Friday, June 01, 2007

Manwaring Man

When the foundation of the Mohican Hotel was being dug, work crews discovered the remains of a human skeleton. The bones were carefully exhumed and assembled. The whole skeleton was exhibited in a special case in the lobby of the Mariner’s Bank on State Street. Local scholar, Silas Manwaring, who lived in the family mansion on Manwaring Hill, wrote a paper about the specimen which he read at the annual meeting of trustees at the Smithsonian Institute. The specimen was named after him.

According to reports at the time, Manwaring Man was eight feet tall and had a gold molar. He had broken his arm at one point and the fracture had healed well. Besides the bones, Manwaring Man’s stomach also survived the ages. It was full of the remains of clams. Despite his remarkable dentition, it appears Manwaring Man didn’t like to chew. He can be excused; the best way to swallow a little neck is to let it slide down whole.

It was postulated that Manwaring Man was a Pequot. Researchers went to the reservation in Mashantucket and the Pequots denied any relationship. The researchers then went to Giant’s Neck and talked to the Nehantics, who likewise wouldn’t acknowledge kinship. They went to Shantok Fort in Uncasville. The Mohegans told them that the skeleton wasn’t one of theirs. The Mohegans did tell the team that the skeleton probably belonged to one of “The Little People.”

According to Mohegan legend, The Little People really are little, except for one. It turns out that Gundiclatch was overly large for a Little Person. Because he didn’t fit in, he left the Mohegan lands and traveled south. First he lived on Mamacoke Island where there is a pork chop tree. When he got tired of eating pork chops he went further south to the shores of Winthrop Cove, where he lived off clams.

While Gundiclatch was living on Winthrop Cove, he ran into the Pausipeg, New London’s resident sprite. The two got along well for awhile, but the Pausipeg is famous for making fast enemies out of quick friends. They started to quarrel and the Pausipeg grew resentful that Gundiclatch was eating all the clams in what was then called the Pequot River.

One thing led to another and Gundiclatch met his maker. His remains were discovered five centuries later when the Mohican Hotel was built. His skeleton was on display for about ten years. Its whereabouts are currently unknown. Some people think the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. The Pausipeg is still around. You can see him rattling trash cans in downtown alleys late at night.

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