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History of Wyoming
Charles Miner
1845

 
 
History of Wyoming, by Charles Miner, in a series of letters, this son William Penn Miner, Esq

Letter 4

With the movements of France and England, the two chief maritime nations of Europe, the destinies of this distant and secluded valley were, for many years, so intimately blended, that a rapid exposition of their policy, on this continent, may not be regarded as foreign to the purpose of these pages. In 1603, France granted a charter for a large portion of North America. Two years afterwards, charters of extensive limits were granted by England. A very early period, France commenced settlements upon the northeastern coast, on the waters of the St. Lawrence, and on the Mississippi; well England began to plant colonies on the whole line of the Atlantic shore, from the St. Croix to St. Mary's. Sharp collisions arose. Each endeavored to enlist the Indians in their respective quarrels. To the keen encounter of opposing interests, was added the exciting rivalry of towering ambition, national pride, hereditary hate, and personal revenge. Increasing knowledge of the dormant wealth, and extensive resources of America, gave tenfold impulse to all their passions.

While the center was rapidly peopling under the auspicious of England, France, actuated by a policy vast as her ambition, pursued with a vigor worthy of her power, was endeavoring to limit and overawe the British settlements by a cordon of forts, from Québec, along the St. Lawrence, at Montreal, Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Du Quesne, on the Ohio, and onward, embracing the most defensible points to the Delta of the Mississippi. The design was grand-the execution spirited. The savages, formerly in amity with the British, but now favorably disposed to the French, who had promised to restore the country taken from them by the English, were excited by the defeat of Braddock, in 1754, to enter with redoubled zeal into the war against the colonies. The hatchet was unburied-the war knife was unsheathed, and the remorseless theories of Indian war were let loose along 1000 miles of defenseless Frontier. The mighty genius of Pitt guarded the destinies of England; but the rising glories of his administration had not yet dawned upon this continent, and the Iroquois, confident in their own prowess, and reposing implicit faith in their power, if not the promises of the French, pushed the war with unceasing vigilance along the whole line of their widely extended empire. Contracting our view to the limited range of our appropriate subject, we proceed with our narrative.

This spring following the first visit of the Christian Indians, at Gnadenhutten, (i.e. 1753,) to their great consternation, became a second band from Wyoming, consisting of 23 persons, under the chief command of Paxinos, a Shawanese chief, or king, to of some distinction, accompanied by three Iroquois ambassadors, who desired the whole settlement at Gnadenhutten to remove to Wyoming. Not only where they indisposed to yield obedience to the unreasonable mandate, but relying, probably, on the promises and power of the Brethren, and the first contiguity of Fort Allen, for protection against their ancient conquerors and detested tyrants, several ventured to make replies, little calculated to conciliate their haughty masters.

"What can the Chiefs of the Six Nations give me in exchange for my soul?" Said one. "They never consider how that will fare!" "God who made and saves me, can protect me," said another. "I am not afraid of the wrath of man, for not one hair of my head can fall to the ground without his will!"-another, would still greater confidence, declared to the ambassadors, "is even one of them should lift up his hatchet against me, and say, "depart from the Lord and the Brethren, I will not do it." Somewhat tart, if not taunting replies. These decisive, and especially the latter preemptory refusal, roused the Chiefs to anger, when the terrible answer, before quoted, was given. "The Great Head, i.e. the Council and Onondaga, speak the truth and lie not. They rejoice this summer leaving Indians had moved to Wayomick; but now they lift up the remaining Mohicans and Delawares, and second down also in the Wayomick; for there a fire is kindled for them, and where they may plant and think on God. But if they will not here, the Great Head will come and clean their ears with a red hot poker."

Paxinos, who delivered this message, then turned to the missionaries, and in a grave and solemn manner, earnestly demanded of them, says the historian, "not to hinder their converts from removing to Wayomack."

The wife of Paxinos had accompanied him, and either through the Divine Power, what in this instance is more probable, or, what in this instance is more probable, the subtle policy of the Iroquois, and the command of her husband, was, or affected to become converted, was baptized, and admitted a member of the congregation. A Shawanese queen might be presumed to have great influence in introducing the Christian Indians to yield to the earnest wishes of the Six Nations, and return under their authority and protection!

The first of both struck by the savages, sufficiently near to be connected with Wyoming, was in the neighborhood of Shamokin, (afterwards Fort Augusta, now Sunbury.) The Moravians had a small mission there; and as it was ever a role of action of that excellent people to do all the good in their power, they had sent out with the minister, a blacksmith with his tools. Thus religion and the useful arts, advanced hand in hand together. None of the Moravians were injured; but 14 white persons were murdered and scalped. The date is not precisely stated, but it was after Braddock's defeat, in 1754, and previous to Nov. 1755, probably in this summer of the last name year.

Hostilities commenced, the reader cannot doubt but the settlement at Gnadenhutten was marked for vengeance. "Late in the evening of the 24th November, 1755," we copy from the Christian Library, "while the missionaries were at supper, their attention was suddenly aroused by the continual barking of dogs, which was followed by the report of the gun. On opening the door of the mission House, they observed a party of hostile Indians standing before the House, with their pieces pointed toward the door. On its being opened, the immediately fired, and Martin Nitschman was killed on the spot. His wife and some others were wounded, but ran upstairs into the garrett, and barricaded the door with bedsteads. Hither the savages pursued them; but, not being able to force opened the door, they set fire to the house, which was soon and developed in flames. To of the Brethren had previously made their escape, by jumping out of the back window; and employee leaked down from the flaming roof, though not until one of his cheeks had been grazed by a ball, and his hand much burned. Sister Partsch, whose husband had escaped out of the window, likewise ventured to leap down from the burning roof. Unobserved by the enemy, she hid herself behind a tree, on rising ground, from whence she had a full view of the tragical scene. Brother Fabricious, in attempting to make his escape in the same manner, was perceived by the Indians, and instantly wounded by two balls. They then seized him, and having dispatch tin with their hatchet, took his scalp, and left him dead on the ground. Eleven persons, belonging to the mission, were burned alive; among whom, was a child only 15 months old. Sister Sinceman, already surrounded by the flames, was heard to exclaim: "'tis all well, dear Saviour! I expected nothing else." The murderers now set fire to the barns and stables, with which all the corned, hay, and cattle were consumed; and, having made a hearty meal, the departed."

"This melancholy occurrence proved the deliverance of the Christian Indians; for, upon hearing the report of guns, seeing the flames, and learning the dreadful cause from those who escaped, they offered to attack the enemy without delay; but, being advised to the contrary, the all fled into the woods, and the settlement was thus in a few minutes cleared of its inhabitants. By the exertion is and persuasion is of the missionary, Shebosh, who, alone, remained at Gnadenhutten, most of the fugitive converts returned the next day. They now hoped to remain in safety, as, in consequence of the petition presented by the Brethren, at Bethlehem, the governor of Pennsylvania sent a party of soldiers into these parts for the protection of the Christian Indians and the country in general. But, on New Year's Day, 1756, the savages attacked these troops, set fire to the settlement, and laid waste all the plantations, by which both the congregation and the missionaries were reduced to the greatest poverty."

We a few anecdotes, gleaned from various sources. The troops set up by the government, of course, occupied Fort Allen; and for recreation, amused themselves with skating. It is no part of savage warfare to attack ramparts of stone, defended by ordinance; but in the stratagems of war, the soldiers were no match for the trained and wily Iroquois. Thus one or two Indians were, for some time, seen unguardedly skating to, on the frozen bosom of the Lehigh, but at a distance. At length a party left the Fort to surprise them; when, with seeming carelessness, they would first approach, and then extend their playful race, further and further. Thus, by degrees, drawing the party of whites beyond the reach of protection or retreat.-the scheme succeeded. Suddenly, from an ambush, cracked the deadly rifle-a yell arose-a large party rushed forth to seize the scalps of the slain,-scarcely one returned to the Fort unhurt. Then, as if satisfied with their trophies, they gave the garrison to understand, (probably by a wounded prisoner, then released on purpose,) that they were about to retire, threatening to return the next year, and skate with them again. Taking up their march on the warpath, the left a strongly marked trail, as far as their enemies would be apt to pursue; when, returning by another unfrequented route, they again lay in ambush, waiting patiently, enduring the extremity of cold, rather than hazard exposure by kindling fires. At length, confidence being restored, the garrison went out and in, hunting or hauling wood, as if no enemy were with an hundred miles. Fatal security! The Indians again fell upon them, and made such slaughter, that the troops abandoned their Fort, and fled below the mountains for safety, leading a rich prize of booty to their eminently superior enemy.

War was formerly proclaimed by Great Britain against France, in 1756, when, if possible, a renewed impulse was given to the savage ferocity. As our purposes only to record those events which are more immediately connected with Wyoming, we commend the bloody narrative of desolation, in Western Pennsylvania, to some able hand. The writer should visit each interesting location, and gather from the children of the sufferers, every particular which tradition has handed down, and faithful memory preserved.

Other death of Tadame, treacherously murdered, but by whom, or for Fort cause, we find no record, Tedeuscung was elected king of the Delawares, at Wyoming; "a lusty, rawboned man," says Major Parsons, "but haughty, and very desirous of respect and command. He was born near Trenton, in 1705, and was now about 50 years old."

The Pennsylvania Government, anxious to conciliate the Indians, invited the various nations to a council, which was accordingly held at Easton, commencing on the 8th of November, 1756. Imposing ceremonies, both for state and security, were kept up throughout the negotiations. At 3 o'clock, Governor Dennie marched from his lodgings, to the place of conference, guarded by a party of loyal Americans, in front and on the flanks, and a detachment of Col. Weiser’s Provincials, in subdivisions in the rear, with colors flying, drums beating, and music playing; which order was always observed in going to the place where the council was held.

Tedeuscung, who had been accompanied from Wyoming, by most of his principal warriors, performed the part of chief speaker on this occasion, for all the tribes present, as he had done at the preceding conferences. He is represented to have supported the rights and claims of the Indians in a dignified and spirited manner. Tedeuscung, in his talk before the council, said in substance as follows:-"there are many reasons why the Indians have ceased to be the friends of the English. They had never been satisfied with the conduct of the English after the treaty of 1737, when their fathers, Tishekunk and Nutimus, sold them the lands upon the Delaware: that although the rights of the purchase were to extend "as far as a man can go in a day and a half," from Neshamony Creek, yet the man who was appointed to go over the ground, did not walk, but ran; and it was also expected he would go along the bank of the river, which he did not, but went in a straight line; and because they had been unwilling to give up the land to the English, as far as the walk extended, the governor who then had the command in Pennsylvania, sent for their cousins, the Six Nations, who had always been hard masters to them, to come down and drive them from the land.-that when the Six Nations did come down, they met them at the governor's house, in Philadelphia, in 1742, with the view of explaining, way they did not give up the land; but the English made so many presents to the Six Nations, that they would hear no explanation from the Delawares, and the chief of the council of the Six Nations (Canassatego,) abused them, and called them women. The Six Nations had however, given to them and the Shawanese, the country upon the Juanita, for a hunting ground, and had so informed the governor; but notwithstanding this, the latter permitted of whites to go and settle upon those lands. That two years before, the governor had been to Albany, to buy more of the lands of the Six Nations, and had described their purchase by points of compass, which they did not understand, including not only the Juanita, but also the West Branch of the Susquehanna, which the Indians did not intend to sell; and when all these things were known, they declared they would no longer be friends to the English, who were trying to get all their country from them.

He assured the council, that they were glad to meet their old friends, the English, to smoke the pipe of peace with them, and hoped that justice would be done to them, for all the injuries they had received. This conference continued nine days, during which time, all matters of difference were considered, and the Shawanese and Delawares, the two principal tribes, became reconciled to the English, with whom they concluded a treaty of peace."

Tedeuscung, you will perceive, bore at this council a conspicuous part. Treaties of friendship were entered into with the Shawanese and Delawares-presents were received-smoke from the calumet ascended to the skies to bear aloft the record of reconciliation; and the vein and flattered king returned in proud triumph to the valley. It was his day of glory-bright but brief. In my view of the vassalage of these Nations, the treaty, of course, by regard as nugatory, except so far as it might operate to awaken hopes of independence, and tend to detach the Delawares from their conquerors. The contract needed appropriation of the "Great Head at Onondaga." We incline to believe the measure had been adopted, independently of their wishes, they being then, with their warriors, extremely engaged, if not severely pressed, in other quarters. What strengthens this opinion, are the facts, that almost immediately after the treaty, murders were committed below the Blue Mountains, which the Wyoming Indians solemnly disavowed; and when the Governor sent Mr. Hill on a message to Tedeuscung, he was waylaid on his journey from Minisink to the valley, by the Iroquois, and murdered. Indeed, Heckewelder states that the Delawares assured him those murders were committed by the Six Nations, to prevent the effects of the treaty. Charles Thompson, then a respected, since, a most venerable name, was present, and acted as one of the secretaries during the negotiations. The fact he stated to the writer, at Lancaster, in 1808, where Mr. Thompson, being on business pending before the assembly, spent part of the winter, and boarded at the same house. He further related, that Tedeuscung, please with what he considered as the candour and fairness of Mr. T., adopted him as a member of the Delaware Nation, and gave him a name, signifying, "he who speaks the truth." After the breaking up of the council, Mr. Thompson, in compliance with the wishes of the government, and an invitation from the king, accompanied him to Wyoming. When, pursuing the Indian path, (near the route of the present turnpike) they came to the top of the first mountain which overlooks the valley, the king expressed fears lest there might be danger below, (dreading, I apprehend, a visit from the Iroquois.) Mr. Thompson, and all the train, but one or two, who accompanied the king, turned down southwesterly from the path, and sought repose for the night, while the cautious chief went on, to reconnoiter; but he returned early the next morning, reporting that all will well. Mr. T. spoke of the valley as a delightful spot. "He did not wonder at the contest waged for its possession." In respect for the subsequent massacre of the first settlers, he gave me a fact, and an opinion, which, not been recorded at the time, though indelibly imprinted on my memory, I think it more prudent to omit than to tell.

But the government of Pennsylvania new to well the importance of having the assent of the Six Nations, to rest satisfied with the treaty as made.

The influence of Sir William Johnson, agent for Indian affairs, was invoked to bring the Six Nations to a new Congress. Neither presents nor promises were spared, and in October 1758, there was opened at Easton, one of the most imposing assemblages ever beheld in Pennsylvania. Chiefs from the Six Nations were there, namely, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, and Tuscaroras. They were also present ambassadors from the tributary tribes of Nanticokes, Canoys, Tuteloes, Chenangos, Delawares, Unamies, Minisinks, Mohicans, Wapingers, and Shawanese. Both the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, attended; with Sir William Johnson, and George Crogan, Esq., sub Indian agent, a deputation from the provincial assembly at New Jersey, and a large concourse of eminent citizens from Philadelphia, and the neighboring counties. All the military pomp and parade exhibited at the previous treaty, were here renewed with additional ceremonies; and our intelligent neighbors of that flourishing town, should cause a splendid historical painting to be executed commemorative of an event so imposing, and so important in their annals.

Tedeuscung, on the way to the conference, having fallen in company with the chief who had commanded the expedition against Gnadenhutten and Fort Allen, high words arose between them, when the king raised his tomahawk and laid the chief dead at his feet. From this moment, though vengeance might slumber, he was a doomed man, a sacrifice a like to policy and revenge.

At the Congress, Tedeuscung, eloquent, and of imposing address, took at first a decided lead in the debates. But one of the chiefs of the Six Nations, says Chapman, "on the other hand expressed in strong language his resentment against the British Colonists, who had killed and imprisoned some of his tribe, and he, as well as other chiefs of those Nations, took great umbrage at the importance assumed by Tedeuscung, whom, as one of the Delawares, they considered in some degree subject to their authority. Tedeuscung, however, supported the high station which he held, with dignity and firmness, and a different Indian tribes at length became reconciled to each other. The conference having continued 18 days, and all causes of misunderstanding between the English and Indians being removed, a general peace was concluded on the 26th day of October. At this treaty the boundaries of the different purchases made from the Indians were more particularly described, and they received an additional compensation for their lands, consisting of knives, hats, caps, looking glasses, tobacco boxes, shears, gun locks, combs, clothes, shoes, stockings, blankets, and several suits of laced clothes for their chiefains, and when the business of the treaty was completed, the stores of rum were opened, and distributed to the Indians, who soon exhibited a scene of brutal intoxication."

Great offense, it appears, was given to the ambassadors of the Six Nations at the consequence assumed, and the forward part taken by Tedeuscung; and yet no immediate measures were adopted to chastise is supposed contumacy. A solution of what might otherwise seem difficult, both at his more bold, independent conduct, and the forbearance of the Iroquois, may be found in the fact, that the power of their allies was already sensibly shaken, and Great Britain was preparing without exampled vigor to drive the French from this continent. Fort William was taken in 1757; Louisburg surrendered to their victorious arms in the summer of 1758; and far more important to the Iroquois, is it was almost in the heart of the dominions claimed by them, the shame the Braddock's defeat was washed out, and Fort DuQuesne, (afterwards named Fort Pitt,) had surrendered to the English the February preceding the October of 1758, when the conference is it at Easton were holden. Then event was a fatal blow to the widely extended claim of power on the part of the Confederacy; although the council fire and Onondaga was for many years after numerously surrounded by bold and ambitious chiefs and renowned warriors.

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