American Historical Society George Thornton Fleming.

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

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forces on the Ohio, and set out on the intended journey on the same day; the next, I
arrived at Fredericksburg, and engaged Mr. Jacob Vanbraam to be my French inter-
preter, and proceeded with him to Alexandria, where we provided necessaries. From
there we went to Winchester, and got baggage, horses, etc, and from thence we pur-
sued the new road to Will's Creek, where we arrived on the 14th of November.

Here I engaged Mr. Gist to pilot us out, and also hired four others as servitors,
Barnaby Currin and John McQuire, Indian traders; Henry Stewart, and William
Jenkins ; and in company with those persons left the inhabitants the next day.

The excessive rains and the vast quantity of snow, which had fallen, prevented our
reaching Mr. Frazier's, an Indian trader, at the mouth of Turtle Creek, on the Monon-
gahela river, until Thursday the 22d. We were informed here that expresses had been
sent a few days before to the traders down the river, to acquaint them with the French
general's death, and the return of the major part of the French army into winter

The waters were quite impassable without swimming our horses, which obliged us
to get a loan of a canoe from Frazier, and to send Barnaby Currin and Henry Stewart
down the Monongahela, with our baggage, to meet us at the Fork of the Ohio, about
ten miles; there to cross the Allegheny.

As I got down before the canoe, I spent some time in viewing the rivers, and the
land in the Fork, which I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has the abso-
lute command of both rivers. The land at the point is twenty or twenty-five feet above
the common surface of the water; and a considerable bottom of fiat, well-timbered
land all around it, very convenient for building. The rivers are each a quarter of a
mile or more across, and run here very nearly at right angles ; Allegheny bearing north-
east; and Monongahela southeast. The former of these two is very rapid and swift
running water, the other deep and still, without any perceptible fall.

About two miles from this, on the southeast side of the river, at the place where the
Ohio Company intended to erect a fort, lives Shingiss, King of the Delawares. Wc
called upon him, to invite him to the council at the Logstown.

^''Montcalm and Wolfe;" Parkman, Vol. I, pp. 136-137. Quoted by John Finley in
his recent work, •'The French in the Heart of America;" p. 13.

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Washington at the age ot twenty-three

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As I had taken a good deal of notice yesterday of the situation at the Fork, my
curiosity led me to examine this more particularly, and I think it greatly inferior,
either for defence or advantages ; especially the latter. For a fort at the Fork would
be equally well situated on the Ohio, and have the entire command of the Monongahela,
which runs up our settlement, and is extremely well designed for water-carriage, as
it is of a deep, still nature. Besides, a fort at the Fork might be built at much less
expense than at the other places.

Nature has well contrived this lower {^ace for water defence ; but the hill whereon
it must stand being a quarter of a mile in length, and then descending gradually on the
land side, will render it difficult and very expensive to make a sufficient fortification
there. The whole flat upon the hill must be taken in, the side next the descent made
extremely high, or else the hill itself cut away; otherwise the enemy may raise bat-
teries that distance without being exposed to a single shot from the fort

Shingiss attended us to Logstown, where we arrived between sun-setting and dark»
the twenty-fifth day after I left Williamsburg. Wc traveled over some extremely good
and bad land to get to this place.

As soon as I came into town, I went to Monacatoocha (as the Half -King was out
at his hunting cabin on Little Beaver creek, about fifteen miles off), and informed him
by John Davidson, my Indian interpreter, that I was sent a messenger to the French
general ; and was ordered to call upon the Sachems of the Six Nations to acquaint them
with it I gave him a string of wampum and a twist of tobacco, and desired him to send
for the Half-King, which he promised to do by a runner in the morning, and for
other sachems. I invited him and other great men present to my tent, where they
stayed about an hour and returned.

According to the best observations I could make, Mr. Gist's new settlement bears
about west northwest seventy miles from Will's creek ; Shannopxns, or the Fork, north
by west, or north northwest, about fifty miles from that ; and from thence to the Logs-
town, the course is nearly about eighteen or twenty miles; so that the whole dis-
tance, as we went and computed it is at least one hundred and thirty-five miles or one
hundred and forty miles from our back inhabitants.

25th — Came to town four of ten Frenchmen, who had deserted from a company at
the Kuskuskas, whidi lies at the mouth of this river. I got the following account from
them. They were sent from New Orleans with a hundred men and eight canoe-loads
of provisions to this place, where they expected to have met the same number of men,
from the forts on this side of Lake Erie, to convoy them and their stores up, who were
not arrived when they ran off.

About three o'clock this evening the Half -King came to town. I went up and
invited him with Davidson, privately to my tent, and desired him to relate some of the
particulars of his journey to the French commandment, and of his reception there;
also, to give me an account of the ways and distance. He told me, that the nearest
and levelest way was now impassable, by reason of many large, miry savannas; that
we must be obliged to go by Venango, and should not get to the near fort in less than
five or six nights' sleep, good traveling. When he went to the fort, he said he was
received in a very stem manner by the late commander, who asked him very abruptly
what he had come about, and to declare his business, which he said he did in the follow-
ing speech :

Fathers, I am come to tell you your own speeches, what your own mouths have
declared. Fathers, you, in former days set a silver basin before us, wherein there was
the leg of a beaver, and desired all' the nations to come and eat it, to eat in peace and
plenty, and not to be churlish to one another; and that if anv person should be found
to be a disturber, I here lay down by the edge of the dish a rod, which you must scourge
them with; and if your father should get foolish, in my old days, I desire you may use
it upon me as well as the -others.

Now, fathers, it^ is you who are the disturbers in this land, by coming and building
your towns, and taking it away unknown to us, and 1^ force.

Fathers, we kindled a fire long ago, at a place csdled Montreal, where we desired
you to stay, and not to come and intrude upon our land. I now desire you may dis-
patch to that place; for be it known to you, fathers, that this is our land and not yours.

Fathers, I desire you may hear me in civilness ; if not we must handle that rod
which has laid down for the use of the obstreperous. If you had come in a peaceable

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manner like our brothers the English, we would not have been against your trading
with us as they do ; but to come, fathers, and build houses upon our land and to take it
by force, is what we cannot submit to.

Fathers, both you and the English are white, we live in a country between ; there-
fore, the land belongs to neither one nor the other. But the Great Being above allowed
it to be a place of residence for us; so, fathers, I desire you to withdraw, as I have
done our brothers the English ; for I will keep you at arm's length. I lay this down as
a trial for both, to see which will have the greatest regard to it, and that side we will
stand by, and make equal sharers with us. Our brothers, the English have heard this,
and I come not to tell it to you ; for I am not afraid to discharge you off this land.

This he said was the substance of what he spoke to the general, who made this
reply ["the general": M. Marin, late commandant] :

Now, my child, I have heard your speech; you spoke first, but it is my time to
speak now. Where is my wampum that you took away, with the marks of towns on it?
This wampum I do not know, which you have discharged me off the land with; but
you need not put yourself to the trouble of speaking, for I will not hear you. I am
not afraid of flies or mosquitoes, for Indians are such as those; I tell you down the
river I will go, and build upon it, according to my command. If the river has been
blodced up, I have forces sufficient to burst it open, and tread under my feet all that
stand in opposition, together with their alliances ; for my force is as the sand upon sea-
shore; therefore here is your wampum; I sling it at you. Child, you talk foolish;
you say this land belongs to you, but there is not the black of my nail yours. I saw
the land sooner than you did, before the Shannoahs and you were at war ; Lead was the
man who went down and took possession of that river. It is my land, and I will have
it, let who will stand up for, or say against it I will buy and sell with the English,
(mockingly) If the people will be ruled by me, they expect kindness, but not else.

The Half-King told me he had inquired of the general after two Englishmen, who
were made prisoners, and received this answer : "Child, you think it a very great hard-
ship that I made prisoners of those two people at Venango. Don't you concern yourself
with it; we took them to Canada, to get intelligence of what the English were doing
in Virginia."

He informed me that they had built two forts, one on Lake Erie, and another on
French creek, near a small lake, about fifteen miles asunder, and a large wagon-road
between. They are both built after the same model, but different in size; that on tht
lake the largest. He gave me a plan of them of his drawing.

The Indians inquired very particularly after their brothers in Carolina gaol.

They also asked what sort of a boy it was, who was taken from the South Branch;
for they were told by some Indians, that a party of French Indians had carried a
white boy by Kuskuska Town, towards the lakes.

26th — We met in council at the long-house about nine o'clock, where I spoke to them
as follows:

Brothers, I have called you together in council, by order of your brother the Gov-
ernor of Virginia, to acquaint you, that I am sent with all possible dispatch to visit and
deliver a letter to the French commandant, of very great importance to your brothers,
the English ; and I dare say to you, their friends and allies.

I was desired, brothers, by your brother, the Governor, to call upon you, the
sachems of the nations, to inform you of it, and to ask your advice and assistance to
proceed the nearest and best road to the French. You see, brothers, I have gotten thus
far on my journey.

His honor likewise desired me to apply to you for some of your young men to
conduct and provide provisions for us on our way, and be a safeguard against those
French Indians, who have taken up the hatchet against us. I have spoken thus particu-
larly to you, brothers, because, his Honor our Governor, treats you as good friends
and allies, and holds you in great esteem. To confirm what I have said, I give you this
string of wampum.

After they had considered for some time on the above discourse, the Half-King
got up and spoke:

Now, my brother, in regard to what my brother the Governor had desired of, I
return this answer.

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I rely upon yoa as a brother ought to do, as you say we are brothers, and one people.
We shall put heart in hand and speak to our fadiers, in French, concerning the speech
you made to me ; and you may depend that we will endeavor to be your guard.

Brothers, as you have asked my advice, I hope you will be ruled by it and stay until
I can provide a company to go with you. The French speech-belt is not here; I have
to go for it to my hunting-cabin. Likewise, the people I have ordered in are not yet
come, and cannot until the third night from this; until this time, brother, I must beg
you to stay.

I intend to send the guard of Mingoes, Shannoahs, and Delawares, that our broth-
ers may see the love and loyalty we bear them.

As I had orders to make all possible dispatch, and waiting here was very contrary
to my inclination, I thanked him in the most suitable manner I could, and told him that
my business required the greatest expedition, and would not admit of that delay. He
was not well pleased that I should offer to go before the time he had appointed, and told
me, that he he could not consent to our going without a guard, for fear some accident
should befall us, and draw a reflection upon him. Besides, said he, this is a matter of
no small moment, and must not be entered into without due consideration; for I
intend to deliver up the French speech-belt, and make the Shannoahs and Delawares
do the same. And according he gave orders to King Shingiss, who was present, to
attend on Wednesday, with the wampum; and two men of their nation to be in readi-
ness to set out with us the next morning. As I found it was impossible to get off
without affronting them in the most egregious manner, I consented to stay.

I gave them back a string of wampum, which I met with at Mr. Frazier's, and
which they sent with a speech to his Honor the Governor, to inform him, that three
nations of French Indians, namely, Chippewas, Ottowas, and Orundaks, had taken up
the hatchet against the English; and desired them to repeat it over again. But this
they postponed doing until they met In full council with the Shannoah and Delaware

27th — Runners were dispatched very early for the Shannoah chiefs. The Half-
King set out himself to fetch the French speech-belt from his hunting-cabin.

28th — He returned this evening and came with Monacatoocha, and two other
sachems to my tent ; and begged (as they had complied with his Honor the Governor's
request, in providing men, etc.), to know on what business we were going to the
French. This was a question I had all along expected, and had provided as satisfactory
answers as I could; which allayed their curiosity a little.

Monacatoocha informed me that an Indian from Venango brought news a few
days ago, that the French had called all the Mingoes, Delawares, etc., together at that
place ; and told them, that they intended to have been down the river, by this fall, but
the waters were growing cold, and the winter advancing, which obliged them to go into
quarters; but that they might assuredly expect them in the spring, with a far greater
number; and desired Uiat they might be quite passive, and not intermeddle unless they
had a mind to draw all their forces upon them; for that they expected to fight the
English three years (as they supposed there would be some attempts to stop them),
in which time they would conquer. But that if they should prove equally strong, they
and the English would join to cut them off, and divide the land between them; that
though they had lost their general, and some few of their soldiers, yet there were men
enough to reinforce them, and make them masters of the Ohio.

This speech, he said, was delivered to them by one (Captain Joncaire, their interpre-
ter in chief, living at Venango, and a man of note in the army.

29th — The Half-King and Monacatoocha came very early, and begged me to stay
one day more; for notwithstanding they had used all the diligence in their power, the
Shannoah chiefs had not brought the wampum they ordered, but would certainly be in
to-night; if not, they would delay me no longer, but would send it after us as soon as
they arrived. When I found them so pressing in the request, and knew that the return-
ing of the wampum was the abolishing of agreements, and giving this up was shaking
all dependence upon the French off, I consented to stay, as I believed an offence offered
at this crisis might be attended with greater ill consequence, than another day's delay.
They also informed me, that Shingiss could not get in his men, and was prevented from
coming himself by his wife's sickness (I believe by fear of the French), but that the
wampum was lodged with Kustalogo, one of the chiefs, at Venango.

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In the evening, late, they came again, and acquainted me that the Shannoahs were
not arrived, but that it should not retard prosecution of our journey. He delivered in
my hearing the speech that was made to the JP'rench by Jeskakake, one of their old
chiefs, which was giving up the belt the late commandant had asked for, and repeat-
ing nearly the same speech he himself had done before.

He also delivered a string of wampum to this chief, which was sent by King
Shingiss, to be given to Kustalogo, with orders to repair to the French, and deliver up
the wampum.

He likewise gave a very large string of black and white wampum, which was to
be sent up immediately to the Six Nations, the third and last time, and was the right
of this Jeskakake to deliver.

30th — ^Last night, the great men assembled at their council house, to consult fur-
ther about this journey, and who were to go; the result of which was, that only three
chiefs, with one of their hunters, should be our convoy. The reason they gave for
not sending more, after what had been proposed at council the 26th, was, that a greater
number might give the French suspicions of some bad design, and cause them to be
treated rudely; but I rather think they could not get their hunters in.

We set out about nine o'clock with the Half-King, Jeskaloke, White Thunder,
and the Hunter; and traveled on the road to Venango, where we arrived the 4th of
December, without anything remarkable happening but a continued series oif bad

This is an old Indian town, situated at the mouth of French creek, on the Ohio;
and lies near north about sixty miles from the Logstown, but more than seventy the way
we were obliged to go.

We found the French colors hoisted at a house from which they had driven Mr.
John Frazier, an English subject. I immediately repaired to it, to know where the
commander resided. There were three officers, one of whom. Captain Joncaire,
informed me that he had the command of the Ohio; but that there was a general
officer at the near fort, where he advised me to apply for an answer. He invited us up
to sup with them, and treated us with the greatest complaisance.

The wine, as they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon banished the
restraint which at Arst appeared in their conversation, and gave a license to their tongues
to reveal sentiments more freely.

They told me, that it was their absolute design to take possession of the Ohio,

and by G they would do it; for that, although they were sensible, the English

could raise two men for their one, yet they knew their motions were too slow and
dilatory to prevent any undertaking of theirs. They pretend to have an undoubted
right to the river from a discovery made by one La Salle, sixty years ago; and the
rise of this expedition is, to prevent our settling on the river or waters of it, as they
heard of some families moving out in order thereto. From the best intelligence I could
get, there have been fifteen hundred men on this side Ontario Lake. But upon the
death of the general, all were recalled to about six or seven hundred, who were left to
garrison four forts, one hundred and fifty or thereabout in each. The first of them
is on French Creek, near a small lake, about sixty miles from Venango, near north
northwest; the next lies on Lake Erie, where the greater part of their stores are kept,
about fifteen miles from the other; from this it is one hundred and twenty miles to the
carrying-place, at the Falls of Lake Erie, where there is a small fort, at which they
lodge their goods in bringing them from Montreal, the place from whence all their
stores are brought. The next lies about twenty miles from this, on Ontario I^dce.
Between this fort and Montreal, there are- three others, the first of which is nearly
opposite to the English fort Oswego. From the fort on Lake Erie to Montreal is about
six hundred miles, which, they say, requires no more (if good weather) than four
week's voyage, if they go in barks or in large vessels, so that they may cross the lake ;
but if they come in canoes, it will require five or six weeks, for they are obliged to keep
under the shore.

December 5th — Rained excessively all day, which prevented our traveling. Cap-
tain Joncaire sent for the Half-King, as he had but just heard that he came with me.
He affected to be much concerned that I did not make free to bring them in before. I
excused it in the best manner of which I was capable, and told him, I did not think

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their company agreeable, as I had heard him say a good deal in dispraise of Indians
in general ; but another motive prevented me from bringing them into his company ; I
knew that he was an interpreter, and a person of very great influence among the
Indians, and had lately used all possible means to draw them over to his interest;
therefore I was desirous of giving him no opportunity that could be avoided.

When they came in, there was great pleasure at seeing them. He wondered how
they could be so near without coming to visit him, made several trifling presents, and
applied liquor so fast, that they were soon rendered incapable of the business they
came about, notwithstanding the caution which was given.

6th — The Half-King came to my tent, quite sober, and insisted very much that I
should stay and hear what he had to say to the French. I fain would have prevented
him from speaking anything until he came to the commandant, but could not prevail.
He told me that at this place a council-flre was kindled, where all their business with
these people was to be transacted, and that the management of the Indian affairs was
left solely to Monsieur Joncaire. As I was desirous of knowing the issue of this, I
agreed to stay; but sent our horses a little way up French Creek, to raft over and
encamp; which I knew would make it near night.

About ten o'clock they met in council. The King spoke much the same as he had
before done to the general ; and offered the French speech-belt which had before been
demanded, with the marks of four towns on it, which Monsieur Joncaire refused to
receive, but desired him to carry it to the fort to the commander.

Ttb — Monsieur La Force, commissary of the French stores, and three other soldiers,
came over to accompany us up. We found it extremely diflicult to get the Indians off
to-day, as every stratagem had been used to prevent their going up with me. I had last
night left John Davidson (the Indian interpreter) whom I brought with me from town,
and strictly charged him not to be out of their company, as I could get them over to
my tent; for they had some business with Kustalogo, diiefly to know why he did not
deliver up the French speech-belt which had been in his keeping; but I was obliged
to send Mr. Gist over to-day to fetch them, which he did with great persuasion.

At 12 o'clock we set out for the fort, and were prevented arriving there until the
nth by excessive rains, snows, and bad traveling through many mires and swamps;
these we were obliged to pass to avoid crossing the creek, whidi was impassable, either
by fording or rafting, the water was high and rapid.

We passed over much good land since we left Venango, and through several exten-
sive and very rich meadows, one of which I believe, was nearly four miles in length,
and considerably wide in some places.

I2th — I prepared early to wait upon the commander, and was received and con-
ducted to him by the second officer in conunand. I acquainted him with my business,
and offered my commission and letter; both of which he desired me to keep until the
arrival of Monsieur Reparti, captain at the next fort, who was sent for and expected
any hour.

This commander is a knight of the Military order of St. Louis, and named Legar-
deur de St. Pierre. He is an elderly gentleman and has much the air of a soldier. He
was sent over to take the command immediately upon the death of the late general,
and arrived here about seven days before me.

At two o'clock, the gentleman who was sent for arrived, when I offered the letter,

Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 33 of 81)