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Re: Chief ORONO of the Penobscot nation in Maine/// UPDATE...
Posted by: Blin (ID *****9206) Date: November 04, 2004 at 19:54:16
In Reply to: Re: Chief ORONO of the Penobscot nation in Maine/// UPDATE... by melissa1 of 686

Did you get your article from "The Pied Cow",The Chadbourne Family Association Newsletter, Vol. l l No.2 Issue 23 HCR 77, Box 8350, Chadboume's Ridge, North Waterborough, Maine 04061 Spring/Summer 1994 ISSN 0741-0360

This is where I got the article below. This is also interesting for Chadbourne, South Berwick, ME researchers. I'd like to see some Maine Native American researchers comment about this. Anyone got a picture of the statue of Orono?


Today, most people recognize the name Orono as a
town on the Penobscot River and the site of the University of
Maine. The origin of the word, and indeed the parentage of the
great chieftain after whom the town was named, are shrouded
in mystery. One authority on Indian lore, Fannie Hardy
Eckstorm, observed that Orono "appears suddenly, without
antecedents, and, already an old man, assumes the leadership of
the [Penobscot] tribe through the most critical period of its
history."1 It is the purpose of this essay to explain the name and
the origin of this famous Indian leader.
Joseph Orono, who died on February 11, 1801, lived
to the incredible age of 113.2 Little has been written about this
enigmatic "blue-eyed chief," but two important individuals who
kept journals, Park Holland of Bangor and the Reverend Daniel
Little of Kennebunk,
met Orono and commented on the elderly tribal leader. They
and others report that Orono had blue eyes, reddish hair, and
none of the characteristics of an Indian, such as high
cheekbones or a dark complexion.
Fannie Hardy Eckstorm observed that the name Orono
was neither English, French, nor Indian. Indeed, Orono was
fluent in English and French and, as a devout Catholic, knew
some Latin. The Reverend Little, who came to Kenduskeag
(Bangor) after the Revolution, confronted the old man: "Come,
Orono, tell me which language you say your prayers - French,
Latin, or Indian?" Orono paused, and when Little repeated the
question, he assumed a grave expression and replied: "No
matter, the Great Spirit knows all languages."3
In his old age, Orono repeatedly claimed that he was
the son of a French father and a Native mother. Historians
subsequently assumed that he was son or grandson of the
Baron de St. Castin, who lived and traded with the Indians at
Pentagoet (Castine) and married an Indian chiefs daughter.
However, Castin's biographers, who researched the man
thoroughly, do not note a son or a grandson that fits the
description of Orono. Besides, Castin left Pentagoet for France
in 1707, at which time Orono would have been a young man. It
is doubtful that Castin would have left a son
(continued on page 4)
page 3
(continued from page 3)
Chief Joseph Orono's mark, or signature, a seal with head raised.
Richard S. Sprague, CHIEF JOSEPH ORONO.
Even during Orono's lifetime, many contemporaries
doubted his French or Indian ancestry. The Reverend Little
related that Orono came from the town of York, Maine. Others
had been informed that he was the son of Samuel Donnel,.from
a prominent family in York. Some reports hint at an Irish or
Scottish background. The Reverend Mark Trafton, in his
autobiography, Scenes of My Life, also suggests that Orono
came from York and that his name was Peter Donald. Orono,
according to Trafton, was born in York and was captured by the
Penobscot leader, Macdonawando, when a party of Penobscot
Indians attacked the place.' It seems possible that "Orono" could
be a corruption of "Donald" or "Donnel" - a word mouthed by a
frightened boy and rephrased by Indians who understood
English only imperfectly.
I searched, therefore, vital records for the surname
Donnel or Donnell3 Genealogical information on York can be
found in two locations: Pioneers of Maine is an unpublished
companion to Charles Banks's monumental two-volume history
of York. This section was never published, but his genealogies
are available at the Bangor Public Library as a two-volume
manuscript listing alphabetically the early families of York
County. Secondly, volume 109 of the New England Historic
and Genealogical Register contains the vital records of York
Banks shows in a genealogical chart the family of
Samuel Donnel (1645-1718), listing six children. Among them
is William (b. 10 January 1684-85), who was "given as a
captive and taken to Canada and never returned." In the fall of
1692, William, about seven years old, strayed into the woods
and was captured. He was taken to the, Castine area.` Another
source that sheds light on young William's fate is William M.
Sargent's Maine Wills. Sargent quotes the will of Samuel
I have given my son, Nathaniel, above said
to be equally divided between by son,
William, if he ever returnes - if
not, my will is that James above said shall
have equal share with my son,
Nathaniel, of my whole livery - vis
my household on this side of the
river When he shall be of age and
also one-third part of the two islands
above said at his mother's decease.
The will is signed May 15, 1718, and probated.7
The Reverend Trafton discussed Orono with a
great-grandson of Samuel Donnel and was informed that
Donnel's son was taken by Indians. Some years later a party,
including the young Donnel, came to York and members of
Donnel's family entreated him to stay. Fully acclimated to a
native lifestyle, the young man refused.' Park Holland, a
veteran of the American Revolution and a surveyor of the
public lands of the District of Maine, met Orono in his travels.
Holland wrote in his journal that when elderly and infirm
Orono said his name was Peter Donald, and that he thought he
came from the Kennebec region. Holland was also told by an
elderly Native woman that around 1765 Orono survived the
oldest sachem to become the head chieftain of the Penobscots.9
When the American Revolution broke out ten years
later, Orono, already an old man, traveled to Boston and
Watertown in Massachusetts with other Indian sachems and
swore allegiance to the American cause. According to legend,
Orono met General Washington. After signing a crucial treaty
of friendship between the Penobscots and the new nation,
Orono returned to the Old Town area, where he played an
important role in keeping peace between the Eastern Indians
and the American rebels. Later, in 1782, he attended another
meeting at Newport, Rhode Island, and saw there for the first
time the French fleet. Orono proclaimed, "I hereby declare to
you ...the grievances under which our people labor were
removed, they [the Indians] would aid with the full force to
defeat the nation [Great Britain]."'
Between 1785 and 1788, Massachusetts authorities put
great pressure on the Penobscots to surrender their claims to the
land awarded them by Governor Thomas Pownal in 1760. The
Massachusetts Council petitioned the tribe to sell their lands,
and after much negotiating the Penobscots capitulated. Four
chiefs - Orono, Osmay, Neptune, and Osong - agreed to a
treaty. In return for blankets, ammunition, plants, and food for
some estimated 200 Penobscots, they gave up their rights to
lands below Old Town. State agents argued successfully that
the Indians would have better hunting grounds further upriver.
Thus the tribe was granted land between Old Town and
Passadumkeag on both sides of the Penobscot, including the
islands in the river.11
Between 1783 and 1789, there were several meetings
to adjust the terms of the treaty to the satisfaction of both sides.
One of the most important meetings was held at Kenduskeag
(continued on page 5)
page 4
(continued from page 4)
on August 26, 1786. The Massachusetts government sent
Generals Benjamin Lincoln and Rufus Putnam, and the
Reverends Thomas Rice and Daniel Little. Sixty-four
Penobscots paddled in their canoes to Robert Treat's truck
house at the head of tide, approximately on the site of Mt. Hope
Cemetery. Treat and John Marsh served as interpreters, again
reminding the Indians that the upper Penobscot would provide
better hunting grounds than the land under negotiation.
It is apparent that the Native Americans understood
the significance of white settlers on the lower Penobscot.
During the last four decades of the eighteenth century, the
English settlement frontier moved steadily eastward into the
Penobscot Bay region, and ambitious and powerful speculators
like Thomas Pownal, Samuel Waldo, Henry Knox, Robert
Hallowell, Sylvester Gardiner, James Bowdoin, and William
Bingham acquired large grants of unsettled land to hoard their
valuable resources. Wild lands, such as those held by the
Penobscots, promised a supply of timber, furs and fish for
markets in Boston and overseas, and land for pioneers to turn
into productive farms.
As the population of the District of Maine quadrupled
between 1765 to 1800, the rights of Native Americans were
ignored and their manner of using the land for hunting,
trapping, and fishing shunted aside. The old chieftain, Orono,
realized the Indians were being dispossessed. Still, during his
long life he worked for peace as he led his tribe in their
precarious cultural and legal dealings with the white settlers
and their agents.
Orono lived out his long life on the banks of the
Penobscot River at various locations between Veazie and Old
Town. He died, probably, between the old truck house on the
Penjejawock. Like so many of the details of his life, the place
of his burial is unknown. But according to tradition, Fannie
Hardy Eckstorm notes, "it was upon the farm of the old
Jameson place in Stillwater," near the town that now bears his
Orono was a remarkable figure. His forthrightness,
tolerance, sagacity, and dependability brought him acclaim
from all sides - from the Penobscots, who honored him as their
chieftain, from the Massachusetts Council, which saw him as a
critical link in their defense of the eastern frontier, and from
the leading men and women of the struggling white settlements
on the Penobscot, who recognized the old chief as a man of

'Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, "The Indians of Maine," in Maine: A
History, edited by Louis Clinton Hatch, (New York: American
Historical Society, 1919), volume 1, p. 63.
2"Obituaries: Orono, Indian Chief Died February 4, 1801, Age 113,"
Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder 1 1 (no. 4, 1893): 234.
3The Reverend Daniel Little, in Bangor Daily Mercury, February 11,
4"Abadie de Saint Castin," Jean Vincent (1701-1740)," Dictionary of
Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961), p.
4; Graham Munson, "St. Castin: A Legend Revised," Dalhousie
Review 45 (no. 3, 1965); Roland J. Auger, editor, "The Children of
Baron de St. Castin," French Canadian & Acadian Genealogical
Review 3 (Spring 1971).
5The Reverend Mark Trafton, Scenes in My Life (New York: Nelson
& Phillips, 1878), pp. 91-92.
6Charles Banks, "Pioneer Families in York County," ms., Bangor
Public Library, volume 1.
7W.M. Sargent, Maine Wills (1642-1760 (Portland: Brown Thurston,
1887), pp. 199-200.
8Trafton, Scenes in My Life.
9Park Holland's Journal, copied from the original, ms., Bangor Public
(continued on page 6)
Page 5
(continued from page 5)
10"The Ancient Penobscot Series: I," Maine Historical Society
Transactions 7 (1876):4 -25.
11Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, Old John Neptune & Other Maine Indian
Shamans (Portland: Southworth, 1945).
12Eckstorm, "The Indians of Maine," p.63.
The Family of Alice Chadbourne, as excerpted from
the Third Generation listing in the soon-to-be published The
Chadbourn(e) Family.
14. ALICE3 CHADBOURNE (Humphrey2, William')
born circa 1661; died York 18 Jan 1744, 81 years
(gravestone) or died York 22 Oct 1727 (York VR,
476), the latter being more likely since she is not
mentioned in her Moulton husband's probate; married
first Barnstable, MA 5 Nov 1677 SAMUEL2
DONNELL (Henry') born York circa 1646, died York
9 Mar 1718 age 72, son of Henry' and Frances
(?Gooch) Donnell (Maine Probate 2/195,221; 3/25);
married second Sept 1723 JEREMIAH MOULTON,
born Hampton, NH 1650, died 26 Dec 1731 (Maine
Wills, 326-329; Maine Probate 4/162; 6/24), son of
Thomas and Martha Moulton. No children (LND,
497-98). Moulton had 6 children with a previous wife,
Mary Young.
Alice and Samuel Donnell sued Humphrey3,
Chadbourne for improperly executing the estate of
their mother, Lucy Stileman, but the court found that
since Humphrey Chadbourne was not his mother's
executor, then he could not be sued (Maine Province
Court V:72).
Alice (Chadbourne) (Donnell) Moulton is buried
near York Village, but the date on her gravestone does
not match the date of her death in the York vital
records (York VR, 476). Samuel went to sea as a
youth, became a fisherman, and later owned a sawmill
at Rogers' Cove. Samuel Donnell's will names Alice
and children (Maine Wills, 199-200).
Children with first husband (York VR, 4),
surname DONNELL:
48. iv.
49. v.
i. SAMUEL4 , born I I Jan 1681/2, living
in 1735; married MARY
ii. WILLIAM, born 8 Dec 1683, died 18
Dec 1683.
iii. WILLIAM, born 10 Jan 1684/5,
perhaps lost at sea.
ALICE/ELICE, born 2 June 1687.
NATHANIEL, born 18 Nov 1689.
50. vi. ELIZABETH, born 26 Mar 1692.
51. vii. JOANNA, born 12 Apr 1695.
52. viii. JAMES , born 11 Apr 1704."

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