Sassafras River

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Sassafras River Today

    The Sassafras River is truly one of the most special and beautiful places on the Bay. Every curve reveals a scenic gem of pastoral landscapes and densly-wooded tracts. It is also one of the few places on the Northern Bay where you can still see the Milky Way at night.

     Smith's Tockwogh Village is located on Shrewsberry Neck, most likely in Turner's Creek Park, where there is day docking available but no amenities. 

See: Turner Creek Park.

   About 5 or 6 miles upriver is Georgetown, MD, where there are several marinas, most of which have restaurants as well.

Sassafras Cross

    There is still naviagable water up to Gregg Neck Marina off Mill Creek. Today, the last couple miles to Smith's Sassafrass Cross has to be explored by dinghy. The Cross was probably placed just after Jacobs Creek, one bend before the Rt. 301 bridge, but make your own determination. See links to right.

Sassafras River in 1608

    After meeting with the Massowomeks outside of the Bush River, Smith heads to the Sassafras to meet with the Tockwoghs, who the Massowomeks had just raided. Smith named the Sassafras, Tockwogh Flu.

 Indian Village with Pallisades         

   The Tockwogh village is different from the rest of the Chesapeake Indian villages Smith has encountered so far, because it has pallisades, like the Jamestown Fort walls. Obviously, The Tockwoghs needed extra protection due to raiding from the Massowomeks, who lived to the West.

Communication Difficulties

     Smith has difficulty communicating with the Tockwoghs because they also speak a different language. Some historians believe they were part of the larger Iroquois Tribe who lived to the north. However, there is one warrior who also speaks Algonquin and persuades the Tockwogh to meet with Smith. Smith implied that they had just defeated the Massawomeks, which helped move negotiations along. Smith is curious about the European hatchets the Tockwoghs posess. They explain that they received them from the Sasquesehanocks to the north.

      Smith pursuades the the Tockwoghs to loan them two interpreters to go meet with the Susquehanocks. Smith returns to Tockwogh from the Susquehannock River with five Susquehanock chieftans and supposedly the two interpreters. He finds out much about the lands to the north, including the dissapointing news that there is no Northwest Passage. The Tockwoghs (perhaps the Susquehanocks too) request for Smith to stay and help defend them from the Massowomek attacks, but Smith departs, promising to return and trade next year. He then heads south to explore the Patuxent River.

Smith's Journals: Sassafras Journals 

Sassafras Cross:

Smith's map:

Sassafras Topo Map:

Sassafras Indian Mapping Activity for kids (and adults!)

1) Go to: Native American Lesson Plan #2

2) Print out: Pages 15 (Transparancy #1) and pages 24-27 (Handouts # 5 and 6). Don't peek at the solution on Handout #6.


Image above: John White watercolor of indian village near Roanoke  from 1585-British Museum.