Maryland and District of Columbia extract from
John Reed Swanton's

The Indian Tribes of North America

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(Maryland and District of Columbia) Extract from

The Indian Tribes of North America

by John R. Swanton

Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145—1953

[726 pages—Smithsonian Institution]

(pp. 57-61)

Maryland and the District of Columbia

Conoy. Probably a synonym of Kanawha, but the meaning is unknown; also spelled Canawese, and Ganawese. Also called:

Piscataway, from a village on Piscataway Creek where the Conoy chief resided.

Connections.The Conoy belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock and were probably intermediate between the Nanticoke and Powhatan Indians.

Location.Between the Potomac River and the western shore of the Chesapeake.


Acquintanacsuak, on the west bank of Patuxent River in St. Marys County.
Conoy proper or Piscataway, in the southern part of Prince Georges County.
Mattapanient, on Patuxent River, probably in St. Marys County.
Moyawance, on the West bank of the Potomac River above the Conoy proper.
Nacotchtank, on the eastern branch of the Potomac, in the District of Columbia.
Pamacocack about the mouth of Mattawoman Creek and the present Pomonkey, Charles County
Patuxent, in Calvert County.
Potapaco, in the southern and central parts of Charles County.
Secowocomoco, on Wicomico River in St. Marys and Charles Counties.

Villages: The principal settlement of each of the above subdivisions was generally known by the same name. In addition we have the following:

Catawissa, at Catawissa, Columbia County, Pa.
Conejoholo, on the east bank of the Susquehanna on or near the site of Bainbridge, Lancaster County, Pa.
Conoytown, on Susquehanna River between Conejoholo and Shamokin (Sunbury), Pa.
Kittamaquindi, at the junction of Tinkers Creek with the Piscataway a few miles above the Potomac, Prince Georges County, the principal village of the colony proper.

History.If the name of the Conoy is identical with that of Kanawha River, as appears probable, they must have lived at some period along that stream. They were found by Smith and the Maryland colonists in the location above given and missions were established among them by the Jesuits on the first settlement of Maryland in 1634. They decreased rapidly in numbers and were presently assigned a tract of land on the Potomac, perhaps near the site of Washington. In 1675 they were attacked by the Susquehanna Indians who had been driven from their own territories by the Iroquois, retired up the Potomac River, and then to the Susquehanna, where they were finally assigned lands at Conejoholo near the Nanticoke and Conestoga. Some of them were living with these two tribes at Conestoga in 1742. They gradually made their way northward, stopping successively at Harrisburg, Shamokin, Catawissa, and Wyoming, and in 1765 were in southern New York, at Owego, Chugnut, and Chenango, on the eastern branch of the Susquehanna. They moved west with the Mahican and Delaware and soon became known only as constituting a part of those tribes. They used the Turkey as their signature at a council held in 1793.

Population.The number of Conoy was estimated by Mooney (1928) at 2,000 in 1600; in 1765 they numbered only about 150.

Connection in which they have become noted.The name Conoy is perpetuated by Conoy, 2 miles north of Falmouth, Lancaster County, Pa., and probably (see above) by the Great and Little Kanawha Rivers, Kanawha County, Kanawha Ridge, and several places in West Virginia, besides post villages in Hancock County, Iowa, and Red River County, Tex.

Delaware. They probably occupied, or at least hunted over, some territory in the extreme northeastern part of the State. (See New Jersey.)

Nanticoke. From Nentego, a variant of Delaware Unechtgo, or Unalachtigo, "Tidewater people," the neighboring division of Delaware being known by the same name. Also called:

Doegs, Toags, or Taux, by some early writers, probably shortened from Tawachguáns.
Ganniataratich-rone, Mohawk name.
Otayáchgo, Tawachguáns, Mahican and Delaware name, meaning "Bridge people."
Skaniadaradighroonas, "Beyond-the-sea people," Iroquois name.

Connection.The Nanticoke belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family, their closest connections probably being with the Unalachtigo Delaware— as the name implies— and also with the Conoy.

Location.Although the Nanticoke are frequently more narrowly delimited, it will be convenient to group under this head all of the Indians of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and southern Delaware.


Annamessicks. in the southern part of Somerset County.
Choptank, on Choptank River.
Cuscarawaoc, at the head of Nanticoke River in Maryland and Delaware.
Manokin, on Manokin River in the northern part of Somerset County.
Nanticoke proper, on the lower course of Nanticoke River.
Nause, in the southern end of the present Dorchester County.
Ozinies, on the lower course of Chester River; they may have been part of or identical with the Wicomese.
Tocwogh, on Sassafras River, in Cecil and Kent Counties.
Wicocomoco, on Wicocomoco River in Somerset and Wicocomoco Counties.
Wicomese, in Queen Anne's County.


Ababco, a subtribe or village of the Choptank on the south side of Choptank River in Dorchester County, near Secretary Creek.
Askimimkansen, perhaps Nanticoke, on an upper eastern branch of Pocomoke River, probably in Worcester County.
Byengeahtein, probably in Dauphin or Lancaster County, Pa.
Chenango, a mixed population on Chenango River about Binghamton, N.Y.
Hutsawap, a village or subtribe of the Choptank, in Dorchester County.
Locust Necktown, occupied by a band of Nanticoke proper known as Wiwash, on Choptank River, in Dorchester County.
Matchcouchtin, consisting of Nanticoke proper, probably in Pennsylvania.
Matcheattochousie, Nanticoke proper, probably in Pennsylvania.
Natahquois, Nanticoke proper, probably on the eastern shore of Maryland or on the Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.
Nause, belonging to the tribe of the same name, on the north bank of Nanticoke River near its mouth.
Pekoinoke, Nanticoke proper, still existing in Maryland in 1755.
Pohemkomeati, on lower Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania.
Teahquois, Nanticoke proper, probably on lower Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania.
Tequassimo, a subtribe or village on the Choptank, on the southern shore of Choptank River.
Tocwogh, the principal village of the tribe of that name, said to be on the south side of Chester River in Queen Anne County, but, unless this is a later location, probably on the south side of Sassafras River in Kent County.
Witichquaom, Nanticoke proper, near Susquehanna River in southern Pennsylvania

History.Traditionally, the Nanticoke are supposed to have come from the west at about the same time as the Delaware, but they were found in the location above given by the earliest white explorers and settlers. They were at war with the Maryland colonists from 1642 to 1678. In 1698 reservations were set aside for them. Soon after 1722 the greater part of them began to move north, stopping for a time on the Susquehanna at its junction with the Juniata. In 1748 the greater part of the tribe went farther up, and, after camping temporarily at a number of places, settled under Iroquois protection at Chenango, Chugnut, and Oswego. In 1753 part of these joined the Iroquois in western New York, and they were still living with them in 1840, but the majority, in company with the remnants of the Mahican and Wappinger, emigrated west about 1784 and joined the Delaware in Ohio and Indiana, with whom they soon became incorporated, disappearing as a distinct tribe. Yet a part did not leave their old country. Some were living in Maryland in 1792 under the name of Wiwash, and some mixed-bloods still occupy a small territory on Indian River, Delaware. The Choptank, or a part of them, also remained in their old country on the south of Choptank River, Dorchester County, where a few of their descendants, their blood much mixed with that of Negroes, were to be found in 1837. Some Wicocomoco must also have stayed about their ancient seats, since a few mongrels are said to retain the name.

Population.Mooney (1928) estimated a total Indian population on the eastern shore of Maryland in 1600 of 2,700, including 700 Tocwogh and Ozinies, 400 Wicocomoco, and 1,600 Nanticoke and their more immediate neighbors. In 1722 they are said to have numbered about 500 and in 1765 those who had emigrated to New York were supposed to count about 500 more. In 1792 the Nanticoke proper left in Maryland were said to comprise only 30 persons, but in 1911 Speck (1915) estimated their descendants in southern Maryland at 700.

Connection in which they have become noted.The name Nanticoke is perpetuated in that of Nanticoke River between Wicomico and Dorchester Counties, and by the town of Nanticoke in the former. There are also places of the name in Broome County, N.Y., and Luzerne County, Pa.

Powhatan. The Accohanoc Indians of the panhandle of Virginia, who extended over into Worcester County, were the only representative of the Powhatan Indians in Maryland, though the Conoy were closely related to them. (See Virginia.)

Shawnee. Shawnee Indians settled temporarily in western Maryland near the Potomac and in the northeastern part of the State on the Susquehanna. (See Tennessee.)

Susquehanna. They lived along and near the Susquehanna River. (See Pennsylvania.)