Hepsibeth's photo is published here with the permission of the
Worcester Historical Society
They are in possession of the original portrait
Painted in 1840, Hepsibeth being in her 70s
As a descendant of Hepsibeth I was told many stories about all of my Indian ancestors by my beloved Indian Grandmother. The history of Native Americans is sad for all the Indian Nations. The Native people of Southern New England have suffered for 300 years. Many were sold into slavery and the male population was decimated by wars.
Hepsibeth was a descendant of Samuel Bowman, who was one of the proprietors of the town of Natick. This town was an attempt by Plymouth Colony in 1650 to Christianize Indians into being more like their English neighbors. There were several of these villages in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but Natick was the first.
Shortly after the King Phillip war the Bowmans returned to their original homeland of Worcester, which was due partly to racial strife with surrounding towns.
Hepsibeth is referred to in early newspaper articles as an Indian maiden from Packachoag Hill. She was half white, on her father's side. It was illegal for Indians to marry white people in Massachusetts and Hepsibeth is recorded on early town documents as Hepsibeth Bowman, daughter of Lydia Bowman. In 1789 Hepsibeth married Jeffrey Hemenway, a mulatto who had a distinguished Revolutionary war record. She was 26 and he was 53.
I am related to their daughter Lydia. One of my favorite stories of Hepsibeth is how on the first Independence Day she roasted a pig on the common and fed the people of Worcester. She was also well known for her wedding cakes.
Richard S Massey
A special thanks to Sylvia Higgins and Margo Metegrano for the use of their web pages and for their friendship. (link to Margo's site)
Behind the Frontier
To Live Like My Christian English Neighbors: William and Mary quarterly
Shifting Boundaries of Race and Ethnicity: Journal of American History, Sept. 98
all by Dr. Daniel Mandell
Dispossession by degrees: Cambridge Press by Jean M. Obrien
They Were Here All Along: William and Mary Quarterly, July 1996, by Baron, Hood, Izard
Visit the ongoing exhibit on Hepsibeth Hemenway and descendants at the Fruitlands Indian Museum, Harvard, Mass. - Fruitland website
BACK TO HEMENWAY PAGE