Collection: Patchogue Library Digital PML
Type of Material: Photograph
Creator: Red Thunder Cloud [Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West]
Copyright: No Known Copyright Restriction
The caption reads:
“This is an excellent photo of Mary Rebecca Kellis, who heard from the lips of her grandmother, tales of the American Revolution. She was a full blooded Indian, the daughter of Cynthia Walker of the Montauk tribe and David Bunn of the Shinnecocks.
For several generations she had been employed by the famous Gardiner family of East Hampton, and people all over Long Island came to know and love this gracious and kindly Indian lady.
Her father David sailed on whaling expeditions to the Arctic with Captain Terry Ludlow and related many interesting stories to his daughter. She recalled when as a girl, that the Shinnecocks lived in wigwams and the deer roved in droves through the rolling Shinnecock hills.
She taught school in the old Indian schoolhouse on the reservation in the year of 1875 and was always known for her trim and tidy appearance. Aunt Becky, as she was affectionately called by her tribesmen and whites alike, had one son whose name was Milton Winfield Lee.
Her cottage on the reservation was often visited by school teachers, newspaper people and historians all eager to hear from her lips, the story of life as it was on early Long Island during her childhood. Up until the time she passed away, she retained all of her faculties with only a slight hearing problem.
Her husband died in 1870. She had also been employed in the home of Theodore Roosevelt and recalled her times with his family with enthusiasm.
Aunt Becky Kellis died in April of 1936 and had one of the largest funerals on eastern Long Island.”