William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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sary stoi'es when we had the opportunity ;
such as sugar, tea, meat, bread, &c., for this
family had nothing for us but a little flour,
which the woman in a very dirty manner
kneaded up in the fat of an elk, shot some
days before. Our lodging and fare were truly
uncomfortable. I could but admire how very
few, even of what are called the necessaries
of life, supported this family ; the children,
however, have a far more healthy appearance
than is common in luxurious and populous
cities ; and having near thirty miles to send
for salt, sugar, flour and other necessaries, a
girl about fourteen, and a boy about thirteen
years of age, generally performed the jour-
ney alone, sometimes laying all night in the
woods. We had to lie on the floor, with the
house open on all sides ; yet were content,
though we slept but little.

"22nd. Our horses being tied up all night
without either hay or pasture, we fed them
with some oats and rode about ten miles over
an exceedingly bad path, the most difficult we
had yet seen. Stopping a short time on the
banks of the Tioga at the house of a new
settler, we procured some feed for our horses,
and a small piece of meat for ourselves. The
country so abounds with wild game, bears,
deer, elk, foxes and wolves, that it is difficult
to keep hogs or sheep. — There being no tav-
erns, all the farm-houses take in travellers
and charge very high for poor fare.

"24th. We got to an Indian cabin on the
bank of the river which runs by the town of
Bath, and twelve miles further reached a sort

of public house, having rode the whole of this
day through the woods.

" On the 25th, we arrived at Canandaigua
in the afternoon, where colonel Pickering and
general Chapin were'holding a conference with
the Oneida Indians. Having welcomed us they
directed us to the lodgings prepared for us.

" 26th. Attended a second conference with
the Oneida s, which chiefly consisted in a re-
lation of what had befallen them since the last
treaty. They informed us, that as we were
now met again, they hoped we should discuss
all the necessary objects of the treaty with
candour and freedom, and for that purpose they
now unstopped our ears that we might hear,
and opened our throats that we might speak
freely. To this colonel Pickering expressed
his wish to conduct the business with the un-
reserved candour they desired, and that he
also opened their ears and unstopped their

" 27th. Seeing some persons in the garb of
Friends, they informed us they lived about five
miles beyond this, and being glad to see us in-
vited us to their houses.

"28th. First-day, having appointed a meet-
ing to begin at eleven o'clock, it was largely
attended by the people and a considerable
number of Indians, so that the house could
not contain the whole. Appointed another at
four o'clock in the afternoon, both of which
wei'e to satisfaction, and we believe to the peo-
ple generally. There is no public worship
maintained within many miles of this place.

" 30th. Abraham Lapham came to our
lodgings and conducted us to his house, where
we were kindly received and spent a pleasant
day. This country has two great disadvan-
tages attending it, the scarcity of spi'ings and
rivulets and the unhealthiness of the climate
in its present uncultivated state, yet it is set-
tling very fast, the land being very fertile ; but
as the Indians are all round and the settle-
ments of the whites very thin, there still is
some danger to be apprehended. The first
settlers have passed through great difficulties,
having near one hundred miles to go to mill,
and struggling under many privations to pro-
cui'e a living for their large families ; some
have staid for many weeks under the shelter
of bark and bushes before they could erect
a hut.

" Tenth month 2nd, fifth-day. Six of the
Indians, each of them brought in a deer, and
one of them made us a present of a piece, sig-
nifying that he gave it to us for Jesus Christ's
sake, who had made us brethren.

" First-day, 5th of the month. The weather
not being very favourable, the meeting was not
so large as last first-day nor so satisfactory.
The Indians were remarkably sober, making



but little noise ; the Oneidas pay some regard
to the first-day of the week.

" 7th of the month. Went to judge Potter's,
and being kindly received stayed all night.
The judge is a respectable man, but having
some years back been induced to entertain a
favourable opinion of Jemima Wilkinson and
her doctrines, he and several others came with
her into this country, and took up forty-one
thousand acres of excellent land near the west
side of Seneca lake, at four pence per acre.
But the good understanding of the judge not
suffering him to remain a dupe to the delusions
of an assuming, presumptuous woman, he has
for some time past thrown off the shackles,
and is now no more accounted one of her
fraternity. He said he believed her whole
scheme was for self-interest and aggrandize-
ment ; he himself having suffered by her in a
pecuniary point of view, but had now asserted
his right to a part of the land occupied by
these people, and forbade their making use
of it. After breakfast we went to see Jemima
and found her about three miles from Potter's,
in a sequestered, romantic place, suited to her
genius. The family ajipeard to consist of ten
or twelve persons, one of whom being ac-
quainted with us, welcomed us in ; another
was a man far gone in a consumption, who
had left his wife at some miles distance and
brought so much of his little property with
him, as to reduce her to great difficulty in
getting a subsistence. His design appears to
be to spend his last breath under Jemima's
benediction, assuring us he was very easy
about his soul. O, wretched infatuation ! that
can break the most solemn ties of God and
nature, and yet flatter its votaries that they
are the favourites of heaven.

"Here are several hovels adjacent, which are
the I'esidences of women who have forsaken
husband and childi'en ; and also of men who
have left their families, to become what they
now literally are, hewers of wood and drawers
of water to an artful and designing woman.
One young woman who had been with them
several years, told me the women frequently
washed Jemima's feet and wiped them with
the hair of their heads. Asking for the rest
of the family, Rachel Malin stepped into Jemi-
ma's room and invited her out. She was at-
tired in a loose gown or rather a surplice of
calico, and some parts of her dress were quite
masculine ; she accosted us with a look of im-
portance, and called me by name. The con-
versation becoming of a religious nature, she
said much in a kind of prophetic manner. So
great was her volubility, that we were obliged
to interrupt her in order to express our disap-
probation of the exalted character she gave to
her own mission, and that it savoured strongly

of pride and ambition to distinguish herself
from the rest of mankind by the appellation
of the Universal Friend. Some other remarks
were made to check her rhapsodies, but her
assurance, and artful manner of leading off
from a subject which she did not relish, ren-
dered our efforts abortive. We were, however,
not disappointed, for it cannot be expected
that any power but that which is Divine, can
bring her to a state of reason or of Christi-
anity. This people have a meeting-house, and
some of the scattered neighbours meet with
them on first-days, but it appears they are de-
clining fast ; and both reason and religion in-
form us, that their fall is at no great distance,
and perhaps the last days of this deluded wo-
man may be spent in contempt, unless her
heart becomes humbled and contrite, and the
mercy of the Lord be eminently manifest to
pity and spare her. Some credible persons
resident in the neighbourhood informed us,
that Jemima had asserted, and it was believed
by her credulous disciples, that the prophet
Elijah had taken possession of the body of
one James Parker and spoke through his
organs ; and that the prophet Daniel,"in like
manner, inhabited the body of Sarah Richards,
another of her followers ; but the prophet Elijah,
(James Parker,) and she having afterward dis-
agreed and separated, and Sarah Richards
having died, they are now deprived of their

" 9th. The Senecas are very slow in
coming to attend the treaty, and the lesson of
last year is to be learned over again ; this is
patience, which will always be needed by those
who attend Indian treaties.

" 11th. Colonel Pickering having called on
David Bacon and myself, we attended him to
the Oneida camp, where an interesting council
was held, in which captain John, an Indian
sachem, and Peter the chief warrior, were the
speakers. Colonel Pickering made a very suit-
able speech, informing them'that he had heard
of divisions among them, and if they would
infoi-m him of the cause of them he should be
happy in using his endeavours to settle them.
Captain John then informed us in a long speech,
of many things which had occasioned uneasi-
ness in their nation, princi])ally in relation to
the manner wherein they had several times
sufl^ered in the sale of their lands ; and lately
by leasing to Peter Smith one third of the land
they had reserved, being a tract of four miles
wide and twenty-four miles long, which they
had leased to him for twenty-one years, at two
hundred dollars per annum. This had occa-
sioned great dissatisfaction between the sach-
ems and the warriors, the warriors protestino-
against the lease ; that the two parties whilst
the land was surveying, faced each other in



arms, and had not the surveyors desisted, it
might have proved destructive to the nation,
and they were yet divided into parties. He
began by observing, that we were all in the
presence of" the Great Spirit, and he knew that
he could not conceal anything from Him, and
as he was now surrounded by his brethren, he
should speak uprightly and withhold nothing.
He spoke nearly an hour, and delivered to
Peter, the chief warrior, five strings of wam-
pum, which colonel Pickering gave into his
hand as he closed his speech. He then de-
sired, if the warriors had heard anything that
was not true, they would point it out. Peter,
after reminding colonel Pickering of the advice
which he gave them at Newtown in the last
treaty, said he found no fault with what the
sachems had said, but desired that if they had
gone out of the path they were recommended
to walk in when at Newtown, which he sus-
pected they had, the colonel would put them
right again.

" Colonel Pickering told them he believed
they had, but as it was a matter of great im-
portance, he desired to consider it until the
day after to-morrow, that he might prepare an
answer. The conference held three hours,
after which colonel Pickering acknowledged
that both private persons and the governor of
New York had given great occasion for their
complaints. Smith's lease contained sixty-one
thousand four hundred and forty acres. In the
evening John Parrish and James Emlen re-
turned from the encampment of the Senecas
at Gennessee river, about twenty-six miles dis-
tant, bringing an account that there were
about five hundred of them at that place.

" 12th. Understanding a person expected
to occupy our former place of meeting, we
concluded to prepare the house where we
lodge for holding a meeting. Friends who
are settled in the neighbourhood, and several
others, with a number of the Indians coming
in, we had a solid favoured opportunity. Some
who had expected us at the school-house as
usual, came after that meeting was over and
said, that they had been disappointed in not
finding us there, but thought that for the future
they should come to our lodgings on a first-day
morning to know where the meeting was to be
held. In the afternoon we went at four o'clock
to the Oneida camp, having previously inform-
ed the chiefs of our intention of a meeting
there, the interpreter being with us. We found
some collected in the woods where many trees
were felled, which served as seats, and one of
the chiefs went round the camp, vociferating a
certain sound used as a signal for them to as-
semble^ which they did in large numbers. The
curiosity of the white people being raised, and
some coming from other motives, we had a

large and good meeting, which held till near
sunset ; both whites and Indians were quiet
and behaved decently; as many of the Indians
had received some notion of the Christian re-
ligion from missionaries, and were desirous to
begin the service with singing of hymns or
psalms, and we not thinking it would be best to
object to their wishes, they appeared very de-
vout, and I thought that the melody and soft-
ness of their voices in the Indian language, and
the sweetness and harmony that attended, ex-
ceeded by far anything of the kind I had ever
heard among the white people. Being in the
midst of the woods, the satisfaction of hearing
these poor untutored people sing, with every
appearance of devotion, their Maker's praise,
and the serious attention they paid to what
was delivered to them, conspired to make it a
solemn meeting, long to be remembered by
me. We left them in much love and sympa-
thy, rejoicing in the midst of the wilderness
that the Lord is indeed everywhere.

" 13th. Ruminating on the state of the
Oneida Indians, who are said to be more civil-
ized and better instructed in religion than any
others, it is natural to inquire what influence
it has had on their manners and morals,
which, from anything I can discover, has yet
been very small. It is true, they generally
cultivate a small portion of land, and for that
reason are less exposed to absolute want than
other Indians : they have also heard of Jesus
Christ through their missionary, and have
been taught to sing psalms and hymns in
their own soft and enDaaino; language; but it
appears to me that the great body of the na-
tion have received the Gospel in word only,
and not in power. It has therefore had but
little influence on their conduct ; and a few ex-
cepted, they appear to remain enslaved to all
the vices common to the other Indians; yet I
think the way is gradually preparing when
some more enlightened and spiritual men than
have yet been their teachers, men who will
unite example with pi'ecept, may be sent
among them with a good effect.

" Colonel Pickering having called on us
again, we went with him to the camp, where
the chiefs and warriors being assembled, he
delivered a long written speech, containing
suitable advice for reconciling the difl"erences
in the nation, and also as a rule for their con-
duct in future respecting their lands, which
appeared well calculated to prevent the frauds
and impositions of designing men. They heard
all patiently and then desired us to withdraw
a few minutes while they consulted among
themselves. Being again called in, captain
John said they were in hopes that colonel
Pickering would have informed them whether
the sachems or warriors had been wrong, for



it would not have hurt the sachems if they
had been so told plainly. The advice to them
had been very long, and he could not retain
all parts of it, but he recollected they were
told that Peter Smith, agreeably to our laws,
was not only subject to have his bargain made
void, but also liable to pay a fine of a thousand
dollars and suffer a year's imprisonment ; the
two latter they hoped would not be inflicted,
as it was not their wish. He also noticed
what was said concerning our government
and laws, saying, the Indians had also their
mode of law, which had been handed down
by their forefathers; and one of their customs
was, for the sachems only to sit in council on
civil affaii's ; but of late, their warriors ap-
peared jealous of them, and had intruded into
matters contrary to the ancient customs of
Indians ; hence we might see, that when they
were about to answer the commissioner, Peter
the chief warrior had gone off and took the
warriors with him, which indicated his being
displeased ; and he thour^ht he would show it
either during the present council fire, or after-
wards. Indeed, he apprehended that Peter was
aspiring to be something more than the nation
was willing he should be, and aimed at being
the chief sachem. He then told us in very
drolling style, the manner of the white people
persuading them out of their lands, even some
who had not half the understanding naturally,
that was possessed by some of their chiefs,
but they were skilled in dissimulation and ac-
quainted with the propensities of the Indians.
They agreed to take the advice given them
and wished it again repeated.

" Colonel Pickering told them, he would use
his influence to have their lands which Peter
Smith had taken upon lease, restored to them,
and that after they were restored, if that could
be obtained, he vv^ished them still to offer them
upon lease, and to take the assistance of some
judicious men that might be appointed by go-
vernment; they might then lease them in three
hundred separate farms, with certain stipula-
tions that the land and timber should not
be ruined, &c. The consequence of this
would be, that in twenty-one years, there
would be so many improved farms in their
possession, which would result in a great ac-
cumulation of wealth to the Oneida nation.
He concluded by promising to return by the
Oneida castle as he went home, where he
would repeat his advice to them, that tliey
might not forget it ; and told them they had
reason to rest peaceably and quietly, though
it should not even be in the power of govern-
ment to reclaim the lands which Smith had
got upon lease ; for they should consider that
a great estate was still in their possession if

Vol. I.— No. 9.

the best use was made of it : whereupon the
council broke up.

" 14th of tenth month. The party of Sene-
ca s headed by the Farmer's Brother, Little
Billy, &c., having arrived last evening within
four miles, were expected this forenoon ; but
having to paint and ornament themselves be-
fore their public entry, they did not arrive till
three o'clock this afternoon. The Oneidas,
Cayugas and Onondagoes were drawn up,
dressed and painted, with their arms prepared
for a salute before general Chapin's door. —
The men able to bear arms marched in, as-
suming a good deal of importance, and drew
up in a line facing ihe Oneidas, &c. colonel
Pickering, general Chapin and many white
people being present. The Indians fired three
rounds, which the other Indians answered by a
like number, making a long and loud echo
through the woods. Their commanders then
ordered them to form a circle around the com-
missioner and general Chapin ; then sitting
down on the ground they delivered a speech
through the Farmer's Brother, and returned
the strings of wampum which were sent them
when they were requested to come to the treaty.
Colonel Pickering answered them in the usual
complimentary manner, and ordered several
kettles of rum to be brought ; after drinking
which, they dispersed and went to prepare
their camp. Each chief delivered in a bundle
of sticks answerable to the number of persons,
men, women and children under his com-
mand, which amounted to four hundred and
seventy-two. They made a truly terrific and
warlike appearance.

" 16th, About three o'clock this aflernoon,
Cornplanter and his party of the Senecas ar-
rived, amounting to about four hundred. They
drew up in three sides of a square, the Onei-
das, Onondagoes, &c., facing them ; each
fired three rounds and performed some ma-
nouvres ; all in full Indian dress and painted
in an extraordinary manner. Then encircling
the commissioners and us, they exchanged a
short speech of congratulation, and as it rained,
the rum was soon brought and the company
dispersed. There are now about sixteen hun-
dred Indians assembled. Last night one Indian
stabbed another, who, although not yet dead,
is unlikely to continue long,

" 17th, Sixteen hundred Indians are around
us, many of them very noisy night and day,
dancing, yelling and constantly intruding upon
us to beg for rum, &c., but we uniformly re-
sist their importunities for strong drink. The
attendance at Indian treaties is a painful task,
wherein resignation is highly necessary. May
it be granted. They kill plenty of venison and
sell it for three half-pence or less per pound.



Whilst at our present place of abode, I sat in
company with an Indian Queen, who had a
small child in one of their kind of cradles,
hung with about one hundred small brass
bells, intended to soothe the child to rest.

" 18th. This morning Cornplanter, Farm-
er's Brother, Red Jacket, Little Beard and a
number more of the Seneca chiefs, came to
our lodgings to hold a conference, the inter-
preter being with them. Cornplanter congratu-
lated us upon our safe arrival among them,
and acknowledged the kindness of general
Washington in informing Friends of the re-
quest of the Indians, that they should attend
the treaty. He then opened the business which
more particularly occasioned their present visit.
This was to answer a request made to them a
year or two past by Friends at Philadelphia,
that they might make inquiry after the Indi-
ans or their descendants, who formerly lived
about Hopewell in Virginia.* He said that
they had conferred together on the subject
several times, and believed they had come to
the knowledge of the original owners of that
land, two of whom, ancient men, were now
present, who said their people were once set-
tled about Conestogo, and that they remem-
bered well the state of matters respecting the
land in question : they had no doubt those
two ancient men could clear up the matter to
our satisfaction at a future opportunity, and
would retire for the present.

" In the afternoon, Obeal, son of Corn-
planter, came with a message from the Indi-
ans inviting us to council. We found a large
body of them collected, colonel Pickering,
general Chapin and three interpreters being
in the centre, and the surrounding assemblaoe
presenting a very striking aspect ; the chiefs
appeared solid and thoughtful. Captain John
and another of the Oneidas spoke, addressing
themselves to their brothers the Senecas, Tus-
caroras and Delawares, who lived westward,
holding in their hands as they spoke one
after the other, several strings of wampum
and belts ; which they handed to the Sen-
eca chiefs one by one at certain periods of
their address, till they delivered all they had.

* Some members of the Society of Friends had
purchased and settled upon lands about Hopewell,
and there was reason to believe that the Indian
title had not been extinguished by a fair and hon-
ourable purchase of the natives, by those occupants
who had sold to Friends. The Society, consonant
with its known principles, was desirous, that not-
withstanding the Indians had left or been driven
to remote parts, yet that if the original proprietors
could be found, however feeble and insignificant
they might now be, they should be fldly compen-
sated, in order that its members might hold those
possessions on such a firm and justly acquired
fee, as true Christian principles would dictate.

As it was only an address to their brethren,
the Indians of other nations, agreeably to their
ancient custom when they meet at a council
fire, it was not publicly interpreted ; but we
understood it was in the way of condolence,
on account of the loss of many chiefs of the
Six Nations by death, since they last met at
a council fire. They expressed their desire
to wipe the tears from their brethren's eyes,
to brighten their countenances and to unstop
their throats, that they might speak clearly in
the present council fire. The Fish Carrier,
Clear Sky and Red Jacket, returned a bro-
therly salutation, handing the eastern Indians
belts and strings of wampum, to unite each to
the other, and thus to open the council as with
the heart of one man. They then informed
colonel Pickering, that the Six Nations were
now embodied in council. He made them a
complimentary and congratulatory address,
informing them that he should hold a council
of condolence to-morrow at four o'clock in
the afternoon, to wipe away the tears from
the eyes of the Delawares, who had lost a
young brother murdered by a white man at
Venango last summer ; he would then take
the hatchet out of the head of the deceased,
and bury it in the earth, preparatory to the

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 77 of 105)