Minute Book 3: 1727-March, Pt. 2: Albany Reaches out to Wawanolewat (Gray Lock)

Colonel Samuel Partridge wrote to the Albany Commissioners for Indian Affairs with a request from Massachusetts Governor William Dummer. Dummer wanted to negotiate peace with the Abenaki leader Gray Lock (Wawanolewat) and with the Indians at the French mission community at Saint Francis, who were still at war with New England in the long conflict known variously as Dummer’s War, Father Rale’s War, and Gray Lock’s War.  The commissioners responded in a letter addressed to Partridge and another Massachusetts official, John Stoddard. They agreed to send a message to Gray Lock and the “Chief of St. Francois,” but since Massachusetts had not sent a belt “as is Required on Such Occasions,” the commissioners would do it in their own name and not reveal that the message came from Massachusetts.

The commissioners said that the previous January they had sent Gray Lock a message by way of his brother Malalement to invite him to come to Albany along with other native leaders who were hunting on the New York frontier. Gray Lock was gone before the message was delivered, but three of the Saint Francis Indians came to Albany for a meeting on “the first instant,” i.e. March 1.  The commissioners told them about the peace treaty that New England had already concluded with several of the “Eastern Indian” groups involved in the war, including the Penobscot and “namywalk” (probably meaning Norridgewalk). They asked that St. Francis ratify the treaty, assuring them that when they did they would be welcome to hunt on New York’s frontiers. The Saint Francis Indians took this proposition back to their leaders along with gifts and a wampum belt, promising to work towards peace.

The commissioners told Partridge and Stoddard that they would make themselves guarantees that the messengers sent to Gray Lock would be treated civilly by New England and would be able to return safely, thus putting New England authorities on notice that they needed to protect the messengers against potential English attacks. But the commissioners doubted that Gray Lock could be persuaded to come to a meeting, since he had done “Much Mischief on ye. fronteers & has doubtless a Guilty Consience.” They also anticipated that the French would undermine any attempts at peace, but they believed that the messengers were sincere and that the Eastern Indians wanted peace. They explained that the previous fall some of the St. Francis leaders had started out on a trip to negotiate in response to an invitation from Albany, but turned back at Crown Point after hearing “false reports.”

The commissioners passed on all of this information to Governor Burnet.

There are no entries in the minutes for January 1727 or for March 1 1727, suggesting that the commissioners did not record all of their interactions, even those that involved sending belts, or that some records have been lost.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, these entries start here. The transcription is below.

[0358] 177a

Att A Meeting of ye Com.es of Indian

Affairs in Albany ye 26 March 1727

Present

Philip Livingston

Myndert Schuyler

Hendrick Renselaer

Ryer Gerritse

Stephanus Groesb.k

Nicolaes Bleecker

This day Recd. a letter Coll.o Samuel Patridge

dated at hatfield of ye. 22 Instant & Copy of a letter from

Gov. Dummer to this board

Albany 27 March 1727

Gentlemen

Your Letters of ye. 22th Instant with Coppy to you,

from Gov.r Dummer we Rec.d desireing our Assistance yt. Gray

Lock Should be Made a frind to Come into ye treaty of peace as

also ye Cheifs of ye St. francois Indians we Could wish yt it was

Effected to the end we have not been Wanting in Sending a

Message Janu.ry Last by Malalement Brother of Sd. Gray Lock

Inviteing him and other Chiefs who were hunting on our fron=

=teers Come hither, but Unfortunately missd him being gone home

but brought on ye. first Instant three St. francios Indians to

this place to whom we thought fitt to Communicate that

his hon.r Gov. Dummer had Confirmd & Ractifyd ye. peace with

  1. penabscutt & namywalk tribes yt. Much blood had been on

both Sides Lost in this Last War and Excepted yt. these

Indians In behalf of St. francios Should Ractify & Confirm

the Sd. treaty of peace that for ye. future none of their

tribe Should go to Molest or any of our N: England

Brethren or Else where: wh. if they do fathfully

perform they Should at all times be well Come to hunt

on these

 

[0359] 178

On these fronteers & Civil Tracted at this place on this we

gave ym. a present a belt am.s £11÷÷ promisd to use their unmo=

=st Endeavour to prevail on their Chiefs to Come hither on

our Invitation what success we Shall have in our under=

=takeing is Uncertain & precurious as soon as an Oppertunity

Shall Ofter we Shall Send such a massage to Gray Lock &

ye Chief of St. Francois as you desire but you have no belt as

is Required on Such Occasion we think proper to do it in

Our Name yt. your Governmt. may not be Seen in this Message

for fear it Might Miscarry not to give ye. Indians ye Opper=

=tunity to Suppoes it Comes from you we Shall not Scru=

=ple to make our Selves Garrantees for ye. Indians Sivil

Treatmt. with you & their Safe return tho Suspect they

had hardly be prevaild on Especially ye. Gray lock to go into ye.

Country for ye. letter has done Much Mischief on ye. fronteers

& has doubtless a Guilty Consience We Shall at Altimes be

ready to do any thing wh. may Contribute towards Esta=

=blishing a firm & lasting peace between ye. Governmt. & ye Indi=

=ans Could with it was Already Accoplishd. we fear yt. ye fren-

=ch priests & their Govern.r will if possible Oversett all amicable

Measures yt. May be Sett on foot to Confirm or Conclude any

treaty with you

These Indians Seem to be Sincere they told us yt. last fall on invi=

=tation of Some of our number while at Canada Severall Sachims

of Sd. In.ian were in their way hither as far a[s] the Crown point with an

intent to make treaty of peace wt. your Gov.mt were prevented

by false reports Spread among wh. made ym. desist yt. design

  1. Sd. Indians have fathfully promissd us to use their best

Indeavors to prevent ye. Sd. Indians from going to do Mischief

on ye. fronteers tho the but litle depandance on wt. hey come to

promise is ye. Needfull at psent from who are with Esteem

Your very Humble Serv.ts

Ph: Livingston             Reyer Gerritse

Myn: Schuyler                        St: Groesbeeck

Hen: Renselaer            N: Bleecker

To Mr. Saml Patridge &

John Stoddard Esq.s

 

[0360] 178a

Albany 28th March 1727

May it please your Ex.cy

Your has here Inclosed a letter from Coll. Samuel

Patridge proposeing our Intercession for bringing ye. Indians

of St. francois to an a micable disposition & Inclination

of ratefying ye. peace with N: England wh. we have done

already without their Knowledge as may Appear, by the

Inclosed wh. we hope yr. Ex.cy will be pleased to approve of

the Necessaries p oothout we Rec.d we are in Expectation

of yr. Ex.cys directions about ye. Workmen &c. is Needfull at psent

from

Advertisements

Minute Book 3: 1727-March, Pt. 1: Trading House or Fort? Building at Oswego Will Not Be Easy; A Slave is Prevented From Making a “Path for Other Slaves to Desert.”

In March the commissioners began to implement Governor Burnet’s plan for the new stone building at Oswego by hiring carpenters and masons. They looked for “two old horses” to send up located sources for stone and other building materials. They hired Luykas Wyngaert and William Barret to get boards from “Mr. Coeymans” with which Anthony Bogardus and Cornelis Bogaert built four “batoes,” because canoes would not be suitable for transporting workmen to Oswego.  Finding workmen in Albany or Schenectady was a challenge. Masons and carpenters were expensive and had to be paid for the trip as well as the time at the site.  They also had to be skilled enough with boats to make the journey.  Even the Germans who now lived in the Mohawk Valley above the Mohawk towns were asking high prices.  The commissioners suggested looking to New York for cheaper labor.  They also talked to various individuals about working there, including Adam Smith, Keith and William Waldran, Major Isaac Bogaert, Major and Nicolas Groesbeek.  The new building would play a significant role in Albany’s economy that year.

Captain Evert Bancker was commissioned as “Captain of all the Christians who are going to trade at the fixed trading place” and charged with reining in those who were already venturing to “remote” places beyond the limits set by the legislature. He was also to oversee the construction of the new building. The commissioners warned the governor that the French already knew about their plans and that the Indians were strongly against “any building to be made by us.” They recommended sending Laurence Claessen to interpret for Captain Bancker on a permanent basis, since they did not trust the traders as reliable interpreters.  Bancker was provided with generous presents to persuade the Indians to allow construction to procede.

The proposed building was called a “house” and the rationale for its construction was to protect the goods of the traders. Nonetheless, Burnet thought of it as a counterforce to the French forts, especially Niagara, and from the beginning he planned to have a garrison there. The commissioners asked for soldiers to go up with the workmen to protect the construction from a possible French attack, but the governor did not want to send soldiers until the building was complete.

The commissioners also informed the governor that Captain Bancker had reclaimed a negro woman from the Seneca’s country at considerable expence.  1727-3-25slavepath

The commissioners explained that if Bancker had not laid out more that 20 pounds to get her back, the Senecas would have sent her to Canada where she would “make a path for other Slaves to desert that way.” They asked the governor to repay Captain Bancker. It is tempting to speculate as to whether she had already taken steps to make that path, even though she was not able to travel it herself.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the best copy of the entries for March 1727 starts here.

[0353] 175

Albany 13 March 1726/7

Capt. Banker

Sir

Inclosed you have a letter from his Ex.cy

with a Commission to be Capt. of all ye Christians who

are going to trade at the fixed trading place by act of

Generall Assembly one wherefore you are to receive herewith

for your direction as we informd that Severall traders

are already gone and others going dayly with a view as

We Conceive to Endave the true Intent of the ligis=

=lature & trade beyond ye place appointed in the Lake and

place’s Remote wherefore we desire you as soon as you Shall

Receive his Excel.cys Letter & this to Send for all Such

Traders & Command ym. to Come at ye. place appoin=

=ted as they will Answer to ye. Contrary at their peril,

the Charge thereof Shall be paid you by ye Publick

By the next Convenient oppertunity we Shall

Send you to ye. Value of 20 pounds in presents to be gi=

=ven to our Indians as also 10 pounds in goods to be gi=

ven by you to ye. far Indians–

As soon as we Can gett ye. workmen to make ye.

ye. house they Shall be Sent up with all Speed.

Ph: Livingston

M: Schuyler

Peter Vn: Brugh

L: Symes

R: Blecker

St: Groesbeek

P: Schuyler

[0354] 175a

Albany 16 March 1726/7

May it please your Ex.cy

We have been honord with your Ex.cys

Letter of ye 10th Instans [illeg. – crossed out] with ye.

Inclosed minute of Councill and packet for Capt. wh. we for=

=warded Yesterday to ye. Sinnekes Country in Obedience to yr.

Ex.cys ord.r we have Inquird for palatines workman to make ye Stone house but are Informd yt. there are now [none] above

ye falls nor at Skohere we had a palatine mason here

who lives at Schinnecktady he demands 9/p diem on

his own diat from the day he Setts out to his Return

2 Shirts Blankets gun powder [blank space] we had likewise

Masons & Cerpenters of this town who Demand 8/ p diem

they have from ye time they go [away – crossed out] to their return home

All Imploy here & this work being remote from their

Above Demand 12. more yn. their Usual days

hoe here we have made no agreemt. being limited

to palatines workman may probaly he [be] had Cheaper

at N: York So Shall not proceed till we receive y.r

Ex.cys further directions att this Affair ye. presents for Capt.

Banker we Shall Gett ready to be Sent with ye. workman

with Submission we think it to be Very Necessary as this

Jouncture yt. Lourence Claese be Sent to the onnonda=

-ges to Capt. bankers Interpreter to Explain to ye Indians

ye reason making this house for the use of ye. traders & it

being a Matter of Consequence if it Should be obstructed

& there is No depandance on any trader yt. Goes up to

Interpret for him,

We have Inquired of ye. Traders who agree yt.

there is Excellent Stone for building at ye. point of

onnondage

[0355] 176

Onnondage river but now Can Inform us Whether there

be Lime Stone or Not but ye. Measons tell us if ye.

Stone be Good as is Said the house may be made with Clay

& Sand. If So much lime Can but be had for pointing

ye Outside of ye walls wh. must be tryd we Cant learn

if a well Can be made in ye Most Convenient place

where ye. house ought to be Errected, but ye. banks of

the Lake & river being Very near so yt. water may be

had without Difficulty

We Shall gett horses to be Sent up As soon as ye.

workmen go up to buy two old horses will be Cheapest

Adam Smith appeard before this board demended

9/ p diem to Work at ye. house at Onnondage river

& 2 Shirts A blanket gun powder yt. Keth &, Wm. Waldran

Major Isaac Bogaert major & Nicolas Groesbeek Carpt.

demand 8/ p. Diem to Work at ye Sd. house

 

Att a Meeting of the Com.es of the Indian

Affairs in Albany ye 20th March 1726/7

Present

Ph: Livingston

Myn: Schuyler

Hend.k Renselaer

Lancester Symes

Rutger Bleecker

Stephanus Groesbeeck

Nicolaes Bleecker

Ryer Gerritse

We had the honour to receive a letter from his

Excel.cy of the 13 Instant in answer to wh. the Com.es write as

follows

Albany 20 March 1726/7

May it please yr. Exc.y

After ___ Haveing write the foregoing your Excellencys favour

of ye 13th Instant Came to hand whereby perceive that your

Excel.cy doth not think Convenient to Send any Soldiers till ye

house be finishd we do favourably hope yt. the french will not

Attempt to hinder this building in time of peace on our land

nor yt. ye Indians be agt. it Indeed ye. force of all the traders

& ye. 20 Men are but a trifle to what force the french Can

bring there if they design to obstruct it, your Excel.cys orders

to

[0356] 176a

to Capt. Banker to go on with the work are very necessary

but while your Ex.cy is pleased to require our opinion in this

Matter with Submission we Suppose that it Would much

Conduce to ye. forwarding of the building if the 20 Men

went up with ye. Workmen who may be Assistant and Im=

=ployd Makeing the house while there is but litle de=

=pandance, ye. work of the traders for at best few will only

Work their 6 Days and phaps not many will assist

Unless they be well paid we think if ye. Soldiers & work=

=men up at One time ye. Indians Will be less Jealous yn.

yt they Should Come afterwards the house may be So long

Makeing yt. the traders be most Returnd home & yn. the work=

=men wont Care to be left Alone if workmen Can be had on

better terms at N: York then here they must understand to

go up agt. Rapid Water Else they Cant Gett to the lake,

We have Imployd Cerpenters to make forthwith four batoes

yt. we think more Convenient for ye. men yn. Canoes,

The further presents of £10÷ for ye. far Indians

Shall Sent Capt. Banker as also ye. Necessaries for ye buil=

=ding wh. yr. Ex.cy has been pleasd to Send p Oot hout,

This Day agreed with Luykas Wyngaert Wm.

Barret to fitch boards at Mr. Coyemans for four batoes

& knees for ym.

Imployed Anthony Bogardus & Cornelis Bogaert

Cerpenters to make four batoes

[0357] 177

Albany 25 March 1726/7

May it please your Excel.cy

We had the hon.r to write your Ex.cy on

the 20th Instant p [by] Peter Winne, Since sh. ave Rec.d ye.

Inclosed from Capt. Banker of the 21th Ultimo wherin we

are adviced yt. ye. Gov.r of Canada has been Speedily Informd of

the design of our building at Sweegue Even as Conceive before it

was determynd to be done by your Excel.cy the french are Certainly mad[e]

Alarmd at this building & will leave No means untrydd With the

five Nations to Oversett Our design if possible they Can Compass it

If they do yn. they again their view and become matters of our Indians

who Seem to be at. Errecting this house out of a vain Conciet they

Entertain yt. we Shall treat them as the french have formerly done not

Considering yt. we have always Supplyd & Assisted ym. & yt. is our In=

trest to Secure ym. future Insult of the french as we Conceive t

hat this Affair is of ye last Consequence to this province if it Should

Miscarry So we may humbly hope that Such proper Measures

Shall be taken yt. it may have ye. desird Effect and not leave ye.

work till prevented by force & Voilence of ye. french or Indians

as ye. Ex.cy has Already Orderd it will be Very Necesary yt. ye.

Indians be prevaild to Consent our Makeing that building for

  1. purpose it will be Absolutely necessary yt. Lourence be

forthwith dispatch to Assist Capt. Banker & withall Carry

up ye. Severall psents for ye Indians not being Able to treat

with ye. Indians ye men who has been his Interpreter is

Returnd hither & None left with him who Can Speak ye.

Indian tongue this men tells us yt. ye. Indians are Strongly

possessd agt. any building to be made by us,

Capt. Banker has Sent us an acct. of Charges one negro wench

he Releasd in ye. Sinnekes Country am.s to £20:1÷ he has had much trou=

=ble to Gett her & prevent yt. She Should not be Sent to Canada &

make a path for other Slaves to desert yt. way we hope he may be

Repayd

Minute Book 3: 1727-February: Governor Burnet Plans His Fort at Oswego

Having obtained 300 pounds in funding from the New York Assembly to build a fort at Oswego, Governor Burnet asked the commissioners to recommend a location. Based on the meeting between the Six Nations and Governor Burnet in September 1724, the commissioners knew that the governor wanted the fort at Oswego rather than at the Six Nations’ preferred location at the end of Oneida Lake. On February 4th, they wrote the governor and told him what he wanted to hear. The most convenient place was the west side of the Onondaga River (now called the Oswego River) where it flowed into Lake Ontario, still known as Cataraqui Lake at this period.

The commissioners recommended that Captain Evert Bancker, already stationed in Seneca Country for the winter, pick the exact location.  The fort was to be 60 feet square with two blockhouses, a shingled room, and a chimney.  1727-2-4

They agreed to keep the matter private but they told the governor that it was already no secret in Albany.  They proposed to tell Captain Bancker that the building was intended to keep the traders’ goods dry, but added that Bancker would need some presents to give any Iroquois leaders who might oppose the work.  Bancker also proposed to regulate trade at Oswego and make sure that the Indians were not cheated by mixing rum with water.  The Six Nations had complained of being cheated in this way the previous year and proposed that the traders stop bringing rum to their country, but the English would not consider that possibility. The commissioners also assured the governor that they would tell Captain Collins to redeliver rum to the Indians after they complained that it had been stolen at Schenectady.

Captain Collins is probably Edward Collins, rather than his father John Collins, who was a lieutenant by this time.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the best copy of the entry for February 1727 starts here.

Albany ye 4th february 1726/7

May it please your Excy

We had ye honour of your Exce.cys favours

of ye 21 Jan.r [copy on p. 210a says 13th Jan.ry] with Capt. Banker[s] Letter acts of                                                                                          Assembly &

news papers for which we Return your Exc.ly [thanks. we’ll acqt. Capt. Collins with your Exc.ly]s Directions

about ye Redelivery of ye rum which ye Indians Compaind

has been Imbezzled at Schinechtady we wish Such vile

practices could be prevented it has done much mischief Al=

=ready according to your Ex.ly Commands laid as for our advice

about applying ye 300 lb providing by act of Assembly we

Shall do in ye best [as] we are able

The most Convenient place & Scituation for ye

building we are Informed is at ye South Side of ye Cadarach=

=qui lake on the west Side of ye onnondage River were it

Impties it Sell into Said Lake or Such proper place there

Adjacent as Capt. Banker Shall think fitt to pitch ye ffort

to be made of Stockadors 12 foot above Ground & if it be a Rock=

=ie place to be laid on the ground 1/4 of Loggs to be 60 foot Square

with two blockhouses of 20 & ye upper 14 foot Square of good 1/3

timber within a Chimney in act ye roof Coverd with Singles

which one of our board has Offerd to Compleat for £150÷ and

if this affair to be done in a publick manner we Shall En=

=deavour to gett it done for less 150 & ye Canoes or batoes w.h

are Requird for ye Transporting the men &c. we Compute

will Cost abt £12÷ [Copy p. 235 says £125 ÷] the remainder of ye Same [Sum] allowed may

be Applyd for provisions & Necessaries for the men but for

what time we Cant Calculate being a thing we are

Unacquainted with as for our part we Shall keep this

affair private but its no [Secret] in town we prosume it

to be necessary yt. Capt. Banker be directed about ye time

yt. ye. men are to go from hence yt. Such a building is to be

Errected for keeping the traders goods dry for wh

[0352] 174a

Purpose it will be Necessary yt. he be Supply’d with Some

Small pSent to give Some Sachims who might Oppose this

work. as for his Conduct yt he Endeavours yt. the Indians

be not Cheated in their trade Especially in Rum by being

mixt with water & further to Regulasie himself according

to ye. Act of Generall Assembly in yt. Case providing

[with Respect we are

May it please your Ex.lcy

your Exc.cy most humble &

Most Obedient Servants

Philip Livingston                    Rutger Bleecker

Myn: Schuyler                                    Harmanus Wendle

Peter Van Brugh                      Nicolaes Bleecker

Lancester Symes                     Stephanus Groesbeeck

John Cuyler                            Reyer Gerritse]

Minute Book 3: 1727

The entries for 1727 are quite out of order and contain many duplicates.  In fact they are an interesting study in the approaches taken by 18th century clerks.  It is clear that they did not consider it important to be uniform about their use of abbreviations any more than about spelling.  Thus a word that is abbreviated in one copy of a document may be written out in full in another.  If something seems unclear, it can be helpful to look at both copies as well as the original images. You can view a chronological version of 1727 as a webpage or download it here as a PDF AIC_RecordBooks-V1-1727only

Minute Book 3: 1726-October: The French Undermine Haudenosaunee Peace Efforts Between the Abenaki and New England

In October the Kahnawake leaders Sconondo and Cahowasse came to Albany from their home near Montreal. They told the commissioners that they had been at Fort La Mot in Corlaer’s Lake (probably Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain) where they met a group of ojonnagongee (Eastern Indians / Abenaki) from St. Francis (Odanak) who were on their way to tell their compatriots who were out hunting that they should come home. They told Schonondoe and Cahowasse that they had been at Quebec, where they met the new French governor. The new governor summoned the chiefs of nine castles of the Eastern Indians (meaning Abenaki nations) and asked which of them had made peace with New England.  The three castles who admitted to making peace were accused of turning English. The governor said France would no longer protect them and would order their resident priest to leave. The governor said he would protect the other six castles, provide them with powder and other goods, and give them what they needed to continue the war against the people of New England who had taken Abenaki land “to which they have no Manner of Right.” Four parties of Eastern Indians who formerly lived at Norridgewock had gone out fighting against New England. The commissioners conveyed this news by an express to Massachusetts Governor Dummer and to Colonel John Stoddard at Northampton.

To put this entry in context, Norridgewock, an Abenaki community on the Kennebec River in what is now Maine, was the location of a French mission headed by Father Sebastian Rale, who encouraged the Abenaki to resist New England encroachments on their territories.  The warfare between the Abenaki and New England during the 1720s is known both as Father Rale’s War and Dummer’s War.  Father Rale was killed and scalped by the English when they attacked and burned the mission in 1724.

The new French governor is not named, but presumably means Charles de la Boische, Marquis de Beauharnois, who replaced Philippe de Regaud Vaudreuil as Governor-General of New France in 1726.

1726-10-14I suspect that Sconondo is the father of John Skenandoa, c 1706-March 11, 1816, the Oneida chief who was active during the Revolutionary War.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, this meeting starts here. The transcript is below. There are no entries for the rest of 1726 or for January 1727.

[0471] 233a

Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of the

Indian Affairs in Albany ye 14th 8ber [October]

1726

Present

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland                        } Esq.rs Com.rs

Joh.s Cuyler

Two Cachnawage Indians Liveing near Montreal in Canada

named Sconondo &

Cahowasse being arrivd here Inform the Com.rs that

twenty days ago they overtook at fort La Mot in Corlaers Lake

a party of ojonnagongee

Indians who Live at St. francois that were going with

a message to the Indians who are at hunting to Return

to their habitations. the said party of Indians told ye above

two Indians that they had been at quebeck and Seen the

new Gov.r there who had Sent for the Chiefs of ye Eastren Indians

of nine Severall Castles to whom he made a Speech

which of them had made peace with the people of New

England, the Chiefs of three Castles Stood up & Said that they

had Concluded a peace with them on which the Governour told them

that Since they were turnd English men

he would not assist nor protect them. but order the priest

who Lives among them to leave their habitation. and

would assist & protect the Indians of the other Six Castles

with what they have occassion for. having Received a

Ship Loaden with all sorts of goods fitt for their use

and made them a present of 800 lb powder &c. And told

them he had orders from the King his Master to furnish

them with what they have occassion for to prosecute the

war against the people of New England who possessd

their Land to which they have no Manner of Right.

The Said two Indians ad that four parties of

Indians who formerly Livd at Norrigewack were gone out

fighting from St. Francois against New England. but do

not know how ma[n]y days its ago Since they went out nor

[0472] 234

of how many men each party doth Consists

Resolved that Govern.r Dummer be forthwith given

Notice of this Intelligence by Express. in order to take

proper measures to defeat ye designs of ye Indians

who may be hovering or Skulking on his fronteers

which was done accordingly as also to Coll.o John

Stoddard at Northhampton —

[There are no entries for November or December 1726.]

Minute Book 3: 1726-September pt. 2: Evert Banker replaces Abraham Schuyler in Iroquoia

Having obtained the deed he sought, Governor Burnet met with the Commissioners of Indian Affairs and appointed a new commissioner, “Captain Lancaster Syms,” probably Lancaster Symes, Jr., since his father, also named Lancaster Symes, was a major rather than a captain.  Burnet approved the commissioners’ request for money for the family of Major Abraham Schuyler, who had died on his mission to Iroquoia. He replaced Schuyler with one of the commissioners, Captain Evert Bancker, who was posted to the Seneca’s Country for the winter and then to the trading place at the falls of the Onondaga River (Oswego) for the rest of the year. Banker’s salary was 100 pounds on condition that he would not trade himself except for provisions. He also received Schuyler’s birch canoe, two assistants, and money for expenses.

Payments were authorized for Jacob Brower, Harme Vedder Jr., Jurian Hogan, Jost Van Seysen, and Nicholas Wemp for working in Iroquoia as smiths and armorers, to Lawrence Claessen for his journey to the Seneca, and to Cornelis Cuyler for the birch canoe made for Major Schuyler.

Governor Burnet issued formal instructions to Captain Bancker, who was to reside “either at Canosidague [probably Canadasaga] or Onahee” or to travel between these two Seneca towns. According to the Smithsonian’s Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Canadasaga was one of the main Seneca towns at this time, located at the north end of Seneca Lake, near present day Geneva N.Y. (See Handbook part 1 (1907) p. 198). Onnahee was farther west in what is now the town of Hopewell N.Y. (Handbook part 2 (1910), p. 128.)

Captain Bancker was to travel to Cayuga or Onondaga as needed, and to cultivate “a famillar acquaintance” with the Haudenosaunee leadership in order to pursuade them to be faithful to the British and mistrustful of the French. In particular Banker should prevent the Six Nations from entering any agreements with the French or consenting to the construction of French fortifications at Niagara or elsewhere. Evert was also told to encourage other native nations to trade with the British rather than the French, to gather intelligence, to send news of important events to the governor directly as well as the commissioners, and to keep a journal about his actions.  A few days later, Bancker met with the commissioners who agreed to his request for a larger canoe, a belt of wampum, and a supply of rum.

1726-9-14Banker

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the meeting of September 14 1726 starts here. The transcript is below.

[0465] 230a

[Another copy of Minutes of Sept. 14 1726 meeting between Gov. Burnet & the AIC can be found on p. 170.]

Att a Meeting of Comissioner

of Indian Affairs in Albany

the 14th day of Septemb. 1726

Present

His Excellency William

Burnet Esq.r &c

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

John Cuyler

Peter Van Brugh

Evert Bancker

Myndert Schuyler                  His Excellency thought fitt to Appoint

Capt. Lancester Seyms to be one of the Comissioners

for the Indian Affairs at this place

His Excellency Desird an account of what

has been Expended for the publick service on

Credit of what Should be Raizd by act of

Assembly

It appeard that £25 on Credit of a minute

of Councill of October Last was

allowed by the Commissioners to Jacob Brower

and Harme Vedder Jun. Smith at Onnondage

and £5.10 for their towls &c £35:– to Jurian

Hogan & Comp.ny as Smiths at Sinnekes Country

Last year & £5: for a Smiths Bellows at onnon=

=dage

It is further observd that Major Abraham

Schuyler Deceasd has been in the Indian Country

by his Excellencys order Dureing the Space of three

months till the time of his death for which his

Exce.ly in Consideration of ye. Misfortune of his

family his Execly. would Recomend it to the

Council at New York for the Allowence of £50:–

there was Likewise producd on acc.t of presents

furnish’d by Philip Livingston Actually given by

Major Ab: Schuyler Amo.t to the Sume of £31:7:6–

[On] Accot

[0466] 231

An Account for two men his Attendants £22:–

by his agreement a bursh Canoe from M. Cornelis

Cuyler agreed for £10:– provisions £8:19. 1 1/2

Jurian hogan psents given by Lourence Clase

amo.t £4:7:– an Acc.t of D.o for Carying up an

Anwill &c. £6:19:– a Smith’s anvill from Philip

Livingston for the Sinnekes Country amounting

to £7:13:6 An acct. of Lowrence Claes[en] for his

Journey to the Sinnekes Country in bringing down

the Sachims now with horse here & Charging in 4 fitching

Sachims from hunting amounts to £32:2:–

all which his Excellency Informd the Com.es he

would Recommend to the Councill at New York

for their Consent that warr:t on the Treat.y [treasury?]

may Issue for Payment of Said Severall Accts.

His Exc.ly further acquainted this board

that he Intended to Send Capt. Evert Bancker

to the Sinnekes Country for the winter and the

Remainder part of the year to Reside at Such

places at or near the falls of Onnondage River

as he Shall be Directed; y his Exc.lys further

Instructions & that his Exc.ly will Recomend

to the Gentlemen of the Councill & that he be

allowed £100:– for his years Sallery on Condi=

=tion that at his Return to Albany he Declares on

Oath that he has not traded Directly by

himself or Indirectly by others Dureing his

Stay in the Indian Country (Excepting only for

Provisions for himself & his two attendants).

and that he may be Allow’d £25:– for psents

to the Indians providing he declares on oath

the Same has been given to them according to

the best of his Judgement for the publick Service

and that there be allowed £30:– for two

attendants Dureing the said time & £10:– for

Interpreters as he Shall have occasion for

them of which he is to give at his Return

an Attest’d Acct. if Required by his Excellency

That the Bursh Canoe Lately bought &

made

[0467] 231a

Made use of by Major Abraham Schuyler

belonging to the Government be made use

of by Capt. Bancker Dureing the time he

Shall be in the Sd. years Service

That his Exce.ly further will Recomend

to the Gen.t of ye. Councill yt. ye. Sume of £20: be

allowd To Jost van Seysen Armourer & Nicolas wemp

Smith together for their Service & work for the

Indians in the Sinnekes Country till the

first of may next provided they Stay there

till that day

[That] his Excellency will also Recomend

to ye Councill yt. £12:– be allowd unto Capt

Evert Bancker in full of all Provisions

Necessaryes whatsoEver dureing his Stay

among ye Indians

 

Att a meeting of the Com.rs

of Indian Affairs in Albany

the 15.th September 1726

Present

His Exc.ly William Burnet

Esq.r &a.

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

John Cuyler

Myndert Schuyler

Hend.k Renselaer

Lancester Seyms         By his Exce.ly William

Burnet Esqr. &a.

Instructions for Capt. Evert

Bancker –

You are forthwith to Repair

to the Sinnekes Country and there to Reside

till april next Either at Canosedague or

Onahee or go from time to time from the one

Castle to the other as you Shall think most

tending to the Publick Service and you are

to

 

[0468] 232

To take a Journey to Cayouge or Onnondage

when you think the publick Service Requires

it not otherwise —

You are to use your Uttmost Endeavors to

Cultivate a femillar acquaintance with the

Principall men among the Indians . and per=

=swade them with all your might to be faith

=full to ye Brittish Interest and do your Endea

=vor to bring aff those that are Inclind to

the french —

You are to find out with all poss=

=ible Diligence what news the french Spread

among the Indians or what design they have

and Defeate them with the uttmost of your Ability

you are to keep a particular Journall of all your

own Proceeding and of all that you hear Concern=

=ing the french or the Indians and Transmitt

accounts of what is most Matteriall to me as

Likewise to ye Com.rs of Indian affairs at Albany

and if any thing Extraordinary Should happen

you are to Send an Indian or a Christian Express

with an acct. of it in Case you Judge there be

occasion for it —

You are Particularly to Strenghten the

Indians in their Dislike to the french fortifying

Onjagara by Reminding them of the mishifes

the french fforts have Allways done them and you

are to perswade them not to Enter into any manner

of agreement with the french & Particularly not

give their Consent to their fortifying Niagara

or any where Else on the South Side of the Lake

and you are to use the Same diligence to prevent

the Onnondages from giveing any Consent to the

french fortifying on this Side of the Lake upon

any Notice you have that any Such thing is

proposed to them by the french; you are to follow

from time to time Such Directions as you shall Receive

from me or yee Com.rs of the Indian affairs at Albany

you are to use your best Endeavors to promote

the

 

[0469] 232a

The Brittish Interest among any of yee farr

Indians with whom you Shall have any opper=

tunity of Doing it – and perswade as much as

in you Lyes to trade with yee People of this

Province from whom they may allways be Supplyd

with goods Cheaper then by the french either at

albany where they are Cheapest or if they can

not come as far at the mouth of onnondage River

and by telling them that this Government & the

6 Nations will always keep ye path open &

Clean for them which you are Likewise to

Remind the Sinnekes that they have promist

So often to this Government to do, and you are

to Represent to them how much it is for their

Interest to have a free Intercourse & Strict

frindship with all the far Nations that so ye

french May not be able Ever to Engage the

far Nations to make war as they formerly

have done a gainst ye 5 Nations, in the medle

of april next you are to Repair to the falls

at Onnondage River and there you may Expect

to Receive further Instructions for your

Conduct Dureing the Rest of ye Summer according

to what may be Enacted in the Generall Assembly

for Regulating the trade with the farr Indians

upon the Sd. River or what may be Directed

by me & Councill in Case no act of Assembly be

made for that purpose or any other Service

which we Shall Recomend to your Care

Given under my hand & Seale this 15th day of Sept.

in the thirteenth year of his Maj.st Reign Ao Do. 1726

 

Was Signd

W Burnet

 

 

[0470]            233

Att a meeting of the Com.rs of Indian

Affairs in Albany the 20th Sep.r 1726

Present

Ph: Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          } Esq.rs Com.rs

Evert Banker

Lancester Seyms

Capt Evert Bancker Informs this Board that his Ex.cy

has been pleased to appoint him to Reside among the Indians

for one year and allowd him to go up in the Bursh Canoe

which Major Abraham Schuyler decd. had Last Summer

to the Sinnekes Country. which Capt Bancker Says he

has Caused to be viewd and finds it too Small for him and

two men with their provisions & necessaries to go in

to the Sinnekes Country, and proposes that the Com.rs may

furnish him with a good burch Canoe

The Com.rs Considering that the season of the year being

far advancd. that a good Canoe is Requird to go up with

do approve yt Capt Bancker do buy a good Canoe and Sell

the other for what it will yield. and they will Endeavr

that the Residue be paid either by ye Province or Com.rs

That a belt of wampum be purchasd by Capt Bancker

for his use to Speak with to the Indians and that ye Charge

Shall be paid and that he take with him 5 gallon Rum

for his Journey & 5 gall. d.o to drink his Ex.cys health with

the Sachims

Capt Bancker is desired to See the Armourer & Smith

sent by the Gov.r to work at the Sinnekes Country be put

in Possession of ye Smiths Shop & toils

Minute Book 3: 1726-September pt.1: Governor Burnet Holds a Conference and Obtains a Questionable Deed

[There are no entries for August 1726.]

1726-9-7In preparation for the conference held September 7-14, Governor William Burnet issued a proclamation that prohibited giving liquor to Indians  or trading in Indian goods to be used as presents, thus maintaining control over goods that might influence native decision makers. The proceedings printed in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Volume 5, beginning on page 786, are substantially the same as the version in the records of the Indian Commissioners. I have not transcribed them, but they are summarized below. DRCHNY also includes a letter that Governor Burnet sent to the Lords of Trade (p. 783 et seq.) along with the treaty, in which he explains that his main goal was to prevent the Six Nations from authorizing the French fort at Niagara. He added some related correspondence between himself and the Governor of Montreal and a questionable deed to Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga lands (DRCHNY 5:800) negotiated secretly with a small group of sachims at the end of the conference. The deed is not part of the records of the Indian Commissioners.

On September 7th Governor Burnet held a private meeting with his staff and a small group of two sachems from each of the Six Nations. Part of the record of this meeting is written out as a series of queries and answers, a different format from the usual one in which wampum belts were presented on specific points and the other side would consider them before responding to them as a group. Burnet, or whoever wrote up the minutes of the meeting, may have structured it this way in order to create a record that supported the idea that the Six Nations were subject to British dominion and the governor could query them as he would do with a subordinate official.

At the private meeting, the Onondaga speaker Ajewachta recounted how the French envoy “Monsieur Longueuil” (Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, 1687-1755) had presented the building at Niagara as a trading house to replace an existing bark house that had fallen into disrepair. According to Ajewachta, the Onondagas agreed to it despite objections from the Senecas who actually owned the land. Ajewachta tried to reassure Governor Burnet that the region encompassing Niagara and Lake Ontario, would remain “a path of peace for all christians and Indians to come and go forward and backward on account of Trade.” He said the Six Nations told the French that they held firm to the alliance with the English as well as to peace with the French.  They wanted the French and the English to settle any disagreements “at Sea and not in [the Six Nations’] Country.”

When Governor Burnet asked the sachims whether they were not sorry that they had agreed to the new building at Niagara, they said Longueil had won them over but they immediately regretted it. They described the extensive negotiations between them and the French in which the Onondagas had tentatively agreed to the French request., but subject to the approval of the rest of the Six Nations and void if they disallowed it. A Seneca Sachim named Kanakarichton verified that the land at Niagara belonged to the Senecas along with land on the other side of the lake. Nonetheless, the French who came to build the fort insisted on finishing it even while the Six Nations were still discussing the situation with the French governor through the interpreter Jean Coeur (Louis-Thomas Chabert de Joncaire). When the building was finished it would be staffed by 30 soldiers as well as officers and a priest.

The Six Nations also said they had heard that two Frenchmen had asked an unidentified nation living on the Ohio River to take up the hatchet against the Six Nations on behalf of the French, but that nation had refused. The Frenchmen told them that papers were going to circulate to Philadelphia, New York, Albany, and Montreal about an agreement between the French and the English to cut off their nation once the fort at Niagara was complete, but the warriors burned the papers, preventing it. They also heard ominous things from Canada about proceedings between the French and the English, and asked Governor Burnet what news he had heard. Finally they said the traders in their country were cheating them by selling water disguised as rum that went bad in a day or two.

Governor Burnet promised to send someone to oversee the trade to prevent cheating. He explained that France and Great Britain were currently allies who were going to war with Spain.  He read them the text of a letter that he had sent to the governor of Canada about the Treaty of Utrecht, which required the French in Canada not to hinder or molest the five Nations or their allies and guaranteed free trade for all. After Governor Burnet encouraged them to do so, the 12 sachims asked him to contact King George and request him to write the King of France to object to Fort Niagara. Burnet closed the meeting by stating that what had transpired would now be stated publicly.

Two days later proceedings resumed with a full gathering of all the representatives of the Six Nations, Governor Burnet, the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, and aldermen from the City of Albany. Governor Burnet, who had been studying the French works on the subject, reviewed in detail the history of the wars between France, its native allies, and the Six Nations, as well as their peaceful relations with the English. He told them that the King of Great Britain was their “true father” who had always fed and cloathed them and provided them with arms.  He renewed the Covenant Chain and gave them a belt of wampum.

Governor Burnet told the gathering that Monsieur Longueuil (Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, 1656-1729, Governor of Montreal, whose son of the same name was in charge of Fort Niagara) had sent him a letter claiming that the Six Nations had unanimously agreed to the new fort at Niagara, but the Six Nations now said they were afraid the fort would enable the French to keep them from their hunting grounds and prevent the far nations from coming to trade.  He explained the free trade provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht and said he would convey the Six Nations’ complaints about Fort Niagara to King George, who would ask the King of France to review whether it violated the Treaty of Utrecht. If the fort was in violation it should be removed.

Governor Burnet also said that when he conveyed a request from the Six Nations to the governor of Virginia to set up a meeting, Virginia and South Carolina had complained about attacks on their frontiers by Tuscaroras and others. Burnet asked that the offenders be punished. In particular the Senecas attacked an English trading house called Constichrohare at Characks (Cheraw) and captured an Indian boy who was the slave of Nathaniel Ford along with guns, blankets and powder.  The goods and the Indian slave should be delivered to Peter Barbarie, who would reimburse the captors in the name of the owner.  Burnet asked the Six Nations not to allow “French Indians” to pass through their country in order to attack the southern colonies.

Kanakarighton responded for the Six Nations. After renewing the Covenant Chain, he said that the Six Nations had already asked the Governor of Canada to stop building the fort at Niagara.  They now came to the English “howling” because the French were building on their land. He presented a belt to the governor and asked him to write to King George as soon as possible to have the fort removed.

Kanakarighton notified Governor Burnet that Jean Coeur was expected soon at Onondaga, where he would probably spread negative rumors about the English. He asked Burnet to send a “Man of Experience” to Onondaga to hold a meeting with Jean Coeur in front of the Six Nations. It should be conducted  speaking “nothing but Indian between the brother Corlaer and the French, every one to answer for himself concerning what ill Reports he shall have spread” in order to get to the truth and “know who is the lyar.”

Kanakarighton acknowledged Burnet’s concerns about frontier attacks on Virginia and South Carolina. He said that Senecas, Mohawks, Tuscaroras, and “French Indians” were all involved, but their intention was only to pursue Indian enemies present in the trading house that was attacked. The slave that Governor Burnet wanted returned had been given to “Indians who live on a Branch of Susquehannah River, which is called Soghniejadie.” He suggested that the English look for him there themselves because the place was “nearer to you than us” (probably meaning nearer to Virginia.) He asked that the attacks be forgiven as merely accidents committed without the approval of the sachems and agreed to try to stop French Indians to travel through Iroquoia to go fighting.  He pointed out that the English must do their part “for many go fighting thro’ Albany to the English Settlements, who do not come thro’ the Six Nations.

Kanakarighton concluded by adding to what Burnet had said about the history of relations between the Six Nations and the English. They arose through trade at a time when goods were cheap, but now goods had become expensive. He asked for cheaper prices, especially for powder.  Moreover, now that the Six Nations had agreed to let the English trade (“place Beaver Traps”) on the Onondaga River, they had been deceived, since traders there sold river water as rum for a high price. But instead of asking for better rum, he asked for no rum, since it was causing quarrels between married couples and between young Indians and sachims. When Indians from beyond Iroquoia wanted rum, they should come to Albany for it as they used to do, while traders to the Six Nations should bring powder and Indian goods for the same price as they would cost at Albany.

Finally he conveyed a request from the Senecas that Myndert Wemp return to their country as a smith along with an armorer, Andries Nak, who should be taught to speak their language.

Governor Burnet agreed to ask King George to persuade the King of France to remove Fort Niagara.  He did not agree to send a representative to Onondaga for a meeting with Joncaire, claiming that the Six Nations’ own experience should be enough to show that French reports about the English were false. However, he said he would send someone to the Senecas for the winter to address their concerns. He said he would tell the governor of Virginia what the Six Nations asked (that frontier incidents be forgiven) but the best way to prevent Virginia from taking up the hatchet was to stop such attacks. Burnet said he could not control what merchants charged for their goods, and refused to stop selling rum on the Onondaga River.  However, he would post someone there to oversee the trade and prevent cheating, and would ask Myndert Wemp to return to the Seneca country as a smith along with an armorer. He wished them a good journey home, told them he was providing them with a “noble Present” from the king, and explained that rum and provisions would be given to them for their journey after they were “past Schenectady.”

Burnet also held a brief conference with the River (Mohican) and Schaghticoke Indians the same day, condoling two sachims who had died, and recommending Wawiachech to replace them, renewing the Covenant Chain, and admonishing them to stay at Schaghticoke and not go to Canada.  They thanked him and explained that the people who left for Canada were fleeing debts, but those who remained would live and die at Schaghticoke.

On September 14th Burnet held another private conference, this time with two sachims each from the Senecas and Onondagas and three from the Cayugas, but no Oneidas, Tuscaroras, or Mohawks. The names of those who attended are given as Kanakarighton, Thanintsoronwee, Ottsochkooree, DeKanisoree, Aenjeweerat, Kackjakadorodon, and Sadekeenaghtie. Going considerably beyond what had been discussed in the full conference, the small group consented to Governor Burnet’s suggestion that they sign what Burnet called a “deed of surrender” putting their land in trust to the King of England to be protected for the use of their nations.

A deed was signed, becoming part of the “Original Roll in the Secretary of State’s Office” in Albany and later printed in DRCHNY 5:800. No copy was kept in the records of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs, which generally did not include deeds. Peter Wraxall was not aware of the deed when he wrote his Abridgement, which discusses the September 1726 conference on p. 168-169.

In his letter to the Lords of Trade sent with the treaty, (DRCHNY 5:783-785) Governor Burnet explained that he did not tell the Mohawks or Oneidas about the September 14th meeting, since their lands were not at issue and if he told them the French might learn about it sooner. Burnet told the Lords of Trade that he pursuaded the New York Assembly to agree to his proposal to build an English fort at the mouth of the Onondaga River (Oswego). Once it was built he intended to meet the Indians again and get them to publicly confirm the deed, which “some of them have signed.” Thus he acknowledged that it required further confirmation.  The deed surrenders the land to be “protected & Defended” by the king for the use of the three nations. It says nothing about building forts. At Burnet’s conference with the Six Nations in 1724, he had succeeded in getting them to agree reluctantly to a trading house at Oswego, but not to a fort.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the proclamation of September 2 1726 starts here.

[0315] 156

[Not in Wraxall.]

By his Exc.ly William Burnet

Esq.r Capt. Gene.l and Gov.r in Chief

of the Provinces of New York New

Jersey &c.

A Proclamation

Whereas I have Summoned the Indians of the five Nations to

meet me at this place to treat with them about publick affairs Some

of them being arrived at Schinectaday and this day expected here and

it being found by Experience that the Selling or giveing of Rum and

other Strong Liquor to those Indians hath been of Dangerous

Consequence and very prejudiciall to his maje.st Interest and the

Publick welfare of the Inhabitants of this place I have therefore

thought fitt by vertue of the powers and authorities in me Reside=

=ing here by Strictly to prohibit the giveing or Selling of and Rum

or other Strong Liquor to any Indian or Indians Dureing my

Residence in this City and County and that no person or pesons [sic]

Shall Receive buy or take in pawn any goods to be given as presents

to the Indians on penalty to be prosecuted with ye. uttmost Severity

for any Such misdemeanons [sic] and all Magistrates and Justices of

the peace in this City and County are hereby Required to take care

that this proclamation be duely observed and the Delinquents

brought to Condign punishment Given under my hand and Seal

this 2.d day of September in the 13th year of his Majesties Reign

Anno Domini 1726

W. Burnet

[0316] 156a

[Beginning of the conference held with the Six Nations in Albany on Sept. 7, 1726, by Governor William Burnet, nearly identical to the version printed in DRCHNY, beginning at 5:786. Differences do not appear significant. The version in the AIC records appears to be a copy, slightly imperfect in that it leaves out a word occasionally as well as the last part of Governor Burnet’s speech on Sept. 7. The notes in the margin identifying terms used in the treaty are briefer in the AIC version, but substantially the same. The governor of South Carolina, or possibly South Carolina itself, is not in the DRCHNY version, but is given in the AIC version as Troskrohare, and the Governor of Virgina as Assarigo and Assorigo. (p. 154a, image 0332). The records contain another complete copy of this conference on pages 218-230 and a fragment p. 248-248a.

In the DRCHNY, the treaty is followed by a Sept. 14 1726 Deed of Trust to the King from the Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga for the hunting country around the Great Lakes. The deed is not in the AIC records, which go on to additional proceedings between the commissioners and the governor. For more on Burnet’s thinking on the fort / trading post see his Dec. 20 1726 letter to the Lords of Trade DRCHNY 5:810 et seq. specifically p. 812.]

 

Minute Book 3: 1726-July: Major Schuyler Dies; Abenaki are Welcomed Back to Schaghticoke; Albany Reassures its Neighbours

On July 21 the commissioners informed Governor Burnet that a messenger had brought word that Major Abraham Schuyler was dead. They included no details about how it happened. They also said they had sent the interpreter (Laurence Claesson) to bring the Six Nations to the conference with the governor scheduled for September. They included the news that “Mr. Livingston” had just taken leave of them and departed for Canada, but did not explain what his goals were. Possibly Philip Livingston sought to protect his and Albany’s business interests from the impending threat that the French were going to use their new fort at Niagara to monopolize the fur trade.

The following day a man named Poquin arrived from “Assekontoquoq” with a group of other people to respond to a message sent by a wampum belt two years earlier.  Poquin said that no matter where his people went, they were always in danger. He also said that they used to be able to take shelter at Schaghticoke, the community established in 1677 where the Hoosick River meets the Hudson north of Albany. Because of threats from the “Lower Indians” they could not come sooner, so they had gone to “mesixque” in the lake where they used to live. My interpretation of this language is that Poquin’s group were people from Schaghticoke who moved to Missisquoi in August 1724 and joined the Abenaki who were raiding New England with support from the French. “Assekontiquoq” may refer to Arossagunticook, an Abenaki community on what is now called the Androscoggin River. However, an enlightening new book has recently come out on the mission communities of the Saint Lawrence Valley which reveals that the name of the mission community on the Ste. Francois River, now known as Odanak, was called “Arsikantegouk” during this period (Jean-Francois Lozier, Flesh Reborn: The Saint Lawrence Mission Settlements through the Seventeenth Century. p. 256-257.) I suspect that this community is where Poquin’s people had been. Now they wanted to come back to Schaghticoke. They were not sure whether they could safely return, given that they had fought against New England. The term “lower Indians” likely refers to the Mohawks or Mohicans who disapproved of their actions.

The Indian Commissioners clung to a neutral position in Dummer’s War and wanted to end it through diplomacy rather than by supporting Governor Dummer’s military ambitions. They also wanted native people to continue living at Schaghticoke. In August 1724, rather than driving away those who joined the raids against New England, they sent messengers with wampum belts to persuade them to stop raiding and come back. The belt to which Poquin referred was probably part of this process.

The commissioners told Poquin’s group that the Tree of Peace and Welfare still grew at Schaghticoke and they were welcome to live there again. They gave them a belt of wampum and a keg of rum.

The next entry is a copy of a letter from the commissioners that does not give the name of the recipient. The context suggests that it was probably a New England government official. The commissioners said they had no recent news, but would always pass on any information that came their way and behave themselves “as neighbours and brethren.” Possibly this letter reflects the need to reassure neighbouring New England towns that were uneasy about the return of the Schaghticoke Abenaki.

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

Below is the full transcription.

[0310] 153a

att a meeting of the Comissioners

of the Indian affairs in Albany

the 21st July 1726

[Not in Wraxall.]

Sir

We just now received ye. Enclosed by an Indian

who Brings the news of the Death of Maj: Abraham

Schuyler we Design now and are met accordingly

to write ye. Interpreter to Say [sic] there and bring ye.

Indians down according to your Excel.lys appoint

=ment. Mr. Livingston this minute took his Leave

of the Commission.ers in order for Canada we

have no further to Informe your Excel.cy but

begg Leave to Subscribe our Selves your

Ex.cys most obedient humble Servants

[0311] 154

albany ye. 22.th of July 1726

[Not in Wraxall.]

Came before the Commissioners an Indian Named

Poquin from assekontoquoq to whom was Sent

a belt of wampum Two years ago when we

could not agree but now ye Same Comes with a

belt of wampum who Declares that he dose

not know ye. reason or what is ye. matter that

where they Goe they are all ways in Danger —

2d.ly    formerly he Says they used to have a great

tree at Schachtekoke where they Could Shadow

themselves under

3d.l      the Lower Indians had threatened them

which was ye. Reason they Came not Sooner, they

had taken their Refuge place in mesixque

in the Lake where they formerly Lived —

In Anser thereto —

The Commissioners told them that the

Same tree was Still in being and was never

taken away by them and that they was welcome

to Shadow themselves under ye. Same again. —

whereupon they Gave them a belt again —

ordered that they get a Cagg of Rum —

[0312] 154a

Albany 30 July 1726

[Not in Wraxall.]

Sir

We Received yours of the 21st of this instant

and in answer there to these are to Informe

you that we have had no news Since our first infor

=mation but you may assure your Self we Shall

allways behave our Selves as neighbours and

brethren Towards your assistance to all ye.

news that might or may Come this way. we

having nothing more but our hearty wishes

for ye. well fare of your Self & Government

and begg Leave to Subscribe our Selves

your Hon.s most

obediant Humble Serv.ts

Minute Book 3: 1726-June: An Impressive French Fort at Niagara Threatens British Trade

The rumors were true. The commissioners learned from Major Abraham Schuyler and others that the French had sent 120 men to Jagara (Niagara) to build a new fort there on the south side of the river. French ships filled with lime for its construction were on their way from Cadarachqui, the site of present day Kingston Ontario. A strong new fort at Niagara would cut off native fur traders bringing their goods to Oswego or Albany from the Great Lakes, and would even prevent the Senecas from returning with furs from their hunting territories. The French planned to store goods at Niagara in order to replace the English as suppliers to all the nations in the area.

The commissioners heard that the French had 400 militia men ready to go to Niagara to defend the fort if need be. They urged the governor to look for a legal remedy based on the treaty in force between France and England. Major Schuyler sent several letters that were not copied into the record, although there is a space left for them.  The Onondaga Indians who brought the most recent one appeared to be suspicious of the English and the commissioners urged the governor once again to post some “men of Experience and Conduct” in Iroquoia to restore good relations between the British and the Six Nations.

 An Old Frontier of France, by Frank Severance (NY: Dodd, Mead, 1917, p. 225 et seq.) explains in detail how Fort Niagara was planned and constructed. Below is the plan drawn up for the new fort by Governor Vaudreuil’s military engineer, Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery.

Severance-FrenchFrontier_FtNiagPlan1
Plans for the fort that France wanted to build at Niagara. From Frank Severance, An Old Frontier of France, NY: Dodd Mead, 1917, v.1, p. 240.

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

Below is the full transcription.

[0258] 127a

[Not in Wraxall.]

Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of

the Indian affairs in albany

the 5th of June 1726.

Present

Ph Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Bancker

Henry [Holland – crossed out] Renslaer

The Com.es Recd this day two letters

from maj.r Abraham Schuyler [dated at onodage – smudged or crossed out]

the

[REST OF PAGE IS BLANK]

[0259] 128

[Wraxall p. 163 et seq.]

Att a meeting of ye Com.es of ye

Indian affairs in albany ye 8th of

June 1726

Present

Ph Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Banker

Henry Renslaer

May it Please your Excellency

It is with no Litle Concern that the Intelligence

we had from Montreal and we Informd your Excel.y

with that the french were Sending up a Number

of men to Jagara proves ture [true?] there are now 120 men

as major Abr. Schuyler advices us, and now we have

an acco.t that the 2 vessels build by the french at

Cadarachquis passd by the mouth of the onnondage

River bound to Jagara with Lime &c. to make the

above building this may and we humbly Conceive

will prove of fatall Consequence to this Province

in Particular, and very distructive to the fur Trade

by what we are assurd that this building is to be

at the South Side of Jagara River. where is a good

harbour for Vessells and Conveniently Scituated

to Intercept all the fur trade of the upper nations

and even of our Sinnekes who must pass by that

Place as they come from their hunting, who cant

avoid Passing by that place or So Near it that the

french there will trade with them. they are to

have a larger Store of goods there for Supplying

the Indians

We hope your Ex.ly will be pleasd

to take Such proper measures as your Excellency

in your great wisdom Shall Seem most proper

to frustrate the french Pernicious Designs, in put=

=ting up this building on Land belonging to the,

Indians we are assurd that 400 men of ye. milita at mon

=treal are Detachd to be Ready on the first notice

to go up to Jagara, if the Indians Should Restrain

them from makeing that building, by this and

their other Vigilant actions it appears plain

to us

[0260] 128a

To us that they will use their uttmost Endeavours to

Prevent us from having any trade at all from any Indians

Setled above Jagara or about the Lake of Cadarachqui how

this agrees with the treatie of Commerce your Ex.cy may be

best Judge. Received this Day a letter from Maj. Abra.m

Schuyler of the first Instant brought by three onnondage —

Indians who Say to be Sent by the Sachims to know the

Contents of the S.d Letter w.h was accordingly explaind

unto them, it Seems that the Indians Intertain very Sus=

=picious & Jealous thoughts of us. and w.h never will be

otherwise untill men of Experience & Conduct be posted &

Live [and-crossed out] among them. here are also two other Letters

from M.r Schuyler Rec.d ye. 5th Instant we have no more to

add at present but that we are with great Respect

May it Please your Exce.ly

[0309] 153

Att a meeting of the Commiss.

of the Indian affairs in Albany

23th June 1726

[REMAINDER OF PAGE IS BLANK]

 

Minute Book 3: 1726-April: Major Abraham Schuyler is Sent to Onondaga to Promote the English Interest

1726-4-21Stefan Bielinski‘s biography  of Major Abraham Schuyler (1663-1726), on the New York State Museum’s The People of Colonial Albany Live Here website, tells us that by 1726, Schuyler had spent years as a trader, interpreter, and diplomat in Iroquoia. In April Governor Burnet and the Commissioners of Indian Affairs sent him to Onondaga with orders to invite the Six Nations to Albany in the summer for a meeting with the governor.  Schuyler was told to address Iroquois concerns about traders who brought alcohol to their country and to ensure the safety of the traders.  He was also told to go to the Seneca’s Country or wherever else he could find information about French plans at Niagara, and to hire “trusty Indians” for this purpose. He was provided with gifts and a belt of wampum and instructed to keep a journal of his activities and observations. He was not to engage in trade himself, but to count on an appropriate reward for his services from the governor, although no amount was stated.

Major Schuyler was also told to keep order among the Dutch traders and prevent them from giving rum even to Indians from outside Iroquoia except when they were about to depart from the falls, probably meaning the falls near Oswego, where trade flourished now that Albany merchants were forbidden to trade with Montreal.

The commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet enclosing a copy of Schuyler’s instructions. They said that even the traders who originally opposed moving the trade west (meaning to Oswego) now planned to partake in it and as many as 50 canoes were expected that summer.  If the French did not prevent it, Albany merchants should do well. The commissioners also told the governor that they had learned that Frenchmen were traveling from Montreal to Jagara (Niagara) without revealing their purpose, which was probably to build the new fort.

The last item in the commissioners’ letter reveals that problems with alcohol were were also occuring at Fort Hunter.  People there had submitted a petition asking for a law preventing people from buying corn from Indians and selling them rum, which was proving “very destructive to them.”

There are no entries for May 1726.

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

Below is the full transcription:

[254] 125a                                                            [Apr. 21, 1726]

[Wraxall mention p. 163]

By the Commissioners of the

Indian Affairs at Albany

Instructions for Major Abraham Schuyler

Whereas his Excllency [sic] william Burnet Esq.

Cap.t Generall and Governour in Chief of the

Provinces of New York New Jersey &c. has been pleasd

to approve that some person of Experience be Sent

among the five Nations to Quiet the minds of the

Indians, and has appointed you to undertake that

affair, we Do therefore hereby Require you forth-

=with to go to Onnondage on your Arrival there,

Desire the Sachims of the five Nations to meet, &

when they Shall be Conven’d, you are to Desire

them in the name of his Excellency our Governou[r]

that he Expects to meet them here this Summer,

and that they do not Suffer any of their people

to molest our Traders. That Several of them had

Carried up Rum Last winter, who Could [be-crossed out] not be

Prevaild on to turn back again, That the Traders

Shall be Directed not to Deliver any of their

Rum to the far Indians but at their Departure

that no mischief may arise from it —-

You are to stay among the five Nations

Till you Shall Receive Orders from his Excellency

to Return home, and while you Stay there you are

to Observe the Motions of the ffrench who we are Informd

are Going from Montreal with a force of men to

build a ffort at Jagara, and it may be at Some other

Places on this Side of Cadaracqui Lake, off which

if your have Certain Intelligence, you are forthwith

by Express to Inform us of it, that his Excellency

may be acquainted with the Proceedings of the

ffrench in the Indian Country, and that you may —

be the better Informd of the ffrench Design,

we think it Necessary that you go to the Sinnekes

Country

[0255] 126

Country or Such other Place as you Shall Judge

Proper, That you may have a true Account of all

their Transactions and Proceedings, for which

Purpose you are to Imploy Some trusty Indians

of the five Nations to go among the ffrench

wherever they are, to see what they are Doing at

Jagara, to which End and for Present to the Indians

we think it Necessary that you Shall Receive

the value of Twenty five Pounds in Presents as

also a Belt of wampum and     [space in original] Blankets of

Strowds

You are to Reside Some Time at the

ffalls where our Traders Lye to see that they do

not abuse the farr Ind.ns in there Trade, and you

are to give them all the Encouragement Possible

to trade with our People Either here or at the ffalls

you are to take Care that no Rum be Delivered to

the Indians but at their departure that No mischief

may arise from it —

It will be very proper that you keep a

Journal of all your Proceedings & Transactions

of any moment. while you Shall be among the

Indians on this Message. you are to Act in all

things as you Shall think most for his Majesties

Interest and welfare of this Province, you are

not to Concern your Self with any Trade while

you are this Jurney [sic] Not Doubting but his

Excellency Shall Sufficiently Reward you for

your Service.

Given under our hands in Albany

this 21th day of April in the twelfth Year of

his Maj.es Reign Annoq. Domini 1726

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

Pieter van Brugh

Evert Bancker

Hend. van Rensselaer

[0256] 126a

[Wraxall quotes this letter p. 163.]

Albany 27 April 1726

May it Please y.r Excellency

yours Ex.es favours of ye 25th March on ye Receipt

whereof we sent for major Ab.m Schuyler who as soon

as he Came to Town we acquainted him with your

Exce.ly[s] pleasure. for his Going in ye Indian Country to

Quiet their mines [sic] he accepted to go on Credit of your

Exce.ly[s] Letter we thought it Necessary to give him

Instructions Copy whereof is here Inclosed hopeing

his Message may have ye Desired Effect. and yt. ye.

Assembly will Provide for the Charges he has £25.– in

Presents to the Indians besides 5 blankets Strowds

to be Imployd Instead of belts of Wampum Its very

acceptable to us yt. yr. Exc.ly Concurs with us yt. its

Necessary to have persons of Experience among ye

Indians with out w.h they will Certainly allinate in

their affections & fidelity to his Majesty —

We hear of many that are gone to trade to ye.

westward even to Number of 50 Canoes. People Incou

=rage that trade now to Emulation even those who were

at first ag.nt it. if our People be not Interrupted by ye.

french they will gett a Large Chear of their trade

this Sumer —

We are Informd yt. a number of men

are gone from Montreal to Jagara Some Say to build

a ffort there what there Design may be theyl Conceal

from us as Long as Possible –

Inclosed is a Petition to your Ex.ly from the

Inhabitants of ffort Hunter Desireing a Law for

Restraining People to buy ye. Corn from ye. Indians

there & Selling ym. Rum w.h has been found by Experi

=ence to very Destructive to ym. it would Conduce

much for ye benifitt of ye. Inhabitants there to obtain

Such a Law but they ought to debard as well as others

from buying Corn from ye Indians & Selling Rum

 

Updates

I was pleasantly surprised to see a link to this site (and even my name) on the New York State Museum webpage for the Commissioners of Indian Affairs Thank you. I am honored. The records of the commissioners are an essential resource for understanding Albany’s history.

Cornell’s online collection: The Records of the Albany Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1678-1755: An Integrated Digital Database has recently changed the way it displays the records, shifting to a collection of PDFs organized by year.  This makes it easier to search for a particular date, although it is important to note that they are somewhat out of chronological order in places. It also means that I can no longer link to a specific month, so I am taking those links out of my month by month summaries. The best way to navigate between the way the records are displayed at Cornell with the way they appear on the Heritage Canada database and the transcriptions on this blog is to focus on the page numbers in the records themselves, which are generally found at the top of each page.