It was selected by John Eliot as suitable for one of his quarters and organized them into a civil community about 1660, Their wigwams were built on the southern declivity of the hill ... a place selected for several reasons. For on the knoll they put their fort for protection, and at the foot of the knoll was a spring of Iiving water ....

"The condition of the town in 1674 is thus described by Major Gookin, superintendent of Indian affairs:

Magunkaquog is the seventh of the old Praying towns. It is situated partly within the bounds of Natick and partly upon land granted by the country. It is near midway between Natick and Hassanamesit [Grafton]. The number of inhabitants   is about eleven families and about fifty-five souls, there are, men and women, eight members of the church at Natick and fifteen baptized persons. the quantity of land belonging to it is about three thousand acres. The Indians plant upon a great hill which is very fertile. These people worship God and keep the Sabbath, and observe civil order. There ruler's name is Pamhaman, a sober and active man and pious. Their teacher is named Job, a person well accepted for piety, and ability among them. This town was the last settling of the old towns. They have plenty of corn, and keep some cattle, horses and swine, for which the place is well accommodated![1]

Directions - June 1975

 


[1]Metcalf, Frank J. "Magunco" manuscript in the collection of the Ashland Historical Society.