Chapter 04 - History of Wyoming County

CHAPTER IV.

THE NOTORIOUS "INDIAN ALLEN" - PROMINENT CHARACTERS AMONG THE SENECAS.

EBENEZER ALLAN, commonly called Allen, or oftener Indian Allen, first came to Gardeau Flats toward the close of the Revolutionary war, and made his home at Mary Jemison's house, hunting with her son Thomas. He remained and worked her land till after the peace of 1783. His first noteworthy exploit here was to arouse the jealousy of a white man, whose wife was a Nanticoke squaw. He next took a belt of wampum to an American officer at a military post as a token of a desire for peace on the part of the Indians - which he was not authorized to do, and which did not correctly represent them. The Indians were exasperated at this and resolved to punish him, and for that purpose pursued him. He fled, but afterward returned, and was fed and secreted by the kind hearted Mary during some days at several times. He was watched for and tracked like a wild beast, and was once taken, but made his escape and returned. He kept hid during two weeks at one time in a small cave or hole in the rocks in a gulf near the flats, whence he emerged at night to find the food which she left for him at a place agreed on, and to milk a cow and drink the milk from his hat

He afterward engaged in business at Mt Morris, built a grist-mill and a saw-mill at Genesee Falls (now Rochester), and engaged in many schemes of speculation. He resided for a time at the mouth of Oatka creek, which was first named from him Allen's creek.

History rarely records a blacker character than his. He was a swindler, a polygamist, an adulterer and a foul murderer. He was a tory in the Revolution; and Mary Jemison said she had often heard him relate this transaction: "At one time, when he was scouting with the Indians, he entered a house very early in the morning, where he found a man, his wife and one child in bed. The man instantly sprang on the floor, for the purpose of defending himself and little family; but Allen dispatched him with one blow. He then cut off his head and threw it, bleeding, into the bed with the terrified woman; took the little infant from its mother's breast, dashed its head against the jamb, and left the unhappy widow and mother to mourn alone over her murdered family. It has been said by some, that, after he had killed the child, he opened the fire, and buried it under the coals and embers; but of that I am not certain. I have often heard him speak of that transaction with a great degree of sorrow, and as the foulest crime he ever committed, one for which I have no doubt he repented."

Some years since Mr. J. S. Minard, of Hume, Allegany county, published some reminiscences of Caneadea reservation and the Indians who lived there. This reservation was but a short distance from this county, and many of the Indians spoken of were well known to old settlers here. For that reason a few extracts are given:

"Prominent among the Caneadea Indians was the old chief and warrior Shongo, who lived near the residence of the late George Parker. Mr. Parker's flats were called 1 Shongo flats,' and a brook which makes into the river near by still retains his name. He it was whom Major Van Campen wounded at the battle of Newtown, now Elmira, if I remember rightly; and with whom he had an interesting interview many years after, at Angelica, when, by mutual relation of the events, personal encounters, etc., in that memorable action, they renewed an old acquaintance begun under quite different circumstances. Shongo is remembered by many of the early settlers as a man of advanced age, sound judgment, good personal appearance and extensive influence with his people.

"A son of his - George Shongo - married a daughter of Mary Jemison (De-he-wa-mis) and afterward lived at Gardeau. Mrs. Sarah Ingham says Shongo used frequently to call at their house, and when inclined to conversation, which was generally the case after imbibing a few drinks of snick-e-i would relate his war exploits, tell of being in the battle of Saratoga under Burgoyne, show the various wounds received in battle - four ball holes in one arm, and various sword cuts, etc.

"Shongo was one of the last to remove from the reservation. He was very loth to go, claiming that he never consented to the sale, that the whole transaction on the part of the whites was a fraud; and it was only after repeated importunities on the part of the whites, through Dr. Dwight, of Moscow, who was agent for several of the proprietors of the reservation, and a deposit in the hands of M. W. Miner Esq., to be paid to him when he should be prepared to go, that he was induced to leave.

"Hudson was another very influential Indian. He was gifted with rare oratorical powers, and was a sort of preacher or exhorter among them. Mr. Charles M. Mills informs me that he has heard him address the assembled Indians upon the occasion of the annual ceremony of burning the dog and remission of sins, when scarcely a dry eye could be seen in the whole assembly. Various others of the early settlers corroborate Mr. Mills's account of the remarkable effect of Hudson's eloquence.

"Hudson at one time lived upon the site of the residence of Andrew S. Ben net, Esq. I have been informed that he was educated at Dartmouth College, and there is good reason for believing it. It is certain that quite a number of young Indians were educated there under the presidency of Dr. Wheelock. Joseph Brant was one of them, and 1 presume Hudson was another."

[Turner says of Hudson: "He had been a leading 'brave' in the southern Indian wars waged by the Senecas, and afterward in the English and French wars. Hon. George Woods, a prominent citizen of Bedford, Pennsylvania, became a prisoner with the Indians, on the Ohio or the Allegheny. Hudson procured his release after he had been condemned and tied to a stake. In after years they met, and the judge treated him with much kindness, making him a present of a fine house and lot at Bedford, which he never occupied, but he used to pride himself upon its possession and the manner in which he came by it."]

"Washington was the name of another Indian family of some note and influence. 'Old Wayne Washington,' alias John Mohawk, the father, died at something over a hundred years of age, and was buried on the farm of Delos Benjamin, only a few rods to the rear of his dwelling. I saw the sunken grave only last summer.

"He it was to whom Van Campen on a certain occasion 'lent his hatchet' - in other words, having dispatched all the rest of his captors, sent him away with a tomahawk sticking in the back of his neck; many with whom I have conversed remember seeing the scar.

"He had sons, Jim and 'Young Wayne Washington,' as he was called, and a daughter, Polly, still remembered by the early settlers as quite a character in those days. One of the boys was said to be the best runner on the reservation. Loren Houghton remembers his running a race on a bet of fifty or sixty dollars, some four miles and turn around the sign post at Radley's tavern and back, coming out victor.

"Long Beard, named in contradistinction to Little Beard, of greater note as a warrior and chieftain (both names, I suppose, having a literal significance and personal application), from whom the rapids in the Genesee river known as 'Long Beard's Riff ' take their name, lived upon the farm of James C. Smith, and was quite a farmer for an Indian, raising some grain and keeping cattle, horses and sheep. Ska-no-boy lived with him, and was quite a notorious character. Ska- no in Indian signifies gift - gift boy, or given boy. He was given to the Caneadea Indians by some other tribe, and adopted. He lived with Long Beard, who, I have been told, was at one time a chief; and perhaps was at the time Ska-no was given. Ska- no- boy was well built, tall, stout, athletic - physically perfection itself, but morally destitute of principle and honor, and as a result incurred the enmity of most of the Indians as well as the whites of the reservation.

"A little incident of Ska-no-boy: He, like most of the Indians, loved the 'fire water' of the white man, and had a charge of twenty shillings scored up against him on one of the beams in Ingham's log tavern. One day he presented himself with an otter skin, the finest specimen ever seen in these parts, which Mr. Ingham took and canceled the debt. But poor Ska-no had better paid the debt in some other way. He had stolen the otter skin from the trap of another Indian, was detected, and shortly after apprehended by a party of two or three of them and very severely punished.

He was at one time lodged in jail at Angelica, for insulting a woman somewhere in the neighborhood of 'Oak Hill,' near Colonel Williams's, which was then a part of this , county. I mention this for the reason that. I have seen it stated that Indians were peculiarly exempt from such conduct.

"Copperhead, a very old Indian, who died a few years since in Careadea, John Shanks, who still occasionally returns to the "scenes of his childhood," Sun-ge-iva, or Big Kettle, the Trirosharps, Sharpshins, Bear Hunter, Kingee, Elk Hunter, Chickens (so called from his diminutive suture), Joe Daw, Jackson, Powderhorn, George Jakes, and Chick-nit were Indians of lesser note remembered by our pioneers.

"The marriage contract they regarded with the utmost solemnity. I have been- told that divorces were very unusual. There were some exceptions, however, to this general rule. I have been told of two instances where the marital obligations were not respected on the part of the wife, or squaw, and in each case the husband poisoned himself. Young Elk Hunter was one, and was found dead, having eaten of the cicuta, or poison hemlock, and repaired to the woods. He lived near where Reynolds's tavern is located, on the Wiscoy. The other was one of the Kingees.

"One of the Trimsharps - Tom, I believe - was once at the house of Mr. Joel Cooper, one of the early settlers on the reservation, where, among other things thought of and talked of, the subject of marriage came up. Mr. Cooper had several sons, none of them as yet married. Turning to one of them, the Indian said, 'You young, me no young; why you no get you squaw?' and endeavored to persuade him to marry, promising, in case he would agree to it, to bring him a squaw next time he should come out. To this young Cooper assented, of course, and thought no more of it. But judge of his surprise when, in a few days, 'Old Tom ' reappeared with' a charming young squaw by his side, whom he had brought all the way from Tonawanda to become his bride. This was a stumper for the young man; when he was joking the Indian had been in earnest, and he was reduced to the alternative of marrying the squaw or backing out of his bargain. He chose to repudiate.

"An anecdote is related of an Indian, who, in 1823 or 1824, was frozen to death on the road from Cold Creek to Caneadea, while in a state of beastly intoxication. When found the Indians gathered around him in considerable numbers, and held a sort of impromptu coroner's inquest over the body, discussing the cause of death. After due deliberation they came to the unanimous conclusion that he came to his death by reason of the water that was in the whisky that he drank having frozen in him."

SOURCE:  History of Wyoming County, N.Y., with Illustrations, Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Some Pioneers and Prominent Residents; F. W. Beers & Co.; 1880