History of Mollyockett
The Last of the Androscoggins
Abenaki Healing Woman
Research by Nancy Lecompte - "Canyon Wolf"
Her Indian name was Singing Bird. Her Christian name was Marie Agatha. She probably pronounced it "Mali Agget" which sounded like Molly Ockett to the English settlers. Molly is undoubtedly the most well-known Abenaki who ever walked in the forests of Western Maine. Legend, romance, and mystery have always been favorite topics for writers and Molly definitely has received her share of these stories. It has been very frustrating to sort out truth from fantasy.
Who was Molly, really! Molly was once referred to as "Androscoggin Valley's Florence Nightingale." A romantic title for a lone Indian squaw, but very well deserved. First and foremost Molly was an Abenaki healing woman. She wandered throughout the Upper Androscoggin and Connecticut Rivers in traditional Abenaki manner. She collected her healing medicines and provided for herself as she had been taught by her ancestors. Molly was a fine hunter. If she made a large kill near a settlement she would seek help from the locals in dragging the kill out and shared generously with her assistants. She administered her remedies to the settlers whenever and whereever there was a need, never accepting more than one copper penny for her services. Molly was the only doctor available to most of these early settlers. A story told by the Hamlin family of Paris Hill tells of her saving the life of the infant Hannibal Hamlin and predicting that he would become a very famous man. She touched their lives in many positive ways.
Molly was described as a "pretty, gentle, generous squaw ...possessed a large frame and features, and walked remarkably erect even in old age" and "kind in her disposition and unswerving in her devotion to truth." Molly generally got along well with whites but sometimes had problems understanding their attitudes. One Sunday Molly picked some blueberries and brought them to Mrs. Chapman of Bethel. The woman scolded Molly for picking berries on Sunday. When Molly returned several weeks later she said "Choke me! I was right in picking the blueberries on Sunday, it was so pleasant, and I was so happy that the Great Spirit had provided them for me." Some say she converted from Catholic to Methodist. She is quoted as saying Methodists were "drefful clever folks" and at times she attended their church services. She was probably just covering all the bases.
One writer describes her normal dress as a "long one piece dress to her ankles, sleeves cut half way to wrists, fringed at hemline and sleeves, leather band around her forehead with single white feather in the back." Most accounts describe her as dressing in the fashion common to Indians and wearing a pointed cap. The first sounds like a made up "Indian Princess" to me. The second description, although vague, mentions the pointed cap that would be appropriate for an Abenaki woman of this time period.
Molly was well known in Poland where she often visited the springs. Molly claimed the springs had medicinal powers. The local residents paid little attention to her as many thought of her as an old drunken squaw or a witch. However, Molly often visited the modest Inn of Wentworth Ricker and always received a cordial welcome. Mr. Ricker's family must have paid some attention to her beliefs, for it was his descendants that established the famous Poland Springs Resort. Another man from West Poland also listened to Molly. He fondly remembered some thoughts she shared with him when he was a young boy. She told him "Never marry a woman who don't love flowers or trust a person who hates music or children. When you find yourself in bad company get out of it at once and remember that as you pass through life's journey your greatest troubles will be found to result from ignorance." Sounds like real good advice to me.
Molly definitely had a sense of humor. One story tells of how she coned Wentworth Ricker out of a bottle of rum one very cold night by convincing him that she was about to die from a tooth ache. Another tells how she fooled a priest out of $40 around 1774. She traveled to the Priest in Canada and explained that her husband had died without the benefit of absolution. After the priest performed the prayers, Molly asked if her husband was now released from purgatory. The priest replied that he was on his way to heaven. Molly scooped up the money she had offered. The priest became upset and said that he would send her husband back to purgatory. Molly replied "No you can't. Me sannap (husband), be cunning. Him no get in bad place but once. When him get in bad place once and get out safe he stick up stake so him know."
When Molly was in the Fryeburg vicinity she camped in a cave-like rock shelter near the base of Jockey Cap Mountain. She had a birch bark camp at Bethel on the North side of the Androscoggin River. At Andover she was known for her beautiful baskets and other small crafts that she sold to the locals. The histories of Andover, Rumford, Canton, Poland, Minot, Trap Corner, Paris Hill, Bethel, North Conway, Fryeburg, and Baldwin all proudly claim that Molly was a resident of their town. Molly's nomadic lifestyle would lead to established camp sites in these places and many others as well. Molly claimed the lands of these towns as belonging to her by birthright. Using white man's logic I guess they felt justified in claiming her as theirs.
Molly has said that she was the daughter and granddaughter of chiefs. This has fueled a multitude of stories about Molly the "Indian Princess," daughter of Paugus (as if he was the only chief in this area!). It has been written that she was orphaned at a young age in the raid by Lovewell on the Pequaket Village (Fryeburg) in 1725 when Paugas was killed. If this is true she would have been at least 91 when she died. Another story states that she was 15 when she hid in the bushes during the raid by Roger's Rangers at Odanak (St. Francis) in 1759. This would put her birth around 1744 and her age at death around 72. This is backed up by a story Molly told a friend of traveling to Canada when the trail was littered with the skeletons of her people. She said she was young when she made the trip. Around 1755 smallpox nearly wiped out the bands living in the Upper Androscoggin and Upper Connecticut River. This age question is a good example of how history becomes confused by writers who are interested in telling a good story.
Molly treated Henry Tufts for a serious knife wound around 1772. At that time they were with the Cowas Bands of Swassin, Philip, & Tomhegan in the Upper Androscoggin. Henry lived with these bands for 3 years. He recorded that they traveled to Quebec each spring to trade their winter furs for blankets, guns, and ammunition. Henry referred to Molly, Sabatis, and Philip as doctors. He was eager to learn about Abenaki medicine and asked questions. He said "In general they were explicit in communication, still I thought them in possession of secrets they cared not to reveal."
Col. Clark of Boston was an early trader in the White Mountains and Molly's friend. She saved his life in 1781 and he was forever in her debt. Molly overheard Tomhegan planning a raid. The men were drinking heavily so she slipped away and traveled all night to warn her friend. In gratitude, Clark persuaded her to live in Boston where he would provide for her. She was not cut out for city life and soon returned to her homelands.
A Captain Sussup (Molly's husband or son?) was the head of a band that wintered near the headwaters of the Missisquoi River in Vermont during the winter of 1799-1800. Molly was with the band at this time. White settlers in the area remarked that the band was in an "almost starving condition...the deer and moose being destroyed by the settlers." Their principle means of subsistence was baskets, birch bark containers, and trinkets that they sold to the settlers.
Information about Molly's husband(s) and children is very confusing at best. It seems she was properly married to Capt. John Sussup in 1766 but she is also reported living with Sabatis during this marriage. It is believed she had children by both men.
Captain John Sussup (John Joseph) served with the French at the defeat of Braddock's English army in 1755 and with the Americans during the Revolution.
Sabatis was captured as a young boy by Roger's Rangers in their attack on St. Francis in 1759. It is said he was very fond of liquor and Molly eventually parted company with him because he was very foul when drunk.
We know that Molly had a daughter, Molly (sometimes called Molly Sussup and sometimes Molly Peol) who married a Penobscot (possibly Peol Sussup). She attended school at Bethel and spoke fluent English. A man known as Captain John Sussup born about 1768 was probably Molly's son by Captain Sussup. It is likely another daughter was born around 1769 and was the child of Sabatis. In 1798 Molly traveled to Carritunk to assist a son known a Paseel (Basil) to recover from wounds he received in a fight. One daughter is thought to have married a white man and was living in Derby, Vermont by 1800.
In 1816 Molly was camped with Metallic at Lake Molechunkamunk (Upper Richardson Lake). She became ill while camped here. Metallic reportedly brought her to Andover and stayed with her until the Bragg family took over her care.
Molly is buried in a cemetery at the town of Andover where she died. Sometime after her death a head stone was placed on her grave. The stone reads: "MOLLOCKET Baptized Mary Agatha, died in the Christian Faith, August 2, A.D., 1816. The Last of the Pequakets." She died a ward of the State. Her caretakers where the family of Thomas Bragg. Mr. Bragg made her a cedar camp in a clump of pines near his house. Just before her death, she asked to be carried out of her camp and placed on the ground under the sky. She was content that she had lived an honorable life and was beginning her journey to Heaven.
- For additional information on Molly check out "HENRY TUFTS on life with the Abenaki in 1772"
- Visit her grave site in Andover