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and Indians, advanced in open order through the forest,
ever alert for ambushed Iroquois. Four battalions of reg-
ular troops, of two hundred men each, formed the elite of
the invading force. These and one battalion of militia,
numbering nearly three hundred, under Frontenac himself
and the Chevalier de Vaudreuil, ascended close along the
western shore, ready to spring to land at any moment when
the scouts should report the presence of a foe. Three
more battalions of militia of similar strength and nearly five
hundred savages, under Messieurs de Callieres and de Ra-
mezay, in like manner advanced up the eastern side of the
stream. These savages consisted of Hurons, Abenahis,
Ottawas, and other tribes in alliance with the French, who
were eager, with the assistance of French arms, to wreak
vengeance on the hated Iroquois for the many chastise-
ments they had received from them. So hard was the task
of working against the current, and so great the caution
observed, that at night the army had advanced hardly half-
way to the falls of the Oswego.

The next day, however, they arrived there and began
the portage. The soldiers and Indians in each bateau or
canoe sprang ashore, lifted it on their shoulders, and con-
veyed it around the falls. But when the Count de Fron-
tenac was about to disembark, expecting to go on foot like
the rest, fifty savages seized his canoe, and with him seated
in it bore it to the smooth water above, making the forest
re-echo with their songs and yells. The fierce old noble-
man, then seventy-four years of age, was a great favorite
with the northern Indians, whom he had aroused to the
fiercest hostility against the English and Iroquois, giving
them the hatchet with his own hands, and dancing the
war-dance with their chiefs to stimulate their savage ardor.

Some of the battalions did not pass the portage till the
next day, when an advance of ten miles was made. Near
Three Rivers point they found a rude representation of
the army, made on bark, doubtless left by some of the
Iroquois as a warning to others, and accompanied by two
bundles of rushes to signify the great number of the in-
vaders. Some of the Frenchmen had the curiosity to count
the rushes, which numbered fourteen hundred and thirty-
four, and supposed that the Onondagas meant to indicate
that as the precise number of Frontenac's army. But no
Indian could count a tenth part so many; the rushes
merely showed that there was a great force coming.

After passing into the present county of Onondaga, the
army proceeded more rapidly, landed on the south shore of
Onondaga lake, and advanced to the village, but on their
arrival found that the inhabitants had fled. The French
and their allies destroyed the villages and the crops of
growing corn, but their only captives were a lame girl and
an old man, the latter of whom Count Frontenac with his
usual cruelty allowed his Indian friends to burn at the
stake. Monsieur de Vaudreuil with a light detachment
also destroyed the villages of the Oneidas.

On the 11th of August the whole army returned, and
encamped below the falls. By ten o'clock the morning of


the 12tl) the rapid Oswogo had borne them to its mouth.
A violent uale from the west detained them till the 14th.
At noon of that day they set forth, raising sails over their
bateaux, and by nightfall made twenty-five miles, as they
computed, eamping at the mouth of a small river. On the
15th the army returned to Fort Frontcnac, and thence pro-
ceeded to the Canadian settlements.

About a hundred and twelve years later (ISOS or 1809)
one of the early scttlcre near Oswego falls on the east side
cut down a large tree, deep within which was found an old
"blaze," and beneath it a large number of musket-balls.
The blaze was overlaid by a hundred and twelve circles,
and those who reckoned back the years till 1696 concluded
that on returning from their raid some of Count Fronte-
nac's musketeers had amused themselves by firing at a
mark, leaving the bullet-scarred tree as the only relic of
their expedition in Oswego County.

The Oiwndaffas and OiieiJas were supplied with corn
for the winter by the authorities of New York, and the ex-
pedition had apparently had no other effect than to bind all
the Iroquois more closely to their English friends. What
vengeance they would have taken on the French can only
be inferred, as the next year the peace of Ryswick was
concluded between the kings of France and England ; the
colonies of each were of course included, and their Indian
allies accepted the arrangements of their white brethren.


FROM 1607 TO 1753.

Oeneral Quiet — King William's Projects — Expulsion of the Jesuits
—English Supremacy— The Si.\ Nations— The Fur Trade— Traders
at Oswego — The French on the Watch — Chonequen — Ontario — A
Dispute at the Falls— A Deed to King George— Meaning of Os-
wego— The First Trading-Post- A French Protest— Punctilio in
the Woods— Dutch Adventurers— Gov. Clarke's Opinion— A W.-ill
at Oswego— Two Relics— Sir William Johnson in the Oswego
Trade — War— Rumors— The Black Prince— Rumors without
Fighting — Peace — Picquet's Opinion — Mutual Accusations — Buy-
ing Oneida Lake— Oswego Reljuilt— Approach of War.

For the next twenty-five years after the peace of Rys-
wick there is very little to relate regarding the county of

Eagle-eyed King William the Third saw the military
importance of the locality, and ordered a fort to be built at
the mouth of the river. The plate and furniture for the
chapel of the intended post was sent to America, but the
death of the vigilant king put an end to the project.

Notwithstanding the punishment inflicted by the French
on the Iroquois, no sooner was that peace concluded than
the adroit French Jesuits again began to make their way
up the Oswego, the Oneida, and the Seneca, and establish
themselves in the villages of the Five Nations. They were
found there by the English and Dutch traders from New
York, the jealousy of the English authorities was aroused,
and in 1700 an act of the Colonial Assembly forbade any
popish priest from coming into the colony, under penalty of
death. The French would doubtless have denied that the

Jesuit missions among the Iroquois were in the colony of
New York, but the act seems to have been effectual in
frightening them away, and their efforts in this section were
finally abandoned.

In 1702 the great European conflict known iis " Queen
Anne's war" broke out, but the Iroquois had made a treaty
of peace with the Canadian Indians, and for many years
both sides maintained it. Yet in 1708 we find them again
engaged in hostilities against the French, but not of enough
importance, nor having suflicient relation to Oswego Countj-,
to merit attention here.

, By the peace of Utrecht, in 1713, the sui)reniaoy over
the Iroquois tribes was conceded to the English, but no
definite boundaries were established. About the same time
the Five Nations became the Six Nations. The Tusatroras,
a North Carolina tribe, defeated in war by the whites and
the neighboring Indians, fled to New York, implored the
protection of the Iroquois, and were received as members
of that powerful confederacy. The Oueidus granted them
a seat near to themselves. They are supposed to have been
originally descended from the same stock as the other five
tribes, and it is hardly probable that those haughty con-
federates would otherwise have admitted them into their

After the peace of Utrecht the English and Dutch traders
pushed their excursions farther and further among the
Indians, rivaling the French in the boldness and skillful-
ness of their search for furs. Coming up the Mohawk to
the site of Rome, they bore their light canoes over the por-
tage to Wood creek, thence passed down that stream to and
through Oneida lake, and skirted the southern bounds of
our county along the Oneida river to Three Rivers point.
Thence some of them pursued their way up the Seneca
river to the lakes from which it springs, others went down
the Oswego to Lake Ontario, and often passed through that
lake and far beyond, even to the foaming straits of Michili-
mackinac and the fertile prairies of Illinois. The French,
being the first traders in all those regions, were naturally
jealous of the new-comers, and the latter were obliged to
exercise constant watchfulness against the hostile intrigues
of the former with the native tribes..

As early as 1721, William Burnet, governor of New
York, made an effort to counteract the French by estab-
lishing a post on Irondequoit bay, in the present county
of Monroe. It does not, however, appe;ir to have been
sustained any considerable time. It is probably from
this circumstance that several historians of the State
of New York, followed by local writers, have stated that
a trading-post or fort was built at Oswego in 1721 or 1722.
No permanent establishment was really made until several
years later ; but there appears to have been a considerable
increase of the Indian trade at the mouth of the river. It
became a point at which the " fur Indiaus," as ihcy were
called, congregated to market their furs, and very likely
some temporary cabins were erected.

The direct trade of the English with the Indians was
stimulated by a law p;isscd by the provincial legislature of
New York in 1721, forbidding the furnishing of Indian
goods to the French in Canada. As the latter could not
obtain those goods as cheap elsewhere as from the English,



they lost a large part of their trade. The New York im-
porters were angry, but the small traders were delighted, and
hurried to and tlirough Oswego, sure of having the advan-
tage over their French rivals.

As early as 1724 the French received information that
the English had projected an establishment at the mouth of
the river ; but in the following May Monsieur de Longueil. a
French oflBcer, after making a reconnoissance, reported to his
superiors that there was as yet no trading-post at that
point. This is the first mention we meet with the name
" Choneguen" (or Chonaguen), which was ever after, as
long as the French held possession of Canada, applied to
the ground now covered by Oswego city, and sometimes to
the river which there enters Lake Ontario. It had been
adopted by them some time between 1696 and 1724; but
the precise year and the meaning of the word are alike

In the French letters of 1725, too, we find for the first
time the great lake which borders Oswego County on the
north mentioned by its present euphonious appellation
of Ontario, instead of those more or outlandish ones,
Skanadario, Cataracqui, Conty, Frontenac, etc., which it
had previously borne. It is probably a contraction of Ske-
nadario, and is supposed to mean beautiful water.

But though Monsieur de Longueil found no trading-post
at the mouth of the river, he learned enough to alarm him
in regard to English progress. At the portage around the
fiills he found no less than a hundred English and Dutch
traders, with sixty canoes, who compelled him to exhibit his
passport, and showed an order from Governor Burnet that no
Frenchman should be allowed to go by without one. De
Longueil reproached some Iroquois chiefs, who were pres-
ent, with the insolence of the English, telling the sachems
they were not masters of their own lands. According
to his report the Indians "flew out" against the English,
told them they would bear with them no longer, and that
they had only permitted them to come there for the purpose
of trade.

De Longueil then passed on to the Onondaga village,
where he met chiefs of all the tribes in council. They gave
him permission to place two small vessels on Lake Ontario,
and to build a stone house at Niagara, a post which had
long been abandoned by the French, though they had lately
had a trading establishment at Lewiston. This house, or fort,
was immediately begun and finished the next year, 1726,
when the two vessels were also built.

That year the English and Dutch traders gathered at
Choneguen (Oswego) to the number of three hundred,
where they remained all summer, carrying on a thriving
trade with the Indians both of the vicinity and of the far
west. Monsieur de Longueil sent orders from Frontenac
to his son, the Chevalier de Longueil, commanding at Ni-
agara, not to return until the English should leave Chone-
guen, and to plunder any of their canoes which he might
find on the lake. In September the son replied there were
no more English at Choneguen, nor on the lake, nor in the
river, and promised that if he met any of their canoes he
would piously fulfill the parental command.

The wrath of the Iroquois at the English, described by I
De Longueil, could not have been very strong nor very i

general, for in this year (1726) seven of the principal
sachems of the Onondagas, Cayvgas, and Senecas made
a deed of trust to the king of England and his successors
of their lands, extending in a belt of sixty miles wide, and
in length running from Caynunghage (probably the same
as Keyonanouague, La Famine, or Salmon river) all along
Lake Ontario, the Niagara river, and the lake Oswego, to the
creek called Canahogue, which we take to be the same as
Cuyahoga. Besides this land, the deed included their
" beaver hunting-grounds," — a tract of undescribed bound-
aries and indefinite extent.

It will be seen that at one time Lake Erie was called Os-
wego (or " Okswego," as it is put down on an old map
in Colden's History of the Five Nations). The name
seems to have sprung up suddenly in two widely separate
places, for it was not till the next year that it is known to
have been used in regard to the point to which it is now ap-
plied. The meaning of the word has been rendered many
different ways, the most plausible being " flowing-water"
and " boundless view." The latter appellation would apply
to any of the great lakes, and would best account for the
curious coincidence just mentioned. But it is very uncer-
tain ; there is a great deal of indefiniteness about everything
pertaining to an Indian except his tomahawk.

It may be doubted, for instance, whether the seven chiefs
above mentioned had any authority to give a deed to George
the First of the lands, the castles, the corn-fields, and the
" beaver hunting-grounds" of these three nations. They
were, however, only given in trust, to be protected by the
king for the use of their red owners forever. In all proba-
bility it was a scheme devised by the English ofiicials to get
an acknowledgment of the king's authority over the land
in question, so as to " head off" the French in their cease-
less efforts to extend their sway.

The eastern line of the tract in question, running south
from Caynunghage or La Famine, traversed the county of
Oswego nearly in the middle, leaving the eastern half in
the possession of the Oneidas.

Early in the spring of the next year (1727) Governor
Burnet sent a body of workmen to build a " stone house of
strength" at Oswego, and they were soon followed by a
detachment of sixty soldiers, with three officers, to defend
them from any interruption by the French. The new fort,
for such it might be called, was situated on the west bank
of the river, close to its mouth, having walls of large stone
four feet thick, which the governor declared capable of re-
sisting any arms which the French were likely to bring
against it.

A French account, written while the post was being built,
states that there were then about seventy English and Dutch
cabins on the river-shore, showing the rapidity with which
the fur trade was developing.

In Governor Burnet's report to the English board of
trade is found the first mention which we have seen of the
name " Oswego" as applied to the point in question. Hence-
forth it was invariably called by that name by the English,
while the French just as invariably called it " Choueguen,"
a word which comes to light in French documents at the
same time. The earlier French only spoke of the mouth
of the " Onnontague" river. The French pronunciation.


as near as can be represented by Knglish letters, would be
" Shoo-ay-gwang." We are informed that the original pro-
nunciation of Oswego, down to the beginning of this cen-
tury was " Oswaygo," and it is quite probable that Oswego
and Choueguen — alias Os-way-go and Shoo-ay-gwang —
were derived from the same Indian word, modified by
GalHc and Saxon lips. This view is strengthened by the
fact that the place the English called Oswegatchie the
French cjJIed Chouegachie.

Governor Burnet was quite proud of his achievement,
declaring it to be the best thing that had over been done to
check the French, keep the Six Nations under English in-
fluence, and promote trade with the remote Indians. He
was most unquestionably correct. The position of Oswego
at the outlet of the large and fertile territory drained by
the Oswego river and its branches, in which all but one of
the Six Nations dwelt, together with its accessibility from
the Mohawk valley, made it altogether the most important
post the English had west of the Hudson, and such it re-
mained to the time of the capture of Canada. The only
wonder is that the French, with their control of the St.
Lawrence and Lake Ontario, had not secured this important
location in advance of their rivals. It is quite probable
that, had they done so, it would have made a serious differ-
ence in the subsequent contests between the English and
the French.

The Marquis de Beauharnais, then governor-general of
Canada, was much chagrined at Burnet's proceedings, and
in July sent an ofiicer to him with a protest, and another
to the commandant at Oswego, demanding that he should
forthwith abandon the place and destroy the fortification.
The latter officer of course paid no attention to the request.
The governor replied to Monsieur de Beauharnais, reproach-
ing him with having first built Niagara, and declaring,
truly enough, that according to the treaty of Utrecht the
Five Nations were admitted to be subjects of Great Britain.
This was a good answer to the French, but the Five Na-
tions themselves might not have admired that clause of the

After the fortification was completed the garrison was
reduced to a lieutenant and twenty men.

An incident that occurred in the summer of 1728 illus-
trates the jealous ceremony with which the officials of the
rival nations conducted themselves towards each other in
the wilds of America, partly out of mere punctilio, and partly
because evei-y ceremony might involve the title to a large
tract of land.

A French subordinate, bearing the formidable appellation
of Monsieur de la Chauvignerie, was sent on a mission to
the Iroquois. Coasting along the eastern and southern
shores of Lake Ontario, he arrived at Oswego, having sent a
messenger in advance to the Onondagus. At Oswego he
landed and pitched his tent. Some Indians came to him
from the commandant of the little fortress, to demand that
he should salute with a s;dvo of musketry and lower his
flag. This he would not do. The Indians who accompa-
nied De la Chauvignerie visited the commandant and were
presented with a supply of rum, whereupon they all got so
drunk that the Frenchman was obliged to remain three days
under the guns of the fort. In spite, however, of another

summons he would not strike his flag, but kept it flying
night and day, though the usual custom was to lower it at
sun.set. On his departing up the river the summons was
again repeated, and an Onondaga chief unfurled a British
flag over one of De la Chauvignerie's boats. But the officer
would not start until it was furled, and as neither side would
salute first that important ceremony was entirely omitted.
The OnonJagas were at a loss what to say, as they claimed
the land themselves, but felt constrained to acknowledge the
supremacy of the fortress. The English would not go so
far as to fire on the boats, and so the plucky Frenchman
had his way.

Notwithstanding continued efforts on the part of both
English and French to gain increased ascendency over the
Indians, and the occasional erection of a fortress on doubt-
ful ground, there was substantial peace between the two
nations for sixteen years more. During this time Oswego
continued to be garrisoned by a lieutenant and from twenty
to twenty-five men ; but the smallness of the force was no
measure of the importance of the post. Every summer
hundreds of traders from the banks of the Hudson assem-
bled there, some remaining to trade with the Indians who
came thither for that purpose, others pushing still farther on.

The Indian trade was the great field of adventure in
which the young men of the colony of New York sought
to lay the foundations of their fortunes. Mrs. Grant, in
that pleasant sketch of ante-Revolutionary times in the
vicinity of Albany entitled " Memoirs of an American
Lady," says that as soon as a young Albanian fell in love,
which he generally did at seventeen or eighteen years of
age, he prepared to support a family by going on a trading
expedition. He asked of his father only forty or fifty
dollars in money, a canoe, and a young negro attendant.
Loading his frail vessel with Indian goods, taking care to
have a good supply of strong liquors, he and his dark
assistant set forth on a voyage as perilous as that of Jason,
amid the tears of his female friends, and especially of the
damsel who knew herself to be the object of these laborious
and dangerous exertions. There were several routes pur-
sued, but the principal one was to Oswego, whence the
adventurers scattered in every direction. The profits were
large, and if the young lover saved his scalp, one or two
trips would enable him to buy a farm or start a country
store, and settle down into the placid life of a Dutch
burgher with his chosen dulcinoa. The more extensive
traders used bateaux, a bateau being a light, flat-bottomed
boat running to a point at each end, generally carrying
about fifteen hundred pounds, and propelled by two men
with paddles in deep water and setting-poles in shallow.

For several yeais the garrison of the little post was
victualled by Albany contractors at about twelve hundred
dollars per year. In 1733 nearly fifty traders sent a peti-
tion to the then governor. Colonel Crosby, setting forth that
the commandant of the garrison laid improper restrictions
on trade, and the assembly requested the governor to ap-
point some competent man, who understood the Indian
trade and language, to live at Oswego as a superintendent.

The English do not appear to have claimed any jurisdic-
tion over the waters of Lake Ontario, however near the
■shore, for in 1730 we find Monsieur de Beauharnai.s com-



plaining that a French canoe had been ordered ashore while
passing under the guns of the post at Oswego, whereupon
the governor of New York sharply reprimanded Captain
Congreve, the commandant.

In time the little iort got out of repair,* and the colonial
assembly was slow in voting the necessary funds to renovate
and strengthen it. Governor Clarke, in a communication
to that body in 1740, said that Oswego was the only mili-
tary post on the northwestern frontier, and if well fortified
would be a complete barrier against French invasions from
that quarter. If it was captured, he declared that the
French could hold everything firom Canada to Georgia, and
concluded with this impressive testimony to its value :

" The peace and happiness of the plantations, and the
trade of England, if not the very being of his majesty's
dominions on this continent, depend on the holding of

The next year the assembly voted six hundred pounds
(New York currency, e(|uivalent to fifteen hundred dollars)
to build a stone wall around the " trading-house at Oswego,"
at a proper distance from it, with a bastion or block-house
in each corner. Yet it seems that even in " good old colony
times" there were officials and contractors disposed to de-
fraud the government, for in 1742 we find the governor
writing to the English board of trade that the post was in
a very defenseless condition, not only because it was out of
ammunition, but because the director of the works had
built the new wall in day instead of lime, under the pre-
tense that the latter article was not to be obtained, which
the governor did not believe. His excellency continued :

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