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Politico Lee Whitnum is asking for a Monument to the 500+ massacred Greenwich Indians. Requests the John Underhill Society  Foot the Bill.    

Politico Lee Whitnum is requesting a monument built at the new Cos Cob Park to commemorate the more than 500 Greenwich Native Americans massacred in 1644. Whitnum recently embarked on a research quest for the exact location of the massacre and burial mound. Additionally, Whitnum is asking Federal Judge Stefan Underhill, pay for the monument and memorial plaque.

“As the highest ranking Underhill on the US payroll, I’m asking Judge Stefan Underhill to step forward, pay for the monument or spearhead the fundraising,” said Whitnum. John Underhill in 1644 led 130 foreign soldiers to the village of Petuquapaen and slaughtered every man, women and child.

Whitnum cites what she believes are three historical misconceptions on the location of the massacre and burial mound. “Number 1. Historically the massacre was placed in the area near Mill Pond “the plains of Cos Cob”, but I am disputing that,” said Whitnum. “It doesn’t make sense based on what I believe are two faulty assumptions.”

Whitnum believes she has found the true location of the burial site called “the mound.” Whitnum says she had come to believe that the little-known genocide did not occur in Cos Cob but in Greenwich proper in the area we know as the high school.

“The common version of events places the burial site as way too far from the village and massacre location. These soldiers were on foot. The old map places the village of Petuquapaen west of Stanwich Road, north of the Post Road, due north of the Mill Pond,” said Whitnum who believes that is where the misconception began as the Mill Pond was mistaken for the Cider Mill Pond which only appears on the oldest map of the region.

“The Cider Mill pond is now located in Millbrook – it only appears on the oldest map of the region. I believe the Native American Village was due north of The Cider Mill Pond not the Mill Pond,” said Whitnum. ‘That concurs with the verbal description of the village’s location.”

Whitnum claims there is a second historical misconception: “There is a ridge on the oldest map and the existence of the ridge is echoed in the oldest written description of the village location,” said Whitnum. “In the writing it states the Native Americans built the village under the ridge to protect against ‘Northwest winds’; that description concurs  with the oldest map.”

Whitnum has come up with yet a third historical discrepancy during her research at the Greenwich Historical Society, “Number 3 dispute: the writing claimed that the bodies were buried ‘East of the Road’. Well I believe, historically, it was assumed ‘the road’ to be the Post Road, but on the oldest map of the region, there were two roads back in 1644: The Post Road and Stanwich Road. It makes no sense that they would drag so many bodies down to the Post Road and over to Mill Pond, no way,” said Whitnum. “The road referred to by the historical account must be the Stanwich Road.”

Whitnum has walked the area, and believes the terrain is an additional indication of why the bodies were dragged to the east side of Stanwich Road.

“I believe the area around the Greenwich High school was the Native American village, and relatively flat with little dirt; since the area between Hillside Road and Stanwich Road is very rocky and wet, across the street to the East side of Stanwich Road the dirt would have been dry and plentiful,” said Whitnum. “Underhill’s soldiers probably dragged the bodies parallel to where the Native American village was to the first hilly area that had plenty of dirt. If I’m right, the mound is on private property, but the plaque could be on Stanwich Road. People would not need to access private property to pay their respects.”

Whitnum leaves the exact location of the massacre and burial mound to the experts, “The location is important for the plaque and history, but not for the monument,” said Whitnum.  “No doubt the blood and the DNA from their remains flowed to the Sound in that region – the new park is a good location. The exact location of the mound should not hold up the commission of the monument,” said Whitnum who envisions a monument that depicts a huddled woman and child and their fear during the massacre.

Historically, precipitating the massacre there was a murder of Anglo-Saxon woman in the Lyon’s Park region.  It was believed the crime was perpetrated by an American Indian male.  “It seems collective punishment was taken out on the entire tribe for the actions of one,” said Whitnum.

According to the written statement in 1644 by a soldier who witnessed the massacre, 180 Native American men, women and children were rounded up and shot immediately.  The remaining 300+ people huddled in their homes with their families.  The homes were torched, the families came out and they too were shot. “An eye witness account claims the February snow was covered with blood, charred bodies and moaning was heard,” said Whitnum.

Many monuments have been erected to John Underhill. “His life was a full circle, John Underhill, a politician is thrown out of Boston in 1637. He returns to the states as a soldier of fortune – essentially a gun-for-hire,” said Whitnum. “It seems massacres were the vehicle to gain his status back.”

Whitnum claims that some personal accounts from 1644 offer reasons why Underhill, a freelancer, bid for the assignment to lead the mainly foreign soldiers. “According to one personal account, Underhill was the only one who “had the stomach” to do it,” said Whitnum.  “Another personal account credits Underhill’s willingness as perhaps having “something to prove.’” To which Whitnum surmises was his quest to get his good name back after his banishment as governor of the Boston/New Hampshire region and the loss of his high political post in 1637.

“Everyone at the time was reluctant to do it, imagine if Underhill had not been enlisted for the task, we’d be enriched with a Native American neighborhood and population.  Greenwich would be much more interesting and the better for it,” said Whitnum.

There are other stories of cruelty and bloodshed by John Underhill. Whitnum says another telling glimpse into the mind of John Underhill occurred a week after the massacre when he was detained by military police for creating a ruckus in a pub. John Underhill and his rowdy soldier buddies were asked to leave a pub. Underhill next asked if he could join some diners’ in the dining room.  They refused him and he drew his sword; broke a row of glasses and threatened to kill everyone. The military police were called.

In the United States, John Underhill has many monuments erected to him as an American hero. The John Underhill Society, at Whitnum’s request, confirmed via email that federal judge Stefan Underhill of Connecticut is a direct 11 generation descendant of John Underhill.   

“Inter-generational wealth can sometimes be a boost up in life; a wave of prosperity that might have begun with one successful family member.  In this case, perhaps that wave was begun with that initial commission to kill,” said Whitnum.  “ I do not think it inappropriate to call on Stefan Underhill to spearhead this project.”

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