The Legend of Chief Graylock
In 1901 on the eastern slope of Mt. Greylock there was a landslide that was over 1500 feet long from top to bottom, it was called the "Chief s Steps". In 1990 it started raining and lasted for four days and nights, tons of rocks, earth and trees crashed down the side of Mt. Greylock. On the morning of May 14, a giant face appeared on the eastern slope overlooking the town of Adams, Massachusetts. Most people saw the face of an old Indian Chief. They called him Chief Graylock.
Legend has it that Chief Graylock was born around 1660 in a Waronoke Village, which is now the town of Westfield. His native name was Wawamolewat. The Waronokes were a part of the Pocumtuck Confederacy of Central Massachusetts. They were great fur trappers, they traded with the British, as the population increased, and game decreased, they no longer had a way of making a living. In 1674 the tribe moved to the Berkshires. Chief Graylock had a secret cave on the slope of Mt. Greylock located in Adams, Massachusetts where he harassed the British settlers as they moved into his domain. He also lived with the Waronoke Tribe near Stockbridge Massachusetts, then they moved on to Schaghticoke New York, and finally to Canada, where Chief Graylock met a Winooski woman. Together they settled down at Missisquoi Bay just north of the Vermont border. He built a huge fort there known as "Graylock's Castle".
In 1723 war broke out between the British and the French, Chief Graylock sided with the French and led many daring raids against the British in the Connecticut River Valley. His tribesmen, now known as the Missisquoi took in many refugees from the eastern wars, at that point the population swelled to over 1,000. In 1725 John Lovewell got together groups of volunteers and made scalping raids on the Abenacki of Maine, killing many and driving them off their lands. Chief Graylocks's warriors defeated Lovewell and his men. Many moved to "Graylock's Castle." The British and the French offered big bounties for scalps, up to a year's pay for a single scalp. On August 20, 1746, the French General de Vaudreuil attacked Fort Massachusetts which is located the site of the Price Chopper Grocery Store in North Adams with a force of 900 men. Among them, 17 were Missisquio (Graylock's warriors) and the St. Francis, Abenacki and many of Graylock's old allies. Sergeant John Hawks and 22 brave men fought them off for 28 hours. With sick men and no ammunition, they had no choice but to surrender. They were taken captive to Canada, there, they were treated well, but many died of illness while in captivity. The fort was rebuilt in 1747. Then on August 2, 1748, the French attacked the fort again with a force of 300 men. (With some of Graylock's warriors). Col. Efraim Williams, for which Williams College is named after defended the fort with 100 gallant men. The French and Indian Wars ended in 1759.
At 63, Chief Graylock still retained all the energy and vitality of his youth. When he was much younger he lost part of his foot in a bear trap, leaving him with a limp. Accounts tell of Chief Graylock attacking Northfield, Massachusetts and the following day Rutland Vermont. When news of these attacks reached Boston, Governor Dummer dispatched troops to capture Chief Graylock, but the mission failed just miles from Graylocks's fort, due to a lack of supplies.
Many a British Governor ordered the capture of Graylock but he was never caught or defeated. Often called the "frowning chief of the Waronokes", he made quite an impact on our local history.
His name Wawamolewat means "Sacred Ground". Once again, he stands watch over it
(c)1998 Rolf Hansen
Additional Reading: Mount Greylock State Reservation