Minute Book 3: 1726-January

Conflicts in Iroquoia: Captives, Smiths, and Alcohol

The commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet to tell him about the English boy they had taken in after he ran away from the Mohawks at Fort Hunter. They had now learned that the boy was captured in a raid on Captain Robert Hicks’s estate in Virginia, in which the boy’s father was also captured, as well as five native women. The boy’s father was released, one of the women was killed “by the way,” while two were “burnt” in Oneida and then, according to the commissioners, eaten. Two remained captive. They had also heard that there was another English boy taken from Virginia who was still held captive, but they were doubtful whether there was any hope of getting him back. The letter uses the stories of the captives to attack the “falsehood of ye 5 nations” and suggest that the English should post “some able persons” permanently at Onondaga. The allegations about burning and eating people should likely be evaluated cautiously, especially because no source is given for them. Clearly relations between the commissioners and the Haudenosaunee were under a strain as they tried to implement Governor Burnet’s plans for a stronger English presence in the heart of Iroquoia.

The commissioners also corresponded with Jacob Brower and Jurian Hogan, who were serving as smiths at Onondaga and in the Seneca country respectively.  They arranged to provide Brower with a new bellows to replace one that had rotted out, and asked Hogan for information about a french smith who was living at the Seneca castle along with other frenchmen and their families. (It is interesting to speculate on what happened when the French and Anglo-Dutch smiths encountered each other, as must have occurred.)

The commissioners heard that the Six Nations expected an answer to their request the previous fall that the sale of alcohol be prohibited at the falls on the Onondaga River, (meaning the Oswego river at the site of present day Fulton New York) and intended to take steps themselves to end it if they did not get a satisfactory response. The commissioners feared for the safety of traders the following spring. They decided to send Laurence Claessen to Onondaga and sent him a request to appear before them to receive instructions.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, January 1726 starts here.

Below is the full transcription:

[0240] 118a

[Not in Wraxall]

Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of ye Indian

Affairs in albany ye 4th Jan.ry 1725/6


Phil: Livingston

[Henry Holland – crossed out]

Peter van Brugh

Evert Bancker

Henry van Rensslaer

The Com.rs this day ye following letter to

his Excellency [sic]

Albany 4 Jan.ry 1725/6

may it Please your Ex.cy

Your Ex.cys favours of ye 3. 9.ber [November?] we Read. and Shall

observe your Ex.cys directions therein Contained. we have at

psent nothing of moment to Comunicate unto yr Ex.cy only

that we have had ye good fortune a few days [illeg.-crossed out] since to

gett an English boy who is Run away from y.e Maquas at

Fort Hunter whom we have Cloathed & Shall maintain & keep

here till your Ex.cys pleasure Shall be known. this Boy by

what we Can Learn from him has been taken by our five —

Nations at ye Same time they Robbd Capt Hicks in virginia

they took then this Boys father but Sett him at Liberty —

but took five Squas along with them. one they killd by ye

way. two they burnt in oneyde & did Eat them. and

the other two are among ye Indians. we have some

Information that their is another English boy among our

Indians taken from virginia who we shall

Endeavor to gett out of their hands. but have no great

hope to Compass it. this is a sufficient proof of ye

Case & falsehood of ye 5 nations. Such base actions we

Conceive would in a great measure be prevented if

some able psons did Continually Reside at onnondage

with great Respect we Remain

[0241] 119

[Not in Wraxall]

Copy                                                               Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of ye

Indian affairs in Albany ye 9th

Jan.ry 1725/6


Ph. Livingston             }

Evert Bancker

This day arrived here Two [three-crossed out] Indians with a

Letter from Jacob Brower Smith at onnondage

dated ye 3th Instant, wherein he signifies that ye old smith

Bellows is Rotten & of no use So yt. he cant make any

good work without a new bellows Its Resolved that a

new Bellows be forthwith made yt. ye Indians

may be Supplyd with such Smith work

as they have Occasion for. [additional crossed out words omitted.]

[0242] 119a [Not in Wraxall.]


Att a meeting of ye Com.es of ye

Indian affairs in albany ye 15 Day

of Jan.ry 1725/6



Ph Livingston

Henry Holland                        }

P.v. Brugh

E Banker

H v Renselear

This day the Com.rs write a letter to Jacob

Brower Smith at onnondage with a smiths Bellows

as also to Jurian hogans at Sinnekes Country

which last is as follows.

We have write you & Jacob Brower Smith at

onnondage if you would work as Smith for ye Indians

at ye Sinnicke Country, till Sept. next and Credit ye

Governmts. but have Recd now manner of answer

from you. in ye mean time we hear [from – crossed out] that you wife

has Recd a letter from you wherein you mention

that there is a french smith in ye Sinnekes Castle with his —

wife & Children and other french with their wives

that they [illeg. crossed out] or ye Indians have [broaken] ye [Beche]

[Iron] we desire you to write unto us at large about

that affair. that we may a Right Information

and if you will stay there to work as smith for ye

Indians. Send your letter to Jacob Brower and he

will forward ye same unto us. we are.

[0243] 120

[Not in Wraxall.]


Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of ye Indian

affairs in albany ye 25th Jan.ry 1725/6


Ph. Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Bancker

Henry van Renselaer

The Com.rs being Informd yt. ye. Sachims of ye

five nations expect an answer to their Propositions made unto them,

last fall in Relation to their Prohibition of Rum sold to their

people at ye falls on ye onnondage River & ye lake that in Case they

gett no [satisfactory] answer they have [Resolved – crossed out] Concluded to put in                                            Execution

their Resoluttion in Relation to that affair

Whereon It is thought [fitt for – crossed out] Proper for ye safety &

Tranquility of ye traders who design to go to trade next Spring

that Lawrence Claes ye Interpreter be sent to onnondage. order a

Letter be wrote unto him to appear be fore this meeting to Receive

Instructions in Relation to that affair


About hopefulwanderer

Writer, researcher, archivist, etc. @ahhunter
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