Mary Rebecca Bunn ( Aunt Becky )


Mary-Rebecca-Bunn Mary Rebecca Bunn ( Aunt Becky ) Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Aunt Becky Kellis and neighbor from Gaynell Stone’s The Shinnecock Indians – A culture History 1983 pp 312

Mary Rebecca Kellis Lee (ca. 1835 – 1936), or Aunt Becky, was born on the Shinnecock Reservation and was the daughter of David Bunn, a whaler. Both her father and brother Frank Bunn (1837-1876) were killed in the shipwreck the Circassian (1876) off Mecox Bay in Bridgehampton, NY. She attended New Paltz College1, married Milton Lee, and worked for David Thompson, a direct descendant of Lion Gardiner, the Montaukett‘s friend in the 17th-century. She stayed with the Thompson family as a faithful member of the household for many years. In addition to teaching at the Shinnecock Reservation School and with the descendants of the Gardiners, she worked for the family of President Theodore Roosevelt. It is said that she was the most publically known Shinnecock of the 20th century.

The Shinnecock School was brought into being by an act of the New York State Legislature on April 19, 1831, and enacted on April 28, 1841. The school had eight grades, and several Shinnecock people served as teachers. The first building burned in 1874 and was replaced by the state in 1875, which in turn burned down on the night of November 6, 1967. The first Shinnecock teacher was Mary Rebecca Bunn Lee.2

  1. Gaynell Stone’s The Shinnecock Indians – A culture History 1983 pp 312[]
  2. Beverly Jensen, Shinnecock Indian Nation, 2015, pp 44[]