UPPER CHESAPEAK BAY
(Neil R. Judd – American Archeologist – 1930)
The site of 'Tocwogh' described by Captain John Smith, in his 1608 account of the exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, as a flourshing Indian settlement located on Kent Island , across from Annapolis near the mouth of Chester Rover.
The town with structures of woven grass covering wooden frameworks was abandoned and disappeared three centruries ago, leaving only a heap of oyster shells to mark the spot of a community famous among the natives for practitioners of 'black magic'.
There were many relics found mixed with the oyster shells , arrowheads, stone hammers, pots of soapstone and clay pottery, being found by a later day farmer by name of Tolson who had collected many which were turned over to the National Museum. They took the attention of Neil R. Judd of the American Archeologist Society who decided this was “Tocwogh”.
Tocwogh, a mound covering several acres about two feet high, was one of the chief strongholds of the Nanticoke Indians, said to be one of the Algonquin tribes, which were dreaded by other Indian Tribes and resisted the first white settlers. It is told the Nanticokes were a darker race and were believed to possess secret poisons that could destroy whole settlements by merely blowing their breath upon it.
The first white settlers who came to the Chesapeake region found an Indian Confederacy ruled by a Nanticoke Empress and were known to be friendly to the white settlers. There are facts that tell the Nanticokes were unfriendly and were in 1642 declared 'enemies' until 1678 when a treaty was signed with the Maryland Proprietorship.
In 1706 the Nanticokes began movement to the northwest of Maryland into New York and Canada, mingled with the Iroquois and disappeared from history.
The articles found in the Kent Island shell heaps now are the only museum relics of this mysterious people.
The pottery fragments are of especial interest because of the decorations made by patting the wet clay with cord wound paddles, the cord being from fibers of the milkweed, somewhat like hemp.
The Nanticoke villages, described by Capt. Smith as 'pallizdoed' , the 'houses' mantelled with tree bark , with mounts abrest them. Smith had sailed the Chester River and seen several villages. The Chief Nanticoke settlement was told to be 'down' the river but no trace was found of it. The people off these settlements are said to be small farmers of 'maize', found games and fruits in the heavy wooded forest and took molluscs and fish from the beaches.
Most of the Indian history has been destroyed by the settlers who wiped out the tribes, considered them a nuisances rather than other human beings and objects of study. Their existence ploughed under , the mounds carried off and used as fertilizer with no notice of the relics..
Source: The Courier-Journal , Louisville, Kentucky, June 2 1930