Minute Book 3: 1728-March: Mohawk Leaders Ask About Missing Kahnawake Hunters and Bring News of French Plans to Attack Oswego; The Six Nations Complain About Insults and High Prices at Oswego; The Garrison Needs Food

News from Mohawk Country

The Mohawk leaders Hendrick and Seth met with the Commissioners of Indian Affairs on March third. They said that two “Onnogonque indians” who had moved from Canada to live with the Haudenosaunee at Oriskany had come to a Mohawk castle (i.e. town) from hunting at the little falls on Wood Creek with other Canada Indians.  Two Kahnawake Indians had inquired about the three hunters from Kahnawake who had disappeared on the New England frontier.  Hendrick and Seth asked their “brethren at Albany” for news about the missing hunters, but the commissioners’ response is not recorded.

Hendrick and Seth also said that the Kahnawake Indians told the Mohawks that an army of a thousand Frenchmen were marching on Oswego.  The Mohawks immediately sent a messenger with wampum to inform the rest of the Six Nations.  They acknowledged the English advice to the Six Nations the previous summer urging them to keep their men at home to defend Oswego rather than allowing them to go to war elsewhere.

The English Won’t Let Indians Inside Fort Oswego and Powder is Too Expensive

On March 14th, an unnamed leader from Oneida complained to the commissioners about the situation at Oswego. He spoke in the name of the entire Six Nations. There may have been other Six Nations representatives present, since the commissioners responded using the term “Brethren.”

The speaker began by reminding the commissioners that the Six Nations had agreed to the trading house at Oswego because it was supposed to be for their benefit as well as that of the English.  Now the English at Oswego were preventing people from the Six Nations from coming into the house to warm themselves, or if “any one Obtains that liberty before he can be half warm he is out Doors.” Moreover the Six Nations had expected goods to become cheaper, but instead powder had become more expensive. The speaker pointed out that cheap goods would draw “waganhoes & far Indians” to trade with the English rather than the French. He also reprimanded the commissioners because Oswego was supposed to be “a house of peace” but the English were still at odds with the Governor of Canada much of the time. He presented seven hands of wampum and asked again for cheaper powder and lead as well as a quick response.

The commissioners said they were sorry that the new building was not providing “Such releave as was first Intended by our Gov.r” in the form of cheap power, lead, and other goods.  They said the men at Oswego had not brought enough powder and that they would tell the governor and obtain a “Speedy & Acceptable answer.” They assured the speaker that the governor wanted to provide cheap goods to encourage trade. The rest of their response contains some contradictions and it would be interesting to know what the Oneida speaker thought about them, but nothing is recorded about it. The commissioners blamed the rude reception for Indians at the Oswego trade house on the commander there and on the report that the French were threatening to attack it. At the same time they insisted that there was a “firm peace” between the crowns of France and England.  Despite the firm peace, they cautioned the Six Nations against joining the French war against the “foxes a Nation of Indians Liveing on a breach [branch] of the Mississippi” on the grounds that the French wanted the Six Nations to fight the Fox in order to weaken the Six Nations and prevent trade with the English.

The French were fighting a devastating war with the Fox  (Meskwaki) during this period. Apparently some of the Meskwaki had joined the Six Nations, since the commissioners added that “part of the Same indians are now liveing among you” so the Six Nations should be able to make peace with the rest.

Food, Arms, and Powder for Oswego

Several entries in March deal once again with getting supplies to the garrison at Oswego, which was running low on peas and wheat. One of the commissioners, Philip Livingston, put up the money to provide these goods, which required repairing batoes at Schenectady, fitting them with tarpaulins to keep off the rain, and hiring four men to convey them to the Oneida Carrying Place. Captain Nicolls, the commander at Oswego, would send his men to the carrying place and take the supplies the rest of the way to the fort.  Another commissioner, Harmanus Wendell, put up the money to pay Jacobus Peek for a batoe load of peas.

"Poling a Batteau," as depicted by an unknown artist, probably in the 1880s.

“Poling A Batteau,” from p. 423 of A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times, by Jonathan Pearson. Albany: Munsell, 1883. Artist and date unknown.                           Much of the food for the Oswego garrison was sent there from Schenectady by batteau. According to Pearson, batteaus could be either paddled, poled, or towed by workers walking along the riverbank or through the shallows.

 

Governor Burnet informed the commissioners that he was sending pork for the garrison as well as orders that anyone who wanted a license to go there should be required to carry arms and powder.  A somewhat confused entry in the records appears to say that the commissioners asked the interpreter at Schenechtady to hire a “trusty Indian” to take a letter to Oswego to convey orders from Colonel Rensselaer (possibly Hendrick Van Rensselaer, who was also a commissioner) to Captain Nicolls that men going to Oswego should take arms and ammunition with them.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the first entry for March starts here on p. 213. The transcription is below.

[0430] 213

At a Meeting of the Com.es of the Indian

Affairs in Albany the 3.d March 1727/8

[Another copy, substantially the same, can be found on p. 174a.]

Present

Philip Livingston

Myndert Schuyler

Evert Banker

Peter V.n Brugh

Rutger Bleecker

Langerter [Lancaster] Symes

Stephanus Groesbeeck

Nicolaes Bleecker

Hendrick & Seth two Sachims of the mohawks Indians

being arrived here inform that board that 2 Onnogonque indians

who are Removd from Canada to live among the 5 Nations ovis=

=kanie [p. 174a says “at Oriskany] Come to their Castle [blank space] days ago from the little falls

on the wood Creek where they had been on hunting there

with Severall other Canada Indians Say that two Cachnawage

Indians came there in 8 Days from that Castle to inquire of

their brethren at Albany about three Indians who were on

hunting on the fronteers of N. England that are missing wt. is become of ym.

The said Cachnawage indians also Said that an armey of [a]

thousand french men were Actually gone on their march against

the building at Osweege on which we Sent an Express with Seven

hands of wampum to go past day & Night to Inform the rest of the

nations with the french design & Intention & Suppose by this time

it is Reachd as far as the Sinnekes Country you have last Summer

advicd ye. Six Nations not to admit their men to go to war but to

keep them at home for the fear that the french Should make

any attempts against Osweege or the Indians which we have

Observed & taken notice of, & order them only to go hunting near

home to be ready to defend on any Surprise,

[0431] 213a

At a Meeting of the Com.es of Indian

Affairs in Albany this 14th day of March

1727/8 Speech made by an oneyde Sachim

Present

Ph: Livingston

Henry Holland

Myndert Schuyler

Langester Symes

Stephanus Groesbeeck

Harmanus Wendle                              Brother Corlaer & quieder

I Speak in the name of the Six Nations its not that

I that have Contrive what I am to Say but its Concluded by

all the nations what I Shall now Say, you have last Summer

desird to build a house at Osweege, and you Said at the

Same time that that house Should be to your & our Advan=

=tage whereon we Considered & did Concent the building

of the Same house but we [Con -crossed out] find it on the Contrary

that its not to our Advantage for we have not the liberty

when we Come there to Enter into the house to warm our Selves

If they of any one Obtains that liberty before he Can be half

warm he is out Doors, we had also thought at the Same

that we Should have had goods cheaper then formerly but

find it the Contrary for the powder is Sold us there by the

Gill therefore Brother Corlaer & quieder we desire that we

May have powder Cheaper there

Brother the reason we desire that Goods may be Sold

us Cheaper is that thereby you will Incourage all the wa=

=ganhoes & far Indians to Come & trade with you & leave the

french at Canada; we Cant much Complain about the

price of Dry goods but only the powder & lead you sell too

dear you Said also when you desird liberty to build the house

that it Should be a house of peace but it Seems often to be

the reverse as we Suppose that you & Gov.r of Canada cant

often agree on the Subject and then there is again again

a time that you maintain a great frindship together,

Brother we desire that you will be pleased to give

us a Speedy answer on the Subject that you will give us

powder & lead Cheaper then you do now because it has

often happend that we have Desird or proposed a matter

we never Rec.d any answer thereon gave a String of 7 hands

of Wampum

Answer

[0432] 214

Answer

Brethren

We are Sorry to her that you are Concernd

and afflected that the building at Osweege does not give you

Such releave as was first Intended by our Gov.r to Supply you

with powder & lead & other Necessaries for your use & Convi=

=ence that the Camidities are not Sold you there So Cheap as

you would have them we Shall not faile to Inform our Gov.r

with your request that you may have a Speedy & Acceptable

answer we have no rum [room] to doubt but proper Care will be

taken of Redress for you that powder & lead shall be

Offerd you there Cheaper as has been Sold last winter

it Seems that the men there have not taken Care to Carry

with them Such a Supply as has been necessary for you & that

you have not been well Rec.d at the house is to be im=

=ted & that [Our] are not known to the Commander there

is a report that the french will take it by thretetoun

Otherwise would be rec.d with [Ceivality] its our Gov.es Chief aim

to Induce the far Indians to Come & trade with the people

of this province & you & he knows ye. greatest motive to draw

them is to give them goods Cheap Which you must acknow=

=ledge are Sold at [ye] very Low rate to Recommend you to

give all the Incouragemt. in your power & free trade is

advantagous to us & you for the more trade we have the

Greater quantity of goods we have to Supply Such trade as

it is a firm peace between the two Crowns of Great brit=

=tain & france So we & the french of Canada who are Sub=

=jects must as long as Continues in frindship & good Continuence

together wherefore we dont think that they will molest

us In the peaceable possession of the house at Osweege if they

Should they break the peace they Cant never Justify Such a vaile

Accout for pretending a right to your land we must needs give

you a Certain not to joyn the french in their pretending war

against the foxes a Nation of Indians Liveing on a breach

of the River of Mississipi, with an Intend to Subdue ym.

for that only Strengthten the french make them proud and

is drawing you from your habitations & bringing a war on

you

[0433] 214a

You while you Can Live at peace for part of the Same

indians are now liveing among you do reather go on hun=

=ting & because your wives & Children we suppose its more

its more to Stop the trade to us then to Subdue them

Whereas the Garryson at Osweege by the last advice

from Capt. Nicolls will Soon be in want of pease & wheat

meal Wherefore its resolvd that two batoes be Repaird at

Schinechtady four men hird there one hundred Skiple

pease & 100 Sheple wheat meal he [be] brought & 100 bags be

made to put them in to bring it up to the Onneyde Carrying

place to deliver it to the men which Capt. Nicolls is to

Send to receive that there all which Philip Livingston

offers to provide & Stand Securety for & for the Charges which

may come thereon wh. the Com.es do resolve & Imagine Shall

be paid & Riembarzd unto ye Sd. Philip Livingston on order

out of the next Com.es Messy if the Next Assembly do not

provide & pay for the same

Att a Meeting of the Com.es of Indian

Affairs in albany ye 19th March 1727/8

Present

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

Myndert Schuyler

Peter Vn. Brugh

Hend.k Vn. Renselaer

Langester Symes

Rutger Bleecker

Stepha: Groesbeek

Nicolaes Bleecker

Phil: Schuyler             This Day Recd. a Letter from his Ex.cy

Gov.r Burnet Esq.r Dated the 19 feb. wherein he men=

=tions to have Rec.d ours of the 14 D.o that he will Send

up pork by the return of the Sloops to Send an Express

with a letter for Capt. Nicolls at Osweege & that wh.

any desires lycences to go up there be Requird to de=

=mand  from them by his Exce.cys order to Carry arms &

powder. Every one as last year which the Com.es desird Colonel

Renselaer to Order the Capt. of Regimts. to warm [warn] their

Men yt. go up to take arms & amination with them to Swege

Resolvd that his Excel.cy  for Capt. Nicolls best

the Interpreter at Schinechtady) Inclosed in a [letter – crossed out]

letter to Direct him to hire a trusty Indian to Carry the Sd.

letter Express to Osweege with all Convenient Speed —

[0434] 215

Albany the 21 March 1727/8

May it please your Exc.y

We are honourd with your Excel.cy fav=

=vours of the 29th feb.y whereby perceive that your Ex.cy

will take care to Send up pork by the return of

the Sloops, we are about to hire men to Send for Capt.

Nicolls ( As soon as the River is Navigable & free

from Ice with hundred Sheple pease & 100 wheat

Meal the last from the Carrying place to the Carry=

=ing place where we writ him an Express your Ex.cy di=

=rected us to send to Osweege with the [pack] to Send batoes

to the wood Creek to receive those provisions as soon as the

whether will permit,

We suppose the best & Sevelt way to provide provi=

=sions for the Garryson at Osweege will be to Send thither in

may for 12 Moths wh. would Safe much trouble & more Cost &

Charges these are but four batoes Safe & free from rain will

be Requird to have Six Tarpellins made of Course Duck,

Inclosed Send your Excel.y Capt. Nicolls last letter

whereby your Ex.cy will see in what Condition ye. garryson

at [yt. time] & how necessary its to Send them [more illeg. – crossed out]

pease & Meal In wh. no time, we have nothing more wor=

=thy your Excel.cy Notice a psent wherefore Conclude

with that we are with great Esteem & Respect

Philip Livingston        Hend.r Vn. Renselaer

Henry Holland            Rutger Bleeker

Myndert Schuyler       Stephanus Groesbeek

Evert Banker               Har: Wendle

Peter Vn. Brugh          Nicolaes Bleecker

[0435] 215a

Att A meeting of the Comm.es of ye

Indian Affairs in Albany the 27th

March 1727/8

Present

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

Myn: Schuyler

Har: Wendle

Ryer Gerritse

Nicolaes Bleker

Mr. Harmanus Wendle Engages to pay

Jacobus Peek for such quantity of pease as the 3

man who go up to the Carrying place can load a batoe wh.

the Com.es promise shall be paid unto him at the first Com.es

Messy if it be not otherwise paid for by the next Assem=

bly

[There are no entries for April 1728]

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About hopefulwanderer

Writer, researcher, archivist, etc. @ahhunter
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