Walden Indian Joe - Early History



Walden, Vermont :

Early History    Indian Joe    


Excerpted from:

"A History of Walden, Vermont" Compiled by the History Committee. Sponsored by the Walden Public Library.  1986.  Revised 1990. Library of Congress catalog card number:   86 - 82289 Produced by Greenhills Books, Randolph Center, Vermont 05061 Permission  for use on this page by Elizabeth Hatch, Chairwoman, The History Committee.

The book, ($16.00 U.S. plus s & h) may be purchased from the Walden Town Clerk:

                                        Walden Town Clerk

                                   RR #1, Box 57

                                   W. Danville, VT 05873


  Chapter 1, segments from pp 12 - 14



   Indian Joe, The Friendly Indian    


Indian Joe was born in 1739 in Louisburg, Nova Scotia.  His family belonged to the Micmac tribe, a branch of the Algonquins, and he described his father as a  "landowner with neat cattle, jacks and horses."      

He also told white friends of his terrifying experience when Louisburg was taken by the British in 1745.  "Red Coats come.  Indians run.  Drove Indians off, took all land." Joe was left an orphan with a hatred for the British that would last a lifetime.  He fled with the scattered remnants of his tribe to the Indian village of St. Francis.      

St. Francis was located at the meeting place of the St. Lawrence and the St. Francis rivers.  It was a melting-pot of exiled Indian tribes.  Joe's early memories of St. Francis were of pathetic white prisoners from the Connecticut Valley raids, their bodies maimed and starved after the brutal march to St. Francis.      

During the French and Indian War, Joe was taken on a raid party to Vermont, somewhere near Newbury.  The Indians were driven off by the white men, with the exception of Joe, who was left behind badly wounded.      

He was fortunate enough to be taken care of all winter by the nearest white family.  They became friends, and when he regained his health they invited him to stay.  He felt he had to return to his own people, but he promised his new friends that he would warn them of any danger coming from St. Francis.      

Joe did come back from time to time to fish and hunt, sometimes trading fish and game for beads and cloth,  and he passed along word of hostile Indians in ambush.  When the famed Rogers Rangers party made its attack on the sleeping village of St. Francis, Joe fled with the other panic-stricken survivors.      

Joe had wooed and won a squaw, Molly, away from her brave, and he brought her and her two infant sons, Toomalek and Muxa-Wuxal, by secret Indian trails back to Coos valley.  

Joe would never return to Canada; not only had he stolen another brave's squaw, but he had gained a reputation as a traitor from his warnings to the white settlers.  His people turned on him, and made many attempts to capture him and Molly and drag them back to Canada.  When Canada became British territory, Joe would not consider returning to the land of the Red Coats who had murdered his family.      

After Joe and Molly escaped from St. Francis, they built a tiny cabin in Walden.  Perhaps it was during this time that Joe became friends with Capt. Enoch Foster of Walden, who was purported to be Joe's companion in the woods for a number of years.  Foster was Captain of the militia and often employed Joe as a guide.      

Joe and Molly led a nomadic life spending time on their island in Joe's Pond in West Danville, in a makeshift wigwam in Peacham and in a cave between Ryegate and Newbury, among other places.      

Indian Joe was hired by General Jacob Bayley, who was commanding the northern frontier forces, protecting New England from Canada.  Joe was sent out on many dangerous missions with rangers to point out trails unknown to white men.  It is a common belief that Joe was the scout for the original mapping out of the military road known as the Bayley-Hazen Road.  It closely followed Indian trails in as straight a line as possible, at times seeming to defy gravity going up and down hills, but always going around swamps.  

General Bayley paid the men working on the road with his own funds, and so far as we know the fledgling country never reimbursed him.  The road work was discontinued before it reached its destination.  Perhaps it was feared if our troops could easily reach Canada by road, it would be just as easy for the British to invade Vermont via the same road.      

After the Revolution ended, Indian Joe received a letter of appreciation from General George Washington himself.  It summoned Joe to Washington's headquarters at Newburgh, N.Y., on the Hudson.  Joe and Molly made the trip by canoe and on foot.  He was always very proud of his visit with Washington.      

With the Revolution over, Joe and Molly continued to wander up and down the valleys helping out when they could and making new friends, some in Hyde Park.  The first settler of Morristown found them camping there and was given moose meat by the Indians during a severe winter.      

In the declining years of Joe and Molly, there were numerous petitions to the Legislature for increased payments for their care.  After 1792 there is no more reference to Molly; her death is a mystery.  It is believed that on a trip that led them quite close to the Canadian border, Molly was snatched by Indians and taken back to Canada.      

Joe's last guardian was Frye Bayley of Newbury, the nephew of General Bayley.  In February, 1819, the sick and deranged old Indian wandered out in the woods after a severe storm and was found there "badly frozen."  He died soon after.      

He is buried in Oxbow Cemetery, Newbury, next to General Bayley.  His monument says "Erected in Memory of Old Joe, the Friendly Indian Guide."

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