Simeon Simon (1759-1835) was George Washington's bodyguard and tribal chief of the Pokanoket people.
Simeon Simon was born in Pachaug in 1759, during the French and Indian Wars, and died in 1835 at the age of 76. A card file at the Providence Public Library in Rhode Island states that Simeon Simon was a (colored man). Noted at the bottom of this card is: (“Colored” as distinguished from Negro. He was said to have been a full blood American Indian, Wampanoag Tribe.)
Simeon Simons was a descendant of OsaMequin, the Massasoit at the time of the Pilgrim’s landing, and also of Metacomet. Simons carried the royal blood of the Pokanoket in his veins and was the leader of the Pokanokets at Pachaug. (FN—Affidavit, 5/15/98, Paul Weeden) His Revolutionary War Pension states he was born in Norwich ; however, at that time Norwich comprised the present town of Norwich and included Bozrah, Franklin, Lisbon, Sprague, and the western border of Griswold and Preston, Jewett City, Long Society and a part of Poquetannock. Griswold (Pachaug) was incorporated in 1815 from Preston, which was incorporated from Norwich in 1686.
According to local Griswold history, on a late June day in 1775 General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, stopped to refresh himself at the little hamlet of Pachaug on the way to Boston. Word of his arrival spread rapidly throughout this small community. While looking out the front window of his room, Gen. Washington noticed a group of young men engaged in exercises such as leaping, wrestling, throwing the quoit and other such pastimes as were common at that time. One of them, Simeon Simons, a full-blooded Indian and descendant of Massasoit, impressed the general with his athletic carriage. Washington summoned the young man to his room, and asked him to be his bodyguard. Simon accepted and remained with the General throughout the Revolutionary War.
Simeon Simons' position as an intimate of Washington’s is confirmed by Phillips that on August 22, 1824 the Marquis de Lafayette, who served with General Washington, visited Johnson Tavern in Jewett City and met many comrades who knew the General from the Revolutionary War. Among them was Simeon Simons. A letter published from Miss Alice Brown on behalf of the Annie Brewster Fanning Chapter of the D.A.R., Jewett City, Connecticut invited Mrs. Ella Peek (Princess Red Wing), the Squaw-Sachem of the Pokonoket, to a pageant on August 17, 1935. This pageant portrayed the meeting of General Washington and Simeon Simons at Pachaug, Connecticut.
According to the Pokanoket Oration handed down from generation to generation, Simeon Simons was the leader of the Pokanoket at Pachaug until his death in 1835. “[General] Washington asked from whence are you from? Simeon replied from a line broken through no fault of my own. You see I am from the line of Massasoits, my parents died when I was but an infant and I was reared by an aunt. She told me that I should be quiet about my ancestry in these parts for fear of harm. While speaking Simeon pulled a piece of hide from his pocket and showed it to the General. This piece of leather was all that was left to him from his parents. On it was the markings of the Seven Crescents, the insignia of the Royal House of Pokanoket. This insignia has been carried down through this line unto this very day.”.
As leader, or Massasoit, of the tribe, Simeon Simons was responsible for any major decisions concerning the tribe or its members. These decisions were always made after a group meeting with core family members to receive their input. As leader, he also was responsible for keeping the tribe’s Oration—its heritage—and for passing on this history and culture to members of his family to preserve it for following generations.