KING PHILIP'S WAR CLUB
For inquiries contact Michael Volmar,Curator,
Fruitlands Museums, 102 Prospect Hill Road, Harvard,
When and where the club, presently assumed to be Philip's,
came from is something of
a mystery. However, there is some information available.
In 1913 Dr. Warren King Moorehead learned that Mrs. Laura
Daniels had in her
possession King Philip's War Club. Apparently, she is
descended from the Rev. John
Checkley, a Church of England clergyman who became a missionary
to the Indians in
Providence. As the story goes, he secured the relic along with
a pipe and a belt from
the Indian (Alderman) who shot Philip in 1676. The club was handed down
from person to person
to Mrs. Laura Anne Daniels (maiden name Fuller) of Union,
Maine. Miss Clara
Endicott Sears purchased the club in 1930. It was stolen from
the Fruitlands Museums
in 1970. And, in the summer of 1995, it was returned to the
There is no doubt that Rev. John Checkley worked among the
Indians of the Mount
Hope area during the first half of the eighteenth century.
There is also evidence which
suggests that he was in fact a collector of Indian relics and
that he probably procured
the club and handed it down to future generations of his
family. He also may have had
contact with an aged Benjamin Church (1639-1717) who may have
introduced him to Alderman, the man who shot Philip.
There is, however, no record which mentions these
events or the club until the mid-nineteenth century at which
time its authenticity as
being King Philip's war club was already assumed. It is known
that Rev. John
Checkley was born in 1680 in Boston and died in Providence in
Checkley was educated at Oxford, and thus lived abroad until
around 1710. King
Philip's war club was known to be in the possession of his
descendants by 1842.
Family tradition contends that Checkley traded a gold watch for
Philip's war-club, belt,
and pipe (anonymous 1897:119).
The club is made from the ball root of a maple tree. The ball
root develops when the
root system of a tree hangs over a stream bank in such a way as
to expose the roots and
cause them to grow at an angle.
The club is inlaid with white and purple wampum. White wampum
is made from the
central column of a whelk shell. Purple wampum is made from
quahog shell. There
are also several triangular horn pieces inlaid along one side
of the club. The holes
were made to fit individual beads. There are two lines of
wampum along the top width
of the club, most of which are missing. Also, there are two
bands of wampum along
the adjacent surfaces of the handle, 44 beads to a side. Then
on one side there are 15
triangular inlaid horn pieces, two of which are still there.
Also, on the other side,
there is a lower band of wampum beads, only partially
completed. In fact, if you look
at the club in the right light you can see two parallel lines
made with something sharp
to outline where the bead inlay should continue. It is evident
that this line would have
been continued. There are also three rectangular sections
engraved into the club near
the ball, perhaps for a brass inlay.
In my estimation the club was manufactured during the
seventeenth century, in all
likelihood by a Native American. One clear sign of its
antiquity is the Wampum and
the method of its manufacture. Another is the condition of the
wood and style of
Fruitlands Museum should be visited to learn more about Native American culture.
anonymous. 1897. John Checkley; or the Evolution of Religious
Tolerance in for the Society by John Will and Sons, Boston.
Massachusetts Bay. Vol I and II. Publications of the Prince
Church, Benjamin. 1865. The History of King Philip's
War. Introduction by H.M.Dexter.
John Kimball Wiggin, Boston.
Church, Thomas Esq. 1822. The History of King Philip's War
commonly called The Great Indian
Samuel G. Drake. J.B. Williams, Exeter, New Hampshire.
Wars At the Eastward, In 1689, 1690, 1692, 1696, and 1704.
with Notes and Appendix by
Drake, Samuel G. 1822. The History of Philip's War. by
T.Church with Appendix by S.Drake.J.B.Williams, Exeter, N.H.
Horner, George R. 1995. Massoit and His Two Sons: Wamsutta
and Metacom. In Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society. 56(1):20-22.
Leach, Douglas E. 1958. Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England
in King Philip's War.
W.W. Norton & Co., New York.
Leach, Douglas E. (ed.) 1963. A Rhode Islander Reports on
King Philip's War: The Second
William Harris Letter of August, 1676. Rhode Island Historical
Mather, Increase 1862. The History of King Philip's War.