Introducing My Brick Wall – Molly Pegan

I am an enrolled member of a state-recognized tribe, the Nipmuc Nation, also known as the Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc Indians. We have a reservation in Grafton, MA that has been occupied by our people since long before recorded time.

(See Many members of my community have tried to unravel the mystery of Molly Pegan/Piggen Pollock Woodland (abt. 1753 to after 1841) but none have succeeded, yet.
Here are the known facts about Molly Pegan:
  1. Molly was the mother of Nancy Pollock Curliss and grandmother of Mary Curliss Vickers.[1]
  2. Molly was 84 years old in 1837 when she filed a claim for a widow’s pension placing her date of birth about 1753.[2]
  3. Molly was raised in Killingly, CT by Rev. Aaron Brown.[3]
  4. Pegan is a surname commonly attributed to Nipmuc Indians in Natick, MA and Webster/Dudley, MA.[4]
  5. Granddaughter Mary Curliss Vickers identified grandmother, Molly, as a Dudley Indian.[5]
  6. Molly married twice – when she was 19 to Mingo Pollock and, after Mingo’s death in 1798, she married Jacob Woodland.[6]
  7. Molly was the mother of four children – Nancy, Diana, Hannah and Pero.[7]
  8. Molly was living with Christopher Curliss/Corlis, husband of daughter, Nancy, in 1841 in Thompson, CT.[8]
Here’s what I think:

Molly was the daughter of Thomas Pegan, a proprietor in the Indian towns of Natick and Dudley. This speculation is based on Thomas’ age and that he once resided in Killingly, CT. Also, the practice of removing Indian children from their homes and placing them in English households to be raised “properly” was common in colonial Massachusetts. It is uncertain if this was also practiced in neighboring NE Connecticut.

My main questions about Molly are:

  1. Who were Molly’s parents?
  2. Why was she “raised” by Rev. Brown?
  3. Where was Molly born?
  4. Where and when did she die?
  5. Is Molly one of the Nipmuc Pegan Indians?
  6. Did she have siblings? If so, were they also raised by English families?

These records were searched:

Massachusetts Bay Indian Guardianship Records – Massachusetts Archives
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Indian Guardianship Records – Mass Archives
John Milton Earle Papers – American Antiquarian Society
Natick, MA Vital Records – Massachusetts Archives, Natick Town Hall
Dudley, MA Vital Records – Massachusetts Archives, Dudley Town Hall
Killingly, CT Vital Records – Connecticut State Library, Killingly Town Hall
Killingly, CT Town Records – Killingly Historical and Genealogical Society
Revolutionary War Pension Files
Census Records
Massachusetts Vital Records

These records need to be searched (or so I believe):

Early Connecticut Records (state and colony level) – Connecticut State Library
Rhode Island Vital Records – Worcester Public Librar
Probate and Court Records in Windham County, CT
Vital and Town Records in towns surrounding Killingly (in Windham County).

My Plan was/is:

  1. Begin with Killingly Town records. Extend investigation to Rev. Aaron Brown and his family/congregation.
  2. Search again through CT vital records for Killingly, Thompson and surrounding towns and Natick and Dudley, MA at both state and local levels.
  3. Investigate state/colony records for Connecticut and Windham County. Focus search on Indian/colored indentures and custody of Indian children.
  4. Research Mingo Pollock and Jacob Woodland – their origins, families, and neighbors.
  5. Research Thomas Pegan and other Pegans that may be related to Molly in central MA, NE CT and NW RI.

What do YOU think? How can I break this brick wall?

[1] H. Capron letter, 20 October 1859; letter to John Milton Earle, Commissioner to the Indians, Commonwealth of
Massachusetts; Earle, John Milton, Papers, 1652-1863, Mss. Dept., Mss. Boxes “E”, Octavo Vols. “E”, American
Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA.
[2] Deposition of Claimant, 27 May 1837, Molly Woodland, widow’s pension application no. W 17469; service of Mingo
Pollock (Pvt., Captain Stephen Crosby’s Co., Connecticut, Revolutionary War); Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land
Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca.
1775 – ca. 1900; Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files; NARA M804; Record Group
15; National Archives, Washington, DC.
[3] Deposition of Sarah Warren, 12 March 1838, Molly Woodland, widow’s pension application no. W 17469; NARA
M804; RC 15, National Archives, Washington, DC.
[4] Daniel R. Mandell, Behind the Frontier: Indians in 18th Century Eastern Massachusetts (Lincoln, NE: University of
Nebraska Press, 1996), 84.
[5] H. Capron letter to John Milton Earle, 28 October 1859; John Milton Earle Papers, AAS, Worcester, MA.
[6] Deposition of Claimant, Molly Woodland, widow’s pension application no. W 17469; NARA M804; RC 15, National
Archives, Washington, DC.
[7] H. Capron letter to John Milton Earle, 28 October 1859; John Milton Earle Papers, AAS, Worcester, MA.

[8] Bureau of the Census, 1840 Census of Pensioners Revolutionary or Military Services (Washington: Blair and Rives,
1841) 58.

4 thoughts on “Introducing My Brick Wall – Molly Pegan

  1. Hi, Cheryl. I am looking for Molly, as means to document lineage from the Anthony and Hamblin surnames:- Mingo Pollock b. 1750; m. Molly Pegan (as you know)- Pero Pollock b. 1772; m. Sarah NLN- Roxcellana “Roxce” Pollock b. 1798; m. Elisha Anthony b. 1796- Susan Anthony b. 1840; m. George W Hamblin b. 1832 (European and Narragansett)- Clarence E. Hamblin b. 1873; m Bessie Perkins b. 1890 (Nanticoke)- Bernard A. Hamblin SR b. 1911; m. Frances T Chandler b. 1913 (Pottawatmie)- Bernard A. Hamblin JR b. 1945; m. Beatrice M Tilghman b. 1945 (West African and p. Tuscarora People)- Bernard A Hamblin III b. 1971 (that would be me)I'd sure be interested in any more information you may find on Molly.

  2. Hi Cheryll and Bernard,I have traced my ancestry to Pero Pollock and I am excited to finally find information about his parents. I had suspected that Mingo was related to Pero, but I didn't have an age range for Mingo. Here is what I have so far for my lineage:Mingo Pollock b. 1750 m. Molly PeganPero Pollock b. 1772 m. Sarah NLNRoxcellana Pollock b. 1798 m. Elisha Anthony b. 1796Mary Anne Anthony b. 1826 m. Francis H. Douglass b. 1827Martha Anna Douglass Scott Cummings b. 1853 m George H. Scott b. 1842 George C. Scott b. 1880 m. Winifred Owens Scott Christopher b. 1883Dorothy Douglass Scott Briscoe b. 1904 m Eugene A, Briscoe b. 1908Jean M. Briscoe Nelson b. 1933 m Roscoe Nelson b. 1931Deborah L. Nelson Bush b. 1950 m. Donald R. Bush b. 1957Dymond L.R. Bush b. 1991 (me)I'm interested in any more information you find on Molly.

  3. Cheryll-I'm Ron Wiser, a direct descendant of James Quanahpohkit, also known as Rumneymarsh, also known as Wiser who resided in Natick, Massachusetts and was Nipmuck (through his great grandson Benjamin Wiser, born 1743). As I was reviewing DNA matches on today, I noted that a descendant of Christopher Vickers and Mary Curless shows up as a distant DNA match to my father. This may indicate that an ancestor of the Vickers (maybe Molly Pegan) and my ancestor James Wiser were somehow related. Have you had any more luck on your research on the Pegans? thanks

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