MORAVIAN MISSIONS - - WYALUSING
The first account we have of the labors of the Moravian Brethren among
the Indians of Pennsylvania is from their own history. They commenced
their missions in 1740; one in the state of New York, the other in Connecticut,
twenty miles distant, under the care of Rev. Martin Mack, and were very
successful in instructing them in the Christian religion. But they
were so persecuted by the white people, that after four years the “Brethren”
thought best to remove them, forty in number, to Bethlehem for protection,
where they built huts for themselves, and called their settlement Friedenshuetten,
or Tents of Peace. Their numbers increased so much that in a few
months the Brethren bought a tract of land for them, near the Mahony creek
and the Lehigh River.
Their missionary and others laid out the town, which they called Gnadenheutten, or Tents of Grace. They soon numbered five hundred Indians.
The war between the French and English commenced in 1755. The Christian Indians were friends to the British, while the savages were engaged for the French.
The French Indians threatened the Christian Indians, and were a constant terror to them. At last they attacked the mission house on the Mahony one evening, and eleven of the inhabitants were murdered. Application was made to Governor Denny for protection. They were removed to the barracks in Philadelphia, where fifty-five of them died. They were buried in what is now Washington Square.
After the close of the French war, in 1764, the troubles being nearly at an end, the Brethren in Bethlehem considered in what manner to provide a settlement for these poor Indians, principally Delawares, where they might enjoy more safety.
It could not be expected they would remain long unmolested, in the neighborhood of the merciless whites, and they were therefore advised to settle in the Indian country, on the banks of the Susquehanna. Application was made to the Governor, who gave them permission, and supplied them liberally with necessaries “until their new planted corn should ripen.” Schmidt and Zeisberger were appointed to accompany them. On the 20th of March the Moravian Indian congregation commenced their journey across the mountains and swamps, direct to Wyoming; from thence to Machiwilusing, where they arrived on the 9th of May, after a painful pilgrimage of five weeks.
Machiwilusing was the Indian name for Wyalusing creek, and has given name to the town. It empties into the Susquehanna, a little below French Town, on the opposite side of the river. Near the mouth of that creek, these Moravians made their missionary establishment in 1765. They called it after their old station Friedenshuetten or Tents of Peace. It was a village of forty houses, built of wood, after the European manner, and thirteen Indian huts. In the middle of the street, which was eighty feet broad, they built a large and neat chapel. The adjoining ground was laid out in gardens, and between the town and the river, about 250 acres were divided into regular plantations, for Indian corn. The burying ground was situated some distance back of the buildings. The mission grounds were about two miles below the present village of Wyalusing.
They were happy and greatly blessed, and prospered, at their new station, and were often visited by people of the Six Nations, many of whom believed the word which they heard, and embraced their religion and were baptized. The natives heard of them at a great distance, and great numbers were added to them.
Zeisberger was extensively known among the Indians. He understood the Delaware and Iroquois languages, and often attended the great councils at Onondaga, where he was treated with great respect. They gave him not only liberty to settle at Friedenshuetten, but also additional liberties beyond Tioga. *
* We have no account of the Moravians
having gone farther
North than old Sheshequin.
Among other places visited by the missionaries of Machiwilusing,
was a town about thirty miles up the river called the She Shequannunk (Old
Sheshequin) in which a great awakening took place among the Indians, occasioned
by the accounts from Friedenshuetten, brought by those who visited them.
At the request of the natives, the missionary Rothe went to reside among
them. His testimony of Jesus went to their hearts, the audience being
frequently melted to tears. One of them remarked, “I would not have
wept if my enemies had cut the flesh from my bones. That I now weep
is of God, who has softened the hardness of my heart.” For some time
it appeared as if the whole town would turn to the Lord and be converted.
The mission at Machiwilusing continued to prosper greatly until the whites increased on each side of them, and introduced rum. The difficulties also among the Pennsylvania and New England people were a hindrance to them, and the Iroquois were prevailed upon to sell all their lands East of the Ohio to the white people, and great was the sacrifice to give up their beautiful settlement on the Susquehanna. These peaceable, quiet, Christian Moravian Indians felt compelled to leave their “Tents of Peace” where they had lived seven years, and take up their march again westward, by the way of Sunbury, through forest and marshes, over rivers and mountains, till they arrived on the banks of the Ohio, where they met brethren under Heckwalder, the Moravian missionary, who guided them to their settlement. These poor creatures (two hundred and forty in number), were seven weeks on their sad journey.
A Congregational church was formed in Wyalusing in 1794, and was connected with the Luzerne Association. Rev. M. .M. York preached alternately at Wyalusing and Wysox, for many years. The association once met at the latter place, in the spring of ----,
when Mrs. York, the mother of the clergyman, more than seventy years of age, residing at Wyalusing, rode across swollen streams and over dangerous passes, to be present at this assembly. Great surprise was expressed at her courage and heroism, when she replied, “I have been praying forty years for the up building of Zion, and don’t you think I would come to see it?”
Major Taylor’s family was identified with the church there, and a son of his was a clergyman. His daughter was suddenly restored to the use of her limbs, in answer to prayer, as was supposed, after having been unable to walk for several years.
A settlement was made by the white people, soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, which they called Wyalusing, from Machiwilusing, the Indian name of the creek.
It is a beautiful settlement, about two miles above the site of the old Moravian settlement, and contained a population of nearly five hundred inhabitants.
The late C.F. Welles, Esq., removed from Towanda to Wyalusing in 1822. He had been the Prothonotary, and Register and Recorder of Bradford County, from the time its name was changed from that of Ontario, March 24, 1812, until 1818, when he was succeeded by Geo. Scott and E. Mason. He married a daughter of Judge Hollenback, and was a prominent and talented man. He died in 1866. *
* Justus Lewis, Esq., who resides near Wyalusing, and is about
82 years of age,
has a better knowledge, it is said, of our frontier history, than any other man
now living, and could no doubt give valuable information to any one who might
wish to prepare a more extended work.
To take a glance of the two states of Connecticut and Pennsylvania,
as they now are, it might seem absurd that Connecticut could ever have
claimed a tract of land over one hundred and twenty miles in length, and
sixty in breadth, in the heart of this well proportioned state.
The Colony of Connecticut claimed jurisdiction by virtue of a charter from Charles 2d, dated April 23, 1662, granting Connecticut that part of his dominions in America, beginning at Narragansett Bay, from the 41st to the 42d degree of latitude, in width, and extending west on the same parallels of latitude, so far as England then owned the granting power, or, as some say, to the Pacific Ocean, supposing the continent to be very narrow. The claims of the Dutch leading down to New York Bay, were of course, excepted, as her charter was the oldest.
The proprietaries of Pennsylvania, on the ground of a charter granted to Wm. Penn, in 1681, by the same sovereign, claimed all that tract of land in America, bounded on the east by the Delaware River, from the 40th to the 42d degree of north latitude, and to extend west through five degrees of longitude. Within these bounds was included Wyoming, “which,” says Colonel Stone, “has been the theatre of more historical action, and is invested with more historical interest than any other inland district of the United States, of equal extent.”
The difficulties arising out of these opposing claims, between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, were serious and protracted. It was inexcusable that a monarch, assigning portions of territory to his subjects, should leave so much ground for controversy, by granting titles that conflicted with each other to so great an extent.
It was this that caused the trouble between the two states and the numerous claimants, and resulted in civil and disastrous wars.
Pennsylvania purchased of the Indians the right of soil in the province, but did not receive their deed until the treaty at Fort Stanwix, in 1768.
In 1754 the Connecticut Susquehanna Company, formed at Hartford, purchased of the Six Nations, at Albany, the land on the Susquehanna River, beginning at the 41st degree of North latitude, ten miles east of the river; and from thence, with a northerly line, following the river ten miles east of the same, to the forty-second degree of North latitude; and extending two degrees West longitude; from thence south to the 41st degree; thence east to the first mentioned boundary.
For this the company paid the Indians the sum of two thousand pounds, current money, and the deed was signed by eighteen Sachems.*
A gradual emigration was in progress from Connecticut many years, though interrupted considerably by the French war; but in 1769 two hundred families, from the eastern part
* See Miner’s history.
of the state, formed a colony and began to remove to the south part
of the valley, with ministers, and implements of husbandry, and teachers
for their children. After many wearisome days in the wilderness,
they descended the mountain and took possession of the garden of nature,
which had been honorable purchased of the natives.
Here, in their delightful Wyoming, these noble Christian colonists expected to find a prosperous and peaceful home. But scarcely had they taken possession, when their claim was contested by the Pennsylvanians, whose charter also covered the charming valley; and a terrible conflict ensued. The contention was long and sharp; many lives were lost, and the suffering of the colony were great. At here different times they were driven from their possessions by the Pennsylvanians; but they returned with increased numbers, supported by Connecticut, and established themselves strongly. They called their territory the County of Westmoreland, and for nine years sent representatives to the legislature of Connecticut. They were a happy people among themselves, had civil and religious privileges, and all the enjoyments of refined social life. Their Puritan habits have blessed succeeding generations. Many clergymen, statesmen, teachers, missionaries, and other eminent Christian men and women have sprung from this stock.
Chief-Justice Tilghmnan states that
“the unfortunate controversy between Connecticut and Pennsylvania was attended
with riot, disorder and bloodshed, which continued until the commencement of the
Revolutionary War, when the Congress of the United States, fearing the consequences
which might result from a dispute of so serious a nature between two powerful states, recommended that all acts of force should be abstained from, and each person should
remain in possession of the land occupied by him, until a proper season should come
for determining the matter on principles of justice. This recommendation was complied
with. The Connecticut settlers were the most numerous, and held possession during the
war, in the course of which they suffered great hardships, and lost many lives; being on
a remote frontier, much exposed to the attacks of the British and Indians.” *
While the struggle with Great Britain was in progress, in which Wyoming took an active part, there was comparative quiet between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania claimants; but scarcely was our independence acknowledged, when the contention about lands revived. It was found necessary that a subject of so much weight should be decided by a court established by Congress of Commissioners from the two contending states.
* The fiery trials through which they passed, at the time of the invasion by the Tories and Indians, in 1778, cannot be better described than in the petition of Samuel Gore, for a pension, in his advance age. He was a brother of Judge Gore, and kindly presented me with a copy of his petition, written with his own hand, near the close of his life. He had often visited us, and entertained us with his account of the Revolutionary War, and the battle of Wyoming.
They met at Trenton, N.J., in the month of December, 1782. The
parties proceeded with their pleas, and after many days the court decided
that the right of jurisdiction belonged to Pennsylvania, and that the judicial
poser of Connecticut over Wyoming should cease. In this the commissioners
from each state acquiesced. It is supposed there was this understanding
between the two states, from a conviction of its policy.
Mr. Miner says, “There is no doubt that the decision of Trenton was made on grounds of policy, and not of right. It was not designed, however, to affect the private right of soil. Immediately after this decree, Connecticut withdrew its jurisdiction, and the county of Westmoreland ceased to exist.
“The claims of Connecticut, west of Pennsylvania, were all ceded to Congress, excepting the Western Reserve, or New Connecticut, and she received the United States letters patent for that tract.
“The Pennsylvanians continued to treat the Connecticut settlers with severity, which induced the assembly to pass an act, to restore to them the possessions from which they had been forcibly removed. On the 28th of March, 1787, an act was passes called the Confirming Act, ratifying the title of lands in their possession, prior to the decree of Trenton.”
This law was not satisfactory to either party, and was repealed April 1st, 1790. On the 4th of April, 1799, an act was passed called the Compromising Act, “offering compensation to the Pennsylvania settlers, within the seventeen townships of Luzerne. The object of this act was to offer a reasonable compensation in money to such Pennsylvania claimants as were willing to release their rights, in order that the Commonwealth, having thus regained the title, might confirm the estates of the Connecticut settlers, at a moderate price, fixed by commissioners, who were authorized to give certificates to Connecticut claimants for no other land than such as many have been released by the Pennsylvania claimants. This title was confirmed by paying for first-class lands two dollars per acre; second-class, one dollar and twenty cents; third-class, fifty cents; fourth-class, eight and one-quarter cents.
To induce the Pennsylvania claimants to release, the commissioners were authorized to classify the land, giving certificates to them; first-class lands to be paid for at the rate of five dollars per acre, etc.
On the 6th of April, 1802, a supplement was passed to the act of 1799, which gave to the commissioners authority to certify to Connecticut claimants the title to their lands, whether released by the Pennsylvania claimant or not; forbidding recovery of the lands by the Pennsylvania claimant, and giving him a right of action against the Commonwealth for the value of his land.
By the act of 1807, all Pennsylvania claimants were admitted who had acquired title prior to the first confirming law, of March, 1787, and Connecticut claimants were not required to show that the lands were occupied before the decree of Trenton.
In the case of Mrs. Mathewson in the contest with J.F. Satterlee, Mrs. M. had taken out a warrant in 1812, and claimed an improvement back to 1785, under Connecticut title, (she having no certificate from the commissioners,) and therefore had no title recognized by the laws of Pennsylvania to the date of her warrant (1812). Mr. Satterlee had purchased an old Pennsylvania title, going back to 1769, and had taken a lease of Mrs. Mathewson, after which an act of assembly was passed, which allowed Mrs. M. to hold him as tenant. The same principles, when applied, will explain other cases also*
* The above statements have been furnished by a legal
gentleman for this work.
THE PETITION OF SAMUEL GORE, ESQ.
“To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled, at the City of Washington:
“The petition and memorial of Samuel Gore, of Sheshequin
Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, humbly showeth;
“That your petitioner’s request is of a singular nature, differing from the common case of those who served in the War of the Revolution; was not engaged for any limited time; that he resided at the Wyoming Settlement at the commencement of the late Revolutionary War; that in the year 1777, in the month of May, he was enrolled in the militia of Captain Aholiab Buck’s company, and took the oath of allegiance, to be true and faithful to the cause then at issue; that in December, the same year, he was draughted on a tour of duty up the river, as far as Wysox and Towanda; the command he was attached to took twenty-eight prisoners, men that had served under General Burgoyne, the preceding campaign; that in the year 1778 the settlement was in almost continual alarm, the fore part of the season; and what added mostly to our fears was, that three companies of soldiers had been enlisted in the settlement, and had joined the main army of Washington.
“The militia that was left was on duty the principal part of the time, in fortifying , scouting, and learning the military discipline, till the month of July, when the settlement was invaded by the British and Indians, under the command of Colonel John Butler and Brandt, the Indian chief.
“Your petitioner was in the memorable battle and massacre of Wyoming, and narrowly escaped the fate of five brethren, the officers, and principal part of the company to which he belonged.
“In addition to his misfortune, in running across a bay or morass, the Indians in close pursuit, every step over the knee in mud and mire, by over exertion, caused a breach in his body, which has been painful and troublesome disorder ever since.
“It is unnecessary to describe the entire destruction of the settlement, by the enemy, the dispersions and hardships of the fugitives. Old men, women, and children, fleeing through the wilderness, carrying with them scarcely enough to support nature by the way.
“The place was retaken in August or September following, by Colonel Zebulon Butler and Captain Simon Spalding, and a garrison replaced there. Your petitioner returned soon after, and served as a volunteer, during the years of 1779, 1780, and 1781, and was subject to be called on, in every case of emergency.
“The expedition of General Sullivan to the Gennesse country, did not prevent wholly, the depredations of the enemy, being frequently harassed by small parties. In the year 1782 Captain Spalding’s company was called to join the main army, at headquarters, and a company of invalids was stationed at the post, commanded by a Captain Mitchel, soldiers that were not calculated for the woods, scouting, etc. Colonel Dennison gave orders to have the militia organized and classed, which took place.
“John Franklin was chosen captain. Your petitioner was appointed a sergeant, and had the command of a class, which was ordered to be ready at the shortest notice, to scout the woods, and to follow any party of the enemy that should be sent on their murderous excursions. That he performed four tours of scouting that season, of about eight days each.
“Your petitioner never drew any pay, clothing or rations, during the contest for Independence, but ammunition, he was supplied with from the continental store.
“Had the charge of the family at the time, (his father being dead); had to support himself as well as he could, by laboring between spells, and frequently ploughing with his musket slung at his back.
“Being informed by the newspapers that a bill has passed the House of Representatives, by a large majority, to compensate all those that were enlisted in the service of their country from three months to six, and nine; to compensate according to the time of their engagement, let their circumstances be what they may. Encouraged by the liberality and generosity of our national legislators, I take my case into consideration; and if you, in your wisdom and justice, should think that your petitioner is entitled to any remuneration, to do what you may think right and just; and your petitioner will ever pray.”
A letter addressed to Philander Stephens, Esq., a Member of Congress, was folded within the petition, which I also copy:
“SHESHEQUIN, April 3, 1832
“ PHILANDER STEPHENS, Esq. ---------- Dear Sir:
I have been waiting with considerable anxiety, for some time, expecting
to hear from you, as I think you promised to write to me. I would
take it as a favor, if you would inform me what is the prospect of the
bill for the general compensation of old soldiers and volunteers of the
Revolution; whether it is like to pass the Senate, the present session;
also whether you have presented my petition, and if any encouragement therefrom.
Some cheering information on this subject would revive my spirits, which
have been almost exhausted during the severity of the past winter---the
hardest I have experienced since the return of Sullivan’s expedition to
the Indian country, in the year 1779.
“ On reflecting back in these trying times, I would state some particulars respecting our family, at the commencement of the Revolution. My father had seven sons, all zealously engaged in the cause of liberty. Himself an acting magistrate, and a committee of safety, watching the disaffected and encouraging the loyal part of the community.
“ Three of his sons, and two sons-in-law, fell in the Wyoming massacre. Himself died the winter following. One son served during the war, the others served in the Continental army for shorter periods.
“ Let any person at this time of general prosperity of our country, reflect back on the troubles, trials and suffering of a conquered country by a savage enemy. Men scalped and mangled in the most savage manner. Some dead bodies floating down the river in sight of the garrison. Women collecting together in groups, screaming and wringing their hands, in the greatest agony; some swooning and deprived of their senses. Property of every description plundered and destroyed, buildings burned, the surviving inhabitants dispersed, and driven through the wilderness, to seek subsistence wherever they could find it. This, sir, is a faint description of Wyoming destruction in 1778. The savages continued their depredations in a greater or less degree, until 1782.
“ Lest I intrude on your patience, will conclude.
I am, with respect, your humble servant,
The venerable man received his pension and was much comforted by it during his surviving years. He died in 1836. The petition and letter are copied verbatim.
While the battle was raging, and the women and children were in the fort for protection, Mrs. Gore, the anxious mother, was watching at the door of the fort, to hear the first report that should arrive; she was told by one who approached her that three of her sons, Asa, Silas, and George, were slain; and that John Murphy and Timothy Pierce, her two sons-in-law, were lying by them all scalped, tomahawked, and mangled corpses!
Who can conceive the agony of this mother as she exclaimed, “Have I one son left?” She died many years ago, and a monument has recently been set over her grave, together with that of her son, * Obadiah Gore, and his wife, by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The next day after the battle, when the fort was pillaged, all the feather-beds that could be found, the labor of many a careful mother and daughter, were carried out near the bank of the river, and there opened for the merriment of the savages, and the feathers scattered to the winds.
* Obadiah and Asa married sisters ----Avery.
They went to Mr. Gore’s house, built a fire in the hall,
and stood by it until it was enveloped in flames, and the distressed family
dared not whisper an objection. The feathers of the “Wyoming Bed”
were gathered up by the children of the family, placed in the first case
they could find, and secreted while the Indians were sacking the fort.
There was great wailing as one after another came in, bringing appalling reports from the battle-filed, while the savages were entertaining themselves by a general conflagration of the buildings in the settlement, and the despairing inhabitants were fleeing.
In their terror, dismay, and haste, the family procured a horse, threw this bed across it, and started for the Delaware, seventy miles through the wilderness, called the “Shades of Death.” The old people and the little ones rode alternately, and thus they pressed on their way, in hushed silence. One of the children hurt her unprotected feet, and cried aloud. From terrible necessity, the heavy-hearted mother said, “Stop crying, child, the Indians will be after us.” The little girl was quiet, and trudged along without complaining. There were scenes of suffering among the fugitives all the way, such as cannot be described. Hunger, sickness, and death were common.
An infant child of Mrs. Fishy died on the way. The mother could not bury it in the wilderness lest the wolves might devour it. She therefore carried it in her arms twenty miles to a German settlement, where it was buried.
An aged lady of 85, who had just died, said she was born in Mr. Stroud’s barn, on the way to Delaware, just after the massacre, and there were many such cases.
The Wyoming Bed was ever an object of great interest to the children, and often, while making it, and turning it over, we imagined an Indian inside of it, and springing to the floor, would make rapid flight, with more than fancied terror.
The bed has been preserved, and is still among our treasures. Little Francis Slocum, five years old, was taken from her mother’s side, carried into perpetual captivity, and never heard from until she became so accustomed to Indian life that she preferred it to that of returning to live with her friends, who heard from her, and went to her after a separation of near sixty years, and endeavored to persuade her to return to her friends at Wyoming. But no arguments could prevail with her to go home with them. She preferred to be Indian Queen of the Miamees. The language seemed to be:
“Let me stay at my home in the beautiful West,
Where I played when a child: in my age let me rest,
Where the bright prairies bloom, and the wild waters play.
In the home of my heart, dearest friend, let me stay.”
Her own account of her captivity was, “After the
Indians took me to the woods, ‘Tack Horse’ dressed my hair in Indian fashion,
and painted my face; he then dressed me up, and put on me beautiful wampum
beads, and make me look very fine. They were very kind to me.”
Thus she was diverted, and as they were passing up the river, in the canoe,
to Tioga, where they took their captives, this little one was allowed to
amuse herself by paddling in the water, and when on land to practice with
her little bow and arrow, for entertainment. In 1789 Mrs. Slocum
made a journey to Tioga Point, hoping to find her child among some prisoners
who were to be surrendered---- but she found her not.
Frances died in 1847, and had a Christian burial, at the “Deaf Man’s Village,” near Fort Wayne, Indiana. This touching account is given at length in Mr. Pikes history of Wyoming.
The history of Queen Esther is one of remarkable interest. She
led the Indians into the fort at the time it was surrendered; and presided
at the fatal ring, of which Mrs. Durkee, an aged aunt, gives the following
account: “ Fifteen or sixteen of our men, who had been taken prisoners
by the Indians, were assembled to receive their death-blow, by the hand
of Queen Esther, a large, middle-aged Seneca squaw, who had such honors
“ In this case, it was thought to be revenge for the death of her son, who was killed by the whites.
“ Some of the prisoners made their escape from the ring; others attempted it, but were unsuccessful. Among these was George Gore, who had broken through the ring and ran for the river, but was overtaken by an Indian, who, with his knife and tomahawk, cut him to pieces. He was an active and handsome young man. His hat was picked up and taken to his friends at the fort.”
The remaining twelve or more were murdered with the tomahawk, by the hand of this savage queen, on the “Bloody Rock,” which may still be seen.
Queen Esther’s residence was near Tioga Point. Her village was of considerable size, two or three miles below the present village of Athens, on the west side of the river, and within the township. It is said it contained about seventy houses, of rude form.
An expedition to Tioga was planned by Colonel Hartley, in September, after the battle, to destroy Indian towns and break up their hiding places.
With a small array of soldiers, they marched on their hazardous way toward Sheshequnnunck, where they took fifteen prisoners, killed and scalped a chief, and the rest fled. They made valuable discoveries, and moved rapidly towards Tioga Point.
Captain Spalding, afterwards known among us as General Spalding, of Sheshequin, had command of the 2d division. They were told that young Butler, a Tory, with his Royal Greens, had just fled from Tioga with 300 men, toward Chemung, 14 miles off, where they fortifying, and were 1,000 strong. Colonel Hartley was not prepared to meet them, and after burning Tioga, Queen Esther’s town, and palace, and all the Indian settlements in his way, crossing the “Sheshequin Path,” he returned to Sunbury, where a vote of thanks was passed for Colonel Hartley and his brave men.
Captain Spalding is spoken of as having been efficient in that enterprise. They accomplished much, and brought speedy retribution upon Queen Esther and her associates, for the untold misery they had inflicted upon Wyoming three months before.
Though savage in time of war, Queen Esther was represented as quiet and trustful in time of peace. After the war closed she was often passing from Tioga to Onondaga, unprotected. One time while Mrs. Durkee was residing in Scipio, N.Y., she came to her house in the evening, on her way to Onondaga, with a sister, who was much intoxicated, carrying a papoose on her back, and inquired in broken English if they could stay there through the night and sleep on the kitchen floor; Mrs. D. being well acquainted with her, she was permitted to stay until morning, and then went on her way. It has excited some wonder how this Indian Queen came by her Jewish name. If, as some suppose, the Indians have descended from the lost tribes of Israel, it might thus be accounted for, or what is more probable, she might have derived it from the Moravian Missionaries, who had many stations among them, and whose names they often adopted. She married Tom Hill, an Indian as forbidding as herself, and after she left Tioga she went to Onondaga to reside.
Some writers have identified Catharine Monteur with Queen Esther, of Bloody Rock notoriety; others say this is improbable, and that the general supposition concerning Catharine is that she was the daughter of an early French Governor of Canada, taken captive when a child, afterwards becoming the wife of a Seneca Chief, and was a lady of comparative refinement. Her residence was at Seneca Lake. The Indian village called Catharine’s town, named for her, was destroyed by Sullivan’s army. She subsequently lived at Niagara.
SULLIVAN’S EXPEDITION IN 1779
The horrors perpetrated by the Tories and Indians at Wyoming aroused
great indignation in the American people, and Congress determined to send
a military force into their country that would prevent further hostilities
from them. General Sullivan was placed in command, with three thousand
five hundred men. His orders from the Commander-in-Chief of the American
army were to move from Wyoming, up the valley, to Tioga Point, there to
be reinforced by General James Clinton, with near two thousand men.
Washington gave orders, contrary to his usual custom, to treat the Indians
with great severity, as the surest means to bring them to terms of peace.
They were several days before arriving at their place of destination, with an array of boats and packhorses sufficient for their accommodation. After crossing the river from Sheshequin to Queen Esther’s flats, they arrived near where her palace stood, which was destroyed by Colonel Hartley’s detachment the September previous. August 12th they moved across the Tioga River near the point of land where the Tioga and Susquehanna Rivers meet. Marching up through what is now called the Welles farm, they encamped on the narrowest spot of the peninsula, near the bridge, about 190 yards across, and erected a temporary fort, which they called Fort Sullivan, for the garrison of 250 men, who were to remain there during the campaign. The fort was in the form of a diamond; extending from one rise of ground to the other, east and west, guard houses being at each point.* Many persons now living remember its location. Bullets have been found in quantities, and several cannon balls, one of which was found as late as 1830, within the bounds of the fort, and is among our curiosities. Indian pestles, stone hatchets and arrow points have frequently been found, which denote where the savages have lived.
They waited several days for General Clinton and his army, then at Otsego Lake, from whence they descended the Susquehanna River, with 200 boats, by means of an artificial freshet, caused by throwing a dam across the outlet of the lake, and raising the water. When the dam was removed, it afforded them water sufficient to transport down the river their ordnance, store and troops.
They arrived at Tioga Point August 22d, and joined the army of Sullivan, under a salute of guns, with shouts and great rejoicing. The two armies united amounted to more than 5,000 men.
It is interesting to look back ninety years, and notice what was passing here at that time. Chief Justice Marshall states that the whole army of Washington amounted to about 16,000 men.
* These pages were written within the bounds of Fort Sullivan.
Behold nearly one-third of them, marshaled on this point of land, between
the rivers, preparing to move upon the savage foe, protected by a fort,
where a vast quantity of provisions were stored for a large army.
Behold nearly 2,000 packhorses grazing hereabouts, across the river, and
400 barges lying at our shores. Scouts were being sent out over these
hills and up these rivers to ascertain the strength of the enemy.
Listen to the firing of the Revolutionary muskets, and the formidable artillery
echoing from mountain to mountain, to intimidate the enemy lurking about
the hills, and hiding in the thicket of the pine plains above. Behold
the martial array of the army, the music of the fife and drum, and the
“Forward March” of the commander of the Western army. Their scouts
had discovered an Indian village up the Tioga about fourteen miles, and
the army was in haste to reduce it. They proceeded up the river cautiously,
for they knew they were moving upon a powerful foe, led by the detested
john Butler and Johnson, Tories, and Brandt, the wily Indian chief.
Colonel Hartley remarks that “ Chemung was the receptacle of all villainous Indians and Tories from the different tribes and states.” Their engagement at Chemung was successful. They routed the enemy, destroyed their village, cut down their fruit trees, corn and vegetables, which, by the assistance of their Tory friends, they had in abundance, and laid everything waste. It was supposed that very many of the Indians were slain, and many of them drowned in the river. The first engagement was at Chemung, another at Baldwin, then at the Narrows, where the enemy met with a great defeat. Captain Spalding and Colonel Franklin were in the thickest of the fight, and were both wounded. The army returned to Tioga to report victory. About thirty men fell in the battle. Colonel Hubley took those who were killed in his regiment, six in number, placed them on horses and brought them to this place for interment; and on the Saturday following, the bodies of those brave veterans were interred, with military honors. Parson Rogers,* Chaplain, delivered a discourse on the occasion, probably the first Christian burial ever attended at Tioga Point. What a mournful procession must that have been, bearing those gallant dead to their place of burial. Where the precise spot is, who can tell? We are reminded that we are too late with our history to have many scenes of interest recorded, and they must necessarily be omitted. A generation ago, there were many officers and soldiers living among us who would gladly have entertained a listener with their thrilling accounts. Peace to the ashes of those men! Let them rest unknown and undisturbed.
After some days of preparation, at Fort Sullivan, the army took up their line of march, to pursue the enemy further into the Indian country.
* Rev. William Rogers, D.D., born 1751, died 1824, Chaplain Hand’s
From Tioga Point they moved to the upper end of “Tioga
Flats,” near the first Narrows and Spanish Hill, where they encamped for
the night. The next morning they found a fording place for the artillery,
pack horses and cattle, to cross the Chemung River. As the very narrow
path of the north side of the river made it impracticable for them to pass,
they crossed to the south side of the river, and after marching about a
mile and a half, crossed again, and formed a junction with the Brigades
of Generals Poor and Clinton, who had taken their route with much difficulty
over the mountain on the north side of the river. Colonel Hubley
says in his journal: “The prospect from the summit of this mountain
is most beautiful. We had a view of the country at least twenty miles
around. The fine, extensive plains, interspersed with streams of
water, made the prospect pleasing and elegant.”
They pursued the course they had taken before, as far as Newtown (now Elmira), when they turned toward the Genesee country, burning the Indian villages, destroying vast quantities of corn, and laying the countryside desolate.
They returned by the way of Seneca Lake and “Catharine town,” the residence of Catharine Monteur. They killed many of their worn out horses at what is called Horseheads, and arrived at Newtown. Thence they returned to Tioga Point, their place of rendezvous. There they were joyfully saluted by the garrison, had a sumptuous repast prepared by Colonel Shreive, enlivened by the music of the fife and drum. They had driven off the Indians, released many captives, and “Sullivan had strictly executed the severe but necessary orders he had received, to render the country uninhabitable, and had compelled the hostile Indians to remove to a greater distance.”
That Tioga Point was a place of importance in those days, is obvious. Here were the headquarters of this great army. Here they concentrated their forces. Here were their fort and supplies, and here they sent back their sick to recruit, and their dead for burial. Here they returned after their success in the Indian country, and here again they dispersed and sailed joyfully down the Susquehanna to Wyoming, and from thence reported at headquarters (Easton), “a successful expedition against the Indians.”
One of the Oneida Indians was a faithful guide in this expedition. He was taken prisoner, however, and cruelly put to death.
The time employed in this work of devastation was less than two months, and the number of men slain, and lost by sickness, amounted to only about forty.