Zac McDorrThe Pilgrims made a navigational error on their way across the Atlantic. They intended to land in Hudson Bay, but wound up on Cape Cod instead.

The area was strangely deserted, due to one of the worst Armageddon’s in human history: About 90 percent of the natives in North America were wiped out by unfamiliar diseases from the Old World. The village of Pautuxet where the Pilgrims settled had only one living member, the famous Squanto.

Their first encounter with a native, however, was with an English-speaking Maine Abanaki named Samoset.

After no native encounters, the Pilgrims suddenly noticed a tall, dark-haired Indian striding into their village, calling, “Welcome Englishman! Welcome Englishman!” This was Samoset, who had learned broken English from European fisherman who came to Monhegan Island.

He was in the area visiting Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe. It was a cold day and Samoset wore only leather around his waist, so the Pilgrims (more uncomfortable than Samoset with the situation) threw a cloak over him.

Samoset asked for beer, but they gave him water, butter, biscuits, cheese, and pudding. Despite the Pilgrim’s misgivings, Samoset refused to leave and spent the night. Later, he returned with others to trade deer skins, but as it was a Sunday, the Pilgrims refused to trade.

Finally, Samoset introduced the Pilgrims to Squanto, who would become their greatest local ally. Squanto had been kidnapped by Europeans and spent time in England, where he learned to speak English much better than Samoset.

Explorer Christopher Levett visited Boothbay in 1623 and ran into Samoset there. They became great friends. A couple years later, Samoset was in Pemaquid, where he sold some land to an Englishman named John Brown. He is on record as selling more land in 1653.

Samoset may be buried on Samoset Island near Damariscotta, or somewhere nearby.

Source: Bangor Historical Magazine, November, 1888