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Kindly transcribed by Donna Walker Judge & Deborah Spencer
From History of Ontario County, NY Published 1878
Pg 20 - 23
LINES - WILLIAMSON'S IDEAL AND THE REAL
It has been seen that the association represented by PHELPS and GORHAM had based hope of payment upon their presumed ability to purchase Massachusetts paper at half its par value and turn it in to the State at its face, but steps then in progress gave promise of a Federal Government, which would assume State debts, and, in consequence, the State scrip rose in value to and above par. A suit instituted by the State against the association was compromised by a re-conveyance to the former of all lands not included in the Indian treaty, and the payment of that portion on the basis of values existing at the time of purchase. This change was made about 1790. The settlers having contracted to make payment to the proprietors in the depreciated scrip, found themselves unable to do so, and their lands and improvements reverted to the company. During this period few sales were made by the latter, owing to difficulty of payment. Prices were low, but the poverty of the settler made ownership impossible. From date of the original purchase, Oliver PHELPS had been a large share-holder, and now, by reversions and purchases, became a principal owner, and was regarded in 1795 as a highly successful business man. During those years, examples of success in land purchase had excited a mania of speculation, which involved and ruined many. One of these devices, originating at Philadelphia, found in Mr. PHELPS, just elected to Congress, a victim to its delusive promises. To meet liabilities, large sums were borrowed, and security by mortgage given upon the Genesee lands. Connecticut held a large claim of this character, and employed the Hon. Gideon GRANGER to attend to her interests. Under his able management debts were discharged, involved titles cleared from incumbrance, and when appointed agent to settle the PHELPS estate, the result of Mr. GRANGER's efforts was seen in full settlement of all claims, and a large property saved to the heirs. While there were not wanting those who felt inclined to censure the course of Mr. PHELPS, it is generally conceded that he was of incalculable service to the people of this region, and always dealt conscientiously by those who, linked with him, were drawn into the maelstrom of ruin attending land speculation. The name of Robert MORRIS is remembered as of one whose personal sacrifice greatly conduced to secure colonial independence. He had heard much of the Genesee Valley, and all was favorable, so that when a proposition was made by PHELPS and GORHAM to sell to him their entire final purchase, excepting such towns and parts of townships as had been conveyed by them to purchasers, it was favorably received, and the land changed owners. The deed of conveyance called for about two million two hundred thousand acres, for which Mr. MORRIS paid �30,000, New York currency. Soon after this heavy investment, Major Adam HOOPS, a resident near Philadelphia, was sent to examine the resources of the land, and reported it equal to any in the United States in its soil, climate, and location. Survey succeeded purchase, and David RITTENHOUSE was employed to fit out an expedition in charge of Major HOOPS, with surveying instruments of recent and valuable invention. Robert MORRIS bought to sell again, and to that end established agents in leading European cities. William T. FRANKLIN, grandson of Benjamin FRANKLIN, was the London agent who accomplished a sale to an association comprised in Sir William PULTNEY, John HORNBY, and Patrick COLQUHOUN. Prior to sale, neither principal nor agent realized the value of what they held. Mr. MORRIS made the discovery when too late. Application for a quarter-million acres had been made when tidings of the sale were received. The price paid Mr. MORRIS for what was supposed to contain 1,100,000, and which really held 100,000 acres more, was 35,000. It has been said that Major HOOPS was to have made a survey for Mr. MORRIS, and by the terms of sale the latter agreed to make an accurate survey of all land conveyed, and correct the former survey, which was erroneous from a fraudulent running of the pre-emption line. The survey of this, known as the Old Pre-emption Line,� was a matter of great interest, inasmuch as it was desired that the promising village of Geneva should lie eastward of its course. Two Indian traders, Seth REED, afterwards the founder of a settlement at Erie, Pennsylvania, and Peter RYCKMAN, made application to Massachusetts for the satisfaction of a claim for services rendered in treating with the SIX NATIONS, and made the proposition that a tract should be patented to them, whose limits should be defined as extending from a certain tree which stood on the bank of Seneca Lake, southward along the bank until a strip of land, in area equal to sixteen thousand acres, should be included between the lake and the State lands. Their claim was allowed, and a patent given.
Upon the sale by the State of her proprietary rights to Messrs. PHELPS and GORHAM, the proposition was made to them by REED and RYCKMAN to unite in running the pre-emption line, each party to furnish a surveyor. Colonel MAXWELL was prevented by sickness from attending to the work, and his place was taken by an associate. The line was run, and proved highly favorable to the traders, and correspondingly disappointed Messrs. PHELPS and GORHAM, who, however, made no re-survey, but sold their purchase to MORRIS, with a specification in their deed of a tract in a gore between the line and the west bounds of the Military Tract. They were influenced to this action by an offer on the part of a prominent party in the Lessee Company of all the lands they owned east of the line that had been run.
The brothers Andrew, Joseph, and Benjamin ELLICOTT were the surveyors of the city of Washington, and the transit for survey by astronomic observation was made available in that work. The first, Andrew ELLICOTT and Augustus PORTER, superintended by Major HOOPS, entered upon the survey of a new line. A body of axe-men were set to work, and felled the timber a width of thirty feet; the survey was made down this line to the head of Seneca Lake, whence night signals were employed to run down and over the lake. The care taken to secure accuracy established credit in the survey, and the New Pre-emption Line became known as the true line of division between the respective lands. Major HOOPS then examined the former survey, and found that a short distance from the Pennsylvania line it had begun to bear off gradually till reaching the outlet of Crooked Lake; it then made an abrupt offset. A northwestwardly inclination was made some miles; then the line ran eastward till, at the foot of Seneca Lake, it struck out nearly due north to Lake Ontario. A brief observation is sufficient to prove that the site of Geneva was the attraction which caused this uncertain deviation in the surveyor's compass. The old line reached Ontario, three miles west of Sodus Bay, and the new line near the centre of the head of the bay. The included space, triangular in form, having its acute angle near the Chemung, and its base resting on Lake Ontario, has been familiarly known as "The Gore".
MORRIS had attempted colonizing his
tract by emigration from Pennsylvania, but the people of that State,
aside from the formidable task of journeying to the Genesee, indulged a
dread of the SIX NATIONS, whose prowess had been won at the expense of many
of their number, and no progress was made prior to his sale. The London
associates desired to establish upon their land thriving settlements,
and at the same time remunerate and advantage themselves. They selected
as their agent Charles WILLIAMSON, a man who has left his impress in the
character and prosperity of those induced by his representations and
liberality to take up their abode upon the purchase.
As an ideal of proprietary
settlement, the following Account of Captain
WILLIAMSON's Establishment on Lake Ontario, North America,
is given as a copy of an original article on the Genesee country
published in the Commercial Agricultural Magazine in London, England, August
This immense undertaking is under
the direction and in the name of Captain WILLIAMSON, formerly a British
officer, but is generally supposed in America to be a joint concern
between him and Sir William PATENCE, of London; in England, PATENCE is
believed to be the proprietor, and WILLIAMSON his agent. The land in the
Genesee country, or that part of it which belongs to the State of
Massachusetts, was sold to a Mr. PHELPS for five pence an acre; by him,
in 1790, to Mr. MORRIS, at one shilling per acre, being estimated at a
million of acres, on condition that the money should be returned
provided Captain WILLIAMSON, who was to view the lands, should not find
them answerable to the description. He was pleased with them, and, on
survey, found the tract to contain one hundred and twenty thousand acres
more than the estimate, the whole of which was conveyed to him. This
district is bounded on one side by Lake Ontario, and on the other by the
river Genesee. WILLIAMSON also bought some other land of Mr. MORRIS, so
that he is now proprietor of more than a million and a half acres. After
surveying the whole, he resolved to found at once several large
establishments rather than one capital colony. He therefore fixed on the
most eligible places for building towns, as central spots to his whole
system. These were Bath, on the Conhocton; Williamsburg, on the
Genesee; Geneva, at the foot of Lake Seneca; and Great Sodus, on Lake
Ontario. The whole territory he divided into squares of six miles. Each
of these squares he forms into a district. Sure of finding settlers and
purchasers when he had established a good communication between his new
tract and Philadelphia, and as the old road was by way of New York and
Albany, WILLIAMSON opened a road which has shortened the distance three
hundred miles. He has also continued his roads from Bath to Geneva, to
Canandaigua, and to Great Sodus, and several other roads of
communication. He has already erected ten mills,--three corn and seven
sawing,--has built a great many houses, and has begun to clear land. He
put himself to the heavy expense of transporting eighty families from
Germany to his settlements; but, owing to a bad choice made by his agent
at Hamburg, they did little, and after a short time set off for Canada.
He succeeded better in the next set, who were mostly Irish. They put the
roads into good condition, and gave such a difference to the whole that
the land which he sold at one dollar an acre was soon worth three; and
he has disposed of eight hundred thousand acres in this way so as to pay
the first purchase, the whole expense incurred, and has made a profit of
fifty pounds. This rapid increase of property is owing to the money
first advanced, but the great advantage is WILLIAMSON�s constant
residence on the settlement, which enables him to conclude any contract
or to remove any difficulty which may stand in the way; besides, his
land is free from all dispute or question of occupancy, and all his
settlement is properly ascertained and marked out. There has been a
gradual rise in values, and a proviso is always inserted in the deed of
sale to those who purchase a large quantity that a certain number of
acres shall be cleared, and a certain number of families settled, within
eighteen months. Those who buy from five hundred to one thousand are
only obliged to settle one family. These clauses are highly useful, as
they draw an increase of population and prevent the purchase of lands
for speculation only.
Captain WILLIAMSON, however,
never acts up to the rigor of this claim where any known obstacles
impede the execution. The terms of payment are to discharge half the
purchase in three years, and the remainder in six, which enables the
industrious to pay from the produce of the land. The poorer families he
supplies with an ox, a cow, or even a home. To all the settlements he
establishes he takes care to secure a constant supply of provisions for
the settlers, or supplies them from his own store. Whenever five or six
settlers build together, he always builds a house at his own expense,
which soon sells at an advanced price. Every year he visits each
settlement, which tends to diffuse a spirit of industry and promote the
sale of lands, and he employs every other means he can suggest to be
useful to the inhabitants. He keeps stores of medicines, encourages
races and amusements, and keeps a set of beautiful stallions. He has
nearly finished his great undertaking, and proposes them to take a
voyage to England to purchase the best horses, cattle, sheep, implements
of agriculture, etc. Captain WILLIAMSON has not only the merit of having
formed, and that in so judicious a manner, this fine settlement, but he
has the happiness to live universally respected, honored, and beloved.
Bath is the chief settlement, and it is to be the chief town of a county
of the same name. At this town he is building a school, which is to be
endowed with some hundred acres of land. The salary of the master
WILLIAMSON means to pay until the instruction of the children shall be
sufficient for his support. He has built a session-house and a prison,
and one good inn, which he has sold for a considerable profit, and is
now building another which is to contain a ball-room. He has also
constructed a bridge, which opens a free and easy communication with the
other side of the river. He keeps in his own hands some small farms in
the vicinity of Bath, which are under the care of a Scotchman, and which
appear to be better plowed and managed than most in America. In all the
settlements he reserves one estate for himself, the stock on which is
remarkably good. These he disposes of occasionally to his friends, on
some handsome offers. To the settlements already mentioned he is now
adding two others, one at the mouth of the Genesee, the other at
Braddock, thirty miles farther inland. Great Sodus, on the coast of this
district, promises to afford a safe and convenient place for ships, from
the depth of water, and it may be easily fortified. The climate here is
much more temperate than in Pennsylvania. The winter seldom lasts more
than four months, and the cattle, even in that season, graze in the
forest without inconvenience. These settlements are, however, rather
unhealthy, which Captain WILLIAMSON ascribes to nothing but the natural
effect of the climate on new settlers, and is confined to a few fits of
fever with which strangers are seized the first or second year after
their arrival. The inhabitants all agree, however, that the climate is
unfavorable, and the marshes and pieces of stagnant water are thickly
spread over the country; but these will be drained as the population
increases. On the whole, it promises to be one of the most considerable
settlements in America.
It is interesting and instructive to
see from that remote point a review of the locality with which we have
grown familiar, to note the success of the agent, and the difficulties
encountered. Trace we now the progress of Mr. WILLIAMSON as he appears
outlined in his actual presence, and the progressive efforts originated
with him, and tending to the prosperity of this region. He was a native
of Scotland, a captain in the British army, and a prisoner in Boston
till the close of the Revolution. He was in London when American wild
lands were engaging the attention of capitalists, and his opinions were
highly esteemed. Appointed agent, he came with his family and two
assistants, Charles CAMERON and John JOHNSTONE, to America, and passed
the winter of 1791-92 in Pennsylvania, He made a hasty journey to the
Genesee country in February, 1792, and wrote to Patrick COLQUHOUN, one
of the association, a retired capitalist, and a former governor in
India, that the country was a wilderness without roads. Communication by
road was the first necessity, and this was attempted from the south. The
long trail through the wide wilderness east of the Genesee country, nor
the costly water route, gave encouragement in that direction. With a
party of surveyors, a road was located from Williamsport to the mouth of
Canascraga Creek, on the Genesee River. It was determined to begin
settlement there, and, accordingly, a village was laid out and named
Williamsburg, eighty acres were plowed, and a number of houses built.
These latter were for the occupation of a German colony. A man named
BEREZY had planned to win the confidence of Mr. COLQUHOUN, and so far
succeeded as to be permitted to select persons with whom to found a
settlement. This man gathered a motley crowd of worthless material in
Hamburg, and set out with seventy families for the West. They arrived in
time to aid in opening the road, and were at once set to work. In the
spring of 1793 they were placed in the new village. Houses, lands,
tools, provisions, and stock were fully provided. A minister was engaged
to serve them in spiritual matters, and a physician to regard their
health. The colony, men and women, passed their time in idleness and
carousal, consumed their provisions, neglected the land, slaughtered
their stock, and cooked even the seed provided to put in a crop. BEREZY
was the source of the evil, and by him the difficulties were increased.
The goods and provisions in a store established in charge of John
JOHNSTON were drawn and used, and anarchy ran riot. WILLIAMSON,
accompanied by Thomas MORRIS, went from Canandaigua to institute a
change. BEREZY was interviewed, deposed, and ordered to cease control of
the Germans. These were assembled, instructed, and at first seemed
willing to accede to terms, but BEREZY soon induced a different spirit.
One day, the Germans, led on by
BEREZY, drove WILLIAMSON, MORRIS, and others into a house occupied by
James MILLER, and for a time threatened his life. The settlers ran riot
for days, killing the cattle for a feast, and assailing the agent and
his friends. Richard CUYLER, clerk for WILLIAMSON, went to Albany for
troops from Governor CLINTON to quell the riot, while BEREZY and some of
the Germans left for Philadelphia. Judah COLT, then sheriff of Ontario,
was ordered summon a force and quell the disturbance. A body of men were
raised and made a march by night to the scene of action, where the
ringleaders were arrested, taken to Canandaigua, and lightly fined. The
pioneers of Canandaigua and vicinity hired them, and so enabled them to
pay their penalties and learn obedience to law. Their defense on trial
was made by Vincent MATTHEWS, one of those whose portrait embellishes
the court-room in Canandaigua, and this case was one of the first upon
which he was engaged.
Another colony, organized by Donald
STEWART, set out for North Carolina. Mr. COLQUHOUN proposed to STEWART
to settle them in Ontario. The latter came out, and with WILLIAMSON made
an exploration of the county. Their travels brought them to what is now
Clifton Springs. Their attention was taken by the scenery, the
appearance of sulphur, and by the odor. A joke passed upon the
Highlander, that this was just the place for a Highland colony,
was resented, and the settlement was not made. Of many schemes of
settlement, all failed, save the one at Caledonia Springs, which proved a
complete success. Experience in colonial settlement from the founding of
Jamestown had not taught the foreigner the impracticable character of
their schemes, and the lessons taught were costly and discouraging.
Improvements were made in the spring of 1793 at Bath. A plot was surveyed, a land office erected, and a score of log cabins put up. Here WILLIAMSON underwent an introduction to the misery consequent upon an attack of fever and ague, but improvements were continued and a saw-and grist-mill built. Emigrants from the South were attracted, and the place contained a log tavern in which John METCALF officiated. In the spring of 1794 Mr. WILLIAMSON turned his attention to Geneva, and there began the erection of the Geneva Hotel. This famed structure, completed at the close of the year, was opened by a ball, and knew a reputation such as the magnitude of the work gave ample cause to expect. Handsomely located, supplied with all the conveniences of an English inn, and conducted by Thomas POWELL, a celebrated inn-keeper of London, it stood in magnitude and accommodation solitary and alone. It was the Astor House of the West, the early home of men without family residing at Geneva, and the resting-place of well-to-do emigrants. The original survey of REED and WYCKMAN, Joseph ANNIN and Benjamin BARTON, was superseded by another on a larger scale. WILLIAMSON desired the town to front upon the lake, and the space in the rear was intended for park and garden. But the useful took precedence of the ornamental, and the original plan was changed. The land upon the 'Gore', had been patented prior to the new line, and these patents WILLIAMSON purchased. No third line was run, but the commissioners of the land office were left to settle between patentees and the associates. As payment for money advanced in the purchase of patents, WILLIAMSON received the same amount of land in the towns of Wolcott and Galen, Wayne County. Sodus was the next site selected on which to found a village, and roads were cut from Palmyra and Phelps town to that locality. His appearance, with his corps of workers, gave new life to the settlers in the heavy forests, and the improvements which seemed possible years to come were already begun. The survey was done by Joseph COLT. In-lots contained a quarter-acre; the out-lots, ten acres. The price of the former was one hundred dollars; of the latter four dollars per acre, while the neighboring farm lands were held at one dollar and fifty cents per acre.
The junction of Canandaigua Outlet and Mud Creek became the next focus of attention, and received the name, Lyons. A settlement of a dozen persons had been made here in May, 1789. Their nearest neighbors were ROBINSON and the OAKS family. Joining labor with the settlers of Phelps, they opened a road to Bear's Mill at Scauyes. Other improvements followed in various localities and in 1798 a body of Scotch emigrants came from New York westward to Johnstown, Montgomery county, and were there visited by WILLIAMSON. The emigrants were without money, but rich in courage and industry. They were offered land at what is known as Caledonia, the price to be paid in wheat and provisions to answer present needs. WILLIAMSON had noted the fondness of the people for races and athletic sports, and determined upon holding a fair and races. In 1794 he established fairgrounds and a race-course at the forks of the Canascraga and the Genesee. Great preparations were made and high expectations were excited. The day came, and with its settlers from so far east as Utica. Business and pleasure were untied. The Indians were present in crowds and added their ball plays and foot races to the sports planned by the projectors. The fair was continued annually at different places, for years.
To WILLIAMSON was due the act to lay out the road of which we have spoken from Fort Schuyler to Geneva, and the construction of avenues of intercourse engaged much of his attention. Farther on is given a history of the Canandaigua Academy, an institution to which WILLIAMSON was a large subscriber, as was the case also on the establishment of the first library at Geneva in 1798. Education in him found a generous patron and there was no popular want that he did not endeavor to supply. The company of which he was the agent, were generous of means for improvement; years went by and the income was comparatively meager and slow. The account in 1800 gave a total expenditure of $1,374,470.10; the indebtedness upon purchases was $300,000 and the receipts but $147,974.83. As an offset to this unfavorable report, it may be said the wild lands, which were found selling at two to four shillings per acres, were now advanced to from a dollar and a half, to four dollars, and aside from mills, farms and debts due, was a tract comprising an enormous area if this land so grown in value. WILLIAMSON had served in the British army, and this fact was the basis of distrust, and not a step for improvement could be taken without an unfavorable construction. Time and the efforts constantly showing up in his favor, swept away this unjust though natural jealousy; and in 1796, WILLIAMSON was elected by the county to the legislature with slight opposition. He was a friend to the pioneer, alleviating financial trouble, encouraging the unfortunate, and sending refreshing cordial to the sick. Observant of the treacherous and unworthy conduct of English agents in Canada, he made it known to their government , and it was well for the settlers of the Genesee that Englishmen were concerned in their prosperity, and that they were represented in this county by such a man as Charles WILLIAMSON.
On the settlement of his affairs, he had village property in Geneva, and on his departure left hem in charge of James REESE, Esq., of that village. His death took place in 1808 and none of his descendants are left in the country to which his personal effort gave so great an impetus.
APPREHENSION - TREATY OF 1794 - DEATH OF CHAPIN
The colonies had gained their independence and the treaty of 1783 closed the war; but the lands of Western New York, occupied by Indians and dominated by British influence, were settled by sufferance and hardihood. Forts Oswego and Niagara held British garrisons, and American commerce was excluded from Lake Ontario. SIMCOE, at Niagara, was imbued with hostility to the Americans, and lost no opportunity of displaying his sentiments. JOHNSTON, resident in Montreal, and influential among the Six Nations, was an able second to SIMCOE in the work of rendering the Indians troublesome. Joseph BRANDT held an ambiguous position at one time professing peace to CHAPIN, MORRIS and others, at another organizing bands of Canadian Indians as allies of the Western nations; while Colonel John BUTLER, affluent and honored by his king for zeal in his service, living at Niagara as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, gave freely of his stores to the Iroquois, and intimated a coming time when they would be asked to go upon the warpath to reclaim their ancient lands.
Stimulated by avarice, since of
wrong and desire of revenge, the Senecas were moody, insolent and
threatening in behavior. Nor
were the feelings of the Americans cordial or conciliate; the
remembrance of horrid cruelties and un pitying murders caused a mingled
feeling of fear, distrusts and defiance.
Under these circumstances open hostilities were easy of kindling,
a spark would set the train in flames once more upon the outer
Occasions would arise when some
brave borderer, aroused by sight of sullen faces to remembrance of a
midnight scene of terror in recent years, took sudden vengeance in
a deadly rifle-shot; then all the influence of agent, State and
government was called in action to prevent a general warfare on the
settlement, - a terrible revenge.
War seemed inevitable at last when
two Senecas were murdered by the whites in Pennsylvania; the
tribe united to demand redress, and the war spirit burned fiercely in
the hearts of the warriors.
A message dated August 1790, was sent to the Governor of Pennsylvania, by the chiefs of the Senecas, among whom were RED JACKET and LITTLE BEARD, and therein was contained the following: Brothers, the two men you have killed were very great men, and were of the Great Turtle tribe; one of them was a chief and the other was to be put in the great King Garoughtha's place, who is dead also.
Brothers, you must not think hard of us if we speak rash, as it
comes from a wounded heart, as you have struck the hatchet in our head
and we can not be reconciled until you come and pull it out.
We are sorry to tell you that
you have killed eleven of us, since peace.
And now we take you by the hand and lead you to the painted post,
as far as your canoes can come up the creek, where you will meet the
whole tribe of the deceased and all the chiefs and a number of warriors
of our nation, where we expect you will wash away the blood of your
brothers, bury the hatchet, and put it out of memory.
Timothy PICKERING was sent to Tioga
Point, on November 16, 1790, to hold the proposed council, to which the
chiefs of the Six Nations, came in full force.
RED JACKET, if no warrior, was an influential speaker, and his
efforts on this occasion did not ally the feelings of resentment.
Presents were freely and judiciously bestowed, covetously
received, and hollow professions of friendship made.
The constitution had been adopted and for the first time the Six
Nations met the Thirteen Fires (the Indian designation of the Thirteen
Colonies), now made one in council, and received assurances of prompt
redress of grievances and friendly consideration of their interests.
The year 1794 began
in gloom and apprehension; every eye turned towards General CHAPIN.
To prevent abandonment of the country, he gave assurances which
he was far from feeling, and many the visit from the forest clearings to
Canandaigua to learn the situation, and gladly the family heard, in
their unprotected state, his words of cheer.
The power exercised by the superintendent at this time was all
supplies of food and clothing kept the SENECAS from the British
posts, and assumed confidence prevented the flight of the settlers.
The country was un-provided with means of defense, and some arms
and ammunition were sent to General CHAPIN.
The condition of affairs in Canandaigua is thus expressed in a
reminiscence entitled, "An Indian Runner."
Among the SENECAS and other confederate tribes it was
customary; when intelligence of importance was to be quickly
communicated, to select the most vigorous and enduring of their young
men to go on foot, bearing the message from one tribe to another.
The runners, as they were called, wore only breech-cloth and
moccasins, and carried no food unless the journey was a long one, when
some dried venison and parched corn were taken with them.
Their gait, known by the whites as the "Indian lope,"
was a long, swinging stride. But
few families then constituted the settlers of Canandaigua; the men were
alarmed, and the women especially troubled.
An Indian, knowing a little English, one day approached a white
woman, ran his finger in a circle upon the top of her head, and, with a
demoniac look, muttered to her, "Bime by you," thus expressing
his disposition to take her scalp.
Should the Indians
rise, no succor could be expected nearer than Utica, and that was one
hundred and twelve miles away, through an unbroken forest.
Amidst great excitement and apprehension some proposed to erect a
block-house, into which, in case of necessity, the women and children
might be placed. CHAPIN
opposed this on the ground that such an act or other manifestation of
fear and mistrust would precipitate violence.
Among the sachems of the SENECAS the superintendent had
many strong friends. Some
of these confided to him the secret that a council had been appointed to
be held at the mouth of Buffalo Creek, where would be determined whether
or not the settlements of the Genesee should be cut off.
CORNPLANTER, a leading chief, had assured the general that the
result of the council should be made known to him by one of his swiftest
runners. To Hannah SANBORN,
the leading woman in the Canandaigua settlement, the secret was told by
the general, and she was instructed to visit the women to assure them
that should the runner bear unfavorable news there would be time to
reach Utica before the Indians could strike a blow.
This was done, and then the determination of the council was
anxiously awaited. The
question was discussed at the council, and, as the decision was made,
CORNPLANTER started his fleetest runner at sunrise of the next day to
convey to CHAPIN the result. All
was quiet in the little village that day, and CHAPIN at his home
remained to receive any news that might arrive.
Just as the sun was
sinking behind Arsenal Hill, the lithe runner was seen coming with long
strides down Main Street. He
was met by the superintendent. The
Indian stopped, gave vent to expressive grunts, and announced safety to Canandaigua.
The runner had made ninety miles upon the trail between the
rising and setting sun of that day.
negotiations, a treaty was appointed to be held at Canandaigua, in the
early part of September, 1794. CHAPIN
labored assiduously to disseminate the invitation, and induce a general
attendance. WAYNE was now
marching to encounter the legions of Indians, among whom, doubtless, a
few SENECAS were mingled, and the nation stood alert, ready to
dig up the hatchet in the event of his defeat.
William EWING was sent to Buffalo Creek and to Canada to
influence the attendance of the Indians at the treaty.
The Indian, like a grown child, was susceptible of influence
through gifts and food, and to make the treaty successful in its
two-fold aim---to remove cause of complaint and to establish permanent
good will---the most ample effort was made.
Colonel PICKERING was appointed commissioner, and purchased in
New York a large supply of Indian goods, and sent them by water to
Canandaigua, while CHAPIN prepared to feed, bountifully, all who might
come. The commissioner
arrived September 20. The
Indians came in slowly. The
English, at first opposed, now advised them to go and get what the
Americans would give. The
British, once on the verge of war, changed their intentions, but their
agents still continued their pernicious influence.
Weeks before the treaty parties came into Canandaigua, and built
camps upon the courthouse square, in the woods, and by the lake shore,
and the place seemed reclaimed to former usages.
These scenes were memorable to the inhabitants; the camp-fires
lit the forest by night, and the red men were regarded with curiosity,
not wholly free from fear, as they moved about by day.
The warriors, defeated by WAYNE, came back subdued, and when the SIX
NATIONS saw that warfare was hopeless, then only did they come in
numbers to the treaty, which was not begun till about the middle of
October. Beeves were
slaughtered to supply meat, broadcloth and blanket, ornament and money,
were dealt out, and the Indians became highly pleased.
Liquor had been excluded, but a trader secretly began to sell to
them, and turbulence and trouble ensued.
The treaty was concluded, a carousal followed, and the Indians,
in high spirits, returned to their homes.
By this treaty the limits of the SENECA territory were
defined. Goods to the value
of $10,000 were delivered to the SIX NATIONS, and a promise of
$4500 to be expended annually in clothing given them, provided their
residence was within the boundaries of the United States.
As incidental to the treaty, the following is related:
The treaty was held on the court-house square, and at evening a
party of gentlemen sat discussing its terms in a dimly-lighted room of
Moses ATWATER's then small house, standing upon the north boundary of
the northwest corner of the square, when a liquor-crazed, almost naked
young warrior leaped with a yell through the open door into the room,
knife in hand. The party
stood not upon the order of their going, but scattered at once.
Augustus PORTER, then young, strong, and active, caught up an
old-fashioned splint-bottomed kitchen chair, upon which he had been
seated, by the tops of its back rounds, and jamming it against the young
savage, pressed him against the wall.
The Indian twisted, squirmed, and tried to reach PORTER with his
knife, but in vain. He then
edged towards the door, favored in the movement by PORTER, and reaching
the entrance sprang out upon the square, giving vent to a terrific
whoop. Answering yells were
heard, and the whites apprehended an attack, but the chiefs, learning
the cause of the tumult, put the warrior in confinement, and ended the
We may now turn brief
attention to the two parties affected by the peace---the settlers and
the Indians. It has been
said that BRANDT desired peace. He
was the one to communicate to CHAPIN the news of Wayne's victory, and it
was glad news that the pioneers who had been to Canandaigua took home
with them to their families. We
may imagine the relief experienced, the congratulations exchanged, and
the fresh vigor with which they resumed their daily labors.
On the other hand the IROQUOIS had seen the vigor of Mad ANTHONY, and accounted him more than human; they had witnessed the perfidy of the British in inciting them to act and then refusing them shelter, and following the treaty resolved to live quietly in their villages in peace with the settlers. The services of General CHAPIN, here but dimly recorded; are believed to have prevented the alliance of the IROQUOIS with the forces of LITTLE TURTLE, and certainly prevented hostilities in the Genesee country. His death occurred March 7, 1795, aged fifty-four years. Appreciated among the whites, he was mourned as a public benefactor, and the Indians depended upon him as children upon a parent. In consequence of his decease, a number of chiefs held a council at Canandaigua to do honor to his memory. All the SIX NATIONS but the MOHAWKS were represented, and among the leaders were RED JACKET, FARMER's BROTHER, and CLEAR SKY. The following speech of condolence is ascribed to RED JACKET, in the presence of Israel CHAPIN, Jr., who for several years had served as his father's deputy: "Brothers, I wish you to pay attention to what I have to say. You will recollect you forwarded a manuscript to us informing us of the loss of our good friend. The loss is not to you alone; it is to us of the SIX NATIONS as well. One who was to us a father, who stood between the Nations and the United States, is now dead. Brothers, our minds are sorrowful in the thought that one so valuable, who took such care to brighten the chain of friendship between the SIX NATIONS and the United States, has been lost to us. Let us preserve unbroken the friendship which he has held up as our guide. Brothers, we follow the former customs of our forefathers, and gathering leaves and weeds, strew them over the grave, while we attempt as much as we can to banish grief from our minds. Brothers of the fifteen fires, listen: the man appointed as our adviser has departed, and left no one to whom we may communicate what we may desire. He was to us as if the United States stood by us. If we had any message, he took it with care to the great council-fire. Now that we have lost our guide, we are troubled to know how to keep up our friendship. Brothers, these are our wishes: When you have before selected a guide for us it has been good for us both. Sometimes there was more than he could do; he then sent forward his son to act for him. We have learned to know him, and find his mind good. We think he will be like his father, and all the papers and belts of wampum are in his hands." This speech was sent forward to Philadelphia. The request was favorably received by Washington, and Captain Israel CHAPIN was appointed to the agency made vacant by the death of his father.
Created by Dianne Thomas
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