The New International Encyclopædia/Massachuset
MAS′SACHU′SET (At the great hills, i.e. the Blue hills of Milton). An important Algonquian confederacy formerly occupying the territory about Massachusetts Bay, and extending along the coast from Plymouth northward to about Salem, including the basins of the Neponset and Charles Rivers. Their principal village, from which they took their name, was on the site of Quincy, in Norfolk County. Before the coming of the whites they seem to have held the leading place among the tribes of southern New England, and are said on good authority to have had over twenty villages in 1614. They suffered more than any other tribe from the great pestilence of 1617, and when the English arrived a few years later they found the Massachusets reduced to a mere handful and most of the villages depopulated. In 1631 they numbered only about 500, and two years later were still further reduced by smallpox, which carried off their chief, Chickatabot. In 1646 they were gathered, with other converts, into the mission villages of Natick, Nonantum, and Ponkapog, and ceased to have a separate tribal existence.