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Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association : ... annual meeting with constitution and by-laws and list of members (Volume 4) online

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New York State Historical
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Hon. JAMES A. ROBERTS, Buffalo.

First Vice-President,

*DANIEL C. FARR, Ph. D., Glens Falls.

Second Vice-President,


Third Vice-President,



JAMES A. HOLDEN. Glens Falls.


ROBERT O. BASCOxM, Fort Edward.

Assistant Secretary,



Hon. James A. Roberts, Buffalo.
*Dr. Daniel C. Farr, Glens Falls.
Mr. James A. Holden, Glens Falls.
Mr. John Boulton Simpson, Bolton.
Hon. Timothy L. Woodruff, Brooklyn.
Dr. Everett R. Sawyer, Sandy Hill.
Mr. Elwyn Seelye, Lake George.
Mr. Frederick B. Richards, Ticonderoga.
Mr. HovvLAND Pell, New York.
Gen. Henry E. Tremain, New York.
Rev. William O. Stearns, Glens Falls.
Dr. Sherman Williams, Glens Falls.
Mr. Robert O. Bascom, Fort Edward.

Mr. Francis W. Halsey, New York.
Mr. Harry W. Watrous, Hague.
Dr. W. Seward Webb, New York.
Rev. Dr. Joseph E. King, Fort Edward.
Hon. Hugh Hastings, Albany.
Mr. Asahel R. Wing, Fort Edward.
Mr. Elmer J. West, Glens Falls.
Rev. John H. Brandow, Schuylerville.
Hon. Grenville M. Ingalsbe, Sandy Hill.
Col. William L. Stone, Mt. Vernon.
Mr. Morris Patterson Ferris, New York.
Mr. George G. Benedict, Burlington, Vt.

* Deceased. . .



Fifth Annual Meeting of the New York State Historical

Association, Together with the Proceedings

of the Board of Trustees,

The fifth annual meeting of the New York State Historical
Association was held at the Fort William Henry Hotel, at Lake
George, N. Y., August 25, 1903 ; the President, James A. Roberts,
the officers and a quorum of the Association present.

The following papers were read :

Monograph: The Iroquois Confederacy; by Dr. Sherman
Williams of Glens Falls, N. Y.

Monograph : General Herkimer ; by Dr. Eugene W. Lyttle
of Albany, N. Y.

Monograph : Father Jogues ; by Rev. John W. Dolan of
Johnstown, N. Y.

Monograph : Sir William Johnson ; by Hon. Jeremiah Keck
of Johnstown, N. Y., after which Dr. WilHam Olin Stillman of
Albany, addressed the Society upon the subject of the erection
of a suitable monument to mark the field of the engagement upon
which the Battle of Bennington took place, after which a business
meeting of the Association was held, and the following named
persons were elected trustees for the term of three years, viz. :

Hon. Hugh Hastings of Albany ; Mr. Asahel R. Wing of Fort
Edward ; Mr. Elmer J. West of Glens Falls ; Rev. John H.
Brandow of Schuylerville ; Hon. Grenville M. Ingalsbe of Sandy
Hill ; Col. William L. Stone of Mt. Vernon ; Mr. Morris Patterson


Ferris of New York city; Mr. George Grenville Benedict of
Burlington, Vt.

The following nominating committee were duly nominated and
elected, viz.: Hon. Grenville M. Ingalsbe of Sandy Hill, N. Y. ;
Hon. Frederick B. Richards of Ticonderoga, N. Y. ; Mr. James A.
Holden of Glens Falls, N. Y.

The meeting adjourned until three o'clock in the afternoon of
the same day, at which time the President's address was delivered
by the Hon. James A. Roberts, after which the historical address
upon " France and the American Revolution " was delivered by
Dr. James Breck Perkins of Rochester, N. Y.

A vote of thanks was unanimously extended to all of the
speakers who addressed the Association at this meeting, where-
upon the Association duly adjourned.

At a meeting of the trustees of the Association held imme-
diately thereafter

Present — The President, James A. Roberts, Dr. Daniel C. Farr,
Hon. Grenville M. Ingalsbe, James A. Holden, Robert O. Bascom,
Frederick B. Richards, Elwyn Seelye, Rev. William O. Stearns,
Mr. Sherman Williams, Mr. Francis W. Halsey, Dr. Joseph E.
King, Morris Patterson Ferris.

It was duly moved, seconded and carried that Dr. Daniel C.
Farr, Hon. Grenville M. Ingalsbe, and the Secretary be a com-
mittee upon program and arrangements for the ensuing year.

^Ir. Frederick B. Richards of Ticonderoga, N. Y., read a com-
munication from Mr. Wakeman upon the subject of " Marking
Historic Spots," and after some discussion the matter was re-
ferred to a committee of which Mr. Richards was duly elected
chairman with power to select his own associates.

The following named persons were duly elected members of
the Association :

George McAneny, No. 19 East Forty-seventh street, New York;
Rev. W. H. P. Hatch, Hartford, N. Y. : George Grenville Bene-


diet, Burlington, Vt. ; John Dwyer, Sandy Hill, N. Y. ; J. D.
Keating, Fort Edward, N. Y. ; John B. Conway, Argyle, N. Y. ;
S. R. Stoddard, Glens Falls, N. Y. ; Rev. Chas. W. Blake, Lake
George, N. Y. ; Thos. W. McArthur, Glens Falls, N. Y. ; Richard
Henry Greene, No. 2^^ Central West, New York city ; Dr. Wil-
liam Olin Stillman, No. 287 State street, Albany, N. Y. ; William
W. Kline, No. 725 North Fifth street, Reading, Pa.

The Treasurer's report was read and adopted and sundry bills
audited and ordered paid.

Dr. Sherman Williams of Glens Falls, N. Y., brought to the
attention of the Association the importance of " marking spots
of historic interest " in the vicinity of Lake George, Glens
Falls, Sandy Hill and Fort Edward, and after consideration the
following named committee were appointed to recommend to the
Association what places, in their judgment, were of sufficient
historic interest to be marked, and the committee were authorized
to solicit and raise funds necessary for such purposes.

The follow'ing named persons were thereupon duly elected a
committee for the purpose above mentioned : Dr. Sherman
Williams, Hon. Grenville ]\L Ingalsbe, Dr. Joseph E. King, after
which the meeting adjourned.



At a meeting of the Trustees of the New York State Historical
Association, held at the Hotel Ten E3xk, Albany, N. Y., on the
1 6th of January, 1904.

Present — Hon. James A, Roberts, President ; Hon. Grenville
M. Ingalsbe, Second Vice-President ; Robert O. Bascom, Secre-
tary ; F. B. Richards, Assistant Secretary ; Rev. John A. Brandow,
Trustee; Dr. Sherman Williams, Trustee.

The meeting was duly called to order by the President.
Hon. Grenville M. Ingalsbe called the attention of the Board
officially to the death of Dr. Daniel C. Farr, First Vice-President
of the Association.


Mr. Ingalsbe spoke briefly upon the life and character of
Dr. Daniel C. Farr, after which the Board of Trustees unani-
mously requested Judge Ingalsbe to prepare a memorial upon
the death of Dr. Farr to be presented at the next annual meeting
of the Association.

The Treasurer's report was read and adopted ; a brief summary
of the same is as follows :

Receipts to January 13, 1904 $118 65

Disbursements 108 82

The following named persons were duly elected members of
the Association :

Hon. William R. Hobbie, Greenwich, N. Y. ; Nelson Gillispie,
Hoosic Falls, N. Y. ; Dr. Chas. Ingraham, Center Cambridge,
N. Y. ; Louise Hardenburgh Meredith, San Luis Obispo, Cal.

The President, the Secretary and Mr. Brandow were duly
elected a committee to whom was referred the subject of the
adoption of an official badge for the Association, and the com-
mittee were given power to order the same.

Dr. Sherman Williams was elected a member of the Committee
on Program and Arrangements.

The subject of the time and place for the next annual meeting
was left with the committee upon program, who were instructed
to report at the next annual meeting as to the place for the
meeting in 1905.

This committee was also entrusted with power to determine
whether the annual meeting in 1904 should occupy one or two
days, after which the meeting adjourned.




Dr. Sherman Williams.

SOMETIJME during the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries an
offshoot of the great Dakota family began an eastward
movement. These people are commonly spoken of as the
Huron-Iroquois, though they are known by other names. The
eastward movement was not a rapid one, and there seems to have
been several places where they remained for a considerable time;
this was especially the case in the Mississippi valley. From this
point a portion of the people, whom we know as the Cherokees,
moved southward, and occupied the mountain region of eastern
Tennessee, northern Georgia, and western North Carolina.
About the same time the Tuscaroras and Nottaways settled on the
coast of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina.

Save for these diversions the Iroquois people kept together till
they reached the Niagara river, from which point they spread out
in a fan-shaped movement, covering the country from the Susque-
hanna river on the south, to the St. Lawrence on the north ; but
keeping a compact territory. On all sides of them were the
Algonquins. It was, so to speak, an Iroquois island in an Algon-
quin sea.

How early these people broke up into separate nations or
tribes is not known ; but at this time we find the Onondagas,
Oneidas, IMohawks and Hurons moving eastward along the north
shore of Lake Ontario. The Hurons settled in the territory
between the lake that bears their name and Lake Ontario. Along
the northern shore of Lake Erie, and south of the western part of
Lake Ontario, were what was known as the Neutral Nation ; to
the south of them, and south of Lake Erie, were the Eries. The
Susquehannocks passed eastward into the valley that bears their
name. The Cayugas and Senecas were south of Lake Ontario,


and east of the Eries. The Oneidas, Onondagas and Mohawks
kept along the north shore of Lake Ontario, and passed into the
valley of the St. Lawrence. The Mohawks were the most numer-
ous and powerful of these tribes and remained longest in that
country. Just when the other tribes entered the State of New
York is not certain, but the Oneidas settled in this State a con-
siderable time before the Mohawks left Canada. The Onondagas
retraced their steps and first settled in New York near Oswego.
Not very much is known of the various movements of the Iroquois
before their final settlement in this State.

When the Mohawks settled in the valley of the St. Lawrence
they made their capital at Quebec. Their kindred, the Hurons,
made their capital at Montreal, on the island. They named their
capital Hochelaga. At a later period the Mohawks and Hurons
engaged in war and the Hurons were driven out and the Mohawks
occupied Hochelaga as their capital. It is probable that the
Mohawks were at this time at the height of their power. They
dominated the country from the lower St. Lawrence valley to the
headwaters of the Mohawk. \'ermont and the Adirondacks were
their hunting grounds. They were continually at war with some
of the surrounding tribes. For some reason, not now known, the
Hurons and all the northern Algonquin tribes joined in war
against the Mohawks. A long and bitter contest followed, which
resulted in the expulsion of the Mohawks. It is said that disease
and famine were added to the misfortunes of war. B-e this as it
may they vv^ere driven out of the country, and greatly reduced in
numbers, and somewhat humbled in spirit, they settled just to the
east of their kindred, the Oneidas, in the valley that still bears their
name. Just when this occurred is not known, but when Cartier
was in Canada, in 1535, he found a Mohawk town at Montreal
and when Champlain came, in 1609, the place was deserted; so
their expulsion must have occurred between these dates.

The Oneidas were a dependency of the Mohawks and the rela-
tion between them must have been close. When the Onondagas
entered New York they must have come more or less in contact
with the Oneidas who were their neighbors on the east. The
same must have been true in regard to their western neighbors.


the Cayugas. The Senecas were as closely related to the Cayugas
as were the Mohawks to the Oneidas. It will be seen, therefore,
that at this early day it is more than possible that there was some
understanding between these kindred people, and that the league
may have had its beginning as early as 1450, as is claimed by some
writers. It is probable that the growth of such a league among
such a rude people as were the Iroquois would be a plant of very
slow growth.

It is now generally believed that the league was not fully per-
fected earlier than 1570.

Doubtless the purpose of the confederacy was to put an end to
internal warfare and to strengthen themselves against outside
foes. An attempt was made to bring all the Iroquois people into
the confederacy, but only the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas,
Cayugas and Senecas joined. They were known as the Five
Nations till the Tuscaroras came up from the south and entered
the confederacy after which they were spoken of as the Six
Nations. The feeling against the Iroquois tribes who would not
join the confederacy was very bitter. They were regarded as
traitors and pursued as relentlessly as were the Algonquins.
They were all ultimately subdued or exterminated.

When the white people first came to this country the Iroquois
dominated nearly all the country east of the Mississippi, and from
the St. Lawrence on the north to the Gulf of Mexico on the
south. Some of the tribes had been practically exterminated, the
few survivors being adopted into some one of the Iroquois nations.
Other tribes had been conquered. In such cases a few of the
Iroquois people usually dwelt with the subjugated people to keep
watch upon their actions. On every hand the Iroquois were
feared. They had driven the Mohegans into the valley of the
Connecticut and so completely broken their spirit, that if a single
Iroquois appeared in their country they would flee in terror cry-
ing, "A Mohawk ! A Alohawk ! "

The Iroquois, at this time, had extenninated their old enemies,
the Adirondacks, the Algonquin tribe with whom they first came
in contact when they entered the valley of the St. Lawrence.
The Hurons and the remaining Algonquin tribes on the north
kept up a continual war against them.


This was the condition of affairs when, in 1609, Champlain
came to Canada. He was very desirous of cultivating friendly
relations with the Indians of Canada, so he accompanied a war
party of Hurons and Algonquins on an expedition against the

They passed up the Richelieu river and through Lake Cham-
plain to a point near Ticonderoga, where they met a war party
of IMohawks largely outnumbering them, but such was the con-
fidence of the Algonquins in Champlain that they did not hesitate
to make an attack. In the fight which followed Champlain fired
his musket, which he had loaded with slugs, and killed one
Mohawk chief and wounded others. His two white companions
fired with similar results. It was the first contact of the
Iroquois with white men. They were wholly ignorant of fire-
arms. It is not to be wondered at that they fled in terror when
they saw their companions falling dead without any cause that
they could comprehend.

If the shot fired by Champlain was not like that of the em-
battled farmers at Concord " heard round the world," it, at least,
reverberated here for a century and a half, and possibly changed
the destinies of a continent. Their defeat at the hands of Cham-
plain rankled in the breasts of the Iroquois. They felt it to be a
disgrace that must be washed out at all hazards, and at any cost,
but for the time being they felt themselves powerless.

The same year that Champlain passed down the lake that has
since borne his name Hudson entered the harbor of New York
and passed up the river to the head of navigation. The Dutch
settlements soon followed and the Iroquois obtained fire-arms
from the Dutch in trade with them, and in course of time became
skilled in their use. Thirty-three years after their defeat by
Champlain, when, perhaps, not one of the number engaged in the
conflict was still living, the Iroquois felt that the time had come
to wash the disgrace from their memory, and take full revenge
for the insult put upon them. They fitted out a great expedition
and mvaded Canada. They came near wiping out the French
settlements and destroying the Algonquin nation, and very likely
would have done so but for the timely arrival of troops from


France. As it was they killed great numbers and took many
prisoners, among the number the noted and devoted Jesuit mis-
sionary, Father Jogues. This expedition was the beginning of a
series of incursions into Canada that were carried on with such
persistence and ferocity that a waiter of the time says, "A man
could neither hunt, fish, fell a tree nor till the soil in all Canada
without danger of being murdered by some lurking Iroquois."
It was also said that the Iroquois w'ere " the scourge of God upon
the aborigines of the continent." They exterminated the Fries,
overthrew one Algonquin tribe after another, and finally drove
the remaining ones under the walls of Quebec for protection ; but
even here they w^ere not safe. They drove them out of the valley
of the St. Lawrence and pursued them to the shores of Lake
Superior where they massacred great numbers of them at a place
still know^n as Point Iroquois.

The Iroquois w^ere good haters and had long memories. An
injury was never forgotten nor forgiven. They thought nothing
of a journey of a thousand miles, if at the end of it they could
satisfy their vengeance. A single Iroquois, or a small party of
them, would follow an enemy for days or weeks, waiting and
watching for a favorable moment of attack.

They were the strongest, in many ways the noblest, and alto-
gether the most interesting aboriginal people on this continent
north of Mexico. They had a strong government, made per-
manent conquests and established colonies. It is interesting to
study some of the causes of their superiority. They were never
a numerous people. It is doubtful if their numbers ever reached
twenty thousand, but they w^ere by far the most warlike Indians
east of the Mississippi. They have been called " The Romans of
the West." They proudly called themselves " Ongwe-honwe,"
" men surpassing all others." They were brave in battle, skilled
as diplomats and noted as orators. With them war w-as the
business of life. The council was a recreation, and hunting, fish-
ing and trapping something that had to be done. They had great
war captains, like Brant and King Hendrick ; noted orators, such
as Red Jacket and Logan. Of the latter Jefferson said his appeal
to the white race was without a rival.


The location of the Iroquois was an element of power of great
consequence. They were situated on high ground where streams
had their origin that found their final outlet in the great lakes, the
Gulf of St. Lawrence, New York, Delaware and Chesapeake bays,
and by the way of the Ohio river, the Mississippi river and the
Gulf of Mexico. In their light birch bark canoes, by means of
short carries, they could reach, by water, almost any part of the
great territory that they dominated. Their attacks could be made
so suddenly that their enemies had no warning of their coming,
and were, therefore, unprepared to meet them. They held what
General Grant once declared to be the military key of the continent.

But neither their location, nor their character, nor both com-
bined, could have made them as pre-eminent as they were without
their form of government, which was a most remarkable organiza-
tion for savages to effect. It resembled our own to a considerable
extent. Each nation was a distinct republic so far as its own
domestic affairs were concerned, but all were bound together in
matters of general interest. Each nation was divided into eight
clans known as the Wolf, the Bear, the Beaver, the Turtle, the
Deer, the Snipe, the Heron and the Hawk. There were in each
nation at least eight principal sachems, one for each clan. In
making treaties the sachems affixed to the document a rude draw-
ing of the animal representing their clan. This was called their
totem. All told there were fifty sachems divided among the
nations as follows : The Onondagas, fourteen ; the Cayugas, ten ;
the Mohawks and Oneidas, nine each, and the Senecas, eight.
When the Tuscaroras joined the league they were allowed sachems
for their own local affairs, but they were not permitted to become
members of the general council and so have a part in the affairs
of the confederacy. The fifty sachems constituted what was
known as the Council of the League. They combined the legis-
altive, executive and judicial authority of the nation.

The meetings of the council were held annually, in the autumn,
at Onondaga. Aside from these regular meetings special meet-
ings might be called at any time or place. The council declared
war, made peace, received ambassadors, entered into treaties, in
a word decided all matters of political, military, social and reli-


gious action. In order to secure favorable action on any question
it was necessary to have an unanimous vote of all the sachems
present. In debate a speaker was never interrupted, and there
rarely was any heat. Each presented his views in the best
manner he could, usually repeating the substance of all that had
been said by those who preceded him. This habit frequently made
their debates tediously long. Important councils would last for

The sachems as a body managed the civil affairs of the league,
and the sachems of each nation performed the same service for
their respective people. The office of sachem was hereditary,
but upon the death of a sachem his successor did not enter upon
the duties of his office till he had been " raised " with proper cere-
monies by the council. The name as well as the office was
hereditary, each sachem bearing the name of his predecessor.

No sachem could, in his official capacity, go to war. If he
wished to take part in a war he must, for the time being, lay
aside his civil authority.

Aside from the council already mentioned there was, during a
portion of the existence of the confederacy, what was known as
the Great Council, consisting of one member from each of the
nations except the Senecas who were allowed two because of
their greater numbers. This council had only advisory powers.

Besides the sachems there were war chiefs chosen because of
their merit. This office was not hereditary, nor was the number
of chiefs limited. They were the military leaders. When war
was declared it was sometimes carried on by means of great
expeditions carefully planned by the nation, but more frequentlv
the expeditions were individual matters. Some chief would
decide on an expedition and call for volunteers. The party
would be large or small, as the chief was capable, and the bitter-
ness toward the enemy was great, or the reverse. If several
chiefs set out on an expedition to the same point, each would be
independent in his movements, unless some strong will or per-
suasive personage secured general control for the time being by
common consent. It is evident that with this method no large
number could be induced to enter upon a war that was not popular.


In this respect the Iroquois had the most democratic government

The chiefs achieved their position through their own valor, skill
or abiHty. This class was made up of the best talent of the nation.
Practically all the prominent warriors and orators of the Iroquois
belonged to it. Logan was the only sachem to make a name in
history. Neither the elected war chief nor the hereditary sachem
lived in any way better than his fellows. In fact, he frequently
was worse off because his position led him to be liberal in the
care of others, even to the extent of impoverishing himself. In
the Iroquois Confederacy there was no aristocracy, though the
sachemship seemed to be of that nature. There was no accumula-
tion of wealth for individual welfare. There was no biting
poverty, save when all were poor together.

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Online LibraryNew York State Historical Association. Meeting. cnProceedings of the New York State Historical Association : ... annual meeting with constitution and by-laws and list of members (Volume 4) → online text (page 1 of 9)