Photo of Spanish Hill 1999 by Joyce M. Tice
A House has since been built on the top
A Continuing Research Problem*
(The Bulletin and Journal of Archaeology of New York State, Number 91, Fall 1985 pages 39-51)
Richard J. McCracken Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology
Regional Conservation Archaeologist,
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh
Between 1876 and 1878, General John S. Clark of Auburn, New York, developed his hypothesis regarding identification of the Carantouannais as the Susquehannocks, suggested the location of the village of Carantouan, and interpreted Etienne Brule’s account of his journey of 1615-1618. His ideas were accepted with little dissent. This paper summarizes archaeological data refuting most of Clark’s work, states the need to research old questions anew, and discusses dissemination and use, on a continuing bases, of existing data in applying a "direct archaeological approach" to history.
"Archaeology offers a method of checking and criticizing the older theories of Indian prehistory and a technique for reconstructing the history of ancient peoples during late prehistoric times. This, the "direct historical approach" to archaeology, is beginning to clarify many realms of American prehistory" (Witthoft 1959:20). So wrote John Witthoft in 1959.
One pitfall in using the direct historical approach in reconstructing history, particularly during the early contact period, is a failure on the part of later researchers to continue to question earlier results or to accept contrasting data acquired through the practice of field archaeology. In order for the direct historical approach to have valid meaning, its results must be disseminated to and used by those who are actively engaged in the disciplines of anthropology and history. Both disciplines must be made aware of what the other is doing; must correlate and synthesize results; and must question and test theories. Lines of battle must be drawn. Strong offensive and defensive positions must be established. The mild, equivocating demurral so common in our technical writing today, while intended to avoid conflict and confrontation, does little to advance knowledge. Those whose theories are to succeed, to stand the test of time, must be positive and forceful in advancing their theories. They must draw the criticism of colleagues, and their theories must either stand or fall upon their merits.
A case in point, illustrating how researchers have been ponderously slow in acting upon conflicting data, are General John S. Clark’s treatment of the events surrounding the 1615 attack by Champlain and his Huron allies upon the Entohonoron. Therein, he identified the Entohonoron as Onondaga; placed their fort at Nichol’s Pond; identified the Carantouannais as the Andaste (Susquehannocks); located the village of Carantouan at Spanish Hill, identified two additional Susquehannock towns which he associated with the three-hamlet Susquehannock, story of Brule; and even suggested the paths of march to Nichol’s Pond of both Champlain and the Susquehannocks (cf. Murray 1931).
GENERAL JOHN S. CLARK AND NICHOL’S POND
For the past 106 years Clark, perhaps more than any other person, has had a profound effect upon researchers and scholars of the French/Iroquois relationship.
J. S. Clark of Auburn, New York, farmer, surveyor, civil engineer, philologist and antiquarian, devoted much of the latter half of his life to the study of the Iroquois, their language, and most specifically to the location of their villages as recorded by early French, Dutch and English explorers. His stated goal was to identify the position of every Indian town in New York (Ibis:xiv;4). In this he collaborated with several of the leading authorities of the day. Acceptance of many of his ideas and theories was swift and nearly total, not by way of proof which he offered but, it would appear, more by the force of his personality. Such certainly was the case in his equation of the Carantouannais as the Susquehannocks and the location of their of Carantouan at the site of Spanish Hill. When J. S. Clark spoke, people listened! Most of his conclusions regarding Champlain’s 1615 campaign were based upon either his comparative studies of linguistics and phonemics or upon his interpretation and interpolation of early maps. Upon what evidence he based his conclusion that Carantouan was located at Spanish Hill is not clear. Certainly, from the standpoint of today’s requirement to present evidence in support of conclusions, Clark’s hypotheses doe no meet the test.
CREATING A LEGEND
By 1877, Clark had advocated the location of the Entohonoron fort attacked by Champlain and the Huron in 1615 at the foot of Nichol’s Pond in the Town of Fenner, Madison County, New York. So firm in his advocacy of this location was he that in an address before the Pioneer’s Association of Syracuse, Clark made the following pronouncement:
The year following his Nichol’s Pond discourse (1878) Clark turned his attention to the location of Carantouan and to the Andaste (Susquehannocks) of Pennsylvania. Following publication of the address on Nichol’s Pond the Reverend David Craft of Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, wrote to Clark offering his assistance in the planned study of the Andaste (Murray 1931:3). Craft had been independently working to establish the location within Bradford County of ancient Indian towns mentioned by various early writers (Ibid), and had just completed writing a history of the county (Craft 1878). The collaboration of Clark and Craft was to have considerable impact upon future researchers as the location of Carantouan at Spanish Hill and the Carantouannais/Susquehannock equation came into general use (cf. Butterfield 1898; Beauchamp 1905; Grant 1907; Murray 1908; Biggar 1929; Jurgens 1966; Stewart 1970; Jennings 1978; and others).
In this same year (1878) Clark and Craft visited the location of Spanish Hill, which is situated on the east bank of the Chemung River near South Waverly, Athens Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. This archaeological site, which lies within the New York State border, has been designated 36BR27 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. While there, they interviewed several local collectors and themselves collected artifacts from the site. Clark surveyed the hill, maps of which are contained in Murray’s volume (1931:19;23;33).
Thus far we have touched upon events which led to Clark’s interpretations of the works of Champlain, Sagard and Brebeuf. Clark never published the results of his work. Until his death in 1912 he continued to work on his maps, notes and manuscripts, making changes and adding marginal annotations (Ibid:xv), apparently, we must assume, not satisfied that the manuscripts were complete. Following his visit to Spanish Hill, a local newspaper, The Waverly Advocate, published the result of interviews with Clark and of a written report which he prepared for them (Ibid:18-33).
In 1908 Louise Welles Murray, of Athens, Pennsylvania (editor of Selected Manuscripts of General John S. Clark Relating to the Aboriginal History of the Susquehanna, 1931) published an excellent history of Tioga Point (see Murray 1908). This work is one of the best researched, most comprehensive and well written local histories of its kind. In this volume Mrs. Murray devoted some 190 pages summarizing local and regional Indian archaeology and history. Much of an entire chapter was give to the story of Champlain, Brule and the Andaste. Being acquainted with, and having discussed the development of Clark’s ideas with both he and the Reverend Craft, she fully accepted and amplified their hypotheses. Although she considered, even mentioned conflicting ideas, she wholeheartedly supported Clark. Again, in 1931, she authored a paper on sites located in the Athens area which was published in the American Anthropologist (Murray 1921. This two-part series contained a defense of her support of Clark’s hypotheses (Ibid:288-290). More will be said of this monograph later in the paper.
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF SPANISH HILL
By 1918 Clark’s ideas had come under serious attack, however, until then very little serious archaeology had been done on or near Spanish Hill. In 1916, Warren K. Moorehead mounted the Susquehanna River Expedition under the auspices of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation. One of the primary purposes of this expedition was to locate and excavate Andaste villages and cemeteries. Arriving at Tioga Point, Moorehead was called back to Andover, leaving Alanson Skinner in charge of the party. Assisting Skinner at this location was George P. Donehoo, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission. In 1918 Donehoo issued a report to the Commission on the archaeological investigation of Spanish Hill:
Louise Welles Murray died in 1931, the same year that her collection of Clark’s papers was published. In editing these papers, she never mentioned Donehoo, Moorehead, Skinner or the Susquehanna River Expedition of 1916. Nor did she mention them in he selected bibliography which she, perhaps craftily, defined as "References and Sources Cited by Clark in "Carantouan" and "Andaste" (Murray 1931:133)," thereby avoiding any outside references.
Figure 2. Proto-Susquehannock sites.
New York State sites, not numbered
|1.||Engelbert Cemetery||SB, SI|
|2.||Engelbert Flats||PS, RM|
|3.||Litchfield Station||PS, RM, SI|
|4.||Ellis Creek||SB, SI|
Pennsylvania sites, with state-assigned numbers
|6.||Spanish Hill (36BR27)||----|
|8.||Heath (36BR144)||SB, SI|
|9.||Ahbe-Brennan (36BR42)||SB, SI|
|10.||Tioga Point Museum (36BR1)||SB, SI|
|11.||Murray Garden (36BR2)||SB, SI|
|12.||Tioga Point Farm (36BR3)||SB, SI, PS, RM|
|13.||Murray Farm (36BR5)||SB, SI|
|14.||Kennedy (36BR43)||SB, SI, PS, RM|
|15.||Nagle Farm (36BR15)||PS, RM, SI|
|16.||Ulster Creamery (36BR9)||PS, RM, SI|
|17.||Rockwell I (36BR10)||SB, PS, RM|
|18.||Blackman (36BR83)||SB, SI, PS, RM|
|19.||Oscalui (Ogehage?) (36BR41)||PS, RM|
|20.||Sick (36BR50)||SI, RM, PS|
|21.||Wilson (36BR58)||PS, RM, SI|
|22.||Strickland (36BR76)||PS, RM, SI|
|23.||Cass (36BR57)||PS, RM, SI|
|24.||Wysox Flats (36BR56)||PS, SI|
|25.||Homets Ferry (36BR70?)||PS, SI|
|26.||Wyalusing (Gohontoto?) (36BR68)||PS, SI|
|SI||Schultz Incised pottery, in burials or found on surface.|
|PS||Proto-Susquehannock pottery, in burials? Or found on surface.|
|RM||Richmond Mills Incised pottery, found on surface.|
Figure 3. Maps key.
Prior to her death she had arranged through a grant from the National Research Council to employ James B. Griffin to conduct excavations at several sites in Bradford county, one of which was Spanish Hill (Kent 1984:301). Jessee Welles Murray succeeded her mother, Louise, as director of Tioga Point Museum, and in this capacity she received and monitored the grant.
In his report of the 1931 excavations, Griffin wrote (1931:31-36) that eight trenches, 20 inches to 32 inches [50.8 to 81.3cm] wide, by 10 feet to 16 feet [3.05 to 4.9m] in length were dug to depths of from 36 inches to 45 inches [91.4 to 114.3cm] below surface, across the purported embankments surrounding the perimeter of the hill. In addition, "numerous test pits" were dug.
Within Trench 3, one grit tempered pottery rim sherd, exhibiting 45-degree incising, was found. And in Trench 1, a thin layer of charcoal upon fire-colored earth, which he assessed as antedating the formation of the embankment by some considerable period of time, were noted. No additional artifactual material or features were located in any of the eight trenches, and contents of the test pits were not mentioned, thereby giving the impression that content was negligible. He noted that no post molds or evidence of interior/exterior trenching were present, and that the stratigraphy of the embankment indicated that it was created during more than one episode..
In conversations with Dr. Griffin, he stated to the author that the purported "embankment" reported by Murray and others (L. Murray 1908:58-59; E. Murray 1921:289-290) appeared to have been created through post-contact period cultivation, most probably during or shortly following the initial colonial period of occupation. He further said that it is his firm belief that the embankment was purposely created by farmers in order to forestall erosion of the upper perimeter and sides of the hill (Griffin 1984).
Griffin’s report on Spanish Hill has not been published, however, Barry Kent summarizes his work as follows:
In spite of the accumulating archaeological evidence to the contrary, Elsie Murray continued to advance Clark’s ideas through addresses and published papers (cf. E. Murray 1936; 1939;1946a; 1946b; 1948a; 1948b). It is most unfortunate that she did not qualify her conclusions by presenting results of Griffin’s work in 1931 and Donehoo’s observations in 1918. Furthermore, the report of Moorehead’s Expedition was published in 1938 (Moorehead 1938). It contained Donehoo’s report of 1918 to the Pennsylvania Historical Commission (Ibid:69). Moorehead stated in prefacing the quote that Donehoo’s opinion was in accord with his (Ibid).
In 1959 William A. Hunter, in "Historic Role of the Susquehannocks," questioned the use of Brule’s story thusly:
In 1979, Marilyn Crannell Stewart addressed Witthoft’s southern migration theory for Susquehannock sites and its reliance upon the Seneca dating sequence established by Wray and Schoff (cf. 1953) as follows:
THE SUSQUEHANNOCK SEQUENCE AND THE CARANTOUANNAIS
In 1953 Wray and Schoff established a sequence of Seneca site locations based on the study of trade goods found in their cemeteries and villages (Wray and Schoff 1953). Using a similar technique, Witthoft began applying this direct historical approach to his study of the Susquehannocks, results of which were published in 1953 (Witthoft and Kinsey 1959). In his book he established a basic sequence for the evolution of the Susquehannocks as a tribal unit and seriated their pottery sequence. One of his findings was that the Susquehannocks left Bradford County by 1575 and that, because of the absence of trade goods dating from e. 1550 to 1750 from this region, the area must have been depopulated for nearly 200 years. Subsequent archaeology in Bradford County, most notably in 1967-68 at the Engelbert Site (Elliott and Lipe 1970; Crannell 1970; Stewart 1973; Dunbar and Ruhl 1974), has failed to produce any evidence which would negate the dates previously established and, in fact, confirms Witthoft’s earlier findings. (All references within this paper to Bradford County, Pa., as relates to the Susquehannock occupation, are intended to include the contiguous Southern Tier area of New York State.) Most recently, and in light of more immediate findings, Barry Kent has refined Witthoft’s earlier sequence (Kent 1984:18). In his treatment of the Early Schultz Phase (i.e., the Bradford County Phase), Kent would establish 1550 as a terminal date for Susquehannock occupation within Bradford County and 1575 as a date for the establishment of Susquehannocks in the large stockaded village at the Schultz Site, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Ibid:18-19).
Kent states that during their occupation of Bradford County the Susquehannocks were living in small, scattered hamlets (Ibid:17;297;306) and he points out that no large, stockaded Early Schultz Phase villages have been found in Bradford County or the Southern Tier of New York. The lack of Susquehannock stockades in Bradford County would be prima-facie evidence that Brule’s Carantouannais could not have been living in Bradford County. Kent also states (Ibid:115) that the Susquehannocks derived from a poorly known earlier Proto-Susquehannock Phase. Subsequent to Kents writing of his book, Lucy and McCracken have analyzed and prepared a report, soon to be published in the Pennsylvania Archaeologist, on the first identified Proto-Susquehannock village. One of the most notable discoveries at this, the Blackman Site (36BR83), was the post mold pattern of a stockade. Sherd counts at this site (7:1 ratio) support the identification of the stockade as Proto-Susquehannock (Lucy and McCracken n.d.; see Kent 1984:304-305 for a counter analysis). In their report the authors suggest that large, stockaded Early Schultz Phase Susquehannock villages have not been found in Bradford County because they are not recognized as such. Early Schultz Phase pottery is known almost exclusively from excavation of graves. With one exception, the Wilson Site (McCann1962), living floors containing Early Schultz Incised pottery have not been found. Lucy and McCracken propose that the Bradford County Susquehannocks were using Richmond Mills Incised/Proto-Susquehannock Incised vessels in an everyday village life context and that the more fragile shell-tempered Schultz Incised pottery was used in a mortuary practice, reflecting a western Monongahela/Fort Ancient influence (cf. Crannel 1970; Stewart 1973). The association of Richmond Mills Incised pottery with Schultz Incised is demonstrated in the finding, in-situ of a Richmond Mills Incised pot nested within an Early Schultz Incised vessel in a Susquehannock burial on the Tioga Point Farm Site (36BR3) by Leroy Vanderpoel. Further, the authors point to a lack of Proto-Susquehannock Incised pottery in graves and of the immediate proximity of living floors containing Richmond Mills Incised/Proto-Susquehannock Incised ware to known Early Schultz Incised-furnished graves and cemeteries. That the proto-Susquehannock Phase people lived within stockaded villages can now be demonstrated.
Equation of Proto-Susquehannock with Early Schultz as a single phase characterized by the discrete use of two distinct pottery types is an hypothesis which, while intriguing in concept, still needs additional study. Possibly relevant to this argument are Kent’s observations that there are few instances of Proto-Susquehannock Incised and Schultz Incised intrasite associations (Kent 1984:297); that in later phases of the Susquehannock sequence most Strickler Cord-marked pottery was used as grave furniture (Ibid:139); and that there is a continuing Monongahela ceramic presence throughout this sequence (Ibid:142). The presence of stockaded Susquehannock villages during the Proto-Susquehannock Phase is indicated and their presence during the Early Schultz Phase (if the two phases were discrete) seems likely. Using a suggested absence of stockaded Susquehannock villages in an analysis of Brule’s story is no longer valid. Once again, more archaeology needs to be done in Bradford County.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADE GOODS
The absence of trade goods from Early Schultz Phase sites in Bradford County is most significant in our analysis of the equation of the Carantouannais as the Susquehannocks. One of the artifacts most sensitive to dating is the European glass trade bead. This dating sequence has been worked out by American archaeologists who have found them in otherwise dateable contexts (Ibid:211). One reason why they are so valuable to the archaeological record is that they are the most numerous trade good found on contact period sites today (Ibid). Within Bradford County, Early Schultz Phase Susquehannock graves seldom yield more than one or two scrap brass or copper beads and many burials containing Early Schultz Incised pottery do not contain any beads at all. Glass beads are not found in these northern Susquehannock graves (see Kent 1984:297, who mentions an occasional glass bead in Susquehannock graves from within Bradford County). At the next stage in the Susquehannock development, the Schultz Site in Lancaster County, brass beads average one per burial and glass beads begin to appear, clearly indicating increased trade and at a later date. Witthoft and Kent have refined the dating of these beads to establish chronometric sequences. Based on their findings they have stated that the Susquehannocks had departed Bradford County by 1575 at the latest. The evidence is clear. The Susquehannocks were living at the Washington Boro Site in Lancaster County, when Brule made his journey to the Carantouannais in 1615. As Champlain states that Carantouan was a short three-days journey from the Onondaga Fort, it is out of the question to continue to equate the Carantouannais with the Susquehannocks. While the journey between Spanish Hill and either Nichol’s Pond or Lake Onondaga may have been a short three-days journey in 1615, it could not have been made in less than six days from Washington Boro. This elimination of the Susquehannocks from the picture raises new questions:
The dotted line on Champlain’s 1632 map is also asserted to be the route taken by Brule to reach the Carantouannais, however, mention is seldom made of the fork this line depicts at its eastern terminus. If one were to assume this to be Brule’s route, with its dog-leg right hand turn near the terminus, what of the dog-leg left? May or must we assume this to be the route taken by Champlain and the Huron in their approach to the Onondaga Fort? Might we not assume that this line depicts a major path of communication over which natives traveled over long periods of time; a prominent highway so to speak?
The purpose of this paper has been to present current evidence which dispels forever the notion that Spanish Hill is the site of Brule’s Carantouan and to propose several questions which remain unsettled:
The author recently published two articles controverting the Brule legend in local historical society journals (McCracken 1984a;1984b). A local newspaper subsequently ran a feature story which called the papers controversial. Due to the ingrained nature of the legend, reasonable people are still very reluctant to accept the facts. Within the local community it is unlikely that the Brule legend will ever be put to rest, and Spanish Hill may someday become a shrine, as some are currently working to achieve.
This would be extremely unfortunate, for of equal interest to some is the origin of the name "Spanish Hill," said by early colonizers to have been called "Espana" or "Hispan" by ancestors of contact-period Indians (Murray 1908:62-63). Enhancing the image which this creates is the reported finding of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century artifacts attributed to Spanish origin, at or in the vicinity of Spanish Hill and near Owego, New York (Ibid). Also of interest is research being done by James F. Pendergast of the National Museum of Canada on the mid- to late-sixteenth century presence of the Spanish in the Chesapeake Bay (Pendergast 1983a;1983b). There is also the possibility of Spanish derivation of names or locations on the Block-Hendrickson maps of 1614 and 1616… This has the possibility of the beginnings of a replacement legend!
It is easy for one to sit back and review the works of others, particularly when one has the advantage of over 100 years of additional research and knowledge available. The author recognizes that this paper has been very critical of past researchers who have devoted much of the time and means to furthering knowledge. For this we apologize, and state that the paper has been prepared with both intent and purpose.
The intent has been to draw scholarly attention to a specific research problem and the manner in which it has been tacitly mishandled in the literature for over 100 years. The purpose has been to illustrate shortcomings in applying the direct approach to archaeological problems.
It is not enough to consult an authority of 25 to 50 years ago. New data is being recovered as such a rapid rate that this morning’s accepted ideas may be rendered obsolete by noon. Two principals are involved: one is to write and publish timely reports so that the data is available to researchers in useable form; the other is to do our homework, ask pointed questions, and if the answers fail to satisfy, take decisive action.
For the researcher who fails to question his work or the work of others, or who fails to keep abreast of the current state of information, the example herein given may one day be his reward. If conclusions are erroneous, they cannot constitute facts, and it is then up to us to set the record straight. And unless we do, we will enshrine many false legends. Historians need to become more aware of the archaeology being done today and they need to apply the results in a "direct archaeological approach" to history.
The author would like to acknowledge the assistance received from Dr. Barry C. Kent, State Archaeologist, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Dr. Kent graciously allowed the use of several manuscript chapters of his book, Susquehanna’s Indians, in preparation of earlier papers on this subject. Also, from Dr. James F. Pendergast, Research Associate, National Museum of Canada, who permitted use of unpublished data, edited earlier papers, provided copies of obscure documents, and gave much-needed advice and guidance in the right direction. My deepest thanks to these two fine scholars.
In spite of the assistance and guidance given, the author if fully responsible for the entire content of this paper.
To assist future researchers, the following sources of documents are provided. The collection of the papers of John S. Clark are in the possession of the Cayuga County Historical Society, Auburn, New York. The collection of the papers of David Craft are housed in the Tioga Point Museum, Athens, Pennsylvania as are papers of both Louise nd Dr. Elsie Murray.
Subsequent to the preparation of this paper the author was shown an
article published by Donald H. Kent (1976) which provides background data
compiled from an historical perspective. This extremely well researched
paper methodically and logically criticizes former research on the Brule
question. Dr. Kent’s conclusions are, hopefully, complemented by the archaeological
approach to which the present paper aspires.
*This paper was presented at the 1984 Annual Conference on Iroquois Research, The Institute of Man and Science, Rennselaerville, New York, October 12-13, 1984 (revised).
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