Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry begins a new series on the genealogy of the Wampanoag Tribe, the Indians who were in first contact with the Mayflower Pilgrims. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.
The Crocker account book (1790 through 1843) contains residents of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe. (Note: there are two federally recognized tribes of Wampanoag people in Massachusetts: the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee on Cape Cod, and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard.)
One of the most prominent and frequent names in the Crocker account book is Deacon Isaac Coombs (1774-1848), a Mashpee Wampanoag, born to Joshua and Patience (Newcomb) Coombs.
According to sources, the Coombs family has the longest line of descent accurately traceable. The family played a prominent role in the town’s affairs.
Isaac and Lydia’s grandson Oakes Agnus Coombs Jr. (1854-1940), aka Chief Hiacoomis, was born to Oakes Angus Coombs Sr. (1808-1872) and Dinah Amos (1823-1876) (daughter of Rev. Joseph Babcock Amos aka “Blind Joe Amos” and Abigail Wickham).
I found an obituary for Oakes Agnus Coombs Jr. published in the Boston Herald.
This article reported:
Oakes A. Coombs, 86, of Mashpee, oldest Wampanoag Indian on Cape Cod and chief of the tribe, died today at the home of his son, Police Sgt. Isaac C[linton] Coombs of this city. Sgt. Coombs brought his father here when he was taken ill a week ago.
Chief Hiacoomis, as he was known in tribal affairs, was born in Mashpee and lived all his life in the house where he was born, except during the period of whaling voyages he made from this port as a young man. The funeral will be held, with tribal ritual, Saturday at the old Indian church in Mashpee.
Another newsclip from the Boston Herald supplies more information on the funeral attendees and the family.
This article reported:
Descendants of the Wampanoag Indians and other Mashpee residents joined today in paying final tribute to Chief Hiaco[o]mis of the Mashpee Tribe, who died in New Bedford Wednesday in his 87th year [age 86]. His legal name was Oakes A. Coombs.
He was buried with ancient rites in the old Indian burying ground. More than 200 mourners had filed past his bier in front of the 253-year-old Indian church, after a Baptist funeral service conducted by the Rev. Donald Redfield.
Officiating in the rites at the grave were Mashpee tribesmen, dressed in the colorful regalia of their forefathers. Tossing twigs on the coffin as it was lowered were William James (Chief High Eagle), Ambrose Pells (Chief Rain-in-the-Face), Ellsworth Oakley (Chief Drifting Goose), and Cyrus Edwards, secretary of the Mashpee Tribe. Chief Rain-in-the-Face gave the invocation to the Great Spirit.
Chief Hiaco[o]mis, a native of Mashpee, spent his youth sailing on whaling voyages from New Bedford. He was a grandson of Mashpee’s first Indian preacher, “Blind Joe” Amos. He was for many years a member of the old Indian church, Baptist in denomination. He was named chief of the tribe at a pow-wow held in 1933.
Surviving him is a son, Isaac C. Coombs of New Bedford, and two stepsons, Frank Hicks and Frederick Gardner of Mashpee [and 11 grandchildren].
To be continued…
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Note on the header image: Oakes Agnus Coombs Jr. and his wife Amanda Pocknett, daughter of Nathan Pocknett and Eleanor Hicks. She was the widow of Thomas William Gardner. These photos were featured in the 125th Anniversary of Mashpee Celebration 1995. Credit: Town of Mashpee, Massachusetts, Archives.