|EARLIEST SETTLEMENT OF WHITES IN ELMIRA AND THE CHEMUNG VALLEY.
The earliest settlers of the Chemung and Susquehanna Valleys, were emigrants from Orange County, and the Counties of Northampton in Pennsylvania, and Sussex in New Jersey, on either side of the Delaware river, with families who had originally settled near, and at Wyoming, Pennsylvania, under the Connecticut title, and who had thereby come in conflict with what was alleged to be the prior and better title of WILLIAM PENN, and had been driven from the settlements. Those from the Delaware frontier seem to have been engaged in contention with the Indians in their irruptions and massacres on the border settlements, during the Revolutionary War, and many had accompanied the expedition of Gen. SULLIVAN into the Indian country in 1779, and thus had become acquainted with the rich and productive valleys lying along the Susquehanna and Chemung Rivers.
The earliest white settler was Col. JOHN HENDY. He came up the river in a canoe from Wilkesbarre, in April, 1788, accompanied by a bound boy, DAN HILL, who lived with him for many years. They landed at what was then known as Newtown Forks, the junction of Newtown Creek and Chemung River, just below the present ARNOT Mill. He put up a lodge of boughs and bark, and planted corn. He had no white neighbors nearer than Tioga Point, and was wholly dependent on the Indians for kindness and favor. He was singularly happy in securing their friendship and good will, and was able to ward off personal contests or quarrels. Col. HENDY had taken an active part in the Revolution, and served under WASHINGTON at the early age of 19; fought at Princeton, Trenton and Monmouth. Before the latter battle he had been commissioned as Captain, and in brilliant style brought off the remnant of the army from this hard-wrung field. Here he very gallantly bore off the battle ground the brave Gen. MERCER, who was wounded during the action, and died a few days after.
While living here, towards the close of an autumn afternoon, a traveler came along, leading a horse, with a pillion, on which was mounted his wife, carrying a child in her arms. Both followed good breeding, and familiarity with the usages of the times. At this stage of the journey, a sudden emergency which is not uncommon in the best regulated families, but recorded as an unusual event attending traveling excursions, compelled the couple to ask for a speedy and retired refuge. This request was at once granted by Col. HENDY, and in the temporary lodge erected, and with no medical aid to render assistance, but nature along physician, mid-wife and nurse, the pangs of maturity were soon silenced by the appearance of a stout, pasty boy. Every comfort available was speedily improvised, and soon the happy mother was made comfortable as could be expected. She was so restored, that on the third day they resumed their journey to Niagara Falls, with a cradle added to the pillion, and the oldest youngster still in arms. The newborn was named JOHN HENDY HUNT. It is related that upon the application of the travelers for refuge, and a disclosure of such foreboding results, the Colonel was thrown off his usual equanimity, but recovering himself, with the exclamation, "God bless my soul!" he addressed himself to the gravity of the event, which was so successfully accomplished.
In April, the Colonel had planted the first field of corn ever planted by a white man in the Valley. The summer was spent in surveying the country for a favorable location for a fixed settlement. And several times he passed up and down the river between his lodge and Tioga Point, bringing up two canoe loads of boards, which were used in the fall, in putting up the first shanty in Hendytown. After securing his corn crop for the winter, late in the fall he and DAN HILL went back to Tioga Point, the residence of his family, and upon the 25th of October, 1788, came back with them to Hendytown, where he had arranged his future home. His family then consisted of one son, SAMUEL, and two daughters, REBECCA and SALLIE. After their arrival and settlement here, there were born THOMAS, ANNA, JANE, JOHN, HANNAH, MARY and BETSEY.
Hendytown was located on the present JOSEPH HOFFMAN place, and this locality had been selected by him for its better timber and soil, compared with the swampy character of the land at Newtown Point. Here a shanty was erected as comfortable as possible, with bark boughs to make it secure and safe against autumn’s frost. It is said that the first night passed here was greatly disturbed by the presence of wolves, who howled their night welcome. The whole family being greatly fatigued, and having confined themselves to cold lunches on their tedious journey up the river, fresh meat was cooked for supper. The odor of this cooking attracted these beastly denizens of the forest in great numbers. Finally Mrs. HENDY was directed to take the children and retire to couches of hemlock boughs, while the Colonel and DAN HILL, with an old Continental musket and a rousing fire built out of doors, successively defended themselves and household goods from the fierce and savage beasts. This was the only time they were ever troubled from incursions or visits of wolves.
They made themselves quite contented, until the second day after Christmas, when men came up from Tioga Point in canoes, and aided in the putting up of the first log house in this valley. This was located on the present farm of JOSEPH HOFFMAN, near the bank of the river. REBECCA, the eldest daughter and child, had been the first white child to plant her feet on the bank of the Chemung, who, jumping out of the boat as soon as it touched the shore, had ran sprightly up the bank to see where the house was, expecting to see one like those she had left at Tioga Point. At the time of the first settlement of Col. HENDY, the Indians roamed freely over the country, chiefly of the Seneca tribe. They made his house a general stopping place, not unfrequently covering the floor of his log hut, night after night, with their sleeping forms. For the most part, they maintained terms of friendship with the new settlers. Col. HENDY earned the title of Shinawane among them--or "Great Warrior,"--for his great height, which was six feet and seven inches, and his form very straight and spare. He never was aware that he gained the hostility of more than one of the dusky warriors, and his name was Yawbuck. He and his squaw came one evening to his log hut, to stay for the night. The latter was anxious to hull corn. When Col. HENDY came in from his work, he saw that Yawbuck had lit his pipe, smoked, and then laid it away. Thinking there was something wrong, he told the Indian to get his pipe and light it, so they could together smoke the pipe of peace. He did so, giving it to Col. HENDY, who, after a few puffs, returned it to the Indian, to smoke the pipe of peace, but he scraped the handle before he placed it in his mouth. The same scene was repeated three times, which was interpreted, according to the Indian custom, to indicate some ill will on the part of the Indian brave. After finishing the hulling of the corn, the squaw and pappoose wrapped themselves up and laid down on the floor. Mrs. HENDY was also directed to lie down with the children; but the Indian, morose and sullen, still sat up. After sitting awhile in silence by the fire, he all at once suddenly sprang up and seized hold of Col. HENDY, who failed not to remonstrate with the inflamed savage, and succeeded in quieting him and getting him to lie down. All was quiet again for a while, when the savage frenzy roused the Indian again, and springing up, he made another attack on the Colonel, who was still prepared for him, and dealt with him this time earnestly. His tall, athletic form overtopped the savage, setting him three times down, and then grasping his head by the ears, beat him almost to insensibility on the floor. He then released him, and told him to go and lie down on the floor again, with which order the Indian sullenly complied. He was not further disturbed that night, but upon the family’s rousing in the morning, the Indian and squaw had disappeared. It was two years after he knew anything more of him. Upon one summer evening he was out in the underbrush looking for his cows, as was his custom, with his gun in his hand, when peering through the forest he saw the forms of several Indians, standing off at a short distance, one pointing a gun at him. He at the instant took in the emergency of the situation, and rushing up to the group, threw aside the gun and exclaimed, "Will you shoot brother? The hatchet is buried!" The Indian dropped his gun, and after reluctantly shaking hands, at the demand of the Colonel, slunk off. Upon inquiring of the other Indians, five in number, why he sought to kill him, they replied only "Because he was a bad Indian, and would shoot him sometime." The party, it seems, were out hunting, and had built their fire at the spot in the woods. He saw nothing further of him, until six years passed away, when on a town meeting day, at the future old Court House, he was startled by some one slapping him on the shoulder, and at the next moment collared him, and seized hold his throat. Not standing on the order of waiting, Colonel HENDY turned, recognized his old enemy, and at once, by main strength, flung him to the ground, and gave him as sound a drubbing about the head and face as ever Indian had before. He sneaked away, and that was the last seen or heard of Yawbuck.
In contrast with him, was John Cornelius, who always proved himself the trusted and reliable white man’s friend. He remained with his family, in a solitary wigwam, long after the rest of his tribe had left the country. Whenever there were rumors of Indian wars or massacres planned against the settlement, he was able to give personal assurance that they were mere "Under people’s talk," in his English-Indian vernacular, meaning that somebody of no account had started the rumor. In a period of famine he cheerfully lent the earliest settlers money with which to purchase flour, when the frost had cut off all hopes of bread, or even a crop. Col. HENDY often counselled with him, and never found him otherwise than a fast, true friend. He at last followed the remnant of his tribe to the Western part of the State.
The Valley at this early date, was the Indian path from Painted Post to Tioga Point, over which the former braves, who had learned some of the worst elements of civilization, passed to get their fire-water. For this they usually went and bartered away the products of their hunting; and no party, scarcely, returned unless loaded down with fire-water, one or two alone always remaining sober, to watch the rest. Col. HENDY described that a long way down the valley he could listen to the approach, by their long-drawn whoops, and generally a sober one ran on before the rest, as the avant courier of the drunken party, and gave such advice as might be needful as to the disposition of the guns and knives about the cabin. An incident is told, that a sober Indian one evening bounded into the cabin, and gave the usual warning, when the knives and forks found a place of concealment in the cradle, upon which Mrs. HENDY was advised to sit--Col. HENDY and Judge MILLER, a neighbor, having gone up the Narrows on some business with a brother, Thomas HENDY. A young girl, BETSY JEFFERS, afterwards Mrs. ADAM SLY, happened also to be present. The knives, forks and gun were no sooner out of the way than a drunken Indian, with a squaw, came into the cabin and began to chaff and make insulting remarks. She sprang away from him, and ran out of the door and around the house, the Indian pursuing. Getting into the house again, she darted up the chamber ladder, and drew it up after her. The Indian took on so in his drunken frenzy, that his sober comrade and DAN HILL were obliged to tie him. In the meantime, the children had fled through the woods to give the alarm to Col. HENDY; he was met returning, and upon reaching the house the Indian begged so lustily to be released that he consented.--But he soon resumed his pranks, and showed no intention to lie down and sleep. He was again tied, and again begged to be let off. At last, the Colonel, deeming patience exhausted by his obstreperous conduct, gave him such a pummelling that he remembered it, and for the rest of the night was quiet. But with the peep of day he and his squaw stole away. The sober Indian, as was their frequent custom, staid for breakfast.
In the second year, in August, the first and only famine occurred, occasioned by the severest frost during the previous year, ever known in the Valley, cutting off all their summer products, upon which they were dependent before the ripening of the autumn harvests in the succeeding year. The previous year, supplies had run short, too, on account of the rude crops which were grown the first year, and this frost cut off every vegetable, grain or fruit upon which they could depend for food. When, therefore, they has almost reached the harvesting of the new crop of the following summer, the famine came upon them, and every article of provision was exhausted. The three of four families in the Valley, those of Col. HENDY, MILLER, THOMAS HENDY, (a cousin), and MINEGER, (now MINIER), had no money with which to purchase provisions at the settlement down the river. For a while they subsisted on green pumpkins, which were then about half grown, and dug up Indian beans in considerable quantities, which were boiled and used in the ordinary way. The pumpkins were boiled, and then eaten with milk. Milk and butter was had quite plentifully, but nothing in the breadstuff line, excepting the makeshifts narrated above. Nettles and greens were gathered from the forest, and even the kernels of green buckwheat, which was a few inches above the ground. But such food was of little use to stout, stalwart men. Women and children could barely sustain existence upon it. But at last, the strength of men began to give out. Col. HENDY himself came near starving to death, longing for bread, of which they were totally deprived. One Sunday, a field of rye which had been anxiously watched, belonging to Judge MILLER, was pronounced fit to cut. The neighbors were all summoned, and each one allowed to cut a portion. This was taken to the barn, threshed, and the grain divided among the starving families. This was dried in pans and pounded in the samp block. The rye samp was sifted and made into mush and cakes. Mrs. HENDY prepared some rye mush, which made but a sorry, sticky mess, but was eagerly eaten by the children in milk. A little was offered to Col. HENDY, who was lying on the bed, but his stomach revolted, and he gave up and resigned himself to a slow death by starvation. His wife bethought herself that she might bake a cake of the same. She did so, and of this he was able to partake a few morsels at a time, and gradually the stomach was weaned back to endure a little meat, and in a few days the strong frontiersman was himself again. The settlers never suffered after. Splendid crops and plenty always crowned their industrious exertions.
An incident, which we have not related, occurred during the early summer preceding the famine. A boat load of flour came up the river, on a speculative adventure toward Geneva. It was to be unloaded and packed across the country between the Chemung River and the head of the Lake. The settlers, then half famished, tried to barter with the hard-hearted speculators, who were perfectly obdurate--would not sell a pound. After failure of any righteous bargaining, the settlers, through Col. HENDY, borrowed the money of the Indian, Jim Cornelison, always his firm friend, and who had his wigwam near the settlement. Offering a fair compensation for the flour, the settlers took two barrels, in spite of the persistent protestations of the flinty owners.
INTERCOURSE WITH THE INDIANS.
The early settlers were exceedingly fortunate, seeing that they entered in possession of the recent country, just after a fierce contest for the supremacy, in which the Indians were worsted, that they succeeded so happily in avoiding collision or personal combats. These, which we have hitherto narrated, include all of any moment, and, as it turned out, these produced no lasting feud. The singular bonhommie of Col. HENDY, and his thorough acquaintance with Indian character, enabled him to meet any emergency, and upon any test of superiority; the Indians were soon convinced of his prowess. This generally-accepted reputation probably saved the settlement from much harm. His family were more timid, and in his absence, although no great harm was ever offered them, dreaded the sudden visitations of their dusky neighbors; for they came and went as the spirit listed. The latch-string of the log hut hung always out whenever their visitors came. The floor of the place was their common lodging room, and not unfrequently packed with the slumbering forms of the dusky braves. Often they would remain to breakfast in the morning, for a meal was free to them as their lodging. It may be that their confiding faith and brotherly treatment had much to do in maintaining such common relations of friendship. The drunken sprees were most dreaded, but with the aid of sober Indians who always attended such a party, all serious rows were avoided from their maudlin or bellicose excesses, or some summary penalty visited on the spot. Usually, an Indian once thus thoroughly drubbed for his drunken orgies, was made a firmer friend, rather than lasting enemy. Mrs. HENDY, who never could quite overcome a constitutional timidity, when alone at home with her children, and the Colonel and help in some distant field, frequently, as soon as she heard the distant Indian whoop which always marked their approach, would take her children and rush to some concealed covert in the adjoining forest, where she would remain until the party had gone on their way. Often the Indians delighted to work on her fears. One would hold up his fingers in characteristic and significant pantomime, which threatened that he would soon return with a great war party, when they would kill the Colonel and children, and lead herself into captivity. If it might happen that her imagination became too greatly wrought up, an interview was sought with Jim Cornelison, which disabused her of her fears and taught her that such talk was only the bandying of "bad talking" Indians. They were never unmindful of the many favors they received, and reciprocated by frequent gifts of game and fish, or peltry.
When the country was first settled, there were, between 1787 and 1790, many families of Indians between the River and Lake, the stretch of country being a common hunting ground, free to all the tribes of the Six Nations. Within the present city limits, there were three villages of Indian wigwams, one between Main Street and the Baptist Church, consisting of 30 or 40; another on the flats near the Creek, now owned by Mrs. ARNOT, called Kan-a-we-ola; and the third on the east side of the Creek, below the Water Cure. The families left the country about 1802, having been fearfully decimated by the small pox, after which the survivors fled further West. Some of their descendants, within a few years, could have been found in the vicinity of Batavia, NY. Many distinguished men were born among them, who made themselves well known to the early settlers, among whom none rose to higher estimation than Sa-go-ye-wa-tha, or RED JACKET. His great powers of oratory were transcendent at the grand council of tribes assembled here in 1791, to perfect a treaty with Col. PICKERING. Queen CATHERINE, after the death of her powerful husband, King Canadesaga, a Seneca, slain at the battle of Chemung, as can be authenticated by well received traditions, was honored and obeyed as the Chieftess, wielding authority over all this region.
The purchase of the Indian lands for settlements, by accredited agents or early speculators, necessitated amicable treaties. These were brought about by general Indian Councils, at which the white land agents and Indians had a general palaver, and finally satisfied and signed their bargain. Early settlers speak of two,--one which took place at Tioga Point, and the other subsequently at Newtown Forks. The first was called at the former place in November, 1790. It was also made the opportunity of settling a feud in consequence of killing two of the Senecas on Pine Creek, and to settle the difficulty, Col. PICKERING, an accredited agent of the United States Government, who then resided at Wyoming, was present. The Council began November 16th, and held until the 23d of the same month. The celebrated Mohican Chief Hendrick Apaumet was there, who had received a collegiate education at Princeton, New Jersey, and was Captain of the band of Housatonic Indians in the revolutionary war. He afterwards had a residence near Catharinetown, and during his last sickness was tended by Mr. Thomas NICHOLS, and buried near a huckleberry swamp lying just east of the present village of Havana. Associated with him was RED JACKET, (Arrogyoyawaudhan), FARMER’S BROTHER, (Honoyawus), and FISH CARRIER, (Oojaugenta), a noted warrior among the Cayugas. The Indians gathered at this council, very much excited, and the acts and wiles of RED JACKET still further inflamed their passions. About this time this eminent Chief began to acquire great distinction as an orator, and at the Council brought up the controversy between the Iroquois and PHELPS and GORHAM in regard to the sale of the lands of the Six Nations at Fort Stanwix, in October, 1784. But by the superior address and thorough acquaintance of the Indian character, on the part of Col. PICKERING, the difficulty was averted. In December of the same year in which the Council met at Tioga, a deputation of the Six Nations met at Philadelphia, to remonstrate against the treaty of Fort Stanwix, which was still in existence, and to obtain their alleged rights; they wished the aid of WASHINGTON to amicably settle the dispute. Gen. KNOX, then Secretary of War, in a note dated December 20th, 1791, remarks: "The CORN PLANTER, a warrior Captain of the Senecas, and other Indians of the same tribe, being in Philadelphia in December, 1770, measures were taken to induce their interference with the Western tribes, to prevent further hostilities; and an arrangement was made that CORN PLANTER should accompany Col. THOMAS PROCTOR on a visit to the Miami Village, for this end." And still further on, in 1791, measures were taken to draw the Indians into another Council, at a distance from the seat of war, and Col. PICKERING was directed to hold the conference. The final decision was to hold it at Painted Post, June 17th, 1719, but that determination seems to have changed, from papers in the archives of the War Department, and it took place at Newtown Point. The early settlers of the Chemung Valley well remember the circumstances and events connected with the Council. The Indians assembled to kindle their Council Fire in great numbers. They were encamped along the western part of Newtown, the tents ranging from the present site of the Rathbun House, towards the upper portion of the present City of Elmira. Among the early pioneers of the Chemung Valley who were present at the meeting, were Col. HENDY, MATHIAS HOLLENBACK, ELISHA LEE, ELEAZOR LINDLEY and WILLIAM JENKINS. The treaty was negotiated beneath a tree which was always known afterwards as the "Old Council Tree." It stood on a spot near the corner of Conongue and Market Streets, on lands now occupied by HECTOR M. SEWARD, and it was only recently that the tree was cut down by its owner. This Council will always hold a memorable place in history. Its provisions were adjusted by Col. PICKERING, on the part of the United States, and CORN PLANTER, (Kiantawauka), and RED JACKET, and other eminent chieftains of the Iroquois. These engaged in eloquent and protracted discussions around the Council fire. Here RED JACKET again wielded those transcendent powers which enabled him afterwards to hold complete supremacy over the Senecas, and made him the leading, all powerful chief of his tribe. TIMOTHY PICKERING, who represented the American Government, possessed great powers of persuasion and influence over the Indian mind, which stood him in good stead while conducting the Indian treaty of Newtown. He was one of the earliest patriots of the Revolution, and commanded a body of men raised at Salem, Mass., in February, 1765, and with his whole influence opposed the invasion of the British. At the battle of Lexington he marched with his regiment to intercept the enemy at Lexington. In the New Jersey campaign he was associated with WASHINGTON in severe and dangerous conflicts, with the rank of Adjutant General. In 1780 he was appointed Quarter-Master General. During WASHINGTON’s administration he received the appointment of Postmaster General, in 1791, and upon the resignation of Gen. KNOX, as Secretary of War, he was assigned that position, filling it until 1795. He was then appointed by President WASHINGTON Secretary of State. This he held until the close of WASHINGTON’s administration, in 1800. In 1803 Col. PICKERING was chosen United States Senator from his native State, Massachusetts, and again in 1805. His death occurred at Salem, in 1829, at the advanced age of 87 years.
The great object of the treaty, besides the settlement of disputes of land titles, was the carrying out of a favorite idea of WASHINGTON, to induce the Indians to become agriculturalists; and to that end Col. PICKERING was empowered to hold out to them the most liberal inducements. RED JACKET was a chief opposer of the project, as he always had been against any attempt at civilization, and on this occasion exhibited his great and commanding powers against the propositions of Government. In behalf of the latter, JASPER M. PARISH was present, as an interpreter, and he describes the effort to have been the greatest ever heard from the eloquent Chief--and the issue was that all but CORN PLANTER’s tribe disdainfully rejected all proffers. The late Hon. THOMAS MAXWELL, who was elevated to the rank of Sachem, and exercised that authority among the Senecas, in an interview he had with him at Bath, in 1828, says that RED JACKET informed him that when a child he was present at a great Council Fire of the tribes, at Shenandoah, Va. The various nations were represented by their most distinguished orators, but the greatest among them was LOGAN, a Cayuga Chief, who had removed his residence from Cayuga to Shamokin, on the Susquehanna. RED JACKET remarked that he was so highly delighted with LOGAN’s eloquence, that he resolved to devote himself to public speaking, and to follow LOGAN as a model. He said that he went into the woods, where he could find a waterfall, and exercised his voice amid the roaring waters, to acquire the necessary manner and tone with which to address large assemblies. One of the favorite resorts for this purpose, was the magnificent waterfall of McClure’s Glen, near Havana. The Indian name of the stream was She-qua-gah, or, as he interpreted it, "The place of the roaring waters." The wonderful seems to have been his peculiar inspiration. In early life the beautiful She-qua-gah, and in later life and matured years, the Ne-au-ga-rah, (as pronounced by himself), were his favorite haunts. There are certain qualities of mind in this untutored Indian, which shine forth in all the luster of natural perfection. His simple integrity, his generosity, his unbounded hospitality, his love of truth, and his unwavering fidelity, are graces of humanity, which neither education can impart or civilization confer, and when they exist it is because the gifts of Deity have never been perverted.
When RED JACKET was called upon by Captain EASTMAN, for his portrait to adorn the pages of SCHOOLCRAFT’s great work of Indian history, published at Government expense, he declined, unless taken with Niagara Falls for the back-ground. He is represented in the picture, seated on a rock, on the American side, in full costume, with his war pipe in his hand, and his face to the setting sun, while on his right, the trembling, surging waters are rushing over the precipice at his feet. No better surroundings could have been selected to call forth the mighty spirit of eloquence which characterized the man. Thus unconsciously was the celebrated forest orator an imitator of the eloquent Greek, who tuned his voice on the sea beach, while he caught his inspiration from the altar of nature. From the eloquence of the chief, it was evident that his power of swaying a multitude was acquired by long and laborious preparation in the depths of the forest. How near he approached LOGAN, (his celebrated model), in attitude, gesture and intonation, cannot now be told, as no one now lives who heard them both. That he was a profound, though unlettered student of oratory, is abundantly testified by those who heard him in his palmiest days. In his later years, it is to be regretted that his waning days were saddened by the excessive use of fire-water, which was the greatest bane the Indian tribes received from civilization. Its destructive traces were too visible on his mind and person. Of the speech of LOGAN, which gave him a world-wide reputation, and is familiar to every school boy in the land, JEFFERSON said-- "I may challenge the whole orations of DEMOSTHENES and CICERO, and of any more eminent orators, if Europe has furnished more distinguished, to produce a single passage superior of the speech of LOGAN." After hearing LOGAN at Harper’s Ferry, tradition further hath it that RED JACKET, on his return to Crooked Creek, (immediately after the breaking up of the Council), where his parents resided, that he frequently received the reproofs of his mother for his long-continued absences from the family cabin without any ostensible cause, and when hard-pressed for an answer, would reply that he had been "playing LOGAN." Citizens of Elmira will recall the large portrait of RED JACKET so long religiously preserved by WILLIAM LEE, while he kept the "Red Jacket Garden."
The incidents of the Newtown treaty are still recollected by some of our oldest inhabitants. It was an immense gathering of Indians, even for those days. When it broke up, 1400 warriors and squaws were counted as they passed Col. HENDY’s door on their way westward. No further assembling of Red Men in council, in the Valley, is recorded. They rapidly disappeared, only a few families lingering, and living on terms of friendship with the early white settlers; and these were singularly exempt from demonstrations of hostility, SULLIVAN’s expedition having completely overawed every token of after enmity.
Another account states that the treaty held with the Six Nations by Col. PICKERING, on the part of the United States, took place at Newtown Point, a previous one having been held at Tioga Point, in 1790, commencing on the 16th and closing on the 23d of November. The tribes represented were the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Chippewas, and Stockbridge Indians. All difficulties were amicably adjusted by the shrewdness of Col. PICKERING, who then resided at Wilkesbarre. HENRY APPAUNAT, an eloquent Stockbridge Indian, RED JACKET, CORN PLANTER, FARMER’S BROTHER, LITTLE BILLY, and FISH CARRIER, an able and distinguished warrior of the Cayugas, were present. They came to the Council excited, but PICKERING had quieted them, and at the close RED JACKET delivered an inflammatory speech in reference to the sale of lands of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase, at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, in October, 1784. To inquire into the charges of fraud at that treaty, a meeting was appointed at Painted Post, June 17th, 1791, but the papers show it was held at Newtown, though called, in the annals of the time, the treaty of Painted Post.
In addition to the account given above, we append the record of another authority as to the place and negotiations of this Council:
The Indians, according to the statement of Col. GARNDER, encamped in the westerly part of the village, and the tents ranged from the Rathbun House to the upper part of the present City. The Council was held, a part of the time, under the Council Tree, on the flat east of the Court House, on the premises now owned by HECTOR M. SEWARD, who guarded the spot sacredly for many years, and was completed on the flats, where the State Fair was held, on the grounds owned by Mrs. JOHN ARNOT. Among the papers preserved in reference to the treaty, was a copy of the release from the Six Nations, to PHELPS and GORHAM, presented to Col. PICKERING, and a certificate signed by him, dated at Newtown Point, in the State of New York, July 26th, 1791. It states that the day before, "the principal Sachems of the Senecas, now attending the treaty held by me with the Six Nations, at this place," assured him that they were satisfied with the treaty of Fort Stanwix, and that RED JACKET and CORN PLANTER understood as they did at that time, and that the statements made by them at Tioga Point, in November, 1790, were unfounded and mischievously intended.
CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY.
As we have said before, when Col. HENDY first came into the Valley, he landed at Newtown Point, in the spring of 1788, and immediately planted a field of corn, after the manner of the Indians, by first clearing away the underbrush and brakes. After prospecting during the summer about the adjacent country, he became convinced that he could find better wheat land farther up the river, where he settled the same fall, with his family. Immediately after the treaty of Newtown, no further opposition was made to the division of land among the white agents or patentees, who had bargained for it, from the Indians. THE CLINTON’s were largely interested in the land titles, and the earliest settlers purchased of them. Col. HENDY bought of JAMES CLINTON 800 acres in the vicinity of the present farm of Dr. EDWIN ELDRIDGE, at one shilling per acre. It was a pine country, rather sparsely timbered. There was considerable scrub oak, and Indian brakes grew up the height of a person. None of the trees were large, and the land was easily cleared. In those early days, the whole Valley around Elmira City was familiarly known as the "Pine Plains," and became well recognized as excellent wheat land, this staple finding a good market down the river. A large portion of the present lower part of the City was an extensive marsh or swamp, extending from near William Street, to Newtown Creek. This was extensively overflowed during high water. The islands existed in the river as at present, and were covered with quite a thick forest of buttonwoods. The river ran within much more contracted banks than at present. A person standing at the foot of Conongue Street, could easily skip a stone across. The water was consequently much deeper opposite the present site of the city, than it is now. The means of crossing the river was by a flat boat pulled across, and canoe for foot passengers, at the foot of Conongue Street. The oldest residents only recall the freshet which equalled the great one of 1865, on the 17th March, St. Patrick’s Day.
FIRST ORGANIZED SETTLEMENT.
The original Village of Elmira was laid out as Newtown, or Newtown Point, on a plot of land adjacent to Newtown Creek, and was granted to JEFFREY WISNER. Here the first buildings were erected in 1790, on what is now known as Sullivan Street. The original ancient Indian name for the village was Shi-ne-do-wa, signifying "At the Great Plains." It was afterwards named Ka-na-we-o-la, which meant "A head on a pole." The legend given by RED JACKET was, that a council of the Five Nations was held near the spot in 1730, at which one of the chiefs was tried and convicted for some crime, and beheaded. This head was placed on a pole, according to his assertion, a little west from the Old Council Tree, or pretty near the present locality of the Court House.
The earliest merchant, who made a trading establishment here, was Col. MATHIAS HOLLENBACK, of Wilkesbarre. This was located at the junction of the Creek and River, and was placed under the supervision of Capt. DANIEL McDOWELL, who was succeeded by JOHN MORRIS.
Soon after the laying out of Newtown Village, the residences of new comers were erected therein. The old records note those of Doctors HINCHMAN and SCOTT, VINCENT MATTHEWS, PETER and CHRISTIAN LOUP. The old Court House building was erected in due time. This was made of hewn logs, and was well clapboarded--the lower part used for a jail and the dwelling of the jailor. The second floor was devoted to Court purposes, public worship, and the attic was set apart for the use of a Masonic Lodge. A Court of Oyer and Terminer had been previously held at the public house of DUNN and HORNELL, called the Stoner House, near Newtown Creek, and of which not a remnant now remains. This took place in July, 1794, Judge BENSON, of the Supreme Court, presiding. He was assisted by the Associate Justices MERSERAU, ABRAHAM MILLER and JOHN MILLER. It is supposed, as near as can be determined by the absence of records, that the time of the first occupation of the old Court House must have been 1796. The annals of Hon. THOMAS MAXWELL records that within its unassuming walls sat these judicial luminaries of the State: BENSON, HOBART, LIVINGSTON, SPENCER, KENT, VANNESS, PLATT, THOMPSON, YATES, WOODWORTH, TOMPKINS, and others of that splendid corps of Jurists who have placed New York so high on the roll of Judicial excellence, and whose discussions have attained such universal credence on the American continent. The writer has a vivid recollection of the ceremonies of escorting a "Supreme Judge" from DUNN’s tavern, on the corner of Lake and Water Streets, to the old Court House. The Sheriff wore a cocked hat of the old Continental stamp, held a drawn sword in his hand, his corps of constables, with long staves, preceded by martial music. The Judges walked arm in arm, followed by the bar carrying their green bags for briefs and papers, while witnesses, jurors and parties finished up the procession, which presented a most imposing appearance. The veneration with which these Judicial lights were looked upon by the people, and the implicit faith in which their decisions were held, to be the end of the law, is well remembered. Not a vestige of the old Court House is now extant about the place where it once stood, at the corner of Church and Sullivan Streets, as the city is now laid out. Its walls once re-echoed with the eloquent appeals and sound legal lore of MATTHEWS, HOWELL, HAIGHT, WISNER, JOHNSON, WOODCOCK, STRONG, SEDGWICK, AVERY, SHERWOOD, SPENCER, COLLIER, KONKLE, and many others of the legal fraternity who attended the Courts in those early times. There are still those among us who remember the building and the many purposes to which it was devoted; who recall many interesting incidents which occurred within its humble walls, which will remain among their cherished memories, which they linger upon the earth.
In 1794, GUY MAXWELL, who had carried on a trading store at Tioga Point for some years previously, and SAMUEL HEPBURN, of Milton, Pa., purchased of THOMAS WHITE, lot No. 1, of Great lot No. 195, containing 100 acres, for the sum of 500 pounds, or $12.50 per acre, and laid out a town plot on the river bank, which was named Dewittsburg on the map and conveyance. This occupied the site of the lower part of the City, in the vicinity of Lake Street Bridge. GUY MAXWELL was born in Ireland, July 15th, 1770. He was the second son of ALEXANDER MAXWELL, of Claverack, England, and his mother, whose maiden name was JANE McBRATNEY, was reputed to be a woman of rare accomplishments, and had connections with the clan McPHERSON. They embarked from a Scottish port in June, 1870, but were shipwrecked in the Irish channel, and made the coast of Ireland, County Down, where GUY MAXWELL was born. In 1772 another attempt was made, and the family were successful in reaching America, and settled in Virginia, at Martinsburg, having landed at Annapolis, Maryland. Their son GUY was placed in the store of Gen. JAMES O’HARA, of Martinsburg, and afterwards of Pittsburg, Pa., "to learn the art and trade, and the mystery of being a merchant." His term of apprenticeship expired July 15th, 1788. When about to accompany Gen. O’HARA to Pittsburg, the arrival of Col. HOLLENBACK, of Wilkesbarre, on a visit to his Virginia relatives, changed his future plans and ultimate destination, and he accompanied him or his relative to Wilkesbarre, and in September, 1788, opened business with Col. HOLLENBACK, at Tioga Point, (now Athens). Here he remained until August, 1796, when he came to Elmira to establish a mercantile business, and to sell off his village plot. He was soon after appointed Sheriff of the County of Tioga, by Gov. GEORGE CLINTON, which office he held for a number of years, and was given other positions of honor and trust. He died February 14th, 1814, less than 44 years of age. He was concerned in many of the most important improvements in the early history of the village. Associated with STEPHEN TUTTLE, he put up the first flouring mill, we believe, in Elmira, near the junction of Newtown Creek and the River, on the present site of the Arnot Mills. In mercantile business he was the partner of THOMAS M. PERRY, under the firm of PERRY & Co., which closed in 1808.
About the same time of Mr. MAXWELL, laying out his village plot of Dewittsburg, HENRY WISNER, Esq., of Warwick, Orange Co., who owned lot No. 196, west of Dewitt’s patent, laid out another plot, which took the name of Wisnerburg. The dividing line of the two plots was a little west of the present Baldwin Street. These names were generally not much recognized, but all the settlements hereabouts went under the name of Newtown, until by act of the Legislature in 1811, the town name was changed to Elmira. In March, 1815, the Village was incorporated at Newtown, and in April, 1828, by another act, it was changed to Elmira. HENRY WISNER, the proprietor of the west end of the Village, above referred to, was a man of marked character; he was a member of the Continental Congress, and voted for the Declaration of Independence, July 2d, 1776. But on the next day he was summoned home to command a regiment in the field, and left before the Declaration was engrossed, and consequently his name is not attached to that impossible document. He was liberal in his public gifts, and that of a public square will live as an imperishable monument in the midst of future generations. We have alluded before to the fact that Col. HOLLENBACK founded the earliest trading establishment here at Newtown Point. He afterwards removed further up the River, where it was superintended by ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, GEORGE DENNISON, JOHN CHERRY, MATTHEW McREYNOLDS, and BELA B. HYDE, successively. We have also referred to his trading establishment at Tioga Point, in charge of GUY MAXWELL, from 1788 to 1796; he was succeeded by JOHN ALEXANDER, and his place was taken by STEPHEN TUTTLE, who in connection with ROBERT COVELL, began business here 1807, and for many years carried on a very profitable trade, winning the entire confidence of a large run of customers.
Among the other early tradesmen were HOMER GOLDSBOROUGH, JAMES IRWIN, MICHAEL PFAUTZ, EPHRAIM HELLER, ROBERT COVELL, MILES COVELL, ISAAC BALDWIN, JOHN CHERRY, JOHN HOLLENBACK, THOMAS MAXWELL, SAMUEL H. MAXWELL, ISAAC REYNOLDS, and others. JOHN ARNOT came here and commenced business as a merchant, in the winter and spring of 1819. As a business man and an accommodating merchant, he had no equal in that early day. Major HORATIO ROSS was another merchant, who was much esteemed for probity and worth, and honesty in trade; and the reputation of the merchants of Elmira, at that primitive period, as well as at the present time, have been marked for uprightness and fair dealing.
In 1807, LYMAN COVELL, one of the oldest landmarks living, of Elmira’s early history, came up the River Wilkesbarre, to try his fortunes as a young man. He rode up on horseback, in company with the post boy, who brought up the mail once each week. The journey occupied four days, and the road was a decent bridle-path, and along the lower portion accessible for wagons, which were little known in those days. There were settlements or taverns then at Tunkhannock, Wyalusing, Wysox and Tioga Point. There were then two taverns kept in Elmira, that of JOHN DAVIS, and another by KLINE. The growth of the settlement had been very rapid since the pioneer of the Valley, Col. JOHN HENDY, first set his foot on the shores of the Chemung, in 1788. Nine years had transformed the virgin wilderness into quite a busy mart. The settlement extended then pretty well between what is now known as Lake and Sullivan Streets, along the stretch of Water Street between these two points. MATTHEW HOLLENBACK’s cash and barter store was in full tide of prosperity. THOMAS M. PERRY & Co., (including GUY MAXWELL in the firm,) were doing an extensive business.
It should be remarked here, that Mr. MAXWELL was the progenitor of the MAXWELL family, whose heirs and descendants have played such an important part in the early history and the progressive improvements of the Chemung Valley. The name is still perpetuated, although many of its members, who have successively sustained prominent parts, are now laid away under the green, grassy sod. THOMAS M. PERRY was also the ancestor of the PERRY family, whose descendants are still honored and respected as among the most worthy and esteemed of our present population.
The trade was mostly confined to barter in wheat, pork, potash, and lumber. These were gathered in store-houses, and at opportune rises in the river, were sent in arks or rafts to a market at Northumberland or Baltimore. The lumbering business, which was so extensively carried on in a few years after, as to cause the building of the Chemung Canal and Feeder, was then only in its infancy. The river was narrower and deeper in its ordinary channel, and few shoals marked its course past the early settlement. Boats, scows or arks, of a heavier tonnage, could then navigate it in safety and security, where now they would ground at every step of their progress.
In 1807, there had then settled here and hereabouts, many families, whose descendants are still among us, and honorably perpetuate their names. There could be mentioned the MILLERS, LOUPS, BALDWINS, the SEELEYS, the SLYS, MICHAEL PFAUTZ, JAS. ROBINSON, the