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History of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 online

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Pennsylvania, and their sad ending, forms a sorry chapter in the history
of the West, and it had far-reaching results. The names of their missions
have passed save perhaps Gnadenhuettan ("tents of g^ace"), and these
have become synonymous with "massacre." In the relation of any story
of the Pennsylvania Indians of our colonial period, partisan statements
must not be permitted to bias the story. That the Indians were greatly
wronged is no longer denied. That they were Indians in their worst
character is also admitted.

The Lenape, like their race, had remarkable self-control, exhibiting
great fortitude. They had wonderful endurance also, and spared no phy-
sical efforts to attain a desired object. They were not always treach-
erous, but remarkably loyal in friendship and faithful to their agree-
ments. Governor Pennypacker quotes Pastorius, who wrote of them in
1685, "They are entirely candid, keep to their promises, and deceive and
mislead nobody." They received Penn and his settlers kindly and with
little suspicion. In times of need, they furnished food which saved the
whites from destitution. Penn remarked their liberality, and said it was
a marked characteristic. This liberality was often attended by improvi-
dence, and as often the cause of it. Not enough food was laid up for
winter; to-morrow took care of itself; starvation stalked about the wig-
wams when the snows were deep, and the floods that came often pre-
vented hunting and made provisioning impossible. The intrepid Weiser
came near perishing on one of his missions to the Iroquois (a most vital
one) on account of this improvidence and the rigorous state of the
weather. Had he failed by reason of these physical difficulties, it is con-
ceded by historians that the authorities of Pennsylvania and of Virginia
in 1736 would have had trouble with the Iroquois.^^

The Indians without intoxicants were far different beings than when
the curse of rum blighted them. Though they were in times of plenty
extreme gluttons, it is a remarkable fact that they did not know how to
make alcoholic beverages. The simplest process of fermentation or dis-
tillation was not within their power. The narcotic tobacco was their
nearest approach to stimulants, but it cannot be said to be intoxicating.
The Dutch first gfave the red men drink; the Swedes and English who
followed, saw the advantages of the rum trade and were heedless of pro-
tests and consequences. They sowed to the wind and harvested accord-
ingly. Kalm, the Swedish botanist and traveler, writing in 1749, said of
the Lenape of New Jersey that while smallpox had destroyed many,

6"Conrad Weiser and the Indian Policy of Colonial Pennsylvania;" Joseph S.
Walton; p. 34.



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io6 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

brandy had killed the most of them. Penn as early as 1683 was
astounded at the injury done.^ The Indians he knew (and these were
the Lenape) had become great lovers of strong drink, he said, and to sat-
isfy their cravings for it, gave the richest of their skins and furs. One
of the most wretched spectacles in the world to Penn was an Indian
orgy. It remained a wretched spectacle in Pennsylvania to the end of
Indian history in the State. The "fire-water" of the white man brought
upon them every misery incident to human beings, stripped them of their
self-command and their judgment, and in the end their lands and homes.
How much white blood, largely that of the innocent and helpless, was
shed by rum-crazed warriors, can never be estimated by any human
standard.

Such as has been written here describes the Indians of Pennsylvania
at the beginning of our State's history. It is mainly of the Lenape, with
Penn and Heckewelder contributing their knowledge and observations.
Previous to Penn's coming, we have but slight knowledge of Pennsyl-
vania Indians. A few names spelled in many ways and mostly unpro-
nounceable; some traditions and many disputed conclusions — ^that is
the sum.

When the Lenape and their allies and congeners, the Shawanese,
came into the Ohio country, the Indian history changed. Where pre-
viously it had been sparse, it became voluminous. It was not only vast
but varied. The Indians remained a half century, which was a half cen-
tury of bloodshed, and in this history the once placid and tractable Len-
ape occupy many crimson pages. The traders who brought rum and
ruin, powder and lead, trinkets and gewgaws, blankets and beads, figure
all too largely in this history, and these, too, felt the murderous arm of
the Delawares, the Shawanese, and the Western Algonquins, when Pon-
tiac gave the word. What Goodrich has written of the North American
Indians is as true of the Lenape as of any other nation. He says :

The Indian tribes were not only without written law, but without a formal code
expressed in language. Liberty was the great passion of the savage, and there was
nothing he hated so much as restraint. Whatever government there was, was that of
usage and opinion. There was no commerce, no coin, no promissory notes, no persons
employed for wages, and no contracts. Exchanges were the reciprocity of gifts.
Prisons, lawyers and sheriffs were unknown. Each man was therefore his own prose-
cutor. In case of death by violence, it was deemed the duty of the kindred to sedc
retaliation. They would go a thousand miles for the purpose of revenge, regardless of
terrain and weather, heedless of dangers from wild beasts and venomous serpents. This
necessity of retaliation often involved families and even whole tribes in strife for k>ng
periods.

The chief had no symbols of supremacy, and no guard to enforce his decrees.
His power depended on his personal character, and his authority existed only in the
current of opinion around him. Some chiefs seemed to rule with despotic sway, while
others possessed but nominal authority. No measures were ever undertaken but with



^Travels into North America, etc;" Sec Ed., VoL I, pp. 383, 384.



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THE LENNI-LENAPE, ALIAS THE DELAWARES 107

the assent of the people. They held frequent councils for deliberation, in which the
eloquent and brave acquired an ascendancy. They delighted in thus assemblying and
listening to messengers from abroad. At the council they were seated in semicircle on
the ground, in double and triple rows, with knees almost meeting their face - painted
and tatooed chiefs adorned with the beaks of the red-bird, daws of bear, or other dis-
tinguishing regalia. Each listener, with pipe in mouth, preserving deep silence — they
would give respectful attention to the speaker, who with great action and energy of
language delivered his message, and if his eloquence pleased, they esteemed him
highly. Decorum was never broken; there were never two speakers struggling 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.8

In the journals of the many Indian treaties that affected our Pennsyl-
vania history, especially those at Fort Pitt, many extracts having been
inserted by Isaac Daniel Rupp in his history,* there will appear ample
evidence of the decorous proceedings of these affairs. In fact, all Indian
ceremonies were dignified. Washington, who knew the Indians well,
attests he was an unwilling participant at two, for in his Journal to the
Kanawha from Pittsburgh in October, 1770, in telling of his meeting
with Guyasutha, one of his attendants on his mission to the French forts
in 1753, he records : "After much counseling over night, they all came to
my fire the next morning with great formality, when Kiyashuta, relating
what had passed between me and the sachems at Col. Croghan's, thanked
me for saying that peace and friendship with them was the wish of the
people of Virginia, and for recommending it to the traders to deal with
them upon a fair and equitable footing, and then again expressed their
desire of having a trade opened with Virginia, etc." This Washington
promised to do. A few lines further on he recorded : "The tedious cere-
mony which the Indians observe in all their counsellings and speeches
detained us till nine o'clock." This was on October 29th. On November
6th, having come to Guyasutha's hunting camp, which had been removed
from its seat of the previous date, Washington made a similar entry:
"By the kiodness and idle ceremony of the Indians I was detained at
Kiashuta's camp all the remaining part of the day."

The chief was referring to the pow-wow Washington had attended
on October 19th at the White Mingo's on the north side of the Allegheny,
nearly opposite Croghan's mansion on the Pittsburgh side of the river,
at what is now McCandless avenue. Washington's spelling of the chiefs
name is to be noted ; in fact, his two spellings. In Pittsburgh history the
chief's name is accepted as Guyasutha. On the embassy in 1753 he is



• Manners ana ^..usioms, eic; p. 231, ei seq,

<^**£arly History of Western Pennsylvania and the West, and of the Western Expe-
ditions and Camnugns, by a Gentleman of the Bar, with an Appendix containing
besides Copious Extracts from Important Indian Treaties, Minutes of Conferences,
Journals, etc, a Topographical Description of the Counties of Allegheny, Westmore-
land. Washington, Scnnerset, etc Illustrated by Several Drawings;" Pittsburgh, Pa.;
Daniel W. KaufFman, i&4^



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io8 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

referred to as "the Hunter." The White Mingo was a Seneca also.
There was no variation tolerated from the time-honored ceremonies of
the Indians — no haste, no levity, no applause, while speaking, no lack of
attention. They were always serious affairs, and most frequently mo-
mentous, as will become evident Croghan's conferences with the West-
em tribes at Fort Pitt from February to May, 1765, and that of April,
1768, were especially important, at all of which Guyasutha was present
and a leading speaker.

Moral and mental character of the Delawares was estimated differ-
ently, even by those who had the best opportunities of judging. The
missionaries were severe upon them. Brainerd said they were unspeak-
ably indolent and slothful, with little or no ambition or resolution, not
one in a thousand with the spirit of a man. Zeisberger was no more fav-
orable. He spoke of their alleged bravery with the utmost contempt,
and morally as "the most ordinary and vilest of savages/' Other compe-
tent authorities speak more cheerfully, and from observation also, Hecke-
welder, of course, who said there were not in his belief any people on
earth who were more attached to their relatives and offspring than the
Delawares. These Indians soon learned the Quakers were non-com-
batants, and spared them, and for forty years after the founding of Penn's
Colony there was not a single murder committed on a settler. The mis-
sionaries probably judged them by the Christian ideal, from which many
not Indians fall wofuUy short, remarks Dr. Brinton. The Quakers never
suffered personal molestation from the Delawares. Even after embit-
tered and corrupted by the knavery of the whites, for example in the
notorious "Long Walk" and the debasing influence of alcohol, so good an
authority as Gen. William Henry Harrison, from a long and intimate
knowledge of them, in peace and war, as enemies and friends, attested
that they had left upon his mind the most favorable impression of their
character for bravery, generosity, and fidelity to their engagements, nor
were they deficient intellectually. Even Brainerd, who begsm his labors
in 1742, acknowledged the Delaware children learned with surprising
readiness. Zeisberger, who died in 1808, after sixty-two years of mis-
sionary work, left barely a score of converted Indians clustered in huts
around his little chapel. He had lived to see the Lenape a mere broken
remnant, "steeped in all the abominations of heathenism, eke out their
existence far away from the former council fires."^^

In treating of the Delawares in this work, in some degree there has
been followed the outline of Mr. Jenkins in his first chapter of Volume I,
"Pennsylvania, Colonial and Federal." It may be observed by students
of Pennsylvania history that the account there has been adapted from



lo^Lenape and Their Legends;" D. G. Brinton; pp. 62, 63. "Ufe of Zeisberger^"
E. De Schweiniu; p. 674.



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THE LENNI-LENAPE, ALIAS THE DELA WARES 109

Dr. Brinton's work, "The Lenape and Their Legends" (1885). Brinton
in his researches has covered much ground, for he has examined every-
thing extant on the subject. He has told also the story of the Lenape
as women, and that of the "Long Walk," and detailed the historic migra-
tions of the Lenape. Both Brinton and Jenkins have relied greatly on
Heckewelder. The part these Indians took in the French and Indian
War, the American Revolution and the later wars, is proper Pittsburgh
history, for many events in all these wars occurred in and about Pitts-
burgh.^^



iiTo the list of authorities here cited, there should be added Robert Proud,
quoted ante, in whose second volume of Pennsylvania History much interesting matter
is to be found, especially in Part III, "The State of Pennsylvania Between the Years
1760-1770," and in pages 292 et seq. therein. It may be said that most of our Pennsyl-
vania historians have had recourse to Proud in theu* researches into our State's Indian
historv. The authority for certain statements in this chapter must be accorded to
Proud, though not taken from him at first hand



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CHAPTER VI.
The Migrations of the Delawares and the Shawanese.

The power of the Six Nations over the Algonquin stock in Pennsyl-
vania is the principal theme of this chapter, merging into the causes
and consequences of the alienation of the Delawares and the Shawanese
from the English interests; these causes rightly told by Charles Thom-
son, an Irishman, once master of a Quaker school in Philadelphia (the
Old Academy), and best known in our national history as having been
secretary of the Continental Congresses, and especially for serving in
that capacity during the memorable session of 1776. Thomson's book
will be quoted from further on in this chapter.

The first traders that came to the region about Pittsburgh found the
savages on the Ohio living in the shadow of a tyrannical Confederacy —
the League of the Iroquois. We have seen how these warriors in their
wonderful career of conquest left their footprints on the banks of the
Ohio and Mississippi, and whose war cries rang from the St. Lawrence
to the Carolinas. One instance of the prowess of the Six Nations lies
in the historical fact that they drove into the country about the Forks
of the Ohio the deluded (?) Delawares and the equally submissive
Shawanese. It is always to be remembered that the coming of these
tribes was not voluntary. Back of it lies a long story of wrong. The
Delawares have been described in detail; an account of the Shawanese
must also be g^ven. With the passing of the Indian nations or their
adoption of civilized life, the story of their savage life becomes more and
more interesting. The horrors of Indian warfare will be lightly glossed
or passed over, and facts of history presented that are distinctively
notable for the reason that the events to be recorded were far-reaching
in effects on our embryo nation and the province of Pennsylvania. It
is not a pleasant story. On the contrary, it is harrowing, and in its
perusal there may arise pangs of regret — to say the least, a few sighs
for the shortsighted and at times criminal Indian policy of Penn's colony.

From the days of Penn and Shackamaxon and its treaty tree, the
trail of the Delawares lay to the West. Their traditions say they came
from the West. We are to bear in mind here, Heckewelder's story of
their migration East.

The land-hungry Penns, no less so than others of the times, induced
the first step in the various migrations of the I>elawares, and in this
initial step they took with them their English designation henceforth to
be their historical name. Their condition was pathetic. Parkman tells
it well : "When William Penn came to them in the placidity of his sect,
he extended a hand of brotherhood to a people unwarlike as his own



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MIGRATIONS OF THE DELAWARES AND SH AWANESE 1 1 1

pacific followers. This state could not be ascribed to any inborn love of
peace. The Lenape were then in a state of degrading vassalage to the
Five Nations, who, that they might drain to the dregs the cup of humilia-
tion, had forced them to assume the name women, and forego the use
of arms."

Their masters, the Iroquois, soon found that land had a money value
and that the white man wanted it. Like true politicians, they said hence-
forth the Penns must deal with them. The Shawanese and Delawares
were nobodies, women without power to alienate lands, without power
to do anything but what they were told. They were vassals who ought
daily to thank the Great Spirit that their imperious and imperial masters
had not utterly destroyed them as they had the Eries, the Andastes, and
other tribes, leaving scarcely a memory.

So the Iroquois sent their vice-gerents to dwell among these vassals.
Some of these overlords have left their impress on Pennsylvania history,
notably Shikellimy the Oneida at old Shamokin, now Sunbury, and
Scarrooyada, also called Monacatoocha, an Oneida also, at Logstown
on the Ohio. These vice-gerents ruled at times with all the regal hauteur
of a born king. At others they were tactful and conciliatory; always
dignified and forceful, they were Iroquois.

That the Iroquois masters well knew the value of all land, and espec-
ially the coveted Delaware Indian land in Pennsylvania, is attested by
this paragraph in one of Cannassatego's speeches in the famous confer-
ence in Philadelphia : "We know our lands are now become more valu-
able. The white people think we do not know their value, but we are
sensible that the land is everlasting, and the few goods we receive for
it are soon worn out and gone. For the future, we will sell no lands, but
when Brother Onas is in the country, and we will know beforehand the
quantity of goods we are to receive."^

Cannassatego told the Delawares at that conference, in coarse lan-
guage, where the proceeds of the land they had sold the Penns had g^ne ;
in short, the gluttonous Lenape had spent it in feasting. They had
eaten, drank and made merry, and they were poor again.

The Delawares and Shawanese were alienated not alone from their
lands, but in another sense from their former friends, the English. Emi-
grants from these tribes came over the Endless Mountains (as they
called the Alleghenies) from the Susquehanna during the years 1727-
1732. Conrad Weiser, Christopher Gist and Christian Frederick Post
found them at Logstown. Celoron followed also and attempted French
domination. It came later in another way — mutual alliance against the
English.

With the retreating Lenape and their allies, the Shawanese, there



i"Pcnna. Colonial Records," Vol. IV, p. 570.



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112 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

came more largely to this region the Senecas, the most westward dwellers
of the Iroquois in New York, and with the easiest route to the Ohic
country, down the upper branches of that river by canoes. Hence the
predominance of the Senecas here and the breaking away of part of the
tribe from the New York portion and settling upon the Ohio river and
driven further West, becoming as bitter foes to the English as the
Ottawas, Wyandots, Miamis or any of the Western tribes. Hence also,
the name Seneca applied to a county in Ohio, and Mingo to one in West
Virginia.

Weiser, treating in 1748 with the deputies of all the ''nations of
Indians settled on the waters of the Ohio," desired them to give him a
list of their fighting men. This they did, computing them by little sticks
tied up in bundles. Weiser counted these and found the Senecas, Shaw-
anese and Delawares about tied in force with 163, 162 and 165, respec-
tively. The Owendats, as he calls the Wyandots, numbered 100, the
Mohawks 74, the Onondagas 35, the Cayugas 20, the Oneidas 15, the
Mohicans 15 and the Tisagechroan (Mississagas) 40. Here were rep-
resented 10 tribes, the Six Nations numbering 307, the other tribes 482,
in all 789. Indeed so many Indians collected in the town that provisions
ran short and many had to leave.

With the preponderance of numbers, one may ask, why did not the
other tribes throw off the Iroquois yoke? In time they did, but the dread
of Iroquois vengeance was then supreme.

With their removal to the Ohio, the Lenape, once first in importance
among the widely distributed Algonquins, the parent stem in fact, lost
their ancestral claim, and in the councils their benign title grandfathers
gave way to the collateral one, nephews, more frequently cousins. No
longer could the Lenape call the other Algonquins grandchildren, neph-
ews or younger brothers. The Lenape were women. The Iroquois yoke
was on them, and these were now the "uncles'* of the Lenape. Even the
Wyandots, also subservient to the Iroquois, were quick to lord over the
degraded Lenape.

The subjugation of this people has been given prominence by all
historians of our region, and Neville B. Craig, bom in the Bouquet block
house, in 1787, living in the embyro city of Pittsburgh before the last
of these tribes departed, well acquainted with the Seneca, Guyasutha, has
thought it proper history to tell of the relations of the Six Nations and
the Delawares and Shawanese, and Charles A. Hanna has followed much
in detail. Though in advance of the fuller details of this phase of Dela-
ware history (Chapter VII), let us read Craig on this subject, confirmed
by Parkman, whose "Conspiracy of Pontiac'* was contemporaneous with
Craig's "History of Pittsburgh," 1851. Craig is certainly in error as to
the date of subjugation, but it was evidently previous to Penn's landing.
Craig says :



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MIGRATIONS OF THE DELAWARES AND SHAWANESE 113

The Delawares, another nation occupying this regfion, were once the formidable
enemies of the Iroquois, but about 200 years ago their condition was greatly altered.
The mediators among the Indians are the women. It is deemed disgraceful for a
warrior to speak of peace while war exists.

About 1617 the Iroquois had by their own account conquered the Delawares and
forced them to put on petticoats and assume the character of women. The Delawares
admit the fact of the assumption of this new character, but say the Iroquois accom-
plished their purpose by artifice, by persuading them that it would be magnanimous for
a great and heroic nation like the Delawares to assume the character of a mediator.

The ceremony of the metamorphosis was celebrated with great pomp at Albany
in the presence of the Dutch, whom the Delawares accused of conspiring with their
enemies, the Mengwe, to degrade them.

Mengwe was the Algonquin name for the Six Nations.

The cause of the Delawares and their explanation of this strange occurrence is
zealously advocated by Heckewelder, but that view of the matter seems far from satis-
factory. The Iroquois on several subsequent occasions assumed that dictatorial or
authoritative tone toward the Delawares which might be expected from a conqueror
and not from a treacherous deceiver. The submissiveness of the Delawares under such
treatment seems rather to resemble the timidity of the conquered than the fierce resent-
ment of a deceived people.^

Craig proceeds to tell of the dispute arising out of what is called the
walking purchase of the lands in the forks of the Delaware.

This occurred in 1737, and was a clear case of fraud on the Indians,
and in the end most disastrous to Penn's colony. The odium of the sharp
practice involved has been placed upon Thomas Penn, one of the three
sons of William Penn, and the most active of them, who came to Penn-
sylvania in 1732.

While the land granted by the virtuous Thomas Penn is far removed
from the territory of Pittsburgh and its environs, the facts of history
arising out of the transaction are so relevant to the history of Western
Pennsylvania and the West, that the details of the eviction of the resi-
dent tribes must be given much space. In the recital of the details, the
facts of the removal of the Delawares and their allies the Shawanese,
and their alienation from the English and their devotion to the French



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 15 of 81)