In May the Commissioners of Indian Affairs heard that Captain Evert Bancker had managed to pursuade the Six Nations to allow the English to build a trading house at Oswego. Bancker consulted with the sachims in laying out the ground, including Teganissorens, referred to by the commissioners here as “the Kanssore.” Bancker said the sachims left the exact location for the building up to him. He still needed to find a source for limestone.
The French immediately invited Haudenosaunee leaders to Montreal, presumably to try to change their minds. In the meantime, sixty British soldiers set out for Oswego in eleven boats, likely embarking at Schenectady, although this is not spelled out clearly. The commissioners oversaw the details, ordering wagons from Schenectady to transport stores and provisions there, making additional “batoes,” and providing everything required for the military detachment to reach Oswego as quickly as possible. With troops in place, it would be harder for the French to interfere with construction. The commissioners knew that the French would hear about the soldiers’ departure before they reached Oswego, but as long as the Six Nations supported the building they did not think the French could stop it. However they did realize that they might need a French translator just in case. They informed the governor that some of the traders at Oswego could fill this role, but said that if he wanted them to hire someone else for the purpose they would. Laurence Claessen was told to stay at Oswego until the building was complete and to interpret for the “King’s Officer” in charge of the soldiers as well as for Captain Bancker. This detail suggests that even though Evert Bancker was in charge of trading operations, Governor Burnet was not putting him in charge of the military, creating the potential for confusion or even conflict. Moreover, neither Claessen nor Bancker appear to have spoken English very well, and there is no mention of who would translate between the King’s Officer and Claessen or Bancker, should the need arise.
The commissioners began to arrange for provisions to be delivered to Oswego for the future from whoever could supply them at the lowest cost. This required taking them past the Wood Creek “Carrying Place” from the Mohawk River to Oneida Lake. Some Palatines had already made offers for this work. It is noteworthy that the commissioners don’t mention looking to the Oneidas or other members of the Six Nations, either in buying provisions or as sources of labor of any kind. The profits from supplying the new fort would enrich Palatine and Anglo-Dutch New Yorkers, but not the Haudenosaunee, another possible source of conflict. And the commissioners’ correspondence with Governor Burnet contains one other ominous detail: Major Lancaster Symes had a “fitt of Sickness” that made him unable to travel. He was probably not the only one who was already affected by illness, which would soon become a serious problem throughout the area.
In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the first entry for May 1727 starts here on p. 183.
2 thoughts on “Minute Book 3: 1727-May: The Haudenosaunee Agree to Let the English Build at Oswego; Sixty Soldiers Are Sent Up; the French Invite the Six Nations to Montreal”
Dear Ann Hunter,
I am looking forward to your presentation at the upcoming Iroquois Conference. In 1987 while working for the New York State Museum I had the opportunity of reading through O’Callaghan’s Calendar of English Manuscripts now in the State Archives. I had transcribed any entry of [my] interest and when I had the opportunity attempted to locate the originals. One of the products that resulted was a list of individuals who applied to go into Indian country on assignment, to trade, to serve as blacksmiths and armorers, etc. Would you like a copy. I recognize many of the same names as appear in the minutes.
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Thank you. Yes, I would like a copy of the list and I look forward to meeting you at the conference.