Molly Molasses

Bronze edition: 20 | Height: 29″

Molly Molasses, the Grandmother of all Penobscot, still frequents our streets, receiving kindly coppers from the third generation of those who have known her as an old woman. She has no fixed idea of her own age, but it must be considerably over a hundred. Though much bent, she walks with apparent strength.”

The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, November 2, 1863

“She had a very sharp, keen eye and a peculiar way of blackening her face like a thundercloud …and her eye would look like thunder and lightning.”

She claimed to remember when whites first came as settlers on the Penobscot saying, ‘could n’ understan’ ’em; talk jus’ like blackbirds’ “…She had a very sharp, keen eye and a peculiar way of blackening her face like a thundercloud when anything displeased her. Her face would change color entirely and her eye would look like thunder and lightning … She knew everything that was going on and was keener than a knife. She had more influence with the tribe than anone except “Old Governor” and she was highly respected by them. People were afraid of her as if she were a witch.”

John Neptune (1767 – 1895), Lt. Governor of the Penobscots for 50 years, “…was a great m’te-oulino (wizard, shaman) and Molly was his consort and was another of like power with the unseen world, feared by all she frowned upon. Next to the governor, she was the most influential member of her tribe … the two greatest Shamans of their time, confident in their own superior powers.”

” …Yes, Old Governor was a magician; he could do all that was said of him; he could also do much more; indeed his magic was wonderful … And so-and-so was also m’teoulin; … and this one and that one. Suddenly these dead and departed Indians who lived chiefly in my grandfather’s account books, who to my father and his father were but ordinary people, became lighted up inside like jack-o-lanterns and I saw the strange power which they belived they possessed and which their tribesmen conceded to them. It was their secret which enabled them to be despised and yet walk with dignity among their condemners, because they knew something which white people did not know. They held the power of life and death over their enemies; nothing was impossible to those among them who possessed “spiritual power”. White folks did not know what they could do. They had their own life apart which white folks could not share … and she did indeed, live behind the looking glass, where nothing was probable or logical or coherent where my father’s old fireside friends loomed as fantastic and extravagant as the spectres of the Brocken.”

“Old John Neptune & Other Maine Indian Shamans”
by Fannie Hardy Eckstrom, 1938