Minute Book 3: 1727-September: The Six Nations Will Defend Oswego From Attacks by Native Nations; Problems Continue At the New Fort

The Schuyler brothers (Peter and Philip) returned from Onondaga with Laurence Claessen on September 2d and reported on the meeting there. The Commissioners of Indian Affairs enclosed the report in a letter to Governor Burnet in which they said the trip had met with success, but there is no copy of the report itself in the records.  The commissioners immediately sent Laurence back to tell the Six Nations that George II had succeeded George I as King of Great Britain.  He was also instructed to prevent the Onondagas from going to war against the Flatheads by telling them that the French were encouraging it in order to get them out of the way and then destroy them. Claessen was also told to encourage the Onondagas to defend Fort Oswego if anyone attacked it and to learn what messages the French had been sending the Six Nations.  Guysbert Van Brakel Junior went with Laurence at the commissioners’ expence.

On September 13th, the commissioners met with the Onondaga sachim Teganissorens (written here as D’ Kannasorie) and a Cayuga sachim named Ondariagen, who brought information backed by seven bands of wampum that “a nation Called the Jenontadies who live at le detroit,” (the Tionontaties or Petun) had concluded a peace with the “Waganhoes,” the Iroquois term for Anishinaabeg peoples. The Waganhoes promised to maintain the alliance they had made with New York and the Six Nations and turn down any requests by the Governor of Canada to take up the hatchet against them.

The record of this meeting reveals what happened when the Schuyler brothers went to Onondaga. The Six Nations agreed to send messengers to “the Indians liveing at & near Canada” to tell them that the Six Nations had decided to defend Fort Oswego if any Indian nation attacked it, but the English and the French would have to fight it out on their own if a conflict broke out between them.  Teganissorens said that the messengers were about to set out when he left home. The commissioners told them about the death of King George I and the succession of King George II, Laurence’s mission to stop the excursion against the Flatheads, and recent letters exchanged between the governors of Canada and New York.

The commissioners posted three Indians (not named) to Lake St. Sacrement (Champlain) to find out what the news was from Canada. As they wrote to the governor, it made them uneasy that no Indians from Canada had been to Albany, suggesting that the French order not to come there was effective and the French might be planning some mischief.

Fort Oswego continued to have problems. The river was still low. It was expensive to transport provisions and some soldiers had deserted and were in custody.  The commissioners thanked Governor Burnet for his support in maintaining the garrison, to which he had sent bedding and provisions. They kept him informed him about the situation and promised to send him an accounting of expenses as soon as possible.  At the request of the Palatines who had the contract for delivering provisions to Oswego, Johan Jurch Kast and Johan Joost Petri, the commissioners sent six men to repair the road at the Oneida Carrying Place.  Captain Holland went to Schenectady to see the soldiers when they finally embarked in ten batoes along with five men assigned to stay at Oswego, where they would  be employed to transport provisions.

Oswego2_DeleryExc
Detail from De Lery map of 1727 showing boats and canoes as well as the new building at the mouth of the Oswego River.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the first entry for September 1727 starts here on p. 202. The transcription is below.

[0407] 202

(57

Albany the 5th Septemb. 1727

May it please your Excel.cy

This comes to Acquaint your Excellency that Captain

Philip Schuyler & his brother Peter Schuyler with Lauren[ce]

Returd here [illeg.] on the Second Instant from Onnongo their p[r]=

=oceedings And good Sucess will appear to your Excel.cy by the inclo=

=sed proopositions which we Dout not but will be pleasing to your Ex.cy

we have thought it Nesesary according to the old Custum to acq.t

the Six Nations of Indians with the Decease of his Late Majesty

King George of blessed memory and the Succession of his pre=

=sent Majesty our Sovereign Lord King George the Second on

ye throne in Order to which we Shall Dispatch Lourence

up to the Six Nations & also give him Directions to Endea=

=vor to Stop ye. Onnondages from their resolution wh. they have

taken by the nistigation of the french to go to war against

the flattheads wh. we Conceive is the polacy of the french

to gett ym. from home & out of the way but we hope we

may Defeat their Designs they maght undertake against the

building at Osweego, & we have good bacon [sic] to believe Such

Since the Indians have taken Such prime & loyall Resolution to

our intrest as appears by the Inclosed proposition,

We Shall not be wanting in Sending up the provisions

& to [illeg.] you Ex.cys orders & Directions & Milarge by our

Next we remain with Due respect

 

[0408] 202a

58)

By the Commiss.es of Indian Affairs

at Albany 9 Septemb. 1727

[See Wraxall p. 171]

Instructions for Mr. Lourence Claese the Interpreter

You are hereby Directed to go fourthwith to the sachims of

the Six nations to acquaint them at their Severall Castles

of the Decease of his late Majesty King george of glorious

Memory, & that his son the high & Mighty Prince George of

Wales Is now his Successor to the Imperiall Crowns of great

Britain France & Ireland to whom they are to pay all Sub=

=mission & Alligance,

You are to Endeavour to Stop ye. Onnondages from

their Resolution wh. (we hear) they have taken by the Instiga=

=tion of the french to go to war ag.t the flatt heads, which you

Must tell them the french do with an Intent to get ym

from home out of the way or by these means to destroy and

Deminish ym. If possible,

You are to Incourage ym. to presist in their good resolu=

=tion wh. they have taken to Defend the house at Osweege If

any french or Indians might Attack it,

You must Enquire what french massages have

lately been sent among the Six Nations & what the purport

of ym. Are, whether at ye. Sinnekes Country are any of the

other Castles & if any thing might happen whilst you are a=

=mong the Indians wh. we Cant foresee at psent you are to

Act in it as you Judge will be most [humble – crossed out] for his majes=

=ty intrest given under our hands in albany ye. 9th. September 1727

Philip Livingston

Myndert Schuyler

Pieter Van Brugh

Harmanus Wendell

Reyer Gerritse

Rutger Bleecker

 

[0409] 203

(59

Resolved that three Indians be Sent to the lake

St. Sacrement to See whether there be any Indians by

Whom they may learn what news there be at Canada we

[hope – crossed out] not hveing had Intelligence from thence this long

time, & yt. yt. Charges thereof be pd. by the Com.es Agreed with

Guysbert Vn. Brakel Ju.r to go with Lourence Claese to the 6

Nations for three pound twelve Shillings p.r Month

lb.

28        Bread               2 ps. Tapes

[illeg.] bacon                25 shirts

Keg rum                      12 ails

2 Doz Knives

 

Att A Meeting of the Com.es of the Indian

affairs In Albany the 13th. Day of Sep.b 1727

[Not in Wraxall]

Present

Philp Livingston

Myndert Schuyler

Peter Vn. Brugh

Rutger Bleecker

Stephanus Groesbeeck

Harmanus Wendell

Nicolaes Bleecker

D’ Kannasorie a Sachim of onnondage & Ondariagen a

Sachim of Cayouge being Arrivd at place Say by 7 bands of wampum

That the Sachims from a Nation Called the Jenontadies who

live at le detroit yt. we Sent Messengers to ye Waganhoes [&?]

far Nations to make peace are Safely returnd home yt. they

had Concluded a peace but the term were not yet Known

That the nations of Waganhoes Say yt. they will firm=

=ly keep to all Alligance they have made with this Govermt. as

the brethren of the 6 Nations do & will refuse the hatchet of

war if the Governt. of Canada offer & Desire ym. to take

it up Agt. ye. English or Six Nations

 

[0410] 203a

60)

That what ye Sachims had promisd Capt. Philip

Schuyler when he was at Onnondage yt. one of Each nation

should be Sent with a Message to the Indians liveing at & near

Canada that the Six Nations have resolved to Defend the

house at Oswege against them if they Should offer to molest

it, but that the English & french might oppose one another

  1. messengers D. Kanasorie says were ready to go when he

Came from home,

They Say they have no other news of moment to acqut. the brethren

with & desire ye. Com.s to acqt. ym. what news ye. Com.es acq.ted ym ye Decese

of his late majesty king George of Glorious memory & yt. his

Son prince George of wales is proclaimd King of Great britain

&c. yt. his present majesty is very well belovd of all his Subjects,

That Lourence Claese ye. Interpreter is Sent to ye 6 na=

=tions to Acqt. ym. of ye. decease of his late Maj.ty & yt. he is

to Endeavour to Stop the Onnondages who we are Informd &

prepared to go out a fighting by ye. Influence of ye. Gov.r of Canada

We Acquainted Sd. two Sachims with ye. Contents a let=

=ter to Gov.r of Canada write to his Ex.cy our Gov.r & his answer

Johan Jurch Kast & Johan Jost Petri Inform this

board yt. the Road from the maquse River to ye. Sd. wood creek

On ye. Onneyde Carrying place is very much out of repair and

Impractable to ride over a load provisions, or a batoe if it be

not repaird with all Speed they Cant perform their agreemt.

to deliver ye. provisions at ye. wood Creek for the Detatchmt at Oswego.

Resolved yt. 6 men be had to repair ye. Sd. [wood – crossed out] road

As soon as may be on acct. of the publick yt. ye. provisions &c. may

be Transported to Osweego if it be not paid soon yt. the Com.s

of Indian Affairs Ingage for ye. paymt. of the Same —

 

[0411] 204

(61

Albany 13.th Sep.t 1727

[Not in Wraxall]

May it please your Excel.cy

We have been honourd with your Excel.cys acceptable

Letters of ye. 22th & 24th of august ye. bedding & provisions were

Sent up Directly to Schinnechtady pease wheat meal & what

Other Necessaries yt. may be wanting for ye. Detachmt. at

Oswego shall be Supployd & provided by us we hear yt. the

Soldiers and men we hird to go up thither with ye. provisions

have had a fetaque in Getting forwd. Reason of ye. low water

in the wood Creek we Expect to get four batoes ready

before ye. men can Come back with ye. Other, its a great

pleasure for us to See yt. Your Excel.cy is So hearty to main=

=tain and keep the Garryson at Osweege we Shall not be

wanting in any thing for promoting so good a work the

batoes wh. remain at the house will be better for putting in

pease & meal, where yt. Capt. Banker has gott the pork bar=

=rel Cleand & filld with water its no Diffecult matter

for the men there to make a good port Cully to fall down

upon Occasion within ye. door we Shall give Directions about it

Capt. Nicolls has Sent us a Memorandum for Severall

Necessaries wanting at Oswege wh. we Shall provide & Send p the

first batoes that Shall go up thither

We hear no manner of Intelligence from Canada wh. makes

us Uneasy what is hatching there the french must Certainly have

a great Command and Influence over their Indians yt. they Can

Keep ym So Close yt. not one Single one Should Come hither

we have orderd three Indians from Schinechtady to Lake St.

Sacremt. to See us if no Canada Indians are hunting there & if

they find none they are to go forwd. to Canada & ye. other is to come back

The road & bridges on the Carrying place are So bad yt its

Impractable to ride Over ye. provisions & batoes, we have desird

  1. Justices among ye. palatines to hire men to go & repair ye.

Same

[0413] 204b

Albany 28 Sept 1727

May it please your Ex.cy

We are honoured with your Ex.cys favours of ye 23th Instant

p Capt. Ingoldsby. the deserters are Securd in ye fort here. Capt. holland is gone

to Schinechtady to see ye Detachmt. Imbark in 10 batoes from [hence] . 5 men who are to             Stay [illeg.] at

Osweege are to go with the [detachmt – crossed out] and more [will = crossed out] Shall    be hird if

they be wanting to bring up Provisions. we cant Suppose yt. ye Assembly

[sh]all suffer to let any thing fall on y.r Ex.cy. the accounts Shall be

[?]bus as soon as they can be gott in. if no more come wel Send those

[have gott in – crossed out] have by us. we cant gett them all while there is

[da]yly some Expenecs. we Shall Eniarge in current mean while

[we] Remain with Great Esteem & Respect

P L St. Gr

N B RG PL

 

 

Advertisements

Minute Book 3: 1726-September pt. 2: Evert Banker replaces Abraham Schuyler in Iroquoia

Having obtained the deed he sought, Governor Burnet met with the Commissioners of Indian Affairs and appointed a new commissioner, “Captain Lancaster Syms,” probably Lancaster Symes, Jr., since his father, also named Lancaster Symes, was a major rather than a captain.  Burnet approved the commissioners’ request for money for the family of Major Abraham Schuyler, who had died on his mission to Iroquoia. He replaced Schuyler with one of the commissioners, Captain Evert Bancker, who was posted to the Seneca’s Country for the winter and then to the trading place at the falls of the Onondaga River (Oswego) for the rest of the year. Banker’s salary was 100 pounds on condition that he would not trade himself except for provisions. He also received Schuyler’s birch canoe, two assistants, and money for expenses.

Payments were authorized for Jacob Brower, Harme Vedder Jr., Jurian Hogan, Jost Van Seysen, and Nicholas Wemp for working in Iroquoia as smiths and armorers, to Lawrence Claessen for his journey to the Seneca, and to Cornelis Cuyler for the birch canoe made for Major Schuyler.

Governor Burnet issued formal instructions to Captain Bancker, who was to reside “either at Canosidague [probably Canadasaga] or Onahee” or to travel between these two Seneca towns. According to the Smithsonian’s Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Canadasaga was one of the main Seneca towns at this time, located at the north end of Seneca Lake, near present day Geneva N.Y. (See Handbook part 1 (1907) p. 198). Onnahee was farther west in what is now the town of Hopewell N.Y. (Handbook part 2 (1910), p. 128.)

Captain Bancker was to travel to Cayuga or Onondaga as needed, and to cultivate “a famillar acquaintance” with the Haudenosaunee leadership in order to pursuade them to be faithful to the British and mistrustful of the French. In particular Banker should prevent the Six Nations from entering any agreements with the French or consenting to the construction of French fortifications at Niagara or elsewhere. Evert was also told to encourage other native nations to trade with the British rather than the French, to gather intelligence, to send news of important events to the governor directly as well as the commissioners, and to keep a journal about his actions.  A few days later, Bancker met with the commissioners who agreed to his request for a larger canoe, a belt of wampum, and a supply of rum.

1726-9-14Banker

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the meeting of September 14 1726 starts here. The transcript is below.

[0465] 230a

[Another copy of Minutes of Sept. 14 1726 meeting between Gov. Burnet & the AIC can be found on p. 170.]

Att a Meeting of Comissioner

of Indian Affairs in Albany

the 14th day of Septemb. 1726

Present

His Excellency William

Burnet Esq.r &c

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

John Cuyler

Peter Van Brugh

Evert Bancker

Myndert Schuyler                  His Excellency thought fitt to Appoint

Capt. Lancester Seyms to be one of the Comissioners

for the Indian Affairs at this place

His Excellency Desird an account of what

has been Expended for the publick service on

Credit of what Should be Raizd by act of

Assembly

It appeard that £25 on Credit of a minute

of Councill of October Last was

allowed by the Commissioners to Jacob Brower

and Harme Vedder Jun. Smith at Onnondage

and £5.10 for their towls &c £35:– to Jurian

Hogan & Comp.ny as Smiths at Sinnekes Country

Last year & £5: for a Smiths Bellows at onnon=

=dage

It is further observd that Major Abraham

Schuyler Deceasd has been in the Indian Country

by his Excellencys order Dureing the Space of three

months till the time of his death for which his

Exce.ly in Consideration of ye. Misfortune of his

family his Execly. would Recomend it to the

Council at New York for the Allowence of £50:–

there was Likewise producd on acc.t of presents

furnish’d by Philip Livingston Actually given by

Major Ab: Schuyler Amo.t to the Sume of £31:7:6–

[On] Accot

[0466] 231

An Account for two men his Attendants £22:–

by his agreement a bursh Canoe from M. Cornelis

Cuyler agreed for £10:– provisions £8:19. 1 1/2

Jurian hogan psents given by Lourence Clase

amo.t £4:7:– an Acc.t of D.o for Carying up an

Anwill &c. £6:19:– a Smith’s anvill from Philip

Livingston for the Sinnekes Country amounting

to £7:13:6 An acct. of Lowrence Claes[en] for his

Journey to the Sinnekes Country in bringing down

the Sachims now with horse here & Charging in 4 fitching

Sachims from hunting amounts to £32:2:–

all which his Excellency Informd the Com.es he

would Recommend to the Councill at New York

for their Consent that warr:t on the Treat.y [treasury?]

may Issue for Payment of Said Severall Accts.

His Exc.ly further acquainted this board

that he Intended to Send Capt. Evert Bancker

to the Sinnekes Country for the winter and the

Remainder part of the year to Reside at Such

places at or near the falls of Onnondage River

as he Shall be Directed; y his Exc.lys further

Instructions & that his Exc.ly will Recomend

to the Gentlemen of the Councill & that he be

allowed £100:– for his years Sallery on Condi=

=tion that at his Return to Albany he Declares on

Oath that he has not traded Directly by

himself or Indirectly by others Dureing his

Stay in the Indian Country (Excepting only for

Provisions for himself & his two attendants).

and that he may be Allow’d £25:– for psents

to the Indians providing he declares on oath

the Same has been given to them according to

the best of his Judgement for the publick Service

and that there be allowed £30:– for two

attendants Dureing the said time & £10:– for

Interpreters as he Shall have occasion for

them of which he is to give at his Return

an Attest’d Acct. if Required by his Excellency

That the Bursh Canoe Lately bought &

made

[0467] 231a

Made use of by Major Abraham Schuyler

belonging to the Government be made use

of by Capt. Bancker Dureing the time he

Shall be in the Sd. years Service

That his Exce.ly further will Recomend

to the Gen.t of ye. Councill yt. ye. Sume of £20: be

allowd To Jost van Seysen Armourer & Nicolas wemp

Smith together for their Service & work for the

Indians in the Sinnekes Country till the

first of may next provided they Stay there

till that day

[That] his Excellency will also Recomend

to ye Councill yt. £12:– be allowd unto Capt

Evert Bancker in full of all Provisions

Necessaryes whatsoEver dureing his Stay

among ye Indians

 

Att a meeting of the Com.rs

of Indian Affairs in Albany

the 15.th September 1726

Present

His Exc.ly William Burnet

Esq.r &a.

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

John Cuyler

Myndert Schuyler

Hend.k Renselaer

Lancester Seyms         By his Exce.ly William

Burnet Esqr. &a.

Instructions for Capt. Evert

Bancker –

You are forthwith to Repair

to the Sinnekes Country and there to Reside

till april next Either at Canosedague or

Onahee or go from time to time from the one

Castle to the other as you Shall think most

tending to the Publick Service and you are

to

 

[0468] 232

To take a Journey to Cayouge or Onnondage

when you think the publick Service Requires

it not otherwise —

You are to use your Uttmost Endeavors to

Cultivate a femillar acquaintance with the

Principall men among the Indians . and per=

=swade them with all your might to be faith

=full to ye Brittish Interest and do your Endea

=vor to bring aff those that are Inclind to

the french —

You are to find out with all poss=

=ible Diligence what news the french Spread

among the Indians or what design they have

and Defeate them with the uttmost of your Ability

you are to keep a particular Journall of all your

own Proceeding and of all that you hear Concern=

=ing the french or the Indians and Transmitt

accounts of what is most Matteriall to me as

Likewise to ye Com.rs of Indian affairs at Albany

and if any thing Extraordinary Should happen

you are to Send an Indian or a Christian Express

with an acct. of it in Case you Judge there be

occasion for it —

You are Particularly to Strenghten the

Indians in their Dislike to the french fortifying

Onjagara by Reminding them of the mishifes

the french fforts have Allways done them and you

are to perswade them not to Enter into any manner

of agreement with the french & Particularly not

give their Consent to their fortifying Niagara

or any where Else on the South Side of the Lake

and you are to use the Same diligence to prevent

the Onnondages from giveing any Consent to the

french fortifying on this Side of the Lake upon

any Notice you have that any Such thing is

proposed to them by the french; you are to follow

from time to time Such Directions as you shall Receive

from me or yee Com.rs of the Indian affairs at Albany

you are to use your best Endeavors to promote

the

 

[0469] 232a

The Brittish Interest among any of yee farr

Indians with whom you Shall have any opper=

tunity of Doing it – and perswade as much as

in you Lyes to trade with yee People of this

Province from whom they may allways be Supplyd

with goods Cheaper then by the french either at

albany where they are Cheapest or if they can

not come as far at the mouth of onnondage River

and by telling them that this Government & the

6 Nations will always keep ye path open &

Clean for them which you are Likewise to

Remind the Sinnekes that they have promist

So often to this Government to do, and you are

to Represent to them how much it is for their

Interest to have a free Intercourse & Strict

frindship with all the far Nations that so ye

french May not be able Ever to Engage the

far Nations to make war as they formerly

have done a gainst ye 5 Nations, in the medle

of april next you are to Repair to the falls

at Onnondage River and there you may Expect

to Receive further Instructions for your

Conduct Dureing the Rest of ye Summer according

to what may be Enacted in the Generall Assembly

for Regulating the trade with the farr Indians

upon the Sd. River or what may be Directed

by me & Councill in Case no act of Assembly be

made for that purpose or any other Service

which we Shall Recomend to your Care

Given under my hand & Seale this 15th day of Sept.

in the thirteenth year of his Maj.st Reign Ao Do. 1726

 

Was Signd

W Burnet

 

 

[0470]            233

Att a meeting of the Com.rs of Indian

Affairs in Albany the 20th Sep.r 1726

Present

Ph: Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          } Esq.rs Com.rs

Evert Banker

Lancester Seyms

Capt Evert Bancker Informs this Board that his Ex.cy

has been pleased to appoint him to Reside among the Indians

for one year and allowd him to go up in the Bursh Canoe

which Major Abraham Schuyler decd. had Last Summer

to the Sinnekes Country. which Capt Bancker Says he

has Caused to be viewd and finds it too Small for him and

two men with their provisions & necessaries to go in

to the Sinnekes Country, and proposes that the Com.rs may

furnish him with a good burch Canoe

The Com.rs Considering that the season of the year being

far advancd. that a good Canoe is Requird to go up with

do approve yt Capt Bancker do buy a good Canoe and Sell

the other for what it will yield. and they will Endeavr

that the Residue be paid either by ye Province or Com.rs

That a belt of wampum be purchasd by Capt Bancker

for his use to Speak with to the Indians and that ye Charge

Shall be paid and that he take with him 5 gallon Rum

for his Journey & 5 gall. d.o to drink his Ex.cys health with

the Sachims

Capt Bancker is desired to See the Armourer & Smith

sent by the Gov.r to work at the Sinnekes Country be put

in Possession of ye Smiths Shop & toils

Minute Book 3: 1726-February

Laurence Claessen is Sent to Negotiate (and Obtain Intelligence)

The commissioners sent Laurence Claessen to Onondaga with instructions to resolve the ongoing conflicts between Albany traders and the Haudenosaunee over the sale of rum at the falls on the Onondaga River. The traders, backed by the commissioners, insisted that they had to sell rum to the “far Indians” from beyond Iroquoia in order to attract their trade in furs. The Haudenosaunee had now been saying for several years that they did not want rum sold at all in their country. Laurence Claesson was supposed to resolve this by delivering a belt of wampum telling them that their request had been received by Governor Burnet and that rum would not be sold to the Six Nations.

Claessen was also told to try to obtain the release of an English boy from Virginia who was being held captive in Iroquoia, and to work with Juriaen Hogan, the Anglo-Dutch smith, to obtain information about how many of the Six Nations were out fighting and the actions of the French smith and other Frenchmen living in Seneca Country.

The commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet and informed him about what they were doing, expressing regret for the Six Nations attacks on Virginia and explaining that the Six Nations were wavering in their attachment to the English, leaning instead towards the French at times. To counteract this they recommended posting “some persons of Distinction” in Iroquoia to advance the English cause. They also rejoiced in the news that a peace had been concluded between “Boston” (i.e. New England) and the Eastern Indians (Abenaki) in Dummer’s War.

Many thanks to the Schenectady Historical Society for permission to use this image of the portrait of Laurence Claessen that hangs in their collection!

Laurence Claessen Van der Volgen
Attributed to Nehemiah Partridge. Held at the Schenectady Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12305 and used with their permission. They give the date as 1725.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, February 1726 starts here.

[0244] 120a

[Wraxall p. 161 gives date as 12 Feb.]

Copy

Att a meeting of ye Comrs of ye

Indian affairs in albany ye [1st]

day of feb 1725/6

Present

P L.

H H

Jons Cuyler

P V Brugh         }

E Bancker

J Collins

H V Renslaer

It is Resolved by ye Comrs to give Lowrence

Claese ye following Instructions

By the Com.rs of ye Indian

affairs at albany

Instructions for Lowrence Claese the Interpreter

Whereas ye Indians of ye five nations have sent two

Severall messages to ye Com.es Last fall Complaining of Rum being

Sold unto their People by ye traders at ye falls and ye lake near ye

onnondage River which they Conceive will be very pernicious (if not

prevented and whereby many unhappy accidents may [Ensue – crossed out] arise.

they acknowledge to have given Liberty unto his Ex.cy their Brother

Corlaer Gov.r Burnet to Sett beaver Traps at ye lake, but they

alleadge that ye bait his people ye Christians use meaning ye Rum

will Catch Men and therefore desired that no Rum might be Carryed

up thither for ye future. but that ye Traders Should only carry up [f– crossed out]

dry goods to Supply ye far Indians to wh. messages ye S.d five nations

Expect an answer as soon as may be and on failure thereof [they – crossed out] we are

Informd yt [ye – crossed out] they have Concluded to Execute their Resilution in

Relation to ye affair and since its Impracticable to prevent ye

young Traders to Carry up Rum to ye lake to trade with ye far Indians

and in order to quiet ye minds of ye Indians You are here by Required

and Directed forthwith to go to onnondage (takeing a Christian with you)

at your arrival there you are to Inform ye Sachims of ye 5 nations in name

of his Ex.cy Gov.r Burnet Esq.r &c. that he has Received their Propositions

In Relation

[0245] 121

in Relation to the Rum not to be sold & Carryd up to ye lake. that he has

given orders that none of his people under his Government Shall Sell

any Strong Liquor unto any of ye 5 nations at ye falls or Lake but that they

are only to Sell it to ye far Indians for Promoteing & Encouraging ye

trade with you that his Ex.cy earnestly desires that none of ye Traders be

any ways Molested or hindered in their trade with ye far Indians that his Excy

at his next meeting Shall Settle that and other affairs with you, for ye gen.le

good and welfare of us all. In ye meantime its Expected that they and their

young men will behave ymselves peaceable to All his Maj.es Subjects and not

allow any french to Reside in any of their Castles on w.ch you are to Lay

down [illeg.] a belt of wampum herewith delivered you

You are to use your best Endeavor to Release an English

Boy which we are Informd is in Some of ye Indian Castles and taken

from virginia by some of ye 5 nations or Canada Indians wh Charge Shall

be paid you

as We are Informd that a french Smith with his family &

Some other french men from Canada are at ye Sinnekes Country wh.

if Confirmd to you at onnondage you are to proceed to that place

where you are to make the Same Proposition as you are directed to do at

onnondage which you are also to Communicate unto ye other nations as you

go along. you are to Inform your Self how & in what manner ye french

are posted there and by whose directions and what their Chief [Business] is

[If] ye Beck Iron belonging to this Government be broake & if Jurian Hogan

accepts to work as smith [illeg.- crossed out] at ye Sinnekes Country according to

the Letters write unto him by ye Com.rs, how ye Indians are generally

[afflasted] what number of ye 5 nations are gone out a fighting & agts

what nations and Generally what news you can learn of any

moment among ye Indians of all which you are to keep a Journall

in Writeing. Given under our hands in albany — [illeg.] day feb.y in ye

twelfth year of his Maj.e Reign an Do 1725/6

[0246] 121a

[Not in Wraxall.]

Albany 8 feb 1725/6

May it please yr Excy

Your Excy’s favour of ye 23rd Jan.ry we recd according

to your Excys Directions shall send ye English Boy p the first

Sloop wt an Recott of the Charges we have disbursd, Indeed the base

behaviour of our Ind.ns towards Virgina is very provoking of

wch we are ashamed wt Submist we humbly are of opinion yt it

can’t be pvented, unless some able psons of Distinction be posted

among them to dissuade them from such ill practices & keep ym

firm to yr allegiance to his Maj.ie for they are very waver=

ing & much Inclind to ye french Interest

We shall not be wanting to Encourage as much as in Us

lyes all those yt are inclined to trade next Spring at ye Lake

& advise ym from your Excel.y to behave themselves diferectly

towards [y – crossed out] our Ind.ns in Case any Disputes do arise & not to

give any Cause of Complaints, & yt they only sell Rum to the

far Ind.ns on this Occasion we have thought fitt for his Maj.e

service to make an Answer to ye Proposition of ye Indns mad

last fall through Lawrence Claese ye Interpreter Copy of

his Instructions are herein Inclosd We hope he will be

able to quiet ye minds of ye Ind.ns for ye Safety of those who are

going to trade at ye Lake We are glad ye peace is concluded

between Boston & ye Eastern Ind.ns wen wch we wish may be

lasting wt our best Respects we remain

May it please your Ex.cy

Your Ex most humble and

most Obedient Serv.ts

Sign                             Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

Pieter van Brugh

Minute Book 3: 1723-November

In Library and Archives Canada digital copy of the original minutes, November 1723 starts here

The two observer-messengers (or spies) sent to Canada in October returned in November. They told the commissioners what they had seen there, but the commissioners asked them to repeat it with Lawrence Claessen present. Perhaps this was because the commissioners did not speak the Mohawk language as well as he did, or perhaps it was because they wanted to bring in his expertise in diplomacy. Either way, it shows how much they relied on him. For most of 1723, no members of the Schuyler family are included in the lists of those present at the commissioners’ meetings, and developments in October had already revealed that John (Johannes) Schuyler was conducting parallel diplomacy on his own. The commissioners may have felt that they were loosing their influence with the Six Nations and needed all the help that Claessen could provide.

In any case, the messengers confirmed that John Schuyler gave them wampum belts to take to three “castles,” i.e. native communities, in Canada: Cachnawage (Kahnawake) Kanighnoghquadee (Gananoque?) and Rondaxis. (The Rondaxes or Adirondacks were Algonquian speakers who lived at Three Rivers and Oka, according to p. 239 of the Livingston Indian Records.) Schuyler had not informed the commissioners about the belts, but he  sent them in the name of Boston and New York. Apparently he was working behind the Albany Indian Commissioners’ back with New York as well as Massachusetts.

Schuyler’s wampum belt messages asked the three castles to stop fighting with the French and Abenaki against New England in the ongoing hostilities known to historians as Dummer’s War. He also invited them to “use and Cultivate the Road from Canada hither and trade as Usual,” promising to remove any obstacles to doing so. “Hither” apparently meant Albany. Did Schuyler promise to restore the trade in Indian goods between Albany and Montreal, a short distance from Kahnawake? That trade had benefits for both native and French traders in the St. Lawrence Valley, as well as for many Dutch traders in Albany, even though the commissioners were working with New York’s Governor Burnet to suppress it.

The few Kahnawake leaders who were home when the messengers arrived promised to convey their message to those who were away hunting and fighting. They sent wampum belts in return to the belts brought by the messengers, but they were delivered directly to John Schuyler.

The commissioners also learned that the French and their native allies had asked more distant “upper and remote” nations to join the French side in Dummer’s War the following spring. The commissioners feared that this would not only put New England in peril, but also jeopardize the trade between those distant nations and Albany that they were trying to encourage. They sent Lawrence Claessen to the Seneca Country to engage paid messengers there to negotiate with those nations on Albany’s behalf, in particular they wanted to encourage the “Denighcariages”, a nation that, at least in the understanding of the commissioners, had joined the Six Nations that summer as the Seventh Nation. Claessen was told to assure the far nations that peace was being negotiated between the Eastern Indians and New England, the road to Albany though the Six Nations would be safe, and Albany had cheap and plentiful goods for sale.

The remainder of the entries for November concern the Schaghticoke Indians. Located north of Albany where the Hoosick River joins the Hudson from the east, Schaghticoke was on Mohican land and the path along the Hoosick was a well used road to the Connecticut Valley, one of the areas where New England was under attack. The Schaghticoke community were refugees under New York’s protection, mainly people displaced by settlers in New England and the lower Hudson, close allies of the Mohican. They were caught in the middle of Dummer’s War both geographically and diplomatically, since many were Abenaki themselves. The commissioners reproached them with leaving their homes and “Stragling & Scatter[ing]” from one place to another, instead of staying at Schaghticoke under the “Tree of Friendship and Welfare” that was the symbol for New York’s protection. People from Schaghticoke had even been seen on their way to Canada, where the commissioners undoubtedly feared that they would join the French. The commissioners believed that the Schaghticokes needed to appoint some leading men as sachems to keep them in one place, and persuade those who had left for Canada to come back.

The Schaghticokes acknowledged the agreement made almost half a century earlier with New York, joining them together and giving them protection at Schaghticoke. They said they wanted to stay there even if Canada offered them land. They agreed to consider the proposal to appoint leaders and try to bring back those who had left. They offered the commissioners gifts of venison and strings of wampum, as was customary. But the following day they said it would be impossible to get the people who had left to come back, since they had fled after committing robberies at Saratoga. They also pointed out that the Tree of Welfare was now bare at the roots, that is that their relationship with Albany was under a strain because they did not have enough land at Schaghticoke and the (Dutch) inhabitants there were harassing them. The Minute Book entry does not say what the commissioners knew well. The reason the Schaghticokes had little land left was that under New York law Albany owned that land and was leasing more and more of it out to Dutch farmers. It was Albany’s tenants who were harassing the Schaghticokes.

The Schaghticokes proposed that part of their people should move to Sinchjack, where there was still good land available. Sinchjack, which they also spelled as Sinkhaijck, probably refers to the area farther up the Hoosic River from Schaghticoke, near where the Walloomsac River flows into it in the vicinity of present day Williamstown Massachusetts. It was also known as St. Croix.  Its history is discussed in Arthur Latham Perry’s Origins In Williamstown, beginning on p. 114.

The Schaghticokes asked the commissioners to nominate leaders for them and to mend their weapons, as was customary. The commissioners agreed to all of this, including the move to Sinckhaijck. They nominated Nanratakietam, Aspenoot, Wapelanrie, Kakaghsanreet, Mashequant, and Akamsomett, with Nansasant as a successor if any of them passed away. They said it was essential to bring back those who had gone to Canada, and offered to forgive those who had committed faults, that is the Saratoga robbers. They also promised to stop the settlers at Schaghticoke from interfering with the Schaghticokes’ use of their land. They thanked them for the venison, promised to have their weapons mended, and gave them gifts of ammunition, shirts, and alcohol, with blankets for the elders Nanratakelam and Waleghlanret..

There are no entries in the Minute Book for December, so this concludes the summaries for 1723.

Minute Book 3: 1723-October

In Cornell’s digital copy of the original minutes, October 1723 starts here

In Library and Archives Canada digital copy of the original minutes, October 1723 starts here

The Albany Indian Commissioners were increasingly anxious that their own community would be attacked in the course of the ongoing war between Massachusetts Bay and the Abenaki (Dummer’s War). They took it as a bad sign that no Indians had come to Albany from Canada recently, as was usual. Rather than attributing this to New York’s ban on trading Indian goods to Canada, they began to worry that the Saint Lawrence Valley communities like Caughnawaga (Kahnawake) were going to join the Abenaki in attacking English settlements, including theirs. They decided to send two Indian observers to Canada to see what was going on and to persuade the young men at Caughnawaga and elsewhere to stay at home, as their leaders had agreed.

When the deputies of the Six Nations came through Albany on their way back from the peace negotiations at Boston, it was clear that there were serious disagreements between the Six Nations and the commissioners, between New York and Massachusetts, and within Albany itself. John (Johannes) Schuyler, former mayor of Albany, an Indian Commissioner himself at times, and one of the people most trusted by the Six Nations, had gone to Boston at the invitation of Massachusetts, independently of the commissioners or the governor of New York. The commissioners asked the Six Nations deputies to tell them what happened at the meeting, to which they responded that Schuyler had written it down and given an account to the governor, so there should be no need for them to repeat it. The commissioners said they did not want to rely on Schuyler’s account and preferred to hear what happened directly from the deputies. The Six Nations deputies equivocated, first saying that Schuyler asked them to join the war on Massachusetts’s behalf and they had accepted, then denying that it happened. They said that they had asked Massachusetts to tell the kings of France and Great Britain to end the war in the colonies since they were at peace in Europe. They finally admitted that a few men from the Six Nations had joined Boston’s forces. John Schuyler had agreed to provide them with ammunition and to pay the 100 pound bounty for each Eastern Indian scalp they took. After the other deputies had left, Hendrick (probably Hendrick Tejonihokarawa) assured the commissioners that John Schuyler had approved everything they did at Boston. The Six Nations delegates seemed to be stubbornly holding to the position that John Schuyler represented Albany regardless of what the commissioners said.

The commissioners also learned that Schuyler had sent his own belts (wampum belt messages) to Canada by way of the commissioners’ messenger-observers. The commissioners feared the belts would be taken by the Abenaki as signs that they were working together with Schuyler. Massachusetts had also sent two more Albanians, Philip Schuyler (probably Johannes Schuyler’s son by that name) and John Groesbeeck, to Canada to redeem prisoners.

The commissioners learned that Rutland had not been attacked, but two forts nearby at Northfield had been overrun by a war party of 60-80. Colonel John Stoddard of Massachusetts asked them to send a force from the Six Nations and River Indians to Otter Creek (in present day Vermont) to intercept the attackers, but the commissioners told him they would not be able to muster a force in time to do any good. Nonetheless they informed three Mohawks who were in Albany, including the sachim Taquajanott, who said they would tell their people.

The commissioners wrote to New York Governor Burnet to try to convince him that the danger to New York was real, expressing regret that “you Excel.cy is not pleas’d to agree in our Opinions.” They stated openly that they believed Massachusetts wanted to sacrifice them in order to pursue its own “quarrel” with the Abenaki. In an enigmatic footnote, they added that Cornelis Cuyler, one of those who had refused to take the oath that he was not trading with Canada, had now gone to Canada along with “the three french men” (probably the same ones who had gone to Pennsylvania in June?) to recover his debts. Evidently suppressing the Albany-Canada trade had serious economic repercussions for those who had invested in it. And perhaps the economic repercussions for indigenous traders in Canada were adding to the commissioners’ fears that their allies there would be more likely now to join the war on the French side and even target Albany.