|Chapter||Table of Contents||Page|
|Sketch of the Life of Anna Sheperd a.k.a. Mrs. George A. Perkins||xiii|
|II.||MORAVIAN MISSIONS – WYALUSING||13|
|V.||SULLIVAN’S EXPEDITION IN 1779||36|
|XI.||THE COLLINS MURDER||75|
|XII.||INDIAN TREATY AT TIOGA POINT||79|
|XIII.||FRENCH TOWN, OR ASYLUM||91|
|XIX.||POSTOFFICE AND STAGES||154|
|XXI.||TROY AND ADJACENT TOWNS||159|
|XXII.||FACTORYVILLE AND WAVERLY||167|
|XXV.||THE DEER HUNT OF 1818||181|
|XXIX.||MRS. CLEMENT PAINE ( Miss ? Woodbridge)||210|
Frequent inquires are made for copies of “Early Times on the Susquehanna,” which is an inducement to issue another edition, as the first was long since exhausted. Year after year interest increases in the past history of our lovely valley, and it is most important to foster with care every item of correct information.
The little volume written by Mrs. George A
Perkins (my mother), containing so much which, except for her, would have
been lost is sacredly preserved.
The more recent developments of our section of country have not been touched upon, but are left to the pen of the future historian. The hope is cherished that those who have wished for the perusal of these pages will welcome the new edition as cordially as the first was received by the dear friends of a former generation.
SARAH PERKINS ELMER.
A meeting of the early settlers of this region was held at Athens, Pa.,
in the Presbyterian Church, on the 22d of February, 1854.
The venerable Major Flower, a Revolutionary soldier, and long known as an efficient surveyor, was called to the chair, sustained by Hon. Dr. Barstow of Nichols, and Hon. H. Williston of Athens, as Vice-Presidents.
Many ancient men, and a large number of the descendants of the first settlers were present, and were highly entertained by addresses from Dr. Barstow, Judge Williston, Hon. Thomas Maxwell of Elmira, Judge Avery of Owego, Judge McDowell of Chemung, and others. There were representatives from Owego, Elmira, and the neighboring towns, some of whom gave historical sketches of their respective districts.
Dr. Barstow opened the meeting, stating the object for which they had assembled, and called attention to the importance of collecting facts and incidents connected with the early settlement of the country. He thought it highly proper that we should know the history of the first settlement of our country.
Hon. C.P. Avery, who was called upon, commenced his remarks by exhibiting the original Indian title or conveyance of a tract of land, made
x AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION
by the Indians to Amos Draper, the first white settler at Owego.
This tract was three miles in width, and six in length, including the site
of the present village of Owego. It is written in the Iroquois language,
said to be far the most beautiful of any Indian language, but now extinct.
Judge Avery had procured a translation through a learned Seneca Chief,*
which he read. It had been recently found among some old papers in
the garret of one of the descendants of Mr. Draper.
It was passed through the assembly, exciting great interest, and was looked upon as a rare and valuable curiosity. He proceeded to give a graphic history of Owego and the neighboring towns,--- Nichols, Barton, Berkshire, Candor and Spencer, --- from their early settlement by the white people and the names of the pioneers who first settled these places.
Hon. Thomas Maxwell confined his remarks principally to Tioga Point, and cherished a warm regard for the village of his birth, and the scenes of his early childhood, and while life and health were spared, would be ready to contribute to the preservation of the history of the first settlement of our beautiful valley.
Judge Williston made a striking comparison between the state of the country fifty years ago when he was passing down from Broome County to Bradford along the valley. Then the improvements were comparatively new. There were two skeletons of churches, and two or three schoolhouses. Now the entire distance is covered with villages, churches, academies, schoolhouses, and highly cultivated farms.
* Mr. E.S. Parker
AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION xi
Judge Williston always showed himself the friend of the early
Connecticut settler, and referred to the Trenton Decree, and the difficulty
of procuring title to the lands, as greatly retarding the settlement of
Judge McDowell thought we should visit and converse with the few that yet remain of the early settlers, and gather all the historical facts about early times that could be obtained. He hoped a minute and accurate history would soon be written.
Such meetings of the early settlers have doubtless had a salutary influence among the descendants of the early pioneers, perpetuating and cementing the bond of union, which originated with their fathers in the days of their privations and hardships, when their sympathies were mutual. The first of these gatherings was held at Elmira in 1853, the second at Athens, 1854, and the third at Owego, 1855. It was affecting to observe how rapidly these aged veterans passed away from one of the “Old Settlers’ meetings,” to another. The deaths of many familiar friends were reported from year to year, and the number had continued to diminish rapidly, until it is difficult to find one, whose faculties of mind and body are not too much impaired to be able to communicate intelligently. Hence the embarrassment of furnishing a complete history.
At the close of the meeting first mentioned, Judge Avery urged it as the duty of some resident to write the history of this place and vicinity. Fifteen years have passed, and no such looked-for
xii. AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION
record has appeared. Having some facilities from my late father’s
papers, in my possession, I propose for the benefit of my children and
others who may feel an interest in the subject to make such statements
as these documents, together with information received from my ancestors,
and from authors whom I have consulted, and my own personal knowledge,
may enable me to do.
I would also gratefully acknowledge the kindness of friends who have aided me in the work.
It is natural for the intelligent to wish to learn all they can about the history of their ancestors, and the place of their own nativity; and if this sketch can afford any gratification to the living, or be useful to those who may come after, the object will be accomplished.
SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF MRS. GEORGE A. PERKINS
[Note from Joyce - The author was Anna Shepard, but the custom of her times required her to identify herself by her husband's name regardless of her personal stature and accomplishments. It seems strange and awkward and embarraassing to us now, but it was part of the practice of femme covert which hid a woman's identity behind her husband's.]
It has been well said that the lives of those only should be written
who have contributed to the well-being of mankind; who have by precept
and example endeavored to elevate, and influence for good, any coming within
their reach. Surely those who have led lives of devotion to
others are well worthy of commemoration.
Few, if any, have lived in as small a degree for personal glory, or for self-adulation, as did she whose memory it is now our happiness to recall.
Anna Shepard, daughter of John Shepard, was born in Athens Township, November 11, 1799. Her father, who had removed from Plainfield, Conn., in 1784, had at this period attained to circumstances of prosperity and comfort; and her infancy was bright and joyous, until she was five years of age, when the greatest calamity that can befall a young family suddenly overwhelmed them.
The mother of this unsuspecting circle was thrown from a carriage and the following day breathed her last, with the words upon her lips, “I am going to the world of spirits.” With profound grief did the stricken husband and father of the terrified group of seven little children, exclaim, “Was ever sorrow like unto my sorrow.”
This melancholy event doubtless left a deep and lasting impression upon the child whose course we trace today. She was represented as unusually considerate and thoughtful. Very early her affections were placed upon the treasure of heaven, where her most precious earthly friend had gone, and with the steadfastness of purpose, which distinguished her through her career, she early consecrated her life to the service of God. She gave to Him the first fruits, and He granted her an abundant harvest.
We find in the earliest records of this church on the 8th day of July, 1812, when she was twelve years of age, the name of Anna Shepard with twenty-one others, her father among the number. “The members first constituting a Congregational Church, having individually subscribed their names to the articles of faith.” She was at this time baptized. This step was not taken with the thoughtlessness of a child, as we may judge by a letter, dated September 12, 1812, written by the new and loving mother who had come the year previous to gladden this home which had been for six long years motherless. She speaks “particularly of our little Anna Shepard, it is all we can ask of a child or any one else to give himself to the Sovereign of the universe unfeigned, which I have no doubt is the case with her. She is to me a charming child and I promise myself great satisfaction with her if our lives are spared.”
Not long after this a friend and relative, Miss Julia Prentice, visited the family, and being much pleased with this interesting little girl, wished her to be called for her. Without formality, therefore, Julia was prefixed to her name, which subsequently was usually written Julia Anna.
Mr. Shepard was extremely anxious for the education of his family, and in their early years were carefully trained and instructed. In 1814, however, an exceptionally fine teacher was engaged in the person of Mr. Sylvanus Guernsey, “a liberally educated young man from Harrisburg,” and the first school was opened in the Athens Academy. Mr. Shepard was one of the patrons, and his daughter Anna, who was then fourteen years of age, was among the first of those who availed themselves of the superior advantages of this historical institution of learning. An old school friend, an aged clergyman, remarked not many years since that she was always acknowledged among her companions even at an early age to be intellectual and a conscientious student. After two or three years of diligent work, and hearing of Miss Pierce’s celebrated school at Litchfield, Conn., the leading institution of that date for young ladies, she became exceedingly anxious to avail herself of that opportunity to obtain a broader and more thorough education; consequently in a letter of November 26, 1817, to Miss Pierce, her father makes application for her, and speaks of the desire his daughter has for an education, and adds, “I have thought it proper to place her under your tuition, deeming it all important to give my children such advantages.” She evidently prepared for the long journey hastily, for a letter from a friend of her father’s, Mr. Jesse Gilbert, of New Haven, written the January following, says, “Julia Anna and I arrived at Litchfield yesterday afternoon in good health and found all things agreeable. Left her in fine spirits. She boards with a Mrs. Bull, where Mrs. Beecher, mother of Dr. Lyman Beecher, and Esther Beecher, his sister, and my particular friend, live; who have agreed to send me a line if she should be sick, in which case I shall write you, and pay every attention as if she were my own daughter.” This must have been very comforting indeed to a father whose child was as far distant in point of time, compared with now, as if beyond the seas.
She was left in good hands. The various members of this celebrated family, who were most attentive and kind during her stay in Litchfield, were always by her borne in grateful and pleasant remembrance. Dr. Lyman Beecher, the leading clergyman of the town, was then at the zenith of his popularity and power, and the members of his family who subsequently became so distinguished were interesting young people, her congenial companions.
The school was all that it was represented to be, yet with these many advantages we may readily imagine a touch of homesickness when we read in a letter from the young school girl so far from home to a dear friend, “Were I not as pleasantly situated as heart can wish, with the best of friends and associates, and my mind engaged and interested with my literary pursuits, I should be inclined to think I was forgotten. I will hasten to tell you something of Litchfield. It only wants the Tioga and Susquehanna rivers to make it the most delightful place I have ever seen. The society far exceed the local situation with all its beauty, and there are schools where every science may be studied, charitable institutions for the dissemination of knowledge are established, and every one appears to be engaged in the instruction of the indigent. We have this summer a very interesting school; there are about a hundred pupils.”
A letter to her parents dated July 25, 1818 shows what unusual attainments she had made in her spiritual and intellectual life for a girl of her years. She wrote, “I am now in my dear little chamber, where I spend the most of my time in studying and knitting. It is indeed a pleasant place, a little out of the bustle of the village, where we have a beautiful prospect, and a fine society of little girls. I am peculiarly privileged, I acknowledge, but I feel the want of a warm heart to whom to express my gratitude to the bountiful ‘Giver of every good and perfect gift.’
“My faithful monitor, Miss Perry, has left, and I have no one in the family upon whom I can depend to reprove me when I err. My conscience I hope is not so seared but that it resists the strivings of the wicked one. How diligently employed is the enemy, and how varied his artifices to deceive the souls of men.
“I must hasten to tell you that a few days since I saw a Christian die. It was Mrs. Beecher, mother of the minister. She met death as a welcomed guest, like the calm summer sun her spirit gently retired to shine in another world. The house was filled with silent tears, but they were not tears of grief. How desirable to live the life of the righteous, that we may die his death. Another affecting and interesting death was that of Mr. Holmes, a young man about the age of twenty-two. He was preparing for the ministry, studying at Andover. He was taken ill there and obliged to return to his home at Litchfield. I never saw a more affecting scene than was exhibited on the Sabbath when he was buried. Mr. Beecher’s text was ‘For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.’ He showed why it is better to die than to live. ‘First, because there is rest after death if we reach Heaven; secondly, there is no sin in Heaven; thirdly, the society is better, being made up of angels and spirits of the just.’ He spoke in the most energetic and interesting manner to the young people. The congregation was generally melted to tears. Mr. Holmes was greatly beloved and lamented by all. The procession was very solemn. Four young men of his particular friends, dressing in mourning, and eight young ladies, dressed in white, followed the bier, and as nearly as could be estimated six hundred were in the procession.” In this letter she sends messages to various friends, and says, “tell Flora [a colored servant] not to be weary in well doing, for in due time she shall reap if she faint not: let our services be what they may or if we are ever so apparently useless, we can sometimes do much. Don’t you remember ‘The Lion and the Mouse’? Our school is very interesting, all united like sisters. Today we have received religious instruction from Miss Pierce. With how much tenderness and affection did she address us. I can never extol her too highly; many will undoubtedly arise up and call her blessed. When shall we all be a flame of love, of love to our Father? How strange it is that we should so grovel in the dust. You cannot think how much I should love to see you, but I enjoy my studies too well to leave them if it is possible for me to stay.
“One question (in class) Mr. Brace could not answer was, what is the physical cause of blushing? Our subject for composition this week is, what is the disposition, is it innate or acquired? This exceeds my faculties for reasoning. It is more than I can answer.”
A few years previous to this there had been a great uprising in New England in regard to the subject of missions. The saintly Samuel J. Mills had prepared for college at the Litchfield Academy, and had gone to Williams, where he and his few friends had made memorable the locality of the hay-stack, and their influence had extended over the land, and later was destined to be felt over the known world. Judson, Hall, Nott, Newell, and Rice had, February 12, 1812, under the auspices of the American Board, sailed for Calcutta to carry the gospel tidings. This example was followed by five others who sailed for Ceylon soon after. The destitute and ignorant of our own country were not neglected; the mission among the Cherokees of Georgia and Alabama was instituted by the board about 1816. It received the patronage of our government, was personally visited by President Monroe, who made appropriations for its assistance and expressed an enthusiastic interest in the enterprise. A number of the natives were brought north to be educated, and were placed in the Foreign Mission school at Cornwall, Conn., a very short distance from Litchfield. Representatives of various nations were received for training and education, to return to their own lands as missionaries. Perhaps the most interesting of these students was Henry Obookiah, a native of the Sandwich Islands, and a distant relative of the king. He had fled from his own country in a time of insurrection, found his way to our shores and his subsequent career elicited profound interest. His conversion and life following were most remarkable, and his death, which occurred in Cornwall February 17, 1818, was that of a triumphant Christian. On the occasion of his funeral Dr. Lyman Beecher preached one of his most powerful sermons from the text, “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multitudes of the isles be glad thereof,” etc. Throngs attended the funeral, among others, the young student at the Litchfield seminary. With her tender years, her intellectual and spiritual attainments, and broad ideas, it is not strange that a lasting impression was made upon her mind, and that an interesting mission was awakened which lasted through life. She always valued her little volume, “The life of Henry Obookiah,” and on the flyleaf is written in a dainty hand, “Subscribed for it before it was published in Litchfield, Conn., 1818.” In a letter to a friend she again writes, “Five young men of the Cherokee tribe have just arrived here from the South, and today are going to the mission school at Cornwall. We now begin to see the effects of our contributions. The heathen are made acquainted with the true God, savages becoming civilized, and agreeable to the prophecies, the wilderness budding and blossoming as the rose. What can be more pleasant than to see natives come out of the wilderness, and rank with the civilized world? It is owing to the dread darkness of mind and a savage education, that we do not see rising among them kings and priests unto God.
“Well may we prize the calmer skies we claim, and well may pity when we look at them.” She speaks of the fact that the schoolgirls were going to make a bed-quilt for the mission at Cornwall, although the Indians could not be persuaded to sleep on beds. The letter closes, “Late at night; I must bid you adieu.”
Her superior privileges for an education are frequently alluded to with happiness and gratitude. The scientific branches, such as Chemistry, Philosophy and Astronomy, were her especial delight. Her standing as a scholar was of such a character that when she had been there but six months, and was only eighteen years of age, Miss Pierce offered her a situation to teach in the school. Miss Catherine Beecher had been the assistant, but Miss Pierce remarked, “Miss Shepard, as Miss Beecher is about to leave, I would like you to take her place.” This she did with great credit. Later an opportunity presented for her to go to Georgia as a teacher, “where ample funds were provided,” but this was like going out of the world, and we may easily believe that her friends objected to one of her youth being so far separated from home.
However, not long after that a situation was offered her as preceptress in the Academy of Ithaca, N.Y., and this position was accepted. The duties were in accordance with her tastes. Here she endeavored to arouse an interest in the subject of missions, which had become very dear to her heart during her residence in New England.
Among her papers is still found a receipt for six dollars, sent by her, from certain young ladies of Ithaca, and signed by the distinguished Jeremiah Evarts, for many years Secretary and Treasurer of the American Board. The social atmosphere at Ithaca at that time must have been charming, and there it was her happy lot to meet the one who was to be “A dearer one still, and a nearer one yet than all others.” There were those who had sought her hand, and sung her praises, but in George A. Perkins, a young man of good birth and education, who had recently come from New England, were all the desires of her heart realized. He had made a specialty of Chemistry and Pharmacy, and learning of a desirable situation at Athens, and that within a radius of fifteen miles there was no one answering to his profession, he was readily induced to locate in this place, which was in those days a town of considerable importance. Hence, in March, 1823, he removed to Athens and established himself in business. We read in the old record of this church dated April 14, 1823, “Voted, that a George A. Perkins be admitted as a member by letter,” dated April 7, and at the same meeting, April 16, John Shepard resigned as clerk, and a George A. Perkins was appointed to fill his place. The church had recently been changed from Congregational to Presbyterian, and April 28 he was chosen ruling Elder, being but twenty-four years of age, was very soon ordained and May 1, 1823, he was married by the Rev. James Williamson to Julia Anna Shepard, at the home of her father, situated on the banks of the Susquehanna, the last house Mr. Shepard built, and where he resided twenty years, “the old place” on the Howell tract.
Events of importance had crowded in quick succession. It was not pleaded, “I am engaged in business,” or “I have married a wife” and “therefore I cannot come,” but religious duties went hand in hand with the affairs of life, which are usually so absorbing and interesting during the happy days of youth. We can hardly appreciate the joy to those who were endeavoring to sustain the struggling church, to welcome a young man of such culture, piety, zeal, and efficiency. These offices as Elder and Clerk of the Session, were assumed at an early age, and faithfully sustained for an almost unparalleled period to time.
And the bride of 1823, did her religious and intellectual attainments, her enthusiasm in the work of carrying out the Saviour’s last command, diminish in her new and happy relation? Far from it! With sympathy and encouragement they were fostered and intensified, and the cause of missions was not left without a witness, watching in earnest expectation.
We of today when this work is more popular; when intelligent Christian women are giving their attention to the subject to so great an extent; when those not interested are the peculiar ones; and much money and time formerly wasted, are being consecrated; can hardly appreciate what it was for her in her early married life to endeavor to arouse an interest in a subject which had received so little attention in this part of the country. Yet in all the years that followed, with family cares and increasing responsibilities, a little society was sustained with a few faithful co-laborers. The altar fires were kept burning, and the hand of faith reached out and grasped the promises of the “King of Nations.”
“Let us gently glide adown the stream of time.”
We find after the reunion of the two branches of the Presbyterian
Church in 1871 season of development and prosperity; the smiles of Heaven
seemed to bless this union. Many were aroused to more diligent service,
and the power of the women who had faithfully “kept silence” began to be
felt. This was a joyous day to those who had labored in prayerful
hope for so many years, and with the new societies forming throughout the
land, this little church was among the first to arise and send forth a
ray of brightness to lighten the world.
Mrs. Perkins was made the President of the new organization in 1871, and retained the position for about five years, when she laid her mantle upon younger shoulders, feeling confident that the work would be faithfully carried forward.
Her advancing years were passed in quiet, comfort and peace. From time to time, articles of value, which dropped from her pen, found their way into leading magazines and papers. And when seventy years of age she published the historical volume, “Early Times on the Susquehanna,” which was mostly kindly received. She was led to this work, in part, by the remembrance of the “Old Settlers’ Meeting” which was held at the Presbyterian Church of Athens, February 20, 1854, when many distinguished men were present, among them a number of descendants of the early inhabitants. It was then strongly urged that facts of history relating to the settlement of this valley should be collected and preserved. Fifteen years passed, with no response to this important suggestion; and having in her possession papers and correspondence belonging to her father, as a basis, she began and completed this work, which is of so great value, and which will be of incalculable service to the future historian.
All through life, with a strong inclination toward religious subjects, Mrs. Perkins was of a singularly peaceful and happy temperament, with a relish for pleasantry, and an appreciation of all that was bright and beautiful. Music had for her especial charms, and she was endowed with an unusually sweet voice, which was well preserved until late in life.
Ever truly hospitable, and gracious in the society of congenial friends, hers was a broader, a heaven-born love and sympathy, which knew no limitations, but embraced all the world, and went beyond the confines of temporal existence into that of life eternal. (Of her family of eight children, Lucy, Isaac, Rebecca, Edward, and John have been called to their eternal home. Anna, George, and Sarah are still in the active walks of life.)
The domestic life of Mr. And Mrs. Perkins was one of exceptional congeniality and happiness. It was passed in “The Unity of Spirit, in the bond of peace.” Much time was spent in reading and the study of favorite topics, historical and scientific and in general intelligence they were alert and thoroughly abreast with the times.
Their Golden Wedding was celebrated May 1, 1873, and they survived until 1884, examples of patient waiting, and a benediction to the world.
To give in detail an account of their lives, for so many years passed in usefulness and Christian activity in this valley, would be impossibility. They were refined, quiet, and unostentatious, but as the strongest forces of nature are invisible, so the power of the influence of these lives God alone can estimate.
Their record is in Heaven. But that of Earth is written “He served the Church of Christ as Elder sixty-one years, and she was a faithful member seventy-two years.” They had early in life chosen that Wisdom, whose “ways are ways of pleasantness,” and all whose “paths are peace.” And, as when the sun is setting, and his golden rays gild the horizon with brilliancy and beauty, giving promise of a still brighter day; so, as the shadows of life began to draw gently around them, they who had been made beautiful by the refection of His image, almost hand in hand were ushered into His presence, where is “fullness of joy,” and at whose “right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Missionary Society Anniversary,
Athens, November 28, 1896
Large and powerful tribes of Indians inhabited the territories of New
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania less than a hundred years ago.
The Delawares, or Lenni Lenape, whose subdivisions were numerous, some
of them known as the Turtle, the Turkey, and the Wolf tribes, had been
the most powerful, until the Five Nations formed a league to subjugate
and make them vassals. This they did most effectually early in the
18th century, and ever after treated them as subjects.
The five confederate nations were the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. Historians speak of the Tuscaroras as having been driven from North Carolina and adopted by the confederates at a later period, constituting, with them, the Six Nations, and called by the French, Iroquois, and by the English Mingoes.
The Monsey or Wolf tribe, a part of the Delawares, was powerful and warlike, and occupied both branches of the Susquehanna. The Shamokins, Shawnees and Nanitcokes, also were powerful, but these were all subject to the great confederacy, the Six Nations, and nothing could exceed the severity with which they treated those who dared to transgress their code; to take the liberty to sell land, or to attempt to rise above their degradation.
* See Appendix No. 2 on this subject
It was jealousy of the growing popularity of Tedeuscung, the
Delaware chief, among the white people, that instigated that barbarous
act of a party of warriors from the Six Nations when they visited Wyoming
upon a pretense of friendship, but one night set fire to the house of the
chief, together with which he was burned to ashes. He was a
man of ability, and his death was greatly lamented. The Delawares
had no name or place except such as was granted to them by their merciless
conquerors. They cowered before their powerful foe. In this
subdued state perhaps they were the better prepared to receive the gospel,
when it was proclaimed to them. They called themselves the original
people, and their language was the Algonquin.
Count Zinzendorf, Zeisberger,and others among the Moravians, labored among them at a very early date. David and John Brainard, New England missionaries, were received among the Delawares of New Jersey, as friends of the red man, and it is astonishing to note the access these men had to the hearts of these degraded people, some of them only able to address them through an interpreter.
In many cases powerful revivals of religion were known among them, and many of the converts became consistent Christians, and continued steadfast through life.
After the Six Nations had subjugated the Delawares, or, as they expressed it, “clothed them in petticoats,” they soon commenced their emigration down the beautiful valley to their newly acquired territories. Tioga Point was doubtless the rallying place for many a stately Indian, clothed in his blanket or skins, attended by his squaw and papooses, migrating south in his Indian canoe, to take possession of his conquered domain, and enjoy the pleasures and benefits of his incomparable hunting and fishing ground.
The Delawares received them with kindness; they dared not do otherwise, and their good Christian teachers, who had great influence with them, taught them to bear their trials patiently, and to recommend religion to their enemies by their lives and conversation. This was not without its effect. We read that many among the confederates embraced the Christian religion.
Mr. Maginnes speaks of Shikelimy, a chief of the Cayuga tribe, who was stationed at Shamokin (Sunbury), to rule over the Indians. He was an excellent man, possessed of many noble qualities of mind, that would do honor to many a white man laying claims to greater refinement and intelligence. He was possessed of great dignity, sobriety, and prudence, and was particularly noted for his kindness to the whites and missionaries. He was a most intimate and valued friend of Conrad Weiser, agent for the government, and interpreter, who entertained great respect for him. On several important occasions he attended the sitting of the Provincial Council at Philadelphia, and performed many embassies between the government of Pennsylvania and the Six Nations. He was the first magistrate and head chief of all the Iroquois Indians living on the banks of the Susquehanna, and as far as Onondaga. He had several sons, one of whom was “Logan, the Mingo Chief.”
He became a convert to Christianity, and in his last illness was attended by David Zeisberger, and in his presence died a peaceful and happy death, with full assurance of eternal life through the merits of Jesus Christ.
Governor Hamilton, of Pennsylvania, sent to condole with his family after his death, and presents were given them, in order to wipe away their tears. The presents were matchcoats, shirts and a string of wampum.
The Indians of our country have ever been looked upon with interest by every lover of history. They have justly been charged with savage cruelties, such as make the blood chill, when called to mind. But when we look upon them as natives of the soil, and we the invaders; when we consider how all nations are affected by intrusion and oppression, and what excesses of barbarity the most civilized nations have allowed and practiced; we might do well to extend charity to the less cultivated and refined, who have not had the advantages with which we have been favored.
Those who have felt an interest in them, and studied their character, and those who have spent months and years among them, instructing them in civilization and Christianity, are not backward in ascribing to them the characteristics of humanity, common to the fallen race of Adam, and it has been proved, in very many instances, where their minds have been instructed and their hearts renewed by Divine grace, that they have been among the most humane, sensible and reliable of men.
The white man who indulges in deeds of cruelty acts contrary to the laws of civilized society; not so with the Indian in his savage state; he is consistent with his principles, and conducts himself accordingly.
After the labors of the Brainards and Tennents had closed in New Jersey, and the Moravian Indians had removed West, no one was found to guide them. Some of them had received instruction at the school for Indian youth, at Lebanon, Conn., under the care of the Rev. Mr. Wheelock, founder of Dartmouth College. But they were not competent to direct the minds of the people, and they suffered much from ignorance and neglect. Cruel men took the advantage of them, acting upon the principle that the “Indian had no rights which white men were bound to respect.” In 1802 many of them resolved to go to the Oneidas, on Oneida Lake, who had invited them to “eat of their dish,”saying it was large enough for both. The united tribes remained there until 1824, when the encroachments of the whites induced them to purchase a tract of land on Fox River, near Green Bay.
The few that remained in New Jersey applied by memorial to the Legislature of the State, for compensation for their claim, through Bartholomew Calvin, an educated chief, 76 years old. He had been in Princeton College, until the Revolutionary war cut off the funds of the society by which he was supported. He afterward taught school when he had as many white as Indian pupils.
In his petition to the legislature he says, “My brethren, I am old, and weak, and poor, and therefore a fit representative of my people. You are young, and strong, and rich, and therefore a fit representative of your people. But let me beg you for a moment to lay aside the recollection of your strength, and our weakness, that your minds may be prepared to examine with candor the subject of our claim.” Then stating their claim, he says, “We consider the state legislature the proper purchaser, and trust that you will be induced to give us what you deem a proper compensation. In behalf of the red brethren – Bartholomew Calvin.”
The legislature granted him two thousand dollars on his petition. He returned his thanks to both houses, in the name of “a wasted yet grateful people.”
Some now living may remember the final departure of the Delaware Indians for their new home among the Oneidas; their scanty furniture, their rude relics, the aged, the sick, and the little ones, which were packed in wagons while the healthy marched on foot, and some were playing on the violin to cheer up the desponding. They became amalgamated with the Oneidas, and were soon mingling with the white inhabitants, selling their split brooms and baskets.
In 1830 the Oneidas sold much of their land to the state; many remaining still on their reservation; yet in 1832 most of these tribes migrated to Green Bay. They have since gone still farther west. Mr. Marsh, the missionary, says: “I have met with several of the children of David Brainard’s people, and obtained of one of them the conch shell with which Brainard used to call the people together for public worship, in New Jersey. Some of them pray in their families, dress well, and behave well.” “What did your grandmother say about David Brainard?” Mr. M. inquired of one of them. She said, “He was a young man – a lovely man, he was a staff to walk with. He went from house to house, to talk about religion – that was his way.”
Skanadoah, an Oneida Chief, and a convert to the Christian religion, died in 1815, aged about 113 years. He had been a pupil of Mr. Kirkland, the missionary who labored about forty years for the benefit of the Oneidas. Mr. Kirkland donated the land for Hamilton
College, and it is said that through him and Dr. Wheelock, both Hamilton and Dartmouth Colleges arose indirectly as the result of Indian missions. Mr. K. lived at Oneida Castle, with his family. He died at Clinton in 1808, aged 66 years. Skanadoah was buried at his particular request by the side of the missionary, to whom he had been much attached. A monument was erected to him, by the corporation of Hamilton College, within the college burying ground.
He is represented by a poet as saying at his death:
“Lo! My war shout is ended, my bow is unstrung.
And Warrior! I rise to the hills of my rest,
I need not your feasts, and I meet not your song,
There’s a home for the Chief in the isles of the blest.”
The Six Nations had great power in the territory of Pennsylvania,
until they sold to the white people. The fishing and hunting grounds,
in these wilds, were unequaled . The shad, the bass and the trout,
the bear, the stately elk, and herds of deer gave them business, food,
and clothing, and with their variety of corn dishes, their fare was good
and wholesome. Their councils were numerous, where they repeated
their legends, and handed down the traditions of former ages, to be again
repeated to those who should come after them. At these councils their
women were not only allowed to be present, but their opinions were consulted
in war debates; and, strange to say of heathen, their women often acted
as mediators, and when they advised to lay down the hatchet, their arguments
But labor was principally confined to the women, and it was deemed disgraceful for a man to work. Even as late as 1831, a missionary among the Senecas at Cattaraugus states that a man might hunt and fish and play ball and fight, and maintain his respectability, but he could not even bring his game into the settlement. Suppose he had been out into the Pennsylvania forests, and killed a deer, he might bring it all the way on his shoulders, till he came within a mile of the settlement; but “etiquette” required him to leave it there, and go home, and say to the women, “In such a place you will find some venison which I have brought you,” and they must go out and lug it into camp.
The Oneidas and Senecas were set to guard the subjugated tribes along the branches of the Susquehanna. They separated the Nanticokes, placing a portion of them north, near Owego, and some of them down the valley below Wilkesbarre. The Delawares were scattered, to weaken their power, and the other tribes placed here and there, at the discretion of their lordly conquerors. The Monsey or Wolf tribe were very warlike, and were likewise separated, some placed on the West Branch, near Monsey, others below Tioga Point, where they had a village called Wilawane, or Monseytown. They removed west in Pennsylvania to Venango. Queen Esther’s village was afterwards built upon the same ground along the ridge.
Among the Six Nations there were many distinguished men. Some noted for their talents, and others for their cruelty. Shickeleny has been spoken of as a man of noble mind and a Christian; Brant, a Mohawk chief, possessed superior talents, had received some education, and was a “British officer in epaulets;”* Canassitigo, an Onondaga chief, so cruel and sarcastic towards the Delawares, (an account of which many be found in Miner’s History of Wyoming); the good and talented Skanadoah, of the Oneidas; and Cornplanter, a Seneca chief, and friend of the white man, who was well known in his prime by the whites and Indians on the West and North
* Colonel Parker, the well-known Seneca Indian gentleman,
on General Grant’s staff
during the late war, states that Brant was the translator of the gospel into Iroquois. Colonel
Stone corroborates his statement in his life of Brant.
branches of the Susquehanna, and did much to conciliate in cases of
difficulty. In later life he lived on a small reservation in Pennsylvania,
about four miles below the State line, on the Allegany River. He
died a little more than thirty years ago. A neat and tasteful monument
was erected over his grave, in 1866, at the expense of the state of Pennsylvania.
He was supposed to be about 107 years of age. Missionaries who have
long labored in that reservation speak well of his family. He has
two sons and a daughter still living, and numerous grandchildren. Red Jacket,
another Seneca chief, was perhaps better known in New York and Northern
Pennsylvania than any other chief. He visited Tioga Point many times
and figured largely at the treaty in 1790. His powers of eloquence
were said to be very great. Some now living here remember him.
He lived on the reservation near Buffalo, and died in about 1830.
Many others, whose names will appear in the account of the treaty, were
noted and influential men.
It is well understood that the valley we now occupy was once inhabited by these Indian tribes, principally Senecas, Cayugas, and Oneidas, their headquarters being at Onondaga. This valley was the grand thoroughfare from that place to Wyoming, and still further south.
These rivers and mountains, these plains and valleys, islands and grottoes were as familiar to them as they are to us. They owned the soil, and tilled it with their rude implements. Their Indian corn grew where much of ours now grows. They here took from these rivers the fish, the “delicious shad,” which we once enjoyed, but from which we are now cut off by our improvements. They sailed on these waters, in their native canoes. With their bow and arrow they caught the bounding deer of the forest, his flesh was their food, and his skin their clothing. Their council fires were kindled on the banks of the Susquehanna; they smoked the pipe of peace under these lofty elms; they bathed in these rivers; their lovers walked on these banks, of no superiors, and were subject to no dictation but their great council at Onondaga.
They engaged in the old French war against the English, and were powerful foes. But they had been invaders upon the Delawares, and now a stronger nation was crowding them out of their possessions. Purchases of lands were made of them by the white people, at very low prices, at various times, which weakened their power, and soured their minds, and when the Revolutionary war was in progress, the most of the tribes were readily engaged on the British side, against the colonies; the Oneidas for the most part being our faithful friends throughout the conflict. It is wonderful that the colonists should ever have attained their independence, with the British on their front, the Indians on their rear, and the Tories in their midst; the interposition of Divine Providence was manifest, and His agency was gratefully acknowledged by the Commander-in-Chief.
It was about this time of their power and pride that the Indians were instigated by the British to engage with them in their murderous expedition into Wyoming Valley, to deprive the inhabitants of their fathers, brother, and possessions, and put the distressed families to flight. But vengeance pursued them, and in a short time they were driven into close and uncomfortable quarters, in their own possessions, or compelled to find uncertain homes among their British friends in Canada.*
*These accounts of the Indians are gathered
principally from the several histories
of Wyoming, the lives of John and David Brainard, and the Moravian papers.