Minute Book 3: 1727-July: Oswego Needs Food and Trade; Murder at Schoharie; French Governor Visits Albany

On July 5th the Commissioners of Indian Affairs informed Governor Burnet that the building at Oswego would be finished by the first of August according to Captain Evert Bancker. Supplies of food were running low there because the Palatines who had engaged to provide it had only limited amounts and supplying Oswego directly from Albany was prohibitively expensive.  The commissioners tried to reassure the governor that with the bacon they had sent up the previous month and the “wheat meal” provided by the Palatines, matters were not as bad as Captain Nicolls at Oswego suggested. They agreed with him, however, that Oswego very much needed a good Indian Interpreter.

Trade at Oswego was poor and some traders would likely have to bring their goods back. No nations from the vicinity of Tuchsagrondie (present day Detroit) had been there and few from the east. The only trade was coming from closer by, on the north side of Lake Ontario (Cadaraghi) or from those the commissioners described as “our own Indians.” Trade was further complicated by recent changes in the laws that ended the prohibition on trading Indian goods to the French in Canada but still required traders to pay additional duties on them. Governor Burnet accused the commissioners of failing to enforce the new version, but they insisted that they had issued summonses against traders who were out of compliance.

Can a British Governor Punish Indian Murderers at Schoharie?

The commissioners attempted to explain to Governor Burnet the complexities involved in punishing the death of the Palatine settler at Schoharie who had been killed in a quarrel with some Indians after accusing them of stealing a hog. They admitted that an Indian had been hanged in New Jersey for killing an Englishman, but insisted Schoharie was “different Scituated.”  The Six Nations were more numerous and of a “different temper” from the native people living in New Jersey. Moreover the Six Nations were aware that Europeans had killed people from the Six Nations and escaped execution even following a trial and judgement.  The commissioners told the governor they did not know how to apprehend the murderers in the Schoharie case.

French Threats and Diplomacy

The commissioners learned from John Tippets, a New England man who went to Canada to redeem his captive children, that 400 Frenchmen and 600 Indians were ready to attack Oswego, destroy the new building, kill the English living there, and seize their goods.  They also had “private intelligence” that an unidentified individual in Canada had undertaken to surprise and capture Fort Oswego in exchange for 50 pounds. They conveyed this information to Captain Nicolls at Oswego and advised him to be on guard.

Fortunately for the English, Jean Bouillet de La Chassaigne, the governor of Trois Rivieres, arrived in Albany on July 24th with an entourage of his officers and sent a message to Governor Burnet that he wanted to negotiate.  The commissioners paid four pounds and ten shillings to Jacob Visger to convey the party to New York in Jacob Visger’s sloop.

By now the French knew the details of the building at Oswego.  Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery, the engineer for the French fort at Niagara as well as many other buildings in French Canada, drew a plan of the new fort as it existed in 1727. It probably seemed primitive to him compared to his grander vision for Niagara and the other public works that he designed. Below is a copy:

Oswego_nypl.digitalcollections.0c5097c0-1484-0134-524f-00505686a51c.001.g

Chaussegros de Léry, Gaspard-Joseph, 1682-1756,”Plan of Oswego, 1727.”  Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed October 3, 2018.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the first substantive entry for July 1727 starts here on p. 191a. The transcription is below.

[0385] 191

(37

Att A Meeting of ye. Com.es of ye. Indian

Affairs in Albany ye. 1 of July 1727

[REMAINDER OF PAGE IS BLANK]

[0386] 191a

38)

Att a Meeting of ye Com.es of Indian

Affairs in Albany ye. 5.th of July 1727

We had ye. hon.r to write your Ex.cy on ye. 28.th past

Since wh. have Rec.d nothing of Moment from ye. west=

=ward only this inclosed we had to day from Capt. Banker

of the 25th whereby it is to Seem how the building goes

forwd. at Osweege by the Information we have from ye.

head Carpenter it will be finishd by ye. first of ag.t next

the men Capt. Nicolls Sent with a batoe to ye. palatines

for provisions have only 30 Bushels wheat meal from them

So yt. the bacon we Sent Will Come in good time. we

Intend to Send more in a Short time yt. it may Serve

ye. Detachmt. till ye. palatines Can provide with beef & por[k]

[0378] 187a

[Other copies on p. 191a [0386] and p. 243a [0491]]

Albany ye. 14 July 1727

May it please your Ex.cy

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

p Oothout Since wh. have none of your Ex.cys favours,

the inclosed is from Capt. Nicolls to Capt. Holland

whereby your Ex.cy has an Acct how it goes on with the

building at Osweege, how the Detachmt. are provided

with provisions and what trade is Carryed on there, it

is Supposed yt. Some traders will not have yt Success

as ws Suspected and will Come back with part of

their Goods, for want of Vent, the Detachmt. may

want some provisions but not So much as Nicolls Seen

to Mention ye Men he Sent with a batoe for provisions

to ye palatines had 130 bushel wheat Meal & we Sent

Near 500 lb bacon as we write in our last wh. Arrivd

Soon After he writ last we Calculate yt. Capt. Banks

will have 2 Months provisions for his Detachmt.

Expected pease wh. we do not know how to Supply now,

it may be time Enough to Send ym. further provisions

wn. we Shall have ye hon.r to receive Your Excel.cy answer

how to proceed ye palatines Cant Supply ym. till

Sept. Unless with wheat Meal & Indian Corn, on your

Commands to us of ye 12th April & 19th June relating our

proceeding to ye Acts of Assembly agt. those who have not

Come in & taken ye Advantage of the last Act, made

in their favours we had Sundry Meetings & persu=

=all of the Act passd ye 17th June 1726. we find yt

Every Article Clause or things in ye former Acts are

Inforced, so yt. we humbly conceive yt. wt. Sumonces

have been Issued by the Com.rs are Still in force &

Since no further Complaints are made to ue agt. any

person we Can not proceed we take leave to Subscribe

our Selves yt. we are with Esteem

 

[0387] 192 [Item 2 on page]

(39

Albany 17.th July 1727

Your Ex.cys favours of ye. 15 Instant we Rec.d & observe

ye Contents our last was ye. 14.th Instant. whereto we take

leave to refer, the agreemt. with the palatines we Could

not make more favourable to Send it from hence would

Cost much More while its a great distance thither

they think they have a hard bargain to furnish ye. provi.s as we agreed

We have been Informd yt. an Indian was hangd for killing

an English-Men in N:yerseys yt. place is place is [sic] different

Scituated in respect to our five nations numerous are of a

different temper & More they those who live in ye. Jerseys

& on an other hand their have Indians been killd by our

people who have not been Executed for it but made

their

[0388] 192a

40)

their Escape after tryall & Judgemt. wh. they allways abridge [upbraid?]

us with how to Apprehend ye. Murderers now yt. killd ye.

Palatine at Skohere we cant tell we gave your Ex.cy

timely notice of this fact,

We Cant hear yt. there has been in a Manner any

Trade at Oswegee from Tuchsaghrondie Indians all yt.

has been there this year is from our own Indians

& those Living on ye. North Side Cadaraghqus lake & few

living to ye. Eastward of it its Supposed many of our traders

will be obliged to Com Back with their goods its Said yt.

Clear rum has already been Sold there at 3/ p gallon

by one trader to Another,

We are at a Stand what to Conjecture yt. ye french are

doing at Canada haveing had no manner of Intillegence

from there since April,

We are of Opinion with Mr. Nicolls yt. an able

Indian Interpreter will be much wanting at Osweege

 

Albany ye. 25 July 1727

[See Wraxall p. 170 for brief mention.]

Present

Philip Livingston

Myndert Schuyler

Peter Vn. Brugh

Henry Renselaer

Lancester Symes

Ryer Gerritse

Stephanus Groesbeeck

Harmanus Wendell

Nicolaes Bleecker

May it please your Ex.cy

We take this oppertunity to Inform your

Ex.cy yt. Yesterday arrivd here Mon.s Lasasangie Gov.r

of trois riviere accopanyd with Some Officers message is to

your Ex.cy & Intends to Sett out from hence in a 3 days

by what we hear is ye. Subject of his Errant is ab.t our

building at Oshweege M.r John Tippets from N: England

who has been to Canada to redeem his Captive Children

Inform us yt. 400 french & 800 Indians have been ready

to March directly to Oshweege to Destroy ye. building kill

& take our people & their goods, but has been happyly by

the advice

[0389] 193

(41

the advice Mons.r Lasasangie who has Offerd his Service to

Undergo ye. fetague of this Journey to Mediate this Affair

with your Ex.cy Mean time an Officer is Sent to Oshweege

with orders to desire our people their to desist from building

till they have ye. resolt of this message their forces are to be

kept ready at an hours warning ye. Indians of Cachnawage

have firmly promisd ye. Gov.r of Canada not to have any

Communication with this place. Sd. Tippits is going to New

york who Can give your Excy. a particular Acct. how Affairs

are at Canada

Inclosed is a letter from Capt. Banker wherein is

no better Intelligence yt. we have from Montreal.

The Com.es agreed with Mr. Jacob Visger to Carry Mon.s

Lasasanie Gov.r of trois rivier now in town with people

in his Company in his Sloop to N: York for Seaven pounds

ten Shillings for ye. trip down & for four pound ten Shil=

=lings up hither again & to lye 8 a 9 days at N: York

[“Mons. Lasasangie” refers to Jean Bouillet de La Chassaigne (1654-1733) who became governor of Trois-Rivieres in 1726. He traveled to New York to urge Governor Burnet to remove Fort Oswego according to his entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.]

[0390] 193a

42)

Att a meeting of ye Com.es of Indian

Affairs ye. 26 July 1727

Capt. Nicolls

We had ye. perusall of yours to Capt. Holland

wherein you very Justly Imagine yt. ye french are

hatching some mischief ag.t us we have ye Same

Intilligences from Canada as you intimate & ye. Gov.r

of trois rivere is here & going to his Ex.cy our Gover.r with

a message abt. our building at Oshweege, we have

private Intilligence yt. a Man at Canada has undertaken

for £50 with a few men to Surprize you & take possession

of ye building & disposess you wh. would be dangerous

Consequence to this province wherefore we desire you

to be on your Gaurd & not to Suffer on no acct. whatsoever any

french or any of their Indians to Enger into ye. house

We Send you a half barrel powder 56 lb lead & 28 lb

Shot for a Small Supply & [blank space] lb bacon we wish you all

well & Assure you yt. we are —-

[0392] 194a

44)

Albany ye. 26 July 1727

May it please your Ex.cy

We had ye. hon.r Yesterday to acqt. your Ex.cy

yt Mons.r Lassasnaje Gov.r of trois Rivine arrive here

ye 24th Instant as we are Informd with a message from ye.

Gov.r of Canada to y.r Ex.cy haveing good reason to be

perswaded yt. ye. Subject is Errant about our building at

Osweege & as we hear ye. french at Canada are very much alarmd

at our possessing yt. place & ye. forces ready to Attack & dispo=

=ses us is a great presumtion in ym. & of ye. last Consequence

to this province all ye. Neigbouring provinces on this Con=

=tenant wh. we humbly hope may be treated with great

Caution & delibration yt. ye. good union & firm aligance wh.

Subjects between ye. two Crowns may not be violeted by ye.

french of Canada, & its province disturbd in their Just & In=

=doubted right & possession of ye. lands Solemnly agreed to

belong to ye Crown of great britain & they in no manner

to preven any Indians freely to trade with ye. british

Subjects, as this Gentlemen is a person of Distinction & yt. we

are in Expectation yt. your Exc.y may be pleased with our

Opinion on this Cretical Subject wh. would take up too

much room to write out of ye. Great Concernd we have desird

& prevaild on Coll. M: Schuyler & Mr. Livingston with whom we

have discourd & told our Sentiments Abt. this Affair wh. we

hope may be Acceptable to y.r Ex.cy with respect we

Remain

Your Ex.cys most humble

& most Obed.t Servants

Peter Vn. Brugh                      Nicolaes Bleecker

Lancester Symes                     Harmanus Wendle

Rutger Bleecker                       Ph: Schuyler

St: Groesbeeck

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About hopefulwanderer

Writer, researcher, archivist, etc. @ahhunter
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