Mechoswodt, Sachem of Marossepinck

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Mechoswodt of Marossepinck

Also Known As: "Mecohgawodt"
Immediate Family:

Father of Tackapousha, Sachem of Massapequa and Catoneras

Occupation: Sachem of Marossepinck
Managed by: Nate Merrill
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mechoswodt, Sachem of Marossepinck

"The Matinecocks were generally peaceful toward the early European settlers, but a number of incidents led to hostilities at various times. Mechoswodt, the chief sachem of Marossepinck, Sintsinck and its dependencies, signed a deed on January 15, 1639 with some early Dutch settlers that conveyed the entire western half of Long Island to the Dutch. In the early settlement of Hempstead the settlers felt that this deed entitled them to all of the Matinecock lands. The Matinecocks fought this assumption vigorously as the Hempstead settlers threatened war against the Matinecocks. The Dutch attacked the Matinecock village of Matsepe during the winter of 1643-1644, killing more than 120 men and an unknown number of Matinecock women and children. The Matinecock sachem, Gauwarowe, then signed a peace agreement with the Dutch on April 15, 1644 agreeing not to support the still hostile Indian groups of Reckonhacky and Marechkaqieck.

"As English settlers began arriving in the 1640's and 1650's the disputes continued. The English brought with them cattle and other livestock which frequently overran the unfenced fields of Indian corn. The trade in liquor with the Indians helped to demoralize and disorganize them. Some of the Matinecocks responded by killing English livestock. Sometimes they called for prohibition of liquor and sometimes for increased trade for liquor.

"By 1650 many of the Indians had already died off from epidemics of white man's diseases, the effects of wars with the Dutch, plus continuing battles with their own warring native enemies. Several of the Indian sachems began supporting the Dutch in the frequent wars that erupted between the settlers and local Indian communities. When a group of Matinecocks were accused of stealing clothing from some settlers at Massapequa, the sachem Tackapousha expressed his anger by assuring the Dutch that he would control the Matinecocks and support the Dutch. A few years later Tackapousha supplied over 40 Matinecock warriors to the Dutch to assist them in their war against the Esopus in the mid-Hudson River valley in 1663.

"When New Netherland passed into English hands in 1664, the settlers at Hempstead renewed and stepped up their demands for the total eviction of the Matinecocks that remained. The men at Hempstead still felt that the land conveyance of 1639 gave them title to all of the Matinecock lands. The new English Governor demanded that the Hempstead claimants prove that the Matinecocks were party to the 1639 conveyance, which they were unable to do. In a document dated March 22, 1667 Thomas Underhill, Henry Redocke, and two other men got the Indian sachem, Tackapouche, to place his mark defining the Matinecock lands as bounded on the south by the Hempstead plains, on the west by Muscito Couve (Glen Cove), north by the sound, and east by "Oyster Bay Bounds."

"The Hempstead settlers continued to litigate, and finally in 1676 the remaining Matinecocks sold three parcels of land, each one mile square, at and around Muscito Couve (Glen Cove) for a total of 600 guilders of wampum. The last of the Matinecock lands in dispute were sold to the settlers in 1685.

"With the loss of their lands, many of the Matinecocks moved to join with the Poosepatucks, Shinnecocks and Montauks, which by the late 1600's had negotiated some of their own lands to be used as reservations. Those that chose to stay in their ancestral lands settled within small hamlets near the sites of their earlier villages. Some worked on the English plantations that began to flourish, some became midwives, and some made and sold handcrafts of various description. Significant numbers of Matinecocks became expert harpooners and played a major role in the success of the Long Island whaling industry. By 1732 the last remnants of any Matinecock villages disappeared from western Long Island."

[Matinecock Masonic Historial Society,, visited Jan. 9, 2009.]

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