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Full text of "Pioneer history of the Holland purchase of western New York : embracing some account of the ancient remains ... and a history of pioneer settlement under the auspices of the Holland company; including reminiscences of the war of 1812; the origin, progress and completion of the Erie canal, etc., etc., etc."

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Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1849, by O. Turner, in the 
Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New York. 


Suffalo, N. Y. 











Bead the Preface ! A command that may be regarded as too imper- 
ative, and yet one that an author has some right to make, in consideration 
of the deep interest which he may be supposed to have in its observance. 
Having prepared an entertainment, as he is about to open the door to his 
guests, it is quite natural he should wish to pass them in with his own 

First, as to the general plan of the work : — There may be readers of it 
who have anticipated a history more strictly local in its character, than 
they will find this. It was the original intention of the author to have 
cotnmenced with the close of the Revolution, and traced settlement and its 
progress westward, very much as has been done, with the exception of a 
more extended detail. Upon proceeding to his task, however, after mate- 
rials for it had been collected, the important consideration presented itself, 
that, although there existed, in detached forms, sketches of the earliest 
approaches of civilization to this region — of early colonization tending in 
this direction — of the French and Indian and French and English wars; 
the long contest for supremacy and dominion; the occupancy of that 
extraordinary race of men, the Jesuit Missionaries ; the Border Wars of 
the Revolution ; still, there was no history extant that connected all this, 
and furnished an unbroken chain of events allied to the region of Western 
New York, and especially the Holland Purchase. The distinguished 
historian, Mr. Bancroft, was the first to draw from French sources any 
considerable amount of the history of French occupancy of the valley 
of the St. Lawrence, and the borders of our lakes and rivers; of the 
advents of Jesuit Missionaries, and their cotemporaries, the fur traders; 
and embellish his country's history with a long series of interesting events, 
before almost unnoticed. But little could be gathered by an humble local 
historian, after such a gleaner had passed over the ground ; but his work 
is of a magnitude to preclude access to it, by the gTeat mass of readers ; 



and that portion of it having reference to this region, but incidental to the 
general history of the United States. Aside from this, the early history of 
our reo-ion, embracing the periods and events alluded to, was to be found 
only in°detached forms — much of it in old newspaper files and magazines 
— in conditions to make it generally inaccessible. 

Havino- adopted the title. Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase, 
early events, the first glimpses that our own race had of this region, was 
indicated as the starting point; and taking position there, the necessity 
of going even still farther back, seemed involved. The ancient remains, 
the mysterious, rude fortifications upon the bluffs, ridges, and banks of 
streams, throughout our local region, form an interesting feature, and one 
that claimed a place in our local annals. Some account of our immediate 
predecessors, the Seneca Iroquois, was suggested as coming within the 
immediate range of local history; and especially as they were to be 
mingled in almost our entire narrative. All that relates to them possesses 
a peculiar interest; that which relates to the system of government of 
the confederacy to which they belong, is a branch of their history but 
recently investigated to any considerable extent; is far less generally 
understood than most things appertaining to them, and has therefore been 
made to occupy a prominent position in that portion of the work.* 

As civilization approached this region, from that direction, colonization 
upon the St. Lawrence has necessarily been the main feature of that 
portion of the work having reference to European Pioneer advents. 
Enough, however, of early colonization elsewhere has been embraced, to 
afford a glimpse of cotemporary events ; and especially such as finally had 
a bearing upon events in this quarter. Starting principally with the 
advent of Champlain, a connected chain of events has been attempted, 
extending through long and eventful years, down to the extinguishing 
of the Indian title, the advent of the Holland Company, Pioneer settlement 
under their auspices, and the two prominent events, the war of 1812, and 
the construction of the Erie Canal, belonging to a later period. The title 
of the work, of itself, indicates its general character, and the intention 
of the author not to embrace events, generally, beyond early settlement, — 
pioneer advents. Another volume would have been necessary, had it 
been concluded to extend the work to a later period ; and besides, as a 

* The credit of a thorough investigation of this admirable specimen of Indian 
legislation — of unschooled forest statesmanship — and wisdom, if we regard its prac- 
tical workings — belongs to Lewis H. Morgan, Esq. of Rochester, who communicated 
the result of his labors, in numbers, to the North American Review. In reading his 
essays, it is difficult to determine which most to admire, the careful and industrious 
researches of the author, in a matter so difficult to comprehend, with no records, and 
little beyond obscure tradition for his guides; or the zealous and lively feelings he 
manifests, in every thing that concerns the character and welfare of the unfortunate 
race whose interesting traditions he has aided in rescuing from oblivion. 


general rule, public events should not assume the form bf history, until 
time has ripened them for it ; and especially such as have involved contro- 
versy, many of the prominent actors in which may survive — the asperities 
it engendered, unobliterated. A political history of the Holland Purchase, 
has formed no part of the plan of work; on the contrary, even allusions 
to partisan contentions have been mostly avoided. That should form a 
distinct branch of history; its appropriate alliance is with the general 
history of the state ; and those who may desire to study it, have the means 
furnished them in the candid and impartial work of Judge Hammond. 

The range of the work thus extended, its magnitude has been increased 
far beyond the original design. In adopting the general plan, there was a 
purpose to be subserved, in addition to those that have been named. Had 
the work been merely a history of settlement and local events upon the 
Holland Purchase, it must necessarily have been one of considerable 
magnitude — attended with an expense that any prospective local sale 
would not have warranted. It has therefore been the aim of the author, 
to impart to it both a local and general interest; how far he has been 
successful, time, and the ordeal to which he submits his labors, must 
determine. From the moment the general plan of the work was adopted, 
and its expense to the purchaser enhanced beyond the mark originally 
indicated, it has been the constant aim of the author to give it a corres- 
ponding value. It will be seen that little expense has been spared in its 
mechanical execution ; and the author flatters himself that the twenty-two 
illustrations will be adequately appreciated by those who possess themselves 
of a copy of the work. The Maps of the eight Counties have been 
prepared by a competent hand, carefully adapted to localities as they now 
exist, and may be considered of themselves as having an intrinsic value, 
equal to any addition that has been made to the price of the work, from 
the lowest sum that has been named in connection with the enterprize ; 
while the number of excellent Portraits of distinguished Pioneers, have 
been extended far beyond what was originally contemplated. The careful 
legal deduction of title in the Appendix, in addition to the historical 
deduction in the body of the work, will be found a valuable accession to 
law libraries, while it will aid the general reader in a better understanding 
of that subject, than can be obtained from any facilities hitherto furnished 
in a form of general access. 

It is hardly necessary to inform the intelligent reader, that Mr. Ban- 
croft's History of the United States has been the basis of all that relates 
to French and English occupancy ; though the author has been materially 
aided by Lanman's History of Michigan, and Bkown's History of Illinois, 
both of which had traced events from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to 



their local regions; and he regards himself as somewhat fortunate m 
having been enabled to add, from various sources, no mconsiderable 
amount of materials that have hitherto had no place in history, other than 
in the form of manuscript records, neglected newspaper files, or among the 
collections of Historical Societies.* If, as most historians are obliged to 
do, he has been under the necessity of culling his materials, m many 
instances, from fields already explored, he may, perhaps, without incurring 
the charge of egotism," assume that he has occasionally been enabled to 
bring fresh contributions to the common stock of historical knowledge. 

There are those to whom the author is indebted for local statistics, who 
will miss a portion of their contributions. The omissions have been reluc- 
tantly made. To have carried out the plan of giving in detail, all that 
related to early county and town organizations, would have been to exclude 
laro-e portions of the work that were deemed more essential, and it is 
hoped, will prove in the end quite as acceptable. It was intended, 
however, to have given sketches of the first organization of all the Coun- 
ties; but that intention has been but imperfectly consummated, owing 
principally, to the absence of the necessary materials. The records of the 
primitive organization of the Courts, etc. of old Niagara, were inaccessible, 
owino- to the condition in which the large mass of records were in, prepara- 
tory to a new arrangement of them, in the Clerk's office of Erie. The 
author unexpectedly failed in procuring the primitive records of Chautau- 
que and Allegany. 

It was a paramount object in giving sketches of the Pioneer settlement 
of the Holland Purchase, to embrace as many of the names, and as much 
of personal reminiscences, as practicable. To this end, the general plan 
was adopted, of giving a list of all who took contracts previous to January 
1st, 1807; and of the first five or six, and sometimes more, of those who 
took contracts in all the townships upon the Purchase that were net broken 
into previous to that date. These lists have been made with a great deal 
of care and labor, and yet, there are undoubtedly many errors in them. 
Contracts in many instances, were in the name of those who never became 
settlers, and in numerous other instances perhaps, there were transfers 
of contracts, the name of the actual settler not appearing upon the contract 
books. Although there are in these tabular lists, and in various other 
forms, the names of four or five thousand of the Pioneers upon the Holland 
Purchase, the author has sincerely to regret, in many instances, the 
omission of the names of early, prominent Pioneers. These omissions are 
principally of those who became settlers after January 1st, 1807, and Avere 

* A principal one, having been that of the State of Marj-laud, as indicated in some 
portions of the work. 


not the earliest in their respective townships. The Table in the Appendix, 
containing a list of the townships, with reference to towns as they now 
exist, will be found useful, in designating the localities of early settlement. 
Errors in dates, names, and events, in reference to Pioneer settlement, 
will undoubtedly be found ; in some instances they were unavoidable. They 
have depended, of course, mainly, upon the memory of the aged and 
infirm. None but those who have been engao-ed in o-atherino- reminiscences 

o o o o 

from such sources, can know their liability to errror and discrepancies. 
Any two or three will seldom agree in their recollections. In many in- 
stances interesting reminiscences have been omitted, where it was impossible 
to reconcile conflicting statements. It is presumed, upon a consciousness of 
having exercised great care in this respect, that but few material errors will 
be found ; where such exist, and the author is referred to them, they will 
be corrected in a second edition. 

Much as perhaps the necessity of apologies may be indicated throughout 
the work, they will be indulged in but sparingly. Intelligent narrative has 
been the highest mark aimed at in its literary execution. Long accustomed, 
as the author has been, to writing for the newspaper press — a branch of 
composition where a careful weighing of words and sentences is generally 
precluded by exigencies allied to it — he may have brought to his new task 
something of habit thus acquired, and incurred the just criticism of those 
who apply to the work no more than fair tests, or subject it to no more 
than a liberal ordeal. Reared amid the most rugged scenes of Pioneer 
life upon the Holland Purchase, with little of early opportunities for educa- 
tion, beyond those afforded in the primitive log school house, he can prefer 
no claim to any considerable attainments in scholarship; and submits a 
work to the public, of the character and pretensions of this, not in the 
absence of an anxiety, and a distrust, which may be supposed to arise from 
a consciousness of what he has thus frankly acknowledged. " Literary 
leisure," so essential to the faultless execution of such a task as this has 
been, he has not enjoyed. It is about eighteen months since the collection 
of materials was commenced; during the fore part of that period, a connec- 
tion with a newspaper necessarily divided the time and attention of the 
Author; and since the preparation of the work for the press commenced, 
his own ill health, consequent upon a phyical constitution much impaired, 
and ill health in his family, have been the cause of frequent interruptions. 
Much the largest portion of the work has been prepared since the printing 
commenced. All this is not intended to disarm any just and fair criticism; 
but may perhaps, with some propriety, be preferred to break the force of 
technical cavilling, or the asperities of faultfinding, if they are encountered. 

It only remains to make personal acknowledgments of the kind offices 
and essential aids of those who have cooperated in the enterprise : — To 


the Hon. Washington Hunt, of Niagara, for early encouragement to 
embark in it, and generous assistance, whenever needed, in its progress ; 
and to the Hon. Hiram Gardner, of Lockport, and the Hon. Wm. Buel, 
of Rochester, the Author is under hke obhgations. To his brother, C. P. 
Turner, Esq. of Black Rock, who, in various ways, has lent his zealous 
cooperation and assistance. 

To Lyman C. Draper, Esq. a resident of Philadelphia, but a native of 
the Holland Purchase, for essential aid in procuring valuable and rare 
materials for the work. Leaving this region an ambitious boy, in search of 
an education ; that acquired, he engaged in historical researches, and now 
enjoys a well earned fame for valuable contributions to American history. 
Apprised of the Author's intention to commence this work, prompted by 
private friendship, and a laudable zeal to aid in the history of the region 
in which his parents were Pioneers, he has volunteered to search the ar- 
chives of historical societies, and give to the work the benefit of his discov- 
eries. He is now engaged in Philadelphia, in preparing for the press "The 
Life and Times of Gen. George Rogers Clark, of Kentucky," and intends 
to follow it up with histories of others of the prominent pioneers of the 
Valley of the Mississippi. 

To 0. H. Marshall, Esq. of Buffalo, for free access to a library, in 
which he has gratified a highly cultivated literary taste, by the accumula- 
tion of rare works, in various departments of American history. Meeting 
him as a stranger, the Author has found in him a friend, patiently and 
generously, from time to time, cooperating in his enterprise, and giving 
him the benefit of his more than ordinary familiarity with early Colonial 
history, and all that relates to our immediate predecessors, the Seneca 

To Ebenezer Mix, Esq. of Batavia, for the benefit of his long familiar 
acquaintance with the Holland Purchase, and the details of the Land 
Office, in the preparation of the Maps, the Topographical Sketch, and the 
deduction of title in the Appendix. To Gov. Cass, of Michigan, and the 
Hon. Henry C. Murphy, of Long Island, for the possession of books and 
pamphlets, essential to the work. To James D. Bemis, Esq.^ of Canan- 
daigua, the respected Father of the Press of Western New York, for early 
cooperation in the enterprize; and to Judge Oliver Phelps, of the same 
place, for free access to the papers of his grandfather, the patroon of 
settlement, whose brief biography is given in the body of the work. To 
the Members of the Buftalo Young Men's Association, for the benefit of 
free access to their extensive Library, and all the facihties their praise- 
worthy institution afforded. To Henry O'Rielly, Esq. for the possession 
of valuable papers that he had accumulated with reference to an historical 
enterprise that it is hoped he will yet find leisure to consummate. To the 


young friend of the auttor, Daniel W. Ballou, Jr. of Lockport, wtom 
he transferred from his place as compositor in a printing office, to assist 
him as a copyist; for aid in historical researches he had so well qualified 
himself to render, by early studious habits, and an employment of his 
leisure hours in the laudable pursuit of knowledge. To all, who are 
identified in the body of the work, as having lent their cooperation and 
assistance ; and especially to such surviving Pioneers as have cheerfully 
given the author the benefit of their recollections. 

The Author closes with an acknowledgement of his obligations to the 
enterprising Printers and Publishers, Messrs. Jewett, Thomas, & Co. 
prompted as well by a sense of gratitude for their uniform personal 
courtesy and kindness, as by the gratification which is derived from seeing 
liis work go out from their hands so good a specimen of the progress of 
the art of typography upon the Holland Purchase ; and so creditable to a 
craft with which he has himself been so long identified. 

Note. — The Portraits in the work are mostly daguerreotype transfers frorn oil paint- 
ings, made at the Gallery of Messrs. Evans & Powelson, Buffalo. To the correctness 
of the transfers, their excellence is in a great measure to be attributed; though their 
after execution is regarded as a creditable specimen of the progress of the art of Litho- 
graphy in the United States. The artists employed upon the illustrations are indicated 
by their names. 



Ancient Pre-occupants of Western N. 

York, 17 

Ancient Relics, 19 

Ancient Battle Field, 30 

Aurora, remains and implements found 30 

An aged Indian, 31 

Ancient works at Lancaster and Shelby 35 

Antiquity of the Iroquois, 48 

Arrangement of Tribes at the Council 

Fires, 59 

Allouez Ill, 113 

Aix La Chappelle, treaty of 1748, 177 

Amherst, General 205, 217 

Account of a French Colony, 1655, 243 

Arnold, Benedict 272 

Alden, Col 275 

Allan, Ebenezer 296 

Autrechy, Alex'r 414 

Alexander, 531 

Allegany County, 579 

Attica 532 

Brebeuf's journey to the Neuter Nation 65 

Biart, Father 99 

Barre, De La I37 

Blacksmith's Tradition, 150 

Burnet, Gov. William I75 

Barnwell ]79 

Bradstreet, Col 204, 233, 234 

Brief notices of events under English 

dominion, 226 

Battle near Buffalo, 231 

Burnt Ship Bay * [ 233 

Border Wars of the Revolution, .' 253 

Brant — Thayendanega, 259 

Brant, .Tohn ogo 

Butler, Col. Zebulon 274 

Butler Col. John 274, 278 

Uoyd, Lieut 079 

Butler, Walter .".!.".'!!',* 282 

Brief Biographical Sketches. ..','. O^K 

Butler, Thomas '\ gjj 

Bruff, Capt " " * n.r, 

Butler, Richard '.'.'.'.'.'.'. 349 

Boughton, Jared '.'.'..'.'. 378 


Blackman, Mrs 386 

Barton, Benj 392 

Brisbane, James 416 

Buffalo 418, 498 

Burr, Aaron 419 

Busti, Paul 426 

Batavia, 464, 545 

Bush, Wm. H 471 

Blacksnake, Gov 509 

Brief reminiscences of the war of 1812 584 

Burning of Buffalo, 597 

Buffalo Gazette 601 

Brown, Major General, 608 

Bouck, Wrn. C 631 

Changes of time 19 

Clinton, De Witt 20, 623 

Cuisick's History, (note) 29 

Captives of the Iroquois 45 

Council of the League, 50 

Civil and Mihtarj' Relations of the 

Iroquois, 53 

Consanguinity of the Iroquois, 56 

Cabot, John and Sebastian 71 

Conereal, Gaspar 72 

Cartier, James 77, 79 

Champlain, Samuel 84,109 

Company of New France, 108 

Colonists of New France, (note) 109 

Colbert,. '. 113 

Charlevoix's Description of Niagara 

^ Falls ]94 

Crown Point, 216 

Church at Lewiston, 265 

Campbell, Mrs. (note) 276 

Clinton, General James 277 

Chamberlin, Hinds 321 

Cornplanter's Speech, 335 

Culver, Oliver 397 

Cazenove, Theophilus 425 

Commencement of settlement and its 

Progress to 1812, 445 

Chapin, Cyrenius 450, 598 

Clinton, Gov. George 466,' 620 

Chipman, Lemuel 431 



» Page. 

Co^, Lemuel 496 

Crouse, Peter R 510 

Cuba 538 

Coon, Alexander 552 

Carpenter, Rev. James 553 

Carey, Ebenezer 563 

Chautauque County, 576 

Cattaraugus County, 578 

Cook, Lothrop and Bates 592 

Cass's visit to Niagara Frontier, 604 

Commerce of the Upper Lakes, 638 

Colles, Christopher 619 

Dominion of the Iroquois, 41 

j Decay of the Iroquois, 43 

iDiscoveries by Europeans, accidental 90 
~)e Laet's Description of New Neth- 

llands, 91 

trade with the Natives, 91 

M 131 

ft 137 

Gov 138, 158, 162 

De Nonville's Expedition 143 

Dallion, Joseph De La Roche 192 

Dieskau, 200 

Du Quesne, Fort 205 

Devil's Hole, 227 

Dorchester's, Lord, Indian Speech,... 342 

Dunham, Gideon 467 

Duma, Jeptha , 497 

Doolittle, Ormus and Reuben 533 

Douglass' description of Buffalo 606 

Equality of the Iroquois Confederac}', 59 
Early European Voyages and Discov- 
eries, 71 

Exports of Fur, 91 

Early Notices of Niagara Falls, 192 

Early glimpses of Western New York, 236 

Ellicott, Joseph 404, 41 2, 430 

Ellicott, Benjamin 408, 432 

Ellicott, Andrew 432 

Evans, David E 442 

Egleston, George 414 

Eddy, David 475 

Erie County, 575 

Erie Canal 617 

Eddy, Thomas 624 

Fort Hill, 31, 152 

Franciscans, 93 

First vessels upon the Upper Lakes, 116 

Frontenac, Count 137, 162, 170, 172 

Frontenac, Fort 161 

Fur Trade 223 

Farmers Brother 230, 291 

Fairbanks, Joshua 319 

Frontier Posts after peace of 1783,. . . 338 
First assault and batterj' case in Buffalo 414 
First crops raised on the Holland 

Purchase 420 

Foster, Mrs. Anna 470 

First settlers on the Holland Purchase, 
from the commencement of land 

sales to 1807, 454 

First settlers in townships, from 1808 

to 1821 526 

Farmersville, 540 

Fillmore, Rev. Gleason 546 

Fort Niagara 183, 206, 590 

Geographical position of the Iroquois, 42 

Goshnold 80 

Griffin, the 121, 126, 133 

Garangula, 138, 142 

Gralfenried, 173 

Greenhalph, Wentworlh 236 

Gansevoort, Col 269, 272 

Glimpses of Western New York after 

the Revolution, 310 

Gould, John 313 

Gorham, Nathaniel, 329 

Green, John 508 

Garnsey, Hon. D, G 511, 642 

Griffith, Eli. 516 

Griffin, John 538 

Genesee County 574 

Human bones excavated, 27 

Ho-de-no-sau-nee 42 

Henry Vll, 71 

Hochelaga 78 

Hunt, Capt 81 

Hudson, Henry 82, 87. 

Hennepin's account of jLa Salle's boat, 119 

Hennepin, 129 

Hennepin's account of the Falls, 193 

Hudson Bay Company, 222 

Herkimer, General, 268 

Hopkins, Silas 310 

Hosmer, Timothy 376 

Historical Deduction of Holland Com- 
pany Title, 401 

Haudecour 414 

Howell, Hon. Nathaniel W 417 

Hamilton, Alexander 418 

Hopkins, Gen'l Timothy S 421 

Holland Co's. West Geneseo Lands, 424 

Hurd, Reuben 497 

Hoops, Maj. Adam 504 

Hart, Joseph 554 

Hall, General 594 

Hawley, Jessee 621, 629 

Holley, Myron 626 

Indications of preceding Races, 18 

Indian Burial Grounds 26 

Indian Remains on Genesee River, 36 

Iroquois or Five Nations, 40 

Independence of each Indian Nation, 51 

Iroquois Laws of Descent, 56 

Indian Treatment of Children, 64 

Indian Trade, 175 

Indian Treaties for Lands, 304 




Joliet, 114, 117 

Joulel 132 

Joncaire, 184, 186 

Journal of the Seige of Fort Niagara, 209 
Johnson, Sir William. 217, 22d, 233, 247 

Johnson, Guy 255 

Johnson, Sir John 265, 267 

Jones, Horatio 286 

Jemison, Mary 293 

Jeraison, John 295 

Johnston, Capt. Wm 411, 498 

Kienuka, 26 

Kah-Kwahs 30 

Kirkland's Visit to Genesee, 36 

Kirkland's Observations on Indian 

Remains, 37 

Kirkland, Rev. Samuel 238 

Kelsey, Jehiel 383 

Kemp, Burgoyne 387 

L'Allemant, 65 

Letters' Patent, 81 

Leon, Ponce De 90 

Loyola, Ignatius 95 

La'Salle 116 

L'Archiveque 131 

La Hontan's Account of De Nonville's 

Expedition, 147 

La H ontan's Account of Niagara Falls, 1 57 

La Force, (note) 210 

Lindsay, 246 

Laiucourt, La Rochefoucauld 318 

Land Titles, 325 

Lessee Company's Claims, (note).. . 337 

Lewiston, 420 

Loomis, Chauncey 485 

Lost Boy 486 

Le Couteulx, 501 

Lockport, Prominent Settlers 551 

Lovejoy, Mrs 599 

Mountain Ridge 26 

Missions among the Iroquois, 41 

Marriage Regulations, 54 

Marquette, 112 

Mercer, Col 201 

Montcalm 202, 214 

Murray, Gen'l 217 

Massacre of Wyoming, 274 

Mountpleasant, John 314 

Morris, Robert 349 

Morris Purchase 396 

Morris's Reserve, 397 

McKav, John 381 

Mile Strip, 409 

McKain, James 487 

Morrison, Major John 494 

Molyneux, William 496 

Mather, David 498 

Marshall, Mrs 510 

McMahan, Col. Jamea 511 

Maxon, Joseph "34 

Methodist Church, 547 

McCall, James 536 

Mathews, James 555 

Mix, Ebenezer 567 

McClure, Gen 589 

Names of the Iroquois Confederacy, . . 40 

Naming of children, 58 

Neuter Nation, 65 

Number of Jesuit Missionaries, 103 ■*'' 

North West Company, 223 

Noble, Russell 468.^ 

New Amsterdam , ^^Qfl 

Niagara County, 58^H 

Newark 58^| 

Original Nations of the Iroquois, -^' 

Order of the Jesuits, ;-»v,. m, 95 

Oswego, Si^r 209 

Oglethrop, Gen '. . ] 76 

Onondagas, destruction of. 231 

Otto, Jacob S -^441 

O'Fling, Patrick 467 

Oleau Point, 506 

Organization of Courts, 521 

Oil Springs 539 

Oak Orchard 558 

Orleans County, 581 

Poem 28 

Power and bravery of the Iroquois, ... 43 

Periods of holding Council Fires, 60 

Plymouth Company, 81 

Protestant Missionaries of New Eng- 
land 99 

Pallisades of Fort Niagara, 134 

Pitt, William 203 

Prideaux, Gen 206 

Pontiac, 218, 235 

Palatines, 245 

Palatine Committee, 254 

Parrish, Jasper 292 

Pickering, Timothy 307 

Progress of settlement westward after 

the Revolution, 304 

Pemberton, James 316 

Phelps and Gorliam's purchase, 325 

Pultney, Sir William 327 

Phelps, Oliver 328 

Porter, Augustus 358, 489 

Porter's Narrative 361 

Pitts, Capt. Peter 385 

Pine Grove, 446 

Palmer, James R 454 

Palmer, Joseph 466 

Peters, T. C 547 

Pioneer Settler upon the Holland Pur- 
chase and his progress, 562 

Phelps and Chipman's purchase, 481 

Peacock, William 569 

Porter, Peter B 611 




^ Fort 29 

Rotnans of the West 47 

Representatives of the Iroquois, 49 

Roche, Francis De La 79 

Raleigh, Sir Walter 80, 90 

Ralle, Father 105 

Reminiscences of Fort Niagara, 188 

Rogers, Major 218 

Red Jacket and L'afaj^ette, (pote) . . . . 305 

Ransom, Asa and Elias 453 

Rhea, Alexander 467 

Ridge Road 497 

Rushford, 535 

Rawson, Solomon 537 

Riddle, Lieut 598 

■Structure of the Iroquois Confederacy, 48 

ecas and Eries, 69 

ith, John 81 

n^ness of Colonization, 89 

Schenectady, 164 

Shirley, Gov 201 

Seige of Fort Niagara, 206 

Stanwix, Gen'l 205 

Schlosser, Fort (note) 227 

Stedman, John 229 

St. Leger, Gen'l 269 

Schuyler, Gen'l 267 

Schuyler, Han Yost 272 

Sullivan's Expedition, 277 

Steuben, Baron 338 

Simcoe, Governor 341 

Scotch Colony 380 

Surveys, 404 

Stevens, James 474 

Sheldon, 482 

Slayton, Joshua 495 

Salt Works, 558 

State of the frontier at the beginning 

of the War 585 

St. John, Mrs 599 

Sortie of Fort Erie 606 

Tonawanda Island, 34 

Territory of the Iroquois, 41 

Treatment of Prisoners among the 

Indians, 45 

Tradition of the Senecas, 46 

Ta-do-da-hoh, 50 

Tribes of the Iroquois, 53 


Trails, 62 

Tonti, 118 

Tuscaroras, 177 

Treaty of 1763, 219 

Treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1784, 304 

Tax Roll 390 

Turner, Roswell 481 

Turner, Otis 557 

Topography of the Holland Purchase, 570 

Unanimity of the Iroquois Council, . . 61 

Utrecht, treaty of 174 

Verrazana, 72 

Victor, 145 

Vaudreuil, 170, 216 

Van Schaick, 281 

Van Campen, 288 

Variation of the Magnetic Needle, 

(note,) 407' 

Vander Kemp, John J 429 

Van Horn, Judge 551 

Washington, (note,) 200, 619 

Williams, Col. Ephraim 200 

Wolfe, Gen. James 205, 213 

Walpole, 177 

West, Dr. Joseph 188 

Womp 240 

Willett,Col 271, 282 

Williamson, Charles 329, 417 

Wayne, Gen 344 

Wilkenson, Gen. James 446 

Winne ' 418 

Walthers, Frederick ■ 420 

Warren, Gen. William 473 

Warren, Mrs 488 

Wilder, John 479 

Walsworth, James 517 

Wilson, Reuben 548, 593 

Whitney, Gen 559 

Wj-oming County, 580 

Wadsworth, Gen 587 

Walden, Judge 598 

Watson, Elkanah 620 

Wilkeson, Samuol 643 

Yonnondio, 152 

Young, John •. ... 469 


Albion, 658 

Ancient Remains, 663 

Black Rock, 653 

Brant's Birthplace, 664 

Brace, Orange 665 

Battle of Buffalo, 665 

Canal Villages, 653 

Clerks in Land OfSce, 663 

Deduction of Title from Robert Morris 
to Holland Company, 646 

Ellicott's Monument, 659 





Expeditions of Gen. Sullivan and Col. 
Brodhcad — Cotemporary Records in 
possession of D. W. Ballou, Jr. . . . 660 

Ellicott's Ancestors, 665 

Fort Porter, 666 

German Emigrants, 662 

Islands in Niagara River, 663 

Indian Burial at Black Rock, 664 

Joncaire's Sons, 664 

Joncaire and the Oil Springs, 666 

Lockport, 654 

Middleport, 657 

Medina, 658 

Middlebury Academy, 664 


Marshall's Communications to th^'-.^ 

Historical Society, 664 

Ogden Pre-emption, 662 

Pioneer Printers upon the Holland 
Purchase, 663 

Sequel of Holland Company's Invest- 
ment, 661 

Smith, Richard 662 

Sainted Seneca Maiden, 664 

Sources of Morris's Biography, 665 

Townships of the Holland Purchase, . 651 
Tonawauda, 653 

Williamson, Charles ^mL 

Warren, Gen w9 


Page 62, 19th line from the top, read little "above Batavia village," instead of 
"mile," &c. Page 71, 4th line from the top, read "latter end of the" fiftemth 
"cen-tuiy." Page 441; the death of Mr. Otto was in 1827, instead of 1826. The 
commencement of Mr. Evan's agency, is of course, to correspond v/ith this alteration. 
Whereever it occurs, read Shenandoah, instead of "S/tenandoah." 

Page 26. — The last sentence of the first paragraph on this page, is obscure. It is 
intended to say, that there are no ancient remains between the Mountain Ridge and 
lake Ontario. 







The local historian of almost our entire continent, finds at the 
threshold of the task he enters upon, difficulties and embarrass- 
ments. If for a starting point the first advent of civilization is 
chosen, a summary disposition is made of all that preceded it, 
unsatisfactory to author and reader. Our own race was the suc- 
cessor of others. Here in our own region, when the waters of the 
Niagara were first disturbed by a craft of European architecture 
— when the adventurous Frenchman would first pitch a tent upon 
its banks, there were "lords of the Forests and the Lakes" to be 
consulted, — Where stood that humble primitive "pallisade," its site 
grudgingly and suspiciously granted, in process of time arose strong 
walls ; — ramparts, from behind which the armies of successive 
nations have been arranged to repel assailants. The dense forests 
that for more than a century enshrouded them, unbroken by the 
woodman's axe, have now disappeared, or but skirt a peaceful and 
beautiful cultivated landscape. Civilization, improvement and 
industry, have made an Empire of the region that for a long period 
was tributary to this nucleus of early events. Cities have been 
founded — the Arts, Sciences taught;— Learning has its temples 
and its votaries; History its enlightened and earnest enquirers. 
And yet, with the pre-occupant lingering until even now in our 
midst, we have but the unsatisfactory knowledge of him and his 
race, which is gathered from dim and obscure tradition. That 
which is suited to the pages of fiction and romance, but can be 
incorporated in the pages of history, only with suspicion and dis- 
trust. The learned and the curious have from time to time 
enquired of their old men ; they have set down in their wigwams 


and listened to their recitals; the pages of history have been 
searched and compared with their imperfect revelations, to discover 
some faint coincidence or analogy; and yet we know nothing of 
the origin, and have but unsatisfactory traditions of the people we 
found here, and have almost dispossessed. 

If their own history is obscure; if their relations of themselves, 
after they have gone back but little more than a century beyond 
the period of the first European emigration, degenerates to fable 
and obscure tradition; they are but poor revelators of a still greater 
mystery. We are surrounded by evidences that a race preceded 
them, farther advanced in civilization and the arts, and far more 
numerous. Here and there upon the brows of our hills, at the 
head of our ravines, are their fortifications; their locations selected 
with skill, adapted to refuge, subsistence and defence. The up- 
rooted trees of our forest, that are the growth of centuries, expose 
their mouldering remains; the uncovered mounds masses of their 
skeletons promiscuously heaped one upon the other, as if they were 
the gathered and hurriedly entombed of well contested fields. In 
our vallies, upon our hill sides, the plough and the spade discover 
their rude implements, adapted to war, the chase, and domestic use. 
All these are dumb yet eloquent chronicles of by-gone ages. 
We ask the red main to tell us from whence they came and whither 
they wenti and he either amuses us with wild and extravagant 
traditionary legends, or acknowledges himself as ignorant as his 
interrogators. He and his progenitors have gazed upon these 
ancient relics for centuries, as we do now, — wondered and consul- 
ted their wise men, and yet he is unable to aid our inquiries. We 
invoke the aid of revelation, turn over the pages of history, trace 
the origin and dispersion of the races of mankind from the earliest 
period of the world's existence, and yet we gather only enough to 
form the basis of vague surmise and conjecture. The crumbling 
walls — the " Ruins," overgrown by the gigantic forests of Central 
America, are not involved in more impenetrable obscurity, than are 
the more humble, but equally interesting mounds and relics that 
abound in our own region. 

We are prone to speak of ourselves as the inhabitants of a new 
world; and yet we are confronted with such evidences of antiquity! 
We clear away the forests and speak familiarly of subduing a 
"virgin soil;" — and yet the plough up-turns the skulls of those 
•whose history is lost ! We say that Columbus discovered a new 


world. Why not that he helped to make two old ones acquainted 
with each other ] 

Our advent here is but one of the changes of time. We arc 
consulting dumb signs, inanimate and unintelligible witnesses, 
gleaning but unsatisfactory knowledge of races that have preceded 
us. Who in view of earth's revolutions; the developments that 
the young but rapidly progressive science of Geology has made; 
the organic remains that are found in the alluvial deposits in our 
vallies, deeply embedded under successive strata of rock in our 
mountain ranges; the impressions in our coal formations; history's 
emphatic teachings; fails to reflect that our own race may not be 
exempt from the operations of what may be regarded as general 
laws? Who shall say that the scholar, the antiquarian, of another 
far off century, may not be a Champollion deciphering the inscrip- 
tions upon our monuments, — or a Stevens, wandering among the 
ruins of our cities, to gather relics to identify our existence \ 

" Since the first sun-light spread itself o'er earth ; 
Since Chaos gave a thousand systems birth ; 
Since first the morning stars together sung ; 
Since first this globe was on its axis hung ; 
Untiring change, with ever moving hand, 
Has waved o'er earth its more than magic wand."* 

Although not peculiar to this region, there is perhaps no portion 
of the United States where ancient relics are more numerous. 
Commencing principally near the Oswego River, they extend 
westwardly over all the western counties of our State, Canada 
West, the western Lake Region, the vallies of the Ohio and the 
Mississippi. Either as now, the western portion of our State had 
attractions and inducements to make it a favorite residence; or 
these people, assailed from the north and the east, made this a refuge 
in a war of extermination, fortified the commanding eminences, 
met the shock of a final issue; were subject to its adverse results. 
Were their habits and pursuits mixed ones, their residence was 
well chosen. The Forest invited to the chase; the Lakes and 
Rivers to local commerce, — to the use of the net and the angling 
rod; the soil, to agriculture. The evidences that this was one at 
least, of their final battlegrounds, predominate. They are the for- 
tifications, entrenchments, and warlike instruments. That here 
was a war of extermination, we may conclude, from the masses 

* " Changes of Time," a Poem by B. B. French. 


of human skeletons we find indiscriminately thrown together, in- 
dicating a common and simultaneous sepulture; from which age, 
infancy, sex, no condition, was exempt. 

In assuming that these are the remains of a people other than 
the Indian race we found here, the author has the authority of De 
Witt Clintox,— a name scarcely less identified with our litera- 
ture, than with our achievements in internal improvements. In a 
discourse delivered before the New-York Historical Society in 
1811, Mr. Clinton says: — "Previous to the occupation of this 
country by the progenitors of the present race of Indians, it was 
inhabited by a race of men much more populous, and much farther 
advanced in civilization." Indeed the abstract position may be 
regarded as conceded. Who they were, whence they came, and 
whither they went, have been themes of speculation with learned 
antiquarians, who have failed to arrive at any satisfactory conclu- 
sions. In a field, or historical department, so ably and thoroughly 
explored, the author would not venture opinions or theories of his 
own, even were it not a subject of enquiry in the main, distinct 
from the objects of his work. It is a topic prolific enough, of 
reflection, enquiry and speculation, for volumes, rather than an 
incidental historical chapter. And yet, it is a subject of too much 
local interest, to be wholly passed over. A liberal extract from 
the historical discourse of Mr. Clinton, presents the matter in a 
concise form, and while it will serve as a valuable memento of a 
venerated Scholar, Statesman, and Public Benefactor; the theories 
and conclusions are far more consistent and reasonable than any 
others that have fallen under the author's observation: — 

"I have seen several of these works in the western part of this 
state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga, one in 
Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from 
Auburn; one in Scipio, six miles, another one mile, and one about 
half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga 
Lakes there are several — three within a few miles of each other. 
Near the village of Canandaigua there are three. In a word, they 
are scattered all over that country. 

"These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most 
commanding ground. The walls or breastwbrks were earthen. 
The ditches were on the exterior of works. On some of the para- 
pets, oak trees were to be seen, which, from the number of con- 
centric circles, must have been standing 150, 260, and 300 years; 
and there were evident indications, not only that they had sprung 
up since the creation of those works, but that they were at least a 


second growth. The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, 
and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in 
altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and 
sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being 
no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a 
deep ravine or a large stream of water no ditch was to be seen. 
The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the 
form was generally an irregular eUpsis; and in some of them frag- 
ments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have 
been originally human bones, were to be found. 

"These fortifications, thus diffused over the interior of our 
country, have been generally considered as surpassing the skill, 
patience, and industry of the Indian race, and various hypotheses 
have been advanced to prove them of European origin. 

"An American writer of no inconsiderable repute pronounced 
some years ago that the two forts at the confluence of the Muskin- 
gum and Ohio Rivers, one covering forty and the other twenty 
acres, were erected by Ferdinand de Soto, who landed with 1000 
men in Florida in 1539, and penetrated a considerable distance into 
the interior of the country. He allotted the large fort for the use of 
the Spanish army; and after being extremely puzzled how to dis- 
pose of the small one in its vicinity, he at last assigned it to the 
swine that generally, as he says, attended the Spaniards in those 
days — being in his opinion very necessary, in order to prevent them 
from becoming estrays, and to protect them from the depredations 
of the Indians. 

"When two ancient forts, one containing six and the other three 
acres, were found in Lexington in Kentucky, another theory was 
propounded; and it was supposed that they were erected by the 
descendants of the Welsh colonists who are said to have migrated 
under the auspices of Madoc to this country, in the twelfth century; 
that they formerly inhabited Kentucky; but, being attacked by 
the Indians, were forced to take refuge near the sources of the 

"Another suggestion has been made, that the French, in their 
expeditions from Canada to the Mississippi, were the authors of 
these works; but the most numerous are to be found in the territory 
of the Senecas, whose hostility to the French was such, that they 
were not allowed for a long time to have any footing among them.* 
The fort at Niagara was obtained from them by the intrigues and 
eloquence of Joncaire, an adopted child of the nation.f 

" Lewis Dennie, a Frenchman, aged upward of seventy, and who 
had been settled and married among the Confederates for more 
than half a century, told me (1810)that, according to the 'traditions 
of the ancient Indians, these forts were erected by an army of 
Spaniards, who were the first Europeans ever seen by them — the 

* 1 Golden, p. 61. t 3 Charlevoix, letter 15, p. 227. 


French the next — then the Dutch — and, finally, the English; that 
this army first appeared at Oswego in great force; and penetrated 
through the interior of the country, searching for the precious 
metals; that they continued there two years, and went down the 

*' Some of the Senecas told Mr. Kirkland, the missionary, that 
those in their territory were raised by their ancestors in their wars 
with the western Indians, three, four, or five hundred years ago. 
All the cantons have traditions that their ancestors came originally 
from the west; and the Senecas say that theirs first settled in the 
country of the Creeks. The early histories mention that the Iro- 
quois first inhabited on the north side of the great lakes; that they 
were driven to their present territory in a war with the Algonkins 
or Adirdndacks, from whence they expelled the Satanas. If these 
accounts are correct, the ancestors of the Senecas did not, in all 
probability, occupy their present territory at the time they allege. 

"I believe we may confidently pronounce that all the hypotheses 
which attribute those works to Europeans are incorrect and fanciful 
— first, on account of the present number of the works; secondly, 
on account of their antiquity; having from every appearance, been 
erected a long time before the discovery of America; and, finally, 
their form and manner are totally variant from European fortifica- 
tions, either in ancient or modern times. 

"It is equally clear that they were not the work of the Indians. 
Until the Senecas, who are renowned for their national vanity, 
had seen the attention of the Americans attracted to these erections, 
and had invented the fabulous account of which I have spoken, the 
Indians of the present day did not pretend to know anything about 
their origin. They were beyond the reach of all their traditions, 
and were lost in the abyss of unexplored antiquity. 

" The erection of such prodigious works must have been the 
result of labor far beyond the patience and perseverance of our 
Indians; and the form and materials are entirely different from 
those which they are known to make. These earthen walls, it is 
supposed, will retain their original form much longer than those 
constructed with brick and stone. They have undoubtedly been 
greatly diminished by the washing away of the earth, the filling up 
of the interior, and the accumulation of fresh soil: yet their firm- 
ness and solidity indicate them to be the work of some remote age. 
Add to this, that the Indians have never practiced the mode of 
fortifying by intrenchments. Their villages or castles were pro- 
tected by palisades, which afford a sufficient defence aginst Indian 
weapons. When Cartier went to Hochelaga, now Montreal, in 
1535, he discovered a town of the Iroquois, or Hurons, containing 
about fifty huts. It was encompassed with three lines of palisadoes, 
through which was one entrance, well secured with stakes and bars. 
On the inside was a rampart of timber, to which were ascents by 
ladders; and heaps of stones were laid in proper places to cast at 


an enemy. Charlevoix and other writers agree in representing the 
Indian fortresses as fabricated with wood. Such, also, were the forts 
of Sassacus, the great chief of the Pequots; and the principal for- 
tress of the Narragansets was on an island in a swamp, of five or 
six acres of rising land: the sides were made with palisades set 
upright, encompassed with a hedge of a rod in thickness.* 

"1 have already alluded to the argument for the great antiquity of 
those ancient forts to be derived from the number of concentric cir- 
cles. On the ramparts of one of the Muskingum forts, 463 were 
ascertained on a tree decayed at the centre; and there are likewise 
the strongest marks of a former growth of a similar size. This 
would make those works near a thousand years old. 

"But there is another consideration which has never before been 
urged, and which appears to me to be not unworthy of attention. 
It is certainly novel, and I beheve it to be founded on a basis which 
cannot easily be subverted. 

"From the Genesee near Rochester to Lewiston on the Niagara, 
there is a remarkable ridge or elevation of land running almost the 
whole distance, which is seventy-eight miles, and in a direction 
from east to west. Its general altitude above the neighbouring 
land is thirty feet, and its width varies considerably; in some places 
it is not more than forty yards. Its elevation above the level of 
Lake Ontario is perhaps 160 feet, to which it decends with a gradual 
slope; and its distance from that water is between six and ten miles. 
This remarkable strip of land would appear as if intended by nature 
for the purpose of an easy communication. It is, in fact, a stupen- 
dous natural turnpike, descending gently on each side, and covered 
with gravel; and but little labour is requisite to make it the best 
road in the United States. When the forests between it and the 
lake are cleared, the prospect and scenery which will be afforded 
from a tour on this route to the Cataract of Niagara will surpass all 
competition for sublimity and beauty, variety and number. 

" There is every reason to believe that this remarkable ridge was 
the ancient boundary of this great lake. The gravel with which it 
is covered was deposited there by the waters; and the stones every- 
where indicate by their shape the abrasion and agitation produced 
by that element. All along the borders of the western rivers and 
lakes there are small mounds or heaps of gravel of a conical form, 
erected by the fish for the protection of their spawn; these fishbanks 
are found in a state that cannot be mistaken, at the foot of the ridge, on 
the side towards the lake ; on the opposite side none have been dis- 
covered. All rivers and streams which enter the lake from the south 
have their mouths effected with sand in a peculiar way, from the 
prevalence and power of the northwesterly winds. The points of 
the creeks which pass through this ridge correspond exactly in 
appearance with the entrance of the streams into the lakes. These 

* Mather's Magnalia, p. 693. 


facts evince beyond doubt that Lake Ontario has, perhaps, one or 
two thousand years ago, receded from this elevated ground. And 
the cause of this retreat must be ascribed to its having enlarged its 
former outlet, or to its imprisoned waters (aided, probably, by an 
earthquake)forcing a passage down the present bed of the 8t. Law- 
rence, as the Hudson did at the Highlands, and the Mohawk at Lit- 
tle Falls. On the south side of this great ridge, in its vicinity, and 
in all directions through this country, the remains of numerous forts 
are to be seen; but on the north side, that is, on the side towards 
the lake, not a single one has been discovered, although the whole 
ground has been carefully explored. Considering the distance to 
be, say seventy miles in length, and eight in breadth, and that the 
border of the lake is the very place that would be selected for 
habitation, and consequently for works of defence, on account of the 
facilities it would afford for subsistence, for safety, and all domestic 
accommodations and military purposes; and that on the south shores 
of Lake Erie these ancient fortresses exist in great number, there 
can be no doubt that these works were erected when this ridge was 
the southern boundary of Lake Ontario, and, consequently, that their 
origin must be sought in a very remote age. 

"A great part of North America was then inhabited by populous 
nations, who had made considerable advances in civilization. These 
numerous works could never have been supplied with provisions 
without the aid of agriculture. Nor could they have been con- 
structed without the use of iron or copper, and without a persever- 
ance, labour, and design which demonstrate considerable progress 
in the arts of civilized life. A learned writer has said, "I perceive 
no reason why the Asiatic North might not be an officina virorum, 
as well as the European, The overteeming country to the east of 
the Riphajan Mountains must find it necessary to discharge its inhab- 
itants. The first great wave of people was forced forward by the 
next to it, more tumid and more powerful than itself: successive and 
new impulses continually arriving, short rest was given to that 
which spread over a more eastern tract: disturbed again and again, 
it covered fresh regions. At length, reaching the farthest limits of 
the old world, it found a new one, with ample space to occupy, 
unmolested for ages."* After the north of Asia had thus exhausted 
its exuberant population by such a great migration, it would require 
a very long period of time to produce a co-operation of causes suffi- 
cient to effect another. The first mighty stream of people that flowed 
mto America must have remained free from external pressure for 
ages. Availing themselves of this period of tranquility, they would 
devote themselves to the arts of peace, make rapid progress in civ- 
ilization, and acquire an immense population. In course of time 
discord and war would rage among them, and compel the establish- 
ment of places of security. At last, they became alarmed by the 

* 1 Pennant's Arctic Zoolog)-, 260. 


irruption of a horde of barbarians, who rushed like an overwhelming 
flood from the north of Asia — 

" A Multitude, like which the populous Nortli 
Poured from her frozen loins to pass 
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons 
Came like a deluge on the South, and spread 
Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands." * 

" The great law of self-preservation compelled them to stand on 
their defence, to resist these ruthless invaders, and to construct 
numerous and extensive works for protection. And for a long series 
of time the scale of victory was suspended in doubt, and they firmly 
withstood the torrent; but, like the Romans in the decline of their 
empire, they were finally worn down and destroyed by successive 
inroads and renewed attacks. And the fortifications of which we 
have treated are the only remaining monuments of these ancient 
and exterminated nations. This is perhaps, the airy nothing of 
imagination, and may be reckoned the extravagant dream of a vis- 
ionary mind: but may we not, considering the wonderful events of 
the past and present times, and the inscrutable dispensations of an 
overruling Providence, may we not look forward into futurity, and 
without departing from the rigid laws of probability, predict the 
occurrence of similar scenes at some remote period of time? And, 
perhaps, in the decrepitude of our empire, some transcendant genius, 
whose powers of mind shall only be bounded by that impenetrable 
circle which prescribes the limits of human nature,! may rally the 
barbarous nations of Asia under the standard of a mighty empire. 
Following the track of the Russian colonies and commerce towards 
the northwest coast, and availing himself of the navigation, arms, 
and military skill of civilized nations, he may, after subverting the 
neighbouring despotisms of the Old World, bend his course towards 
European America. The destinies of our country may then be 
decided on the waters of the Missouri or on the banks of Lake 
Superior. And if Asia shall then revenge upon our posterity the 
injuries we have inflicted upon her sons, a new, a long, and a gloomy 
night of Gothic darkness will set in upon mankind. And when, 
after the efflux of ages, the returning eflTulgence of intellectual light 
shall again gladden the nations, then the widespread ruins of our 
cloud-capped towers, of our solemn temples, and of our magnificent 
cities, will, like the works of which we have treated, become the 
subject of curious research and elaborate investigation." 

At the early period at which Mr. Clinton advanced the theory that 
the Ridge Road was once the southern shore of Lake Ontario — 1811 
— when settlement was but just begun, and a dense forest precluded 
a close observation, he was quite liable to fall into the error, that 

* Milton's Paradise Lost. t Roscoe's Lorenzo de Medicis, ^iL 


time and better opportunities for investigation have corrected. 
The formation, composition, alluvial deposits, &c., of the Ridge 
Road, with reference to its two sides, present almost an entire 
uniformity. There is at least, not the distinction that would be 
apparent if there had been the action of water, depositing its mate- 
rials only upon its nothern side. By supposing the Mountain 
Ridge to have once been the southern shore of Lake Ontario, it 
would follow that the Ridge Road may have been a Sand bar. 
The nature of both, their relative positions, would render this a far 
more reasonable hypothesis than the other; and when we add the 
fact that the immediate slope, or falling off, is almost as much gene- 
rally, upon the south as the north side of the Ridge Road, we 
are under the necessity of abandoning the precedent theory. 
There is from the Niagara to the Genesee River, upon the Moun- 
tain Ridge, a line, or cordon, of these ancient fortifications — none, 
as the author concludes, from observation and enquiry, between 
the two.* 

But a few of the most prominent of these ancient fortifications, 
will be noticed, enough only to give the reader who has not had 
an opportunity of seeing them, a general idea of their structure, 
and relics which almost uniformly may be found in and about them. 

Upon a slope or offset of the Mountain Ridge three and a half 
miles from the village of Lewiston, is a marked spot, that the Tus- 
carora Indians call Kienuka.] There is a burial ground, and two 
eliptic mounds or barrows that have a diameter of 20 feet, and an 
elevation of from 4 to 5 feet. A mass of detached works, with 
spaces intervening, seem to have been chosen as a rock citadel; 
and well chosen, — for the mountain fastnesses of Switzerland are 
but little better adapted to the purposes of a look-out and defence. 
The sites of habitations are marked by remains of pottery, pipes, 
and other evidences. 

Eight miles east of this, upon one of the most elevated points of 
the mountain ridge in the town of Cambria, upon the farm until 
recently owned by Eliakim Hammond, now owned by John Gould, 

* Upon an elevation, on the shore of Lake Ontario near the Eifjhteen-niile-Creek, 
there is a mound similar in appearance to some of those that have been termed ancient; 
though it is unquestionably incident to the early French and Indian wars of tliis region. 
And the same conclusion may be formed in reference to other similar ones along the 
shore of the lake. 

tMeaning a fort, or strong hold, that has a commanding position, or from which 
there is a fine view. 


is an ancient fortification and burial place, possessing perhaps as 
great a degree of interest, and as distinct characteristics as any that 
have been discovered in Western New York. The author hav- 
ing been one of a party that made a thorough examination of the spot 
soon after its first discovery in 1823, he is enabled from memory 
and some published accounts of his at the time, to state the extent 
and character of the relics. 

The location commands a view of Lake Ontario and the surround- 
ing country. An area of about six acres of level ground appears to 
have been occupied; fronting which upon a circular verge of the 
mountain, were distinct remains of a wall. Nearly in the centre of 
the area was a depository of the dead. It was a pit excavated to 
the depth of four or five feet, filled with human bones, over which 
were slabs of sand stone. Hundreds seem to have been thrown in 
promiscuously, of both sexes and all ages. Extreme old age was 
distinctly identified by toothless jaws, and the complete absorption 
of the aveola processes; and extreme infancy, by the small skulls 
and incomplete ossification. Numerous barbs or arrow points were 
found among the bones, and in the vicinity. One skull retained the 
arrow that had pierced it, the aperture it had made on entering being 
distinctly visible. In the position of the skeletons, there was none 
of the signs of ordinary Indian burial; but evidences that the bodies 
were thrown in promiscuously, and at the same time. The conjec- 
ture might well be indulged that it had been the theatre of a san- 
guinary battle, terminating in favor of the assailants, and a general 
massacre. A thigh bone of unusual length, was preserved for a 
considerable period by a physician of Lockport, and excited much 
curiosity. It had been fractured obliquely. In the absence of any 
surgical skill, or at least any application of it, the bone had strongly 
re-united, though evidently so as to have left the foot turned out at 
nearly a right angle. Of course, the natural surfaces of the bone 
were in contact, and not the fractured surfaces; and yet spurs, or 
ligaments were thrown out by nature, in its heaUng process, and so 
firmly knit and interwoven, as to form, if not a perfect, a firm 
re-union! It was by no means a finished piece of surgery, but to 
all appearances had answered a very good purpose. The medical 
student will think the patient must have possessed all the fortitude 
and stoicism of his race, to have kept his fractured limb in a neces- 
sary fixed position, during the long months that the healing process 
must have been going on, in the absence of splints and gum elastic 



bands. A tree had been cut down growing directly over the mound, 
upon the stump of which could be counted 230 concentric circles. 
Remains of rude specimens of earthen ware, pieces of copper, and 
iron instruments of rude workmanship were ploughed up within the 
area ; also, charred wood, corn and cobs. 

Soon after these ancient relics had begun to excite public atten- 
tion, the author received the following poetic contribution which he 
inserted in the columns of a newspaper of which he was the editor. 
Upon a review of it, he regards it as not unworthy to be preserved 
with the other reminiscences, in a more durable form. From a 
note made at the time, it would seem to have been anonymous : — 


The author's imagination, kindled bj' a description of the mouldering relics, the evi- 
dences of a sanguinary conflict of arms, aided by the then recently published tradi- 
tions of Datid Cusick, supposes the spirit of an Erie Chieftain, (whose skeleton 
is one of the congregated mass) to rise and address the gazing and enquiring anti- 
quarian: — He reminds him of their common origin and common destiny, notwith- 
standing the lapse of intervening ages ; tkat his ancestors are the races which 
slumber in the vallies of the Caucassus, the Alps, and plains of Britain ; the relator 
assuming that this was the forest home of his fathers. He sketches the last battle, 
fatal to his nation and himself; from the shouts of the victors echoing amid his 
native scenery, he adverts to the disembodied repose of his fathers ; — and concludea 
with the pleasing anticipation of again meeting the disturber of his sleep of ages, 
in "happier regions undefined," when he too shall have finished the pilgrimage 
of mortality. 

"Mortal of other age and clime, Where the broad plain abrupt descends, 

Pilgrim not having reach'd the bourne. To where Ontario's billows lave, 

Know thou that kindred soul with thine. Whence the delighted view extends 

Once tenanted this mould'ring form. Far o'er the blue and boundless wave; 

Here once the warm blood freely flow'd. 
By the heart's active impulse press'd. 

And all the varied passions glow'd, 
That struggle in thy throbbing breast. 

Though o'er this crumbling dust of mine. 
Full many a summer's sun has roU'd ; 

Yet equal destiny is thine, 
Though fairer cast of kindred mould. 

E'en though afar thy sires may sleep. 
Beyond the Atlantic's rolling waves 

Where Caucassus' stupendous steep, 
O'er hangs the shores, the Caspian laves. 

Or where the Alpine glaciers pile. 
High o'er thy Gothic fathers' graves. 

Or where Brittania'g verdant isle 
Smiles in the bosom of the waves. 

Deep in Columbia's wilds, afar 
Upon lake Erie's forest shores. 

Where, glimm'ring 'neath the ev'ning star, 
Niagara's awful torrent roars. 

There brightly blaz'd my country's fires, 
While oft succeeding ages roli'd. 

And there the ashes of ray sirei 
Lie mingled with the forest mould. 

There on the heights refulgent play'd 
Aurora's brightest, earliest ray ; 

And vesper's milder beams delay'd 
To lengthen the departing day 

There brightening with the shades of even, 
The hunter's scatter'd watch fires beam'd 

Respondent to the stars of Heaven, 
That o'er my native forests gleamed. 

Gladly would memory restore 
That scenery from oblivion's night. 

Ere ft-om those happy scenes of yore. 
My deathless spirit took its flight. 

The vapours o'er the lake that lour. 
How bright the setting sun display'd. 

When mid those scenes in childhood's hour. 
The boyhood of the village stray'd. 



Or liaten'd as our fatliers taught 

To recognize the 'Manitou,' 
Eternal Power with wisdom fraught 

Throughout Creation's boundless view. 

Or as some hoary chieftain told 
The wampum legend of his band, 

Chivalric scenery of old, 
On limpid lake or shaded land. 

When youthful vigor nerv'd my prime, 
How oft I chas'd the bounding deer. 

Or o'er the mountain's height sublime. 
Or through the ravine dark and drear. 

How the melodious echoes rang. 
Responsive through those awful groves. 

When the returning hunter sang 
The ardor of his youthful loves. 

Such were the happy scenes of yore. 

Ere from another world afar, 
Thy fathers sought this western shore, 

Where ocean hides {he morning star. 

Those happy scenes, alas ! are o'er. 
Extinguished are my country's fires, 

Where on lake Erie's forest shore, 
Crumble the ashes of my sires. 

The foreign ploughshare rudely drives 
Where sunk in peace my fathers rest. 

And a sad remnant scarce survives 
In the dark forests of the west. 

Bid me not further to pursue ' 
The sad'ning theme that mercy stores. 

And all the murd'rous scenes renew 
That slumber on lake Erie's shores. 

When from toward the morning light. 
Along the ocean's sounding strand, 

The ' Menque' poured their banded might 
Relentless o'er my native land : 

Then proudly waved my Eagle plume. 
Amid the foeman's fiercest yell. 

Where, on my struggling country's tomb 
The War Club's bloodiest effort fell. 

Till slowly forced at last to yield 
Unconquer'd in the arms of death. 

Where sunk upon the leaf strown field, 
Her bravest sons resign'd their breath. 

As rising from Ontario's waves. 

Amid the tumult of the fight. 
Pale on the fainting warrior's grave 

The moon beams shed a glim'ring light. 

And loudly broke the victor's yell 
Upon the distant torrent's roar. 

And my devoted country's knell 
Re-echoed from the sounding shore. 

Calmly my buoyant spirit rose 
High o'er the echoing scenery. 

To join my father's long repose 
In undisturb'd eternity. 

In happier regions undefin'd. 

Where, stranger ! happy we may greet 
In the great Haven of mankind. 

Where mingling generations meet. 

Then we'll the broken tale renew. 
When we shall meet to part no more. 

Our mortal pilgrimage review 
And tell of joys and sorrows o'er." 

At the head of a deep gorge, a mile west of Lockport, (similar to 
the one that forms the natural canal basin, from which the combined 
Locks ascend,) in the early settlement of the country, a circular 
raised work, or ring-fort, could be distinctly traced. Leading from 
the enclosed area, there had been a covered way to a spring of pure 
cold water that issues from a fissure in the rock, some 50 or 60 feet 

Note. — The foUowinff passage appears in " Cusick's Historj* of the Six Nations," 
the extraordinary production of a native Tuscarora, that it will be necessary to notice 
in another part of the work. 

About this time the King of the Five Nations had ordered the Great War chief, 
Shorihawne, (a Mohawk,) to march directly with an army of five thousand warriors to 
aid the Governor of Canandaigua against the Erians, to attack the Fort Kayquatkay 
and endeavor to extinguish the council fire of the enemy, which was becoming dange- 
rous to the neighboring nations ; but unfortunately during the siege, a shower of arrows 
was flying from the fort, the great war chief Shorihawne was killed, and his body was 
conveyed back to the woods and was buried in a solemn manner ; but however, the 
siege continued for s^eral days ; the Erians sued for peace ; the army immediately 
ceeised from hostilities, and left the Erians in entire possession of the countr}'. 


down the declivity. Such covered paths, or rather the remains of 
them, lead from many of these ancient fortifications. Mr. School- 
craft concludes that they were intended for the emergency of a 
prolonged siege. They would seem now, to have been but a poor 
defence for the water carriers, against the weapons of modern war- 
fare; yet probably sufficient to protect them from arrows, and a foe 
that had no sappers or miners in their ranks. 

There is an ancient battle field upon the Buffalo creek, six miles 
from Buffalo, near the Mission station. There are appearances of 
an enclosed area, a mound where human bones have been excavated, 
remains of pottery ware, &c. The Senecas have a tradition that 
here was a last decisive battle between their people and their invet- 
erate enemies the Kah-Kwahs; though there would seem to be no 
reason why the fortification should not be classed among those that 
existed long before the Senecas are supposed to have inhabited this 

A m.ile north of Aurora village, in Erie county, there are several 
small lakes or ponds, around and between which, there are knobs or 
elevations, thickly covered with a tall growth of pine; upon them, are 
several mounds, where many human bones have been excavated. 
In fact, Aurora and its vicinity, seems to have been a favorite resort 
not only for the ancient people whose works and remains we are 
noticing, but for the other races that succeeded them. Relics abound 
there perhaps to a greater extent than in any other locality in 
Western New York. An area of from three to four miles in extent, 
embracing the village, the ponds, the fine springs of water at the 
foot of the bluffs to the north, and the level plain to the south, would 
seem to have been thickly populated. There are in the village and 
vicinity few gardens and fields where ancient and Indian relics are 
not found at each successive ploughing. Few cellars are excavated 
without discovering them. In digging a cellar a few years since 
upon the farm of Chas. P. Pierson, a skeleton was exhumed, the 
thigh bones of which would indicate great height; exceeding by 
several inches, that of the tallest of our own race. In digging 
another cellar, a large number of skeletons, or detached bones, were 
thrown out. Upon the farm of M. B. Crooks, two miles from the 
village, where a tree had been turned up, several hundred pounds 
of axes were found; a blacksmith who was working up some axes 
that were found in Aurora, told the author that most of them were 
without any steel, but that the iron was of a "superior quality. He 


had one that was entirely of steel, out of which he was manufacturing 
some edge tools. 

Near the village, principally upon the farm of the late Horace 
S. Turner, was an extensive Beaver Dam. It is but a few years 
since an aged Seneca strolled away from the road, visited the 
ponds, the springs, and coming to a field once overflowed by the 
dam, but then reclaimed and cultivated, said these were the haunts 
of his youth — upon the hills he had chased the deer, at the springs 
he had slaked his thirst, and in the field he had trapped the beaver. 

The ancient works at Fort Hill, Le Roy, are especially worthy 
of observation in connection with this interesting branch of history, 
or rather enquiry. The author is principally indebted for an 
account of them to Mr. Schoolcraft's " Notes on the Iroquois," 
for which it was communicated by F. Follett, of Batavia. They 
are three miles north of Le Roy, on an elevated point of land, 
formed by the junction of a small stream called Fordham's Brook, 
with Allen's Creek. The better view of Fort Hill, is had to the 
north of it, about a quarter of a mile on the road leading from 
Bergen to Le Roy. From this point of observation it needs little 
aid of the imagination to conceive that it was erected as a fortifi- 
cation by a large and powerful army, looking for a permanent and 
inaccessible bulwark of defence. From the center of the hill, in a 
northwesterly course, the country lies quite flat ; more immediately 
north, and inclining to the east, the land is also level for one hun- 
dred rods, where it rises nearly as high as the hill, and continues 
for several miles quite elevated. In approaching the hill from the 
north it stands very prominently before you, rising rather abruptly 
but not perpendicularly, to the height of eighty or ninety feet, ex- 
tending about forty rods on a line east and west, the corners being 
round or truncated, and continuing to the south on the west side for 
some fifty or sixty rods, and on the east side for about half a mile, 
maintaining about the same elevation on the sides as in front; beyond 
which distance the line of the hill is that of the land around. There 
are undoubted evidences of its having been resorted to as a fortifi- 
cation, and of its having constituted a valuable point of defence to 
a rude and half civilized people. Forty years ago an entrenchment 
ten feet deep, and some twelve or fifteen feet wide, extended from 
the west to the east end, along the north or front part, and contin- 
ued up -each side about twenty rods, where it crossed over, and 
joining, made the circuit of entrenchment complete. At this day a 


portion of the entrenchment is easily perceived, for fifteen rods 
along the extreme western half of the north or front part, the cul- 
tivation of the soil and other causes having nearly obliterated all 
other portions. It M^ould seem that this fortification was arranged 
more for protection against invasion from the north, this direction 
being evidently its most commanding position. Near the northwest 
corner, piles of rounded stones, have, at different times, been col- 
lected of hard consistence, which are supposed to have been used as 
weapons of defence by the besieged against the besiegers. Such 
skeletons as have been found in and about this locality, indicate a race 
of men averaging one third larger than the present race; so adjudged 
by anatomists. From the fortification, a trench le^ds to a spring 
of water. Arrow heads, pipes, beads, gouges, pestles, stone hatch- 
ets, have been found upon the ground, and excavated, in and about 
these fortifications. The pipes were of both stone and earthen 
ware ; there was one of baked clay, the bowl of which was in the 
form of a man's head and face, the nose, eyes, and other features 
being depicted in a style resembling some of the figures in Mr. 
Steven's plate of the ruins of Central America. Forest trees were 
standing in the trench and on its sides, in size and age not differing 
from those in the neighboring forests ; and upon the ground, the 
heart-woods of black-cherry trees of large size, the remains undoubt- 
edly of a growth of timber that preceded the present growth. 
They were in such a state of soundness as to be used for timber by 
the first settlers. 'This last circumstance would establish greater 
antiquity for these works, than has been generally claimed from 
other evidences. The black-cherry of this region, attains usually 
the age of two hundred and seventy-five, and three hundred years ; 
the beech and maple groves of Western New York, bear evidences 
of having existed at least two hundred and forty or fifty years. 
These aggregates would shew that these works were over five hun- 
dred years old. But this, like other timber growth testimony that 
has been adduced — that seems to have been relied upon somewhat 
by Mr. Clinton and others — is far from being satisfactory. We 
can only determine by this species of evidence that timber has been 
growing upon these mounds and fortifications at least a certain length 
of time ; — have no warrant for saying how much longer. Take for 
instance the case under immediate consideration : — How is it to be 
determined that there were not more than the two growths, of 
cherry, and beech and maple ,• that other growths did not precede 


or intervene. These relics are found in our dense and heaviest 
timbered wood lands, below^ a deep vegetable mould interspersed 
with evidences of a long succession of timber growths and decays. 
We can in truth, form but a vague conception of the length of time 
since these works were constructed, — while we are authorized in 
saying they are of great antiquity, we are not authorized in lim- 
iting the period. 

The following are among some reflections of Professor Dewey 
of Rochester, who has reviewed Fort Hill at Le Roy, and fur- 
nished Mr. Schoolcraft with his observations. They may aid 
the reader, who is an antiquarian, in his speculations: — 

" The forest has been removed. Not a tree remains on the quad- 
rangle, and only a few on the edge of the ravine on the west. By 
cultivating the land, the trench is nearly filled in some places, though 
the line of it is clearly seen. On the north side the trench is con- 
siderable, and where the bridge crosses it, is three or four feet deep 
at the sides of the road. It will take only a few years more to 
obliterate it entirely, as not even a stump remains to mark out its line. 

From this view it may be seen, or inferred, 

1. That a real trench bounded three sides of the quadrangle. 
On the south side there was not found any trace of trench, palisadoes, 
blocks, &c. 

2. It was formed long before the whites came into the country. 
The large trees on the ground and in the trench, carry us back to 
an early era. 

3. The workers must have had some convenient tools for exca- 

4. The direction of the sides may have had some reference to 
the four cardinal points, though the situation of the ravines naturally 
marked out the lines. 

5. It cannot have been designed merely to catch wild animals, 
to be driven into it from the south. The oblique line down to the 
spring is opposed to this supposition, as well as the insufficiency of 
such a trench to confine the animals of the forest. 

6. The same reasons render it improbable that the quadrangle 
was designed to confine and protect domestic animals. 

7. It was probably a sort of fortified place. There might have 
been a defence on the south side by a stockade, or some similar 
means which might have entirely disappeared. 

By what people was this work done? 

The articles found in the burying ground here, offer no certain 

reply. The axes, chisels, &c. found on tne Indian grounds in this 

part of the state, were evidently made of the green stone or trap 

of New England, like those found on the Connecticut river in Mas- 



sachusetts. The pipe of limestone might be from that part of the 
country. The pipes seem to belong to different eras. 

1. The limestone pipe indicates the work of the savage or 

2. The third indicates the age of French influence over the 
Indians. An intelligent French gentleman says such clay pipes are 
frequent among the town population in parts of France. 

3. The second, and most curious, seems to indicate an earlier 
age and people. 

The beads found at Fort Hill are long and coarse, made of baked 
clay, and may have had the same origin as the third pipe. 

Fort Hill cannot have been formed by the French as one of their 
posts to aid in the destruction of the English colony of New-York ; 
if the French had made Fort Hill a post as early as 1660 or 185 
years ago, and then deserted it, the trees could not have grown to 
the size of the forest generally in 1810, or in 150 years afterwards. 
The white settlements had extended only twelve miles west of Avon 
in 1798, and some years after, (1800,) Fort Hill was covered with a 
dense forest. A chestnut tree, cut down in 1842, at Rochester, 
showed 254 concentric circles of wood, and must have been more 
than 200 years old in 1800. So opposed is the notion that this was 
a deserted French post. 

Must we not refer Fort Hill to that race which peopled this 
country before the Indians who raised so many monuments greatly 
exceeding the power of the Indians, and who lived at a remote era." 

Upon the upper end of Tonawanda Island, in the Niagara River, 
near the dwelling house of the late Stephen White, in full view of 
the village of Tonawanda, and the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Rail 
Road, is an ancient mound, the elevation of which within the recol- 
lection of the early settlers, was at least ten feet. It is now from 
six to eight feet, — circular — twenty-five feet diameter at the base. 
In the centre, a deep excavation has been made, at different periods, 
in search of relics. A large number of human bones have been 
taken from it, — arrows, beads, hatchets, &c. The mound occupies 
a prominent position in the pleasure grounds laid out by Mr. White. 
How distinctly are different ages marked upon this spot ! Here are 
the mouldering remains of a primitive race — a race whose highest 
achievments in the arts, was the fashioning from flint the rude wea- 
pons of war and the chase, the pipe and hatchet of stone; and here 
upon the other hand, is a mansion presenting good specimens 

Note. — The title of this chapter would confine these notices to Holland Purchase. 
The author has gone a short distance beyond his bounds, to include a well defined 
specimen of these ancient works. 


of modern architecture. Commerce has brought the materials for 
its chimney pieces from the quarries of Italy, and skill and genius 
have chiseled and given to them a mirror-like polish. Here in 
the midst of relics of another age, and of occupants of whom we 
know nothing beyond these evidences of their existence, are 
choice fruits, ornamental shrubbery, and graveled walks. 

Directly opposite this mound upon the point formed by the junc- 
tion of Tonawanda creek with the Niagara River there would seem 
to have been an ancient armory, and upon no small scale. There 
is intermingled with at least an acre of earth, chips of flint, refuse 
pieces, and imperfect arrows that were broken in process of manu- 
facture. In the early cultivation of the ground, the plough would 
occasionally strike spots where these chips and pieces of arrows 
predominated over the natural soil. XX«^X>S4..3 

On the north side of the Little Buffalo Creek, in the town of 
Lancaster, Erie County, there is an ancient work upon a blufl^, about 
thirty feet above the level of the stream. A circular embankment 
encloses an acre. Thirty years ago this embankment was nearly 
breast high to a man of ordinary height. There were five gate-ways 
distinctly marked. A pine tree of the largest class in our forest, 
grew directly in one of the gate-ways. It was adjudged, (at the 
period named,) by practical lumbermen, to be five hundred years 
OLD. Nearly opposite, a small stream puts into the Little Buffalo. 
Upon the point formed by the junction of the two streams, a mound 
extends across from one to the other, as if to enclose or fortify the 
point. In modern military practice, strong fortifications are invested 
sometimes by setting an army down before them and throwing up 
breast-works. May not this smaller work bear a similar relation to 
the larger one 1 

About one and a half miles west of Shelby Centre, Orleans 
county, is an ancient work. A broad ditch encloses in a form 
nearly circular, about three acres of land. The ditch is at this day, 
well defined several feet deep. Adjoining the spot on the south, 
is a swamp about one mile in width by two in length. This swamp 
was once, doubtless, if not a lake, an impassable morass. From the 
interior of the enclosure made by the ditch, there is what appears 
to have been, a passage way on the side next to the swamp. No 
other breach occurs in the entire circuit of the embankment. There 
are accumulated within and near this fort large piles of small stones 


of a size convenient to be thrown by the hand, or with a sling.* Ar- 
row heads of flint are found in and near the enclosure, in great 
abundance, stone axes, &c. Trees of four hundred years growth 
stand upon the embankment, and underneath them have been found, 
earthen ware, pieces of plates or dishes, wrought with skill, pre- 
senting ornaments in relief, of various patterns. Some skeletons 
almost entire have been exhumed ; many of giant size, not less than 
seven to eight feet in length. The skulls are large and well devel- 
oped in the anterior lobe, broad between the ears, and flattened in 
the coronal region. Half a mile west of the fort is a sand hill. 
Here a large number of human skeletons have been exhumed, in a 
perfect state. Great numbers appeared to have been buried in the 
same grave. Many of the skulls appear to have been broken in with 
clubs or stones. " This," says S. M. Burroughs, Esq, of Medina, 
(to whom the author is indebted for the description,) "was doubt- 
less the spot where a great battle had been fought. Were not these 
people a branch of the Aztecs'? The earthen ware found here 
seems to indicate a knowledge of the arts known to that once 
powerful nation." 

The Rev. Samuel KirklandJ visited and described several of 
these remains west of the Genesee River, in the yeax 1788. At 
that early period, before they had been disturbed by the antiqua- 
rian, the plough or the harrow, they must have been much more per- 
fect, and better defined than now. Mr. Kirkl and says in his journal, 
that after leaving " Kanawageas," J he travelled twenty-six miles 
and encamped for the night at a place called " Joaki," || on the 

* These piles of small stone are frequently spoken of in connection with these 
works, by those who saw them at an early period of white settlement. 

t Mr. K. was the pioneer Protestant Missionary among the Iroquois. The Rev. Dr. 
Wheelock, of Lebanon, Conn., who was his early tutor, in one of his letters to the 
Countess of Huntingdon, in 1765, says : — " A young Englishman, whom I sent last 
fall to winter with the numerous and savage tribes of the Senecas, in order to learn their 
language, and fit him for a mission among them ; where no missionaiy has hitherto 
dared to venture. This bold adventure of his, which under all the circumstances of it 
is the most extraordinary of the kind I have ever known, has been attended with abun- 
dant evidence of a divine blessing." Connected as was the subject of this eulogy with 
other branches of our local historj, he will be frequently referred to in the course of this 

t Avon, 

H Batavia, or the •• Great Bend of the Tonnewanta," as it was uniformly called by the 
early travellers on the trail from Tioga Point to Fort Niagara and Canada. (E? See 
account of Indian Trails. Batavia was favored with several Indian names. In Sen- 
eca, the one used by Mr K. would be Racoon. 


river *' Tonawanda." Six miles from the place of encampment, he 
rode to the " open fields."* Here he " walked out about half a 
mile with one of the Seneca chiefs to view " the remaina Trhioh he 
thus describes : — 

" This place is called by the Senecas Tegatainasghque, which 
imports a double fortified town, or a town with a fort at each end. 
Here are the vestiges of two forts; the one contains about four 
acres of ground; the other, distant from this about two miles, and 
situated at the other extremity of the ancient town, encloses twice 
that quantity. The ditch around the former (which I particularly 
examined) is about five or six feet deep. A small stream of living 
water, with a high bank, circumscribed nearly one third of the en- 
closed ground. There were traces of six gates, or avenues, around 
the ditch, and a dug-way near the works to the water. The 
ground on the opposite side of the water, was in some places nearly 
as high as that on which they built the fort, which might make it 
nessessary for this covered way to the water. A considerable num- 
ber of large, thrifty oaks have grown up within the enclosed grounds, 
both in and upon the ditch; some of them at least, appeared to be two 
hundred years old or more. The ground is of a hard gravelly kind, 
intermixed with loam, and more plentifully at the brow of the hill. 
In some places, at the bottom of the ditch, I could run my cane a foot 
or more into the ground; so that probably the ditch was much deeper 
in its original state than it appears to be now. Near the northern 
fortification, which is situated on high ground, are the remains of a 
funeral pile. The earth is raised about six feet above the common 
surface, and betwixt twenty and thirty feet in diameter. From the 
best information I can get of the Indian Historians, these Forts were 
made previous to the Senecas being admitted into the confederacy of 
the Mohawks, Onondagas, Oneidas and Cayugas, and when the 
former were at war with the Mississaugas and other Indians around 
the great lakes. This must have been near three hundred years 
ago, if not more, by many concurring accounts which I have 
obtained from different Indians of several different tribes. Indian 
tradition says also that these works were raised, and a famous battle 
fought here, in the pure Indian style and with Indian weapons, long 
before their knowledge and use of fire arms or any knowledge 
of the Europeans. These nations at that time used, in fighting, 
bows and arrows, the spear or javelin, pointed with bone, and the 

* The openings, as they are termed, in the towns of Elba and Alabama ; lying on 
either side of the Batavia and Lockport road, but chiefly, between that road and the 
Tonawanda Creek. The antiquarian who goes in search of the ancient Tegatain- 
asghque, will be likely to divide his attention between old and new things. It was a 
part of Tonawanda Indian Reservation. About twenty-five years since, it was sold to 
the Ogden Company ; aild the ancient " open fields " now present a broad expanse of 
wheat fields, interspersed with farm buildings that give evidence of the elements of 
wealth that have been found in the soil. 


war club or death mall. When the former were expended, they 
came into close engagement in using the latter. Their warrior's 
dress or coat of mail for this method of fighting, was a short jacket 
made of willow sticks, or moon wood, and laced tight around the 
body; the head covered with a cap of the same kind, but commonly 
worn double for the better security of that part against a stroke from 
the war club. In the great battle fought at this place, between the 
Senecas and Western Indians, some affirm their ancestors have told 
them there were eight hundred of their enemies slain; others include 
the killed on both sides to make that number. All their historians 
agree in this, that the battle was fought here, where the heaps of 
slain are buried, before the arrival of the Europeans; some say 
three, some say four, others five ages ago; they reckon an age one 
hundred winters or colds. I would further remark upon this subject 
that there are vestiges of ancient fortified towns in various parts, 
throughout the extensive territory of the Six Nations. I find also 
by constant enquiry, that a tradition prevails among the Indians in 
general, that all Indians came from the west. I have wished for an 
opportunity to pursue this inquiry with the more remote tribes of 
Indians, to satisfy myself, at least, if it be their universal opinion. 

" On the south side of Lake Erie, are a series of old fortifications, 
from Cattaraugus Creek to the Pennsylvania line, a distance of fifty 
miles. Some are from two to four miles apart, others half a mile 
only. Some contain five acres. The walls or breast-works are of 
earth, and are generally on grounds where there are appearances 
of creeks having flowed into the lake, or where there was a bay. 
Further south there is said to be another chain parallel with the 
first, about equi-distant from the lake. 

" These remains of art, may be viewed as connecting links of a 
great chain, which extends beyond the confines of our state, and 
becomes more magnificent and curious as we recede from the 
northern lakes, pass through Ohio into the great valley of the Mis- 
sissippi, thence to the gulf of Mexico through Texas into New 
Mexico and South America. In this vast range of more than three 
thousand miles, these monuments of ancient skill gradually become 
more remarkable for their number, magnitude and interesting 
variety, until we are lost in admiration and astonishment, to find, 
as Baron Humboldt informs us, in a world which we call neWy 
ancient institutions, religious ideas, and forms of edifices, similar 
to those of Asia, which there seem to go back to the dawn of 

" Over the great secondary region of the Ohio, are the ruins of 
what once were forts, cemeteries, temples, altars, camps, towns, 

Note.— Th» traditions giTen to Mr. Kirkland at so early a period, are added (,o his 
account of the old Forts, to be taken in connection with adverse theories and conclusions 
upon the same point As has before been observed, many of the Senecas who have 
since been consulted, do not pretend to any satisfactory knowledge upon the subjects. 


villages, race-grounds and other places of amusement, habitations 
of chieftains, videttes, watch-towers and monuments." 

"It is," says Mr. Atwater,* "nothing but one vast cemetery of 
the beings of past ages. Man and his works, the mammoth, tropi- 
cal animals, the cassia tree and other tropical plants, are here repo- 
sing together in the same formation. By what catastrophe they 
were overwhelmed and buried in the same strata it would be 
impossible to say, unless it was that of the general deluge." 

"In the valley of the Mississippi, the monuments of buried nations 
are unsurpassed in magnitude and melancholy grandeur by any in 
North America. Here cities have been traced similar to those of 
Ancient Mexico, once containing hundreds of thousands of souls. 
Here are to be seen thousands of tumuli, some an hundred feet high, 
others many hundred feet in circumference, the places of their 
worship, their sepulchre, and perhaps of their defence. Similar 
mounds are scattered throughout the continent, from the shores of 
the Pacific into the interior of our State as far as Black River and 
from the Lakes to South America."! 

So much for all we can see or know of our ancient predecessors. 
The whole subject is but incidental to the main purposes of local 
history. The reader who wishes to pursue it farther will be assisted 
in his enquiries by a perusal of Mr. Schoolcraft's Notes on the 
Iroquois. But the mystery of this pre-occupancy is far from being 
satisfactorily explained. It is an interesting, fruitful source of the- 
ories, enquiry and speculation. 

•Atwater's Antiquities of the West. 

+Yates and Moulton's History of New York. 




Emerging from a region of doubt and conjecture, we arrive at 
another branch of local history, replete with interest — less obscure, 
— though upon its threshold we feel the want of reliable data, the 
Ughts that guide us in tracing the history of those who have writ- 
ten records. 

The Seneca Indians were our immediate predecessors — the 
pre-occupants from whom the title of the Holland Purchase was 
derived. They were the Fifth Nation of a Confederacy, termed 
by themselves Mingoes, as inferred by Mr. CHnton, Ho-de-no-sau- 
nee,t as inferred by other writers ; the Confederates, by the Eng- 
lish ; the Maquaws, by the Dutch ; the Massowamacs, by the 
Southern Indians ; the IROQUOIS, by the French ; by which last 
name they are now usually designated, in speaking or writing of 
the distinct branches of the Aborigines of the United States. 

The original Confederates were the Mohawks, having their prin- 
cipal abode upon that river ; the Oneidas, upon the southern shore 
of Oneida Lake ; the Cayugas near Cayuga Lake ; the Senecas, 
upon Seneca Lake and the Genesee River. Those locahties were 
their principal seats, or the places of their Council fires. They 
may be said generally, to have occupied in detached towns and vil- 
lages the whole of this State, from the Hudson to the Niagara 
River, now embraced in the counties of Schenectady, Schoharie, 
Montgomery, Fulton, Herkimer, Oneida, Madison, Onondaga, Cay- 
uga, Seneca, Wayne, Ontario, Livingston, Genesee, Wyoming, 
Monroe, Orleans, Niagara, Erie, Chautauque, Cattaragus, Alle- 

* The "Five" Nations, at the period of our earliest knowledge of them — the 
"Six" Nations after they had adopted the Tuscaroras, in 1712. 

t "The People of the Long House," from the circumstance that they likened their 
political structure to a long tenement or dwelling. 


ghany, Steuben and Yates. A narrower limit of their dwelling 
places, the author is aware, has been usually designated ; but in 
reference to the period of the first European advent among them — 
1678 — it is to be inferred that their habitations were thus extended, 
not only from the traces of their dwellings, and the relics of their 
rude cultivation of the soil, but from the records of the early Jesuit 
Missionaries. Their missions were at different periods, extended 
from the Hudson to the Niagara River, and each one of them would 
seem to have had several villages in its vicinity. Each of the Five 
Nations undoubtedly had a principal seat. They were as indicated 
by their names. And each had its tributary villages, extended as 
has been assumed. It was plainly a coming together from separate 
localities — a gathering of clansmen — to resist the invasion of De 
Nonville; and it is to be inferred from the journal of Father Hen- 
nepin that there were villages of the " Iroquois Senecas " in the 
neighborhood of La Salle's ship yard on the Niagara River, and the 
primitive garrison or " palisade," at its mouth. The Missionaries 
who went out from the "place of ship building," and from the "Fort 
at Niagara " from time to time, upon apparently short excursions, 
visited different villages. The Jesuit Missions upon the Mohawk, 
and at Onondaga would seem to have been visited, each by the 
inhabitants of several villages. The author rejects the conclusion, 
that the Tonawanda, and the Buffalo Indian villages, were not 
founded until after the expedition of General Sullivan ; and con- 
cludes that these and other settlements of the Iroquois existed prior 
to the European advent, west of the Genesee River. While some 
of the Seneca Indians assume the first position, others, equally 
intelligent, and as well instructed in their traditions, do not pretend 
to thus limit the period of settlement at these points. 

Their actual dominion had a far wider range. The Five Nations 
claimed "all the land not sold to the English, from the mouth of 
Sorrel River, on the south side of Lakes Erie and Ontario, on both 
sides of the Ohio till it falls into the Mississippi ; and on the north 
side of these Lakes that whole territory between the Ottawa River 
and Lake Huron, and even beyond the straits between that and 
Lake Erie." * And in another place the same author says : — 
"When the Dutch began the settlement of this country, all the 
Indians on Long Island, and the northern shores of the Sound, on 

'Smith's History of New York. ^ 


the banks of the Connecticut, Hudson, Delaware, and Susquehannah 
Rivers, were in subjection to the Five Nations, and acknowledged 
it by paying tribute. The French historians of Canada, both 
ancient and modern, agree that the more Northern Indians, were 
driven before the superior martial prowess of the Confederates." 
" The Ho-de-no-sau-nee, occupied our precise territory, and their 
council fires burned continually from the Hudson to the Niagareu 
Our old forests have rung with their war shouts, and been enli- 
vened with their festivals of peace. Their feathered bands, their 
eloquence, their deeds of valor have had their time and place. In 
their progressive course, they had stretched around the half of our 
republic, and rendered their name a terror nearly from ocean to 
ocean ; when the advent of the Saxon race arrested their career, 
and prepared the way for the destruction of the Long House, and 
the final extinguishment of the Council Fires of the Confederacy.* 
" At one period we hear the sound of their war cry along the 
Straits of the St. Mary's, and at the foot of Lake Superior. At 
another, under the walls of Quebec, where they finally defeated 
the Hurons, under the eyes of the French. They put out the fires 
of the Gah-kwas and Eries. They eradicated the Susquehannocks. 
They placed the Lenapes, the Nanticokes, and the Munsees under 
the yoke of subjection. They put the Metoacks and Manhattans 
under tribute. They spread the terror of their arms over all New 
England. They traversed the whole length of the Appalachian 
Chain and descended like the enraged yagisho and megalonyx, on 
the Cherokees and Catawbas. Smith encountered their warriors 
in the settlement of Virginia, and La Salle on the discovery of, 
the Illinois."! "The immediate dominion of the Iroquois — when 
the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, were 
first visited by the trader, the Missionary, or the war parties of the 
French — stretched, as we have seen, from the borders of Vermont 
to Western New York, from the Lakes to the head waters of the 
Ohio, the Susquehannah and the Delaware. The number of their 
warriors was declared by the French in 1660, to have been two 
thousand two hundred ; and in 1677, an English agent sent on pur- 
pose to ascertain their strength, confirmed the precision of the state- 
ment. Their geographical position made them umpires in the 

* Letters on the Iroquois, by Shenandoah in American Review, 
t Schoolcraft. 


contest of the French for dominion in the west. Besides their 
poUtical importance was increased by their conquests. Not only 
did they claim some supremacy in Northern New England as far 
as the Kennebeck, and to the south as far as New Haven, and 
were acknowledged as absolute lords over the conquered Lenappe, 
— the peninsula of Upper Canada was their hunting field by right 
of war ; they had exterminated the Eries and Andastes, both tribes 
of their own family, the one dweUing on the south-eastern banks 
of lake Erie, the other on the head waters of the Ohio; they had 
triumphantly invaded the tribes of the west as far as Illinois ; their 
warriors had reached the soil of Kentucky and Western Virginia ; 
and England, to whose alliance they steadily inclined, availed itself 
of their treaties for the cession of territories, to encroach even 
on the Empire of France in America." * 

While the citations that we have made from reUable authorities, 
sufficiently establish the extended dominions of the Iroquois, they 
also sanction the highest estimate that has been made of their bravery 
and martial prowess. Their strength and uniform success, are 
mainly to be attributed to their social and political organization. 
They were Confederates. Their enemies, or the nations they chose 
to make war with, for the purposes of conquest, extended rule, poli- 
tical supremacy — were detached, — had feuds perhaps between 
themselves — could not act in concert. The Iroquois were a five 
fold cord. Their antagonists, but single strands, and if acting 
occasionally in concert, it was in the absence of a league or union, 
of that peculiar character that made their assailants invincible. 
Added to this, is the concurrent testimony of historians, that the 
Iroquois, in physical and mental organization far excelled all other of 
the aboriginal nations, or tribes of our country. A position justified 
by our own observation and comparisons. Even in our own day, 
now that they are dwindled down to a mere remnant of what they 
were; confined to a few thousand acres of a broad domain they 
once posessed, (and even these stinted allotments grudgingly made, 
and their possession envied by rapacious pre-emptionists,) now 
that they have survived the terrible ordeal — a contest with our 
race, and all its blighting and contaminating influences, — their 
supei iority is evinced in various ways; their supremacy apparent 
Upon the banks of the Tonawanda, the Alleghany, the Cattaragus, 

"Bancroft's History of the United States. 


there are now unbroken, proud spirits of this noble race of men, 
who would justify the highest encomiums that history has bestowed. 
If we are told that they have degenerated, the position can be 
controverted by the citation of individual instances. If their 
ambition has been crushed; if they feel, as well they may, that their 
condition has been changed ; that they are in a measure dependants 
upon a soil, and in a region, where they were but a little time sinci 
lords and masters ; if they are conscious, as well they may be, th; 
superior diplomacy, artful and over-reaching negotiation, has as. 
effectually conquered and despoiled them of their possessions as a 
conquest of arms would have done; if they feel that they are aliens, 
as they are made by our laws, upon the native soil of themselves 
and a long line of ancestors. — There are yet worthy descendants of 
the primitive stock — the same "Seneca Iroquois," in mind, in fea- 
ture, in some of the best attributes of our common nature, — that 
La Salle, Hennepin, Tonti, Joncair, found here in these western 
forests; that the seemingly partial, yet truthful historian has describ- 
ed. While the vices of civilization — or those that civilization has 
introduced — have effectually degenerated a large portion of them; 
debased them to a level with the worst of the whites; there are 
those, and a large class of them, that have, with a moral firmness 
that is admirable — a native, uneducated sense of right and wrong, 
of virtue and vice ; resisted all the temptations with which they 
have been beset and surrounded, and command our highest es- 
teem, not for what they, or their progenitors have been ; but for 
their intrinsic merits. Their ancient council fires, are not extin- 
guished ; though they burn not as brightly in the allotted retreat 
where they are now kindled, as of yore, when they blazed in the 
" Long House," from Hudson to Lake Erie. Their confederacy 
is dwindled to a mere shadow of what it was, but it yet exists. 
" They have been stripped so entirely of their possessions as to have 
retained scarcely sufficient for a sepulchre. They have been shorn 
so entirely of their power as to be scarcely heard when appealing 
to justice from the rapacity of the pre-emptive claimants."* And 
yet they are a distinctive people — their Ancient League in force; 
their ancient rites and ceremonies are still performed. From their 
ancient seat at Onondaga, the council fire is transferred to 
Tonawanda. Here it is yet kindled. Here the representatives of 




the Senecas, the Tuscaroras, the Onondagas, the scattered rem- 
nants of the Mohawks, Cayugas and Oneidas, yet assemble, go 
through with their ancient rites and ceremonies ; — their speeches, 
dances, exhortations, sacrifices, &c.; supply vacancies that have 
occurred in the ranks of their sachems and chiefs, furnish a feeble 
but true representation of the doings of their ancient confederacy, 
when it was the sole conservator and legislature of two thirds of 
our Empire State, and held in subjection nearly that proportion of 
our own modern and similarly constructed Union. 

The historians of the Iroquois, have found ample authority for 
the extended dominion, and military supremacy they have conceded 
to them, in the writings of the French Missionaries, and in their 
own well authenticated traditions; and there is still more reliable 
testimony. As in after times — in their wars with the French, and 
in the Border Wars of the Revolution, a large proportion of their 
prisoners were saved from torture and execution and adopted into 
families and tribes, for the double purpose of supplying the loss of 
their own people slain in battle or taken prisoners — of keeping 
their numbers good — and for solacing the bereaved relatives, by 
substituting a favorite captive in the family circle. This was 
not only the ancient, but the modern custom of the Iroquois. 
The commentators upon their institutions, have inferred that 
this was a part of their system and policy. This will be quite 
apparent in some accounts that will follow of white prisoners 
who were found among the Senecas in Western New York, at the 
earliest period of white settlement, and whose descendants are still 
among them. There are now upon the Tonawanda Reservation, at 
Cattaragus and Alleghany, descendants of Cherokee, Seminole and 
Catawba captives; in fact of nearly all the nations, which we are 
told in their traditions, they were at war with in early times. It is 
singular, with what apparent precision, they will trace the mixed 
blood, when none but themselves can discover any difference of 
complexion or features. Tradition must be their helper, in deter- 
mining after the lapse of centuries, and a long succession of gene- 
rations, where the blood of the captive is mingled with their own. 
They are good genealogists; far better than we are, who can avail 
ourselves of written records. 

And there is a fact connected with this reprieving and adopting 
captives, that commands our especial wonder, if not our admiration. 
In all the numerous cases that we have accounts of, with few 


exceptions, captivity soon ceased to be irksome; an escape from it 
hardly a desirable consummation ! Was the captive of their own 
race and color, he soon forgot that he was in the wigwam of stran- 
gers, away from his country and kindred; he was no alien; social, 
political, and family immunities were extended to him. He was as 
one of them in all respects. Had he left behind father, mother, 
brother, sister or wife, they were supplied him; and it baffles 
our preconceived opinions of an arbitrary, instinctive sense of 
dred blood affinity, when told how easily the captive adapted hir 
self to his new relations; how soon the adopter and the adopte( 
conformed to an alliance that was merely conventional. And so it 
was in a great degree with our own race. They too, were captives 
among the Iroquois, but wore no captive's chains. After a little 
there was no restraint, no coercion, no desire to escape. Upon 
this point, we have the recorded testimony of Mary Jemison, of 
Horatio Jones, and several others. Mrs. Jemison, who had 
more than ordinary natural endowments; who possessed a mind and 
affections adapted to the enjoyments of civilization and refinement ; 
affirms that in a short time after she was made a captive, she was 
content with her condition; and she affirmed at the close of a long 
life, spent principally among the Senecas, that she had uniformly 
been treated with kindness. The author in his boyhood has listened 
to the recitals of captive white? among the Senecas, and well 
remembers how incredible it seemed that they should have preferred 
a continuance among them to a return to their own racp. This to 
us seemingly singular choice, with those who were young when 
captured, is partly to be accounted for in the novelty of the change 
— the sports and pastimes — the "freedom of the woods" — the 
absence of restraints and checks, upon youthful inclinations. But 
chiefly it was the influence of kindness, extended to them as soon 
as they were adopted. The Indian mother knew no difference 
between her natural and adopted children; there were no social 
discriminations, or if any, in favor of the adopted captive; they 
had all the rights and privileges in their tribes, nations, confederacy, 
enjoyed by the native Iroquois.* 

The Senecas have traditions of the execution of several 

* This kind treatment of prisoners, it is not contended, was uniform. A portion 
of them were subjected to torture and death. It was however, one thing or the 
other: — death attended by all tlie horrors of savage custom, or adoption into a family, 
and the treatment that has been indicated. 



prisoners, that were made captives in their wars with the Southern 
Indians. A stream that puts into the Alleghany, below Olean, 
bears the Seneca name of a Cherokee prisoner, who, their 
traditions say, was executed there. Mrs. Jemison* says, her 
husband, Hiokatoo, was engaged in 1731, to assist in collecting 
an army to go against the Catawbas, Cherokees, and other 
^outjjern Indians. That they met the enemy on the Tennessee 

iver, " rushed upon them in ambuscade, and massacred 1200 on 
spot ; " that after that, the battle continued for two days. 

le names several other wars with the Southern Indians, in which 
her warrior husband was engaged. It is but a few years since 
there were surviving aged Seneca Indians, who recounted their 
exploits in wars waged by the Iroquois against neighboring and 
far distant nations. 

The reader who has not made himself familiar with the history 
of the aboriginal pre-occupants of our region, has, perhaps, in 
this brief introduction of them, their wars and extended dominion 
— their pre-eminence among the nations of their race — the high 
position assigned them by historians, — been sufficiently interested 
to dpsire to know more of them ; especially to know something 
of the organization and frame work of a political system — a 
confederacy so wisely conceived by the untaught Statesmen of 
the forest, who had no precedents to consult, no written lore of 
ages to refer to, no failures or triumphs of systems of human 
governmerit to serve for models or comparisons ; nothing to guide 
them but the lights of nature ; nothing to prompt them but 
necessity and emergency. 

The French historian, Volney, was the first to pronounce the 
Iroquois the romans of the west ; a proud, and not undeserved 
title, which succeeding historians and commentators have not 
withheld. " Had they enjoyed the advantages possessed by the 
Greeks and Romans, there is no reason to believe they would have 
been at all inferior to these celebrated nations. Their minds 
appear to have been equal to any effort within the reach of man. 
Their conquests, if we consider their numbers and circumstances, 
were little inferior to those of Rome itself. In their harmony, 
the unity of their operations, the energy of their character, the 
vastness, vigor, and success of their entei-prises, and the strength 

* Life of Mary Jemison by James E. Seaver, revised and enlarged by Ebenezer Mix 


and sublimity of their eloquence, they may be fairly compared 
with the Greeks. Both the Greeks and Romans, before they 
began to rise into distinction, had already reached the state of 
society in which men are able to improve. The Iroquois had not 
The Greeks and Romans had ample means for improvement ; the 
Iroquois had none."* "If we except the celebrated league, which 
united the Five Nations into a Federal Republic, we can discei 
few traces of political wisdom among the rude American tribes 
discover any great degree of foresight or extent of intellecti 
abilities."! "The Iroquois bore this proud appellation, not only 1^ 
conquests over other tribes, but by encouraging the people of 
other nations to incorporate with them ; ' a Roman principle,' 
says Thatcher, ' recognized in the practice as well as theory of 
these lords of the forest."| " From whatever point we scrutinize 
the general features of their confederacy, we are induced to 
regard it, in many respects, as a beautiful, as well as remarkable 
structure, and to hold it up as the triumph of Indian legislation. "§ 
"It cannot, I presume, be doubted, that-the confederates were a 
peculiar and extraordinary people, contra-distinguished from the 
wars of the Indian Nations by great attainments in polity, in 
government, in negotiation, in eloquence, and in war."|| 

The peculiar structure of the confederacy of the Iroquois, is 
one of the most interesting features of our aboriginal history. A 
brief analysis of it is all that will be attempted. Its general 
features were known to their earliest historians, but it was left to 
a recent contributor H to the archives of the New York Historical 
Society, to investigate the subject with a zeal, industry and ability, 
which do him great credit ; to give us a better knowledge of the 
legislation and laws of these sons of the forest, than we before 
possessed. To that source principally, with occasional reference 
to other authorities ; the author is indebted for the materials for 
the sketch that follows : — 

The existence of the Iroquois upon the soil now constituting 
Western and Middle New York, is distinctly traced back to the 
period of the discovery of America. Their traditions go beyond 

* President Dwight. f Robertson's America. 

t Yonnondio, or the Warriors of Genesee, by W. H. C. Hosmer. 

$ Shenandoah. ||Mh. Clinton. 

ULetters on the Iroquois, Shenandoah; addressed to Albert Gallatin, President 
N. Y. Historical Society. 


that period — or in fact have no limits ; some of their relators 
contending that this was always their home; others, that they came 
here by conquest ; and others, that they were peaceful emigrants 
from a former home in the south. This involves a mooted question, 
which it is not necessary here to discuss, if indeed it admits of any 
satisfactory conclusion. They fix upon no definite period in refer- 
ence to the origin of their confederacy. It existed, and was 
recognized by the Dutch, who were the first adventurers in the 
eastern portion of our state ; by the earliest French Jesuits in the 
valley of the Mohawk, at Onondaga, and along the south shores of 
Lake Ontario, and upon the Niagara River ; and there were 
evidences of a long pi-ecedent existence, that corresponded with 
their traditions. 

Like most systems of human governments, and especially the 
better ones — it was undoubtedly the offspring of emergency. 
Protracted wars, such as their race have been subject to since our 
first acquaintance with it — and which has often called into requisi- 
tion the mediatory offices of our government, had created the 
necessity of a union of strength — an alliance, for offence and defence. 
It was upon a smaller scale to be sure, than an alliance that 
followed centuries after, between the crowned heads of Europe ; 
but was dictated by better motives, and far more wisdom ; though 
Math a history of Iroquois conquests before us, it is not to be denied, 
that they not only contemplated peace and union at home, but like 
their imitators meditated assaults upon their neighbors. The one 
was suggested by the autocrat of Russia, from a palace — tradition 
attributes the other to a " wise man * of the Onondaga nation," 
whose dwelling was but a hunter's lodge. 

The confederacy in one leading feature at least, was not unlike 
our Federal Union. The Five Nations were as so many states, 
reserving to themselves some well defined powers, but yielding 
others for the general good. 

The supreme power of the confederacy, was vested in a con- 
gress of sachems, fifty in number. The Mohawks were entitled to 
nine representatives ; the Oneidas to nine ; the Onondagas to fourteen; 
the Cayugas to ten; the Senecas to eight. "The office of sachem 
was hereditary. They were "raised up," not by their respective 
nations, but by a council of all the sachems. They formed the 

* Dapf^nowedci. 


"council of the League," and in them resided the Executive legisla- 
tive and judicial authority. In their own localities, at home among 
their own people, these sachems were the government, forming 
five independent local sovereignties, modelled after the general con- 
gress of sachems. There were in fact live distinct local republics 
within one general republic. It was as it would be with our dele- 
gation in Congress, if after discharging their duties at the seat of 
the general government, they came home and formed a council for aW 
purposes of local government. Although not a monarchy, it "waf 
the rule of the few,'' and these few possessing what would look to us 
like a power very liable to abuse — the power of self creation; filling 
up their own ranks, as vacancies occured from time to time; and yet 
we are told that this formed no exception to the general well 
working of the system. The members of the council of the 
League were equals in power and authority ; and yet from some 
provision in their organization, or from a necessity which must 
have existed with the Iroquois Council as with all conventional or 
legislative bodies, it is to be inferred that they had a head or leader 
— something answering the purposes of a speaker in our system of 
legislation, or a president, in our conventional arrangement. How 
all this was managed it is difficult to understand. There was 
always residing in the central Onondaga nation, a sachem who 
had at least a nominal superiority; he was regarded as the head 
of the confederacy, and had dignities and honors, above his fellow 
sachems; and yet his prerogatives were only such as were tacitly 
allowed or conceded ; not derived as we would say, from any 
" constitutional " provisions. His position was an hereditary one, 
derived, as is affirmed by tradition, from an Onondaga chief — 
Ta-do-da-hoh, a famous chief and warrior, who was co-temporary 
with the formation of the confederacy. He had rendered himself 

Note — Those into whose hands may chance to have fallen the pamphlet of the 
native Tuscarora historian, David Cusick, will remember his picture of "At-to-tar-ho. " 
This was the real or iniaginarj'^ " Ta-do-da-hoh " of Onondapa; the name varying with 
the diiferent dialects. With rather more than the ordinary love of fancy and fiction, 
inherent in his race, the Tuscarora narrator has invested his hero with something more 
than human attributes ; and has awarded to his memory, a wood cut — rude but 
graphic. He is represented as a monarch, quietly smoking his pipe, sitting in one of 
the marshes of Onondaga, giving audience to an embassy from the Mohawks, who 
have come to solicit his co-operation in the formation of a League. Living serpents 
are entwined around him, extending their hissing heads in every direction. Every 
thing around him, and the place of his residence, were such as to inspire fear and 
respect. His dishes and spoons were made of the skulls of enemies he had slain in 
battle. Him, when they had duly approached with presents, and burned tobacco in 
/ friendship, in their pipes, by way of frankincense, they placed at the head of the 
League as its presiding officer. 


illustrious by military achievements. " Down to this day, among 
the Iroquois, his name is the personification of heroism, of forecast, 
and of dignity of cjiaracter. He was reluctant to consent to the 
new order of things, as he would be shorn of his power, and placed 
among a number of equals. To remove this objection, his sachem- 
ship was dignified above the others, by certain special privileges, 
not inconsistent, however, with an equal distribution of powers ; 
and from his day to the present, tliis title has been regarded as 
more noble and illustrious than any other, in the catalogue of 
Iroquois nobility." 

" With a mere league of Indian nations, the constant tendency 
would be to a rupture, from remoteness of position and interest, 
and from the inherent weakness of such a compact. In the case 
under inspection, something more lasting was aimed at than a 
simple union of the five nations, in the nature of an alliance. A 
blending of the national sovereignties into one government, with 
direct and manifold relations between the people and the Confed- 
eracy, as such, was sought for and achieved by these forest 
statesmen. On first observation, the powers of the government 
appear to be so entirely centralized, that the national independencies 
nearly disappear ; but this is very far from the fact. The crowning 
feature of the Confederacy, as a political structure, is the perfect 
independence and individuality of the nations, in the midst of a 
central and embracing government, which presents such a united 
and cemented exterior, that its subdivisions would scarcely be 
discovered in transacting business with the Confederacy. This 
remarkable result was in part effected by the provision that the 
same rulers who governed the Confederacy in their joint capacity, 
should, in their separate state, still be the rulers of the several 

'' For all the purposes of a local and domestic, and many of a 
political character, the nations were entirely independent of each 
other. The nine Mohawk sachems administered the affairs of that 
nation with joint authority, precisely in the same manner as they 
did, in connection with others, the aflfairs of the League at large. 
With similar powers, the ten Cayuga sachems, by their joint 
councils, regulated the internal and domestic affairs of their nation. 
As the sachems of each nation stood upon a perfect equality, in 
authority and privileges, the measure of influence was determined 
entirely by the talents and address of the individual. In the 
councils of the nation, which were of frequent occurrence, all 
business of national concernment was transacted ; and, although the 
questions moved on such occasions would be finally settled by the 
opinions of the sachems, yet such was the spirit of the Iroquois 
system of government, that the influence of the inferior chiefs, the 


warriors, and even of the women, would make itself felt, whenever 
the subject itself aroused a general public interest. 

" The powers and duties of the sachems were entirely of a civil 
character, but yet were arbitrary within their sphere of action. If 
we sought their warrant for the exercise of power, in the etymol- 
ogy of the word, in their language, which corresponds with sachem, 
it would intimate a check upon, rather than an enlargement of, the 
civil authority ; for it signifies, simply, ' a counsellor of the people,' 
— a beautiful and appropriate designation of a ruler." 

There were in each of the Five Nations, and in the aggregate, 
the same number of War Chiefs as sachems. The subordination 
of the military to the civil power, was indicated upon all occasions 
of the assembling of the councils, by each sachem having a War 
Chief standing behind him to aid with his counsel, and execute 
the commands of his superior. If the two, however, went out 
upon a war party, the precedence was reversed, or in fact the 
sachem, who was supreme in council, was but a subordinate in 
the ranks. The supreme command of the war forces, and the 
general conduct of the wars of the confederacy was entrusted to 
two military chiefs raised up as the sachems were, their offices 
hereditary. These were, in all cases to be of the Seneca nation.* 

The third class of officers was created long after the organiza- 
tion of the Confederacy, since the advent of Europeans among 
them, — the chiefs. They were elected from time to time as 
necessity or convenience required, their number unlimited. Their 
powers were originally confined to the local affairs of their respect- 
ive nations ; they were home advisers and counsellors of the 
sachems ; but in process of time they became in some respects, 
equal in rank and authority to the sachems. 

" It is, perhaps, in itself singular that no religious functionaries 
were recognized in the Confederacy (none ever being raised up); 
although there were certain officers in the several nations who 
officiated at the religious festivals, which were held at stated 
seasons throughout the year. There nevcK existed, among the 
Iroquois, a regular and distinct religious profession, or office, as 

* They likened, as will have been seen, their political edifice, to a Longr House ; its 
door opening to the West. The Senecas occupying the door way, at the West, where 
hostile onsets were looked for, the location of the chief military commanders was 
assigned to them. It was the province of the Senecas, from their location, to first 
take the war path. If invaded, they were to drive back the invaders. If too formidable 
for them, they called upon the next allies, the Onondagas, and so on when necessary, 
to the Eastern end of the Long House, occupied by the Mohawks. 


among most nations ; and it was, doubtless, owing to the simplicity, 
as well as narrowness, of their religious creed. 

" With the officers above enumerated, the administration of the 
Confederacy was entrusted. The government sat lightly upon the 
people, who, in effect, were governed but little. It seemed to each 
that individual independence, which the Hodenosaunee knew how 
to prize as well as the Saxon ; and which, amid all political changes, 
they have contrived to preserve. The institutions which would be 
expected to exist under the government whose frame-work has 
just been sketched, would necessarily be simple. Their mode of 
life, and limited wants, the absence of all property, and the infre- 
quency of crime, dispensed with a vast amount of the legislation 
and machinery, incident to the protection of civilized society. 
While, therefore, it would be unreasonable to seek those high 
qualities of mind, which result from ages of cultivation, in such a 
rude state of existence, it would be equally irrational to regard the 
Indian character as devoid of all those higher characteristics which 
ennoble the human race. If he has never contributed a page to 
science, nor a discovery to art ; if he loses, in the progress of 
generations, as much as he gains ; still, there are certain qualities 
of his mind which shine forth in all the lustre of natural perfection, 
and which must ever elicit admiration. His simple integrity, his 
generosity, his unbounded hospitality, his love of truth, and, above 
all, his unbroken fidelity, — a sentiment inborn, and standing out so 
conspicuously in his character, that it has, not untruthfully, become 
its living characteristic ; all these are adornments of humanity, 
which no art of education can instill, nor refinement of civilization 
can bestow. If they exist at all, it is because the gifts of the 
Deity have never been debased. The high state of public morals, 
celebrated by the poet as reached and secured under Augustus, it 
was the higher and prouder boast of the Iroquois never to have lost. 
In such an atmosphere of - moral purity, he grew up to manhood. 

' Culpari metuit fides : 
Nullis polluitur casta domus stupris : 
Mos et lex maculosutn edomuit nefas.' 

If our Indian predecessor, with the virtues and blemishes, the 
power and weakness, which alternate in his character, is ever 
rightly comprehended, it will be the result of an insight into his 
social relations, and an understanding of the institutions which 
reflect the higher elements of his intellect." 

In each nation there were eight tribes, which were arranged in 
two divisions and named as follows : — 

Wolf, Bear, Beaver, Turtle, 

Deer, Snipe, Heron, Hawk. 

"The division of the people of each nation into eight tribes, 


whether pre-existmg, or perfected at the establishment of the Con- 
feracy did not terminate in its objects with the nation itself. It 
became the means of effecting the most perfect union of separate 
nations 'ever devised by the wit of man.' In effect, the Wolf 
Tribe was divided into five parts, and one-fifth of it placed in each 
of the five nations. The remaining tribes were subjected to the 
same division and distribution: thus giving to each nation the eight 
tribes, and making in their separated state, forty tribes in the Con- 
federacy. Between those of the same name — or in other words, 
between the separated parts of each tribe — there existed a tie of 
brotherhood which linked the nations together with indissoluble 
bonds. The Mohawk of the Beaver Tribe, recognized the Seneca 
of the Beaver Tribe as his brother, and they were bound to each 
other by the ties of consanguinity. In like manner the Oneida of 
the Turtle or other Tribe, received the Cayuga, or the Onondaga 
of the same tribe, as a brother ; and with a fraternal welcome. 
This cross-relationship between the tribes of the same name, and 
which was stronger, if possible, than the chain of brotherhood 
between the several tribes of the same nation, is still preserved in 
all its original strength. It doubtless furnishes the chief reason of 
the tenacity with which the fragments of the old Confederacy still 
cling together. If either of the five nations had wished to cast off 
the alliance, it must also have broken the bond of brotherhood. 
Had the nations fallen into collision, it would have turned Hawk 
Tribe against Hawk Tribe, Heron against Heron, in a word, 
brother against brother. The history of the Hodenosaunee exhibits 
the wisdom of these organic provisions ; for they never fell into 
anarchy du]ing the long period which the league subsisted ; nor 
even approximated to a dissolution of the Confederacy from inter- 
nal disorders. 

" With the progress of the inquiry, it becomes more apparent 
that the Confederacy was in effect a League of Tribes. With the 
ties of kindred as its principle of union, the whole race was inter- 
woven into one great family, composed of tribes in its first subdi- 
vision (for the nations were counterparts of each other); and the 
tribes themselves, in their subdivisions, composed of parts of many 
households. Without these close inter-relations, resting, as many 
of them do, upon the strong impulses of nature, a mere alliance 
between the Iroquois nations would have been feeble and transitory. 

" In this manner was constructed the Tribal League of the Hode- 
nosaunee ; in itself, an extraordinary specimen of Indian legislation. 
Simple in its foundation upon the Family Relationship; effective, in 
the lasting vigor inherent in the ties of kindred ; and perfect in its 
success, in achieving a lasting and harmonious union of the nations; 
it forms an enduring monument to that proud and progressive race, 
who reared under its protection, a wide-spread Indian sovereignty. 

"All the institutions of the Iroquois, have regard to the division 
of the people into tribes. Originally with reference to marriage, 


the Wolf, Bear, Beaver and Turtle Tribes, were brothers to each 
other, and cousins to the remaining four. They were not allowed 
to intermarry. The opposite four tribes were also brothers to each 
other, and cousins to the first four ; and were also prohibited from 
intermarrying. Either of the first four tribes, however, could 
intermarry with either of the last four ; thus Hawk could inter- 
marry with Bear or Beaver, Heron with Turtle ; but not Beaver 
and Turtle, nor Deer and Deer. Whoever violated these laws of 
marriage incurred the deepest detestation and disgrace. In process 
of time, however, the rigor of the system was relaxed, until finally, 
the prohibition was confined to the tribe of the individual, which 
among the residue of the Iroquois, is still religiously observed. 
They can now marry into any tribe but their own. Under the 
original as well as modern regulation, the husband and wife were 
of diflferent tribes. The children always followed the tribe of the 

"As the whole Iroquois system rested upon the tribes as an 
organic division of the people, it was very natural that the separate 
rights of each should be jealously guarded. Not the least remark- 
able among their institutions, of which most appear to have been 
original with the race, was that which confined the transmission 
of all titles, rights and property in the female line to the exclusion 
of the male. It is strangely unlike the canons of descent adopted 
by civilized nations, but it secured several important objects. If 
the Deer Tribe of the Cayugas, for example, received a sachem- 
ship or warchiefship at the original distribution of these offices, 
the descent of such title being limited to the female line, it could 
never pass out of the tribe. It thus became instrumental in giving 
the tribe individuality. A still more marked result, and perhaps 
leading object, of this enactment was, the perpetual disinheritance 
of the son. Being of the tribe of his mother, it formed an impas- 
sable barrier against him ; and he could neither succeed his father 
as a sachem, nor inherit from him even his medal, or his toma- 
hawk. The inheritance, for the protection of tribal rights, was 
thus directed from the descendants of the sachem, to his brothers, 
his sisters, children, or some individual of the tribe at large under 
certain circumstances ; each and all of whom were in his tribe, 
while his children being in another's tribe, as before remarked, 
were placed out of the line of succession. 

" By the operation of this principle, also, the certainty of descent 
in the tribe, of their principal chiefs, was secured by a rule infal- 
lible ; for the child must be the son of its mother, although not 
necessarily of its mother s husband. If the purity of blood be of 
any moment, the lawgivers of the Iroquois estabUshed the only 
certain rule the case admits of, whereby the assurance might be 
enjoyed that the ruling sachem was of the same family or tribe 
with the first taker of the title. 

'' The Iroquois mode of computing degrees of consanguinity 


was unlike that of the civil or canon law ; but was yet a clear and 
definite system. No distinction was made between the lineal and 
collateral line, either in the ascending or descending series. The 
maternal grandmother and her sisters were equally grandmothers ; 
the mother and her sisters were equally mothers ; the children of 
a mother's sisters were brothers and sisters ; the children of a 
sister would be nephews and nieces ; and the grandchildren of a 
sister would be his grandchildren — that is to say, the grandchil- 
dren of the propositus, or individual from whom the degree of 
relationship is reckoned. These were the chief relatives within 
the tribe, tnough not fully extended to number. Out of the tribe, 
the paternal grandfather and his brothers were equally grand- 
fathers ; the father and his brothers equally fathers ; the father's 
sisters were aunts, while, in the tribe, the mother's brothers were 
uncles ; the father's sister's children would be cousins as in the 
civil law ; the children of these cousins would be nephews and 
nieces, and the children of these nephews and nieces would be 
his grandchildren, or the grandchilden of the propositus. Again : 
the children of a brother would be his children, and the grand- 
children of a brother would be his grandchildren ; also, the 
children of a father's brothers, are his brothers and sisters, instead 
of cousins, as under the civil law ; and lastly, their children are 
his grandchildren, or the grandchildren of the propositus. 

"It was the leading object of the Iroquois law of descent, to 
merge the collateral in the lineal line, as sufficiently appears in 
the above outline. By the civil law, every departure irom the 
common ancestor in the descending series, removed the collateral 
from the lineal ; while, by the law under consideration, the two 
lines were finally brought into one.* Under the civil law mode of 
computation, the degrees of relationship become too remote to be 
traced among collaterals; while, by the mode of the Iroquois, none 
of the collaterals were lost by remoteness of degree. The number 
of those linked together by the nearer family ties, was largely mul- 
tiplied by preventing, in this manner, the subdivision of a family 
into collateral branches. 

" The succession of the rulers of the Confederacy is one of the 
most intricate subjects to be met with in the political system of the 
Hodenosaunee. It has been so difficult to procure a satisfactory 
exposition of the enactments by which the mode of succession was 

* The following are the nnmes of the several degrees of relationship, recognized 
among the Hodfenosaunee, in the language of the Seneca : 

Hoc-sote, Grandfather. 

Uc-sote, Grandmother. 

Ha-nih, Father. 

Noh-yeh, Mother. 

Ho-ah-wuk, Son. 

Go-ah wuk, Daughter. 

Ka-va-da, Grandchildren. 











Brothers and Sisters. 




regulated, that the sachemships have sometimes been considered 
elective ; at others, as hereditary. Many of the obstacles which 
beset the inquiry are removed by the single fact, that the titles of 
sachem and war-chief are absolutely hereditary in the tribe to which 
they were originally assigned ; and can never pass out of it, but 
with its extinction. How far these titles were hereditary in that 
part of the family of the sachem or war-chief, who were of the 
same tribe with himself, becomes the true question to consider. 
The sachem's brothers, and the sons of his sisters, are of his tribe, 
and consequently in the line of succession. Between a brother 
and a nephew of the deceased, there was no law which estab- 
lished a preference ; neither between several brothers, on the one 
hand, and several sons of a sister, on the other, was there any law 
of primogeniture ; nor, finally, was there any positive law, that the 
choice should be confined to the brothers of the deceased ruler, or 
the descendants of his sister in the female line, until all these should 
fail, before a selection could be made from the tribe at large. 
Hence, it appears, so far as positive enactments were concerned, 
that the offices of sachem and war-chief, as between the eight 
tribes, were hereditary in the particular tribe in which they ran; 
while they were elective, as between the male members of the 
tribe itself. 

" In the absence of laws, designating with certainty the indi- 
vidual upon whom the inheritance should fall, custom would come 
in and assume the force of lavv^, in directing the manner of choice, 
from among a number equally eligible. Upon the decease of a 
sachem, a tribal council assembled to determine upon his successor. 
The choice usually fell upon a son of one of the deceased ruler's 
sisters, or upon one of his brothers — in the absence of physical 
and moral objections ; and this preference of one of his near 
relatives would be suggested by feelings of respect for his memory. 
Infancy was no obstacle : it uniting only the necessity of setting 
over him a guardian, to discharge the duties of a sachem until he 
reached a suitable age. It sometimes occurred that all the rela- 
tives of the deceased were set aside, and a selection was made 
from the tribe generally ; but it seldom thus happened, unless from 
the great unfitness of the near relatives of the deceased. 

"■ When the individual was finally determined, the nation sum- 
moned a council, in the name of the deceased, of all the sachems 
of the league ; and the new sachem was raised up by such council, 
and invested with his ofl[ice. 

*' In connection with the power of the tribes to designate the 
sachems and war-chiefs, should be noticed the equal power of 
deposition. If, by misconduct, a sachem lost the confidence and 
respect of tribe, and became unworthy of authority, a tribal council 
at once deposed him ; and, having selected a successor, summoned 
a council of the Confederacy, to perform the ceremony of liis 


"Still further to illustrate the characteristics of the tribes of the 
Iroquois, some reference to their mode of bestowing names would 
not be inapt.* Soon after the birth of an infant, the near relatives 
of the same tribe selected a name. At the first subsequent council 
of the nation, the birth and name were publicly announced, 
together with the name and tribe of the father, and the name and 
tribe of the mother. In each nation the proper names were so 
strongly marked by a tribal peculiarity, that the tribe of the indi- 
vidual could usually be determined from the name alone. Making, 
as they did, a part of their language, they were, consequently, all 
significant. When an individual was raised up as a sachem, his 
original name was laid aside, and that of the sachemship itself 
assumed. The war-chief followed the same rule. In like manner, 
at the raising up of a chief, the council of the nation which per- 
forms the ceremony, took away the former name of the incipient 
chief and assigned him a new one, perhaps, like Napoleon's titles, 
commemorative of the event which led to its bestowment. Thus, 
when the celebrated Red-Jacket was elevated by election to the 
dignity of chief, his original name, 0-te-ti-an-i (Always Ready) 
was taken from him, and in its place was bestowed Sa-go-ye- 
WAT-HA, (Keeper Awake,) in allusion to the powers of his eloquence. 

" It now remains to define a tribe of the Hodenosaunee. From 
the preceding considerations it sufficiently appears, that it was not, 
like the Grecian and Roman, a circle or group of families ; for two 
tribes were, necessarily, represented in every family : neither, like 
the Jewish, was it constituted of the lineal descendants of a com- 
mon father ; on the contrary, it distinctly involves the idea of 
descent from a common mother : nor has it any resemblance to the 
Scottish clan, or the Canton of the Switzer. In the formation of 
an Iroquois tribe, a portion was taken from many households, and 
bound together by a tribal bond. The bond consisted in the ties 
of consanguinity ; for all the members of the tribe, thus composed, 
were connected by relationships, which, under their law of descents, 
were easily traceable. To the tribe attached the incident of 
descent in the female line, the prohibition of intermarriage, the 
capacity of holding and exercising political rights, and the ability 
to contract and sustain relationships with the other tribes. 

" The wife, her children, and her descendants in the female 
line, would, in perpetuity, be linked with the destinies of her own 
tribe and kindred ; while the husband, his brothers and sisters, and 
the descendants of the latter, in the female line, would, in like 
manner, be united to another tribe, and held by its affinities. 
Herein was a bond of union between the several tribes of the 
same nation, corresponding, in some degree, with the cross-rela- 

* Like the ancient Saxons, the Iroquois had neither a prenomen, nor a cognomen; 
but contented themselves with a single name. 


tionship founded upon consanguinity, which bound together the 
tribes of the same emblem in the diflerent nations. 

" Of the comparative value of these institutions, when contrasted 
with those of civilized countries, and of their capability of eleva- 
ting the race, it is not necessary here to inquire. It was the boast 
of the Iroquois that the great object of their confederacy was 
peace: — to break up the spirit of perpetual warfare, which wasted 
the red race from age to age. Such an insight into the true end 
and object of all legitimate government, by those who constructed 
this tribal league, excites as great surprise as admiration. It is 
the highest and the noblest aspect in which human institutions can 
be viewed; and the thought itself — universal peace among Indian 
races possible of attainment — was a ray of intellect from no 
ordinary mind. To consummate such a purpose, the Iroquois 
nations were to be concentrated into one political fraternity; and 
in a manner effectively to prevent off-shoots and secessions. By 
its natural growth, this fraternity would accumulate sufficient 
power to absorb adjacent nations, moulding them, successively, by 
affiliation, into one common family. Thus, in its nature, it was 
designed to be a progressive confederacy. What means could 
have been employed with greater promise of success than the 
stupendous system of relationships, which was fabricated through 
the division of the Hodenosaunee into tribes'? It was a system 
sufficiently ample to infold the whole Indian race. Unlimited in 
their capacity for extension ; inflexible in their relationships ; the 
tribes thus interleagued would have suffered no loss of unity by 
their enlargement, nor loss of strength by the increasing distance 
between their council-fires. The destiny of this league, if it had 
been left to work out its results among the red race exclusively, it 
is impossible to conjecture. With vast capacities for enlargement, 
with remarkable durability of structure, and a vigorous, animating 
spirit, it must have attained a great elevation and a general 

The Confederacy was based upon terms of perfect equality; 
equal rights and immunities were secured to each integral part. 
If in some respects there would seem to be especial privileges, and 
precedence, it is explained as arising from locality or convenience; 
as in the case of the Senecas being allowed to have the head war 
chiefs, the Mohawks being the receivers of tribute from subjugated 
nations; or the Onondagas, the central nation, supplying their Ta- 
do-da-hoh and his successors. "The nations were divided into 
classes or divisions, and when assembled in general council were 
arranged on opposite sides of the Council fire; on the one side stood 
the Mohawks, Onondagas and Senecas, who as nations, were 
regarded as brothers to each other, but as fathers to the remainder. 


Upon the other side were the Oneidas and Cayugas, and at a sub- 
sequent day, the Tuscaroras ; who in like manner were brother 
nations by interchange, but sons to the three first. These divisions 
were in harmony with their system of relationships, or more prop- 
erly formed a part of it. They may have secured for the senior 
nations increased respect, but they involve no idea of dependence 
in the junior, or inequality in civil rights." 

There was no annual or other fixed periods for the assembling 
of the general Council. It was convened only when there was 
occasion for it. When not in session, there was no visible general 
government; nor in fact, a need of any, as the local governments 
were so constituted as to subserve all the ordinay purposes. When 
events occured that concerned the general welfare, the council was 
convened, the business despatched, and then followed a mutual 
prorogation; an example worthy of imitation by modern legislators. 
With the Iroquois law makers, however, there was no self-sacrifice 
involved, no inducement to protracted sessions. Their services 
were gratuitous. Having no other government, the councils were 
the sole arbiters in all their concerns : — they made war, planned 
systems of offence and defence ; regulated successions, their ath- 
letic games, dances and feasts. "The life of the Iroquois was 
either spent in the chase, or the war path, or at the council fire." 
Simplicity marked every feature of their system, and yet all was 
effec^e, and accomplished its purpose. Councils were convened 
by rtfflners who were sent out with their belts of wampum, indica- 
ting the nature of the emergency, or the business in hand. In 
proportion as it was urgent, or interesting, would be the attendance 
of lay members, or those who constitute "the third house," in 
modem legislation. Upon important occasions, when matters' of 
great moment were to be discussed and determined, the villages of 
the several nations would be nearly depopulated ; the mass of the 
subjects of the League would flock to the council fire, and make a 
formidable lobby in its precincts. Their interests and curiosity, it 
is affirmed were excited by a regard for the general welfare. There 
were no special favors to be asked or granted. This was a long 
while anterior to the invention of the system of "log-rolling." 
The primitive children of the forest, were less sinister in all their 
motives and incentives, than the race that has succeeded them. 
Among the general powers vested in the council of the confede- 
racy, may be enumerated those of declaring war and making 


peace, of admitting new nations into the league, or of incorporating 
fragments of nations into those existing, of extending jurisdiction 
over subjugated territory, of levying tribute, of sending and renew- 
ing embassies, of forming alliances, and of enacting and executing 
laws. Unanimity was a fundamental law.* The idea of majori- 
ties and minorities was entirely unknown to our Indian predecessors. 
To hasten their deliberations to a conclusion and ascertain the 
result, they adopted an expedient which dispensed entirely with the 
necessity of casting votes. The founders of the Confederacy, 
seeking to obviate as far as possible, altercations in council, and to 
facilitate their progress to unanimity, divided the sachems of each 
nation into classes, usually of two and three each. Each sachem 
was forbidden to express an opinion in council, until he had agreed 
with the other sachems of his class, upon the opinion to be 
expressed, and had received an appointment to act as speaker of 
his class. Thus the eight Seneca sachems, being in four classes, 
could have but four opinions ; the ten Cayuga sachems but four. 
In this manner, each class was brought to unanimity within itself. 
A cross consultation was then held between the four sachems who 
represented the four classes, and when they had agreed, they 
appointed one of their number to express their opinion, which was 
the answer of the nation. The several nations having by this 
ingenious method become of " one mind," separately, it remained 
to compare their several opinions, to arrive at the final sentiment 
of all the sachems of the league. This was effected by a cross 
conference between the individual representatives of the several 
nations ; and when they had arrived at unanimity, the answer of 
the Confederacy was determined, f 

When the white man first entered this, the country of the Seneca 
Iroquois, he found deeply indented, well trodden paths, threading 
the forests in different directions. They led from village to village, 
thence to their favorite hunting and fishing grounds, or here 

* Their war against the French was declared by a unanimous vote. After this, when 
the question came up of taking the British side in the war of the Revolution, the coun- 
cil was divided, a number of the Oneida sachems strongl)' opposing it, and although 
most of the confederates were allies of the English in that contest, it was an act of the 
League, but each nation chose its own position. 

t The senate of the United States, in 1838, committed a great error in abrogating this 
unanimity principle, and substituting the rule of the majority, in reference to the sale of 
Seneca lands to the pre-emptionists. It was over-riding an ancient law of the confede- 
racy, and in fact, as was the ultimate result, aiding a system of coercion and briberj', to 
dispossess them of their reservations. 


and there marked their intercourse with neighboring aboriginal 
nations. They are termed Trails. They were the routes pursued 
by the French Missionaries and traders, by the Dutch and English 
in their intercourse with the Indians; by the British troops and 
Indians of Canada in their incursions into Western New-York, 
during the Revolution; by Butler's rangers, in all their bloody 
enterprises to the valleys of the Mohawk and Susquehannah; and 
afterwards guided our early Pioneers through the forest, enabling 
them to appreciate the beauty and value of this goodly land. With 
refei'ence to the Holland Purchase, these trails were mainly as 
follows : — 

The trail from the east, the valleys of the Hudson, the Mohawk, 
&c., passing through Canandaigua, West Bloomfield and Lima, 
came upon the Genesee River at Avon; crossing the River a few 
rods above the Bridge it went up the west bank to the Indian 
village a mile above the ford, and then bore off north-west to Cale- 
donia. Turning westward, it crossed Allen's creek at Le Roy, and 
Black creek at Stafford, coming upon the banks of the Tonawanda 
a little above Batavia. Passing down the east bank of that stream, 
around what was early known as the Great Bend, at the Arsenal it 
turned north-west, came upon the openings at Caryville, and bearing 
westwardly across the openings it crossed the Tonawanda at the 
Indian village. Here the trail branched: — one branch taking a 
north-westwardly direction, re-crossed the creek below the village, 
and passing through the Tonawanda swamp, emerged from it nearly 
south-east of Royalton Centre, coming out upon the Lockport and 
Batavia road in the valley of Millard's Brook, and from thence it 
continued upon the Chestnut Ridge to the Cold Springs. Pursuing 
the route of the Lewiston road, with occasional deviations it struck 
the Ridge Road at Warren's. It followed the Ridge until it passed 
Hopkins' Marsh, when it gradually ascended the Mountain Ridge, 
passed through the Tuscarora village, and then down again to the 
Ridge Road, which it continued on to the River. This was the 
principal route into Canada, crossing from Lewiston to Queenston; 
a branch trail however, going down the River to Fort Niagara. 

The other branch of the trail leaving the village of Tonawanda, 
took a south-west direction, and crossing Murder creek at Akron, it 
came upon the Buffalo road at Clarence Hollow ; from thence 
west, nearly on the line of the Buffalo road to Williamsville, cross- 
ing Ellicott's creek it continued its westerly course to the Cold 


Springs near Buffalo, and entering the city at what has since 
become the head of Main Street, it came out at the mouth of Buf- 
falo creek. A branch Trail diverging at Clarence came upon • 
the Cayuga branch of the Buffalo creek at Lancaster, thence down 
that stream to the Seneca village, and down the Buffalo creek to 
its entrance into the lake. 

The Ontario trail, starting from Oswego, came upon the Ridge 
Road at Irondequoit Bay; then turning up the Bay to its head, 
where a branch trail went to Canandaigua, it turned west, crossing 
the Genesee River at the acqueduct, and passing down the river, 
came again upon the Ridge Road, which it pursued west to near 
the west line of Hartland, Niagara county, where it diverged to the 
south-west, crossing the east branch of the Eighteen-mile Creek, 
and forming a junction with the Canada or Niagara trail at the Cold 

From Mount Morris, on the Genesee River, a trail passed up the 
river to Gardow, and Canadea, and from thence to Allegany River 
at Olean. 

A trail left Little Beard's Town on the Genesee river, and cross- 
ing the east line of the Holland Purchase, entered it in the north 
side of T. 10 R. 1, and crossing the north-east corner of T. 10 
R. 2, and south-west corner of T. 1 1 same range, passed through 
the south sides of T. 11 R. 3. T. 11 R. 4, T. 11 R. 5, entered the 
Seneca Reservation at the south-west corner of the latter township ; 
and pursuing a westerly course, came upon the banks of Buffalo 
creek, near the Seneca Indian village. 

These were the principal highways of the Seneca Iroquois. 
How nearly the simple primitive paths of the aborigines, corres- 
pond with our now principal thorough-fares ; but how changed ! 
The trails are obliterated in the progress of improvement, the forests 
that enshrouded them are principally cleared away, and in their 
place are turnpikes, M'Adam roads, canals, rail roads, and tele- 
graphic posts and wires. The waters upon which they paddled 
their bark canoes, supply our canals; the swamps they avoided, 
and the ridges they traversed, are passed along and across by our 
steam propelled locomotives. The " forked lightning," they saw 
in the clouds, which occasionally scathed the tall trees of their 
forest home, reminding them of the power and omnipotence of the 
Great Spirit they adored, the Manitou of their simple creed, — is 


tamed, and in an instant accomplishes the purposes, that employed 
their swiftest runners for days ! 

" The wild man hates restraint, and loves to do what is right in 
his own eyes."* Hence there was little in all the frame work of 
the government of the Iroquois, of restraint or coercive laws. They 
seemed to have acted upon the maxim that "nations are governed 
too much." And this principle extended in a great degree to family 
government. Their children were reproved, not injured or beaten, 
and none but the milder forms of punishment ever resorted to. 
Theirs was a simple form of government — so simple as to excite a 
wonder that it could have been effectual; — an oligarchy, and yet 
cherishing the democratic principle, of the common good; an here- 
ditary council in whom was vested all power, and yet there was no 
castes, no privileged orders; no conventional or social exclusiveness. 
Their system of government, like themselves, is a mystery. Both 
have been but imperfectly understood; both are well worthy of 
enquiry and investigation. The student, or historical reader of 
our country, may well turn occasionally from the beaten track of 
our colleges and schools — from the histories of far off ages, races 
and people — and taking the humble "trails" of the Iroquois, see if 
there is not in the history of our own country — our predecessors — 
that which will interest and instruct him. 

As has been assumed in the preceding pages, the Seneca branch 
of the Iroquois were our immediate predecessors; but we gather 
from their traditions, and from the writings of the earliest Jesuit 

Note. — At the time of the deliverj' of the admirable ' Letters on the Iroquois,' 
before the N. Y. Historical Society ; or rather when that portion of them wiiich related 
to the Trails was read. Dr. Peter Wilson, an educated Cayuga chief, happened to be 
present. He accepted an invitation to address the Society. ' H« spoke with such 
pathos and eloquence of his people and his race, their ancient prowess and generosity — 
their present weakness and dependence — and especially upon the hard fate of a small 
band of Senacas and Cayugas which had recently been hurried into the western 
wilderness to perish, that all present were deeply moved by his eloquence.' ' The land 
of Ga-nun-no, or the ' Empire State' as you love to call it, was once laced by our 
Trails from Albany to ButFalo — Trails that we had trod for centuries — trails worn so 
deep by the feet of the Iroquois, that they became your roads of travel as your pos- 
sessions gradually eat into those of my people ! Your roads still traverse those same 
lines of communication which bound one part of the Long House to the other. Have 
vpe, the first holders of this prosperous region, no longer a share in your history ? 
Glad were your fathers to set down upon the threshold of the Long House. Rich did 
they hold themselves in getting the mere sweepings from its door. Had our forefathers 
spurned you from it when the French were thundering at the opposite side to get a 
passage through, and drive you into the sea, whatever has been the fate of other 
Indians, we might still have had a nation, and I — I, instead of pleading here for the 
privilege of lingering within your borders, I — I might have had a country.' 

* Bancroft. 


Missionaries, that they had only possessed the country west of the 
Genesee river, since about the middle of the seventeenth century. 
In the "Relations of the Jesuits" there is a letter from Father L' 
Allemant to the Provincial of the Jesuits in France, dated at St. 
Mary's Mission, May 19, 1641, in vi^hich he gives an account of a 
journey made to the country of the Neuter Nation the year previous, 
by Jean de Brebeuf and Joseph Marie Chaumonot, two Jesuit 
Fathers. As this letter is one of the earliest reminiscence of this 
region, other than Indian tradition, the author copies it entire: 

*' Jean de Brebeuf and Joseph Marie Chaumonot, two Fathers 
of our company which have charge of the Mission to the Neuter 
Nation set out from aS'^. Marie on the 2d day of November, 1640, to 
visit this people. Father Brebeuf is peculiarly fitted for such an 
expedition, God having in an eminent degree endowed him with a 
capacity for learning languages. His companion was also consid- 
ered a proper person for the enterprise. 

"Although many of our French in that quarter have visited this 
people to profit by their furs and other commodities, we have no 
knowledge of any who have been there to preach the gospel except 
Father De la Roch Daillon, a Recollect, who passed the winter 
there in the year 1626. 

" The nation is very populous, there being estimated about forty 
villages. After leaving the Hurons it is four or five days journey 
or about forty leagues to the nearest of their villages, the course 
being nearly due south. If, as indicated by the latest and most 
exact observations we can make, our new station, St. Marie,* in 
the interior of the Huron country, is in north latitude about 44 
degrees, 25 minutes, then the entrance of the Neuter Nation from 
the Huron side, is about 44 degrees, f More exact surveys and 
observations, cannot now be made, for the sight of a single instru-^ 
ment vi^ould bring to extremes those who cannot resist the 
temptation of an inkhorn. 

" From the first village of the Neuter Nation that we met with in 
travelling from this place, as we proceed south or southwest, it is 
about four days travel to the place where the celebrated river of 
the nation enipties into lake Ontario, or St. Louis. On the west 
side of that river, and not on the east, are the most numerous of 
the villages of the Neuter Nation. There are three or four on the 
east side, extending from east to west towards the Eries, or Cat 

Note. — This would of course be along our side of the Niagara, and probably 
extended along the shores of lake Erie. 

* A Jesuit Mission on the river Severn, near the eastern extremity of lake Huron. 
t The good father is about a degree out of the way. 


" This river is that by which our great lake of the Hurons, or 
fresh sea, is discharged, which first empties into the lake of Erie, 
or of the nation of the Cat, from thence it enters the territory of the 
Neuter Nation, and takes the name of Onguiaahra, (Niagara,) until 
it empties into Ontario or St. Louis lake, from which latter flows 
the river which passes before Quebec, called the St. Lawrence, so 
that if we once had control of the side of the lake nearest the 
residence of the Iroquois, we could ascend by the river St. 
Lawrence, without danger, even to the Neuter Nation, and much 
beyond, with great saving of time and trouble. 

" According to the estimate of these illustrious fathers who have 
been there, the Neuter Nation comprises about 12,000 souls, which 
enables them to furnish 4,000 warriors, notwithstanding war, 
pestilence and famine have prevailed among them for three years 
in an extraordinary manner. 

" After all, I think that those who have heretofore ascribed such 
an extent and population to this nation, have understood by the 
Neuter Nation, all who live south and southwest of our Hurons.. and 
who are truly in great number, and, being at first only partially 
known, have all been comprised under the same name. The more 
perfect knowledge of their language and country, which has since 
been obtained, has resulted in a clearer distinction between the tribes. 
Our French who first discovered this people, named them the ' Neu- 
ter Nation ' ; and not without reason, for their country being the 
ordinary passage, by land, between some of the Iroquois nations 
and the Hurons, who are sworn enemies, they remained at peace 
with both ; so that in times past, the Hurons and Iroquois, meeting 
in the same wigwam or village of that nation, were both in safety 
while they remained. Recently, their enmity against each other 
is so great, that there is no safety for either party in any place, 
particularly for the Hurons, for whom the Neuter Nation entertain 
the least good will. 

" There is every reason for believing, that not long since, the 
Hurons, Iroquois, and Neuter Nations, formed one people, and 
originally came from the same family, but have in the lapse of time, 
became separated from each other, more or less, in distance, 
interests and affection, so that some are now enemies, others 
neutral, and others still live in intimate friendship and intercourse. 

" The food and clothing of the Neuter Nation seem little different 
from that of our Hurons. They have Indian corn, beans and 
gourds in equal abundance. Also plenty of fish, some kinds of 
which abound in particular places only. 

"They are much employed in hunting deer, buffalo, wildcats, 
wolves, wild boars, beaver, and other animals. Meat is very 
abundant this year, an account of the heavy snow, which has 
aided the hunters. It is rare to see snow in this country more 
than half a foot deep. But this year it is more than three feet. 


There is also abundance of wild turkeys, which go in flocks in the 
fields and woods. 

" Their fruits are the same as with the Hurons, except chestnuts, 
which are more abundant, and crab apples, which are somewhat 

"The men, like all savages, cover their naked flesh with skins, 
but are less particular than the Hurons in concealing what should 
not appear. The squaws are ordinarily clothed, at least from the 
waist to the knees, but are more free and shameless in their immod- 
esty than the Hurons. 

"As for their remaining customs and manners, they are almost 
entirely similar to the other savage tribes of the country. 

" There are some things in which they differ from our Hurons. 
They are larger, stronger, and better formed. They also entertain 
a great affection for the dead, and have a greater number of fools 
or jugglers. 

" The Sonontonheronons, (Senecas) one of the Iroquois nations, 
the nearest to and most dreaded by the Hurons, are not more than 
a day's journey distant from the easternmost village of the Neuter 
Nation, named ^Onguiaahra' (Niagara) of the same name as the 

"Our fathers returned from the mission in safety, not having 
found in all the eighteen villages which they visited, but one, 
named '■Khe-o-e-to-a^ or St. Michael, which gave them the reception 
which their embassy deserved. In this village, a certain foreign 
nation, which lived beyond the lake of Erie, or of the nation of the 
Cat, named ^Jl-ouen-re-ro-non,^ has taken refuge for many years for 
fear of their enemies, and they seem to have been brought here by 
a good Providence, to hear the word of God." 

Charlevoix says that in the year 1642, " a people, larger, 
stronger, and better formed than any other savages, and who lived 
south of the Huron country, were visited by the Jesuits, who 
preached to them the Kingdom of God. They were called the 
Neuter Nation, because they took no part in the wars which deso- 
lated the country. But in the end, they could not themselves, 
escape entire destruction. To avoid the iury of the Iroquois, they 
finally joined them against the Hurons, but gained nothing by the 
union. The Iroquois, that like lions that have tasted blood, cannot be 
satiated, destroyed indiscriminately all that came in their way, and 
at this day, there remains no trace of the Neuter Nation." In 
another place, the same author says that the Neuter Nation was 
destroyed about the year 1643. La Fiteu, in his '■'McBurs des 
Sauvages,''^ published at Paris in 1724, relates, on the authority of 
Father Garnier, a Jesuit Missionary, the origin of the quarrel 


between the Senecas and the Neuter Nation, which is hinted at in 
the letter of Father L'Allemant. He says, " the war did not 
terminate but by the totai.destruction of the Neuter Nation." 

Mr. Schoolcraft assumes that the Senecas had warred upon, 
conquered the Neuter Nation, and come in possession of their terri- 
tory, twenty-four years before the advent of La Salle upon the 
Niagara river. A writer in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser of 
March, 1846, who is named in the preface of this work, says: — 
" From all that can be derived from history, it is very probable, 
that the Kah-Kwas and the Neutral Nation were identical, that the 
singular tribe whose institution of neutrality has been likened by an 
eloquent writer, to a 'calm and peaceful island looking out upon a 
world of waves and tempests,' in whose wigwams the fierce 
Hurons and relentless Iroquois met on neutral ground, fell victims 
near this city, (Buffalo) to the insatiable ferocity of the latter. 
They were the first proprietors, as far as we can learn, of the soil 
we now occupy. Their savage spoilers gave them a grave on the 
spot which they died in defending, and have recently, in their turn, 
yielded to the encroachments of a more powerful adversary. The 
white man is now lord of the soil where the fires of the nation are 
put out forever. Around that scene, the proudest recollections and 
devout associations of the Senecashave long loved to linger. Let 
it be forever dedicated to the repose of the dead. Let the sanctity 
of the grave be inviolate. A simple enclosure should protect a 
spot which will increase in interest with the lapse of time." * 

The Senecas have within few years, yielded to the importunities 
and appliances of the pre-emptionists, and abandoned their Reser- 
vation. It is now in the hands of another race. The plough, the 
pickaxe and spade, will soon obliterate all that remains of the 
evidences of the conquests of their ancestors. " It is a site around 
which the Senecas have clung, as if it marked an era in their 
national history; although the work was clearly erected by their 
enemies. It has been the seat of their government or council fire, 
from an early period of our acquaintance with them. It was here 
that Red Jacket uttered some of his most eloquent harrangues 
against the steady encroachments of the white race, and in favor 

* The spot here alluded to, is upon the Reservation near Buffalo, on the creek, near 
the old council and mission houses. The author has included it in some preceding 
notices of ancient remains; but yielding to the better knowledge in this branch of 
histor)-, of the author of the above extract, he is disposed to regard it as he has assumed, 
the field of final conquest of this region, by the Senecas. 


of retaining this cherished portion of their lands, and transmitting 
them with full title to their descendants. It was here that the 
noted captive, Dehewamis, better known as Mary Jemison, came 
to hve after a long life of most extraordinary vicissitudes. And it 
is here that the boneS^of the distinguished orator, and the no less 
distinguished captive, rest, side by side, with a multitude of 
warriors, chiefs and sages. But there will soon be no one left 
whose heart vibrates with the blood of a Seneca, to watch the 
venerated resting places of their dead." * 

And in this connection it may be well to observe generally, that at 
the period when the French Missionaries and traders first reached 
the southern shores of lake Ontario and the Niagara river, the 
Neuter Nation was in possession of the region west of the Genesee 
river, including both sides of the Niagara river. The immediate 
domain of the Senecas, was east of the Genesee, until it reached 
that of the Cayugas. The Hurons occupied the interior of Canada 
West, west to lake Huron. The domain of the Eries, or Cat nation, 
according to Hennepin, commenced upon the southern shore of 
lake Erie, the dividing line between them and the Neuter Nation 
being about midway, up the lake. After the conquest of the Neuter 
Nation, the Senecas conquered the Eries, as is supposed, about the 
year 1653. 

There are few into whose hand this local history will fall, who 
are not familiar with the general character, domestic habits, &c., 
of the aborigines. The first settlers of the Holland Purchase, 
had them for their primitive neighbors, and they even now, 
diminished as they are, linger among us in four localities: — at 
Tuscarora, Tonawanda, Cattaraugus and Alleghany. Their 
eloquence, their deeds of valor, their peculiarly interesting traits of 
character; the wrongs they have done our race, as traced in the 
often too highly colored, but generally truthful legends of the 
Mohawk and the Susquehannah; and the terrible retributions that 
have, in turn, been visited upon their race, in the extinguishing 
of most of the fires that " blazed in their Long House from the 
Hudson to lake Erie" — in subjecting them to the urgent and 
pressing overtures of pre-emptionists, who were better schooled 
in the diplomacy of bargain and gain, than were these men of 
simple habits and of honest impulses; and kst and worst of all, 

* Schoolcraft. 


in visiting upon them the curse of the darker features of civiliza- 
tion. With all this, the reader, in most instances, will be familiar; 
a part of it is interwoven in the nursery tales of our region. The 
author has only aimed thus far to give a general idea of the 
Indians as found here by the first European adventurers, and afford 
an insight, an induction, into their political institutions, their system 
of government, laws, &cc. , which have been subjects of too recent 
investigation, to admit of any very general familiarity with them. 
He is admonished that this branch of his main subject, is occupying 
too much space here, inasmuch as the Seneca Iroquois especially, 
must be frequently mingled with the local annals of our own race, 
as they will occur in chronologicd narra+ive. 




The prevailing spirit of the Monarchs of Europe, and their 
subjects, during the fifteenth and a greater portion of the sixteenth 
centuries, tended to the enlargement of their dominions, and the 
extension 'of their powers. In the latter end of the fourteenth 
century, Columbus had discovered a New World. Spain then 
at the height of its prosperity and grandeur, profiting by the 
discoveries of an expedition that had sailed under her flag, under 
the auspices of her Queen had followed up the event, by farther 
discoveries and colonization in the Southern portion of our con- 
tinent. The reigning monarch of England, Henry VII, stimu- 
lated by regret that he had allowed a rival power to be the 
first in the discovery of a continent, the advantages and resources 
of which, as the tidings of the discovery were promulgated, dazzled 
the eyes and awakened the emulation of all Europe; ambitious to 
make his subjects co-discoverers with the subjects of the Spanish 
monarch; Hstened with favor to the theory of John Cabot, a 
Venetian, but a resident of England — who inferred that as lands 
had been discovered in the southwest, they might also be in the 
northwest, and offered to the king to conduct an expedition in this 

With a commission of discovery, granted by the king, and a 
ship provided by him, and four small vessels ^equipped by the 
merchants of Bristol, Cabot with his son Sebastian, set sail from 
England, in less than three years after Colujibus had discovered 
the Island of San Salvador. As the discovery of Colujibus was 
incidental to the main object of his daring enterprise — the 
discovery of a shorter route to the Indies, — the Cabots, adopting 


his opinion that he had discovered one of the outskirts or depend- 
encies of those countries, conceived that they had only to bear to 
the northvi'est, to find a still shorter route. Taking that course 
they reached the continent of North America, discovering the 
Islands of New Foundland and St. John, and sailed along it 
from the confines of Labrador to the coast of Virginia. Thus, 
England was the second nation that visited the western world, 
and the first that discovered the vast continent that stretches from 
the Gulf of Mexico towards the north pole. Instead of discovering 
a shorter route to the Indies, the one discovered a New World, 
and the other, by far the most important portions of it. 

From dissentions and troubles that existed at home, and some 
schemes of family ambition that diverted his attention, Cabot found 
his patron king, on his return, indisposed to profit by his important 
discoveries. All the benefit that accrued to England from this 
enterprise, was a priority of discovery that she afterw^ards had 
frequent occasion to assert. 

In 1498, the Cabots, father and son, made a second expedi- 
tion, with the double object of traffic with the natives, and in the 
quaint language of their commission, to explore and ascertain 
"what manner of landes those Indies were to inhabit." They 
sailed for Labrador by the way of Iceland, but on reaching the 
coast, impelled by the severity of the cold, and a declared purpose 
of exploring farther to the south, they sailed along the shores of 
the United States to the southern boundary of Maryland; after 
which, they returned to England. 

Portugal, desirous of participating in the career of discovery, in 
1501, fitted out an expedition under the command of Gaspar 
CoRTEREAL. The most northern point he gained was probably 
about the fiftieth degree. The expedition resulted in a partial 
survey of the coast, and the taking captive of fifty Indians that 
were taken to Portugal and sold as slaves. 

It was twenty-seven years after the last voyage of Cabot, under 
English auspices that Francis I, King of France, awakened by the 
spirit of adventure, and protesting against the partition that had 
made of the newly discovered continent, by the Pope, between 
Spain and Portugal, soon after its discovery; and determined not 
to overlook the commercial interests of his people; extended his 
patronage to John de Verrazana, ordering him to set sail for that 
country *'of which so much was spoken at the time in France.'* 


The account of his first voyage is not preserved. He sailed with 
four ships, encountered storms in the north, landed in Britain; and 
going from thence to the island of Madeira, started from there 
with a single vessel, the Dolphin, with fifty men and provisions for 
eight months. After a stormy passage he arrived in latitude 34 
deg. near Wilmington, North Carolina. In his own report to his 
king and patron, he says: — 

"Great store of people came to the sea side, and seeing us 
approach they fled away, and sometimes would stand still and look 
backe, beholding us with great admiration; but afterwards, being 
animated and assured with signs that we made them, some of 
them came hard to the sea side, seeming to rejoice very much at 
the sight of us, and marvelling greatly at our apparel, shape, and 
whitenesse; shewed us by sundry signes where we might most 
commodiously come to land with our boate, offering us also victuals 
to eat. Remaining there for a few days, and taking note of the 
country, he sailed northwardly, and viewed, if he did not enter, the 
harbor of New York. In the haven of Newport he remained for 
fifteen days, where he found the natives the ' goodliest people ' he 
had seen in his whole voyage. At one period during his coasting 
along the shores of New England, he was compelled for the sake 
of fresh water, to send off his boat. The shore was lined with 
savages ' whose countenances betrayed at the same time, surprise, 
joy and fear.' They made signs of friendship, and ' showed they 
were content we should come to land.' A boat with twenty-five 
men, attempted to land with some presents, but on nearing the 
shore were intimidated by the frightful appearance of the natives, 
and halted to turn back. One more resolute than the rest, seizing 
a few of the articles designed as presents, plunged into the water 
and advanced within three or four yards of the shore. Throwing 
them the presents, he attempted to regain the boat, but was caught 
by a wave and dashed upon the beach. The savages caught him, 
and sitting him down by a large fire, took off his clothes. His 
comrades supposed he was to be * roasted and eat.' Their fears 
subsided however, when they saw them testify their kindness by 
caresses. It turned out that they were only gratifying their 
curiosity in an examination of his person, the ' whitenesse of his 
skin,' &c. They released him and after ' with great love clasping 
him faste about,' they allowed him to swim to his comrades. 
Verrazana found the natives of the more northern regions more 
hostile and jealous, from having, as has been inferred, been visited 
for the purpose of carrying them off" as slaves. At another 
anchorage, after following the shore fifty leagues, * an old woman 
with a young maid of 18 or 20 yeeres old, seeing our company, hid 
themselves in the grasse for feare; the old woman carried two 
infants on her shoulders, and behind her neck a child of 8 yeeres 


old. The young woman was laden likewise with as many; but 
when our men came unto them the woman cried out; the old wo- 
man made signs that the men were fled into the woods. As soon 
as they saw us, to quiet them, and to win their favor, our men gave 
them such victuals as they had with them to eate, which the old 
woman received thankfully, but the young woman threw them 
disdainfully on the ground. They took a child from the old woman 
to bring into France; and going about to take the young woman, 
which was very beautiful- and of tall stature, they could not possibly, 
for the great outcries she made, bring her to the sea; and especially 
having great woodes to pass through, and being far from the ship, 
we purposed to leave her behind, bearing away the child onely.' 
At another anchorage,* 'there ran down into the sea an exceed- 
ing great streme of water, which at the mouth was very deepe, 
and from the sea to the mouthe of the same, with the tide which 
they found to raise eight foote, any great ship laden might pass up.' 
Sending up their boat the natives expressed their admiration and 
showed them where they might safely come to land. They went 
up the river half a league, where it made a 'most pleasant lake, 
about three leagues in compass, on which the natives rode from one 
side to the other to the number of thirty of their small boats, 
wherein were many people which passed from one shore to the 
other.' At another anchorage they 'met the goodliest people and 
of the fairest conditions that they had found in their voyage: — 
exceeding us in bigness — of the color of brasse, some inclining to 
whiteness, black and quick eyed, of sweete and pleasant counte- 
nance, imitating much the old fashion.' Among them, they 
discovered pieces of wrought copper, which they 'esteemed more 
than gold.' ' They did not desire cloth of silk or of gold, or of 
other sort, neither did they care for things made of steel or iron, 
which we often shewed them in our armour, which they made no 
wonder at; and in beholding them they only asked the art of making 
them; the like they did at our glasses, which when they 'suddenly 
beheld, they laughed and gave them to us again.' The ship neared 
the land and finally cast anchor ' in the haven,' when, continues 
Verrazana, 'we bestowed fifteen days in providing ourselves 
with many necessary things, whither every day the people repaired 
to see our ship, bringing their wives with them whereof they were 
very jelous; and they themselves entering aboard the ship and 
staying there a good space, caused their wives to stay in their 
boats; and for all the entreaty we could make, oflfering to give them 
divers things, we could never obtaine that they should suffer to 
to come aboard our ship. Oftentimes one of the two kings (of this 
people) comming with his queene, and many gentlemen for their 
pleasure to see us, they all staid on shore two hundred paces from 
us till they sent a message they were coming. The queene and 

* Off Sandy Hook, as has been inferred. 


her maides staid in a very light boat at an island a quarter of a 
league off, while the king abode along space in the ship, uttering 
divers conceits with gestures, viewing with great admiration the 
ship, demanding the property of everything particularly. ' There 
were plaines twenty-five or thirty leagues in width, which were 
open, and without any impediment' They entered the woods and 
found them 'so greate and thick, that any army were it never so 
greate might have hid itself therein; the trees whereof are oakes, 
cipresse, and other sorts unknown in Europe.' The natives fed 
upon pulse that grew in the country, with better order of hus- 
bandry than in the others. They observed in their sowing the 
course of the moone and the rising of certain starres, and diverse 
other customes spoken of by antiquity. They dwell together in 
great numbers, some twenty-five or thirty persons in one house. 
They are very pitifull and charitable towards their neighbors, they 
make great lamentations in their adversitie, and in their miserie, 
the kindred reckone up all their felicite. At their departure out of 
life they use mourning mixed with sieging which continue th for a 
long space." 

Verrazana having coasted 700 leagues of new country, and 
being refitted with water and wood, returned to France, arriving 
at Dieppe in July, whence he addressed his letter to the king. His, 
in all probability, were the first interviews with the natives upon 
all our northern, and a part of our southern coast, and for that 
reason his narrative which gives us a glimpse of them in the 
primitive condition that civilization found them, possesses a great 
degree of interest. "We have detailed these instances in their 
favor," say Yates and Moulton, "because they arrived at a 
period when the warm native fountain of good feeling and disin- 
terested charity, had not been frozen by the chilly approach and 
death-like contact of civilized man. We have dwelt upon these 
incidents as the most interesting portion of Verrazana's 
adventures. They present human nature in an amiable point of 
view, when unsophisticated by metaphysical subtlety, undisguised 
by art, or even when adorned by the refinements, the pride and 
circumstance of civilization. They illustrate the position which 
we believe is true, that the natives of this continent, before they 
had been exasperated by the encroachments and provocations of 
Europeans, when the former were confiding and unsuspicious, 
without any foresight of the terrible disasters which their inter- 
views with the latter were destined to become the tragical prelude, 


entertained uniform feelings of kindness, of hospitality and 

" When Columbus visited the nevi^ world, the natives viewed 
him as a super-natural being, and treated him with the veneration 
inseparable from a delusion, which Colon was willing to counte- 
nance. When Vespucius Americus landed, he also was treated 
as a superior being. When the Cabots coasted this continent, 
when Cartier first visited the St. Lawrence, when the French 
first settled in Florida as friends, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert, 
and after him the captains employed by Sir Walter Raleigh, 
first landed in Virginia, when Hudson discovered and explored 
our bay and river, when the Pilgrims colonized New England, the 
generous reception which they all met from the natives, should 
stand a monumental rebuke to be shameful prejudices too prevalent 
among ourselves, since we supplanted their desendants on a soil 
which their fathers left them as a patrimony. We will cite proofs 
of two instances which took place thirty-seven years apart, but 
which are given as a general illustration of our position. In the 
first report of Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition, it is said by his 
captain, and those in the employ, in 1584, that they were enter- 
tained with as much bounty as they could possibly devise. They 
found the people most gentle, loving and faithful, void of all guile 
and treason, and such as live after the manner of the golden age." 

The following is an extract from the first sermon ever preached 
in New England. It was by one of the Pilgrims, and bears date 
Dec. 1621: — "To us they (the Indians,) have been like lambs, so 
kind, so submissive and trusty, as a man may truly say many chris- 
tians are not so kind and sincere. When we first came into this 
country we were few, and many of us were sick, and many died by 
reason of the cold and wet, it being the depth of winter, and we 
having no houses or shelter; yet when there were not six able 
persons among us, and that they came daily to us by hundreds 
with their sachems or kings, and might in one hour have made a 
dispatch of us, &c. yet they never offered us the least injury. The 
greatest commander of the country, called Massasoit, cometh 
often to visit us, though he Uves fifty miles from us, often sends us 
presents, &c." 

And yet aggressions and wrongs commenced on the part of our 
race in its earliest intercourse with theirs. Verrazana after the 
reception he has himself acknowledged, attempted to carry away 
two of their people; Cabot had carried two as a present to his 


sovereign Henry VII, that were never returned. The Spaniards 
and Portugese immediately follow^ed up their first intercourse with 
them by carrying them into captivity and slavery. Can it be 
wondered that in numerous instances that occurred in after attempts 
at settlement, in New England — upon the Hudson — in Virginia, 
North Carolina &c. — this primitive good feeling — the simple 
hospitality with which they met the first adventurers upon their 
shores, gave place to self-defence — perhaps revenge? Of the 
Spaniards, and their early intercourse with them, Kotzebue 
says: — "Wherever they moved in anger, desolation tracked their 
progress, — wherever they paused in amity, affliction mourned their 

Well has it been observed that the Indian has had no historian 
of his own. Were some one of his own race, the chronicler of 
events; — commencing with the discovery of Columbus, and coming 
down to our present day of pre-emption bribes, and treaties attained 
with wrong and outrage; — he would gather up a fearful account 
which would meet with no adequate offsets. It would be that 
which would admit of but one manner of recompense : — the care- 
ful guardianship and protection hereafter of our states and general 
governments, and a co-operation in all measures that tend to pro- 
mote their rights, their peace and happiness, on the part of our 

On the 20th of April, 1534, James Cartier, a mariner of St. 
Malo, was commissioned by Francis First, to fit out an expedition 
for the purpose of exploring and colonizing the new world. He 
sailed with two ships of sixty tons burthen, and each a crew of 
sixty men. He visited New Foundland, surveyed the coast, and 
returned. The favorable report he was enabled to make, increased 
the confidence of his patron, and in May, 1535, he was enabled to 
set sail again with a squadron of three ships, well furnished. " A 
solemn and gorgeous pageant," a confessional and sacrament, and 
the benediction of a bishop attended his departure. In this voyage 
he passed to the west of New Foundland and entering the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence, gave it its name. In September, he ascended the 
river as far as the Island of Orleans. Here he met with the 

Note. — In ascribing the discoverj' of the Hudson river to the navigator whose name 
it bears, it is assumed that the coasting and entering of rivers, of Verrazana did not 
embrace it. It is generally admitted, however, that he came to anchor at Sandy Hook 
and that the bay within it, is the "pleasant lake," he alludes to 


natives of the country. Although they considered the French 
intruders, and wished to prevent their further advances, they never- 
theless treated them with kindness and hospitality. To direct 
them from their purpose of advancing, they first gave them 
bountiful presents of corn and fish, and to discourage them they 
resorted to jugglery, in which they declared they had drawn 
maledictions from the Great Spirit, against them. They repre- 
sented that there was so much ice and snow in the country above, 
that certain death awaited them if they advanced. Undismayed 
by the arts and devices of the natives, the intrepid mariner contin- 
ued to ascend the river, and arrived at a principal Indian village 
called Hochelaga, the present site of Montreal. That region he 
found occupied by a branch of the Wyandot, or Huron tribe of 
Indians, who were there by recent conquest. " Having climbed 
the hill at the base of which lay the village, he beheld spread 
around him a gorgeous scene of woods and waters, promising 
glorious visions of future opulence and national strength. The 
hill he called Mount Royal, and this name was afterwards extended 
to the Island of Montreal. At that period, more than three 
centuries ago, the village of Hochelaga was surrounded by large 
fields of corn and stately forests. The hill called Montreal, was 
fertile and highly cultivated." The form of the village was round 
and encompassed with timber, with three courses of ramparts, 
framed like a sharp spire, but laid across above. The middlemost 
of them was made and built as a direct line, but perpendicular. 
These ramparts were framed and fashioned with pieces of timber 
laid along the ground, very well and cunningly joined together 
after this fashion: — The enclosure was in height about two rods. 
It had but one gate which was shut with piles, stakes and bars. 
Over it, and also in many places in the wall there were places to 
run along and ladders to get up, full of stones for its defence. In 
the town there were about fifty houses, about fifty paces long and 
twelve or fifteen broad, built of wood, covered only with the bark 
of the wood as broad as any board, very finely and cunningly 
joined together. Within their houses there were many rooms, 
lodgings and chambers. In the midst of these, there was a great 
court, in the middle whereof they made their fire. They lived in 
common together. Then did the husbands, wives and children, 
each one retire themselves to their chambers. They also had on 


the tops of their houses, garrets, where they kept their corn to 
make their bread, which they called caraconnyr* 

These Indians gave Cartier a glimpse- of the vast region that 
lay at the west of him and for the first time perhaps directed 
French enterprise to a region where it was destined to occupy 
so wide a space. They told him there were three great lakes 
and a sea of fresh water f of which no man had found the end;- 
that a river ij: ran south-west, upon which there was a "month's 
sailing to go down to a certain land where there was no ice nor 
snow, where the inhabitants continually warred against each other," 
and where "there was a great abundance of oranges, lemons, nuts 
and apples " ; that the people || there were clad as the French, lived 
in towns, were very honest, and had great stores of gold and 

By the authority of his king, and in the name of his country, 
Cartier erected a cross and shield, emblazoned with the arms of 
France, and called the country New France. 

Cartier' s report on his return from this voyage, was made with 
candor. "This country which he had visited abounded with no 
gold or precious stones and its shores were alledged to be bleak 
and stormy." The project of colonization was not renewed until 
six years after. 

In 1540, Francis de la Roqije, Seigneur de Roberval, was 
granted a charter by Francis I, which invested him with all the 
powers of his sovereign, over the newly discovered and claimed 
colony of New France. Under his immediate auspices a squadron 
of five ships was fitted out, with Cartier commissioned by the 
king as chief Pilot of the expedition. He was directed to take 
with him persons of every trade and art, and to dwell in the newly 
discovered territory. The expedition had an untoward commence- 
ment and ultimately resulted in but a feeble advance toward per- 
manent settlement. As good colonists could not be obtained to go 
to the inhospitable and bleak northern regions, the prisons and work 
houses of France were resorted to to supply the demand. In 
addition to this, a feeling of rivalry and jealousy sprang up between 

* The author finds this ancient account of Hochelaga, in Lanman's History of 

tErie, Huron, Michigan. The "sea," lake Superior. 

tThe Mississippi. 

II Florida and the Spanish colonies. 


RoBERVAL and Cartier. They neither embarked in company, nor 
acted in concert. Cartier ascended the St. Lawrence and built a 
fort at Quebec; but no considerable advances in geographical 
knowledge would seem to have been made. In June, 1542 he 
returned to France. On the way back he met Roberval on the 
banks of New Foundland, with more provisions and arms, and 
returning with him to the fort, he assumed the command, while 
Roberval. ascended the St. Lawrence. Cartier not entering 
with cordiality into the views or measures of Roberval, the 
expedition after remaining about a year returned to France. 

In the career of French discovery in New France there occurs 
here an hiatus or suspension of over fifty years. The causes of 
this suspension may be found in that portion of the history of 
France which embraces that period; they were domestic troubles, 
civil war, &c., which divested the nation from all projects of 
discovery and colonization. 

It was under the reign of Elizabeth, that England made the first 
attempt at colonization in America. In 1584 Sir Walter Raleigh, 
under the patronage of the Queen, fitted out two vessels, to "visit 
the districts which he intended to occupy, and to examine the 
accommodations of the coasts, the productions of the soil, and the 
condition of the inhabitants." These ships approached the North 
American Continent by the Gulf of Florida, and anchored in 
Roanoke Bay, off the coast of North Carolina. This was followed 
the year after by seven more ships, which left 108 men at the 
Roanoke Colony, The immediate prospect of forming a colony 
was finally unsuccessful. A fleet under Sir Admiral Drake, that 
was returning home after a successful expedition against the 
Spaniards in the West Indies, touched at Roanoke on its home- 
ward passage, and took the colonists home to England. 

There were several other attempts to colonize by Raleigh, and 
under his auspices, but were failures ; amounting only to the 
landing of several ship loads of emigrants, illy provided for sub- 
sistance or defence ; to become a prey to the natives, or perish for 
food. At the period of Queen Elizabeth's death, not an English- 
man was settled in America. 

In 1603, Bartholomew Gosnold, planned an expedition in a 
small vessel with only thirty men — discovered a much nearer route 
than had hitherto been pursued — visited the coast of Massachusetts, 
and returned with a rich freight of peltry. His favorable account 


led a few merchants of Bristol to send out two vessels, to examine 
the country Gosnold had visited. They returned, confirming his 
statements. Another expedition followed, which, returning, reported 
so many " additional particulars commendatory of the region, that 
all doubt and hesitation vanished from the minds of the projectors of 
American Colonization; and an association sufficiently numerous 
wealthy and powerful to undertake this enterprise, being speedily 
formed, a petition was presented to the King for his sanction of the 
plan, and the interposition of his authority towards its execution." 

In April 1606, King James issued letters patent to Sir Thojias 
Gates, George Somers, Richard Hakluyt, and their associates 
granting to them those territories in America, lying on the sea 
coast between the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth degrees of north 
latitude, together with all the Islands situated within one hundred 
miles of their shores. 

The patentees were divided into two companies. The territory 
appropriated to the first, or Southern Colony, was called Virginia. 
That appropriated to the Northern Colony, was called New Eng- 
land. They were termed the London and Plymouth companies. 

Three vessels soon sailed under the auspices of the London 
Company, having on board one hundred and five men destined to 
remain in America; among the adventurers, were George Percy, 
a brother of the Duke of Northumberland, GosiNold, the enter- 
prising navigator, and Capt. John Smith. The squadron arrived 
in the Chesapeake Bay, April 1607. These colonists founded the 
settlement at Jamestown, and theirs was the first successful scheme 
of English colonization in America. In 1608, this colony first tilled 
the soil of what now constitutes the United States, unless the 
Spaniards had previously planted in Florida. 

In 1607 the Plymouth company made an abortive attempt to 
form a colony in northern Virginia. The expedition returned to 
England and damped the spirit of emigration by the representations 
it made of the soil and climate they had visited. Six years after 
they fitted out two vessels, and placed one of them under the com- 
mand of Capt. Smith, who had become identified with the colony at 
Jamestown previously. This expedition explored with care and 
diligence, the whole coast from Cape Cod to Penobscot. Capt. 
Smith went into the interior of the country, made a map of the 
coast, which on his return he presented to the King, accompanied 
with a highly favorable account of the country. Capt. Hunt, who 


commanded one of the vessels, instead of returning with S^iith, 
enticed a number of Indians on board his vessel, and touching at 
Malaga on his homeward voyage, sold them as slaves; thus upon 
the threshold of New England colonization, provoking the natives 
to abandon their pacific policy, and look upon the new comers as 
enemies. The very next vessel that visited the coast of New 
England, brought news of their vindictive hostility. 

It was reserved for the pilgrim fathers, who, to escape persecu- 
tion in England, had fled to Leyden, to commence the colonization 
of New England. Obtaining from King James a tacit acquiescence 
and from the Plymouth Company a grant of a portion of their 
territory, one hundred and twenty of their number embarked at 
Delft Haven, reaching the coast of America, after a long and 
dangerous voyage, on the 9th of November, 1620, and the coast 
of Massachusetts, the spot they afterwards called New Plymouth, 
on the 11th of December. 

On the 30th day of September, 1609, two hundred and thirty- 
nine years ago, Henry Hudson an Englishman, but then in the 
employ of the Dutch East India Company, entered the southern 
waters of New York, and the next day moored his ship within 
Sandy Hook. He ascended the river that now bears his name, as 
far up as Albany, some exploring parties of his expedition having 
gone as far as Troy. He was from the day he passed Sandy 
Hook, until the fourth of October, engaged in an examination of 
the bay of New York, the banks of the river, &c., trafficking with 
the natives, gratifying his own and their curiosity, by receiving 
them on board his vessel, and otherwise cultivating their acquain- 
tance and friendship. 

There have been preserved minute details of this first European 
visit to our State. It forms a chapter in our history of great 
interest, not only from the fact that it informs us of the discovery 
of our now Empire State — of the first European advent upon the 
waters of the Hudson, to the site of our great northern commercial 
emporium, but from its giving us by far the best and most satisfac- 
tory accounts of the natives, as they were found in their primitive 
condition. Hudson testifies, as precedent navigators had done to 
their general friendly reception of the stranger European. In his 
four weeks' interview with the natives, nothing occured to mar its 
pacific character, until one of their number had been wantonly 
killed by one of his men. The Indian, attracted by curiosity, and 


having perhaps but imperfect ideas of the rights of property, stole 
into the cabin window, and pilfered a pillow, and some wearing 
apparel^ The men discovering his retreat with the articles shot at 
and killed him. In an attempt to recover the articles, another 
native was killed. Previous to this, there had been what the 
natives construed into an attempt to carry off two of their number. 
Following after these events, was a concerted attempt on the part 
of the natives to get possession of the vessel. At the head of 
Manhattan Island in the inlet of Harlem river, they had collected 
a large force. The vessel going down the river approached the 
shore near the place of ambush. Hudson discovering them, and 
their hostile intentions, lay off, the Indians discharging at the vessel 
a volley of arrows, which was returned by the discharge of muskets. 
This skirmishing continued as the vessel moved farther down, the 
Indians assaulting with their arrows, the Europeans retahating with 
their muskets, and occasionally by the discharge of a cannon. 
Nine of the Indians were killed, none of the Europeans. How 
astounding to these simple warriors, armed only with their bows 
and arrows, must have been this their first knowledge of the use of 
gun-powder, and its terrible agency as an auxiliary in war! And 
that they were not dismayed, did not flee at the first explosion of a 
volley of muskets, is a matter of especial wonder. 

Thus a relation, an acquaintance, that was commenced, and for 
some time was continued in amity, had a hostile termination. 
Hudson sailed down the river and put to sea. 

This first European advent to our state, was marked by another 
event, more important in the annals of the aborigines, than any that 
has occured during their acquaintance with our race. It was the 
inflicting upon them a curse, more terrible in its consequenses than 
all else combined, of the evils that have attended their relations 
with us ; a curse equal in magnitude, in proportion to the aggregate 
numbers to be effected by it, to that which England has visited upon 
the Chinese by force of arms ; ( and there is some coincidence in the 
two events, for in both cases there was the predisposition, the 
physical tendency, to destructive excess): — While Hudson's vessel 
lay in the river, (near Albany, as inferred from his account,) 
"great multitudes flocked on board to survey the wonder." In 
order to discover whether "any of the chiefe men of the country 
had any treacherie in them, our master and mate took them into the 
cabin and gave them so much wine and aqua vit^e that they were 


all merrie ; and one of them had his wife with him, which sate so 
modestly as any of our counterey womene, would doe in a strange 
plaice." One of them became intoxicated, staggered and* fell, at 
which the natives were astonished. It "was strange to them, for 
they could not tell how to take it." They all hurried ashore in 
their canoes. The intoxicated Indian remaining and sleeping on 
board all night, the next day, others ventured on board and finding 
him recovered, and well, they were highly gratified. He was a 
chief. In the afternoon they repeated their visits, brought tobacco 
"and beads, and gave them to our master, and made an oration 
showing him all the country round about." They took on board a 
platter of venison, dressed in their own style, and "caused him to 
eate with them: — then they made him reverence, and departed all," 
except the old chief, who having got a taste of the fatal beverage 
chose to remain longer on board. Thus were the aborigines first 
made acquainted with what they afterwards termed '^re water;" 
and aptly enough for it has helped to consume them. The Indians 
who met Hudson at Albany were of the Mohawk nation. 

The discovery of Hudson was followed up by several voyages 
from Holland, with the principal object of traffic on the river, and 
among the natives he had discovered. The Dutch built two small 
fortified trading posts, the one on Castle, and the other on Manhat- 
tan Island. The English attempted a colony upon the river, but 
were unsuccessful. It was not until 1623 that effectual colonization 
commenced. In that year, and soon after, vessels were fitted out 
by the Dutch company, emigrants embarked in them, forts were 
built, settlements founded. The^ colony was called New Nether- 
land. The first governor came out in 1623. 

In 1603, a company of merchants was formed at Rouen for the 
purpose of colonization. They were invested with authority to 
explore the country, and establish colonies along the St. Lawrence. 
Samuel Champlain, an able mariner, a partner in the company, 

Note. — The strong appetite of Indians for intoxicationg drinks, has been observed 
from our earliest intercourse with them. The first navigators, vcho reached them, 
bringing "strong water," the traders who have found them ignorant of the existence of 
it, and fatally enticed them to its taste, have uniformly borne testimony that with few 
exceptions, when they have been once under the influence of it, their appetites are 
craving for further indulgence. The author has been informed by one who has spent 
most of his life among the fur traders on the head waters of the Mississippi, that he has 
known an Indian runner to make a journey of two hundred miles and back through 
deep snow, to obtain a gallon of whiskey, to finish a carousal, after having exhausted 
the supply of a trader. 


directed the expedition. In this expedition he selected Quebec as 
the site of a fort. The protection of the fur trade was its princi- 
pal object, though it led to a permanent establishment. A few 
settlers were left to build huts and clear land. It was during this 
expedition, as inferred by Mr. Lanman, the intelligent historian of 
Michigan, that the foundation was laid for the long series of 
troubles that grew up between the French and the Iroquois. 
Cartier, in a previous ascension of the St. Lawrence, against the 
wishes of the Hurons and Algonquins, had, with motives of curios- 
ity, or to gratify it at home, taken to England three of their chiefs 
against their will. To win their favor, Champlain became their 
ally against the Iroquois. The secret of his policy, as inferred by 
Charlevoix, was to humble the Iroquois, in order to "unite all the 
nations of Canada in an alliance with the French." He did not 
foresee that the former, who for a long time had, single handed, 
kept in awe the Indians, three hundred miles around them, would 
be aided by Europeans in another quarter, jealous of the power of 
the French. It was not his fault, therefore, that circumstances he 
could not have anticipated, subsequently concurred to frustrate his 

As this expedition constitutes a distinct and important era in the 
history of the Aborigines of America, and their mode of warfare 
— the introduction of fire-arms, — the author extracts a concise 
account of it from the work of Messrs. Yates and Moulton : — 

" Having yielded his consent to join the expedition, he, (Cham- 
plain) embarked with his new allies at Quebec, and sailed into the 
Iroquois river (now Sorrel,) until the rapids near Chambly pre- 
vented his vessel from proceeding. His allies had not apprised him 
of this impediment: on the contrary, they had studiously concealed 
it as well as other obstacles. His vessel returned; but he, and two 
Frenchmen who would not desert him, determined to proceed, not- 
withstanding the difficulties of the navigation, and the dupUcity of 
their allies in concealing those difficulties. They transported their 
canoes beyond the rapids, and encamped for the night. As was 
customary, they sent a spy to range in the vicinity, who in a short 
time returned, and informed them that he saw no enemy. Without 
placing any guard, they prepared for repose. Champlain, sur- 
prised to find them so stupidly incautious and confident of their 
safety, endeavored to prevail with them to keep watch. All the 
reply they made was, that people who were fatigued all day, had 
need of sleep at night. Afterwards, when they thought that they 
were approaching nearer towards the enemy, they were induced 


to be more guarded, to travel at night only, and keep no fires in 
the day time. Champlain was charmed with the variegated 
and beautiful aspect of the country. The islands were filled with 
deer and other animals, which supplied the army with abundance 
of game, and the river and lake afforded abundance of fish. In 
the progress of their route he derived much knowledge of the 
Indian character as it was displayed in this warlike excursion. He 
was particularly amused to perceive the blind confidence which the 
Indians paid to their sooth-sayer or sorcerer, who in the time of 
one of their encampments, went through with his terrific cere- 
mony. For several days they inquired of Champlain if he had 
not seen the Iroquois in a dream. His answer being that he had 
not, caused great disquietude among them. At last, to relieve 
them from their embarrassments, or get rid of their importunity, 
he told them he had, in a dream, seen the Iroquois drowning in a 
lake, but he did not rely altogether upon the dream. The allies 
judged differently, for they now no longer doubted a victory. Hav- 
ing entered upon the great lake, which now bears the name of 
Cha3iplain, in honor of its discoverer, he and his allies traversed 
it until they approached towards the junction of the outlet of Lake 
St. Sacrament,* with Lake Champlain, at or near Ticonteroga. 
The design of the allies was to pass the rapids between those two 
lakes, to make an eruption into the mountainous regions and vallies 
of the Iroquois beyond the small lake, and by surprise to strike 
them at one of their small villages. The latter saved them the 
necessity of journeying so far, for they suddenly made their 
appearance at 10 o'clock at night, and by mere accident, met the 
former on the great lake. The surprise of both parties was 
equaled only by their joy, which was expressed in shouts, and as it 
was not their practice to fight upon the water unless when they 
were too far from land to retreat, they mutually hurried to the 

*' Here, then, in the vicinity of Ticonderoga (a spot afterwards 
celebrated in the achievements of the French and Revolutionary 
Wars,) the two parties pitched for battle. The allies immediately 
labored to entrench themselves behind fallen trees, and soon sent a 
messenger to the Iroquois to learn whether they would fight 
immediately. The latter replied that the night w^as too dark: they 
could not see themselves, and the former must await the approach 
of day. The allies consented, and after taking the necessary 
precautions, slept. At break of day, Champlain placed his two 
Frenchmen, and some savages in the wood, to attack the enemy 
in flank. These consisted of two hundred choice and resolute 
men, who considered victory as easy and certain over the Algon- 
quins and Hurons, whom the former did not expect, would have 

* Lake George. 


dared to take the field. The allies were equal to them in number, 
but displayed a part only of their warriors. They, as well as the 
enemy were armed with bows and arrows only, but they founded 
their hopes of conquest upon the fire-arms of the French; and 
they pointed out to Champlain, and advised him to fire upon the 
three chiefs, who were distinguished by feathers or tails of birds 
larger than those of their followers. The allies first made a 
sortie from their entrenchment, and ran two hundred feet in front 
of the enemy, then stopped, divided into two bands to the right 
and left, leaving the center position for Champlain, who advanced 
and placed himself at their head. His sudden appearance and 
arms, were new to the Iroquois, whose astonishment became 
extreme. But what was their dismay when, after the first report 
of his arquebuse from the spot where he had posted four men, the 
Iroquois saw two of their chiefs fall dead, and the third dangerously 
wounded ! The alUes now shouted for joy and discharged a few 
inefiective arrows. Champlain recharged, and the other French- 
men successfully fought the Iroquois, who were soon seen in 
disorder and flight. They were pursued warmly, many were 
killed, and some taken prisoners. The fugitives, in their precipi- 
tance, abandoned their maize. This was a seasonable relief for 
the victors, for they had been reduced to great need. They fed, 
and passed two hours on the field of battle in dancing and singing. 
Not one had been killed, although several were wounded. They 
prepared to return homeward, for among these people the van- 
quishers always retreat as well as the vanguished, and often 
inasmuch disorder and precipitation as if they were pursued by a 
victorious enemy. In their way back, they tortured one of their 
prisoners, whose miseries Champlain humanely ended." 

This was the first pitched battle fought upon our continent, and 
thus did the Iroquois learn the use of an auxiliary in war, which 
enabled them to extend in less than a century afterwards, their 
territorial dominion two thousand miles, waste the lives of their 
own race, and afterwards, as allies of England, to become a 
scourge of the border settlements of New York, in the war of 
the Revolution. Nor did the instructors of these amateurs in a 
new warfare, escape the consequences. They found them apt 
scholars; and in their after contests with them learned to dread 
the stealthy and deadly aim, in their hands, of the arms furnished 
them by the Dutch and English. 

At nearly the same period, Hudson had given them the taste of 
intoxicating liquors, at Albany. Thus were they put in possession 
of two agents that were finally to work their own ruin and decline. 
Better for them, we are apt to say, if civilization had never reached 


them in these their forest homes. But then comes upon us the 
reflection that theirs, if a sylvan abode, was not one of peace and 
innocence. Long before — how long their own traditions cannot 
inform us, — they were warring upon their own race. They too 
had invented weapons of war, and oppressed and trampled upon 
the weak; were even wanton in their wanderings upon the war 
path for victims. Who shall question the dispensations of Provi- 
dence, or say that theirs was not the destiny he had decreed 1 
Who shall say, that if European feet had never trod their soil, 
that an even worse calamity was not in store for them 1 That 
they but awaited the ebb tide of destiny? That retribution was 
not already coming upon them; — its ministering spirits, the leagued 
and exasperated of their own race, they had scourged in long 
years of triumph and supremacy? 

With a far better knowledge of the country 'of New France, 
than had been before obtained, Champlain returned home, and 
after delays and embarrassments, incident to some changes in the 
administration of the government of France, in 1615 embarked 
once more for the New World. There came out with him, monks 
of the order of St. Francis. " Again he invades the territory of 
the Iroquois in New York. Wounded and repulsed, and destitute 
of guides, he spends the first winter after his return to America in 
the country of the Hurons; and a night errant among the forests, 
carries his language, religion and influence, even to the hamlets of 
the Algonquins on Lake Nipissing."* 

Cartier is regarded as the pioneer upon the St. Lawrence, and 
Champlain as the founder of a colony upon its banks. " For 
twenty years succeeding the commencement of the 17th century, 
he was zealously employed in planting and rearing that infant 
colony, which was destined to extend its branches to these shores 
and finally, to contest with its great rival, the soArereignty of North 
America. Champlain discovered in his eventful life, traits of 
heroism, self-devotion and perseverance, which, under more 
favorable circumstances, would have placed him in the ranks of 
those, whose deeds are the land marks of history."! 

Events that followed the discovery of this continent, have been 
thus briefly alluded to, with no intention to enlarge upon them, or 

* Bancroft. 

t Gen. Cass' Lectures before Historical Society of Michigan. 


to travel over ground with which most readers will be familiar; but 
principally for the purpose of such a chronological introduction as 
will aid in connecting our own local history with the history of 
our entire country. 

The progress of colonization was slow. In this day of progress, 
we may well wonder why such a country as this, did not at once 
invite a flood of adventurers from Europe. But a careful^ review 
of the condition of the old world at that period; the jealousies and 
counteracting rivalries that existed between the nations that had 
directed their attention to this quarter: England, France Germany 
and Spain; their internal dissensions, and the fluctuations in their 
administrations and their commercial policy; afford us chiefly the 
explanation. And to all these hindrances may be added, the 
absence of that spirit of determined and persevering national 
adventure, which at a later period stimulated to a more earnest 
and effectual searching out and occupying new fields of enterprise. 
In following up the slow course of events as they occurred; in 
noting the tardiness especially, with which England and France 
made their advances to this continent, even after they had through 
the reports of their explorers, reliable accounts of the land of 
promise, leads us to reflect, how it would be now, with our own 
people, if they could even catch a glimpse of an unoccupied field 
such as this was. There would be no waiting for Idngly or 
government charters; no asking of colonial monopolies. Individual 
efforts, indomitable private enterprise, would take the place of all 
this: there would go out from our sea-ports in rapid succession, 
colonies of hardy adventurers, who arriving at their destinations, 
and finding but a moiety of the inducements, surrounded by greater 
obstacles, than was presented to European adventurers here — 
would persevere; and in the time that in the precedent case it took 
to deliberate at home, and determine upon a scheme of colonization, 
— colonies would be founded, territorial governments would be 
formed; and we should hear of annexation, and possibly of 

" Westward the star of Empire " took " its way," but dimly and 
slowly ; giving but a feeble and flickering light to attract the 
nations of the earth, while its orbit was circumscribed under Euro- 
pean auspices and dominion. It was not 'till it had the genial 
influences of freedom and free institutions; until it had shaken off" 
the incubus of foreign control; that it began to shine with lustre, 


make its rapid transit towards the zenith, and realize the prophetic 
inspiration of Bishop Berkley. 

Dating from the discovery of this continent in 1492, it was five 
years before Cabot discovered New Foundland, St. Johns, and the 
coast of Virginia; forty-two years before Cartier discovered and 
sailed up the St. Lawrence; one hundred and thirty-five years 
before Cha.mplain had effectually established French settlements 
and dominion. Twenty years before Ponce de Leon discovered 
Florida and claimed it for Spain; seventy-three years before St. 
Augustine was founded.* Seventy-three years before the first 
expedition of Sir Walter Raleigh entered the bay of the Chesa- 
peake ; one hundred and fifteen years before any permanent colony 
was established in Virginia. One hundred and twenty -nine years 
before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. One hundred and fifteen 
before Hudson sailed up the, river that bears his name; and one 
hundred thirty-one years before colonization was effectually pro- 
gressing upon its banks. 

The whole series of primitive discoveries upon this continent 
were accidental. The discoverers were in pursuit of a shorter 
route to the Indies, and blundered upon this fair region that lay in 
their way. After the discoveries, gold, other minerals, precious 
stones, fountains of health, predominated with the explorers, until 
failing in their expectations, traffic with the natives for furs and 
peltries, engrossed the attention of the few and far between voya- 
gers to the New World. The great elements of wealth here, as 
time has demonstrated, lay dormant and undisturbed in the soil. 
The Acadia of France, the Eldorado of Spain, the region where 
the Englishman was to shovel wealth into his coffers, and the slow 
Dutchman was to quicken his pace in the pursuit of fortune; came 
far short of their expectations; and their squadrons but came and 
wandered lazily around the coasts, or ventured but short expedi- 
tions up our noble rivers. The wealth was here — the elements of 
human enjoyment, content and happiness, but they widely mistook 
ni what it consisted. It remained for patient, persevering indus- 
try and enterprise, unshackled by tyranny; for those who fled 
to these shores from persecution and wrong; for young and vigo- 
rous scions of a decayed and decaying parent stock; to more than 
realize the hopes and expectations of the early European dreamers. 

• St, Augustine is by forty years, the oldest town in the United States. 


In 1609 the English colony at Jamestown had just begun to turn 
its attention to agriculture: — "yet so little land had been cultivated 
— not more than thirty or forty acres in all — that it was still 
necessary for Englishmen to solicit food from the indolent Indians; 
and Europeans, to preserve themselves from starving, were 
billeted among the sons of the forest/'* In 1624, De Laet, a 
director of the Dutch West India Company, under whose auspices 
settlement was slowly progressing upon the Hudson, attracted the 
attention of his countrymen by a published description of the 
New World. In describing New Netherland, he said: — "It is a 
fine and delightful land, full of fine trees and vines — wine might be 
made there, and the grape cultivated. Nothing is wanted but 
cattle, and they might be easily transported. The industry of our 
people might make this a pleasant and fruitful land. The forests 
contain excellent ship timber, and several yachts and small vessels 
have been built there." But it was not until several years after 
this first attempt to turn the attention of the Dutch from traffic to 
agriculture, that there was any considerable degree of success. 

The Dutch trade was with the natives, upon Long Island, the 
banks of the Hudson, and the eastern nations of the Iroquois. 
By a report made to the West India Company at Amsterdam, the 
following exhibit was made of exports and imports for the first 
nine years after the regular established commerce of the colony: — 



1624. 4,000 beavers, 700 otters, 27,125 

1625. 5,295 " 463 " 35,825 

1626. 7,258 '• 857 " 45,050 

1627 7,520 '• 320 « 12,730 

1628. 6,951 '• 734 " 61,075 

1629. 5,913 •• 681 " 62,185 

1630. 6,041 " 1085 " 68,012 

1631. no exports 

1632. 13,513 " 1661 " 143,125 

or, $189,219,58 


1624. In two ships, goods, wares, 25,569 

1625. Several ships, " 8,772 

1626. Two ships, " 20,384 

1627. Four ships, '• 56,170 

1628. No imports, 

1629. Three ships, " 55,778 

1630. Two ships, " 54,499 

1631. One ship, " 17,355 

1632. One ship, " 31,320 

or, $113,686,25 

" The advancement of colonization in New England, [1628] was 
far more rapid than it had been in New Netherland; but the causes 
that respectively operated to produce the diversity, were altogether 
difierent in their character and tendency. In the one case, religion 
became the powerful motive, and it introduced as auxiliaries, talent, 
enterprise and skill. In the other, monopoly and aristocracy, with 

* Bancroft. 


their cold and calculating selfishness, were in colhsion with the 
freedom of trade and the genius of liberty, and the consequences 
were withering to the blossoms of promise which nature had so 
bountifully dicplayed in New Netherlands." * 

Conflicting claims to territory upon this continent, began to 
arise in the earliest periods of colonization. The basis, or general 
principles upon which claims were to be founded, was pretty well 
defined by the common consent of the nations of Europe, that were 
interested; but disputes and collisions arose from diflTerent construc- 
tions of these general principles; and upon questions of fact, 
involving priority of discovery, occupation, &c. 

" Discovery gave title to the government, by whose subjects, or 
by whose authority it was made, against all other European 
governments, which title might be consummated by possession. 
Hence, although a vacant country belonged to those who first 
discovered it, and who acknowledge no connexion, and owe no 
allegiance to any government, yet if the country be discovered and 
possessed by the emigrants of an existing acknowledged govern- 
ment, the possession is deemed taken for the nation, and title must 
be derived from the sovereign organ, in whom the power to dispute 
of vacant territories is vested by law. 

" Resulting from the above principle as qualified, was that of the 
sole right of the discoverer to acquire the soil from the natives, 
and establish settlements either by purchase or conquest. Hence, 
also the exclusive right cannot exist in governments, and at the 
same time in private individuals; and hence also, the natives were 
recognized as rightful occupants, but their power to dispose of the 
soil at their own will, to whom they pleased, was denied by the 
original fundamental principle, that discovery'gave exclusive title 
to those who made it. 

"The ultimate dominion was asserted, and as a consequence, a 
power to grant the soil while yet in possession of the natives. — 
Hence, such dominion was incompatible with an absolute and 
complete title in the Indians. Consequently, from the foregoing 
principle, and its corollaries, the Indians had no right to sell to any 
other than the government of the first discoverer, nor to private 

. ^^°'^^-~1'*^® »"*or having found the above concise and comprehensive abstract of 
tne basis of title to all the lands in the United States, in the work of Yates and Moulton 
already quoted, he transfers it to his pages. It not only contains the principles that 
PJr?i! ^'^®."^^'°°so<' Europe, in their original colonization of our countrj-, but sets 
lorta the main principle, and origin of pre-emption, as afterwards recognized by our 
general government and the states. A careful historical deduction of the title to our 
own region takes us back for a starting point, to the basis of title, as fixed at the 
primiUve period of discovery and colonization. 
* Yates and Moulton. 


citizens without the sanction of their government. Hence the 
Indians were to be considered as mere occupants, to be protected 
indeed while in peace, in the possession of their lands, but with an 
incapacity of transfering the absolute title to others." 

At a point we have now gained, — the commencement of perma- 
nent colonization upon this continent, — the author is admonished, 
in view of the local character of the work he has in hand, that he 
must come nearer home. Civilization is already approaching the 
region of Western New York. Under Champlain, the founder 
of settlement upon the St. Lawrence, there have come out of 
France scores of adventurers; the most prominent, and far most 
numerous of whom, are the fur traders, the devotees of traffic and 
gain; and the missionaries, with the higher purposes of carrying 
the emblems and the tidings of salvation to the forest homes of our 
predecessors. The two classes, jointly, travelling together side by 
side, are destined to extend French dominion to the rivers and 
lakes of Canada west; to the head waters of lake Ontario; along 
the banks of the Niagara river, to the shores of lakes Erie, St. 
Clair, Huron, Michigan, and Superior; over the fertile plains, prai- 
ries and wood-lands of Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiania, Illinois, 
Missouri, Iowa, down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and 
over its waters to Texas. 

The missionary was seldom behind, often preceded the trader. 
Those of the order of St. Francis — called Franciscans, — preceded 
the Jesuits in the New World. They came out with Champlain 
in 1615. The more formidable order, that was destined wholly to 
supplant them and occupy exclusively the new field of missionary 
enterprise, first arrived upon the banks of the St. Lawrence in 
1625. Previous to this, the Franciscans, Le Caron, Viel and 
Sagard, had been instructing the tribes along the western banks 
of the Niagara. They were unquestionably, the first Europeans 
who set foot in Western New York. Their advent here was 
nearly co-temporary with the landing of the Pilgrims in New 
England. Plymouth Rock had but just re-echoed the thanksgiving 
of the founders of English colonization in our northern states, — 
the simpler and less ostentatious forms of the religious faith of the 
Puritans, had but just found an asylum upon our northern Atlantic 
coast; when the ceremonies of the Catholic church were exciting 
the wonder of the dwellers in the forests of our own region. 

For nearly one hundred and fifty years, from the period of 


effectual colonization upon the St. Lawrence, until the English 
conquests in 1759; the Jesuits — the disciples of Loyola^ were 
almost exclusively in possession of the whole missionary ground of 
New France. With the exception of but brief precedent advents 
of the Franciscans, the Jesuits with the traders that accompanied 
them, were the Pioneers of civilization in Western New York. 
The imposing ceremonies of the ritual of the Catholic Church, awed 
the simple minded sons of the forest as they came to gaze upon 
the works of the primitive ship builders upon the Niagara; — 
JoxcAiRE, the adopted Seneca, the successful courtier at the 
councils of the Iroquois, had hardly "planted himself amid a group 
of cabins at Lewiston," when the cross was planted in their midst. 
When a trading station was secured at Niagara, the Jesuit mis- 
sionary erected his cabin by the side of the trader. And going 
out from these primitive stopping places, they threaded the narrow 
trails that conducted them to the scattered settlements of the 
Senecas west of the Genesee river, and upon its eastern banks. 
The advent and long career of the Jesuits upon this continent, and 
ecpecially in this quarter, forms an interesting feature in our 
general history; a brief sketch of their founder, and his Institute, 
may well occupy a short chapter of our local pioneer annals. 




The order of the Jesuits as it is usually termed — of the Society 
of Jesus, as they termed themselves — was founded in the early 
part of the sixteenth century. Its founder was Ignatius Loyola, 
a native of Navarre. Born of a noble family, bred to the profession 
of arms, chivalric and darmg, when an army of Francis I. invaded 
his country, he was among the gallant defenders of the besieged 
city of Pampeluna. While rallying and exhorting the Spanish 
soldiers to a desperate resistance, he was severely wounded. 
While an invalid, 'the lives of the Saints fell into his hands, and were 
his constant companions during the progress of a lingering cure. 
Their perusal excited his ardent temperament, and inspired him 
with ambition to signalize himself as a champion of the religious 
faith in which he had been educated. Retiring to a convent, he 
meditated and made vows to become the "Knight of the Virgin 
Mary," and to be "renowned for mortifications and works after the 
manner of saints." In his seclusion he subjected himself to the 
most rigid disipline of a monk of the strictest order, and after 
several years of solitary penance and journeyings as a men- 
dicant, he matured a gigantic scheme of missionary enterprise, 
embracing the world in its designs; and which, for good and evil, 
is signalized as one of the most extraordinary advents that mark 
the pages of history. 

When Luther publicly sustained the thesis of his apostacy in 
the Diet of Worms, and composed his book against monastic vows, 
in the solitude of Alstadt, Loyola was consecrating himself to his 
work, in the chapel of Monte Serrato, and composing his Spiritual 
Exercises in his retreat at Mauresa. At the time too, that Henry 
the Eighth proclaimed himself spiritual head of the Anglician 


Church, and ordered, under penalty of death, that the very name of 
Pope should be effaced from every document and from every book, 
Loyola was laying the foundations of an order that professed in 
a most special manner, obedience to the sovereign Pontiff, and zeal 
and activity in enlai'ging the bounds of his dominion. 

The Reformation under the lead of Martin Luther, had well 
nif'h broken the sway, prostrated the power of the Roman 
Church. The advent of Loyola was the first recoil from its 
effects. It was as if in battle, a powerful army had been nearly 
routed, its ranks thinned and broken, its leaders dismayed, appalled 
by the desperate onsets of the assailants — a daring spirit should 
spring from the ranks fitted to the emergency, and by the boldness 
and novelty of his designs, inspire courage to renew the contest. 
While the Pope and his adherents were deliberating — resolving 
but feebly, and often impotently essaying to execute their resolu- 
tions; an intrepid soldier — wounded in a field of carnal warfare — 
clothed himself in spiritual armor, and came forward the devotee 
and champion of a faith that had been successfully assailed by 
innovators, as daring and fearless in their assaults, as he was in his 
well arranged plan of defence. In the warfare of faiths, in which 
he was enlisted, — a contest to sustain the supremacy of his creed, 
to enable it to regain its lost ground, — Loyola was what ]\apo- 
LEON became after him in the political affairs of France. They 
were equally master spirits of the movements in which they were 
engaged. The one astonished the religious world with the new- 
ness and magnificence of his schemes. The other confounded and 
amazed the political world, by a long career of the triumphs of 
the one man-power that he wielded. ' Did Napoleon call to his 
aid the genius, the talent, the courage of France, and mould 
them to his will; Loyola equally by the attractions of his 
splendid conceptions, guaranteed and realized as great moral 
triumphs, in enlisting the co-operation of those who were fitted 
to his purposes. The wealth that he required to lay the foun- 
dations of his new system of propagandism, flowed into his trea- 
sury; for the possessors of it were mourning over the reverses 
of a religious faith that more than all others, prompts to the 
ofTermgs of worldly possessions; imagined that light was again 
shining through the domes of St. Peters; that error, — grievous 
error, as they deemed it, was to be confounded by the new 
champion that had taken the field. Around his standard flocked 


the devotees of the "Church Cathoh'c;" who, surrendering all 
things else, dedicated themselves to his w^ill and his designs; set 
themselves apart to execute his commands, even to the farthest 
ends of the earth. The Church of Rome had been assailed by the 
bold Reformer in the seats and centres of its dominions. Its old 
strong fortresses were besieged. Loyola looked to the strength- 
ning and extending of the out-posts; to the more than regaining all 
that had been lost, by sending out to the four quarters of the 
globe and gathering to the fold, new auxiliaries, propagating his 
creed in new and far off fields. 

The tasks to be executed were those of difficulty and danger, but 
there came to his aid those who caught from him their impulses, 
and armed themselves with his stern resolves. Never in any 
missionary enterprise; (and the history of missions from the advent 
of Christianity to the present hour, is replete with signal instances 
of self-sacrifice and martyrdoms; instances of the exercises of a 
moral and physical courage, sterner and higher than the incentives 
to armed encounters;) — has there been devised a scheme of 
missionary enterprise of equal magnitude; or one that has com- 
manded more devoted service and extraordinary sacrifice, than 
the Institute which somewhat arrogantly assumed to itself the 
name of the " Society of Jesus." 

"Loyola was aware, that on the day of battle, the most 
experienced officers stand apart, in order to watch with more 
composure, the conflict which they direct. A general of an army 
ought, by means of the orders that he issues, to be every where 
present to his troops. Their movements, their courage, their very 
life, depend on him; he disposes of them in the most absolute 
manner; and the very physical inaction to which, in consequence, 
he subjects himself, augments his intellectual energies. It is he 
that stimulates, that restrains, that combines the springs of action, 
that assumes the responsibility of events. Such was the policy of 
Ignatius Loyola. He dispersed his companions over the globe; 
he sent them forth to humiliation or to glory, to preach or to be 
martyred, while he from Rome, as a central point, communicated 
force to all, and, what was still better, regulated their movements. 

" At Rome Ignatius followed his disciples at every step. In an 
age when communication was neither easy nor expeditious, and 
when each political revolution added to the difficulty, he found 
means to correspond with them frequently. He had a perfect 
knowledge of the state of the missions, and was acquainted with 
the joys and sufferings of the missionaries; he sympathised with 


them, and thus shared their dangers and their struggles; his orders 
were anxiously expected, his councils were scrupulously followed. 
More calm than they, for he was uninfluenced by local passions, he 
decided with greater discernment, he regulated with greater unity 
of design." * 

The plan of Lovola not only embraced an extended missionary 
enterprise, but the founding of institutions of learning. Colleges 
of the Jesuits were founded at Rome, throughout the Papal domin- 
ions, and their branches extended to the foreign missionary grounds. 
They were as so many hives, from Avhich swarmed hosts of those 
who were educated and fitted for the work before them. But the 
education of missionaries was not exclusively their province. 
Engrafted into the system, was the design of its founder to raise 
up a new class of well educated men, in all the departments of ht- 
erature, the arts and sciences. The colleges were munificently 
endowed; learning had a new impetus given to it. There went 
out from the institutions of the Jesuits, not only the priest, deeply 
schooled in the theology of his order, but poets, philosophers and 
statesmen; those who were well fitted to have influence in the 
political and social afl'airs of the world, as well as those who would 
promote the predominating object,— the laying of a broader plat- 
form for their church, and extending its sway. 

The scheme of Loyola, formidable as it was, excited the fears, 
and perhaps jealousies of the then reigning Pontiff". He regarded 
it an innovation, and withheld his approval; but his successor, 
Paul III. clothed the institute with all the attributes necessary to 
make its authority ample. 

" The genius of Champlain, whose comprehensive mind planned 
endunng establishments for French commerce, and a career of 
discovery that should carry the lilies of the Bourbons to the 
extremity of North America, could devise no method of building 
up the dominion of France in Canada, but by an alliance with the 
Hurons, or of confirming that alliance but by the establishment of 
missions.-'t He had at first encouraged the unambitious Francis- 
cans; but they, being excluded from New France, by the poHcy of 
the home government, in 1632, the conversion of the New World 
was committed to the ardent Jesuits. They had entered the land 

• HiBtory of the Jesuits by M. Cretineu-Joly. Paris. 1844. 
t Bancroft. 


before, but not under the exclusive privilege of martyrdom. As 
early as 1611 Father Biart had opened the gospel between the 
Penobscot and Kennebec, and within two years a congregation of 
faithful red men was chanting over the territory lately disputed 
and along the river banks in Maine, their morning and their even- 
ing hymns. The renewal of French emigration to Canada, and 
the committal of this western mission to the Jesuits, were simulta- 
neous. The fifteen who first arrived at Montreal, went principally 
among the Five Nations in the interior of this state. 

In the immediate dominions of the Pope, throughout the cities 
and villages of the greater portion of Europe, the disciples of 
Loyola spread themselves, and earnestly exhorted backsliders to 
return to their ecclesiastical allegiance ; stirred up the luke-warm, 
and checked the hitherto onward march of the Reformers. In 
1543, the Jesuits had missionary stations in Japan and Ethiopa; in 
the Indies and in Peru; in Brazil and Mogul; in the remotest 
Archipelagos, and the bleakest Islands; in the heart of Africa and 
on the banks of the Bosphorus; in China; at Madras and Thibet; 
in Genoa. 

The antagonist movements of the Reformers, the disciples of 
Luther and Calvin, and the new school of propagandists founded 
by Loyola, came in collision upon this continent, in the very 
earliest periods of effectual colonization. Deeply imbued with the 
spirit of the Reformation, were the founders of New England, 
and as deeply, were the founders of New France imbued with the 
spirit, the impelling zeal of Loyola. Avarice, a desire for 
dominion and gain, led the way in both quarters, and the better 
impulses of religion and its different faiths, followed. Treading in 
each others footsteps were the traders and missionaries of the 
early New England colonists; the "gospel was opened" wherever ' 
the trafficer in furs and peltries had made a stand. On the St. 
Lawrence, along the great chain of Lakes and Rivers, west to the 
valley of the Mississippi, the chaffering of the votaries of Mam- 
mon was often merged with the devotional exercises of the 
disciples of Loyola; dividing the attention of the natives between 
the " tables of the money changers," and the emblems, and 
imposing ceremonies of the Romish church. 

When the primitive, Protestant missionaries of New England, 
were wandering in its vallies, faithfully expounding the revealed 


word to their dusky auditors, gathered in their wigwams, or recli- 
ninf^ in their forest shades, the missionaries of the church of Rome, 
were displaying the emblems of salvation upon the shores of lake 
Ontario, in the settlements of the Iroquois in the interior of our 
State, upon the banks of the Niagara river, and around the shores 
of the Western Lakes. 

They were the subjects of rival nations, and the professors and 
propagators of rival creeds. No wonder perhaps, — and yet it 
was strangely at variance with the mild precepts of Him whose 
mediations they were offering to the inhabitants of the new world 
— they both brought to these shores the rankling, the spirit of 
contention, even to the sword, that was drenching some of the 
fairest portions of Europe with blood. They were contending for 
ecclesiastical, and it was the impulses of country and allegiance, 
that made them strenuous for temporal, political, dominion. Their 
influences were felt in the wars that succeeded between the 
Iroquois and the French, and the English and French. They 
were, more or less, participators in the competition for extended 
empire between those two nations. 

The writers of history, and the readers of it who are in pursuit 
of facts it is its province to gather up, have little to do with the 
merits of rival creeds. The sources of instruction are ample, 
furnished by their respective advocates. In the history of the 
advents of Catholicism and Protestantism in our early colonization 
there is much to admire, and much to condemn. 

Who will not dwell with admiration upon the details of the 
sufferings, martyrdoms, the self abasement of the ardent Catholic 
missionaries that extended civilization, planted the cross here in 
this western wilderness'? Sincerity, ardent zeal, signalized their 
advent and progress. Danger was in their wilderness paths, 
hovered around their rude forest chapels. In winter's snows and 
summer's heats, they traversed the wilderness, paddled their frail 
canoes upon our rivers and lakes; deeming health, Hfe, of little 
concern— all of temporal enjoyments, subservient to the paramount 
object: the gathering into the folds of the church of new converts; 
numbering another and another of the aboriginal nations to swell 
the conquests of their faith. Their system was fraught with 
superstition and error; yet who that reverences goodness wherever 
seen and by whatever name it may be called, will refuse to them a 


meed of praise; fail to recognize them as those who won the first 
triumphs for the cross, in this region; when "the wild tribes of the 
west bowed to the emblem of om* common faith." * 

" The Priest 

Believed the fables that he taught: 

Corrupt their forms, and yet those forms at least 

Preserved a salutary faith that wrought, 

Maugre the alloy, the saving end it sought 

Benevolence had gained such empire there. 

That even superstition had been brought 

An aspect of humanity to wear, 

And make the weal of man tlie first and only care." 

Southcy's Talcs of Paraguay. 

This is the fair side of the picture. There are blemishes, deep 
and indelible ones, in the long and eventful career of the Institute 
of Loyola. In the system itself there was error, and error and 
wrong were mingled with its triumphs, and contributed to its 
decline. Elated with its successes, it sought to rule in that to which 
it professed itself but an auxiliary, until it encountered the jealousy, 
and finally the ban of the great central power at Rome it had 
done so much to strengthen. If not the founder of the Inquisition, 
in some portions of the w'orld it availed itself of that terrible 
engine of ecclesiastical tyranny, crime and oppression. Its favorable 
aspect, is the vast amount of good it has done to the cause of 
learning in the various branches of science; the schools and hospi- 
tals it has founded; its early missions here and in many other 
benighted portions of the world. Beyond these, there is that 
which its advocates — those who are of the faith it upheld — 
cannot in our more enlightened and liberal period, look upon but 
with regret and disapprobation. 

And Protestantism too, as connected with our early colonial his- 
tory, has its pleasant and unpleasant aspects. The humble colony 
that for the sake of faith and conscience, embarked in a vessel illy 
provided, braved the winter's storms upon the ocean, and landed 
upon the bleak and inhospitable shores of New England; encoun- 
tering disease, the tomahawk of the savage, deprivation and death, 
to the fearful thinning of its at best but too feeble ranks; may well 
claim a divided admiration with the highest exercise of religious 
faith and perseverance that marked the wilderness advent of the 

* The Rev. W. J. Kipp. 


disciples of Loyola. And they were unfriended; had no shield 
of Rome, no coffers of wealth to sustain them. Their king and 
country was against them. Across the ocean, in the land they had 
fled from, to them all was darkness; and around them on the other 
hand, was a wilderness in which the lurking and stealthy foe of 
their race was to be conciliated and appeased. No light shone in 
upon them but that which came from above. In process of time, 
( and that not long extended, ) there was an Eliot and a May- 
hew that contested the palm of missionary zeal and daring, 
with a Marquette and a Brebeup. They furnished examples of 
benignity, simplicity, and heroic patience, such as the world has 
seldom, if ever, witnessed. The one gave the Indians a Bible in 
their own dialect; the other perished in an ocean voyage under- 
taken to bring more laborers into the field of missionary entei'prise. 
Protestant missions early spread throughout New England, along 
the shores of the Hudson, up the valley of the Mohawk. They 
numbered in their train a band of faithful and devoted men. In the 
infant colonies upon the Chesapeake Bay, Harriot first displayed 
the Bible to the natives and inculcated its truths; and Robert 
Hunt, who had left behind him his happy English home, came as a 
peace-maker to a turbulent colony, and to act as a mediator 
between the natives and their molesters. Had the Jesuits among 
their neophytes their sainted Seneca maiden, — Catharine Tegah- 
KOuiTA, the "Genevieve of New France " — the Protestants upon 
the Bay of the Chesapeake, numbered among their converts a 
PocHAHONTAs: — "the first sheaf of her nation offered to God — 
the consecration of her charms in early life that mercy might spare 
her the sight of her nation's ruin by an early death." * 

But in after times Protestantism had its tyrannies and persecu- 
tions; its intemperate zeal, bigotry and coersive auxiliaries; its 
banishments, proscriptions, and tribunals of faith. Did the disciples 
of Loyola in other countries avail themselves of the inquisition; 
enforce cruel, world-forsaking monastic vows; the disciples of 
Calvin in New England, erected the gibbet and hunted to the 
scaffold, the non-conformist, the heretic, and the unhappy men and 
women whom their dark superstition accused of witchcraft. 

The wrongs that were perpetrated in the old world by the 
institute of the Jesuits, cannot fairly be made to dim the lustre of 

From a friend's manuscript. 


the forest advent of the faithful men of the order that pioneered 
the way to civiUzation in this region. The wrong doing — the 
intolerance and bigoted persecutions of the early Puritans identified 
with colonization in another quarter, should be hardly remembered 
in view of the part their descendants have finally borne, in rearing 
our proud fabric of religious and political freedom. 

The Institute of Loyola has had a chequered existence; unex- 
ampled success at one period, decline and proscription at another. 
For a long period enjoying the high favor of a succession of Popes, 
then suppressed by one, to be soon restored to favor by another. 
It was founded near the middle of the sixteenth century, and had 
an almost uninterrupted career of success, upon a scale of mag- 
nificence but feebly indicated in the preceding pages. In 1759, 
Joseph I, of Portugal, declared the Jesuits traitors and rebels, 
confiscated their goods and banished them. In 1762 the institution 
was declared "incompatible with the institutions of France," and 
the Jesuits received orders to abandon their houses and colleges, 
and adopt a secular dress. Soon after, they were accused of 
fomenting a popular insurrection in Madrid, and expelled from 
Spanish territory. The example was speedily followed by the 
King of Naples, and the Duke of Parma. In 1773 the order was 
suppressed by a bull from Pope Clement XIV. For forty-one 
years the order had no existence save in its scattered and proscribed 
adherents. In 1814, Pius Vll published the bull for its resto- 
ration. From that period to the present, the order has been 
constantly progressive. It has revived many of its missionary 
stations, re-opened its colleges, convents and hospitals; and again 
been dispersing its missionaries over the globe. 

The whole number of Jesuits that came to this country from 
their first advent in 1611, up to 1833, was twelve hundred. When 
France ceded their possessions east of the Mississippi, to England 
in 1763, they were forbidden to recruit their numbei's; thus as the 
old members died, the communities became extinct. The whole, 
or the greater part of the property of the Jesuits has been held by 
the British government. The Catholic institutions in the United 
States and Canada, have now, with few exceptions, no connection 
with them. 

It only remains to speak of the remote results of these early 
missionary efforts. So far as they bear upon our country now. 


they may seem slight and unworthy of notice; yet they form a 
prominent feature in our colonial history. 

The immediate results of the Jesuit missions, were hopeful and 
stimulatinf^. So long as the natives had no patterns of Christianity 
to follow but the apostle, bringing his own and his Redeemer's cross 
among them, they could only revere the new religion, and wrestle 
against it, as passion warring with conscience. Under such 
influences, christian virtues were blooming along the path of the 
messengers from Norridgewok to the bay of Che-goi-me-gon. It 
is a pleasing relief to turn aside from the almost unremitted din of 
battle which raged around the progress of settlement in this land, 
and the wrangling encounters of opinion within the borders of New 
England, to the quiet heroism of the Jesuits, as they went forth 
carrying the *' Prayer" (as the Indians termed their religion,) 
building chapels where the rude wigwams had been man's only 
resting place, and bringing whole villages from the wild wonder of 
an indefinite fear, to the subdued awe of worshipping believers; — 
the moral prodigy, the emblem of earth's redemption, the sway of 
the man of peace, over the men of war. It is a singular fact that 
these missionaries succeeded in fixing religious principle without 
the tedious and patient process of literary education and subtle 
reasoning. In an early part of the eighteenth century an effort 
was made on the part of the Protestants to draw oflf the Abenakis 
from their attachments to the faith of the Jesuits. The Rev. 
Joseph Baxter, of Medfield, Mass., was despatched on this work, 
but was obliged to return after being patiently heard, confessing 
himself foiled by the unwillingness of the natives to learn any 
better way. The iinmediate results of the Jesuit missions were 
blessed. Of the remote results, little is to be said in praise. It was 
something that, by their carrying the cross of life before the 
artillery of death, souls of the red men might be enrolled among 
the redeemed from every kindred, ere the white man had spoiled 
their religion and blotted out their name. But the danger which 
the Jesuits foresaw, came upon their converts. The remote result 
was as they feared. Said Father Marest, writing from Kaskasias 
in Illinois: — "should any of the whites who came among us make 
a profession of licentiousness, or perhaps irreligion, their pernicious 
example would make a deeper impression upon the minds of the 
Indians than all that we could say to preserve them from the same 


disorders. They would not fail to reproach us as they have 
already done in some places, that we take advantage of the facility 
with which they believe us; that the laws of Christianity are not as 
severe as we represent them to be; since it is not to be credited 
that persons as enlightened as the French, and brought up in the 
bosom of religion, would be willing to rush to their own destruction, 
and precipitate themselves into hell, if it were true that such and 
such an action merited a punishment so terrible." The danger 
was more than the missionary feared; it was first the insinuating 
pestilence of corruption, and then the sword of extermination. 
Mark the transformation in the beautiful lines of Whittier: 

" On the brow of a hill which slopes to meet 
The flowing river and bathe at its feet, 
A rude and mishapely chapel stands, 
Built up in that wild by unskilled hands ; 
Yet the traveller knows it a place of prayer. 
For the holy sign of the cross is there ; 
And should he chance at that place to be. 

Of a Sabbath morn on some hallowed day. 
Well might the traveller start to see 

The tall dark forms that take their way 
From the birch canoe on the river shore. 
And the forest paths to that chapel door ; 
And marvel to mark the naked knees, 

And the dusky foreheads bending there, — 
And, stretching his long thin arms over these. 

In blessing and in prayer. 
Like a shrouded spectre, pale and tall. 
In his coarse white vesture. Father Ralle." 

But now, 

"No wigwam smoke is curling there ; 
The very earth is scorched and bare ; 
And they pause and listen to catch a sound 
Of breathing life, but there comes not one. 
Save the fox's bark, and the rabbit's bound ; 
And here and there on the blackening ground. 

Note. — Father Ralle was a missionary among the Abenakis, in 1724. His juissiou 
station was upon the Kennebec in Maine, near the village of Norridgewok. In the 
war which the English and their Indian allies w^aged against the Abenakis, he was a 
victim. When a hostile band approached his village of converts, he presented himself, 
in hopes to save his flock ; but fell under a discharge of musketry. So says the Jesuit 
Relations. Hutchinson says he shut himself up in a wigwam, from which he firedupoa 
the English. A cross and a rude monument marked the spot until 1833, when an 
acre of land was purchased including the site of Ralle's church and his grave, and 
over his grave a shaft erected twenty feet high, surmounted by a cross, in the presence 
of a large concourse of people. Bishop Fenwick directed the ceremonies, and 
delivered an address. Delegates from the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Canada 
Indians were present. 


White bones are glistening in the sun, 
And where the house of prayer arose, 
And the holy hymn at daylight's close. 
And the aged priest stood up to bless 
The children of the wilderness, 

There is nought save ashes sodden and dank, 
And the birchen boats of the Norridgewok, 
Tethered to tree and stump and rock. 

Rotting along the river bank." 

The Jesuits faded away with the decHne, or end of French 
dominion east of the Mississippi, in 1763. There is httle beyond 
such relics as are found of Father Ralle, [see preceding note,) to 
mark their advent here. At the west, their presence can be but 
dimly traced; the reHgion they inculcated exists among some of 
the Indian tribes, but hardly sufficient to identify it; the rude cross 
occasionally found at the head of an Indian grave, is perhaps as 
distinct evidence as any that exists, (other than faithful records,) of 
the early visit and long stay of the Catholic missionaries, upon the 
borders of our western lakes, and in the upper vallies of the 
Mississippi. Among the Indians of Western New York, all that 
remains to mark the Jesuit missionary advent, is the form of the 
cross in their silver ornaments. 

How different has been the destiny of the Protestant advent 
upon the shores of New England ! The Pilgrim Fathers — cotem- 
porary with the Jesuits, — spread their faith among the natives, 
with nearly as little success perhaps; but they maintained their 
ground, became a part of the great fabric of religious and political 
freedom that was rearing; their impress is indelibly stamped upon 
our country and its institutions. 



IT, FROBI 1627 TO 1763. 

This embraces a period of one hundred and thirty-six years; 
or, the entire French occupancy from the period of effectual 
colonization under Champlain upon the St. Lawrence, to that of 
English conquest, and the end of French dominion east of the 

The long succession of interesting events; the details of the 
French and Indian, and French and English wars; belong to our 
general history. For the purposes of local history it will only 
be necessary to embrace, with any considerable degree of minute- 
ness, such portions of them as had a direct local relation. 

But little success attended the first efforts of colonization upon 
the St. Lawrence. Fourteen years after the founding of Quebec, 
(in 1662) the population was reduced to fifty souls. The ill-success 
was principally owing to the hostiUties of the Iroquois; that had 
been first excited by the unfortunate alliance of Champlain with 
the Hurons; the rivalry between different interests in the fur trade; 
and jarring and discord arising out of a mixed population of Catho- 
lics and Protestants, who brought to the New World much of the 
intolerance that characterized that period. Most of the colonists 
were mere adventurers; more intent upon present gain, if indeed 
most of them had any definite purposes beyond the freedom from 
restraint, the perfect liberty that an ill-governed far off colony 
offered to them; than upon any well regulated efforts at 

In order to adjust dissensions that existed in the colony, produce 
harmony of effort, and generally, to strengthen the colonial enter- 
prize, in 1627 Cardinal Richelieu organized what was called the 


company of New France— or, company of an Hundred Partners. 
The primary object of the association, was the conversion of the 
Indians to the Catholic faith, by the co-operation of the zealous 
Jesuits; the secondary, an extension of the fur trade, of commerce 
generally, and to discover a route to the Pacific ocean and China 
through the great rivers and lakes of New France. This company 
was invested not only with a monopoly of trade, but with a 
religious monopoly; protestants and ''other heretics" were entirely 
excluded. An inauspicious commencement: — monopoly and 
bigotry went hand in hand. It was in the order of Providence that 
neither, in whatever form they might assume, should have any 
permanent success upon this side of the Atlantic. 

The company stipulated to send to New France, three hundred 
tradesmeji, and to supply them with all necessary utensils for three 
years; after which time they were to grant to each workman 
sufficient land for his support, and grain for seed. The company 
also stipulated to colonize the lands embraced in their charter, 
with six thousand inhabitants, before the year 1643, and to provide 
each settlement with three Catholic priests, whom they were to 
support for fifteen years. The cleared land was then to be granted 
to the Catholic clergy for the maintenance of the church. Certain 
prerogatives were at the same time secured to the king; such as 
religious supremacy, homage as sovereign of the country, the right 
of nominating commandants of the forts and the officers of justice, 
and on each succession to the throne the acknowledgement of a 
crown of gold weighing thirteen marks. The company had also 
the right of conferring titles of distinction, some of which were 
required to be confirmed by the king. The right to traffic in 
peltries, and engage in other commerce, other than the cod and 
whale fisheries, was at the same time granted in the charter. The 
king presented the company two ships of war, upon condition that 
the value should be refunded, if fifteen hundred French inhabitants 
were not transported into the country in the first ten years. The 
descendants of Frenchmen inhabiting New Prance, and all savages 
who should be converted to the Catholic faith, were permitted to 
enjoy the same privileges as natural born subjects; and all artificers 
sent out by the company, who had spent six years in the French 
colony, were permitted to return and settle in any town in France. 

The design of the government, was to strengthen the claims of 
France to territory in North America. The company, as was 


afterwards demonstrated, designed to benefit themselves, through 
the extension of the fur trade. 

Champlain was appointed Governor. For the first few years, 
the colony, from various causes connected with its remote position 
ft'om the parent country; the hardships of the forest, and the hos- 
tility of the Iroquois, suffered extremely, and was almost upon the 
point of breaking down. Ships that had been sent out with sup- 
plies had been captured by Sir David Kerth, then in the employ- 
ment of the British Crown. The depredations of the Iroquois kept 
the colony in check, diminished their numbers, and crippled their 
exertions, until the year 1629, when the French adventurers were 
involved in the deepest distress. Kerth who had succeeded in 
cutting oflT several expeditions of supply vessels from France, and 
finally reducing them almost to starvation, sailed up the St. Law- 
rence and made an easy conquest of Quebec, on the 20th, July, 
1629. In October following, Champlain returned to France; most 
of his company, however, having remained in Canada. 

About this period, a peace was concluded between England and 
France, by the treaty of St, Germaine. This restored to France, 
Quebec, with its other possessions upon this continent. Cha3Iplain 
resumed the government of Canada. The Jesuits with their 
accustomed zeal commenced anew their efforts; and from this 
period to the final English conquests in 1759, a rivalship and 
growing hostiUty, partly religious and partly commercial, took 
place between the English and French colonists, which was 
evinced by mutual aggressions, at some periods, while profound 
peace existed between their respective sovereigns in Europe. 

Champlain in his return from France to resume his office of 
governor, came with a squadron provided with necessary supplies 
and armaments. A better organization of the colonial enterprise 
was had; measures were adopted to reconcile existing difficulties, 
growing out of the immoral principles of the emigrants, and to 
prevent the introduction into the colony of any but those of fair 

Note. — The colonization of New France, commenced but with little regard to the 
character of the colonists. It was rather such as could be induced to come out, than 
such as the Company would have preferred. The prisons and work houses of France, 
a discharged soldiery, and those generally with whom no change could be for the worse, 
formed a large portion of the early colonists. The Baron la Hontan, who came out to 
Quebec in the year 1683, speaks of this eis well as all things that came under his 
observation, with much freedom: — "Most of the inhabitants are a free sort of people 
that removed hither from France and brought with them but little money to set up 

110 History of the 

In 1635 a colleo-e of the order of Jesuits was established at 
Quebec, which was of great advantage in improving the morals of 
the people, that had grown to a state of open licentiousness. 

At this period the colony suffered a great misfortune in the death 
of Champlaix. "With a mind warmed into enthusiasm by the 
vast domain of wilderness that was stretched out before him, and 
the glorious visions of future grandeur which its resources opened; 
a man of extraordinary hardihood and the clearest judgment; a 
brave officer and a scientific seaman; his keen forecast discerned, 
in the magnificent prospect of the country which he occupied, the 
elements of a mighty empire of which he had hoped to be founder. 
With a stout heart and ardent zeal, he had entered upon the 
project of colonization; he had disseminated valuable knowledge of 
its resources by his explorations; and had cut the way through 
hordes of savages, for the subsequent successful progress of the 
French towards the lakes." * 

During the administration of Montneagny, who succeeded 
Champlain, the colony made but little progress, except in the 
extension of its trade in furs. 

The religious institutions of the Jesuits about this period, were 
considerably augmented; a seminary was established at Sillery, 
near Quebec; the convent of St. Ursula at Quebec, estabHshed by 
Madame de la Peltrie, a young widow of rank, who had engaged 
several Sisters of the Ursulines at Tours, with whom she sailed 
from Dieppe in a vessel which she chartered at her own expense. 

withal. The rest are those who were soldiers about thirty or forty years ago, at which 
time the regiment of Carigan was broken up." * » * "After this, several ships 
were sent hither from France, with a cargo of women of an ordinary reputation. The 
vestal virgins were heaped up, (if I may so speak), one above another, in three 
different apartments, where the bridegrooms singled out their brides just as a butcher 
does a ewe from amongst a flock of sheep. In these three seraglios there was such a 
variety and change of diet as could satisfy the most whimsical appetites ; for here was 
Bome big, some little, some fair, some brown, some fat and some meagre. In fine, 
ever}- one might be fitted to his mind: — and indeed the market had such a run, that in 
fifteen days time they were all disposed of I am told that the fattest went oflf best, 
under the apprehension that these being less active, would keep truer to their engage- 
ments, and hold out better against the nipping cold of winter." * * * "In some 
parts of the world to which vicious European women are transported, the mob of those 
countries do seriously believe that their sins are so defaced by the ridiculous christening 
I took notice of before, that they are looked upon ever after as ladies of virtue, of 
honor, and untarnished conduct of life." * » * » After the choice was determined 
the marriage was concluded upon the spot, in the presence of a priest and a pubhc 
notan,- ; and the next day the Governor General, bestowed upon the married couple, a 
bull, a cow, a hog, a sow, a cock, a hen, two barrels of salt meat and eleven crowns." 

* History of Illinois. 


A seminary of the order of St. Sulpicious was also founded at 

The Company of New France came short of fulfilling their 
charter. Little was done by them either to encourage the settle- 
ment of the country, or for the advancement of agriculture, the 
fur trade almost engrossing their attention. In the remote points 
of the wilderness, forts of rude construction had been erected; but 
these were merely posts of defence, or depots of the trade, the 
dominions of which, at that early period, stretched through tracks 
of wilderness large enough for kingdoms. The energies of the 
colonists were cramped by the Iroquois, who hung hke hungry 
M^olves around the track of the colonists, seeking to glut their 
vengeance against the French by butchering the people, and plun- 
dering the settlements whenever opportunities occurred. 

In 1640 Montreal was selected to be the nearest rendezvous for 
converted Indians. The event was celebrated by a solemn mass. 
In August of the same year, in the presence of the French gath- 
ered from all parts of Canada, and of the native warriors sum- 
moned from the wilderness, the festival of the assumption was 
solemnized on the Island itself. In 1647, the traders and mission- 
aries had broken out from the St. Lawrence and advanced as far as 
the shores of Lake Huron. Previous to 1666, trading posts were 
established at Michillimackinac, Sault St. Marie, Green Bay, 
Chicago, and St. Joseph. 

The progress of the missionaries and traders was slow around 
the shores of the western lakes. After one post was established, 
it was in most instances the work of years to advance and occupy 
another position. In 1665, Father Claude Allouez entered the 
great village of the Chippeways at the bay of Che-goi-me-gon 
A council was convened at the time, to prepare for threatened 
hostilities with the Sioux of the Mississippi. "The soldiers of 
France," said Allouez, "will smooth the path between the Cliip- 
peways and Quebec, brush the pirate canoes from the intervening 
rivers, and leave to the Five Nations, no alternative, but peace or 
destruction." The admiring savages, who then for the first time 
looked upon the face of a white man, were amazed at the picture 
he displayed of "hell and the last judgement." He soon lighted 
the Catholic torch at the council fires of more than tM^enty difterent 
nations. The Chippeways pitched their tents near his cabin to 
receive instruction. The Pottowotamies came hither from lake 


Michigan, and invited him to their homes. The Sacs and Foxes 
imitated their example, and the IlUnois, diminished in numbers and 
glory by repeated wars with the Sioux of the Mississippi on the 
one hand, and the Iroquois, or Five Nations, armed with muskets, 
on the other, came hither to rehearse their sorrows. 

Marquette was the pioneer beyond the lakes. He was early at 
St. Mary's, with Allouez, assisting in the conversion of the 
Indians, and in extending the influence of France. "He belonged 
to that extraordinary class of men (the Jesuit missionaries,) who, 
mino-ling happiness with suffering, purshased for themselves undy- 
ing glory. Exposed to the inclemencies of nature and to savage 
hostilities, he took his life in his hand and bade them defiance; 
waded through water and through snows without the comfort of 
a fire, subsisted on pounded maize, and was frequently without 
food, except the unwholesome moss he gathered from the rocks. 
He labored incessantly in the cause of his Redeemer — slept with- 
out a resting place, and travelled far and wide, but never without 
peril. Still, said he, life in the wilderness has charms — his heart 
swelled with rapture as he moved over waters transparent as the 
most limpid fountain. Living like a patriarch beneath his tent, 
each day selecting a new site for his dwelling, which he erected in 
a few minutes, with a never failing floor of green, inlaid with 
flowers provided by nature; his encampment on the prairie resem- 
bled the pillar of stones where Jacob felt the presence of God, the 
venerable oaks around his tent — the tree of Mamre, beneath 
which Abrahabi broke bread with the angels." * 

The ministers of Louis the XIV. and Colbert, with Talon, the 
intendant of the colony, had formed a plan to extend the power of 
France from sea to sea. A vague idea had been obtained from the 
natives, that a great river flowed through the country beyond the 
Lakes, in a southerly direction. Marquette, selecting for his 
companion, Joliet, a citizen of Quebec, and for his guide, a young 
Indian of the Illinois tribe, undertook the mission of its discovery. 

Previous to his departure, a great council was held at St. Mary's. 
Invitations were sent to all the tribes around and beyond the head 
waters of lake Superior, even to the wandering hordes of the 
remotest north; to the Pottawatomies at Green Bay, and to the 
Miamis of Chicago. St. Lusan appeared as the delegate of 

Brown's History of Illinois. 


France. "It was then announced to the assembled envoys of the 
wild Republicans thus congregated together from the springs of 
the St. Lawrence, the Mississippi, and the Red river, that they 
were placed under the protection of Louis XIV. , the king of 
France. Allouez acted as interpreter, and brilliantly clad officers 
from the veteran armies of Europe, mingled in the throng. *A 
cross of red cedar was then raised, and the whole company bowing 
before the emblem of man's redemption, chanted to its glory a 
hymn of the seventh century;' and planting by its side a cedar 
column on which were engraved the arms of the Bourbons, it was 
supposed that the authority and faith of France was permanently 
united upon this continent."* 

On the 10th of June, 1673, Marquette and Joliet, with five 
Frenchmen as companions, transported upon their shoulders, across 
the narrow passage which divides the Fox river of Green Bay 
from the Wisconsin of the Mississippi, two bark canoes, and 
launched them upon its waters. The Indians to whom Mar- 
quette had imparted his design, endeavored to dissuade him from 
it. " Those distant nations," they said, " never spare the stranger 
— the great river abounds with monsters which devour both men 
and canoes." "I shall gladly," replied Marquette, "lay down my 
life for the salvation of souls." "The tawny savage, and the 
humble missionary of Jesus, thereupon united in prayer."! " My 
companion," said Marquette," is an envoy of France to discover 
new countries; and I am an embassador from God to enlighten 
them with the gospel." 

The party floated down the Wisconsin between alternate hills 
and prairies, without seeing man, or the wonted beasts of the 
forests, during which no sound broke the appalling silence, save 
the ripple of their own canoes, and the lowing of the buffalo. 
They entered the great "Father of waters," with a joy that 
could not be expressed. After descending the Mississippi about 
sixty leagues, they were attracted by a well beaten trail that came 
down to the water's edge. Halting, and tracing it for six miles 
they came to three Indian villages, on the banks of the Des: 
Moines. Entering one of them, four old men advanced bearing a 
peace-pipe. " We are Illinois " f said they, and offered the calu- 

* History of Illinois t Bancroft. t " We are men." 



met. " An aged chief received them at his cabin with upraised 
hands, exclaiming, 'how beautiful is the sun, Frenchmen, when 
thou comest to visit us. Our whole village awaits thee; thou shall 
enter in peace mto all our dwellings.' And the pilgrmis were 
followed by the devouring gaze of an astonished crowd. 

The party descended the Mississippi to the mouth of the 
Arkansas, and returning, entered the mouth of the Illinois. Coming 
up that river, they visited the villages upon its banks, the humility 
and kind words of Marquette conciliating and winning the favor 
of their inhabitants. In all the different nations and tribes the 
party had encountered in their long voyage, there was no demon- 
strations of' hostility, except at one village, low down in their route 
on the western bank of the Mississippi. There, the natives 
assembled, armed for war, and threatened an attack. "Now," 
thought Marquette, " we must indeed ask the aid of the virgin;" 
but trusting rather to the potency of a peace-pipe, embellished 
with the head and neck of brilliant birds, that had been hung round 
his neck by the chieftain upon the Des Moines, he raised it aloft. 
At the sight of the mysterious emblem, " God touched the hearts 
of the old men, who checked the impetuosity of the young; and 
throwing their bows and quivers into the canoes, as a token of 
•peace, they prepared a hospitable welcome."* The tribe of 
Illinois, that inhabited its bank, entreated Marquette to come and 
reside among them. One of their chiefs, with their young men, 
conducted the party by the way of Chicago to lake Michigan; and 
before the end of September, all were safe in Green Bay. 

Thus, Marquette and Joliet, with their few companions, were 
the pioneer navigators of the Mississippi; above the mouth of the 
Arkansas; f the first Europeans to tread the soil of Wisconsin, 
Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. But it remained for another bold 

NoTK. — It is worthy of remark here, that most of these Indian nations of the West 
hated and feared the Iroquois. The early French adventurers knew well how to profit 
by this. With more of good policy them truth, they were careful to represent them- 
eelves as the enemies of the Iroquois, and to add that the great captain of the French 
had chastised the Five Nations and commanded peace. In these first villages of the 
Illinois that Marquette and Johet visited, a festival of fish, hominy, and the choicest 
viands from the prairies was prepared for the messengers who brought the glad tidings 
that the Iroquois had been subjugated. 

• Jesuit Relations. 

tFe»dinand De Soto, a Spanish adventurer, had in 1541, entered the mouth of 
the Mississippi, and ascended it probably as far up as the mouth of the Arkansas. 


adventurer with more enlarged views; one who is identified 
prominently with our immediate local history, to complete the 

And what an advent was that of the indefatigable Jesuit ! He 
was highly educated, as were most of those of his order, that came 
out to the unexplored regions of the New World. He was a lover 
of nature in its rudeness, simplicity, beauty and grandeur. No 
wonder, that floating down the majestic river; viewing its banks 
upon either hand, their rich and variegated scenery; or up the 
Illinois, catching glimpses of wide prairies, skirted with wood-lands 
and carpeted with wild flowers, the buffalo and deer grazing and 
sporting upon them; flocks of swan and ducks rising upon the wing, 
or seeking shelter from the strangers in coves and inlets; — that 
he became an enthusiast; worshipped with increased devotion the 
Author of all things, to whose service he had dedicated himself; 
mingled with his prayers and thanksgivings, his admiration of the 
beautiful waters and landscapes that he was assisting to bring 
within the pale of his church, and under the temporal dominion of 
his king. 

JoLiET returned to Quebec to announce the discoveries: 
Marquette remained to preach the gospel among the Miamis 
who dwelt near Chicago. " Two years afterwards, sailing from 
Chicago to Macldnac, he entered a little river in Michigan. 
Erecting an altar, he said mass after the rites of the Catholic 
Church; then begging the men who conducted his canoe to leave 
him alone for half an hour; 

-" in the darkling wood, 

Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down, 
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks 
And supplication. ' ' ' 

At the end of the half hour, they went to seek him, and he was 
no more ! The good missionary, discoverer of a world, had fallen 
asleep on the margin of the stream that bears his name. Near its 
mouth the canoe-men dug his grave in the sand. Ever after the 
forest rangers, if in danger on lake Michigan, would invoke his 
name. The people of the west will build his monument." * 

The success of Marquette and Joliet was destined to confirm 

* Bancroit 


another adventurer, in his previously half formed resolutions to 
enter upon a broader and farther extended field of discovery; to 
lead another to find an uninterrupted navigation through a chain of 
lakes and rivers to the " country of the Illinois," and finally to 
trace the " great river" they had discovered, to its source. 


An event transpiring within our borders, upon the banks of the 
Niagara, of so much local and general interest as the building and 
launching of the first sail vessel that floated*" upon the waters of 
lake Erie, demands especial notice, and more of minute detail than 
can be bestowed generally upon events preceding the main objects 
of this work. It was the pioneer advent of our vast inland 
commerce, the sails of which are now spread out upon our long 
chain of lakes and rivers, upon the borders and in the valleys of 
which an Empire has sprung into existence ! A commerce equal to 
the export trade of the whole union, with foreign countries; its 
principal mart, the "City of the Lakes," the young, the rapidly 
advancing emporium of the great West, and Western New York. 
Here, it will only be necessary to speak of the humble beginning 
of all this; its first slow, and after rapid progress, will occupy 
succeeding pages. 

Robert Cavalier de la Salle, was a native of France, of 
good family, of extensive learning, and possessed an ample fortune. 
He renounced his inheritance by entering the seminary of the 
Jesuits. After profiting by the discipline of their schools, and 
obtaining their praise for purity and vigilance, he had taken his 
discharge from their fraternity. With no companion but poverty, 
but with a boundless spirit of enterprise, about the year 1667, when 
the attention of all France was directed towards this continent, the 
young adventurer embarked for fame and fortune in the new 
world. Established at first as a fur trader at La Chine, he 
explored lake Ontario and ascended to lake Erie. Returning to 
France in 1775, by the aid of Count Frontenac he obtained the 
rank of nobility, and the grant of Fort Frontenac, now Kingston, 
on condition of maintaining a post there. The grant was in fact 
the concession of a large domain, and a monopoly of the traffic 
with the Five Nations. 


" In the portion of the wilderness of which the young man was 

Eroprietary, cultivated fields proved the fertility of the soil; his 
era of cattle multiplied; groups of Iroquois built their cabins in the 
environs; a few French settled under his shelter; a few Franciscans 
now tolerated in Canada, renewed their missions under his 
auspices; the noble forest invited the construction of log cabins and 
vessels with decks; and no canoe-men in Canada could shoot a 
rapid with such address as the pupils of La Salle."* 

This was destined to be with him but a short stopping place; 
"flocks and herds," a small spot in the wilderness converted to 
rural civilized life, was not the climax of his ambition. He aspired 
to higher achievments than to be the patron of a village, or a 
trading post. The voyages of Columbus, and a history of the 
rambles of De Soto, were among the books he had brought with 
him from home. When Joliet returned from the west, after his 
tour with Marquette, he took Fort Frontenac in his way, and 
spread the news of the brilliant discoveries they had made. La 
Salle had caught from the Iroquois a glimpse of the Ohio and its 
course, and some accounts of a new and hitherto undiscovered 
country bordering upon it. He conceived the design of making it 
the country of his prince. It was he who first proposed the union 
of New France with the valley of the Mississippi, and suggested 
their close connection by a line of military posts. He proposed 
also to open the commerce of Europe to them both, and for that 
purpose repaired to France. 

By his earnest, bold enthusiasm, — his tone of confidence in 
ultimate success — he made patrons of his enterprise, Colbert, the 
minister of Louis XIV., and at the instance of the Marquis de 
Seigneilly, Colbert's eldest son, he procured the exclusive right 
of a traffic in buffalo skins and a commission for the discovery of 
the Great River. The commission was as follows: — 



" Louis, hy the grace of God, king of France and Navarre, to our dear and well 
beloved Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, greeting: — 

"We have received with favor the very humble petition which has been presented 
to us in j'our name, to permit you to endeavor to discover the western part of our 
country of New France; and we have consented to this proposal the more willingly 
because there is nothing we have more at heart than the discovery of this country, 
through which it is probable that a passage may be found to Mexico; and because your 

* Bancroft. 


diligence in clearing the land which we granted to you by the decree of our council of 
the 13th of May, 1675, and by letters patent of the same date, to form habitations upon 
the same lauds, and to put Tort Frontenac in a good state of defence, the Seigniory and 
government whereof we likewise granted to you; afFords us every reason to hope that 
you will succeed to our satisfacUon, and to the advantage of our subjects of the said 


" For these reasons, and others thereunto moving us, we have permitted, and do 
hereby permit you, by these presents, signed by our hand, to endeavor to discover the 
western part of our country of New France ; and for the execution of this enterprise, 
to construct forts wherever you shall deem it necessary; which it is our will you shall 
hold on the same terms and conditions as Fort Frontenac, agreeably and conformably 
to our said letters patent of the 13th of May, 1675, which we have confirmed as far as 
is needful, and hereby confirm by these presents, — and it is our pleasure that they be 
executed according to their form and tenure. 

•' To accomplish this, and every thing above mentioned, we give you full powers; 
on condition however, that you shall finish this enterprise in five years, iujiipfa^t of 
which their pursuits shall be void and of none effect; that you carry on lU tra^e 
whatever, with the savages called Outaouacs, and others, who bring their beaver skins 
and other peltries to Montreal; and that the whole shall be done at your expense, and 
that of your company to which we have granted the privilege of trade in buffalo skins. 
And we call on Sieur de Frontenac our governor and lieutenant general, and on Sieur 
de Chesneau, intendant of justice, policy and finance, and on the officers who compose 
the supreme council in said country, to affix their signatures to these presents; for such 
is our pleasure. Given at St. Germaine en Laye, this 12th day of May, 1678, and of 
our reign the thirty-fifth. 

[Signed] LOUIS. 


Accompanied by Tonti, an Italian, and Father Hennepin, a 
number of mechanics and mariners, with military and naval 
stores, and goods for the Indian trade, he arrived at Fort Frontenac 
in 1678. In the fall of that year, a wooden canoe of ten tons, the 
first that ever entered the Niagara river, bore a part of his com- 
pany to the foot of the rapids, at Lewiston. He established a 
trading post upon the present site of Fort Niagara. The work of 
ship-building was immediately commenced. The keel of a small 
vessel of sixty tons burthen, was laid at the mouth of Cayuga 
creek. * 

* This locality has been questioned. Governor Cass, locates La Salle's ship yard at 
Erie; Mr Bancroft at the mouth of the Tonawanda, or rather did so in his history of 
the United States, In a letter to the author, dated London May 17th, 1848, he says: — 
" As to the ship building of La Salle above Niagara Falls, Mr. Catlin is quite con- 
fident it took place upon the opposite or Canada side of the river. His local knowledge 
is greater than mine, and his opinion merits the most respectful consideration." In 
coming to this conclusion, Mr Catlin must have set aside the authority of Hennepin, 
who was present and taking note of all that was passing at the time. He says the ship- 
building was commenced " two leagues above the Falls." This to be sure does not 
determine which side of the river it was; but it is determined in a portion of his journal 
that follows, that the portage of these first adventurers was upon this side. After the 
vessel was built Hennepin went to Fort Frontenac, and returning to join his comrades 


ToNTi and Hennepin, venturing among the Senecas, established 
relations of amity; while La Salle urged on the completion of 
his vessel; gathering, at the same time, furs from the natives, and 
sending on messengers with merchandize to trade for furs and 
skins, and to apprise the Illinois of his intended visit, and prepare 
the way for his reception. 

" Under the auspices of La Salle, Europeans first pitched a tent 
at Niagara; it was he who in 1679, amid the salvo from his Httle 
artillery, the chanting of the Te Deum, and the astonished gaze 
of the Senecas, first launched a wooden vessel, a bark of sixty 
tons, on the upper Niagara river, and in the Griffin, * freighted 
with a colony of fur traders for the valley of the Mississippi, on 
the 7th. day of August, unfurled a sail to the breezes of lake Erie." 

The following is Hennepin's account of the advent of La Salle 
upon the Niagara river, the building and launching of the Grif- 
fin, &c. : — 

*'0n the 14th day of January, 1679, we arrived at our cabin at 
Niagara, to refresh ourselves from the fatigues of our voyage. 
We had nothing to eat but Indian corn. Fortunately, the white 
fish, of which I have heretofore spoken, were just then in season. 
This delightful fish served to reUsh our corn. We used the water 
in which the fish were boiled in place of soup. When it grows 
cold in the pot, it congeals like veal soup. 

"On the 20th, I heard, from the banks where we were, the voice 
of the Sieur de La Salle, who had arrived from Fort Frontenac f 
in a large vessel. He brought provisions and rigging necessary 
for the vessel we intended building above the great fall of Niagara, 
near the entrance into lake Erie. But by a strange misfortune, 
that vessel was lost through fault of the two pilots, who disagreed 
as to the course. 

" The vessel was wrecked on the southern shore of lakeOntario, 
ten leagues from Niagara. The sailors have named the place La 

who had gone up with the vessel to the " mouth of lake Erie " they cast anchor " at 
the foot of the three mountains,''^ and he speaks of the difficulty they had in ascending 
the three mountains with their provisions, munitions of war, &c. The three moun- 
tains were evidently. — first, the hiorh river bank at Lewiston; secondly, the distinct 
offset which may be seen near the residence of S. Scovel and thirdly, the upper ledge 
or terrace, upon the map inserted in Baron La Hontan's "voyages to North America" 
published in London, in 1703, the landing place at Lewiston is distinctly marked, and 
tlie "three mountains" of Hennepin, are called the " HiWs." Additional evidence 
could be cited. The place where the Griffin was built is clearly designated, and should 
no longer be questioned. 

* In compliment to Count Frontenac whose armorial bearings were adorned by two 
griffins, as supporters. 

tNow Kingston. 


Cap Enrase, (Mad Cap.) The anchors and cables were saved but 
the ffoods and bark canoes were lost. Such adversities would have 
caused the enterprise to be abandoned by any but those who had 
formed the noble design of a new discovery. 

"The Sieur de La Salle informed us that he had been among 
the Iroquois Senecas, before the loss of his vessel, that he had 
succeeded so well in conciliating them, that they mentioned with 
pleasure our embassy, which I shall describe in another place, and 
even consented to the prosecution of our undertaking. This 
atrrcement was of short duration, for certain persons opposed our 
desif^ns, in every possible way, and instilled jealousies into the 
minds of the Iroquois. The fort, nevertheless, which we were 
building at Niagara, continued to advance. But finally, the secret 
influences against us were so great, that the fort became an object 
of suspicion to the savages, and we were compelled to abandon its 
construction for a time, and content ourselves with building a i^abi- 
tation surrounded with palisades. 

"On the 22d we went two leagues above the great falls of 
Niagara, and built some stocks, on which to erect the vessel we 
needed for our voyage. We could not have built it in a more 
convenient place, being near a river which empties into the strait, 
which is between lake Erie and the great falls. In all my travels 
back and forth, I always carried my portable chapel upon my 

"On the 26th, the keel of the vessel and other pieces being 
ready, the Sieur de La Salle sent the master carpenter named 
MovsE, to request me to drive the first bolt. But the modesty 
appropriate to my religious profession, induced me to decline the 
honor. He then promised ten louis d'or for that first bolt, to stim- 
ulate the master carpenter to advance the work. 

" During the whole winter, which is not half as severe in this 
country as in Canada, we employed in building bark huts one of the 
two savages of the Wolf tribe, whom we had engaged for hunting 
deer. I had one hut especially designed for observing prayers on 
holidays and Sundays. Many of our people knew the Gregorian 
chant, and the rest had some parts of it by rote. 

" The Sieur de La Salle left in command of our ship yard 
one ToxTi, an Italian by birth, who had come to France after the 
revolution in Naples, in which his father was engaged. Pressing 
business compelled the former to return to Fort Frontenac, and I 
conducted him to the borders of lake Ontario, at the mouth' of the 
river Niagara. While there he pretended to mark out a house for 
the blacksmith, which had been promised for the convenience of 
the Iroquois. I cannot blame the Iroquois for not believing all that 
had been promised them at the embassy of the Sieur de La 


"Finally the Sieur de La Salle undertook his expedition on foot 
over the snow, and thus accomplished more than eighty leagues. 


He had no food, except a small bag of roasted corn, and even that 
had failed him two days' journey from the fort. Nevertheless he 
arrived safely with two men and a dog which drew his baggage 
on the ice. 

" Returning to our ship yard, we learned that the most of the 
Iroquois had gone to war beyond lake Erie, while our vessel was 
being built. Although those that remained were less violent, by 
reason of their diminished numbers, still they did not cease from 
coming often to our ship yard, and testifying their dissatisfaction at 
our doings. Some time after, one of them, pretending to be drunk 
attempted to kill our blacksmith. But the resistance which he met 
with from the smith, who was named La Forge, and who wielded 
a red hot bar of iron, repulsed him, and together with a reprimand 
which I gave the viUian, compelled him to desist. Some days 
after, a squaw advised us that the Senecas were about to set fire 
to our vessel on the stocks^ and they would, without doubt, have 
effected their object, had not a very strict watch been kept. 

" These frequent alarms, the fear of the failure of provisions, on 
account of the loss of the large vessel from Fort Frontenac, and 
the refusal of the Senecas to sell us Indian corn, discouraged our 
carpenters. They were moreover enticed by a worthless fellow, 
who often attempted to desert to New York, [JSTouveUe Joi-ck,) a 
place which is inhabited by the Dutch, who have succeeded the 
Swedes. This dishonest fellow would have undoubtedly been suc- 
cessful with our workmen, had I not encouraged them by exhorta- 
tions on holidays and Sundays after divine service. I told them 
that our enterpise had sole reference to the promotion of the glory 
of God, and the welfare of our Christian colonies. Thus I stimu- 
lated them to work more diligently in order to deliver us from all 
these apprehensions. 

"In the meantime the two savages of the Wolf tribe, whom we 
had engaged in our service, followed the chase, and furnished -us 
with roe-bucks, and other kinds of deer, for our subsistence. By 
reason of which our workmen took courage and applied themselves 
to their business with more assiduity. Our vessel was consequently 
soon in a condition to be launched, which was done, after having 
been blessed according to our church of Rome. We M^ere in 
haste to get it afloat, although not finished, that we might guard it 
more securely from the threatened fire, 

"This vessel was named The Griffin, (Le Griffon) in allusion to 
the arms of the Count de Frontenac, which have two Griffins for 
their supports. For the Sieur de La Salle had often said of this 
vessel, that he would make the Griffin fly above the crows. We 
fired three guns, then sung the Te Deum, which was followed by 
many cries of joy. 

" The Iroquois who happened to be present, partook of our joy 
and witnessed our rejoicings. We gave them some brandy to 


drink, as well as to all our men, who slung their hammocks under 
the deck of the vessel, to sleep in greater security. We then left 
our bark huts, to lodge where we were protected from the insults 
of the savages. 

"The Iroquois having returned from their beaver hunt, were 
extremely surprised to see our ship. They said we were the 
Ot-kon, which means in their language, penetrating minds. They 
could not understand how we had built so large a vessel in so short 
a time, although it was but sixty tons burthen. We might have 
called it a moving fort, for it caused all the savages to tremble, 
who lived within a space of more than five hundred leagues, along 
the rivers and great lakes. 

" I now went in a bark canoe, with one of our savage hunters, to 
the mouth of lake Erie. I ascended the strong rapids twice with 
the assistance of a pole, and sounded the entrance of the lake. It 
did not find them insurmountable for sails, as had been falsely 
represented. I ascertained that our vessel, favored by a north or 
northeast wind, reasonably strong, could enter the lake, and ,then 
sail throughout its whole extent with the aid of its sails alone; and 
if they should happen to fail, some men could be put on shore and 
tow it up the stream. 

"Before proceeding upon our voyage of discovery, I was obliged 
to return to Fort Frontenac, for two of our company to aid me in 
my religious labors. I left our vessel riding at two anchors, about 
a league and a half from lake Erie, in the strait which is between 
that lake and the great falls. I embarked in a canoe with the Sieur 
de Charon, and a savage; we descended the strait towards the 
great falls, and made the portage with our canoe to the foot of the 
great rock of which we nave spoken, where we re-embarked and 
descended to lake Ontario. We then found the barque which the 
Sieur de la Forest had brought us from Fort Frontenac. 

"After a few days, which were employed by the Sieur de la 
Forest in treating with the savages, we embarked in the vessel, 
having with us fifteen or sixteen squaws, who embraced the oppor- 
tunity, to avoid a land passage of forty leagues. As they were 
unaccustomed to travel in this manner, the motion of the vessel 
caused them great qualms at the stomach, and brought upon us a 
terrible stench in the vessel. We finally arrived at the river A-o- 
ou-e-gwa* where the Sieur de la Forest traded brandy for 
beaver skins. This traffic in strong drink was not agreeable to me, 
for if the savages drink ever so little, they are more to be dreaded 
than madmen. Our business being finished, we sailed from the 
southern to the northern shore of the lake, and, favored by fair 
wmds, soon passed the village which is on the other side of Keute 
and Ganneousse. As we approached Fort Frontenac the wind 

Probably the Genesee River. 


failed us, and I was obliged to get into a canoe with two young 
savages, before I could come to land. 

*M. 42. 4t> 4t •itr 

TT ^ TT TV* ■'«■ 

*'A few days after, a favorable wind sprung up, and fathers 
Gabriel de la Ribourde, and Zenobe Mambre, and myself, 
embarked from Fort Frontenac in the brigantine. We arrived in 
a short time at the mouth of the river of the Senecas, (Oswego 
river,) which empties into lake Ontario. While our people went 
to trade with the savages, we made a small bark cabin, half a 
league in the woods, where we might perform divine service more 
conveniently. In this way we avoided the intrusion of the sava- 
ges, who came to see our brigantine, at which they greatly 
wondered, as well as to trade for powder, guns, knives, lead, but 
especially brandy, for which they are very greedy. This was the 
reason why we were unable to arrive at the river Niagara before 
the thirtieth day of July. 

"On the 4th of August I went over land to the great falls of 
Niagara with the sergeant, named La Fleur, and from thence to 
our ship yard, which was six leagues from lake Ontario, but we did 
not find there the vessel we had built. Two young savages slyly 
robbed us of the little biscuit which remained for our subsistence. 
We found a bark canoe, half rotten, and without paddles, which 
we fitted up as well as we could, and having made a temporary 

E addle, risked a passage in the frail boat, and finally arrived on 
oard our vessel, which we found at anchor a league from the 
beautiful lake Erie. Our arrival was welcomed with joy. We 
found the vessel perfectly equipped with sails, masts, and every 
thing necessary for navigation. We found on board five small 
cannon, two of which were brass, besides two or three arquebuses. 
A spread griffin adorned the prow, surmounted by an eagle. 
There were also all the ordinary ornaments, and other fixtures, 
which usually adorn ships of war. 

"The Iroquois, who returned from war with the prisoners taken 
from their enemies, were extremely surprised to see so large a 
vessel, like a floating castle, beyond their five cantons. They 
came on board, and were surprised beyond measure, to find we 
had been able to carry such large anchors through the rapids of 
the river St. Lawrence. This obliged them to make frequent use 
of the word gannoron, which, in their language signifies, how 
wonderful. As there were no appearances of a vessel when they 
went to war, they were greatly astonished now to see one entirely 
furnished on their return, more than 250 leagues from the habita- 
tions of Canada, in a place where one was never seen before. 

"I directed the pilot not to attempt the ascent of the strong 
rapids at the mouth of lake Erie until further orders. On the 
16th and 17th, we returned to the banks of lake Ontario, and 
ascended with the barque we had brought from Fort Frontenac, 


as far as the great rock of the river Niagara. We there cast 
anchor at the foot of the three mountains, where we were obUged 
to make the portage caused by the great falls of Niagara, which 
interrupt the navigation. 

*' Father Gabriel, who was sixty-four years old, underwent all 
the fatit^ucs of this voyage, and ascended and descended three . 
times the three mountains, which are very high and steep at the 
place where the portage is made. Our people made many trips, 
to carry the provisions, munitions of war, and other necessaries, 
for the vessel. The voyage was painful in the extreme, because 
there were two long leagues of road each way. It took four men 
to carry our largest anchor, but brandy being given to cheer them, 
the work was soon accompUshed, and we all returned together to 
the mouth of lake Erie. 

^ 9F W * 'fp 'fp 

" We endeavored several times to ascend the current of the 
strait into lake Erie, but the wind was not yet strong enough. 
We were therefore obliged to wait until it should be more 

" During this detention, the Sieur de La Salle employed our 
men in preparing some ground on the western side of the strait of 
Niagara, where we planted some vegetables for the use of those 
who should come to Uve in this place, for the purpose of keeping 
up a communication between the vessels, and maintaining a corres- 
pondence from lake to lake. We found in this place some wild 
chervil and garlic, which grow spontaneously. 

" We left father Melithon at the habitation we had made above 
the great falls of Niagara, with some overseers and workmen. 
Our men encamped on the bank of the river, that the hghtened 
vessel might more easily ascend into the lake. We celebrated 
divine service on board every day, and our people, who remained 
on land, could hear the sermon on holidays and Sundays. 

" The wind becoming strong from the northeast, we embarked, 
to the number of thirty- two persons, with two of our order who 
had come to join us. The vessel was well found with arms, 
provisions and merchandise, and seven small cannon. 

"The rapids at the entrance into the lake are very strong. 
Neither man, nor beast, nor ordinary bark can resist them. It is 
therefore almost impossible to stem the current. Nevertheless, 
we accomplished it, and surmounted those violent rapids of the 
river Niagara by a kind of miracle, against the opinion of even 
our pilot himself We spread all sail, when the wind was strong 
enough, and, in the most difficult places, our sailors threw out tow 
lines, which were drawn by ten or twelve men on shore. We 
thus passed safely into lake Erie. 

"We set sail on the 7th of August, 1679, steering west south 
west. Alter having chanted the Te Deum, we fired all the cannon 


and arquebuses in presence of many Iroquois warriors, who had 
brought captives from Tintonha, that is to say, from the people of 
the prairies, who live more than 400 leagues from their cantons. 
We heard these savages exclaim, gannoron, in testimony of their 

"Some of those who saw us did not fail to report the size of 
our vessel to the Dutch at New York, (J^ouvelle Jorck), with 
whom the Iroquois carry on a great traffic in skins and furs; which 
they exchange for fire arms, and blankets, to shelter them from 
the cold. 

" The enemies of our great discovery, to defeat our enterprises, 
had reported that lake Erie was full of shoals and banks of sand, 
which rendered navigation impossible. We therefore did not omit 
sounding, from time to time, for more than twenty leagues, during 
the darkness of the night. ' 

"On the 8th, a favorable wind enabled us to make about forty- 
five leagues, and we saw almost all the way, the two distant shores, 
fifteen or sixteen leagues apart. The finest navigation in the 
world, is along the northern shores of this lake. There are three 
capes, or long points of land, which project into the lake. We 
doubled the first, which we called after St. Francis. 

"On the 9th, we doubled the two other capes, or points of land, 
giving them a wide berth. We saw no islands or shoals on the 
north side of the lake, and one large island, towards the southwest, 
about seven or eight leagues from the northern shore, opposite the 
straif which comes from lake Huron. 

"On the 10th, early in the morning, we passed between the 
large island, which is toward the southwest, and seven or eight 
small islands, and an islet of sand, situated towards the west. We 
landed at the north of the strait, through which lake Huron is 
discharged into lake Erie. 

"Aug. 11. We sailed up the strait and passed between two 
small islands of a very charming appearance. This strait is more 
beautiful than that of Niagara. It is thirty leagues long, and is 
about a league broad, except about half way, where it is enlarged, 
forming a small lake which we call Sainte Claire, the navigation of 
which is safe along both shores, which are low and even. 

"This strait is bordered by a fine country and fertile soil. Its 
course is southerly. On its banks are vast meadows, terminated 
by vines, fruit trees, groves and lofty forests, so arranged that we 
could scarcely believe but there were country seats scattered 
through their beautiful plains. There is an abundance of stags, 
deer, roe-Ducks and bears, quite tame and good to eat, more 
delicious than the fresh pork of Europe. We also found wild 
turkeys and swans in abundance. The high beams of our vessel 
were garnished with multitudes of deer, which our people killed in 
the chase. 

"Along the remainder of this strait, the forests are composed of 


walnut, chestnut, plum and pear trees. Wild grapes also abound, 
from which we made a little wine. There are all kinds of wood 
for building purposes. Those who will have the good fortune some 
day to possess the beautiful and fertile lands along this strait, will 
be under many obligations to us, who have cleared the way, and 
traversed lake Erie for a hundred leagues of a navigation before 

The Griffin cast anchor in Green Bay. After being freighted 
with a rich cargo of furs, it started upon its return voyage. From 
the period of its departure, no tidings ever came of the vessel or 
crew. Capricious and dangerous as the navigation of the lakes 
has since proved; especially in the advanced season of navigation 
at which the Griffin must have attempted a return; there is little 
wonder that the small craft, imperfectly built as she must have 
been, with the stinted means that the bold projector could only 
have had, met with the fate that in after years of more perfect 
architecture, and experience in lake navigation, so many others 
have been subjected to. 

Change, progress and improvement, will meet us at every step in 
tracing our local history; prompting to a halt, and a comparison 
of the present with the past; but not often as urgently as here. 
This was the humble beginning of our lake commerce. Here, 
upon the banks of the Niagara, were a small band of adventurers, 
headed, cheered on and encouraged by one who was in advance 
of his own age — should have belonged to this. How abstracted 
from the then civilized world, were these primitive ship builders ! 
A vast unexplored wilderness, a broad expanse of waters, of lakes 
and rivers, they- surfaces as yet undisturbed but by the bark canoes 
of the natives, lay before them; behind, but a feeble colony of their 
countrymen who were hardly able to protect themselves from a 
stealthy foe that had rejected overtures of peace with their pale 
faced stranger visitors. In mid winter, with but stinted facilities, 

NoTz. — The translation is % O. H. Marshall of Buffalo. It first appeared in the 
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, in 1845, and is copied by Mr. Schoolcraft in his notes 
on the Iroquois. It is from the French edition of Hennepin, published at Amsterdam 
in 1698. The original text is regarded as the best that has reached this countrj'; — the 
only reliable one in fact; —and the faithfulness of the translation is fully guaranteed by 
the mtegrity and literarj- qualifications of the translator. The interest derived from the 
perusal of the early French Jesuits aud travellers, is much increased by having their 
own fresh and vivid impressions detailed in their own words. This consideration, in 
connecUon with the fact that Hennepin's account has not heretofore been published in 
anv form to render it generally accessible, induces the author to give it entire, omitting 
only a lew paragraphs that have no necessary relation to the main subject. 


they erected for themselves cabins and commenced the work of 
ship building ! When the difficult work was consummated, the frail 
bark launched, their sails set to catch the breeze, they knew not to 
what disturbed waters and inhospitable shores it would carry them. 
They had witnessed the hostile demonstrations of the Iroquois, and 
had no warrant that the nations they were to meet in their new track 
would be any better reconciled to their further advance. They 
had but dim lights to guide them. They saw and heard the rush 
of waters; the earth beneath their pilgrim feet, as they threaded 
the dark forest that lay between their "place of ship building" and 
the " three mountains," trembled with the weight and descent of 
the mighty volume. And yet they knew little of the vast sources 
from which such an aggregate proceeded. They had the glimpses 
of the "Great River" that Marquette and Joliet had given them, 
but knew not where it mingled with the ocean. Theirs was the 
mission to first traverse our great chain of lakes and rivers; to pass 
over the dividing lands, strike a tributary of the Mississippi, and 
pursue that river to the Gulf of Mexico. Theirs, the first Euro- 
pean advent that extended across from the northern to the southern 
shores of the Atlantic. One hundred and thirty nine years ago, the 
Griffin set out upon its voyage, passed up the rapids of the Niagara, 
and unfurled the first sail upon the waters of the Upper Lakes. 
Intrepid navigator and explorer ! High as were hopes and 
ambition that could alone impel him to such an enterprise; far- 
seeing as he was; could the curtain that concealed the future 
from his view, have been raised, his would have been the excla- 
mation; — 

" Visions of glorj' spare my aching sight ; 
Ye unborn ages rush not on my soul !" 

He deemed himself but adding to the nominal dominions of his king; 
but opening a new avenue to the commerce of his country; 
founding a prior claim to increased colonial possessions. He was 
pioneering the way for an empire of freemen, who, in process of 
time, were to fill the valleys he traversed; the sails of whose 
commerce were to whiten the vast expanse of waters upon which 
he was embarking ! 

How often, when reflecting upon the ti'iumphs of steam naviga- 
tion, do we almost wish that it were admitted by the dispensations 
of Providence, that Fulton could be again invested with mortality, 


and witness the mighty achievments of his genius. Akin to this 
would be the wish that La Salle could rise from his wilderness 
grave in the far off south, ^ and look out upon the triumphs of 
civihzation and improvement over the vast region he was the first 
to explore. 

Ours is a country whose whole history is replete with daring 
enterprises and bold adventures. Were we prone, as we should be, 
durably to commemorate the great events that have marked our 
progress, here and there, in fitting localities, more monuments 
would be raised as tributes due to our history and the memory of 
those who have acted a conspicuous part in it. Upon the banks of 
our noble river, within sight of the Falls, a shaft from our quarries 
would soon designate the spot where the Griffin was built and 
launched; upon its base, the name of La Salle, and a brief 
inscription that would commemorate the pioneer advent of our 
vast and increasing lake commerce. 

On his way up, La Salle, while passing through the " verdant 
Isles of the majestic Detroit," had debated planting a colony upon 
its banks; and he had planted a trading house at Mackinaw. After 
the Griffin had left, with the portion of his company he had retain- 
ed, in bark canoes, he ascended to the head of lake Michigan, or 
rather, to the mouth of the St. Joseph, where Allouez had 
preceded him and gathered a village of the Miamis. Anticipating 
the return of his ill-fated vessel, he remained and added to the 
small beginning that had been made there, a trading house with 
pallisades, which was called the fort of the Miamis. Despairing 
of the return of the Griffin, leaving ten men to guard the fort, 
with Hennepin, two other missionaries, Tonti and about thirty 
followers, he ascended the St. Joseph, descended the Kankakee to 
its mouth, reaching an Indian village near Ottawa. From thence 
he descended the Illinois as far as lake Peoria, where he met large 
parties of Indians, who, desirous of obtaining axes and fire-arms, 
offered him the calumet and agreed to an alliance. Of the Griffin 
no tidings came; his men deeming their leader ruined by its loss, 
grew discontented. La Salle, who never desponded, exerted all 
his means to revive their hopes. "Our strength and safety" said 
he, " is in our union. Remain with me till spring and none shall 
remain thereafter, except from choice." He commenced building a 
fort. Thwarted by destiny, in allusion to his misfortunes, he called 


it Creve Coeur.* He despatched Hennepin to explore the Upper 
Mississippi, and renewed the unlucky business of ship building. 

Hennepin, with two companions, ascended the Mississippi, to the 
Falls which he named St. Anthony, as a tribute due to St. 
Anthony of Padua, whose protection and guidance he had invoked 
when starting on his expedition. On a tree near the cataract he 
engraved the cross and the arms of France, and by the way of 
the Wisconsin and Fox rivers returned to the French mission at 
Green Bay. What wanderers ! Even now, in 1848, when steam 
boats in fleets, are upon the Lakes and the Mississippi, and canals 
and rail-roads are in their vallies, a visit to the Falls of St. Anthony 
is more than an ordinary adventure. 

La Salle set his men to sawing "trees into plank," and in 
March, with three companions, set off on foot for Fort Frontenac 
to procure recruits, and sails and cordage for the vessel that was 
going upon the stocks. Taking the ridge of high lands which divide 
the basin of the Ohio from that of the Lakes, the small party, with 
" skins to make moccasins, a musket and pouches of powder and 
shot, trudged through thickets and forests, waded through marshes 
and melting snows; without drink except water from the brooks, 
without food except supplies from the gun." Arriving at Fort 
Frontenac, which still acknowledged him for its lord, additional sup- 
pHes were at once furnished, and new adventurers flocked to his 
standard. With these he returned to the garrison he had left on 
the Illinois. 

There he found little to revive the spirits which must have been 
dead within him, if he had been a man of ordinary mould. A 
party of Iroquois had descended the river, attacked the Fort, mas- 
sacred the aged Franciscan Father Ribourde, and obliged Tonti 
and a few others, to flee to the Pottowattomies on lake Michigan 
for protection; La Salle and his companions repaired to Green 
Bay, recommenced trade, and established a friendly intercourse 
with the natives; found Tonti and his party, embarked from 
thence, left Chicago on the 4th of January, 1682, and after build- 
ing a spacious barge on the Illinois river, in the early part of that 
year, descended the Mississippi to the sea. On his way he raised 
a cabin on the Chickasaw Bluff, a cross at the mouth of the Arkan- 

* Creve Coeur: — The Fort of the Broken Hearted. 


sas, and planted the arms of France near the gulf of Mexico. He 
claimed the country for France, and called it Louisiana. 

He returned to France in 1683, and reporting to his government 
his brilliant discoveries, preparations were made to supply him with 
ample means for colonization; and in July, 1684, he sailed with a 
fleet of four vessels, for the Mississippi; on board of which were 
one hundred soldiers, six missionaries, "mechanics of various skill," 
and young women. * 

The sequel is a chapter of disasters: — The colonists were badly 
selected; the mechanics "ill versed in their arts;" the soldiers, 
"spiritless vagabonds without discipline or experience;" the volun- 
teers, generally rash adventurers, having "indefinite expectations;" 
so says Joutel, the military commander, and faithful historian of 
the expedition. Beaujeau, the naval commander, was deficient in 
judgment, unfit for his station, envious, proud, self-willed and self- 
conceited; incapable of any sympathy with the magnanimous 
heroism of La Salle. The fleet sailing as often wrong as right; 
(La Salle always right, but opposed by his naval commander;) 
after a tedious voyage of five months, reached, instead of its 
destination, the Bay of Matagorda in Texas. Here the store ship 
was wrecked by the careless pilot; the ample stores provided by 
the munificence that marked the plans of Louis XIV., lay scattered 
on the sea. La Salle obtained boats from the fleet, and by great 
efforts saved a part of the stores for immediate use. To heighten 
their distress, the natives came down from the interior to plunder 
the wreck, and two of the soldiers, or volunteers, were slain. 

The fleet returned, taking with it many who were tired of the 
expedition, and deserted. "There remained upon the beach of 
Matagorda, a desponding company of about two hundred and 
thirty souls, huddled together ifi a fort constructed with the frag- 
ments of their ship-wrecked vessel, having no hopes but in the 
constancy and elastic genius of La Salle."* A shelter was built 
at the head of the bay — a rude fortification, which was called St. 
Louis; La Salle himself marking the beams and tenons. He 
took possession of the country in the name of his king. It was 
this that made Texas a province of France, or a part of Louisiana. 

As soon as the encampment was completed, La Salle started 

* Bancroft. 


with a party in canoes, to seek the mouth of the Mississippi. 
After an absence of four months, and the loss of fourteen of his 
followers, he returned in rags, having entirely failed in his object. 
Spending most of the year 1686, with twenty companions in New 
Mexico, — enticed there by the brilliant fictions of the rich mines of 
St. Barbe, the El Dorado of Northern Mexico. He found there 
no mines, but a " country unsurpassed in beauty and fertility." 

Returning to his colony in Texas, he found it diminished to about 
forty; among whom, ^'discontent had given place to plans of 
crime." Leaving twenty of them to maintain the fort, he started 
with sixteen on foot to return to Canada for the purpose of 
getting farther recruits and means to prosecute enterprises not 
yet abandoned, though so often thwarted. No Spanish settlement 
was nearer than Pamico — no French settlement, than Illinois. 
"With wild horses obtained from the natives to transport his 
baggage, he followed the track of the buffalo, pasturing his horses 
at night upon the prairie; ascended streams of which he had never 
yet heard — marched through groves and plains of surpassing 
beauty, amid herds of deer, and droves of buffaloes; now fording 
the rapid torrent, now building a bridge by throwing some 
monarch of the forest across the stream, till he had passed the 
basin of the Colorado, and reached a branch of the Trinity river."* 

Of his company was Duhaut and L'Archiveque. The former 
had long shown a spirit of mutiny. "The base malignity of disap- 
pointed avarice," (they had both embarked capital in the enterprise,) 
"maddened by suffering, and impatient of control, awakened the 
fiercest passions of ungovernable hatred. Inviting Morangetj 
to take charge of the fruits of a buffalo hunt, they quarrelled with 
him, and murdered him. Wondering at the delay of his return, 
La Salle, on the 20th of March, went to seek him. At the brink 
of a river, he saw eagles hovering, as if over a carrion; and he fired 
an alarm gun. Warned by the somid, Duhaut and L'Archiveque 
crossed the river; the former skulked in the prairie grass; of the 
latter, La Salle asked: — 'where is my nephew?' At the moment 
of the answer, Duhaut fired; and without uttering a word. La 
Salle fell dead! 'You ai'e down now, grand Bashaw! you are 
down now ! ' shouted one of the conspirators, as they despoiled his 

* Bancroft. t The nephew of La Salle. 


remains, which were left on the prame, naked and without burial, 
to be devoured by wild beasts." * 

Thus perished the pioneer navigator of our lakes, the father of 
colonization in the great central valley of the west, Robert 
Cavalier de la Salle ! Well did he merit the eulogy bestowed 
upon his memory, by the accomplished historian, (Mr. Bancroft,) 
who has given him and his achievements, his successes and his 
reverses, a conspicuous place in our national annals. "For force 
of will and vast conceptions; for various knowledge and quick 
adaptation of his genius to untried circumstances; for a sublime 
magnanimity, that resigned itself to the will of Heaven, and yet 
triumphed over affliction by energy of purpose, and unfaltering 
hope, — he had no superior over his countrymen." 

Retribution in part was at hand. Duhaut and another of the 
conspirators, attempting afterwards to convert to their use an 
unequal share of the spoils, were themselves murdered, and their 
reckless associates joined the savages. Joutel, who commanded 
the expedition, the nephew of La Salle, and four others, procured 
a guide and sought the Arkansas. They reached a beautiful 
country above the Red river, and afterward, with the exception of 
one only, who was drowned while bathing in a river, they all 
reached the Mississippi in safety, on the 24th of July, 1687. Upon 
its banks they discovered a cross, and near it a cabin occupied by 
four of their countrymen. Tonti, the faithful companion of La 
Salle, had descended the river in search of his friend. Faihng to 
find him, he had erected the cross and cabin, and left the men that 
Joutel found there, to guard them. On the 14th of September 

* Joutel. 

Note,— The account of Hennepin differs from that of Joutel. It is as follows: — 
"He, (La Salle,) was accompanied by Father Anastasi, and two natives who had 
served him as guides. After travelling about six miles, thev found the bloody cravat of 
Saget, (one of La Salle's men,) near the bank of the river, and at the same time, two 
eagles were hovering over their heads, as if attracted by food on the ground. La Salle 
fired his gun, which was heard by the conspirators on the other side of the river. 
Uuhaut and L'Archiveque immediately crossed over at some distance in advance. 
La Salle approached, and, meeting the latter, asked for Moranget, and was answered 
vaguely that he was along the river. At that moment Duhaut, who was concealed in 
the high grass, discharged his musket and shot him through the head. Father Anastasi 
was standing by his side and expected to share the same fate,. till the conspirators told 
him they had no design upon his life. La Salle survived- about an hour, unable to 
speak but pressing the hand of the good father, to signify that he understood what was 
said to him. Ihe same kind friend dug his grave, buried him, and erected across 
over his remains." 


they reached the head quarters of Tonti, in Illmois, and soon after 
passed through Chicago to Quebec, and from thence to France. 

Little is known of the after life of Tonti beyond what is gather- 
ed from a petition signed by him, and addressed to the French 
minister of Marine, in 1690. In that he asks for the command of 
a company to embark again in the service of his country, and 
recounts the services he had already rendered. He says that he 
remained at the Fort in Illinois till 1684, where he was attacked by 
two hundred Iroquois, whom he repulsed, with great loss on their 
side: that after spending a year in Quebec, under the orders of 
M. de la Barre, he returned to Illinois, and in 1686, in canoes, 
with forty men, he descended the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, 
in search of La Salle. Returning to Quebec, he put himself 
under the orders of De Nonville, and was with him at the head 
of a band of Indians and a company of Canadians, at the battle 
with the " Tsonnonthouans," ( Senecas, ) where he forced an 
ambuscade. 1X7^ See account that follows, of De Nonville's 
expedition to Irondequoit Bay, and battle with the Senecas. 
That he went again to Illinois in 1689, and again in search of 
La Salle's colony, but was deserted by his men, and unable to 
execute his designs. The petition is endorsed by Count Fronte- 
NAC, who says: — " Nothing can be truer than the account given 
by the Sieur de Tonti in his petition." 

Note. — La Salle, and the early Jesuits supposed the Griffin was driven ashore in a 
gale, the crew murdered by the Indians, and the vessel plundered. Such was 
undoubtedly the fact, and the author is enabled to fix with a considerable degree of 
certainty, upon the spot where this occurred. In the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser 
of January 26th, 1848, there is a communication from James W. Peters, of East Evans, 
Erie county, in which he says: — " Some thirty-five or forty years ago, on the IngersoU 
farm, in Hamburgh, a short distance below the mouth of the Eighteen Mile Creek, 
and on the summit of the high banks, in the woods, was found by the Messrs. 
IngersoU, a large quantity of wrought iron, supposed to be seven or eight hundred 
weight. It was evidently taken off a vessel. It was of superior qutdity, much eaten 
by the rust, and sunk deep in the soil. A large tree had fallen across it, which was 
rotted and mixed with the earth. There were trees growing over the iron from six to 
twelve inches in diameter, which had to be grubbed up before all the iron could be got. 
Some twenty-six or seven years since, a man by the name of Walker, imm«diately 
after a heavj' blow on the Lake, found on the beach near where the irons were found, 
a cannon, and immediately under it a second one. I saw them not forty-eight hours 
after they were found. They were very much destroyed by age and rust — filled up 
with sand and rust. I cleared off enough from the breach of one to lay a number of 
letters bare. The words were French, and so declared at the time. The horns, or 
trunions, were knocked off." In a letter from the venerable David Eddy, of Ham- 
burgh, to the author, received while this work was going to press, he says that in tlie 
primitive settlement of that region — in 1805, there was found upon the lake shore, 
where a large body of sand and gravel had been removed during a violent gale, a 
"beautiful anchor." It was taken to Buffalo and Black Rock, excited a good deal of 
curiosity at the time, but no one could determine to what vessel it had belonged. 


The expedition of La Sallk traced to its disastrous and fatal 
termination; the western lake region, and the whole valley of the 
Mississippi, added to the dominions of France; let us return to the 
region of western New York, the banks of the St. Lawrence, to 
colonization under English auspices, advancing in this direction 
from the northern Atlantic coast. 

Previous to the building of the Griffin, La Salle had "enclosed 
with pallisades a little spot at Niagara." This was the first blow 
struck, the first step taken as an earnest of occupation by Euro- 
peans, in all the region of New York west of Schenectady, if we 
except the short stay of the Jesuits, and perhaps some mission 
stations they may have established upon the Mohawk, and in the 
vicinity of Onondaga lake. It is to be presumed that the post at 
Niagara was after this, with but little intermission, used as a par- 
tially fortified trading station, until it was finally made a French 
garrison and occupied by an armed force. 

The French continued to extend their establishments. Following 
the track of Marquette and La Salle, they soon occupied 
prominent points in the upper vallies of the Mississippi, in what is 
now Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. The Hurons of Canada were 
their fast allies. They conciliated and won the favor of all the 
Indian nations around the western lakes, except the Foxes and 
Ottagamis, who dwelt principally in that part of Michigan which 
lies upon Detroit river. "It was the studied policy of the French 
to secure the good will of the natives. The French explorers, 
traders and missionaries, advanced to their remotest villages in the 
prosecution of their several objects. They lodged with them in 
their camps, attended their councils, hunting parties and feasts; 
paid respects to their .ceremonies, and were joined in the closer 
bonds of blood. The natural pliancy of the French character led 
them into frequent and kind associations with the savages, while 
the English were cold and forbidding in their manners. Besides, 
the Jesuit missionaries exerted no small influence in strengthening 
the friendship of the Indians. They erected little chapels in their 
territory, carpeted with Indian mats and surmounted by the cross; 
took long journeys through the wilderness, performed the ceremo- 

There IS no record of any vessel being wrecked here previous to 1805. The French 
and the t^agUsh vessels were few upon the lakes, numbering not more than two or 
»Hv«n? T\ ° «" n™'- f, '^"""'^ "^ ^^ '"'^ °f "°e ^t a J^ter period than that of the 
condude thM .h« ' ""'T.'"^ '" ^" P'-°bability have been preserved. May we not well 
conclude that the iron, the cannon, and the anchor, were those of the Griffin ? 


nies of their church in long black robes, and showed their paintings 
and sculptured images, which the savages viewed with superstitious 
awe. Added to all this, they practiced all the offices of kindness 
and sympathy for the sick, and held up the crucifix to the fading 
vision of many a dying neophyte." * 

But the French had but partial success with the proud, warlike, 
self-dependent Iroquois. The relation between them and the Five 
Nations, was never one of perfect amity, though they were at 
times on good terms with the Senecas, and had missions and tra- 
ding establishments with the Onondagas. The acquaintance had 
an untoward commencement as we have seen. Champlain, in his 
unfortunate alliance with a foe of their own race, had shown them 
the use of fire-arms. The Dutch and English supplied them with 
the new weapons. It not only enabled them to push their conquests 
over the Indian nations of the west, but helped them to stand out 
against the French and resist their inroads into their territories. 
The Iroquois, from the first European advent to this country, did 
not view the visitors with favor. They seemed to have had a 
clearer view by far, than other Indian nations of North America, of 
the ultimate tendency of it, and its fatal result to their race. Their 
first position was one of independence; a refusal to be allies of 
either the French, Dutch or English: — "We may guide the English 
to our lakes. We are born free. We neither depend on Onnondio 
or CoRLEAR." This was the tone and bearing of a Seneca 
chief, in reply to some complaints of the French Governor, in 1684. 
But the Dutch, to secure their trade, aided them to arm against 
the French, and maintained for the period they held dominion upon 
the Hudson, with but slight exceptions, a friendly relation, which 
the English, their successsors, inherited, and by every means in 
their power, assiduously cultivated, for the two-fold purpose of 
securing their trade, and preventing French encroachments upon 
what they regarded English territory. "The Dutch" said they, 
"are our brethren; with them we keep but one council fire. We 
are united by a covenant chain. We have always been as one 
flesh. If the French come from Canada, we will join the Dutch 
nation and live or die with them. With the English and French 
the contest was for territorial dominion and Indian trade, and the 
English early saw the advantages that would accrue to them from 

* History of Illinois. 


keeping the Iroquois in close alliance. As the Iroquois were at 
war with almost all other Indian nations, those other nations saw 
their advantage in having the protection of the French, who lost no 
opportunity of impressing upon them exalted ideas of the power of 
their kino' and country, of their ability not only to stay the march 
of conquest of the Iroquois, — to throw a shield around those of 
their own race they had persecuted and oppressed; but also to 
humble the pretensions of the English. 

The Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas, who for a time had been 
influenced by the Jesuits, to occupy something hke a neutral 
position, in 1689 met the governors of New York and Virginia at 
Albany, and pledged to them peace and alliance. "Although 
England and France for many years after, sought their aUiance 
with various success, when the grand division of parties through- 
out Europe was effected, the Bourbons found in the Iroquois impla- 
cable opponents: and in the struggle that afterwards ensued 
between England and France, they were allies of the former, and 
their hunting grounds were transformed into battle fields. Wes- 
tern New York, it would seem, was severed from Canada by the 
valor of the Mohawks," * or rather the author should have said, it 
was never but partially under the dominion of France, for the 
reason that the Seneca Iroquois, whose territory it was, were never 
their allies; never acknowledged any French sovereignty. 

The Marquis d'ARCENSoN was appointed Governor General of 
New France in 1658. The condition of the colony continued to 
be much depressed. In addition to the bad working of the Colo- 
nial system under the auspices of the Company, the Iroquois grew 
more and more irreconcilable to French encroachment; more and 
more determined to uproot the French from this quarter of the 
continent. Hostile bands hung upon the borders of the French 
settlements upon the St. Lawrence. 

In 1661 the Governor was recalled on account of ill-health, and 
the Baron d'AvANoouR, a man of extraordinary energy, was 
appointed in his place. Encouraging the king by his representa- 
tions of the advantages in prospect in the new country, four 
hundred new troops were sent out. But for this timely assistance, 
it is supposed that the Iroquois would have executed their threat 
of an extermination of the French. 

* Historj' of Illinois. 


In 1664, the company of New France surrendered their charter. 
Its privileges were transferred to the Company of the West Indies, 
under whose auspices a better system of government was organ- 
ized. Reinforcements arrived from the West Indies, and a number 
of officers, to whom had been granted lands with the rights of 
seigneurs, settled in the colonies. Forts were erected on the 
principal streams in Canada, where it was thought necessary to 
keep the Iroquois in check. In 1668 the affairs of New France 
seemed much improved. Count Frontenac, a nobleman of 
distinguished family, a man of energy and arbitrary will, was soon 
after invested with the office of home administrator of the affairs 
of the French colonies. He made extraordinary efforts to 
develope the resources of the country, and build up the scattered 
colonial establishments. In 1683, however, such had been the 
slow progress, the untoward events in New France, the population 
did not exceed nine thousand. 

De la Barre was Governor General of New France in 1684. 
incensed at the Iroquois for favoring the English, and introducing 
parties of them to the borders of the lakes to trade with the 
Indians, he resolved upon gathering an army at Fort Frontenac, to 
intimidate them; to try peaceful negotiation with a large force to 
back him; and if that failed, to invade their country. For this 
purpose, all the disposable troops at Montreal, Quebec, Niagara, 
and the western posts, were ordered to redezvous at Fort Fron- 
tenac. His whole force assembled there, was from seventeen to 
eighteen hundred, including four hundred Indian allies. It was in 
the month of August, during the prevalence of fevers that 
prevailed upon the borders of lake Ontario, which those of our 
own people who were pioneer settlers upon its southern shore, 
have had occasion to know something about;* the French soldiers 
were unacclimated, and the larger portion of them were confined 
to the hospital. In the crippled condition of his army, De la 
Barre concluded that he should be unable to effect any thing 
save by treaty. Despatching orders to Mons. Dulbut, who was 

* Our old resident physicians, who have had some experience in " lake fevers," will 
be amused at the theory of the disease, which La Hontan says, De la Barre's physician 
advanced: — It was, that the excessive heat of the season put the vapors, or ejchalations 
into an over rapid motion; that the air was so over rarified that a sufficient quantity of 
it was not taken in; that the small quantity inhaled was loaded with insects and impure 
corpusculums, which the fatal necessity of respiration obliged the victim to swallow, 
and that by this means, nature was put into disorder." The Baron adds, that the 
'•system was too much upon the Iroquois strain." 


advancinfr from Mackinaw with six hundred Frenchmen and 
Indians, to hasten his march, he embarked upon lake Ontario with 
his Indian aUies, and such of his French soldiers as were able to 
ioin the expedition, and landed upon the southern shore of lake 
Ontario, at La Famine.'^ Col. Dongan, the English Governor of 
New York, apprised of the movement, had sent his Indian inter- 
preter to persuade the Five Nations not to treat with the French. 
De la Barre despatched Le Moine, who had much influence with 
the Iroquois, to bring with him some of their chief men. In a 
few days he returned, bringing with him Garangula, a noted 
Seneca chief, called by his people Haaskouan, accompanied by a 
train of thirty young warriors. As soon as the chief arrived, De 
la Barre sent him a present of bread and wine, and thirty salmon 
trout, " which they fished in that place in such plenty, that thej 
brought up a hundred at one cast of a net;" at the same time 
congratulating him on his arrival. La Hontan says, that De la 
Barre had taken the precaution of sending the' sick back to the 
colony that the Iroquois might not perceive the weakness of his 
forces; instructing Le Moine to assure Garangula that the body 
of the army was left behind at Frontenac, and that the troops that 
he saw, were only the Governor's guards. " But unhappily one of 
the Iroquois, that had a smattering of the French tongue, having 
strolled in the night time towards our tents, overheard what was 
said, and so revealed the secret. The chief, after taking two days 
to rest and recruit himself, gave notice to De la Barre that he 
was ready for the interview.! 

The speeches that succeeded, which the author copies from a 
good English translation of La Hontan, will not only materi- 
ally aid the reader to understand the then existing relations of the 
French, Iroquois, and English, but furnish one of the earliest and 
best specimens of native eloquence, and the proud bearing and 
spirit of independence, of our wild and unschooled forest predeces- 

De la Barre, through the interpreter Le Moine, said : — 

" The King, my master, being informed that the five Iroquois 

* Or, Hunpiy Bay, so named at the time, from the stinted allowance of food which 
they had there. 

t La Hontan has a drawing of the interview between De la Barre and Garangula. 
De la Barre is in front of his camp, with the interpreter and his officers near him. 
" The Garangula " is in front of his thirty warriors, who sit in a half circle upon the 


nations have for a long time made infractions upon the measures of 
peace, ordered me to come hither with a guard, and to send Jlkou- 
esson to the canton of the Onnotaguss, in order to an interview 
with their principal leaders in the neighborhood of my camp. This 
great monarch, means that you and I should smoke together in the 
great calumet of peace, with the proviso, that you engage in the 
name of the Tsonnontouans, Goyogouans, Onnotagues, Onnoyoutes, 
and Jlgnies, to make reparation to his subjects, and to be guilty of 
nothing for the future that may occasion a fatal rupture. 

"The Tsonnontouans, Goyogouans, Onnotagues, Onnoyoutes, and 
Jlgnies, * have stripped, robbed and abused all the forest rangers 
that travelled in the way of trade to the country of the Illinese, of 
the Oumamis, and of the several other nations who are my mas- 
ter's children. Now this usage being in high violation of the treaty 
of peace concluded with my predecessor,! I am commanded to 
demand reparation, and at the same time to declare that in case of 
their refusal to comply with my demands, or of relapsing into the 
like robberies, war is actually proclaimed. This makes my words 
good. [Giving a belt.] 

" The warriors of these Five Nations have introduced the 
English into the lakes belonging to the King my master, and into 
the country of those nations of whom my master is a father: — 
This they have done with a desire to ruin the commerce of his 
subjects, and to oblige those nations to depart from their due 
allegiance; notwithstanding the remonstrances of the late Governor 
of New York, who saw through the danger that both they and the 
English exposed themselves to. At present, I am willing to forget 
those actions; but if ever you be guilty of the like for the future, I 
have express orders to declare war. This belt warrants my words. 
[ Giving a belt. ] 

"The same warriors have made several barbarous incursions 
upon the country of the Illinese and Oumamis. They have 
massacred men, women and children; they have took, bound, and 
carried off an indefinite number of the natives of those countries, 
who thought themselves secure in their villages in times of peace. 
These people are my master's children, and must therefore cease 
to be your slaves. I charge you to restore them to their liberty, 
and to send them home without delay; for if the Five Nations 
refuse to comply with this demand, I have express orders to declare 
war. This makes my words good. [Giving a belt.] 

*' This is all I had to say to the Garangula, whom I desire to 
report to the Five Nations, this declaration, that my master 
commanded me to make. He wishes they had not obliged him to 

* Senecas, Cayugas, Oiieidas, Onondagas, and Mohawks. 

t The predecessor of De la Barre had concluded a treaty of peace with the Iroquois, 
which was of short duration. 


send a potent army to the Fort of Cataracony, * in order to carry 
on a war that will prove fatal to them; and he will be very 
much troubled if it so falls out, that this fort, which is a work of 
peace, must be employed for a prison to your militia. These 
mischiefs ought to be prevented by mutual endeavors: — The 
French, who are the brethren and friends of the Five Nations, will 
never disturb their repose, provided they make the satisfaction I 
now demand, and prove religious observers of their treaties. I 
wish my words may produce the desired effect; for if they do not, 
I am obliged to join the Governor of New York, who has orders 
from the king his master, to assist me to burn the villages and cut 
you off. t This confirms my words. [Giving a belt] 

La HoNTAN says: — ''While De La Barre's interpreter pro- 
nounced this harangue, the Garangula did nothing but look upon 
the end of his pipe. After the speech was finished, he rose, and 
having took five or six turns in the ring that the French and the 
savages made, he returned to his place, and standing upright, spoke 
after the following manner to the general, (De La Barre,) who 
sat in his chair of state." 

*'YoNNONDio!| I honor you, and all the warriors that accompany 
me do the same. Your interpreter has made an end of his dis- 
course, and now I come to begin mine. My voice glides to my ear, 
pray listen to my words. 

"YoNNONDio! In setting out from Quebec you must needs have 
fancied that the scorching beams of the sun had burnt down the 
forests that render our country inaccessible to the French; or else, 
that the inundations of the lake had surrounded our castles, and 
confined us as prisoners. This certainly was your thought; and it 
could be nothing else than the curiosity of seeing a burnt or 
drowned country, that moved you to take a journey hither. But 
now you have an opportunity of being undeceived, for I, and my 
warhke retinue come to assure you that the Tsonnontouans, Goyo- 
guans, Onnotagues, Onnoyoutes and Sgnies, are not yet destroyed. 
I return you thanks in their name, for bringing into the country 
the calumet of peace, that your predecessors received at their 
hands. At the same time I congratulate your happiness, in 
having left underground the bloody axe that has so often been dyed 
with the blood of the French. Hear, Yonnondio ! I am not asleep; 
my eyes are open; and the sun that vouchsafes the light gives me 
a clear view of a great captain at the head of a troop of soldiers, 
who speaks as if he were asleep. He pretends that he does not 
approach to this lake with any other view than to smoke with the 

* The Indian name of Fort Frontenac, and lake Ontario. 

b«L^n««„^Hl!^^ ?vf T *° ^^^"^ ^''^^ ignorant of the fact, that the English governor had 
been persuading the Iroquois to stand out against French diplomacy. 



Onnotagues in the great calumet; but the Garangula knows better 
things; he sees plainly that the Yonnondio mean'd to knock 'em 
on the head if the French arms had not been so much weakened. 

"I perceive that the Yonnondio raves in a camp of sick people 
whose lives the Great Spirit has saved, by visiting them with infirmi- 
ties. Do you hear Yonnondio? Our women had taken up their 
clubs, and the children and the old men had visited your camp with 
their bows and arrows, if our warlike men had not stopped and 
disarmed them, when AJcoucssan, your ambassador, appeared before 
my village. But I have done, I will talk no more of that. 

"You must know, Yonnondio, that we have robbed no French- 
men but those who supplied the Illinese and the Oumamis, (our 
enemies,) with fusees, with powder and with ball. These indeed 
we took care of, because such arms might have cost us our life. 
Our conduct in that point, is of a piece with that of the Jesuits, 
who stave all the barrels of brandy that are brought to our cantons, 
lest the people getting drunk, should knock them on the head. 
Our warriors have no beavers to give in exchange for all the arms 
they have taken from the French; and as for the people, they do 
not think of bearing arms. This comprehends my words. [Giving 
a belt] 

"We have conducted the English to our lakes in order to traffic 
with the Outaouas, and the Hurons; just as the Mgonkins con- 
ducted the French to our cantons in order to carry on a commerce 
that the English lay claim to as their right. We are born 
freemen, and have no dependence either on the Yonnondio or the 
CoRLEAR. We have a power to go when we please, to conduct 
those whom we will to the places we resort to, and to buy or sell 
where we see fit. If your allies are your slaves or your children, 
you may e'en treat 'em as such, and rob 'em of the liberty of 
entertaining any other nation but your own. This contains my 
words. [Giving a belt.] 

"We fell upon the Illinese and the Oumamis because they cut 
down the tree of peace that served as limits, or boundaries to our 
positions. They came to hunt beavers upon our lands, and 
contrary to the custom of all the savages, have carried off whole 
stocks, both male and female.* They have engaged the Chaou- 
anous in their interest, and entertained them in their country. 
They supplied 'em with fire-arms after the concerting of ill designs 
against us. We have done less than the English and the French, 
who, without any right, have usurped the grounds they are now 
possessed of; and of which they have dislodged several nations, in 
order to make way for their building of cities, villages and forts. 
This, CoRLEAR, contains my words. [Giving a belt.] 

"I give to you to know, Yonnondio, that my voice is the voice 

* The Indians regarded it a great offence to wholly exterminate a beaver colony. 


of the Five Iroquese cantons. This is their answer; pray incline 
your ear and listen to what they represent. 

"The Tsonnontouans, Goyogouans, Onnotagues, Onnoyoutes, and 
Jlgnies, declare that they interred the axe at Cataracouy, in the 
presence of your predecessor, in the very center of the fort; and 
planted the tree of peace in the same place that it might be pre- 
served; that 'twas then agreed that the fort should be used as a 
place of retreat for merchants, and not a refuge for soldiers; and 
that instead of arms and ammunition, it should be made a recep- 
tacle only of beaver skins and merchandise goods. Be it known 
to you, YoNNONDio, that for the future you ought to take care 
that so great a number of martial men as I now see, being shut up 
in so small a place, do not stifle and choak the tree of peace. 
Since it took root so easily, it must needs be of pernicious conse- 
quence to stop its growth, and hinder it to shade both your country 
and ours with its leaves. I do assure you, in the name of the 
Five Nations, that our warriors shall dance the calumet dance 
under its branches; that they shall rest in tranquility upon their 
matts and will never dig up the axe to cut down the tree of peace; 
till such times as the Yonnondio and the Corlear do either jointly 
or separately offer to invade the country that the Great Spirit has 
disposed of in the favor of our ancestors. This belt preserves my 
words, and this other, the authority which the Five Nations have 
given me." [Giving two belts.] 

Then,, Garangula, addressing himself to the interpreter Le 
MoiNE, said: — 

"^Jcouessan, take heart; you are a man of sense; speak and 
explain my meaning; be sure you forget nothing, but declare all 
that thy brethren and thy friends represent to thy chief Yonnondio, 
by the voice of the Garangula, who pays you all honor and 
respect, and invites you to accept of this present of beavers, and 
to assist at his feast immediately. This other present of beavers 
is sent by the Five Nations to the Yonnondio." 

When the Iroquois chief had finished his speech, De la Barre 
"returned to his tent much enraged at what he had heard." The 
Garangula prepared his feast, several of the French officers 
becoming his guests. Two days afterwards he returned to his 

The army of De la Barre broke up, that part of it belonging 
at Quebec and Montreal, 'going down the St Lawrence; those 
belonging to Fort Frontenac and the western posts returning some 
by water and some by land. "Thus a very chargeable and 
fatiguing expedition (which was to strike the terror of the French 


name, into the stubborn hearts of the Five Nations,) ended in a 
scold between the French General and an old Indian."* 


The Marquis de Nonville, a colonel in the French dragoons, 
succeeded De la Barre in the local government of New France, 
in 1685. Charlevoix says he was "equally esteemed for his 
valor, his wisdom, and his piety." At the commencement of his 
administration, the Iroquois had renewed their wars against Indian 
nations at the west, with whom the French were in aUiance, and 
continued, as Garangula had assured De la Barre they would, to 
introduce the English around the borders of the lakes.f De 
Nonville brought out with him a large reinforcement for the 
army, and at once resolved upon a series of measures having in 
view the humbling of the Iroquois by making them allies or 
neutrals and the security of the French dominion and trade upon 
the Lakes. Prominent in these measures, was a formidable attack 
upon the Senecas, who, from their location and partiality for the 
English, were most in the way of the French interests; and the 
building of a fort at Niagara. His first steps were to accumulate 
ample provisions for his . army at Fort Frontenac, and gather the 
whole disposable military force of New France, at Montreal. 
The commandants of the French posts at the west, were ordered 
to rendezvous at Niagara with their troops, and the warriors of 
their Indian allies in that quarter. 

At this period, England and France were at peace, or rather a 
treaty had been signed between them, to the effect that whatever 
differences might arise at home or elsewhere, neutral relations 

* Colden's History of the Five Nations. Mr. Clinton, in his discourse before the 
New York Historical Society in 1811, says of the speech of Garangula: — "I believe it 
to be impossible to find, in all the effusions of ancient or modern oratorj-, a speech 
more appropriate or convincing. Under the veil of respectful profession, it conveys 
the most biting irony; and while it abounds with rich and splendid imagery, it containa 
the most solid reasoning. I place it in the same rank of the celebrated speech of 
Logan; and I cannot but express my astonishment at the conduct of two respectable 
writers who have represented this interesting interview, and this sublime display of 
intellectual power, as a "scold between the French General and an old Indian." 

+ It should be observed he-re, that the English claimed dominion over all the country 
of the Iroquois south of the lakes, including of course the site of Fort Niagara. The 
French claimed the Iroquois' countrj', from priority of discoverj' and occupation by the 
Jesuits, La Salle, &c. 


should be observed by their subjects in North America. The 
Iroquois, apprised by the movements of De Nonville, but not 
knowing where he intended to strike, communicated their appre- 
hensions to Governor Dongan, who immediately wrote to De 
Nonville that the great collection of supplies at Fort Frontenac 
convinced him that an attack was meditated upon the Iroquois; — 
that they were the subjects of the crown of England, and any 
injury to them, would be an open infraction of the peace which 
existed between them and their two kings. He also stated that he 
understood the French intended to build a fort at Niagara, which 
astonished him exceedingly, as "no one could be ignorant, that it 
lay within the jurisdiction of New York." De Nonville replied 
that the Iroquois feared chastisement because they deserved it; and 
dissimulating, endeavored to convey the impression that no more 
supplies were ordered to Frontenac than were necessary for the 
use of the troops stationed there. He said that the pretensions of 
England to the land of the Iroquois were unfounded, as the French 
had taken possession of them "long before there was an English- 
man in New York;" at the same time admonishing the English 
governor that while their kings and masters were living in perfect 
peace and amity, it would be unwise for their lieutenant generals 
to embroil themselves in war. Governor Dongan took no measures 
to counteract the designs of the French, but to confirm the Iroquois 
in their apprehensions, and supply them with arms and ammuni- 
tion; but while the French preparations for war were going- on, 
the English were sending trading parties to the Lakes, and assid- 
uously improving a slight foot-hold they had obtained among a 
few Indian nations that were inclining to their interests. The 
English used one weapon, almost as potent — (in some instances 
more so,) — as Jesuit influence, and insinuating French diplomacy. 
They had learned the fatal appetite of the Indian for strong drink, 
and took advantage of it, by introducing brandy and rum wherever 
they made their advances among them. The Jesuit priests kept 
up a continual warfare with the French traders, against the 
introduction of intoxicating liquors, and generally prevailed. The 
Catholic church had, at that early period, their Father Matthews 
in this far off" wilderness. And here it is no falsifying of historical 
record, to add, that generally, the French policy and conduct, 
looked far more to the ultimate good of the natives, than those of 
the English. The presence of the Jesuit missionary, modified and 


checked the sordid desire of gain with the trader. English 
cupidity had no such check. 

De Nonville employed the winter of 1687 in making ready for 
the expedition. The previous summer, as he says in his journal, 
was passed in negotiations, which terminated in an agreement that 
both parties should meet at Fort Frontenac to take measures for 
the conclusion of a general peace. "But the pride of that nation, 
(the Iroquois,) accustomed to see others yield to its tyranny, and 
the insults which they have continued to heap upon the French 
and our savage allies, have induced us to believe that there is no 
use in negotiating with them, but with arms in our hands, and we 
have all winter been preparing to make them a visit." 

The French army, consisting of about sixteen hundred men, 
accompanied by four hundred Indian allies, set out from Montreal 
on the 13th of June, in three hundred and fifty batteaux, and after 
a slow passage up the St. Lawrence, encountering many difficulties, 
arrived at Fort Frontenac on the 30th. On the 4th day of July, 
it started for its destination; taking the route by the way of La 
Famine Bay, and coasting along the south side of lake Ontario, 
encampmg upon the shore each night, arrived at Ganniagataronia- 
gouat,* on the 10th. Previous to leaving Fort Frontenac, De 
Nonville had despatched orders to the commandant at Niagara 
to meet him with his troops, and the French and Indian allies who 
had come down from the west. This reinforcement amounted to 
about five hundred and eighty French and Indians. The two 
divisions of the army met at Irondequoit within the same hour. 

The next day was employed in constructing pallisades, facines 
and pickets for the protection of provisions, batteaux and canoes. 
On the 12th, after detaching four hundred men to garrison their 
landing place, the French and Indians took up their line of march 
toward the villages of the Senecas. Passing up the east side of 
Irondequoit Bay, they encamped at night, a few* miles above its 
head, near the village of Pittsford. The Indian village of Ganna- 
garo, which was situated near the present village of Victor, Ontario 
county, was to be the first point of attack. Continuing their 
march on the 13th, they arrived about 3 o'clock, at a defile near 

* Irondequoit. The name given above, is the one by which the French designated 
It, and was borrowed from the Mohawks. The Seneca name is Ongiudaondagwat 



the Indian village, when they were attacked by a large party of 
Senecas, that lay in ambush: — 

"They were better received than they anticipated, and were 
thrown into such consternation that most of them threw away their 
guns and clothing to escape under favor of the woods. The action 
was not long, but there was heavy firing on both sides. The 
three companies of Ottawas who were stationed on the right, dis- 
tinguished themselves, and all our christian savages farther in the 
rear, performed their duty admirably, and firmly maintained the 
position which had been assigned to them on the left. As we had 
in our front a dense wood, and a brook bordered with thickets, 
and had made no prisoners that could tell us positively the number 
of Indians that had attacked us ; the fatigues of the march, which 
our troops, as well the French as the Savages, had undergone, left 
us in no condition to pursue the enemy. They had fled beyond 
where we had sufficient knowledge of the paths, to be certain 
which we should take to lead us from the woods into the plain. 
The enemy left twenty-seven dead on the field to our knowledge, 
besides a much larger number of wounded, judging from the traces 
of blood which we saw. We learned from one of the dying that 
they had more than eight hundred men under arms, either in the 
action or in the village, and were daily expecting assistance from 
the neighboring Iroquois. Our troops being much fatigued, we 
rested during the remainder of the day at the same place, where 
we found suflScient water for the night. We maintained a strict 
w'atch, waiting for day, in order to enter the plain, which is about 
a league in extent, before proceeding to the villag'e. 

" The next day, which was the 14th, a heavy rain, which lasted 
till noon, compelled us to remain until that time at the place where 
the battle occured. We set out in battle array, thinking the enemy 
entrenched in the new village, which is above the old. In the 
moan time we entered the plain without seeing any thing but the 
relics of the fugitives. We found the old village burnt by the 
enemy, and the entrenchments of the new deserted, which were 
distant from the old about three-quarters of a league. We 
encamped on the height of the plain, and did nothing this day but 
protect ourselves from the rain which continued until night." * 

Two old men who had been left by the Senecas in their retreat, 
told De Nonville that the ambuscade consisted of two hundred 
and twenty men stationed on the hill side to attack the French in 
the rear, and five hundred and thirty in front; and beside this, 

* De Nonville's Journal. 


there were three hundred in their fort, situated on a very advanta- 
geous height : that there were none but Senecas in the battle , 
the Cayuga and Onondaga warriors not having arrived. 

The Senecas setting fire to all their villages, retreated before 
the French army, and sought refuge among the Cayugas. The 
French army remained in the Seneca country until the 24th. The 
deserted villages were entered, large quantities of corn and beans 
destroyed; the Indian allies scouting the country and tomahawk- 
ing and scalping such straggHng Senecas as fell behind in the 
flight, or remained in consequence of infirmity. Such was the 
spirit of the western Indians, and determination to execute ven- 
geance upon those who had so often warred upon them, that the 
French could not induce them to save such prisoners as fell into 
their hands. 

De Nonville estimates the amount of corn destroyed in all the 
" four villages of the S'onnontouans,^^ 1,200,000 bushels! A great 
exaggeration, undoubtedly, as the Senecas were never sufficiently 
numerous nor agricultural, to warrant the conclusion that they had 
any thing approaching to that amount in all their territory. He 
was making a report to "the king his master," and it is quite likely 
made his exploits as formidable as possible. He differs materially 
in his account of the expedition from Baron La Hontan who was 
one of his officers. 

La Hontan's account of the invasion of the Seneca country 
is as follows: 

♦'On the third day of July, 1687, we embarked from Fort 
Frontenac, to coast along the southern shore, under favor of the 
calms which prevail in that month, and at the same time the Sieur 
de La Foret left for Niagara by the north side of the lake, to 
wait there for a considerable reinforcement. 

"By extraordinary good fortune we both arrived on the same 
day, and nearly the same hour, at the river of the Tsonnontouans, 
by reason of which our savage allies, who draw predictions from 
the merest trifles, foretold, with their usual superstition, that so 
punctual a meeting infallibly indicated the total destruction of the 
Iroquois. How they deceived themselves the sequel will show. 

" The same evening on which we landed, we commenced draw- 
ing our canoes and batteaux upon land, and protected them by a 
strong guard. We afterwards set about constructing a fort of 
stakes, in which four hundred men were stationed, under the com- 
mand of the Sieur Dorvilliers, to guard the boats and baggage. 

" The next day a young Canadian, named La Fontaine 


INIarion, was unjustly put to death. The following is his histon^: 
This poor unfortunate became acquainted with the country and 
savages of Canada by the numerous voyages he made over the 
continent, and after having rendered his King good service, asked 
permission of several of the Governors general to continue his 
travels in further prosecution of his petty traffic, but he could 
never obtain it. He then determined to go to New England, as 
war did not then exist between the two Crowns. He was very 
well received, on account of his enterprise and acquaintance with 
nearly all the Indian languages. It was proposed that he should 
pilot through the lakes, those two companies of English which 
nave since been captured. He agreed to do so, and was unfor- 
tunately taken with the rest. 

'' The injustice of which they were guilty, appears to me inex- 
cusable, for we were at peace with the English, besides which 
they claim that the Lakes of Canada belong to them. 

"On the following day we set out for the great village of the 
Tsonnontouans, without any other provisions than the ten biscuit 
which each man was compelled to carry for himself. We had but 
seven leagues to march, through immense forests of lofty trees and 
over a very level country. The Ooureurs de hois formed the 
vanguard, with a part of the savages, the remainder of which 
brought up the rear — the regulars and militia being in the center. 

"The first day, our scouts marched in advance without making 
any discoveries. The distance which we accomplished was four 
leagues. On the second day the same scouts took the lead, and 
advanced even to the fields of the village, without perceiving any 
one, although they passed within pistol shot of five hundred 
Tsonnontouans lying on their bellies, who suflfered them to pass 
and repass without interruption. 

"On receiving their report, we marched in great haste and little 
order, believing that as the Iroquois had fled, we could at least 
capture their women, children and old men. But when we arrived 
at the foot of the hill on which they lay in ambush, distant about a 
quarter of a league from the village, they began to utter their 
ordinary cries, followed with a discharge of musketry. 

"If you had seen, sir, the disorder into which our militia and 
regulars were thrown, among the dense woods, you would agree 
with me, that it would require many thousand Europeans to make 
head against these barbarians. 

"Our battalions were immediately separated into platoons, which 
ran without order, pell mell, to the right and left, without knowing 
whither they went. Instead of firing upon the Iroquois, we fired 
upon each other. It was in vain to call 'help, soldiers of such a 
battalion' for we could scarcely see thirty paces. In short we 
were so disordered, that the enemy were about to fall upon us, 
club in hand, when our savages having rallied, repulsed and pursued 
them so closely, even to their villages, that they killed more than 


eighty, the heads of which they brought away, not counting the 
wounded who escaped. 

" We lost on tliis one occasion ten savages and a hundred French- 
men; we had twenty or twenty-two wounded, among whom was 
the good Father Angelran, the Jesuit, who was shot in those 
parts of which Origen wished to deprive himself, that he might 
instruct the fair sex with less scandal. 

''When the savages brought the heads to M. De Nowille, 
they inquired why he halted instead of advancing. He replied 
that he could not leave his wounded, and to afford his surgeons 
time to care for them, he had thought proper to encamp. They 
proposed making litters to carry them to the village, which was 
near at hand. The general being unwilling to follow this advice, 
endeavored to make them listen to reason, but in place of hearing 
him, they reassembled, and having held a council among them- 
selves, although they were more than ten different nations, they 
resolved to go alone in pursuit of the fugitives, of whom they 
expected to capture at least the women, children, and old men. 

" When they were ready to march, M. De Nonville exhorted 
them not to leave him or depart from his camp, but rest for one 
day, and that the next day he would go and burn the villages of 
the enemy, and lay waste their fields, in consequence of which 
they would perish by famine. This offended them so much that 
the greater part returned to their country, saying that ' the French 
had come for an excursion rather than to carry on war, since they 
would not profit by the finest opportunity in the world; that their 
ardor was like a sudden flash, extinguished as soon as kindled; that 
it seemed useless to have brought so many warriors from all parts 
to burn bark cabins, which could be rebuilt in four days; that the 
Tsonnontouans would care but little if their Indian corn was 
destroyed, since the other Iroquois nations had sufficient to afford 
them a part; that finally, after having joined the Governors of 
Canada to no purpose, they would never trust them in future, 
notwithstanding any promises they might make.' 

" Some say that M. De Nonville should have gone farther, 
others think it was impossible for him to do better. I will not 
venture to decide between them. Those at the helm are often the 
most embarrassed. However, we marched the next day to the 
great village, carrying our wounded on litters, but found nothing 
but ashes, the Iroquois having taken the precaution to burn it 
themselves. We were occupied five or six days in cutting down 
Indian corn in the fields with our swords. From thence we passed 
to the two small villages of The-ga-ron-hies and Da-non-ca-ri- 
ta-oui, distant two or three leagues from the former, where we 
performed the same exploits, and then returned to the borders of 
the lake. We found in all these villages, horses, cattle, poultry, 
and a multitude of swine. The country which we saw is the 


most beautiful, level and charming in the world. The woods we 
traversed abounded in oak, walnut and wild chestnut trees." 

CoLDEN, the historian of the Iroquois, says that five hundred 
of the Senecas lay in ambush; that they "lay on their bellies and 
let the French scouts pass and repass without disturbing them;" 
but that when the main body of the army came up " the Senekas 
suddenly raised the war shout, with a discharge of their fire arms. 
This put the regular troops, as well as the militia, into such a fright, 
as they marched through the woods, that the battalions immediately 
divided and ran to the right and the left, and in the confusion fired 
upon one another. When the Senekas perceived their disorder 
they fell in upon them pell mell, till the French Indians, more used 
to such mode of fighting, gathered together and repulsed the 
Senekas. There were, (according to the French accounts,) a hun- 
dred Frenchmen, ten French Indians, and about four score Senekas 
killed in the rencounter. Monsieur De Nonville was so dispirited 
with the fright that his men had been put into that his Indians 
could not persuade him to pursue. He halted the remainder of the 
day. The next day he marched on with a design to burn the 
village, but when he came there he found that the Senekas had 
saved him the trouble; for they had laid all in ashes before they 
retired. The French stayed five or six days to destroy the corn, 
and then marched to two other villages, at two or three leagues 
distance. After they had performed the Hke exploits in tnese 
places, they returned to the banks of the lake." 

There are some traditions among the Senecas, in reference to 
De Nonville's expedition which are worthy of note: — William 
Jones, a native Seneca, who married a relative of Red Jacket, 
states that he has heard the chief often say, that when he was a 
boy he used to hear the old men speak of a large party of French 
soldiers who penetrated the Indian country along the Genesee to a 
place called in the Seneca language, Sgohsaisthah. He did not 
admit that the Indians suffered any serious defeat. 

John Blacksmith, a chief of the Senecas, residing on the 
Tonawanda Reservation, hunted in his youth over the country 
embraced in the counties of Monroe, livingston and Ontario, and 
thus acquired an intimate knowledge of old Indian localities. He 
was asked if he had ever heard that a French army penetrated the 
Seneca country in olden time'? He related the following tradi- 
tion: — 


"About four generations ago, a French army landed secretly 
and unexpectedly at a place called by the Senecas, Gannyeodathah, 
which is a short distance from the head of Onyiudaondagwat, or 
Irondequoit Bay, as it is called by the whites. They immediately 
marched into the interior towards the ancient village of the 
Senecas, called Gaosaehgaah, following the main beaten path 
which led to that place. 

" As soon as the Indians residing at the village, received intelli- 
.gence of their approach, they sent news to the neighboring town 
of Gahayanduk. On being reinforced by them, they met the 
French as they advanced towards the former village, and a severe 
battle ensued. On account of their inferior numbers, the Indians 
were defeated, and fled to a village then located near the foot of 
Canandaigua'lake. The French advanced, burned the village, and 
laid waste the adjacent corn fields. As soon as they had accom- 
plished the above object, they retraced their steps towards the 
landing. Runners having been despatched by the Senecas to their 
principal towns, to give notice of the presence of the enemy, a 
large force was soon collected to defend the village and capture 
the French. When they reached Gaosaehgaah, nothing remained 
of that village but its smoking ruins. They immediately pursued 
the French, and arrived at the Bay a short time too late. The 
place where the battle occurred, was near a small stream with a 
hill on one side, and was known to the Senecas by the name of 
Dyagodiyu, or the ' place of a battle.' " 

The four Indian villages which De Nonville visited, are sup- 
posed to have been situated as follows: — Gannagaro, as the French 
called it, Gaosaehgaah in Seneca, was upon Boughton's Hill, in 
Victor, Ontario county; — Gannogarae, in the town of East Bloom- 
field, about three and a half miles from Boughton's Hill, near 
where the old Indian trail crossed Mud Creek; Totiakto, Deyudi- 
haakdoh in Seneca, was the aorth-east bend of the Honeoye outlet, 
near West Mendon, in Monroe county; — Gannounata, in Seneca 
Dyudonsot, about two miles south-east of East Avon, at the source of 
a small stream which empties into the Oonesus, near Avon Springs. 

The precise place where the battle occurred is a short distance 
north-west of the village of Victor, on the north-eastern edge of a 
large swamp, and on the northerly side of a stream called Great 
Brook. On the first settlement of the country it was partly 
covered with a thick growth of timber, and dense underbrush, 
forming a very advantageous place for an Indian ambuscade. It 
is about a mile and a quarter north-west of the old Indian village 
on Boughton's Hill, called by De Nonville, Gannagaro. 


The height on which the Fort mentioned by De Nowille 
was located, is about a mile and a quarter westerly from the site 
of Gannagaro, a wide valley intervening. It is now known as 
Fort Hill. Although nearly defaced by the plough, the works can 
be traced with sufficient certainty to identify the spot; and the 
solitary spring that supplied the French army, still oozes from the 
declivity of a hill, an existing witness of the locality. There are 
indications of extensive Indian settlements in the neighborhood of 
Victor, within a circuit of three miles. Thousands of graves were 
to be seen by the pioneer settlers, and the old French axes supplied 
them with iron when it was difficult to obtain it from other sources. 
At an early period the old Indian trail pursued by De Nonville 
from Irondequoit Bay to Victor, was distinctly visible. The forti- 
fication that De Nonville made, in which he left a detachment 
of his army to guard his stores and bateaux, at the bay, was 
described to the author during the last summer, by Oliver Culver 
of Brighton, who was in the country as early as 1796. French 
axes, flints, &c. were plenty there at that early period of settlement. 

The author is indebted to George Hosmer, of Avon, for the 
following account of a relic which unquestionably belongs to the 
period of the French invasion of the Seneca Iroquois: — 

"In the spring of 1793, I was present, when in ploughing a piece 
of new land on the Genesee bottom, near the river, on a farm then 
owned by my father, the plough passed through a bed of ashes 
several inches in thickness, and near that turned up an instrument 
which was called a French couteau. The blade was about twenty 
inches in length, and three inches wide. It was covered with rust, 
which upon being scoured off", exhibited the Jleur de lis and armorial 
bearings of France, and a date referring to the age and reign of 
Louis XIV. The relic elicited a momentary attention. It was 
cleared of rust, ground to an edge, and used in my father's kitchen 
as a cleaver. The haft was eight or ten inches long, and made of 
buckhorn, or bone. I was then but a boy, but in after years have 
often regretted that it had not been preserved with care, as an item 
of evidence to illustrate the early history of the country." 

The author indulges in a feeling of local pride, in noticing, in this 
connection, the poem, * " Yonnondio;' founded upon the advent of 
De Nonville to the valley of the Genesee, once the favorite home 

n *w7^°"u°'^^'°;i°'" ^^® Warriors of the Genesee : — a tale of the seventeenth century. 
By Wm. H. C. Hosmer." '' 


of the Seneca Iroquois, as it is now, that of a prosperous and happy- 
people of our own race. It is a " woof of fiction, woven upon a 
warp of fact." The author is of pioneer stock, as the reader will 
learn in some subsequent portions of this work; born and reared in 
the " realm of the Senecas," a remnant of that noble race of men 
associated with his earliest recollections; the tales of his nursery 
were of them, " their eloquence and deeds of valor;" and going out 
in manhood, wandering in the peaceful vale that echoed their war 
shouts, inspired by the reminiscences with which he was surrounded; 
he has seized the lyre, and in its silver tones are beautifully blended 
the facts and the romance of local history. It is replete with more 
striking and truthful delineations of the red man and his character, 
than any other poem upon the same subject, extant. 

As a specimen of this first successful essay to mingle the charms 
of verse with the local history of our region; and in fact, as a help 
to the better understanding of the causes that induced the invasion 
of De Nonville, and the spirit, the proud and haughty bearing of 
the Senecas in resisting it; the author selects some of the 
concluding portions of the speech that the poet attributes to 
Cannehoot, a Seneca chief, who is supposed to be closing a 
council of war, preparatory to the fierce onslaught that the undis- 
ciplined soldiers of the forest made upon the ranks of the French 
invaders: — 

"Regardless of our ancient fame. 
Our conquests, and our dreaded name. 
Fierce Yonnondio and his band 
Are thronging in our forest land; 
And ask ye why with banner spread 
His force the Frank hath hither led ? 
We scorched with iire the skulking hounds. 
Who dared to cross our hunting grounds, 
A trading, base, dishonest band. 
Who in exchange for pelts had given 
Guns, lead, and black explosive sand. 

To tribes our power had western driven:" * 

" Shall warriors who have tamed the pride 

Of rival nations far and wide. 

At their otcn heartlis be thus defied ? 

Shall it be said the beast of prey 

His den abandoned far away, 

* See speech of De la Barre, and Garangula's reply. 


And, seeking out the hunter, found 
His aim less true, less deep the wound ? 
Shall it be told in other days. 
The tomahawk we feared to raise. 
While the green hillocks, where repose 
The cherished dust of woodland-kings 
Insulted by the march of foes. 

Gave back indignant echoings ? 
Base is the bosom that will quake 
With one degrading throb of fear. 
When fame and countr}- are at stake. 
Though an armed troop of fiends are near! 
Oh! never can such craven tread 
The happy chase grounds.of the dead; 
Between him and that fount of bliss 
Will yawn a deep and dread abyss; 
And doomed will be his troubled ghost 
To range that land forever more. 
Upon whose lone and barren coast, 
The black and bitter waters roar. 
The clime of everlasting day, 
Where groves, all red with fruitage, wave, 
And beauty never fades away, 
Is only trodden by the brave." 

" In answer to the bold harangue, 
Each warrior from his bear-skin sprang, 
And, ominous of coming strife. 
Clashed tomahawk and scalping knife. 
A signal by the chief was made. 
To close the council, and obeyed: 
His eloquence of look and word. 
Dark depths of ever}' heart had stirred." 

Before leaving the Seneca country De Nonville made the 
following " proces verbal," of the act of taking possession: — 

"On the 19th day of July, in the year 1687, the troops commanded by the Honorable 
Rene de Brisay, Chevalier, Seigneur Marquis of De Nonville and other places, 
Governor and Lieutenant General for the King in the whole extent of Canada, and 
countrj- of New France, in presence of Hector, Chevalier de Calliere, Governor of 
Montreal in said country, commanding the camp under his orders, and of Philip de 
RiGAND, Chevalier de Vaudreuil, commanding the troops of the King, which being 
drawn up in battle array, there appeared at the head of the army, Charles Aubert, 
Sieur de la Chenays, citizen of Quebec, deputed by the Honorable Jean Bochart, 
Chevalier, Seigneur de Champigny, Horoy, Verneuil and other places. Counsellor of 
the King in his councils, Intendant of Justice, Police and Finances in all Northern 
France, who asserted and declared, that at the requisition of the said Seigneur de 
Champigny, he did take possession of the village of Totiakton, as he had done of the 
three villages named Gannagaro, Gannondata, and Gannongarae, and of a fort distant 


half a league from the said village of Gannagaro, together with all the lands which are 
in their vicinity, however far they extend, conquered in the name of his Majesty; and 
as evidence thereof has planted in all the said villages and forts, the arms of his said 
Majesty, and has proclaimed in a loud voice, " vive le roi," after the said troops have 
vanquished and put to flight eight hundred Iroquois Tsonnontouans, and have laid 
waste, burnt and destroyed their provisions and cabins. And on account of the fore- 
going, the Sieur de la Chenays Aubert, has required evidence to be granted to him 
by me, Paul Duput, Esquire, Counsellor of the King, and his Attorney at the Court 
of the Provost of Quebec. 

" Done at the said village of Totiakton, the largest village of the Tsonnontouans, in 
presence of the Reverend Father Vaillant, Jesuit, and of the officers of the regulars 
and miUtia, witnesses with me the said attorney of the King. Subscribed the day and 
year above mentioned, and signed in the original by Charles Aubert de la Chenays, 
J. Rene de Brisay, Monsieur de De Nonville, Le Chevalier de Calliere, Fleutelot de 
Romprey, de Desmeloizes, de Ramezay, Francois Vaillant of the Company of Jesus, 
de Grandeville, de Longueil, Saint Paul and Dupuy. 

" Compared with the original remaining in my hands, by me, the undersigned, 
Counsellor, Secretary of his Majesty, and chief Register of the Sovereign Council of 

Signed, PENURET." 

The fair inference, from all the evidence that has been preserved 
is that the French gained little honor, and less advantage, by this 
rencounter. Golden says, " the French got nothing but dry 
blows by this expedition." 

After despatching one of the bateaux to Fort Frontenac, to 
carry the nev^rs of the result of the expedition, the whole army 
set sail for Niagara on the 26th, adverse winds delaying its arrival 
there until the morning of the 30th. '' We immediately, (says 
the journal of De Nonville), set about choosing a place, and 
collecting stakes for the construction of a fort which I had resolved 
to build at the extremity of a tongue of land between the river 
Niagara, and lake Ontario, on the Iroquois side.* In three days 
the army had so fortified the post as to put it in a good condition 
of defence, in case of an assault. De Nonville says his object 
in constructing the fortification, was to afford protection for their 
Indian allies, and enable them to continue in small detachments, 
the war against the Iroquois. A detachment of an hundred 

* It is remarked by Mr. Marshall, in a note accompanying his translation of De 
Nonville's journal, that the geograpViical designation given here "removes all doubt as 
to the original location of this fortress." The circumstance of Joncaire persuading the 
Senecas to permit him to fix his residence "in the midst of a group of cabins at 
Lewiston," has undoubtedly led some historians to conclude that it was originally the 
site of the Fort. La Hontan, writing from the spot, while the fort was building, says: 
♦' The Fort stands on the south side of the Straight of Hcrrie lake, upon a hill; at the 
foot of which that lake falls into the lake of Frontenac." 


Troves, with provisions and ammunition for eight months. They 
were closely besieged by the Senecas, and. a sickness soon broke 
out which proved fatal to nearly all of them. 

The Indian allies of the French, returning to Niagara with De 
NoNviLLE, had declared their intention at Irondequoit, after what 
they regarded the failure of the expedition, not to join them in 
another one; but on seeing the fort erected, they became recon- 
ciled, concluding that it would favor their retreat in any expedition 
against the Iroquois. Upon parting with De Nonville, they 
made a speech, in which, among other things they said: — 

''That they depended upon his promise to continue the war 
till the Five Nations were either destroyed or dispossessed of 
their country; that they earnestly desired, that part of the army 
should take the field out of hand, and continue in it both winter 
and summer, for they would certainly do the same on their part; 
and in fine, that for as much as their alliance with France was 
chiefly grounded upon the promises the French made of listening' 
to no proposals of peace, 'till the Five Nations should be quite 
extirpated; they therefore hoped they would be as good as their 

De Nonville left Niagara on his return to Montreal, on the 
2d day of August, reaching his destination on the 13th; resting a 
day or two at Fort Frontenac, and leaving at that post one hundred 
men under the command of M. D'Orvilliers. The Senecas soon 
returned and occupied the ground they had deserted. As the 
French Indians predicted, it is probable that the other branches 
of the Confederacy supplied them with corn in the place of what 
the French had destroyed, and game and fish were abundant. 
The early French journalists often speak of the abundance of 
salmon in lake Ontario. On the lake shore, somewhere between 
the Genesee and Oswego rivers, a party of Indian allies that had 
been sent from Niagara in advance of the main army of De 
Nonville, encamped until it came up with them; and more 
fortunate in hunting deer, than in hunting the Senecas, had piled 
up at their camp two hundred for the use of the army. 

La Hontan, much against his inclination, as it would appear from 
a letter dated at Niagara, was ordered to take command of a 

* La Hontan. 


detachment and go west with the returning western Indian allies. 
He says he was "thunderstruck with the news," that he had "fed 
himSelf all along with the hope of the returning to France." He 
concluded, however, to make the best of it, as he had been supplied 
with "brisk, proper fellows," his "canoes are both new and large," 
and ToNTi and Dulbut were to be his companions. His detach- 
ment came up to Lewiston, or the "place where the navigation 
stops," and carried their canoes up the " three mountains," launch- 
ing them again at Schlosser. He says that in "climbing the 
mountains, one hundred Iroquese might have knocked them on the 
head with stones." And, incredible as it may seem, so soon after 
their route and dispersion, a large body of those indefatigable 
warriors were upon his track. Their stopping place, on their 
retreat a few days before, had been at the foot of Canandaigua 
lake. From that point they had sallied out to post themselves in 
the vicinity of the Falls, to fall in with the French troops on their 
return to the west, or their Indian allies, towards whom they 
entertained a more ifierce and settled hostility. The French and 
Indians had but just embarked at Schlosser, when a "thousand 
Iroquese" made their appearance upon the bank of the river. 
With such enemies lurking in the vicinity. La Hontan thought he 
had "escaped very narrowly," as on his way up, he and "three or 
four savages" had left the main body to go and look at "that 
fearful cataract." In his fright, or apprehension of danger, he 
must have taken but a hurried view of the Falls, for he made an 
extravagant estimate of their height: — "As for the water-fall of 
Niagara, 'tis seven or eight hundred foot high, and half a league 
[a mile and a half] broad. Towards the middle of it we descry an 
island that leans towards the precipice, as if it were ready to 
fall. All the beasts that cross the water within a half a quarter of 
a league above this unfortunate island, are sucked in by force of 
the stream: and the beasts and fish that are thus lulled by the 
prodigious fall, serve for food for fifty Iroquese who are settled 
about two leagues off, and take 'em out of the water with their 
canoes. Between the surface of the water that shelves off prodi- 
giously, and the foot of the precipice, three men may cross in 
abreast, without any further damage than a sprinkling of some 
few drops of water." 

The party were apprehensive of an attack from the pursuers, 
while getting up the rapids of the Niagara, but, having reached 


the lake they were secure, the heavy canoes of the Iroquois not 
being able to overtake the lighter ones of the French. They 
coasted along the northern shore of lake Erie. The navigators of 
that lake at the present day, will smile when they are told that 
these early navigators made a portage of Long Point, carrying 
their canoes and baggage over land. La Hontan speaks of an 
abundance of game, deer, turkeys, &c., which they found upon 
the lake shore, as well as upon the islands. The party stopped 
upon several of the small islands of lake Huron, and, driving the 
"Roe-bucks" (deer) into the water, would overtake them with 
their canoes and knock them upon the head with their oars. 

The detachment of La Hontan took possession of the fort of 
St. Josephs, relieving the force that had been stationed there. 
The provisions which De Nonville had promised, failing to arrive 
during the winter, the garrison was obliged to depend principally 
upon the chase. 

During the winter, a party of Hurons set out over land for the 
garrison at Niagara, determined to enter the country of the Iro- 
quois, as a marauding party to kill and capture detached parties of 
beaver hunters. On their way they came across a party of 
Iroquois hunters, sixty in number, and while they were sleeping in 
their camps, killed and made prisoners of the whole party. The 
Hurons returned in triumph to the post at Mackinaw. Some of 
the Iroquois prisoners told La Hontan that they were of the party 
of one thousand, that intended to capture him and his command at 
the Falls of Niagara; that when they left, eight hundred of their 
warriors had blocked up Fort Niagara; and that famine and disease 
were fast reducing the small French force there ; news that proved 
too true, as the reader will have already learned. They also gave 
La Hontan to understand that, after succeeding at Niagara, the 
Iroquois would try the same experiment upon his post. He was 
not apprehensive that they would attack him, but feared they 
would cut off his hunters and stop his supplies. To guard against 
this, he employed additional hunters and laid in a large supply of 
meat. The Iroquois not coming to attack him, in the course of the 
season he joined a large party of the western Indians, and invaded 
the country of the Iroquois on the south side of lake Erie, and had 
several engagements with them. 

Soon after De Nonville's expedition, Gov. Dongan met a 
deputation of the Five Nations at Albany, and praised and scolded 


them in turn, as would best enable him to maintain the appearance 
of neutrality, and at the same time encourage them to persevere 
against the French. He told them they were subjects of the King 
of England, that he claimed dominion over their territory ; that 
they must not enter into any treaty with the French, except with 
his advice and consent. Dr. Colden says tha-t Gov. Dongan was 
not averse to a peace between the French and Iroquois, but he 
wished the French to solicit his assistance to bring it about, and in 
doing so acknowledge the dependence of the Five Nations on the 
crown of England. He was, however over-ruled by King James, 
and ordered to assist in bringing the Iroquois to consent to a peace 
on terms dictated by the French. He was soon after removed 
from his government. 

The French so often foiled by the Iroquois, and so annoyed by 
them and their wars upon other Indian nations, were determined 
upon measures of peace. De Nonville, in the summer of 1688, 
ordered a cessation of hostilities, and succeeded in getting a large 
delegation from the Five Nations to repair to Montreal, for the 
purpose of negotiation. Five hundred of the Iroquois appeared as 
negotiators ; while twelve hundred of their warriors, were await- 
ing the result near Montreal, ready to fall upon the French settle- 
ments, if no treaty was effected. 

The confederates insisted that twelve of their people who had 
been taken prisoners the year previous, and sent by De Nonville 
to the galleys of France, should be returned to their country ; that 
Forts Frontenac and Niagara should be razed ; and that the 
Senecas should be paid for the destruction of their property. De 
Nonville declared his willingness to put an end to the war if all 
his Indian allies were included in a treaty of peace ; if the Mohawks 
and Senecas would send deputies to signify their concurrence ; and 
Fort Frontenac might remain in their hands, and continued as a 
depot of trade. 

The French and English accounts differ as to the terms of peace 
finally agreed upon. But a treaty was concluded, which was 
frustrated by an unforeseen occurrence. 

Among the French Indian allies, was Kondiaronk, or Le Rat, 
a Huron chief, powerful in council and in arms. He had leagued 
with De Nonville to aid in warring upon the Iroquois, his enemies, 
and the enemies of his nation. From no love for the English, (for 
he hated them because they were the friends of the Iroquois,) but 


for the sake of making a good sale of his furs, he had seemed to 
favor some of their trading parties that had been among the 
Hurons. This had excited the jealousy of the French ; to remove 
■which, he repaired to Fort Frontenac w^ith an hundred warriors. 
Arrivino- there, he was told by the commandant that De Nonville 
was in hopes of concluding a peace with the Iroquois, and that the 
presence of him and his warriors might obstruct the negotiations. 
Feigning acquiescence, he determined upon a plan not only to 
prevent a peace, but to punish his French allies for breaking the 
league they had made, to continue the war. Under the pretence 
of returning to his country, he took another direction, and repairing 
to one of the falls of the St. Lawrence, he placed his warriors in 
ambush, and when a large party of the Iroquois came up, on their 
return from Montreal, he attacked them, killing a part, and making 
prisoners of the remainder. He gave the prisoners to understand 
that he was acting in concert with the French ; that De Nonville 
had told him when he could best interrupt the party on its way 
from Montreal. When told by his prisoners that they were peace 
ambassadors, he affected great surprise and indignation ; and 
addressing them, said : — "Go, my brethren, I untie your hands, and 
send you home again, though our nations be at war. The French 
Governor has made me commit so black an action, that I shall 
never be easy after it, till the Five Nations shall have taken full 

As the wily Huron chief had anticipated, the discharged pi-ison- 
ers spread the news of French perfidy, (as it seemed to them,) on 
their return to their country, and measures for the renewal of the 
war, and revenge, soon followed ; those of the Five Nations who 
had been friendly to the French zealously co-operating. An army 
of twelve hundred warriors was soon ready for the field. On the 
26th of July, 1688, they landed on the south side of the Island of 
Montreal, while the French were in perfect security ; burnt their 
houses, sacked their plantations, and put to the sword all the men, 
women, and children, without the skirts of the town, " A thousand 
French were slain in the invasion, and twenty-six carried into 
captivity and burnt alive. Many more were made prisoners, in 
another attack, in October, and the lower part of the Island wholly 
destroyed. Only three of the confederates were lost in all this 
scene of misery and desolation." * 

Smith's History of the "Province of New York," the statement is upon the author- 


As soon as the news reached Fort Frontenac, that post was 
hurriedly abandoned. On leaving, the French designed to have 
blown up the works, but the match which was to fire the magazine 
did not accomplish its purpose. The Iroquois hearing that the fort 
was deserted, repaired to it, and secured a large amount of plunder, 
a part of which, was twenty-eight kegs of powder. 

The news of these disasters spreading among the French Indian 
allies at the west, had the effect to alienate most of them and 
incline them to the English interests. In fact all but two Nations, 
were thus affected. The whole range of country from Quebec to 
the western posts, was possessed by the Iroquois or scoured by 
their war parties ; and nothing saved the western posts, but the 
inability of the Indians to attack successfully fortified places. Added 
to the other misfortunes of the French upon the St. Lawrence, was 
a threatened famine. The war and the fur trade, had diverted 
from agriculture, and supplies failed to reach them from France. 
Shut up in their fortifications, the Iroquois were ready to fall upon 
them whenever they ventured out. Smith, the early historian of 
New York, says ; " but for the uncommon sagacity of Sieur Perot, 
the western Indians would have murdered every Frenchman among 
them." Dr. Golden says: "I say, whoever considers all these 
things, [disadvantages he enumerates under which the Iroquois 
carried on the war, growing out of the want of an entire unity 
among themselves, and other wars in which they were engaged,] 
and v/hat the Five Nations did actually perform, will hardly doubt 
that they of themselves, were at that time an over match for the 
French of Canada." 

The English taking advantage of the emergency in which the 
French were placed, held a conference at Albany with the 
Mohawks. A Mohawk chief assuming to speak for the entire 
confederacy, said; — "We have burned Montreal, we are allies of 
the English, we will keep the chain unbroken." 

While all this was transpiring upon the American continent the 
revolution in England was consummated by the elevation of the 
Prince of Orange to the English throne. This changed the whole 
complexion of English and French affairs, at home as well as in 

ity of Dr. Golden. Charlevois says the attack upon Montreal was late in August, and 
that the Iroquois were 1500 strong ; that the loss of the French was only two hundred 

Note. — When the war was renewed with the French, the Senecas were at war 
with three Western Nations ; — the Utawawas, Chicktaghicks and Twightwies. 


their colonies. James II. had been accused of partiality to the 
French and the colonial measures he had dictated were more 
favorable to French interests in America than the English colonists 
and the Protestant party in England, had hoped to see adopted. 
The recall of Gov. Dongan, and the position of neutrality the 
King had dictated to the English colonists, in the war between the 
French and the Iroquois, were among the colonial measures that 
were complained of. The policy of DoxNgan would have excluded 
the Jesuits and their powerful influence from the country of the 
Five Nations, as well as other territory claimed by the English ; 
while King James was too much of a Catholic to second his views. 

France declared war against England, soon after the revolution 
of 1689. Among the offensive measures immediately adopted, 
were those which not only contemplated a regaining of all lost 
ground in America, but the conquering of the English colonies and 
the perfecting of exclusive French dominion. 

De NoNviLLE was recalled, and Count de Frontenac ordered to 
sail for New France, and assume the local government. 

Previous to the arrival of Frontenac, the Iroquois had aban- 
doned Montreal. He arrived at Quebec, Oct. 2d, 1689. His 
vigorous measures soon gave to French affairs a different aspect. 
Remaining but a few days at Qu.«bec, he pushed on to Montreal. 
There he summoned a general council of the western Indians. 
" There, as a representative of the Gallic monarch, claiming to be 
the bulwark of christendoni — Count Frontenac, himself a peer 
of France, now in his seventieth year, placed the murderous 
hatchet in the hands of his allies; and with the tomahawk in his 
own grasp, chanted the war song, danced the war dance, and 
listened, apparently with delight, to the threats of savage ven- 
geance.* An alliance with all the Indians between lake Ontario 
and the Mississippi was perfected. Fort Frontenac was again 
garrisoned with a detachment of French troops. The new French 
governor took every means in his power to win the Five Nations 
to his interest, realizing how important their friendship would be, 
in the contest with the English, that he was about to engage in. 
Frontenac brought with him from France the Iroquois that De 
NoNviLLE had sent home as prisoners, one of whom was a chief 
of some note. With an eye to the use he could make of them in 
peace n egotiations, he had treated them with much kindness. 

* Bancroft. 


Retaining the chief Tawarahet, he sent the other four to Onon- 
daga with overtures of peace. A council of eighty sachems was 
convened; previous to which, however, the magistrates of Albany 
had been apprised of what was going on, and had sent messengers 
to the council, to oppose any peace measures. An Onondaga chief, 
Sadekanaghtie, opened the council, stating that the French 
governor had brought back the prisoners from France; had sent 
four of them to their own country, and retained the rest at 
Montreal as hostages; that he had invited the Iroquois to meet him 
at Cadaj-ackui to "treat about the old chain." A chief of the 
•'praying Indians,"* that had accompanied the discharged peace 
ambassadors, rose up in the council and presented a belt, saying it 
was from Tawarahet, the captive chief, in token that he had 
suffered much in his long captivity, and desired that they would 
meet the French governor as he desired. The messengers of the 
magistrates of Albany delivered their message which urged that no 
overtures that the French might make, should be hstened to. 
Canehoot, the Seneca sachem, whose stirring eloquence had 
roused the Senecas to resist the invasion of De Nonville, 
informed the council that during the previous summer, as many as 
seven of the western Nations had made peace with the Senecas 
and had "thrown away the axe that Yonnondio had put into their 
hands;" assuring them that they should no more hearken to Yon- 
nondio, but, like the Iroquois, be on terms of peace with the 
English. The Onondaga chief who had opened the council, said: — 
"Brethren, we must stick to our brother Quider,] and look on 
Yonnondio as our enemy, for he is a cheat." The Albany 
messengers assured the council that, as France and England were 
at war, a great many English soldiers had been sent over; that an 
expedition was fitting out in New England to conquer New France, 
&c. The council determined upon not entertaining the proposition 
of the French governor, but to assist the English to "strike at the 
root, that the trunk being cut down, the branches fall of course." \ 
An answer to the French governor was agreed upon, which was 
in substance: — "That they were glad he had brought back their 

* Such of the Iroquois as the Jesuits had converted, were so called, There was a 
settlement of them near Montreal. 

t Peter Schuyler, the mayor of Albany. 

X Meaning an attack on Quebec. 


people from France, but that the French had acted deceitfully so 
often, that they could not trust them;" that they could not meet him 
as he wished at Cadarackui, for their council fire was "extin- 
guished with blood." Their ultimatum was, that their chief, 
Tawarahet must first be sent home; and after that, they might 
"speak of peace." They proposed to save the fives of all their 
French prisoners until spring, and release them upon condition 
that the French released all their people. 

In the winter of 1690, a party of one hundred and fifty French 
and Indians, left Montreal, and " wading through snows and 
morasses, through forests deemed before impervious to white men, 
and across rivers bridged with frost, arrived on the 18th of 
February, at Schenectady."* With the general features of this 
expedition, and its fatal termination, the reader will be familiar. 
There have been several versions of it — most of them imperfect. 
Among the Paris Documents, brought to this country by Mr. 
Broadhead, is a minute relation of all that appertained to the 
expedition, written at the time, and sent to the celebrated M. de 
Maintenon. The author uses a translation of it, which has 
been recently pubUshed in the Albany Argus. This is, of course, 
French authority; our accounts heretofore have been wholly from 
English sources: — 

"The orders received by M. le Comte (de Frontenac) to 
commence hostilities against New England and New York, which 
had declared for the Prince of Orange, afforded him considerable 
pleasure, and were very necessary for the country. He allowed 
no more time to elapse before carrying them into execution, than 
was required to send off" some despatches to France — immediately 
after which he determined to organize three different detachments, 
to attack those rebels at all points at the same moment, and to 
punish them, at various places, for having afforded protection to 
our enemies, the Mohawks. The first party was to rendezvous at 
Montreal, and proceed towards Orange (Albany;) the second at 
Three Rivers, and to make a descent on New York, at some place 
between Boston and Orange, and the third was to depart from 
Quebec, and gain the seaboard between Boston and Pentagouet, 
verging towards Acadia. They all succeeded perfectly well, and 
I shall now communicate to you the details. 


The detachment which formed at Montreal, may have been 

* Bancroft. 


composed of about two hundred and ten men, namely: eighty 
savages from the Sault, and from La Montagne; sixteen Algon- 
quins; and the remainder Frenchmen — all under the command of 
the Sieur Le Movne de Sainte Helene, and Lieutenant Daille- 
BOUT de Mantet, both of whom were Canadians. The Sieurs 
le Moyne d'Iberville and Repentigny de Montesson com- 
manded under these. The best qualified Frenchmen were the 
Sieurs de Bonrepos and de La Brosse, Calvinist officers, Sieurs 
la Moyne de Blainville, Le Bert du Chene, and la Marque 
DE MoNTiGNY, who all Served as volunteers. They took their 
departure from Montreal at the commencement of February. 

" After having marched for the course of five or six days, they 
called a council to determine the route they should follow, and the 
point they should attack. 

'' The Indians demanded of the French what was their intention. 
Messieurs de Sainte Helene and Mantet replied that they had 
left in the hope of attacking Orange, (Albany) if possible, as it is 
the Capital of New York and a place of considerable importance, 
though they had no orders to that effect, but generally to act 
according as they should judge, on the spot, of their chances of 
success, without running too much risk. This appeared to the 
savages somewhat rash. They represented the difficulties and the 
weakness of the party for so bold an undertaking. There was 
even one among them who, with his mind filled with the recollec- 
tion of the disasters which he had witnessed last year, enquired of 
our Frenchmen, 'since when had they become so desperate?' 
It was our intention, now, to regain the honor of which our 
misfortunes had deprived us, and the sole means to accomplish 
that, we replied, was to carry Orange, or to perish in so gloriou* 
an enterprise. 

"As the Indians, who had an intimate acquaintance with the 
locahties, and more experience than the French, could not be 
brought to agree with the latter, it wa^s determined to postpone 
coming to a conclusion until the party should arrive at the spot 
where the two routes separate — the one leading to Orange, and 
the other to Corlear (Schenectady). In the course of the journey, 
which occupied eight days, the Frenchmen judged proper to 
diverge towards Corlear, according to the advice of the Indians; 
and this road was taken without calling a new council. Nine 
days more elapsed before they arrived, having experienced incon- 
ceivable difficulties, and having been obliged to march up to their 
knees in water, and to break the ice with their feet in order to find 
a solid footing. 

" They arrived within two leagues of Corlear, about 4 o'clock 
in the evening, and were there harangued by the Great Agniez, 
the chief of the Iroquois from the Sault. He urged on all to 
perform their duty, and to lose all recollections of their fatigue, in 
the hope of taking ample revenge for the injuries which they had 


received from the Mohawks at the solicitation of the English, and 
of washing themselves in the blood of the traitors. This savage 
was, without contradiction the most considerable of his tribe — an 
honest man — as full of spirit, prudence, and generosity as it was 
possible, and capable at the same time of the grandest undertakings. 
Shortly after, four squaws were discovered in a wigwam who gavig 
every information necessary for the attack on the town. The fire 
found in this hut served to' warm those who were benumbed, and 
they continued their route, having previously detached Giguieres, 
a Canadian, with nine Indians, on the look out. They discovered 
no one, and returned to join the main body within one league of 

" At eleven of the clock that night, they came within sight of 
the town, resolved to defer the assault until two o'clock of the 
morning. But the excessive cold admitted of no further delay. 

" The town of Corlear forms a sort of oblong square, with only 
two gates — one opposite the road we had taken; the other leading 
to Orange, which is only six leagues distant. Messieurs de 
Sainte Helene and de Mantet were to enter at the first, which 
the Squaws pointed out, and which in fact was found wide open. 
Messieurs d'Iberville and de Montesson took the left, with 
another detachment, in order to make themselves masters of that 
leading to Orange. But they could not discover it, and returned to 
join the remainder of the party. A profound silence was every 
where observed, until the two commanders, who separated, at their 
entrance into the town, for the purpose of encircling it, had met at 
the other extremity. 

" The wild Indian war-whoop was then raised, and the entire 
force rushed simultaneously to the attack. M. de Mantet placed 
hiinself at the head of a detachment, and reached a small fort 
where the garrison w^as under arms. The gate was burst in after 
a good deal of difficulty; the whole set on fire, and all who 
defended the place were slaughtered, 

" The sack of the town began a moment before the attack of 
the fort. Few houses made any resistance. M. de Montigny 
discovered some, which he attempted to carry sword in hand, 
having tried the musket in vain. He received two thrusts of a 
spear — one in the body and the other in the arm. But M. de 
Saixte Helene having come to his aid, effected an entrance, and 
put every one of the garrison to the sword. The massacre lasted 
two hours. The remainder of the night was spent in placing 
sentinels and taking some rest. 

" The house belonging to the minister was ordered to be saved, 
so as to take him alive, to obtain information from him. But, as it 
was not known, it was not saved any more than the others. He 
was slain and his papers burnt before he could be recognized. 

" At daybreak, some men were sent to the dwelling of Mr. 
Coudre, who was Major of the place at the other side of the 


river. He was not willing to surrender, and began to put himself 
on the defensive, with his servants and some Indians; but as it was 
resolved not to do him any harm, in consequence of the good 
treatment which the French had formerly experienced at his 
hands, M. d'Iberville and the Great Agniez proceeded thither 
alone, promised him quarter for himself, and his people and his 
property, whereupon he laid down his arms, on parole; enter- 
taining them in his fort, and returned with them to see the com- 
mandants of the town. 

In order to occupy the savages, who would otherwise have 
taken to drink, and thus rendered themselves unable for defence, 
the houses had already been set on fire. None were spared in the 
town but one house belonging to Coudre, and that of a widow 
who had six children, whither M. de Montigny had been carried 
when wounded. All the rest were consumed. The lives of 
between fifty and sixty persons, old men, women and children, 
were spared, they having escaped the first fury of the attack. 
Some twenty Mohawks were also spared, in order to show that it 
was the English and not they, against whom the grudge was 
entertained. The loss on this occasion in houses, catlle and grain, 
amounted to more than four hundred thousand Hvres, There 
were upwards of eighty well built and well furnished houses in 

" The return march commenced with thirty prisoners. The 
wounded, who were to be carried, and the plunder, with which all 
the Indians and some Frenchmen were loaded, caused considerable 
inconvenience. Fifty good horses were brought away. Sixteen 
only of these reached Montreal. The remainder were killed for 
food on the way. 

" Sixty leagues from Corlear, the Indians began to hunt, and the 
French not being able to wait jfor them, being short of provisions, 
continued their route, having detached Messieurs d'Iberville and 
Du Chesne with two savages before them to Montreal. On the 
same day, some Frenchmen, who doubtless were very, much 
fatigued, lost their way. Fearful that they should be obliged to 
keep up with the main body, and believing themselves in safety, 
having eighty Indians in their rear, they were found missing from 
the camp. They were waited for next day until eleven o'clock, 
but in vain, and no account has since been received of them. 

" Two hours after, forty men left the main body without 
acquainting the commander, continued their route by themselves, 
and arrived within two leagues of Montreal one day ahead, so 
that there were not more than fifty or sixty men together. The 
evening on which they should arrive at Montreal, being extremely 
fatigued from fasting and bad roads, the rear fell away from M. de 
Sainte Helene, who was in front with an Indian guide, and who 
could not find a place suitable for encamping nearer than three or 
four leagues of the spot where he expected to halt. He was not 


rejoined by M. de Mantet and the others, until far advanced in 
the night. Seven have not been found. Next day on parade 
about 10 o clock in the forenoon, a soldier arrived, vrho announced 
that they had been attacked by fourteen or fifteen savages, and 
that six had been killed. The party proceeded somewhat afflicted 
by this accident, and arrived at Montreal at 3 o'clock, P. M. 

" Such, Madame, is the account of what passed at the taking of 
Corlcar (Schenectady). The French lost but twenty-one men, 
namely, four Indians and seventeen Frenchmen. Only one Indian 
and one Frenchman were killed at the capture of the town. The 
others were lost on the road." 

Another French party, of but fifty three persons, left the Three 
Rivers, and fell upon an English settlement on the Piscataqua in 
Maine, and after a bloody engagement, burnt houses, barns and 
cattle in their stalls, and captured fifty-four persons, chiefly women 
and children. 

The French and English war continued until 1697. The details 
of it enter largely into our general history. It w^as a war, so far 
as the colonies were concerned, growing out of disputed boundary 
and dominion ; the chief or immediate interest at stake, being the 
fur trade and the fisheries upon our northern coast. In all the war, 
each nation had its Indian allies, who were left, in most instances, 
to prosecute their own mode of warfare. At times during the war, 
Frontenac was enabled to succeed partially with some portions of 
the Five Nations, through the influence of the Jesuits and the 
christian Indians, in occasionally securing their neutrality ; but for 
the most part, they were the implacable enemies of the French. 
In the distracted condition of the English, the dissensions and political 
rivalries in their colonies; the feebleness with which they prosecuted 
war measures, as all must have observed, who are familiar with the 
history of those times ; had it not been for the aid of the Iroquois, 
who occupied an advantageous position to form a barrier against 
French incursions in a defenceless quarter, the English colonies 
would have suffered much worse, if indeed French conquest had 
not been consummated. After the disaster of Schenectady, the 

Note. — Golden says the number of inhabitants massacred was sixty-three, and that 
nventy-seven were carried away prisoners. In reference to -the attack npon the French 
in their retreat, he says: — " The care the French took to soothe the Mohawks, had 
not entirely its effect, for as soon as they heard of this action, a hundred of their 
readiest younij men pursued the French, fell upon their rear, and killed and took 
twenty-five of them." The English accounts generally, state, that the citizens of 
Schenectady, not apprehensive of an attack from Montreal at such a season of the 
year, were all asleep, with their gates unclosed. 


remnant of a settlement left there, were for abandoning their pos- 
sessions. They were encouraged to remain by the Mohawks, who 
assured them that the Five Nations had beat the French every 
where, single handed, and could easily control them, if the 
English would do their part. The Five Nations were indignant at 
what they deemed the temerity of some portion of the citizens of 
Albany, who contemplated fleeing to New York. 

During the whole period of this war, the Iroquois had uninter- 
rupted possession of all the region west of Onondaga lake, and in 
fact of the whole west of Schenectady, with the exception of some 
incursions of the Fi'ench which will be noticed. It was an interim 
generally of quiet with them and other Indian nations. They 
made several incursions, down the St. Lawrence, attacking the 
French near Montreal, with considerable success. 

The English soon after the breaking out of the war, made formi- 
idable preparations for the conquest of Quebec and Montreal, as the 
starting point for putting an end to French dominion in this portion 
of the continent. The measures of Frontenac, as has been before 
observed, looked to an end of English dominion. Little was 
accomplished by either in furtherance of their ultimate designs. 
The English expeditions to the St. Lawrence were failures ; and 
the French incursions were but marauding expeditions, marked 
with all the horrors and barbarities of savage warfare. In refer- 
ence to the results of the year 1691, and the failures of the English 
expeditions, Mr. Bancroft remarks — "Repulsed from Canada, 
the exhausted [English] colonies, attempted Uttle more than the 
defence of their frontiers. Their borders were full of sorrow, of 
captivity and death." 

After the English had abandoned their designs upon the head 
quarters of the French upon the St. Lawrence, Frontenac turned 
his attention to the Five Nations, whom he alternately, by missions 
and treaties, endeavored to win, and by invasions to terrify into an 
alUance. In February, 1692, three hundred French, with Indian 
confederates, were sent over the snows, against the hunting parties 
of the Senecas in Upper Canada, near the Niagara."* In 1693, 
a large party -invaded the country of the Mohawks, destroyed 
several castles, at one of which a small band of warriors so well 
resisted the invaders as to cause them the loss of thirty men. 

* Bancroft. 


Frontenac had ordered no quarters to be given, except to women 
and children, but a more humane poUcy of his Indian alUes pre- 
vailed. They attempted to carry away prisoners, but a small force 
collected by Peter Schuyler, of Albany, pursued and liberated 
the captives. 

Toward the close of the war, in 1696, Frontenac, then seventy- 
four years of age, headed the last French expedition to Western 
New York. Assembling a large force at Fort Frontenac, he 
crossed over to Oswego, and marching thence to the chief settle- 
ment of the Onondagas, found it deserted. This central nation of 
the Iroquois had followed the example of the Senecas and set fire 
to their wigwams. 

The only prisoner taken, was an aged chief, who had refused to 
fly, or probably from weakness and infirmity, could not. The 
Indian allies of the French were allowed to torture him ; but he 
*' scoffed at his tormentors as the slaves of those he despised." 
They gave him mortal wounds, and expiring under them, his last 
words were ; — "You should have taken more time to learn to 
meet death manfully ! I die contented ; for I have no cause of self 
reproach. You Indians their allies, you dogs of dogs, think of me 
when you shall be in the like state." 

Dr. CoLDEN says the Onondagas were deterred from remaining 
and defending their houses, by the frightful accounts that a Seneca 
gave them, who had deserted from the French. He said the French 
army was as numerous as "the leaves on the trees ; that they had 
machines which threw balls up into the air, and which falling on 
their castle would burst to pieces and spread fire and death every 
where ; against which, their stockades could be no defence." 

The Chevalier de Vandreuil was detached with a large force 
to ravage the country of the Oneidas and destroy their crops. The 
Oneidas were less hostile to the French than the rest of the con- 
federacy. Thirty or forty of them remained to make the French 
welcome, but they were made prisoners and taken to Montreal. 

Frontenac was urged by some of his officers to extend the con- 
quest, but he declined, saying "it was time for him to repose." He 
concluded he had so far intimidated the Five Nations as to incline 
them to peace. It is plain, however, that the French had learned 
to dread the Iroquois and their stratagems, and were fearful that the 
retreat from their towns was, but to collect in full force, and perhaps 
surprise their invaders by an ambuscade. Golden, who, as an 


Englishman, and the historian of the Five Nations, incUnes to cavil 
generally upon the French expeditions, says; — "all that can be 
said for this expedition, is, that it was a kind of heroic dotage ;" and 
it would seem to have been somewhat of that complexion. 

The French army returned to Montreal, not, however, without 
being harassed on their way by the Onondagas. But a few weeks 
had elapsed before war parties of the Five Nations appeared in the 
vicinity of Montreal, making attacks upon the French settlements. 
" Thus," says Colden, "the war was continued until the peace of 
Ryswick, by small parties of Indians on both sides, harrassing, 
surprising, and scalping the inhabitants of Montreal and Albany." 

The war settled nothing in the way of respective boundary and 
dominion, except perhaps a kind of mutual acknowledgment of 
what each had claimed before. It left Western New York to con- 
tinue to be a bone of contention. The French had conceded to 
them the whole coast and adjacent Islands, from Maine to beyond 
Labrador and Hudson's Bay, besides Canada, the western Lake 
region, and the valley of the Mississippi. 

In adjusting the boundaries, the English commissioner claimed 
all the country of the Five Nations, and that it extended west, so 
far even as to include Mackinaw, This extravagant ambition was 
treated with derision ; the French still claiming the whole country 
of the Five Nations, from discovery and precedent occupancy, by 
a garrison at Niagara, and their missionaries and traders. "Reli- 
gious sympathies" says Bancroft "inclined the Five Nations to 
the French, but commercial advantages brought them always into 
connection with the EngHsh." About the period of the attempt to 
settle the question of boundary in New York, the English passed a 
law for hanging "every Popish priest that should come voluntarily 
into the province ;" including, of course, the disputed ground, as 
that was claimed to be a part of the province. "The law ought 
forever to continue in force," says Smith, the first historian of New 
York, who had strong prejudices against the French and their reli- 
gion. Mr. Bancroft, in a better spirit, concludes that his pre- 
decessor was "wholly unconsious of the true nature of Iiis 
remark." "While the French and English both laid claim to 
Western New York, the rightful owners and occupants never for 
a moment assented to either of the claims but insisted upon their 

In 1700 a peace was ratified between the Iroquois on the one 


side, and France and her Indian allies on the other. The Rat, the 
Huron chief who had so craftily played the part of an lago, in 
preventing a previous peace, said at a council at Montreal: — "I 
lay down the axe at my father's feet;" the deputies of the four 
tribes of Ottawas echoed his words. All the western Indians 
agreed to terms of peace. A general exchange of prisoners took 
place, as well between the hostile Indian nations, as between the 
French and the Five Nations.* 

Count Frontenac died soon after the close of the French and 
English war, and was succeeded in the government of New 
France, by De Calliers, who had been first in rank under him in 
his miUtary expeditions. Lord Bellamont, succeeded Colonel 
Sloughter, as Governor of the Enghsh provinces. The new 
French Governor insisted upon French jurisdiction of the Iroquois, 
and that question remained unsettled, while all others were 

The peace between England and France was of short duration. 
The smoke of what was termed "King WilUam's War," had 
hardly cleared away, when *' Queen Anne's War " commenced. 
In the month of may, 1702, war was declared between Queen 
Anne and her allies, the Emperor of Germany and the States 

* " I shall finish this Part by observiug that, notwithstanding the French Commis- 
sioners took all pains possible to carry Home the French that were Prisoners with the 
Five Nations, and they had full Liberty from the Indians, few of them could be 
persuaded to return. It may be thought that this was occasioned by the Hardships they 
endured in their own Countrj', under a tyranmcal Government and a barren Soil. But 
this certainly was not the only reason; for the English had as much Difficulty to per- 
suade the people that had been taken Pi'isoners by the French Indians, to leave the 
Indian Manner of living, though no People enjoy more Liberty, and live in greater 
Plenty than the common Inhabitants of New York do. No Arguments, no Intreaties, 
nor Tears of their Friends and Relations, could persuade many of them to leave their 
New Indian Friends and Acquaintance; several of them that were by the Caressings 
of their Relations persuaded to come Home, in a little time grew tired of our Manner 
of living, and run away again to the Indians, and ended their Days with them. On 
the other Hand Indian Children have been carefully educated among the English, 
clothed and taught, yet I think there is not one Instance, that any of these, after they 
had Liberty to go among their own People, and were come to Age, would remain with 
the English, but returned to their own Nations, and became as fond of the Indian 
manner of Life as those that knew nothing of the civilized Manner of living. What I 
now tell of Christian Prisoners among Indians, relates not only to what happened at 
the Conclusion of the War, but has been found true on many other occasions." 


Note.— The captive chief Tawarahet died in Montreal. Golden says the French 
eave him a christian burial, in a pompous manner; the Priest that had attended him at 
his death having declared that he died a true christian; for, said the Priest, while I 
explained to him the passion of our Savior, whom the Jews crucified, he cried out: — 
"Oh! had I been there, I would have revenged his death, and brought away their 


General, of Holland, and France and Spain. It was soon extended 
to the colonies, and another long and bloody war ensued. By this 
time the French, through the influence of the Jesuit Missionaries, 
and the diplomacy of Vaudreuil, had fully reinstated themselves 
in the good will of the western Indians, and made allies of the 
most powerful nations of New England. This gave them by far 
the vantage ground throughout the war. The Province of New 
York took but little part in the contest, and its chief burden fell 
upon New England. The Indians, within their own limits, rein- 
forced by the Indians of Canada, and not unfrequently accompanied 
by the French, made incursions into all parts of the eastern 
English Provinces, falling upon the frontier settlements with the 
torch, the tomahawk and knife, and furnishing a long catalogue of 
captivity and death, that mark that as one of the most trying 
periods in a colonial history upon almost every page of which we 
are forcibly reminded how much of blood and suffering it cost our 
pioneer ancestors to maintain a foothold upon this continent.* 
The war on the part of the English colonies, was principally 
directed against Port Royal, Quebec, and Montreal. Most of the 
expeditions they fitted out were failures; there was a suspicion of 
shipwreck, badly framed schemes of conquest; organization of 
forces but to be disbanded before they had consummated any 
definite purposes; "marching up hills and marching down again." 

Such being the geographical features of the war; the Province 
of New York having assented to the treaty of neutrality between 
the French and Five Nations, and contenting itself with an enjoy- 
ment of Indian trade, while their neighboring Provinces were 
struggling against the French and Indians; there is little to notice 
having any immediate connection with our local relations. 

Generally, during the war, the Five Nations preserved their 
neutrality. They managed with consummate skill to be the friends 
of both the English and French. Situated between two powerful 
nations at war with each other, they concluded the safest way 
was to keep themselves in a position to fall in with the one that 
finally triumphed. At one period when an attack upon Montreal 
was contemplated, they were induced by the English to furnish a 
large auxiliary force, that assembled with a detachment of English 

* From the year 1675, to the close of Queen Anne's War, in 1713, about six thousand 
of the English colonists, had perished by the stroke of the enemy or by distempers 
conu-acted in miUtary service. 


troops at Wood Creek. The whole scheme amounting to a failure, 
no opportunity was afforded of testing their sincerity, but from 
some circumstances that transpired, it was suspected that they 
were as much inclined to the French as to the Enghsh. At one 
period during the war, five Iroquois sachems were prevailed upon 
to visit England for the purpose of urging renewed attempts to 
conquer Canada. They were introduced to the Queen, decked 
out in splendid wardrobe, exhibited through the streets of London, 
at the theatres, and other places of public resort; feasted and 
toasted, they professed that their people were ready to assist in 
exterminating the French, but threatened to go home and join the 
French unless more effectual war measures were adopted. This 
was a lesson undoubtedly taught them by the English colonists 
who had sent them over to aid in exciting more interest at home 
in the contest that was waging in the colonies. The visit of the 
sachems had temporarily the desired effect. It aided in inducing 
the English government to furnish the colonies with an increased 
force of men and vessels of war; in assisting in a renewed expe- 
dition against Montreal and Quebec, which ended, as others had, 
in a failure. They got nothing from the Five Nations but profes- 
sions; no overt act of co-operation and assistance. The governor 
of the province of New York, all along refused to urge them to 
violate their engagements of neutrality; for as neutrals, they were 
a barrier to the frontier settlements of New York, against the 
encroachments of the French and their Indian allies. 

The treaty of Utrecht, in April, 1713, put an end to the war. 
France ceded to England, " all Nova Scotia or Acadia, with its 
ancient boundaries, also the city of Port Royal, now called 
Annapolis Royal, and all other things in those parts, which depend 
upon the said lands." France stipulated in the treaty that she 
would " never molest the Five Nations subject to the dominion of 
Great Britain," leaving still undefined their boundaries, to form 
with other questions of boundary and dominion, future disa- 

In all this contest, France lost no foothold at the West; but 
had kept on strengthening and extending its trading establishments 
in that quarter; following up the new impulse which had been 
given to their interests there, at the close of King WiUiam's war, 
through the successful diplomacy of Frontenac. In June, 1701, 
De la ToTTE Cadillac, with a Jesuit Missionary and one hundred 


Frenchmen took possession, and became the founders of Detroit. 
At that period there were three numerous Indian villages in the 
immediate vicinity of the French post. 

In 1722, William Burnet, Governor of the Province of New 
York and New Jersey, who had acquired an accurate and thorough 
knowledge of the interior geography of Western New York, 
considered it very important to get command of lake Ontario. 
To accomplish this object, strengthen English influence over the 
Six Nations; and defeat the French project of a continuous line of 
forts, stretching from Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, he established 
a trading house at Oswego in the country of the Senecas. The 
French having repaired the fort at Niagara, and built a large store 
house in 1725, he in 1726, at his own expense, built a fort at 
Oswego. In a report of the " committee of the council " of New 
York, in 1724, they say "the government has built a public trading 
house upon Cataraqui lake, at Irondequat, on the Sennekas' lands, 
and another is to be built next spring on the Onondagas' (Oswego) 
river." In a letter written by "J. A. Esq., to Mr. P. C.," of 
London, dated New York, 1740, on the subject of the measures 
taken by Gov. Burnet, for " redeeming the Indian trade out of the 
hands of the French," it is said: — "Gov, Burnet, through his 
earnest application, and at first chiefly with his money, credit and 
risk, erected a trading house and fortification at the mouth of the 
Onondagues river, called Osneigo, where the province of New 
York supports a garrison of soldiers, consisting of a Lieutenant 
and twenty men, which are yearly relieved. At this place a very 
great trade is carried on with the remote Indians, who formerly 
used to go down to the French, at Montreal, and there buy our 
English goods, at second hand, at about twice the price they now 
pay for them at Osneigo.''^ 

About the period of the occupation of Oswego by the English, 
and the re-occupation of Niagara by the French, a warm contest 
arose in the Province of New York, growing out of the fact that 
the French had taken the advantage of the interim of peace, and 
were buying their Indian goods in New York. The Enghsh 
Indian traders, by representing that this was helping the French to 
almost wholly engross the Indian trade, and aiding in alienating 
the Indians from the English, procured the passage of an act 
forbidding merchants in the Province of New York, selling Indian 
goods to the French. The law was not to the liking of the New 


York merchants, who made bitter complaints of its effects. Grow- 
in f^ out of this controversy, was a memorial which stated the 
relative advantages of bringing goods into the country by the way 
of Montreal, and Quebec, and New York. After enumerating the 
great expenses and disadvantages of the northern French route, 
^ey speak of the facilities the French enjoy after getting upon the 
lakes and the Mississippi: — there is opened to them, says the 
memorial, "such a scene of inland navigation as canno^be paral- 
leled in any other part of the world." With reference to the 
English route to the lakes and the Mississippi, they say: — "From 
Albany, the English traders commonly carry their goods over-land 
sixteen miles to the Mohawk river at Schenectady, the charge of 
which carriage is nine shillings New York money, or five shillings 
sterling, each wagon load. From Schenectady they carry them 
in canoes up the Mohawk river, to the carrying place between the 
Mohawk river and the river which runs into the Oneida lake; 
which carrying place between is only three miles long, except in 
very dry weather, when they are obliged to carry them two miles 
farther. From thence they go down with the current the Onon- 
daga river to Cataracui lake." This, the author ventures to 
assume, is the earliest written document having reference to the 
inland navigation of our state. Its date is 1724. 

The peace of Europe was again interrupted by a war in which 
England, Spain, France and Austria, were ultimately, involved; 
together with the American colonies of the three first named. 
The events that distinguished it, however interesting and important 
as matters of general colonial history, have little or no relation to 
this section of country. The frontiers of Florida and Georgia 
became involved. Oglethorpe, the Governor of Georgia, con- 
ducted an expedition against St. Augustine, with forces raised in 
the newly settled province. An English fleet, commanded by 
Vernon, captured Porto Bello, destroyed the fort at Chargres, and 
demolished the fortifications at Carthagena, in the West Indies. 
England sent out to the Gulf of Mexico the largest naval armament 
that had ever before sailed upon its waters. Four battalions were 
demanded of the colonies north of Carolina to accompany it. The 
colonies complied with the requisition, and furnished the troops. 
England set out with the intention of conquering the richest 
Spanish provinces in America; but, after all her effbrts and losses, 
she made no permanent acquisitions at the south. An English 


fleet having met, engaged, and gained a victory over a French 
fleet in the Mediterranean. 

In America, the scene of contest was now transferred from the 
southern to the northern portion of the continent. The New 
England colonies planned and fitted out the successful expedition 
that besieged and captured Louisburgh, on the Island of Cape 
Breton. A plan for the entire conquest of Canada was formed, 
preparations were made; but it was not carried out. 

At length a treaty of peace was negotiated between the warring 
nations, and signed at Aix la Chapelle, October 7th, 1748. 
Though peace prevailed in Europe, yet so far as the French and 
English colonies were concerned, it was only nominal, never real. 
The repose and quietness they so much needed, never came. 
Both England and France immediately entered upon the system 
of mutual aggression, that finally proved so fatal to the power of 
the latter on this continent. By the terms of the treaty, England 
restored to France all the conquests she had made, and no change 
was made in the colonial possessions of either. 

Though not strictly relative to our subject, we will note a matter 
of general interest, in this connection. While England and Spain 
were at war, a proposal was made to the British Minister, in 1739, 
to tax the EngHsh colonies in America. The reply which the 
minister made is worthy repetition; and had the lesson of wisdom 
which it taught been learned and regarded by those who, a gener- 
ation after, stood in his place, how different might have been the 
annals, not only of our own region, but the entire history which 
commemorates the achievements and progress of the fortunes and 
destiny of Britain and America: — "Taxation,'' said Sir Robert 
Walpole, " That, I will leave for some of my successors who 
may have more courage than I have, and be less a friend to 
commerce than I am. It has been a maxim with me during my 
administration, to encourage the trade of the American colonies in 
the utmost latitude." 


The remnant of this once powerful nation are located upon the 
Mountain Ridge, in the town of Lewiston. Their introduction at 
this stage of our history, is due to the chronological arrangment it 


is intended to preserve. They were adopted by the Iroquois, and 
became the Sixth Nation of the confederacy, in 1712. 

They came originally from North Carolina — from the upper 
country, on the Rivers Neuse and Tar. In 1708 they had "fifteen 
towns, and could count twelve hundred warriors." In 1711 a 
rupture occured between them and the colonists. There was a 
question of territory ; of alledged aggression upon their lands. 
That they were aggrieved and wronged in the onset, is plainly to 
be inferred from concurrent history. Their new neighbors, the 
trespassers upon their territory, were not of a character to have a 
very nice sense of right and wrong.* With as little ceremony, and 
with as little show of justice, as was exhibited in a later period in 
the partition of Poland the "Proprietaries " of North Carolina 
commenced parcelling out their lands to the German fugitives. De 
Graffenried, who had charge of the establishment of the exiles, 
accompanied by a surveyor, named Lawsox, traversed the Neuse 
in their territory to determine the character of the country through 
which it flowed. This and previous demonstrations, convinced the 
Tuscaroras of the intended aggressions, and they seized the agent 
and surveyor, and conveyed them to one of their villages. Here, 
before a general council of the principal men of the various tribes, 
in which was recounted the wrongs they had suffered from the 
English, and especially their having "marked some of their territory 
into lots for settlers," the prisoners were condemned to death. The 
Indian ceremonies, a feast and festive dances, the kindling of a fire, 
were preliminary to the execution. On the morning of the appointed 
day, a new council decreed a reprieve of Graffenried, but renewed 
the sentence of Lawsox. Graffenried was retained as a pris- 
oner for five weeks, and discharged upon a promise that as chieftain 
of the German emigrants, he would occupy no land without the 
consent of the Indians. 

While all this was transacting in one quarter, and a suspension of 
aggression and retribution, agreed upon; in another, hostilities had 
commenced. A band of Tuscaroras and Corees in concert, made 
a descent upon the scattered German settlers upon the Roanoke 

In allusion to an epitaph upon the tomb stone of one of the early Governors, which 
says that ''North Carolina enjoyed tranquility during; his administration," Mr Bancroft 
says;— "It was the liberty of freemen in the woods; a wild independence.-' Gov. 
bpotswood of Virginia said, "it was a country without any form of government." 
And a severe commentator has said ;— " In Carolina ever^' one did what was right in 
his own eyes, paying tribute neither to God nor Csesar." " 


and Pamlico Sound, carrying there, and to the Albemarle Sound, 
the utmost rigors of savage warfare. A portion of the Tuscaroras 
did not countenance this sudden resort to the knife and tomahawk. 

South Carolina came to the relief of the whites in North Caro- 
lina. A commander named Barnwell, at the head of an allied 
force of South Carohnians, Cherokees, Creeks, Catawbas, Yamas- 
ses,* and a few North Carolinians, besieged a fort the Tuscaroras 
had constructed in Craven County. Thus situated, failing in a 
co-operation which the people of North Carolina refused from a 
feeling unfriendly to those who had brought on the war, Barnwell, 
to avoid the doubtful issue of a battle, negotiated a treaty of peace. 
The peace was of but short duration; in violation of its terms, the 
returning forces of Barnwell seized the inhabitants of Tuscarora 
villages, and carried them into captivity and slavery. Retaliation, 
such as before had been made, was renewed. In warlike meas- 
ures, however, the Tuscaroras were divided. Gov. Spotswood, of 
Virginia, having succeeded in making neutrals of a large portion 
of them. In Dec, 1713, the country of the Tuscaroras was again 
invaded from vSouth Carolina by a large force of Indians, and a 
few white men, under the command of James Moore. Assembled 
in a fort on the Neuse, eight hundred of the Tuscaroras became 
the captives of the invaders. The legislature of North Carolina, 
entering into the contest with more harmony in their councils, men 
and money were raised, and the woods were patrolled by the "red 
allies, who hunted for prisoners to be sold as slaves, or took scalps 
for a reward." 

Thus defeated and persecuted, driven from their lands and 
homes by the adverse result of a contest provoked by wrong and 
aggression; with not only the colonial authorities of North and 
South Carolina to contend with, but their own race to gratify, an 
arrant spirit of revenge, basely becoming the active allies of their 
enemies; the Tuscaroras who had remained in arms, migrated to 
New York. 

The author, thus far, has relied chiefly upon the authority of 

* Why the neighboring nations were found ready to take up arms against the Tusca- 
roras, as allies of the English, is probably explained by a recurrence to previous events. 
They had been at war with them; and in the long wars waged against the southern 
Indians, bv the Confederated Five Nations of this region, the Tuscaroras had been 
allies of the northern invaders. And this was probably the affinity that led them after- 
wards to seek a home at the north, instead of their being " kindred of the Iroquois," 
as Mr. Bancroft infers. 


Mr. Bancroft, with reference to the events that preceded the 
emigration of the Tuscaroras. He is enabled to add two other 
accounts. The first was written but sixteen years after the events, 
by W31. Boyd, of Westover, Virginia, who was one of the early 
commissioners to run a boundary Une between Virginia and Mary- 
land; and was first pubUshed in 1841. The second is from 
Carroll's Historical Collections of South Carolina: — 

" These Indians were heretofore very numerous and powerful, 
making, within time of memory, at least a thousand fighting men. 
Their habitation, before the war with Carolina, was on the north 
branch of Neuse river, commonly called Connecta creek, in a 
pleasant and fruitful country. But now the few that are left of 
that nation, live on the north side of Moratuck, which is all that 
part of Roanoke below the great Falls, towards Albemarle Sound. 
Formerly there were seven towns of these savages, lying not far 
from each other, but now their number is greatly reduced. The 
trade they have had the misfortune to drive with the EngUsh has fur- 
nished them constantly with rum, which they have used so immode- 
rately, that, what with the distempers, and what with the quarrels it 
begat amongst them, it has proved a double destruction. But the 
greatest consumption of these savages happened by the war about 
twenty-five years ago, on account of some injustice the inhabitants 
of that province had done them about their lands. It was on that 
provocation they resented their wrongs a little too severely upon 
Mr. Lawson, who, under color of being Surveyor General, had 
encroached too much upon their territories, at which they were so 
enraged, that they way-laid him, and cut his throat from ear to 
ear, but at the same time released the Baron de Graffenried, 
whom they had seized for company, because it appeared plainly he 
had done them no wrong. This blow was followed by some other 
bloody actions on the part of the Indians, which brought on a war. 
wherein many of them were cut off, and many were obliged to 
flee for refuge to the Senecas, so that now there remain so few, 
that they are in danger of being quite exterminated by the Cataw- 
bas, their mortal enemies. These Indians have a very odd tradition 
amongst them, that many years ago, their nation was grown so 
dishonest, that no man could keep any of his goods, or so much as 
his loving wife to himself. That, however, their God, being un- 
willing to root them out for their crimes, did them the honor to 
send them a messenger from heaven to instruct them, and set them 
a perfect example of integrity and kind behavior towards one 
another. But this holy person, with all his eloquence and sanctity 
of life, was able to make very little reformation among them. 
Some few old men did hsten a little to his wholesome adtice, but 
all the young fellows were quite incorrigible. They not only neg- 


lected his precepts, but derided and evil-entreated his person. At 
last, taking upon him to reprove some young rakes of the Connecta 
clan very sharply for their impiety, they were so provoked at the 
freedom of his rebukes, that they tied him to a tree, and shot him 
with arrows through the heart. But their God took instant vengence 
on all who had a hand in that monstrous act, by lightning from 
heaven, and has ever since visited their nation with a continued 
train of calamities, nor will he ever leave off punishing and wasting 
their people, till he shall have blotted every living soul of them 
out of the world. 

" Among the many errors which Hewit has committed in his 
history of Carolina, he has fallen into none more careless and 
inexcusable, than his account of this war. Dr. Ramsay, whose 
history of South Carolina is an exact copy of Hewit' s, as far as 
he goes, has been guilty of the same misstatement of facts. The 
true history of this insurrection of the Indians, as collected from 
Williamson, and the authors quoted by him, is this: John 
Lawson, had in discharge of his duty, as Surveyor General of 
Carolina, marked off some of the lands, claimed by the Tuscarora 
Indians, on the Neuse river. In consequence of this encroachment 
upon their rights, added to the frequent impositions of fraudulent 
traders among them, they seized Lawson, and after a brief trial, 
put him to death. Becoming alarmed at this outrage, they hoped 
to escape punishment, by murdering, on a given day, all the colonists 
south of Albemarle Sound. Dividing themselves into small parties, 
they commenced their horrid purpose on the 22d of September, 
1711; on which memorable day, 130 persons fell a sacrifice to their 
revenge. To put down this insurrection, aid was demanded from 
South Carolina; and Colonel Barnwell, with a small party of 
whites, and a considerable body of friendly Indians, of the 
Cherokee, Creek, and Catawba tribes, was despatched for the 
purpose. This officer, after killing fifty of the hostile Indians, and 
taking 250 of them prisoners, came upon one of their forts on the 
Neuse river, in which were enclosed six hundred of the Tuscaroras. 
Instead of carrying the fort by storm, which he could easily have 
done, he concluded a peace with the enemy, who proving faithless, 
renewed hostilities in a day or two afterwards. Colonel Barn- 
well, immediately after this treaty, returned to South Carolina. 
A second demand was made upon that state for aid, and Col. 
MooRE, with forty whites, and eight hundred Ashley Indians, set 
out in the month of December, to meet the enemy. After a 

Note. — The reader will bear in mind that this remarkable tradition of the Tusca- 
roras was written one hundred and twenty years ago, at which time it was current 
among them. It is strikingly coincident with the mission and crucifixion of the 
Savior. Many able scholars and divines believe that our American Indians descended 
from the ten Lost Tribes. Is not this tradition another link in the chain tending to 
strengthen that opinion? 


fatiguing march through deep forests and swamps, and having 
encountered much delay by snow storms, and freshets in the rivers, 
he at length came upon the hostile Indians who had thrown up 
fortifications on the Taw river, about 50 miles from its mouth. 
Though Colonel Moore found the enemy well provided with small 
arms, he soon taught them the folly of standing a seige. Advancing 
by regular approaches, he, in a few hours, completely entered their 
works, and eight hundred Tuscaroras became his prisoners. These 
were claimed by the Ashley Indians as a reward for their services, 
and were taken to South Carolina, where they were sold for slaves. 
The Swiss baron, who, Hew^t says, was killed by the Indians, 
made a treaty with the Tuscaroras, and he, together with all the 
palatines who had emigrated with him, escaped the massacre." 

The Tuscaroras, having been merged in the Iroquois confed- 
eracy, there is but little in their history since their arrival in this 
state, of a distinctive character. We in fact mostly lose sight of 
them, until the commencement of the Revolution. In that contest, 
as is well known, most of the Six Nations adhered to the English, 
and their warriors, as allies of England, under the Johnsons, 
the Butlers, and Brant, were a scourge to the border settlers 
upon the Mohawk, and the Susquehannah. A portion of the 
Oneidas and Tuscaroras were neutrals, or rather regarded as 
friendly to the colonists. There is but little mention made of 
them in all the accounts we have of the border wars. Col. 
Gansevoort, in giving an account to Gen. Sullivan, of his expe- 
dition, says: — ''Agreeable to my orders, I proceeded by the 
shortest route to the Lower Mohawk Castle, passing through the 
Tuscarora and Oneida Castles, where every mark of hospitality 
and friendship was shown to the party. I had the pleasure to find 
that not the least damage nor insult was offered to any of the 

In the instruction of Gen. Sullivan to Col. Gansevoort, he 
was ordered to capture and destroy all the Indians he should find 
at the Mohawk castle, but to spare and treat as friends the Oneidas, 
meaning, probably, to include the friendly Tuscaroras. 

Such portions of the Tuscaroras and Oneidas as had been allies 
of the English, in their flight from the total route of Gen. Sullivan, 
embarked in canoes, upon the Oneida lake, and down the Oswego 
river, coasted along up lake Ontario to the British garrison at Fort 
Niagara. They encamped during the winter of 1780 near the 
garrison, drawing a portion of their subsistence, in the form of 


rations. In the spring a part of tliem returned, and a part of them 
took possession of a mile square upon the Mountain Ridge, given 
them by the Senecas. The Holland Company afterwards donated 
to them two square miles, adjoining their Reservation, and in 1804 
they purchased of the company four thousand three hundred and 
twenty-nine acres; the aggregate of which several tracts, is their 
present possessions. The purchase of the Holland Company was 
made by Gen. Dearborn, then Secretary of War, in trust for 
them. The purchase money, $13,722, was a portion of a trust 
fund held by the United States, possessed in pursuance of a final 
adjustment of their claims upon North Carolina. 

They thus became residents in this region seventeen years 
previous to the advent of the Holland Company, and nineteen or 
twenty years before the settlements by the whites commenced. 

The surviving pioneer settlers at_Lewiston and its neighborhood, 
bear witness to the uniform good conduct of the Tuscaroras, and 
especially to the civihty and hospitality they extended to the early 
drovers and other adventurers upon the trail that passed through 
their villages. Previous to 1803 the traveler upon this trail, saw 
no habitation after leaving the Tonawanda village, until he arrived 
at Tuscarora. Even Indian habitations helped to relieve the 
solitude of their wilderness path. The primitive settlers found 
them kind and obliging; and good neighbors at a time they most 
needed the benefits of a good neighborhood. 

In the war of 1812 they were uniformly and decidedly in the 
American interests. Of this, and some other matters connected 
with'them, it will be necessary to speak farther on in our work. 


It will be recollected that La Salle first occupied the site of 
Fort Niagara. It was his first stopping place, before he com- 
menced building the Griffin at Cayuga Creek. He intended it 
only as a trading station, but protected it with " pallisades," as the 
French did all their trading posts. In 1687, De Nonville built a 
" fort of four bastions," a place of temporary and weak defence, as 
we are to infer from the short time employed in its construction. 
For the greater portion of the time that elapsed, after its desertion 
by the remnant of the hundred troops that De Nonville left there, 


(most of them having perished by disease),* until 1725, it would 
seem to have been a deserted post. Charlevoix visited this 
region in 1721. In a letter dated at Niagara, he says: — "Towards 
2 o'clock in the afternoon, we entered the river Niagara formed by 
the great fall, whereof I shall speak presently; or rather it is the 
river St. Lawrence, which proceeds from lake Erie, and passes 
through lake Ontario after fourteen leagues of narrows. After 
sailing three leagues, you find on the left some cabins of Iroquois, 
Tsonnonthouans, and of the Mississaugues as at Catarocoui. The 
Sieur de Joncaire, lieutenant of our troops, has also a cabin at 
this place, to which they have beforehand given the name of fort: 
for it is intended that in time this will be changed into a great 
fortress. I here found several officers who were to return in a 
few days to Quebec." He was evidently writing from Lewiston, 
as there are other evidences that Joncaire's residence was there. 
In a note to an edition of Charlevoix's journal, published in 
London in 1761, it is remarked: — ''A fort has since been built in 
the mouth of the river J^iagara on the same side, and exactly at the 
place where M. De Nonville had built one, which subsisted not 
long. There even begins to be formed a French town." The 
inference from this is, that for a considerable period after the 
desertion of the fort that De Nonville built on the present site of 
Fort Niagara, there was no French occupation there; but that 
Joncaire's negotiations with the Senecas had reference only to 
his ''cabin," at Lewiston, which, from the presence of French 
officers which Charlevoix found there, must have grown into a 
military post; though if a "fort" was erected there, as Charle- 
voix says, it could have been no more than a trading post 
picketed in after the then French fashion. Mr. Bancroft says: — 
"Joncaire (in 1721) planted himself in the midst of a group of 
cabins at Lewiston, on the site where La Salle had driven a rude 
pallisade, and where De Nonville had designed to lay the founda- 
tions of a settlement." 

The two locations are here merged; an error undoubtedly, as it 
is clear that De Nonville built his fort where the fort now stands, 

* In a note which Mr. Marshall appends to his translation of De Nonville, it is 
observed: — "The cause of the sickness was ascribed to the climate, but was probably- 
owing to the unwholesome food with which they were provided. They were so 
closely besieged by the Iroquois that they were unable to supply themselves with fresh 
provisions. The fortress was soon after abandoned and destroyed, much to the regret 
of De Nonville." 


and JoNCAiRE his cabin at Lewiston. All that Charlevoix relates 
in the extract which follows, of the negotiations of Joncaire, the 
jealousies of the English, &c., has reference to Lewiston. It is 
possible, and probable, however, that his influence was put in 
requisition two or three years afterwards, when the French 
re-occupied the site of Fort Niagara, as mentioned in a preceding 
page, built one story of the old Mess-house, and for the first time 
made it a substantial fortress; — such as (with occasional additions 
and improvements that took place from 1725 to 1759,) it was 
found at the English siege and capture. The building in 1725 was 
strongly opposed by the Senecas, as was the occupation of Oswego 
by the English governor by the Onondagas; though from the close 
of the war in 1713 the French had been far more successful in 
winning the favor of the Confederates than the English. The 
following tradition, which is common in our histories, is adopted by 
Samuel De Veaux in some sketches he made of the Falls and its 
vicinity, in 1839. The author was a resident at the fort at an 
early period, after the settlement of this region commenced, and 
the intelligence and good sense with which he is prone to make 
historical investigations, is a guarantee of the truth of the relation, 
though the author finds no authority for it in early history, but the 
general fact that the Iroquois neither yielded to the French nor the 
English any right to occupy their territory with fortifications: — "It 
is a traditionary story that the Mess-house which is a very strong 
building, and the largest in the fort, was erected by stratagem. A 
considerable, though not powerful body of French troops had 
arrived at the point. Their force was inferior to the surrounding 
Indians, of whom they were under some apprehensions. They 
obtained consent of the Indians to build a wigwam, and induced 
them, with some of their officers, to engage in an extensive hunt. 
The materials were made ready, and while the Indians were 
absent, the French built. When the hunting party returned, they 
found the French had so far advanced with their work as to cover 
their faces, and to defend themselves against the savages in case 
of an attack. In progress of time it became a place of consider- 
able strength. It had its ravines; its ditches and pickets; its 
curtains and counterscarp; its covered way, draw-bridge, and 
raking batteries; its stone towers, laboratory, and magazine; its 
mess-house, barracks, and bakery, and blacksmith's shop; and for 
worship, a chapel, with a large ancient dial over the door to mark 


Ihe course of the sun. It was indeed a little city of itself, and for 
a long period the greatest place south of Montreal, or west of 
Albany. The fortification originally covered a. space of about 
eight acres. At a few rods from the barrier gate is a burying 
ground; it was filled with the memorials of the mutability of 
human life; and over the portals of the entrance was painted the 
word 'Rest.' " 

The history of Joncaire's negotiations with the Senecas, is thus 
given in Charlevoix's letter from Niagara, referred to in a pre- 
ceding page : — 

"I have already had the honor to acquaint you, that we have 
a scheme for a settlement in this place; but in order to know 
the reason of this project, it will be proper to observe, that as 
the English pretend, by virtue of the treaty of Utrecht, to have 
sovereignty of all the Iroquoise country and by consequence, to 
be bounded on that side by lake Ontario only; now it is evident, 
that, in case we allow of their pretensions, they would then have 
it absolutely in their power to establish themselves firmly in the 
heart of the French colonies, or at least entirely to ruin their com- 
merce. In order therefore, to prevent this evil, it has been 
judged proper, without, however, violating the treaty, to make a 
settlement in some place, which might secure to us the free com- 
munication between the lakes, and where the English should not 
have it in their power to oppose us. A commission has therefore 
been made to M. De Joncaire, who having, in his youth, been 
prisoner among the Tsonnonthouans, so insinuated himself into the 
good graces of those Indians, that they adopted him, so, that even 
in the hottest of their \vars with us, and notwithstanding his 
remarkable services to his country, he has always enjoyed the 
privileges of his adoption. 

" On receiving the orders I have been now mentioning to you, 
he repaired to them, assembled their chiefs, and after having 
assured them that his greatest pleasure in this world would be to 
live amongst his brethren; he added, that he would much oftener 
visit them had he a cabin amongst them, to which he might 
retire when he had a mind to be private. They told him that 
they had always looked upon him as one of their own children, 
that he had only to make choice of a place to his liking in any 
part of the country. He asked no more, but went immediately 
and made choice of a spot on the banks of a river, which termi- 
nates the canton of Tsonnonthouan, where he built his cabin. The 
news of this soon reached New York, where it excited so much 
more the jealousy of the English, as that nation had never been 
able to obtain the favor granted to Sieur De Joncaire in any 
Iroquoise canton. 


" They made loud remonstrances, which being seconded with 
presents, the other four cantons at once espoused their interest. 
They were, however, never the nearer their point, as the cantons 
are not only independent of each other, but also very jealous of 
this independence. It was therefore necessay to gain that of 
Tsonnonthouans, and the English omitted nothing to accomplish it; 
but they were soon sensible they should never be able to get 
JoNCAiRE dismissed from Niagara. At last they contented them- 
selves with demanding, that at least they might be permitted to 
have a cabin in the same place; but this was likewise refused them. 
'Our country is in peace, said the Tsonnonthouans, the French, and 
you will never be able to live together, without raising disturb- 
ances. Moreover, added they, it is of no consequence that 
JoNCAiRE should remain here; he is a child of the nation; he enjoys 
his right, which we are not at liberty to take from him.' 

''Now, Madame, we must acknowledge, that nothing but zeal for 
the public good could possibly induce an officer to remain in such a 
country as this, than which a wilder and more frightful is not to be 
seen. On the one side you may see just under your feet, and as it 
were at the bottom of an abyss, and which in this place is like a 
torrent by its rapidity, a whirpool formed by a thousand rocks, 
through which it with difficulty finds a passage, and by the foam 
with which it was always covered; on the other, the view is con- 
fined by three mountains placed one over the other, and whereof 
the last hides itself in the clouds. This would have been a very 
proper scene for the poets to make the Titans attempt to scale 
the heavens. In a word, on whatever side you turn your eyes, 
you discover nothing which does not inspire a secret horror. 

" You have, however, but a very short way to go, to behold a 
very different prospect. Behind those uncultivated and uninhabit- 
able mountains, you enjoy the sight of a rich country, magnificent 
forests, beautiful and fruitful hills, you breathe the purest air, under 
the mildest and most temperate climate imaginable, situated 
between two lakes, the least of which is two hundred and fifty 
leagues in circuit. 

"It is my opinion, that had we the precaution to make sure of a 
place of this consequence, by a good fortress, and by a tolerable 
colony, all the forces of the Iroquoise and the English conjoined, 
would not have been able at this time to drive us out of it, and that 
we ourselves would have been in a condition to give law to the 
former, and to hinder most part of the Indians from carrying their 
furs to the second, as they daily do with impunity. The company 
I found here with M. de Joncaire, was composed of the baron de 
LoNGUEiL, the marquis de Cavagnal, captain, son of the marquis 
de Vaudreuil, the present governor of New France; M. de 
Senneville, captain; and the Sieur de la Chauvignerie, ensign, 
and interpreter of the Iroquoise language. These gentlemen are 
about negotiating an agreement, of differences, with the canton of 


Onontague, and were ordered to visit the settlement of the Sieur 
de JoNCAiRE, with which they were extremely well satisfied. The 
Tsonnonthouans renewed to them the promise they had formerly 
made to maintain it. This was done in a council, in which 
JoxcAiRE, as they told me, spoke with all the good sense of a 
Frenchman, whereof he enjoys a large share, and with the 
sublimest eloquence of an Iroquoise." 

[Among the residents at Fort Niagara, at an early period of its occupancy by 
American troops, was Dr. Joseph West. He was there from 1805 until 1814, at 
which time he was transferred to Philadelphia, when a declining health, that had 
induced his change of residence, terminated in death. At an early period of sale and 
settlement under the auspices of the Holland Company, he purchased a farm upon the 
lake shore, a short distance below the garrison grounds, where his aged widow and 
one surviving daughter now reside. In 1822 or 3, Mrs. W. became the wife of 
Joseph Landon, then resident at Lockport as a canal contractor, who was an early and 
widely known tavern keeper at Buffalo. He died but a few years since. To the 
surviving daughter of Dr. West, the author is indebted for the following " Reminiscen- 
ces OF Fort Niagara." Although the sketch introduces events that belong to a later 
period, the author has thought its insertion in this connection, not inappropriate. It 
derives additional interest from having been made generally from personal observation ; 
an interest that the author will aim to mingle with his narrative, whenever it can be 
made available.] 

Fort Niagara ! How many associations crowd into my mind at 
the bare mention of thy name. There I first drew my breath, and 
passed the earliest years of childhood under the eye of a kind 
father, who was taken from his young family by consumption, 
caused by a severe cold caught in the damp dungeons of the old 
Mess-house, while attending the wounded and dying, after the 
battle of Queenston. Although I have a distinct recollection of the 
appearance it then presented, it is the recollection of early years, 
which, perhaps, does not enable me to describe it with strict 
accuracy. It was then surrounded on three sides with strong 
pickets of plank, firmly planted in the ground, and closely joined 
together; a heavy gate in front, of double plank, closely studded 
with iron spike. This was enclosed by a fence, with a large gate 
just on the brow of the hill, called the barrier gate. The fourth 
side was defended by embankments of earth, under which were 
formerly barracks, affording a safe, though somewhat gloomy 

Note. — The reader will not hesitate in concluding that Charlevoix was describing 
Lewiston ; and that in the interim between the desertion of the Fort upon the present 
site, in 1698, and the re-building and re-occupancy in 1725, — immediately preceding 
the latter event, — there was a militarj' station at Lewiston, and a design to locate the 
Fort there. 


retreat for the families of soldiers, but which had been abandoned, 
and the entrances closed, long before my remembrance; having 
been so infested with rattlesnakes that had made their dens within, 
that it was hardly safe to walk across the parade. 

But the Lake has done as much as time, towards changing the 
aspect of the place. At that time there was a yard some thirty or 
forty feet wide between the Mess-house and pickets; and beyond 
them a spot sufficiently wide to admit of two persons walking 
abreast; affording a delightful promenade. But now the waves 
dash against the house, or rather did until recently, a stone wall 
having been erected, of immense strength, to prevent further 
encroachments. The old house, however, remains very much the 
same, except some slight alterations which have been made in the 
arrangements of the rooms. On its massive stone walls, time has 
yet made no ravages, although nearly two centuries* have elapsed 
since the first story was built by the French. After the English 
obtained possession, they added another story and made very 
comfortable quarters for the officers; and there has since, at 
intervals, been improvements made, but it still retains its air of 
gloomy grandeur; many gay scenes have I there witnessed, both in 
my childhood, and after an absence of long years, when I had 
returned to the home of my youth. I have seen it ht up for festive 
hours, enlivened by the smiles of beauty, the cheering voice of 
friendship, mingled with the strains of gay music; the old walls 
decorated with our country's banners; the eagle's broad wing 
chalked beneath our feet; the light arms tastefully arranged in our 
room, and manly forms ready to use them, (if needs be,) flitting 
past in the gay dance. Then have I looked back through the long 
vista of years, and thought of the multitudes who had passed 
through those old halls, until I could fancy I heard the Indian's wild 
whoop, and see their hideously painted forms, mingled with those 
of gay, chattering Frenchmen. Then came the proud Englishmen, 
in their glittering uniform; they in their turn succeeded by our own 
noble and brave army. 

My father received the appointment of Surgeon to the garrison, 
and, contrary to the present practice, was allowed to remain there 
ten years. There was a constant interchange of civilities and kind- 
nesses, between the officers of Fort Niagara and the British Fort 

* But one hundred and twenty-three years since the structure was commenced by 
the French, that our fair correspondent is describing. 


George, and the inhabitants of the httle town of Niagara, until the 
war of 1812 severed many ties of friendship. I well remember 
the Sunday previous to the receipt of the declaration of war; being 
at chui'ch at Niagara; on our return Gen. Brock accompanied us 
to the boat, and, taking myself and sisters by turns in his arms, 
said: — "I must bid good bye to my little rosy cheeked Yankees;" 
then extending his hand to my father, said: — "Farewell, Doctor; 
the next time we meet it will be as enemies." Then came the 
official declaration of war, the reception of which is as vivid in 
my memory as if it had occured but last week. We were aroused 
by the Sentinel's cry, "who goes there?" — then the call to the 
Corporal of the guard to conduct the intruder to the Captain, who 
no sooner received the document from his hands than he hastened 
to consult with my father. I fancy I can see him now, seated on 
the side of the bed half dressed, with the most rueful countenance, 
saying: — "What shall we dol — we are liable to attack at any 
moment, with our fortifications out of repair. We have but one 
company, and scarcely any arms and ammunition." Sleep was 
banished from all eyes for the remainder of that night. At dawn 
of day, we heard the sound of the artificer's hammer mingled with 
those of other implements of toil. The old well in the hall, which 
had been covered up as unfit for use, was uncovered and cleaned 
out to be used in case of necessity. A heavy cannon was drawn 
into the porch; every crack and crevice in the pickets closed up; 
new embankments made, and old ones repaired; cannon mounted; 
and everything done that circumstances would admit of, to 
strengthen the garrison. Then came company after company of 
militia, pouring in from all quarters, gay with all sorts of uniform, 
and as raw and undisciplined as ever stood their ground, or ran 
from a foe. The families of the officers were obliged to vacate 
their quarters to make room for them, and we were sent into the 
country. On our w^ay up the river, we met about one hundred of 
the Tuscarora Indians, headed by their chief, all powerful, active 
young men, decorated with their war paint and armed with toma- 
hawk and hatchet, on their way to oflTer their services at the fort. 
We returned after an absence of four weeks to a residence near 
the fort. Father remained day and night at his post, attending to 
his professional duties, while our family were safely at the farm; 
unmolested, except occasionally by the enemy landing from their 
boats and plundering the hen-roost. At one time the voice of a 


British officer was heard, and recognizing us as acquaintances, 
observed: " there are no American officers here, and we do not 
war with women, let us get some fowls and be off." At another 
time an English vessel remained all day, making ineffectual 
attempts to reach the house with their cannon balls, but when 
near enough to do so, they could not clear the high bank of the 
lake. They did not probably wish to annoy the family, but they 
well knew that not many hours passed without some of the officers 
from the fort being there. There were a large number there on 
the day of the cannonading. 

The news of the capture of "Little York" — (now large 
Toronto) — was preceded by the report of the explosion of the 
magazine, which jarred our house, and was distinctly heard at the 
fort. It was soon followed by dispatches, bringing the gratifying 
intelligence of the capture of the town, and the sad inteUigence of 
the death of the brave Gen. Pike. Then came our gallant soldiers 
who had fought so bravely under the command of Gen. Dearborn. 
Many were the wounded and dying that were brought over. 
They were conveyed to the shore by boats from the fleet, and 
encamped in a field directly opposite our house. Day and night 
we heard the groans of the sufferers, and well do I remember 
walking with my father between the rows of white tents, stopping 
in front of them while he made his professional visits. To some 
we were admitted. And, oh, what scenes of sorrow and suffering ! 
Here lay a poor soldier without an arm, or the hand gone and the 
arm hanging loosely by his side; there one without a leg; there 
one with most of his face shot off. Many died, and were buried 
in the same field. Gen. Dearborn and his staff, and many others 
whose names now stand foremost in the ranks of the army, were 
quartered at our house, as every apartmpnt at the fort, and every 
inch of ground there was occupied. As many as could find room 
in the house spread their matrasses upon the floor, (none but the 
general officers expecting the luxury of a room and bed;) the 
rest occupying the yard with their marquees much to my chagrin, 
as the continual pacing of the sentinels defaced the green sward; 
and Col. Scott, (now the gallant Commander-in-Chief of our 
Army,) even went so far as to order his tent pitched upon my 
favorite rose bush. 

[Our correspondent here gives some account of the battle of 
Queenston, and the cannonading between Fort Niagara and Fort 


George, which is omitted, as those subjects must necessarily be 
embraced in some sketches of the local events of the war of 1812.] 

Gen. Dearborn and his staff, and many others, returned and 
took up their quarters at our house, where they remained until 
they again made an attack upon Canada. The capture of Fort 
George and Niagara followed. Soon after, owing to my father's 
continued ill health, we left the frontier, and I can recollect but 
little more that is not familiar to all readers of American history. 
In our absence, in connection with the news that the British were 
in possession of Fort Niagara, we heard that our house, with every 
other on the lines, was in ashes. 

In after years, when visiting the fort, my blood has boiled 
and my cheeks have been tinged with shame, on being shown 
the place where the British entered, and hearing a recital of the 
affair. They entered at a place where twenty men could have 
successfully opposed hundreds, had the commander been at his 
post. But he had gone home that night, (his family living about 
two miles off in the country,) and laid down by the fire for a 
few moments with his clothes on, his horse being saddled at the 
door ready for an immediate return. — He was awakened by the 
firing, and springing upon his horse, lost no time in reaching the 
fort, where he was met by a British soldier who immediately took 
him prisoner. It is true that he might not by his presence have 
saved the fort, but he would have saved his reputation, a court- 
martial, and dismissal from the armiy. 


It is difficult to conclude who was the first European that saw 
Western New York, or the Falls of Niagara. There are some 
accoynts from which it may be inferred that Champlain was upon 
lake Ontario at different times, from 1614 to 1640, and Le Roux 
in 1628, but no hint occurs in connection, that they visited its 
southern shore. French traders are said to have visited the Falls 
as early as 1610, '15, but there are no authentic accounts to confirm 
the statement. Joseph De La Roche Dallion, a Franciscan 
Father, a missionary of ardent religious zeal and enterprise, was in 
this region as early as the year 1626 or '7, and was probably the 
first European adventurer who saw Western New York, but 
there is no evidence that he visited the Falls. He made but a 


short stay, the severity of the winter, and the hostihty of the 
Iroquois to his presence and mission, obhging him to retreat. 
There are no reliable accounts of any further attempts to explore 
this region until 1641. [O^ See Father Allemont's account of 
BfJEBEUF and Chaumanot's visit, page 65. Ducreux, the author 
of "Historiae Canadensis," has noted the Falls on a map dated 
1660, but does not allude to them in his narrative. * The earliest 
dates w^hich have been discovered, engraved upon the rocks at the 
Falls, are of 1711, 1712 1726, and 1745. There is a date 1745, 
on a tree on Goat Island, which shows that the French must have 
had access to the Island while occupants of this region. 

Hennepin, who, as will have been seen, was with La Salle at 
the primitive commercial advent upon the Lakes in 1688, has given 
us the earliest description of the Falls that has found its way into 
our histories; if indeed it is not the earliest description of them, in 
any form, extant, f He thus describes them: — 

"Betwixt the lakes Ontario and Erie, there is a vast and pro- 
digious cadence of water which falls down after a surprising and 
astonishing manner, insomuch that the universe does not aftbrd its 
parallel. 'Tis true, Italy and Switzerland boast of some such 
things, but we may well say that they are sorry patterns, when 
compared with this of which we now speak. At the foot of this 
horrible precipice, we meet with the river Niagara, which is not 
above a quarter of a league broad, but is wonderfully deep in 
some places. It is so rapid above this descent, that it violently hur- 
ries down the wild beasts while endeavoring to pass it to feed on 
the other side, and not being able to withstand the force of its 
current, which inevitably casts them headlong above six hundred 
feet high. 

" This wonderful downfall is compounded of two great cross- 
streams of water, and two falls into an isle sloping along the middle 
of it. The waters which fail from this horrible precipice, do foam 

* The generally correct and indefatigable gleaner of histor}', antiquarian and 
naturalist, Dr. Barton, of Philadelphia, is in error in concluding that tlie Falls wero 
"described and delineated" by Frenchmen, as early £is 1638. 

t The following is the title of his book: "A new discovery of a vast country in' 
America, extending above four thousand miles between New France and New Mexico, 
with a description of the great Lakes, Cataracts, Rivers, Plants and Animals; also the 
manners, customs, and languages of the several native Indians, and the advantages of 
commerce with those different nations, with a continuation giving an account of the 
attempts of the Sieur De La Sallo upon the mines of St. Barbe, &c. The taking of 
Quebec by the English ; with the advantages of a shorter cut to China and Japan- 
Both parts illustrated with maps and figuresj and dedicated to His Majesty K. William. 
By L. Hennepin, now resident in Holland. To which is added several new discoveries 
in North America, not published in the French edition. London, 1C98." 


and boil after the most hideous manner imaginable, making an 
outrageous noise, more terrible than that of thunder; for when 
the wind blows out of the south, their dismal roaring may be heard 
more than fifteen leagues off. 

" The river Niagara having thrown itself down this incredible 
precipice, continues its impetuous course for two leagues together, 
to the great rock, above mentioned, with an inexpressible rapidity; 
but having past that, its impetuosity relents, gliding along more 
gently for two other leagues, till it arrives at lake Ontario or 

"From the great fall into this rock, which is to the west of the 
river, the two banks of it are so prodigious high, that it would 
make one tremble to look steadily over the water, rolling along 
with a rapidity not to be imagined. Were it not for this vast 
Cataract, which interrupts navigation, they might sail with barks or 
greater vessels, more than 450 leagues, crossing the lake of Hurons, 
and reaching even to the further end of lake Illinois; which two 
lakes we may easily say are little seas of fresh v/ater. 

"After these waters have thus discharged themselves into this 
gulf, they continue their course as far as the three mountains, 
which are on the east of the river, and the great rock which is 
on the west, and lifts itself three fathoms above the waters, or 

The exaggerated account of La Hontan, follows next in order of 
time. [CO^ See page 157.] Jn 1721, Charlevoix gave a des- 
cription of the Falls, in connection with his account of the diplo- 
macy of JoNCAiRE in obtaining permission to fix his residence at 
Lewiston. His is the first description made with any considerable 
degree of accuracy. 

" The officers having departed, I ascended those Mountains,* in 
order to visit the famous fall of Niagara, above which I was to take 
water; this is a journey of three leagues, though formerly five; 
because the way then lay by the other, that is, the west of the 
river, and also because the place for embai'king lay full two leagues 
above the Fall. But there has since been found, on the left, at the 
distance of a half a quarter of a league from this cataract, a 
creek t where the current is not perceivable, and consequently a 
place where one may take water without danger. My first care 
after my arrival, was to visit the noblest cascade perhaps in the 
world; but I presently found the Baron La Hontan had committed 
such a mistake with reference to its height and figure, as to give 

* The ''Three Mountains" of Hennepin, the "Hills" of La Hontan; at Lewiston. 
t Gill Creek. 


grounds to believe he had never seen it. It is certain that if you 
measure its height by that of the three mountains, you are obhged 
to climb to get at it, it does not come much short of what the map 
of M. Delisle makes it; that is, six hundred feet, having certainly 

fone into this paradox either on the faith of baron La Hontan or 
'ather Hennepin; but after I arrived at the summit of the third 
mountain, 1 observed that in the space of three leagues, v^^hich I had 
to w^alk before I came to this piece of w^ater, though you are some- 
times obliged to ascend, you must still descend still more, a circum- 
stance to which travellers seem not to have sufficiently attended. 
As it is impossible to approach it but upon one side only, and conse- 
quently to see it, excepting in profile or side-ways, it is no easy 
matter to measure its height with instruments. It has, however, 
been attempted by means of a pole tied to a long line, and after 
repeated trials it has been found only one hundred and fifteen or 
one hundred and twenty feet high. But it is impossible to be sure 
that the pole has not been stopped by some projecting rock; for 
although it was always drawn up wet, as well as the end of the 
line to which it was tied, this proves nothing at all, as the water 
which precipitates itself from the mountain, rises very high in foam. 
For my own part, after having examined it on all sides, where it 
could be viewed to the greatest advantage, I am inclined to think 
we cannot allow it less than one hundred and forty or fifty feet. 

"As to its figure, it is in the shape of a horse shoe, and it is 
about four hundred paces in circumference; it is divided in two, 
exactly in the centre, by a very narrow Island, half a quarter of 
a league long. It is true these parts very soon unite; that on my 
side, and which I could only have a side view of, has several 
branches which project from the body of the cascade, but that 
which I viewed in front, appearing to me quite entire. The Baron 
de La Hontan mentions a torrent, which, if this author has not 
invented it, must certainly fall through some channel on the melting 
of the snows. 

" You may easily guess, Madame, that a great way below this 
fall, the river still retains strong marks of so violent a shock, 
accordingly it becomes only navigable three leagues below, and 
exactly at the place where Joncaire has chosen for his residence. 
It should by right, be equally unnavigable above it, since the river 
falls perpendicularly the whole space of its breadth. But besides 
the Island, which divides it into two, several rocks which are 
scattered up and down above it, abate much of the rapidity of the 
stream; it is notwithstanding so very strong, that ten or twelve 
Cutaways trying to cross over to the Island to shun the Iroquoise 
who were in pursuit of them, were drawn into the precipice, in 
spite of all their efforts to preserve themselves. 

" I have heard say that the fish that happen to be entangled in 
the current, fall dead into the river, and that the Indians of those 
parts were considerably advantaged by them; but I saw nothing 


of this sort. I was also told that the birds that fly over were 
sometimes caught in the whirlwind formed by the violence of the 
torrent. But 1 observed quite the contrary, for I saw small birds 
flying very low, and exactly over the fall, which yet cleared their 
passage very well. 

" This sheet of water falls upon a rock, and there are two 
reasons which induce me to believe that it has either found, or 
perhaps in process of time hollowed out a cavern of considerable 
depth. The first is, that it is very hollow, resembling that of 
thunder at a distance. You can scarce hear it at M. de Jon- 
caire's, and what you hear in this place, may possibly be that of 
the whirlpools, caused by the rocks, which fill the bed of the river 
as far as this. And so much the rather, as above the cataract you 
do not hear it near so far. The second is, that nothing has ever 
been seen again that has once fallen over it, not even the wrecks 
of the canoes of the Cutaways, I mentioned just now. Be that as 
it will, Ovid gives us the description of another cataract, situated 
according to him in the delightful valley of Tempe. I will not 
pretend that the country of Niagara is as fine as that, though I 
believe its cataract much the noblest of the two." 

"Besides, I perceive no mist above it, but from behind, at a 
distance, one would take it for smoke, and there is no person who 
would not be deceived with it, if he came in sight of the isle, 
without having been told before hand that there was so surprising 
a cataract in the place." 

In reflecting upon these early advents to this now great center 
of attraction, the mind is prone to wander back and associate with 
it the vast wilderness, its silence only broken by the ceaseless roar 
— in which was but occasionally mingled the sound of human 
voices — the war whoop, the festive shout of the Iroquois, or the 
stranger sounds of the Gallic dialect, uttered by the trader or 
missionary, in their unfrequent visits. The European adventurer, 
as Mr. Greenwood beautifully expresses it: — "stood alone with 
God!" Yes, alone! communing with the Gi'eat Architect, in the 
presence of the triumphs of His Omnipotence! where, gathering 
the waters of vast inland seas, it would seem that He 

* * * "Poured them from His hollow hand," 

" And spoke in that loud voice which seemed to him 

Who dwelt in Patmos for his Savior's sake, 

'The sound of many waters;' and had bade 

The flood to chronicle the ages back 

And notch His centuries in the eternal rocks." * 

* Brainard. 


The early adventists were men of devout minds, and upon 
errands of devotion. How, wlien the mighty scene was first 
presented, must they have anticipated the sublime conceptions of 
the poet in an after age: — 

" Deep calleth unto deep. And what are we, 
That hear the question of that voice subhme?" 

. ^" Yea, what is all the riot man can make 

win his short life, to thy unceasing roar! 

And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him 
Who drowned a world and 'heaped the waters far 
Above its loftiest mountains? — a light wave 
That breaks and whispers of its Maker's might." 

Theirs must have been the thoughts that in after years found 
utterance in the verse of another of the gifted in the annals of 
American literature; — theirs, the feelings that were embodied in 
her exclamation of mingled wonder, awe, and chastened admiration: 

^. " Flow on forever in thy glorious robe 

Of terror and of beauty! God hath set 
His rainbow on thy forehead, and the cloud 
Mantled around thy feet, and He doth give 
The voice of thunder power to speak of Him 
* Eternally — bidding the lip of man 

Keep silence, and upon thy rocky altar pour 
Incense of awe-struck praise." * 

How wild and magnificent this panorama of the wilderness, as 
it must have appeared to those solitary wanderers! It was 
unheralded; no traveller had spread before them maps or descrip- 
tions; the sound of its rushing waters, booming over the unbroken 
forest, and assailing their ears as they were leaving the "Lake of 
Frontenac," and entering the ''Streights of Herrie Lake," first 
attracted their attention. Approaching the "great waterfall" by 
stealth — watchful of the poisonous reptile that coiled in their path 
— fearful of the Iroquois that lurked in the dark surrounding 
forests — stunned by the sounds that fell heavier and heavier upon 
the ear, as they approached their source; — they emerged from 
behind the forest curtain, and the scene in all its lonely, primeval 
grandeur, like a flood of light, burst upon their view ! It was 
Nature in her retreat. Hid away in the bosom of this then vast 

* Mrs. Sigourney, 


wilderness, before unknown to any portion of the civilized world, 
was one of the mightiest achievements of Creative Power. 

How primitive the scene! All but the roar of the mighty 
cataract was hushed silence. That, rioted in a monopoly of 
sound, as does the rolling thunder in the heavens, when, as the 
voice of God, it chastens all things else to stillness and humility. 

At each crackling beneath their footsteps, the wild beast started 
from his lair in the ever-green shades that cmdwu the lofty 
palisades of rock; — the timid deer, as if transfixed, gazed for a 
moment upon strange faces, and bounded to his forest retreat; the 
eagle, frightened from his eyrie, sailed away, in an atmosphere of 
spray and fleeting cloud, the tints of the rainbow that spans the 
deep abyss, reflected from his glossy wing. Onward! Onward! 
came the avalanche of waters! Ages have passed, — all but that 
has changed! Civihzation, the arts, the highest achievements of 
genius, human progress, are placing their triumphs by its side, and 
claiming a divided admiration. Tens of thousands, gathered from 
almost every portion of the habitable globe, come annually, 
pilgrims and sojourners, to gaze upon the works of God, and the 
feebler yet interesting consummations of Art. How vividly, do 
thoughts, contrasts of the past and present, cluster around this spot ! 

The general narrative, which has been interrupted by the intro- 
duction of distinct local topics, will be resumed. 

The treaty of Aix la Chapelle, as other treaties, had left matters 
of dispute between England and France unsettled. Either nation 
was at liberty, whenever its interests might be promoted by so 
doing, to revive any of the vexed and difficult questions of 
discovery, boundary and occupancy, that had frequently involved 
them and their distant colonies, in war, disasters and ruin. Their 
contending armies had enjoyed but a short armistice — hostilities 
on the extended frontier of their colonial settlements had but just 
ceased — the conquests that had been made, had hardly been 
surrendered and re-occupied — when the French began a system 
of encroachments, which they intended should result in confining 
the English colonies within the comparatively narrow hmits 
between the Alleghanies and the Atlantic, and secure to themselves 
undisputed possession of all the territory west and south-west, 
around the Lakes, and in the vallies of the Mississippi and its 


tributaries. The warlike preparations and collisions that occurred 
during the two years immediately preceding the public declaration 
of war on the part of England, in 1756, were the immediate 
consequences of the far-reaching policy deliberately adopted and 
steadily pursued by France. Both England and France were 
anxious to gain the good will and aid, alliance and trade, of the 
Indian nations yet occupying and owning the contested dominions. 
Their respective agents made use of every means to win their 
favor, make treaties of friendship with* them, and fill their minds 
with hatred and enmity; — induce them to believe that either one 
nation or the other was their exclusive friend and protector. The 
Indians regarded these two European nations as perpetual enemies, 
for they were almost always wrangling at the council fires, 
interrupting each other's trade, or making the battle field the 
arbitrer of their disputes. They were never united against the 
Indians as a common enemy; and the Indians, in turn, generally 
sided with the one that offered the best terms. Especially was 
this the case with the Iroquois; the French missionaries, and the 
French faculty generally, of adapting themselves to wild forest 
life, and the habits and customs of the Indians, gave them decidedly 
the vantage ground among the less independent and politic nations 
of the West. If the Indians attacked the frontier settlements, or 
committed any acts of hostility, one nation was sure to charge it to 
the instigation of the other, and hold the implicated party 
responsible. Out of this state of things, and out of the desire 
which both had to maintain their rival and irreconcilable claims — 
to strengthen their influence and ascendency — arose mutual 
suspicions, distrusts, jealousies, and open acts of aggression. Both 
became watchful and vigilant that one should not obtain the 
advantage of the other. Each nation had formed a firm determi- 
nation to defend what it regarded its just rights, and was secretly, 
though efficiently, preparing itself for the great struggle which was 
to decide the fate of their colonial dependencies in North America. 
Both were ambitious to extend and widen their western boundaries, 
and consolidate the power by which they held and governed them. 
When both wore so sensitive and watchful, it needed only a shght 
occasion to terminate a peace which gave any thing but repose 
and quietness to the parties that professed to observe it; and to 
cause a war which involved the destiny of the contestants in its 
issues, and the possession of empires in its fortunes. 


The seizure of English fur traders by the French; the establish- 
ment, by the latter, of military posts on the Ohio, and refusal to 
surrender them on the demand of the colonial authorities, in 1753; 
the expedition conducted by "W ashington* to the western frontiers 
of Virginia, — and the skirmishes he had with the French and 
Indians in the Great Meadows, in 1754; the extensive preparations 
made by both parties for active campaigns ; the expeditions planned 
by the English against forts Du Qucsne, Crown PoiM and Niagara; 
the forcible expulsion of the French from Nova Scotia; the repulse 
and death of Col. Ephraim Williams, by Baron Dieskau, and 
the final overthrow of the latter by Sir William Johns-on, at the 
battle of lake George; the occupation and fortification of Ticon- 
deroga by the French, in 1755, were the principal events that took 
place in the wide and extended field of operations, before the two 
contending nations, with their savage allies, began to struggle in 
earnest for the undivided possessions they had respectively claimed, 
within the more immediate region of our researches, 

* The venerated name of the Father of his Country, is here first incident to our 
narrative. The reader who has not had the opportunity of admiring Mr. Bancroft's 
beautiful introduction of it into his pages, will thank us for embracing it in a note. 
Ho has seized upon an earlier occasion, and other than a military advent, but his 
admirable episode is so framed as to admit of being appropriately blended with the 
events we are tracing: — " At the very time of the congress of Aix la Chapelle, the 
woods of Virginia sheltered the youthful George Washington, the son of a widow. 
Born by the side of the Potomac, beneath the roof of a Westmoreland farmer, almost 
from infancy his lot had been the lot of an orphan. No Academy had welcomed him to 
its shades, no College crowned him with its honors: — to read, to write, to cypher — these 
had been his degrees in knowledge. And now at sixteen years of age, in quest of an 
honest maintenance, encountering intolerable toil; cheered by being able to write to a 
school-boy friend, ' Dear Richard, a doubloon is my constant gain every day, and 
sometimes six pistoles;' 'himself, his own cook, having no spit but a forked stick, no 
plate but a large chip;' roaming over the spurs of the Alleghanies, and along the banks 
of the Shenandoah; alive to nature, and sometimes 'spending the best of the day in 
admiring the trees and the richness of the land;' among skin clad savages, their 
scalps and rattles, or uncouth emigrants 'that would never speak English,' rarely 
sleeping in a bed; holding a bear skin a splendid couch; glad of a resting place at 
night upon a little hay, straw or fodder, and often camping in the forests, where the 
place nearest the fire was a happy luxur)'; — this stripling surveyor in the woods, with no 
companion but his unlettered associates, and no implements of service but his compass 
and chain, contrasted strongly with the imperial magnificence of the congress of Aix 
la Chapelle. And yet God had selected, not Kaunitz nor Newcastle, not a monarch of 
the house of Hapsburgh, nor of Hanover, but the Virginia stripling, to give an 

widow's SON." 


Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, who commanded the 
Enghsh forces destined to attack forts Niagara and Frontenac, 
after much delay, embarrassment and a tedious march through 
the wilderness, arrived at Oswego, the 21st of August, 1755. 
Having ascertained that the garrison in the fort was reduced to 
about sixty French soldiers, and one hundred Indians, but was in 
daily expectation of reinforcements, the British General made 
every exertion in his power to attack it immediately. But his 
scanty means of transportation, the desertion of batteau men, the 
scarcity of wagons on the Mohawk river, and the desertion of 
sledge men at the great carrying place, the slow and lingering 
conveyance of provisions and mihtary stores, occupied about four 
weeks. The council of war that Gov. Shirley assembled on the 
1 8th of September, recommended that an attempt be made on Fort 
Niagara. Six hundred regulars were drafted for that object. 
The artillery and military stores were first put on board the Sloop 
Ontario, part of the provision on another vessel, and the remainder 
were to be transported in small row boats. The long and drench- 
ing rains that now set in, rendered it dangerous to attempt a 
venture upon the lake before the 26th of the month. Orders to 
embark were promptly given, but it was found impossible to 
execute them. Winds from the west blew violently, followed by 
a rain which lasted thirteen days. Sickness and disease then 
rapidly began to diminish the strength and numbers of the army, 
and the Indians to desert. The season for active operations was 
now far gone. Another council of war was held on the 27th, 
which resulted in a determination to put off the expedition until 
next year. Col. Mercer was left at Oswego with a garrison of 
seven hundred men, with orders to erect two new forts for the 
better protection of the place. Gov. Shirley returned with the 
rest of his army. 

Thus this expedition, like the others that had been planned, and 
were to be carried on by the skill and bravery, experience and 
prudence of the combined colonial and English forces, ended 
in disaster and failure; to be followed by a brilliant triumph 
of the arms of France, when she should again make this place the 
scene of bloody conflict, level to the ground the battlements which 
England had raised, under the brave but finally unfortunate Marquis 
de Montcalm. 

Though open hostilities had existed for two years, war was not 


formally declared by Great Britian until the 17th of May, 1756. 
France not only persevered in her encroachments, but sent out a 
large armament with troops and munitions of war. Every hope 
that the questions of dispute could be amicably settled was now 
gone. The court of France endeavored to conceal and cover 
their real designs by the most solemn assurances of pacific senti- 
ments and intentions. To do this more eflTectually, their ambassador 
at the court of St. James was deceived, and while he was instructed 
to give the most positive pledges of the friendship of France, orders 
were at the same time transmitted- to the French authorities in 
Canada still to strengthen and hold their posts at all hazards. 
France, true to her policy of erecting a barrier beyond which 
English territorial authority should not go in North America, was 
pursuing a similar policy at the same time in India. It soon became 
inevitable that the fortunes of war must decide the destinies of both 
nations, so far, at least, as concerned their colonial possessions on 
the eastern portions of this continent. 

Montcalm, the successor of Dieskau, as commander in chief 
of the French forces of Canada, led an army of five thousand 
men, composed of regulars, militia and Indians, against Oswego, 
and invested the English fort there. On the 12th. of August, 
at midnight, after the completion of every necessary arrangement, 
with thirty-two pieces of artillery besides howitzers and mortars, 
he opened a terrible cannonade from his trenches. The small 
amount of ammunition the garrison had, having been exhausted. 
Col. Mercer, the commanding officer, spiked his guns, abandoned 
the fort, retreated across the river without the loss of a single 
man, and took position in Little Fort Oswego. Montcalm 
immediately entered the deserted fort, and from it he poured a 
destructive fire upon the English, during which Col. Mercer was 
killed. Dismayed at the loss of their commanding officer, defeated 
in an eflTort to open a communication with Fort George, (situated 
about four miles up the river, under the command of Gen. Schuy- 
ler,) the English offered to capitulate on the 14th, on condition 
that they should not be plundered by the Indians, but treated with 
humanity. The two regiments that surrendered amounted to 
about one thousand four hundred men. A large quantity of mili- 
tary stores and provisions, one hundred and twenty-one pieces of 
artillery, and fourteen mortars, fell into the hands of the French. 
As soon as Montcalm was in possession of both forts, he ordered 


them to be demolished and destroyed, in the presence of his 
enemies and allies. Then was enacted a tragedy, as contrary to 
every sentiment of humanity, as it was in violation of the faith 
that had been pledged to prevent it. Montcalm, against his 
promise and treaty, gave twenty of his prisoners to the custody 
and tortures of his savage allies, as victims for an equal number 
of Indians that had been killed during the siege. The rest of 
the prisoners were also exposed to the insults of the French 
Indian allies. 

When these calamitous events became known, the British 
authorities abandoned all plans of further offensive operations 
that season, which was then nearly passed. The high and splen- 
did anticipations,, that the campaign would end in a series of bril- 
liant achievments, were all disappointed, and a feeling of gloom 
and despondency followed, in the English colonies. 

Thus was struck down the red cross of St. George, to float no 
more over these chequered scenes of desolation and conflict, where 
many a brave and gallant youth found an untimely grave, until it 
waved triumphantly over the then entire northern portion of the 
continent that rallied around a hostile standard — each of which, 
ere long, in its turn — even before that generation passed away — 
when friends turned oppressors, and enemies became allies — was 
to give place to another banner, that was notthen in existence, — its 
emblematic stars had not yet risen above the horizon of empires; — 
but which is now the banner of a nation great and glorious, alike 
in the arts of war, and the far nobler arts of peace. 

The victories of the French gave them command of lake 
Champlain and lake George. Their success at Oswego confirmed 
their control over the western Lakes, and the valley of the 
Mississippi. Their occupation of Fort Du Quesne, enabled them 
to cultivate the friendship, and continue their influence over the 
Indians west of the Alleghanies. Their line of communication 
reached from Canada to Louisiana, and they were masters of the 
vast territories that spread out beyond it. Their supremacy upon 
this continent was now at its zenith; henceforward all change 
tended to decline and final dispossession. The time speedily came, 
when the victors were to be vanquished, and their dominions ruled 
by their enemies. 

In 1758, William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, was at the 
head of the British ministry. Soon every department of the 


public service felt the animating influence of his commanding and 
lofty spirit. His energetic and vigorous measures inspired hope 
and confidence at home and abroad. The brave soldiers who had 
been so often humbled in defeat, kindled with ardor for an 
opportunity to assert their title to honor and fame, and have a 
share in the glorious deeds which the future promised. Incompe- 
tent commanders were re-called, and officers of military genius and 
experience succeeded them. Three expeditions were planned. 
Louisburg was again captured. The French deserted Fort Du 
Quesne on the approach of an English army. That against 
Crown Point and Ticonderoga alone was defeated, and relinquished; 
but out of its failure arose the successful expedition against Fort 
Frontenac, at the suggestion of Colonel Bradstreet, who com- 
manded it. 

At the head of about three thousand men, with eight cannon and 
three mortars, Col. Bradstreet left the camp of the defeated 
army, which had retreated to its former position on the south side 
of lake George. Arriving at Oswego, he lost no time in embarking 
his men. Crossing the lake, he landed about one mile from the fort, 
on the evening of August 25th.* He urged forward his prepa- 
rations for an attack with such rapidity, that within two days, he 
opened his batteries so near the French works as to make every 
discharge produce an effect. The French commander; deserted by 
his Indian allies, and satisfied that his capture was inevitable, 
surrendered at discretion, on the 27th. One hundred and ten 
prisoners, nine vessels, sixty cannon, sixteen mortars, a large 
number of light arms, great quantities of military stores, provisions, 
and merchandise, were taken. The fort was dismantled and 
demolished. The vessels and such other things as could not be 
carried away, were destroyed. Col. Bradstreet then marched 
his detachment back and joined the main army. 

The success of this expedition aided that which was marching 

*Fort Frontenac is thus described in the "Journals of Major Robert Rogers," an 
officer justly distinguished as a daring and skillful commander of a company of 
"Rangers," who visited it soon after it was taken by the English: 

" This fort was square faced, had four bastions with stone, and was near three- 
quarters of a mile in circumference. Its situation was very beautiful, the banks of the 
river presenting, on every side, an agreeable landscape, with a fine prospect of lake 
Ontario, which was distant about a league, interspersed with many Islands that were 
well wooded, and seemingly beautiful. The French had formerly a great trade at this 
fort with the Indians, it being erected on purpose to prevent their trading with the 
English, but it is now totally destroyed." 


against Du Quesne. French re-inforcements from Niagara and 
Frontenac, could not now come. Conscious of their inabihty to 
dispute successfully the possession of the fort, with a force so form- 
idable as that of the Enghsh, the French voluntarily abandoned it, 
silently passing down the Ohio river. With them also departed the 
powerful influence they had long exercised over the surrounding 
Indian nations, never again to be revived. No sooner was the 
British flag floating over the embattlements France had raised, 
than they called councils, and entered into treaties of peace and 
alliance with the British. The Indians said that the Great Spirit, 
having deserted the French, would no more protect them, and 
would be angry with all who helped them. The French line of 
communication between the northern and southern extremities of 
their possessions was now effectually broken. The reverse which 
took place in the fortunes of the contending nations, was not more 
striking, than was the change of feeling manifested by the different 
parties, at the close of the campaign. 

In 1759, Major General Amherst succeeded as commander of 
the British forces in North America. The success which had 
attended the British arms, encouraged the adoption of measures 
which contemplated the entire conquest of Canada. The three 
strong positions still held by the French were all to be attacked 
at the same time. General James Wolf, who had distinguished 
himself at Louisburg, was to besiege Quebec. General Amherst 
was to march against Ticonderoga, and Crown Point, and after 
taking those places, cross lake Champlain, and join Wolf. Gene- 
ral Prideaux, accompanied by Sir William Johnson, was to 
command the expedition against Fort Niagara. General Stanwix 
commanded a detachment, which was to watch and guard lake 
Ontario, and reduce the remaining French posts on the Ohia 

Early in the spring. Gen. Amherst established his head-quarters 
at Albany, where he concentrated his forces about the end of May. 
The summer was well advanced before he was able to cross lake 
George. He reached Ticonderoga, July 22d. When he was 
ready to open his batteries on the French, who appeared deter- 
mined to defend this position, he suddenly discovered that after 
blowing up their magazines and doing all the injury they could, the 
enemy had retreated during the night, to Crown Point. The 
British took possession of the fort without firing a gun, the next 
day. After reparing its damaged fortifications, Gen. Amherst 


proceeded to Crown Point. On his approach the French retired 
before him, and took up a position on the Isle Aux Noix, at the 
northern end of lake Champlain. At that point the French force 
was about three thousand five hundred strong. They had a large 
train of artillery and four armed vessels. Gen. Amherst was 
anxious to dislodge them, but this could not be done without a naval 
force able to meet the enemy's. He hastily built two boats, and 
succeeded in destroying two belonging to the French. The season 
was now far gone. In October he fixed his winter quarters at 
Crown Point, and employed the time in repairing the works there 
and at Ticonderoga. 

The arrangements for the expedition against Fort Niagara 
having been completed. General Prideaux, with an army composed 
of European and Provincial troops and Indians, marched to Oswego, 
coasted along the southern shore of lake Ontario, and without 
opposition landed at the mouth of the Four Mile creek on the 6th 
of July. 

The author derives the following minute accounts of the invest- 
ment and final capture of Fort Niagara, from files of the Maryland 
Gazette, published at Baltimore at that early period of newspaper 
enterprise in the American colonies, that have been perserved in the 
archives of the Maryland Historical Society. The preceding 
accounts, it will be observed, are from English sources, in the form 
of letters from correspondents, and items of news by the editor, 
derived either from New York and Philadelphia papers, or from 
correspondents in those cities. The heading to the account that 
follows, is suflSciently explanatory of the source from which it is 
derived. Taken altogether, the reader will probably conclude that 
it is a much better account of this locally important military enter- 
prise, than has before been incorporated in history. The author 
adopts the accounts as he finds them in the ancient newspaper files, 
believing that a cotemporary relation of the events will be far 
more interesting to the reader, than any he could derive from other 

" Niagara, July 25th, 1759 
"Yesterday morning a party of French and Indians, consisting of 1500, of which 
400 were Indians, about 8 o'clock, came upon our right, where a breast-work was 
thrown up, as we had intelligence of their coming ; and as ten of our people were 
crossing the lake above, they began to fire on them, which gave our people time to get 
all their piquets, the 46th regiment, part of the 44th, 100 New Yorkers, 600 Indians, 
ready to oppose them: we waited and received their fire five or six times, before onr 


people returned it, which they did at about 30 yards distance, then jumped over their 
breast-work, and closed in with them, upon which they immediately gave way and 
broke; their Indians left them, and for a while we made a vast slaughter. The whole 
being defeated, the prisoners were brought in, among which were above 16 or 17 
officers, several of distinction, and about 60 or 70 men; the whole field was covered 
with their dead. After the General took the names of all the officers taken, he sent 
Major Harvky, by the desire of Monsieur D'Aubret, the commanding officer of the 
whole party, to the commanding officer of the fort, who disputed his having them, and 
kept Major Harvev in the fort, and sent an officer to the General; when they found 
it was true, and all their succors cut off, they began to treat on conditions of surrender, 
which continued till near 8 o'clock in the evening before they were concluded; 
however, our grenadiers, with the train, marched in this morning, and the whole 
garrison was surrendered to Sir William Johnson, who succeeded to the command 
after the death of General Prideaux. 

" The ordnance stores found in the Fort at Niagara when Gen. Johnson took 
possession of it, were two 14 pounders; 19 twelve pounders; one eleven pounder; 
7 eight pounders; 7 six pounders; 2 four pounders; 5 two pounders — all iron: 1500 
round 12 pound shot; 40,000 pound musket ball; 200 weight of match; 500 hand 
grenades; 2 cohorns and 2 mortars, mounted; 300 bill-axes [?]; 500 hand hatchets; 
100 axes; 300 shovels; 400 pick-axes; 250 mattocks; [hoes]; 54 spades: 12 whip- 
saws, and a considerable number of small arms, swords, tomahawks, scalping-knives, 
cartouch -boxes, &c. 


A letter from Niagara, dated July 25th, has the following particulars: — 
" Your old friend Sir William Johnson, has gained immortal honor in this affair. 
The army have the highest opinion of him, and the Indians adore him, as his conduct 
has been steady and judicious; he has carried on the siege with spirit. The Mohawks 
have done wonders, serving in the trenches and every place where Sir William was." 
We are informed, that upon Gen. Amherst's receiving the news of the death of 
Brigadier Gen. Prideaux, he immediately appointed Brigadier General Gage, of the 
Light Infantry, commander-in-chief of the forces before Niagara; and that Gen. 
Gage was at Albany, when the orders from Gen. Amherst came to him; but it was 
impossible for him to reach Niagara before it surrendered to Sir William Johnson. 
Col. Haldiman, we are told, embarked from Oswego for Niagara, the very day it 
surrendered, the 24th ult. 

All the prisoners taken at Niagara, amounting in the whole to about 800, are coming 
down to this city [i. e. New York], and are on their way; so that we may expect them 
every day. The women and children taken in the fort, Gen. Johnson has sent to 
Montreal, we are told. 

From Oswego we have the following interesting intelligence, dated July 28th, 1759: 
" This day Lieutenant Moncrief, aid-de-camp to the late Gen. Prideaux, arrived 
here from Niagara, which he left the 26th instaut, on his way to Gen. Amherst. 
From the said gentleman we have the following particulars, viz: — That after the 
melancholy accident of the 20th, which carried off the General, the command of the 
army devolving on Sir William Johnson, he continued to pursue the late General's 
vigorouij measures, and erected his third battery within 100 yards of the flag bastion; 
having intelligence from his Indians, of a large party being on their march from the 
Falls to relieve the fort. Sir William made a disposition to prevent them. The 23d, 
in the evening, he ordered the Light Infantr}-, and picquets of the lines, to lie near the 
road on our left, leading from the Falls to the fort; these he reinforced in the morning 
of the 24th, with the Grenadiers, and part of the 46th regiment, all under the com- 


mand of Lieut Co). Massey: Lieut. Col. Farquar, with the 44th battalion, was 
ordered to the tail of the trenches, to support the guard of the trenches, commaDded by 
Major Beckwith. About eight in the morning our Indians advanced to speak to 
the French Indians, which the enemy declined. The action began soon after, with 
screams, as usual, from the enemy; but our troops were so well disposed to receive 
them in front, and our Indians on their flanks, that in less than an hour's time their 
whole army was ruined. The number of the slain was not ascertained, as the pursuit 
was continued for three miles. Seventeen officers were made prisoners, among whom 
are Monsieur D'Aubrey, chief in command, wounded; Monsieur de Lignery, second 
in command, wounded also; Monsieur Mari>'I, leader of the Indians; Monsieur de 
ViLLiE, Repentini, Martini, and Basonc, all captains, and several others.* After 
this defeat, which was in sight of the garrison. Sir William sent Major Harvey into 
the fort, with a list of the officers taken, recommending it to the commanding officer to 
surrender before more blood was shed, and while he had it in his power to restrain the 
Indians. The commanding officer, to be certain of such a defeat, sent an officer of 
his to see the prisoners; they were shown to him; and, in short, the capitulation was 
finished about ten at night of the 24th, by which the garrison surrendered, with the 
honors of war, which Lieutenant Moncrief saw embarked the morning he came 
away, to the number of 607 private men, exclusive of the ofiicers and their ladies, and 
those taken in the action. We expect them here to-morrow on their way to 
New York. 

Saturday afternoon an express arrived in town [New York Cit)-] from Albany, 
which place he left about 6 o'clock on Thursday morning, with the following agreeable 
news, which was brought to Albany a few hours before, from Sir William Johnson 
at Niagara, viz: — That on the 24th of July, as Sir William lay before the fort of 
Niagara, with the forces under his command, besieging it, he received intelligence by 
a party of his Indians that were sent out on a scout, that there was a large body of 
French and Indians, coming from Venango, as a reinforcement to the garrison of 
Niagara. Gen. Johnson thereupon ordered 600 chosen men from the 44th and 46ih 
regiments, 100 New York provincials, and 600 Mohawks, Senecas, «&c. to march 
immediately, and way lay them, which they accordingly did, and threw up a breast- 
work at a place where they knew the French must pass by on their way to the fort; 
and sent a batteau with 10 or 12 men down the river a little way, to fire when the 
enemy were near at hand, which would give them warning to prepare themselves for 
their reception; and in a short time after their breast-work was finished, they heard the 
alarm given by the batteau, that was sent forward, on which they all prepared them- 
selves to receive the enemj', each man having two balls and three buck-shot in his gun, 
and were squatted. However, the enemy perceived them in their entrenchment, and 
fired six times on them before our people returned the fire; but as soon as the enemy 
came close, all the English rose up and discharged their pieces, which made the utmost 
slaughter imaginable among them, and repeated their fire three times, when the 
enemy's Indians that were left alive, left them; immediately upon which our people 
jumped over their breast-work, and flew on the enemy, sword in hand, still continuing 
to make great slaughter among them, and took 120 prisoners, among which were 17 
ofiicers, some of which are of distinction, with their chief commander. The havoc 
we made at the end was great, 500 of the enemy at least being left on the field of 

* The battle ground is a mile and a half below the Five Mile Meadows, at a place 
called Bloody Run. Skulls and other human bones, bill-axes, pieces of muskets, &c., 
were strewn over the ground there, long after the settlement of the country commenced. 


battle. Those that could, made their escape, and went down the river. Upon tho 
return of our troops to Gen. Johnson with the prisoners, he immediately sent a flag of 
truce in to the commander of the fort, and demanded a surrender, telling him of the 
defeat of the reinforcement he expected; but the French commandant would not give 
credit to what Gen. Johnson said, till he had sent a flag of truce with a drum, into our 
camp, and found it but too true ; and immediately on the officer's return to the fort, 
the French commandant oiFered to capitulate, provided Gen. Johnson would permit the 
garrison to march out with all the honors of war, which was agreed to ; but that they 
must immediately, upon their coming out, lay down their arms, and surrender them- 
selves, which they accordingly did; and Gen. Johnson took possession of the fort 
directly after. The garrison consisted of 607 men, among which were 16 officers, 7 of 
which were captains, besides the chief commander, and we hear they are shortly after 
their surrender, embarked on board of batteaux, and sent up to Oswego, and from 
thence were to be sent down to Now York, and may be expected here every day. The 
number of our killed and wounded in the defeat of the reinforcement fromVenango, we 
cannot as yet justly ascertain, but there were five of the New Yorkers among the slain 
in that affair. It is said we had not lost 40 men in the whole, since the landing of the 
troops at Niagara. The Indians were allowed all the plunder in the fort, and found a 
vast quantity of it, some say to the value of £ 300 a man. The fort, it is said, is large 
enough to contain 1000 fighting men, without inconvenience; all the buildings in and 
about it are standing, and in good order; and it is thought, had our forces stormed the 
place (which was intended) they would have met with a warm reception; and beating 
the Venango party, will undoubtedly crown with laurels the ever deserving Johnson."* 

From the Maryland Gazette, Aug. 23d, 17.j9: Under Philadelphia head, Aug. 16th: 
By a letter from Niagara, of the 21st. ulL [?], we learn that by the assiduity and 
influence of Sir William Johnson, there were upwards of eleven hundred Indians 
convened there, who, by their good behaviour, have justly gained the esteem of the 
whole army: That Sir William being informed the enemy had buried a quantity of 
goods on an Island, about twenty miles from the fort, sent a number of Indians to 
search for them, who found to the value of eight thousand pounds, and were in hopes 
of finding more, and that a French vessel, entirely laden with beaver, had foundered oa 
the Lake, where her crew, consisting of forty-one men, were all lost.t 

From tlie Maryland Gazette, Thursday, Aug. 30, 1759. 
* " New York, August 20, 1759. 


Friday, July 6, 1759. About seven at night a soldier, who was hunting, came 
with all diligence to acquaint Monsieur Pouchot, that he had discovered at the entrance 

* The following eloquent description of the battle scene upon the river bank, occurs 
in Graham's Colonial History': — " The French Indians having raised the fierce, wild 
yell, called the war-whoop, which by this time had lost its appalling effects on the 
British soldiers, the action begfan by an impetuous attack from the enemy; and while 
the neighboring Cataract of Niagara, pealed forth to inattentive ears, its everlasting 
voice of many waters, the roar of artilley, the shrieks of the Indians, and all the martial 
clang and dreadful reveln' of a field of battle, mingled in wild chorus with the majestic 
music of nature." 

t Some may be disposed to infer that the anchor, cannon, «&c. which the author has 
assumed, were those of the Griffin, are as likely to have belonged to the ship^ecked 
vessel here spoken of. But forty-six years intervened between the loss of this vessel, 
and the finding of the relics near the mouth of the Eighteen Mile creek; not a sufficient 
period to allow of the appearance those relics presented: the anchor deeply embedded 
in sand and gravel, the timber growth, &c. 



of the wood, a party of savages, and that they had even fired on some other hunters. 
Mons. PoucHOT immediately sent M. Selvikrt, Captain in the regiment of Rousil- 
loD, at the head of one picquet, a dozen Canadian volunteers preceded them, and on 
their coming to the edge of the woods, a number of Indians fired upon tliem which 
they returned, and were obliged to retire. They took Messrs. Furnace and Aloque, 
Interpreters of the Iroquois, two Canadians, and two other gentlemen. They made 
another discharge and retired. Monsieur Fouchot fired some cannon upon them. 
Mons. Selvizrt lay all night, with 100 men, in the Demilune,* and the rest of the 
garrison was under arms on the ramparts till midnight. 

Saturday, July 1th. We perceived 7 barges on the Lake, a league and a half 
distance from the fort; we judged bj' that it was the English come to besiege us: 
Mons. PoucHOT ordered the general to be beat, and employed all hands to work on the 
batteries, to erect embrasures, t all being era barbett before. He immediately des- 
patched a courier to Mons. Chevert, to give him notice of what happened; he also 
sent out Monsieur La Force, 1| Captain of the Schooner Iroquois, to destroy the English 
barges where he could find them. All that day several savages showed themselves on 
the edge of the desert. Monsieur La Force fired several cannon shot at them; and 
perceived they were working at an entrenchment at the Little Swamp,^ which is a 
league and a half from the fort. The guards this night as the night before. 

Sunday, 8ih July. The schooner continued to craise and fire on the English camp. 
About nine in the morning, an English officer brought a letter from Brigadier 
Prideaux, to Mons. Pouchot, to summons him, proposing him all advantages and 
good treatment, all which he very politely refused, and even seemed to be unwilling to 
receive the English General's letter. The remainder of this day the English made no 

[There is no entry for Monday.] 

Tuesday, \Qth. At 2 o'clock all our men were on the ramparts, and at day-break 
we perceived they had opened their trenches, at the entrance of the wilderness, at 
about three hundred tolses from the fort; we made a very hot fire upon them all day. 
M. Chabourt arrived with the garrison of the Little Fort,§ and seven or eight savage 

* The work in iront of the curtain or main breast-work. 

t A narrow orifice through which the cannon is fired. 

t In a condition to allow of cannon being fired over them. 

II We first hear of this early navigator upon lake Ontnrio, in Washington's diani' of 
his mission to the Ohio, in 1753. He accompanied him in a part of his tour, and in 
the ensuing spring was captured and sent a prisoner to Williamsburg. He was the 
French leader and Indian negotiator in the early contest between the French and 
English in the neighborhood of Fort Du Quesne, (Pittsburgh). He was the Joncaire 
of that region, though not as successful, as was the adopted son of the Senecas. He 
hroke jail at Williamsburg, and going at large, excited terror among the border settlers 
of Virginia, by whom he was regarded as a dangerous ally of the Indians. In his 
attempted escape, he was arrested by a back woods-man, who resisted his offers of 
wealth and preferment, and conveyed him back to prison, where he was loaded with a 
double weight of irons and chained to the floor of his dungeon. Washington, hearing 
of the hard fate of his old acquaintance, remonstrated with Gov. Dinwiddie, but failed 
to excite his sympathies. La Force remained in prison two years. The next we hear 
of him, he is captain of the " Schooner Iroquois " on lake Ontario. Cruising on the 
lake, he escaped the fate of his countrjmen at Niagara. 

^ The Little Swamp is forty rods west of the mouth of the Four Mile Creek. Some 
of the remains of the battery are still there. 

$ At Schlosser 


Iroquois and Missagoes. Monsieur Pouchot went to palisade the ditches: The service 
as usual, only the addition of two officers to lie in the covered way. About 11 o'clock 
at night, ord«rs were given to make all the picquets fire from the covered ,way, to 
hinder the workmen of the enemy. M. La Force sent his boat on shore for Monsieur 
Pouchot's orders. 

Wednesday, llth July. The works continue on both sides. At noon a part}' of 
about fifteen men, soldiers and militia, went very nigh the trenches of the enemy, and 
perceived them sally out between four and five hundred, who came towards them at a 
quick pace, but they were stopped by our cannon. They began on the other side of the 
swamp, which is the left of their trench, another about twenty yards; and at 5 o'clock 
they began to play two Grenadoe Royal Mortars. At 6 o'clock two savages of the Five 
Nations, who were invited by one Cayendesse, of their nation, came to speak to 
Monsieur Pouchot; the firing ceased on both sides during this parley. At 10 o'clock 
we began to fire again, and then we found the English had eight mortars. 

Night between the Wth and \2th. The enemy ran their parallel from their first 
trench to the lake side, where it seemed they intended to establish a battery. At two 
in the afternoon, [of the 12th, doubtless,] four chiefs of the Five Nations came to us 
on parole, and said they were going to retire to Belle Famille. The enemy wrought 
the rest of that day, and perfected their night's work. Monsieur La Force had orders 
to proceed to Frontonac, and to return immediately. In the night between the I2th 
and 13th they fired many bombs. I went with thirty men to observe where the 
enemy wrought. 

Friday, 13iA July. A canoe arrived from Monsieur De Ville, to hear how we 
stood at this post (or rather for the Canada post.) The enemy threw a great many 
bombs all this day, and continued to work to perfect their trenches: we fired a great 
many cannon shot. Many of their savages crossed the river, and desired to speak 
with us; there were but two of those nations with us. I went out with five volunteers, 
to act as the night before. The enemy fired no bombs til! about midnight. 

Saturday, 14th July. At day-break we found they had prolonged their trenches to 
the lake shore, in spite of the great fire from our cannon and musketr}-, during the 
night, and perfected it during the day time; they have placed four mortars and thrown 
many bombs. All our garrison lay in the covered way, and on the ramparts. 

Sunday, 15th July. In the morning we perceived they had finished their works 
begun the night before. During the night they threw three hundred bombs; the rest 
of the day and night they threw a great many, but did not incommode us in any shape. 

Monday, 16th July. At dawn of day we spied, about half a league off, two barges, 
at which we discharged some cannon, on which they retired. In the course of the 
day they contined to throw some bombs. They have already disabled us about twenty 
men. All our men lie on beaver, or in their clothes, and armed. We do what we can 
to incommode them with our cannon. 

Tuesday, llth July. Until six this morning we had a thick fog, so that we could 
not discern the works of the enemy; but it clearing a little up, we saw they had raised 
a battery of three pieces of cannon, and four mortars on the other side of the river; 
they began to fire about 7 A. M., and Monsieur Pouchot placed all the guns he could 
against them: The fire was brisk on both sides all day, they seemed most inclined 
to batter the house where the Commandant lodges. The service as usual for the night. 

Wednesday, 18th July. There was a great firing as on the preceding day; we had 
one soldier dismembered, and four wounded by their bombs. 

Thursday, Idth July. At dawn of day we found the enemy had begun a parallel 
eighty yards long in front of the fort. The fire was very great on both sides. At 2 P. 


M. arrived the Schooner Iroquois, from Frontenac, and laid abreast of the fort, waiting 
for a calm, not being able to get in, the enemy having a batter}' on the other side of the 
river. Monsieur Pouchot will have the boat on shore as soon as tlie wind falls. 

Friday, 20tA July. The English have made a Uiird parallel, towards the lake; they 
are to-day about one hundred and sixty yards from the fort. They cannot have worked 
quietly at the Sappe, having had a great fire of musketry all night long, which they 
were obliged to bear. During the day they made a great firing with their mortars, and 
they perfected their works begun the night of the 19th to the 20th. We had one man 
killed, and four wounded. The fire of the musketry was very hot on both sides till 
eleven at night, when the enemy left off, and we continued ours all night. Two canoes 
were sent on board the schooner, which are to go to Montreal and Tironto. 

Saturday, 2lst. During the night the enemy made a fourth parallel, which is about 
one hundred yards from the fort, in which it appears they will erect a batterj' for a 
breach in the flag bastion. They have hardly fired any cannon or bombs in the day, 
which gives room to think they are transporting their cannon and artillerj- from their 
old batter)' to their new one. The service as usual. Their batter}' on the other side 
fired but httle in the day. The schooner went off to see two canoes over to Tironto, 
one of which is to post to Montreal, and from thence she is to cruise off Oswego, to try 
to stop the enemy's convoys when on their way. The company of volunteers are 
always to pass the night in the covered way. 

Sunday, 2'ild. All the night was a strong conflict on both sides. We had one man 
killed by them and by our own canaon. We fired almost all our cannon with cartridges. 
They worked in the night to perfect all their works begun the night before The 
enemy began to fire red-hot balls in the night; they also firod fire-poles. * All day they 
continued at work to establish their batteries. They fired, as usual, bombs and cannon. 
The service as usual for the night of the 22d and 23d. They worked hard to perfect 
their batteries, being ardently sustained by their musketry. 

Monday, 23<Z. We added two pieces of cannon to the bastion of the lake, to oppose 
those of the enemy's side. At 8 A. M. four savages brought a letter from Monsieur 
Aubrey to Monsieur Pouchot, by which we learn, that he has arrived at the Great 
Island, t before the Little Fort, at the head of twenty-five hundred, half French and 
half savages. Monsieur Pouchot immediately sent back four savages with the answer 
to Monsieur Aubret's letter, informing him of the enemy's situation. These savages, 
before they came in, spoke to the Five Nations, and gave them five belts to engage 
them to retire from the enemy. They saw part of the enemy's camp, and told us the 
first or second in command was killed by one of our bullets, and two of their guns 
broken and one mortar. We have room to hope, that with such success we may oblige 
the enemy to raise the siege, with the loss of men, and as they take up much ground, 
they must be beat, not being able to rally quick enough. At 2 P. M. they unmasked 

another battery of pieces of cannon, three of which were eighteen-pounders, the 

others twelve and six. They began with a brisk fire, which continued two hours, then 
slackened. About 5 P. M. we saw a barge go over to Belle Famille, on the other side 
of the river, and some motions made there. One of the four savages which went off 
this morning, returned his Porcelain {i, e. wampum), he had nothing new. The 
service of the night as usual. We worked hard to place two pieces, twelve-pounders, 
on the middle of the curtains, to bear upon their battery. 

* Fire-balls. 

t Nav}' Island, which the French may have regarded as but a continuation of 
•♦ Great " or Grand Island. 


Tuesday, 'HUk July. The enemy began their fire abount 4 o'clock this morning, and 
continued to fire with the same vivacity the rest of the day. At 8 A. M. we perceived 
our army was approaching, having made several discharges of musketry at Belle 
Famille. At 9 the fire began on both sides, and lasted half an hour. We wait to 
know who has the advantage of those two. At 2 P. M. we heard by a savage, that 
our army was routed, and almost all made prisoners, by the treachery of our savages: 
when immediately the English army had the pleasure to inform us of it, by summon- 
ing us to surrender." 

The above with some letters, were found in an embrasure, after we were in possess- 
sion of the fort, since which, translated, and the original given to Sir William 

Since our last seven sloops arrived here [N. Y.] from Albany, with about six hun- 
dred and forty French prisoners, officers included, being the whole of the garrison of 
Niagara. Among the officers are Monsieur Pouchot, who was commander-in-chief 
of the fort, and Monsieur Villars, both captains, and knights of the order of St. Louis. 
There are ten other officers, one of which is the famous Monsieur Joinc(eur, a very 
noted man among the Seneca Indians, and whose father was the first that hoisted 
French colours in that countr}'. His brother, also a prisoner, is now here, and has 
been very humane to many Englishmen, having purchased several of them from tlie 

While British arms were achieving victories at Ticonderoga, 
Crown Point, Frontenac, Du Quesne, and Niagara, Gen. Wolfe 
was at the same time, vigorously carrying forward his operations 
before Quebec. In the midst of his exertions, he received intelli- 
gence of the capture of Niagara and the retreat of the French 
before Gen. Amherst. The advanced period of the season, the 
strong French force at the isle Aux Noix, satisfied Wolfe that 
the union of the force under Gen. Amherst with that under 
himself, could not take place. Neither was it probable that Sir 
William Johnson would be able to march against Montreal, to 
divide the forces and divert the attention of the French. Notwith- 
standing all this, Wolfe resolved to continue the siege, make 
superior caution and daring, activity and bravery supply the place 
of numbers and strength. Though in body so weak and feeble 
from the effects of a painful and wasting malady, that he was 
often confined to his room. Gen. Wolfe, by his cheerful and 
confident bearing, inspired the minds of all around him with the 
highest expectation, that under him their brightest hopes would be 
fully realized — their toils and sufferings be rewarded with the 
noblest triumph British valor had ever before achieved on the 
American continent." 

With an army of eight thousand men, under a convoy of British 
vessels, Gen. Wolfe landed on the Isle of Orleans, lying in the 
St. Lawrence, a few leagues below the city of Quebec, near the 


close of June, 1759. Here he had a full view of the dangers and 
embarrassments that he must encounter, and of the bold yet 
cautious course he would have to adopt and pursue, in order to 
succeed. Nobly exclaiming that " a victorious army finds no 
difficulties," Wolfe resolved to hazard every thing to gain every 
thing. With the hope that Montcalm, the French commander, 
might be induced to change his strong and well chosen position 
and enter into a general engagement, Wolfe brought about the 
battle of Montmorency, and was repulsed with the loss of five 
hundred of his best men. At this critical juncture, the daring 
resolution was made to carry on all future operations above the 
town. At the greatest risk and the most imminent danger, by a 
bold and master movement, the English finally gained the Heights 
of Abraham, which overlooked and commanded the city. So great 
were the astonishment and surprise of Montcalm, when fii'st 
informed of this sudden change of the enemy's position, that he 
refused to believe it possible. He saw that a fatal battle could 
not much longer be avoided — a battle that inevitably would decide 
the fate of the empire of France in America — and he made his 
preparations accordingly. An engagement soon after took place 
between the two armies, in which the steady, unflinching bra- 
very of the British, and the reckless, impetuous courage of the 
French were both tried and proved. The English were victorious 
and to them the French surrendered Quebec — their last remaining 
strong hold that had not yet fallen into the possession of their 

Wolfe and Montcalm, the commanding generals, were 
foemen worthy of each other. The wonderful coincidence and 
contrast presented in the closing scene of their fortunes and life, 
have forever blended their memory in glorious union on the 
Historian's page, the Painter's canvass, and in the Poet's numbers. 
Both had distinguished themselves during the war — both were 
in the thickest and fiercest of the battle storm — both led their 
emulous columns on to the deadly charge — both were mortally 
wounded and reluctantly carried from the field — both died — one 
as the shouts of victory were ringing louder and louder in his 
failing ears, and words of peaceful resignation were falling from 
his closing lips, — the other, with the fervent aspiration that he 
might not '' live to see the surrender of Quebec," and his countrj^'s 
dominions pass into the hands of his conqueror. 


The loss of these two brave and accompUshed commanders was 
deeply lamented and regretted by their respective nations — their 
names united and honored by their enemies. With what truth and 
beauty does their kindred fate illustrate, though under widely 
different circumstances, how often it is, 

"That the paths of glory lead but to the grave."* 

Thus triumphantly with the English, ended the campaign of 
1759; but not the mutual exertions of the French and English for 
supremacy over the Indian nations. After the conquest of Quebec, 
two Indians of the Six Nations, at the suggestion of the English, 
it is presumed, visited a settlement of their people that had removed 
to Canada and were in the French interest. They endeavored to 
persuade their people to make a timely secession from the French, 
and come home to their own country; telling them that " the 
English, formerly women, were now all turned into men, and were 
growing as thick in the country as trees in the woods, that they 
had taken the French forts at Ohio, Ticonderoga, Louisburg and 
Quebec, and would soon eat all the French in Canada, and the 
Indians that adhered to them." The French Indians were incred- 
ulous; they said to their visitors: — "Brothers you are decieved; 
the English cannot eat up the French; their mouths are too little, 
their jaws too weak, and their teeth not sharp enough. Our father, 
Yonnondio, has told us, and we believe him, that the English, like 
a thief have stolen Louisburg and Quebec from the great king, 
while his back was turned, and he was looking another way; but 
that he has turned his face, and sees what the English have done, 
he is going into their country with a thousand great canoes, and all 
his warriors; and he will take the little English king and pinch him 
till he makes him cry out and give back what he has stolen, as he 
did about ten summers ago, and this your eyes will see." The 
French Indians came near making converts of the English agents. 
The result of the visit was at least to make the Six Nations more 

*An affecting incident is related of Gen. Wolfe, which presents his character in the 
most amiable light. It is said that when Wolfe and his army were noiselessly floating 
down the St. Lawrence, at midnight, to the place where they were to land and begin 
their difficult ascent to the Heights above, he, in a low, tender tone, repeated the whole 
of Gray's plaintive and touching " Elegy in a Countrj' Church Yard," in which occurs 
the /)rop/tefic line above quoted; and at the conclusion of it, he remarked: — '« Now, 
gentlemen, I would rather be the author of that poem, than take Quebec." What a 
noble tribute for a WEurior to render a Poet. 


wavering in their adherence to the Enghsh, and distrustful as to 
their final supremacy. 

While this war had been waging, as in those that had preceded 
it, there were frequent incursions of French and Indians to the 
frontiers of Massachusetts and New Hampshire; but their visits 
were less sanguinary and barbarous in their character, than those 
of former years. Bounties were paid, to encourage the Indians to 
deliver all English prisoners alive. 

French determination to maintain their ground, was revived 
after a short recoil from the capture of their strong hold; and new 
and large levies of troops were made from the English colonies. 
No sooner had the English fleet retired from the St. Lawrence than 
Levi, who had succeeded Montcalm, resolved to attempt the 
recovery of Quebec. In April, 1660 he embarked with a strong 
army from Montreal, and having by means of armed frigates, the 
control of the St. Lawrence, he took position at Point au Tremble, 
within a few miles of Quebec. In a few days. Gen. Murray, who 
had succeeded Wolfe, sallied out and attacked the French in their 
then position, near Sillery. He retreated, after a severe engage- 
ment, and the loss of one thousand men; the French loss still 
larger. The French soon after, opened trenches against the town, 
and commenced an effectual fire upon the garrison. It was vigor- 
ously resisted, but so well conducted was the siege, that the fate of 
the English was only decided by a squadron of theirs passing a 
French armament that had been sent out, and entering before it 
the mouth of the St. Lawrence. The English ships attacked the 
French frigates that had come down from Montreal, destroyed a 
part of them, and obliged the others to retreat up the river. The 
siege was raised; the whole French army making a hasty and rapid 
retreat to Montreal. 

The Marquis de Vaudreuil, Governor General of Canada, had 
fixed his head quarters at Montreal, and resolved to make his last 
stand for French colonial empire. For this purpose he collected 
around him the whole force of the French colony. He infused 
his own spirit, confidence and courage, in the hemmed up colony, 
cheering the desponding by promises of help and succor from 

The English in the mean time, were not idle. Arrangements 
were made for a combined attack on Montreal. A detachment of 
English troops advanced from Crown Point, and took possession of 


Isle Aux Noix. Gen. Amherst, with an army of about ten 
thousand regulars and provincials, left the frontiers of New York 
and advanced to Oswego, when he was joined by a thousand 
warriors of the Six Nations, under the command of Sir Williaji 
Johnson. Embarking on lake Ontario, they arrived at Isle 
Royal, reducing that post, and proceeding down the St. Lawrence, 
arrived at Montreal, simultaneously with the command under Gen. 
Murray. Arrangements were made to invest the city with this 
formidable consolidated army. Vaudreuil, rightly estimating the 
strength of his assailants, and his own inability successfully to 
resist them, resolved upon capitulation. On the day after the 
arrival of the British army, — the 7th of September, 1760, 
Montreal, Detroit, and all other places of strength within the 
government of Canada, were surrendered to the British crown. 
Gen. Murray was appointed Governor of Montreal, and a force 
left with him of two thousand men; and returning to Quebec, his 
force was augmented to four thousand. 

The French armament, that has before been noticed, on learning 
that the English had entered the St. Lawrence, took refuge in the 
Bay of Chaleurs, on the coast of Nova Scotia, w^here it was soon 
pursued by a British fleet from Louisburg, and destroyed. 

Thus ended the colonial empire of France in North America; or 
rather its efforts to resist by regular military organizations, 
fortified forts, &c., English dominion. With the fall of Montreal, 
they had surrendered all their possessions upon this continent, east 
of the Mississippi, and beyond that, possession was merely 
nominal, consisting of but little more than the feeble colony of 

Soon after these events, most of the eastern Indian nations 
inclined to the English, but the anticipated entire alliance and 
pacific disposition of the Indians around the borders of the western 
lakes, was not realized. Indian fealty did not follow but partially, 
the triumph of the English arms. The French had gained a 
strong hold upon the western Indians, which was not unloosed by 
the reverses they had encountered. The Indian nations became 
alarmed at the rapid strides of the English, jealous of its consequen- 
ces to them, and the French lost no opportunity to increase this 
feeling, and induce them to believe that the next effort of English 
ambition and conquest, would be directed to their entire subjuga- 
tion, if not extermination. 


"There was then upon the stage of action, one of those high 
and heroic men, who stamp their own characters upon the age in 
which they hve, and who appear destined to survive the lapse of 
time, Uke some proud and lofty column, which sees crumbling 
around it, the temples of God and the dwellings of man, and yet 
rests upon its pedestal, time worn and time honored. This man 
was at the head of the Indian confederacy, and had acquired an 
influence over his countrymen, such as had never before been seen, 
and such as we may not expect to see again. To form a just 
estimate of his character, we must judge of him by the 
circumstances under which' he was placed; by the profound 
ignorance and barbarism of his people; by his own destitution of 
all education and information, and by the jealous, fierce, and 
intractable spirit of his compeers. When measured by this 
standard, we shall find few of the men whose names are familiar 
to us, more remarkable for all they professed and achieved, than 
PoxTiAC. Were his race destined to endure until the mists of 
antiquity could gather around his days and deeds, tradition would 
dwell upon his feats, as it has done in the old world, upon all who, 
in the infancy of nations have been prominent actors, for evil or 
for good." * PoNTiAC was an Ottawa. 

Major Rogers, commanded the British troops that took pos- 
session of Detroit under the treaty of capitulation at Montreal. 
'When he was approaching his destination, the ambassadors of this 
forest king met him and informed him that their sovereign was 
near by, and that he desired him to halt until he could see him; 
that the request was in the name of "Pontiac, the king and 
lord of the country." Approaching Major Rogers, Pontiac 
demanded his business. An explanation followed, and permission 
was granted for him and his troops to take the place of the 
French; acts of courtesy even attending the permission. 

This friendly relation was not destined to be. permanent. In 
1763, Pontiac had united nearly all the Indian nations of the 
west, in a confederacy, the design of which, was to expel the 
English from the country, and restore French ascendancy. "His 
first object was to gain his own tribe, and the warriors who gen- 
erally attended him. Topics to engage their attention and inflame 
their passions were not wanting. A belt was exhibited which he 
pretended to have received from the king of France, urging him 
to drive the British from the country, and to open the paths for 
the return of the French. The British troops had not endeavored 

* Governor Cass. 


to conciliate the Indians, and mutual causes of complaint existed. 
Some of the Ottawas had been disgraced by blows, but above all, 
the British were intruders in the country, and would ere long 
conquer the Indians as they had conquered the French, and wrest 
from them their lands."* His first step was to convene a large 
council of the confederates at the river Aux Ecorces. The speech 
he delivered upon that occasion, was ingeniously framed to further 
his object. By turns he appealed to the pride of country, the 
jealousy, the warlike spirit, the superstition, of the assembled coun- 
cillors. He assumed that the Great Spirit had recently made a 
revelation to a Delaware Indian, as to the conduct he wished his 
red children to pursue. He had directed them to "abstain from 
ardent spirits, and to cast from them the manufactures of the white 
man. To resume their bows and arrows, and skins of animals for 
clothing." ''Why," said the Great Spirit indignantly, to the Dela- 
ware, " do you suffer these dogs in red clothing to enter your 
country, and take the land I gave you] Drive them from it, 
and when you are in distress I will help you." The speech had 
its desired effect. In the month of May following, all things were 
arranged for a simultaneous atttack upon each of twelve British 
posts, extending from Niagara to Green Bay, in the north-west, 
and Pittsburg in the south-west. Nine of these posts were 
captured. The posts at Niagara and Pittsburg were invested but 
successfully resisted. Detroit was closely besieged by the forces 
of PoNTiAc, and the siege, and his war generally, was protracted 
beyond the reception of the news of the treaty of peace between 
France and England; in fact, until the expedition of Gen. Brad- 
street, of which some account will be given in another place. 
The incidents of Pontiac's war are among the most horrid in 
Indian war history. The officers and soldiers of most of the cap- 
tured garrisons were tomahawked and scalped. The details do 
not come within our range. 

A treaty of peace was definitely concluded at Paris, between 
England and France, on the 10th of February, 1763. To prevent 
any future disputes as to boundary, it was stipulated, that "the 
confines between Great Britain and France on the continent of 
North America should be fixed irrevocably by a line drawn along 
the centre of the Mississippi, from its source as far as the river 

* Gov. Cass. 


Iberville; and from thence, by a line drawn along the middle of 
the river, and by the lakes Maurepas and Ponchartrain, to the sea." 
It was stipulated that the inhabitants of the countries ceded by 
France, should be allowed the enjoyment of the Roman Catholic 
faith, and the exercise of its rights as far as might be consistent 
with the laws of England; that they should retain their civil 
rights, while they were disposed to remain under the British 
government, and yet be entitled to dispose of their estates to 
British subjects, and retire with their produce, without hindrance 
or molestation to any part of the world. 

Never, perhaps, was a treaty of peace more acceptable, or 
hailed with livelier feelings of joy and congratulation, than was this 
by the English colonists in America. Harassed through long years, 
upon all their borders, their young men diverted from the peaceful 
pursuits of agriculture, to fill the ranks of the army in a long succes- 
sion of wars, they had been longing for repose. But it was the 
will of Providence, in directing and controlling the destinies of 
men — in shaping a higher and more glorious inheritance for the 
wearied colonists than colonial vassalage — that the repose should 
be of but short duration. ''Amidst the tumultuous flow of pleasure 
and triumph in America, an intelligent eye might have discerned 
symptoms, of which a sound regard to British ascendancy required 
the most cautious, forbearing, and indulgent treatment; for it was 
manifest that the exultations of the Americans was founded, in no 
small degree, upon the conviction, that their own proper strength 
was augmented, and that they had attained a state of security 
which lessened at once their danger from neighboring hostility, and 
their dependence on the protection, so often delusive and preca- 
rious, of the parent state." And few will fail to observe how well 
calculated were the events we have just been considering, to 
prepare the sympathies, and shape the policy of France, in the 
struggle to which this peace w^as but a prelude. 

We have now come to the end of French dominion upon this 
portion of the continent of North America. The treaty of Paris 
consummated what the fall of Quebec and Montreal had rendered 
inevitable. In one chapter, the events of a long period — from 
1627 to 1763, one hundred and thirty-six years — have been 
embraced. How chequered and fluctuating the scene ! How full 


of vicissitudes, of daring adventures, of harassing rivalry, suffering, 
privation and death ! It was the contest of two powerful nations 
of Europe, for supremacy upon this continent. The stakes for 
which they were contending, were colonial power, extended 
dominion and gain — the last, the powerful stimulus that urged to 
the battle field, or prom];^ed the bloody, stealthy assault. How 
little, the thoughtful reader will say, the rights, the interests, the 
dignity, the elevation, the freedom of man — was involved in this 
long, almost uninterrupted, sanguinary conflict. Nothing of all 
this was blended with the motives of the promoters of these wars. 
The fields of contest, the banks of the St. Lawrence, of the lakes, 
our own fair, but then wilderness region, — were drenched with 
some of the best blood of England and France; the colonies of 
New England sent out those to an untimely grave that would have 
adorned and strengthened her in a not far off, and more auspicious 
period. They "bravely fought and bravely fell;" but there was 
little in the cause in which they were engaged to shed a halo of 
glory around the memory of its martyrs. And yet remotely, 
those most unprofitable struggles, (viewed in reference to any 
immediate result,) were to have an important bearing upon the 
destiny of our now free, happy, and prosperous Republic. 

How slight the causes that often, seemingly, govern great and 
momentous events! And yet, what finite reason would often 
construe as accidental, may be the means which Infinite Wisdom 
puts in requisition to accomplish its high purposes. Had the 
French fleet gained the mouth of the St. Lawrence before that of 
the English, Quebec, in all probability, would have been restored 
to France, and French dominion would have held its own upon this 
continent, if indeed, with the Indian alliances that the French had 
secured, and were securing, they had not subjugated the English. 
Then comes the enquiry whether any of the same causes would 
have existed under French colonial dominion, that arose under 
English rule? Some, prominent ones, we know, would not. And 
yet, in the main, English colonial rule, was more liberal than that 
of the French. Had the contest for separation and independence 
been against France, England, as in the reversed case, would not 
have been the ally of the weaker party, struggling against its deep- 
seated notions of legitimacy and kingly rule. But it was best as 
it was; and speculation like this is unprofitable, especially when it 


can work out in its imaginings no more glorious result, than the 
one that was realized. 

It was during the war with France, that some of the most 
distinguished officers and soldiers of the Revolution, that comman- 
ded and filled the ranks of our armies so skillfully and successfully, 
rendered their first miUtary services. Washington fought his 
first battle at the Great Meadows; he was at Braddock's defeat, 
where buds of promise appeared, that in a better conflict bloomed 
and shed abroad their fragrance — their cheering influences, in 
years of doubt and despondency — their matured and ripened fruit, 
a cluster of sovereign states, constituting a glorious Union. 
PuTNA3i, the self-taught, rough man of sterling virtues, — New 
England's bravest, if not most prudent leader, was at Ticonderoga, 
in 1756; Gates was at Braddock's defeat, as was Morgan. 
Stark, afterwards the hero of Bennington, was a captain of 
Rangers in that war. And who, of middle age, has not listened 
to the mingled recitals of events of the French war, and the war 
of the Revolution, coming from the veterans who helped to fill the 
ranks of the armies of both] 

The reader will have observed that the trade in furs and peltry, 
constituted the main object of French enterprise. The cultivation 
of small patches of ground around the military and trading posts, 
and a narrow strip of some twenty miles in length on the Detroit 
river, constituted mainly the agricultural efforts of the French, in 
all their long occupancy of this region. They early introduced at 
Detroit, apple trees, (or seeds,) from the province of Normandy. * 
The first apples that the pioneer settlers of the Holland Purchase 
had, come from that source, and from a few trees that had a like 
origin, at Schlosser, on the Niagara river. The trees at Schlosser 
are existing, and bearing a very pleasant flavored natural fruit. 
They are the oldest apple trees in Western New York. Those found 
in the vicinity of Geneva, Canandaigua, Honeyoye flats, and upon 
the Genesee river, were either propagated from them, or from 
seeds given the Seneca Indians by the Jesuit Missionaries. 

The Hudson's Bay Company was organized in 1696, by the 
English. Its operations were confined to the northern regions, 
but in process of time, its branches came in collision with the French 

* History of Michigan. 


traders upon the lakes. It was a monopoly, opposed not only to 
French, but to English private enterprise. "The consequences 
\vere injurious to the trade, as the time and energies which might 
have been employed in securing advantages to themselves, were 
devoted to petty quarrels, and the forest became a scene of brawls, 
and a battle ground of the contending parties. The war was 
organized into a system. The traders of the Hudson's Bay 
Company followed the Canadians to their different posts, and used 
every method to undermine their power." 

During the winter of 1783, the north-west company was estab- 
lished. It was composed principally of merchants who had carried 
on the trade upon their own individual accounts. For a long 
period, both companies made vast profits. Some idea of the extent 
of the trade, may be formed by the following exhibit of the busi- 
ness for one year: — , * 

106,000 Beaver skins, 600 Wolverine skins, 

2,100 Bear " 1,650 Fisher 

1,500 Fox " 100 Racoon 

4,000 Kitt Fox '• 3,800 Wolf 
4,600 Otter " 700 Elk 

16,000 JVIuskquash '♦ 750 Deer 

32,000 Martin " 1,200 Deer skins dressed, 
1,800 Mink " 500 Buffalo robes, and a 

6,000 Lynx " quantity of Castorum, 

" There was necessarily, extensive establishments connected with 
the trade, such as store-houses, trading-houses, and places of 
accommodation for the agents and partners of the larger compa- 
nies. The mode of living on the Grand Portage, on lake Superior, 
in 1794 was as follows: — The proprietors of the establishment, 
the guides, clerks, and interpreters, messed together; sometimes 
to the number of one hundred, in a large hall. Bread, salt pork, 
beef, butter, venison and fish, Indian corn, potatoes, tea and wine, 
were their provisions. Several cows were kept around the estab- 
lishments, which supplied them with milk. The corn was prepared 
at Detroit by being boiled in a strong alkali, and was called 
" hominee." The mechanics had rations of this sort of provisions, 
while the canoe-men had no allowance but melted fat and Indian 
corn. The dress of the traders, most of whom had been employed 
under the French government, consisted of a blanket coat, a shirt 
of striped cotton, trowsers of cloth, or leather leggins, similar to 

Note. — O* See Hennepin's account of the difficulties of getting the Griffin up the 
rapids of the Niagara river, page 124. The planting he speaks of must have been near 
the village of Waterloo, on the Canada side. These were the first seeds planted by 
Europeans, in all the region west and south of Schenectady and Kingston, and east of 
the Mississippi. 



those of the Indians, moccasins wrought from deer-sltins, a red or 
parti-colored belt of worsted, which contained suspended, a knife 
and tobacco pouch, and a blue woolen cap or hat, in the midst of 
which stuck a red feather. Light hearted, cheerful and courteous, 
they were ever ready to encamp at night among the savages, or in 
their own wigwams, to join in the dance, or awaken the solitudes 
of the wilderness with their boat-songs, as they swept with vigor- 
ous arm across the bosom of the waters.* 

"Even as late as 1810, the island of Mackinaw, the most 
romantic point on the Lakes, which rises from the altar of a 
river-god, was the central mart of the traffic, as old Michilimacki- 
nac had been a century before. At certain seasons of the year it 
was made a rendezvous for the numerous classes connected with 
the traffic. At these seasons the transparent waters around this 
beautiful island were studded with the canoes of Indians and 
traders. Here might then be found the merry Canadian voyageur, 
with his muscular figure strengthened by the hardships of the 
wilderness, bartering for trinkets along the various booths scat- 
tered along its banks. The Indian warrior, bedecked with the 
most fantastic ornaments, embroidered moccasins and silver 
armlets; the North- Westers, armed with dirks — the iron men who 
had grappled with the grizzly bear, and endured the hard fare of 
the north; and the South- Wester, also put in his claims to 
deference, f 

" Fort William, near the Grand Portage, was also one of the 
principal ports of the Northwest Company. It was the place of 
junction, where the leading partners from Montreal met the more 
active agents of the wilderness to discuss the interests of the 
traffic. The grand conference was attended with a demi-savage 
and baronial pomp. The partners from Montreal, clad in the 
richest furs, ascended annually to that point in huge canoes, 

* The author is indebted to a friend for the following^ literal translation, of one of 
the gay and frivolous, 3-et characteristic songs of these " forest mariners." It is said 
even now to be heard occasionally upon our north-western lakes: — 

Ever)' spring 
So much novelty, 
Eveiy lover 
Changes his mistress, 
Good wine doth not stupefy, 
Love awakes me. 

Every lover 
Changes his mistress, 
Let them change who will, 
As for me, I'll keep mine, 

Good wine doth not stupefy. 
Love awakes me. 

On my way, I have met. 
Three cavaliers, each mounted, 
Tol, lol, laridol da, 
Tol lol, laridon da. 

Three cavaliers, each mounted. 
One on horseback, the other on foot, 
Tol lol, laridon da, 
Tol lol, laridol da. 

t The American Fur Company, now in existence, and extending its operations from 
the shores of the Lakes to those of the Pacific, modelled in its operations somewhat 
after the old French and English companies, had its trading establishments scattered 
through the forest. 


manned by Canadian voyageurs, and provided with all the means 
of the most luxurious revelry. The Council-House was a large 
wooden building, adorned with the ti'ophies of the chase, barbaric 
ornaments, and decorated implements used by the savages in war 
and peace. At such periods the post would be crowded with 
traders from the depths of the wilderness and from Montreal; 
partners of the Company, clerks, intei'preters, guides, and a 
numerous host of dependents. Discussions of grave import, 
regarding the interests of the traffic, made up the arguments of 
such occasions; and the banquet was occasionally interspersed 
with loyal songs from the Scotch Highlander, or the aristocratic 
Britain, proud of his country and his king. Such were the 
general features of a traffic which constituted for a century, under 
French and English governments, the commerce of the North- 
western lakes. It was a trade abounding in the severest hardships, 
and the most hazardous enterprises. This was the most glorious 
epoch of mercantile enterprise in the forests of the North-west, 
when its half savage dominion stretched upon the lakes over 
regions large enough for empires; making barbarism contribute to 

While the Jesuit missionary, as we have before had occasion to 
remark, left but feeble traces of his religion to mark his advent — 
the French traders, other adventurers, and those who, becoming 
prisoners in the long wars with the Indians, were adopted by them, 
left more enduring impressions. The French blood was mixed 
with that of the Indian, throughout all the wide domain that was 
primitively termed New France. In all the remnants of Indian 
nations that a few years since existed around the borders of the 
western lakes and rivers, the close observer of merged races, could 
discover the evidences of the gallantries, (and not unfrequently, 
perhaps, the permanent alliances.) of these early adventurers. 
Among the remnants of the Iroquois, now residing in our western 
counties, the mixed blood of the French and Indian, is frequently 

*Hlstory of Michigan. 

t John Green, an intelligent pioneer settlor upon the Alleghany river, said to the 
author, during the last summer, when speaking of the Indians on the Alleghany 
Reservation, that there were but a small proportion there of pure Indian blood. That 
the prisoners taken by their ancestors in the French wars, and war of the Revolution, 
intermarried, and the white blood now predominates. "Take an instance now," said 
our informant, " where either father or mother is mixed blood, they have large families 
— when both are full blood Indians, they have but small families." 





There is but little of local importance to embrace in our 
narrative, occurring between the close of the French and English 
war, by the treaty of Paris, in 1763, to the commencement of the 
American Revolution, in 1775. 

The English strengthened and continued the captured French 
garrison at Niagara, and other important posts along the western 
frontiers, for the purpose of protecting their scattered settlements^ 
and trading with, and conciliating the Indians. The questions of 
difference between England and her colonies — the disputes that 
were hastening to a crisis — did not reach and disturb these remote 
and then but partially explored solitudes; — where none but the 
fearless hunter, the adventurous traveller, the soldier, and the 
native inhabitants were seen. The only connection then between 
the eastern and western portion of our state, was kept up by com- 
merce with the Indians, and such relations as existed between the 
military posts. This region was then far removed from civilization 
and improvement. Nearly a quarter of a century was to pass 
away before the tide of emigration reached its borders. 

The Senecas, it would seem, from the earliest period of English 
succession at Fort Niagara, were not even as well reconciled to 
them as to the French. There is very little doubt of their having 
been generally in the interests of Pontiac, and co-operators with 
him in his well arranged scheme for driving the English from the 
grounds the French had occupied. Some other portions of the 
Six Nations were also diverted from the English, as we find that a 
body of Iroquois were engaged in the attack on Fort Du Quesne.* 

* Graham, in his colonial history, says the SenecEis were co-operators in the designs 
of Pontiac, but that, by the " indefatigable exertions of Sir William Johnson, the othej 


Mary Jemison, in relating a history of her captivity, &c., to 
her biographer, says that when she first arrived upon the Genesee 
river, the Senecas were making active preparations to join the 
French in the re-taking of Fort Niagara. That the expedition 
resulted, (not in any attack upon the garrison, as we are to infer,) 
but in a successful resistance to an Enghsh force that had sallied 
from the garrison to get possession of the small French post at 
Schlosser.* The English were driven back with considerable loss. 
This, she says, was in the month of November, 1759. Two 
English prisoners, that were taken, were carried to the Genesee 
river and executed. 


There are few of our readers who will not be familiar with the 
main features of this event: It was fresh in the recollection of the 
few of the white race, that were found here, when settlement 
commenced, and Seneca Indians were then living, who participated 
in it. The theatre of this tragedy — the locahty that is figuratively 
designated as one of the fastnesses of the great embodiment of sin 
and evil — was in the high banks of the Niagara river, three miles 
below the Falls, and half a mile below the Whirlpool. It is a deep, 
dark cove, or chasm. "An air of sullen sublimity pre vades its gloom; 
and where in its shadowy depths you seem cut off from the world 
and confined in the prison-house of terror. To appearance it is a 

of the Six Nations were restrained though with great difficulty, from plunging into the 
hostile enterprise, which seemed the last effort of the Indian race to hold at least divi- 
ded empire with the colonists of North America." 

*Fort Schlosser — called by the French Little Fort — took its name, under English 
possession, from a Captain Schlosser, who was the first to occupy the place as an 
English post. In Dec. 1763, he was in New York. The Moravian Indians at Beth- 
lehem, apprehending an attack from the whites, and the horrid fate that afterwards 
befel them, appealed to Gen. Gage and Sir William Johnson, for protection, sending a 
deputation to New York for that purpose. Capt. Schlosser, with one hundred and 
seventy men, were detached to accompany the deputation back, and defend the Mora- 
vian settlement. In Loskriel's History of the Moravian Missions, it is said: — "These 
soldiers had just come from Niagara, and had suffered much from the savages near 
Lake Erie, which rendered them in the beginning, so averse to the Indians, that 
nothing favorable could be expected from them; — God in mercy, changed their dispo- 
sitions; then- friendly behavior soon softened into cordiality; and they conversed 
familiarly with the Indian brethren, relating their sufferings with the savages." In 
Heckweider's Indian Narrative, p. 83, that good Moravian Missionary, speaking of the 
same event, says of Captain Schlosser, the commander of the guard: — "An officer, 
deservedly esteemed by all good men, for his humanity and manly conduct, in protect- 
ing these persecuted Indians." 


fit place for a demon-dwelling; and hence, probably, derives its 
name." * The road along the river bank passes so near, that the 
traveller can look down from it into the frightful gulf — to the 
bottom of the abyss, one hundred and fifty feet. It would seem 
that a huge section of rock had been detached, parting off and 
leaving the high banks almost perpendicular — over-hanging in fact, 
at some points. A small stream — the Bloody Run — taking its 
name from the event of which we are about to give some account, 
pours over the high pallisade of rock. Trees of the ordinary 
height of those common in our forests, rise from the bottom of the 
"Hole," their tops failing to reach the level of the terrace above. 

Hitherto our accounts of the tragedy enacted there, have been 
derived from traditionary sources; no cotemporary written state- 
ment of it has as yet appeared in any historical work, or in any 
printed form. Among the London documents brought to this 
country by Mr. Broadhead, and deposited in the office of the 
Secretary of State at Albany, is a letter from Sir William Johnson, 
to the Board of Trade in New York, dated at Johnson's Hall, (on 
the Mohawk) September 25th, 1763, to which is appended the 
following Postscript: — 

"P. S. — This moment I have received an express informing me that an officer and 
twenty-four men who were escorting several wagons and ox -teams over the carrying 
place at Niagara, had been attacked and entirely defeated, together with two companies 
of Col. Wilmot's regiment who marched to sustain them. Our loss on this occasion, 
consists of Lieuts. Campbell, Frazier and Roscoe, of the Regulars. Cap!. Johnson 
and Lieut. Drayton of the Provincials; and sixty privates killed with about eight or nine 
wounded. The enemj% who are supposed to be Senecas of the Chenussio, [Genessee,] 
scalped all the dead, took all their clothes, arms and amunition, and threw several of 
their bodies down a precipice." 

In a " Review of the Indian trade," by the writer of the above, 
dated four years after, speaking of this furious outbreak of the 
Indians, it is said : — " They totally destroyed a body of Provincials 
and regulars of about one hundred men in the Carrying Place of 
Niagara, but two escaping." There is some discrepancy in the 
two statements. The first account was probably sent to Sir 
William by a messenger despatched from Niagara as soon as the 
affair was known there, and before the full extent of the loss was 
ascertained. In 1764 the writer was at Niagara, holding a treaty 
with the Senecas, where he probably learned the facts as he last 

* Orr's Guide to Niagara Falls. 


Stated them. The statement that but two escaped the massacre, 
agrees, as will be seen from what follows, with the traditionary- 
accounts, though the fate of the ''eight or nine 'wounded," is left to 

Jesse Ware was the successor of the Stedmans at Schlosser, 
and before his death related to the compiler of the first edition of 
the Life of Mary Jemison, the story as he assumed to have heard 
it from WiLLiABi Stedman, the brother and successor of John 
Stedman, who was one of the two that escaped. The relation 
was in substance as follows: — 

After the possession of Fort Niagara and Schlosser, by the 
EngHsh, Sir William Johnson made a contract with John 
Stedman to construct a portage road between Lewiston and 
Schlosser, to facilitate the transportation of provisions and military 
stores from one place to the other. The road was finished on the 
20th of June, 1763, and twenty-five loaded wagons started to go 
over it, under the charge of Stedman, as the contractor for army 
transportation; accompanied by "fifty soldiers and their officers," 
as a guard. A large force of Seneca Indians, in anticipation of 
this movement, had collected and laid in ambush near what is now 
called the Devil's Hole. As the English party were passing the 
place, the Indians sallied out, surrounded teams, drivers, and guard, 
and "either killed on the spot, or drove oflf the banks," the whole 
party, "except Mr. Stedman, who was on horseback." An Indian 
seized his bridle reins, and was leading him east to the woods, 
through the scene of bloody strife, probably for the purpose of 
devoting him to the more excruciating torments of a sacrifice; 
but while the captor's attention was drawn in another direction for 
a moment, Stedman with his knife, cut the reins near the bits, at 
the same time thrusting his spurs into the flanks of his horse, and 
dashing into the forest, the target of an hundred Indian rifles. He 
escaped unhurt. Bearing east about two miles, he struck Gill 
creek, which he followed to Schlosser. [X^ See some subsequent 
remarks upon the claim instituted by the Stedmans, or their 
successor, to lands, based upon this flight, and a consequent Indian 

"From all accounts," says the biographer we have relied upon 
for the above statement, "of this barbarous transaction, Mr. 
Stedman was the only person belonging to this party who was 
not either driven, or thrown off into the Devil's Hole." Tradition 


has transmitted to us various accounts of the fate of some few 
others of the party; that is, that one, two, or three others escaped 
with life, after being driven off the bank, although badly wounded, 
and maimed by the fall. Most of the accounts agree in the escape 
of a little drummer * who was caught while falling, in the limb of 
a tree, by his drum-strap. 

Mrs. Jemison says that no attempt was made to procure 
plunder, or take prisoners. The object, sanguinary as was the 
means used to accomplish it, was not mercenary, but formed a 
part of a gener^il concerted plan to rid the country of the English. 

The account of Sir William Johnson, which the author, 
considering that it is both cotemporary and official, is disposed to 
rely upon, rather than the traditionary accounts, gives a different 
complexion to the w^hole affair, than the hitherto generally 
accredited version. The inference would be from his statement, 
that the cavalcade of wagons, teamsters, and guard of twenty-four 
men, was first attacked, and was reinforced after the attack by 
the two companies, who, he says, "marched to sustain them." 
This would protract the action beyond a sudden attack, and such a 
summary result as has before been given; and favor the conclusion 
that the advance party was first attacked as stated, and that those 
who came to their relief, shared a similar fate. Though the 
discrepancy is perhaps not material. 

HoNAYEWus, or Farmer's Brother, an active Seneca war chief 
in the Border Wars of the Revolution, was in this battle, or rather 
surprise and massacre. It was one of his earliest advents upon 
the war-path. 

The pioneer settlers upon the frontier, especially in the neighbor- 
hood of Lewiston and the Falls, say that at an early period relics 
of this horrid tragedy were abundant, in this deep gorge. They 
consisted of skulls, of human bones, and* bones of oxen, pieces of 
wagons, gun barrels, bayonets, &c., &c. 

* The story of the drummer is mainly true. Seeing the fate that awaited him, he 
leaped from the high bank ; the strap of his drum catching upon the limb of a tree, his 
descent, or fall, was broken, and he struck in the river, near the shore, but little 
injured by the terrible leap of one hundred and fifty feet ! His name was Matthews. 
He lived until within a few years, in the neighborhood of Queenston, to relate the story 
of his wonderful preservation. 

Note. — Mrs. Jemison saj's the first neat cattle that were brought upon the Genesee 
river were the oxen that the Senecas obtained of the English in the previous afl^air at 
Schlosser. As that was an attack upon a military expedition, where no oxen would be 
likely to have been used, it is probable that those she speaks of were such as were 
preserved at the affair of the Devil's Hole. 



In a few weeks after this too successful onslaught of the 
Senecas upon the EngHsh, they followed it up by an attack upon 
a detachment of English troops, on their way from Niagara to 
Detroit: — 

From the Marj'Iand Gazette, December 22, 1763. 

*'JV*eM) York, December 5. — Last Monday, Capt, Gardiner of the 
55th, and Lieut. Stoughton, came to town from Albany. They 
belonged to a detachment of 600 men under the command of 
Major WiLKiNs, destined for Detroit, from Niagara; but on the 
19th of October, at the east end of Lake Erie, one hundred and 
sixty of our people being in their boats, were fired upon from the 
beach by about eighty Indians, which killed and wounded thirteen 
men, (and among them Lieut. Johnson, late of Gorham's, killed,) 
in the two stern-most boats, the remainder of the detachment 
being ahead about half a mile. Capt. Gardiner, who was in the 
boats adjoining, immediately ordered the men, (fifty) under his 
command, ashore, and took possession of the ground from which 
the enemy had fired; and as soon as he observed our people 
landing, he with Lieut. Stoughton, and twenty-eight men pursued 
the Indians. In a few minutes a smart skirmish ensued, which 
lasted near an hour, in which three men were killed on the spot, 
and Capt. Gardiner, with Lieut. Stoughton and ten others, 
badly wounded. During the skirmish, the troops that did not 
follow the Indians formed on the bank, and covered the boats." 

The attacks upon the English at Schlosser, the Devil's Hole, 
and at the foot of lake Erie, were all the out-breaks of the 
Senecas, during the disaffection that followed the English advent, 
of which there is any record, or well authenticated tradition. 
From some correspondence which occurred between General 
Amherst and Sir William Johnson, which have been preserved 
in the Broadhead documents, it would seem that the English 
attributed the hostilities of the Senecas to the evil influences of 
the French who remained among them as traders, or as adopted 
Senecas. This is likely to have been the case, though it is 
apparent that all along the Seneca branch of the Iroquois espe- 
cially, had resolved to maintain their independence, and resist the 
encroachments of both the French and the English. After the 
French were conquered, it was natural for the Senecas to adopt 
them as allies in any contest they had with the conquerors. 


But after the failure of the scheme of Pontiac at the west, the 
promulgation of the peace of Paris here, and the consequent sub- 
mission of the French to the rule of their conquerors, the Senecas, 
as did the Indian nations generally, concluded that acquiescence and 
non-resistance was the best policy. By a letter from Lieut. Gov. 
CoLDEN to the Board of Trade, dated Dec. 19th, 1763, it seem"s 
that they had then sued for peace. In M ante's History of the 
French War, the preliminary articles of this peace are given. It 
was entered into at Johnson's Hall, April 3d, 1764, between Sir 
William Johnson and eight deputies of the Seneca nation, viz: — 
Tagaanedie, Kaanijes, Chonedaga, Aughnawawis, Sagenqueraghta, 
Wanughsisiae, Tagnoondie, Taanjaqua. 

They were to cease all hostilities immediately; never more to 
make war on the EngHsh, or suffer their people to commit acts 
of violence on the persons or property of any of his Majesty's 
subjects; forthwith to collect and deliver up all English prisoners, 
deserters, Frenchmen and negroes; and neither more to harbor or 
conceal either. They ceded as follows: — "To His Majesty, and 
his successors forever, in full right, the lands from Fort Niagara 
extending easterly along lake Ontario about four miles, compre- 
hending the Petit-Marais, or landing place, and running from 
thence southerly about fourteen miles to the creek above Fort 
Schlosser or Little Niagara, and down the same to the river, or 
strait, and across the same, at the great cataract; thence northerly 
to the banks of lake Ontario, at a creek, or small lake about two 
miles west of the fort; thence easterly along the banks of lake 
Ontario, and across the river, or strait, to Fort Niagara; compre- 
hending the whole carrying place, with the lands on both sides of 
the strait, [or river,] and containing a tract of about fourteen miles 
in length, and four in breadth. And the Senecas do engage never 
to obstruct the passage of the carrying place, or the free use of 
any part of the said tract; and will likewise give free liberty of 
cutting timber for the use of His Majesty, or that of the garrisons, 
in any other part of their country, not comprehended therein."* 

* This is the first tract of land to which the Indian title was extinguished, in Wes- 
tern New York. The reader will have no difficully in determining the boundaries. 
It included both banks of the Niag;ara river, the Falls, Schlosser, Lewiston, Fort Ni- 
agara, Niagara, C. W. and the mouth of the Four-mile-creek. It will be observed of 
course, that the Senecas here assumed that their dominion extend'ed over the Niagara 
river. This is based undoubtedlv upon their conquest over the Neuter Nation 
[C? See pages 66, 67, 68. 


They farther agreed to grant a free passage through their 
country, from that of the Cayugas to Niagara, or elsewhere, for 
the use of His Majesty's troops forever; and the free use to His 
Majesty forever, of the harbors within the country on lake Ontario, 
or any of the rivers; immediately to stop all intercourse of their 
people with the hostile Shawnees, and to assist His Majesty's arms 
in bringing them to proper punishment. Sir William grants a 
free pardon for past transgressions. 

This treaty was to be fully ratified by Sir William Johnson 
and the Senecas, the ensuing summer at Fort Niagara. But the 
Senecas, even after this, proved somewhat refractory. In the 
ensuing summer. Sir William accompanied the expedition of Gen. 
Bradstreet as far as Niagara, to attend there a congress of 
friendly Indian nations, convened to exchange with the English 
sentiments of peace and alliance, make purchases, receive presents, 
and some of them to offer themselves as volunteers under Gen. 
Bradstreet. About seventeen hundred had assembled; but the 
Senecas were not among them. Sir William sent them repeated 
messages to come in and ratify their treaty, which they answered 
by repeated promises of attendance. It was found that they were 
in council deliberating whether they should renew the war or 
confirm the peace. Gen. Bradstreet sent them a peremptory 
message, in substance, that if they did not repair to Niagara and 
fulfill their engagements in five days, he would send a force and 
destroy their settlements. This brought them in. They ratified 
their treaty, and received some presents. 


It will have been seen that the small French garrison at 
Schlosser, held out and successfully resisted the first attack. The 
fall of Quebec, however, convinced them that all was lost, and 
anticipating another attack, they resolved on the destruction of 
two armed vessels, lying in the river, having on board their 
military stores. The vessels were taken into the arm of the river 
that separates a small Island from the foot of Grand Island, and 
burned down to the water's edge; after which the hulls sunk. In 
low water, the wrecks are now plain to be seen. In an early 
period of settlement of the frontier, the hulls were partly exposed; 


anchors, chains, cannon balls, grape and cannister shot, irons 
belonging to the upper rigging, used to be taken from them by the 
early settlers. The hulls are now mostly covered with mud, sand 
and gravel. The Bay derives its name from the circumstances 
here related.* 


By far the best account of this expedition that has come under 
the author's observation, is contained in Mante's History, already 
cited; a rare work, which but a small portion of our readers can 
have seen. From that source, mainly, our brief notice of it is 
derived. The expedition was the result of the war that Pontiac 
and his confederates had waged at the west, and was intended to 
over-awe the hostile Indians, recover the captured garrisons, and 
secure a general peace. Gen. Bradstreet, who had headed the 
successful expedition against Fort Frontenac, was the leader in this. 
His orders were to "give peace to all such nations of Indians as 
would sue for it, and chastise those who would continue in arms." 
The expedition, consisting of about twelve hundred troops, came 
from Albany to Oswego, where it was joined by a band of warriors 
of the Six Nations.! From Oswego it came by water, to Fort 
Niagara, where it halted and remained until Sir William Johnson, 
had perfected his treaty with the Senecas. Still distrustful of the 
Senecas, Lieut. Montressor had been ordered to throw up a 
chain of redoubts, from the landing place at the Four-mile-creek, 
to Schlosser, "in order to prevent any insults from the enemy, in 
transporting the provisions, stores and boats, from one lake to 
another, and likewise to erect a fort on the banks of Lake Erie, 
for the security of vessels employed upon it; and these services 
were effectually performed before the arrival of the army." J 

* Pieces of the wreck are now often procured, as relice of olden time. The author 
procured from one of them, during the last summer, an oak plank. The timber — 
after remaining 89 years under water, is sound, and when the water is dried out, is 
very hard, and susceptible of a fine polish. 

t It may not be generally known, even to those familiar with colonial history, that 
Israel Putnam, once trod the soil of Western New York. He was in the expedition 
of Bradstreet, a Lieut. Colonel of the Connecticut battalion, as the newspapers of that 
day clearly show. 

t This was the origin of Fort Erie. The author finds no authority for assuming (as 
some tourists and authors of Sketch Books have,) that the French ever had a post at 
that point. 


The army moved to Fort Schlosser on the 6th of August, 
when it halted until the 8th, for the arrival of an additional Indian 
force v^rhich was to accompany it. It consisted of three hundred 
Senecas, who, Mr. Mante says. Gen. Bradstreet ''thought him- 
self compelled to regard as spies, rather than employ them as 
auxiliaries." The aggregate force of the expedition now amounted 
to about three thousand. The army moved up the Niagara, to 
Fort Erie, and from thence, on the 10th, continued its route along 
the south side of the lake, agreeable to the instructions of Gen. 
Gage. In the morning of the 12th, while detained at TJlnse-Aux- 
Feuilles [Bay of Leaves]* by contrary winds, he received a depu- 
tation from the Shawnees, the Delawares, the Hurons of Sandusky 
and the Five Nations of the Sciota Plains, sueing for a peace; 
and in the evening he gave them an audience in the presence of 
the sachems, and other chiefs of the Indians who accompanied him. 
These Indians made excuses for hostile conduct, and begged for- 
giveness, which Gen. Bradstreet granted, and proceeded to 
Detroit, where he held other conferences. On his way up he had 
burned the Indian corn-fields and villages at Sandusky, and along the 
Maumee, and dispersed the Indians whereever he had found them. 
The confederates of Pontiac, with the exception of the Delawares 
and Shawnees, finding they could not successfully compete with 
such a force, laid down their arms, and concluded a treaty of peace. 

Pontiac, sullenly, stood aloof from the negotiations. He went 
to Illinois, yielding none but a tacit aquiescence to measures of 
necessity, in which he clearly foresaw the dispersion and gradual 
extinction of his race, which has followed the events we have been 
narrating. He was assassinated by a Peoria Indian. The Ottawas, 
the Pottawottamies, and the Chippewas, made common cause in 
avenging his death, by waging war, and nearly exterminating the 
tribes of the murderer. "The living marble and the glowing 
canvass may not embody his works; but they are identified with 
the soil of the western forest, and will live as long as the 
remembrance of its aboriginal inhabitants, the Algonquin race." t 

*Maumee Bay. 

t Lanman's History of Michigan. 




A primitive glimpse of the western portion of this state, has 
been reserved for insertion here, — though not in its order of time. 
It is by far the earliest notice, of any considerable detail, which 
we derive from English sources; if in fact it is not the earhest 
record of any English advent to our region. The author is 
disposed to conclude that the writer was the first Englishman that 
saw the country west of the lower valley of the Mohawk. His 
advent M^as but three years after the English took final possession 
of the Province of New York, and ten years previous to the 
expedition of De Nonville. It is taken from " Chalmer's Political 
Jlnnals of the United Colonies,^^ a work published in London, in 
1780: — 


"In a journey from Albany to the Indians westward, \_the Five Nations,'] — begun the 
28fA of May, 1677, and ended the I4th qf July following. * 

[Note. — What is said of the " Maquas, (Mohawks,) Oneydoes, Onondagoes, and 
Cayugas," is omitted, and the journal commences wtth the Senecas.] 

''The Senecas have four towns, viz: — Canagorah, Tistehatan, 
Canoenada, Keint-he. Canagorah and Tistehatan lie within thirty 
miles of the Lake Frontenac; the other two about four or five 
miles to the southward of these; they have abundance of corn. 
None of their towns are stockadoed. 

"Canagorah lies on the top of a great hill, and, in that as well as 
in the bigness, much like Onondagoe, [which is described as ' situ- 
ated on a hill that is very large, the bank on each side extending 
itself at least two miles, all cleared lands, whereon the corn is 
planted,'] containing 150 houses, north-westward of Cayuga 72 

* Mr. Chalmers purports to derive the journal " from New York papers " meaning 
as is presumed, the manuscripts of the New York " Board of Trade." 


''Here the Indians were very desirous to see us ride our horses, 
which we did. They made feasts and dancing, and invited us, 
that, when all the maids were together, both we and our Indians 
might choose such as liked us to lie with. 

"Tistehatan lies on the edge of a hill: not much cleared ground; 
is near the river Tistehatan, which signifies bending.* It lies to the 
northward of Canagorah about 30 miles; contains about 120 houses, 
being the largest of all the houses we saw; the ordinary being 50 
or 60 feet, and some 130 or 140 feet long, with 13 or 14 fires in 
one house. They have good store of corn growing about a mile 
to the northwai'd of the town. 

"Being at this place, on the 17th of June, there came 50 pris- 
oners from the south-westward, and they were of two nations; 
some whereof have a few guns, the other none. One nation is 
about ten days' journey from any Christians, and trade only with 
one great house,t not far from the sea; and the other, as they say, 
trade only with a black people. This day, of them were burnt 
two women and a man, and a child killed with a stone. At night 
we heard a great noise, as if the houses had all fallen; but it was 
only the inhabitants driving away the ghosts of the murdered. 

"The 18th, going to Canagorah, we overtook the prisoners. 
When the soldiers saw us, they stopped each his prisoner, and 
made him sing and cut off their fingers and slashed their bodies 
with a knife; and, when they had sung, each man confessed how 
many men he had killed. That day, at Canagorah, there were 
most cruelly burned four men, four women and one boy; the 
cruelty lasted about seven hours: when they were almost dead, 
letting them loose to the mercy of the boys, and taking the hearts 
of such as were dead to feast on. 

"Canoenada lies about 4 miles to the southward of Canagorah; 
contains about 30 houses, well furnished with corn. 

"Keint-he lies about 4 or 5 miles to the southward of Tiste- 
hatan ; contains about 24 houses, well furnished with corn. 

"The Senekas are counted to be in all about 1000 fighting men. 

" Whole force— Magas 300 

Oneydoes, 200 

Onondagoes, 350 

Cayugas, 300 

Senekas, 1000 

2150 fighting men."l: 

* The Tistehatan, or bending River, must refer to the Genesee. 

t Probably among the Swedes on the Delaware — Penn had not yet commenced his 

X "Among the manuscripts of Sir William Johnson, there is a census of the 
northern and western Indians, from the Hudson River to the great Lakes and the Mis- 
sissippi, taken in 1763. The Mohawk warriors were then only 160; the Oneidas 250; 
Tuscaroras, 140; Onondagas 150; Cayugas, 200; Senecas, 1050; total, 1950. Accord- 
ing to the calculation of a British agent, several of the tribes must have increased 
between the close of the French war and beginning of the American Revolution, as it 


'^Remark. — During the year 1685 an accurate account was 
taken by order of the Governor, of the people of Canada, [New 
France]; which amounted to 17,000, of whom three thousand 
were supposed to be able to carry arms. We may thence form a 
judgment with regard to the comparative strength of the two 
beligerent powers, whose wars were so long and destructive." — 
Chalmer^s Jlnnals. 

The Rev. Samuel Kirkland, whose name we have had occa- 
sion to introduce in connection with the antiquities of this region, 
left the mission station at Johnson's Hall, on the Mohawk, Jan. 
16th, 1765, in company with two Seneca Indians, upon a mission 
which embraced all the settlements of the Iroquois, travelling upon 
snow shoes, carrying "a pack containing his provisions, a few 
articles of clothing, and a few books, weighing in all about forty 
pounds." — Leaving the last vestige of civilization, (Johnson's Hall,) 
his only companions, two Indians with whom he had had but a 
short acquaintance, the young missionary shaped his course to the 
westward, encamping nights (with his two guides with whom he 
could hold no conversation except by signs,) beneath hemlock 
bows, and sleeping upon ground cleared from snow, for his tem- 
porary use. Arriving at Onondaga, the central council fire of the 
Iroquois, a message, from Sir William Johnson secured him a 
friendly reception. After remaining- there one day, the party left, 
and came on to Kanadasagea, the principal town of the Senecas. 
Halting at the skirts of the town, (a courtesy that his Mr. K.'s 
Indian guides told him by signs, was customary,) a messenger 
came out to enquire, "whence they came, whither they were going, 
and what was their desire." His guides replied: — "We are only 
bound to this place, and wish to be conducted to the house of 
the chief sachem." The embassy was conducted into the presence 
of the sachem, to whom, as at Onondaga, a message was delivered 
from Sir William Johnson. The reception was friendly, except 
with a few, "whose sullen countenances" Mr. K. says "he did not 

was computed that, during the latter contest, the EngHsh had in service, 300 Mohawks, 
150 Oneidas, '200 Tuscaroras, 300 Onondagas, 230 Cayugas, and 400 Senecas. 

Note. — There can be but little doubt that the four villages mentioned by Mr. 
Greonhalph, are those that were ten years afterwards destroyed by De Nonville. The 
over-estimate of distances, made by this early adventurer, may well be attributed to the 
al)s;ence of any means to ascertain them correctly. In the names, as given by De 
Nouville, and by Mr. Greenhalph, there is sufficient analogy to warrant the identity. 


quite like." The head sachem treated him with every kindness 
and attention, and it was after much deUberation and consul- 
tation among the Indians, determined that he should fix his resi- 
dence with them. Through a Dutch trader, who had preceded 
him, and located at Kanadasagea, he communicated freely with 
the Indians. A few weeks after his arrival, he was formally 
adopted as a member of the family of the head sachem. This 
adoption was attended with formalities — a council, speeches, &c. 
The council having assembled, '' the head sachem's family being 
present and sitting apart by themselves," Mr. Kirkland was 
waited upon and invited to attend. On his entrance, after a short 
silence, one of the chiefs spoke : — 

''Brothers, — open your ears and your eyes. You see here our 
white brother who has come from a great distance, recommended 
to us by our great chief, Sir Willia3i Johnson, who has enjoined 
it upon us to be kind to him, and to make him comfortable and 
protect him to the utmost of our power. He comes to do us good. 
Brothers, — this young white brother of ours, has left his father's 
house, and his mother, and all his relations, we must now provide 
for him a house, I am appointed to you and to our young white 
brother, that our head sachem adopts him into his family. He will 
be a father to him, and his wife will be a mother, and his sons and 
daughters, his brothers and sisters.^' 

The head sachem then rose, called him his son, and led him to 
his family. Mr. K. thanked him, and told him he hoped the Great 
Spirit would make him a blessing to his new relations. The 
zealous and enterprising young missionary, says in his journal: — 
"A smile of cheerfulness sat on every countenance, and I could 
not refrain from tears; tears of joy and gratitude for the kind 
Providence that had protected me through a long journey, brought 
me to the place of my desire, and given me so kind a reception 
among the poor savage Indians." 

Mr. K. applied himself diligently to learn the Seneca language, 
and by the help of two words, '■^ atkmjason" (what do you call 
this,) and ^^ sointaschnagati,^^ (speak it again,) he made rapid 
progress. He was made very comfortable and treated vei'y 

All things were going on well, but friendly relations were 
destined to an interruption. The missionary had been assigned a 
residence with an Indian family, whose head was a man of much 
influence with his people; — "sober, industrious, honest, and telling 


no lies." Unfortunately, in a few days after Mr. K. had become 
an inmate of his wigwam, he sickened and died. Such of the 
Senecas as were jealous of the new comer, seized upon the 
circumstance to create prejudice against him, even alledging that 
the death was occasioned by his magic, or if not, that it was an 
" intimation of the displeasure of the Great Spirit at his visit and 
residence among them, and that he must be put to death." Coun- 
cils were convened, there were days of deliberation, touching 
what disposition should be made of the missionary — the chief 
sachem proving his fast friend, and opposing all propositions to 
harm him. During the time, a Dutch trader, a Mr. Womp, on his 
way from Niagara east, stopped at Kanadaseaga, and he w^as the 
only medium through which Mr. K. could learn from day to day, 
the deliberations of the council. At length his friend, the sachem, 
informed him joyfully, that " all was peace." 

Some proceedings of the Council afterwards transpired, that 
Mr. Kirkland was enabled to preserve in his journal. It was 
opened by an address from the chief sachem: — 

"Brothers, — this is a dark day to us; a heavy cloud has 
gathered over us. The cheering rays of the sun are obscured; 
the dim, faint light of the moon sympathises with us. A great and 
awakening event has called us together, the sudden death of one 
of our best men; a great breach is made in our Councils, a living 
example of peace, sobriety and industry, is taken from us. Our 
whole town mourns, for a good man is gone. He is dead. Our 
white brother had lived with him a few days. Our white brother 
is a good young man. He loves Indians. He comes recom- 
mended to us by Sir William Johnson, who is commis- 
sioned by the great king beyond the waters to be our super- 
intendent. Brothers, attend! The Great Spirit has supreme 
power over life. He, the upholder of the skies, has most certainly 
brought about this solemn event by his will, and without any other 
help, or second cause. Brothers, let us deliberate wisely; let us 
determine with great caution. Let us take counsel under our 
great loss, with a tender mind. This is the best medicine and was 
the way of our fathers." 

A long silence ensued, which was broken by a chief of great 
influence, who was ambitious of supreme control. He made a 
long and inflammatory harrangue against the missionary. Among 
other things, he said: — 

" This white skin, whom we call our brother, has come upon a 


dark design, or he would not have travelled so many hundred 
miles. He brings with him the white people' s Book. They call it 
God's Holy Book. Brothers attend! You know this book was 
never made for Indians. The Great Spirit gave us a book for 
ourselves. He wrote it in our heads. He put it into the minds of 
our fathers, and gave them rules about worshipping him; and our 
fathers strictly observed these rules, and the Upholder of the skies 
was pleased, and gave them success in hunting, and made them victo- 
rious over their enemies in war. Brothers attend! Be assured that 
if we Senecas receive this white man, and attend to the Book made 
solely for white people, we shall become miserable. We shall soon 
loose the spirit of true men. The spirit of the brave warrior and 
the good hunter will be no more with us. We shall be sunk so low 
as to hoe corn and squashes in the field, chop wood, stoop down 
and milk cows, like the negroes among the Dutch people.* 
Brothers, hear me! I am in earnest, because I love my nation, and 
the customs and practices of our fathers; and they enjoyed pleasant 
and prosperous days. If we permit this white skin to remain 
among us, and finally embrace what is written in his book, it will be 
the complete subversion of our national character, as true men. 
Our ancient customs, our religious feasts and offerings, all that our 
fathers so strictly observed, wilb be gone. Of this are we not 
warned by the sudden death of our good brother and wise sachem? 
Does not the Upholder of the skies, plainly say to us in this: — 
'Hear, attend, ye Senecas! Behold, I have taken one, or per- 
mitted one to be taken from among you in an extraordinary 
manner, which you cannot account for, and thereby to save the 
nation?' Brothers, listen to what I say. Ought not this white 
man's life to make satisfaction for our deceased brother's death?" 

A long discussion and investigation followed. Mr. Kirkland's 
papers were carried to the council house and examined; the widow 

* The Indian orator, had probably been to Schenectady and Albany, and observed the 
slaves among the Dutch. 

Note. — The author derives this account of the primitive advent of a protestant 
missionary among the Senecas, from Spark's American Biography. The name of the 
chief sachem of Kanadasegea — Mr. Kirkland's adopted father, and friend — does not 
transpire. The chief who so eloquently spoke for his nation, and ingeniously wrought 
upon the jealousy and superstition of the council, was Onoongwandeka. The speeches 
are given, (as is what else transpired at the time,) as communicated to Mr. Kirkland 
by Mr. Womp. The reader will bear in mind that in this case, as well as in all reports 
of the speeches of uneducated Indians, the reporters, have but caught the ideas of the 
native orators, and substituted their own manner of expression. An eloquent idea — 
a beautiful figure of speech — can of course, only be faithfully reported, in corresponding 
words and sentences. For instance, we are not to suppose that the Seneca sachem 
said: — "the dim faint light of the moon sympathises with us," but he did probably 
make use of a beautiful figure of speech that justified Mr. Kirkland, in such an. 



of the deceased was questioned: — she gave a good account of the 
"young white brother," said "he was always cheerful and pleasant, 
and they had began to love him much." Said one of the opponents 
of Mr. K., "did he never come to your husband's bed-side and 
whisper in his ears, or puff in his facel" "No, never, he always 
sat, or lay down, on his own bunk, and in the evening after we 
were in bed, we would see him get down upon his knees and talk 
with a low voice." This testimony, and the closing speech of the 
head sachem, brought matters to a favorable issue. The speech 
was an able reply to Onoongwandeka — not in opposition to his 
views, as to the effect generally of admitting the white man and 
his Book, but generally, in reference to the witchcraft and sorcery 
charged upon Mr. Kirkland, in connection with the sudden death 
of his host. The speech bore down all opposition, and was followed 
by shouts, and applause, in which only fifteen refused to participate. 
The chief sachem said, "our business is done. 1 rake up the 
council fire." 

After this, Mr. Kirkland "lived in great harmony, friendship 
and sociability." Another trouble ensued in the shape of a famine. 
The corn crop for the year previous, had been short, and game 
was scarce at that season of the year, (March.) He wrote to a 
friend that he had " sold a shirt for four Indian cakes, baked in the 
ashes, which he could have devoured at one meal, but on the score 
of prudence had ate only one." He lived for days, on "white oak 
acorns, fried in bear's giease." He gives a long detail of 
suffering and privation, as severe as any of his Jesuit predecessors 
had endured; which terminated in making a return journey through 
the wilderness to Johnson Hall, where he procured a supply of 

Mr. Kirkland was a missionary among the Six Nations, for eight 
years previous to the Revolution; during that struggle he was 
useful in diverting some portions of them from adhering to the 
British interests; and his name and services are often blended in 
the Indian treaties that followed after the war, and resulted in the 
extinguishment of their title to lands in Western New York. In 
these latter connections, frequent reference to him will occur in 
subsequent pages. 



Established at Onondaga in 1655. 

Dablon, a Jesuit, established himself in 1655 on or near the 
spot where Salina now stands.* The same year he was joined by 
Sieur Dupuys, an officer from the garrison at Quebec, with fifty 
Frenchmen. The enterprise was encouraged by the Superior 
General of the Catholic Missions, who was desirous of establishing 
at this central Iroquois canton a permanent missionary establish- 
ment. It was favored by the Onondagas, but encountered the 
hostility of the Mohawks from its first inception. They attacked 
the party of Dupuys on its way up the St. Lawrence, but were 

The reception of the party, on their arrival at their destination, 
was cordial and hospitable. Father Merceir, (the Superior 
General,) had accompanied the expedition, and he spared no pains 
to give the arrival an imposing appearance, impress the natives 
with awe and veneration for the religion he wished to introduce, 
and win their friendly regards. Dwellings were erected, and for 
nearly two years, the establishment prospered. 

At length a conspiracy which extended itself through the Iroquois 
cantons, was formed against them. Dupuys, was kept advised of 
all that was transpiring, by friendly Indians. Deliberating whether 
he would fortify himself and sustain a siege, or retreat to Quebec, 
he resolved on the latter. 

" To effect his escape M. Dupuys required first to construct some 
canoes, for they had not taken the precaution to reserve any. But 
to work at them publicly would be to announce his retreat, and 
thereby render it impossible. Something must be resolved on 
immediately, and the commandant adopted the following plan. He 
immediately sent an express to M. D' Aillebout to inform him of 
the conspiracy. He then gave orders for the construction of some 
small light batteaux; and to prevent the Iroquois from getting the 
wind of it, he made his people work in the garret of the Jesuit's 
house, which was larger and more retired than the others, 

" This done, he warned all his people to hold themselves in 
readiness to depart on the day which he named to them, and he 
supplied each one with provisions sufficient for the voyage, and 
charged them to do nothing in the mean time to excite the suspi- 
cions of the Iroquois. It only remained now to concert measures 
for embarking so secretely that the savages should have no knowl- 

* Barber and Howe's Historical Collections. 


edge of their retreat until they should have advanced so far as not 
to fear pursuit, and this they accomplished by a stratagem singular 

"A certain young Frenchman who had acquired great influence 
with the Indians, had been adopted into one of their most respect- 
able families. According to the custom of the Indians, whoever 
was adopted by them became entitled to all the privileges that 
belonged to native members of the families. This young man went 
one day to his adopted father, and told him that he had on the 
night before dreamed of one of those feasts where the guests eat 
every thing that is served, and that he desired to have one of the 
kind made for the village; and he added, that it was deeply 
impressed upon his mind he should die if a single thing were 
wanting to render the feast just such a one as he described. The 
Indian gravely replied that he should be exceedingly sorry to have 
him die, and would therefore order the repast himself and take 
care to make the invitations, and he assured him that nothing 
should be wanting to render the entertainment every way such an 
one as he wished. The young man having obtained these assu- 
rances, appointed for his feast the 19th of March, which was the 
day fixed upon for the departure of the French. All the provis- 
ions which the families through the village could spare were 
contributed for the feast, and all the Indians were invited to attend. 

"The entertainment began in the evening, and to give the 
French an opportunity to put their boats into the water and to load 
them for the voyage without being observed, the drums and trumpets 
ceased not to sound around the scene of festivity. 

"The boats having now been launched and every thing put in 
readiness for a departure, the young man, at the signal agreed 
upon, went to his adopted father and said to him, that he pitied the 
guests, who had for the most part asked quarter, that they might 
cease eating, and give themselves to repose, and adding, that he 
meant to procure for every one a good night's sleep. He began 
playing on the guitar, and in less than a quarter of an hour every 
Indian was laid soundly to sleep. The young Frenchman immedi- 
ately sallied forth to join his companions, who were ready at the 
instant to push from the shore. 

"The next morning a number of Indians went, according to 
their custom on awaking, to see the French, and found all the 
doors of their houses shut and locked. This strange circumstance, 
joined to the profound silence which everywhere reigned through 
the French settlement, surprised them. They imagined at first 
that the French were saying mass, or that they were in secret 
council; but after having in vain waited for many hours to have 
the mystery solved, they went and knocked at some of the doors. 
The dogs who had been left in the houses replied to them by bark- 
ing. They perceived some fowls also through the pahngs, but no 
person could be seen or heard. At length, having waited until 


evening, they forced open the doors, and to their utter astonishment 
found every house empty.* 

Previous to the Revolution, white settlement did not advance 
beyond the lower Mohawk valley. The period of the early 
settlement of Schenectady will have been noticed. 

The pioneer emigrants, that began the march of civilization and 
improvement, west of Schenectady, were as the Plymouth colonists 
of New England, refugees for the sake of religion and conscience. 
"Early in the eighteenth century, near three thousand German 
Palatines emigrated to this country under the patronage of Queen 
Anne; most of them settled in Pennsylvania; a few made their way 
from Albany, in 1713, over the Helleberg, to Schoharie creek, and 
under the most discouraging circumstances, succeeded in effecting 
a settlement upon the rich alluvial lands bordering upon that 
stream. Small colonies from here and from Albany, and Sche- 
nectady, established themselves in various places along the Mohawk, 
and in 1722, had extended as far up as the German Flats, near 
where stands the village of Herkimer; but all the inhabitants were 
found in the neighborhood of those streams; none had ventured out 
in that unbroken wilderness, which lay to the south and west of 
these settlements." f 

This branch of the emigrating Palatines, (there were three 
thousand, in all, that arrived in New York,) consisted of about 
seven hundred persons. Their location, "began on the little 
Schoharie kill, in the town of Middleburg, at the high water mark 
of the Schoharie river, at an oak stump burned hollow, which is 
said to have served the Mohegan and Stockbridge Indians, the 
purposes of a corn-mill; and ran down the river to the north, 
taking in the flats on both sides of the same, a distance of eight or 
ten miles, containing twenty thousand acres." | They settled in 
Indian villages, or dorfs, under the direction of seven individuals, 
as captains, or commissaries. As these were primitive adventurers, 
in this direction — and as their names are associated intimately, 
with early times; and even now are blended with almost every 
reference to the valley of the Mohawk, and especially "Old 

* Manuscript history, of the Rev. J. W. Adams, Syracuse. 

t Campbell's Annals of Tiyon County. 

t Simm's History of Schoharie and the Border Wars. 


Schoharie," — the author inserts such of them as he finds in Mr. 
Simm's history: — There were the Keysers, Boucks, Rickards, 
Rightmyers, Warners, Weavers, Zimmers, Mathers, Zeks, Bellin- 
gers, Borsts, Schoolcrafts, Kryslers, Casselmans, Newkirks, Ear- 
harts, Browns, Merkleys, Foxes, Berkers, Balls, Weidhams, Deitzs, 
Manns, Garlocks, Sternbergs, Kneiskerns, Stubrachs, Endorses, 
Sidneys, Bergs, Houcks, Hartmans, Smidtz, Lawyers. 

Their lands were granted them by the Queen, as were provisions, 
while emigrating; but after leaving Albany they had to depend 
upon their own resources, and they were as few perhaps as were 
ever possessed by any forest pioneers, in the settlement of a new 
country. Upon game, ground-nuts, fish, and a Uttle grain they 
could procure by going on foot to Schenectady, pursuing an Indian 
path, they contrived to subsist for the first year, when getting a 
little ground cleared, they managed to raise some wheat and corn, 
without any ploughs or teams to use them with. They raised the 
first wheat in 1711. It was cultivated with the hoe, like corn. 
For several years, when going to Schenectady to mill, or upon 
other errands, they went in large parties, as a precaution against 
the attacks of wild beasts. 

In 1735, small settlements of Germans had been made at 
Canajoharie and Stone Arabia. 

In 1739, a Scotchman by the name of Lindsay, who had 
obtained by assignment from three other partners, a tract of 8000 
acres of land, which is embraced in the town and village of Cherry 
Valley, became a resident there. His family consisted of his wife 
and father-in-law, a Mr. Congreve, and a few domestics. His 
location was named '' Lindsay's Bush." The proprietor cultivated 
the friendship of the Indians. His nearest white neighbors, were 
fifteen miles off, upon the Mohawk, and he had no way of 
approaching it except by a difficult Indian trail. He was a Scotch 
gentleman; — a taste for the romantic — a fondness for the chase, 
which was fully gratified by abundance of wild game in that 
region, had prompted him to adopt a back-woods life; but he 
soon began to experience some of its hardships. The snow fell 
to a great depth in the winter of 1740, — he was short of provi- 
sions, and could not get to the settlements for a supply. He was 
relieved by a friendly Indian, who making his journeys on snow 
shoes, obtained food for him and his house-hold, for the winter. 
In 1741 he was joined by the Rev. Samuel Dunlop, David Ramsay, 


Willam Gait, James Campbell, William Dickinson, and one or two 
others, with their families; in all about thirty persons. In 1744, 
they had a grist and saw-mill, and an increasing, flourishing settle- 
ment. It was however harrassed, during the French and English 
war, by some portions of the Six Nations, in the French interests. 
Its inhabitants were frequently, during the war, called out to defend 
the northern frontiers. This was the germ of the settlement of a 
large district of country, which in our early histories, was included 
under the name of Cherry Valley. 


The year 1740, is signalized by the advent upon the Mohawk, 
of one who was destined to exercise an important influence, and 
occupy a conspicuous place in our colonial history. Sir William 
Johnson was a native of Ireland. He left his native country in 
consequence of the unfavorable issue of a love affair. His uncle, 
Sir Peter Warren, an Admiral in the English navy, owned by 
government grant, a large tract of land — 15,000 acres — within 
the present town of Florida, Montgomery county. Young John- 
son became his agent, and located himself in the year above 
named, at Warren's Bush, a few miles from the present village of 
Port Jackson. He now began that intercourse with the Indians 
which was to prove so beneficial to the English, in the last French 
war that soon followed, the influences of which were to be so 
prejudicial to the colonial interests, in the war of the Revolu- 
tion. He made himself famiUar with their language, spoke it with 
ease and fluency; watched their habits and pecuUarities; studied 
their manners, and by his mildness and prudence, gained their favor 
and confidence, and an unrivalled ascendancy over them. In all 
important matters he was generally consulted by them, and his 
advice followed. In 1755, he was entrusted with a command in 
the provincial service of New York. He marched against Crown 
Point, and after the repulse of Col. Williams, he defeated and 
took DiESKU prisioner. For this service the Parliament voted him 
five thousand pounds, and the King made him a Baronet. The 
reader will have noticed his effective agency in keeping the Six 
Nations in the Englisja interests, and his military achievement at 

From the following notice, which appeared in a contemporary 



publication — the London Gentleman's Magazine, for September, 
1755 — it will be seen how well adapted he was to the peculiar 
offices and agencies that devolved upon him. It is an extract of a 
journal written in this country: — 

''Major General Johnson (an Irish gentleman,) is universally 
esteemed in our parts, for the part he sustains. Besides his skill 
and experience as an officer, he is particularly happy in making 
himself beloved by all sorts of people, and can conform to all 
companies and conversations. He is very much of the fine gentle- 
man in genteel company. But as the inhabitants next him are 
mostly Dutch, he sits down with them and smokes his tobacco, 
drinks flip, and talks of improvements, bear and beaver skins. 
Being surrounded with Indians, he speaks several of their lan- 
guages well, and has always some of them with him. His house 
is a safe and hospitable retreat for them from the enemjj. He 
takes care of their wives and children when they go out on 
parties, and even wears their dress. In short, by his honest 
dealings with them in trade, and his courage, which has often been 
successfully tried with them and his courteous behaviour, he has 
so endeared himself to them, that they chose him one of their 
chief sachems or princes, and esteem him as their common father." 

Miss Eleanor Wallaslous, a fair and comely Dutch girl, who 
had been sold to limited service in New York, to pay her passage 
across the ocean, to one of his neighbors, soon supplied the place 
of the fair one in Ireland, whose fickleness had been the means of 
impelling him to new scenes and associations in the back-woods of 
America. Although taking her to his bed and board, and for a 
long period acknowledging her as his wife, he was never married 
to her until she was upon her death-bed, a measure necessary to 
legitimatize his three children, who afterwards became, Sir John 
Johnson, Mrs. Guy Johnson, and Mrs. Col. Glaus. His next 
wife, was Molly Brant, sister of the conspicuous chieftain of that 
name. He was mai'ried to her a few years before his death, for 
the same purpose that was consummated in the previous instance. 

Golden says of Sir William, that "he dressed himself after the 
Indian manner, made frequent dances after their customs when they 
excite to war, and used all the means he could think of, at a con- 
siderable expense, to engage them in a war against Canada." 

The liberal patronage of the English government, and the 
facility with which he could procure grants of the Indians, made 
him an extensive land-holder. He obtained one grant, in a manner 


which has made it the subject of a familiar anecdote, from Hen- 
DRicK, a Mohawk chief, of one hundred thousand acres, situated in 
the now county of Herkimer. He had before his death laid the 
foundation of perhaps as large an individual landed estate, as was 
ever possessed in this country. His heirs, taking sides against the 
colonies, in the Revolution, at its close, the whole estate was 

The Johnson family are so mingled with our early colonial 
history, and the border wars of the Revolution, that most readers 
will be familiar with a subject that has been introduced here, only 
to assist in giving a brief sketch of the progress of settlement 
west of the Hudson previous to the Revolution; and to aid a clear 
understanding of some local events in that contest. 

Sir William Johnson died on the 24th of June, 1774 — having 
for nearly thirty-five years, exercised an almost one man power, 
not only in his own immediate domain, but far beyond it. In his 
character were blended many sterling virtues, with vices that are 
perhaps to be attributed in a greater degree to the freedom of a 
back- woods life, — the absence of the restraints which the ordi- 
nances of civilization imposes, — than to radical defects. His 
talents, it must be inferred, were of a high order; his achievements 
at Niagara alone, would entitle him to the character of a brave 
and skillful military commander; and in the absence of amiable 
social qualities, he could hardly have gained so strong a hold upon 
the confidence and respect of the Six Nations, as we see he 
maintained up to the period of his death. 

He died just as the great struggle of the colonies commenced. 
Had he lived to have participated in it he would probably have 
been found on the side of the mother country. In his case, to the 
ordinary, obligations of loyality, were added those of gratitude for 
high favors and patronage. Though it has been inferred that in 
anticipation of the crisis that was approaching, he was somewhat 
wavering in his purposes. Mr. Simms, the local historian of the 
Mohawk Valley, upon information derived from those who lived at 
that period, and in the vicinity, favors the conclusion that he died 
by his own hand, to escape a participation in the struggle, which 
his position must have forced upon him: — "As the cloud of colo- 
nial difficulty was spreading from the capital of New England to 
the frontier English settlements. Sir William Johnson was urged 
by the British crown, to take sides with the parent country. He 


had been taken from comparative obscurity, and promoted by the 
government of England, to honors and wealth. Many wealthy 
and influential friends around him were already numbered among 
the advocates of civil liberty. Should he raise his arm against 
that power that had thus signally honored him? Should he take 
sides with the oppressor against many of his tried friends in many 
perilous adventures'? These were serious questions, as we may 
reasonably suppose, which often occupied his mind. The Baronet 
declared to several of his friends, as the storm of civil discord was 
gathering, that 'England and her colonies were approaching a 
terrible war, but that he should never live to witness itJ * At the 
time of his death, a court was sitting at Johnstown, and while in 
the court-room on the afternoon of the day of his death, a 
package from England of a political nature was handed him. 
He left the court-house, went directly home, and in a few hours 
was a corpse." 

While it must remain perhaps, a subject of speculation how Sir 
William Johnson would have used his powerful influence, had he 
lived, it is quite certain that it would not have been as hurtful 
to the colonies, as that portion of it was, which was inherited, with 
his title, by his son and son-in-law. While they were not his equals 
in talent — had not many of the good qualities he possessed — they 
used the influence that he transmitted to them in a manner that we 
are justified in inferring, it would not have been used, had he lived 
to exercise it. 

Sir William was succeeded in his titles and estate, by his son Sir 
John Johnson; his authority as General Superintendent of Indian 
AflEairs, fell into the hands of Col. Guy Johnson, his son-in-law, 
who had long been his assistant, as deputy; in which office he was 
assisted by Ool. Daniel Glaus, who had married another daughter 
of the Baronet. 

Before the close of the French and English war, small settle- 
ments were begun in the neighborhood of the colony commenced 
by Mr. Lindsay. Previous to the American Revolution, a family 
of Harpers, distinguished in that contest, had left Cherry Valley 
and commenced a settlement at Harpersfield, Delaware county. 

* Col. Stone, in his life of Brant, rejects the inference that Sir William committed 
suicide; or that he was embarrassed in reference to the course he should pursue. He 
says, he " visited England for the last time iu the autumn of 1773, returning the next 
spring. He probably came back with his loyal feelings somewhat strengthened." 


The Rev. William Johnson had succeeded in planting a flour- 
ishing Uttle colony, on the east side of the Susquehannah, a short 
distance below the forks of the Unadilla, and several families were 
scattered through Springfield, Middlefield, (then called New-Town 
Martin,) and Laurens and Otego, called Old England District. In 
the year 1716, Philip Groat, made a purchase of land in the 
present town of Amsterdam. He was drowned in removing his 
family to his new home. His widow and her three sons made the 
intended settlement. They erected a grist mill at what is now 
called Crane's Village, in 1730. One of the brothers, Lewis 
Groat, was captured by the Indians in the French and English 
war, and kept in captivity four years. In this war, these primi- 
tive settlers upon the Mohawk were often visited by the French 
Indian allies, and had a foretaste of the horrid scenes that were 
to follow, in a few years. The valley of the Mohawk was the 
theatre of martyrdom and suffering, in two wars. 

In the year 1740 a small colony of Irish emigrants, located in 
the present town of Glen. The Indian disturbances alarmed them, 
and after a few years they returned to Ireland. 

Giles Fonda was the first merchant west of Schenectady. 
His customers were the few settlers upon the Mohawk, and the 
Indians of the Six Nations. He had branches, or depots, at Forts 
Schuyler, Stanwix, Oswego, Niagara and Schlosser. His prin- 
cipal business was to exchange blankets, trinkets, ammunition and 
rum for furs, peltries, and ginseng. 

A church was erected at Caughnawaga, partly under the patron- 
age of Sir William Johnson, in 1765. Churches were erected 
at Stone Arabia, Palatine and German Flats, before the Revolu- 
tion. At an early period a small church was constructed of wood, 
near the Upper Mohawk Castle. A bell that was in use then, was 
brought away by the Mohawks, in their flight westward, and was 
used in the temporary Mohawk settlement at Lewiston. UC/^ See 
John Mountpleasant's account of the church, bell, &c. 

Toward the close of the French war, the public debt of the 
Province of New York, obliged a resort to a direct tax. The 
amount levied upon the inhabitants of the "Mohawk Valley,*' 
which designation then embraced the whole State west of Albany, 
was £242,176. 

In 1772, three years previous to the Revolution, Try on county 


was taken from Albany.* It embraced all the present state of 
New York, west of a line drawn north and south nearly through 
the center of Schoharie county. It was divided into five districts. 
The first court of ^'general quarter sessions of the peace,''' was held 
in Johnstown, Sept. 8th, 1772. The Bench consisted of 

Guy Johnson, Judge. 
John Butler, Peter Conyne, Judges. 

Sir John Johnson, Knight, Daniel Claus, John Wells, Jelles Fonda, Asst. Judges. 
John Collins, Joseph Chew, Adam Loucks, John Fry, Francis Young, Peter Ten 
Broek, Justices. 

A glimpse has thus been furnished the reader, of the condition 
of things, in the county of Tryon, preceding a crisis which was 
to make it the theatre of sanguinary scenes; its few and scattered 
inhabitants, sufferers, and not unfrequently martyrs, in the harass- 
ing border war that came upon them to multiply three fold the 
ordinary endurances of the pioneers of the wilderness. f 

* Named in honor of William TryOn, then Governor of the Province, 

t " The population of Cherry Valley was short of three hundred, and that of the whole 
county of Tryon but a few thousand, when the Revolution commenced."' — Campbell's 
Annals. ' 




In the condition of settlement that has been briefly stated, the 
reader will perceive that all Western New York could have had 
but a remote connexion with the long and eventful struggle that 
ended in a separation of the colonies, and the blessings of a free 
and independent government. While the author has presumed in 
his preceding pages, that there was much of early colonial history, 
having a distinct local relation, with which most of those into 
whose hands his work will fall were not familiar, he will not regard 
it necessary to embrace any portion of a general history — the 
causes and prominent events of the Revolution — which is as 
"familiar as house-hold words," with his readers — formed a por- 
tion of their nursery tales, and are incorporated with the rudiments 
of our primary schools. 

Foremost in its loyalty, effeclive and vigilant in its services, in 
the French war that had closed by the triumph of the English 
arms, — the province of New York was not backward in prepara- 
tions for asserting its rights, when the period arrived in which 
England, proud of her colonial possessions, but oppressive in its 
government of them, provoked resistance to its unjust requirements. 
"During the long and harrassing French wars, her levies both of 
men and money, considering her population and resources, were 
immense. Her territory was the principal scene of action, and she 
seconded with all her powers the measures adopted by the English 
to destroy the French influence in America." * But loyalty, 
faithful and enduring as it had been, began to be forfeited, and 
the Province of New York was early in so regarding it. 

Its resistance to the stamp act in 1765, paved the way for the 
convening of a congress in New York, the same year. 

* Annals of Trj-on County. 


A public meeting of citizens of Palatine district, in Tryon 
county, was assembled as early as August, 1774. The Boston Port 
Bill had gone into operation in the preceding June. The resolutions 
of that meeting declared unaltered and determined allegiance to 
the British crown, but strenuously remonstrated against an act 
which it regarded as "oppressive and arbitrary," and "subversive 
of the rights of English subjects." The meeting approved of a 
pi-evious act of their brethren in New York, in sending five 
delegates to the approaching congress in Philadelphia; and 
appointed a committee of correspondence, consisting of five persons, 
to correspond with committees of Albany and ]>(ew York. 

The ball thus put in motion, its progress was retarded by all the 
influence of the Johnson family and their adherents. In the spring 
of 1775, after the proceedings of the Philadelphia congress had 
been promulgated, during the session of a court at Johnstown, a 
declaration was drawn up and circulated by the loyalists of Tryon 
county, opposing the proceedings of that congress. It occasioned 
much altercation, but was finally signed by most of the grand 
iury, and nearly all the magistrates. Pubhc meetings soon 
followed in most of the districts of the county, in opposition to the 
sentiments expressed in the Johnstown declaration. On a day 
appointed, the little church at Cherry Valley, was crowded with 
all ages and sexes. Thomas Spencer, an Indian interpreter, 
addressed the meeting in a strain of "rude, though impassioned 
eloquence." * Articles of association were adopted at this and at 
similar district meetings, approving the proceedings of the Philadel- 
phia congress, and declaring that the Johnstown proceeding was a 
measure which would assist to "entail slavery upon America." 
On the 8th of May, the Palatine committee, wrote a letter to the 
Albany committee, in which they say that they are busy in 
circulating petitions, and enlisting the citizens of Tryon county, on 
the side of the colonies, but they say: — 

"This county has for a series of years been ruled by one 
family, the different branches of which are still strenuous in 
persuading people not to come into congressional measures; and 
even have, last week, at a numerous meeting of the Mohawk 
District, appeared with all their dependents armed, to oppose the 

•Mr. Campbell says:— "The noblest efforts of an Henry and an Otis, never 
wrought more sensibly upon the feelings of the congresses they addressed, than did the 
harangue of this unlettered patriot, upon that little assembly." 


people considering of their grievances: — their number being so 
large, and the people unarmed, struck terror into the most of them, 
and they dispersed. We are informed that Johnson Hall is forti- 
fying by placing swivel guns around the same, and that Col. 
Johnson has had part of his regiment of militia under arms, 
yesterday, no doubt with the design to prevent the friends of 
liberty from publishing their attachment to the cause, to the world. 
Besides which, we are told, that about an hundred Highlanders, 
(Roman Catholics,) are armed, and ready to march upon the like 
occasion. We are informed that Col. Johnson, has stopped two 
New Englanders, and searched them, being as we suppose, suspi- 
cious that they came to solicit aid from us or the Indians, whom 
we dread most, there being a current report through the county, 
that they are to be made use of in keeping us in awe. We 
recommend it strongly and seriously to you to take it in your 
consideration, whether any powder and ammunition, ought to be 
permitted to be sent up this way, unless it is done under the 
inspection of the committee, and consigned to the committee here, 
and for such particular shop-keepers, as we in our next shall 
acquaint you. We are determined to suffer none in our district, to 
sell any, but such as we approve of, and sign the association. 
When any thing particular comes to our knowledge relating to the 
Indians, (whom we shall watch), or anything interesting, we shall 
take the earliest opportunity in communicating the same to you. 
And as we are a young county, remote from the metropolis, we 
beg you will give as all the intelligence in your power. We shall 
not be able to send down any deputies to the Provincial Congress, 
as we cannot possibly obtain the sense of the county soon enough 
to make it worth our while to send any, but be assured we are not 
the less attached to American liberty. For we are determined, 
although few in number, to let the world see who are, and who 
are not such; and to wipe off" the indelible disgrace brought upon 
us by the declaration signed by our grand jury, and some of our 
magistrates; who in general, are considered by a majority of our 
county, as enemies to their country. In a word, gentlemen, it is 
our fixed resolution to support, and carry into execution every 
thing recommended by the Continental Congress, and to be free 


At the next meeting of the Palatine Committee, in the same 
month, two intercepted letters were read. The first, was a letter 
from the Mohawk, to the Oneida Indians. Translated into English, 
it was as follows: — 

" Written at Gut Johnson's, May 1775. This is your letter, you great ones, or 
Sachems. Guy Johnson says he will be glad if you get this intelligence, you Oneidas, 
how it goes with him now, and he is now more certain concerning the intention of the 
Boston people. Guy Johnson is in great fear of being taken prisoner by the Boston 


people. We Mohawks are obliged to watch him constantly. Therefore we send you 
this intelligence, that you shall know it, and Guy Johnson assures himself and depends 
upon vour coming to his assistance, and that you will without fail be of that opinion. 
He believes not that you will assent to let him suffer. We therefore expect you in a 
couple of day's time. So much at present. We send but so far as to you Oneidas, 
but afterwards perhaps, to all the other nations. We conclude, and expect that you 
will have concern about our ruler, Guy Johnson, because we are all united." 

The letter was signed by Joseph Brant as Secretary to Guy 

Johnson, and by four other chiefs. The other letter was from 

Guy Johnson to the magistrates and others, of the upper districts 

of Try on county: — 

" Guy Park, May 20, 1775. 
Gentlemen, — I have lately, repeated accounts, that a body of New Englanders, or 
others, were to come and seize, and carry away my person, and attack our family, under 
color of malicious insinuations that I intended to set the Indians upon the people. 
Men of sense and character know that my office is of the highest importance to pro- 
mote peace among the Six Nations, and prevent their entering into any such disputes. 
This I effected last year, when they were much vexed about the attack on the Shawnees, 
and I last winter appointed them to meet me this month, to receive the answer of the 
Virginians. All men must allow that if the Indians find their council fire disturbed, 
and their superintendent insulted, they will take a dreadful revenge. It is therefore the 
duty of all the people to prevent this, and to satisfy any who may have been imposed 
upon, that their suspicions, and allegations, they have collected against me, are false, 
and inconsistent with my character and office. I recommend this to you as highly 
necessary at this time, as my regard for the interests of the countiy and self preservation, 
has obliged me to fortify my house, and keep men armed for my defence, till these idle 
and malicious reports are removed." 

Upon the reading of these letters, the Committee adopted a set 
of strong resolutions confirming their former positions, and severely 
condemning the conduct of Sir Guy, in keeping about him a body 
of armed Indians, fortifying his house, and "stopping and search- 
ing travellers upon the King's highway." It was resolved, — " That 
as we abhor a state of slavery, we do join and unite together, 
under all the ties of religion, honor, justice, and a love for our 
country, never to become slaves, and to defend our freedom with 
our lives and fortunes." 

Before the Committee adjourned, it addressed another letter to 
the Albany Committee, — in which they say, that they have ordered 
the inhabitants of the district to provide themselves with arms and 
ammunition, and be ready at a moment's warning; that Johnson has 
five hundred men to guard his house; that he has stopped all 
communication between the counties of Try on and Albany; that 
there was not fifty pounds of powder in their district; that they 
propose, jointly, with the Committees of other districts, to force a 


communication with Albany; that Johnson had invited the upper 
Indian nations to go down to his neighborhood, but as many of the 
Indians were dissatisfied with him, they ^ould endeavor to make a 
diversion in their favor; and that they wish the Albany Com- 
mittee to send them some one or two who would be able to make 
the Indians understand the true nature of the dispute with the 
mother country. They say: — "We are gentlemen, in a worse 
situation than any part of America is at present. We have an 
open enemy before our faces, and treacherous friends at our backs;" 
but they assure the Albany Committee that they are very unanimous 
in the Palatine and Canajoharie districts, and are "determined 
neither to submit to the acts of Parliament, or Col. Johnson's 
arbitrary conduct." In answer to a communication from Guy 
Johnson, the Albany Committee used conciliatory language; said 
they were disposed to believe in the sincerity of his professions; 
that they are sorry that reports prejudicial to his character had 
gone abroad; and trusted that he would "pursue the dictates of an 
honest heart, and study the interests, peace and welfare of his 
country." They also, addressed a communication to the com- 
mittees in Tryon county, advising as the prudent course, not to 
attempt to open a communication with Albany, as they had inten- 
ded. Before adjourning, in reference to a threat they had under- 
stood Johnson had made, of procuring the imprisonment of those 
who took a conspicuous part in the proceedings that were going 
on, they resolved to "stand by each other, and rescue from imprison- 
ment any who were confined in an illegal manner." Secrecy, was 
enjoined upon all the members. It was resolved to have no social 
intercourse, or deaUngs, with those who had not joined the associa- 
tion. The owners of slaves were enjoined not to suffer thein to go 
from home, except with a certificate that they were on their mas- 
ter's business. 

On the 25th of May, an Indian council was convened at Guy 
Park. Delegates were present from Albany and Tryon counties. 
The Indians, thi-ough Little Abraham, a Mohawk chief, assured 
them that they did not wish to have a quarrel with the inhabitants. 
That during Sir William Johnson's life time, and since, they 
had been peaceably disposed. The delegations, and Indians, 
parted with mutual assurances of continued friendship; though 
the Mohawks declared that they were under great obligations to 



Sir William Johnson, had a great respect for his memory, and 
they must guard and protect every member of his family. 

On the 22d of June, 1775, a meeting of the Committees of Tryon 
county was held; being joined for the first time, by a Committee 
from the Mohawk district, which district had hitherto kept aloof, 
through the influence of the Johnsons. This meeting addressed 
a letter to Guv Johnson, in which they assured him that the people 
of Tryon county, made common cause with their brethren of 
Massachusetts Bay; they recapitulated generally, the grievances 
complained of on the part of the colonies; that possessing as he did, 
very large estates in the county, they could not think that he 
differed with them upon the subject of American freedom; and 
they complained that peaceable meetings of the Mohawk district, 
had been disturbed, and a man in their interests, had been inhu- 
manly treated, &c. 

Johnson in his answer, persevered in pacific assurances; said he 
had fortified his house, because he was apprehensive of an attack, 
and in doing so, he had only exercised the prerogative of all 
English subjects. While he professed loyalty to his king, he 
assured the Committee that he should continue to so discharge the 
duties of his office, as to best do his duty to his country, and 
preserve its peace; that his family had been the benefactors of the 
country, &c. He said the movements of the people were prema- 
ture, that they should wait and see what would be the final action 
of the home government upon the matters complained of; that 
they should have " nothing to apprehend from his endeavors," but 
that he should " be glad to promote their true interests." 

Notwithstanding such professions, it would seem that he had 
early been ambitious to seize upon the influence he had inherited 
from his father-in-law, mould the Six Nations to his will, and 
subserve the two-fold purpose of gratifying a personal ambition, 
and making an exhibition of his loyalty, to his family's patron, 
George the Third. Under the pretence that he could better 
control the Indians, and keep them peaceable, by withdrawing them 
from the irritating influences that surrounded them in the Mohawk 
Valley, he removed with his retinue to Fort Stanwix, and from 
thence farther west, where he was met by thirteen hundred war- 
riors in council. From his then location, under date of July 8th, 
he wrote to Mr. Livingston, the President of Congress, a letter 


which concludes thus: — "I should be much obliged by your prom- 
ises of discountenancing any attempts against myself, did they not 
appear to be made on conditions of compliance with continental or 
provincial Congresses, or even Committees, formed or to be formed, 
many of whose resolves may not consist with my conscience, duty 
or loyalty;" — still he assures Mr. Livingston that he shall always 
"manifest more humanity than to promote the destruction of 
innocent inhabitants of a colony, to which I have been always 
warmly attached." 

He retired to Montreal, where he took up his residence, and 
"continued to act during the war as an agent of the British gov- 
ernment, distributing to the Indians liberal rewards for their deeds 
of cruelty, and stimulating them to further exertions." * 

The Mohawks, almost the entire body of them, had accompanied 
Johnson and his family to the west, f In June, the Rev. Samuel 
KiRKLAND, then missionary to the Oneidas, held a conference with 
the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, to induce them to remain neutrals 
during the war. Knowing his influence with the Oneidas, the 
Johnsons had not been idle in attempts to prejudice them against 
him. They told him that Mr. K. "was a descendant of those New 
England, or Boston people, who had formerly murdered their king, 
and fled to this country for their lives;" that the New England 
ministers "were not true ministers of the gospel." All this did not 
succeed however, in depriving him of his influence, or the 
attachment of the Oneidas to him. Most of them remained neutrals 
during the war — a large portion of them offered to take up the 
hatchet in behalf of the colonies, but it was preferred to dispense 
with their services, except in a few instances. Some of them 
rendered important services, as runners, in apprising the border 
settlers of approaching danger. 


An elaborate history f having been written of this noted Indian 
chief, no farther biographical sketch of him will be attempted, than 
is incidental to local narrative. 

The place of his birth, parentage, &c., have been differently 

* Spark's American Biography. 

t Guy Johnson was accompanied by Joseph Brant, and John and Walter Butler. 

t Life of Brant, by William L. Stone. 


Stated by historians. It was assumed by Dr. Str achan, of Toronto, 
in some sketches he wrote many years since, and published in the 
Christian Register, that Brant was born on the Ohio river, whither 
his parents had emigrated from the valley of the Mohawk, and 
where they are said to have sojourned for several years. This 
information was derived from the Rev. Dr. Stewart, formerly a 
missionary in the Mohawk Valley. Col. Stone concedes that he 
was bom on the Ohio river, but assumes that it was during a 
hunting excursion from the Mohawk, in which his parents partici- 
pated; and that his father was a full blooded Mohawk of the Wolf 
tribe. The friend of the author, (Mr. L. C. Draper,) to whom 
reference is made in the preface to this work, assumes that he was 
a native Cherokee, upon some evidence he has discovered in his 
indefatigable researches. If this is so, we are to infer that his 
parents were adopted Cherokee captives. 

The home of his family was at the Canajoharie Castle. In July, 
1761, he was sent by Sir William Johnson, to the "Moor's 
Charity School," at Lebanon, Conn., established by the Rev. Dr. 
Wheelock, with several other Mohawk boys. He made good 
progress in education, and on his return from school, was employed 
by his patron in public business. His first military exploits, had 
preceded his education; when quite young, he had been upon 
several expeditions with Sir William Johnson. 

Under the circumstances — the friendship and patronage, and 
the family alliance that has been already spoken of — it is easy to 
perceive how his position was determined in the border wars; and 
why he followed the fortunes of the Johnson family. Mr, 
Campbell, himself a descendant of severe sufferers in that terrible 
crisis, and enjoying good opportunities to estimate the character of 
Brant, says in his Annals. — "Combining the natural sagacity of 
the Indian, with the skill and science of the civilized man, he was 
a formidable foe. He was a dreadful terror to the frontiers. His 
passions were strong. In his intercourse, he was affable and polite, 
and communicated freely, relative to his conduct. He often said 
that during the war he had killed but one man in cold blood, and 
that act he often regretted. He said he had taken a man prisoner, 
and was examining him; the prisoner hesitated, and he thought 
equivocated. Enraged at what he considered obstinacy, he struck 
him down. It turned out that the man's obstinacy arose from a 
natural hesitancy of speech." 


The statement that he had been guilty of but one assassination, 
does not correspond with well authenticated tradition; though he 
may, to have satisfied his own conscience, made a nice distinction 
in some instances, as to what constituted a taking of life in " cold 
blood." That the bad features of his character, and his atrocities, 
have been much magnified, there is no doubt, as have nearly all of 
the events in the border wars. It is difficult to reconcile the 
character of Joseph Brant, as given in many of our histories, 
with the accounts we have of him from living cotemporaries, who 
knew him well. 

He was the companion of Judge Porter, in a journey he made 
from Albany to Canandaigua, in 1794. The chief was returning 
from a visit to the then seat of government, (Philadelphia,) to his 
residence at Brantford, C. W. The Judge speaks of him as an 
intelligent, gentlemanly, travelling companion. The journey was 
on horseback. It was the first time Brant had travelled the 
valley of the Mohawk, since the Revolution, and on leaving 
Albany, he was somewhat apprehensive of the treatment he would 
receive. Peace, however, and the obligations it imposed, saved 
him from any harm or insult, from those in whose memory the 
scenes with which he was associated, were painfully fresh and 
vivid. While he avoided being drawn into any conversation con- 
nected with the border wars, he pointed out such things upon the 
Mohawk as were associated in the reccollections of his boyhood. 

John Gould, of Cambria, Niagara county, was a resident at 
Brantford, as early as 1791, or '2; says he has often heard Brant 
relate the story of his visit to England; how he was feasted and 
toasted in London, &c. After his return, his house at Brantford 
was the resort of many of the British officers, and prominent 
citizens of Canada. He was hospitable, had good social qualities, 
and was much esteemed by the early residents of Brantford, and 
its vicinity. The patronage of the government had enabled him to 
live much in the style of an English gentleman. He retained the 
slaves he had brought from the Mohawk. Mr. Gould remembers 
well the death of his son Isaac, from a stab infllicted by his father. 
"When sober," says Mr. G. "Isaac was a good Indian — when in 
liquor, he was a devil. He committed many depredations. I once 
irivited him to a raising. He excused himself on the ground, that 
if he went he should get a taste of liquor and commit some outrage. 
One day he became intoxicated, went to his father's house and 


attacked him with a knife — they had a desperate fight, which 
ended in Isaac's death. No one at the time blamed the old man, 
but all considered it was an act of necessary self-defence. Isaac 
had before killed a saddler upon Grand River, upon some slight 

Judge Hopkins, of Lewiston, Niagara county, was a resident, 
near the Brants, in 1800 and 1801, and confirms generally, the 
statement of Mr. Gould. 

Others, who were early residents of Canada, and neighbors of 
the subject of this sketch, in the latter years of his life, have given 
the author many interesting reminiscences of him, derived from 
personal observation and conversation; but a few of which can be 
made available without transcending prescribed limits. 

In speaking of the attack and massacre at Minisink, he excused 
himself upon the ground that the Americans came out under 
pretence of holding a parley, and fired several shots, some of which 
were aimed at him.* Provoked at this, he gave orders for an 
attack in which no quarters were to be given. He assumed that 
he saved the life of Capt. Wood, had him taken to Niagara, as a 
prisoner, where he remained until peace. He acknowledged to an 
informant of the author, that he took the life of Lieut. Wisner, at 
Minisink, very much as the inhuman act is already detailed in 
history; but excused the act upon the ground, that he had either 
to leave him to become a prey to wild beasts in his wounded and 
helpless condition, be encumbered with him in a retreat through an 
enemy's country, or adopt the terrible alternative he did. He 
claimed to have saved many prisoners, upon other occasions, — and 
generally to have been governed by the incentives of humanity; 
though it is difficult to reconcile these professions, even with his 
own versions. At Oriskany he said: — "I captured a man who had 
hid behind a stump; his name was Waldo or Walbridge; he 
begged, and I ordered the Indians to save him. He conducted 
myself and party to his home, a mile distant; arriving there, we 
found that Indians had preceded us, and had bound for sacrifice, a 
'beautiful girl,' the sister of our prisoner. I ordered her release." 

Says another informant: — "I first-knew Joseph Brant in 1797. 
He resided at the Mohawk village. He was the patroon of the 
place — his authority nearly absolute, with both Indians and whites. 

• Not consistent with authentic history. 


He was in high favor with Gov. Simcoe, and the Canadian authori- 
ties generally. The governor was often a partaker, with others, 
of his hospitalities. I have heard Capt. Brant say, he could not 
regret the death of his son Isaac; but much regretted that he had 
been obliged to take the life of a son." 

Few mooted points of history have been more often discussed, 
than the question whether Brant was present at the Wyoming 
massacre. The poet Campbell, in his widely read and admired 
poem, " Gertrude of Wyoming," in a passage purporting to be a 
part of the speech of an Oneida chief, pending the battle, or 
massacre, says: — 

" ' But this is not a time' ; — (he started up, 

And smote his breast with wo-denouncing hand) — 

* This is no time to fill the joyous cup. 

The mammoth comes — the foe — the monster. Brant! 

With all his howling, desolating band; 

These eyes have seen their blade, and burning pine; 

Awake at once, and silence half your land. 

Red is the cup they drink; but not with wine; 

Awake and watch to-night, or see no morning shine. 

Scorning to wield the hatchet for his bribe, 

'Gainst Brant himself I went to battle forth: 

Accursed Brant ! he left of all my tribe. 

Nor man, nor child, nor thing of living birth; 

No, not the dog that watched my household hearth. 

Escaped that night of blood upon our plains: 

All perished ! I alone am left on earth ! 

To whom nor relative, nor blood remains — 

Jifo — not a kindred drop that runs in human veins." 

This was admired verse, but destined to be questioned fact. 
John Brant, a son of the old chief, visited London in 1822. 
While there, he caused to be exhibited to Mr. Campbell, docu- 
mentary evidence, showing that he had done great injustice to the 
memory of his father; and that he was not present at the massacre 
at Wyoming. Mr. Campbell immediately addressed the young 
chief a respectful letter, in which after justifying himself by citing- 
numerous authorities in favor of the conclusion he had favored in 
his poem, frankly acknowledged that the evidence presented to him 
had induced him to change his opinion; to which he added an 
expression of regret that he had been led to favor the imputation. 

W. L. Stone, in his life of the Mohawk chief, assumes that he 
was not at Wyoming. The publication of his history was fol- 
lowed by a paper published in the Democratic Review, attrib- 


utcd to Caleb Gushing; in which it is assumed that Brant was 
at Wyoming; and the biographer is called upon to show where he 
was at the time, if he was not there 1 * Col. Stone replied to this, 
and pretty effectually justified his position. 

In a conversation that took place between Col. Butler and 
Joseph Brant, at Brantford, many years after the Revolution, 
(well remembered by one who related it to the author,) Brant 
was complaining that much was laid to his charge of which he was 
innocent. "They say," said he, "that I was the Indian leader at 
Wyoming; you, Colonel, know I was not there." To which, 
Butler replied: — "To be sure, I do, — and if you had been there, 
you could have done no better than I did; the Indians were 

The author inclines to the opinion of Col. Stone, (though deem- 
ing him in the main, too partial to his semi-civilized hero;) the 
terrible instrument in the hands of his British prompters, in scenes 
of stealthy assault, captivity and death; the foremost and most 
formidable scourge of the border settlers of our state, in a crisis 
that found them exposed to all the evils of savage warfare — 
enhanced by the aid and assistance of a portion of their own race, 
who had not savage custom and usage to plead in extenuation of 
their atrocities and villanies. 

Joseph Brant died at his residence at Burlington Bay, on the 
24th of November, 1807, aged 64 years. Previous to his death, 
he had become a communicant of the Episcopal church, and in his 
life time had aided that church materially in its missionary labors 
among the Indians, by translating some portions of the scriptures, 
and the Book of Common Prayer, into the Mohawk language. 

Where the first stopping place of the Mohawks was, after 
leaving their home upon the Mohawk, with Guy Johnson and 
Brant, (if they had any intermediate abiding place,) before 
reaching Lewiston, the author has nowhere seen named. In an 
early period of the border wars. Brant's residence was at Lew- 
iston, — his dwelling a block house, standing near what is called 
"Brant's Spring," on the farm of Isaac Cook. His followers, 
forming a considerable Indian village, were located along the 

* A difficult task, the reader will conclude: — to go back beyond a half centurj', and 
Bhow where the leader of a band of Indians was, whose range was a then wilderness 
compriRing half of our entire state, a part of Pennsylvan-a, and a part of Canada 
West; his location changing with the vicissitudes of a predatory warfare. 


Ridge Road between the Academy and the road that leads up to 
the Tuscarora village. There were remains of the huts standing 
when white settlement commenced. It would seem by reference 
to the books of the land office, that for several farms there, the 
purchasers were charged an extra price, in consequence of the 
improvements the Mohawks had made during their residence there. 
There was a log church in which the Episcopal service was usually 
read upon Sundays, by some one attached to the British garrison 
at Niagara, and occasionally a British army chaplain, or a mission- 
ary would be present. That church, in any history of its origin 
and progress, in Western New York may well assume that beyond 
the garrison at Niagara, Lewiston, Brant's rude log church, was 
the spot where its services were first had. Upon a humble log 
church there could, of course, then, be no belfry or steeple. The 
bell that was brought from the Mohawk, was hung upon a cross- 
bar, resting in the crotch of a tree, and rang by a rope attached. 
The crotch was taken down by the Cook family, after they had 
purchased the land. In 1778, John Mountpleasant, then but 
eight years old, says his Tuscarora mother used to take him down 
to the church, where he remembers seeing his father, Capt. Mount- 
pleasant, then in command of the garrison at Niagara. He 
speaks of the crotch and the bell, as objects that attracted his 
especial attention. 

Our brief narrative of events in the border war, having been 
interrupted — to admit of some reminiscences of one who was so 
conspicuous in its memorable scenes — it will be resumed, but only 
with reference generally, to events connected with the western 
portion of our state. 

The Tryon county General Committee, after the departure of 
Guy Johnson, and his retinue, were active in perfecting its organ- 
ization, and enlisting the co-operation of the citizens of the county. 
Sir John Johnson had remained behind, converted his house into a 
rendezvous and focus of loyalty, and was actively engaged in 
counteracting the movements of the Committee. The public autho- 
rities of the county — the Judges of the court, the Magistrates, were 
mostly with him and against the Committee, The sheriff of the 
county, Alexander White, had early demonstrated his position 
and sentiments, by using his official authority to disperse the prim- 


itive meeting in the Mohawk district, made himself especially 
obnoxious with the people. In a letter from the Committee to the 
Provincial Congress, they say: — "We must further hear that Gov. 
Tryon shall have again granted a commission to the great 
villain, Alexander White, for High Sheriff in our county, but 
we shall never suffer any exercise in our county, of such office by 
said White." In such an emergency, the Committee formally 
declared, that there was an end to the previously constituted autho- 
rities of the county, and constituted themselves the local govern- 
ment, exercising as a demand of necessity, in most matters, arbi- 
trary authority. It was in fact, thus early, revolution, so far as 
our county of Tryon was concerned. 

In September, 1775, the Committee say in a letter to Congress, 
" there is a great many proved enemies to our association and reg- 
ulations thereof, being Highlanders, amounting to 200 men, accor- 
ding to intelligence. We are daily scandalized by them, provoked 
and threatened, and we must surely expect a havoc of them upon 
our families if we should be required and called elsewhere upon 
our country's cause." It was ascertained that Johnson kept up a 
continual correspondence with Guy Johnson at Montreal, after 
his retreat. In October, the Committee wrote to Sir John, wish- 
ing to know if he would ''allow the inhabitants of Johnstown and 
Kingsborough, to form themselves into companies according to the 
regulations of our Continental Congress;" whether he would lend 
his personal assistance to such a measure; and whether he preten- 
ded a "prerogative to our county court house and goal, and would 
hinder or interrupt the Committee making use of the same V He 
replied that he should not hinder his tenants from doing as they 
pleased, but that they were not disposed to engage in the cause 
of Congress, &c.; as to himself, he said, "sooner than lift his hand 
against his King, or sign any association, he would suffer his head 
to be cut off;" as to the court house and jail, they should be used 
only for the purposes for which they were built, until he was paid 
seven hundred pounds, advanced for their erection; and closed by 
charging that "two of the Canajoharie and German Flatts people 
had been forced to sign the association." 

The Provincial Congress, addressed a letter to the committee, 
advising forbearance and moderation, and suggesting that they had 
in some particulars asked too much of Sir John, yet the Congress 
denied that he had any right to control the court-house, as that was 


conveyed by Sir William, for the use of the county. But the 
Congress advised the Committee, that as it might lead to serious 
consequences, they had better not confine persons in the jail 
"inimical to our country," but procure some other convenient 
place, and also advised against in any way, molesting Sir John, as 
long as he vv^as inactive. 

In the following winter, Sir John made preparations to fortify 
Johnson's Hall, and the rumor gained ground, that when completed, 
he would garrison it with three hundred Indians, besides his own 
men. In January, Gen. Schuyler, Gen. Ten Broek, and Col. 
Varick, came into Tryon county with a small party of soldiers, 
where they were joined by the Tryon county militia, ordered out 
by Gen. Herkimer. The rendezvous was but a few miles from 
Johnson's Hall. From the camp, a correspondence was carried on 
for several days with Sir John Johnson. It resulted in his surren- 
dering himself a prisoner, and disarming his tenants. This pro- 
duced quiet for the winter, but in May, Sir John broke a parole he 
had entered into, and accompanied by a large number of his 
tenants, went to Montreal. There, or at some point in Canada, he 
organized a military corps of refugees, known throughout the war, 
as "Johnson's Greens." 

The first delegates to the Provincial Congress, from Tryon 
county, were John Marlatt and John Moore. In May, 1776, 
the Tryon county committee, instructed their delegates in the 
Provincial Congress, to vote for the entire independence of the 
Colonies; and the Declaration of Independence, of the 4th of July 
following, was hailed by the people of Tryon county with joy. 

For nearly a year after this, there were but little of war 
movements, in the Mohawk valley. In June, 1777, Brant 
appeared at Unadilla with seventy or eighty Indians, where he 
sought an interview with some militia officers, and the Rev. Mr. 
Johnstone. He told them his party were in want of provisions, 
and that if they could not get them peaceably, they must by force. 
He admitted he had joined his fortunes and that of his tribe, to the 
King, who "was very strong," that he and his people were 
" natural warriors, and could not bear to be threatened by Gen. 
Schuyler." He demanded that the Mohawk people he had left 
behind, should be made free, to pass out of the country when they 
pleased. This advent was attended only by levying some supplies 
from the inhabitants. 


In July following, Gen. Herkimer went to Unadilla with a corps 
of three hundred and eighty militia; where Brant again appeared 
with one hundred and eighty warriors. He was as insolent as 
before. He repeated a declaration of his intention to espouse the 
cause of the King; said the King would "humble the Boston 
people that Gen. Herkimer had joined;" and intimated that those 
he served, were much better able to make Indians presents, than 
were Gen. H. and his associates. Col. Cox, who was present, 
said to Brant if he had determined to espouse the cause of the 
King, the matter was ended. At some intimation from Brant, 
his warriors raised a shout, and repaired to their camp about a 
mile distant, when seizing their arms, they fired several guns and 
raised the Indian war whoop. Returning to the conference ground, 
Gen. Herkimer assured Brant that he had not come to fight; at 
which Brant motioned to his warriors to keep their places; and 
addressing Gen. Herkimer, in a threatening attitude, told him if 
his purpose was war, he was ready for him. He then proposed 
that Mr. Stewart the missionary among the Mohawks, (who was 
supposed to lean to the English side,) and the wife of Col. Butler, 
should be permitted to pass from the upper to the lower Mohawk 
castle. Gen. Herkimer offered to comply upon the condition that 
some tories and deserters were given up to him; to which condi- 
tion Brant would not yield, but closed the conference with a 
threat that he would go to Oswego and hold a treaty with Col. 
Butler; or rather the conference was ended by a violent storm 
which obliged both parties to retreat for shelter. 

This was the last conference that was held with any of the Six 
Nations except the Oneidas, to prevent them from engaging in the 
war. It is supposed that Gen. Herkimer's forbearance, his 
neglect to urge matters to extremes when provoked by Brant, 
was dictated by the hope that amicable arrangements would 
eventually be made. 

On the 5th of July, 1777, Gen. Burgoyne had obtained posses- 
sion of Ticonderoga. The presence of so large a British armed 
force there, with the feeble means as it seemed of resisting their 
further conquests, spread alarm throughout the country, and 
especially in Try on county. On the 15th of July, an Oneida 
sachem, returned from Canada and brought news that Col. John 
Johnson with his family, and Col. Claus and his family, were at 
Oswogo, with "700 Indians, 400 regulars, and 600 tories," and 


that preparations were making for an attack on Fort Schuyler; * 
that Col. Butler had arrived at Oswego from Niagara, with an 
additional force, &c. 

In April preceding this. Col. Gansevoort had garrisoned this 
frontier post with the 3d regiment N. Y. line of state troops, and 
had been busily engaged in strengthening it. Alarm increased in 
consequence of the news from the west. Secret information of 
movements had been industriously circulated among the disaffected 
inhabitants of Tryon county. Insinuations of an alarming nature 
were thrown out, and not without effect. The Indians, it was 
said, would ravage the whole intervening country. ''Many," says 
Mr. Ca.mpbell, "who had not acted before decidedly, now espoused 
the cause of the mother country, and in small parties, stole away 
and went to the enemy." On the 17th of July, Gen. Herkimer 
issued a proclamation, that two thousand troops "christians and 
savages," had collected at Oswego, with intention to invade the 
frontiers. He announced his intention, in case the enemy 
approached, to order into service, every male person, being in 
health, between the ages of sixteen and sixty; — "and those above 
sixty, or unwell and incapable to march, shall assemble also, armed, 
at the respective places, where women and children will be gathered 
together, in order for defence against the enemy, if attacked, as 
much as lies in their power." He also ordered that the disaffected 
should be arrested, and kept under guard; appealed in urgent 
language upon all to discharge their duty, in the approaching 
crisis; and closed his stirring proclamation as follows: — "Not 
doubting that the Almighty Power, upon our humble prayers, and 
sincere trust in him, will then graciously succor our arms in battle, 
for our just cause, and victory cannot fail on our side." 

On the 2d of August, Gen. St. Leger, having advanced from 
Oswego, with an army of seventeen hundred men, (including 
Brant and his Indian forces,) arrived before Fort Schuyler, where 

*"This fort occupied a part of the site of Rome, in the present county of Oneida, 
situated at the head of navigation of the Mohawk, and at the carrj-ing place between 
that river and Wood Creek, from whence the boats passed to Oswego ; it was a post ol 
great importance to the western part of New York. The French, with their usual 
sagacity, in endeavoring to monopohze the Indian trade, had erected a fortification at 
this place. At the commencement of the war, it seems to have gone to decay ; a few 
families had settled there, forming the extreme outposts of civilization, save the forts of 
Oswego and Niagara. It was called Fort Schuyler, in honor of Gen. Schuyler. It 
has been confounded by some with Fort Schuyler, which was built in the French wars, 
near where Utica now stands, and named in honor of Col. Schuyler, the uncle of Gen. 
Schuyler." — Campbell's Annals. 


he soon found there was no disposition to surrender. He soon 
after published a proclamation, high toned and insolent; he recapit- 
ulated the offences of the citizens of the Mohawk Valley against 
his soverei<Tn the King, and announced that he had come at the 
head of a competent force to punish the aggressors, and afford 
relief to those who were not engaged in "rebellion." He declared 
his intention first to adopt conciliatory measures, and if those 
failed, he deemed himself justified in "executing the vengeance of 
the state against the willful outcasts." " The messengers of justice 
and wrath," said the confident leader of the royalist force, "await 
them in the field, and devastation and famine and every concomitant 
horror that a reluctant but indispensable prosecution of military 
duty, must occasion, will bar the way to their return." 

Gen. Herkimer was advancing to join his force — about seven 
hundred — with that of Col. Gansevoort, in the fort. Apprised 
of this, St. Leger detached Brant and Butler with a body of 
Indians and Tories to intercept him. They resolved upon a sur- 
prise, and for this purpose chose a spot well suited to the purpose. 
Gen. Herkimer advancing with his force without any suspicion of 
danger; the joint forces of Butler and Brant, favored in their 
ambuscade by the thick foliage of the forest, arose and poured a 
destructive fire upon them. The advance guard was entirely 
destroyed; those who survived the first onslaught, became victims 
of the tomahawk. The rear regiment fled in confusion, and were 
pursued by the Indians. The forward division, facing out in every 
direction, sought shelter behind the trees, and returned an effectual 
fire. "The fighting had continued for some time, when Major 
Watson, a brother-in-law of Sir John Johnson, brought up a 
detachment of Johnson's Greens. The blood of the Germans 
boiled with indignation at the sight of these men. Many of the 
'Greens' were personally known to them. They had fled their 
country, and were now returned in arms to subdue it. Their 
presence under any circumstances, would have kindled up the 
resentment of those militia; but coming as they now did, in aid of 
a retreating foe, called into exercise the most bitter feelings of 
hostility. They fired upon them as they advanced, and then rush- 
ing from behind their covers, attacked them with their bayonets, 
and those who had none, with the but ends of their muskets. This 
contest was maintained, hand to hand, for nearly half an hour. 
The Greens made a good resistance, but were obliged to give way 


under the fury of their assailants." * Major Watson was taken 
prisoner, but left upon the field. 

Col. WiLLETT, with two hundred and seven men, made a sally 
from the fort, and attacked the enemy in camp, to make a diversion 
in favor of Gen. Herkimer, and after an engagement of two hours 
compelled a retreat. After he had secured a part of the spoils the 
enemy had left, and destroyed the remainder, he was upon his 
return back to the fort, attacked by two hundred regulars from 
St. Leger's army, which, aided by a fire of cannon from the fort 
he soon compelled to retreat. He returned into the fort without 
the loss of a single man. This successful sally, the hearing that 
their camp was taken, and a shower of rain, induced the detach- 
ment that was in conflict with Gen. Herkimer, to withdraw, and 
thus ended the events of the day. The loss of the Provincials 
was about 200 killed, and as many wounded. 

Gen. Herkimer was wounded; one of his legs fractured by a 
musket ball. Refusing to leave the field, he had himself placed in 
a position a little distance from the theatre of action, when facing 
the enemy, he deliberately lit and smoked his pipe. Surrounded 
by a few men he continued to issue his orders with firmness. A 
few days after the battle, his leg was amputated; mortification 
ensued and caused his death. Thus were the patriotic men of the 
valley of the Mohawk, deprived of the services of their brave 
leader, in a crisis when the services of such as him would seem to 
have been indispensable. 

Of the other officers of the Tryon county militia. Col. Cox, 
Majors Ersinlord, Klepsattle, and Van Slyck were killed, as was 
also Thomas Spencer, whose eloquence had stirred up the people 
of Cherry Valley, in a primitive period of the war. Major Frey, 
and Col. Bellinger were taken prisoners. The British Indian allies 
had one hundred killed; the Senecas alone, over thirty. The loss 
in killed, of the regulars and tories was computed at one hundred. 

St. Leger, though effectually defeated, resolved not to regard 
the events of the day in that light; but to use them even to aid 

'Campbell's Annals. 

Note. — In an address before the New York Historical Societj', Governeur Morris 

said: "Let me recall gentlemen to your reccollection, the bloody spot on which 

Herkimer fell. There was found the lodian and the white man born on the banks of 
the Mohawk, their left hand clenched in each other's hair, the right grasping in a grasp 
of death, the knife plunged in each other's bosom; thus they lay frowning." 


him in obtaining a surrender of the fort. He compelled Col. 
Bellinger and Major Frey, who were in his camp as prisoners, to 
address a letter to Col. Gansevoort, exaggerating the disasters of 
the day, and strongly urging a surrender; telling him how strong 
were his beseigers; that no succor could reach him; and assuming 
that BuRGOYNE was already before Albany. After repeated 
demands of a surrender, a correspondence, and some verbal 
messages, the finale of which was a short answer from Col. 
Gansevoort, in which he declared his fixed determination of 
holding out and resisting the seige, St. Leger threw up some 
redoubts, and brought his artillery to -bear upon the fort, but with 
little effect. The siege continued until the 22d of August, when 
the besiegers had advanced within one hundred and fifty yards of 
the fort. Gen. Schuyler on hearing of the attack upon Gen. 
Herkimer and its results, despatched Gens. Learned and Arnold, 
(Benedict.) with a brigade of men to its relief; at the same time 
writing a letter to Col. Gansevoort exhorting him to hold out, 
and encouraging him with flattering accounts of the prospects of 
staying the march of Burgoyne. On the 22d of August, Gen. 
Arnold, in advance of Learned, arrived with his force at the 
German Flatts. From there, he also addressed Col. Gansevoort, 
telling him he should soon be with him, to be under no apprehen- 
sions, that he " knew the strength of the enemy and how to deal 
with them." He included in his letter the announcement that Stark 
had gained a signal victory at Bennington; that Howe with the 
shattered remnant of his army were on ship-board; that " Bur- 
goyne was retreating to Ty." 

In the camp of Gen. Arnold, was a refugee — Han Yost 
Schuyler — he gave him his liberty on condition that he would 
proceed to the camp of St. Leger, announce his approach, and 
give an exaggerated account of the advancing force under his com- 
mand; retaining the brother of the refugee as an hostage to secure 
a faithful discharge of the duties he had engaged to perform. 
The Indians in St. Leger's camp were already dissatisfied; they 
had suffered severely, and despaired of being remunerated with 
plunder. This was greatly enhanced by the arrival of Han Yost, 
who told them that Gen. Arnold's force was "as numerous as 
the leaves on the forest trees." The Indians refused to remain 
any longer. Thus crippled, on the 22d, of August, St. Leger, 


retired in disorder and confusion, leaving the greater portion of 
his baggage behind. He went by the way of Oswego to Montreal, 
and from thence, through lake Champlain to join Gen. Burgoyne. 

Thus ended the siege of Fort Schuyler. 

Having thus opened the campaign upon the Mohawk — sketched 
briefly the leading events up to the first principal conflict of arms, 
and given its main features and results — the author is admonished 
of the necessity of disposing of the Border War, with but brief 
chronological sketches of what followed, to its termination, except 
in reference to two prominent events. The whole subject forms 
an interesting and instructive branch of the local history of a large 
portion of our State; and he indulges the hope that he has been 
enabled to introduce enough of it in his work — and in a manner 
— to invite the younger portion of his readers especially, to sources 
of greater detail, and farther extended enquiry and research. — In 
the entire history of our revolutionary struggle, there are few 
pages we can read, which in a greater degree serves to remind 
us of the sufferings and sacrifices that purchased the blessings we 
so eminently enjoy — than those upon which are inscribed a faith- 
ful narrative of the Border War of New York and Pennsylvania. 

After the siege of Fort Schuyler, the Indians still hung like a 
"scythe of death," on the frontiers of New York. In the remote 
and less thickly inhabited parts, single individuals and whole fami- 
lies disappeared — no one could tell by what means, or how. Rel- 
ative, friend, or traveler, came to the place which he knew was 
once the residence of those he sought, but the charred fragments 
of their dwellings, were all he found. 

Brant opened the Indian campaign of 1788 by an attack upon 
the town of Springfield, near the head of Otsego lake. He 
imprisoned all who did not fly, burnt every building but one, into 
which he gathered all the women and children, and left them 

On the first of July, a skirmish occured between a party of 
militia, and a large body of Indians, at Cobbleskill. The militia 
were compelled to retreat. Several dwellings were burned, after 
being plundered; houses and cattle were all killed or taken off. 
The whole of the Schoharie region was constantly visited by 
predatory bands of Indians and Tories, during the whole war. 




There are few events connected with Indian border warfare that 
have called forth more sympathy and condemnation than the mas- 
sacre of Wyoming. The settlers in this peaceful retreat were 
removed from the theatre of war. Its secluded situation seemed 
to hide it from the observation of both parties. Most of the set- 
tlers were in favor of the Colonies, and a considerable number 
belonged to the revolutionary army. Though there was a kind of 
understanding that the troops enhsted there, should not be removed 
from the valley, but kept there for its security and defence; still 
such was the emergency of the country that they had been called 
away, and about three hundred more enlisted. Most of those who 
remained were either too young or too old to be very serviceable 
as soldiers. Such was the defenceless state of Wyoming, when its 
inhabitants discovered seme indications that war was to be brought 
to their doors. Their distance from other settlements destroyed 
all hope of obtaining help from abroad, and the suddenness with 
which the attack probably would be made, rendered assistance 
from the regular army very doubtful. 

In 1778, a band of Tories and Indians, under the command of 
Col. John Butler, marched into this quiet valley, and made it the 
scene of desolation and suffering. The expedition "moved from 
Niagara, across the Genesee country, down the Chemung, to Tioga 
Point, whence they embarked upon the Susquehannah, and landed 
about twenty miles above Wyoming." Col. Zebulon Butler, 
who had been in the French war, and was now an officer in the 
Revolutionary army, happened to be home on a visit at the time of 
the invasion. At the urgent solicitation of the people, he assumed 
command of the militia. An attempt was made to attack the enemy 
by surprise, but the scout was accidentally discovered by an Indian, 
who fired at him, and immediately gave the alarm. When the 
Americans came up they found the enemy ready to receive them. 
A bloody battle ensued, in which one party fought with the despe- 
ration of men knowing their fate if conquered, and the other with 
the savage ferocity of revenge. The Tories and Indians gave no 
quarter, but pursued the flying party, killing all they could and 
afterwards murdering all they took. The fugitive army first 
sought shelter in what was called "Fort Forty." From this, those 


who still survived, fled to Fort Wyoming, v^^hich was shortly sur- 
rounded by Indians and Tories. This fort was filled with women 
and children; it was in no condition to be defended, or to withstand 
a siege. A capitulation took place, in which it was stipulated that 
the inhabitants might return to their farms but were not to take up 
arms during the war. The Tories were allowed to return to their 
lands. The English commanding officer pledged his influence to 
have the Indians respect private property. This promise was 
totally disregarded. The Indians prowled through the valley, plun- 
dering and burning every house that was not occupied by a Tory 
— carrying misery and wretchedness into the bosom of many a 
happy home, and spreading ruin and suffering through the whole 

Early in the month of September, Brant desolated the German 
Flatts. Fortunately, the inhabitants had warning in time to enable 
them to make their escape. It was evening when Brant arrived. 
It being rainy and dark, and supposing his presence in the neigh- 
borhood not known, he waited until morning, when his party almost 
simultaneously fired all the dweUings. Disappointed at not finding 
the inhabitants, he destroyed every thing they had left behind, 
without attacking the fort in which the people were collected. 

The flourishing settlements in Cherry Valley were next doomed 
to suffer the horrors of an Indian invasion. Lafayette, observing 
its exposed condition, early in the spring of 1778, ordered a 
fortification to be built, in which the inhabitants deposited their 
property, and went for protection in seasons of danger. In the 
autumn of that year, supposing all danger passed, and relying on 
the vigilance of the commanding officer of the fort, to warn them 
of the approach of the enemy, they returned to their dwellings. 
Col. Alden received timely notice that the enemy were on their 
way, and where was their destination. Refusing to believe the 
reports of the intended attack, promising to take every necessary 
measure to prevent surprise — he made others feel the same 
security, and thus all was left completely exposed. Even after 
the attack had been begun, when told by a wounded settler, who 
had barely escaped with life, he still doubted. The enemy had 
ample time to make complete their plans for striking a terrible 
blow. Particular houses where officers of the garrison were 
staying, were ascertained by the Indians. With hardly a moment's 
notice, when least expected, the quiet villagers were aroused to a 


sense of their fearful situation by the sound of death-shots, the 
slashes of the tomahawk, and the shrieks of devoted victims. 
Fire and hatchet were busily engaged in accomplishing their work 

of terror slauc^hter and pillage marked the course of civilized and 

savage foe. The fort was surrounded and assaulted, but being met 
with spirit and firmness, the Indians soon shrunk from the steady 
fire that was poured upon them, run to the houses, to plunder, 
destroy, and kill without mercy or check. The same evening 
thirty or forty prisoners were marched into the wilderness. WTien 
they arrived at the place of encampment, large fires, in a circular 
form were kindled, and the captives, without shelter from the 
inclement weather, or any regard to age, health or sex, were all 
put indiscriminatly in the centre. Their dreadful situation was 
rendered still more awful, by the startling yells and savage revelry 
kept up all night by the Indians while dividing the spoils. In the 
morning, the prisoners with their captors, set out on their journey; 
but before they had gone far, the women and children were 
voluntarily released, with the exception of Mrs. Campbell and 
her four children, and Mrs. Moore and her children. The 
invaders then went back to Niagara from whence originated most 
of these expeditions of pillage and bloodshed. 

J^OTE. — Mrs. Campbell and her children were carried to Kanadasaega, (Geneva,) 
then the chief town of the Senecaa. She and her children were adopted into an Indian 
family, to supply the place of lost relations. Nobly resolving to adapt herself to her 
new condition, she exerted herself in getting in favor with her captors, and making 
herself useful to them. She made garments for the squaws, and in various ways, 
acquired an influence which greatly mehorated her condition. One day an Indian 
came to her, and observing that she wore caps, said he would give her one ; upon 
presenting it he told her he had obtained it "at Cherry Valley." She recognized it as 
the cap of Miss Jane Wells, who had been most barbarously massacred at Cherry 
V^alley. It had a cut in the crown made by a tomediawk, and was spotted with blood ! 
"She could not but drop a tear to her memory, for she had known her from her 
infancy, a pattern of virtue and loveliness." The Indian acknowledged himself the 
murderer. Mrs. Campbell preserved the relic, and afterwards presented it to the friends 
of the deceased. When Col. Butler went to Canada, he had left his wife and children, 
who were reteiined as hostages. A proposition was made to exchange them for Mrs. 
Campbell and her children. Col. Campbell, the husband and father, receiving the 
proposition in writing, laid it before Gov. Clinton and Gen. Schuyler, emd it was 
acceded to. Early in the spring Col. Butler went to Kanadasaega and proposed the 
release of Mrs. Campbell; after a council of several days, with much reluctance, on the 
part of the Indians, he succeeded in his mission. She was taken to Niagara in June, 
1779, but her children were retained at Kanadasaega. About this time .news was 
received at Niagara, of the march of Gen. Sullivan ; anticipating his arrival there, the 
garrison was recruited and strengthened. Col. Butler did not succeed in getting Mrs. 
Campbell's children, until the Senecas, fleeing before Gen. Sullivan, sought refuge 
at Niagara, bringing them along in their flight JVIrs. Campbell remained at Niagara 
a year from the period of her firet arrival there ; in June, 1780, she and her children 
were taken down to Montreal, where she found Mrs. Butler and her children, and her 
own son, a small boy, with them. After a delay of several months, the family were 



The desolating and terrible Indian incursions with which the fron- 
tiers of New York and Pennsylvania had been visited in 1777 and 
1778, induced Congress to authorize General Washington to send 
an expedition into the country of the Six Nations, lay waste their 
villages, destroy their haunts, and make them suffer some of the 
evils they had inflicted on others. The ultimate design of the 
expedition was the capture of Fort Niagara, the head quarters of 
the British and their Indian allies. 

The distance of the Senecas, upon the banks of the Seneca lake, 
and in the valley of the Genesee, from the immediate vicinity of 
hostile operations, had screened them from assault and retributive 
justice; while they could sally out whenever a runner from Butler, 
Brant, or the Johnsons, told them there was work of blood in hand; 
or when an ambitious chief among them took the war path upon his 
own account, to scourge with the double motive of revenge and 
plunder; — finding a safe retreat when their sanguinary missions 
were executed. 

The Six Nations had at this period, made considerable advances 
in some of the arts of civilized life. They had begun to depend 
less upon the chase for subsistence, than upon the cultivation of the 
soil. They had more permanent places of residence, and were less 
wandering in their habits, than most of their race upon this 
continent. They had numerous villages, cultivated fields, orchards, 
and rude gardens. They were enjoying many of the comforts and 
conveniences of civilization. 

Gen. Sullivan was appointed commander of the expedition. 
After some delay and embarrassment he assembled his division at 
Wyoming, marched to Tioga, and formed a juncture with the 
eastern division, under the command of Gen. James Clinton. On 
the 22d of August, 1779, the two divisions united and made an 
effective force of five thousand men. Gen. Sullivan marched up 

sent to Albany, and ultimately, reached their home at Cherry Valle}-. When Gen. 
Washington traversed the valley of the Mohawk, in the summer of 1784, accompanied 
by Gov. Clinton and others, they were the guests of Col. Campbell in the rude log 
cabin he had erected after the war. Gov. Clinton observed to Mrs. Campbell, in 
reference to her boys : — " They will make fine soldiers in time." " I hope my country 
will never need their services," was the response of one who had seen enough of war 
and its consequences. "I hope so too madam," said Gen. Washington, for "I have 
seen enough of war." 


the Tioga and Chemung, taking every precaution to guard against 
surprise and ambuscades. 

The estimate made by Gen. Sullivan in his report of the 
strength of the Indians and Tories, at fifteen hundred, materially 
differs from the official report of Col. John Butler, who assumes 
that he had but six hundred British and Indians. The Indians were 
under the command of Joseph Brant, and the Rangers under Col. 
John Butler, who held the chief command.* The British and 
Indians had taken position and thrown up some rude fortifications 
about a mile below Newtown, now Elmira. Col. Butler states in 
his official account of the battle, that the Senecas, and the few 
Delawares he had with him, had selected this spot and obstinately 
resolved to make a stand there, in spite of the opposition of himself 
and Brant. 

After destroying on his way all the Indian towns and planted 
fields that could be reached, on the 29th of August, Gen. Sullivan 
prepared to attack the British and Indians in their own position. 
In the battle that followed, a portion of the Indians maintained 
their ground firmly and bravely, fought as long as there was any 
hope of victory. Brant and another chief named Kiangarachta, 
particularly distinguished themselves, flying from point to point, 
animating and sustaining their warriors, by encouraging words, and 
daring deeds. Col. Butler bitterly complains of the conduct of 
some of his Indian allies in the early part of the engagement, who 
became frightened and panic struck by the explosion of some shells 
thrown beyond them, which they supposed came from an opposite 
direction, and led them to think that they were about to be 
surrounded, and all means of escape cut off. The battle having 
continued near two hours, the enemy became fearful of being 
completely hemmed in, precipitately abandoned his works and fled. 
Gen. Sullivan pursued him for nearly two miles, destroying every 
thing that could possibly be of any service to the Indians. Col. 
Butler acknowledged the loss of only five rangers, killed or taken; 
five Indians killed, and nine wounded. It is evident that he under- 
estimated his loss, for Gen. Sullivan found eleven dead on the 
field, and it is a well known Indian custom, to carry off as many 
of their dead as possible. Beside the eleven, fourteen were found 

* The statement made by Col. Stone, in his life of Brant, that the Johnson's were 
present, participating in the movements against Gen. Sullivan, is contradicted by the 
official report of Col. John Butler. 


partially buried under the leaves. So effectual was the dispersion 
of the Indians as to render it impossible that Col. Butler should be 
able to ascertain his precise loss. The loss of the Americans was 
only five or six killed, and forty or fifty wounded — a very small 
loss considering the force they had to contend with, and the fierce- 
ness with which the battle was fought. 

Gen. Sullivan promptly followed up his advantage. The 
Indians seemed to be disheartened from a conviction that they 
could not make a successful stand against Gen. Sullivan, arrest 
his onward march, and the consequent ruin and devastation which 
they knew would inevitably attend it. 

They made no more serious and united opposition to the inva- 
ders. When they heard that Gen. Sullivan was approaching to 
their villages on the Genesee, they did indeed think of making 
another attempt. They selected a position between the head of 
Connesus lake and Honeoye outlet. They intended to await the 
approach of Sullivan in ambuscade. They, however, retreated 
when Sullivan came up, and fled before him. He continued his 
march, leaving burning villages and devastated fields, the witnesses 
of his presence. While Gen. Sullivan was constructing a bridge 
over a creek which led to Little Beard's town, Lieut. Boyd was 
sent out to observe the situation of the village. After a long, 
fatiguing march, continued far into the night, the party came 
to a village that appeared to have been lately deserted, as fires 
were yet burning in the huts. They passed the remainder of the 
night there, sending two of their number back to the main army 
to report* Boyd having been discovered in the morning, rosolved 
to reach the main army as soon as possible. He met with no 
difficulty until he came within a mile aad a half of Gen. Sulli- 
van's camp, when they encountered a party of observation 
belonging to the enemy. Lieut. Boyd's brave but devoted little 
band were soon surrounded, and their only chance of escape was 
to cut their way through the ranks of their foe. Twelve of 
Boyd's men were soon shot down, and himself and Parker taken 
prisoners, the other seven making their escape. Boyd immediately 
asked for an interview with BtvANt, which was granted. While in 
the presence of Brant, he, by signs, gave him to understand, that 
enemies though they might be on the battle field, yet there was one 

* Mary Jemison's Narrative. 


relation in which they were sacredly bound to regard each other 
as " brothers." Brant recognized the appeal, and promised to 
protect him from injury. Boyd, placing the utmost confidence in 
the assurance of Brant, refused to answer any questions that Col. 
Butler asked, relative to the condition, strength, and designs of 
Gen. Sullivan's army, although threatened with being delivered 
over to the Indians, if he refused to give the desired information. 
Confident of Brant's protection, he still declined. Butler, 
meaning all that he threatened, gave Boyd and Parker up to the 
Indians. After inflicting on Boyd the most cruel tortures— 
throwing hatchets at his head, tearing off his nails, cutting off his 
tongue, ears and nose, putting out one of his eyes, taking out an 
end of his intestines, tying it to a small tree and then driving him 
around as long as they could, they finally ended his sufferings by 
cutting off his head. Parker was also killed, but they cut off his 
head, without any torture. 

Gen. Sullivan now employed some time in completing the work 
of desolation and destruction up and down the river, whereever 
were found villages, wigwams, fields, orchards, gardens, corn, 
cattle, or anything that is necessaiy to support life — all were 
swept away. The capture of Niagara, the general place of 
rendezvous of the Indians, whence they sallied on those bloody 
excursions which made them a terror to all the frontier settlements, 
was not effected. Gen. Sullivan returned with his army, and 
went into winter quarters, in New Jersey, having prepared the 
way for the famine and want which the Indians soon felt. The 
destruction of so many of their villages, and the total loss of their 
planted fields, just as they were ripening for the harvest, and as the 
previous year's supply was exhausted, caused hundreds of Indians, 
with their wives and children, to flock to Fort Niagara for the 
means of subsistence the ensuing winter — the memorable winter 
of 1779 and 1780. The British Canadian Governor, Sir John 
Johnson, was obliged to make great exertions to furnish sufficient 

Note. — In 1841, a public tribute of respect was paid to the memory of Boyd, by 
citizens of the Genesee Valley. A large concourse assembled at the village of Cuyler. 
The venerable revolution an,' patriot, Maj. Moses Van Campen, with other revolutionary 
soldiers were present. The burial place of Bo3'd having been identified, his remains 
were deposited in an urn, and suitable exercises were had in a grove near by; including 

a pertinent and timely historical and biographical discourse, by Tkeat, Esq. 

The next day the remains, attended by a large militarj- and civil escort, were taken to 
Mount Hope cemeterj', where their interment was attended by an address from Gov. 
Seward, and suitable military and religious exercises. 


supplies for them. The following paragraph from a manuscript 
letter of the Delaware chief, Killbuck, to Col. Daniel Broad- 
head, at Pittsburgh, dated at Salem, on the Muskingum, June 7th, 
1780, will give some idea of the sufferings that were experienced: 
"Some days ago, one man and an old woman, came from Niagara, 
who acquaint me that last winter, three hundred Indians died at 
that place of the flux." 

The destruction of the Onondagas formed a part of the general 
plan of Sullivan's campaign against the Six Nations and preceded 
it. The command of the eastern division of that expedition having 
been assigned Gen. James Clinton, he detailed Col. Van Schaick, 
assisted by Col. Willett aud Major Cochran for the one against 
the Onondagas. Gen. Clinton instructed Col. Van Schaick to 
sweep away their villages and fields — to take as many prisoners as 
he could, with as little bloodshed as possible. On the 19th of 
April, 1779, with about five hundred and fifty effective men. Col. 
Van Schaick left Fort Schuyler. Notwithstanding bad and rainy 
weather, swollen streams and morasses, he arrived at the Onondaga 
settlements on the third day. For the purpose of falling upon as 
many towns at the same time as possible, the men were divided in 
detachments with orders to make their attacks simultaneously. The 
detachments suddenly came upon the Indian hamlets that were 
scattered through the valley of the Onondaga Creek, and began 
their devastating work. Indian villages were soon wrapt in flames, 
cultivated fields destroyed, gardens spoiled, provisions wasted, and 
cattle of all kinds killed. When they discovered that an enemy 
had so unexpectedly rushed into their very midst, and was spreading 
ruin on every side, they fled so precipitately that they left every 
thing behind them, even their guns and other weapons of war. 
From a state of security and plenty, in a day, the Onondagas were 
reduced to misery and want — became houseless and destitute. 
Though they professed to be friendly to the Americans, their war 
parties had long hovered on the borders of the frontiers and around 
Fort Schuyler, scalping and murdering, imprisoning and torturing 
all the white inhabitants they could. The influence of this expedi- 
tion was salutary on the Oneidas, who were really friendly in their 
feelings to the Americans. The Oneidas and Tuscaroras sent a 
deputation to Fort Schuyler, and renewed their promises of friend- 


ship. Having successfully accomplished the objects of the expe- 
dition Col. Van Schaick marched back to Fort Schuyler, without 
loosing a single man. 

In the spring and summer of 1780, the Mohawk valley was again 
invaded. Sir John Johnson heading the expedition — Johnstown 
the point of attack. Brant was again upon the war path. He 
attacked Canajoharie, burning houses, wasting property, and put- 
ting to death, and making captive, the inhabitants. Jointly the two 
leaders, one of the loyalists, and the other of the Indians, extended 
the incursions into Schoharie. They re-enacted the terrible scenes 
that have been described, occurring upon previous visits. The next 
year, 1781, the Indians in alliance with the corps of Johnson and 
Butler, harrassed the frontiers, and kept the settlers in a state of 
dread and alarm. 

In August, Major Ross and Walter Butler, came from Canada 
by the way of Sacondaga to Johnstown, with a force of five hun- 
dred regulars, Tories and Indians, and encamped near Johnson Hall. 
They were attacked by Col. Marinus Willett with a force of 
three hundred men, in the end obliged to give way. They retreated 
up the Mohawk, hotly pursued by their conqueror, Col. Willett. 

In the month of January, 1783, Gen. Washington, not having 
yet been apprised of the treaty of peace, conceived the plan of 
surprising and obtaining possession of the important fortress of 
Oswego. The possession of this post and Niagara had given the 
enemy great advantage throughout the war. Oswego was then 
one of the most formidable mihtary defences on the continent. 
The hazardous enterprise was confided to Col. Willett. There 
is now residing in Bloomfield, Ontario county, a venerable pioneer 
of western New York, — Benjamin Goss — who was with Col. 
Willett in this expedition. From him, the author received some 
account of it during the last summer: — With great secresy, as the 
original intention was a surprise. Col. Willett assembled his 
force at Fort Herkimer on the 8th of February, and there provided 
a large portion of them with snow shoes, as they had no beaten 
track to follow, and the snow was from two feet and a half to three 
feet deep. The men thus provided, went ahead and made a track 
for a cavalcade of two hundred sleighs that followed, carrying the 
remainder of the troops, and the baggage. The expedition crossed 


Oneida lake on the ice, and arriving at Fort Bre\^ington, at the 
foot of the lake, the sleighs were left. Here a large number of the 
pressed militia, having seen enough of a winter campaign in the 
wilderness, deserted. An Oneida Indian was selected as the pilot 
through the woods to Oswego. He, by mistake, or purpo&ely, 
misled the expedition, which occasioned great delay in arriving at 
the garrison, and much suffering from cold and hunger. When 
they supposed themselves near the garrison, and began to prepare 
for the attack, they discovered that tbey had gone in another 
direction, were lost in the forest, the deep snow adding much to 
tlieir perplexity and embarrassment. Changing their course, they 
arrived within four miles of the place of destination, but in a 
condition that did not justify an attack upon a strong fortification. 
The men had been three days without provision, were wearied by 
m^arching in the deep snow, and their ammunition had become 
much injured. — Col. Willett upon consultation with his officers, 
resolved reluctantly to forego the attack, and retrace his steps. 
The retreat was attended with even more suffering than the 
advance. From the time the expedition left Fort Plain until its 
return there, it was twelve days of almost constant suffering from 
cold or hunger, or both combined. Many of the men had their 
feet frozen, our informant among the number. On the return of 
the expedition to Albany, it was met by the welcome news of 
peace, proclaimed by the town clerk at the city Hall. 

" The incursion of Ross and Butler was the last made into the 
county of Tryon. Indeed, there was no longer any thing to destroy. 
The inhabitants lost all but the soil they cultivated; their beautiful 
county, except in the vicinity of the forts, was turned into a 
wilderness. During the war, famine sometimes appeared inevi- 
table, and it was with difficulty that they preserved from the 
ravages of the enemy sufficient grain to support their families 
during the winter. The resistance of the inhabitants on the fron- 
tier settlements, however unimportant it may seem, because no great 
battles were fought, or important victories won, was of very 
considerable moment in the cause for which they struggled; they 
kept back the enemy from the towns of the Hudson, and thus frus- 
trated the plan of the British for establishing a line of posts along 
that river. And while we admire the heroism and patriotism of 
those worthies of the Revolution, whose names have come down 
to us surrounded with a halo of glory, we should not withhold our 
praise from those obscure individuals in the frontier settlements, 


who, amid the most appalling dangers, surrounded on all sides by 
enemies and traitors, still refused to submit to oppression and arbi- 
trary exactions, though allured by assurances of safety and prom- 
ises of reward. Many left their homes; many fell in battle in the 
regular army, and in skirmishes and battles with the enemy at 
home, and many fell silently by the rifle, the tomahawk, and the 
scalping knife of the Indian." * 

Having now travelled over a period of one hundred and seventy- 
five years — from the advent of Champlain upon the St. Lawrence 
to the close of the American Revolution — we have done, for a 
while, with wars,t and mostly, with the "rumors of wars*' — -and 
enter upon the more pleasing task of recording the peaceful 
triumphs of civilization and improvement — of enterprise and 

The settlement of Western New York followed soon after the 
peace of 1783. Our national independence achieved — the glorious 
prospect of future peace and prosperity, opening upon our country 
— men's minds soon began to turn to the extension of the bounds 
of civilization and improvement — the enlargement of the theatre 
upon which the experiment of free government and free institutions 
was to be enacted. The war closed — the armies discharged — 
there were many, poor in purse, but rich in all the elements that 
fitted them to become the pioneers of the vdlderness, the founders 
of new settlements. There had come along with Sullivan to the 
regions of Western New York, a great number of those who, 
looking forward to the end of the war, converted the expedition to 
the two-fold purpose of quelling the disturbers of the border set- 
tlers, and viewing the country they inhabited, with an eye to future 
enterprises. They passed through the vallies of the Mohawk, of 
our interior lakes, of the Susquehannah, delighted at every step 
with the beautiful prospects that surrounded them, until arriving at 
the valley of the Genesee, it realized their highest hopes and most 
extravagant anticipations. They returned to their homes to mingle 
with the narratives of an Indian war, descriptions of the country 
they had seen; resolved themselves to retrace their steps upon the 

* Campbell's Annals. 

t With the exception of some brief references to the campaigns of St. Clair and 


more peaceful mission of emigration and settlement; and their 
representations turned the attention of others in this direction. 
Thus War — as it is often its province to do — as if it was the will 
of Providence to make evils productive of blessings — aided in 
hastening and achieving one of the noblest triumphs of Peace. 

[Before commencing to trace the progress of settlement westward, brief biographical 
sketches of individuals who were in Western New York, previous to white settlement, 
captives, one of them a voluntary exile; — will be inserted in a separate chapter.] 




Horatio Jones, an Indian captive, was born in December, 
1763, in Bedford county, Pennsylvania. His father was a black- 
smith, and intended that his son should follow the same business. 
But at a very early age, Horatio's love of adventure and military 
life, showed itself by his voluntarily going off with companies of 
soldiers as a fifer, and cheerfully enduring all the privations of the 
camp. He was active, enterprising, fearless — possessed of a 
powerful frame, capable of enduring any amount of fatigue, a sure 
and accomplished marksman. Though but a boy, hardly capable 
of fully understanding the merits of the contest, yet with the ardent 
enthusiasm of youth, he joined the patriot ranks, ready and willing 
to face any danger and perform any duty. In 1781, he enlisted as 
a soldier in the army of the United States, and belonged to a com- 
pany called "Bedford Rangers." This company repaired to a 
neighboring fort, to be reinforced, and then to march into the 
Indian country. When the company arrived at the fort, tlio 
garrison there was found so weak that no soldiers could be spared. 
Notwithstanding this, Capt. Duxlap, the commander of the com- 
pany, resolved to proceed with the small force he had with him. 
He had not gone far, before he was surrounded by Indians, who 
simultaneously fired upon him, killed nine of his men, took eight 
prisoners, among the latter of whom, was himself and young 
Jones. Jones tried to make his escape by flight, but he fell down, 
was overtaken and captured. 

The captives were carried into the wilderness. For two days 
they were entirely without food, and on the third day only the 


entrails of a bear was allowed them. Capt. Dunlap was wounded. 
Showing some slight evidence of exhaustion, an Indian, fearing 
that he might be troublesome, silently stepped up behind him, and 
without a warning word, struck a hatchet deep into the back of his 
neck, stripped off his scalp, and left him to die. For the first two 
or three days after their capture, the Indians were very cautious 
and watchful; they would hardly allow a gun to be fired, lest the 
sound might guide their pursuers. After the fourth day, they 
began to relax their vigilance. A hunting party had been out and 
prepared some food. The Indians pointed it out to Jones, who 
supposed that thev intended it as an invitation to dine; so he com- 
menced running toward the spot, and they after him; when he 
reached it, he stopped. The Indians, supposing that he was trying 
to make his escape, laid him on his back, tied each limb to a tree, 
drove pronged sticks over his arms and legs, and in that condition 
kept him all night, his face upwards and the rain falling in it. 
During their forest journey, they regarded Jones with so much 
favor that they relieved him of his burden. Observing that one 
of his fellow-captives, older and feebler than himself, was over- 
loaded, he generously took part of his load and carried it for him. 
When they arrived at the Indian settlement, at Nunda, Alleghany 
county, he was informed that a council had been held, and the 
Great Spirit had interposed in his behalf. He was taken to a height 
near the village, by an Indian, who showed him a wigwam at a 
considerable distance, and said if he could reach that unhurt, all 
would be well — if he passed through the fearful trial safely, he 
would be adopted and regarded as one of themselves. He imme- 
diately began the perilous race, swiftly pressing his way forward 
through a shower of clubs, stones, knives, hatchets and arrows — 
skillfully dodging and jvading them all — he reached his destination 
and was received as one of their nation. 

Jones possessed those qualities both of rnind and body which 
the Indians most adtrire and respect. He was strong and finely 
proportioned, and able to rival any of them in those feats which 
they regard as tests of manliness. He was bold and fearless. By 
his care and prudence he soon gained their confidence and esteem. 
He became familiar with their language, and was often employed 
as an interpreter. 

The life which he led among his new associates seems to have 
been marked by all the vicissitudes which distinguish the Indian 


State. He accommodated himself lo his new situation, and made 
himself as happy as circumstances would allow. Though sur- 
rounded by savages, he had the courage to resent any insults they 
ventured to offer. When they threw hatchets at him he threw 
them back, and often with better success than they had. On one 
occasion, an Indian named Shaepshins, commenced the play of 
throwing tomahawks at Jones, in earnest. Jones threw them back 
with such effect as to endanger the life of Sharpshins, and render 
his recovery from the wound doubtful. He however, got well, and 
was careful how he provoked the "pale face warrior." He made 
himself very useful to them in reparing their hunting implements 
and weapons of war. 

In the chase successful, swift on the race course, often outstrip- 
ping their fleetest runners — temperate in his habits — cheerful in 
his dispositions — with a firm and fearless spirit, he soon became a 
great favorite with the Indians, he acquired a power and influence 
over them which he always exercised on the side of humanity, and 
saved captives from the lingering tortures of an Indian execution. 
He was often chosen arbiter to decide their disputes, and so 
uniformly just were his decisions, that he used to draw acknowl- 
edgements of the correctness of his judgements from those against 
whom he decided. 

The history of his residence among the Indians is full of thrilling 
incidents and daring adventures. Without any very strict adhe- 
rence to order, we shall speak of some of them: — 

He had not been with them long before a "young brave" began 
to amuse himself at the expense of Jones, who warned him in vain 
to desist. At dinner one day, the young Indian renewed his sport; 
Jones jumped up, ran to the fire, seized a boiling squash by the 
neck, gave chase, overtook the Indian, and thrust the hot squash 
between his loose garments and bare skin. After this he was per- 
mitted to eat his dinner in peace. 

Jones often saved the lives of prisoners. Major Van Campen, 
with two others, having fallen into their hands, they were placed 
under a guard of seven Indians. The prisoners managed to get 
loose during the night, kill all the Indians, except one, who ran 
away with Van Campen's hatchet sticking in his back. The White 
prisoners made their escape. Van Campen became an object of 
their deadly hatred. He soon after fell into their hands again. A 
council was assembled to determine his fate. Jones knew that he 


was the man who " lent John Mohawk the hatchet," but wished to 
conceal it from the rest of the Indians. In the midst of the council 
sat Van CampexN, calm, unmoved, self possessed, closely watching 
every new comer, expecting soon to see John Mohawk enter with 
the fatal loan. Jones leaped over the heads of the Indians, and 
acted as interpreter, asking questions and answering them. The 
Indians were induced' to refer the case to their prophet, who decided 
that the life of the prisoner should be spai'ed. 

Jones, with his Indian father and family, were in the habit of 
making annual visits to their relatives, living on Grand river, in 
Canada. They went through Tonawanda village, down the south 
side of the creek, to its mouth and were anxious to get across that 
night to camp at Schlosser. A canoe lay opposite them, on the 
north side of the creek. Jones wanted to swim across and get it, 
but his Indian father told him no one ever attempted to swim the 
Tonawanda, but was drowned by the witches — sunk under the 
water, and never seen afterwards. Jones told him that he be- 
longed to a nation that could control the witches in the water, and 
said he could bring the canoe over. His fcidian mother told him to 
mind his father, as he was a man of sense and years. Jones and 
his brothers being set to work to make a camp fire, he watched his 
opportunity, plunged into the water, and, much to the surprise of the 
Indians, succeeding in swimming across, and in bringing the canoe 
over. When he came back he was caressed by the party for his 
miraculous escape. They encamped that night at Fort Schlosser. 
The next morning they went down to Niagara. A British officer 
wanted to purchase Jones — having bought two prisoners of the 
same family before. The Indian father refused the offer, because 
Jones was his adopted son. The officer offered gold and told how 
rich his father, the King, was. "Go and tell your father the king, 
that he is not rich enough to buy Ta-e-da-o-qua," replied the Indian. 
The triumph of Jones over the witches at Tonawanda made him 
valued more than before among the Indians. 

At one period of his life he became dissatisfied with his manner 
of living, and resolved to visit the home and scenes of his child- 
hood. He accordingly started and traveled a day; night came, 
and he began to reflect how few of his youthful associates would 
remember him; how fewer still might be the number remaining there, 
and how coldly he might be received. The morning found him 
retracing his steps, with no more thoughts of changing his condition. 


When this whole region of country was a wilderness, and the 
roads, that are now lined on either side by well cultivated fields, 
were not even marked out, Capt. Horatio Jones was often 
employed to convey money and dispatches from one distant place 
to another. He was always faithful and trust worthy, never 
failing to transact the business on which he was sent. These 
journeys, which he often performed alone, were then attended with 
difficulties and dangers few can now appreciate. The thickest- 
leaved tree was his only shelter from the storm when night came 
on; the pure spring his only hotel, where he partook of his frugal 
meal, which he carried with him. Yet with a brave heart and 
cheerful spirit, would he start off on these journeys, heedless of the 
perils that he might have to encounter. 

The change made in his course of Hfe by his captivity, he seems 
never to have regretted, but to have voluntarily acquiesced in, 
when it was in his power to return to his former home. He loved 
forest-life — its unrestrained liberty — its comparative freedom from 
want and care — the opportunities which it afforded him for 
indulging in his favorite pursuits of hunting and fishing, and 
beholding and admiring nature in its primitive beauty and grandeur. 

Settlement, civilization, came to him; he did not seek it; though 
adapting himself again to the associations from which he had long 
been an exile, he made himself useful in the early period of 
emigration to the Genesee valley. — When his brother, John H. 
Jones, came to the Seneca lake in Oct. 1788, he found him there, 
surrounded "with quite a little settlement — every house was 
covered with barks, no boards or shingles to be had." His son, 
Wm. W. Jones, now residing at Leicester, Livingston Co., was 
born at Geneva, in Dec. 1786, and was the first white male child 
born west of Utica. In the spring of 1790, Capt. Jones and 
family, went upon the Genesee river, occupying at first, an Indian 
house, m Little Beard's town. 

Soon after the treaty of peace, between the United States and 
the Six Nations, President Washington appointed Capt. Jones 
Indian Interpreter, which office he held until within a year or two 
of his death. For near forty years he discharged the duties of the 
office with ability and fidelity. 

At a council held by the Six Nations, at Genesee river, Nov. 
1798, it was decreed that a present should be made to Capt. Jones 
and Capt. Parrish. To this end a speech was made by Farmer's 


Brother, which was intended as a communication to the Legisla- 
ture of this state, asking its co-operation in the matter. The 
title was finally confirmed. An extract from the speech is 

inserted: — 

"Brothers: — This whirlwind," (the Revolution,) "was so 
directed by the Great Spirit above, as to throw into our arms two 
of your infant children, Horatio Jones and Jasper Parrish. We 
adopted them into our families, and made them our children. We 
nourished them and loved them. They lived with us many years. 
At length the Great Spirit spoke to the whirlwind, and it was still. 
A clear and uninterrupted sky appeared. The path of peace was 
opened, and the chain of friendship was once more made bright. 
Then these adopted children left us to seek their relations. We 
wished them to return- among us, and promised, if they would 
return and live in our country, to give each of them a seat of land 
for them and their children to sit down upon. 

"Brothers: — They have returned, and have for several years 
past been serviceable to us as Interpreters, we still feel our hearts 
beat with affection for them, and now wish to fulfill the promise 
we made them, for their services. — We have therefore made up 
our minds to give them a seat of two square miles of land lying on 
the outlet of lake Erie, beginning at the mouth of a creek, known 
as Suyguquoydes creek, running one mile from the Niagara river, 
up said creek, thence northerly, as the river runs, two miles, thence 
westerly, one mile to the river, thence up the river as the river 
runs, two miles to the place of beginning, so as to contain two 
square miles." 

Capt. Jones died at his residence upon the Genesee river, in 
1836, at the age of seventy -five years; — in the full possession and 
excercise of all his mental faculties — his eye undimmed — his 
nerves unstrung — full of years, and without reproach. 

Note. — Those from whom the author derived the information contained in this 
biographical sketch, did not name the fact of his having left the Indians for a short 
period after the Revolution; which fact is to be inferred from the language of Farmer's 
Brother. Whatever may have been the fact with regard to a temporan,- residence 
among the whites, it would seem that he had returned, and had a family upon the 
Seneca lake as early as 1786. 



Capt. Jasper Parrish was born in March, 1766, in Windham 
Connecticut. He was quite young when his parents moved to 
Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. Soon after the Massacre of 
Wyoming, when only eleven years old, he was taken captive by a 
party of Delawares, and carried away by them from his home. 
During the seven years of his captivity, he was often transferred 
from one tribe to another among the Six Nations, and exposed to 
all the hardships and privations of Indian life. While he was 
among them, by his prudent and conciliatory conduct, he managed 
to gain their confidence and good will. He learned and became 
familiar with the language of five diflferent nations, and he could 
speak them all with fluency and correctness. In the treaty 
negotiated at Fort Stanwix between the United States and the Six 
Nations, in 1784, the Indians agreed to surrender all their prisoners 
and captives. Parrish, with others was accordingly released. 
He was shortly appointed Indian Interpreter, and afterwards a 
sub-agent of Indian affairs, by the government of the United 
States. He discharged the duties of these offices in a manner 
entirely satisfactory to his own government and the Indians, for 
more than thirty years. He was an early pioneer in Ontario 
county, having settled at Canandaigua as early as 1792. 

At a very tender age, when he could hardly begin even to 
appreciate its consequences, he was destined to experience how 
sudden and awful are some of the misfortunes of life. We can 
scarcely conceive of a more startling and fearful change, than to 
be suddenly taken from the midst of civilization, and carried into 
barbarism; — to be compelled to relinquish the comforts, usages and 
associations of the one, and be forced to submit to the hardships, 
privations and customs of the other. It was the lot of Parrish, 
as it had been the lot of others, to suffer such a reverse of fortune. 
But he seems to have met it with manly fortitude, and ^even to 
have profited by it. In 1836, at the age of sixty-nine, he died, 
respected and happy in the varied relations of life. 

What in all human probability, appeared to have been the 
gi-eatest evil that could have befallen these captives individually, 
perhaps was the source of the greatest good to the country 
generally. During their captivity, they gained a more thorough 


and extensive knowledge of the character, language, habits, man- 
ners, &c. of the Indians, than they could otherwise have acquired. 
They were adopted by the Indians into their families, regarded as 
members of their nations. These captives saw them in war, and 
in peace — around the council fire and on the battle field — at home 
and abroad. Our government redeemed them whenever it could 
• — and availed itself of their knowledge and experience, employed 
them as interpreters and agents, consulted and advised with them; 
and with their assistance, the proprietorship and possession of a 
whole continent has been essentially changed; civilization has taken 
the place of barbarism; — the works of man, his art and his science, 
are transforming the whole face of nature, and giving a new and 
different direction, to its course and destiny. 


The interesting and instructive narrative of the captivity and 
life of Mary Jemison, written as she herself related the story to 
her biographer before the faculties of her mind were impaired, 
though more than three quarters of a century afterwards, has 
made most readers familiar with her strange fortunes. 

In the summer of 1755, during the French and Indian wars, her 
father's house, situated on the western frontier of Pennsylvania, 
was surrounded by a band, consisting of six Indians and four 
Frenchmen. They plundered and carried away whatever they 
could that was valuable, and took the whole family captive, with 
two or three others, who were staying with it, at the time. They 
were all immediately hastened away into the wilderness, murdered 
and scalped, with the exception of Mary and a small boy, who 
were carried to Fort Du Quesne. Little Mary was there given 
to two Indian sisters, ■v\4ho came to that place to get a captive to 
supply the place of a brother that had been slain in battle. Tliey 
took her down the Ohio to their home, adopted her as their sister, 
under the name of Dehhewamis — a word signifying "a beautiful 
girl." The sorrow and regret which so sudden and fearful a 
change in her condition produced, gradually yielded under the 

Note — The prominent position of Capt. Parrish at an earl)' period of the settlement 
of Western New York, would suggest a more extended biography than the author 
could obtain materials to make. He found himself in possession of no data beyond a 
brief obituary notice in the Ontario Repository. 


influence of time; and she began to feel quite reconciled to her 
fate, when an incident occurred, which once more revived her 
hopes of being redeemed from captivity and restored to her friends. 
When Fort Pitt fell into the possession of the British, Mary w^as 
taken with a party who went there to conclude a treaty of peace 
with the English. She immediately attracted the notice of the 
white people, who showed great anxiety to know how one so 
young and so deUcate came among the savages. Her Indian 
sisters became alarmed, and fearing that they might lose her, 
suddenly fled away with her, and carried her back to their forest 
home. Her disappointment was painful and she brooded over it 
for many days, but at length regained her usual cheerfulness, and 
contentment. As soon as she was of sufficient age, she w^as 
married to a young Delaware Indian, named Sheninjee. Notwith- 
standing her reluctance at first to become the wife of an Indian, 
her husband's uniform kind treatment and gentleness, soon won her 
esteem and affection, and she says: — " Strange as it may seem, 1 
loved him!" — and she often spoke of him as her "kind husband," 
About 1759, she concluded to change her residence. With a little 
child, on foot, she traveled to the Genesee river, through the 
pathless wilderness, a distance of near six hundred miles, and 
fixed her home at Little Beard's Town. When she came there, 
she found the Senecas in alliance with the French; they were 
making preparations for an attack on Fort Schlosser; and not a 
great while after, enacted the tragedy at the Devil's Hole. Some- 
time after her arrival, she received intelligence of the death of her 
husband, Sheninjee, who was to have come to her in the succeed- 
ing spring. They had lived happily together, and she sincerely 
lamented his death. 

When the war between England and France ended, she might 
have returned to the English, but she did not. She married 
another Indian, named Hiakatoo, two or three years after the 
death of Sheninjee. When Gen. Sullivan invaded the Genesee 
country, her house and fields shared a common fate with the rest 
When she saw them in ruins — with great energy and perseve- 
rance, she immediately went to making preparation for the coming 
winter. Taking her two youngest children on her back, and 
bidding the other three follow, she sought employment. She found 
an opportunity to husk corn, and secured in that way twenty-five 
bushels of shelled corn, which kept them through the winter. 


After the close of the Revolution, she obtained the grant of a 
large tract of land, called the '' Gardeau Reservation," which was 
about six miles in length and five in breadth. With the exception 
of some deeply afflicting domestic calamities, and the uneasiness 
and discontent which she felt as the white people gathered around, 
and her old Indian associates departed, but little occurred in her 
after life which need be noticed here. In 1831, preferring to pass 
the remainder of her days in the midst of those with whom her youth 
and middle age had been spent, she sold the rest of her land at 
Gardeau Flatts, purchased a farm on the Buffalo Reservation, 
where the Senecas, among whom she had long lived, had settled 
some five years previous. She passed the remainder of her days 
in peace and quietness, embraced the Christian religion, and on the 
19th of September, 1833, ended a life that had been marked by 
vicissitudes, such as it is the lot of but few to experience. 

The story of her family, of her son John, especially, — his mur- 
der of his brothers, &c., has been well narrated in the small work 
originally written by James E. Seaver, and afterwards enlarged 
and improved by Ebenezer Mix. The author in his boyhood, has 
often seen the "White Woman," as she was uniformly called 
by the early settlers; and remembers well the general esteem in 
which she was held. Notwithstanding she had one son who was a 
terror to Indians, as well as the early white settlers, she has left 
many descendants who are not unworthy of her good name. 
Jacob JexIiison, a grand son of hers, received a liberal education, 
passed through a course of medical studies, and was appointed an 
assistant surgeon in the U. S. Navy. He died on board of his ship, 
in the Mediterranean. 

Soon after the war of 1812, an altercation occurred between 
David Reese, of Buffalo — (who was at the time the government 
blacksmith for the Senecas upon the Reservation near Buffalo) — 
and a Seneca Indian called Young King, which resulted in a 
severe blow with a scythe, inflicted by Reese, which nearly 
severed one of the Indian's arms; so near in fact, that amputation 
was immediately resorted to. The circumstance created consid- 
erable excitement among the Indians, which extended to Gardeau, 
the then home of the Je.mison family. John Jemison, headed a 
party from there, and went to Buffalo, giving out as he traveled 
along the road, that he was going to "kill Reese." The author 
saw him on his way, and recollects how well he personated the 


ideal "aiifrel of death." His weapons were the war club and 
tomahawk; red paint was daubed upon his swarthy face, and long 
bunches of horse hair, colored red, were dangling from each arm; 
his warlike appearance was well calculated to give an earnest to 
his threats. Reese was kept secreted, and thus in all probabiUty, 
avoided the fate that even kindred had met at the hands of John 

Mrs. Black3ian, a surviving daughter of Peter Pitts, the 
early pioneer upon the Honeoye Flatts, says: — "Mrs. Jemison 
used to be at our house frequently, on her journeys from Gardeau 
to Canandaigua and back. Bill Axtis at Canandaigua used to do 
her blacksmithing. She was a smart intelligent woman. She 
used often to sit down and tell my father stories of her captivity; 
but always avoided doing it in the hearing of her Indian husband, 


\Xy^ See notice of burial place of Mary Jemison, p. 69. 


It has been, in all periods of history, a marked, prominent result 
of War, to draw out, develope the character of men. The flint, 
inert of itself, is not more sure, when brought in quick contact with 
hardened steel, to produce fire, than are the exigencies of War, to 
produce daring, adventurous spirits; — both good and bad. No 
people, or age, dwelling in peace and quiet, undisturbed, know how 
much of the elements of good and evil, in men's characters, are 
slumbering, awaiting a stimulus, or call to action. How well was 
this illustrated by the whole history of our Revolution ! The great 
colonial exigencies occurred — separation — war; — -a. great neces- 
sity was created; and men were found equal to it. There came 
out from the quiet walks of life, here and there, often from whence 
least expected, the bold, the daring — the men to lead in field and 
council — fitted to the terrible emergency; gifted with the skill, 
bravery and prudence, to carry it to a successful termination. 

The history of the border wars, cotemporary with the Revolu- 
tion, and prolonged beyond it; those that have succeeded them 
upon our western and northwestern frontiers; are replete with 
illustrations. They partook largely of the character of civil or 
internal commotions — of feuds between joint occupants of a soil 
or country; they were predatory — governed little by any settled 


rules or regulations; dependent upon skill, cunning, stratagem; the 
stealthy onset, and when necessary, the quick and irregular retreat. 
The assailants knew no rules of regular warfare; the assailed must 
adapt themselves to the exigency; and well did they do so. 
There is hardly to be found in the whole range of history, an 
account of war, or wars, so full of personal adventure, of individ- 
ual daring, of all that would interest and instruct, if gathered up 
and recorded, as is all that relates to the border wars of New York. 
The truthful historian, finds a marked extraordinary character, or 
characters, in' every prominent feature of the bloody contest; in 
after times the novelist may find a basis of truth, for a wide range 
of fancy. 

These are thoughts that have occurred, after a brief review of 
some memorandums, made in conversation of those who knew 
Ebenezer Allan; and the perusal of some notices of him in the 
life of Mary Jemison; and yet they are mainly not applicable to 
him; for he was no hero, — but rather a desperado. He warred 
against his own race, country and color; vied with his savage allies 
in deeds of cruelty and blood-shed. As a portion of his life was 
spent in Western New York; and especially, as he was prominent 
in an early period of settlement, some notice of him may be 
regarded as coming within the scope of local history. 

He was a native of New Jersey; joined himself to the back- 
woodsmen of the valley of the Susquehannah, who under Brant 
and Butler, were allies of England — leagued, and co-operating 
with the Indians.* Mrs. Jemison says she has "often heard him 
relate his inglorious feats, and confess crimes, the rehearsal of 
which made my blood curdle, as much accustomed as I was to hear 
of bloody and barbarous deeds." A detail of the enormities he 
confessed — though it is said, with some professions of regret — 
would be but a recapitulation of tales of horror, with which narra- 
tives of the border wars abound. 

* Little is known of his early histoiy, birth, parentage &c. Mrs. Gkorge Hosmer, 
of Avon speaks of a sister of his, as her earlj' tutor, at a period when there were no 
schools. She had married a British soldier, named Dugan, and resided upon a farm of 
Allan's at " Dugan's creek," a small stream emptying into the Genesee river a few 
miles below Avon Springs; and at another period, at Allan's mill. Mrs. Hosmer 
speaks of her as a well educated, and otherwise accomplished woman, who had con- 
nected herself in marriage to one in every way unworthy of her. She had been in the 
capacity of governes<s in the family of Lord Stirling, in New Jersey; others, who knew 
her in her singularly chosen retreat, in the wilderness — dependant principally, for support 
upon a brother who seems to have fled from civilized Hfe because he was unworthy of 
a participation in its blessings — speak of her in high terms of praise and commendation. 


Near the close of the Revolutionary war, Allan, then a young 
man, made his first appearance on the Genesee river, fie had 
acquired the habits of Indian life, made Mrs. Jemison's house his 
residence; — seemed an adventurer, alienated by his own acts from 
kindred and home; and partly from choice, and partly from neces- 
sity, seeking a permanent abode w4th his war associates. 

As it was a preliminary step to after feats of gallantry, in which, 
he seems to have had a sovereign contempt for the usages of 
savage as well as civilized life, it may be mentioned here, that he 
had not been long at Gardeau, when he disturbed the domestic 
relations of a white tenant of Mrs, Jemison, who had married a 
squaw. Unfortunately the two had a similarity of tastes. This, 
after an open rupture and separation, resulted in a reconciliation, a 
condition of which, was to remove away from the captivating 
influences of the new comer. 

He turned his attention to agriculture; worked the fine flats of 
Mrs. Jemison, until after the peace, in 1783, when he ventured to 
Philadelphia, and returned with a horse and some dry-goods; built 
a house, and settled at Mount Morris. He seemed disposed to 
peace. Learning that the British and Indians, upon this frontier, 
and in Canada, were determined to prolong the war, and continue 
their attacks upon the settlements in the Mohawk valley, he fore- 
stalled their action by an ingenious fraud. Just before an expe- 
dition was to start, he procured a belt of wampum and carried it 
as a token of peace to the nearest American post. The Indians 
were very unexpectedly informed that the overtures of peace were 
accepted. The wampum, although presented without their consent, 
was a sacred thing with them, and they determined to bury the 
hatchet — go no more out upon the war path with their British 
allies. The British at Fort Niagara, however, and the Indians, 
mutually resolved to punish Allan. For months he was pursued; 
but skulking in the woods, hiding in the cleft rocks, approaching 
the hospitable wigwam of his friend the White Woman, stealthily, 
at night, and getting food; he managed to keep out of their 
clutches. The matter apparently dying away, the chase aban- 
doned, Allan, "all in tatters, came in;" Hi-a-ka-too, the husband 
of Mrs. Jemison, giving him a blanket and a piece of broadcloth, 
with which he made himself some trousers. Dres&ed up, and 
recruited a little, he turned his attention to matrimony; — married 
a squaw, whose name was Sally. The news of all this transpiring 


at Niagara, a party was sent down, who succeeded in arresting 
him. Just as they were arriving at the garrison, a house near by 
took fire, the guard went to extinguish the flames; Allan took 
to his heels. Arriving at Tonawanda, he armed himself, got some 
refreshments, and went on to Little Beard's Town, where he 
found his wife Sally. Attempting to go to Gardeau, he discov- 
ered a party of British and Indians in pursuit of him. Then 
followed weeks of skulking, lying in wait by his pursuers, a search 
of all the fastnesses of the forest; frequent approaches of the 
fugitive by night, to get food from the benevolent hand of the 
White Woman; until the pursuit was again abandoned, — the 
pursuers returning to Niagara. Allan again ventured out with 
assurances of protection by the Indians, who by this time, were 
generally his friends, and in favor of an armistice being extended 
to him; — believed "that the Niagara people were persecuting him 
without just cause." The chief. Little Beard, had given orders 
for his protection. His persecutors had appropriated his horse and 
goods, but all this time, Mrs. Jemison had been the faithful 
depository of a " box of money and trinkets." Thus situated, in 
fancied security, the party again came on from Niagara, took him 
by surprise, and carried him bound to the garrison, where he was 
confined for the winter. In the spring, he was taken to Montreal 
for trial, and acquitted. There was probably no law, or precedent, 
for punishing the offence of carrying wampum to the enemy. It 
was a novel offence; and the proof must have been difficult to 
.obtain. It probably aided in putting an end to the cruel warfare 
upon the border settlers upon the Mohawk and Susquehannah, 
stimulated and encouraged from the British, in this quarter — the 
authorities of Canada, the officers of Fort Niagara, at Kingston 
and Oswego, after peace had been concluded; and even after their 
•allies of the Six Nations, wished to bury the tomahawk and 
scalping knife.* For so much, let " Indian Allan," be credited. 

He went immediately to Philadelphia, and purchased on credit, 
"a boat load of goods," bringing them to Mount Morris, by the 
way of Conhocton. He bartered them for ginseng and furs, which 
he sold at Niagara. He then planted corn, raised a large crop, and 
after harvesting it, moved down to the mouth of "Allan's creek" 

* It Is evident from the whole narration, that it was the British, and not the Indians, 
who wished to punish Allan: that the Seuecas, were even glad of the excuse \o 
refuse farther participation in the war. 


where he lived with his squaw Sally, who by this time had made 
him the father of two daughters, named Mary and Chloe. He 
next season, entered into an arrangement with Phelps and Gor- 
HAM, in pursuance of which they gave him 100 acres of land, at 
the Genesee Falls, in consideration of his building a grist and saw- 
mill, to accommodate the few settlers in the surrounding country.* 

His friend, Mrs. Jemison, signalizes this advent of Allan as an 
early miller of this region, by two murders, and the obtaining of 
two additional wives. While conveying down the river some 
materials, an old German named Andrews, in his employ, gave 
him some offence, and as is supposed, he pushed him out of the 
canoe. Andrews was never afterwards heard of; Allan still 
resided at Allan's creek. 

While at the Falls, superintending the erection of his mills, a 
white man came along, emigrating to Canada. He had a young 
daughter, that took Allan's fancy; there was a summary courtship; 
the young woman, ''nothing loth," consented; the ambitious emi- 
grant parents, thought the suitor rich, unmarried of course, 
consented. They were married. "Miss Lucy," — that was her 
name — had her dream of happiness soon interrupted. She was 
introduced to the domicile of her suddenly acquired husband, where 
she found a dark complexioned "Sally," a joint tenant, and co- 
partner in bed and board. She had none of her own race to 
appeal to for redress, the parents had gone on their way, and she, 
perhaps prudently, resolved to stay and make the best of it. 

The backwood's "Blue Beard" was about this time in a 
marrying way, and did not know where to stop. On a visit to Mrs. 
Jemison, at Gardeau, a short time after this, he saw a "young 
woman with an old husband," and deemed that circumstance, a 
justification for his gallantry. (Fatal to the happiness of many an 
old dotard, would such a deduction in moral ethics be in these latter 
days of January and May matches !) He poured into her ears the 

* The author has in his possession a quit claim deed, or rather an assij^nment of his 
right to this 100 acre tract, to Benjamin Barton, the father of Benjamin Barton, Jr. It 
would seem he had at the date of it, no written title to the land, but he authorises Messrs. 
Phelps and Gorham to deed to Mr. Barton. The consideration was "Two hundred 
pounds, N. York currency." It is in the hand writing of Samuel Ogden, and witnessed 
by " Gertrude Ogden," by which it would seem that it was executed in the city of New 
York. The signature is well executed. It is written " E. Allan " — not Allen. The 
land is described as being on the "west side of Genesee river in Ontario county: — 
bounded east by the river, so as to take in the mills recently erected by the said Allan." 
The instrument is dated March, 1792. 


story of his wealth — his possessions at Allan's creek — his "Mills" 
— his influence; — and succeeded so far as to induce his victim to 
persuade her "old man" to accompany him home with his wife. 
Allan under pretence of showing him his flats on Allan's creek, 
took him out, and pushed him into the river. He saved himself 
from drowning, but died in a few days, in consequence of the fall 
and struggle. The young widow, remained in the harem for a 
year, and left. 

He removed from the creek, back to Mt. Morris, in the summer 
of 1792, it is presumed, as he sold the mill tract, early in that 
season. He built a house there; moved his remaining two wives 
into it; and soon resolved to fill the vacancy occasioned by the 
departure of the widow. He married Mille M'Gregor, the 
daughter of a white settler upon the Genesee flats. Taking her 
home, there was soon trouble in his domicil:—^ Sally and Lucy 
united, and whipped the new comer, Mille. She was provided 
with a separate residence. This is a sad picture, it is confessed, 
of morals and matrimony, in our region, at a primitive period; and 
yet it is a truthful record. It is a specimen of "freedom in the 

In 1791, the Seneca Indians deeded to Allan in trust, for his 
two daughters, four square miles on the Genesee river, the tract 
which now embraces the beautiful village of Mount Morris. The 
deed commences by setting forth the reasons why the gift is made: 
— "It has been the custom of the nation from the earliest times of 
our forefathers, to the present day, to consider every person born 
of a Seneca woman as one of the nation, and as having equal rights 
with every one in the nation to lands belonging to it. And whereas, 
Kyendanent, named in English, Sally, has had two daughters 
born of her body, by our brother Jenuhshio, named in English, 
Ebenezer Allan; the names of said daughters being in English. 
Mary Allan, and Chloe Allan,"&c. It was provided in the 
deed that Allan should have the care of the land, until his daugh- 
ters were married, or became of age; that out of its proceeds he 
should cause the girls to be instructed "in reading and writing, 
sewing and other useful arts, according to the custom of the white 
people." Sally, the mother, was to have comfortable maintenance 
during her natural life, or as long as she "remained unjoined to an- 
other man." The deed is signed by the sachems and chiefs of the 
Seneca nation, and by Timothy Pickering as U. S. Commissioner; 


witnessed by Horatio Jones. Jasper Parrish, Oliver Phelps. Ebene- 
zer Bowman. 

In pursuance of the provisions of the deed, Allan took the two 
daughters to Philadelphia and placed them in a school. Mrs. 
Blackman, to whom allusion has been made in a preceding page, 
remembers well when Allan returned with his daughters from 
Philadelphia, and staid at her fathers house over night. She says: 

— "The party were on horseback, attended by a white man and a 
white woman, as waiters. Allan would not allow them to sit at 
table with him and his daughters. The daughters were fine looking 
well behaved girls. The early settlers here did not like Allan. 
1 remember when he came near being burned up when dry grass 
caught fire on Genesee Flatts, and that people generally were sorry 
that he escaped. He has sit in my father's house often, and boasted 
of the murders he 'had committed on the Susquehannah, and his 
other exploits there." Mrs. B. says that Allan got the irons for 
his mill at Rochester, at Conhocton, and hired Indians to take them 
to Rochester on pack horses. 

John M' Kay, of Caledonia, says:-— "I knew Allan well. He 
was about fifty years of age when I first came upon the Genesee 
river. He was tall and strait — light complexion — genteel in ap- 
pearance — of good address. Capt. Jones told me the story of 
Allan's carrying the wampum to the American commissioner, 
(not to the commandant of a post.) The Indians were very angry, 
but ^aid Jones, such was the influence he had over them, they 
dared not to punish him." Mr. M' Kay thinks it was not a disinter- 
ested act; but that the goods he carried to Mount Morris were the 
proceeds of the pacific enterprize. 

In 1797, finding the white settlers getting too thick around him 

— the restraints of civilized life, that he had fled from in his youth, 
likely to interfere with his "perfect freedom" — he sold his prop- 
erty at Mount Morris, and moved to Delawaretown, on the 
Thames, (C. W.) taking with him his white wife, and leaving 
Sally and Mille behind. Gov. Simcoe granted him 3000 acres 
of land, upon condition, that he should build a saw-mill, grist-mill, 
and a church; all but the church, to be his property. He per- 
formed his part of the contract, and the title to his land was 
confirmed. In a few years, he had his mills, a comfortable dwel- 
ling, large improvements, was a good liver; and those who knew 
him at that period, represent him as hospitable and obliging. In 


two or three years after he left for Canada, Mille followed him, 
and when he was flourishing there, he had the two wives under one 
roof. Sally soon followed, remained in the neighborhood about 
a year, when she was driven away by the persecutions of the two 
white wives. An acquaintance of the author, who was for a long 
period his neighbor, says he once asked him how he could manage 
two women. He replied that he "ruled them with a rod of iron." 
The reader must have, ere this, discovered that he was the man 
thus to rule his household. 

About the year 1806 or '7, reverses began to overtake him. At 
one period, he was arrested and tried for forgery; at another, for 
passing counterfeit money; at another, for larceny. He w^as 
acquitted of each offence, upon trial. He was obnoxious to many 
of his w^hite neighbors, and it is likely, that at least two of the 
charges against him, arose out of a combination that was prompted 
by personal enmity. All this brought on embarrassments, w^hich 
terminated in an almost entire loss of his large property. He left 
Delawaretown, and went upon some land that had been leased to 
his daughters by the Indians. 

Soon after the breaking out of the war of 1812, he was sus- 
pected by the Canadian authorities, of being friendly to the 
Americans, of holding a correspondence with Gen. Hull at 
Detroit; arrested and confined in jail at Niagara. He was bailed 
out upon condition that he should in no way interfere against the 
government. He took no part in the war; though he was eviderttly 
in favor of the Americans; alledging that the British government 
had illy requited his services. He died in 1814. 

His wife Mille, was the mother of six children; Lucy of one; 
and there were beside, the two half-breed daughters of Sally. 
An elderly lady of the author's acquaintance, knew these daughters 
well after they went to reside upon the Thames. They were 
tolerably educated, amiable and reputable. They died after hav- 
ing become the wives of white men, and the mothers of several 
children, who are supposed to be still living in Canada West. His 
son Seneca Allan, is a resident of one of the western states. 

Note. — Allan conveyed the land at Mount Morris, that was given to his daughters, 
to Robert Morris; by what right, it does not appear upon the records. Allan's creek, 
heading in Wyoming, passing through Warsaw, Le Roy, and emptying into the Gen- 
esee river at Scottsville, derives its name from the subject of our biographical sketch. * 
He had a farm where Scottsville now is. 




In the treaty of peace which ended the Revolution, Great 
Britian made no provisions for her Indian allies. Notwithstanding 
their strong and well founded claims to British regard and protec- 
tion they were left to take care of themselves, and get out of the 
difficulties in which an unsuccessful war had involved them, as best 
they could. They were much offended and disappointed; they 
complained of this conduct as unjust and ungrateful, in view of the 
sacrifices they had made, and losses they had sustained, all along 
through the war. They were sagacious enough to conclude, that 
if the arms of the "Thirteen Fires," had conquered them and 
their British allies united, there was little use in their contending 
single handed. A portion of them however, were not disposed to 
yield. Prompted by British agents, they were for leaguing with 
the North Western Indians, and reviving the war. Among these, 
was the youthful, subtle, and eloquent Red Jacket. But Corn 
Planter, and some others of the more influential Indians, counciled 
peace, and peaceable councils prevailed. 

Accordingly the sachems, chiefs and warriors, of the Six Nations, 
and the commissioners in behalf of the United States, assembled at 
Fort Stanwix in October, 1784, and concRided a treaty of peace 
and friendship. Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee, 
acted as commissioners for the United States. The Six Nations 
agreed to surrender all their captives, and relinquish "all claims to 
the country lying west of a line beginning at the mouth of Oyo- 
wagea creek, flowing into lake Ontario, four miles east of Niagara; 
thence southerly, but preserving a line four miles east of the carry- 
ing path, to the mouth of the Tehoseroron, or Buffalo creek; thence 
to the north boundary of Pennsylvania; thence east to the end of 


that boundary; and thence south along the Pennsylvania line to the 
river Ohio."* 

''The cession of their hunting grounds north-west of the Ohio, 
was vigorously, though unavailingly opposed by the red men. Sa- 
goyewatha, or Red Jacket, then young and nameless among the 
head men, rose rapidly in favor with the Senecas for his hostility to 
the measure — while the popularity of their great chief Cornplanter, 
suffered severely among his race for his partiality to the whites, in 
the arrangement." * * * " The patriotism of Red Jacket was 
tlien thoroughly aroused, and his wisdom and eloquence were gen- 
erally zealously employed to vindicate the rights of the red man 
against the encroaching influence of the pale faces. He was elected 
a chief among the Senecas, soon after this treaty, and his influence 
was great in the Indian confederacy for upwards of forty years."! 

After the conclusion of this treaty, the United States commis- 
sioners, in consequence of the then condition of the Six Nations, and 
m pursuance of the humane and liberal intentions of the government 
whose agents they were, distributed a large quantity of goods in 
tile form of presents. 

It will be observed that at the treaty above referred to, the 
Indians made no cession of territory, but simply defined their 

* A bad definition of boundaries, but the reader will have no difficulty in seeing what 
was intended. 

t History of Rochester and Western New York. 

Note. — Lafayette was present at the treaty of Fort Stanwix. After the lapse of 
forty years, the generous Frenchman, the companion of Washington, and the Seneca 
orator again met. The author was present at the inteview. A concourse of citizens 
had been assembled for nearly two daj-s, awaiting the arrival of the steam boat from 
Dunkirk, which had been chartered by the committee of Erie county, to convey La- 
fayette to Buffalo, and among them was Red Jacket He made, as usual, a somewhat 
ostentatious display of his medal — a gift from Washington — and it required the especieil 
attention of a select committee to keep the aged chief from an indulgence — a "sin 
that so easily beset him," — which would have marred the dignity, if not the romance 
of the intended interview. The reception, the ceremonies generally, were upon a 6tE»- 
ging erected in front of " Rathbun's Eagle." After they were through with. Red Jacket 
was escorted upon the staging, by a committee. " The Douglass in his hall," — 
himself, in his native forest — never walked with a firmer step or a prouder bearing! 
There was the stoicism of the Indian — seemingly, the condescension, if it existed, was 
his, and not the "Nation's Guest." He addressed the General in his native tongue, 
through an interpreter who was present. During the interview, Lafayette not recog- 
nizing him, alluded to the treaty of Fort Stanwix: " And what" said he, "has become 
of the young Seneca, who on that occasion so eloquently opposed the burj-ing of the 
tomahawk?" "He is now before you!" replied Red Jacket. The circumstance, as 
the reader will infer, revived in the mind of Lafayette, the scenes of the Revolution, 
and in his journey the next two days, his conversation was enriched by the reminis- 
cences which it called up. 



boundaries, rocognizing and somewhat enlarging the bounds of the 
" carrying place " at Niagara, which they had granted under Eng- 
lish dominion. 

This treaty was the first ever made by the United States with 
the Indians. 

At Fort Herkimer, on the Mohawk, in June, 1785, a treaty was 
held with the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, by George CHnton and 
other commissioners. For a consideration of eleven thousand five 
hundred dollars, those nations ceded to the State of New York, 
the land lying between the Unadilla and Chenango rivers, south of 
a line drawn east and west between those streams, and north of 
the Pennsylvania line, &c. 

On the 12th of September, 1788, the Onondagas, by a treaty at 
Fort Stanwix, ceded to the State of New York, all their territory, 
saving a reservation around their chief village. It was stipulated 
that the Onondagas should enjoy forever, the right of fishing and 
hunting in the territory thus relinquished. The '' Salt Lake," and 
the land around the same for one mile, was to remain forever for 
the common use of the State of New York, and the Onondagas, 
for the purpose of making salt, and not to be disposed of for other 
objects. The consideration was a thousand French crowns in 
hand, two hundred pounds value in clothing; and a perpetual 
annuity of five hundred dollars. Upon a full confirmation of the 
treaty, in 1790, the state gave as a gratuity, an additional five 
hundred dollars. 

On the 22d of September 1788, the Oneidas, who had before 
ceded a part of their lands, made an additional cession, including all 
their lands except a small reservation for themselves, and another 
for the Brothertown Indians, which they had previously given 
them. The consideration was two thousand dollars in hand, two 
thousand dollars in clothing, one thousand dollars in provisions, 
five hundred dollars to build a grist mill on their reservation; and 
a perpetual annuity of five hundred dollars. 

By a treaty at Albany, in 1789, the Cayugas ceded to the State 
of New York all their lands, saving a reservation of one hundred 
square miles exclusive of the waters of Cayuga lake, about which 
the reservation was located. The consideration was five hundred 
dollars in hand; an agreement to pay one thousand five hundred 
and twenty-five dollars, in June following; and a perpetual annuity 


of five hundred, dollars. Upon the final confirmation of the treaty, 
the State paid the Cayugas as a gratuity, one thousand dollars. 

In 1793, the Onondagas ceded to the state some portions of their 
reservation. The consideration was four hundred dollars in hand, 
and a perpetual annuity of four hundred dollars. 

On the 29th of March, 1797, the Mohawks, who had mostly 
fled to Canada during the Revolution, by their agents, Capt. Joseph 
Brant and Capt. John Deserontyon, relinquished to the State of 
New York all claims to lands within the state, for the sum of one 
thousand dollars, and six hundred dollars in the form of a fee for 
traveling expenses, &c. advanced to the above named agents. 

Numerous treaties and cessions of reservations followed, with 
the five easterly nations of the confederacy, but the cessions that 
have been noticed embraced the great body of their lands. In all 
these cessions the Indians reserved the right of fishing and hunting, 
and stipulated to lend their assistance in keeping off" intruders upon 
the lands. 

A treaty was held at Canandaigua on the 11th of September, 
1794, between the United States and the Six Nations — Timothy 
Pickering acting in behalf of the United States. The object of 
President Washington in ordering this treaty, was to remove some 
existing causes of complaint, and establish a firm and permanent 
friendship with the Indians. These two objects were consummated. 
It was stipulated on the part of the United States that the Indians 
should be protected in the free enjoyment of their reservations, 
until such times as they chose to dispose of them to the United States. 
This had reference to the reservations east of the Massachusetts 
pre-emption line. At this treaty, the boundaries of the lands of the 
Senecas were defined, as including all lands west of Phelps and 
Gorham's Purchase, in this state, excepting the carrying place upon 
the Niagara river. "In consideration of the peace and friendship 
hereby established, and of the engagements entered into by the 
Six Nations; and because the United States desire with humanity 
and kindness to contribute to their comfortable support, and to 
render the peace and friendship hereby established strong and 
perpetual," the United States delivered to the Six Nations ten 
thousand dollars worth of goods, and for the same consideration, 
and with a view to promote the future welfare of the Six Nations 
and of their Indian friends aforesaid, the United States added 
$3000 to the $1,500 previously allowed them by an article dated 


23d, April, 1792, (which $1,500 was to be expended annually in 
purchasing clothing, domestic animals, and implements of hus- 
bandry, and for encouraging useful artificers, to reside in their 
villages,) making in the whole 84,500, the whole to be expended 
yearly in purchasing clothing, &c. as just mentioned, under the 
direction of the Superintendant appointed by the President. 

"Lest the firm peace and friendship now established .should be 
interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, the United States and 
Six Nations agree that, for injuries done by individuals on either 
side, no private revenge or retaliation shall take place; but, instead 
thereof, complaint shall be made by the party injured to the other, 
and such prudent measures shall then be pursued as shall be neces- 
sary to preserve our peace and friendship, until the Legislature (or 
the great Council of the United States) shall make other equitable 
provisions for the purpose. 

"A note in the ti'eaty says: — 'It is clearly understood by the 
parties to this treaty, that the annuity stipulated in the sixth article 
is to be applied to the benefit of such of the Six Nations, and of 
their Indian friends united with them aforesaid, as do or shall reside 
within the boundaries of the United States; for the United States 
do not interfere v\dth nations, tribes, or families of Indians else- 
where resident.' " 

The state of New York, by its legislature, in 1781, resolved to 
raise forces to recruit the army of the United States. The period 
of enlistment was fixed at three years, or until the close of the war, 
and the faith of the State was pledged that each soldier who enlisted 
and served his time according to his enlistment, should receive six 
hundred acres of land as soon after the close of the war as the 
land could be surveyed. 

On the 25th of July, 1782, the legislature of the state passed 
another act, setting apart a certain district of country, described 
therein, to meet its engagements contained in the first mentioned 
act. The district so set apart, contained the territory now included 
in the counties of Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Cortland, the south- 
west part of Oswego, the north part of Tompkins, the east part of 
Wayne, and small parts of Steuben and Yates; containing, besides, 
the reservations afterwards made therein by the Indians, one 
million, six hundred and eighty thousand acres. 

On the 28th day of February, 1789, a third act was passed by 
the legislature, appropriating the lands devoted to the payment of 
the Revolutionary soldiers; the Indian title to which, had at length 


been extinguished by treaties with the Onondagas and Cayugas; 
which was soon after surveyed into townships, and those townships 
subdivided into lots of six hundred acres each: the state of New 
York thus redeemed its pledge given to the Revolutionary soldiers 
by the act of July 25th, 1782. 

Although the military tract may truly be considered a proud and 
splendid monument of the gratitude of the state of New York to 
her Revolutionary heroes; the soldiers, whose patriotic valor earned 
the full reward, in many cases, realized but Uttle from the bounty 
of their country; as many of the patents for six hundred acres of 
excellent land, were sold as late as ten years after the close of the 
war at from eight to thirty dollars each. 

It has been already indicated that at the close of the Revolution, 
in 1783, settlement had not advanced beyond the lower valley of 
the Mohawk. In May, 1784, Hugh White, with his family, 
advanced beyond the then bounds of civilization, located at what 
is now Whitestown, near Utica. In 1786, a considerable settle- 
ment had been made there. In the same year that Whitestown 
was settled, James Dean, who had acted as an Indian agent during 
the war, settled upon a tract of land given him by the Indians, near 
Rome. In 1784, the county of Try on had its name changed to 
Montgomery, its citizens preferring the name of a Revolutionary 
patriot, to that of an English colonial governor. In 1786, a Mr. 
Webster became the first white settler of the territory now com- 
prised in the county of Onondaga. In 1788, Asa Danforth and 
Comfort Tyler located at Onondaga Hollow. In 1793, John L. 
Hardenbergh settled at what was for many years called " Harden- 
bergh's Corners," — now the village of Auburn. In 1789, James 
Bennet and John Harris settled upon opposite sides of the Cay- 
uga lake, and established a ferry. These primitive beginnings will 
however, best be indicated in sketches that will follow of some 
relations of early adventurers. 



I^OTK. [The author at this point, to connect the chain of events as nearly as possible 

in chronological order, will avail himself of the preceding portion of narratives he has 
had from some of the earliest adventurers to the regions of Western New York; reser- 
ving for their order of time, the remainder. Since he commenced the preparation of 
this work, he has had interviews with a large number, who yet survive to tell the story 
of their wilderness advents. As far as consistent with a brevity which it is necessaiy to 
observe, he will endeavor to preserve that interest in the narratives, which the relators 
in their own language and manner, could alone impart to them.] 

Silas Hopkins, of Lewiston, Niagara county, started from New 
Jersey, in the summer of 1787, to assist his father in driving a 
drove of cattle to Niagara. Twelve or thirteen other young men 
came along, to assist in driving the cattle, and to see the country. 
Party came to Newton Point, thence to Horse Heads, Catherine's 
Town at the head of Seneca lake, Kanadesaega, Canandaigua, and 
.from thence upon the Indian trail via Canawagus, the "Great 
Bend of the Tonewanta," Tonawanda Indian village, to Niagara, 
Route up the Susquehannah, to Tioga, was principally in the track 
of Sullivan's army; after that almost wholly upon Indian trails. 
Saw the last white inhabitant at Newtown Point. There were a 
few Indians at Catherine's Town, and among them the old squaw 
that is named in accounts of Sullivan's expedition. At this period, 
nine tenths of the settlers upon the frontiers in Canada, were 
Butler's Rangers. They had all got lands from the British 
government, two years supply of provisions, and were otherwise 
favored. The New Jersey drovers sold their cattle principally to 
them, and to the garrisons at Queenston and Niagara. 

"I came out twice the next summer wath my father upon the 
same business. Upon one of these occasions, I went with my 
father to the residence of Col. Butler near Newark, (Niagara.) 
He was then about fifty five or sixty years old; had a large, pretty 
well cultivated farm; was living a quiet farmer's life. He was 
hospitable and agreeable, and I could hardly realize that he had 
been the leader of the Rangers. 

"In all our journeyings in those early days, we were well 
treated by the Indians. They had a custom of levying a tribute 
upon all drovers, by selecting a beeve from each drove as they 
passed through their principal towns. This they regarded as an 
equivalent for a passage through their territories; and the drovers 
found it the best way to submit without murmuring. At Geneva^ 


there was an Indian trader named Poudrey, and another by the 
name of La Berge. There were several other whites there ; they 
were talking of putting up a building. We happened to be at 
Canandaigua at a treaty. Phelps and Gorham bought several head 
of cattle of my father, to butcher for the Indians. When I went 
to Canada the first time, Gov. Simcoe was residing at 'Navy Hall,' 
near old Fort George. He was esteemed as a good Governor, and 
good man. 

''In 1789, on one of our droving excursions there was an 
unusual number of drovers collected at Lewiston. We clubbed 
together and paid the expenses of a treat to the Indians, — gave 
a benefit. They were collected there from Tonawanda, Buffalo, 
Tuscarera, and some from Canada. There were two or three 
hundred of them; they gave a war-dance for our amusement. 
We had as guests, officers from Fort Niagara. The Indians were 
very civil. After the dance, rum was served out to them, upon 
which they became very merry, but committed no outrage. We 
had a jolly time of it, and I remember that among our number was 
a minister, who enjoyed the thing as well as any of us. 

"In 1790, after I had sold a drove of cattle at Lewiston, (to go 
over the river, and at Fort Niagara,) I met with John Street, the 
father of the late Samuel Street, of Chippewa, C. W. He then 
kept a trading establishment at Fort Niagara. He was going to 
Massachusetts, and said he should like my company through the 
wiidei-ness, as far as Geneva. Waiting a few days, and he not 
getting ready, I started without him. He followed in a few days, 
and was murdered at a spring, near the Ridge Road, a mile west 
of Warren's. The murderers were supposed to be Gale and 
Hammond. Gale lived near Goshen, in this State. I knew his 
father, a Col. Gale. Hammond had been living on the Delaware 
river. They were arrested in Canada, by authority of the 
commanding officer at Fort Niagara; sent to Quebec for trial; 
Hammond turned King's evidence, divulged the whole affair, 
charging the offence principally upon Gale, but made his escape. 
Gale was afterwards discharged. When I came up the next 
season, I camped at the spring. Some fragments of Mr. Street's 
clothes were hanging upon the bushes. His body had been 
discovered by some travelers, stopping at the spring; their dog 
brought to them a leg with a boot upon it. His friends in Canada, 
gathered up fragments of the body, and carried them home for 
burial. He was robbed of a considerable sum of money." 

Judge Hopkins remarked at this point in his narrative, that the 
fact having become generally known that drovers with considerable 
sums of money, and emigrants to Canada, were every few days 
passing on the "Great Trail from the Susquehannah to Niagara," 
robbers had been attracted to it. It was soon enough after the 


close of the border wars, to have remaining upon the outskirts of 
civilization, men fitted to prowl around the wilderness path, and 
sohtary camp of the traveler. 

"My father being at Niagara, on one occasion, a letter was sent 
to him by Col. Hollenbeck who was on the Susquehannah, warning 
him against starting on his return journey alone, as he was satisfied 
that a couple of desperadoes, in his neighborhood were intending 
to waylay him somewhere on the trail. He handed the letter to 
the commandant at Fort Niagara; a couple of men soon made 
their appearance in the neighborhood answering the description of 
Col. Hollenbeck. They were arresled and detained at the gar- 
rison until my father had time to reach the settlements on the 

"When but sixteen years of age, my father had some business in 
Canada that made it necessary to send me there from N. Jersey. 
I came through on horseback, the then usual route. I encamped 
the last night of my journey, on Millard's branch of the Eighteen- 
milecreek, about a mile above where it crosses the Chestnut Ridge, 
five miles east of Lockport. In the morning, my hoppled horse 
having gone a short distance oft^, I went for him, and on my way 
stumbled upon a silver mounted saddle and bridle, and a little far- 
ther on lay a dead horse that had been killed by a blow on the 
head with a tomahawk. I carried the saddle and bridle to Queens- 
ton, where they were recognized as those of a traveler who had 
a few days before come down from Detroit, on his way to New 
York. Nothing more was ever known of the matter." 

In narrating this, the Judge remarks that the howling of the 
wolves in the Tonawanda swamp, all night, deprived him of sleep. 
A boy, sixteen years old, alone far away from civilization; the 
howling of the wolves, his forest lullaby; the relics of a murdered 
traveler, presented to him in the morning! He acknowledges that 
he left his camping ground with less delay than usual. 

"I spent most of the summer of 1788, at Lewiston, purchasing 
furs. I bought principally, beaver, otter, muskrat, mink. The 
Indian hunting grounds for these animals, were the marshes along 
the Ridge Road, the bays of the Eighteen, Twelve, and Fourmile- 
creeks. The marsh where I now live, (six miles east of Lewiston,) 
was then, most of the year a pond, or small lake. The only 
white inhabitant at Lewiston, then was Middaugh. He kept a 
tavern — his customers, the Indians, and travelers on their way to 
Canada. I carried back to New Jersey, about four hundred dollars 
worth of furs, on pack horses. At that period, furs were plenty. 
I paid for beaver, from four to six shillings; for otter, about the 


same; for mink and muskrat, four cents. Tlicre were a good 
many bears, wolves, and wild-cats; but a few deer. 

"Immediately after the defeat of St. Clair, the Indians were very 
insolent and manifested much hostility to the whiles. 

"In 1778, or '9, I was returning from Niagara, to New Jersey, 
in company with a dozen or fifteen men. When we arrived upon 
the Genesee river, we found a white settler there — Gilbert 
Berry;* — he had arrived but a few days before with his wife and 
wife's sister; had made a temporary shelter, and had the body of a 
log house partly raised. He had tried to raise it with the help of 
Indians, and failed. We stopped and put it up for him. The next 
day, we found at the outlet of the Honeoye, a settler just arrived 
by the name of Thayer. He had logs ready for a house, but had 
no neighbors to help him. We stopped and raised his house." 

The narrator of these early events is now seventy-five years old; 
his once vigorous and hardy constitution, is somewhat broken by 
age, but his mental faculties are unimpaired. In the war of 1812, 
he was early upon the frontier, as a Colonel of militia, and has 
well filled many public stations. He was the first Judge of 
Niagara, after Erie was set off. 

John Gould, Esq. of Cambria, Niagara county, came from New 
Jersey in 1788, as a drover; came by Newton, Painted Post, Little 
Beard's village, Great Bend of Tonawanda, &c. — stopped with 
drove at Little Beard's village over night. In the morning. Little 
Beard pointed out a fine ox, and an Indian boy shot him down with 
a bow and arrow. This was the usual tribute, mentioned by Judge 
Hopkins. " The Great Bend of the Tonnewanta," was a well 
known camping ground for Butler's Rangers, in their border war 
excursions, and after emigration to Canada; for early drovers, and 
other travellers. 

" Col. Hunter, was then in command at Fort Niagara. Our cat- 
tle and pack horses were ferried across to Newark in batteaux and 
Schenectady boats. Nothing then at Newark, (Niagara village,) 
but an old ferry house and the barracks that had been occupied by 
Butler's Rangers. The Massaguea Indians were numerous then 
in Canada. They had no fixed habitations; migrated from camping 
ground to camping ground, in large parties; their principal camping 
grounds Niagara and Queenston. There were their fishing grounds. 
Sometimes there would be five or six hundred encamped at 

* Gilbert Berry was an Indian trader. After his death, his widow kept a public 
house, early, and long known, as " Mrs. Berr}''s," at Avon. His two daughters are 
Mrs. George Hosraer of Avon, and Mrs. E. C. Hickox, of Buffalo. 


Niagara. They were small in stature, gay, lively, filthy; and 
much addicted to drunkenness. 

" We sold our cattle principally to Butler's Rangers. They 
were located mostly at the Falls, along the Four and Twelve Mile 
Creeks. Oxen brought as high as £50, cows £20. 

"In June, after I arrived, 1 was at Fort Niagara, and witnessed 
the celebration of King George's birth day: — there was firing of 
cannon, horse racing, &c. The Tuscarora Indians were there, in 
high glee. It was upon this occasion that I first saw Benjamin 
Barton, sen. 

" Butler's Rangers had taken a sister of my mother's captive, 
upon the Susquehannah. She afterwards became the wife of 
Capt. Fry, of the Mohawk, who had gone to Canada during the 
Revolution. She had induced my mother and step father, to 
emigrate to Canada in 1787. I found them located upon the Six 
Mile creek. At the time my aunt was taken prisoner, there were 
taken with her several children of another sister: their names were 

"When I came through in '88, I saw no white inhabitant after 
leavinfT Newton, till I arrived at Fort Niagara. At Newton there 
was one unfinished log house. ' Painted Post ' was at the junction 
of Indian trails. It was a post, striped red and white. 

" Along in '88, '90, eagles were plenty on Niagara river and 
shores of lake Ontario. Ravens were plenty; when they left, the 
crows came in. Black birds were a pest to the early settlers; 
they seemed to give way to the crows. The crows are great 
pirates. I think they robbed the nests of the black birds. Thei'e 
used to be myriads of the caween duck upon the river. In the 
breaking up of the ice in the spring, they would gather upon large 
cakes of ice, at Queenston, and sailing down to the lake, return 
upon the wing, to repeat the sport; their noise at times would be 
almost deafening." 

"In '99, on my return to New Jersey, I went by Avon, 
Canandaigua, &c. Widow Berry was keeping tavern at Avon; 
settlers were getting in between there and Canandaigua; there 
were a few buildings in Canandaigua; a few log buildings at 
Geneva. On my return the next year, emigration was brisk; the 
military tract, near Seneca lake was settling rapidly." 

Mr. Gould is now 78 years old; vigorous; but little broken by 
age; relaxing but slightly in an enterprise and industry, that has 
been crowned with a competency, which he is enjoying in the 
midst of his children, grand children, and great grand children. 

JoHx MouNTPLEASANT, a uativc of Tuscarora, is now sixty- 
eight years old. His father was Captain Mountpleasant, of the 


British army; at one period commandant of Fort Niagara; his 
mother was an Oneida; emigrated to Canada during the Revolution, 
and afterwards came to Tuscarora. His father and mother, 
residing for two years at Mackinaw; that was his birth place, 
although almost his entire life has been spent at Tuscarora. He 
had a sister, who became the wife of Capt. Chew, of the British 
army. Capt. Mountpleasant was ordered to Montreal when his 
children were quite young; he was not entirely unmindful of them; 
occasionally sent them presents. 

*' The earliest white people I can recollect, were the English at 
Fort Niagara, and a small guard they used to keep at Lewiston, 
to guard the portage. When I was a boy, the portage used to 
employ five or six teams. I remember well when the early 
emigrants used to come through on the trail, going to Canada. 
Their children were frequently carried in baskets, strung across 
the backs of horses." \Xy^ See his account of Brant's Mohawk 
village on Ridge Road. " The Middaughs, came from North River; 
when they first came they occupied one of the old houses left by 
the Mohawks. Hank Huff", and Hank Mills, were early at Lewis;- 
ton. Huff had a Mohawk wife, and used to live in the house that 
Brant left. When I was a small boy, 1 used to go through to 
Genesee river, with my mothei'. There was Poudery at Tonna- 
wanda, *a white man' (Berry,) keeping a ferry over the Genesee 

''Deer were not plenty in this region, the wolves hunted them; 
driving them into the lake, they would wait until they were 
wearied with swimming, and catch them as they came on shore. 
In periods of deep snows and crusts, they used to make great 
havoc among them. As the wolves grew scarce, the deer became 
plenty. A strip of land between Ridge and lake, used to be a 
great resort for bears. Our best hunting grounds used to be off 
toward Genesee river. Secord was an early and successful white 
trapper in this region. Some Tuscarora hunters once killed a 
panther, in the marsh near Pekin. There were no crows until after 
the war of 1812. The bittern; was often seen about the marshes. 
The white owl used occasionally to make his appearance here. 
Flocks of swans were often seen about the Islands above the Falls. 

"When I was a boy, most of the marshes in Niagara county, 
were open ponds. I have been with my mother, picking cran- 
berries, in open marshes, where there was then but small bushes; 
now there are tamaracks, soft maples, black ash, &c. as large as 
my body. The beaver dams were in a good state of preservation 
as long as I can remember, — though then but few beaver left. I 
have taken salmon in Eighteen mile creek, where Lewiston road 


crosses near Lockport, and below the Falls of the Oak Orchard, 
with my hands, three feet in length. 

" My mother's second husband was a white man named James 
Pemberton, who was taken prisoner at the same time that Jasper 
Parrish was. He was brought to Lewiston with the Mohawks. 
He remained with the Tuscaroras after the Mohawks went to 
Canada, and until his death. 

" I remember when the Indian family — Scaghtjecitors — lived at 

.the creek at Black Rock that derives its name from them. They 

moved back to Seneca village, after the land was sold. One of the 

family was murdered at 'Sandy Town,' and robbed of twelve 

dollars. The murderers were never detected. 

"When I was a boy, two schooners used to come to Lewiston — 
armed. King's vessels — the 'Seneca,' and 'Onondaga.' There 
was another afterwards, called the 'Massasagua.' I used to see 
batteaux come up, taken out of the river, and conveyed over the 
Portage; manned by jolly Frenchmen, who used to sing, keeping 
time with their oars, as they came up the river. 

"For many years I followed the business of stocking rifles. I 
learned to do it from seeing Bill Antis do it at Canandaigua. For 
many years he stocked rifles for us without pay, being employed 
for that purpose by the government; afterwards we paid him half 

"I remember when Gov. Simcoe first came to Niagara. He had 
a thousand troops with him called 'Queen's Rangers.' They wore 
green uniform. Their barracks were at Queenston, — thence the 
the name." 

The narrator resides at Tuscarora with his sons, who are good 
farmers, educated and intelligent. His fine form would serve as a 
model for a sculpture. Tall, unbent by age; with a countenance, 
mild, ben^olent, /kud expressive. 

\ Note. — The author is indebted to Judge Cook of Lewiston, for some additional par- 
ticulars which he adds to the brief narrative of John Mountpleasant. When James 
Pemberton, was brought a prisoner to Lewiston, it was decreed that he should be burned 
at the stake, to revenge the death of some Mohawk warrior. Brant interested himself 
in saving him; proposed that he should be saved and adopted. He told the Indians 
that he was a man of fine proportions, (as he really was,) that he would become useful to 
them. He interested the squaws in behalf of the captive, by promising that some 
one of them should have him for a husband. Managing to divert the attention of the 
Indians from their victim, Brant pointed out to Pemberton a way of escape, which he 
pursued with sufficient fleetness of foot, to enable him to reach Fort Niagara, where he 
was protected. The Indians had compelled Pemberton to collect the brush and dry 
wood for his own destruction. He was stripped naked — all was ready for the terrible 
Bacrifice, when Brant's scheme in his behalf saved him. The place of the intended 
burning at the stake, is a small spot of level ground, between the dwelling of Seymour 
Scovell, Esq., and the Ferrj'. Pemberton pointed it out to Judge Cook, and told him 
the story of his fortunate escape. He remained at Niagara until the peace of '83, then 
went to Tuscarora and married the mother of John Mountpleasant. He died in 1806 
or '7. His children and grand children reside at Tuscarora. [_See next page. 


Thomas Butler, Esq. is a grandson of Col. John Butler, and 
resides upon the farm where his grandfather located after the 
Revolution, near Niagara, C. W. He is an associate Judge of the 
court of Queen's Bench. He was educated at Union College, 
Schenectady, residing there, in the family of the late Gov. Yates, 
who was his cousin. The author avails himself of a brief narrative 
he derived from him during a visit to his residence last summer, 
in search of some old manuscripts which had fallen into his hands as 
an attorney for one of the early Pioneers of Western New York : 

''In 1797, during a vacation in college, I came home to Niagara. 
Joseph EUicott, a surveyor named Thompson, and six or eight 
others, were just starting from Schenectady with batteaux, on their 
way to the Holland Purchase. I came in company with them. 1 
found Mr. Ellicott a very agreeable traveling companion. Our 
route was via Oswego, and lake Ontario. Mr. Ellicott's party 
landed at fort Niagara, their goods went to Lewiston, and from 
thence over the Portage, to Schlosser; thence to Buifalo. 

'•Col John Butler died in 1794. Was, up to the period of his 
death, superintendent of Indian affairs for Upper Canada; was a 
half pay Lieut. Colonel. His remains are buried upon his estate. 
He organized at Niagara the corps he commanded during the 
Revolution. Butler's Barracks were originly built for their use. 

"Col Claus died at Niagara seven or eight years ago. His two 
sons, John and Warren reside here now. Warren is an Attorney 
at law; at present, the Surrogate of the Niagara District. 

" When Gov. Simcoe came to Niagara he issued a proclamation 
to all those who, in the Revolution, had adhered to the 'United 
Empire, (thence the name, U. E. Loyalists,'*) to come and take 
possession of lands. The different corps that drew lands, were, 
Butler's Rangers, who drew their lands in this" part- ofi^Canada; 
Jessup's Corps, who drew their lands in the lower portion, of .the 
upper province; Johnson's Greens, who drew their lands about \hi^ 
Bay Quinte. Jemima Wilkinson claimed to be a U. E. Loyalist,- 

The first husband of the sister Mountpleasant epeaks of, was a Capt. Elmer, of the 
U. S. army, stationed at Niag^ara. She hved with him at the garrison — he acknowl- 
edged her as his wife — and when ordered to New-Orleans, and prohibited by his 
superior officer from taking her with him, the parting was one which gave evidence of 
sU'ong affection. To use the language of one who knew her at that period: "she was 
a beautiful woman." After the separation, she became the. wife of Capt. Chew, a 
British Indian Agent at Niagara. She died a few years since, at an advanced age. 
Her eldest son is now head chief of the Tuscaroras. 

* Judge Butler showed the author one of these deeds. It was -one that had been 
given to Johnson Butler, for services as a Lieutenant in Butler's Rangers. The seal of 
white wax, would weigh three ounces. Each side is impressed with a die; the British 
coat of arms, &c. 


and at one time came near deceiving Gov. Simcoe, and drawing a 
large tract of land.* 

" The travel over-land from Tioga to Niagara, on the great trail 
■was very large, at one period. I have heard it observed that in 
•winters, one party, on leaving their camp, would build up large fires 
for the accommodation of those who followed them; and in this 
reciprocal way, fires were kept burning at the camping grounds. 

In June, 1795, a French nobleman. La Rochefoucauld Liain- 
couRT, in company with others, who wished to see a large Indian set- 
tlement, passed through Buffalo, on his way to the Seneca village, on 
Buffalo creek, which he describes as situated about four miles from 
Lake Erie. He mentions Farmers Brother as a distinguished Indi- 
an chief and warrior. He complains of unbridged streams, bad and 
difficult roads to the tow^n, and was disappointed in not finding it as 
large as he expected; but says that for many miles wigwams were 
scattered either way along the creek. He observes that though 
the whole country was filled with " miry and pestilential swamps," 
the Indians were healthy. 

The following truthful sketch of Buffalo, as it actually appeared, 
but little more than half a century ago, to one who, perhaps, 
had visited the ancient and renowuied capitals of the Old World, 
and had taken an adventurous journey in search of that novelty 
and freshness he no longer found there, will be interesting to all 
who can only know from such sources, the original condition in 
which the Pioneer settlers found the seats of now large and ffour- 
ishing cities: 

" We at length arrived at the post on Lake Erie, which is a small 
collection of four or five houses, built about a quarter of a mile 
from the Lake. 

" We met some Indians on the road and two or three companies 
of whites. These encounters gave us great pleasure. In this vast 
wilderness, a fire still burning; the vestiges of a camp, the re- 
mains of some utensil which has served a traveller, excite sensations 
truly agreeable, and which arise only in these immense solitudes. 

" We arrived late at the inn, and after a very indifferent supper, 
were obliged to lay on the floor in our clothes. There was liter- 

* This was about the period of her difficulties with the early settlers on Seneca lake^ 
She started for Canada, with a portion of her followers, got as far as Oswego, to embark 
on lake Ontario, and was met by the news that Gov. Simcoe had changed his mind, 
and refused to recognize her as a U. E. L. 


ally nothing in the house, neither furniture, rum, candles, nor milk. 
After much trouble the milk was procured from the neighbors, who 
were not as accommodating in the way of the rum and candles. 
At length some arriving from the other side of the river, we sea- 
soned our supper, as usual, with an appetite that seldom fails, and 
after passing a very comfortable evening, slept as soundly as we 
had done in the woods. 

" Every thing at Lake Erie — by which name this collection of 
houses is called — is dearer than at any other place we visited, for the 
simple reason that there is no direct communication with any other 
point. Some were sick with fever in almost every house." 

Joshua Fairbanks resides at Lewiston. His first visit to 
western New York, was in the winter of 1791. He had been 
recently married to Miss Sophia Reed, the daughter of Col. Seth 
Reed, of the Revolutionary army, at Uxbridge, Massachusetts. 
Col. Reed had the winter previous moved his family to Geneva — 
or rather to where Geneva now is. In the winter of '91, Mr. F. 
set out with his wife, to join him. They were in a sleigh. The 
narrative of the journey is taken up after they had passed Whites- 
borough: — 

"Half way from Whitesborough to Onondaga Hollow, night 
overtook us, and fortunately, we found a settler who had just got 
in, and had a log house partly finished. There were some Indians 
at the house; the first that Mrs. F. had seen. I do not recollect 
the name of our obliging pioneer host; but he was the first settler 
between Whitesborouo^h and Onondaga Hollow. We staid the 
next night at Onondaga Hollow. The only settler there was Gen. 
Danforth. Here Mrs. F. remarked that she thought there must 
have been others in the neighborhood, as there was a small dancing 
party at the General's that night. The next night we camped 
out; found the remains of an Indian tent; struck a fire; Mrs. F. 
cooked a supper, and we passed the night pretty comfortably. It 
was in February; snow from eighteen inches to two feet deep. 

Staid next night at Cayuga lake with Harris, who kept a 

ferry when the lake was not closed; we crossed on the ice. We 
arrived at Col. Reed's the next day." 

Mr. Fairbanks had brought along with him a few goods to trade 
with the Indians. He remained at Geneva with Col. Reed, until 
the fall of 1793. He has an old deed of two village lots in Geneva. 

It is dated in August, 1790. The grantor is Peter Bortle. 

Ryckman would seem to have been one of the proprietors of the ori- 
ginal village plot. The lot conveyed, was "91, on west side of Front 


Street." The instrument is witnessed by Albert Ryckman and 
John Taylor. During the time, of Mr. Fairbanks' residence at 
Geneva, a court was held — he thinks by Judge Cooper of Coopers- 
town.* It was then, says Mr. F. considered a good day's walk, 
or ride, to Canandaigua. The inhabitants that he recollects at 
Geneva, at that period, were: — Ezra Patterson, Thomas Sisson, 

the Reed family, Peter Bortle, Talmadge, Van Duzen, 

Benjamin Barton, Butler, Jackson, Dr. Adams; and 

Dr. Coventry, lived over the lake. Mr. Fairbanks has preserved 
an old bill of a part of the goods he brought to Geneva. They 
were bought of "Reed & Rice, Brookfield, Massachusetts." A 
few of the articles and prices are noted: — 

11 yds. Ratteen, 4s. pr. yd. 
30 " Cotton Cord, ribbed, 3s. 4d. 
7^ " Corduroy, 5s. 
63 " Shalloon, 2s. 4d. 
25 lbs. Bohea Tea, 2s. 8d. 

"About the 1st of September, 1793, 1 started with my wife, Giles 
Sisson, and William Butler, in a batteau; went down the Seneca 
river, Oswego river to Falls, where we had our batteau, goods, 
&c. to carry over a portage of one and a half miles; thence down 
to the British garrison at Oswego. The commanding officer, as 
ex-officio, revenue inspector, searched our goods. There was one 
settler at the portage — Oswego Falls. There was one company 
of troops, and a small gun boat at Oswego — no settler. 

"We coasted up lake Ontario; going on shore and camping 
nights. We were seventeen days making the journey from Geneva 
to Queenston. The only person we saw on the route, from 
Oswego to Niagara, was William Hencher, at the mouth of Genesee 
river. We made a short call at Fort Niagara, reporting ourselves 
to the commanding officer. He gave us a specimen of British 
civility, during the liold over period, after the Revolution. It was 
after a protracted dinner sitting, I should think. He asked me 
where I was going'? I replied, to Chippewa. "Go along and be 

d d to you," was his laconic, verbal passport. There was then 

outside of the garrison, under its walls, upon the flatts, two houses. 
No tenement at Youngstown. 

"I landed at Queenston — went into a house, partly of logs, 
and partly framed, and commenced keeping tavern. There was 
then a road from Fort Niagara to Fort Erie. At Queenston, Ham- 
ilton had a good house built, the rest were small log huts." 

*JudfTe Howr.TX thinks this Court was in June 1793; and says that the presiding 
Judge was John Sloss Hobart, one of the Judges of the Supreme court of this State; 
owe of the first three who were appointed Judges of that Court. It was the first Court 
of Oyer and Terminer, &c. held in Ontario county. There was a grand jury sworn 
and charged, but no other business done. 


Mr. Fairbanks, remained at Queenston and Chippewa, until 1805. 
Mrs. Fairbanks names the circumstance, that while keeping the 
tavern at Queenston, they had as guests, Aaron Burr, and his 
daughter Theodosia, and her husband, Mr. Allison. The party- 
traveled on horse back, attended by servants. It was upon their 
trip to Niagara Falls. 

"In 1794, 1 took passage on board of a British armed schooner, 
at Fort Erie, commanded by Capt. Cowen. I wished to see the 
country; the vessel was going up to bring down a British engineer, 
who had been employed on some of the western posts. Went to 
Detroit; Col. England was there in command of a British regiment. 
On our return we entered the Maumee Bay and anchored off the 
mouth of the Au Glaize. It was soon after the battle of Wayne 
with the Indians. We saw many of the Indians who were in the 
fight. Taking advantage of the little knowledge I had of their 
language, I asked one of them, who I learned had retreated at a 
pretty early hour in the engagement, why he came away? Suiting 
the action to the word, he replied: — "Pop, pop, pop, — boo, woo, 
w-oo-o-o, 00, — whish, whish, — boo, woo! — kill twenty Indians one 
time; no good by d — n."* 

" The armed vessel upon which I took passage, and some few 
gun boats, constituted all the British armament then on the Lakes. 
I think there was then no merchant vessel." 

Deacon Hinds Chambeulix, a venerable early Pioneer, aged 
eighty-three years, resides at Le Roy, Genesee county. He came 
to Avon in 1790. In 1789, previous to any settlement west of 
Avon, his brother-in-law, Isaac Scott, and family, and two other 
families, had settled at Scottsville. These, with William Hencher, 
were the first settlers west of Genesee river. 

"In 1792, I started from Scottsville with Jesse Beach and 
Reuben Heath; went up Allen's creek, striking the Indian trail 
from Canawagus, where Le Roy now is. There was a beautiful 
Indian camping ground — tame grass had got in; we staid all night. 
Pursuing the trail the next morning, we passed the Great Bend of 
the Tonawanda, and encamped at night at Dunham's Grove; and 
the next night near Buffalo. We saw one whiteman — Poudery — 
at Tonawanda village. We arrived at the mouth of Buffalo creek 
the next morning. There was but one white man there, I think; 
his name was Winne, an Indian trader. His building stood first as 
you descend from the high ground. He had rum, whiskey, Indian 

* This, the reader will observe, was an imitation, as near as the Indian could make 
it, of the firing of small arms, of cannon, and the whizzing and bursting of bombs; — a 
specimen of the entertainment served up to the Indians by "Mad Anthony." 


knives, trinkets, &c. His house was full of Indians; they looked 
at us with a good deal of curiosity. We had but a poor night's 
rest; the Indians were in and out all night, getting liquor. 

" Next day we went up the beach of the lake to mouth of Catta- 
raugus creek where we encamped; a wolf came down near our 
camp. We had seen many deer on our rout, during the day. The 
next morning we went up to Indian village; found "Black Jbe's" 
house, but he was absent; he had however seen our tracks upon 
the beach of the lake, and hurried home to see what white people 
were traversing the wilderness. The Indians stared at us; Joe 
gave us a room where we should not be annoyed by Indian curi- 
osity, and we stayed with him over night. All he had to spare us in 
the way of food was some dried venison. He had liquor, Indian 
goods, and bought furs. Joe treated us with so much civility, that 
we stayed with him till near noon. There was at least an hundred 
Indians and Squaws, gathered to see us. Among the rest, there 
was sitting in Joe's house, an old Squaw, and a young delicate 
looking white girl, with her, dressed like a Squaw. I endeavored 
to find out something about her history, but could not. I think 
she had lost the use of our language. She seemed not inclined 
to be noticed. 

" With an Indian guide that Joe selected for us, we started upon 
the Indian trail for Presque Isle. Wayne was then fighting 
Indians. Our Indian guide often pointed to the west, saying, ' bad 
Indians there.' 

"Between Cattaraugus and Erie, I shot a black snake, a racer, 
with a white ring around his neck. He was in a tree, twelve feet 
from the ground, his body wound around the tree. He measured 
seven feet and three inches. 

"At Presque Isle, (Erie,) we found neither whites nor Indians; 
all was solitary. There were some old French brick buildings, 
wells, block houses, &c. going to decay; eight or ten acres cleared 
land. On the peninsular, there was an old brick house, forty or 
fifty feet square; the peninsular was covered with cranberries. 

"After staying there one night, we went over to La Boeuf, about 
sixteen miles distant, pursuing an old French road. Trees had 
grown up in it, but the track was distinct. Near La Boeuf, we 
came upon a company of men, who were cutting out the road to 
Presque Isle; a part of them Were soldiers, and a part Pennsyl- 
vanians. At La Boeuf, there was a garrison of soldiers — about 
one hundred. There were several white families there, and a 
store of goods. 

Myself and companions were in pursuit of land. By a law of 
Pennsylvania, such as built a log house, and cleared a few aci'es of 
land, acquired a pre-emptive right; the right of purchase, at £5 
per one hundred acres. We each of us made a location near 
Presque Isle. 

On our return to Presque Isle, from Le Boeuf, we found there 


Col. Seth Reed and his family. They had just arrived. We 
stopped and helped him build some huts; set up crotches; laid poles 
across, and covered with the bark of the cucumber tree. At first 
the Colonel had no floors; aftervv^ards he indulged in the luxury of 
floors made by laying dow^n strips of bark. James Baggs, and 
Giles Sisson came on with Col. Reed. I remained for a considera- 
ble time in his employ. It was not long before eight or ten other 
families came in. 

"On our return we again staid at Buffalo over night, with 
Winne. There was at the time a great gathering of hunting 
parties of Indians there. Winne took from them all their knives 
and tomahawks, and then selling them liquor, they had a great 

The author finds the following incorporated in the pamphlet of 
Mr. Williamson to which reference will be made in a subsequent 
page. It is there said to be "an account of a journey of a gentle- 
man into the Genesee country, in February, 1792." 

''On the 15th February 1792, I left Albany, on my route to the 
Genesee river, but the country was thought so remote, and so very 
httle known, that I could not prevail on the owner of the stage to 
engage farther than Whitestown, a new settlement on the head of 
the Mohawk, 100 miles from Albany. The road as far as Whites- 
town had been made passable for wagons, but from that to the 
Genesee river, was little better than an Indian path, sufficiently 
opened to allow a sled to pass, and some impassable streams 
bridged. At Whitestown, I was obliged to change my carriage, 
tlie Albany driver getting alarmed for himself and horses, when he 
found that for the next 100 miles we were not only obliged to take 
provisions for ourselves, but for our horses, and blankets for our 
beds. On leaving Whitestown we found only a few straggling 
huts, scattered along the path, from 10 to 20 miles from each 
other; and they affording nothing but the conveniency of fire, and 
a kind of shelter from the snow. On the evening of the third 
day's journey from Whitestown, we were very agreeably surprised 
to find ourselves on the east side of Seneca Lake, which we found 
perfectly open, free of ice as in the month of June; the evening 
was pleasant and agreeable, and what added to our surprise and 
admiration was to see a boat and canoe plying on the lake. After 
having passed from New York, over 360 miles of country com- 
pletely frozen, the village of Geneva, though then only consisting 
of a few log-houses, after the dreary wilderness we had passed 
through, added, not a little to the beauty of the prospect; we 
forded the outlet of the lake, and arrived safe at Geneva. 

" The situation of this infant settlement on the banks of a sheet 
of water 44 miles long, by 4 to 6 wide, daily navigated by small 


craft and canoes, in the month of February, was a sight as grati- 
fying as unexpected. It appeared that the inhabitants of this 
dehghtful country, would by the sUght covering of the snow on 
the ground, have all the convenience of a northern winter; and by 
the waters of the lake being free from ice, have all the advantages 
of this inland navigation, a combination of advantages perhaps not 
to be experienced in any other country in the world. 

"From Geneva to Canandarqua the road is only the Indian path 
a Uttle improved, the first five miles over gentle swellings of land, 
interspersed with bottoms seemingly very rich, the remainder of 
the road to Canandarqua, the county town, 16 miles, was the 
greatest part of the distance through a rich heavy timbered land; 
on this road there were only two families settled. Canandarqua, 
the county town, consisted of two small frame houses and a few 
huts, surrounded with thick woods; the few inhabitants received 
me with much hospitality, and I found abundance of excellent 
venison. From Canandarqua to the Genesee river, 26 miles, it is 
almost totally uninhabited, only four families residing on the road; 
the country is beautiful and very open, in many places the openings 
are fi'ee of all timber, appearing to contain at least 2 or 300 acres 
beautifully variegated with hill and dale; it seemed that by only 
enclosing any of them with a proportionable quantity cf timbered 
land, an inclosure might be made not inferior to the parks in 
England. At the Genesee river I found a small Indian store and 
tavern; the river was not then frozen over, and so low as to be 
fordable. Upon the whole, at this time, there were not any 
settlements of any consequence in the whole of the Genesee 
country; that established by the Friends on the west side of the 
Seneca lake, was the most considerable, consisting of about forty 
families. At this period the number of Indians in the adjoining 
country was so great, when compared with the few white 
inhabitants who ventured to winter in the country, that I found 
them under serious apprehensions for their safety. Even in this 
state of nature, the county of Ontario shews every sign of future 
respectability; no man has put the plough in the ground, without 
being amply repaid, and through the mildness of the winter the 
cattle brought into the country the year before on very slender 
provision for their subsistence, were thriving well; the clearing of 
land for spring crops is going on with spirit; I also found the 
settlers abundantly supplied with venison." 




James I, King of Great Britain, in the year 1620, granted to the 
Plymouth Company, a tract of country denominated New England; 
this tract extended several degrees of latitude north and south, and 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean east and west. A charter for 
the government of a portion of this territory, granted by Charles I, 
in 1628, was vacated in 1684, but a second charter was granted by 
William and Mary in 1691. The territory comprised in this sec- 
ond charter extended on the Atlantic ocean from north latitute 42** 
2' to 44° 15', and from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. 

Charles I, in 1663, granted to the Duke of York and Albany, 
the province of New York, including the present state of New- 
Jersey. The tract thus granted extended from a line twenty miles 
east of the Hudson river, westward rather indefinitely, and from 
the Atlantic ocean north to the south line of Canada, then a French 

By this collision of description, each of those colonies, (after- 
wards states,) laid claim to the jurisdiction as well as to pre-emption 
right of the same land, being a tract sufficiently large to form 
several states. The State of New York, however, in 1781, and 
Massachusetts, in 1785, ceded to the United States all their rights, 
either of jurisdiction or proprietoi-ship, to all the territory lying 
west of a meridian line run south from the westerly bend of lake 
Ontario. Although the nominal amount in controversy, by these 
acts, was much diminished, it still left some nineteen thousand 
square miles of territory in dispute, but this controversy was finally 
settled by a convention of Commissioners appointed by the parties, 
held at Hartford, Conn., on the 16th day of December, 1786. 


According to the stipulations entered into by the convention, 
Massachusetts ceded to the state of New York all her claim to the 
government, sovereignty and jurisdiction of all the territory lying 
west of the present east line of the state of New York; and New 
York ceded to Massachusetts the pre-emption right, or fee of the 
land subject to the title of the natives, of all that part of the state 
of New York lying west of a line, beginning at a point in the north 
line of Pennsylvania, 82 miles north of the north-east corner of 
said state, and running from thence due north through Seneca 
lake, to lake Ontario; excepting and reserving to the state of New 
York, a strip of land east of and adjoining the eastern bank of 
Niagara river, one mile wide, and extending its whole length. 
The land, the pre-emption right of which was thus ceded, amounted 
to about six millions of acres. 

In April, 1788, Massachusetts contracted to sell to Nathaniel 
Gorham of Charlestown, Middlesex county, and Oliver Phelps of 
Granville, Hampshire county of said state, their pre-emption right 
to all the lands in Western New York amounting to about six mil- 
lion acres, for the sum of one million dollars, to be paid in three 
annual instalments, for which a kind of scrip, Massachusetts had 
issued, called consolidated securities, was to be received, which was 
then in market much below par.* 

In July 1788, Messrs. Gorham and Phelps purchased of the 
Indians, by treaty, at a convention held at Buffalo, the Indian title 
to about 2,600,000 acres of the eastern part of their purchase from 
Massachusetts. This purchase of the Indians being bounded west 
by a line beginning at a point in the north line of the state of 
Pennsylvania due south of the corner or point of land, made by the 
confluence of the Kanahasgwaicon (Cannaseraga) creek with the 
waters of Genesee river; thence north on said meridian line to the 
corner or point at the confluence aforesaid; thence northwardly 
along the waters of said Genesee river to a point two miles north of 
Kanawageras (Cannewagus) village; thence running due west 
twelve miles; thence running northwardly, so as to be twelve miles 
distant from the westward bounds of said river, to the shore of lake 

* It must be understood that Messrs. Gorham and Phelps although acting in their own 
names only, in this transaction, were merely the representatives of a company, consist- 
ing of themselves and a number of others, who had formed an association for the pur- 
chase of these lauds. 


On the 21st day of November, 1788, the state of Massachusetts 
conveyed and forever quitclaimed to N. Gorham and O. Phelps, 
their heirs and assigns forevei', all the right and title of said state 
to all that tract of country of which Messrs. Phelps and Gorham 
had extinguished the Indian title. This tract, and this only, has 
since been designated as the " Phelps and Gorham Purchase." 

According to the original plan of the proprietors the tract was, 
as soon as practicable, surveyed into townships about six miles 
square, and those townships subdivided into lots of different sizes; 
and so promptly was the execution of the design commenced, that 
through the industry and perseverance of Mr. Phelps, the acting 
and efficient conductor of the whole enterprise, Capt. William 
Walker, a surveyor and his assistants, arrived on the territory 
about the time the sale was perfected, to wit., in the fall of 1788, 
and surveyed several township lines before the inclemency of the 
winter weather put a stop to their labors. 

The proprietors offered this tract for sale by townships or parts 
of townships; and during the summer of 1789, several families set- 
tled on, and near, the site of the old Indian village at Canandaigua; 
at Bloomfield, and on Boughton Hill now in the town of Victor. 
During this season the first productions of the earth were brought 
forth by the cultivation of White people, and the first wheat was 
sown on the tract. So rapid were the sales of the proprietors that 
before the 18th day of November, 1790, they had disposed of about 
fifty townships, which were mostly sold by whole townships or 
large portions of townships, to sundry individuals and companies of 
farmers and others, formed for that purpose. On the 18th day of 
November, 1790, they sold the residue of their tract, (reserving 
two townships only,) amounting to upwards of a million and a 
quarter acres of land, to Robert Morris of Philadelphia, who soon 
sold the same to Sir William Pultney, an English gentleman, who 
appointed Capt. Charles Williamson his general and resident agent, 
to superintend his interest in, and dispose of the lands by sale in 
small or large quantities. These lands lay somewhat scattered 
over Phelps and Gorham's purchase, although mostly on the south 
and north parts. This property, or such parts of it as was unsold 
at the time of the decease of Sir William, together with other 
property which he purchased in his lifetime in its vicinity, is now 
called the *' Pultney Estate." 



Oliver Phelps, was a native of Windsor, Conn, and soon after 
his majority became a citizen of SufReld, Massachusetts. At the 
commencement of the revolutionary war, he took an active part and 
in various capacities, remained with the American army to its close. 
It was at this period that he became acquainted with Robert Morris; 
Mr. Phelps being superintendant of army purchases, for Massachu- 
setts, it led to an acquaintance with Mr. Morris, who as will be 
seen was the chief financier of the Revolution. He removed with 
his family, to Canandaigua Ontario county, in March, 1802, and 
resided there until the period of his death, in 1809. He was 
appointed first Judge of the county of Ontario, and elected a 
member of Congress from his district. An inscription upon his 
tomb stone, closes as follows: — 

•' Enterprise, Industrj', and Temperance, cannot always secure success, but the fruits 
of those virtues, will be felt by society." 

Like his revolutionary acquaintance, and afterwards co-operator 
in the purchase and settlement of Western New York, Robert 
Morris, he was destined to close his life in the midst of reverses. 
His business became much extended; his purchase of large tracts 
of wild land, had extended even to Georgia and Mississippi. In 
1795, he estimated his property at nearly one million of dollars, — 
his debts at less than eighty-five thousand; and yet at his death, in 
1809, he was much embarassed; what was saved from his estate, 
being the result of good management with those upon whom its 
administration devolved. A memorandum in his own hand writing 
would show that he lost over three hundred and thirty thousand 
dollars, by bad debts and bad titles. Among the early Pioneers of 
Western New York, who knew him well, it is common to hear him 
alluded to in terms of respect and esteem; to hear the expression 
of sincere regret for the misfortunes attending his last years, 
mingled with their recollections of early events. 

He left one son and one daughter. His son Leicester Phelps, 
after graduating at Yale College, assumed the name of Oliver 
Leicester Phelps. He died in 1813, leaving seven children, of 
whom the present Judge Oliver Phelps of Canandaigua — a worthy 
descendant of his Pioneer ancestor, — is one. 


By the side of that of her husband, in the village cemetery, at 
Canandaigua, is the tomb stone of ''Mary, wife of Oliver Phelps, 
and daughter of Zachariah and Sarah Seymour; — died 13th Sep- 
tember, 1826, aged seventy four years." It is said of her: 

" She was alike unaffected in prosperity and adversity." 

The late Jesse Hawley, has left upon record the following 
tribute to the memory of the subject of our necessarily limited 
memoir: — 

" Oliver Phelps may be considered the Cecrops of the Genesee 
Country. Its inhabitants owe a Mausoleum to his memory, in 
gratitude for his having pioneered for them the wilderness of this 
Canaan of the West." 

Nathaniel Gorham, Esq., the partner of Mr. Phelps, in the 
land purchase, was a citizen of Boston, Massachusetts, was never 
a resident upon the purchase, and had but little to do with the 
details of its management. His son, Nathaniel Gorham, became 
an early resident of Canandaigua, and died there in 1826, leaving 
a widow, son and daughter. 


Soon after the purchase of Sir William Pultney, [in 1792,] 
Captain Charles Williamson was appointed his agent, and came 
upon the purchase. He came by the way of Williamsport, Penn- 
sylvania, and located at Bath, Steuben county. He was an Eng- 
lishman, (or a Scotchman,) well educated, with liberal views; 
though as it proved perhaps, not as well calculated to lead the way 
as the patroon of new settlements, as if he had seen more of back- 
woods life. 

In his first advent, he was accompanied by his wife, his friend 
and relative, Mr. Johnstone, a servant, and one laborer. Mr. 
Maude, an English traveller in this region, in '99, and 1800, 
says : — 

"On Capt. Williamson's first arrival, he built a small hut where 
now is Bath. If a stranger came to visit him, he built up a little 
nook for him to put his bed in. In a little time, a boarded or 
framed house was built to the left of the hut; this was also 
intended as but a temporary residence, though it then appeared a 
palace. His present residence, a very commodious, roomy, and 
well planned house, is situated on the right of where stood the log 


hut, long since consigned to the kitchen fire. * * * On 
the first settlement of the country, these mountainous districts 
were thought so unfavorably of when compared with the rich 
flats of Ontario county, (or the Genesee country,) that none of 
the settlers could be prevailed upon to establish themselves here 
till Capt. Williamson himself set the example, saying: — 'As nature 
has done so much for the northern plains, I will do something for 
these southern mountains;' though the truth of it was, that Capt. 
WiUiamson saw very clearly, on his first visit to this country, that 
the Susquehannah, and not the Mohawk, would be its best friend. 
Even now, it has proved so, for at this day (1800) a bushel of 
wheat is better worth one dollar at Bath, than sixty cents at 
Geneva. This difference will grow wider every year; for little, 
if any improvement can be made with the water communication 
from New York, while that to Baltimore, will admit of extensive 
and advantageous one."* 

Few agents in the sale and settlement of a new country, have 
manifested more enterprise and liberality than Capt. Williamson. 
In addition to his early expenditures at Bath, he built a large hotel 
at Geneva, contributed to the opening of roads, and other primi- 
tive beginnings in the wilderness. He was a useful helper in time 
of need. The author knows little of his personal biography, yet a 
separate notice of one so early and prominently identified with 
pioneer history, has been deemed requisite. He left Western 
New York; was appointed by the British government, governor 
of one of the West India Islands, and died on his passage. 

There are many reminiscences that associate his memory with 
early times in Western New York; not the least of which are a 
series of letters which he wrote in 1799, published at the time in a 
pamphlet form: — "Description of the settlement of the Genesee 
country, in the State of New York, in a series of letters from a 
gentleman to his friend." The intention of the pamphlet was evi- 
dently, to circulate in the older portions of this country, and in 
England, — to attract public attention to the region where his prin- 

* The reader will smile at the prophecies of this early tourist: and yet his conclu- 
eions were quite natural ones at the time. For all the region he speaks of, the Susque- 
hannah then seemed the prospective avenue to the Atlantic; Baltimore, the commer- 
cial mart. But how changed the whole course of trade, by the achievments of our 
state, in the works of internal improvement ! Millions have been, and are now 
expending, to enable the district of country of which Mr. Maude was speaking, to 
reach the great artery of internal commerce — the Erie Canal. A prosperous and 
wealthy valley, — its beautiful young city, planted among the hills, almost in the imme- 
diate neighborhood of Bath, extends an arm to reach it, and fall in with the great 
cuirent of trade through the valley of the " Mohawk." 


cjpal had become so largely interested; yet it was ably and truth- 
fully written, with the ken of prophecy it would almost seem; 
"visions of glory" were indulged in, but not a tithe hardly, of the 
splendid consummations that have been realized, 

Such was the rapidity of the settlement of this wilderness, isola- 
ted as it was, from contiguous territory occupied by civilized com- 
munities, that by a census taken in December, 1790, recorded in 
"Imlay's Topographical description of the western territory of 
North America, London edition," it appears that thirty-four of the 
townships were then more or less settled; that it contained one hun- 
dred and ninety families, consisting of five hundred and five (white) 
males over sixteen years old; one hundred and eighty of that age 
and under; two hundred and ninety seven females; two free negroes; 
eleven slaves, and one Indian, making in the whole nine hundred and 
ninety six inhabitants; of these inhabitants, township No. 10, range 
2, (Hopewell) contained six families, thirteen males and no females; 
T. 10, R. 3, (Canandaigua) contained eighteen families, seventy-eight 
males and twenty females; T. 8, R. 4, (Bristol) contained four fami- 
lies, twenty males and no females; T. 10, R. 4, (Bloomfield) con- 
tained ten families, forty-four males and twenty females; and T. 
11, R. 4, (Boughton Hill or Victor) contained four families, fifteen 
males and four females. 

The foregoing enumeration does not include the settlement of 
"Friends" the adherents of Jemima V/ilkeson, consisting of about 
two hundred and sixty persons, who had established themselves near 
the outlet of Crooked lake, nor does it include the settlement at 
Geneva, supposed to consist of one hundred inhabitants, nor the 
inhabitants from thence, north to lake Ontario, as they were on 
what has been since called the ''Gore," and was not then supposed 
to be included in Phelps and Gorham's purchase. The same census 
notes, that there were west of the Genesee river on the Indian 
lands, eleven families, (one of which was that of Hon. John H. 
Jones at old Leicester) composed of fifty-one individuals. 

Thus rapidly progressed the settlement of this tract, notwith- 
standing it had more than the ordinary difficulties in settling a new 
country to overcome; such as reports of the unusual unhealthiness 
of the climate, want of provisions to support fife, and deficiency of 
title, set afloat by persons interested in the settlement of rival 


districts of country; the absolute attack of the Indian chiefs, on the 
validity of the title, supported or rather assisted by an attack 
of the British authorities in Canada. One of the usual and almost 
universal difficulties in settling all new countries, is the prevalence 
of diseases engendered by change of climate, extra fatigue and 
unusual exposures, of which this settlement had at least a moderate 
share — as well as the fear of Indian incursions. 

In a letter written by Mr. Phelps to his co-proprietor, Mr. Gor- 
ham, dated, Canandaigua, August 7, 1790, from which the follow- 
ing are extracts, the situation of the settlement is more truly des- 
cribed, and better depicted, than the most vivid description written 
at the present time could portray. Mr. Phelps writes: — 

" I arrived at this place the 29th ult. and found the people in 
this settlement very sickly, but the most of them are getting better, 
a bilious fever has been the prevailing distemper. Capt. Walker, 
my nearest neighbor, is now supposed to be dying with the bilious 
cholic. He will be much lamented as he was one of the most 
thorough farmers on the ground. We have suffered much for the 
want of a physician. Dr. Atwater has not been in the country. 
We have now a gentleman from Pennsylvania attending on the 
sick, who appears to understand his business. The two Wads- 
worths [Messrs. William and James Wadsworth who settled at 
Geneseo,] who brought a large property into the country, have been 
very sick, and are now on the recovery, but are low-spirited. They 
like the country, but their sickness has discouraged them. The 
settlement goes on as well as could be expected, there is a great 
number of people settled in the country. Enghsh grain is good, 
and we are now in the midst of our harvest." 

"The Indians are now in great confusion on account of some 
Indians being inhumanly killed by" the white people; I am this 
moment setting out with an agent from Pennsylvania, to make 
them satisfaction for the two Indians murdered. I hope to be able 
to settle the matter, if I should not succeed, they will retaliate; I 
never saw them more enraged than they are at this time." 

It appears, however, that the mission of Mr. Phelps and the 
Pennsylvania agent, had no other effect than to induce the Indians 
to issue a kind of summons, dated August 12, 1790, directed to the 
Governor and Council of Pennsylvania, signed by Little Beard, 
(Beaver Tribe) Sangoyeawatau, Gisseharke, (Wolf Tribe) and 
Caunhisongo, of which the following is an extract: — 

"Now we take you by the hand and lead you to the Painted 
Post, or as far as your canoes can come up the creek, where you 
will meet the whole of the tribe of the deceased, and all the chiefs, 


and a number of the warriors of our nation, when we expect you 
will wash away the blood of your brothers and bury the hatchet, 
and put it out of memory, as it is yet sticking in our head. 

''Brothers, it is our great brother, your Governor, who must 
come to see us, as we will never bury the hatchet until our great 
brother himself comes and brightens the chain of friendship, as it is 
very rusty. — Brothers, you must bring the property of your 
brothers, you have murdered, and all the property of the 
nturderers, as it will be great satisfaction to the families of the 
deceased. Brothers, the sooner you meet us the better, for our 
young warriors are very uneasy, and it may prevent great 

What the sequel of this transaction proved to be, we have not 
data to determine, although it undoubtedly was brought to an 
amicable termination; but that such a state of things must strike 
consternation over a new settlement, where the healthy inhabitants, 
have a sufficient task to provide for and take care of the sick, may 
well be conceived. As an instance of the assassin-like attacks 
made on this settlement, especially when it is considered that of all 
the privations incident to a new settlement, the want of provisions 
was less felt in this district than in any other as remote from old 
settlements; attacks made, it must be presumed, by men having rival 
interests to subserve, the following will suffice : — 

From the Maryland Journal, July 31st, 1789. 

" Extract of a letter from Northumberland County, dated 
July 2d:" — 'The people of the Genesee and Niagara country are 
crowding in upon us every day, owing to the great scarcity of 
provisions; the most of them who have gone there lately are 
starving to death, and it is shocking to humanity to hear of the 
number of the families that are dying daily for the want of suste- 
nance. Since I wrote the above, I have heard from the Genesee 
and Niagara country, that the scarcity of provisions has increased 
since the last accounts, so much, that flour was sold for £4 per 
hundred, and it is a fact that a cow, valued at £7 10s., was given by 
a man for a bushel of rye, to keep a wife and children from the jaws 
of death. The wild roots and herbs that the country affords, boiled 
and without salt, constitute the whole food of most of the un- 
happy people, who have been decoyed there, through the flat- 
tering accounts of the quality of the lands. You have my per- 
mission to publish this, in order to deter others from going, and it 
is thought that unless they get supplies from this and the neigh- 
boring counties, they will be compelled to quit the place, as their 
crops have universally failed. Several boat loads of flour that 
were carried from here, have been seized by force by the people." 


A more infamous libel on the character of the Genesee country 
and its inhabitants could not have been penned. At the time the 
printer issued this paper there was not to exceed fifteen families on 
the whole tract, who had come on within three months previous to 
that time, and those were mostly wealthy farmers who had emigra- 
ted from Massachusetts and Connecticut into the country, bringing 
with them, what was estimated to be a year's provision. They 
had not been in the country long enough to try the success or fail- 
ure of crops; but had it been otherwise, who that has ever entered 
into a log cabin in the Genesee country does not know that in times 
of scarcity of provisions, every man of the New England pioneers 
who would not divide with his necessitous neighbors without money 
and without price, would be considered as an outlaw in society. 

The attack of Cornplanter and other Indian chiefs, on the title 
of Phelps and Gorham to this tract was well calculated to arrest 
the sale of lands and the progress of the settlement. In 1790 and 
1791, Cornplanter, Half Town, and Great Tree, or Big Tree, 
sent serious complaints against Mr. Phelps contained in several 
memorials to the President of the United States, which if true 
might operate to invalidate the title of Phelps and Gorham to their 
purchase. The first memorial usually called *'Cornplanter's 
speech," the following extract from which, contains most of the 
charges against Mr. Phelps and his transactions during the treaty 
for the lands set forth in the whole. To these charges Mr. Phelps 
was cited to answer, by the President. Mr. Phelps, as soon 
as they could be obtained, which however took him some time to 
effect, produced depositions, certificates, letters and other docu- 
mentary testimony, signed by such persons as Timothy Pickering, 
Judge Hollenbeck, Rev. Samuel Kirkland, Joseph Brant, and others 
which clearly proved that the charges contained in the memorials 
against him where untrue, as appears from the report of a com- 
mittee of the United States Senate made January 27, 1792, in the 
following words: — 

"Mr. Butler from the Committee on Indian affairs, to whom 
was referred the speeches of Cornplanter, of the 9th, of Decem- 
ber, 1790; 10th, of January, 7th, of February, and 17th, of 
March, 1791; made the following report: — 

"That Oliver Phelps of whom Cornplanter makes mention, pro- 
duced some affidavits and other papers, relating to the purchase of 
lands made by him of the Indians, which your Committee have 
examined, and are of opinion, that the said affidavits and other 


papers should be filed in the Secretary's office; and that your Com- 
mittee be discharged from the further consideration of this subject." 

Extracts from Cornplanter's Speech. 

"The voice of the Seneca Nation speaks to you, the great 
counsellor, in whose heart the wise men of all the Thirteen Fires 
have placed their wisdom. It may be very small in your ears, and 
we therefore entreat you to hearken with attention; for we are 
about to speak of things which are to us very great. When your 
army entered the country of the Six Nations, we called you the 
Town Destroyer, and to this day, when that name is heard, our 
women look behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close 
to the necks of their mother's. Our counsellors and warriors are 
men, and cannot be afraid; but their hearts are grieved with the 
fears of our women and children, and desire that it may be buried 
so deep as to be heard no more. When you gave us peace, we 
called you father, because you promised to secure us in the posses- 
sion of our lands. Do this, and, so long as lands shall remain, that 
beloved name will live in the heart of every Seneca. 

"Father: our nation empowered John Livingston to let out 
part of our lands on rent, to be paid to us. He told us, that he 
was sent by Congress to do this for us, and we fear he has deceived 
us in the writing he obtained from us; for since the time of our 
giving that power, a man of the name of Phelps has come among 
us, and claimed our whole country northward of the line of Penn- 
sylvania, under purchase of that Livingston, to whom he said he 
had paid twenty thousand dollars for it. He said, also, that he 
had bought, likewise, from the council of the Thirteen Fires, and 
paid them twenty thousand dollars more for the same. And he 
said, also, that it did not belong to us, for that the great King had 
ceded the whole of it, when you made peace with him. Thus he 
claimed the whole country north of Pennsylvania, and west of the 
lands belonging to the Cayugas. He demanded it; he insisted on 
his demand, and declared that he would have it all. It was 
impossible for us to grant him this, and we immediately refused it. 
After some days he proposed to run a line, at a small distance 
eastward of our western boundary, which we also refused to agree 
to. He then threatened us with immediate war, if we did not 

" Upon this threat our chiefs held a council, and they agreed that 
no event of war could be worse than to be driven, with their wives 
and children, from the only country which we had a right to, and, 
therefore, weak as our nation was, they determined to take the 
chance of war, rather than submit to such unjust demands, which 
seemed to have no bounds. Street, the great trader at Niagara, 
was then with us, having come at the request of Phelps, and as he 
always professed to be our great friend, we consulted him on this 


subject. He also told us, that our lands had been ceded by the 
King, and that we must give them up. 

'' Astonished at what we heard from every quarter, with hearts 
aching with compassion for our wives and children, we v/ere thus 
compelled to give up all our country north of the line of Penn- 
sylvania, and east of the Genesee river, up to the fork, and east of 
a south line drawn from that fork to the Pennsylvania line. For 
this land Phelps agreed to pay us ten thousand dollars in hand, and 
one thousand dollars a year for ever. He paid us two thousand 
and five hundred dollars in hand, part of the ten thousand, and he 
sent for us to come last spring, to receive our money; but instead 
of paying us the remainder of the ten thousand dollars, and the 
one thousand dollars due for the first year, he offered us no more 
than five hundred dollars, and insisted that he had agreed with 
us for that sum to be paid yearly. We debated with him for six 
days, during all which time he persisted in refusing to pay us our 
just demand, and he insisted that we should receive the five hun- 
dred dollars; and Street, from Niagara, also insisted on our 
recieving the money as it was offered to us. The last reason he 
assigned for continuing to refuse paying us, was, that the King had 
ceded the lands to the Thirteen Fires, and that he had bought them 
from you and paid you for them. 

"We could bear this confusion no longer, and determined to 
force through every difficulty and lift up our voice that you might 
hear us, and to claim that security in the possession of our lands, 
which your commissioners so solemnly promised us. And we now 
entreat you to enquire into our complaints and redress our wrongs. 

''Father: Our writings were lodged in the hands of Street, of 
Niagara, as we supposed him to be our friend; but when we saw 
Phelps consulting with Street, on every occasion, we doubted of 
his honesty towards us, and we have since heard, that he was to 
receive for his endeavors to deceive us, a piece of land two miles 
in width, west of the Genesee river, and near forty miles in length, 
extending to lake Ontario; and the lines of this tract have been 
run accordingly, although no part of it is within the bounds which 
limit his purchase. No doubt he meant to deceive us. 

" Father : You have said that we are in your hand, and that, 
by closing it, you could crush us to nothing. Are you determined 
to crush us? If you are, tell us so, that those of our nation who 
have become your children, and have determined to die so, may 
know what to do. In this case, one chief has said he would ask 
you to put him out of pain. Another, who will not think of dying 
by the hand of his father, or of his brother, has said he will retire 
to Chatauque, eat off the fatal root, and sleep with his fathers in 

* The translator of this speech has taken the liberty to give the English orthography 
to the name of the lake. In Seneca, it was Jadaqueh; i. e. the place where a body 


And there was rivalry and misrepresentation to contend with in 
another quarter. The Upper Province of Canada had commenced 
settUng — there were land dealers there too, who wished to divert 
settlers from Western New York, and promote the interests of 
themselves and their locaUties. John Gould, Esq., who has already 
been cited, says, that at the period of his earliest residence in Can- 
ada, reports were spread prejudicial to the settlements then just 
commencing in Western New York. It was said that the country 
was sickly, the Livingston claim and others, were named as adverse 
titles. He observes, that on leaving Canada in 1804 to settle in 

the States, Esq. told him he would not give his farm in 

Canada for "all the land between Niagara and the Cayuga lake." 
And now, said the old gentleman to the author, as he looked out 
upon the broad well cultivated acres he and his children possess: — 

"I would not give my farm for Esq. 's, and half a dozen 

more like it." 

The new settlers were threatened with even more formidable 
difficulties than those that have so far been enumerated. Although 
the treaty of peace in 1783, between the United States and Great 
Britain, caused an immediate suspension of hostilities, and a with- 
drawal from all the posts held by the British in the Eastern States, 
there were still many delicate and difficult questions that remained 
to be settled, and which were a source of continual irritation and 
embarrassment. The posts at Oswego and Niagara, and all the 
western posts were not surrendered until 1796. The singular 
spectacle was presented here in Western New York, of surveys 
and settlement going on under the auspices of one government, 
while the battlements of fortified places, occupied by the troops of 

ascended, or was taken up. Cornplanter had allusion to a Seneca tradition: — A 
hunting party of Indians was once encamped upon the shores of this lake; a young 
squaw of the party, dug and eat a root that created thirst; to slake it, she went to the 
lake, and disappeared forever. Thence it was inferred, that a root grew there, which 
produced an easy death — a vanishing away from the afflictions of life. The author is 
aware that the name of the lake has been ascribed to another tradition, and that other 
derivations have been given. His authority is information derived from a native 

Note. — The Livingston claim, otherwise called the Lessee claim was founded on the 
circumstance, that John Livingston and others had leased from the Indians, for 999 
years on a rent of two thousand dollars per annum, a large tract of land which was 
alledged to include the whole of the Massachusetts pre-emption tract; but as the whole 
transaction has been declared to be illegal by the legislation and judicial authorities of 
the State, and is now abandoned, although it has afforded a pretext for the Lesees, to 
receive donations from the state and from Phelps and Gorham; but with the Holland 
Company, their apphcation, although corameuced by a suit ia ejectment, was less 



another, were frowning upon the peaceable operations of enterprise 
and industry. 

The pretext for withholding these posts, was, that the United 
States had not fulfilled some of its treaty stipulations; the one that 
guarantied the payment of debts due from American to British 
subjects, being a special subject of complaint. But while such 
were the avowed reasons for not surrendering them, it is quite 
apparent, that they were not the real ones. A peace ■ — a surrender 
of an empire such as this was, had been as we well know, a sacri- 
fice to necessity, humbling to the pride of England. A suspension 
of hostilities had been reluctantly consented to, with the lingering 
hope and expectation, that something might occur, to prevent the 
final consummation of separation and independence. The holding 
of this line of posts afforded a feeble prospect of a successful 
renewal of the struggle, through a continued alliance with the 
Indians, and the placing of obstacles in the way of the peaceable 
overtures made to them by our government. And perhaps England 
entertained hopes that free government was a thing to talk about, 
and pretty successfully fight for — but would not admit of final 
consummation. There were differences of opinion they well knew, 
— radical ones — among those who were to frame the new system; 
the whole matter looked to them, as it really was, surrounded with 
difficulties and embarrassments. There might be a failure. Should 
it be so, here, in the possession of these posts — an alliance with 
the Indians — was a prospective nucleus for renewing the war 
and recovering the lost colonies; restoring the precious jewel that 
had dropped from England's crown. And here it may be remarked, 
upon the authority of circumstances, too strong to admit of much 
doubt, that the last vestige of such hopes with England, was not 
obliterated until the treaty of Ghent, that closed the war of 1812. 

Under the instructions of Congress, President Washington, 
immediately after the peace of '83, despatched Baron Steuben to 
Quebec to make the necessary arrangements with Sir Frederick 
Haldimand, for delivering up the posts that have been named. 
His mission not only contemplated the delivery of the posts to 
him, but preparations for their occupancy and repairs. The Baron 
met Gen. Haldimand at the Sorel, on a tour to the Lakes. He was 
informed by him that he had received no instructions from his 
government to evacuate the posts, nor for any overt act of peace, 
save a suspension of hostilities. He regarded himself as not at 


liberty to enter into any negotiations — complained of a non-fulfil- 
ment of treaty stipulations — and even refused the Baron a passport 
to Detroit. Thus ended the mission; and a long succession of 
negotiations and embarrassments followed, which belong to the 
province of general history. Our object here has only been to 
furnish an induction to local events. 

The withholding of the posts, was coupled with the assumption 
of jurisdiction and guardianship over the Indians, the Six Nations 
included. Extracts from the Maryland Journal: — 

" Whitestovvn, July 9, 1794." 
" We learn by a gentleman immediately from the county of Onondaga, that tho 
greatest part of the Onondaga tribe of Indians, who have heretofore resided in that 
part of the country, and annually received an annuity of 500 dollars from the State, 
have removed into the British territory of the Province of Upper Canada. Thai on 
the 25th ult., those Indians who were on their way, and had collected at the Onondaga 
Salt Springs, to take leave of the few who remained behind, and could not be pre- 
vailed on (notwithstanding the most insinuating and indefatigable exertions of the 
British lions of the North) to quit their country; the Indians were collected in coun- 
cil, and the inhabitants, alarmed at the movement of those tawny sons of cruelty, 
were also collected." 

" Philadelphia, Sept. 1, 1794." 

•• An Express arrived at the War Office on Saturday last from the Genesee country 
(within the State of New York) with despatches for the Executive of the United 
States, which were immediately laid before the President. Several private letters, 
received by the same conveyance, advise that a peremptory order had been issued by 
Col. Simcoe, the Governor of Upper Canada, requiring an immediate removal of the 
inhabitants who have been for some time settled on a tract of land in that countr)-, 
within the bounds of the United States, agreeably to the treaty of peace. They hke- 
wise inform, that Capt. Williamson, and the other citizens of the United States, who 
are principally concerned in the settlement of those lands, were determined to resist 
tlie said order, and were preparing to oppose any force that may be sent to deprive 
them of their lawful rights and property." 

"Philadelphia, Sept, 1, 1794." 

" Sir: — If after the information, upon which my letter of the 20th of May, was 
founded, any considerable doubt had remained, of Gov. Simcoe's invasion, your long 
silence, without a refutation of it, and our more recent intelligence, forbid us to question 
its truth. It is supported by the respectable opinions, which have been since trans- 
mitted to the Executive, that in tho late attack on Fort Rvcovcry, British officers and 
British soldiers were, on the very ground, aiding our Indian enemies. 

" But, Sir, as if the Governor of Upper Cauda was resolved to destroy everj' possi- 
bility of disbelieving his hostile views, he has sent to the Great Sodus — a settlement 
begun on a bay of the same name on Lake Ontario — a command to Captain 
Williamson, who derives a title from the State of Now York, to desist from his enter- 
prise. This mandate was borae by a Lieutenant Shoaffe, under a militarj- escort; and 
in its tone corresponds with the form of its deliver}', being unequivocally of a military 
and hostile nature: — 

" I am commanded to declare that during the iaexecution of the treaty of peace 


between Great Britain and the United States, and until the existing differences 
respecting it shall be mutually and finally adjusted, the taking possession of any part of 
the Indian territory, either for the purposes of war or sovereignty, is held to be a direct 
violation of his Britannic Majesty's rights, as they auquestionably existed before the 
treaty; and has an immediate tendency to internipt, and, in its progress, to destroy that 
good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between his Britannic Majesty and 
the United States of America. I therefore require you to desist from any such aggres- 
sion. R. H. SHEAFFE, 

Lieutenant and Qx, Mr. GenH Dept. of his Britannic Majesty^s service." 

Captain Williamson being from home, a letter was written to him by Lieutenant 
Sheaffe, in the following words: 

"SoD0s, 16th August, 1794." 
♦'Sir: — Having a special commission and instructions for that purpose from the 
Lieutenant Governor of his Britannic Majesty's Province of U. Canada, I have come 
here to demand by what authority an establishment has been ordered at this place, and, 
to require that such a design be immediately relinquished, for the reasons stated in the 
written declaration accompanying this letter; for the receipt of which protest I have 
taken the acknowledgment of your agent, Mr. Little. I regret exceedingly in my 
private as well as public character, that I have not the satisfaction of seeing you here, 
but I hope on my return, which will be about a week hence, to be more fortunate. 1 
am, Sir, your most obedient servant. R. H. SHEAFFE, 

Lt. 5th Regt. Q. M. G. D." 
•* The position of Sodus is represented to be seventy miles within the territorial line 
of the United States — about twenty from Oswego, and about one hundred from 

" For the present, all causes of discontent, not connected with our western territorj-, 
shall be laid aside; and even among these shall not be revived the root of our 
complaints, the detention of the posts. But while peace is sought by us through every 
channel, which honor permits, the Governor of Upper Canada is accumulating 
irritation upon irritation. He commenced his operations of enmity at the rapids of the 
Miami. He next associated British with Indian force to assault our fort. He now 
threatens us, if we fell our own trees and build houses on our own lands. To what 
length may not Governor Simcoe go? Where is the limit to the sentiment which 
gave birth to these instructions? Where is the limit of the principle which Governor 
Simcoe avows? 

" The treaty and all its appendages we have submitted to fair discussion, more than 
two years ago. To the letter of my predecessor of the 29th of May, 1792, you have 
not been pleased to make a reply, except that on the 20th of June 1793, the 22d of 
November, [1793, and the 21st of Februar)% 1794, no instructions had arrived from 
your court. To say the best of this suspension, it certainly cannot warrant any new 
encroachments, howsoever, it may recommend to us forbearance under the old. 

" It is not for the Governors of his Britannic Majesty to interfere with the measures 
of the United States towards the Indians within their territorj'. You cannot. Sir, be 
insensible that it has grown into a maxim, that the affairs of the Indians within the 
boundaries of any nation, exclusively belong to that nation. But Governor Simcoe, 
disregarding this right of the United States, extends the line of usurpation in which he 
marches, by referring to the ancient and extinguished rights of his Britannic Majesty. 
For, if the existing condition of the treaty keeps them alive on the southern side of 
Lake Ontario, the Ohio itself will not stop their career. 

♦' You will pardon me, Sir, if under tliese excuses of Governor Simcoe, I am not 


discouraged by your having formerly disclaimed a control over, and a responsibility for, 
the Governors of his Britannic Majesty, from resorting to you on this occasion. You 
are addressed from a hope, that if he will not be restrained by your remonstrances, he 
may at least be apprized, through you, of the consequences of self-defence. 

I have the honor to be, Sir, &c. 
Hon. George Hammond, EDM. RANDOLPH. 

Minister Plenipotentiary of his Britannic Majesty." 

To this letter of Secretary Randolph, Mr. Hammond replied, 
under date, New York, Sept. 3, 1794, that he should transmit 
copies of Mr. Randolph's letter by the earliest opportunity, to Gov. 
Simcoe and His Majesty's ministers in England. The invasion of 
Gov. Simcoe referred to at the commencement of Mr. Randolph's 
letter, was the marching of British troops by Gov. Simcoe's orders, 
and taking post and erecting a fort on the Maumee river, early in 

Between these movements of Gov. Simcoe, and a passage in the 
" Travels of the Duke de la Rochefoucauld Liancourt," which has 
already been quoted in another connection, there is a remarkable 
coincidence. The Duke visited the Governor at Niagara, about 
the period of these acts of aggression. The passage is as follows: 
"He," (Gov. Simcoe,) " discourses with much good sense, on all 
subjects, but his favorite topics are, his projects and war, which 
seem to be the objects of his leading passions. He is acquainted 
with the military history of all countries; no hillock catches his 
eye without exciting in his mind the idea of a fort which might 
be constructed on the spot, and with the construction of this fort, 
he associates the plan of operations for a campaign, especially of 
that which is to lead him to Philadelphia.^^ It is not presuming too 
much, to conclude that his aim was to embroil the frontiers of 
Western New York, and the North West Territory in difficulties, 
which he designed should eventuate in war; and he, at the head 
of a British Army, take the high road to Philadelphia, and to fame. 

From the Maryland Journal, of Nov, 21, 1794. 

" Whitestown, Nov. 5." 
"A gentleman directly from Canandarquie, informs that 1600 Indians had come in 
to the treaty on Monday Se'nnight — and also that Wm. Johnson, a British Indian 
agent, and a Mr. Steel, the Indian interpreter from Niagara, were also diere, and had 
found means to collect 26 chiefs in a bye-place, and were haranguing of tliem in the 
most eloquent and flattering manner, when discovered by the inhabitants, they were 
using the most persuasive acts, together with offers of large presents, to induce the 
Indians to turn their arms against the United States. The meeting broke up in a 
disorderly manner. The inhabitants were greatly exasperated at this insolent conduct 
of British agents; and it is said that they gave out that if Col. Pickering did not cause 
their arrest, they would inflict upon them the Yankee punishment of tar and feathers." 


From, same paper, of Dec. 9, 1794. 

" Albany Nov. 27." 
•' The Genesee treaty, we are informed, has terminated much to the satisfaction of the 
commissioner of the United States, and of the Six Nations of Indians, who have 
relinquished all right and title to the Presque Isle territorj', and a tract of land four 
miles wide, from Johnston's Landing to Fort Slauser, including Fort Niagara; and 
also granted to the United States, the right of passing and repassing through their 

The disposition to renew the war, the work of mischief that 
was commenced and carried on among the Indians — perhaps the 
beligerent spirit of Gov. Simcoe, had been greatly promoted by a 
measure of Lord Dorchester, after the defeat of St. Clair. View- 
ing it now, after the lapse of . over half a century, it is impossible to 
construe it in any other way than as a premeditated attempt to 
renew the Indian border wars; and as his Lordship had but recently 
returned from a visit to England, it would seem that he acted under 
home influences which contemplated a recommencement of hostil- 
ties upon a much larger scale. Having been waited upon by a 
deputation of Indians, of the west, for advice in reference to their 
existing boundary difficulties with the United States, he answered 
them in the following speech: — 

"Children: — I was in expectation of hearing from the people 
of the United States what was required by them. I hoped that I 
should have been able to bring you together and make you friends. 

"Children: — I have waited long and listened with great atten- 
tion, but I have not heard one word from them. 

"Children: — I flatter myself with the hope that the line pro- 
posed in the year eighty-three, to separate us from the United 
States, which was immediately broken by themselves as soon as the 
peace was signed, would have been mended, or a new one drawn, 
in an amicable manner. Here, also, I have been disappointed. 

"Children: — Since my return, I find no appearance of a line 
remains; and from the manner in which the people of the United 
States rush on, and act, and talk, on this side; and from what I 
learned of their conduct towards the sea, I shall not be surprised 
if we are at war with them in the course of the present year, 
and if so, a line must be drawn by the warriors. 

"Children: — You talk of selling your lands to the state of 
New York. I have told you that there was no line between them 
and us. I shall acknowledge no lands to be theirs which have 
been encroached on by them since the year 1783. They then 
broke the peace, and as they keep it not on their part, it doth not 
bind on ours. 

"Children: — They then destroyed their right of pre-emption. 


Therefore all their approaches towards us since that time, and all 
the purchases made by them, I consider as an infringement on the 
King's rights. And when a line is drawn between us, be it in 
peace or war, they must lose all their improvements and houses 
on our side of it. Those people must all begone who do not obtain 
leave to become the King's subjects. What belongs to the Indians, 
will of course, be secured and confirmed to them. 

"Children: — What farther can I say to youl You are wit- 
nesses that on our parts, we have acted in the most peaceable man- 
ner, and borne the language and conduct of the people of the United 
States with patience. But I believe our patience is almost exhausted." 

As we have no information beyond the correspondence intro- 
duced, in reference to the affair between Lieut. Sheaffe * and Capt. 
WiUiamson, we are left to infer that the spirited communication of 
Secretary Randolph induced His Brittanic Majesty's plenipoten- 
tiary, to curb the further raging of loyal wrath in the bosom of 
Gov. Simcoe. 

It can well be imagined how all that we have been alluding to, 
helped to throw obstacles in the way of settlement, and perplex 
the backwoods adventurers. There was a long succession of 
harassing events, of fearful apprehensions and danger. The Six 
Nations of Indians not wholly reconciled, in their midst; far out- 
numbering them; conquered but not subdued; their jealousies and 
prejudices excited by such powerful influences as have been 
alluded to; their tomahawks and scalping knives still stained with 
the blood of their victims in the border wars; in whose bosoms 
rankled dire revenge for the retributive justice so lately inflicted 
upon them by Gen. Sullivan. Although there were no Indians on 
the Phelps and Gorham tract, yet numerous villages, teeming with 
their warriors, were in its immediate neighborhood, — the barrier 
of distance not intervening as a shield against their stealthy incur- 
sions. In the year 1793, after the defeat of Generals Harmer and 
St. Clair, in the Northwestern Territory, in which British oflicers 
and soldiers, as well as some of our own Indians participated with 

* The then Lieut. SheafFe, was afterwards the Maj. Gen. Sheaffe, of the war of 
1812. At the commencement of the Revolution, he was a lad, residing with his wid- 
owed mother, in Boston. Earl Percy's quarters were in his mother's house. Ha 
became his protege, received from him a militan' education and a commission in the 
armv, from which he rose to the rank of Major General. The commencement of the 
war "of 1812 found him stationed in Canada. He professed a reluctance to engage in 
it, and wished rather a transfer to some other country, than a participation in a war 
against his countn,'men. For his exploit at Queenston Heights, he was created a Bar- 
onet. These facts are derived from a note iu Stone's life of Brant. 


our enemy, and before the victory obtained by Gen. Wayne, over 
those Indians in 1794, the "Genesee Indians behaved very rudely, 
they would impudently enter the houses of the whites (in the Gen- 
esee country,) and take the prepared food from the tables without 
leave, but immediately after the event of the battle (Wayne's 
victory,) was known, they became humble and tame as spaniels." 
It was a fact known only at the time to Judge Hosmer and Gen. 
Israel Chapin, Superintendent of Indian affairs, residing at Avon 
and Canandaigua, "that the Genesee Indians were ready to rise 
upon the frontier dwellers of this state, as soon as it should be 
known that the Indians had been victorious over Wayne, which 
they did not doubt." Judge Hosmer and Gen. Chapin received 
this information from an American gentleman, living at Newark, 
(Niagara) Upper Canada. This gentleman's name, whose charac- 
ter stood high in the confidence of government, was ever kept a 
secret by those two gentlemen, nor was the rumor suffered to 
spread among the inhabitants, as it would probably have depopu- 
lated the country; but it put these two gentlemen on the guard 
until the contingency was settled. 

For the foregoing information, we are indebted to George 
Hosmer, Esq. 

Though there was no concerted or formidable participation of the 
Six Nations, in the war going on at the west, it is plain that they 
meant to keep themselves in a position to take advantage of any ill 
success of Wayne's expedition. It is inferred by Col. Stone that 
there were Seneca Indians in the final battle with Wayne, or if not, 
runners of that nation stationed near the scene of action, from the 
fact that the Indians of Western New York, were apprized of the 
result before the whites were. 

The inference of the following letter from Gen. Wayne, to Corn- 
planter, and two other Seneca chiefs, is, that the position of the 
Senecas was an undefined one; that although it was professedly 
one of inaction, or neutrality, the government through the agency 
of Gen. Wayne, found it necessary, while quelling the western 
Indians, to lay anchors to the windward, to guard against the 
participation of the Senecas in the disturbances it was endeavoring 
to quell. The letter is copied from the original manuscript; 
attached to which, is the autograph signature of the brave, impetu- 
ous, but successful "Mad Anthony." There is no date to the 
letter, but the contents indicate about the period it was written: — 


Brothers! — 

"It was the sincere wish and desire of the President (General Washington) to see 
you in Philadelphia at the Grand Council Fire of the Fifteen United States of America, 
whilst the chosen Counsellors were assembled together from every part of this great 

" He, therefore, commanded me to send to invite you to come to Philadelphia to 
meet him in that Council & to inform you that he had sent to invite Red Jacket and 
other Chiefs to meet him also. — 

" Pursuant to this command of the President, I sent Mr. Rosecrantz with a message 
to you from Pittsburgh on the 14th day of November last (more than four moons 
since) inviting you to that Council Fire: 

" You returned for answer " that you could not come at present, as you had so 
much business to do among yourselves, which you must first attend to." 

" At the same time you were so good & friendly as to communicate the proceedings 
& result of the Grand Council of the Hostile and other Chiefs assembled at Au-Glaize 
which I received by Mr. Rosecrantz and Cayendoe, now present. 

" They were partly the same as had been communicated to General Washington by 
you & the other Chiefs of the Six Nations from BuiFalo Creek some time before. 

"But the President still wishing to see «& talk with you at the Grand Council Firo 
then kindled in Philadelphia, ordered me to send you a second message to meet him 
there that he might hear «& understand from your own lips the terms upon which the 
Hostile Indians would agree to make peace — and which would be more fully & better 
explained viva voce or, by word of mouth, — than in writing, as many questions might 
occur that were not thought of at the time of writing. 

" In obedience to those orders, I sent you another invitation by Mr. Rosecrantz and 
Cayendoe to meet the President in Philadelphia at the Council Fire, hoping that by 
that time you had settled the business you had to transact among yourselves: 

" You have now come forward — but, it is too late; the fire is extinguished — and 
will not be rekindled until November next, i. e. between eight Si, nine moons from 
this time. 

" I am however, happy to inform you that the Farmers brother, the young King the 
Infant, the Shining breast-plate & two others of inferior rank went forward and met 
the President & Grand Council of the Fifteen Fires in Philadelphia agreeably to the 
invitation which I mentioned had been sent to them by the President and from whom 
it is probable that the President and Council have received the required information ; 
those Chiefs must have returned to their towns about the time that you set oiF to come 
to this place ; and will be able to inform you of the Council held with them. 

" I will now fully inform you of the intelligence I have just received from Gen'l 
Knox the Secretarj' : viz. agreeably to the request of the Six Nations assembled at 
BufFalo Creek last November.— The President & Grand Council of the Fifteen Fires 
of the United States have appointed three Commissioners to hold a conference with 
the Hostile Indians about the first day of June next at the Lower Sandusky : they 
will probably be at Niagara about the middle of May ; from whence it's also probable 
that you with the other Chiefs of the Six Nations will accompany them to the treaty 
and use your influence «fe good offices to procure a permanent peace ; so much the 
true interest of all parties concerned. 

" But if after all your good & friendly offices, aided by the sincere wish & desire of 
the President & Grand Council of tho United States for Peace, it cannot be obtained 
but by the sacrifice of National Character & Honor, I hope and trust that there will 
be but one voice and mind to prosecute the war with that vigor and effect — that the 


Hostile Indians will have cause to lament that they did noblisten to the voice of peace. 
•' Having thus communicated to you all the information that I have received respec- 
txn<y the proposed treaty and having spoken my mind openly & freely as a Warrior 
ever ought to do when speaking to friends & brothers, — 

" I have now to request that you will also speak your minds freely & without reserve: 
60 that we may perfectly understand each other: this is what you requested me to do— 
and what I have done. 

" You will therefore make your minds easy — and consider yourselves in the midst of 
your friends and brothers. — 

Major General Sf Commander in Chief of the troops 

of the United States of America. 

The Cornplanter, "^ 

New Arrow, \ Chiefs of the 

Geyesutha and j Alleghany." 

Stiff Knee (alias) Big Tree. J 

The effect of the decisive victory of Gen. Wayne, his thorough 
scourging of the hostile Indians of the west and northwest, put an 
end to all existing Indian disturbances. Its happy influences 
extended to all the interests of our country. The Indian wars had 
come when the government and people were tired of war, and 
were looking forward to peace and repose. But no where was the 
consummation hailed with greater joy, than among those who 
struggling with all the usual hardships and privations of new" settle- 
ments, had been encountering the additional obstacle, the fear that 
the scenes of the border war, were to be re-enacted in their midst. 

With the Six Nations, it was followed by the burying of the 
tomahawk, "never to be dug up." Settling down upon their 
Reservations, they became gentle and inoffensive; friendly to the 
new settlers as they began to drop in around them; the faithful 
allies of the United States, in the contest of 1812; emphatically, it 
may be said, that in all the time that has intervened, from the 
period we have been speaking of, to the present, they have been 
far more " sinned against, than sinning." 

The Society of Friends, of Philadelphia — or rather, what is 
termed the "Philadelphia yearly meeting," — were the early, and 
have been the constant guardians of the welfare and interests of 
the Senecas, as the reader will observe in some of the early annals 
that will follow. Their good offices were interposed in counselling 
peace and the pursuit of peaceful avocations. Among some old 
manuscripts the author has in his possession, which belonged to 
Cornplanter and Red Jacket, is the following letter, which it will 
be observed bears date a few months after Wayne's victory. It 


breathes a kind spirit, and was well calculated to promote the 
interests not only of the Indians, but of those who were becoming 
their neighbors: — 

Philadelphia 1st. month, 24th, 1795. 
My good friend the Farmers Brother. 

By Capt. Chapin I thought proper to inform thee, & thy Nation, that me and all 
my friends who attended the Treaty at Canandarqua, arrived safe home and found our 
friends well — we Reflect frequently on your friendly Disposition towards us, «St the 
Issue of the Treaty which we hope will be the means of a Lasting peace Between you 
& the United States — we hope you will keep the Remainder of your Land in your 
hands, and learn to Cultivate it & that you will by all means keep in Peace with the 
White People as well as with your Indian Brethren & all men — this will be your 
greatest happiness, if we your friends the Quakers of Philadelphia Can be of any 
Service to you we are Ready & willing at any time, & we Desire you may be free in 
applying to us — with a great Deal of Regard & Desire for your Welfare, I am your 


Among the same manuscripts, is the following, by which it would 
seem that soon after taking possession of Fort Niagara by the 
troops of the United States, there was an assembling there of the 
sachems and warriors of the Six Nations, to interchange sentiments 
of peace, friendship, and mutual aid. Nothing accompanies the 
manuscript to explain it; the author has no cotemporary history of 
the council it would indicate; but it is an interesting relic; and its 
contents have a direct bearing upon early local events: — 

Sachams and Brother warriors of the six nations residing within the territory of the 

United States; I welcome you to Niagara. 

We have meet, — Brothers — to brighten that chain of friendship which isstrectched 
out to you; — to your brethern on the western waters; — and to the whole world. A 
proof of this — these Western posts that have so long been witheld, are at length given 
up without the spiUing of blood; and a good understanding now subsists between the 
United States and the British Government: Lines are fixed and so strongly marked 
between us that they cannot be mistaken, and every precaution taken to prevent a 
misunderstanding. Within these lines you hold large tracts of land: — in the sure and 
peaceable possession of which the United States have taken care to guard yon as their 
own children and citizens: and if any rememberance of former animosities yet remain 
— let us hurry them in the grave of forgetfulness. 

Brothers: — As we have become near neighbors — it will be our interest that we 
shall also be good friends: be assured, you will experience in us a disposition to culti- 
vate harmony and a good understanding; and that we hope to find the same disposition 
in you: As a pledge of the sincerity of these professions, and as a token of regard the 
president of the United States has charged me with — and I now have tlie honour to 
present you a flag of our nation: may the luster of its stars illuminate the western 
world; and while the increase of its stripes give to our friends a confidence of our 
ability, to protect them; may they, also, admonish such as would disturb our peace; — 
of our power to chastise them. 

Brothers: — Thus far (I conceive) I have spoken by authority derived from the 


father of our country — the president of the United States: indulge me a moment 
while I speak in behalf of this garrisson, the command of which he has honoured me 
with, j-ou know (better than I do) that there is no road by which cured provissions and 
other necessaries can be sent us from our settlements; that in winter all communication 
by water is cut off; that the land between this and Genesee river is yours, and without 
your permission, we will not attempt to widen, mend or straighten your road, which at 
present is scarcely passable, but which if done, will not only be an accomodation to 
this garrisson; — to our settlers on the'genesee, and our British neighbors on the opposite 
shore; — but to yourselves also: nor will our making use of it in common with you, 
injure your property — or invade your rights: the road as well as the country, being 
yours. I wish you therefore, to consult together, and if you agree with me in senti- 
ment; give us permission to widen, mend and straighten, the road to Connowagoras. 

Brothees: — As guardian of the honour, rights and interest of my country in this 
quarter — my duty makes it necessar}* for me to take notice of a practice — I have 
already represented to the British commandant on the opposite shore as wrong. While 
the British held this post, they also claimed the souvreignty of the country quite to our 
settlements: It was then a practice (and the precedent is yet contended for) to imploy 
Indians to pursue deserters on the American side of the line to the Genesee river: 
such pursuits are now improper. The British will not permit them on their side the 
water: because they (justly) consider it an infraction of the rights of nations: — what 
is a violation of rights on one side, must be so on the other. This practice therefor, if 
persisted in — may involve tlie two governments in very disagreeable disputes (now 
perhaps in your power to prevent) but which if you encourage; may terminate very 
unpleasent to both countries and yourselves. I therefore request, that you will 
admonish your brethren not to meddle with disputes between white people, of so 
deUcate a nature — our differences (experience may have taught you) will not benefit 
you, but your interference may involve us verj' disagreeably. For if I know the interest 
& wish of my countr}', it is for peace: — but however thus disposed, she ought not, she 
cannot, and I am persuaded, will not tamely suffer her territory to be violated — her 
sovereignty on this the water to be disputed, and her rights contemptuously to be 
trampled on. I beg you, therefore, to restrain your people from a practice the pernicious 
consequences of which I have taken some pains to put in a proper light 

Brothers: — Yesterday you received some refreshment — to day there is a further 
supply provided and ready for you; when we have finished our business, (which I hope 
will be soon,) I have a barrel of rum to present you; that you may with your brethren 
you left to keep up your fires in your absence, drink prosperity to the United States — 
health and long life to our President. I wish my supplies would afford you those neces- 
saries you solicit, have been in the habit of receiving here; and appear to want. But 
when you reflect that I command but the advance of the American troops intended for 
this post — and that my stores must consequently be small — you cannot expect much 
— such as they are; you have partaken of. May your stay here be pleasant — may we 
part satisfied, and on your return, may the Great Spirit take you under his care — so 
that you may arrive safely at your respective homes, and find all you left behind in 
security — your friends and connexions will. 

Niagara, September 23d, 1796. J. BRUFF, Captain Commanding." 

The following, derived from the same source, though not of a 
local character, is inserted chiefly to preserve a relic of one, the 
bare mention of whose name excites the liveliest recollections of 
our war of independence, and those foremost in achieving it. It 


was an invitation of the Senecas to join in St. Clair's expedition; 
an expedition in which the brave and chivalric writer of the auto- 
graph we transcribe, was a victim to the tomahawk and scalping 
knife, after he was carried from the field to have wounds dressed 
previously received: — 

"Brothers of the Five Nations: — 

The bearer hereof Mons'r De Bartzch having express'd a Desire to assist and go 
with such of your people as may be inclin'd (and you think proper to send) to join 
Governor St. Clair & accompany the Army of the U. S. against the Western Hostile 
tribes of Indians — As you & Mons'r De Bartzch are acquainted, should any of your 
People join the Governor & Troops, and that he is still inchn'd to go on the Expedi- 
tion, and that it is agreeable to you and your People that he should be with you, it 
will be very agreeable to mo as I believe him to be a Gentleman, and of verj' honora- 
ble Character — I am Brothers your Real Friend 


Maj'r Gen'l in the U. S. Army. 

Pittsburgh, June 5th, 1791. 

To the Cornplantkr, and other Chiefs and Warriors of the Five Nations." 


A short biography of one eminently useful in our Revolutionary 
struggle, is suggested by his after identity with our local region. 
He was as will have been seen, at one period, the proprietor of 
the whole of Western New York west of Phelps and Gorham's 
Purchase, by purchase from Massachusetts, and the Seneca Indians. 

In the attempt of feeble colonies, to throw off the yoke of 
oppression, there was work to be done in council as well as in the 
field — at the financier's desk, as well as in the more conspicuous 
conflicts of arms. If raw troops, called from the field and work- 
shop, were to be enrolled and disciplined, upon a sudden emergency, 
provisions were to be made for their equipment and sustenance. 
Both were tasks surrounded with difficulty and embarrassment; 
both required men and minds of no ordinary cast. Fortunately 
they were found. Washington was the chief, the leader of our 
armies, the master spirit that conducted the struggle to a glorious 
termination; Morris was the financier. They were heads of 
co-ordinate branches, in a great crisis, and equally well performed 
their parts, 

Robert Morris was bom in Liverpool, in 1733. His father 
emio-rated to the United States in 1745, and settled at Port 
Tobacco, in Maryland, engaging extensively in the tobacco trade. 


He met his death in a singular manner, when the subject of this 
sketch was but a youth. He was the consignee of a ship that had 
arrived from a foreign port; the custom then was to fire a gun 
when the consignee came on board. As if he had a presentiment 
that the ceremony would prove fatal to him, he had requested its 
omission. The captain had so ordered, but a sailor, not having 
understood the order, and supposing the omission accidental, seized 
a match, and fired the gun as Mr. Morris was lea,ving the ship. A 
portion of the wadding fractured his arm, mortification and death 

Previous to the death of his father, Robert Morris had been 
placed in the counting house of Mr. Charles Willing, an eminent 
merchant of Philadelphia, where he soon acquired a proficiency in 
mercantile affairs that recommended him as a partner of the son 
of his employer. 

When the first difficulties occurred between the colonies and the 
mother country, though extensively engaged in a mercantile busi- 
ness that was to be seriously affected by it, he was one of other 
patriotic Philadelphia merchants who promoted and signed the non- 
importation agreement, which restricted commercial intercourse 
with Great Britain to the mere necessaries of life. 

When the news of the battle of Lexington reached Philadelphia, 
Mr. Morris was presiding at a dinner usually given on the anni- 
versary of St. George. He participated in putting a sudden stop 
to the celebration in honor of an English saint, and helped to upset 
the tables that had been spread. His resolution was fixed. It was 
one of devotion to the cause of the colonies; and well was it 
adhered to. 

In 1775 and '76 he was a member of Congress, and became a 
signer of the Declaration of Independence. A few days after the 
battle of Trenton, it became a matter of great importance to the 
commander-in-chief, to obtain a sum of money in specie, in order 
to keep himself well advised of the movements of the enemy. He 
applied to Mr. Morris for that purpose, and received the following 
answer: — 

"Philadelphia, Dec. 30, 1776. 
" Sir — I have just received your favor of this day, and sent to Gen. Putnam to detain 
the express until I collected the hard money you want, which you may depend shall be 
sent' in one specie or other with this letter, and a list thereof, shall be enclosed herein. 
I had long since parted with verj' considerable sums of hard money to Congress, and 
therefore must collect from others — and as matters now stand, it is no easy thing. I 


mean to borrow silver and promise payment in gold, and then collect the gold the best 
way I can. Whilst on this subject, let mo inform you, that there is upwards of twenty 
thousand dollars of silver at Ticonderoga. They have no particular use for it, and I 
think you might as well send a party to bring it away, and lodge it in a safe place con- 
venient for any purposes for which it may hereafter be wanted. Whatever I can do 
shall be done for the good of the cause. 

I am dear Sir, yours, &c. 


When Washington had re-crossed the Delaware for the second 
time, in Dec. 1777, the time of service of nearly all the eastern 
troops had expired. To induce them to engage for another six 
weeks, he promised a bounty of ten dollars each; and for the 
necessary funds applied to Mr. Morris. In the answer of Mr. 
Morris, accompanying the sum of fifty thousand dollars, he congrat- 
ulates the commander-in-chief upon his success in retaining the men, 
and assures him that "if farther occasional supplies of money are 
wanted, you may depend on my exertions either in a public or pri- 
vate capacity." 

In March, 1777, he was chosen with Benjamin Franklin and 
others, to represent the assembly of Pennsylvania in Congress; and 
in November following, was associated with Mr. Gerry, and Mr. 
Jones, to repair to the army and confidentially consult with the 
commander-in-chief upon the best plan of conducting the winter 
campaign. In August, 1778, he was appointed a member of the 
standing committee of finance. 

The years 1778, and '79, were the most distressing periods of 
the war. The finances were in a wretched condition, and Mr. 
Morris, not only advanced his money freely, but put in requisition 
an almost unlimited individual ci'edit.* 

* Judge Peters relates the following anecdote: — "We (the Board of War,) had 
exhausted all the lead accessible to us; having caused even the spouts of houses to be 
melted; and had unsuccessfully offered the equivalent of two shillings specie, {'25 cents,) 
per lb. for lead. I went on the evening of a day in which 1 received a letter from the 
army, to a splendid entertainment given by Don Mirailles, the Spanish minister. My 
heart was sad, but I had the faculty of brightening my countenance even under gloomy 
disasters; yet it seems not then with sufficient adroitness, for Mr. Morris, who was one 
of the guests, and knew me well, discovered some casual trait of depression. He accos- 
ted me in his usual frank and ingenuous manner, saying: — 'I see some clouds passing 
across the sunny countenance you assume; what is the matter?' After some hesitation 
I showed him the general's letter which I had brought from the office, with the intention 
of placing it at home, in a private cabinet. He played with my anxiety, which he did 
not relieve for some time. At length however, with great and sincere delight, he called 
me aside and told me that the Holker privateer had just arrived at his wharf with ninety 
tons of lead which she had brought as ballast. 'You shall have' said Mr. Morris 'my 
half of this fortunate supply: there are the owners of the other half,' (indicating gentle- 
men in the department. ) The other half was obtained. Before morning, a supply of 
cartridges was made ready and sent off to tlie army." 


In 1781, (a period of despair,) in addition to other contributions 
of money and credit, Mr. Morris supplied the almost famishing 
troops with several thousand barrels of flour. This timely aid 
came when it was seriously contemplated to authorize the seizure 
of provisions wherever they could be found; a measure which 
would have been unpopular with the whole country, and probably 
turned back the tide of public feehng flowing in favor of the 

There is upon record a long catalogue of transactions similar to 
those which have been related. Not only the commander-in-chief 
but Generals of divisions, found Mr. Morris the dernier resort 
when money and provisions were wanted. To private means that 
must have been large, and a large credit, he added astonishing 
faculties as a financier. When he had no other resource, he would 
compel others to use their money and credit. In financial negoti- 
ations, with him, to will a thing was to do it. 

He was appointed to the office of " Financier," or what was 
equivalent to the now office of Secretary of the Treasury. Never 
perhaps, in any country, was a minister of finance placed over a 
treasury the condition of which was worse. To use a phrase of 
the play-house, it was a 

"Beggarly account of empty boxes." 

It had not a dollar in it, and was two millions and a half in debt. 
Those who have seen Gen. Washington's military journal, of the 
1st of May. 1781, can form some idea of the condition of the 
army, and the finances. 

It was the province of Mr. Morris to financier for Congress, and 
a country and cause, in such a crisis. He began by restoring credit 
and establishing confidence; promulgated the assurance that all his 
official engagements would be punctually met; and put in requi- 
sition his private means, the means of his friends, to fulfill the 
promises he had held out. When apprized of his appointment to 
the management of financial affairs, he replied: — "In accepting the 
office bestowed upon me, I sacrifice much of my interest, my ease, 
my domestic enjoyment, and internal tranquility. If I know my 
own heart, I make these sacrifices with a disinterested view to the 
service of my country. I am wilhng to go further, and the United 
States may command every thing I have except my integrity, and 
the loss of that would effectually disable me from serving them 


Among his financial expedients, to resuscitate public credit, 
was the establishment of the Bank of North America. Collateral 
security was given for the performance of the engagements of the 
institution in the form of bonds, signed by wealthy individuals. 
Mr. Morris heading the list with a subscription of £10,000. 

In a private interview with Washington the subject of an attack 
on New York was broached. Mr. Morris dissented: assumincr 
that it would be at too great a sacrifice of men and money; that 
the success of the measure was doubtful; that even if successful 
the triumph as to results, would be a barren one; the enemy hav- 
ing command of the sea could at any time land fresh troops and 
retake it, &c. Assenting to these objections, the commander- 
in-chief said: — "What am I to do"? The country calls on me for 
action; and moreover my army cannot be kept together unless 
some bold enterprise is undertaken." To this Mr. Morris replied: 
" Why not lead your forces to Yorktown? there Cornwallis may 
be hemmed in by the French fleet by sea, and the American and 
French armies by land, and will ultimately be compelled to sur- 
render." " Lead my troops to Yorktown !" said Washington, appear- 
ing surprised at the suggestion. " How am I to get them there? 
One of my difficulties about attacking New York arises from the 
want of funds to transport my troops thither. How then can I 
muster the means that will be requisite to enable them to march to 
Yorktownl" "You must look to me for funds," rejoined Mr. Mor- 
ris. " And how are you to provide them1" said Washington. 
"That," said Mr. Morris, "1 am unable at this time to tell you, but 
I will answer with my head, that if you will put your army in 
motion, I will supply the means of their reaching Yorktown." 
After a few minutes reflection, Washington said: — "On this assur- 
ance of yours, Mr. Morris, such is my confidence in your ability 
to perform any engagement you make, I will adopt your sugges- 

When the army arrived at Philadelphia, Mr. Morris had the 
utmost difficulty in furnishing the supplies he had promised, but at 
last hit upon the expedient of borrowing twenty thousand crowns 
from the Chevalier de Luzerne, the French Minister. The Chev- 
alier objected that he had only funds enough to pay the French 
troops, and could not comply unless two vessels with specie on 
board for him arrived from France. Fortunately, about the tune 



the troops were at Elk, preparing to march for Yorktown, the 
ships arrived, the money was procured, and especial pains taken 
to parade the specie in open kegs, before the army. The troops 
were paid, and cheerfully embarked to achieve the crowning tri- 
umph of the Revolution.* 

John Hancock, President of Congress, writing to Mr. Morris 
in a severe crisis of the Revolution, says: — "I know however, 
you will put things in a proper way, all things depend upon you, 
and you have my hearty thanks for your unremitting labor." Gen. 
Charles Lee said to him in a letter, when he assumed the duties 
of Secretary of an empty treasury: — "It is an office I cannot 
wish you joy of; the labor is more than Herculean; the filth of 
that Augean stable is in my opinion too great to be cleared away 
even by your skill and industry." 

Paul Jones made Mr. IMorris his executor, and bequeathed him 
as a token of his high regard, the sword he had received from the 
King of France. Mr. Morris gave it to Commodore Barry, with 
a request that it should fall successively into the hands of the 
oldest commander of the American Navy. 

The Marquis de Chastellux, was in the United States, in 1780, 
1781, and 1782, a Major General in the French Army, serving 
under the Count de Rochambeau. In a book of Travels of which 
he is the author, (a work well worthy of being more generally 
known than it is,) he gives the following account of Mr. Morris. 
He visited him at his house in Philadelphia: — 

" He was a very rich merchant, and consequently a man of everj' country, for 
commerce bears every where the same character. Under monarchies, it is free; it is 
an egotist in republics; a stranger, or if you will, a citizen of the universe, it excludes 
alike the virtues and the prejudices that stand in the way of its interests. It is scarcely 
to be credited, that amidst the disasters of America, Mr. Morris, the inhabitant of a 
town just emancipated from the hands of the English, should possess a fortune of eight 
millions, (between three and four hundred thousand pounds, sterling.) It is, however, 
in the most critical times, that the greatest fortunes are acquired. The fortunate return 
of several ships, the still more successful cruises of his privateers, have increased his 
riches beyond his expectations, if not beyond his wishes. He is, in fact, so accustomed 

* Mr. Morris anxious to enlist the feelings of the Chevalier and secure his co-opera- 
tion, took him into his carriage and was proceeding to Elk, when they met on the 
road, an express rider. Mr. Morris called out to him and enquired for whom he had 
despatches? " For Robert Morris," he replied. On opening the paper, it proved to 
be the announcement that the French frigates had arrived in the Delaware with the 
specie on board! 


to the success of his privateers, that when he is observed on Sunday to be more 
serious than usual, the conclusion is, that no prize has arrived the preceding week. 
This flourishing state of commerce at Philadelphia, as well as in Massachusc'ts Bay, is 
entirely owing to the arrival of the French squadron. The English have abandoned all 
their cruises, to block it up at Newport, and in that they have succeeded ill, for they 
have not a single sloop coming to Rhode Island, or Providence. Mr. Morris is a large 
man very simple in his manners; his mind is subtle and acute, his head perleclly well 
organized, ind he is as well versed in public affairs as in his own. He was a member 
of Congress in 1776, and ought to be reckoned among those personages who have had 
the greatest influence in the revolution of America. He is the decided friend of Dr. 
Franklin, and the decided enemy of Mr. Read. His house is handsome, resembling 
perfectly the houses in London; he lives there without ostentation, but not without 
expense, for he spares nothing which can contribute to his happiness and that of Mrs. 
Morris to whom he is much attached." 

The account of Mr. Morris' wealth, at the period named, is not 
perhaps exaggerated. During the Revolution the commercial 
house in which he continued a partner, was prosecuting a success- 
ful business. The translator of a London edition of the Travels 
of the Marquis de Chastellux, speaks of vast money making facili- 
ties Mr. Morris enjoyed through the French consul, resident in 
Philadelphia, by means of special permits to ship cargoes of flour, 
&c. in a time of general embargoes. At one period, says the 
translator, he circulated his private notes throughout the country, 
as cash. 

The close of the Revolution, must have found him in possession 
of immense wealth, exceeding that by far of any individual citizen 
of the United States. But he was destined to a sudden reverse of 
fortune. There followed the Revolution a mania for land specula- 
tion, as great perhaps in porportion to the then number of persons 
to participate in it, as one that has been witnessed in our own 
times. Mr. Morris participated largely in it; investing in large 
tracts of wild land, as they came into market in different parts 
of the United States; realizing for a time vast profits upon sales. 
A reaction ensupd, which found him in possession of an immense 
landed estate, and largely in debt for purchase money. From 
the opulenoe that we have been speaking of, he was reduced to 
poverty; and ultimately, some merciless creditors, made him for a 
long time the tenant of a prison. 

It has been stated that his misfortunes were partly owing to sacri- 
fices he made during his financial agencies in the Revolution. 
This error is corrected in a letter with which the author has been 
favored from a surviving son of his, the venerable Thomas IMorzis, 


Esq. a resident of the city of New York: — "My father's pecu- 
niary losses were not owing to his pubUc engagements in the war 
of Independence. Heavy as those engagements were, (the last 
two years of the war having been supported almost entirely by his 
advances and by his credits,) he was eventually reimbursed by the 

The author has in his posession two autograph letters, from Mr. 
Morris, addressed to "Mr. Benjamin Barton," the father of the late 
Benjamin Barton, Jr. The first, was written but a few weeks 
after the Treaty with the Indians on the Genesee river, at which 
the Indian title was extinguished to all the lands in this state west 
of Phelp's and Gorham's Purchase. It is inserted entire : — 

" Hills, near Philadelphia, Oct. 18, 1797. 

Sir. — I received your letter dated at Newark, the 12th inst. only yesterday, and am 
sorry to see thereby the several unfortunate accidents you have met with, and particu- 
larly as your affairs have become deranged thereby. In consequence of the purchase 
lately made by the Indians, our surveyors, will immediately set to work and survey and 
lay out that countrj" and as my son Thomas, who lives at Canandaigua, Ontario 
county, will have a principal share in selling lands, and establishing settlements there, 
I think you had better apply to him; but your application will be time enough by or 
before next spring, when he comes to Albany in the winter, to meet the Legislature. 

You did not furuish me with an account of the lumber you sent down, which I wish 
you would do, with the cost thereof. 

I am, Sir, Your obt serv't ROBERT MORRIS." 

At the date of this letter, he was a "Merchant Prince," living in 
affluence, writing of the purchase and intended sale and settlement 
of vast tracts of land. Upon him had devolved the financiering 
for our country in a period of peril and embarrassment. When 
the army of Washington, unpaid, were lacking food and raiment; 
murmuring as they well might be; it was his purse and credit that 
more than once prevented its dispersion, and the failure of the 
glorious achievement of Independence. His ships were upon the 
ocean, his notes of hand forming a currency, his drafts honored 
every where among capitalists in his own country, and in many of 
the marts of commerce in Europe. 

A reverse of fortune, saddening to those who are now enjoying 
the blessings to which he so eminently contributed — who wish that 
no cloud had gathered around the close of his useful life — inter- 
vened between the dates of the two letters. The second one is 
dated "Philadelphia, Dec. 11, 1800," and after disposing of some 
business enquiries that had been made, closes as follows: — 


" You have now the clearest information I can give you. I have been frequently 
applied to about this affair, but hope there is an end of it. If however, you should find 
it necessary to write again, be good enough to pay the postage of your letters, for / 
have not a cent to spare from the means of subsistence. 

I am, Sir, Your very obt. serv't. 

Mr. Benjamin Barton, Sussex Co. N. J." 

Mr. Morris died at Morrisania, N. J., Nov. 6th, 1806, aged 
73 years. 

Note. — During the life of Mrs. Morris, she had an annuity of fifteen hundred 
dollars, paid her by the Holland Company, as an equivalent for the release of dower, 
in the lands they purchased of her husband. "This was all that was left of that 
splendid fortune which we have seen to have been lavished in loans for the public 
service, when its return was most doubtful." Robert Morris was not only connected 
with this region as a primitive proprietor, but the project of the Erie Cand was 
promoted by his efforts. 



Few names were earlier, have been more intimately, and none 
more honorably, associated with the entire history of settlement 
and progress in Western New York, than that of Augustus 
Porter. Entering it in his youth — sitting down in the primitive 
log cabins erected by the first settlers west of the Mussachusetts 
pre-emption line; — going out with compass and chain and trav- 
ersing the wilderness, over hill and dale, the trails of the Indian 
that he occasionally crossed, the only evidences that human advent 
and agency had preceded him; — his rude camp in the fastnesses of 
the forest, pitched upon streams and by the side of springs that 
had flowed and gurgled until then, unknown to his race; — changing 
his wilderness itineracy for a position and agency that equally 
blended him and his name with the primitive settlement of that 
now empire of wealth and substantial prosperity, — "Phelps and 
Gorham's Purchase." Remaining there but to see settlement 
fairly commenced, then coming farther on, first as surveyor and 
then as a settler to prominently participate in pushing settlement 
and improvement to a new field of enterprize — to the western 
boundaries of the Holland Purchase; — he fives to witness the 
mighty change that has been wrought! With a memory and a 
judgment unimpaired by age and more than its usual physical 
infirmities, he yet lives to contribute valuable and essential remin- 
iscences to the Pioneer history of a region he has seen converted 
— and helped to convert — from the hunting grounds of the 
migratory Indian, to the fairest and most prosperous region of our 
Empire State. 

There are few whose days are lengthened out as his have been; 
fewer by far who have had cognizance of, and participation in, so 
extended a period of interesting events in the history of our 
country. Change, progress, the conversion of a wilderness to 
what Western New York now is, in the short space of a little 
over half a century, is a wonder of itself — and how far enhanced 
is the wonder, when in view of the average amount of years that 
are allotted to an active participation in the affairs of this life, we 
listen to, or read the recital of events from a living witness, 
commencing with the earliest advents of our race, in the work of 
settlement and improvement ! 

His studies at school in the years immediately preceding his 



iiW(i=w^TWi L^(S)iEiriim» 


majority, were interrupted by a transfer to farm labor, to help 
supply the places of those who had gone out to fill the ranks of 
an army raised by a few feeble colonies struggling for separation 
and Independence. He has lived not only to see a glorious con- 
summation of that struggle, but lives to see those colonies a mighty 
empire of states, fulfilling the highest destinies fondly anticipated 
by its founders. 

The hand that helped to make some of the primitive township 
and farm surveys of the region between the Seneca lake, and the 
east line of the Holland Purchase, — a region now embracing a 
city with over thirty thousand inhabitants; large and prosperous 
villages; dotted throughout its entire length and breadth with 
comfortable farm houses and highly cultivated farms; traversed 
by canals, rail roads and telegraphic wires; — is spared to make a 
record of events of his own times, that in the old world would be 
witnessed but by successive generations, and mark the lapse of 
centuries ! 

Penetrating the wilderness region still farther on — locating at 
the Falls of Niagara, and prominently pioneering in clearing away 
the forest that enshrouded them — in commencing there the work 
of settlement and improvement — in surveying and opening the 
primitive roads; he lives to see there, a prosperous and growing 
village; to see it the termination of rail roads and telegraphs; the 
deep gorge, or basin, into which he has seen the mighty volume 
of water pour but to aflfright the wild beasts in their favorite 
haunts, spanned by one of the highest perfections of modern art; 
to see where stood the rude, semi-log cabin resting place of an 
occasional visitor, palace-like hotels erected, annually crowded 
by those who throng to the great centre of attraction. 

Where now is a city of over forty thousand inhabitants, the 
great mart of the commerce of prosperous states, he has set down 
and partaken of backwoods fare, in a log-cabin, the only place of 
entertainment. There he has waited for a change of wind, to 
enable him and his companions to coast along the shores of lake 
Erie, in a batteau, over waters then but seldom disturbed but by 
the elements, and the Indians bark canoe. He lives to see those 
waters whitened by the sails of commerce; "floating palaces," 
steam-propelled, in fleets, competing for tbc travel and transpor- 
tation of a young but already extended and prosperous empire of 
the- west ! 


How blended with change, progress, the mighty achievements 
of our age and race, is the name, the reminiscences, of this early 
Pioneer ! The reader will not be surprised that the author has, for 
a few moments, arrested the course of narrative, for comments, 
such as he has indulged in; nor deem it inappropriate, to have 
availed himself of the skill of the artist, to give a faithful portrait 
of his venerable features. 

Judge Porter was born on the 18th of January, 1769; is a 
native of Salisbury, Connecticut; the son of Joshua Porter, who 
was, for fifty years, a practicing physician and surgeon, in that 
town. He died in 1825, at the advanced age of ninety-five years. 
The subject of our brief memoir acquired the rudiments of educa- 
tion in the common school of his native town; his regular attend- 
ance at school being confined, as was the case with most boys of 
New England at that period, to the winter months. In 1786, in 
the sixteenth year of his age, he had the advantage of a few 
month's study of mathematics, and particularly surveying, under 
the tuition of Mr. Nathan Tisdale, of Lebanon. His tutor dying, 
he returned to labor upon his father's farm, remaining under the 
paternal roof until the spring of 1789, when he first started for the 
new field of enterprise, then just opening in Western New York. 
A continuation of the Judge's personal biography, in this form, is 
rendered unnecessary, as it is embraced in a narrative of early 
events, which he has furnished, at the request of the Buffalo Young 
Men's Association; much of which, as it will be observed, the 
author has transferred to his pages. 

In June 1806, he became a resident of the Holland Purchase — 
locating himself at the Falls of Niagara, where he still resides, at 
the advanced age of eighty years. He may be said to constitute 
a connecting link between two generations — or rather between 
two distinct classes; so far as habits of life are concerned. He is 
one of the survivors of a race of Pioneers, hardy, industrious and 
frugal; men of iron constitutions they must have been, to encounter 
the hardships and privations of the wilderness. Living now in an 
age of luxury, of increasing effeminacy; surrounded by all the 
comforts of life; with ample means to enjoy its luxuries; he 
emphatically belongs to the old school; preserving the simple, 
frugal habits of his youth and middle age, his habits of industry 
and economy; his love of the substantial and sensible things of this 
life; leaving to those who have acquired wealth through a less 


rugged path, their choice of show and ostentation. In this respect, 
as well as others, his life and example furnish a useful lesson; a 
protest against the moral and physical degeneracy he lives to 

He came to the western country as will have been seen, young; 
with a good New England constitution; healthy and muscular. In 
all of his early life he enjoyed good health; interrupted occasion- 
ally by diseases incident to the climate, and extraordinary expo- 
sures. In 1843, then seventy-four years of age, he was engaged 
with his laborers, in prying up a stick of timber. Standing himself 
upon the pry, the whole weight of the stick came upon it, throwing 
him off with such violence as to partially break a hip bone; to 
which casualty is to be attributed a present lameness; added to 
which is the troublesome and at times painful infirmity — hernia — 
and a hereditary deafness, that increases with age, and renders the 
use of an ear trumpet essential in ordinary conversation. And yet, 
under all these disabilities, the greater portion of each day, is spent 
in the out-of-door general management of a largely extended and 
varied business.* *■ 

[During the last winter, as a preliminary' step in the preparation of this work, the 
author called upon Judge Porter for such assistance as his long residence, retentive mem- 
ory, and intelligent observation enabled him to give. He cheerfully and obligingly com- 
plied, and devoted several days to a patient answering of such enquiries as were made 
of him; the author taking notes during the interview. These are principally applicable 
of the early settlement of the Holland Purchase, and will be used in a detached form, 
as the necessity of their use occurs. About this period the Judge had been applied to 
by a committee of the Young Men's Association of Buffalo, for historical reminiscences, 
with a view to preservation in the archives of their Association; which request he was 
complying with. With his consent, and that of the Association, that portion of his 
written narrative of events, having reference to settlement as it was approaching tho 
Holland Purchase, is used by the author. It saved the nan-ator from travelling twice over 
the same ground, and insured a greater degree of correctness, than could have been 
relied upon from notes of conversation. The narrative is taken up as it came from hia 
hands; with such portions omitted as have been embraced in other forms; that in 
reference to land titles being the principal omission in all that relates to the progress of 
settlement in Western New York.J 

In the year 1789, Capt. Wm. Bacon, Gen. John Fellows, Gen. 
John Ashley, and Elisha Lee, Esq., of Sheffield, Mass., Deacon John 
Adams of Alford, Mass., and my father, having become the pur- 
chasers of Township No. 12, 1st Range (now Arcadia, Wayne 
Co.,) and No. 10, in the 4th Range, (now East Bloomfield, Onta- 

* This is from a note made in the author's memorandum book, a year previous to the 
publication of his work. 


rio Co,,) then in the county of Montgomery, New York, I entered 
into an agreement with them to go out and survey the tracts. 1, 
accordingly, in pursuance of previous arrangements, made witii 
Capt. Bacon, met him at Schenectady, early in May, 1789. Here 
I found Capt. B. had collected some cattle, provisions, and farming 
utensils, for the use of the settlers who were going forward in 
company with Deacon Adams and his family, whom I also met at 
the same place, and who took charge of the cattle. The provis- 
ions were taken into two boats. I assisted in navigating one of 
the boats, each carrying about twelve barrels, and known as 
Schenectady batteaux, and each navigated by four men. Leaving 
Schenectady, we proceeded up the Mohawk to Fort Stanwix 
(now Rome.) In passing Little Falls of the Mohawk, the boats 
and their contents were transported around on wagons. At Fort 
Stanwix, we carried our boats, &c., over a portage about one 
mile, to the waters of Wood creek. This creek afibrds but little 
water from the portage to its juncture with the Canada creek, 
(which falls into Wood creek seven miles west of Fort Stanwix.) 
At the portage there was a dam for a saw mill, which created a 
considerable pond. This pond, when filled, could be rapidly dis- 
charged, and on the flood thus suddenly made, boats were enabled 
to pass down. We passed down this»^tream, which empties into 
Oneida Lake, and through that lake and its outlets to the Three 
River Point, and thence up the Seneca River and the outlet of 
Pi^anadasaga Lake, (now Seneca Lake,) to Kanadasaga settlement, 
(now Geneva.) The only interruption to the navigation to this 
river and the outlet, occurred at Seneca Falls and Waterloo, (then 
known as Scoys.) At Seneca Falls we passed our boats up the 
stream empty, by the strength of a double crew, our loading being 
taken around by a man named Job Smith, who had a pair of oxen 
and a rudely constructed cart, the wheels of which were made 
by sawing off a section of a log, some two and a half or three 
feet in diameter. At Scoys, we took out about half our load to 
pass, consisting mostly of barrels, which were rolled around the 

From the time we left Fort Stanwix, until we arrived at Kana- 
dasaga, we found no white persons, except at the juncture of 
Canada and Wood creeks, where a q^an lived by the name of 
Armstrong; — at Three River Point, wBere lived a Mr. Bingham, 
and at Seneca Falls, where was Job Smith. Geneva was at that 
time the most important Western settlement, and consisted of some 
six or seven families, among whom was Col. Reed, (father of the 
late Rufus Reed, of Erie, Pa.,) Roger Noble and family, of Shef- 
field, Mass., and Asa Ransom, late of Erie county, who had a small 
shop, and was engaged in making Indian trinkets. At Geneva 
we left our boats and cargoes in charge of Capt. Bacon, who 
had come from Schenectady to Fort Stanwix, on horseback, and 
there took passage on our boats. Joel Steel, Thaddeus Keyes, 


Orange Woodruff, and myself, took our packs on our backs, and 
followed the Indian trail, over to Canandaigua. 

At Canandaigua, (then called Kanandarque) we found Gen. 
Chapin, Daniel Gates, Joseph Smith, (Indian interpreter) Benjamin 
Gardner and family, Frederick Saxton, (Surveyor) and probably 
some half a dozen others, all of whom except Smith and Gardner 
had come on with Gen. Chapin, some ten or fifteen days before, 
in boats from Schenectady, by Fort Stanwix, Wood creek, Oneida 
Lake, &c., and up the Canandaigua outlet, into the lake itself. 
This is the only instance to my knowledge of the ascent of boats 
for transportation so high up; the ordinary point of landing, alter- 
wards, being at Manchester, seven miles down. The only houses 
in Canandaigua were of logs. One occupied by Gen. Chapin near 
the outlet; one a Uttle further north, on the rising ground occu- 
pied by Smith, and one by Gardner near the old Antis house, as 
at present known; and the other on the lot where Oliver Phelps' 
house stands, which had been built the fall before by JNIr. Walker, 
an agent of Mr. Phelps, In this house, Caleb Walker, his 
brother, died in 1790, and was the first person buried in the grave- 
yard at Canandaigua. 

From Canandaigua, I went to township. No. 10, in the 4th Range 
(now East Bloomfield,) where I found Jonathan Adams, one of the 
proprietors of the town,\?ho had come on from Schenectady with 
cattle and horses, accompanied by his large family, consisting of 
the following persons; himself and wife, his sons, John, William, 
Abner, and Joseph; his sons-in-law, Ephraim Rew, and Lorin Hull, 
and their wives, (his daughters) Wilcox, another son-in-law, and a 
younger daughter, afterwards the wife of John Keyes; Elijah 
Rose a brother-in-law, wife and son, and the following named 
persons: Moses Gunn, Lot Rew, John Barns, Roger Sprague, 
Asa Heacock, Benjamin Goss, John Keyes, Nathaniel Norton, 
and Eber Norton. Here Mr. Adams had erected two small log 
houses, and one large one, in which for the time being, all these 
people found a shelter. Mr. Adams in compliance with an 
arrangement with the proprietors, furnished me with the necessary 
hands and provisions to fit out my surveying party, and I then 
commenced to survey the town. 

After finishing the survey of this township, Fredrick Saxton and 
myself, surveyed and alMted township 9, in 6th Range, (now 
Livonia, Livingston Co.,) which proved to be one of the best town- 
ships of land in the Genesee country. To show however, the 
inconsiderable value put upon it at that time, I mention the fact 
that Gen. Fellows offered to sell the whole township to Mr. Saxton 
and myself at twenty cents per acre. 

After completing the survey of this township, Mr. Saxton 
assisted me in the survey of township No. 12, 1st Range, 
(Arcadia, Wayne Co.) Col. Hugh Maxwell, a surveyor, had con- 
tracted with Phelps and Gorham, the previous year, to run out 


into townships the whole of that part of their purchase to which 
the Indian title had been extinguished. Not having completed 
the work, he entered into an agreement with Mr. Saxton and 
myself, to survey a portion, consisting of about forty townships, 
which now constitute part of Steuben county. We entered 
immediately on this survey, and completed it in the course of the 
season. While engaged in it we made our head quarters at Painted 
Post on the Conhocton river, at the house of old Mr. Harris and 
his son William. These two men, Mr. Goodhue who Uved near 
by, and a Mr. Meade, two miles up the river, at the mouth of a 
stream since known as "Meade's creek," were the only persons 
then on the territory we -were surveying. Before we left, how- 
ever, Solomon Bennet, Mr. Stevens, Capt. Jameson, and Mr. 
Crosby, arrived from Pennsylvania in search of a township for 
purchase and for future settlement, and fixed on township No. 3 
in the 5th, and No. 4 in the 6th, Ranges, both lying on the Canisteo 
river, and soon after settled by these men. They are now known 
in whole or in part as the town of Canisteo. 

In the fall I returned to my father's, in Salisbury, by the water 
route, in company with several persons from New England, who, 
having spent the summer at the west, were returning home to 
spend the winter. 

In addition to the persons mentioned by me as found at Canan- 
daigua, in the spring of this year, (1789) the following came during 
the summer, viz: Abner Barlow, Israel Chapin, Jr., Othniel 
Taylor, Nathaniel Gorham, Dr. Moses Atwater, Judah Colt, John 
Call, Amos Hall, Gen. Wells, John Clark, Daniel Brainard, John 
Fanning, Stephen Bates, Aaron Heacock, James Fisk, Jairus Rose, 
Hugh Jameson, Mr. Truman, Orange Brace, Martin Dudley, and 
Luther Cole. The following came to Victor: Hezekiah Bough- 
ton, Jr., Enos Boughton, Jared Boughton, Seymour Boughton, 2d, 
Lyman Boughton, Zebulon Norton, Joel Scudder, Mr. Smith, 
and Mr. Brace. Into Bristol: Gamaliel Wilder, Jonathan Wilder, 
Wm. Gooding, Elnathan Gooding. Into Geneva: Roger Noble, 
Phineas Stevens, Elias Jackson, Mr. Jennings, Wm. Patterson, 
Peter Bortle. To Palmyra: Gen. John Swift. ToPittsford: Israel 
Stone, Simon Stone, Paul Richardson, Mr. Allen, and Mr. Acker. 
To Irondequoit Landing: Mr. Lusk. Tq Brighton: Orange Stone 
and Chauncey Hyde, Capt. John Gilbert from Lenox, Mass. 
(father of John Gilbert, now of Ypsilanti, Mich.) who surveyed 
the town into lots. To Perrinton; Glover Perrin and Caleb 
Walker. To Livonia: Solomon Woodruff. To Avon: Timothy 
Hosmer, Gilbert Berry, Capt. Thompson, and Mr. Rice (whose 
wife gave birth to the first child born on the Phelps and Gorham 
Purchase, whose name was "Oliver Phelps Rice.") To Vienna: 
Decker Robinson. To Middleton: (at the head of Canandaigua 
lake.) Col. Clarke, Capt Walkins, Lieut. Cleveland, and Ensign 
Parnsh. To Lima: Abner Miles and Doctor Minor. 


Among the incidents of this year (1789) in this western region, 
then just beginning to be inhabited, was the following: A Mr. 
Jenkins, who went out for the proprietors, John Swift and others, 
to survey township 12, 2d range, (Palmyra) commenced his labors 
early in the season, and erected for the accommodation of his party 
a small hut of poles. One night, when the party were asleep, two 
Indians attacked them, first firing Iheir rifles through the open 
cracks of the hut, and then rushing in. One of Jenkins' men was 
killed by the first fire, but Jenkins and his party after a brief strug- 
gle, succeeded in driving the savages oflf without further loss. He 
went the next morning to Geneva, where he learned that the party 
to which they probably belonged had gone south. He accordingly, 
in company with others, followed in pursuit, as far as Newtown, 
(Elmira) on the Chemung river, near which place the murderers 
were captured. Newtown was then the principal, indeed almost 
only settlement, in that region of country. The Indians were 
examined before an informal assembly, and the proof being in their 
opinion, sufficient to establish their guilt, the question arose as to 
how they should be disposed of. The jail of the county, (then 
Montgomery) was at Johnstown, and it was not deemed practicable 
to transport them so great a distance, through an Indian wilderness. 
It was therefore determined summarily to execute them, and this 
determination was carried immediately into effect, — an account of 
which I received from Jasper Parrish and Horatio Jones (after- 
wards Indian interpreters) who were eye witnesses of the execu- 
tion.* Another incident occured at Canandaigua this year, worthy, 
perhaps, of notice. > 

The year was one of unusual scarcity among the Indians. 
Indeed, they were almost reduced to starvation. Oliver Phelps 
having made a treaty with them the year previous, they were to 

* The narrator will be gratified to learn that his recollections of an event that trans- 
pired almost sixty years since, are mainly corroborated by printed, cotemporaiy record, 
as will be seen by an extract of a letter published in the Maryland Journal of April 
14th, 1789, dated at Wyoming;, March 27th, 1789:— "Major John Jenkins, Solomon 

Earl, Baker, and William Ransom, about the 10th instant, were surveying 

lands near the Lakes. One morning about 2 o'clock, four Tuscarora Indians, and a 
squaw, made an attack upon them in their cabin. The Indians put the muziles of 
their guns into the cabin and each fired. Baker was killed and Earl badly wounded. 
This awoke Jenkins and Ransom: the Indians rushed on with the knife and tomahawk, 
but Jenkins by an instantaneous effort of bravery, caught hold of an axe and knocked 
down two Indians; afterwards Ransom assisted and beat the Indians off, and took 
each of their guns, tomahawks, «fec. Jenkins and his surviving companion lodged that 
night in said cabin with the dead and wounded; next day they returned with Earl to 
Geneva. A scout was immediately sent after the said Indians. When the party arrived 
at the cabin they found the Indians had been back and taken off all their provisions; the 
object of this bloody attack. Four Indians are sent in quest of the villians, and have 
pledged their honor they will not return without their bodies, or their scalps. God 
preserve their honorl" ' So it seems that Baltimore was the place to look for news of 
local events in Western New York, at one period. Mr. Boughton, who is introduced 
in a subsequent page, says, that when he arrived at the foot of Seneca lake in February 
1790, he "saw there the man that was shot at Palmyra; the ball had gone through 
his jaw." 


meet him this year to receive their stipulated annuities. As is 
usual on such occasions, presents were provided for distribution 
among them, as well as articles of subsistence, of which it was 
known they stood in great need. The number of Indians assem- 
bled, however, greatly exceeded his expectations, (increased, doubt- 
less, by their starving condition,) amounting, propably, to two 
thousand. The stock of provisions proving inadequate to their 
wants, they were driven to the necessity of devouring every thing 
that could satisfy their hunger, consuming with voracity even the 
entrails of the animals that had been slaughtered. They parted 
with almost every thing they had to purchase food, and did not 
disperse until they had nearly produced a famine among the white 
inhabitants. Another occurrence of this season was the opening 
of a road, from Geneva to Canandaigua, which was the first piece 
of road opened west of Westmoreland (now Oneida,) county. 
The winter of 1789-90, 1 spent at my father's in copying my field 
notes, and finishing up my surveys. 

During the winter of 1789-90, 1 entered into an agreement with 
Gen. John Fellows, one of the proprietors of East Bloomfield, to 
join him in the erection of a saw-mill, on Mud creek, in that town, 
about five miles west of Canandaigua. In pursuance of this plan, 
we collected at Schenectady a stock of provisions, tools, &c., 
necessary for the purpose. In May, I embarked again at Schenec- 
tady, for the west, taldng with me these articles, and proceeded by 
nearly the same route as in the previous year, except that I passed 
up the Canandaigua outlet to Manchester, now called, and thence 
transported my loading by teams to East Bloomfield. One of my 
companions in this expedition was Dr. Daniel Chapin, who resided 
many 5'ears in Bloomfield, and afterwards removed to Buffalo, 
where he died, — also Oliver Chapin and Aaron Taylor and family. 

I have heretofore remarked that the mode adopted to render 
Wood creek navigable, was to collect the water by means of a mill 
dam, thus creating a sudden flood to carry boats down. Sometimes 
boats did not succeed in getting through to deep water in one flood, 
and were consequently obliged to await a second one. As we 
were coming down the creek during the voyage on our first flood, 
we overtook a boat which had been grounded after the previous 
one, the navigators of which were in the water, ready to push her 
off" as soon as the coming tide should reach them. Among these 
persons, was James Wadsworth, of Gencseo, with whom I then 
first became acquainted. He was then on his way west, to occupy 
his property at Geneseo, which has since become so beautiful and 
valuable an estate. Gen. Fellows set out for Bloomfield on horse- 
back, having sent on a team, (two yoke of oxen and a wagon,) 
with a moderate load, and four or five cows. These were driven 
on by some person coming on to assist in building the mill, and 
among them, Mr. Dibble, the millwright. Gen. F. parted with the 
wagon near Utica. 


During the previous winter, the legivslature of New York had 
appropriated a township of land (called " the Road township ") 
situated in what is now called Madison county, the proceeds of 
which were to be applied to opening a road west from Westmore- 
land. The job had been taken by contract, and Gen. Fellows 
found the party cutting out the road not far from the present settle- 
ment at Onondaga. After Gen, F. reached Bloomfield, fearing 
that the team might not be able to get through with the materials 
for the mills, dispatched me back to meet the party, and help them 
along. At Cayuga lake I met Mr. Dibble, the millwright, from 
whom I learned that the team had left its load at Onondaga, and 
that the men with the cattle and wagons were coming on with a 
large number of settlers, as fast as the persons employed in opening 
the road, with their assistance, progressed with the work. I, 
therefore, concluded to return to Manchester and take the boat I 
had left there and go to Onondaga for the loading. Taking Mr. 
Dibble and three other men with me, I went to Onondaga and 
returned with the loading. The men and the teams of the party 
reached Bloomfield at about the same time we did. I spent the 
summer chiefly in attending to the erection of the saw-mill, 
occasionally doing some surveying, particularly town 13, 4th 
range, (now Penfield, Monroe Co.) which had been purchased of 
Phelps and Gorham by Jonathan Fasset. The mill was finished in 
the fall, and was, I believe, the third one erected on Phelps and 
Gorham' s Purchase. 

In Dec. of this year, (1790) I went, in company with Orange 
Brace and two other persons, on foot, to Connecticut. The 
journey was a tedious and painful one, being made through a deep 
snow the whole distance, a part of which was accomplished on 
snow shoes. The following are some of the persons who came 
into the country during this year, viz: To Canandaigua: Nathan- 
iel Sanburn, Lemuel Castle, Seth Holcomb. To Victor: Heze- 
kiah Boughton, Senr., Seymour Boughton, Senr. To Bristol: 
Deacon Codding, Francis Codding and Ejihraim Wilder. To 
Pittstown, (now Richmond:) Peter, Gideon, William and Samuel 
Pitts. To Geneseo: James Wadsvvorth and WilHam Wadsworth. 
To West Bloomfield. Benjamin Gardner, (from Canandaigua,) 
Robert Taft, Mr. Miller, Clark Peck, Esq. Curtis, Jasper P. Sears, 
Nathan Marvin, Lorin Wait, Amos Hall. To Avon: Gad 
Wadsworth, Mr. Ganson. To Farmington: oldMr. Comstock, and 
his sons Jared, Darius, John, Otis, and Isaac Hathaway. During 
the session of the Legislature in 1780-00, a law was passed erect- 
the county of Ontario, to consist of all that portion of the state 
lying west of the Eastern line of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase. 
This was the first county set ofl^ from Montgomery. The follow- 
mg were the officers appointed: Oliver Phelps, first .Judge; Timothy 
Hosmcr, (afterwards himself first Judge) Arnold Potter, and Israel 
Chapin, side Judges; Judah Colt, Sheriff; Nathaniel Gorham, Clerk. 


I spent a part of the winter of 1790-91 at my Father's, and in 
February I left again for the west. I made the jom*ney in com- 
pany with John Fellows, son of Gen. Fellows, and two others, 
in a two horse sleigh. At that time, the only white settlements 
between Westmoreland and the Seneca Lake, were at Onondaga 
Hollow, where Gen. Danforth and Comfort Tyler had settled, 
and at what is now Eldridge, Cayuga Co., where Mr. Buck had 
located himself On this journey we encamped for the night in a 
fine hemlock grove, on the east side of Owasco outlet, where 
Auburn now stands. 

During the early part of this season (1791) in carrying on the 
saw mill, and making improvements on land, with occasional sur- 
veying, I became acquainted, for the first time, with Oliver 
Phelps. This was an important event in my life at the west, for 
it led not only to my permanent and steady employment for 
more than ten years, (first for Phelps and Gorham, but always 
under the direction of Mr. P. himself,) during which I became 
familiar with most of the transactions relating to land sales, sur- 
veys, &c., but was followed by a personal intimacy with him, 
from which I derived many important advantages. His friendship 
for, and confidence in me, never faltered, and I have consequently 
always retained the highest personal respect for his name and 

•it- ^ ■^ -Sk ^ ^ ^ 

*]^ -Ti* •JV' Iv' •Jf *fP "JV 

On the 12th of May, 1788, Mr. Phelps, accompanied by CoL 
Hugh Maxwell, a Revolutionary officer, of Heath, Mass., as sur- 
veyor, then fifty-seven years old — and William Walker, of Lenox, 
as assistant, proceeded to Kanadasaga, (now Geneva) for the 
purpose of making arrangements for holding a treaty with the 
Indians for the purchase of the possessory right to the whole or a 

fiart of the territory. On arriving at Kanadasaga, he found the 
ndians assembled in council with John Livingston, of Columbia 
Co., and Caleb Benton, of Greene Co., who represented a com- 
pany known at that time as " the Lessee Company," for the lease 
of the tract lying immediately east of the Massachusetts claim. 
Mr. Phelps at once commenced negotiations, but as the Indians 
were not very numerously represented, further proceedings were 
adjourned to a treaty agreed to be held at Buffalo about the last 
of June. This treaty was held at Buffalo in pursuance of this 
adjoumment. Mr. Phelps was anxious to purchase all their lands 
within the Massachusetts pre-emption claim. But the Indians were 
unwilling to sell any part of the country west of the Genesee 
river, alledging that "the Great Spirit" had fixed that stream as 
the boundary between the white and the red man. 

Mr. Phelps, finding them quite immoveable on this point, then 
represented to them that he was very desirous of getting some 
land west of the river, at the great Falls, for the purpose of 
building thereon mills, for the use and convenience of the white 


settlers coming into the country, and that these mills, when built, 
would be very convenient for the Indians themselves. The Indi- 
ans then asked him how much land he wanted for his Mill Scat. 
He replied that he thought a piece about twelve miles wide, exten- 
ding from Canawagas village, on the west side of the river to its 
mouth (about twenty-eight miles) would answer his purpose. To 
this the Indians replied that it seemed to be a good deal of land 
for a Mill Seat, but as they supposed the Yankees knew best what 
was required, they would let him have it. After the treaty was 
concluded, the Indians told Mr. Phelps, that it being customary 
for them to give to the man with whom they dealt, a name, they 
would give him one. They also said they should expect from him 
"a treat" and a walking staff (meaning some spirits,) to help them 
home. The name they gave Mr. Phelps, on this occasion, was 
that by which he was ever afterwards known among them, viz: 
Scaw-gun-se-ga, which translated, is 'Uhe Great Fall." This 
purchase, which comprised what is now the city of Rochester, was 
thereafter called "the Mill Seat Tract. "* 

The result of this treaty was the purchase of this Mill Seat Tract, 
and the whole of the eastern portion of the Massachusetts claim, 
bounded as follows: North by lake Ontario: East by the east line 
of the Massachusetts claim (which passes through a part of the Sen- 
eca lake at Geneva); south by the Pennsylvania north line; and 
west by the Genesee river, as far as the mouth of the Canascraga 
creek, and by a line running due south to the Pennsylvania line. 
The lands thus purchased at this treaty, I shall hereafter have occa- 
sion to refer to as "Phelps and Gorham's Indian Purchase." 

At the same time the Lessee Company eoncluded their arrange- 
ments with the Indians, renting from them, for 999 years the tract 
lying east of Phelps and Gorham's purchase. The object of this 
company in taking their conveyance from the Indians in the form 
of a lease, was to evade the pre-emptive right. It was, however, 
so palpable a fraud on that right, that the State of New York at 
once refused to recognize it, and it Avas declared void by the Legis- 
lature at its next session. The lands were subsequently appro- 
priated by the State of New York to the payment of military 
bounties, and hence have since been known as the Military Tract. 
The agents of the Lessee Company, Messrs. Livingston and Benton, 
at this treaty, rendered important services in aiding Mr. Phelps in 
his negociations, and received from him two townships of lands in 
what is now Yates county, which were afterwards known as "the 
Lessee Townships," one of which is now named "Benton," after 
the grantee above mentioned. 

Messrs. Phelps and Gorham and the Lessees, as soon as their 
treaties were concluded, determined at once to send surveyors to 
run out the line which was to divide their property on the east line 

*" Its contents are about 200,000 acres." 


of the Massachusetts claim. Geneva was then a small settlement 
beautifully situated on the bank of Seneca lake, rendered quite 
attractive from its lying adjoining an old Indian settlement, in which 
was an orchard. This orchard had been destroyed by Gen. Sul- 
livan, in his celebrated campaign, in 1779, but sprouts had grown 
up from it into bearing trees. As it was known the line must pass 
near this place, some anxiety was felt as to which party it might 
belong. Col. Maxwell, on the part of Phelps and Gorham, and Mr. 
Jenkins on the part of the Lessees, as surveyors, proceeded to the 
point of beginning at the 82d mile stone, on the north line of Penn- 
sylvania, and ran through to lake Ontario a line known as the Pre- 
emption line, which passed about a mile and a quarter west of 
Geneva, and which was the basis of the surveys, made by Phelps 
and Gorham. This line afterwards was proved to have been incor- 
rectly run, and it was charged that the incorrectness was in part a 
fraud of Jenkins, whose object was to secure to his employers, the 
Lessee Company, the location of Geneva. The suspicion of fraud 
led to a re-survey of this line, under the direction of Robert Morris.* 
The line being run, Col. Maxwell commenced immediately the sur- 
vey of the tract west of it, and in the course of the season run out 
about thirty townships and began the survey and allotment of 

The supposition was quite common, that on ascertaining the 
western boundary of the Massachusetts claim (being the east line 
of the New York and Massachusetts cession to the United States) 
it would be found to include the harbor and town of Presque Isle 
(now Erie, Pa.) The state of Pennsylvania was anxious to 
secure to itself that point, and in the winter of 1788—89 had made 
propositions to Phelps and Gorham for the purchase of it. At the 
request of Phelps and Gorham, the U. S. Government sent out 
tlie Surveyor General, Andrew Ellicott, in 1789, for the purpose 
of mnning and establishing this line. Frederick Saxton went with 
him on behalf of Phelps and Gorham. As the line was to 
commence at the west end of Lake Ontario, there was some 
hesitation in the outset in determining whether it should commence 
at the western extremity of Burlington Bay, or at the Peninsula 
separating the Bay from the lake. But it was at length fixed 
at the Peninsula, and on the completion of the survey, by first 
running some distance south, and then offsetting around the east 
end of lake Erie, it was found to pass some twenty miles east of 
Presque Isle. This line now forms the western boundary of the 
State of New York, between lake Erie and the old north line of 
Pennsylvania, and is the Eastern line of a tract known as the 

* This re-survey was made by Andrew Ellicott, United States surveyor General, assis- 
ted by Jud^e Porter. It corrected the previous survey, by establishing the line about as 
far east of Geneva as that had west of it. The care taken in this last survey was well 
■calculated to ensure correctness, and iufact its correctness was never questioned. 


"Presque Isle triangle," which was afterwards purchased by 
Pennsylvania of the United States, and is now a part of that State. 

After the conclusion of the Indian treaty at Buffalo, in 1788, 
and as soon as the progress of surveys would permit, Phelps and 
Gorham commenced making sales, and up to the middle of the 
year 1789, had sold some thirty or forty townships, receiving small 
payments, chiefly in Massachusetts final settlement notes, with an 
understanding that future payments, might be made in the same 
securities at par. It was in consequence of this system of sales, 
that they were so large. 

In consequence of the adoption of the Constitution of the 
United States, not long after the purchase by Phelps and Gorham, 
it was anticipated that the General Government would assume the 
indebtedness of the several states growing out of the Revolution. 
The eflTect of this was to make the holders of the State securities 
less willing to sell at low rates, so that Messrs. Phelps and 
Gorham, instead of being able to continue to sell rapidly, for this 
species of payment, sold comparatively little after about the middle 
of 1789; and during the year 1790, Congress did, in fact, assume 
the payment of certain State debts, among which were included 
these Massachusetts final settlement notes. The consequence of 
this assumption was to raise them at once to par, and even above. 

Having failed to make the payment of the installment due to 
Massachusetts in 1789 — 90, the state commenced a suit against 
Phelps and Gorham and their sureties. Phelps and Gorham were, 
however, enabled to effect a compromise with the State, by which 
it was agreed that P. and G. should re-convey to Massachusetts all 
that portion of their purchase to which they had not extinguished 
the Indian title, viz: All west of the Genesee river up to the 
mouth of the Canascraga, and thence due south to the Pennsyl- 
vania fine, except the mill seat tract above mentioned, ai>d retain 
to themselves the remainder, supposed to be about one-third of the 
whole, paying therefor a sum proportioned to the amount retained. 
It being understood that the final settlement notes were worth only 
four shillings on the pound when the purchase was made, the 
amount to be paid was to be estimated on that basis. This agree- 
ment was carried into effect in 1790, or thereabouts. 

Meantime, the rise of these public state securities, which had pre- 
vented Phelps and Gorham from fulfilling their contract with Mass- 
achusetts, in like manner, prevented the early purchasers under them 
from making their payments. Consequently, a considerable part of 
these lands sold, reverted to Phelps and Gorham in after years, 
or were bought by Oliver Phelps, and sold by him to other persons. 

[The portion of Judge Porter's manuscript omitted here — several pages — has 
reference principally to surveys in which he participated, connected with the bounda- 
ries of Phelps and Gorham's purchase, its sub-divisions, — and to matters necessarily 
connected with our chain of laud titles.] 


In the spring of 1794, I again returned to Canandaigua, and was 
employed during the whole season in making surveys of various 
tracts for Mr. Phelps. In the fall I again returned with him to 
Suffield, where I spent part of the winter, and the remainder with 
him in New York, where he effected his large land sale to De 
Witt Clinton, and other large sales to other persons. 

During the summer of 1794, the court house of Ontario county 
was erected at Canandaigua. Thaddeus Chapin came this year to 

JC, M. .If. .At. <A£. ^e* 4f* 

-Jf ^ •TV' ^ "??• "TT "Tr 

In the spring of 1795, I again left Suffield for Canandaigua. At 
Salisbury I was joined by my brother, Peter B. Porter, who had 
decided to settle at Canandaigua, in the practice of the law. 
During this season I acted as agent for Mr. Phelps in the manage- 
ment and sale of his lands, and in surveying for him. In the latter 
part of August, this year, I went to Presque Isle (now Erie Pa.) in 
company with Judah Colt. At this time all that part of the state 
of New York, lying west of "Phelps and Gorham's Indian 
Purchase," was still occupied by the Indians, their title to it not 
being yet extinguished. There was of course no road leadingfrom 
Buffalo eastward, except an Indian trail, and no settlement what- 
ever on that trail. We traveled on horseback from Canawagus 
(now Avon,) to Buffalo, and wei'e two days in performing the 
journey. At Buffalo there lived a man of the name of Johnstone, 
the British Indian interpreter, — also a Dutchman and his family, 
by the name of Middaugh, and an Indian trader by the name of 
Winne. From Buffalo we proceeded to Chippewa, U. C. where 
we found Capt. Wm. Lee, with a small row-boat, about to start 
for Presque Isle, and waiting only for assistance to row the boat. 
Mr. Colt, Mr. Joshua Fairbanks, now of Lewiston, and myself, 
joined him. Two days of hard rowing brought us to that place 
where we found surveyors engaged in laying out the village, now 
called Erie. Also a military company under the command of Gen. 
Irwin, ordered there by the Governor of the state, to protect the 
surveyors against the Indians. Col. Seth Reed, (father of Rufus 
S. Reed, and grandfather of Charles M. Reed,) was there with 
his family, living in a marquee, having just arrived.* A Mr. 
Reese, was also there, acting as agent for the "Population Com- 
pany," for selling and managing their lands, of whom Mr. Colt 
and I purchased two thousand acres. We returned in the same 
boat to Chippewa, and from thence on horseback by way of 
Queenston, on the Indian trail through Tonawanda Indian village 
to Canandaigua. 

During this expedition from Buffalo to Erie, a very remarkable 

* It would appear by the date of Judge Porter's visit to Erie, that Deacon Chamberhn 
xvas in error as to the year he was there. Mr. Fairbanks, who married the daughter of 
Col. Reed, agrees with Judge Porter as to the period of his settlement at Erie. 


circumstance presented itself, the like of which I had never before 
seen, nor have I since witnessed. Before starting from Buffalo, we 
had been detained there for two days by a heavy fall of rain, 
accompanied by a strong northeast gale. When off Cattaragus- 
creek, on our upward passage, about one to two miles from land, 
we discovered, some distance ahead, a white strip on the surface 
of the lake, extending out from the shore as far as we could see. 
On approaching this white strip, we found it to be some five or six 
rods wide, and its whole surface covered with fish of all the vari- 
eties common to the lake, lying on their sides as if dead. On 
touching them, however, they would dart below the surface, but 
immediately rise again to their former position. We commenced 
taking them by hand, making our selection of the best; and finding 
them perfectly sound, we took in a good number (indeed, if we had 
desired, we might have loaded our boat with them.) On reaching 
Erie, we had some of them cooked and found them perfectly good. 
The position of these fish on their sides in the water placed their 
mouths partly above and partly below the surface, so that they 
seemed to be inhaling both water and air, for at each effort in 
inhaling, bubbles would rise and float on the water. It was these 
bubbles that caused the white appearance on the lake's surface. I 
have supposed that these fish had, from some cause, growing out 
of the extraordinary agitation of the lake by the gale from the 
eastward, and the sudden reflux of water from west to east, after 
it subsided, been thrown together in this way, and from some 
unknown natural cause, had lost the power of regulating their spe- 
cific gravity, which it is said they do, by means of an air bladder, 
furnished them by nature. I leave to others, however, to explain 
this phenomenon. 

During this season, (1795) Nathaniel W. Howell, of Canandaigua, 
and Gen. Vincent Mathews, late of Rochester, first came to Can- 
andaigua to attend court, their residence being, at that time, at 
Newtown, now Elmira. 

■U* •U' -U* •U' ^ -^ 4^ 

^ ^ -?F -fr -TV- •vt- "Jfr 

In the fall of 1796, I returned to Suffield, -and spent most of the 
winter in making up my surveys and maps of the Reserve, and in 
closing up my business with the Connecticut Land Co., having 
concluded not to remain longer in their service, although they 
were desirous I should. But as I had now a family, and had spent 
most of my time for seven years in the fatigues and hardships of a 
woods life, I determined to settle at Canandaigua and accept the 
agency offered me by Mr. Phelps, of his land business. In accor- 
dance with this determination, in the latter part of February, 1797, 
I left Suffield with my family, in a sleigh for Canandaigua, where 
I arrived early in March. I immediately entered into the service 
of Mr. Phelps, in selling and surveying his lands, and in collecting 
his debts. One of the first acts of my agency was to sell three or 


four farms on the road leading north towards Farmington. In 
running them out as it was necessary I should, I caught a severe 
cold in the swamps through which I was obliged to make my way 
by wading. From this circumstance I date the commencement of 
my deafness, which has since so much afflicted me. 

During the winter past, (of 1797,) Gideon King and Zadock 
Granger, two of the proprietors of the tract of 20,000 acres in the 
north part of township one, short range, (which included the land 
on which Rochester now stands,) and two or three other families 
from Suffield, had gone to the tract and commenced thereon a 
settlement. Mr. Phelps, my brother Peter B., and myself, were 
also proprietors. This 20,000 acre tract was sold originally by 
Phelps and Gorham, in 1790, to a company of gentlemen of Spring- 
field and Northampton, Massachusetts, among whom was Ebenezer 
Hunt, Quartus Pomeroy and Justin Ely. The tract was bounded 
north and west by the north and west lines of the township, east 
by the Genesee river, and south by a line parallel with the north 
line, so far distant therefrom as to contain 20,000 acres, excepting 
and reserving therefrom 100 acres, which had been previously sold 
to Ebenezer Allan, for the purpose of erecting a mill thereon, 
which one hundred acres was to be located in as near a square 
form as the windings of the river would permit, commencing at 
the centre of the mill, and extending an equal distance up and 
down the river, then back so far as to contain the 100 acres in the 
above form. The lines of this 20,000 acres had been run by 
Frederick Saxton in the summer of 1790. It may not be uninter- 
esting to state here that this 100 acres embraces the most densely 
and valuably built part of the city of Rochester; — and that all the 
titles within it are derived from Allan, who never himself had any 
other known paper title than that which is derived by implication 
from the exception above mentioned in Phelps and Gorham's deed 
to the Springfield and Northampton Company. 

I omitted to mention in the proper place, that in returning to Can- 
andaigua, after completing the survey for Robert Morris, in company 
with Joseph Ellicott, we traveled down the lake to Buffalo, chiefly 
on the beach, there being no road, and as yet, none other than an 
Indian trail from Buffalo to Canawagus (now Avon.) There was 
then (1797) but one dwelHng house between the two places, which 
was owned by a Mr. Wilbur. It was situated at the point where 
Mr. John Ganson afterwards built a large hoiise, and kept a tavern 
many years, and is about one mile and a half east of Le Roy. 

In 1800, I built a dwelling house in Canandaigua, opposite the 
Academy, in which I resided until the year 1806, when, on remov- 
ing with my family to this place, I sold it to John Greig, Esq., by 
whom it was occupied many years. Here, except during the war 
of 1812, I have continuously resided. In 1813, an invasion by the 


British troops took place, which resulted in laying all the settle- 
ments on the frontier, Buffalo included, in ashes. My dwelling, 
mills, &c., at this place, shared in the common desolation. The 
alledged justification of this system of warfare, was the burning of 
Newark, (now Niagara) by troops of the United States, under the 
command of Gen. George McClure, on his evacuating Fort George, 
a few weeks previous. 

During the last years of my residence in Canandaigua, I was 
interested with Mr. Phelps and Nathaniel and Birdseye Norton, in 
a contract with the United States for the supply of provisions to 
the garrisons of Niagara, Detroit, Mackinaw, Chicago, and Fort 
Wayne. This connection with Mr. Phelps, continued until his 
death, which occurred in the winter of 1809. In 1810, I took this 
contract in my own name, and supplied the above posts until 1813, 
except during the period of their occupation by the enemy, after 
the surrender of Detroit, by Gen. Hull. These transactions led to 
my early connection with the commerce of the lakes, some account 
of which is contained in a communication I furnished to the editors 
of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, and which was pubUshed in 
that paper under date of 27th March, 1846. 

So much interest appears to have been recently manifested for 
collecting and preservmg the early incidents of western settlement, 
and so many contributions are about to be offered in aid of this 
object, by others, that I think it advisable to leave to them (who 
will no doubt perform the duty far more acceptably than I can,) 
the task of presenting matters of subsequent occurrence, to the 
close of the last century. My early cotemporaries in western life, 
(with so far as I can learn, two or three solitary exceptions,) are 
in their graves. On account of my advanced age, and the busy 
though humble part I have borne as one of the very earliest of the 
Pioneers of Western New York, I can well imagine that a record 
of my experience and adventures might be supposed to possess 
some interest with those who are seeking such materials for 
preservation from an actor himself What I have written, 1 
am sensible, will fall very far short of expectation, but I must, in 
justice to myself, say, that it is but the hitherto unwritten remin- 
iscences of a very aged man, prepared without memoranda, and 
without the opportunity, by reference to, and consultation with, a 
solitary cotemporary, of quickening my recollection of many 
events, doubtless of some interest, but which have long since faded 
from my memory. Truth is, of course, my aim; and it may be 
supposed I incur some hazard in drawing on my memory alone at 
this late period in life. To this 1 will only say, that having been 
personally an actor and participator in most by far, of the events 
spoken of, I feel a strong degree of confidence in claiming, for this 
simple narrative the concession of at least ordinary authenticity. 

I cannot close what I have to say without expressing the gratitude 
I have ever felt, for the kind and friendly treatment, patronage, and 


confidence, extended to me on my first arrival in the Genesee 
country in 1789, by many of the most distinguished of the early 
Pioneers. Among these I refer with pleasure to the names of Gen. 
Israel Chapin., Judge Oliver Phelps, Judge Nathaniel Gor- 
HAM, Major Adam Hoops, Thomas Morris, Esq. Jajies Wads- 
AVORTH, Esq. and Charles Williajison, Esq. 


The early advent and prominent position held by this gentleman 
as a pioneer in Western New York, as well as his numerous 
descendants, the elder generation of whom may well be classed 
among the junior pioneers, entitles him to some biogaphical notice. 

The subject of this memoir was born in Hartford, Conn., in Sept. 
1745. He passed through a course of medical studies with Dr. 
Dickinson in Middletown, and settled in Farmington, in the same 
State, and married his wife, soon after his admission to practice. 

About this period the troubles precursory to the American Revo- 
lution commenced, and he was one of the earliest to resist the 
encroachments of British power. He, together with John Tread- 
well (afterwards Governor of Connecticut,) and one or two others, 
openly proclaimed resistance to oppression in that then loyal 
town, so that they were for some time in great personal peril, from 
the violence of their loyal neighbors; but they persevered in 
retaining their patriotic position, until that town became distin- 
guished for its zeal in the cause of the Revolution. 

Dr. Hosmer early entered the public service as a surgeon of the 
sixth continental regiment. On the appearance of the small pox in 
the army, he was assigned to the charge of the Hospital in Dan- 
bury, and the subjects sent there for inocculation, he being one of 
the few phycians who ai that time, were acquainted with the 
practice of inocculation, wherein he was singularly successful. 
He was with the army throughout the struggle on Long Island, 
and on its retreat. 

At the close of the war he retired from the service happy in the 
recollection of the gl-orious result, but poor and pennyless, with a 
growing family dependant on his professional exertions for support. 

His extensive acquaintance formed in the army, rendered him 
personally and professionally known, to most of the families in the 
state, the consequence of which was, that he at once entered into 


an extensive practice, which continued to the time of his remov- 
ing to Western New York. 

He first came into this country in 1789, or '90 and with four 
others, purchased Township No. 10, in the 7th Range, now the 
town of Avon, Livingston county, at one shilling and six pence per 
acre; and in the early part of 1792, he moved with his family to 
the banks of the Genesee river where he remained until his death, 
which "happened Nov. 29th, 1815, being a few weeks over seventy 
years of age. 

Upon the organization of the county of Ontario he was appointed 
one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for said county, 
and upon Ohver Phelps declining to accept the office of first Judge 
of that court, he received that appointment, and continued to hold 
that office until he arrived at the age of sixty years, when he was 
incapacitated from longer holding the same by the constitution of 
the state. In taking leave of the bench and bar, he received the 
most gratifying testimonials of their respect and kindness. 

The Indians early experienced the benefits of his services in the 
treatment of diseases; for which they were ever grateful: nor is 
their memory of him yet dimmed, for in numerous instances, they 
have manifested their gratitude to his surviving descendants. In 
the wilds of Wisconsin they have cordially greeted the children of 
At-a-gus, (healer of diseases,) by which name he was known. 

He was distinguished for a lively and cheerful disposition, for 
his active benevolence, ready wit and indiflference to the acquisition 
of wealth; his professional services were as readily extended to the 
poor and helpless, as to the wealthy; his philanthrophy made all who 
knew him his friends, and it is not known that he ever had a per- 
sonal enemy. He died as he had lived, in peace with all men, and 
in reconciliation with his Creator. 

Note. — A venerable pioneer, an early neighbor of Judge Hosmer, in a few words, 
furnished the author an eulogy to his memory, worthy of record: — "He was" said he, 
" an excellent hearted man; he practised medicine all through the valley; and was kind 
and obliging to all the new settlers." And not forgetting the wife of the Judge, he said 
she was a practical sister of charity and benevolence, in the new settlement. 



This gentleman who was an inhabitant of Stockbridge, Mass. in 
the month of July, 1788, started on an exploring expedition to find 
himself a new home in the western country. He attended