The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY


Online Edition by Holice & Deb



After the discovery of America by Columbus, the first settlement on the Atlantic coast by Europeans was made by English and Dutch, on the south, and by French on the extreme north. Ascending the great river St. Lawrence, the French founded the cities of Quebec and Montreal; and following the river and the lake westward, they established the settlements at Pittsburgh and Detroit, many years before the English settled Western New York.

The Algonquins and Hurons inhabited Canada East at the coming of the French. With these, from motives of policy, the formed an alliance. These Canadian Indians and the Iroquois of Western New York, were ar war with each other. The French joined their Indian allies in this war, and thus incurred the inveterate hostility of the Iroquois.

Many desperate battles were fought between the French and these Indians with various success. The Algonquins and Hurons were driven out of their country, or destroyed, and the Iroquois came near exterminating the French settlements in Canada. They effectually prevented their locating themselves in New York, although they claimed this whole territory. A few French missionaries only of their people were tolerated by the Iroquois within their country, except at the mouth of the Niagara River, where the French established a trading post in 1678. This was taken by the English under Sir. William Johnson, in 1759, and retained by them until it was surrendered to the United States in 1796.

In 1722, a trading house was built at Oswego, under the direction of the Colonial government of New York; and in 1727, this was strengthened by a fort.

The French protested against this encroachment upon the territory they claimed, by the English, and several times sent military expeditions to drive them out.

These English establishments at Oswego were taken by the French in 1756, and destroyed. They were rebuilt by the English in 1758, and continued in their possession until 1796; they were surrendered to the United States under Jay's treaty.

The French kept up communication through Lake Ontario, between their western settlements and Quebec, but made no other location within the bounds of New York, being kept back by the power of the Indians.

In 1760, a powerful army of British, Indians, and Provincial Americans was sent into Canada, under Gen. Amherst. To these forces the French surrendered Canada and all their western possessions, which included their claim to Western New York.

The Iroquois, or Six nations, having early entered into relations of amity and friendship with the English, remained true to their engagements after the overthrow of the French in American, and so down to the time of the Revolution.

At the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, Gen. Philip Schuyler, in a council with the chiefs of the Six Nations, at German Flats, in June, 1776, had obtained their promise to remain neutral in that war.--After the war had been some time in progress, however, Sir John Johnson, Brant, Col. John Butler and other Tories of that day, prevailed on the Indians to violate their pledge, and take up arms against the Americans; and with the exception of the Tuscaroras and Oneidas, they remained the firm friend of the British through the war.

Under the influence of the Johnsons, a large proportion of the white inhabitants in the Valley of the Mohawk were Tories; these uniting with the hostile Indians, led by Butler, Brant, and others made incursions, carrying murder and devastation along the frontier settlements of the Colonies, and retreating with their prisoners and plunder to the British strongholds at Niagara and Oswego, where they were safe.

This predatory warfare continued at intervals, from 1775 to 1779, along the Mohawk and Susquehanna rivers more especially.

In 1779, Gen. Sullivan, with an army of five thousand men, was sent by Gen. Washington to punish the Indians and Tories of New York, for their conduct in the war. He encountered them in force in a fortified camp near Elmira, where they were defeated with great loss. The army of Gen. Sullivan pursued the enemy to Canandaigua, thence through their villages in Livingston County, destroying everything belonging to the Indians on their route. But few of the Indians were killed after the battle at Elmira; but they were thoroughly frightened, wasted and vanquished, and never afterwards resumed the occupancy of their settlements east of the Genesee river, but on their return from flight before Sullivan, they located near Geneseo, Gardeau, Mount Morris, and other places in the western part of the State. The Oneidas not having engaged in the war, were not disturbed in their homes.

The Indians were terribly beaten and humbled by this expedition of Gen. Sullivan, and from that time forward remained peaceful toward the whites.

The Pioneer History of Orleans County, NY, By Arad Thomas


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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