Maryland Indians

The story of the Indians around Chaptico in St. Mary's county is a complex one and readers sensitive to how Indians were treated must understand:  history is as it was-- not as it should have been by today's standards.

We do have some information about how things were in area where Maddox's lived--and a revealing tale was told in 1984 by one of Chaptico's locals, Joseph Norris Jr. on Chaptico's 350th Anniversary.

Piscataway Nation

Indian artifacts date as far back in St Mary's County to 9,000 BC.  There was an Indian village at the town's site according to Captain John Smith's 1607 map--drawn long before colonists actually settled there.  When Englishmen began to arrive, they met what were called the Chapticoes--part of an 11-tribe confederation of the Piscataway Indian nation.  There were about 500 in the nation.  When the colonists arrived in mid-1600s, the Chapticoes were peaceful enough even though some other regional tribes, like the Susquehannocks, sought to get the entire nation to join them in war against the pilgrims.

Jamestown Massacre

When Maryland's appointed Governor Leonard Calvert came into Chesapeake in 1634, he stopped first at Jamestown. He learned about mistakes made in the Virginia colonies! They were almost wiped out in 1622 because of their ill treatment of their friends/allies-- the Indians of Algonquian Confederation, Powhatan's loosely knit tribe. 

When Powhatan died, his son went on the attack; killed two-thirds of Jamestown settlers who by then had left the fort and were living in outlying districts.

Above: Maryland Indian dwelling. 
Below: a recreator demonstrates food preparation, Indian style.
          Photos by Pat Doster

Uneasy peace in Maryland

Virginia settlers warned Calvert to purchase lands first and make friendly overtures to Indians, which he did, and it prevented disaster for the colonists.  He went to Indiantown upriver from the settlement St. Mary's City, MD and paid for the land.  He got a site which was an abandoned Indian village - already cleared for planting and the Europeans began to arrive.  In 1651, the Chapticoes, among other small tribes, actually had petitioned the Maryland Assembly, then was in nearby St. Mary's, for protection and some land where they could live unmolested from white settlers.  They also wanted protection from warring tribes, angered that the peaceful Indians wouldn't join them against the whites.  Norris reports the Assembly granted it as a matter of conscience and also the hope to bring the Indians to both civility and Christianity.

Clash of civilizations - over land

When most of the arable land was granted or sold, the colonists cast covetous eyes on Indian lands. They promulgated just enough trouble to give them cause to march against their peaceful neighbors: the Piscataway of the Western-shore and the Nanticoke of the Eastern-shore.

Norris reports that it wasn't long before there were signs of "Mischiefe to the Inhabitante of this Province" and Thomas Gerard, lord of St. Clement's Manor was ordered to "raise what forces he shall think fitt with whom he may repair to Portoback or Chaptico and either disarme or Secure the persons of any of the said Indians."  The English limited their movements and forbade Indians to wear warpaint, since to the colonists, all Indians looked alike. Clashes of cultures began occurring between the English and the Chapticoes on the frontier.  There were minor raids and thefts--some of them punished, many not.  In general terms, it seems the local Indians and English were trying to get along-- and even fought together against the warlike Susquehannocks who were attacking both English and local tribes.  The local Indians appealed to the Marylanders again, saying they wanted protection since it was the whites' fault.  The Marylanders did what they could but by now colonists started encroaching on the local Indians and their young braves were getting out of control even from their elder leaders.

Samuel Maddox and the Indians

  Samuel Maddox of St. Mary's Co Md., one of the earliest Maddox immigrant ancestors, took part in the removal of the Indians of Southern Md.  Sam was recruited-- as were all males over sixteen-- to serve in the Maryland Militia when the need arose. In 1675, Lt. Sam Maddox served under Capt. Justinian Gerard during the settler's expedition against the Susquehanna Indians. Sometime later, the Md. Assembly awarded Samuel 700 pounds of tobacco "for his contribution" against the Nanticokes. On Maryland's "Tobacco Coast," monetary exchange was in pounds of tobacco--not money.

By 1700, the local Indians had moved to the Virginia hills and eventually joined with their enemies, the Susquehannocks, who themselves had been defeated by the Iroquois. By this time, there were few Indians left in southern Maryland; records show they had suffered from Smallpox--which they had not seen before the whites came-- as well as another vice--the Europeans' Rum.  In short, the Indians of southern Maryland--who had lived there for thousands of years,  had virtually disappeared in a 50 year span after the arrival of colonists from the British Isles.

--by webmaster,  from source materials and with recreation photos provided by Pat Doster, NC.  See website Credits page.