Minute Book 3: 1725-December

In December the commissioners received a letter from Captain John Collins in Schenectady about a Christian boy who had been taken captive by “some of our upper nations.” The commissioners still used “Christian” to mean “European” even though by this time many Native Americans and African Americans were also Christian. They had not yet adopted the use of the term “white,” or at least not in their records.

The boy was taken captive along with this father, who was employed driving horses for traders, and “a negro.” No mention is made of what happened to the other two captives. The boy was taken to Canojoharie (which during this period was one of the two major Mohawk (Kaniengeha’ka) towns, then moved to “the foremost Castle,” which probably means Tiononderoga. According to Collins’s letter, the Indians to whom the boy was given treated him badly and he was advised by other Indians to run away for fear of his life. He now wanted the Christians to rescue him from the “fury of the heathen.” The boy had forgotten English, and had to communicate by way of Laurence Claessen the interpreter.

The commissioners decided to take him in until Governor Burnet could advise them about what to do with him. They arranged to give him clothing and sent him to live with Captain [Evert] Bancker until spring. Like other captives mentioned in the records during this time, the boy, his father, and the African American taken captive with them, all remain unnamed.

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


Plug for a Journal

The Conference on Iroquois Research has a journal now, Iroquoia. It will be of interest to many readers of this blog. I have an article in the first issue, “Tiononderogue: the Struggle for a Mohawk Town, 1686-1797.” It tells one part of the story that first got me interested in the Albany Indian Commissioners and their evolution from a group of traders, who needed to maintain positive relations with their Haudenosaunee and Mohican neighbors and customers, to a group of land speculators who primarily wanted to take the land from those same nations.

Here is the abstract for the article:

In 1786 a Mohawk leader named Aneqwendahonji, or Johannes Crine, filed a petition with the New York State Legislature that tells a compelling story. At the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, Aneqwendahonji lived with his people at a place on the Mohawk River called Tiononderogue, where the Mohawks had been “from time Immemorial.” He owned “three Good Dwelling Houses, two Barns and an Orchard thereon, And was also possessed of a considerable personal Estate consisting of Household, furniture, Farming Utentials, Cattle Horses, Sheep, Swine, etc.” The petition recounts how Aneqwendahonji remained friendly to the Americans during the war. In 1780, he left his home to go on an American mission to Fort Niagara with three companions, but at Niagara the British put them in jail. Soon afterwards British troops raided the Mohawk Valley and took his wife and family prisoner. At the end of the war Aneqwendahonji returned home to find that the City of Albany and private individuals had taken the Mohawks’ lands, improvements, livestock, and household goods, leaving them destitute and homeless. Aneqwendahonji and the other Mohawk people who lived at Tiononderogue before the Revolution never got back their lands. This paper examines the hundred-year process that led up to their loss.

The journal has many other excellent articles. There is a paywall, but it is not too high. And in case you have written something relevant and are looking for a venue in which to share it,  the editors are looking for submissions for their third issue.