Mehitable Nickerson (Crosby) (1816 - 1892) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Areys Pond/South Orleans/Harwich, Barnstable , Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Harwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
Managed by: Elwin C. Nickerson
Last Updated:
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About Mehitable Nickerson (Crosby)

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE OF WAMPANOAG NATIVES

MEN

A number of early European observers were quick to admire the physical appearance of the male natives. Giovanni de Verrazano, the earliest of the European observers recorded his observations of the New England Indians as follows: “This is the goodliest people and of the fairest condition that we have found in this voyage; they exceed us in bigness, they are the color of brass, some of them incline to whiteness, others are of a yellow color, with long black hair which they carefully turn and deck up: they are of a sweet and pleasant countenance.” He described the female Indians to be “comely to behold: very graceful and well formed: of a sweet and pleasant countenance” and well mannered. Other observers described them as tall, straight, muscular and well-proportioned. Obesity and deformities were rare indeed. Their cheekbones were high and prominent - the eyes widely separated. William Wood, in 1634, described the natives as: “...amiable to behold,” and“...high foreheaded, black ey'd, black haired, broad shouldered, brawny armed, long and slender handed, out-nosed, out-breasted, small waisted, lanke bellied, well thighed, flat kneed, handsome growne leggs, and small feet…” The skin was a light and tawny or bronzed color and remarkably clear. They seem to have had gleaming white teeth which were sound and regular. John Josselyn also made note of the whiteness of their teeth, “which the natives account the most necessary and best parts of man. The teeth of the elderly might be worn down from much eating of stone-ground cornmeal, but were seldom missing. Samuel de Champlain called them handsome, adding, “They exceed us in size.” [Remains from a burial site have been measured and it was found the average height to be about five feet, ten inches.] John Smith considered them well-proportioned and goodly people. Few or none were cross-eyed, blind, lame or hunchbacked. Observers in the years that followed described the Indian women as attractive, well-proportioned, physically well favored, of middle height and with finely cut features. All observers agreed as to their erect carriage and ability to bear great burdens without stooping. The girls and young women, not yet bent by their burdens, were likely to have been every bit as attractive as their colonial counterparts. The women kept their skin smooth with fish oil and eagle fat. As with men, red pigment was mixed to give a reddish coloration. In addition, bright red was applied to the forehead, temples and cheeks. Young women favored a black pigment around the eyes and on the forehead. The body also received its share of decorative paints.

CHILDREN

The youngsters' physical qualities seem to have drawn special praise. Roger Williams reported: “Their children are never Rickety nor shall you ever see a Bandy-leg'd or Crooked Indian.” “No fools among Indians, but some are born deaf and so dumb.” The general good health among the young Indians was in marked contrast to the misery of children reported in the Europe of the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Mehitable Nickerson's Timeline

1816
November 29, 1816
Barnstable , Massachusetts, United States
1837
November 14, 1837
Age 20
1839
September 23, 1839
Age 22
Harwich, Barnstable, MA, USA
1846
December 27, 1846
Age 30
1892
June 22, 1892
Age 75
Harwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
1892
Age 75
East Harwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts