Friday, January 9, 2015

Magomiscock- "Grand View/ Great Rock Place" Milford, MA. Pt. 5

Magomiscock- "Grand View/ Great Rock Place" Milford, MA. Pt. 5

Magomiscock, a Native place name describing the large hills of Milford, MA. can be translated as "grand view/great rock place."  In colonial & later times Euro-Americans spelled Native names the way they heard them- as a result there are many variations in the spelling, no standard having been in place.  For instance the -ock or -cock in "Magomiscock" might also be spelled as -auk or -kauk, as in "Montauk" (Long Island).  Or it could be spelled, I think, as -aug, -quog, or -quag, such as Megunko Hill in nearby Ashland, MA. which is the place name for the old Native village site of Megunkoquag, quag (or cock) meaning hill or high place.  Similarly the "e's" and "a's" that were written down could be interchangeable, as could "o's" and "u's" depending on how the recorder spelled what they heard.  

Magomiscock in modern-day Milford, MA. is described in the volume "Indian Names of Places In Worcester County, Massachusetts" by Lincoln N. Kinnicut in 1905 (Harvard University Library).   [Side-note: Harvard University and it's benefactors such as Mr. Hollis and Mr. Hopkins (of which Holliston and Hopkinton are named) has a hand, perhaps even dark, involvement in the aquisition of Native lands in this area in the early 1700's, but that is a story for another time.]  Magomiscock is described as:

"The highest hill in Milford.  The Indians gave the name probably to the whole range of hills.  Mr. Ballou, in his history of Milford says: "the name may be regarded, 'ground affording a grand show.'  Its compounds appear to be Magko, to afford, give, or grant, Misse- swollen, large, showey, grand, and Ohke- earth, ground, or place, literally, a high swell of land affording a grand prospect of the surrounding country."
I would suggest, however, that the base word for this name may be "Ompak" (standing or upright rock), var. -msk, -msg, -ms, etc. and the name might be translated, 'Great Rock Country', 'a place of great rocks.'  Adin Ballou in his history speaks of the primitive ledges and the super-abundance of various sized rocky fragments, preventing the profitable tillage of a considerable portion of the highlands... At the present day the quarries of Milford are celebrated."

Well, this publication from 1905 got me interested in Adin Ballou's histories of Milford, MA. which he published in the mid- late 1800's, in which he sites accounts going back to the 1700's.  There were a few interesting accounts expressed in his work.  Ballou seems to ascribe to the bigotry of his day, marginalizing Native people and their presence, but he does say that in the 1700's there was a farmer, John Hero, living in NorthEast Milford which was formerly a part of Holliston and also near the Hopkinton town line, who suspected there was "Indian burial places" on parts of his land.  Ballou almost says this in passing and does not go into detail but basically says that these "suspected burial sites" went un-investigated and that John Hero left them alone, and that Mr. Hero was also finding arrowheads and crude implements on his property.  (I wonder if these suspected burial places were the stone mounds and cairns that are abundant in this area even today- this account is very good circumstantial evidence for this.)  Ballou also points out that Native people showed the earliest settlers to the Milford area crossing places where the rivers would intersect, which showcases their familiarity of this territory.

Also in a historical publication from 1976 about Holliston, MA. I have seen a map with the "earliest points of interest", and there is an arrow pointing to the Holliston/ Hopkinton/ Milford town lines area that says "Possible Indian Villages."  Not to mention the definitively known Native village that was by Lake Winthrop in Holliston/Sherborn, Mucksquit ("place of much grass"), the Praying Village of Megunkoquag in neighboring Ashland, MA. in colonial times, and Quinshipaug plantation in Mendon, MA., the seat of an ancient sachem-ship.  These areas are much more rich in Native heritage than people give them credit for, and the pre-colonial history and dynamics of this culture is much more rich and alive than people have given it credit for.  

So, here are the rest of the pictures from this 5-part "Great Rock Place with a Grand View" series:

Propped boulder:

Boulders lining up on ledge:

I call this "the burning bush":

A big tilted boulder:

In the background behind the pine tree, same boulder from last pic.  As we can see it lines up with another boulder from a different angle:

A nearby almost rock-shelter-like enclosure.  Note the stone placed on top.  Possible snake:  

Outside the ledge of the last pic, this tilted, chipped-out Standing Stone:

Stone wall leading to a boulder.  This is actually getting into another site now I posted about last October:

Bird effigy propped boulder:

On the opposite side of the same ledge of the last pic:

Another nice one:

It is also noteworthy to say that once you get up on high ledges and hills, propped boulder placements become a dominant feature, while the lower grounds (as is especially the case in this area) have more cairns, stone mounds and the like.  It is as if these high grounds with propped boulders, these power places, are over-looking the lower grounds.  


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