Marshall Historical Society

Romance Wyatt -- The Last of the Brothertowns
From information and newspaper articles in the collection of the late Mrs. W. D. Nash.

In 1826, a few years before the Brothertown Indians emigrated to Wisconsin, Romance Wyatt was born of Indian blood. His father and mother died when he was a child, and he was adopted and brought up by Asa and Cynthia Dick. Asa was a chief of the Brothertowns and once lived in the house where the Waterman Nursing Home is located on the Deansboro-Waterville road. At 13, Romance went to work among the farmers, and when he grew older he obtained employment on the Chenango Canal. For 30 years he served as a boatman on the Chenango and Erie Canals.

About the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted in the Twenty-sixth Regiment and after its service ended he fought with the Eighty-third, seeing service at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, being at the battle of Little Round Top. He remembered that Gen. Meade was killed in this battle. At Gettysburg he was shot in the right ankle, and on July 6, 1865, he was honorably discharged. From his earnings as a soldier and boatman he saved enough money to buy a little cabin, with a garden attached, near the corner of 12B and the Dicksville Rd. He lived there from 1866 to his death. Another Brothertown Indian, Lewis Kindness, lived with him for a year and a half before he moved west.

In 1867, Mr. Wyatt married Eunice Ann Beach, a Yankee woman by whom he had one daughter Nettie. The little girl died in 1883, in her fifteenth year. Her mother died in 1893. While his wife was alive, she made a "spruce gum" from the resin Mr. Wyatt gathered from trees in the Nine Mile swamp. The gum was a rather hard, brown substance with a sweetish pungent flavor, not at all disagreeable. They sold this gum to the children in the neighborhood.

Mr. Wyatt was a member of the Congregational Church in Oriskany Falls and spoke interestingly of his conversion. Many years ago he was deceived now and then by the white man's firewater. On one occasion, while visiting in Oriskany Falls, he was invited to hear an evangelist speak. He was so impressed by what he heard that after the service he went out and took his last drink. Later he returned to the church, was converted and admitted to membership.

He served as game constable for four years and at various times worked as a janitor in the Randall District School and the Congregational Church. He made baskets and chair seats of white ash and sold them in the villages. In his last years he was cared for by Mr. & Mrs Eli Perkins. He died sitting in a rocking chair in his front yard on Sept. 20, 1907, at the age of 81. It was a beautiful sunny fall afternoon when the last of the Brothertowns crossed the river of no return.

He was a Christian and led an upright life. Yet he was an Indian with an Indian "gits" as the Leather Stocking would say. He was known as "Matt" among his friends both young and old.

The Wyatt family is buried on the east slope of the Deansboro Cemetery


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