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

 

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Minute Book 3: 1725-June

The French Still Plan to Build Fort at Niagara

On June 5th the commissioners wrote to the governor explaining that they had sent Laurence Claessen and two smiths to Onondaga. They added that David Van Dyck had resigned as commissioner, as Johannes Bleecker had done the previous November. A few days later, on June 11th, Claessen returned and gave an account of his journey.

Claessen arrived at Onondaga on May 27th to find the sachims of the Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Cayougas, and Senecas and Onondagas who had recently met with “Mons. Longueil, Lieut. Gov.r of Canada,” (Charles Le Moyne, Baron de Longueuil).

Claessen gave them seven strings of wampum, the agreed upon protocol that confirmed an official message. He told them that Governor Burnet (William Burnet, Governor of New York and New Jersey) had sent him to say that he could not comply with their request to meet, but that he would meet them the following year. They were happy to hear that Burnet only planned to build a trading house at Oswego, not a fort, and said they had nothing against building a house. They also thanked the governor for sending the smiths and promised to make them very welcome. They told Claessen that Longueuil had been at Onondaga until May 25th, two days before Claessen arrived. The records include what purports to be Longueuil’s speech at Onondaga.

Addressing the Haudenosaunee as “Children,” according to French custom, Longueuil said that he had been ordered to come there by the governor. He performed the customary condolence ceremony and gave a large belt of wampum, adding additional belts for each point in his speech. He said he had heard that the Six Nations were “jealous” of the French and expressed the hope that the bad feelings generated by the previous war between them were over and forgotten, since France and England were now at peace. He urged them to forget old differences and promised to “Imprint in the memory of our Children to observe the treaties of Peace & friendship” between them, so that it would live on even when “we aged Men” were dead and gone.

Longueuil confirmed that he was going to Tierondequoit (Irondequoit at the site of present day Rochester) and then to Seneca Country and Niagara, where he planned to build a strong trading house and sell goods more cheaply than before to the Six Nations as well as the nations beyond them. He also planned to build two ships to bring goods there.

Some Albany Traders Agree Not to Trade With the French

On June 11th the commissioners continued to attempt to enforce Governor Burnet’s prohibition against selling Indian goods to the French by resolving to direct the sheriff to issue summonses to a number of traders including John Schuyler, Stephanis Groesbeck, Nicholas Bleecker, Cornelis Cuyler, Hans Hansen, Edward Collins, David Schuyler Jr., Johannes Roseboom and Gerrit Roseboom Jr. They were directed to appear and take the oath against trading Indian goods with the French as required by the Act of 1720. All of them all except John Schuyler and Gerrit Roseboom Jr. appeared and took the oath. So did Jacob Verplanck. It is unclear whether “John Schuyler” refers to Colonel Johannes Schuyler or his son Johannes Schuyler, Jr.

The Jenondadies (Petun) Come to Trade

On June 19th, some “far Indians” came to trade, a group of “Jenondadies”  (Tionondati or Petun) who lived near the French fort at Detroit. Their leader Schaojiese thanked the commissioners for inviting them to come to Albany to trade and asked that the path be kept clear for them. They condoled Colonel Peter Schuyler and Hendrick Hanson, who had both died in February 1724, and requested “that their Eldest Sons may be accepted in their places that the tree may grow under w.h all ye upper nations may Shelter themselves.” They also said they were “great Lovers of Liquor” and asked for good Rum, not watered down.

The commissioners thanked them for coming and for their condolences and assured them that goods would be cheap. They promised to do what they could to prevent traders from watering down rum. They appeared taken aback by the request to appoint the eldest sons of Schuyler and Hansen in their place. They explained that the choice was in the hands of the governor. They assured the Tionontaties that the tree of peace and friendship would grow as strong as ever and the upper nations would be welcome to take Shelter under it.

The Twightwighs (Miamis) Send Joseph Montour and his Cousin Maconte as Messengers

Two members of the Montour family, who had married into the Twightwigh (Miami) nation and lived among them, met with the commissioners, Jean Fafar alias Maconte, was the nephew of Louis Montour, killed by the French in 1709 for encouraging far nations to trade with the English, and Joseph Montour, Louis’s son.  They brought a message from a group of Twightwigh (Miami) who had sent nine canoes to trade but were stopped at the falls of Oneida by the people who lived there. The reference appears to be to European traders, probably English subjects, because if they were French, the commissioners would have noted it. Possibly Abraham Schuyler and his party were trading while stationed with the Iroquois to reassure them about the expanding English presence in their country.

The Miami wanted to come renew their treaties and wondered why they had been stopped. Maconte and Joseph gave some dressed deerskins and a calumet pipe to the commissioners. The commissioners thanked them, but did not show much sympathy for the Miami. They expressed surprise that they had not come to Albany, since they had joined themselved in the Covenant Chain. They should not have allowed the people at Oneida falls to persuade them to trade there instead of at Albany, where goods were cheaper. They asked the Miami not to listen to such people in the future. They gave the Montour cousins some rum and blankets for the Miami sachems.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, June 1725 starts here.

 

 

Minute Book 3: 1725-April

 

The Six Nations Don’t Want a French-English War in Iroquoia

On April 11th, a delegation from Onondaga, Cayouga, and the Tuscaroras came to Albany on behalf of the Six Nations as a whole. They told the commissioners that Governor Vaudreuil had sent a message to Jean Coeur (Louis-Thomas Chabert de Joncaire) in Seneca Country telling him that someone from New England had revealed Governor Burnet’s plan for a trading house at the mouth of the Onondaga River (Oswego). Governor Vaudreuil described his own plans to build a fort at Niagara and ships to sail Cadarachqui (Lake Ontario) as well as his intention to destroy the English house at Oswego.

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.

The delegates said that the Six Nations reminded Jean Coeur that the French and the Haudenosaunee had recently fought a bitter war that ended with an agreement not to make war over frivolous things such as “Beavers and furrs.” If the French destroyed the English trading house and built the proposed ships and fort, it could mean war. They urged the French to live in peace with the English. They did not want blood shed in their country.

They begged their brother Corlaer (New York) to listen to this message too.  The French and the English should “live like friends together,”  neither becoming the first aggressor.  The delegates said they would take particular note of whether Corlaer followed this advice, in support of which the sachims had sent a large belt of wampum. They had sent a belt to the French with the same message. They wanted Governor Burnet to meet them at the beginning of June to renew the covenant and discuss important matters.

The commissioners responded that they were surprised that the Six Nations would allow the French to impose on them in such a way, at which point the page ends.  The remainder of their answer is missing.

(I have edited this post to remove the sections relating to French forts, Abraham Schuyler’s assignment, and problems at Tiononderogue. The records begin to get out of order here, and I made a mistake in the dates of the entries relating to these issues, which date from 1726, not 1725. Apologies to my readers!)

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, April 1725 starts here .

Minute Book 3: 1725-March

A Conference With Kahnawake, Schawenadie, the Kaniengeha’ka, and Albany

On March 13 the commissioners met with five leaders from Kahnawake (spelled Cachnawage in the records) and Kahnawake’s ally Schawenadie, in this case spelled Scanrinadie. (My best guess is that Schawenadie is the Iroquois name for the community that gradually relocated in the early 18th century from the Island of Montreal to Lac des Deux Montagnes on the Ottawa River nearby, becoming known as Kanesetake.) Some Kaniengeha’ka (Mohawk) leaders were also present. The record of this conference is a good example of the ongoing diplomacy between Iroquois communities in the Saint Lawrence Valley, the Six Nations, New France, and Albany that was conducted outside the initiatives of English governors. It also shows how events in Dummer’s War looked from a native perspective and confirms that Burnet was wrong when he accused the Albany traders of manipulating the Six Nations into objecting to Burnet’s plans for a trading house at Oswego. In reality those objections reflected the Six Nations’ valid concerns about the situation, concerns that Albany shared. The conference is omitted from Peter Wraxall’s  Abridgement except for a brief reference to the information provided about French plans. I have not found that it is printed anywhere else.

The Iroquois Object to Shifting the Fur Trade to Oswego

The speaker was Ondatsagto (possibly the Oneida leader Ondatsighta).  The minutes say he spoke for Cachnawage and Schawendie, although he seemed at times to speak for the Haudenosaunee as a whole. He began by saying that he was glad that some of the Maquas (Kaniengeha’ka or Mohawk) sachems were present. After explaining that “we are but youngsters, our ancestors understood affairs better than we,” he said that they would speak plainly. The ancient friendship among the parties was declining as though they were no longer brothers. They came to rekindle the fire at Albany, long established as the place to treat about matters of public concern.

Ondatsagto went on to explain that Kahnawake had six sachims, two of whom had been made “children” of Albany who were responsible for telling the commissioners if there was a threat to them. One of them had died and the commissioners had appointed someone to take his place. He was now present and would convey important information.

Ondatsagto next referred to the treaty conference held the previous year with Governor Burnet. New York had asked the Iroquois to persuade the Eastern Indians to end their war with New England. Ondatsagto said that the Iroquois had tried to end the war, but their efforts were undermined by the news that New England had taken an Eastern Indian town. This news made the Iroquois ambassadors ashamed. The Eastern Indians accused them of being spies because they remained at peace with New England while it subjected the Eastern Indians to a bloody war. Ondatsagto reproached the commissioners with not keeping their promise to write to the governor of New England to ask him to stop his people from attacking the Eastern Indians.

Next Ondatsagto said that D Cannihogo, the Kahnawake leader appointed to maintain ties between New York and Kahnawake, now had news for them. Kahnawake had learned that at the treaty the previous year, Governor Burnet insisted on his plans to build a trading house at the mouth of the Onnondaga River (Oswego) over the objections of the Six Nations, who wanted it to be located at the west end of Oneida Lake. But there were serious problems with Burnet’s desired location. It was already in use by the French to travel from Montreal to the “far nations” beyond Iroquoia, and was first possessed by them. The Governor of Canada would undoubtedly destroy any English trading house built at that location, which could trigger a conflict between the French and the English.  Ondatsagto advised the commissioners to keep the trade at Albany. They would get more beaver that way, and the French might be persuaded not to build their proposed fort at Niagara. On this proposition he gave a large belt of black wampum. The recorder first wrote and then crossed out that if the English insisted on their location a war would ensue and destroy the beaver trade.

Ondatsagto reminded the commissioners that the Onondagas had accepted Monsr. De Longueuil, the Governor of Montreal, as their child and allowed him to build a house at Onondaga. Pieter Schuyler then tore the building down, claiming that its construction was a breach of the Covenant Chain. The French could be expected to destroy Governor Burnet’s proposed building at Oswego for the same reason.

The “French Indians,” that is the people from Kahnawake and Schawenadie, then addressed the Mohawks and said their ancestors all lived in one country as one people, but now everyone had gone where they pleased and it was their lot to settle in Canada. They acknowledged a belt sent to them by the Mohawks asking them to keep the Covenant Chain, promised to do so, and said they expected the same on the Mohawks’ part.

The pages of the minutes are out of order at this point and it is possible that some material has been lost.

The Commissioners Response: England Claims the Six Nations as Subjects

Three days later the commisioners responded. They thanked the Sachims for speaking clearly and clearing up “the mistake that happen’d.” It is not clear exactly what they meant. They expressed appreciation that the other Sachims had come with DCannihogo to tell them about the French plans. They renewed the Covenant Chain, assuring all present of their continued friendship, and gave a belt of Wampum.

Then they explained the trading house situation from England’s point of view. They claimed that Pieter Schuyler destroyed the French trading house at Onondaga because Onondaga was on “Land belonging to the five Nations who are Subjects to the King of Great Britain.” The same logic allowed the English to build their house at Oswego on “Land belonging to the English.” The French would not dare to break it down because the two crowns were at peace. They said they would give Governor Burnet the information about the French plans and gave another belt of wampum. If Ondatsagto responded to the commissioners’ claim that the Six Nations were English subjects and England owned the land in their country, his answer is not recorded.

The commissioners said they did not remember promising to write to New England to ask them to end hostilities and they could not do such a thing while the Eastern Indians continued to kill New England settlers. They asked D Cannihogo to continue bringing information.

D Cannihogo said again that the French intended to break down the proposed trading house at Oswego. He added that the Governor of Canada planned to build two ships at Cadaraqui (the location of present day Kingston, Ontario) to be used in transporting furs from Niagara to Montreal, another ship above Niagara Falls to bring furs there, and a strong fort at Niagara itself.

The Commissioners Ask the Governor to Work Directly With the Senecas

The commissioners passed this information on to Governor Burnet in a letter, enclosing a copy of the minutes of the meeting. They asked the governor to give the Senecas presents in order to persuade them not to allow the French to execute their plans for a fort and repeated their suggestion to make an English settlement at Irondequoit (present day Rochester, NY) in order to counter the influence of the French. Significantly, they did not offer to negotiate with the Senecas themselves, a sign of the ongoing tensions between them and Governor Burnet. At the treaty conference the previous year, when the Six Nations objected to Burnet’s proposed location for a trading house, he accused them of being manipulated by Albany traders. Now the commissioners seemed to be trying to put the burden of dealing with the situation back on him.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, March 1725 starts here and then jumps to here.

Minute Book 3: 1724-September

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, September 1724 starts here

Most of the minutes for September cover a treaty conference with New York Governor William Burnet, the Six Nations, and the Schaghticokes that was held in Albany beginning on September 14th. They are printed in O’Callaghan’s Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, volume 5, beginning on page 713. I have not transcribed them because O’Callaghan’s version is essentially identical, but will briefly summarize them here.

On September 14th, Governor Burnet held a private conference with the Six Nations, New York Council member Francis Harrison, and Massachusetts Bay Council member John Stoddard. They discussed what had happened between the Six Nations messengers sent to bring the Eastern Indians to a peace treaty at Boston and the Eastern Indians (Abenaki) at the mission town of St. Francis.

The messengers said that they went first to Montreal and met with the Governor, who wanted to hold the meeting at Montreal so that he could be there. The messengers agreed in order to get an interpreter. While waiting for the St. Francis Indians, they went to Caughnawaga (Kahnawake) until the St. Francis delegates arrived. They invited the St. Francis sachems to come to Albany to talk about peace, but they replied that they could not lay down the hatchet against New England, because New England had taken their land and still held their people prisoner. They said that they would make peace when New England restored the land and freed the prisoners. They suggested that the parties wishing to make peace should come to Montreal rather than Albany.

Governor Burnet reminded the messengers that the Six Nations had told Boston that they would take up arms against the Eastern Indians if they did not comply with their requests. They denied agreeing to this, despite all his efforts,  “they knew not of any promise or Engagement, only that they promised His Excellency to be mediators for Peace.”

The next day Governor Burnet welcomed the Six Nations in the name of King George and gave them wampum belts incorporating letters of the alphabet. 1724-9-15The meanings of many of these initials are somewhat obscure. He thanked them for opening the path for far nations to come trade at Albany, claiming that this meant that goods were now more plentiful for the Six Nations. (While this might have been the case for those in the west, it is questionable whether things were working out equally well for the Mohawks). He noted that he had also improved the passage at Wood Creek where goods were carried from the Mohawk River watershed to Oneida Lake and eventually Lake Ontario by way of the Onondaga River (now called the Oswego River), a bottleneck for trade to and from the west.

Governor Burnet also said that he was keeping a force of young men with the Senecas with a smith and a trading house and that he also planned to send some men to the Onondagas, where the main trade with the far nations would pass. They planned to build a block house at the mouth of the Onondaga River. (“Onondaga River” did not mean what is now called Onondaga Creek, but rather what is now called the Oswego River where it enters Lake Ontario at Oswego.) Burnet’s men planned to live there along with a smith so they could be good neighbors to the Six Nations “and live as comfortably among you as they do here at home.” He explained that this would bring the beaver trade into Iroquoia along with cheaper goods. Governor Burnet explained that to show how much he wanted their beavers, he was wearing clothes made of beaver cloth. He asked the Six Nations to keep the path open for the far nations and to welcome the New Yorkers living in Seneca country as well as those who would be coming to Onondaga to build the new blockhouse.

Next Governor Burnet reminded the Six Nations that they had said they would send messengers to the Eastern Indians and take appropriate measures if the Eastern Indians continued to fight against New England. He said their continued friendship depended on them keeping their word, but he would leave it to the deputies from Boston to discuss the details.

On September 16th, the Six Nations met with the Commissioners for Massachusetts Bay. Despite the decision of Massachusetts Bay not to print records relating to their war with the Abenaki, the minutes of this meeting made it to England. They were not included in the Albany Indian Commissioner record books, but they are printed in O’Callaghan’s Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, volume 5, beginning on page 723.  Massachusetts rehearsed the occasions on which the Six Nations had allegedly said they would take up arms against the Eastern Indians if they did not stop attacking New England and urged them to do so now that the Eastern Indians had refused to comply with all requests to stop fighting. The Six Nations said that they were still waiting for an answer to the belt of wampum which they had sent to King George in England. They reiterated the position of the Eastern Indians that they would not make peace until their land and hostages were returned. They said that because England and France were at peace, “this matter of Peace lieth with you.” The best way to move forward would be to for Boston to return its Indian captives.

“Tho the Hatchett lays by our side yet the way is open between this Place and Canada, and trade is free both going and coming and so the way is open between this place of Albany and the six Nations and if a War should break out and we should use the Hatchett that layes by our Side, those Paths which are now open wold be stopped, and if we should make war it would not end in a few days as yours doth but it must last till one nation or the other is destroyed as it has been heretofore with us.” The speaker blamed the Governor of Canada for pushing the Eastern Indians to keep fighting even though they were inclined to peace. They asked the Massachusetts commissioners to try themselves to make peace with the Eastern Indians, since the Six Nations’ efforts had not succeeded. They intended to remain at peace and were not forsaking their brothers.

The next day, on September 17th, the Six Nations renewed the Covenant Chain with New York and thanked the governor for providing a smith to the Senecas and Onondaga, for clearing the passage at Wood Creek and for encouraging the far Indians to come to trade. They agreed to the block house near Onondaga, but expressed concern about what the prices for goods would be. They asked that the proposed blockhouse be located at the end of Oneida Lake instead of at the mouth of the Onondaga River. They acknowledged having said that they would “resent it” if the Eastern Indians continued to attack New England, and agreed to speak to the Boston commissioners about it. The Senecas asked why Myndert Wemp, a smith who they found “good, kind, & charitable” had not returned after spending time there with Major Abraham Schuyler two years before.

Despite the decision of Massachusetts Bay not to print records relating to their war with the Abenaki, the minutes of the proceedings between the  Commissioners for Massachusetts Bay and the Six Nations on September 16th made it to England. They were not included in the Albany Indian Commissioner record books, but they are printed inO’Callaghan’s Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, volume 5, beginning on page 723.  Massachusetts rehearsed the occasions on which the Six Nations had allegedly said they would take up arms against the Eastern Indians if they did not stop attacking New England and urged them to do so now that the Eastern Indians had refused to comply with all requests. The Six Nations said that they were still waiting for an answer to the belt of wampum which they had sent to King George in England. (This belt is described in the record of the treaty conference at Boston in August 1723, which can be found on page 197 of volume 5 of the Massachusetts General Court, Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts 1723-1724.) The Six Nations explained the position of the Eastern Indians, who refused to make peace until their land and hostages were returned. They said that because England and France were at peace, “this matter of Peace lieth with you.” The best way to move forward would be to for Boston to return its Indian captives.

“Tho the Hatchett lays by our side yet the way is open between this Place and Canada, and trade is free both going and coming and so the way is open between this place of Albany and the six Nations and if a War should break out and we should use the Hatchett that layes by our Side, those Paths which are now open wold be stopped, and if we should make war it would not end in a few days as yours doth but it must last till one nation or the other is destroyed as it has been heretofore with us.” The speaker blamed the Governor of Canada for pushing the Eastern Indians to keep fighting even though they were inclined to peace. They asked the Massachusetts commissioners to try themselves to make peace with the Eastern Indians, since the Six Nations’ efforts had not succeeded. They intended to remain at peace and were not forsaking Massachusetts.

A few days later, on September 19th, Governor Burnet addressed the Six Nations again. Burnet’s tone was testy, even autocratic, and reveals the rifts still present between the British authorities and the Albany traders. Burnet told the sachems that the English blockhouse needed to be at the mouth of the Onondaga River in order to control the beaver trade, and that it must be the bad advice of the Albany traders that led the Six Nations to prefer the Oneida Lake location. He also blamed the traders for suggesting that goods should be as cheap at Onondaga as at Albany despite the additional work involved to bring them there from Albany, and for suggesting that Abraham Schuyler and Myndert Wemp return. He said that Albany was interfering in order to preserve its own trade with the French and asked the Six Nations not to consult the Albany traders in the future. He told them that he, not the Six Nations, would appoint his officers, that he would not appoint Abraham Schuyler because “he has taken a wrong way to get himself named,” and that he was sending Harme Vedder and Myndert Wemp’s brother to the Seneca instead of Schuyler and Mydert Wemp. (In the end, however, he appears to have sent Myndert Wemp after all.) He said that if he knew who had put these false notions into the minds of the Six Nations he would punish them.

Burnet said that the Six Nations had admitted to the Boston commissioners that they had agreed to support Boston against the Eastern Indians. He was not happy with their decision to wait for a response from the King of Great Britain before taking up arms. He claimed that the colonies were authorized by the king to make war with Indians on their own without the king’s consent. Burnet insisted that if the Six Nations were so “unworthy and cowardly” as to refuse to make war, they must at least allow their young men to enlist as soldiers in Boston’s army. He gave them what he described as “a very large Present” and wished them a safe journey home.

The Six nations sachems replied by D’Kannasore (Teganissorens) that since the governor did not approve of the location at Oneida Lake, they wished him “joy” where he proposed to make it and hoped it would bring many beavers. He thanked the governor for wishing them a good trip home, for many of their leaders had been lost on such journeys. He asked how many people planned to settle at the end of the Onnondaga river, to which the governor estimated 40 or 50. Teganissorens explained that he had been appointed as speaker by the Six Nations on the governor’s recommendation and that they had agreed to take his advice. He asked the governor whether he would also accept his advice, which the governor said he would do on matters of consequence.

Governor Burnet also met with the Schaghticoke sachems and complained that some of their people had been involved in attacks on New England. The Boston Commissioners at the meeting accused individuals from Schaghticoke named Schaschanaemp and Snaespank of injuring settlers on the frontiers, acknowledging that people at Schaghticoke had formerly lived “on our frontiers”. They were still welcome to hunt there “on the Branches of our Rivers” and considered friends who should not harbor New England’s enemies. The Schaghticokes admitted that Schaschanaemp and another person had come through Schaghticoke and had gone to the Half Moon and Saratoga. They said that the attacks might have been committed by people who had left Schaghticoke to live in Canada. In response to Governor Burnet’s question as to why so many people were moving from Schaghticoke to Canada, they said that one group had left because they heard that they were going to be attacked next by the Indians who were attacking New England, but they did not tell the rest of the Schaghticokes before they left. The governor accused the sachems of having no command over their people and reminded them that a Tree was planted by a former governor for them to live under (a metaphor for Governor Edmund Andros’s policy of sanctuary for refugees from New England).

The Schaghticokes said the tree was decaying, its leaves withering, and they had only a little land now to plant on. Some of them had gone hunting peacefully on the New England frontiers two years before, but were taken prisoner and put in jail in Boston. Jacob Wendell, an Albany trader who became a merchant in Boston, rescued them, but without him they would have been treated as enemies. Some of those who had been jailed had now gone to fight against New England to revenge themselves. The Boston commissioners said they were jailed by mistake because they were on Pennecook River where Boston’s enemies lived, but they were freed as soon as the mistake was discovered.

The Schaghticokes ended by renewing the covenant and affirming the Tree of Peace and Friendship planted at Schaghticoke. They would turn down requests to fight with the Eastern Indians against New England and follow the lead of the Six Nations. They, like the Six Nations, were waiting to hear King George’s response to the wampum belt message sent to him. Governor Burnet renewed the covenant and gave them gifts.

The Albany Indian Commissioners records for September 1724 include one document not printed in O’Callaghan, the record of a meeting on September 19th between the commissioners and Governor Burnet. Burnet changed the makeup of the commissioners by removing Johannes Wendell and restoring Robert Liviingston Junior. He arranged to pay back Jan Wemp and Jacob Glen for financing the work done at the Wood Creek carrying place by Major Goose Van Schaick and David Vanderheyden. He also arranged to get additional work done there to make a bridge over the creek and remove trees from the Mohawk River channel. He appointed Harme Vedder to go the Seneca Country and specified that he get the canoes used there by Jacob Verplank.  He also laid out other details about work to be done in Iroquoia. Myndert Wemp or Juriaen Hogan were preferred as smiths at Onondaga, and tools were to be provided there, although he said he would need to get the funding confirmed by the New York Council.

Last but not least, Governor Burnet said that he would not allow any more money for the interpreter’s travel expenses except if the governor ordered him to go. The interpreter, Lawrence Claessen, traveled to Iroquoia on a regular basis and these trips were important in diplomatic relations between New York and the Six Nations. Burnet was making it more difficult for the Albany Indian Commissioners to conduct their affairs. Clearly matters were still not resolved between the governor and the commissioners.

Minute Book 3: 1724-May

In Library and Archives Canada digital copy of the original minutes, May 1724 starts here

Two Seneca sachems, Canakadrichha and Sagonadayane, met with the commissioners on May 11 and added to what they had heard in February from Sconondo about the relations between the Six Nations, the “far Indians” and New France. They confirmed that Onondaga leaders had met with the French governor (Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil) and discussed their fears that western nations passing through the Six Nations on their way to Albany to trade might attack them. Governor Vaudreuil confirmed their fears and suggested that for their protection they should allow him to build two forts, one at “Jagara” (the present day Niagara River)

NiagaraFalls1751-Severance_FrenchFrontier
Niagara Falls, from Frank Severance, An Old Frontier of France, NY: Dodd, Mead, 1917, v. 1 p. 330.

and one at the mouth of the Onondaga River where it enters Cadaraghqua Lake (Lake Ontario in the vicinity of present day Oswego, where the English were also planning to build a fort.) The governor gave the Onondagas wampum belts to convey his request to the rest of the Six Nations.

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.

At a public meeting to consider whether to let New France build the proposed forts, the Six Nations decided to deny the request. They returned the belts to the French governor with a message that he should talk to Corlaer (the Iroquois name for the Governor of New York) and get “a proper answer” as to whether forts could be built at the proposed locations.  The Oneidas and Mohawks were not at the meeting, but later concurred in the decision. Nonetheless, the Seneca envoys had learned from reliable sources that Jean Coeur (Louis-Thomas Chabert de Joncaire, also known as Sononchiez) was planning to go to Niagara with 50 men to build the fort there. They also told the commissioners that the Seneca messengers sent to the far nations to invite them to come trade at Albany were expected back in a few days. They had conveyed the message, but did not know how many far nations would actually come to Albany. Messieur Tonty (Alphonse de Tonty, Baron de Paludy), the commander of the French fort at Le Detroit (Tuchsagrondie, the location of present day Detroit) had told them not to come. Canakadrichha and Sagonadayane asked the commissioners to send their own representatives to Seneca country to hear what the messengers had to say and to find out what Joncaire planned to do with his 50 men.

The commissioners thanked the Seneca sachems for refusing the French request to build forts. They said the forts were intended to prevent them from hunting and keep them poor so that eventually the French could “drive them into the sea.” They gave them gifts of blankets, clothing, and rum.

A few weeks later on May 29, messengers arrived from Kahnawake and Skawiennadie bringing seven hands of wampum to confirm what they had to say. They asked the commissioners to send messengers to the Six Nations to come to Albany to meet with representatives of their own nations and New England. New England had asked for the Albany meeting because Albany was the appointed place to meet about public affairs. The commissioners assured them that the path was open and that they were happy about the meeting. They informed them that “Some Gentlement from N England” were in town, probably sent for the purpose of talking to their sachems. They said that the New York Governor did not know about the meeting so they could not comply with the request to send their own messengers. However, it would be proper to let the New England representatives know about their message so that they could send for the Six Nations themselves. They offered to do what they could to bring the proposed treaty to a good conclusion.

 

Minute Book 3: 1724-February

In Library and Archives Canada digital copy of the original minutes, February 1724 starts here

On February 14th, the commissioners continued negotiations with the four nations in Canada that included Kahnawake, Rondax, Schawenadie, and Skightqan (Nippising).  On February 14, they met with a delegation led by a Kahnewake sachem whose name is spelled in various ways, including Sconondo, Schonondoe, Sconondoe, and other variations. Possibly this was the Oneida leader John Skenandoa, who died in 1816 and may have been born as early as 1704. It was not uncommon in the 18th century for people to move back and forth between Kahnawake and the communities in Oneida and Mohawk country further south. However, even if the 1704 date is correct, he would have been very young to be a sachem in 1724. The commissioners used the word “sachem” to refer to many different kinds of leaders, and judging by later developments, Sconondo was the leader of a small group of people who were trading or hunting when they came to Albany, but later went raiding against New England. If Sconondo is not John Skenandoa, perhaps he was an ancestor.

Sconondo told the commissioners that an Onondaga called the Great World had asked the French authorities about a rumor that the Ottowawas planned to attack the Six Nations. If Sconondo was referring to Ohonsiowanne, an Onondaga sachem who is documented for the period between 1699-1704, this would mean that Ohonsiowanne continued to exert influence for a much longer period than historians have realized.

Governor Vaudreuil  denied the rumor, but the Great World remained suspicious. He told the governor that he planned to prevent the Wagonhaes (Anishinaabeg) from coming to Albany. (The Odawa (Ottawawas) were included in the term Wagonhaes.) The Governor thanked the Great World (since France did not want western nations to trade at Albany), but advised him not to strike first. If the Wagonhaes attacked them, the Six Nations should ask the French for help. The French would then be mediators between the parties. Schonondoe asked the commissioners not to name him as the source of this information.

The commissioners asked Sconondo to bring wampum belt messages to Kannawake and the other three nations asking them to make peace with New England. They said that if the four nations did not stop fighting with the Eastern Indians against New England, the path between Albany and Canada might become completely blocked and it would be their own doing. They reminded the delegation that the Eastern Indians had been their enemies in the past and were not to be trusted.

The commissioners reproached Sconondo’s delegation with committing new assaults on New England even after agreeing to peace the previous summer, reminding them that England and France were at peace and could not approve of the subjects of either one being murdered. Sconondo said that he understood and would do his best to persuade Kahnawake and its allies to listen to the message. He said the Sachems of the four nations were planning to come to Albany early in the Spring and asked for assurance that they could travel safely, without fear of attack by New England’s forces. He asked that the Governor of New York speak to the Governor of Boston in order to guarantee their safe passage.

The next entry for February is a letter from the commissioners to New York Governor Burnet. It is obvious from their  letter that they were still in conflict with him. He had accused them of undermining New England’s efforts to recruit the Six Nations and their allies to fight on the side of New England in the ongoing conflict with the Abenaki known as Father Rale’s War. More specifically Governor Burnet believed that the commissioners had privately told the Six Nations not to allow their young men to accept New England’s call to arms. The commissioners denied this charge. They protested that they would be blamed if the Indians did not fight for New England, even if it was really because of pressure from the French or other reasons. They expressed doubts about the wisdom of  Governor Burnet’s suggestion to “break” the fort that the French were trying to build at Irondequoit Bay.

The commissioners explained that they had sent Lawrence Claessen to the Senecas to ask them to send messengers to invite the “far Indians” living beyond the Six Nations to come to Albany to trade. They also said that the Eastern Indians were trying to draw the Schaghticoke Indians away to fight with them, and asked for more fortifications to ensure the safety of the local farmers and remove their “pannick frights.” The commissioners asked for money to reimburse the costs of recovering an Indian captive, the “negroe boy” mentioned in the January minutes. They asked how the governor would like to send him back to his owner in Virginia. Finally they told the governor that Captain Verplank, who was stationed in Seneca country, had written them that many far Indians were coming to trade in the spring, although the French were sending a force out to stop them.

Pieter_Schuyler
The death of Pieter Schuyler marked the end of an era.  Representatives from many native nations honored him with condolence rituals over the following months. The image was downloaded from the New York State Museum web site via Wikipedia. According to the NYSM, it was painted by Nehemiah Partridge between 1710 and 1718 and is now in the collection of the City of Albany.

In a postscript the commissioners noted that two former commissioners had passed away that month.The trader Hendrick Hansen, who challenged the infamous sale of the Mohawk Valley tract to Godfridius Dellius, Pieter Schuyler, and others in 1697, died on February 17th. His rival Colonel Pieter Schuyler, the famous “Quider,” died the following day.

In the final entry for February, the commissioners noted that people from the government of Massachusetts or Connecticut were in Kinderhook trying to buy land in New York from the Indians illegally, without a license from the government. They resolved to issue a warrant to bring the offenders in to answer this charge.

There are no entries for Marcb or April.

Minute Book 3: 1724-January

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, January 1724 starts here

DeLeryMap_Severance_OldFrontier
The pace of competition between France and England was heating up as both attempted to build new forts at strategic locations on the routes into the interior. The image is from Frank Severance, An Old Frontier of France, NY: Dodd Mead, 1917, v. 1 p.236

As 1724 began, the struggle between England and France for trade and a military presence in the North American interior continued in full force even though technically they were at peace. Both imperial powers were pressuring the Six Nations and the many nations to the west, south, and north of them for exclusive trade agreements. English and French diplomats and military commanders came into conflict with each other as they attempted to get permission from the Six Nations and other native people to build trading centers and forts around the Great Lakes.

In the meantime, the war between New England and the Eastern Indians (primarily the Abenaki Confederacy) continued.

Laurence Claessen returned from a trip to the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee), where the commissioners had sent him in November 1723, and gave them an account of what had transpired. His first order of business was to ask the Seneca to take wampum belts to the “far nations” to the west of Iroquoia to encourage them not to listen to the French government in Canada.  The commissioners believed that the French were encouraging the far nations to join the Eastern Indians in their war against New England (Father Rale’s War), thus preventing them from trading with Albany.

The Six Nations met and considered this proposal for several days before telling Lawrence that they agreed that the French would do everything possible to prevent a direct trade between the far Indians and New York. The Six Nations feared that the Governor of Canada was planning to incite the far Indians to attack the Haudenosaunee, and for that reason the Seneca had stayed home. Finally three Seneca sachems agreed to take the commissioners’ belts to the far nations and added six belts of their own, explaining that they needed additional belts to cover all the different nations that needed to get the message.

The Seneca said they would come to Albany the following Spring with a large number of the far Indians and would meet Captain Jacob Verplank at the Lake, as the Governor of New York had requested. “The Lake” probably means Lake Ontario near Irondequoit Bay, where a contingent of Dutch traders had been living among the Seneca. They also explained that Jean Coeur (Louis Thomas Chabert de Joncaire) planned to build a fort and trading house at Irondequoit the following Spring with the Six Nations consent.

The commissioners conveyed this information to New York Governor Burnet in a letter. They added that they had retrieved a “negroe boy” from a “ffrench Indian” who had taken the boy from “Captain Hicks,” probably Captain Robert Hicks, a Virginia trader who commanded Fort Christianna, Governor Alexander Spotswood’s project to educate (and control) the Saponi and other indigenous nations.