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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actively engaged against the French; in that of the Revolution he
espoused that of the colonies, and ever afterwards remained a firm
friend of the United States. Under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Kirk-
land he embraced the doctrines of the Gospel ; and, having exhibited
their power in a long life, adorned by every Christian virtue, he fell
asleep in Jesus, at the advanced age of one hundred years."

The following description of the annual Indian fishing-
feast, at the forks of Fish creek, is from Hon. P. Jones'
"Annals of Oneida County" :

" It was held in the opening of the year, when the leaves
on the trees had acquired the size of a fox's ear. In their
estimation it was an occasion of importance, and was con-
ducted with much ceremony. Every family in the tribe
was expected to be present by one or more representatives.
Until after the feast, by their laws, none were allowed to
fish for salmon. When the whole party had convened, op-
erations were commenced by driving a row of sticks across
the stream, just below the fishing-ground, and filling the
inter-stioes with brush, so as to entirely prevent the escape
of a fish. They then went quite a distance above the fish-
injj-ground, and by various devices searched out and drove
all the salmon down to the ground selected. Then another
row of stakes and brush, like the first, was placed across
the stream, above the fish. All being thus made ready, the
taking of the fish commenced. The old men, women, and
children were stationed at the lower obstruction and along
the margin of the stream to secure the wounded and dying,
while the more effective portion of the party, with spears
and sharpened stakes, commenced taking their now doomed
captives. Their aim was to spear them and carry them
ashore; but, from the imperfection of their instruments,
they more frequently failed than were successful, and se-
curing the wounded at the lower weir was an operation full
as exciting to the old men and boys as was the spearing to
the fishermen in the stream above. When all were taken
that were within the inclosure, — which frequently amounted
to hundreds, — the cooking and feasting commenced. It
was comparatively a feast of ' first fruits,' and lasted until
all were satisfied with the boiled, roasted, and broiled, when
the remnant was apportioned to each family in the tribe,
according to its number of souls."

The following paragraphs, illustrative of various expe-
riences with the Indians, are also extracted from Mr. Jones'
work.

" In March, 1787, Moses Foot, Esq., with eight other
families, removed from New England to the village of
Clinton, and commenced the settlement of that section of
the county. A short time after their arrival they held a
council with the chiefs of the Oneida tribe, which resulted
in the following covenant : ' If the cattle of the whites,
for the purpose of grazing in the woods, went on the In-
dian grounds, or the cattle of the Indians came on the lands
of the whites, that were not inclosed, they were not to be
molested ; but should the cattle of either party stray away
and the other party know where they were, notice was to
be given to the owners, that the cattle might be reclaimed.
Either party might dig ginseng on the other's land, but
neither party was to cut any timber belonging to the oppo-
site party.'

" One or two years afterwards, a party of the Oneidas,



HISTORy OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



25



headed by the oelebi-alod Sauoy Nick, came and fonned a
camp about two miles west of the village, for the purpose
of digLrinii; ginseng, where they remained several days. One
of the settlers missed a fine fat steer, and on making search
found some of the offals secreted near the Indian camp,
but the birds had flown, — not an Indian was to be found.

" This was on the morning of the day appointed for the
inspection of the militia. The Governor, to prevent the
trouble and expense of going some thirty or forty miles to
meet their regiment at the German Flats, had issued his
orders that a major should attend at Clinton, and inspect
the two small companies, then all the organized military in
the State west of the said German Flats. The.se two com-
panies were the germs of the 20th and 134th Regiments,
the two oldest regiments in the county. On the news of
the Indian depredation reaching the settlement, a party of
some ten or twelve armed young men started in pursuit.

'' They soon got upon their trail, and followed them up
the Oriskany Creek to some point above the forks, where
they had crossed over, crossing the south branch near the
present site of Waterville ; they then returned on that side
of the creek, passing but a short distance in the rear of
Clinton, pursuing their course for the trading-house of John
Post, near Fort Schuyler (now tlie city of Utica). When
the pursuers came to the Sauquoit Creek, near the site of
New Hartford, the indications were such they were confi-
dent the Indians were but a few minutes in advance.
They, therefore, divided their party ; one-half, the mo.st
active, taking a circuitous route, to get in front, while the
rest were to follow in the rear. The plan succeeded admir-
ably, for in a short time they had the whole party prisoners.
The Indians at first stoutly denied having any knowledge
of the steer, but the whites not being so easily duped, pro-
ceeded to search their packs, when, on opening that of
Saucy Nick, the hide and bell of the missing animal made
their appearance. The proof being now too convincing to
render any further denial beneficial, some of them frankly
confessed to having killed and eaten tlie steer. The In-
dians were, therefore, all taken back to Clinton as pris-
oners.

" At some point of time after the capture, Saucy Nick
being very obstinate, one of the party by the name of Cook,
a large, athletic man, became so exasperated that he was
about to strike him with his rifle, which another of the
party prevented by seizing the rifle ; yet Cook succeeded
in giving him a blow with his cane.

'•Notwithstanding the length of the pursuit, the military
had not dispersed when the party with the prisoners re-
turned to the settlement. The Indians then requested the
favor of letting one of their number go to Oneida to
acquaint their chiefs of the situation in which they had
placed tliomselves ; engaging that the messenger should
return tlie next morning by the time the sun was an hour
high, and that the rest of them would remain under guard
as hostages.

" The request was granted, and the rumier fijrthwith des-
patched. The messenger punctually returned the next
morning at the time specified.

" In the course of the forenoon Scanandoa, Beechtree, and
about twenty other Oncidn chiefs arrived, and re(iuested a
4



council with the whites. The princi[ial settlers were called
together, and the council agreed upon the llcv. Mr. Kirk-
land to act as interpreter. Esquire Foot to be chief speaker
on the part of the whites, and Beechtree on the part of the
Indians.

" The council was held in the old log church which stood
near the centre of the village of Clinton, the Indians occu-
pying one hide of the building and the whites the other.
After the preliminaiies were all arranged, and the parties had
taken their seats, some fifteen or twenty minutes of silence
was allowed to intervene. In view of the savage, it is a
very great departure from dignity and decorum to show any
impatience or haste in opening the council. Beechtree now
aro.se and commenced :

" ' Will our brothers hearken ? When our father (Esquire
Foot) and the pale-faces came from towards the ri.sing sun
and set themselves down here in the valley of the River of
Nettles (Oriskany is the Indian name, and signifies ' River
of Nettles'), we made a covenant with him. (Here he set
forth the covenant substantially as I have stated it in the
commencement of this article.) This covenant our father
and his people have kept ; with them it is very strong ;
they have not broken it; our father and his people dealt in
good faith with their red brothers. About six suns ago
some of our people came to dig ginseng; they knew the
covenant, for we had told them ; but they were very bad
people ; with them the covenant was like the pipes that we
get of the white traders, — very easily bjoken ; they killed
and ate the young ox of the white man ; tliey broke the
covenant. Will our father inform his red children what
they must do to mend the broken covenant? It must be
mended.' He then sat down.

" Esquire Foot now rose and told them that to mend the
broken covenant their bad men must pay the owner for the
young ox. They must also p.iy his young men for the time
spent in [jursuit of those who broke the covenant.

" Beechtree again rose and .said : ' Our father has said
well ; the young ox must be paid for, and the young men
must be paid ; we do not u.se oxen ; we have cows ; we
know how much they are worth, but we do not know how
much the young ox was worth ; will our father tell us?'

" Esquire Foot told him that the young ox was worth as
much as the best cow at Oneida, as it was very fat and
good.

" Beechtree then said, ' The owner of the young ox shall
have our best cow ; will our father tell us which it is ?'

" Esquire Foot, knowing the cows at Oneida, told Beech-
tree that a certain brown, white-faced cow would be accepted
by the owner of the young ox.

" Bjechtree again said, ' Our father is very wise, — he
knows the best cow ; before the .setting of the sun to-mor-
row our young men will drive and deliver that cow. Will
our father tell us how much his young men must have?'

" Esquire Foot now informed him that his red brolhei's,
the chiefs present, wore good men ; that they mended the
covenants that their bad people broke ; that they might
give his young men what they thought would be right.

" Beechtree now said, ' Will our brothers again hearken ?
Our bad men who broke the covenant were digging gin-
seng; they had gathered some, which they have in their



26



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



pncks ; will our futlicr look at it and say how much it is
■worth ? Post, who keeps the trading-house at Fort Schuy-
ler, will buy it.'

" Es(]uire Foot examined the ginseng, and informed
Beeuhtree that it would bring a certain sum, -which he
named, it being a very liberal one.

" Beochtree said, ' It is a fair price, but it is not enough
to pay the young men. Tliey may take it at that price,
and about the first of next snow Mr. Taylor, the agent,
will be here, to pay us the money for the twenty townships
we sold at Albany ; we will give you a paper directing him
to pay you a certain sum (which he named) ; we will make
our cross on the paper, — we cannot write ; Sir. Taylor will
then pay you, and when he pays us the rest of the money
to divide among our people, we shall not give any to tho.se
who broke the covenant, so that when they see they lose
their best cow, have their ginseng taken from them, and
have no money given them, they will be punished ; they
will be careful not to break the covenant any more.' This
proposition was agreed to, and the writing made out and
signed. Beechtree then said, ' If the covenant is mended,
let us again be friends.' Esquire Foot told him that if the
cow was delivered the next day, the covenant would be
made good, and they would all be good friends again ; and
the council then broke up with much good will and satis-
faction on both sides.

" It is proper here to remark that the cow was punctually
delivered the next day, and the draft was duly honored by
Mr. Taylor. During the whole sitting of the council,
Beechtree, before he made or accepted any propo.sition, had
a consultation with the other chiefs, and Esquire Foot had
frequent conversations with and the advice of the settlers.

" But there was one proud and revengeful spirit in that
council which did not give an assent to their being again
friends. I allude to Saucy Nick. lie had, during the
whole sitting, ,?at witli his head down in sullen silence, the
blow which he had received from Cook while a prisoner
still raTikling and festering in his bosom. When the rest
left the house he went away with them without uttering a
word, but inwardly vowing revenge, as might be seen by
the close observer in the snake-like glances of tlie eye
towards Cook. A few weeks later, Cook had occasion to
go to Fort Schuyler witli his cart and oxen. While there
and s^tanding near his team. Saucy Nick made at him with
his drawn knife. Cook had barely time to elude the blow
by jumping into his cart and defending himself with the
butt of his whip. Sauuy Nick soon gave over the attempt
at that time. Not long afterwards, as Cook was ehopping
on his lot, an arrow whizzed by him but a few inches i'rom
his body. The arm that drew the bow was not to he mis-
taken. It was also a warning to Cook tliat nothing but his
heart's blood would wi]ie oft' the disgrace of the blow given
■with the cane. He had now learned the character of the
savage; that his attempts would never be given over until
his aim was sure ; that length of time would never heal his
revenge or deter him from his pnrpo.se. Cook, therefore,
with the advice of his friends, sold out his ' betterments'
and rennivcd back to Connecticut.

'■ It has been said, and very generally believed, that the
savage never forgave a real or supposed injury or insult, but



carried his resentment to his grave. In the following in-
stance it is presented in a .somewhat difFereiit point of view :

" Major Barnabas Pond, who now in his eighty-fourth
year, a good and green old age,* on his farm, near Clinton, at
an early day in its settlement, kept a public-house in said
village. One morning, a young Oneida chief (who spoke
tolerably good English), of some twenty-three or twenty-
four years of age, in company with his wife, came into the
tavern and called for some rum ; Major Pond told him he
did not let Indians that were intoxicated have any lii^uor,*
but, as he appeared perfectly sober, if he would not drink
too much, he might have .some. The Indian promised to
be cautious, and after getting the rum, drank very sparingly,
giving a part to his wife. After sitting a few minutes
they went away.

" In the course of the afternoon they returned with five
other Indians. The young chief was now evidently excited
with liquor. He stepped up to the bar and called for a half-
pint of rum. Major Pond told him he should not let him
have any ; that he had already drank too much, and that
he informed him in the morning he did not let drunken
Indians have liquor. The chief replied, that he did not
want it for himself, he knew that he had drank enough, —
that he had drank too much, — he wanted it for the Indians
with him ; they were his friends, and he wanted to treat
them; that he would not taste a drop of it; at the same
time showing a piece of money he had, tied up in a hand-
kerchief With this promise the major let him have the
rum. He was true to his word, for, without ta.sting it, he
gave it to the others, who drank it off. After the liquor
was drank some said it was time to be going, when they all
started. Major Pond now told the chief he had not paid
for the rum ; he replied that he had no money and could
not pay. The major told him it was not so; he had money
and had .shown it; that he now told a falsehood in denying
having money. The chief now flew into n passion, saying,
' What you say, I lie?' and approached the major, at the
same time drawing his knife.

" The m;ijor, a .-jtrong, athletic man, now thought it time
to act on the defensive; he therefore struck the knife arm
between the elbow and shoulder a blow ■with the edge of
his hand, which caused the knife to fly over the chief's
head across the room ; he then, in the same manner, struck
him another blow across the throat, at the same time giving
him a trip, which bi'ought him to the floor, or, to use the
major's own words, 'he fell like an ox knocked down in a
slaughter-house.' The Indian, however, soon commenced
catching for breath, and in a .short time was able to ri.se up
and stand upon his feet. After standing for a short time to
recover liim.-.elf, he took the handkei chief that contained
the money, and threw it to the major, who took his pay
and offered to return it, together with the knife, ■which he
had picked up. The Indian refused to take the articles,
without assigning any reason. The major then took them
to the chiefs wife, who likewise refused them, well knowing
that if she accepted thorn after her husband had refu,sed
she would have given him very great ofi'cnse. They all
soon went away.

■* Written in 1851.



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



27



" Some few weeks afterwards, the young chief came again,
and was very penitent; he begged the major's pardon, said
he behaved very bad when in liquor ; that he had served
him right in Icnoclving him down ; he hoped he .should be
forgiven, and that they would be friends again. The major
frankly forgave him, and promised his friendship if he
behaved well in future, and then went and got the handker-
chief and knife, and again offered them to the owner. They
were again refused, he stating as a reason that he had for-
feited his knife, and would not carry it. He behaved so
very bad when he was intoxicated, he was afraid he should
do some mischief with it. The matter here ended, and the
young chief, who was afterwards frequently in Clinton,
never showed any ill will towards our landlord.''

The Titscaroras. — This nation formerly dwelt in North
Carolina, but becoming involved in a war with the whites,
about 1711, they suffered very severely, and were reduced
from an estimated population in 17U8 of 6000 souls to about
1250. After the war they migrated northward, and claimed
a home among the celebrated Five Nations, to whom they
were probably allied by ancient family ties. They became
the guests of the Oneidas, who assigned them a portion of
their territory lying between the Unadilla and Chenango
Rivers. About 1780 a portion of this nation removed to
the neighborhood of the Niagara River, where they were
partly subsisted for a time by the British government. In
1783 the lands formerly occupied by them in the Oneida
territory wore disposed of to the State for 811,500. They
afterwards settled among the Seaecas, who granted them a
tract of land about one mile square, which w;is reserved to
them in 1797, when the Senecas sold all their lands to the
State. The Tascaroras subsequently recovered a consid-
erable sum from their lands in North Carolina, and with
the proceeds purchased, in 1804, for 113,7:^2, a tract of
4.329 acres of the Holland Land Company, which, with the
amount before granted them by the State and the said com-
pany, made up a total of 0249 acres, which they now hold
and cultivate. It lies on the Niagara River.

The population of this nation in Niagara County, ac-
cording to the census of 1865, was 414.

The Stockhridge Indians. — " The Stockbridge Indians
were named after the town of Stockbridge, Mass., where
they formerly resided. In 1735 the Legislature of Mas-
sachusetts granted a township six miles square, to be laid
out on the Housatonic River, for the use of these Indians
and such others as might join them. The object of the
colony was to collect them together in this place, where they
could have the benefits of the Christian teacher and of
schools. Previously they had lived in scattered clans in the
western part of the colony.

" They have very generally been known as the JLi-he-kaii-
neews, and a corruption of their name is variously written
Mah-lie-ka-neew, JIuh-he-kan-ock, signifying ' the people
of the great waters continually in motion.'* By the
early English colonists they were called ' River Indians'
(most probably because they lived near the Connecticut
River).

^^ It is not well defined who these Indians were. Mr. Jones says they
were not Mohicans^ They were probably remnants of a Cunncetieut
Uiver tribe.



" In 1736 these Indians removed to the township thus
granted them (the present towns of Stockbridge and West
Stockbridge), which was .soon after confirmed to them, their
heirs and assigns. A meeting-house and school-house were
erected for them by the colony, the first of which was
opened for worship Nov. 29, 1739. In 1734 a mission
had been commenced among these Indians by John Sargent,
Sr., then a candidate for the ministry, assisted by Deacon
Timothy Woodbridge, as a schooluiast-er, under the patronage
of the board of commissioners for Indian affairs in Boston.
Mr. Sargent was then a tutor in Yale College, but relin-
quishing his place, was, on the 31st of August, 1734, ordained
at Deerfield, Mass., as a gospel minister. Upon the occasion
of his ordination, Grjvernor Belcher, a committee of both
branches of the Legislature, and a large number of Indians
from several tribes, were present. The Stockbridge or
Housatonic Indians, as they were then called, formally ac-
cepted him as their missionary. The Indians at Stock-
bridge in a few years numbered from 400 to 500.

"In 1741, Mr. Sargent projected a manual labor semi-
nary and boarding-school for the education of Indian youth,
but which, from the dangers and excitements that followed
the first French war, did not go into successful operation for
several years. This school became highly popular with the
Indians and inhabitants generally, and enjoyed the confi-
dence and aid of many of the best men in England, among
whom were Dr. Isaac Watts, Captain Coram, etc.

"Such were the benefits the Stockbridge Indians received
from this school, that the Six Nations became interested
in the education of their children, and held a council at
Stockbridge to consider the plan of sending their children
here to school. Rev. Mr. Sargent died July 27, 1749,
aged thirty-nine years. He was a native of New Jersey,
a graduate of Yale College in 1729, and lived to see the
Stockbridge Indians increase from eight or ten families to
more than fifty, with u, number of fr.imed houses and con-
siderably advanced in agriculture. He left three children,
the youngest of whom, John Sargent, Jr., will be named
hereafter. Rev. Jonathan Edwards succeeded him in the
school.

" The last French war destroyed the hopes of the Six
Nations with regard to this school, but to the Stockbridge
Indians it was the source of many blessings. Jan. 4, 1758,
Mr. Edwards resigned his charge for the presidency of
Princeton College, but died on the 22d of March following.
In 1759, Rev. Dr. Stephen West became the missionary
and teacher of the Indians, — a post which he filled until
1775.

" Prior to this time a tract of land, six miles .square,
called New Stockbridge, had been granted to this tribe by
the Oneidas, but the war of the Revolution prevented
their removal to it for several years.f During the last
French war the Stockbridge Indians took sides with the
English, and were many of them received as .soldiers by
Bla-ssachusetts. At the commencement of the Revolution
they declared their attachment for the Americans, and
raised a company of minute-men,' who subsequently acted

I A Finall portion of tliem removed prior to the war, probably in
1775. See address to Governor Trumbull iu that year, Chapter VIII.
of this work.



28



HISTORY OP ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YOKK.



iis rangers in the vicinity of Boston, oonmiaiided lay Cap-
tain Timotliy Yokun, one of tiieir chieft. A full company
went to White Plains under Captain Daniel Niniham,
another chief, where four were killed and several died of
disease. At the close of the war General Washington
directed a feast to be prepared for the Indians in considera-
tion of their good conduct, and an ox was roasted whole, of
•which the tribe partook, — the men first and then the women
and children. Rev. John Sargent, Jr., and Judge Dean
presided at the table.

'■ In 1775, upon the resignation of Dr. We.st, Rev. John
Sargent, Jr., son of tlieir first missionary, took charge of
the mission and school. He had received an education at
Newark, N. J., and perfectly understood the language of
the Indians. In 1783 a portion of the tribe removed to
New Stockbridge; in 1785 another portion ; and the residue
of the tribe in 1788. In 1785 the Indian members of the
churcli at Stockbridge, sixteen in number, took letters of dis-
missal, and immediately formed a church at their new home.
At this time the tribe numbered about four hundred and
twenty souls. Mr. Sargcmt was ordained pastor of the
infant church, and regularly spent six months in the year



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 6 of 192)