Minute Book 3: 1727-October: Oswego Accounts; Arossaguntigook Traders; Laurence Claessen’s Journal

The Commissioners of Indian Affairs spent a lot of money in 1727 on building boats, renting wagons, and hiring workers to build the fort at Oswego and supply the garrison and workers there with provisions.  They wrote Governor Burnet on October 5th to say they were in the process of getting final accounts from the “Country people” and would submit it all. They also informed him that a detachment of soldiers had finally left Schenectady for Oswego along with five civilians who would stay until April.

Arossagunticook Hunters Come To Trade

Diplomacy from earlier in the year continued to pay off. A group of people from Asigantskook (probably Arossagunticook) sent messengers to verify that the road to Albany was still open.  They said their people were hunting near Wood Creek on Lake Champlain and would like to come to Albany to trade, but it was difficult to transport deer skins at this season (probably because of the low water) and they had many elders with them who would not be able to make the trip. They asked to be supplied with necessaries at Saratoga as cheaply as they would be at Albany and offered to bring their furs and deerskins to Albany in the Spring, when travel was easier.  The commissioners welcomed them and invited them to trade but said they could not provide goods as cheaply at Saratoga as at Albany because they would have to pay to transport them there. They suggested that the hunting party send their young men to bring the skins down or hire horses to transport them.  It would all be affordable because “goods are much Cheaper then Ever they had been” at Albany.

1727-10-12Laurence Claessen’s Journal

At the end of October the commissioners gave the governor an English version of Laurence Claessen’s journal of his trip to the Six Nations in September to tell them.  The record includes a full copy. Claessen visited the Mohawks, Oneidas, and Tuscaroras and acquainted each nation with the news that King George II had succeeded George I as king of Great Britain.  Proceeding to the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, he did the same thing, but here he found that warriors were preparing to go out to fight at the request of the new Governor of Canada (the Marquis de Beauharnois). Claessen did not say who they were proposing to fight, but it was probably one or more of various nations to the south who were known as Flatheads. On behalf of New York’s Governor William Burnet, Claessen gave them gifts and urged them not to listen to the French or leave their homes to fight.  He managed to persuade most of them not to go on the grounds that the French were just looking for a chance to take possession of the new building at Oswego. Moreover when he returned to Onondaga, the sachims there who had agreed with the Schuyler brothers to ask other nations in Canada not to help the French were keeping their word and setting out on a trip to convey the message.

When Claessen arrived in the Seneca capital Canosedeken, which here is spelled “Canosade,” the diplomat and interpreter “Jean Coeur” had been there just two days earlier promoting the French trade goods now available at the new building at Fort Niagara, including inexpensive blankets, guns, fine shirts, stockings, and brandy. There was also a French smith living in Seneca country with his wife, children, and servant, who was trading for furs. And Claessen learned that there was a French settlement on the Susquehanna River “a little abovre Casatoqu” whose inhabitants stayed in touch with Canada by way of a small river that flowed into Lake Ontario above Niagara Falls.

The enlarged French fort at Niagara and the new English fort at Oswego had expanded the European presence in Iroquoia along with the potential for violent conflict. The Six Nations had said all along that this was a problem. It was one of the reasons that they objected to the location of Fort Oswego when Governor Burnet first proposed it in September 1724. In Seneca Country Claessen was told that the Seneca leaders who had recently gone to Canada to condole the death of Governor Vaudreuil and confirm Beauharnois as the new governor had urged the French not to create a disturbance or shed blood, even though the English and the French were “very Jealous of one another about their buildings at Osweege & Jagara.” Instead, if they wanted to fight each other, they should “decide it at Sea.” Beauharnois asked them to tell the English to move the new building at Oswego further up the river from Lake Ontario to leave a clear passage on the lake for French traders. Their response is not recorded.

One more interesting detail from this journal is that the French were trying to persuade the Schawenos (Shawnee) living at Niagara to leave; it is not clear why.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the first entry for October 1727 starts here on p. 204a. The transcription is below.

[0412] 204a

Albany 5th October 1727

May it please yr. Excel.cy

We have been very pressing to gett in the acct.

of the Expences this year for building batoes ye. house at Oswe=

=ge provisions waggon hire peoples wages &c. in transporting

the provisions thither & Indicent a mounting in all as may

Appear [by] the Said accts. & list herewith to £ [blank space] we

Suppose there more to Come in which we Shall Send his Exc.y

As soon as may be Some of the accts. of ye. Country people are

not Certyfied tho Suppose they are Just

The Detachment sett out from Schinnechtady yester=

=day with five of our Country people who are to Stay at Oswege

till april next as also 6 more are hird to help up the batoes

at £5÷÷ Each for the Trip the Charges runs high which

Could not be prevented for the Securety of the house

and Garryson while we think it of the Greatest Consequence

Every thing may Succeed according to Expectation

with Great Esteem & Respect

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

Johannes Cuyler

Stephanus Groesbeeck

Harmanus Wendle

Nicolaes Bleecker

 

[0414] 205

At A meeting of the Com.es of the Indian

Affairs in Albany ye. 6 October 1727

[illeg.]

[Not in Wraxall]

Present

Philip Living.n

Henry Holland

J: Cuyler

Myn: Schuyler

Peter Vn. Brugh

Lancester Symes

Harmanus Wendle

Reyer Gerritse

Nicolaes Bleecker

An Indian Messenger from ye. Asikants=

=kook Indians came to this City who Says yt. it is the goodness

of god that we meet together in good Health

That he is Sent from the Sachims of the Said Indians who

are now on their hunting with a number of their purpose about the

End of the wood Creek & to the eastwd. of the Drowned land that

what he is in behalf of & in name of the Said all the Indians

who are now about the Said places on their hunting that they

have Sent him to See if the path to this place is free & open for

them to Come to trade hither if it be Acceptable to the bretheren

the Commissioners to give them liberty to Come gave a String

of Wampum

Brethren

We have been here last Summer and you gave us then

Liberty to Come to trade hither but as we have a great num=

=ber of ancient men among us who Can [give – crossed out] hardly undergo the

fetaque to come down to this place wherefore we desire that

we may be furnishd & Supplyd with Necessaries at Saragtoque

as Cheap as there are to [Come down to this place where=

=fore we desire yt. we may be furnishd & Supplyd with

Necessaries at Saragtoe – all crossed out] to be had here while it is very

Difficult at this season to draw & Carry down ye. Deer

Skins but in the Spring w.[?] we Can Come down in

Canoes wee

[0415] 205a

Canoes we Shall Come hitherr with a great number of our

people and abundance of beaver and peltry and then

our Sachims Shall also Come, Gave a String of Wampum,

Answer

We are very glad that it has pleased Almighty god to

preserve your Sachims and people in good health & yt. they

have Sent them to Come hither to trade, we do assure you

and promise that ye. Same Shall be kept open & free for

all your nation to come thither to trade as Long as they

demean themselves well [J – crossed out] and peacable as we Sent you

word Last Summer by the messengers they sent us at ye. time

As to what you desire that Some persons may Suppose [sic]

you with Necessaries at Saraghtoga as Cheap as they are here

because you all Alleadge yt. it is Difficult for the old men

to bring down their Skins hither wh. is a thing yt. we Can

not promise you neither Can any person afford ym So Cheap

as they are to be had here for ye. must Consider yt. they must

be paid for bringing up the the [sic] goods thither and if your young

men do bring down the Skins belonging to the old men or hire Steads

to ride them Down wh. will be but a trifle Considering

how much Cheaper goods are here yn. at Saragtoque

therefore we recommend you to tell your Sachims we de=

=sire that they and all their young men do Come hither

to trade while, goods are much Cheaper then Ever they

had been

 

[0416] 206

Albany 30th October 1727

May it please your Excel.cy

It would be very acceptable to us to hear

of your Excel.cys health and prosperity Inclosed your Ex.cy

has the Journall of Mr. Lourence Claese the Interpre=

=ter to the Six Nations by relation it appears that the

Indians are well Affected to the british Interest but in one

Opinion what has been [brought – crossed out] begun to Secure them ought

to be permd. for they begin now to See of what Consequence

of building at Osweego will be [at – crossed out] to them for they perceive

that we Can defend and Secure them against the attempt of

the french of Canada which we humbly hope that our Assem=

=bly will Conceive that the Support of the Six Nations &

Securety of our trade is of the Greater Consequence to this

province and that they will raise a Sufficient Supply to

discharge the expence already layd out and what may be

wanting to lay out for the next year,

The Interpreter Informs us that the french Smith free=

=ly trades among the Sinnekes which we wish Could be preven=

=ted it Seems a great hardship to us that the french may trade

there and our people be prevented to do the like by a law wh.

we beg your Excel.cy may be repeald by a Cause in any bill

that may pass this Sessions, wh. will be very acceptable to

who are with great Esteem and Respect

Phil: Livingston

Henry Holland

Hend.k Vn. Renselaer

Stephanus Groesbeek

Harmanus Wendle

Nicolaes Bleecker

 

[0417] 206a [Out of order chronologically because sent with previous letter.]

12 Octob 1727

Journall of Mr. Lourence Claese the

Interpreter of his Journey to the Six

Nations being Translated into English

is as follows

In pursuance of my Instructions from the Com.es

of indian affairs at Albany dated the ninth Sept. I went

to the Mohoggs Country acquainted the Sachims there of the

decease of his late Majesty King George of Glorious memory

and [that his son prince george – crossed out] of the Accession of his pre=

=sent Majesty King George the second to the Imperi=

=all Crowns of Great britain france and Ireland, from

thence I went to Oneyde and Tuskerores and Acquainted

those Sachims with the Same,

On the 25th of Sept. I Arrivd at Onnondage

where I found 160 men ready to go a fighting by order

of the Governour of Canada of wh. 48 of ym. went out

the Same day I came there, whereupon I calld the

Sachims and warriou[r]s to Come together, I Acquainted

them also of the Decease of his late Majesty King

George & of the acceptation of his present Majesty

King George ye. Second to the Imperiall Crowns of

Great britain &c. and Spoake to ym. in name of

his Excel.cy William Burnet Esq.r &c our Governour

  1. he was very much Surprizd that they Sufferd that they

Sufferd [sic] themselves to be Commanded by the Governour of

Canada who has been always their Ancestors Enemy and

is So Still Who, by Shew of frindship Seeks to deprive ym

of their land and priviledges where our Governour gives

Sufficient Instancs of his Sincere affection & frindship

towards the well being of the Six Nations which he Endeavors

to Accomplish and Intends to preserve in it —

The King of France himself owns that the

Six Nations belong only to the Crown of Great Britain

Therefore brethren I Desire you in his Excel.cys Name

that you do no go fighting on ye. Comand from ye. Gov.r

of

 

[0418] 207

of Canada but that you Stay at home & go hunting for

the Sustenance of your wives and Children, and not to Untertake

nor do any thing without advice from brother

Corlaer and to fitch those Indians back who are gone

out fighting whereon I gave ym two blankets Strouds Desire=

=ing ym. to give me an Answer at my return from the Sinne=

=kes Country

On the 27th D.o I Came at Cayouge I acquainted

the Sachims also as before of the Decease of his late

Majesty & of ye. Accession of his present majesty King

George ye. Second to ye. Imperiall Crowns of great britain

&c. I found at Cayouge 140 Men ready to go out fighting

to prevent wh. I made ye speech to ym. as I had done

above to the Onnondages and gave ym. a blanket Strouds

they promist directly to Stay at home & go on their hunting,

On ye 29th D.o I arrivd at the Sinnekes Country where I found

the Sachims & warriou[r]s people at home, who I Acquainted with ye.

foregoing they promist me that none of their people Should go fighting in

a years time because they Saw yt. ye. french were Crafty & deceitfull where=

by they think to gett possession of the house at Osweege, they hold

firm to the Covenant which our and their fathers have made

I found a french Smith in the Sinneke Castle with

his wife Children, and Servant who Sold goods there to your Indi=

=ans for Skins & peltry, your Indians Inquired of me if the Smith

from hence Should brings there to Supply there necessity, if he

Did not they would be Dispatchd about it,

The Sachims of the Sinnekes answerd me to what I

had told ym. in name of the Six Nations yt. they were much

Concernd to her the Maloncholy news of his late Majesty

they Rejoyed again to hear yt. his Son King George the

Second Sitts on the throne & hoped yt. his present Majesty

Might follow this fathers Steps for the welfare of the kingdoms

of great britain yt. the Might be as a tree which Reaches

to the heaven, & his branches may Spread over ye. whole Earth

that they might rest under the Shadow of those leaves, wh. they

hope my [render -crossed out] never fade or whether & yt. ye Roots there of

may go through ye. Earth, that no Storm or Tempest may

[Danmify]

 

[0419] 207a

Damnify the Same, & Expected in the Spring to Speak the

Gov.r touching this affair

The Sinneke Sachims Informd me

that the french of Canada keep a Continuall Correspondance

with Some people who live on the [french – crossed out] Susquahana river

a little above Casastoqu a french Interpreter from montreal

had been there last year by the way of a Small River wh.

vents into the Cadaraghqus Lake above the falls of Jagara &

the head of that river by a Carrying place till thay meet

with water Carryage & So Down the Szxquehanna River to

the Setlement where some french live who are much Disaf=

=fected to ye. British Interest

That the Said french Interpre=

=ter has Usd his Endevours with the Schawenos Indians

to have them Removed if they love their loves a from ye. place

Near Niagara

That Jean Coeur the french Interpreter had

been gone from the Sinneke Castle Called two days before I came to

Canosade ye. Chapitall of ye Sinnekes he Informd ye. Indians yt. he had a

Great Store of goods in the house at Jagara & Invited ym. to trade with ym

there he had formerly given Strouds at 8 bever Skins a blanket but

none he would Sell it at three a Choice french blanket at

the Same price a fine french gune at £7÷÷ Ketles &

powder their wt. in bever a fine men Shirt as appear fine

Ratine Stockings At 1 1/4 bever, 4 french potts pure brandy

at 1 bever he had Sent for a Cooper to make keggs who Exp.d daly,

The Sinneke Sachims who have made lately in Canada to

Condoke [Condole] ye Death of Mons.r V: Veaudreul where returnd home

who had told the Gov.r of Canada yt. they English & french were

very Jealous of one another about their buildings at Osweege

& Jagara they desird him yt. there might be no Disturbance

in the Country nor blood Shed about it for if they Say it

Might Resence if but if these places Credits any disturbance

they might decide it at Sea whereon this gave a belt of Wampum

 

[0420] 208

The Gov.r of Canada took up Sd. belt and again De=

=sireing ye. Said Indians to tell ye. Govern.r of New York to

remove yt. ye. house [abt.?] Osweege further up the River from

the lake wh. has been for many years past ye. passage for

his trade is to ye. far Indians

On the Second October I went from ye Sinnekes Country

& Arrivd on Onnondage on the 4th. D.o who gave me an An=

=swer to my former Speech & told me they were Convined of

his Excel.cy Good Intention for their welfare yt. they would

all Stay at home & go hunting those who were gone fighting

where home but Desird to have a Smith them as soon as

May be, further I found all the ye. [sic] Indians of the Six

Nations at home none were gone fighting, most of ym. are

on their hunting

That the Deputed Sachims of Onnondage were

Sett out on ye 3d. Instant to Canada with a message to ye.

Indians liveing there to that they do not at any time

Assist the french to Attack the house at Osweege

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About hopefulwanderer

Writer, researcher, archivist, etc. @ahhunter
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