Minute Book 3: 1727-December: Schawenadie Heeds the French Call to Attack Oswego; Laurence Claessen Returns to Onondaga

The last entry for the year describes a meeting on December 27th with an Oneida leader named Canachquanie.  He had been sent to bring some alarming news that the Oneidas had heard from Seneca and Cayouga Indians about events in Canada. An officer at the French fort at Cataraqui (Fort Frontenac, located at present day Kingston Ontario) had recently told Haudenosaunee people there to return to the Six Nations quickly before the commander of the fort arrived from Montreal in order to avoid any “unhappy accident.” Moreover “the Indians of Schowinnade & about the number of 700 made frequently their dances of war According to their Custum to go to war in the Spring” to destroy the new house at Oswego. Everyone knew about it and children “sung these Songs of war in the Streets.” The French at Montreal had confirmed this news.

Canachquanie told the commissioners that the Onondaga messengers who had agreed with Philip and Peter Schuyler to visit Canada and persuade Indians there not to attack Oswego had only gone one day’s journey before they returned, saying they were sick. As described in the record, this was a “feigned excuse,” but considering how many people had been sick the previous summer at Albany and Oswego, it is easy to believe that the messengers were telling the truth. On the other hand perhaps they heard about the war dances and decided not to proceed.

Canachquanie said that the Oneidas promised to send messengers themselves “on pretence of trade to prevent the Said french Indians to joyn with ye french & also to discover what is hatching in Canada [against] the house at Osweege.”The commissioners thanked Canachquanie for his service and gave him gifts.

The commissioners immediately resolved to send Laurence Claessen back to Onondaga accompanied by Canachquanie and an assistant, Jacob Glen Junior. The commissioners agreed to pay Claessen and Glen for this trip themselves if the government did not do so. Clearly they thought it essential to counteract the French threats.1727-12-27

Claessen’s instructions lay out the arguments to use to convince the Six Nations to send delegates to Canada in order to prevent Indians there from listening to the French. The Six Nations should make clear to Indians in Canada that the Six Nations had consented to the English building at Oswego and agreed to defend it against attack by other Indians. To keep “a good correspondence” with the Six Nations, they must stay neutral and not harken to French proposals.

[There are no entries for November 1727.] In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the entry for December 27 starts here on p. 208a.

[0421] 208a

At A Meeting of the Com.s of the

Indian affairs in Albany ye. 27th Dec.r

1727

[Another copy can be found on p. 256a.]

Present

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

John Cuyler

Myndert Schuyler

Evert Banker

Peter Vn. Brugh

John Collins

Rutger Bleeker

Harmanus Wendle

Nicolaes Blecker

An Oneyde Sachim Named Canachquanie arri=

=ved here with a message from the rest of the Sachims

of that Castle that pursuant to the ancient Covenant

between you & ym. & the other nations that when

any news of moment Should Come to Either of them

it Should be communicated without loss of time they have

Received advice from Cadrachqui by a Sinneke & a Ca=

=youge Indians yt. an officer of that place had Advi=

=sed the Indians who were Inclind to go to Canda Shoud

fourthwith depart and those who Intended to Re=

=turn to the Six Nations Should go with all Speed

before the Commander of yt. fort Should arrive from

Montreal that no unhappy accident men befall ym.

the Sinneke Indian who lately Came from Cana=

=da Affirms that the Indians of Schowinnade & about

the number of 700 made frequently their dances of war

According to their [Ansunt – crossed out] Custum to go to war in the

Spring to Cutt off & destroy the house at Osweege this

was no Secret there while the Children sung these

Songs of war in the Streets that the Indians were Im=

=ployd in makeing padles for the french but what num

=ber of french would go on this Expedition with the

Said indians the Sinneke doth not know, but had

heard from the french at montreal that they Inten=

=ded to go on this Expedition against the house at

Osweego the next Spring

The Sachims of Onneyde to acquaint this road

that the Onnondage messengers who had promist Cap.

Phil: Schuyler & Capt. Peter Schuyler last Summer to go

to the Canada indians not to molest or disturb us the

quit Setlemt. At Osweege yt. if they Should Commit

any acts of hostillities their ye. Six Nations Should Defend

against them & the English agt. ye. french are retur=

=nd back haveing been only one days Journey & have

not

[0422] 209

Not deliverd their Message according to ther promise &

Consent from home of the Six Nations as directed by ym. mak=

=ing fained Excuse that they were Sick,

Since the Said messengers have faild to perform this

Message the Sd. onneyde Sachims promise yt. this board

Should Send Indians to Canada on pretence of trade

to prevent the Said french Indians to joyn with ye.

french & also to discover what is hatching in Canada

agt. ye. house at Osweege yt. all ye. indians of ye. 6 nations are at

& [Near] home,

the Com.es Answerd the Sd. Messenger yt. they re=

=turn thanks to the Onnagdage Sachims for their Care

In Sending to acqt. us with the Neglect of the Onnon=

=dage Sachims in performing their promise & Engagements

made to Capt. Schuyler to let their Messengers proceed to

the Canada Indians yt. ye. Six nations had Resolved to

defend the Sd. house at Osweege against them & ye. En=

=glish against the french that the board are unthank=

=full to him bringing this Message hither & Rely on him

while they are Sinciable of this former faithfull Servi=

=ces to this Governmt. & as a reward give him a psent

of a blanket a pair of Stockings a lap of Stroads a Shirt

& a looking Glass,

Resolved that Lourence the Interpreter go to onnonda=

=ge with a men for his Assistant in Company with the Sd.

Onneyde messenger to Endeavour the Six Nations Send one

of Each nation to pform ye. Message to the Canada indi=

=an they had formerly promisd to Mr. Schuyler for wh. purpose

its tought fitt to give him the following Instructions,

By the Com.s of the Indian Affairs

at Albany

Instructions for Lourence Claese the Interpreter to

  1. 6 Nations whereas we are Informd by a message recd. this

Day from the Onneyde Sachims yt. ye. Onnondages have not

Sent Messengers to the Cannada indians as they had

promissd

 

[0423] 209a

promisd last Summer to Messrs. Schuylers yt. they Should

not Molest us in the quit Setlemt. by ye. house at Osweege

that ye Six Nations are Resolved to defend ye Sd. building

agt. ym. & yt. ye English will maintain & defend ye. Same

agt. ye. french and being Informd that the indians at Canada

are designed to ioyne with the french of Canada to Mo=

=lest us at Oswege wh. is Contrary to the treaties of peace

that we Should be Attackd on the land belonging

to the Six Nations [under the Six Nations – crossed out] under the Sub=

=jection & protection of his present Majesty King George ye.

Second, our Sovereign & their King & indulgent [& King-crossed out] father

& whereas Such attempts to be made by the french

or Indians agt. Oswege will be Violation of ye. peace &

frindship wh. Sub[ject – crossed out]sity between the two Crowns of

great britain & yt. of france & may be of dangerous

Consequence to this his Majesties province in par=

=ticular & to all his Majesties Governmts. on ye. Contenant

in generall the prevention wherefore will be of

great Servise to his Majes.s province & his loyal Subjects

in these parts,

Wherefore you are Required & Commanded to go

with all Speed accompanyd with Jacob Glen Jn.r to

the Six Nations acq.t ym. yt. we have Rec.d Intillegence

  1. ye. messengers wh. the onnondages Sachims had promisd to

Send to the Canada Indians last Summer have not pro=

=ceeded in their Journey by reason of Sickness yt. that mes=

=sage Should be Accomplishd & that by one Deligate from

Each of the Six Nations to tell the Indians dwelling

or rendeing, or Such fett persons as they Shall think

proper, near Canada in their names only they are In=

=formd that the french excite [the french – crossed out] & Stir them

up to Assist them in disturbing their brethren the English

in their quit Setlemt. Enjoyne of the Sd. house at Oswege

  1. had been Errected by their provious Consent & good like=

=ing and for their own Securety, wherefore you are to prevail

on ye Sd. Sachims to Said Delegates a aforesd. yt. they are

Sent to forwd. & ye Sd. Sachims not to Assis [the fre]=

=nch in this lawfull undertakeing but if they [should (ink spill?)]

[be]

 

[0424] 210

but if they Should be So Stuped & Senceless to be

prevaild on the french in this Expedition yt. the ye. 6

Nations have resolved in their Generall meeting

to defend ye. Sd. house agt. ym. ye. Sd [illeg. – crossed out] Indians

& ye. English are determd to do like agt. the french

that a good amicable Carespondance between yt. ye. [like – crossed out]

Six Nations cant be maintaind unless they will keep

ym.selves neuter & not to herken to any proposalls to be

made by the french on yt. Subject nor to be assistant in this matter

Given under our hands in albany ye. 27 Day of De.c

in the first year of his Maj.ys Reign anno [illeg.] D.o 1727

Resolved ye. Interpreter have a Copy of the English Transla=

=tions in Dutch of ye. Sd. Instructions for his better Information

It is agreed by the Com.s with Lourence

Clase & Jacob Glen that if they be not paid by the

publick for their journey [to – crossed out] & Service now to the Six

Nations, that the Commis. will pay them out of their

Allowlence.

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Minute Book 3: 1725-September

Blocked from Trading with Montreal, Albany Traders Move West

In September the commissioners made good on their promise to give the governor an account of the volume of the fur trade to the west. Captain Harme Vedder, stationed in Seneca Country, returned with his company and 50 bundles of fur. Many other traders were now going west as well. Despite the difficulties involved, the commissioners put together a detailed list of who had gone to Indian country and how many furs and skins they had purchased.  At least fifty-one canoes, each carrying several traders, had been to the lakes and returned with 738 bundles of furs. The list of names covers many if not most Albany families. It also includes an unnamed Indian couple, several unnamed hired men, and a member of the versatile Montour family, Jean Montour. Some traders went more than once and some trips for which details were not provided brought 50 additional bundles of furs.  In addition, 43 canoes of “far Indians” came to Albany and Schenectady with 200 bundles. 

The direct trade from Albany to Canada was far smaller, as estimated by the commissioners and Lieutenant Blood, who was stationed at the English garrison at Mount Burnet, on the Hudson north of Albany.

1725trade0288

1725trade0289

Commerce between Albany and Canada continued however. On September 6th, Colonel Myndert Schuyler and Captain De Peyster returned from Canada and took the oath required of persons suspected to have traded with the French, which strongly suggests that they had in fact traded with the French. Moreover they confirmed that they had seen large quantities of strowd blankets sent from Albany to Montreal.

Trade with Montreal is Illegal, But News from Montreal is Valuable;

Grey Lock is Raiding New England

Schuyler and De Peyster also brought important news. A party of 150 warriors had left Montreal on their way to attack New England, passing Chambly, where others were encamped who planned to go as well. The French, including their priests, were encouraging them to fight, and Montreal was fortifying itself with a stone wall. The commissioners informed both New York Governor Burnet and the government of New England about the situation. In a subsequent letter they told Governor Burnet that the party at Chambly had been persuaded to go home instead of attacking New England, but the party of 150 from Montreal were sill out fighting. Two small groups of nine and fourteen were supposed to be lurking on the western frontiers, lead by Grey Lock (Wawenorrawot). The commissioners told Governor Burnet that the Indians were tired of war and wanted peace, but the French continued to push them to war.

The Six Nations Meet with the French

Schuyler and De Peyster said that a large group of leaders from the Six Nations had come to Montreal, where they were honored with a cannon salute.   According to some Seneca leaders who came to Albany to tell the commissioners about the situation, and who had resolved not to go to Montreal themselves, the Six Nations contingent included eleven Seneca sachems from Canossodage and six from Onnahee. They went to condole the passing of “Lieutenant Governor” Monsieur “D Ramsay,”  (Claude de Ramezay, the governor of Montreal who had died the previous summer.) Probably they also discussed their concerns about the escalating construction of forts in their country by both the French and the English.

Kahnawage, Rondax, and Schawenadie Want a General Treaty

Lieutenant Colonel Stephanus Grosbeeck had also been in Montreal. He told the commissioners that the sachims of Kahnawage and Schawenadie had sent him an express as he passed La Prairie, asking him by seven hands of wampum to bring a message that they were coming to Albany about October 1st, where they wanted to meet with the governors of New York and Boston (i.e. Massachusetts Bay) as well as the Six Nations. The commissioners contacted Massachusetts Bay Governor William Dummer directly to pass on this message, sending their letter by way of the authorities of Westfield Massachusetts, in order to inform them that they were at risk of attack.

The Six Nations Confirm the Treaty of 1722 with New York and Virginia

On September 26th, twelve sachems from Onondage, Cayuga, and Tuscarora came to Albany and met with the Commissioners. They said they had been sent to look into rumors spread among them and find a way to prevent such stories. They asked the Commissioners to read them the treaty made in 1722 between Virginia and the Six Nations, which was done.

Their speaker D’Kanasore (Teganissorens) gave a speech addressed to Asserigoa, the Iroquois name for the Governor of Virginia, asking the Commissioners to pass it on. He pointed out that the Six Nations had returned two prisoners taken in Virginia, an Indian (probably meaning Governor Spotswood’s Saponi servant) and a “Negroe boy,” (probably Captain Robert Hicks’ slave). He said that whoever was going fighting towards Virginia from Canada or from the Six Nations’ castles was doing it without their consent. Nonetheless, if they went past the line agreed to in the treaty of 1722 and were taken prisoner, they should likewise be returned.

Teganissorens also complained that the gunpowder they had purchased recently was defective. He asked for more powder as well as lead and gunflints, pointing out that the cost would be made up by the value of the skins they could obtain with it through hunting. He also asked for a smith as soon as possible, one better than those who had been working there, whose work was not the best.

The Six Nations Have New Objections to Burnet’s Trading House

Like the delegation from Kahnawake and Schawenadie, Teganissorens was not happy with Governor Burnet’s proposal for a trading house on the Onnondage (Oswego) River. He admitted that the Six Nations had consented to it, but he said they now feared it would cause mischief because alcohol would be sold there. People would get drunk, become unruly, and and cause harm. In addition some would likely buy rum instead of ammunition. Teganissorens asked that in the future traders would bring powder and no rum. A slightly different version of this speech was written out and then crossed out. It appears on page 146a.

The Commissioners responded the next day in a speech that verged on being abrupt, even rude. They told the delegates they were glad they wanted to prevent rumors from spreading; the only way to do so was simply refuse to listen to those who tried to delude them. They promised to convey Teganissorens’ speech to the Governor of Virginia, but added that the Six Nations should not let their people go past the boundary line agreed to in 1722. The people of Virginia “will never molest you if you do not excite them to it” and if you commit mischief you will have to answer for it, as also for “those for whom you are become Security.” The reference was to Kahnawake and its allies, the “French Indians.”

In response to the complaint about powder, they said they were sorry the Six Nations were too impoverished to buy enough powder to meet their needs. The Commissioners would ask the governor to write to England to have better powder made, but the real reason for their poverty was that they went fighting against people who had not attacked them. Instead they should stick to hunting. They agreed to convey the request for a smith and expected the governor would send one.

In response to the Six Nations’ request that traders bring powder rather than rum to sell on the Onondaga River, the Commissioners would only say that they would ask the governor to prevent traders from selling rum to the Six Nations and to sell them powder and lead. However, the traders would continue selling rum to the Far Indians because otherwise they would be unable to sell their goods. They urged the delegates to be kind to all traders on the Onondaga River and the lakes and to invite the far Indians to come trade with Albany in order to get goods cheaper than from the French. To encourage this they agreed to supply them with power, lead, and flints to meet their present needs.

The Six Nations added that the bellows at Onondaga was old and not fit for service. They asked for a new one before winter set in. They said they expected their speech to go to the governor of New York and then be forwarded to Virginia, acknowledged that the commissioners had asked them to keep the Treaty, and said they expected Virginia and its Indian allies to do the same. They expected that those who brought evil reports to them (that is rumors) probably did the same with the governor of Virginia, so they hoped he would not listen. They agreed to be kind to traders in their country and assist them however they could.

The commissioners asked what Monsieur Longuiel said when he came to their country, and Teganissorens quoted him at length. “Fathers, [the Six Nations had adopted Longueuil as their “child”] I desire that you be not surpriz’d when any blood shall be shed on the Onnondage River or at the side of the Lake for we and the English can’t well abide one another, do you not meddle with the Quarrel butt Set Still smoke & be neuter.” Tegannisorens confirmed that they had sent wampum to Canada to answer the governor saying they were surprised that the French should “trample on the Blood of their Brethren” in the Six Nations country. If they wanted to fight, they should “go to sea and fight where you have Room.”

Kahnawage, Rondax, and Schawenadie Appear, Expecting the General Treaty; They Offer an Indian Woman to Make Up for the Murder of a Soldier

Prior to the commissioners’ response to Teganissorens, seven sachems from Kahnewake, Schawenadie and Rondax appeared.  They said they had come to meet with the governors of New York and Boston, as they had requested in the message they sent by Stephanus Grosbeeck a few weeks earlier. They expected the commissioners to provide lodging in Albany in the meantime. They had no wampum, for which they asked to be excused. The commissioners provided them with housing and necessities.

On September 28th, they formally condoled the man murdered at Saratoga by their people, presumably the English soldier named Williams from the garrison at Mount Burnet. They asked for reconciliation and forgiveness and gave wampum to wipe off the tears of those in mourning for him. And in addition they offered the commissioners a captive, an Indian woman, in place of the man they had lost. They said it was “not our maxim to do so yet we do it to satisfie you for the breach that is comitted.”

They said those who killed the soldier had been on their way to fight in New England. Their young men were unruly and could not be prevented from going to help the Eastern Indians fighting against the English. They asked the Commissioners to do everything they could to end the war.

The Commissioners explained that they had gotten the wampum message that Kahnawage, Rondax, and Schawenadie wanted to meet with the governors of New York and Massachusetts Bay and had sent notice to Boston. The governor there had said that he had to attend a treaty there with the Indians who were at war and asked the Commissioners to hear on his behalf what Kahnawage, Rondax, and Schawenadie had to say. The sachems said they would do so only if Colonel John Schuyler were present to represent Massachusetts. The Commissioners said that Colonel Schuyler was welcome to attend, but they did not think he would come. If the sachems did not want to deliver their message to the Commissioners to pass on to him, perhaps they could meet with him alone, or perhaps they would like to go to Boston, where they would be well received.

The next day the Commissioners gave a more full answer, reproaching the sachems for the murder of the soldier when the parties were at peace. They accused them of deliberately breaching the Covenant Chain in order to undermine the good relations between them. Those who committed such murders should be punished. But since the sachems had come to “mediate and reconcile” the matter, the commissioners said they would ask the governor to forgive the injury on condition that the sachems agree to deliver over anyone who committed such an offense in the future. They accepted the woman in place of the dead soldier “as a Token of your Repentance and sorrow for what is past” and gave a belt of wampum. After harangueing them further to the same effect, they gave them additional wampum. The sachems responded that they had heard the message and would communicate it to their leaders at home, since they were not empowered to promise to deliver up people who transgressed in the future.

The Commissioners wrote to the governor of Massachusetts Bay and described the meeting. They referred the governor to Colonel John Schuyler for more information, explaining that the sachems had refused to deliver their message except to him. They wished the governor success in making peace.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, September 1725 starts here at page 142 through 152a and jumps back here  to p. 113.