An Old Orland Connection

Some of you may have heard Granny speak of an Indian princess in our heritage. I never gave this genealogical trivia much thought because I thought it was spurious. Aunt Betty was known to mention that we were descended somehow from Pocahontas. I gave that story even less credence. However, I had Granny’s genealogy papers at the house and after going through them I found a hint that the family link to the greater Abenaki nation might be based on fact.

The Reilly-Eldridge link in our clan comes along a very old Yankee line going back to the early1600’s when the Eldridges settled on Cape Cod. My discovery was along another branch connected to the Phillips family (my great grandmother). I found an interesting trace of a relative amongst the early settler of Orland that was my great-grandmother’s grandmother. My great-great grandmother was a Phillips and she lived at the original Lucerne Inn. Although in the 1800’s it was called the halfway house because it was halfway between Bangor and Ellsworth. My grandmother’s grandmother was Rebecca Phillips and if I have the details remembered correctly her maiden name was Kentfield. Rebecca’s married Nathan Phillips, son of John Phillips, the Revolutionary War veteran (of DAR note). Nathan was born in Brewer and Rebbecca Kentfield came from Orland, actually Plantation 2 East of the Penobscot as it was then named.

Rebecca’s father was Ebenezer Kentfield who emigrated from Massachusetts to settle two lots on the Eastern River. I have copied part of an old settlement maps showing two lots named for Ebenezer (coming later). These were located along the tidal shores of Orland just north of the Penobscot town line. When I have time I will get better copies at the Hancock County deeds office. As near as I can tell, this land is not far from where the Bray clan now lives. Ebenezer vacated the homestead during the War of 1812 when the English occupied Penobscot Bay and points east. He returned at some point after the war ended, ironically the official end of the war preceded the death of General Packenham (another possible familial tie) in the Battle of New Orleans.

Orland location map is linked here: Map 1. Here is a copy of the old settlers map, the Kentfield lots are circled (lower left).

Ebenezer was married to a woman referred to as Indian Lady Sangwadekwe. She was most likely a Penoscot Indian. I have much more to learn. I have found one reference that suggests the Sangwadekwe clan is perhaps the same as the present day Francis clan. Why was she given the title, Lady? Perhaps she really was Penobscot royalty, in keeping with the family legends. We are now just starting to look for more historical details. Ebenezer and Lady Sangwadekwe had 14 children so I now have a number of family threads to follow.

I am very excited to learn that we have a small but real connection to both the true original settlers of the region and also to others who were part of Orland’s early existence. This is a connection unknown when we first moved here. More will follow as I dig deeper into the historical record.


  1. Polly says:

    What a strange world…!

  2. Donald (Don) Heath says:

    We think we are descendants of this Indian Lady Sangwadekwe – my granddaughter is researching this link further to make a clearer distinction.

    • john says:

      Don and Aimee-

      Welcome and I am glad you found our blog. I have not learned anything new about our ancestor, but I have some ideas about where to look next. I am told that our “great…..”grandmother’s name is connected to the Penobscots (Frances?). I will post again when we learn more.

  3. Debbie says:

    Wow! I have been looking for 25+ years for any clues of my grandmother’s rumored Native ancestor. Grandma’s GGG-grandmother was Rachel (Kentfield) Heath, daughter of Ebenezer Kentfield and, apparently, Lady Sangwadekwe. I recently purchased a book on the Kentfield family which refers to Ebenezer (b. ca 1732) Kentfield’s wife as possibly being Native American and that her name was not known. That source only lists 8 children. Where did you find the Sangwadekwe name? Also where did you find the information on their 14 children? Thanks! :)

    • john says:

      Thank you for the message. I will need to do some digging to refresh my memory of where I found all that information. The tribe was local to the area and in English were called the Sculpin People. The Kentfields (also Kenfield?) moved to and from Shelburne, MASS at least twice. I want to track down more details on that family when I have some free time.

      • Debbie says:

        I grew up in Bangor and now live near Ellsworth. The Lucerne Inn is, indeed, the halfway point. I’ve driven by there (and the adjacent Phillips Lake) literally thousands of times! The area around Bangor and Orland (where Ebenezer Kentfield lived) is definitely in the Penobscot people’s home turf. The current Penobscot reservation is a few minutes upriver from Bangor. I look forward to seeing the details from your old family papers! So exciting! :)

        • john says:

          Some information on Ebenezer Kentfield came from the “Maine Families in 1790″…see for details on that source.

          The family name Sangwadeke is listed in the book Penobscot Man by Frank Speck. That name is associated with modern-day Francis (Chief of Penobscot Nation in recent times). I am not remembering where I found the reference to the Sculpin People.

          I looked a bit for Kentfield in burial grounds in the area, but so far no success. I know that home burials were once common and I may never find a small family plot.

          If I discover a good detail in the future, I will post it.

          • Debbie says:

            Hey John! Thanks for the additional info.

            I have the first 6 volumes of the “Maine Families in 1790″ series of books, so I’ve got that reference. The entry for Ebenezer Kentfield is in Volume 1, page 35. About his wife it just says “His wife is unknown.” It only list 3 of his children (Daniel, Benjamin, and Rebecca).

            I just ordered a copy of the “Penobscot Man” book and look forward to checking it out! Francis is definitely a well-known Penobscot family. The current chief is, in fact, a Francis!

            If you find reference to a place in central Maine that you would like me to check out/photograph in person, let me know. Both Lucerne and Orland are about a 30 minute drive from my house. :)

          • Debbie says:

            I forgot to mention the DNA… Family Tree DNA estimates that I have a “trace” of “North and Central America” and 23 And Me estimates that I have 0.3% “East Asian & Native American”.

  4. K C Mellem says:

    Hi, John! My distant cousin Debbie (above) alerted me to this article on your blog. I, too, have heard the family legend that Ebenezer Kentfield’s wife was of Native American heritage. I’ll be following closely as you refresh your memory and hope you can find your source. The late Dean Wolbach, an accomplished amateur genealogist and personal friend, researched Ebenezer’s many moves, land purchases, etc., for years, and never discovered Ebenezer’s wife’s identity, so I’ve always been skeptical. I’d be tickled to find out who she was, regardless of background! Btw, my DNA tests revealed no Native American heritage, but after so many generations, it’s not impossible that that “chunk” has fallen out.
    Regards and happy researching,
    KC Mellem

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