2001. PETER POND SOCIETY NEWSLETTER, Number 7
I hope everyone had a pleasant winter. A lot has happened
so there is a lot to report. Hits are pushing 5,000 for starters.
Best to get right to it. This will be a long one.
1. I have always been sorry that even though it is fairly
certain PP died and was buried in Milford, he never had a
headstone. So the location of his grave has remained unknown.
His mother, Mary who died in 1761, has one and it's still
standing. My theory has always been that he was buried near
her, and the marker, if there was one, was not as durable
as Mary's. Well, I've interested the Milford bureau chief
of the CONNECTICUT POST newspaper, which is my employer, in
PP enough to have him write an article about all this.The
reporter, Frank Juliano, has also become a PPS member. He
has made some inquiries, to wit:
March 25, 2001 CONNECTICUT POST
SEARCH IS ON FOR PETER POND'S GRAVE SITE IN MILFORD
By Frank Juliano
MILFORD -- Members of the Peter Pond Society here want
to find the grave of their namesake, an 18th century fur
trader and explorer, but time, poor recordkeeping and a
quirk of history are making that difficult.
Pond, a descendant of one of Milford's founding families,
did not spend much of his adult life here, said city historian
Genealogist Susan Abbott, in her "Families of the Early
Founders of Milford" says he left Milford in 1773 and spent
17 years as a fur trader in upper Canada.
"His name appears on the citizen rolls of Montreal during
that time, " Platt said.
"Pond comeback to Milford in 1790, but in 1792, according
to (Abott), he was a government)agent to the Indians in
the Niagara district of New York, " the historian said.
"He seems to have been a rather footloose character, and
nowhere does it say that he died in Milford, " Plats said,
although the date of Peter Pond's death is agreed upon as
March 6, 1807, when he was 67.
But Bill McDonald, head of the Peter Pond Society and a
Connecticut Post sportswriter, is convinced that Pond is
buried in the Old Milford Cemetery on Gulf Street, probably
near his mother, who died in 1760.
Although Mary Pond has a headstone, her husband does not,
even though he is believed to be buried next to her. McDonald
said it is likely that Peter is buried nearby in the cemetery.
Although Peter Pond was a wealthy man in his day from shares
of a fur trading company, historians believe he died nearly
penniless after a life of dissolute living.
The local Veterans Graves Commission "will search for his
grave and pay for an appropriate marker if he is accepted
as a veteran, " McDonald said.
The quirk of history that could impede assigning a marker
to Pond involves the fact that he served in the French and
Indian War \\$E2 on the side of the British $E2 about 20 years
before the American Revolution.
Whether that would qualify Pond as an American war veteran
"is something that has to be researched, " said Linda Natoli
of the city's veteran's commission.
"This is a possible project for us, but we would start
with looking at old maps to see where the grave might be.
A Manchester engineering firm has specialized equipment
that searches for unmarked graves by detecting "disturbed
earth" that could indicate a buried structure, like a coffin.
But Natoli said such an outside firm would not be called
in until other means were exhausted.
The commission has a \\$2, 850 annual budget from the city,
"and something like that would cost money.
Peter Pond's grave is not listed on the oldest maps of
the town's burying grounds, said Raymond Scholl, sexton
for Milford's two oldest cemeteries.
"There are lots of Ponds buried here, but in the early
years, the graves were not laid out in sections or rows
or even family plots, and it would be hard to find him without
a headstone, " Scholl said.
Platt said the late Morris Abbott surveyed the founding
families' grave sites and drew up a map in the 1940s, but
that Peter Pond is not on it.
The explorer was twice charged with murder in his life
and was known to have a fiery temper.
City resident Tim Clark, who has only a tenuous connection
to Peter Pond (his father married into the Pond family,
but then divorced and married Clark's mother), sees no problem
with a memorial here.
"Our ancestors are gone, and if they had a checkered past
while they were here, it's better than being dull, " Clark
All this may carry over in a fellow PPS member's theory on
where Jean Etienne Waden, who may have been killed by Pond
in the early 1780's in the La Ronge, SK, area, could be buried.
A little background first. Iris Warner used to live in La
Ronge where her husband, Al, was a mechanic at Air La Ronge.
A writer and amateur historian herself, she heard about PP
and the possibility he may have shot Waden since both were
competing fur traders. She wrote to the Milford Town Clerk
inquiring about its wandering native in 1987, and it was by
amazing coincidence that I was in the town clerk's office
the same day making a PP inquiry about an old deed, when I
was handed her letter. But by the time I arrived at La Ronge
Airport in July 1988 for my Clearwater trip, since Horizons
Unlimited, my outfitter, was 20 miles away in Missinippi,
the Warners had retired to British Columbia. I still stopped
in to get Al Warner's forwarding phone number, then, since
Iris told me about it, swung by the stone marker where Waden
had been killed at Waden Bay on Lac La Ronge. To make a long
story short, I have since resumed correspondence with Iris
who told me Al had died but she was still interested in PP.
She is in fact, a charter member, doesn't have a computer,
and is one of two charter members I don't mind snail mailing
newsletters to.She told me to stop mailing out of concern
for the postage. Maybe I will after I send her this one. But
one thing she told me is that a skeleton was dug up in the
late 1980's near the monument. Rumors flared that it was Waden,
but it turned out to be an Indian woman who had been in the
ground about 80 years. Now Iris believes Waden could be buried
on a place called Lime Island not too far out on the lake
and that a radar scanner could find him. Ric or Selmer, take
2. Here's some more interesting material on both PP and his
star pupil, Mackenzie, from Natural Resources Canada Geomatics,
an agency I would never have heard of if not for Iris. Incidentally,
I intend to follow up on the status of PP's cairn at Prince
Albert in another month, once winter leaves in earnest. To
Dear Mr. McDonald,
Thank you for your query submitted to the Geographical
Names web site maintained by the Department of Natural Resources
Canada in Ottawa.
Two features have been named for the 18th century fur trader
and explorer, Peter Pond. According to The Dictionary of
Canadian Biography; Wallace, W.S.; MacMillan Company; Toronto:
1926, Pond established the first trading post on the Athabasca
River in Alberta, reaching it via Lac La Loche (at one time
Methy Lake) and the Methy Portage (now Portage La Loche).
Pond was the author of one of the first maps of the North
Peter Pond Point (cape), Saskatchewan
Section 3 Township 49 Range 27 West of the 2nd Meridian
North Saskatchewan River, West of Prince Albert
Latitude - Longitude : 53\\$B0 12' 00" N - 105$B0 52' 00"
NTS Map : 73H/4
CGNDB Unique Identifier : HAHKA
"Named 22 October 1962 after Peter Pond who erected a fort
at the site now marked by a national monument."
and Peter Pond Lake (lake), Saskatchewan
Latitude - Longitude : 55\\$B0 55' 00" N - 108$B0 44' 00"
NTS Map : 73N/15
CGNDB Unique Identifier : HAPTO
"Named 31 March 1924, confirmed 3 May 1932 after Peter
Pond, first European to visit and map the area. Pond wintered
on the Athabasca River 1778-84. NOT Beef Lake NOR Buffalo
Lake NOR Little Buffalo Lake."
Thank you for your interest in Canadian geographical names.
Andrew Geggie, Toponymist
Geographical Names -- Natural Resources Canada
615 Booth St., Room 634
Ottawa, ON Canada K1A 0E9
Fax : 613-943-8282
GeoNames Web site: http://geonames.nrcan.gc.ca
Mr. McDonald, Thank you for your query and for your continued
interest in Canadian geographical names.
Ten features are named for Sir Alexander Mackenzie.
Mackenzie River was adopted in the 9th Report of the Geographic
Board of Canada, 30 June 1910. Status changed to Dual Name
when Fleuve Mackenzie was adopted 18 January l982 giving
Mackenzie River and Fleuve Mackenzie equal status. Fleuve
Mackenzie is given as the French form on the Treasury Board
list of Names of Pan-Canadian Significance.
According to Alan Rayburn (Naming Canada; University of
Toronto Press; Toronto:1994; ISBN 0-8020-0569-1; pp.177-182),
the river first appeared on a map as"Mac Kenzies River"
in Mackenzie's 1801 book, Voyages from Montreal.
The name Mackenzie River was used by Sir John Franklin,
on page 136 of his printed journal of his first voyage "to
the shore of the Polar Sea &"; published in 1823. In the
narrative of the 2nd expedition in 1828, Franklin says "In
justice to the memory of Mackenzie, I hope the custom of
calling this the Great River, which is in general use among
the traders and voyagers will be discontinued, and that
the name of its eminent discoverer may be universally adopted".
Franklin also named a small point near the mouth of the
Coppermine River for Sir Alexander. His name was Cape Mackenzie,
adopted 30 June 1910 in the 9th Report, but it was changed
31 March 1965 to Mackenzie Point.
Mackenzie Bay at the mouth of the Mackenzie River was also
officially named in the 9th Report, 30 June 1910. The river's
delta was named the Mackenzie Delta in 1948 (approved 5
Mackenzie Valley, Mackenzie Pass and Mount Mackenzie (93D/9),
all named 2 July 1953, are features visited by Sir Alexander
in the Bella Coola River district of British Columbia.
Mount Sir Alexander in the Cariboo district of the Rockies
(93H/16) was approved in the 18th Report (31 March 1924).
Its original name, Mount Alexander Mackenzie, had been adopted
on September 6, 1916.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie Park, a provincial park in British
Columbia, was established 10 February 1926 west of Bella
However, the Mackenzie Mountains, Yukon Territory, adopted
7 April 1945, commemorate Rt.Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, Prime
Minister of Canada, 1873-78.
Andrew Geggie, Toponymist
3. Remember my last newsletter on Judy Pond coming to Milford
to interrogate me about her ancestor? It's set for April 14,
and I'll give a full report on her visit afterward. Here's
a story about her in the 2/16/01 Post by Juliano:
Descendant to probe life of Milford explorer
By FRANK JULIANO
MILFORD -- The mysterious life of a celebrated 18th-century
explorer has led a New Hampshire teacher here to look for
answers. Judith Pond will travel here from Hanover, N.H.,
in April to research the life of her ancestor, Peter Pond,
a locally born notable who helped map some of Canada's greatest,
whitest, northernmost regions.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to find there, frankly, "
said Pond, who has a \\$4,000 grant from the Hanover-Lebanon
School District to conduct her research.
The historical record is ambiguous about what kind of man
Peter Pond was. He helped find a route to the Pacific, played
a role in shaping the U.S.border with Canada and negotiated
a peace treaty between warring Indian tribes.
But he was also tough, foul-tempered and was twice accused
of murder. "The questions I want to answer are, What evils
have our forebears committed?' and How can we make amends
in our own time?' " the eighth-grade teacher said.
Here in Milford, there's little to remember Peter Pond
by -- even though he was born here in 1740 and died here,
too. He died from consumption in 1807.
The bicentennial plaque on the city's green makes brief
reference to him;historians believe his remains were interred
in the Milford Cemetery.
Pond said she also plans to retrace her ancestor's route
through the Methye Portage and the Athabasca River of northern
Saskatchewan, Canada, this summer. She said Peter Pond was
twice accused of murder -- once for killing a man in a duel
and then for allegedly ordering the death of a business
rival. He was never convicted, though.
"I know he had a bad temper, " she said. "I felt a personal
version of the general white guilt my students feel as they
learn about the mayhem our culture has wreaked on less technologically
Pond said her ancestor probably was good to the American
Indians he met because his fortunes as a trapper and trader
depended on them. "I don't think he handed out smallpox-infected
blankets like you read some white people did, " she said.
Peter Pond's achievements were notable. Alberta and Saskatchewan,
Canada, both have monuments dedicated to him.
He is credited with being the first white man at the southern
edge of the Arctic Ocean and with helping explorer Alexander
MacKenzie find a route to the Pacific Ocean 12 years before
Lewis and Clark.
Peter Pond is also credited with negotiating a peace treaty
with warring Indian tribes, said Bill McDonald, a Connecticut
Post sportswriter who heads the Peter Pond Society. "He
was rough and tough and took no guff, " McDonald said.
Peter Pond also had a role in settling the U.S.-Canada
border in 1794. He presented his hand-drawn map of upper
Canada to the U.S. Congress in 1785, McDonald said.
But the amateur historian said he's not sure what he can
show Judith Pond when she visits, since the explorer died
penniless and is buried in an unmarked grave.
The name Pond remains a notable one in Milford. The local
Daughters of the American Revolution chapter named its children's
group in honor of Charles Pond, Peter's brother. But members
have done little research on Peter himself, DAR spokeswoman
Pamela Hudak said.
"Captain Charles Pond fought in the Revolution, but he
was a bit of a scamp too, " Hudak said. "As an elderly man
he chased after thieves who stole his boat, and caught them."
The DAR spokeswoman offered some comfort to Judith Pond.
"You can't pick your relatives, " she said. But a generation
after Peter and Charles, a family member named Charles Hobby
Pond of Milford was elected governor of Connecticut, Hudak
Frank Juliano, Milford bureau chief, can be reached at
4. Finally, a tribute to a recently departed modern-day
namesake. See if you can draw comparisons besides "fascinating,
difficult, wonderful." You could probably say they were both
adventurers, too. I spoke to this gentleman only once, never
met him. People here in Milford remember him since he used
to work at the YMCA. I was given the phone number for his
sister, Pam, who lives in Bethlehem about an hour north of
here. She gave me his number in Providence. He said he didn't
know much about his ancestor but was the family representative
while still in seminary at the cairn dedication in Prince
Albert in the 1950's. Read on about his own interesting life.
Pam alerted me to it. It's interesting how many Ponds I've
found with connections to Yale. Small wonder PP the trader's
diary ended up there.
COMMENTARY - R.I.'s Schindler of the Killing Fields
BYLINE: SHELDON WHITEHOUSE
PUBLICATION: Providence Journal Company
A FASCINATING, DIFFICULT, WONDERFUL Rhode Islander a great
Rhode Islander died June 20. The Rev. Peter Pond was born
to privilege and wealth 67 years ago in Connecticut. He went
to the Pomfret School, to Yale University, and then on to
the Yale Divinity School. Even as a young man, his sense of
activism was profound, and he showed a characteristic boldness
that stayed with him throughout his life. As a divinity school
student, during the Hungarian Revolution, in 1956, he flew
to Hungary to establish a camp to takecare of children displaced
by the violence.
After graduation, as a Congregational minister (late in life,
he became a Roman Catholic), he went to Puerto Rico, where
he established recreational centers for children in the barrios.
He ran an outdoor exploration and mountain-climbing school
in the White Mountains for inner-city children. And, years
later, he tackled Southeast Asian gang problems here in Providence,through
his hands-on work for the Indo-Chinese Advocacy Project.
But Peter's most blessed work took place far away, in a dark
and terrible time, in a place few Americans cared about.
Many years ago, Peter's mother was married to Amb. Edwin
Stanton of the U.S. Foreign Service, one of the fabled "China
Hands." The ambassador thought that America was backing the
wrong side in China, and that Chiang Kai Shek was corrupt
and would lose. For this heresy, Ambassador Stanton was sent
off to Thailand. There, Peter's mother fell in love with Thailand,
and when her husband died she stayed on as an American expatriate.
She became a tutor to the Thai royal family, and she had access
to the royal compound, and to the royal family itself, that
no other Westerner obtained.
Her love of Southeast Asia was transmitted to Peter Pond,
providentially for thousands of Cambodians.
In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over the government
of Cambodia and began one of the most appalling mass murders
in human history. In its intensity and scope, it was more
ravaging even than the Nazi atrocities of World War II. Anyone
with education, professional training, or even mechanical
skills was marked for murder. In a small country with a population
of less than eight million, it is estimated that Pol Pot and
his monstrous regime murdered nearly two million people. No
one knows for sure, because the "Killing Fields" were so many,
and so brutal, and so few records were kept.
Into this bloodbath stepped Peter Pond. The activism and
boldness that marked Peter Pond also marked his humanitarian
response to the Cambodian killing machine. He could not stop
it, but he could get people out. Perhaps you have seen the
movie Schindler's List; Peter became the Schindler of Cambodia.
He used his skill and determination, his personal wealth,
his Southeast Asian contacts and connections, and his considerable
personal courage to run truck convoys full of Cambodians across
the border to safety in Thailand. When the convoys were stopped,
Peter bribed or bluffed their way through.
As his work came to the attention of the Cambodian regime,
they told him to stop it. He trusted that they were not yet
serious, and continued to send truck convoys full of Cambodian
families to safety. Finally, the Pol Pot regime told him to
stop it and this time they meant it, but Peter misjudged.
Peter went to Site 8, a border Khmer Rouge camp, in an attempt
to work with people trapped there who wanted to get away.
He was building a library, looking for reasonable leaders
he could deal with. He and a driver were headed to the nearest
town to buy supplies when their car was stopped and Peter
was shot. His driver took him back to Site 8, where the medical
aides administered plasma, stopped the bleeding and contacted
the Red Cross, crying as they worked on him. Although he survived
and returned to work, his health was undermined, and he was
never after as vigorous. Eventually, he developed serious
health problems from the shooting.
I saw the scars that the bullet wounds left on Peter, and
it frankly is amazing that he could have survived. His body
was stitched with wounds. But survive he did, and he returned
to his work, this time in the refugee camps across the border
in Thailand. Here, Cambodian refugees were often the victims
of plunder, extortion, rape and other forms of abuse. Peter
fought and begged and protested and prayed and in general
made a fuss about what was happening to the Cambodian refugees.
At Camp Sakeo, staying after the camp closed at night and
all U.N. workers left, Peter found that the camp was being
used as a rest-and-recreation facility for Khmer soldiers.
The Thai military directed that camp men and boys should
go back into Cambodia to fight the invading Vietnamese communists,
as a buffer to protect their country from Hanoi. Peter announced,
and handed out flyers,that the temple was a sanctuary and
people did not have to leave. The people stayed, and the Thai
military arrested Peter. Peter languished in prison in Thailand
until he was finally released by a royal pardon issued by
Queen Sirikit of Thailand.
As Cambodia stabilized, Peter maintained his interest in
that country's affairs, and he remained involved for the rest
of his life with Cambodian politicians who were trying to
rebuild a government from the ashes left by Pol Pot.
Here in Providence, Peter was active in the Southeast Asian
community, and with the Indo-Chinese Advocacy Project. This
project, well ahead of its time, worked with kids involved
in gangs and other misbehavior to try to end the violence
before it started, or hold people accountable for the violence
once it was done.
Peter's most enduring legacy, however, will be his children:
He and Mrs. Pond had eight children of their own or from previous
marriages, and they adopted 15 Southeast Asian children. When
Queen Sirikit visited Peter in prison, she said that, as in
a fairy tale, she wanted to grant him three wishes. He asked
that three Cambodian orphans be allowed to go to the United
States. They were Arn, Lakhana and Soneath, the first three
adoptive children to come to the family. The willingness of
the Ponds to open their hearts and home so wide, for so many,
is a measure of this exceptional family, and this exceptional
Much of what he did, he did far away, in a continent and
country America had turned its back on. Few people know what
he did. But he was exceptional, and he lived among us, and
we should mark his passing.
* * * *
Sheldon Whitehouse is the attorney general of Rhode Island.
Mr.Whitehouse's father, Charles Whitehouse, was U.S. ambassador
to Thailand and Laos during the 1970s. He also served as deputy
ambassador to South Vietnam. In the 1950s, he served in Cambodia
as a Foreign Service officer, when Sheldon Whitehouse lived
in Pnom Penh.
That's enough for now. Stay in touch.