James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 5 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 5 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

lands which were included in the Rombout Patent,
of which further mention will be made in a subse-
quent chapter.

Messrs. Yates and Moulton, after referring to the
former residence of the tribe on the west side of
the Hudson, say, at a later period, they "occupied
that part of the east side of the Hudson, near a

* Historical Sketch of the Town qf Fishkill, by T. Van Wyck Brink-
erhoff, S'-S2i



hill called Anthony's Nose, in the Highlands which
embraced what was called Phillips's upper patent
in Duchess County, including PoUipel's Island.
Although formerly numerous, they had in 1767
dwindled to 227 persons. Their occupation was
principally planting and hunting. The Highlands
afforded fine hunting ground, and the surrounding
soil was excellent for planting. * « * jt ^^^s
their fate, though a similar fate with others, to be
compelled to abandon their once pleasant Wickapy,
(which was the name of the lands where the tribe
chiefly resided,) and to seek refuge in remote, and
to them, strange places.* Dunlap, in his History
of New York, speaks of them as occupying the
Highlands, called by them Kittatinny Mountains,
and says, their principal settlement, designated
Wicapee, was situated in the vicinity of Anthony's
Nose. Brodhead says : " It would seem that the
neighboring Indians esteemed the peltries of the
Fishkillf as charmed by the incantations of the
aboriginal enchanters who lived along its banks,
and the beautiful scenery in which those ancient
Priests of the Highlands dwelt is thus invested with
new poetic associations."

Tradition locates other villages in various parts
of the county ; but it is mostly vague and unsat-
isfactory, though there is little doubt that many
more than those indicated existed within the Hmits
of the county. Wassenar locates the Pachany,
Warenecker and Warrawannankoruks at Fisher's
Hook,J a projection into the river formed by the
confluence of the Fishkill in the town of that name.
DeLaet agrees substantially with him in the location
of the former, whom he calls the Pachami ; but
.the latter two, named by him Waoranecks and
Warranawankongs, he locates on the west side, on
the Dans-Kammer point,§ in which he is unques-
tionably more nearly correct. Van derDonck locates
the Waoranecks on the south side of Wappingers
Creek, while above them, on both sides of the river,
he places the Wappingers. The Minnisinks, a
* clan of the Minsis, are said to have lived in vari-
ous parts of the county, probably not as a clan,
however; while the Sepascots are credited to
Rhinebeck, and the Shenandoahs to Red Hook.

* History of the State of New York., lii.

t The Indian name of this stream was Matteawan, by which it is still
sometimes called. The word has been said to signify ^ good fiirs,'''' and
Moulton has endeavored to associate it with the incantations of Indian
priests, but, says Ruttenber, on no positive authority.

XDoc. His. Ill, iS,

§Thisname, which means " dance-chamber, " was given toapointof
land, six miles north of Newburgh, where the aborigines were accus-
tomed to dance the Kuite-Kaye, a species of devil-worship, on the eve
of engaging in expeditions of war or hunting, and when, as prisoners,
they were about to suffer torture.— />«?. His. TV, 6j.


Contemporaneous Emigration of Delawares
AND Iroquois from the West — The Iroquois
Become Jealous of the Delawares and
Clandestinely Seek their Humiliation —
Wars Between the Delawares and Iroquois
— The Iroquois Make Women of the Dela-
wares — The Significance of this Act — Dif-
fering Views Respecting the Subjugation of
THE Delawares by the Iroquois — The Dela-
wares Resent the Perfidy of the Iroquois
— Wars Between the Iroquois and Mahi-
CANs — The Mahicans Unsubdued — Their
Subjugation Asserted by Various Histori-
ans — Their Statements Refuted by Docu-
mentary Troof — Traditional Reverses of
the Mahicans — Their Losses and Dispersion
— War of 1755 — Relation of the Delawares
AND Mahicans to It — The Delawares in
the Revolutionary War.

IN a preceding chapter we have shown that the
Iroquois and Delawares, according to tradi-
tion, emigrated at the same time from the west-
ward ; and, having defeated and dispersed the Al-
ligewi, who disputed with them the passage of the
Mississippi, that they divided and occupied the
conquered territory. The Iroquois, increasing in
numbers, extended their settlements below the
lakes along the St. Lawrence, from which, tradi-
tion asserts, they were driven by the Adirondacks,
to the interior parts of New York.* The Dela-
wares had also moved farther eastward, and, with
their kindred tribes, occupied the valleys of the
Delaware, Susquehanna and Hudson.

In these relative positions they resided peace-
ably for many years. At length the Iroquois be-
came jealous and distrustful of their southern
neighbors, who were rapidly increasing in numbers,
and sought to lessen their growing power by em-
broiling them and other tribes, especially the Chero-
kees, who then lived on the banks of the Ohio and
its branches, and between whom and the Dela-
wares a most bloody war was waged, as the result
of this Iroquois perfidy, until the treachery of the
latter was discovered. The Delawares determined
to revenge themselves by the extirpation of that
deceitful race ;t and-so successful were they in the
violent wars which ensued between them and the
Iroquois,J that the latter, who at a later period,

* Smithes History of New York, 77.

\ Heckewelder' s Historical Account of the Indian Nations, 37,
X LoskieVs History of the Mission of the United Brethren among the
Indians in North America, Part I, Chap. X,p. IZ4. Heckewelder, 38.



had also become involved with the French colon-
ists in Canada, were constrained to resort to a
stratagem to terminate them, being convinced that
if they continued, " their total extirpation would be
inevitable."* Heckewelder even attributes to the
severity of these wars that great Amphyctonic
league — the Iroquois confederacy — which, he says,
on the authority of Pyrlseus, a missionary among
the Mohawks, was formed " sometime between the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries'' ; and adds that
the different tribes of the Iroquois had hitherto
acted independently.f

The plan of the Iroquois was to allay the enmity
of the Delawares, their "most formidable oppo-
nents,"t by urging them to assume the office of
women, and act as mediators and ujppires among
their warlike neighbors, so that they might devote
their entire energies to their northern enemies, the
French ; for the wars between these savage nations
were never terminated, except through the ihter-
position of the women, whose prerogative it was
to demand a cessation of hostilities. The men,
however tired of fighting, maintained a determined
hostile attitude; for they considered it an evidence
of cowardice to intimate a desire for peace, and
unbecoming for a warrior with a bloody weapon in
his hand to address pacific language to his enemy. §
They therefore sent the following message || to the
Delawares : — ■

" It is not profitable that all nations should be
at war with each other, for this will at length be
the ruin of the whole Indian race. We have there-
fore considered of a remedy, by which this evil
may be prevented. One nation shall be the
woman. We will place her in the midst, and the
other nations who make war shall be the man,
and live around the woman, no one shall touch
or hurt the woman, and if any one does it, we
will immediately say to him, ' Why do you beat the
woman ? ' Then all the men shall fall upon him
who has beaten her. The woman shall not go to
war, but endeavor to keep peace with all. There-
fore if the men that surround her beat each
other, and the war be carried on with violence,
the woman shall have the right of addressing them,
' Ye men, what are ye about, why do ye beat each
other? We are almost afraid. Consider that
your wives and children must perish, unless ye
desist. Do ye mean to destroy yourselves from
the face of the earth ? ' The men shall then hear
and obey the woman."

To appeal to the magnanimity of the Dela-
wares and entreat them to accept such an office was

*Laskiel, Part /, Chaf. X f. IZ4. -

^ He9hewelder, 37-38.

X MarryaVs Diary in America, 261.

§ Heckewelder, 39.

liLoskiel. Part I; Cha^. X, 144-125.

to pay a high tribute to their character for probity
and valor ; for it would have been folly for a weak
or vacillating nation to have undertaken such a
task. It implied that, since "as men they had
been dreaded ; as women they would be respected
and honored." Unhappily for them they yielded
to the flattering proposition, not suspecting the
meditated treachery of the Iroquois, who desired
as well to deprive them of their power and mili-
tary fame, "which had exalted them above all the
other Indian nations." * They believed their
object to be the preservation of the Indian race.

The Iroquois, rejoiced at the assent of the un-
wary Delawares, appointed a great feast, and
solemnly inducted the latter into their new and
novel office of women. Addressing the Delawares,
they said : " We dress you in a woman's long
habit, reaching down to your feet, and adorn you
with ear-rings," meaning, that they should no more
take up arms ; " We hang a calabash filled with
oil and medicines upon your arm. With the oil
you shall cleanse the ears of the other nations, that
they may attend to good, and not to bad words ;
and with the medicine you shall heal those who are
walking in foolish ways, that they may return to
their senses, and incline their hearts to peace ; we
deUver into your hands a plant of Indian corn and
an hoe," by which they were exhorted to make
agriculture their future employment and means of
subsistence. "Ever since this singular treaty of
peace," adds Loskiel, " the Iroquois have called
the Delawares their cousins"\ Elsewhere they are
called children of the Five Nations; J while they
themselves call the Six Nations their uncles,§ a
term which they also apply to the Senecas. || The
Mahicans, the Iroquois called their nephews.

This treaty, which also comprised in its provis-
ions the Mahicans and other conneetions of the
Delawares, is supposed, from the traditions of the
Delawg,res, Mahicans and Iroquois, to have been
consummated at a place since called Norman's
Kill, a few miles from the site of the city of 1
Albany, "between the years 1609 and i62o,"1[
and was participated in by the Dutch, who united
their influence with that of the Iroquois to induce
the Delawares, Mahicans and their connections to
bury the hatchet, and declared that they " would
fall on those who should dig it up again." The
Dutch also declared their intetition t o "forthwith

* Heckewelder, 39, 41.

'i Loskiel, Part /., Chap. X., 115^126.

XCcl.Hisi. VI.,<)%%.

% Col. Hist. VJI., 104.

II Col. Hist. VII., lia.

\ Heckewelder, 12.



erect a church over the weapon of war, so that it
could no more be exhumed without overturning
the sacred edifice, and whoever dared do that
should incur the resentment of the white men."*
The date of this treaty is definitely fixed in the
copy of a proposition made by the River Indians
to Lt. Gov. Nanfan, at Albany, July 18, 1701, in
which it is explicitly stated that " Itt is now ninety
years agoe since the Christians came first here,
when there was a covenant chain made between
them and the Mahikanders, the first inhabitants of
this River" — the Hudson. It is further stated;
"Wee have been soe happy never to have
had the least flaw or crack in the chain
* * * wherein the Maquase [Mohawks] and
wee are hnked." f From this it appears that
the date was 16 ii. "By this treaty," says Moul-
ton, "the Dutch secured for themselves the quiet
possession of the Indian trade, and the Five
Nations obtained the means to assert that ascend-
ency which they ever after maintained over the
other native tribes, and to inspire terror far and near
among the other savages of North America."

Whatever may be the credence to which these
traditions are entitled, certain it is that the relative
positions of the Delawares and Iroquois, as to
their military status, was reversed,! and the former
were subsequently looked to for the preservation
of peace, '' and entrusted with the charge of the
great belt of peace and chain of friendship."§

The Iroquois asserted, and sought sedulously to
impress upon the mind of others, that the Dela-
wares and their kindred tribes were fairly con-
quered by them, and compelled by force to submit
to the humiUation of being made women to avoid
utter ruin.ll Authors have very generally assumed
this to be the fact ; but a few, notably Heckewelder
and Ruttenber,- have earnestly striven to refute what
they beUeve, and justly, to be an error. " It is a
singular fact, too," says the latter, " that of all the
nations subjugated by the Iroquois, the Lenape
alone bore the name of women. While the council-
fires of other nations were 'put out,' and their
survivors merged in the confederacy, that of the
Lenape was kept burning, and their civil govern-
ment remained undisturbed."!! Says Heckewelder,
"Neither Mr. Pyrlaeus nor Mr. Zeisberger, who
both lived among the Five Nations, and spoke and
understood their language well, could obtain from

* Annals 0/ Albany, 1.1 M^ Heckewelder, 43,

+ Col Hist. /K, 901, 90J.

t jfmmal 0/ New Netherland, Doc. Hist. IV., 8.

§ Loskiel, Part I., Chaf. X., p. Ii6.

1 Loskiel, Part /., Chap. X., p. 146-117.

\ Indian Triies 0/ Hudson' s River, 66.

them any details relative to this supposed con-
quest;" and, he adds, "If this were true, the
Lenape and their allies, who, like all other Indian
nations, never considered a treaty binding when
entered into under any kind of compulsion, would
not have submitted to this any longer than until
they could again have raUied their forces and fallen
upon their enemy; they would have done long be-
fore the year 1755, what they did at last at that
time, joined the French in their wars against the
Iroquois and English, and would not have patiently
waited more than a century before they took their
revenge for so flagrant an outrage."*

The Delawares discovered and resented the base
treachery of the Iroquois. They " determined to
unite their forces and by one great eflfort to destroy
entirely that perfidious nation," which, they said,
they might easily have done, "as they were then as
numerous as the grasshoppers at particular seasons,
and as destructive to their enemies as these insects
are to the fruits of the earth ;" while they described
the Iroquois " as a number of croaking frogs in a
pond, which make a great noise when all is quiet,
but at the first approach of danger, nay, at the very
rustling of a leaf, immediately plunge into the
water and are silent." But the rapid increase and
encroachments of the white settlers " engaged all
the capacity of their minds," and diverted their
attention from this purpose, f

The force of Iroquois opposition, it would appear,
weighed most heavily against the New England and
River Indians, the former of whom, and certain of
the latter, especially the Minsis, were brought under
tributary subjection to them. Fierce and san-
guinary conflicts prevailed between the Iroquois,
especially the Mohawks, and the Mahicans, who
were their "most formidable competitors," and
were not terminated when the English superseded
the Dutch, nor until the close of the war which
terminated in 1673, when the English, who were in
alliance with both, effected a permanent settlement.
Being "equal in courage, equal in numbers, equal
in the advantages of obtaining fire-arms from the
Dutch, and in their subsequent alliance with the
EngUsh, they marched unsubdued by the boasted
conquerors of America."!

Judge William Smith, an early historian, says :
"When the Dutch began the settlement of this
country, all the Indians on Long Island, and the
northern shore of the sound, on the banks of Con-
necticut, Hudson's, Delaware and Susquehanna

* Heckewelder^ 44-45-

t Heckewelder, 48.

X Indian Tribes of Hudsof^s River, 56.



rivers, were in subjection to the Five Nations; and
within the memory of persons now living, acknowl-
edged it by the payment of an annual tribute."
Colden, speaking of the Mohawks, says : "All the
nations round them have, for many years, entirely
submitted to them, and pay a yearly tribute to
them in wampum ;" though elsewhere the latter
inconsistently admits that the contest between the
Mohawks and Mahicans was not at an end till
1673,* when it was effected through the mediation
of the English, but without the subjugation of the
Mahicans. O'Callaghan reiterates the statement of
Colden.f Bancroft says: "Like the benevolent
William Penn, .the Delawares were pledged to a
system of peace ; but, while Penn forbore retaUa-
tion voluntarily, the passiveness of the Delawares
was the degrading confession of their defeat and
submission to the Five Nations. Their conquer-
ors had stripped them of their rights as warriors,
and compelled thetn to endure taunts as women.''^

But these statements would seem to be too broad
and indefinite, and certainly incorrect with respect
to the Mahicans, or Manhingans, who, the Hela-
tions of the Jesuit missionaries' show, were at war
with the Mohawks in 1656, who experienced a
severe check in an attack upon a fortified Mahican
village in 1663. In 1664, the Mahicans were al-
lied with four other Indian nations, including the
Wappingers, in an attack upon the Mohawks, § who
were so weakened and their pride humbled, that,
in 1699, they sent an embassy to Quebec to solicit
the French to protect them against the Mahicans.
In this the Mohawks were successful to the extent
of securing the co-operation of the Jesuit mission-
aries in resisting an attack made by three hundred
Mahicans on the fortified village of Cahnawaga, on
the 1 8th of August, 1669. The Mahicans were
repulsed and retired after two hours of fighting, but
were intercepted by the Mohawks, who descended
the river in canoes and formed in ambush between
the village of Cahnawaga and Schenectady. The
Mohawks, though at first successful in the conflict
which ensued, were eventually put to flight.|| They
then called to their aid the Oneidas, Onondagas
and Cayugas, and with four hundred warriors set
out to surprise a Mahican fort near Manhattan.
But in this enterprise they were equally unsuccess-
ful. In April, 1670, Governo; Lovelace visited
Albany, charged, among other things, with the

* Colden^s Six Nations^ 11.^ 35.
i History 0/ the New Netherlands /., 47.
tffStaryo/the United States, II.., 396.

§ Doc. Hist. IV., 8j-8s. History of New Neiherland IJ, 519.
I Co/. Hist. Ill, ISO. Drake's Biography and History 0/ the In-
dians of North America.

duty of making peace between the Mohawks and
Mahicans, but not until August of the succeeding
year were the negotiations consummated, and, ac-
cording to Colden, not until 1673.* Subsequent
to this event the Mahicans were uniformly em-
ployed as auxiliaries of the Iroquois and English
in their wars with the French.

At an earlier period it will appear that the Ma-
hicans were less successful in their encounters with
the Mohawks. Michaeluis says that in 1626, the
Mahicans fled before the Mohawks and left their
lands,t referring, doubtless, to a clan or chief-
taincy, which, as we have previously shown, occu-
pied a tract of country on the west side of the Hud-
son, in its upper course. Wassenar mentions a
similar reverse which occurred in 1628.J That
this exodus did not apply to the Mahicans as a
nation is proved by subsequent deeds. As evi-
dence of the sanguinary conflicts between these
two nations and the reverses sustained by the Ma-
hicans, tradition points to localities on Wanton
Island, near Catskill and in the town of Red Hook
in this county, " the bones of the slain at the lat-
ter place," says Ruttenber, " being, it is said, in
monumental record when the Dutch first settled

The Mahicans or River Indians were strength-
ened by the disasters which befel King Philip's
army in New England; for after the disastrous
battle of August 12, 1676, in which the great leader
lost his life, the shattered remnant of his army,
though pursued and attacked by the English near
the Housatonic, found refuge in the friendly vil-
lages of their kindred along the Hudson. But they
melted away in their subsequent wars as the faith- "
ful and efficient allies of the English, losing between
the years 1689, (when they numbered 250 warriors,)
and i6g8, not less than i6o.|| Others were seduced
from their allegiance by the Jesuit missionaries and
joined<»the "praying Indians" in Canada. At a
conference held with Lieut. Governor Nanfan, July
18, 1701, a Mahican speaker stated their number
to be 200 fighting men, belonging to the county of
Albany, which then embraced the entire country
west of the Connecticut and north of Roelaff Jan-
sen's Kill, on the east of the Hudson, and north
of the Catskill Mountains, on the west side.U
Many were carried off by that dread scourge, the
small-pox, while gr eat numbers died in conse-

* Colden' s Six Nations, Chap. II, 34,

t Col. Hist., II, 371, 769.

t Doc. Hist., Ill, 48.

§ Indian Tribes 0/ Hudson's River, 57-58.

II Col. Hist. IV, 337.

IT Col. Hist. IV, 902.



quence of the introduction of spirituous liquors
among them. The remainder removed in separate
bodies to different parts and mingled with other
nations. A considerable number migrated from
the Hudson River in 1734, and settled at Stock-
bridge, Massachusetts, where in October of that
year, Rev. John' Sergeant established among them
a mission, under the auspices of the society for the
propagation of the gospel in foreign parts.. Be-
tween 1785 and 1787, with diminished numbers,
they removed to the country of the Oneidas, a
nation of the Iroquois, and located in the town
which still perpetuates their name — Stockbridge —
in the present county of Madison, where they
were soon after gathered into a church under
the missionary labors of Rev. John Sergeant, who
followed them to New Stockbridge in 1796, and
continued to reside with them till his death, Sept.
7, 1824. They subsequently removed to lands
purchased, in company with the Iroquois, St. Regis
and Minsi Indians, on Green Bay, and the Winne-
bago and Fox Rivers in Wisconsin, where they
have made considerable advances in civilization
and are generally sober and industrious. Upwards
of one hundred of them, who lived in the colonies
of New York and Connecticut, having, through the
labors of the United Brethren, embraced Chris-
tianity, emigrated to Pennsylvania between 1742
and 1760, and there afterwards became incorporated
with the Delawares.

As early as 1762, a number had emigrated to
the Ohio J and in Connecticut, where they were
once numerous, there were, in 1799, in the county
of New London, still eighty-four individuals of
them, the remains of a once laige and flourishing

The war of 1755 between the English and
the French, which was but the'legitimate fruit of
the imperfect treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, concluded
April 30, 1748, witnessed a new alUance of the
Mahicans and their kindred tribes, and the active
alliance of the Delawares and neighboring tribes
with the French, whose early and sweeping suc-
cesses allied to their interests the western Indians
generally, and caused the Iroquois, then, thraugh
the assiduous labors of the Jesuit priests, about
equally divided in their numerical representation
in New York and Canada, to falter in their fealty
to the EngUsh Crown, and increased the division
in their ranks as the war progressed, with results
altogether favoring French interests.

The war, which for many years threatened dis-
aster to the EngUsh, finally resulted in their favor,

and left them in possession of Canada and the
territory east of the Mississippi.

At the Revolution the Delawares, who, at the
close of the war in 1763, numbered 600 warriors,*
were divided; those Uving upon the Ohio, to
which they removed in the early part of the eight-
eenth century, and the most numerous i)ortion,
were "dragged" into the war, by which their
numbers were reduced, and "they lost the desire
of becoming a civilized people ; "'\ while the tribes

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 5 of 125)