Samuel W Durant.

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

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Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 10 of 192)
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those delivered up by the Mohawks. Ki-ot-s<i-ton, a re-
nowned Iroquois orator, made a famous .speech, at the end

* C'jllcd

of which a grand peaee-danoe was engaged in by all the
nations present.

In September of the same year a grand council was held
at Three Rivers, at which all the nations of the northwestern
regions of Canada and the Iroquois met together and cele-
brated with pomp and ceremony the great peace which had
been concluded. Couture, the missionary, who had been
given up by the Iroquois, voluntarily returned with them to
the forest to found a new mission, which, as Parkman ob-
serves, " was christened in advance with a prophetic name,"
" The Mission of the Martyrs." In the spring of 1646,
Jogues, who had been in Montreal for the past two years,
also returned to the valley of the Mohaxck. It was during
his journey that he christened Lake George Lac St. Saere-
ment, which name it bore until Sir William John.son, more
than a century later, rechristened it, in honor of his sov-
ereign. Lake George. He went this time in the capacity of
an ambassador, empowered to explain the wishes of his
superior, and loaded with gifts for his red allies. After the
completion of his mis.sion, Jogues returned to Fort Riche-
lieu. In August he was ordered by a council of the Jesuits
to repair once more to the post among the Mohawks. He
returned accompanied by a young man named Lalande.

On their arrival they found a great change in the feelings
of the savages. One of the tribes, that of the Bear, had
become convinced that all the evils which were befalling
them were brought upon them by the sorceries of these
Jesuits, aiid they were howling for war. The other two
tribes were for preserving peace, but the war-party, although
in the minority, prevailed, and the first thing the savages
did was to kill the two missionaries. Their bodies were
flung into the Mohawk, and their heads set upon poles.
This occurred in October, 1646.

War to the knife was now declared, and all the Jluhawk
tribes joined in raising men and sending them on the war-
path towards Canada. They plundered and burned Fort
Richelieu, on the outlet of Lake Champlain, and carried
death and desolation throughout the provinces. They sur-
prised an Algonquin town, whose warriors were all absent on
a hunt, and captured the women and children, and partly
.by treachery succeeded in killing or capturing nearly the
whole party of hunters, among whom was Fiskaret, the
famous chief before spoken of, who was mot alone and slain
by a sword- thrust through the body.

The terrible war row opened lasted, with little cessation,
until 1650, and ended in the almost total destruction of the
Canadian nations and the breaking up of all the missions
of the Jesuits.

In 1654 war broke out between the Senecas and the
Fries, a nation dwelling to the westward of the former, and
having their council-fire at or near where the city of Buff"alo
now stands.f Father Simon Le Moyne, who visited the
Onondagas in August and September of that year, returned
and reported that the Iroquois were all on fire with enthu-
siasm, and were about to march against the Erics with
1800 warriors. A treaty of peace had been concluded only
the year before, but a slight outbreak had precipitated war,
which, however, in this instance, was waged against their

I The Sciiccit name of BufTalo is Du'-slia-tvch.{" splitting the forlt").



Indian enemies alone, who wore speedily overcome and
almost exterminated.

The Muluiwks had in the mean time been carrj'ing on a
war against the Aiuhistes, a powerful nation, who dwelt on
the head-waters of the Susquehanna and Delaware, and who
so bravely defended themselves that the 3Iokawks were
badly beaten and reduced to the utmost straits. About this
time, also, the Mohicans, from Now England, were making
terrible inroads into their country. But the brave Aii-
dasles, after defending themselves for years against the four
Eastern nations of the Iroquois, were finally conquered about
1675, though a remnant of them, under the Tiame of the
Coiicstogas, continued in existence until 1763, when they
were inhumanly butchered by the white ruffians known as
the " Paxton Boys," who were fur years the terror of the
whole region of Eastern Pennsylvania.

These exhausting wars had told heavily upon the Con-
federacy, wlios;; war-force had been reduced to about 2000
men, and more than fifty per cent, of those were made up
of a medley of adopted prisoners, — Ilarons, Neutrals, Eru;s,
and various other nations. Still, their spirits were unsubdued,
and they pushed their war-parties to Hudson's Bay on the
north, to the Mississippi and Lake Superior on the west, and
to the Tennessee on the south, and remained for yet another
half-century the terror and the scourge of New France.

It is stated in the " Documentary History of New York,"
that in 1656 Sieur dc Lauzon erected a fort on Onondaga
Lake (called by the Indians Gd-uun-ta'-ali), and placed in
it a garrison, and also made grants of land in the vicinity.
An officer named Du Puys was placed over the garrison,
and Father Dablon and three other Jesuits accompanied the
expedition for the purpose of founding a mission. This
seems to have boon a bona fide attempt of the French to
found a colony in Central New York ; but for some unex-
plained reason the settlement was entirely abandoned in
the .spring of 1658, and the colonists returned to Canada.

In 1665-66 oecurrod the expeditions of the French under
De Courcelles and De Tracy against the Mohawks, which
resulted in very little save in stirring up a greater hatred
among the savages against the French.

In 1667, Rev. Etienne de Carheil was sent to Onondaga
as a njis-sionary. He soon after removed to Cayuga, where
he remained until 1671, when he returned to Canada on
account of ill health. -

The first Catholic missionary to the Oneida nation was
Father James Bruyas, said to have been a native of Lyons,
France, who established a mission in the summer of 1667,
and labored for .some time among the Mohawks, Uui-ahis,
and Oaondagas, but with indifferent success. He was
succeeded by Father Milet in 1671. Father Bruyas was
Superior of all the French missions of Canada from 16'J3
to 1699. He was envoy to Boston in 1700 and to Onon-
daga in 1701-2. He was said to have been the best philol-
ogist of the Mohawk language of his time, and compiled
many valuable works in that tongue. Father Jlilet estab-
lished the "Sodality of the Holy Family" at Oneida.

In 1668, Rev. Father Pierre Milet* was sent as u mis-
sionary to the Onondagas, where he labored until 1671,

'"=■' Tliis name is .also wi-itlcn Pefcr Milett. Hu currc.-poiulcil with
Fatiicr Diiblon and llcv. (jodfixdiiis Dulliiis wliilu a pri:?uncr.

when he removed to the Oneida nation, with whom he
continued^uiitil 1684. In 1689 he was captured by the
Oncldus, and held a prisoner among them until 1694,
when he escaped or was released, and returned to Quebec.

The missionary who continued longest with the Iroqvols
was Rev. Julien Gamier, who was sent among the Oneldas
in 1067, and who labored among the Ouondagas and Cayu-
gas. He was also with the Senecas from 1671 to 1683.
Lafitau, the historian, says he spent more than sixty years,
altogether, among the missions, and was well acquainted
with the Algonquin, Huron, and Iroquois languages.

Another Canadian missionary was the Rev. Father Raf-
feix, in 1670-71, who, in describing the Indian country,
writes as follows : " Cayuga is the finest country I have
seen in America. It is situated in latitude 42i°; the
needle dips there scarcely more than ten degrees. It lies
between two lakes, and is no more than four leagues wide,
almost continuous plains, and the timber on their borders
is very fine. . . I find the inhabitants of Cayuga more
docile and less fierce than the Onondngas and Oneldas."

Rev. Father Jean de Lamberville was among the Iroquois
for many years subsecjuent to 1671, principally with the
Ouondagas. A younger brother, Jacques de Lamberville,
was with him for a considerable time. The elder brother
seems to have remained until about 1687. He often
officiated as mediator between the Iroqnuui and the French,
and was for some time Superior of the missions. He acted
a prominent part in the negotiations carried on by La Barre
in 1684, in conjunction with the veteran pioneer, Charles
le Moyne; and again in 1687, when Denonville, while
planning a gigantic expedition against the Indians, was at
the same time using every diplomatic art to preserve the
peace. When the Indians discovered this double-dealing
they did not blame the missionary, but sent him to Canada,
lest in their wrath the young warriors should slay him.

The Franciscan Recollct Friar, Louis Hennepin, after-
wards celebrated as the companion of La Salle, was stationed
at Fort Frontenac in 1677. In the winter of 1677-78,
in company with ii soldier, he crossed the outlet of Lake
Ontario, and made a journey on to the Iroquois
country, visiting the Onondagas, Oneldas, and Mohawks,
and returning as he came, over the snow-clad hills and
valleys, to the St. Lawrence.


The following account of a French colony located in what
is now the town of Pompey, Onondaga County, we find in
Stone's " Life of Joseph Brant." It was originally published
in "A Meiudir on the Antiquities of the Western Parts of
the State of New York," by Governor De Witt Clinton.
It is said that the statement was compiled partly from the
traditions of the Iroquois, and partly from the manuscript
journal of a French Jesuit.

" From the Jesuit's journal it appears that in the year
1666, at the request of Kar-akon-tle, an Onondaga chief-
tain, a French colony was directed to repair to Ins village
for the purpose of teaching the Indians arts and sciences,
and to endeavor, if practicable, to civilize and Christianize

them .

'' We learn from the sachems that at this time the Indians



had a fort a short distance above the village of Jamesville,
on the banks of a small stream near, a little above which it
seems the chieftain, Kdr-a-kuii-tic, would have his now friends
sit down. Accordingly they repaired thither and commenced
their labors, which, being greatly aided by the savages, a
few months only were necessary to the building of a small

" Tliis little colony remained for three years in a very
peaceable and flourishing condition, during which time much
addition was made to the establishment, and, among others,
a small chapel, in which the Jesuit used to collect the bar-
barians and perform the rites and ceremonies of his church.

" But the dire circumstance which was to bury this col-
ony in oblivion, and keep their history in secret, was yet to
come. About this time (1669) a party of Spaniards, con-
sisting of twenty-three persons, arrived at the village, hav-
ing for guides some of the Iroquois, who had been taken
captives by the Southern tribes. It appears evident that
this party came up the JMissis.sippi, as it has been ascertained
that they passed Pittsburgh and on to Oleau Point, where,
leaving their canoes, they traveled by land. They had been
informed by some of the Southern tribes that there was a
lake at the north of them whose bottom was covered with
a substance shining and white, and which they took, from
the Indians' description, to be silver, and it is supposed that
the idea of enriching themselves upon this treasure induced
them to take this long and desperate journey, for silver was
the first thing inquired for on their arrival; and on being
told that none was ever seen in or about the Oaoiiddga
lake they became almost frantic and seemed bent upon a
quarrel with the French, and charged theui with having
bribed the Indians, and even who had been their
guides, that they would not tell where the mines might be
found. Nor dare they, finding the French influence to pre-
vail, venture out on a search, lest the Indians might de-
stroy them. A compromise, however, was made, and both
parties agreed that an equal number of each should be sent
on an exploring expedition, which was accordingly done.
But the effect of this upon the minds of the Indians was
fatal. Upon seeing these strangers prowling the woods
with various kinds of instruments, they immediately sus-
pected some plan to be in operation to deprive them of their

'' Nor was this jealousy by any means hushed by the Eu-
ropeans. The Spaniards averred to the Indians that the
only object of the French was to tyrannize over them, and
the French, on the other hand, that the Spaniards were
plotting a scheme to rob them of their lands.

" The Indians by this lime becoming equally jealous of
both, determined, in private council, to rid themselves of so
troublesome neighbors. For aid in this they sent private
instructions to the Oneidas and Cayiigas, who only wanted
a watchword to be found immediately on the ground. The
matter was soon digested and the time and manner of attack
agreed upon. A little before daybreak, on All-Saints' day,
1669, the little colony, together with the Spaniards, were
aroused from their slumbers by the roaring of fire-arms and
the dismal war-whoop of the savages. Every house was
immediately fired or broken open, and such as attempted to
escape from the flames met a more untimely death in the

tomahawk. Merciless multitudes overpowered the little
band, and the Europeans were soon either lost in death or
writhing in their blood, and such was the furious prejudice
of the savages that not one escaped, or was left alive to re-
late the sad disaster. Thus perished the little colony whose
labors have excited so much wonder and curiosity.

" The B^-eiich in Canada, on making inquiries respecting the
fate of their friends, were informed by tlie Indians that they
had gone towards the south with a company of people who
came from thence, and at the same time showing a Spanish
coat of arms, and other national trinkets, confirmed the Cana-
dian French in the opinion that their unfortunate countrymen
had indeed gone thither, and in all probability perished in
the immense forests. This opinion was also measurably
confirmed by a Frenchman who had long lived with the
Seiiecns, and who visited the Oiiondagas at the time the
Spaniards were at the village, but left .before the disaster,
and could only say that he had seen them there."

This account is also substantially confirmed by the finding
of various relics, among which have been a blacksmith's
vise, guns, axes, swords, and many kinds of implements.
A curious stone was also dug up, evidently of European
origin, and inscribed with Latin characters.


In 1673, Count Frontenac, then Grovernor-Grcneral of
New France, constructed a palisade fort on the site where
La Salle built Fort Frontenac a few years later, ostensibly
for the purpose of having a more convenient trading-post
for the Indians, but really as a barrier against the incur-
sions of the Iroquois, and as a base for future military and
naval operations. This proceeding was looked upon by the
Iroquois with a jealous eye, though they attended a grand
council held by the count on the 17th of July, and pre-
tended to be satisfied with the transaction. The stockade
was called Fort Cataraqui. It was granted to La Salle
shortly afterwards, who rebuilt it of stone and named it
after the Governor, Fort Frontenac.

It was during La Barre's preparations for a campaign
against the Iroquois, in 1684, that the English Governor
of New York, Colonel Thomas Dongan, sent a Butch inter-
preter to Onondaga to explain the understanding between
the Indians and the king. This interpreter was Arnold
Viele, and by a very foolish course he accomplished the
very reverse of what the Governor had desired. Viele
rode from Albany on horseback through the Mohawk Val-
ley, stopping at each Indian town along the way and fixing
the arms of the Duke of York upon a post as a charm against
the French, which did not, however, deceive the wily leaders
of the Indians. The interpreter passed through the princi-
pal Oneida town, which he describes as containing about
100 bark houses, and twice as many warriors.

Durin" the spring and summer of 1684, La Barre
gathered a strong force at Fort Frontenac, while at the
same time he was straining every nerve to persuade the
Indians to a treaty of peace whicli should be to the advan-
tage of the French ; and there was a groat amount of sharp
diplomacy carried on by Charles le Moyne and Father Lam-
berville on the one hand, and by Viele, the Dutch inter-
preter, and Garangula, or Big Mouth, the famous Onondaga



orator, on the other, wliich ended in ,, conference at La
Famine, and the complete bacliinir down of La Barre fiom
his higli pretensions. The Iroquois statesmen and orators
in fiict gained a Yiotory over both the French and English
in this diplomatic game, and maintained their haughty in-
dependence of both Onontio and Corlear.

This discomfiture of La Barre, joined to the clamors of
the people of Canada, caused the king to recall him and
send M. Denonville to act in his stead. The new Governor
fuund the country in a lamentable condition, exposed every
moment to the attacks of the savages, who violated treaties
with impunity whenever tliey thought there was a fair
prospect of obtaining scalps or plunder at little cost.

Denonville, seeing the haughty manner of the Iroquois,
and coming to the conclusion that a more binding treaty
or a war were necessary to settle the question, set himself
energetically to work to accomplisli the end. A sharp cor-
respondence succeeded between him and Dongan, and secret
emissaries were employed on both sides. In this diplo-
macy the elder De Laniberville was of great service to the
French. But all the manoeuvrings in the interest of peace
were unsuccessful, and the French Grovernor prepared for
an overwhelming invasion of the country of the Senccas,
whom the Governor rightly considered as the most powerful
and warlike nation of the Confederacy, the humbling of
whom would bring the remaining nations to terms.

A motley army of Fi'encli regular troops, Canadian vol-
unteers, co((riers de Lois, and a swarm of Indians, gathered
from every part of Canada and from Michigan and Illinois,
and, amounting to about oOOO men, was assembled at
Irondequoit Bay. Among their leaders were many famous
names. Tonty, the companion of La Salle, had come from
the Illinois with a band of French and Indians ; La
Durantaye and Du Lhut appeared from Mackinaw and
Detroit, with 180 couriers de hois, and 400 Ottawa and
Huron Indians, in whose ranks was the black robe of the
Jesuit Engelran ; Callieres, the Governor of Montreal, led
the vanguard ; Denonville himself commanded the main
body, accompanied by the Chevalier de Vaudreuil; and at
the head of their own retainers were the Canadian noblesse,
Berthier, La Valterie, Granville, Longueil, and many
others more or less fomous in the history of New France.

This force, so when we take into consideration
the sparseness of the. French population,* and the great
difficulty of collecting the cuiiriers de Lois and Indians from
so wide an area, moved in battle array through the forest
until it encountered a strong war-party of the Senccas
lying in ambush.

A desperate and bloody fight ensued, but the savages
were soon put to flight by the gi-eatly superior numbers of
their enemies, with serious loss, and the army marched on
until it reached their most important town, which the
Abb6 Belmont called the famous " Babylon of the
Senecas." But the French found it in ruins, and every-
thing destroyed save a few caclihs of corn of the last year's
crop. The people were all dispersed in the forest, and even
the warriors had disappeared.

The army remained ten days, destroying the growing

S' In 1088 estimatcrj at about 11,000.

corn, of wliich there was a large area. The estimated
amount destroyed, including old corn in cnchi, was over
1,000,000 bushels, — evidently an exaggerated one. Great
numbers of hogs were also killed, and the desolation was
complete. On the 24th of July, Denonville withdrew his
whole force to Irondequoit Bay, having sustained a loss of
about 30 killed and wounded. The loss of the Seiicais
was supposed to have been over 100. Three of their
villan-os, situated at a little distance from their capital, were
also destroyed.!

From Irondequoit Bay, where the French had erected
fortifications, the army proceeded by water to Niagara,
where a stockade fort was erected on the site of La Salle's
fort, built nine years before, but then in ruins.

Leaving at this one hundred men, under the
Chevalier de Troyes, Denonville re-embarked his army
and returned to Montreal. This little band of soldiers
was reduced by scurvy to ten or twelve feeble wretches
during the course of the following winter, and the fort was
abandoned the succeeding year, partly on account of the
difficulty of maintaining it, but more to placate the Seii-
e.cas and Governor Dongan, whom its presence greatly

In 16S8 the Onondiigas, Cayngas, and Oneidas sent
delegates to Montreal, among whom was Big Mouth, or
Gariingiila, and it is said that the enibas-sy was escorted
by no less than 1200 warriors. In the conference which
followed Big JMouth bore himself as a haughty conqueroi',
and declared that but for his influence the French settle-
ments would all have been destroyed.

A declaration of neutrality, to continue until deputies
from all the nations of the Confederacy could meet at
Montreal for a general treaty, was drawn up and signed.
Big Mouth affixing the figures of sundry birds and animals
as the signatures of himself and fellow-chiefs.J

The time for the meeting arrived, but the deputies did
not appear. The cause was soon explained. Among the
Huron nation was a famous chief named Kon-di-a-ronk, or
the Jiat. He was then in the prime of life, a great warrior
and a sage counselor. When he heard of the peace pre-
liminaries he was strongly opposed to their ratification
unless the Canadian nations were included in the terms,
which ho well knew would not be the case, for the French
Governor was only too willing to conclude peace upon any
terms that would give security to his people. Satisfied,
from inffuiries which he made at Foi't Frontenac, that the
crafty Iroquois, the moment peace was concluded with the
French, would fall upon his nation, Kou-di-a-rouk, learning
that the deputies were then on their way from Onondaga,
very quietly led a party, variously estimated at from 40 to
100, across Lake Ontario and into one of the arms of Black
River Bay (probably Henderson Harbor), where, secreting
his canoes, he lay in wait four or five days for the embassy
from Onondaga; and when the advanced party, oon.sisting
of Te-gaa-i-so-reiis, a famous chief, and three others,
accompanied by a small number of warriors, landed near
him, the wily Rat fired upon them, killed one of the chiefs

I It was (luring this cxijejition that possession was taken
of tlic country of tlie Seiiecan by tlie French Governor.
I See Col. DoouuientB, ix., 385, 386.



atid wounded the otliers, and then, rusliiiig fi'um his con-
coahnciit, made the whole pavty prisoners.

The astonishnient and anger that took possession of the
omljassy at this nmrdevous treatnient was only equaled hy
the well-dissembled sorrow and contrition of Koii-di-a-roiilc,
when ho pretended to learn for the first time the peaceful
character of their mission. Ho declared that he had been
set on by the Governor of Canada, and that he had sup-
posed them tlie advance of a great war-party. He poured
invectives on the head of Denonville, and solemnly declared
that he should never be satisfied until the Five Nations
fell upon the French and took ample revenge for their
treachery. Then, giving them guns and ammunition, he
sent them on their way to Onondaga, well pleased with hi.^
treatment, but breathing vengeance against the Governor.

Knn-di-a-ronk returned to Fort Frontenac, and when
leaving its gates to return to his own country he coolly
remarked, " I have killed the peace. We shall see how
the Governor will get out of this business." He then de-
parted for Mackinaw, taking with him a single Loqwiit:
prisoner, whom he had retained, as he said, to be adopted
in the place of one of his warriors who had been killed.

Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 10 of 192)