New Hampshire Indian Tribes

Abnaki. Parts of Grafton County were occupied by the Ossipee and Pequawket bands, affiliated with the Sokoki of the Abnaki tribe. (See Maine.)

Pennacook. Gerard (Hodge, 1910) says the name is “cognate with Abnaki pe(nâkuk, or penankuk, ‘at the bottom of the hill or highland,’) ” but Speck says simply “down hill.” Also called:

  • Merrimac, from the river of that name.
  • Nechegansett, name given by Gookin (1792).
  • Owaragees, Iroquois name (fide Colden (1747)).

Connections. The Pennacook belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock, their nearest relatives being the Abnaki, with whom they were frequently classed, and the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Malecite.

Location. In southern and central New Hampshire, northeastern Massachusetts, and the southernmost part of Maine. (See also Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.)

Subdivisions and Villages

  • Accominta, at or near the site of York, Maine.
  • Agawam, at Ipswich, Mass.
  • Amoskeag, at Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack River.
  • Coosuc, a division along Connecticut River between Upper and Lower Ammonoosuc Rivers, the principal village apparently near the mouth of the latter.
  • Nashua, a division along the upper course of Nashua River, the village being near Leominster, Mass.
  • Naumkeag, at Salem, Mass.
  • Newichawanoc, a division on upper Piscataqua River and Salmon Falls River in Maine and New Hampshire, the principal village being near Berwick, Maine.
  • Pennacook, a division on both banks of Merrimack River above and below Concord, the village of the same name being on the site of Concord. Pentucket, at Haverhill, Mass.
  • Piscataqua, on Piscataqua River near Dover.
  • Souhegan, a division on Souhegan River, Hillsborough County, with the village of the same name probably near Amherst, formerly called Souhegan.
  • Squamscot, on Exeter River near Exeter, Rockingham County.
  • Wachuset, a division on the upper Nashua River, Mass., the village of the same name being located probably near Princeton.
  • Wamesit, a division on the south bank of Merrimack River below the mouth of Concord River, Mass., the village of the same name being near Lowell.
  • Weshacum, at Weshacum Ponds, near Sterling, Mass.
  • Winnecowet, in Rockingham County.
  • Winnipesaukee, around the lake of the same name.

History. The early history of the Pennacook was like that of the Abnaki except that they were earlier affected by the English settlements on Massachusetts Bay. In King Philip’s War (1675-76) the Nashua and Wachuset tribes joined the hostiles, but the greater part of the Pennacook, under Wannalancet, remained on friendly terms until the treacherous seizure of about 200 of their number by Waldron in 1676. They then abandoned their country and the greater part removed to Canada, where they ultimately joined the Abnaki and other Indians of St. Francis. The remainder were finally settled at Scaticook, Rensselaer County, N. Y.

Population. The number of Pennacook is estimated by Mooney (1928) at 2,000 in 1600 and 1,250 in 1676. The remnant is included among the 280 St. Francis Indians returned in 1924.

Connection in which they have become noted. The town of Penacook and Lake Penacook, Merrimack County, are named after the Pennacook, as well as a branch station of the Concord Post Office, and their name also appears in Whittier’s poem “The Bridal of Pennacook.”


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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