Photo Album

Portraits

These paintings by Bangor artist Jeremiah Pearson Hardy have recently been put on display at the Bangor Public Library.

Portrait of John Neptune John Neptune, born July 22, 1767, died May 8, 1865, was Lieutenant Governor of the Penobscot Indian tribe for fifty years. 

Neptune was also reputed to be a wizard or shaman -- m'teoulino, in the Penobscot language.

Neptune had three wives and a large number of children by his wives and by other women.

Brewer author Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, whose family were friendly with Neptune, described him as having a Roman nose and as being an accomplished hunter with a keen mind and a cheerful, fun-loving nature.

In The Maine Woods, Henry David Thoreau described a visit to Neptune's Old Town home in 1853.

Portrait of Molly Molasses Mary Pelagie (or Balassee) Nicola was known to everyone as Molly Molasses.  She was born in the Bangor area in 1775 and died in 1867.

"Molasses" may have been a corruption of Pelagie or a nickname, as she claimed, " cuz she sweet."

Sweet she was not. Molly was a bitter, sarcastic old woman who frightened people into buying her crafts and her photograph cards because of her dark looks and reputed m'teoulin or magic. "If she said you would die," one Indian told Fanny Hardy Eckstorm, "you would die."

Molly usually wore a tall, heavily embroidered wool cap, a short dress, and leggings, the traditional clothing of Penobscot women.  

Portrait of Sarah Molasses Sarah Molasses was one of four children of Molly Molasses.  Only Sarah and her brother Pierre, or Piol Molly Nicola, lived to adulthood. Their father may have been John Neptune. 

Sarah married Attian Lola and, according to Fanny Hardy Eckstorm, lived comfortably.  Neither Sarah nor Piol seemed to inherit their parents' m'teoulin.

For her portrait, Sarah wore a man's beaver hat trimmed with a broad silver band and an ostritch feather; a red broadcloth gown decorated with ribbons and silver brooches; and a bead necklace at her throat.  Manly Hardy once described a wampum necklace worn by Molly Molasses as "...about two inches wide.  It was mostly of chocolate color with a few white beads..."


To learn more about Molly Molasses, John Neptune, and the Penobscot Nation, we recommend:

Eckstorm, Fanny Hardy. Old John Neptune and Other Maine Indian Shamans. Orono: University of Maine Press, 1980.
McBride, Bunny. Women of the Dawn. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
Speck, Frank G. Penobscot Man. Orono: University of Maine Press, 1997.
Thoreau, Henry David. The Maine Woods.  (there are several editions.)
The Wabanakis of Maine and the Maritimes. Bath: Maine Indian Program, 1989.


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