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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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moved westward with the fiercer tribes. The
Indians who remained were peaceful and in
complete harmony with the proprietary gov-
ernment. It appears that it was difficult for
those Indians who remained in this region to
maintain themselves, even in the necessaries
of life. They had periodical fits of hunting,
but they were waylaid by traders and plied
with rum, for which they parted with their
valuable furs. The warlike ones had wan-
dered to other parts, leaving the feeble behind

It~Ts this mixture of feebleness- and feroc-
ity, that has made the American Indian at
once an object of pity and of dread; that has
caused him to be despised and his nobler
qualities overlooked. Unable to cope with

*IV Col. Hec. 579.
, , /fDay's ABnals, p. 7. Heckenwelder.
' tDay, 7.


the cunning of traders, and realizing the de-
ception practiced upon him for gain, drawn
backward by a power against which he is
helpless to contend, he instinctively burns for
revenge. His nature is such that he cannot
embrace civilization. Though possessed by
some intuitive promptings of nature of a
species of libei-ality in gifts and a lofty idea
of peace and its blessings, the firm sentiments
of generosity, benevolence and goodness
were wanting. This has been declared to be
so by those most familiar with the Indian
character. "William Penn and his followers
came among the Delawares in a sjairit of
peace and brotherly love, to which they
seemed to respond, but they succeeded no bet-
ter than the Puritans in changing their hab-
its and character, nor could the missionaries,
Catholic or Protestant, or Edwards or Brain-
erd, or any other of the great teachers who
went among them. They were morally in-
flexible, and adhered to their hereditary cus-
toms and manners. The Indian child soon
discovers a propensity for the habits of his
ancestors. This is displayed in their wild
and fitful hunting, and indolence, and in
their manner of warfare. Their war parties
consisted of volunteers for special expedi-
tions, surprising the enemy and taking their
scalps. They would follow each other sin-
gly and in silence. They would hide and
dash upon the unwary.* It is this that
made the frontiers tremble.

Much learning has been exhausted in ac-
counting for their appearance on this conti-
nent. "William Penn, in his letter to the
Free Society of Traders of the Province at
London, in 1683,f accepts without question
the theory that they were the remnants of the
lost tribes of Israeh He writes: "For their
origin, I am ready to believe them of the
Jewish race; I mean of the stock of the ten
tribes; and that for the following reasons:
first, they were to go to a 'land not planted,
nor known;' which to be sure, Asia and
Africa were, if not Europe; and He that in-
tended that extraordinary judgment upon
them might make the passage not uneasy to
them, as it is not impossible in itself, from
the easternmost parts of Asia, to the western-
most of America. In the nest place I find
them of the like countenance and their child-
ren of so lively resemblance, that a man
would think himself in Duke's place or Berry
street, in London, when he seeth them. But
this is not all: they agree in rites; they reck-
on by moons; they offer their first fruits,
they have a kind of feast of tabernacles; they

are said to lay their altar upon twelve stones;
their mourning a year; their customs of
women, with many other things that do not now
occur." He also says about them, "their
eyes, little and black not unlike a straio'ht
looked Jew." "Their language is lofty yet

narrow; but like the Hebr

ew m signification

full; like shorthand writing, one word serv-
eth in the place of three, and the rest are
supplied by the understanding of the hearer;
imperfect in their tenses, wanting in their
moods, participles, adverbs, conjiinctions,
interjections; I know not a language spoken
in Europe, that hath words of more sweetness
or greatness in accent and emphasis than
theirs." From many other sources we learn
that their language was as perfect in its way
as taught by nature, and governed by rules
and methods just as the bee builds its cells
regularly without the recognition of the laws
of geometry.

The religious ideas of the a'borigines
have been a matter of much comment,-
as well as how far they possessed a knowl-
edge of a Supreme Being. "William Penn,
in his letter, already quoted, writes thus:
"They say there is a Great King that made
them, who dwells in a glorious country to
the southward of them, and that the souls
of the good shall go thither where thev
live again." ' 'Their worship, ' 'he says, "con-
sists of two parts, sacrifice and cantico.
Their sacrifice is their first fruits. The first
and fatted buck they kill goeth to the fire,
where he is all burnt with a mournful ditty
of him, that performeth the ceremony, but
with such marvelous fervency and labor of
body, that he will even sweat to a foam. The
other part is the cantico performed by round
dances, sometimes words, sometimes songs,
then shouts; two being in the middle that
begin ; and by singing and di'umming on a
board direct the chorus." "Their diet is
maize, or Indian corn divers ways prepared;
sometimes roasted in the ashes; sometimes
beaten and boiled with water, which they call
homine; they also make cakes, not unpleasant
to eat. They have likewise several sorts of
beans and pease, that are good nourishment;
and the woods and rivers are their larder."
"If any European comes to see them or calls
for lodging at their house, or wigwam, they
give him the best place and first cut. If they
come to visit us, they salute us with an Itah :
which is as much as to say, good be to you,
and set them down; which, is mostly on the
ground close to their heels; their legs up-
right; it may be they speak not a word, but
observe all passages. If you give them any-
thing to eat or drink, well; for thev will not



ask; and be it little or much, if it be witli
kindness, they are well pleased, else they go
away sullen but say nothing. "* " They
are great concealers of their own resent-
ment; brought to it by the revenge that
hath been practiced among them. " "But
in liberality they excel; nothing is too
good for their friend. Give them a fine
gun, coat or other thing, it may pass
twenty hands before it sticks ; light of
heart, strong affections, but soon spent. The
most merry creatures that live, feast and
dance perpetually. They never have much
nor want much. Wealth circulateth like
blood; all parts partake, and though none
shall want what another hath; yet exact ob-
servers of property. Some kings have sold,
others presented me with several parcels of
land: the pay or presents I made them were
not hoarded by the particular owners; but
the neighboring kings, and their clans being
present, when the goods were brought out,
the parties chiefly concerned, consulted on
what, and to whom, they should give them.
To every king, then, by the hands of a per-
son for that work appointed is a proportion
sent, so sorted and folded and with that
gravity that is admirable. Then that king
sabdivideth it in like manner; they hardly
leaving themselves an equal share with one
of their subjects." "' And be it on such oc-
casions as festivals, or after their common
meals, the kings distribute, and to them-
selves last. They care for little because they
want but little, and the reason is, a little
contents them. In this they are sufficiently
revenged on us; if they are ignorant of our
pleasures, they are also free from our pains.
They are not disquieted with bills of lading
and exchange, nor perplexed with chancery
suits, and exchequer reckonings. We sweat
and toil to live: their pleasure feeds them; I
mean their hunting, fishing and fowling, and
their table is spread everywhere. They eat
twice a day, morning and evening, their seats
and table the ground."

"In the fall, when the corn cometh in,
they begin to feast one another. There have
been two great festivals already; to which all
come that will. I was at one myself — their
entertainment was a great seat by a spring
under some shady trees, and twenty bucks,
with hot cakes of new corn, both wheat and
beans; which they make up in a square form,
in the leaves of the stem, and bake them in
the ashes; and after that they fall to a dance.
But they that go must carry a small present,
in their money; it may be sixpence, which is
made of the bone of a fish; the black is
with them as gold; the white silver; they

call it all wampum." He also says : "The
justice they have is pecuniary; in case of any
wrong or evil fact, be it murder itself, they
atone by feasts, and presents of their wam-
pum, which is proportioned to the quality of
the offence or person injured." " It is rare
that they fall out. if sober;- and if drunk,
they forgive it, saying ' it was the drink and
not the man that abused them.'" "Since
the Europeans came into these parts, the}'
have grown great lovers of strong liquors,
rum especially; and for it exchange the rich-
est of their skins and furs. If they are
heated with liquors, they are restless till they
have enough to sleep; that is their cry,
'some more, and I will go to sleep;' but
when drunk one of the most wretched spec-
tacles in the world." Well did William
Penn say: " The worst is that they are the
worse for the Christians; who have propa-
gated their vices and yielded them tradition
for ill and not for good things." ....
" It were miserable indeed for us to fall
under the just censure of the poor Indian
conscience, while we make profession of
things so far transcending."

He further says: " Their government was
by kings, which they called sachems, and those
by succession always of the mother's side.
For instance, the children of him who is
now king will not succeed him, but his
brother by his mother, or the son of his sis-
ter, and after them the children of her
daughter, but no woman inherits. Every
king had his council, consisting of all the
old and wise men of his nation. War, peace,
selling of land, or traffic, were only under-
taken after advising with them, and also
with the young men. The king sat in the
middle of a half moon, and had his council
of the old and wise men on each hand; be-
hind them, or at a little distance, sat the
younger fry in the same figure." "Having
consulted and resolved their business, the
king ordered one of them to speak to me;
he stood up, came to me, and, in the name
of the king, saluted me; then took me by
the hand, and told me he was ordered by tbo
king to speak to me, and that now it was not
he, but the king, that spoke, because what he
should say was the king's mind. He first
prayed me. To excuse them, that they had
not complied with me the last time: he feared
there might be some fault in the interpreta-
tion, being neither Indian nor English; be-
sides it was the Indian custom to deliberate
and take up much time in council, before
, they resolve; and that if the young people
and owners of the land, had been as ready as
he, I had not met with so much delay.


Having thus introduced his matter, he fell to
the bounds of the land they had agreed to
dispose of, and the price, which now is little
and dear; that which would have bought
twenty miles not buying now two." "Dur-
ing the time that this person spoke, not a
man of them was observed to whisper or
smile; the old, grave; the young, reverent
in their deportment. They speak little, but
fervently and with elegance. I have never
seen more natural sagacity, considering them
without the help (I was going to say the
spoil) of tradition; aud he will deserve the
name of wise, that outwits them in any
treaty, about a thing they understand."

"When the purchase was agreed, great
promises passed between us of kindness and
good neighborhood, and that the Indians and
English must live in love as long as the sun
gave light; which done, another made a
speech to the Indians, in the name of all the
sachamakers or kings, just to tell them what
was done, next to charge and command them
' to love the Christians, and particularly to
live in peace with me, and the people under
my government; that many governors had
been in the river; but that no governor had
come himself to live and stay here before;
and having now such an one, that had treat-
ed them well, they should never do him or
his any wrong.' At every sentence of which
they shouted and said Amen, in their way."

If their personal appearance and lan-
guage indicated such resemblances as tend
to prove an Eastern origin, there are, on the
other hand, certain things, for which the
Eastern races are proverbial, and of which the
American Indians knew nothing. Of all
races of mankind, they alone were ignorant of
the pastoral state. They kept neither sheep
nor kine. They knew nothing of the use of
the milk of animals for food. They had
no wax, nor oil, and no iron.* They
had no idea of government or of trial
and condemnation. Retaliation was the only
law of punishment.* Everything, to their
conception, was material in its character.
They had some sort of a genius that was an
object of veneration and fear, called the
Manitou. This was represented by a bird, a
buffalo, a bear, a feather, a skin; but, in no
case, a man. Each Indian appears to have
had his Manitou, and any evil that happened
to him was attributed to its anger. They
buried with the warrior his Manitou, his pipe,
his tomahawk, his quiver and bow, and his
apparel — placed by his side his bowl of maize
and his vension f or . his long journey to the
country of his ancestors.* "With many

manly qualities and an evident respect for
each other as warriors, and admiration for
powers of endurance in the midst of tortures,
and delight in the eclat of success, there was
no reverence for man as such, no matter what
an individual's fame might be. The apothe-
osis of the Aryan race had no place among
them, or the Semitic reverential awe of the
prophet. His fellow man was not adored,
nor was homage paid to the dead.* Long
before William Penn landed on the shore of
this continent. Christians had been at work
among the Indians, and it is difiScult to say
what ideas by that time had been implanted
among them of a Great Spirit, or any spirit
of poetic fancy, that inhabited the woods,
the water, the stars or the sea.

The Indians have been described as being
well formed, straight, and having no deform-
ity among them. Their color, reddish brown
or copper color, as distinguished from olive,
with dark, straight hair and no beards; their
cheek bones prominent, with projecting jaws,
and an expression of indolent insensibility,
and with no flexibility of feature, so that
when the Indian depicted his passions, it
was by strong contortions and a kindling
of the eye, that seemed ready to burst from
its socket. Their clothing was made of the
skins of the bear, fox, and beaver, and mocca-
sins of deer skin, without a sole, ornamented
on the upper side. * Their wigwams were made
with long poles fixed in the ground, covered
with bark, having no door but a loose skin,
and having an opening in the roof for a
chimney, and were aboat the height of a man.
In one of them the whole clan huddle together,
men, women, and children, with weeds or
grass on the ground for a floor. In traveling
they would lie around great fires. *

The pipe of peace was reverenced by them.
The person of him who traveled with it was
sacred. Each village had its calumet, which
was adorned by the chief with eagle feathers
and which was consecrated by the nation.
This, together with the ceremonies attend-
ing its acceptance, has served to throw a
charm around the savage nature, and is
remembered by its figurative use in our
language. "The envoys from those desiring
peace or an alliance, would come within a
short distance of the town, and uttering a
cry, throw themselves on the ground." The
great chief, bearing the peace pipe of his
tribe, with its mouth pointing to the skies,
goes forth to meet them, accompanied by a
long procession of his clansmen, chanting the
hymn of peace. The stranger rises to
receive them, singing also a song to put away



all wars and bury all revenge. As they meet,
each pariy smokes the pipe of the other, and
peace is ratified."* "With all this commend-
able decorum, worthy of imitation in our
own public councils, the imposing scene was
accompanied by features that may be consid-
ered inimitable. "Some had the nose tipped
with blue, the eyebrows, eyes and cheeks tinged
with black, and the rest of the face red; others
had black, red and blue stripes drawn from
the ears to the mouth: others had a broad,
black band, like a ribbon, drawn from ear to
ear across the eyes, with smaller bands on
the cheeks. When they made visits, and
when they assembled in council, they painted
themselves gloriously, delighting especially
in vermilion."*

Their frequent councils with the English
were attended with the same ceremonies and
gi f ts to which they had been accustomed among
themselves. "Their delight was in assem-
bling together and listening to messengers
from abroad. Seated in a semi -circle on the
ground, in double or triple rows, with the
knees almost meeting the face; the painted
and tattooed chiefs, adorned with skins and
plumes, with the beaks of the red-bird and
claws of the bear; each listener, perhaps,
with a pipe in his mouth, and preserving deep
silence, they would give solemn attention to
the speaker, who, with great action and en-
ergy of language, delivered and brought the
message; and if his eloquence pleased, they
esteemed him as a god. Decorum was never
broken, there were never two speakers strug-
gling to anticipate each other; they did not
express their spleen by blows ;they restrained
passionate invective; the debate was never
disturbed by an uproar; questions of order
were unknown. "*

"The art of public speaking was in high
esteem among the Indians, and much studied.
They were extremely fond of method, and
displeased with an irregular harangue, be-
cause it is difficult to be remembered. Their
speeches were short, and the sense conveyed
by strong metaphors; in conversation, they
were sprightly,but solemn and serious in their
messages relating to public affairs. Their
speakers delivered themselves with surprising
force and great propriety of gesture. The
fierceness of their countenances, the flowing
blanket, elevated tone, naked arm, and erect
stature, with a half circle of auditors seated
on the ground, cannot but impress on the
mind a lively idea of the ancient orators of
Greece and Kome."t

Wampum is described to be belts of cloth


t.Smith's History of New York. Proud.

of some kind on which are fastened beads
made of pieces of shell, cut and polished,
some white and some of purple color, the
latter being the more valuable. Each belt
was called a fathom. At every treaty belts
of wampum were presented, and in this way
their annals were kept. During these trea-
ties, at every clause of speech ratifying or
creating a covenant, a belt was given. These
belts were about four inches wide and thirty in
length, and were treasured and kept as records
of the nation, and were had recourse to on
subsequent occasions, which ceremony being
omitted, all they said passed for nothing.*
Belts of wampum were also used as money.
The use of these beads or pieces of bone, in
the nature of coin, was, probably, derived
from intercourse with the Europeans, and
existed among the Delawares in the locality
where the scenes were enacted which Willim
Penn describes.


T'Between the town of Lancaster and the
Susquehanna River, there was a very large
town and settlement of Indians called Coq-
estogoe, which appears to have been a chief
place of councils, and gave the name to such
Indians as inhabited there and in that vicin-
ity. The Conestogoe Indians were a friendly
and peaceable people, long settled among the

The resident Indians complained of set-
tlers and traders interfering with their hunt-
ing, and it was to accommodate them that
Springetsbury Manor, as will hereafter be
related, was laid out, though on the part of
Pennsylvania, it was designed to prevent
Maryland encroachments. These Indians are
therefore intimately associated with the
events surrounding our early settlements.
Our territory was on their way to their hunt-
ing grounds, and they desired that it should
be free to them. The only Indian town men-
tioned, on the west side of the river was a
place called Conedoughela,f further south
than Conestogoe. Frequent visits were made
by Indians to the government at Philadelphia,
and frequent councils were also held at Con-
estogoe, where the governors of the province
attended, and belts of wampum were given,
and gifts of personal goods and skins were
exchanged in testimony of confirmed friend-
ship. The minutes of the provincial coun-
cil will show the nature of these interviews,
and the condition of the Indians and their re-
lations to the whites, just previous to the time
of the settlements west of the Susquehanna.


At a meeting of the Provincial Council
held at Philadelphia, June 6, 1706, James
Logan, Secretary, gave an account of his
visit, with othel's of the council, to the In-
dians at Conestogoe the preceding October,
when he told them, "That he was come from
the Governor of Pennsylvania, who had al-
ways been a friend to all the Indians within
the bounds of it. That Gov. William Penii.
since first he came into this country, with
all those under him, had always inviola-
bly maintained a perfect friendship with all
the natives of this country that he found
possessed of it at his first arrival. . That
when he was last in the country he visited those
at that place, and his son upon his arrival did
the same, in order to cultivate the ancient
friendship between them, that he and his
posterity might, after bis father's example,
maintain peace and good understanding with
them and theirs. That they should take
great care in giving ear to malicious reports
spread and carried by ill men, for that we
heard they had been alarmed at the Chris-
tians putting themselves in arms in all these
parts and mustering; the reason of this was
the war with the French, and was designed
rather to help them than to hurt them, but
as they and we are brethren, each must be
assistant to the other, and therefore tho
English took up arms to defend themselves,
and the Indians also, against both their
enemies." The Secretary further added, that
"among the Shawanois, with whom their
chief abode was, he had also held a treaty
to the same purpose with that at Conestogoe..' '
"That he had made a journey among the
Ganawese, settled some miles above Cones-
togoe, at a place called Connejaghera, above
the fort, and had conferences with them,
which seemed wholly to compose all their
apprehensions, and that he had reason to
believe he left all these three nations in a
perfect good understanding with us.'"* There
were present at this conference chiefs of the
Conestogoe, Shawanese, and Ganawese Indi-
ans upon Susquehanna, being come to town,
in order to confer with the Government,
about public affairs relating to them, and
were all seated in the council chamber. An-
daggyjuuquagh, the chief of those of Con-
estogoe, (whose name appears in the deeds
for the lands upon the Susquehanna,) laid
before the Governor a very large wampum
belt of twenty-one rows, with three hands
wrought in it in black, the rest white, which
belt he said was a pledge of peace, formerly
delivered by the Onondagoe Indians, one of
the Five Nations, to the Nantikokes, when

» 11 Col. Reo. 244.

they made them tributaries; that the Nanti-
kokes, being lately under some apprehensions
of danger from the Five Nations, some of
them had this spring come up, and brought
this belt with them, and that they had
another of the same also at Conestogoe to
show to those of the Five Nations that were
expected shortly to come down to receive the
Nantikokes' tribute." This belt had been
taken to Philadelphia, that it might be shown
to those of the Five Nations who might come
down that way, as evidence that there was
peace with them and that the English were
at peace with the neighboring Indians. The
Shawanese also owned themselves under some
apprehensions from the Five Nations. The
Nantikokes were a Maryland tribe or nation.

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 5 of 218)