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of peace with William Penn, and when the French Jesuits and the fur-traders explored
the Wabash and the Ohio, they found the valleys tenanted by the same far extended
race. Of all the members of the Algonquin family, those called by the English the
Delawares, by the French the Loups, and by themselves the Lenni-Lenape, or original
men, hold the first claim in attention, for their traditions declare them to be the parent
stem from whence other Algonquin tribes have sprung. The latter recognized the daim,
and at all solemn councils accorded to the ancestral tribe the title of grandfather.

In the expression of titles of relationship, all Indians were strong.
Hence in the journals of conferences at Philadelphia, Fort Pitt, Easton
and Lancaster, such expressions figure largely, chief among them "Breth-
ren" and "Brothers," with occasional mention of "uncles," "nephews,"
and "cousins," and even "grandchildren."

The traces left by the original inhabitants of our country have been
given prominence in Chapter II. The inhabitants who descended from
the primitive people or came after them, were undoubtedly those found
in Pennsylvania by William Penn and his settlers, and these demand
mention, and their history must be given at some length. All Pennsyl-
vania historians have devoted much space to the story of the Pennsyl-
vania Indians; that is to say, to the Indians of the Algonquian races
who had their habitations in Pennsylvania. The Indians exterminated
by the Iroquois before the coming of Penn, can find no space in the
Pittsburgh history of our colonial days. To this effect Robert Proud,
historian of the province, is to be quoted, writing probably prior to
1780, though his work did not appear until 1797:

The Indians called the Six Nations, have held sovereignty over all the Indians,
both in this and neighboring provinces, for so long a series of years, and as a similarity
of their customs prevails among those who are subject to them, so previous to an
account of the Indians of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as they were found and
observed by the first and early European or English settlers among them, whose descrip-
tion or observation may be most depended on as nearest to the truth, it may be proper
to say something further respecting these nations, though they have not at present tfieir
residence within the limits of these provinces.

The Six Nations first entered iato an alliance with the English on the capture of
New York from the Dutch in 1664, which has remarkably continued ever since. The
limits of their lands, or country, included all the nations and tribes which were sub-
ject to them, either by conquest or otherwise, and they extended from the south part
of Lake Champlain in latitude 44"*, comprehending all Pennsylvania and the adjacent

2"The History of Pennsylvania in North America from the Original Institution
of that Province under the First Proprietor, William Penn, in 1681, till after the Year
1742;" Vol. II, p. 293. This book is acknowledged to contain original material of
great value. It was written mainly during the Revolution, with which Proud, a native
of Yorkshire, was not in sympathy.

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The nations that were spared by the Iroquois that are to receive
consideration in this history, are the Lenape and their more powerful
congeners, the Shawanese, for these tribes after their enforced migration
to the West, figure largely in the history of Pittsburgh. It is a matter of
remark, too, that the former nation having lost its own tribal designa-
tion, should be known by the English name of the river along which its
tribes once dwelt, and that name is fixed in our national geographical
nomenclature in the name of an original State of the National Union,
and in many towns and counties in the United States. The traditions
of the coming of the Lenape to the East, are given at length by Dr.
Egle in his "History of Pennsylvania," on the authority of Heckewelder,
the Moravian missionary, and reproduced verbatim by Dr. Brinton and
Mr. Jenkins from the same author.* Heckewelder tells the story thus:

The Lenni-Lenape (according to the traditions handed down to them by their
ancestors), resided many hundred years ago in a distant country in the western part of
the American continent. For some reason which I do not find, they determined on
migrating to the eastward, and accordingly set out in a body. After a very long jour-
ney and many nights encampments made by the way, they at length arrived on the
Namasisipu, where they fell in with the Mengwe, who had likewise emigrated from a
distant country and had struck upon this river higher up. Their object was the same
as that of the Delawares ; they were proceeding to the eastward untfl they should find
a country that pleased them. The spies which the Lenape had sent forward for the pur-
pose of reconnoitering, had long before their arrival discovered that the country east of
the Mississippi was inhabited by a very powerful nation who had many large towns
built on the great rivers flowing through their land. These people (as I was told)
called themselves the Talligue or Talligewi. C3ol. John Gibson, however, a gentleman
who has a thorough knowledge of the Indians and speaks several of their languages,
is of the opinion that they w^re not called Talligewi, but Alligewi, and it would seem
that he is right, from the traces of the name which still remain in the country, the
Allegheny river and mountains having indubitably been named after them. The Dela-
wares still call the former Allegewi Sipu, the River of the AlligewL

A word or two of explanation should be inserted. "A night's encamp-
ment'' signifies half a year ; and the river Namasi Sipu was the Missis-
sippi — the river of fish. Colonel John Gibson was one of the most noted
of the border-men of the West of Colonial days, and his name is linked
with that of Chief Logan as the recipient of Logan's wonderful speech.
Gibson's name will frequently occur later in this history. Heckewelder
continues ; referring to the Alligewi : "Many wonderful things are told
of this famous people. They are said to have been remarkably tall and
stout, and there is a tradition that there were giants among them, people
of a much larger size than the tallest of the Lenape. It is related that

«"History of Pennsylvania," William H. Eglc; pp. 19-21. "The I^enape and Their
legends." D. G. Brinton, A. M., M. D.; pp. 140-144. "Pennsylvania, Colonial and
Federal,' Howard M. Jenkins; Vol. I, p. 27. "History, Manners and Customs of the
Indian Nations that once Inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States,'' Rev.

John Heckewelder; originally published by the author in 1818; reprint 1876, by the
Pennsylvania Historical Society; pp. 47-51. See also "Names which the Lenni-Lenape.
or Delaware Indians, gave to tiie Rivers, Streams and Localities in Pennsylvania, etc.,
by the same author; edited by W. C Reichel, 1872; p. 13.

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they had built to themselves regular fortifications, or entrenchments,
from whence they would sally out, but were generally repulsed. I have
seen many of the fortifications said to have been built by them.'*

Heckewelder has been quoted on this point (Chap. II), and the forti-
fications he describes were in the region of the Big Beaver river, in
Beaver county, Pennsylvania. Continuing, Heckewelder says:

When the Lenape arrived at the banks of the Mississippi, they sent a message to
the Alligewi to request permission to settle in their neighborhood. This was refused
them, but they obtained leave to pass through the country and seek a settlement farther
to the eastward. They accordingly began to cross the NamaH Sipu, when the AUigcwi,
seeing that their numbers were very great, and in fact consisted of many thousands,
made a furious attack on those who had crossed, threatening them all with destruction
if they dared persist in coming over to the Alligewis' side of the river. Fired at the
treachery of the people, and the great loss of men they had sustained, and not being
prepared for a conflict, the Lenape consulted on what should be done; whether to
retreat in the best manner they could or try their strength and let the enemy see that
they were not cowards, but men, and too highminded to suffer themselves to be driven
off before they had made a trial of their strength and were convinced that the enemy
were too powerful for them. The Mengwe, who had hitherto been satisfied with being
spectators from a distance, offered to join them on condition that after conquering the
country they should be entitled to share it. Their proposal was accepted, and the reso-
lution taken by the two nations to conquer or die.

Having thus united their forces, the Lenape and the Mengwe declared war against
the Alligewi, and great battles were fought, in which many warriors fell on both sides.
The enemy fortified their large towns, especially on large rivers and near lakes, where
they were successfully attacked and sometimes stormed by the allies. An engagement
took place in which hundreds fell and were afterwards buried in holes or laid together
in hes^s and covered over with earth. No quarter was given, so that the Alligewi, at
last finding that their destruction was inevitable if they persisted in their obstinacy, aban-
doned the cotmtry to the conquerors and fled down the Mississippi river, from whence
they never returned. The war which was carried on by this nation lasted many years,
during which the Lenape lost a great number of their warriors, while the Mengwe
would always hang back in the rear, leaving them to face the enemy. In the end, the
conquerors divided the country between them ; the Meng^ve made choice of the lands
in the vicinity of the great lakes and on their tributary streams, and the Lenape took
possession of the country to the south. For a long period of time, some say many
hundred years, the two nations resided peaceably in this country and increased very
fast. Some of their most enterprising huntsmen and warriors crossed the great swamps,
and falling on streams running to the eastward, followed down to the Great Bay river,
thence into the Bay itself, which we call Chesapeak. As they pursued their travels
partly by land and partly by water, sometimes near and sometimes on the great Salt-
water Lake, as they called the Sea, they discovered the gpreat river which we call the
Delaware, and thence exploring still eastwards, the Scheyichbi country, now named
New Jersey, they arrived at another great stream which we call the Hudson or North
river. Satisfied with what they had seen, they (or some of them), after a long absence
returned to their nation and reported the discoveries they had made. They described
the country they had discovered as abounding in game and various kinds of fruits, and
the rivers and bays with fish, tortoise, etc, together with abundance of water fowl, and
no enemy to be dreaded. They consMered the event as a fortunate one for them, and
concluding this to be the country destined for them by the Great Spirit, they began to
emigrate thither, as yet but in small bodies, so as not to be straitened for provisions by
the way, some even laying in for a whole year ; at last they settled on four great rivers
(which we call the Delaware, Hudson, Susquehannah and Potomack), making the
Delaware, to which they gave the name Lenape wihittuck (the river or stream of the
Lenape) the center of their possessions.

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Again some words of explanation : Scheyichbi is Sha-ak-bee, as David
Brainerd states; the German missionaries pronounced it Sche-jach-bi,
with a long in the first syllable. The Great Bay river was the Susque-
hanna, and the "Great Swamps" are taken to imply the glades of the
Allegheny mountains ; however, on old maps some of these are marked,
notably the "Buffalo Swamp" on Lewis Evans' map of 1755 with How-
ell's additions of 1776, and there can be cited also the "Great Swamp"
on the east branch of the Susquehanna shown on Charles Thomson's
map of 1759.

One may smile at the idea of the Mengwe hanging back and permit-
ting the Delawares to do the fighting. The Delawares' later history in
connection with the Mengwe being bitter in the extreme, ft could not
be expected that Delaware traditions would extol their ancient enemies
to any extent whatever. Heckewelder's account concludes :

They (the Lenape) say that the whole of their nation did not reach this country;
that many remained behind in order to aid that great body of their people which had
not crossed the Nameesi Sipu, but had retreated into the interior of the country on the
other side on being informed of the reception which those who had crossed had met,
and probably thinking that they had all been killed by the enemy.

Their nation finally became divided into three separate bodies; the larger body,
which they suppose to have been one-half of the whole, was settled on the Atlantic,
and the other half was again divided into two parts, one of which, the strongest, as they
suppose, remained beyond the Mississippi, and the remainder where they left them, on
this side of the river.

Heckewelder labored long and earnestly among the Delawares, and it
has been remarked of him that he saw everything with Delaware eyes.
He has undoubtedly given us the Delaware legends and traditions as
they were recited to him. Heckewelder was well known on the border,
and made frequent visits to Pittsburgh, on one of which (1789) he offi-
ciated at the funeral services of his friend, Thomas Hutchins, the geog-
rapher. Some writers are disposed to the opinion that the Talligewi of
Heckewelder's story were the Cherokees.

To give proper understanding to the story of the occupants of the
soil of Pennsylvania when the whites drove them out, some other notices
are supplemented, and some comparison should be made between Algon-
quin life and habits and those of the Iroquois. First we may note Dr.
Brinton's account of the Lenape as he has recorded it in its proper place
in his history of the Algonquin nations. He says: "The Lenapes were
an interesting tribe who occupied the valley of the Delaware river and
the area of the present State of New Jersey. "^ For some not very clear
reason they were looked upon by the other members of the stock as of
the most direct lineage, and were referred to as 'grandfather.' Their
dialect, which has been preserved by the Moravian missionaries, is har-
monious in sound, but has varied markedly from the purity of the Cree.*'

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The Crees were once one of the largest and most important of the
Algonquin nations, their country in the present States of the Dakotas
and the Canadian provinces adjoining. The Moravians who preserved
the Lenape dialect were mainly Heckewelder and Zeisberger, both mis-
sionaries. Major Ebenezer Denny in his Journal (Appendix II) has
inserted two vocabularies. Dr. Brinton remarks:*

The totemic system prevailed among the Algonquin tribes, with descent in the
female line, but we do not find among them the same communal life as among the
Iroquois. Only rarely do we encounter the "long house" occupied by a number of
kindred families. Among the Lenapes, for example, this was entirely unknown, each
married couple having its own residence. The gens was governed by a chief who was
in some cases selected by the other gentes. The tribe had as a permanent ruler a
"peace chief/' selected from a particular gens, also by the heads of the other gentes.
His authority was not absolute, and, as usual, did not extend to any matter concerning
the particular interests of any one gens. When war broke out, the peace chief had
no concern in it, the campaign being placed in charge of a "war chief" who had acquired
a right to the position by his prominent prowess and skill.

While the Mohegans built large communal houses, the Lenapes and most of the
eastern Algonquins constructed small wattled huts with rounded tops thatched with
the leaves of the Indian com, or with sweet flags. These were built in groups and
surrounded with palisades of stakes driven into the ground. In summer, light brush
tents took the place of these. Agriculture was by no means neglected. The early
explorers frequently refer to large fields of maize, squash and tobacco, under cultiva-
tion by the natives. The manufacture of pottery was widespread, although it was
heavy and coarse. Mats woven of bark and rushes, deerskin dressed with skill, feather
garments and utensils of wood and stone, are mentioned by the early voyagers. Copper
was dug from veins in New Jersey and elsewhere, and hammered into ornaments,
arrowheads, knives and chisels. It was, however, treated as a stone, and the process of
smelting it was unknown. The arrow and spear heads were preferably of quartz,
jasper and chert, while the stone axes were diorite — ^hard sandstone, and similar tough
and close grained materials. An extensive commerce in these and similar articles was
carried on.

How extended this commerce was, can be judged from the fact that
black slate from Vancouver Island was found among the Lenapes of
the Pennsylvania region. From the localities about Pittsburgh inhabited
by the Delawares, many relics have been found, notably in the Beaver
and Sewickley valleys, some of which undoubtedly were left by that
tribe. The Delawares hereabout were found living in towns, and many
of these town sites have been preserved, as the sites readily suggestive
of advantageous locations were built upon by the white settlers, and in
some cases the Indian name has been retained, the most notable of which
class is Kittaning. These Delaware towns will receive mention as this
history proceeds, for many things happened in them. In and about
Pittsburgh there were several which were visited by Washington, and
their names have gone into our national history as well as our local.
Instances are Shingiss, referred to as Shingoestown ; Shannopin's and

4"The American Race," p. 76.

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When the Lenape were first known to the whites, they were divided
into three sub-tribes or gentes, which correspond to the subdivisions of
the Iroquois nations. Each Lenape tribe had its totemic symbol. These
sub-tribes were the Munsi or Minsi, "people of the stony country ;" the
Unami, "people down the river ;" and the Unalachtigo, "people living near
the sea." The Minsi lived in the mountain country extending from the
Lehigh river northward into New York and New Jersey. The habitat
of the Unami has been regarded as extending along the lower Delaware
from the Lehigh down to the Delaware State line. The Unalachtigo
occupied the lands on the east shore of the Delaware, and were also
found along the lower Potomac and in the Chesapeake Bay country. It
was with this sub-tribe and the Unami that William Penn treated in
1682. It is hard to designate how far each sub-tribe roamed or claimed
domain. The Minsi, sometimes called the Minnisinks, spread over much
of New Jersey. The Unami had an uncertain hold beyond the Schuylkill.
These sub-divisions of the Lenape became better known in their later
history by the names of their totems — the Minsi, the "wolves ;" Unamis,
the turkey tribe; and the third, the turtles. Charles Thomson refers
to the Minsi as the Minnisinks in his book. The French called all the
Delawares "Loups," their word for wolves, and this designation is always
that used by French writers and on French maps of the Ohio region.
Some English writers prefer the term "Munsies" to Minsi, and this word
has been retained in a Pennsylvania town, with the spelling changed to
Muncy. The generic name is found spelled also "Monseys" and "Mon-

These totemic symbols were appropriate, for the mountain people
had the wolf, the central people the turtle; and the Bay dwellers the
turkey. However, in the Indian mysticism the greatest dignity was
ascribed to the turtle, for they held that the great tortoise was the first
of all created beings, and held the earth upon its back. Thus by their
totem the Unami held precedence, and in time of peace their sachem
or chief, wearing a diamond-marked wampum belt, was the chief of all
the Lenape. There is much evidence that the Minsi were the most
vigorous and warlike of the Lenape, and the largest subdivision. They
were nearest to the Hudson and the country of the Iroquois, and on that
river joined hands with their Algonquian cousins, the Mohegans, and
with them once guarded against the approach of their Iroquois enemies.
It is one of the important facts of our Indian history that the Iroquois,
by accident of contact with the earliest whites, the French and the Dutch,
in consequence were first in possession of firearms, and with these ad-
vanced weapons easily prevailed over the tribes armed only with the
primitive weapons of their ancestors. In the chapter on the Iroquois
(ante) it has been related how this Confederacy started on a career of

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conquest which was not halted until the American Revolution, and
which influenced for two centuries not only the history of New York
but the whole nation. This history in its relation to Western Pennsyl-
vania is given in part in Chapter VI, and as the Lenape, or, as English
history designates them, the Delawares, made much of it, it seems most
logical to describe these Indians and tell of their tribal and family lives,
and in so doing accord some mention of their political system. Their
coming and their going were among the most momentous facts of the
history of Western Pennsylvania. The commemorative names they have
left us, geographical and otherwise, serve to keep them in mind in all
the region about Pittsburgh, whence they came most unwillingly. Not
alone Delaware names serve to remind, but historic names also of con-
temporary persons of the French regime and colonial periods.

Lenape is the proper name for the Delaware Indians. It was not
introduced by Heckewelder, as charged by some writers, for long before
that worthy missionary and historian of the Indians reached manhood,
the term Lenape was in use in official documents of Pennsylvania as the
synonym in their native tongue for the Delawares. The word is pro-
nounced by giving a the long sound as in father, and e the sound of a
in mate. Governor Gordon in a letter in 1728, speaks of ''Our Lenappys
or Delaware Indians." Various mention is made of these Indians in
Pennsylvania treaties; for instance, at the treaty of Easton in 1756,
Teedyuscung represented the "Lenopi" Indians, and Minutes of the
Council in Philadelphia in 1757, and in the Conference of Eleven Nations
living west of Allegheny, in the same city, in 1759, the Delawares are
included under the tribal name "Lenopy," and we have Schoolcraft's
"Lenno-Lenapi," or as Proud prints it, "Lene-lenoppes," and these are
but variations of the spelling used at Easton. The derivation of the word
Lenape has been discussed with great learning as well as the adjective
lenni which precedes it. The etymological researches of these writers
do not greatly concern us. We may accept the statements of Heckewel-
der, who lived among the Lenape for many years, that '*Lenapee** signi-
fies "people," and "lenni" "original, pure." The name Lenape has been
retained by the remnant of this ancient people in Kansas and Oklahoma.
However, in our history they are Delawares. Only ethnologists and
writers of Indian history carry the name Lenape throughout their works.
Yet the change of their ancient name finds contemporary changes, the
Ho-de-no-sau-nee a most notable instance. Heckewelder concludes the
introductory chapter of his book, "The Indian Nations who once Inhab-
ited Pennsylvania," by submitting a few necessary remarks for the
information of the reader, as follows :

Lenni Lenape being the national and proper name of the people we call ''Dela-
wares/' I have retanied this name, or for brevity's sake called them simply Lenape, as

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they do themselves m most instances. Their name signifies "original people/' a race of
human beings who are the same that they were in the beginning, unchanged and

These people are known and called by all the western, northern and some of the
southern nations, by the name Wapanachki, which the Europeans have corrupted into
Apenaki, Openagi, Abenaquis and Abenakis. All these names, however, differently

Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 13 of 81)