Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roger and the Stickyball Incident

Unlike Moses, Roger didn't hold up the otter's ideas
as laws to be
obeyed or else. Yet people listened.

Not unlike Moses on his way down from Mt. Sinai, Roger came away from the otter with new ideas that were actually very old ideas! Roger spent his lifetime sharing these ideas, mostly by example. At first he just spent his time around Monaghan, reading what books he could find, and wandering around in the nearby hills, along the river, or out on the beaches.

Then the people of Monaghan heard of another new town to the west, New London (now Putney) whose residents were close to starvation.

Here's the story:

In 1816 the Atherton Dove was driven aground by yet another storm, this time onto the beach near Alison, about 80 miles east of Beastey Bay and on the South Bight. New Island was still uncharted territory and was increasingly becoming a shipping hazard: the islanders would not build lighthouses in fear of a discovery and takeover by the British or other nation.

Instead of convicts the Dove carried free settlers led by one Capt. James Denby. Local settlers spotted the ship in the surf and helped everyone aboard get to shore safely. Most of the ship's supplies and livestock, including 22 horses were also saved. When Capt. Denby figured out that he had run onto an uncharted island, he immediately began boasting how he would re-float his ship, sail on to Sydney, and claim the island for Britain! No one argued with him but that night he found his ship mysteriously ablaze and its two guards arriving ashore in a rowboat knocked unconscious and sleeping like babies...

Infuriated , Denby convinced most of his entourage to follow him overland far away from this "rabble of convicts" and build their own colony. He too had heard of good land to the north but insisted on locating near a deepwater harbor. He eventually found it at present-day Putney Bay. His group of about 160 men and women were the first to settle the region, and they eventually found that the soil was sandy and the local water too brackish for successful farming.

Denby insisted on settling here anyway, and declared himself Colonial Lord Governor of the entire island, arguing that convicts and even the venerable Capt. Hayes, had no legal claim. To enhance his authority, he hired (or coerced) many of his followers to build a proper manor on a hilltop west of present-day Putney. Staple crops weren't planted in time and then the weak soil hampered any harvest. His followers, who had come this far with him, finally became dissillusioned when the food became scarce, and by April of 1817, the settlerment of New London was becoming desperate.

Then Roger appeared, wirth several women from Monaghan pulling a small wagon. This was loaded with morsels made of ground oats, wild nut butter and honey they called 'stickyballs'! Roger simply said, "We brut these fer yer 'unger...we're a grain food tribe." and the grateful New Londoners swarmed the wagon. Later Roger and the women taught the settlers how to cast for perch in the surf, and how to find holyoke clams in the bay. He then offered to trade their inland bounty for fish and clams from the coast---which soon allowed New Londoners a level of independence form Mr. Denby. They abandoned Denby's projects and more or less ignored him as he eventually isolated himself within his half-built mansion.

This was one of many 'Roger events' that helped convince new Islanders that they might just thrive here, on their own, and create entirely new ways of living together. Roger, to his chagrin, became the spiritual leader of this emerging nation, especially after his strangest discovery yet to come.