An old Lunney family rumor confirmed?

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A long-held “rumor” in the Lunney Family of Maine is that Mehitable (Pattee) Taylor, the grandmother of Susan (Taylor) Lunney, was a Native American Indian.

This “rumor” started because, in some old family photographs, Mehitable Pattee definitely appears to be an Indian; however, in such old black & white photographs, well-tanned or sunburned farm folk can often appear to be Indians.

As I researched the Pattee family genealogy, I at first concluded that the “Indian” rumor was false. The Pattee’s were a very old New England family of English and French Huguenot origins.

It was not until I had researched seven generations of the extended Pattee family tree in New England that I found the Native American ancestor:

  1. Mehitable Pattee married Isaiah Taylor and had eleven children.
  2. Joseph Pattee married “Polly” Lowe and had a daughter, Mehitable Pattee.
  3. Mary Hadley married John Pattee and had a son, Joseph Pattee.
  4. Hannah Flanders married Joseph Hadley and had a daughter, Mary Hadley.
  5. Joseph Flanders married Esther Cash and had a daughter, Hannah Flanders.
  6. Stephen Flanders, Jr. married Abigail Carter and had a son, Joseph Flanders.
  7. Jane “Sandusky”, “Indian princess”, married Stephen Flanders and had a son, Steven Flanders, Jr.

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JANE “SANDUSKY”, “Indian princess”, was supposedly born around 1622 at “Gorgeana”, now known as York, Maine.  Her name was recorded as “Sandusky”, but she probably did not have a surname, since she was supposedly a Christianized Indian of the “Sandusky” tribe. 

As late as the end of the 1500’s, the Sandusky tribe lived on the banks of the Sandusky River, south of Lake Erie.  The original Sandusky tribe split apart before 1600, with some parts going west and others northeast into upstate New York.  Some early missionaries from the Jamestown Colony reached that area of New York, and then took some of the Sandusky descendants into upper New England to become Christianized, which explains how Jane could have been born at “Gorgeana” (York, Maine).

Jane “Sandusky” married Stephen Flanders prior to 1646 at “Gorgeana”. Stephen Flanders, his wife Jane and two children moved to Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1649-50. Stephen and Jane “Sandusky” Flanders had seven children:

  1. Steven Flanders, Jr., born in 1646.
  2. Mary Flanders, born about 1648 and died about 1650.
  3. Mary Flanders, born in 1650 and died in 1719.
  4. Phillip Flanders, born on 14 July 14, 1652 at Salisbury, Massachusetts, married Martha Eaton Collins and died August 27, 1712 at Salisbury, Massachusetts.
  5. Sarah Flanders, born on November 5, 1654 at Salisbury, Massachusetts, married John Newhall and died on January 18, 1717.
  6. Naomi Flanders, born on December 15, 1656 at Salisbury, Massachusetts, married Benjamin Eastman and died July 24, 1718 at Salisbury, Massachusetts.
  7. John Flanders, born on February 11, 1658 at Salisbury, Massachusetts, married Elizabeth Sargent and died on December 24, 1716 at Salisbury, Massachusetts.

Jane “Sandusky” Flanders died on November 19, 1683 at about age 61 at Salisbury, Massachusetts.

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Some genealogists dispute that Jane “Sandusky” Flanders was an “Indian princess”, or any kind of an Indian, because colonial records indicate that she had an excellent command of the English language.  On the other hand, she was supposedly raised in an English colony as a Christian, and she was recorded as being an exceptionally fierce and sometimes violent woman, characteristics not usually associated with Puritan female colonists:

She was referred to by colonist William Osgood as “a foresworn wretch.”

A complaint to Salisbury court brought by Jane Flanders against Samuel Gachall and his wife for calling her vile names:  “She and her daughter went into Gachell’s field to see where their cattle had broken in and Goodwife Gachell met them and asked if they had come to steal their corn. ‘I said no, I haue no need of yor corn’; then shee said  ‘Geet of my ground thou pennycoinquick –  I am sheure you are com to stell my corn’ …Shee had a pumkeng in har hand.  She held it up & said shee woold staue my hed wth it. ‘Then I said if my Cattell haue stooid your corne your piggs haue stooyd mine wheat.’  Then shee said ‘Com doun St. Donstone to heare how the Deuill lies’… & Likewise good man Gacheall doe often prouocke mee by calling my children Deuills ,etc .” [The epithet “pennycoinquick” that Goodwife Gachall hurled at Jane Flanders, when Jane and her daughter allegedly entered the neighbor’s cornfield in search of the Flanders’ cows, is a mystery. It sounds like it could be an Indian word, but could also be some obscure English insult. There was a prison at “Pennycomequick” near Plymouth, England. “Pennycomequick” comes from the old Celtic name “Pen y cwm coet, meaning “the head of a wooded valley”, or “Pen y cwm gwyk, referring to a nearby creek.]

On October 16, 1649, Jane was brought before the local Court for “abusing her husband and neighbors”.

Excerpt from The Flanders Family: From Europe To America (2nd ed. volume I) by Stephen M. Flanders (2000): “Jane Sandusky, was purported to be of Indian descent. This is a tradition in the family; however, there has never been a tribe of Sandusky Indians in the region of New England she was found in. However, there has not been enough evidence found to refute it either.”…“A ready tongue, together with no hesitancy to use it, were attributes that could not pass unrecorded in a community of Puritans, who tolerated nothing. That Jane possessed these attributes cannot be doubted, after reading the old court records. The offenses for which she was charged were commonplace and an everyday occurrence in New England during this period. The lives of constant struggle against hardships of deprivations and the constant harshness of the Puritan code, coupled with the cultural and language differences Jane experienced, would account for much of the discord with her neighbors.”

There is a GEDCOM listing for a “Jane ‘Sandusky’, Indian”, who married Stephen Flanders, which is well-documented. It says that she was Iroquois of Sandusky descent. It quotes as sources: Eunice Allen, genealogist, Mary Parrish, Genealogy Files of Mary Parish, Columbus, Wisconsin and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Ancestral File.

According to Henry Howe, an early Ohio historian, the origin and meaning of the name “Sandusky” was also a matter of some dispute. However, William Walker, principal chief of the Sandusky Wyandot tribe living at Upper Sandusky, Ohio in 1835-36, claimed that it meant, “at the cold water,” and should be pronounced “San-doos-tee.”

A lone Sandusky artifact (below) is on display at the National Museum of the American Indian at Washington, DC:

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3 Comments

Filed under Lunney Family News, Uncategorized

3 responses to “An old Lunney family rumor confirmed?

  1. Todd

    The drawing of “Jane Sandusky” – where did it come from? Is this just a random drawing of a “Sandusky” Indian or is it more specific? Any citations?

  2. Was doing research today on our Flanders side and found out that Jane Sandusky was our 9th Great Grandmother on my fathers side thorough her son John Flanders born Feb. 11, 1658 and on my mothers side through her son, Stephen Flanders born 1646.

  3. Sharon Merke Urdahl

    I am Canadian but a descendant of “Princess Jane” Sandusky (Naomi Flanders)…It would be wonderful to be able to prove her “claim to fame”. I enjoyed reading your article. I find it hard to access information because the sources etc. are of course in the USA. Thanks, Sharon

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