of animals, cut into strips, or of bark taken from trees in the early
part of summer. They were very dexterous in fishing. The
rivers, creeks, and lakes of their country, were well stored with
divers kinds of fish.
Canoes. â€” The Agoneaseah in the construction of canoes dis-
played considerable ingenuity. They had two kinds of these ve-
hicles; the one was of wood, and the other of bark. The former was
made of the trunk of a large tree, hollowed mostly with fire. The
process of hollowing and shaping the canoe was very slow and te-
dious, in consequence of their not havmg iron tools, and was as fol-
lows : They commenced by building fires on the upper side of the
tree, and, after having burned some parts, extinquished them. They
then scraped away the coals, and charred wood, with slone chisels
and gouges. This being done they built other fires, and quenched
them, and renewed the scrapings. Thus they continued the
building and extinguishing of fires, and the scrapings, till they
had hollowed it out. The same process they followed in round-
ing the stern, prow, and sides, in order to give a proper form
to the external parts. These canoes were usually from twenty
to forty feet long, and would carry from five to twenty men,
. The canoes in use among our people are made in the same
form. The latter was made of the bark of the birch, or elm
216 HISTORV OF TUE
tree, commonly of the former, stripj)ed entire from the trunk.
The trees in the latter, as well as the former, they felled by building
fires around their bodies, at or near the ground. The bark taken from
the trunk they formed into the shape of a boat; and to eive it more
strength and solidity, they placed ribs in the inside, and sowed them
to the sides and bottom with thongs. The whole was made water
tight. In these structures, apparently so frail, four or five persons
could navigate rivers and lakes. They impelled the canoe with pad-
dles; their dexterity in the management of these vessels was very
remarkable. The bark canoes of the Agoneaseah were so light
that two persons could carry one of them. Hence they used to
transport them from the navigable waters of one stream to those of
another. The carrying places they called Teugh-waugh-quat-
hogh. The aborigines of other parts of North America had, and
still have, their portages or carrying places.
The Tartars make baik canoes. To these they give solidity by
means of ribs, or thin pieces of wood, placed in the inside, which
are bent and stitched to the bark with strips of leather or bark.
The bark canoes of the Tartars and North American Indians are
made on the same plan, and have a perfect resemblance. Here,
then, we have an instance of portions of the people of both hemis-
pheres, living under similar circumstances, constructing boats alike.
The Agoneaseah taugh'. the Dutch how to dress deer skins. In
the process of tanning they use the brains and fat of the animal.
The leather thus dressed is soft and pliable, and very beautiful. The
Moheakanneews had the same art. IMoccasins made of deer's
skins dressed by the Agoneaseah were very handsome. They com-
mand a high price at present.
The Agoneaseah, in their winter excursions, wore on their feet
snow shoes. With these they could travel over the deepest snow
without sinking. Our hunters have adopted these shoes. With
these they can travel through the norihern forest, between the Mo-
hawk and St. Lawrence rivers, in the depth of winter.
The Agoneaseah were unacfjuaiuted with the use of iron. Des-
titute of this important metal, all their warlike implements and tools
were rude, and of small use. No nation can make any considera-
ble progress in civilization and the arts, without an acquaintance
STATE OF NEVV-YOKK. 217
with the use of this most important of all metals. It is iron that has
enabled civilized man to vanquish the wilds of nature, and attain
that distinguished rank which he now holds.
Roads. â€” The Agoneaseah had paths v^-hich led from one settle-
ment to another, and from one canton to another. The main one ex-
tended from the Hudson, in the vicinity of Albany, westwardly to
Buffalo. It passed through Schenectady, Icanderago, Canajoharie,
Navvadaga, Germanflats, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Genesee,
Tonnawanta, and thence to Bnfi'alo. This was the first in impor-
tance. The second led from Icanderago to Schoharie, and thence to
Catskill. The third led from Schenectady to Schoharie, and inter-
sected that from Icanderago ; the fourth led from the city of Alba-
ny, westwardly, over the Helderberg, to Schoharie, where it ended.
The Germans who first settled Schoharie, travelled on foot along
this path. The fifih led from Canajoharie to Schoharie. It united
with the path leading from Icanderago to Schoharie, on or near the
boundary between the counties of Montgomery and Schoharie. The
Germans who settled Stone Arabia, and Germanflats, travelled on
it. The Germans of Schoharie, Stone Arabia, and Germanflats,
continued to use this road in their intercourse until 1762, or 1763,
when roads, to facilitate intercourse between these settlements, were
made. The sixth led from Schoharie to Oquago. in the county of
Broome. The seventh led from Albany, northwardly, to Saratoga.
The eighth led across the counties of Saratoga and Schenectady, to
the Mohawk. The ninth led from the Mohawk to the Sacondaga
river, striking:the latter stream at or near the Fish House. The tenth
led from Canajoharie, or rather Fort Plain, in Minden, to Otsego
lake. The eleventh led from Nowadaga to the latter lake. The
twelfth, from Germanflats, led to Schuyler's lake. It forked in War-
ren, the left fork leading to Otsego lake. Parties of the Mohawks
used to go every year and encamp on the shores of these lakes for
the purpose of hunting. The thirteenth led from Oneida to the
river Chenango, and thence down that stream to Chenango point.
The fourteenth led from Onondaga to the Tioughnioga, &c. The fif-
teenth led from the same place to Oswego. The sixteenth led from
Cayuga Castle to the Susquehanna. The seventeenth led from the
Genesee to the Conhocton, and thence to Tioga, and other places,
vo L. II. 28
218 HISTORY OF THE
There were many other paths. Along the valley of the Mohawk
there were two, the one being on the one side and the other on the
other side of tiiat river. These paths connected the several villages
and hamlets on that river. The paths, or roads, were in the great-
est numbers in the IMohawk and Seneca cantons, owing to their
being more populous than the others.
These paths were narrow and winding, but in the main very di-
rect. Whoever has seen the paths of our people through mea-
dows, fields, and woods, leading from one house to another, on
which only footmen, women, and children tnivel, may form a very
correct idea of Indian roads. The trail beaten was seldom over
fifteen inches broad, and always passed by trees, leaving them on
the right and left, and usually around swamps. Small streams they
crossed on logs, and rivers and lakes in canoes. On these paths
the Agoneaseah travelled in single file. The Dutch who first set-
tled at Schenectady, and the Germans who first settled at Schoha-
rie, Stone Arabia, and Germanflats. travelled on these paths in the
same manner. The Germans of Schoharie, in the early period of
the settlement, went to Schenectady to mill, on the path leading
from one place to the other, carrying their grists on their backs.
These paths were, for the most part, on dry ground. Many of our
roads at this day run on and near where these paths were. War
parties during the contest between the Agoneaseah and Lenni Le-
nape used to march on some of these |)aths, especially on those
leading from Icanderago and Canajoharie to Schoharie, and on that
leading from the last place to Catskill. Parties also marched from
the Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca cantons, to the boatable wa-
ters of the Susquehanna, on the paths leading fiom those cantons
to those waters, where they embarked in canoes, and descended
that river as far as the head of Chesapeake bay. In this contest
the invaders descended these streams in the largest numbers.
Captain Smith, in 1607, while exploring the head of Chesapeake
bay, fell in with several Agoneasean canoes loaded with warriors.
These had descended the Susquehanna from Tioga, or some other
point on that river.
In winter the Agoneasean paths were usually obstructed with
snow, except those between villages in the vicinity of one another.
STATE OF NEW-TOKK. 219
This happened in 1690, when Schenectady was burnt by the French.
The Mohawk messengers despatched by Major Schuyler to Ican-
derago, (Fort Hunter,) to apprise the Mohawks residing there, were
two days on their way, although, the distance is only twenty miles.
The snow was very deep. â€” See Smith's history of New- York. The
Agoneaseah usually travelled on the snow with snow shoes.
The Agoneaseah never cut down trees in order to make roads,
nor did they ever remove those that fell across their paths. They
had no bridges. Their roads were simply trails beaten by foot-
men. These trails were universally shaded by forest trees. A
sombre silence, now and then interrupted by the notes of birds, or
the howling of beasts, reigned along these paths.
The Agoneaseah used to halt at certain stations along these paths,
in order to take refreshments, or encamp over night. These sta-
tions were by springs or streams of water, and usually on dry ground.
Arrow heads, spear heads, and axes, are occasionally found at
Hunting. â€” The Agoneaseah spent much of their lime in hunting.
In this avocation they exhibited great adroitness. Tilost of their
subsistence was derived from this source. Every year they formed
hunting parties, and marched to places situated at a distance from
their habitations. There they constructed temporary erections and
encamped. In diese hunting excursions their wives and children
usually accompanied them. The women carried the baggage.
Every day they went from their encampments in pursuit of game.
These hunting parties commonly consisted of from twenty to one
hundred men. The season chosen for hunting was the latter part
of autumn and the fore part of winter. The game at those times
was good, and they laid in their winter provision. Sometimes when
they found the deer in considerable herds, they formed a circle and
built fires ; between these fires the men were mostly placed at equal
distances, while a few went within and roused the deer. The
timorous animals directed their course to the circle, where they
were met by the huntsmen and fires, and soon killed. When the
party was numerous they advanced from the circle to the centre,
and completely surrounded the deer. In both modes they imita-
ted the Tartars.
520 HISTORY OF TIIK
Cough-sagli-ragc. the beaver hunting country, or the Dismal
Wilderness, was the region where they hunted the beaver, and oc-
casionally the deer and moose. This region embraced the greater
part of the country between lakes Champlain and Ontario, and the
IVIohawk and St. Lawrence rivers. Here the beavers were found
in very large numbers. In the unsettled parts of this region nume-
rous vestiges of beaver dams are to be seen at this day. The bea-
vers are now mostly destroyed. Before the Europeans made set-
tlements in this state and Canada, the Agoneaseah, and other hunt-
ing nations, never killed game beyond their immediate wants.
Hence the game was ordinarily plenty. But since these settlements
were made they have destroyed the game barely for the skins,
which they have sold to the traders for rum, blankets, toys, arms,
and ammunition. This deviation from the ancient practice caused
a diminution in the game, which sensibly affected the tribes. Still,
however, no very serious evils resulted until our people became
numerous; then the game was swept away in a few years, and the
Agoneaseah found it impossible to subsist by hunting. This has
been exemplified in a remarkable manner in our western and nor-
thern countries since the revolution
Small parties, not unfrequently, remained out all winter. The
weapons used in hunting were bows and arrows, stone axes, clubs,
and spears. Bears, panthers, wolves, and deer, were dispatched
with clubs and spears, after being wounded with arrows. They
caught martins, beavers, and some other animals, in log traps. Pits
for the taking of game were not unknown to them. The Moheak-
anneews called the log trap Culheag.
The Agoneaseah had a practice of burning the woods in the
spring, in certain places frequented by the deer. The fire con-
sumed the leaves, brush, and much of the fallen timber, and killed
more or less of the living trees. Grass and small bushes sprang up
and afl()rdea mitrliious food, and induced the deer to repair to those
places to graze.
War. â€” The Agoneaseah were frequently engaged in wars and
bloody contests with their neighbors. These arose from real or
supposed encroachments on their hunting grounds, disputes between
individuals, and various other causes. The manner in which they
STATE OF NEW-YORK. 221
carried on their wars was very different from that of civilized na-
tions. Before they set out the warriors assembled and held a war
dance. Their bodies and faces were painted with red and various
other colors, which rendered their appearance both whimsical and
frightfi.lL The weapons witli which they were armed were bows
and arrows, stone axes, spears, swords, clubs, knives, and shields.
Tl;e shield was used to cover their bodies when missile weapons
were thrown at them, and to ward off blows and thrusts. Thus
armed they marched, every one having provided himself with a
small bag of parched corn, or meal tempered with fat, and some
jerked venison. The number that marched varied according to
circumstances. None were compelled to go. All were volunteers.
In their march they separated into small parties, that they might the
more readily supply themselves by hunting. When they approach-
ed near the country of the enemy their parties were more collected.
All was then caution, stratagem, secrecy, and ambuscade. Their
employment as hunters had taught them great address and vigilance.
They waited with patience and perseverance till they found a fa-
vorable moment for attack. They then on a signal rushed from
their coverts upon their enemies with horrid shouts, and commenced
an indiscriminate slaughter. All was then a scene of fury and ven-
geance. They paid no attention to discipline, order, or subordina-
tion. Their only aitn was the destruction of their foes. If they
prevailed, they scalped and stripped the slain. They then retired,
and carried along with them the spoils, scalps, and prisoners. Upon
their arrival near their own habitations, they dispatched a messen-
ger to announce their return and success. The tribe or town col-
lected, and the warriors made their entry with the spoils, scalps,
and prisoners. The scalps, stretched upon a bow, and elevated
upon a pole, were carried before them as tokens of their valor and
success, and as monuments of the vengeance they had inflicted up-
on the enemies of their country.
The prisoners made an important part of their triumph. Tjiese
the) treated while on their way home with sonie humanity and kind-
ness ; but they took the greatest care to prevent their escape. When
they had arrived at the place of their destination, the old men, the
women, and children, formed themselves into two lines, through
222 HISTORY OF THE
which the prisoners had to run the gauntlet to the town. If the
prisoner was young, active, and a good runner, he made his way
through wiihout much injury ; bui if he was wealv, old, and infirm,
he received nmch danuige by the blows and bruises given him.
When this scene was finished, the prisoners were bound and con-
ducted to a place of securiiy, and treated widi apparent good hu-
mour. The head warrior tiien related the particulars of the expe-
dition. When he mentioned their losses, a bitter grief and sorrow
was manifested by the whole assembly. When he pronounced the
names of the dead, their wives, their relations, and friends, put
forth the most bitter shrieks and lamentations; but no one interrup-
ted the speaker, or asked any question. Tlie last ceremony was
to proclaim ihe victory. Then every individual apparently forgot
his own loss and misfortune, and joined in the triuniph. Their tears
ceased, and with one of the most unaccountable transitions in hu-
man nature, they passed at once from the bitterness of sorrow to
all the extravagance of joy. The whole was then concluded with
feasiing, singing, and dancing.
The fate of the prisoners was next decided. The elders and
chiefs assembled and deliberated concerning their destiny. The
women and children were disposed off according to the pleasin-e of
the captors. But they were seldom or never put to death. Of the
men, some were appointed to supply the places of such as had
fallen in battle. These were then delivered to the friends and re-
lations of the deceased, and if they received them, they were
adopted into the family, and succeeded to all the privileges of tlie
deceased, and were esteemed as hiends, brothers, and relations.
But if they were not received and adniiited into die family, or if
they were destined to be put to death, a most distressing and horrid
scene ensued. A suike was fixed firndv in the ground. At the
distance of eight or ten feet, dry wood, faggots and leaves were
placed in a circle round the slake. The warriors, and the whole
population of the town, were assembled to bear their part in the
cruel tragedy. The prisoner was led to the slake, and tied to it by
his hands, in suqh a manner, that lie might move freely around it.
Fire was then set to the circle ui' wooil, faggots and leaves, tiiat as
it run round, the uniiappy victim might be iorced to run the same
STATE OF NEW-YORK. 223
way. As the sufferings of the prisoner began to become severe,
the acclamations of the spectators began. The men, women and
children, strove to exceed each other in finding new and more ex-
cruciating metiiods of torment. Some applied red hot stones;
others stabbed with their knives and spears, and others mangled and
tore off the flesh ; others again bit ofTthe nails, or twisted and tore
the sinews. Every species of cruelty that savage rancor and re-
venge could invent and apply, was tried upon the wretched sufferer.
But great care was taken that the vita! parts might not be so injured
as to bring the torments of the victim to a speedy end. In this
horrid situation, the sufferer was imdaunted and intrepid. He re-
viled and insulted his tormentors, and accused them of cowardice,
meanness, and want of spirit; as ignorant, unskilful, and destitute
of ingenuity and invention in the art of tormenting. Not a groan ;
not a sigh ; not a tear or even a sorrowful look was suffered to
escape him. To scoff his tormentors, to display undaunted cour-
age in this dreadful situation, was the most noble of all the triumphs
of the warrior. With an undaunted coimtenance, and with the
decisive tone of dignity and superior importance, the prisoner pro-
ceeded with them to sing the song of his death. " Intrepid and
brave, I feel no pain, and I, fear no torture, I have slain, I have con-
quered, I have burnt mine enemies, and my countrymen will avenge
my blood ; ye are a nation of dogs, of cowards and women ; ye
know not how to conquer, to suffer, and to torture. Prolong and
increase my torments, that ye may learn from my example how to
suffer, and behave like men."
With such heroic magnanimity and fortitude, the sufferer perse-
vered under every method of torment and torture. Wearied with
cruelty, and tired will; tormenting a man whose fortitude they could
not move, one of the chiefs in a rage, concluded the scene by
knocking the prisoner on the head, or stabbing him to the heart.
See Cliarlevoix' History of New France.
The following account of the death of a Narragansett })risoner,
is found in Mr. Hubbard's narrative of the Indian wars in New
England. We have thought proper to givo it, because it differs in
Among the prisoners taken by the Mohegans, tlie allies of the
224 HISTORY OF THE
colonists, there was an active young man whom they singled out, and
doomed to torture and deaili. A large circle was formed, so that
the eyes of all ilie spectators might feast on the tortures of this
young man. Every thing being reariy, the prisoner was introduced
anil marched to the (?entre, where he was fastened to a stake. This
being done ; they first cut one of his fingers round in the joint, at
the trunk of his hand, with a sharp knife, and then broke it off.
They then cut and broke off another, and so on, till they dis-
membered one hand of all its fingers, the blood sometimes spirting
out in streams a yard ; the wretched and unhnppy sufferer not dis-
covering any signs of anguish. In the second place, they dis-
membered the other hand of all its fingers in the same way ; when
they severed the toes off one foot, one by one, and afterwards those
of the other. All the time the dismemberment lasted, he continued
to dance roimd the stake, and joined with the company in singing
his death song. At Irnglli, being exhausted, and his tortnentors
wearied with the horrid spectacle, they broke his legs, and by and
by knocked out his brains.
The Aganuschioni, when taken by their enemies and doomed to
die at the stakes, offered with the same invincible courage. The
custom of burning prisoners at the slake, was practised by all the
American nations of Tartar origin. It was not however common.
It seemed to have been a kind of honor, reserved almost exclusively
for the warriors, and was designed as a test of their courage and
When the prisoners were adopted, they were treated wiili great
kindness and affection. They held the same rank as the deceased
person whose |)lace they filled, and were treated with all the tender-
neas due to thf litisbnnd, brodier or friend.
As the Agnnusciiioni were fond of war, every art was contrived
to diffuse a military spirit through the whole body of the people.
They had their war dances. At these, the warriors recounted and
sang their own exploits, and those of their ancestors, and thereby
kindled and roused a military ardor and enthusiasm in the whole
company. They also had sham fights. In these, they were painted
armed and marshalled, as if they had been going against an enemy.
They were divided into two companies. On some occasions, there
STATE OF NEW-YORK. 235
were two hundred on a side. The one party was called Aganu-
schioni, and the other Lenni Lenape, Adirondacks, or some other
name. Each party had its chiefs. All the evolutions and tactics pecu-
liar to the American nations, were brought into requisition. They
discharged arrows, and then rushed from their coverts with horrible
shouts, and engaged in single combat. The one party would fall
back, and the other would advance. This in its turn would retire,
and the other would follow. As they obtained advantages, they
seized their enemies by the hair of their head, and threw them on
the ground, where, with their clubs or stone axes, they seemed to
beat out their brains. In this manner, they continued the fight for
an hour, or longer, fighting, retreating, and advancing, till at length
the Lenni Lenape, or Adirondacks began a retreat, feigning to be
beat, when the Aganuschioni charged them and put them to flight.
All their actions, voices, 'and gestures, both in charging, combating,
and retiring, were so natural, that a stranger imagined them real.
When the Aganuschioni inclined to peace, a messenger was sent
to the enemy with a pipe, the bowl of which, was made of red
sandstone, and a long reed beautifully painted and adorned with
the gay plumage of birds, formed the stem. This pipe or calumet,
as the French called it, was an infallible protection from any assault
on the way. The messenger, on his arrival made his proposals to
the enemy, who, if they approved them, ratified the preliminaries lo
the peace, by smoking through the pipe. A cessation of arms en-
sued, and a peace followed. All 'the surrounding nations had the
same kind of pipes. The rights of the calumet were always re-
spected and esteemed sacred.
The Agoneaseah, and many of the other hunting nations of
North America, had rude fortifications constructed sometimes in the
woods, and sometimes in their clearings. These were designed to
secure the women, children, and old men, and their property, while
the warriors were out on hostile expeditions, or as places of refuge