The Natick Historical Society is seeking a part-time Director. For a full job description, please visit our News page.
Our Museum is closed for restoration work. Please visit in the spring!
Our new Research Library & Office is at 207 Union Street; please call for an appointment. Regular open hours will be announced soon. 
We are OPEN for public programs (see below).
Monday, March 19, 7 PM
Eliot Church, 45 Eliot Street, South Natick
Illustrated talk on the Englishman who championed and chronicled the Praying Indians of Natick.
The speaker, Thomas M. Paine, is a descendant of Daniel Gookin. Click for more info
Admission: Free for Natick Historical Society members and students; $5 for nonmembers
Tuesday, March 20, 1 PM
History Book Club discussion:
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
Discuss the exciting lives of four women who were successful spies during the American Civil War.
Natick Community-Senior Center, 117 E. Central Street
All are welcome, no admission fee
Jointly sponsored by the Natick Historical Society and the Bacon Free Library
Sunday, April 22, 2 PM
"Boston's Baseball History and Natick's Contributions"
presented by Herb Crehan
Location: Morse Institute Library, 14 E. Central Street
Admission is free, donations always welcome
Sponsored by the Natick Historical Society
For more information on upcoming events, please visit our Events page.


John Eliot & the Praying Indians

Natick was established in 1651 by the Puritan missionary, Rev. John Eliot, who helped a group of "Praying Indians" settle here on land granted by the General Court. Natick may mean "a place of hills." In the area now called South Natick, the Indians settled on a bend of the Charles River. They built a wooden bridge with a stone foundation that was 80 feet long and eight feet high, and farms were established on both sides of the river. Streets were laid out: along the north bank, Eliot Street, and on the south side of the bridge, Pleasant Street, as they are now called. The Indians then built a meetinghouse with the help of an English carpenter. The two-story building was used as church, school, and warehouse, and as a place for Eliot to sleep on his fortnightly visits. The meetinghouse was built about where the present Eliot Church stands.

For more than 20 years Eliot instructed and preached to the Indians. A school was set up, a government was established, and the Indians were encouraged to convert to Christianity. Eliot learned their language and with the help of the Indians, who had no written language, transcribed the Bible into the Algonquian language. A copy of the 1685 (second) edition is on display at the Natick Historical Society Museum.

The prosperity of the village was destroyed when King Philip, son of chief Massasoit, attacked the white settlers, causing such fear among them that in 1675 the Indians were restricted to their villages. It was difficult for them to farm or tend their livestock. In October of that year, over Eliot's protests, the General Court ordered the Natick Indians sent to Deer Island. Many Indians did not survive due to lack of food and the cold, and those who returned seven months later found their homes destroyed.

The Praying Indians did not flourish after their return to Natick. Eliot died in 1690. An Indian named Takawampbait had been ordained by Eliot and he carried on until his death in 1716. Two other Indians preached before the New England Company sent first two Puritan ministers, Rev. Oliver Peabody and later Rev. Stephen Badger, to fill the Indian church pulpit.

The land in the Natick Plantation was held in common by the Indians until 1719 when twenty men were named as Proprietors to oversee any division of land. By 1725 the Indians had sold most of their land to pay their debts and many drifted away or succumbed to disease. White settlers now outnumbered the Indians.