By the early 17th century, the Pawtucket were living alongside English settlers. Fearing raids by the Tarrantines, enemies from the North, the Pawtucket welcomed the protection of the new settlers (the “Tarrantines” were the Micmac, Passamoquoddy, Maliseet and sometimes Penobscot). Masconomet, the hereditary leader or “sagamore,” sold his farm in Ipswich and other Pawtucket homelands to John Winthrop, Jr. Masconomet had earlier (in 1629) rented cropland on Cape Ann to John Endicott, governor of the New England Company at Beverly-Salem.


Over time, native populations in coastal New England were ravaged by European diseases and greatly diminished in number. During the 1670s, the tranquil coexistence of the Pawtucket and the English came to an end following a disastrous Wampanoag war against the English in which the Pawtucket had tried to remain neutral. The native people in Essex County fled to northern New Hampshire and Vermont or to Canada, or were confined to reservations on the frontiers, or were forced into involuntary servitude in the towns. Gradually, their history, the memory of them and their role in shaping the American nation were largely erased.

The Cape Ann Museum presents and celebrates the people, history, art and culture of this special region. As the Museum prepares for its 150th anniversary, and Gloucester its 400th anniversary of the first European settlement on Cape Ann, the story of our area’s Indigenous people needs to be further explored and told anew. With its collection, programs and scholarship, the Museum is well poised to play a role in this important initiative.

Visit the online exhibit, “Unfolding Histories,” for more on this history.

Ed Becker, CAM Docent, with special thanks to Mary Ellen Lepionka, author and historian