The Early History of Ontario County, New York
Kindly transcribed by Deborah Spencer
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From the History of Ontario County, NY
Published 1893 Pg 59 - 74
War--Devil's Hole and Black Rock--Sir William Johnson Concludes a Peace
with the Senecas--Treaty at Fort Niagara--Events Preceding the
Revolution--Outbreak of the War--The Senecas Serve the King--Kanadesaga
becomes Headquarters for Tories--Butler's Buildings--Indian Outrages on
the Frontier--The Principal Actors--Sullivan Ordered to Invade the
Indian Country--Destruction of the Villages and Crops--The Senecas Flee
to Fort Niagara--Details of the Invasion in Ontario County--Close of the
period of fifteen years following the final overthrow of French power in
America, the eastern country was in a condition of comparative peace,
and the English, Dutch, and French settlers were permitted to develop
their lands and advance the outposts of civilization in almost every
direction; but for some time there was no attempt at effecting
settlement in the Genesee country other than that limited to the
immediate vicinity of Oswego and Niagara.
The Seneca Indians gave little encouragement to colonization in
They had become aware of various frauds practiced upon their
eastern brethren of the confederacy by English and Dutch land
speculators, and were not disposed to enter into any negotiations for
the disposition of any part of their choice domain, notwithstanding the
fact that theirs was the richest region of all that was inhabited by the
the French authorities and troops were withdrawn from the country after
the close of the late war, the western Indians remembered them with
affection and were still disposed to wage war upon the English.
The celebrated PONTIAC united nearly all of these tribes in a
league against the red-coats immediately after the advent of the latter,
and as no such confederation had been formed against the French during
all their long years of possession, his action must be assigned to some
cause other than mere hatred of all civilized intruders.
In May, 1763, the league surprised nine out of twelve English
posts, and massacred their garrison.
Detroit, Pittsburg, and Niagara alone escaped surprise, and each
successfully resisted a siege, in which branch of war the Indians
certain to fail.
There is little doubt that the Senecas, especially those located
in the western part of the State, were involved in PONTIAC's league, and
were active in the attack on Fort Niagara.
They had been unwilling to fight their brethren of the Long
House, but had no scruples about killing the English when left alone, as
was soon made terribly manifest.
September following occurred the awful tragedy of the Devil's Hole, when
a band of the western Senecas, of whom Honayewas, afterward celebrated
as FARMER's BROTHER, was one, and CORNPLANTER, probably, another,
ambushed a train of English army-wagons with an escort of soldiers, the
whole numbering ninety-six men, three and a half miles below the falls,
and massacred all except four of the troop.
On the 19th of October following a party of British soldiers were
suddenly fired upon by a band of Senecas at Black Rock, and thirteen men
were killed. The
British turned upon their assailants and in the battle that followed
three more of the soldiers were killed and twelve others badly wounded,
including two commissioned officers.
This was the last serious attack by the Senecas upon the English.
Being at length convinced that the French had really yielded, and
that PONTIAC's scheme had failed as to its purpose, they sullenly agreed
to abandon their Gallic friends, and be at peace with the British.
1764, Sir William JOHNSON concluded peace with eight chiefs of the
Senecas at Johnson Hall.
At that time, among other agreements, they formally conveyed to
the King of England a tract of land fourteen miles long and four wide,
for a carrying place around Niagara Falls, lying on both sides of the
river from Schlosser to Lake Ontario.
This treaty was to be more fully ratified at a council to be held
at Fort Niagara in the summer of 1764.
A copy of this paper is to be found in N. Y. Col. Doc. VII, p
621, at the end of which it is said, the "Marks of the tribes"
were affixed opposite the signatures, but no such marks being found, a
tracing of the same was procured from the original in the Record office,
is a very valuable and important addition to out fund of knowledge on
the west, where PONTIAC still maintained active hostility to the
British, determined the English commander-in-chief to send a force up
the lakes sufficient to overcome all opposition.
This action became necessary from the fact that the hostile
attitude of the western tribes had a damaging effect upon the Senecas,
and made negotiations with them extremely difficult.
Accordingly in the summer of 1764, General BRADSTREET with 1200
British and Americans came by water to Fort Niagara, accompanied by Sir
William JOHNSON and a body of his faithful Iroquois.
A grand council of friendly Indians was held at the fort, among
whom Sir William exercised his customary skill, and satisfactory
treaties were made with them.
But the Senecas, though repeatedly promising attendance in answer
to JOHNSON's messages, still held aloof, and were said to be contemplating
a renewal of the war.
At length General BRADSTREET ordered their immediate attendance,
under penalty of the destruction of their settlements, upon which they
came, ratified the treaty, and thereafter adhered to it reasonably well,
notwithstanding the peremptory manner in which it was obtained.
In the mean time a fort had been erected on the site of Fort
August BRADSTREET's army had increased to nearly 3,000 men, and among
them were 300 Senecas, who seemed to have been taken along partly as
force succeeded in bringing the western Indians to terms, a task which
was accomplished without bloodshed.
events were in progress in the western part of the province of New York,
the inhabitants of the eastern region of the country were in a state of
great excitement, growing out of the arbitrary and oppressive action of
the British parliament toward the American colonies.
One of the results of the late French wars was to involve the
mother country in a large indebtedness, which parliament sought to have
paid by the colonies, and that notwithstanding the very large extent of
territory which was ceded to the government at the end of the French
fact, almost before the smoke of the late battles had cleared away, the
English ministry began devising plans to tax the colonies for a revenue
without their consent.
In March, 1765, the obnoxious stamp act was passed, to oppose
which was organized in New York the "Sons of Liberty."
So great, indeed, was the opposition to this odious act that it
was repealed in March, 1766, but in 1767 a bill was passed by parliament
imposing a duty on tea, glass, and other material imported into the
imposition of a tax on tea led to the organization of that impromptu
body known as the "Boston Tea-Party."
of oppression imposed by the British government were met by retaliatory
measures on the part of the American colonies, and at length the
countries were in an attitude of open hostility.
The public attention was drawn to certain mutterings in the
political sky, low at first, but growing more and more angry, until at
length there burst upon this country that long and desolating storm
known as the Revolutionary War.
In 1775 the
struggle for independence was begun, but as the early years of that war
furnished no interesting events in connection with the annals of this
particular region of country, we may pass lightly over them and confine
our narrative to occurrences within the Genesee country.
There were British posts at Niagara and Oswego, and the Senecas
made frequent complaints of depredations committed by whites on some of
their number, chiefly from the inhabitants of settlements on the
headwaters of the Susquehanna and Ohio.
Added to this, and during the same period, "Cressap's
war," in which the celebrated LOGAN was an actor, likewise
contributed to make the Senecas uneasy, but they did not break out in
Like the rest of the Six Nations, they had by this time learned
to place every confidence in Sir William JOHNSON, and through him all
their complaints were made.
He did William JOHNSON, and through him all their complaints were
did his best to redress their grievances, and sought to have them
withdraw their villages from frontier and isolated localities that they
might be more completely under his protection.
However, before this could be accomplished Sir William died, and
his authority as superintendent of Indian affairs was transferred to his
son, Sir John JOHNSON, and to his nephew, Col. Guy JOHNSON, the latter,
however, being in fact the superintendent, while the former was the
controlling spirit among the Indians in after events.
superintendent persuaded the Mohawks to move westward with him, and made
good his influence over all the Six Nations, except the Oneidas and
Tuscaroras, though it was almost two years from the breaking out of the
war before they committed any serious depredations.
John BUTLER, who appears to have held a colonel's commission, or
at least that title in the British service, established himself at Fort
Niagara, and organized a regiment of Tories known as "Butler's
About the same time Colonel BUTLER erected a barracks and
temporary place of residence at Kanadesaga, which was used chiefly as a
rendezvous and rallying place for the Rangers and Indians preparatory to
a raid on the interior of the country.
BUTLER's buildings were also a depot for supplies, at which large
quantities of corn were stored for the use of assembled troops and
We may here
state, in justice to the Seneca Indians, that they did not readily
become the allies of the JOHNSONS and BUTLERS, as they for a time
resisted English importunities, but the prospect of both blood and gold
was too much for them to withstand, and in 1777 they, in common with the
Cayugas, Onondagas and Mohawks, made a treaty with the British at
Oswego, agreeing to serve the king throughout the war.
Mary JEMISON, the celebrated "White Woman," then living
among the Senecas on the Genesee, declared that at the treaty the
British agents, after giving the Indians numerous presents, promised a
bounty on every scalp that should be brought in.
However, there is a serious question whether a price was actually
promised or paid for scalps, there being no positive evidence to sustain
the assertion, and the probabilities are that it was not.
Mary JEMISON was considered a truthful woman and had good means
of knowing what the Indians understood, and the latter were very ready
to understand that they would be paid for taking scalps.
Senecas, as formerly, hesitated about attacking their brethren of the
Long House, so now the Oneidas, who were friendly to the Americans, did
not go out to battle against the other Iroquois until the latter years
of the war, but at the battle of Stone Arabia, in the Mohawk Valley, it
was an Oneida Indian, fighting with the Americans, who pursued and slew
the infamous Captain Walter BUTLER, a commander of a tory company, the
son of Col. John BUTLER and the associate of the notorious Joseph BRANT.
One of the
most active and the most celebrated of the Iroquois chiefs in the
Revolution was Joseph BRANT, or Thayendanegea, a Mohawk who had received
a moderate English education under the patronage of Sir William JOHNSON,
and whose sister, Molly BRANT, was the housekeeper and natural wife of
the baronet. BRANT
was frequently intrusted with the command of detached parties by the
British officers, but it does not appear that he had any authority over
all the tribes, and it is quite certain that the haughty Senecas, to
whom by ancient custom belonged both the principal war chiefs of the
league, would not have submitted to the authority of a Mohawk.
chiefs of the Senecas, who during the Revolution became exceedingly well
known, were FARMER's BROTHER, CORNPLANTER and Governor BLACKSNAKE.
William L. STONE, author of the "Life of BRANT," says
that at the massacre of Wyoming, in 1778, the leader of the Senecas, who
formed the main part of the Indian force on that occasion, was
Guiengwahtoh, supposed to be the same as Guiyahgwahdoh, "the smoke
was the official title of the Seneca afterward known as "Young
King," he being a kind of hereditary ambassador and the bearer of
the smoking brand to light the council fire of the Senecas.
He was too young to have been at Wyoming, but his predecessor in
office (probably his maternal uncle) was the actual leader.
It is certain also that BRANT was not present at that battle.
chief familiarly known to the whites as Old Smoke, or Old King, but
whose Indian name was SAYENQUERAGHTA (Mohawk dialect), otherwise
GUIYAHGWAHDOH (Seneca dialect), has been conclusively shown by recent
investigation to have been not only the instigator but the actual leader
of the expedition that committed the terrible outrages at Wyoming.
learned also from the "Anecdotes of Captain Joseph BRANT,"
that the head chief of the Senecas was SAKOYENGWARAGHTON (a dialectical
variation of Old King's name), who was descended from a brave and loyal
family distinguished by their attachment to the crown and to British
interests as early as the reign of QUEEN ANNE, and who was presented by
the queen with a coronet, the only mark of distinction of the king ever
bestowed upon an Indian.
He was in command of the Senecas at the battle of Oriskany, where
seventeen of his nation were killed at the first onset.
The Senecas were greatly exasperated by this loss, although they
avenged it by killing many more of their enemy.
They were not satisfied, however, and it was arranged at a
council held at Kanadesaga that the chief just mentioned, and BRANT,
would open a campaign in the early spring, the former to attack the
Wyoming settlement, and BRANT those of Schoharie, Mohawk and Cherry
"assembled his men without calling upon any white man," but
BUTLER, being taunted with inactivity, was induced to offer his aid.
The Seneca chief stipulated that his men be kept separate from
the whites, and that they should be under his sole command.
Without discussing at further length the life and acts of this
somewhat noted chief, we may say that he has been commonly known as the
king of the Senecas.
The foregoing names are only variations in spelling the Indian
name of Old King or Old Smoke.
were the Senecas engaged in the terrible outrage at Wyoming, but as well
were they present in force at Cherry Valley, together with a body of
Mohawks under BRANT, and of Tories under Captain Walter BUTLER, son of
Col. John BUTLER, and there was another undoubted massacre, in which
nearly thirty women and children were killed, besides many men surprised
helpless in their homes. These events, and other similar ones of less
prominence nearly all concocted and starting from Kanadesaga, induced
Congress and General WASHINGTON to set on foot an expedition in the
spring of 1779, which had a very strong relation to the early history of
Ontario county, as it was the only important invasion of the immediate
territory by an American army during the period of the war.
The invasion, too, had a strong bearing on the county's history,
inasmuch as it brought to the knowledge of the troops, representing a
number of the colonies, an understanding of the fertility and
productiveness and salubrity of the climate of the Genesee country.
The fact was disclosed to SULLIVAN's men that this region would
produce large returns of grain, and in addition that it was a
fruit-growing region unsurpassed in any of the colonies.
already been mentioned, the year 1778 was made memorable by the many
horrible massacres and devastations committed upon the frontier
settlements by the Tories and Indians.
By this time the latter had made considerable progress in
civilization, were less migratory in their manner of living, had
numerous villages about which were large cultivated fields, apple and
They even made gardens in which a good variety of vegetables were
notwithstanding the advances made in this respect and their association
with whites and the adoption of the customs of the latter, they lost
none of the natural Indian ferocity, and plundered and burned and
murdered with all of the old times wantonness of the race.
expedition against the Indians, planned and carried out during the
summer of 1779, was placed in command of Major-General John SULLIVAN.
This officer established his headquarters at Easton, Penna., on
the 7th of May, 1779, and on the 18th of June, had his army completely
organized and supplied with all things necessary for the campaign.
On the 11th of August the troops encamped at Tioga Point, at
which place, while awaiting the arrival of CLINTON's brigade, a
fortification was erected, to which the soldiers gave the name of Fort
the 26th of August, SULLIVAN's command broke camp at Tioga Point and
took up the march toward the Indian country.
As they proceeded the men destroyed all the small Indian villages
and cultivated fields, and on the 29th they arrived at Newtown, five
miles below the present city of Elmira, where they found the enemy in
force and strongly intrenched, the British and Tories commanded by John
BUTLER, his son Walter BUTLER, and Captain McDONALD, while the Indians
were under THAYENDANEGEA, more commonly known as Captain Joseph BRANT.
A battle followed, which has always been known in history as the
battle of Newtown.
After a severe conflict of several hours the British, Tories and
Indians were defeated, and finding themselves on the point of being
surrounded and captured, they fled precipitately and found refuge in the
so great was SULLIVAN's victory at Newtown that notwithstanding all the
art of BUTLER and BRANT, the now discouraged Indians could not be
rallied together; and thereafter throughout the extent of SULLIVAN's
devastating expedition neither the Senecas nor any other of the opposing
tribes could muster courage to oppose the invasion.
destroying everything that could be of value to the Indians, and after
sending all the wounded soldiers and cumbersome artillery back to Fort
Sullivan, the victorious Americans, in the lightest possible marching
order, again resumed their journey.
About midnight on the first of September the army arrived at
Catherinestown, situated on the inlet about three miles from the head of
Seneca lake, near the site of the present village of Havana.
This was the residence of the famous Catherine MONTOUR, by many
writers confused with Queen ESTHER, notorious as the
Fiend of Wyoming," and also with Madam MONTOUR, who were,
respectively, probably her sister and grandmother.
After camping one day at this village and destroying all the
cabins and growing crops, the army proceeded northward along the east
side of Seneca lake, destroying the little settlements at Peach Orchard
and North Hector, arriving on the fifth at the Indian town of Kendaia,
or Appletown. The
village here was located on lot 79 in the present town of Romulus.
The most important event in connection with the arrival at
Kendaia was the rescue of Luke SWETLAND, who had been a prisoner among
the Indians for a year.
On the afternoon of the sixth the army resumed its march and
encamped that night on the lake shore, near a ravine formerly called
"Indian Hollow," on lot 64 in the town of Romulus.
Here was found a large quantity of pea vines which afforded
excellent fodder for the horses, and from the camp the men looked across
the lake into the Indian village of Kashong where they saw a number of
Indians driving horses.
morning of September 7 the invading army made an early start, following
substantially the lake road, and after marching about eight miles
arrived at the foot of Seneca lake.
Here a halt was ordered and scouts sent forward to reconnoiter,
as it was expected that in this vicinity the Indians would make a
determined stand to defend the Old Castle and their chief village of
no ambuscade or other defence was attempted by the Indians, and the
march was resumed across the outlet and close to the lake shore, between
the main body of water and the almost impassable swamp to the northward
of it. After
proceeding about a mile between the lake and the swamp, the outlet was
reached and crossed, the same being about twenty yards wide, and from
"knee" to "middle" deep, according to the accounts
of various writers.
SULLIVAN's scouts reported no Indians in sight, the commander prudently
approached Kanadesaga with the greatest caution.
After crossing the outlet the men marched through a dangerous
defile and across a morass, nearly a mile west of the old outlet, the
locality now known as the "Soap Mine."
Half a mile still further on they crossed Marsh creek and soon
reached "Butler's Buildings," located in a beautiful situation
at the northwest corner of the lake, in the vicinity of the present
canal bridge. These
buildings and the adjacent corn-field were destroyed, after which the
army proceeded in three divisions to the "Seneca Castle," or
Kanadesaga, the capital of the Senecas, located on Kanadesaga or Castle
Brook, about two miles northwesterly from the foot of the lake.
It was SULLIVAN's intention to surround the village and endeavor
to cut off a retreat on the part of the Indians, but when the army
arrived they found that all the inhabitants had fled and not a person
was found, except a little white boy about three or four years old, who
was entirely naked and almost starved.
The child was tenderly cared for and afterward adopted by Captain
Thomas MACHIN, and was given the same name as his adopted father, but
lived only a few years.
It was never known who his parents were.
Kanadesaga was found to contain about fifty houses, with thirty
more in the near vicinity.
A few of these were framed buildings, but all were irregularly
located around a large open space, the center of the latter containing
the stockade fort and block houses built by Sir William JOHNSON in 1756,
and which at the time of the invasion were substantially in ruins; yet
their ground outlines were plainly discernible.
In the immediate vicinity of the village were large apple
orchards and extensive fields of growing corn, while half a mile to the
northward was a large peach orchard.
Wild plums, mulberries, hickory nuts, walnuts and butternuts
likewise grew in great abundance.
In the houses was found considerable corn, many skins and Indian
trinkets and curiosities.
On the 8th
of September the main body of the army was employed in destroying the
houses, orchards, fields and gardens at Kanadesaga, and on the same day
a detachment of riflemen and volunteers, four hundred in number, under
command of Major PARR, was sent to destroy the Indian village and
settlement known as Kashong, located seven miles south of Geneva on the
lake shore, in the northeastern portion of the town of Benton.
The village contained about fifteen or twenty houses, all of
which were destroyed, together with large quantities of corn, beans and
other vegetable products, and as well large apple and peach trees with
which the locality seemed to abound.
At this place there was said to have been taken also five horses
and a number of fowls.
Major PARR found the vicinity of this little village so
extensively cultivated that his force was unable to complete the work of
destruction in a single day, and he was compelled to send to Kanadesaga
for an additional detachment of two hundred men; and it was not until
the evening of the ninth that PARR's men rejoined the main army while
the latter was in camp at Flint Creek.
On the 8th a detachment of troops under Col. John HARPER was sent
down the Seneca river about eight miles to destroy a Cayuga village
called Skoiyase, on the site of the present Waterloo in Seneca county.
SULLIVAN's army was camping at Kanadesaga there was much discussion
among the officers as to the advisability of pushing the work of
destruction further westward into the heart of the Seneca country, and
it was finally decided that the sick and wounded, together with all
useless and cumbersome baggage, should be sent back to Tioga under an
escort of fifty men.
This being done, the invaders supplied themselves with all things
necessary for temporary maintenance and destroyed the surplus.*
On the morning of the 9th they set out upon their westward march,
following substantially the Indian trail along which the old turnpike
was afterward laid out, and in the evening encamped at Flint Creek,
where was discovered evidence showing that the Indians had been there a
few days before.
Early the next morning the march was resumed and on the same day
the army reached the Indian town of Canandaigua, located in the western
part of the present village of that name.
"At Kanadague," says General SULLIVAN's report,
"we found twenty-three very elegant houses mostly and in general
very large. Here
we also found very extensive fields of corn."
These houses are mentioned in the journals (kept by a number of
SULLIVAN's men) as very substantial, better than any ever seen before in
the Indian country and constructed mainly of hewn planks or logs, and
from their general appearance indicated occupancy by white people.
A few of the houses had very neat and well built chimneys.
Sergeant Moses FELLOWS says in his journal: What corn, Beans, Peas,
Squashes, Potatoes, Inions, Turnips, Cabage, Cowcumbers, Water-millions,
Carrots, Parsnips, etc. our men and horses, cattle, etc. could not Eat
was Distroyed this Morning Before we march."
As an indication of the great number of fruit trees that were
girdled at this place by SULLIVAN's army, it may here be stated that
sprouts from the roots soon sprang up and in 1797, only eighteen years
later, one hundred bushels of peaches were sold to a distillery and
cider to the amount of $1,200 was sold, the product of these orchards. ]
halted at Canandaigua only long enough to destroy the buildings, and
then proceeded a mile further to the corn-fields, which were located on
a ridge north of the town.
Here they camped and at once set about destroying the crops
growing in the vicinity.
At sunrise on September 11 the army was again in motion,
retracing their steps back to the town and thence in a southwesterly
direction, following substantially the line of the present road through
Bristol to the foot of Honeoye Lake, where was located another Indian
village of about ten or twelve houses, built of hewn logs, which,
together with the corn-fields of the locality, the invaders destroyed.
At this place SULLIVAN established a post with a garrison of
fifty men under Captain CUMMINGS, and here was left all the heavy stores
and one field piece, and all the sick and infirm men, about two hundred
and fifty in number, together with a large number of pack-horses which
were allowed to roam in the woods.
on the 12th of September the army resumed its march, traveling in a
southwesterly direction about eleven miles, and camped in the woods two
miles from the village called Kanaghsaws, the residence of Big or Great
Tree, situated near the head of Conesus Lake.
Being somewhat uncertain as to the location of the large western
town, SULLIVAN directed Lieutenant Thomas BOYD to take a detail of men
and make a reconnaissance during the night.
The detachment, comprising about twenty-seven men were surrounded
by the Indians, many of them killed, and only a few succeeded in
effecting an escape.
BOYD and Sergeant PARKER were among the captured and were taken
to LITTLE BEARD's Town where they were horribly tortured and put to
The town of
Kanaghsaws was destroyed, and on the same day, September 13, the army
pushed forward to Gathsegwarohare, a village located on the east side of
Canaseraga Creek, about two miles above its confluence with the Genesee.
This town comprised twenty-five houses, of then recent
construction, all of which, with the extensive corn-fields in the
region, were destroyed.
About noon on the 14th, having completed the devastation of the
village, the westward march was resumed, and at sunset of the same day
the army reached the Genesee Castle, commonly called by the whites
LITTLE BEARD's Town, and which was the original western door of the
famous Long House of the Iroquois confederacy.
It was located on the west side of the Genesee River, and near
the site of the present village of Cuylerville, in Livingston county.
According to General SULLIVAN's report, LITTLE BEARD's Town
contained 128 houses, many of them very large and elegant, while the
village itself was beautifully situated and almost encircled in a
cleared flat several miles in extent, and scattered over the latter were
vast fields of corn, grain, vegetables and other earth products.
On the morning of the 15th the whole army began the work of
destruction of every thing that could be available to the recent
occupants of the village, it being estimated that between 15,000 and
20,000 bushels of corn alone were destroyed at this place.
The work of
destruction being completed, the army faced about, following the same
general line of march as before, diverging slightly however, to destroy
isolated dwellings and cornfields, and on the evening of September 19
arrived at Kanadesaga.
From this point SULLIVAN sent out various detachments of troops
who destroyed every Indian village and all growing crops that could be
the 20th the main army took final leave of Kanadesaga, crossed the
outlet of Seneca Lake and encamped on the shore.
The next day, following the course by which they came, the troops
proceeded to Newtown, thence to Tioga and finally to Easton, arriving at
the latter place October 15th, where the men went into winter quarters.
up the results of the expedition under his personal direction, General
SULLIVAN's report says: "The number of towns destroyed by this army
amounted to forty besides scattering houses.
The quantity of corn destroyed, at a moderate computation, must
amount to 160,000 bushels, with a vast quantity of vegetables of every
creek and river has been traced, and the whole country explored in
search of Indian settlements, and I am well persuaded that, except one
town situated near the 'Allegana,' about fifty miles from 'Chinesee,'
there is not a single town left in the country of the Five
detachments of troops which were sent to destroy Indian villages in
other directions than that taken by SULLIVAN, were equally successful in
accomplishing the work assigned to them.
The result was that the Indians, now bereft of all means of
maintaining themselves, were left to the mercy of the British.
A large number from various of the interior tribes betook
themselves to Montreal, where they joined the army commanded by Sir John
JOHNSON and his equally cruel subordinates.
The Senecas, however, fled in great dismay before SULLIVAN's
conquering host and found refuge and protection at Fort Niagara.
The Senecas, moreover, were the tribe who were chiefly feared and
against whom the vengeance of the Americans was chiefly directed.
result of SULLIVAN's expedition was that it substantially destroyed the
bond which bound the Six Nations together, and while the league for a
time afterward retained its form, it had lost its binding power.
By this separation the Oneidas and Tuscaroras became still more
frindly to the Americans, while the tribes who possessions had been
destroyed were completely subservient to the British power, thereby
weakening the whole intertribal relation; and the spirit of the Senecas,
the most powerful and warlike of all the tribes, was much broken by
their recent punishment.
It was a more serious matter with them than had been the
destruction of their villages in earlier times, for they had learned to
depend more on agriculture and less on the chase, and possessed not only
corn-fields, but gardens, orchards, and sometimes comfortable houses.
In fact they had adopted many of the customs of civilized life,
though without abating their primitive pleasures, such as tomahawking
prisoners and scalping the dead.
taking up their temporary abode at Fort Niagara, the Senecas remained
there during the winter of 1779-80, which was of unusual severity, and
they were scantily sustained by the British authorities.
severity of the winter Mary JEMISON says: "The snow fell about five
feet and remained so for a long time; and the weather was extremely
cold, so much so, indeed, that almost all the game upon which the
Indians depended for subsistence perished, and reduced them almost to a
state of starvation through that and three or four succeeding years.
When the snow melted in the spring deer were found dead upon the
ground in vast numbers, and other animals of every description perished
from the cold also and were found dead in multitudes.
Many of our people barely escaped with their lives and some
actually died of hunger and freezing."
following spring the officers made efforts to persuade them to make new
settlements and plant crops, but the red men were anxious to keep as far
as possible from their dreaded foes and would not risk their families
again at their ancient seats.
A considerable body of Senecas with a few Cayugas and Onondagas
established themselves on Buffalo Creek, about four miles above its
the Senecas, and one who had been their leader, was Old King (SAYENQUERAGHTA)
then an aged but influential chief.
Among the Indians were several members of the GILBERT family,
Quakers who had been captured on the borders of Pennsylvania in the
spring of 1780.
the war had gone forward with varying fortunes.
Sir John JOHNSON, Col. Guy JOHNSON, the BUTLERS and BRANT kept
the Indians as busy as possible marauding upon the frontiers,
devastating particularly the Mohawk Valley, the vicinity of the JOHNSONS'
former home, but the Indian spirit had been so thoroughly broken that
the marauders were unable to produce such devastation as at Wyoming and
In the fall
of 1783 peace was formally declared between Great Britain and the
revolted colonies, and the latter were thenceforth to be known as the
United States of America.
By the treaty the boundary line was established along the center
of Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and Lake Erie.
Although the forts held by the British on the America side of the
line were not given up for many years afterward, and they thus retained
a strong influence over the Indians located on this side.
Thus the unquestioned English authority over the territory of
Ontario county lasted only from the treaty with France in 1763, to that
with the United States in 1763, a little more than twenty years.
Created by Dianne Thomas
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