Craig R Johnson – Obadiah Wood (1648 – 1712)
The first burials in Center Cemetery were for two veterans of the Narragansett Wars, also called King Philip’s War. There being no marker for the grave of Thomas Trill, the first burial, this simple brownstone, still in fine condition, is the oldest existing marker in Center Cemetery, and is for Obadiah Wood who was born in 1648 and died in 1712 at age 64.
Little is known of Wood, other than that he was wounded in a battle with
the Narragansett and because of that in 1676 Hartford granted him 4 pounds in financial support during his period of recovery.
King Philip’s War from 1675-1676 was the single greatest calamity to occur in 17th century New England.
The ever growing river towns such as Windsor, Wethersfield, Hartford, Springfield and coastal towns of the Sound and Narragansett Bay progressively encroached on traditional tribal territories in their demands for more land.
Prior to Kings Philip’s War, fluctuating alliances based on trade and the need for counter-weights against tribal enemies kept growing tensions in check so that relations between the English and surrounding tribes were generally peaceful.
But then in 1675 Metacomet, son of a Wampanoag sachem, was brought before an English court of the Plymouth Colony to answer rumors he was gathering allies for attacks on colonial settlements.
This was followed by the English hanging three Wampanoag warriors for the murder of a tribal member who was a witness against Metacomet. This was seen as a severe infringement on Wampanoag sovereignty.
The small settlement of Swansea was subsequently attacked and destroyed and several colonists killed by a rogue band of Wampanoag.
Stirred up, various tribes allied upon seeing the lunar eclipse of June 27, 1675 as a good omen for fighting the colonists.
The Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies quickly responded with a punitive military expedition destroying the Wampanoag settlement at Mount Hope, which is in present day Bristol, RI.
Under the leadership of Metacomet, now called King Philip by the colonists, more tribes were reluctantly drawn into the conflict. The war quickly spread and the Narragansett, Podunk, Nipmuck tribes were soon involved.
The New England Confederation comprised of the Massachusetts Bay,
Plymouth, New Haven, and Connecticut Colonies declared war.
The war quickly came to an end when King Philip was shot and killed by an Indian ally of the English. It is a portrait of King Philip, as imagined by Paul Revere, that illustrates this podcast site marker.
In the period of a year, 12 colonial towns were destroyed, and over six-hundred colonists and three-thousand tribal members died, including several hundred native captives tried and executed or enslaved and sold to Bermuda.
The New England Algonquian, whether they sided with the colonists or not, were forever fragmented to the extent they were never again a threat or even an encumbrance to future colonial expansion.