Chief Gray Lock (also Grey Lock, or Greylock), was a Western Abenaki Missisquoi chief of Woronoco/Pocumtuck ancestry. Gray Lock was born near Westfield, Massachusetts, around 1670. He became leader of the Waranoak Indians, who inhabited the Connecticut Valley region of New England.
The conflict known as Dummer's War (also known as Greylock's War, Three Years War, Lovewell's War, Father Rasle's War, or the 4th Indian War) was a series of battles between New England and the Wabanaki Confederacy. Gray Lock's base during the war was Otter Creek (Vermont) and on the North Missisquoi (Swanton (town), Vermont).
The French had been the first to explore the Kennebec River in Maine, with Samuel Champlain reaching it in 1604 and claiming the surrounding territory for France. The English soon began to claim lands along the Kennebec River by homesteading. This territory was occupied by the Abenaki Indians, who claimed it as their ancestral homeland. Continued settlement by the English prompted the French to form an alliance with the Abenaki Indians against the English.
The rising tensions erupted into open conflict in 1722. While the French, New York colonists, and Iroquois looked on, Abenakis conducted raids against the English settlers on the Massachusetts Colony, from coastal Maine to Lake Champlain. Gray Lock distinguished himself by conducting guerrilla raids into Vermont and western Massachusetts. He consistently eluded his pursuers, and acquired the name Wawanolet (also Wawanolewat, Wawanotewat), meaning "he who fools the others, or puts someone off the track."
In August 1723 Gray Lock fell upon Northfield and Rutland, Massachusetts, and escaped with captives. Scouts and cavalry were called out, but in October Gray Lock attacked Northfield again and again escaped safely. More troops were sent, and early in 1724 a blockhouse, Fort Dummer, was erected above Northfield near present Brattleboro, Vermont, to guard against future attacks. The forts at Northfield were also strengthened.
In June 1724 Gray Lock left Missisquoi, to spend the summer lurking west of the Connecticut River settlements and raiding Deerfield, Northampton, and Westfield. Haying and harvesting at Northfield that summer were done by large parties under arms, and scouting expeditions continued to probe northward even after Gray Lock had returned to Missisquoi early in November.
The last of these settler parties was out in March and April 1725, and as soon as it withdrew Gray Lock left his winter quarters and threw the settlements into a state of alarm. Intending retaliation, Captain Benjamin Wright recruited some men and set out in July for Missisquoi but was forced to turn back by lack of provisions. Gray Lock followed Wright to Northfield, and alarms and skirmishes continued around Fort Dummer and Deerfield the rest of the summer.
Eastern Abenaki groups made peace with Massachusetts in 1725 and 1726, and Abenakis from Canada agreed to peace terms in 1727, but Gray Lock refused to do so. Gray Lock died sometime around 1750.
Mount Greylock in Western Massachusetts is thought by some experts to have been named in tribute to chief Gray Lock. The name "Mount Greylock" first appeared in print around 1819, and came into popular use by the 1830s. Although it is not clear whether chief Gray Lock was actually ever personally associated with this mountain, perhaps in tribute to his notoriety the mountain came to bear his name.
There is a monument and plaque dedicated to Chief Gray Lock in Battery Park (Burlington, Vermont).
- Mount Greylock State Reservation. Retrieved July 25, 2009.
- "Greylock: Great Chief of the Abenaki", by James P. Millard. Retrieved July 25, 2009.
- "The Hoosac Valley: Its Legends and its History", by Grace Greylock Niles (1912)
- Colin Calloway, p. 120; Canadian Bio On Line for Gray Lock
- "GRAY LOCK - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online". Biographi.ca. 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
- The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800: War, Migration, and the survival of an Indian people, by Colin G. Calloway (University of Oklahoma Press, 1990)
- The Original Vermonters: Native Inhabitants, Past and Present, by William A. Haviland and Marjory W. Power (University Press of New England, 1994)
- In Search of New England's Native Past: Selected Essays, by Gordon M. Day (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998)
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online