History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
The adoption of the pale-faces as a compliment for distinguished services, or as a token of esteem, has always been usual among the Indian tribes. Dr. Cadwallader Golden was adopted by the Mohawks. The late duke of Northumberland, who served as Lord Percy in the American Revolution, was created a chief of the Six Nations through the influence of Joseph Brant, with whom he was on terms of warm friendship. Washington Irving was adopted into the Huron clan, a few years before his death ; and the late General Peter B. Porter was long a chief of the Senceas by adoption. Edmund Kean, the tragedian, was also adopted by the Hurons of Loretto near Quebec.
In January, 1844, the late Colonel Wm. L. Stone was adopted by the Senceas, at a formal council, as a chief of that nation. The letter which Mr. Stone returned in reply to the compliment, shows so much good feeling as well as appreciation of the honor, that his son may be pardoned for introducing it in this place in full.
"To the Senecas, Chiefs and Warriors of the Seneca Indians.
Brothers : I have been told that at your general council, held at Cattaraugus, in the Moon of Juthoo, that is, in January last, you did me the honor to make me a chief of the Seneca nation; and I have read the talk made by your chief sachem, Sahdegeoyes, at that time. I know by the histories which the white men have written, and by the traditions preserved by the belts hung up in your council house, that the Senecas have always been a brave nation. When, many hundred moons ago, the Five Nations united to be one people, the Senecas were placed at the western door of their long house, to guard it from all the foes that might come from toward the setting sun. This was done because the Senecas never sleep, and because their hatchets were always sharp. To be known as a Seneca, therefore, is am honor which I accept with pleasure.
Brothers: When the first great canoe of the white man arrived at Man-na-hatch-ta-ninck, (which is now called New York,) although it created great surprise, the strangers were kindly received. You gave them of your venison to eat, and spread beaver skins for them to lie down upon. When the big canoe arrived at Albany, you all resolved to take the best care of it. For this purpose it was agreed to tie it fast with a great rope to one of the largest trees on the bank of the river. Afterward, fearing that the wind would blow down that tree, it was agreed to make the rope very long, and tie it fast at the great council fire at Onondaga, and the end put under your feet, that you might know by its shaking if anything touched the canoe; :in which case you all agreed, as one man, to rise up and see what was the matter. After this a bond of friendship was formed between you and Corlaer, the governor of New York, with which he was so well pleased that he told you that he would find you a long silver chain, which would neither break nor rust, to bind you and the English together in brothership, that your people and they should be' as of one head, and one heart, and one blood forever. After this firm agreement was made, our forefathers, finding that it was good, and foreseeing many advantages that both parties would reap from it, ordered that if ever that silver chain should become rusty in the least, or if it should slip or break, it should be immediately brightened up again, and fastened stronger at the ends.
Brothers: These were the doings of our wise forefathers. But it was not so with the French, who also came across the great water, and paddled their canoes up the St. Lawrence to Cadaracqui. They joined your enemies the Ottawas, and the other Indians living about Montreal, and were always on the warpath against you, doing all in their power to drive you from the face of the earth. But the Five Nations were brave. Their brothers, the English, gave them guns and powder, instead of the bow and the arrow; and the warriors, your forefathers, after making the country of the Onondagas and Senecas fat with their blood when they came against you there, followed them like the swift winds into Canada, and made red. their own warpaths even down to Montreal and the gates of Quebec.
Brothers: Many seasons afterward, when the old thirteen families of English colonies had become men, and wished to kindle fires and hunt venison for themselves, the king, who, then called himself your father, would not let them. But he had been kind to you, and it was natural that you should take the hatchet which he put into your hands to strike us on the head. Yet, although the blood of your warriors had run like water on the ground in the cause of your pretended father, when he found that be was not ble to put out the thirteen fires, and agreed to smoke the pipe of peace with us, he forgot his red children, and would have left them without wiping away their tears and blood, or condoling with them for their dead, or leaving them so much as a place whereon to spread their blankets, or to kindle fires to warm their old men, their women, or their little one? Then it was that your Great father General Washington, made a new chain of friendship with his red children, at Fort Stanwix, one end of which was fastened at the great council house of the thirteen fires, and the other in the Seneca country, because the great fire at Onondaga had gone out. Your new father, though a great war chief, was nevertheless a lover of peace. He saw your distress, and that you too wanted peace. Nor did he wish to crowd you from your seats, but left you broad hunting grounds with game, and fields to plant your corn. He took the chiefs, your forefathers, by the hand, and told them to use the tomahawk no more, but to bury it, and plant a tree over it, that it might never be dug up again. Brothers, that new covenant chain has been kept strong and bright ever since, though about thirty years ago the king of England tried to break it. But you kept fast hold of it, and when his troops attempted to stop up all the roads, the Senecas sent their brave warriors with ours across the Niagara, and soon made them open them again.
Brothers : The honor you have conferred upon me, by making me one of your chiefs, has reminded me of these facts in your ancient history, and the old covenants which have so long subsisted between your ancestors and mine. Holding fast that covenant chain which was made last, I hope we may speak with a free mind to each other. Will you open your ears, then, brothers, and listen to a few words more which I have to say?
Brothers: Listen! The Great Spirit has told us in the Good Book which he has given his children, that he has made of one blood all nations of men. The red men and the white are all the same flesh. And he loves his red children as well as he does the white. When we are in sorrow, if we ask him, he is always ready to-make our hearts glad. When we are called to weep, he will dry up our tears, the red men and the white ought therefore to love one another, and do all the good they can to each other. The fire of amity and friendship should always blaze upon the hearths of their council houses, their ears should ever he open to the cries of distress, and the doors of their lodges to the feet of the stranger.
Brothers: The Great Spirit gave the red man a broad and beautiful country, with deep forests to cover you from the heat of the sun, filled with game for you to eat when you were hungry, and to clothe you in furs when you were cold. He gave you clear springs of water to drink; rivers filled with fishes, bright lakes for you to paddle your canoes upon, and flowers to make the air sweet and your paths beautiful. But the Great Spirit did not mean that you should always be hunters. The first man he made was a red man, and the first command he gave him, after he had sinned by disobedience, was to cultivate the ground, and to make his condition better than it would be in a state of nature. The birds build their nests, and the beavers make their dams, by instinct. But they never do anything better than they do at first. They are always the same. To man, the Great Spirit has given reason. He looks to him for improvement. And he sent the white man into your country to teach you how to live in a better way than by hunting and catching fish. He sent them to instruct you how to build fine houses in the place of your wigwams, and to plant fields, and cultivate beautiful gardens, and lay out orchards of delicious fruits ;--to teach your women to spin and weave and sew, so that you might live comfortably and happily by your own bright fires, with everything delightful around you. Above all, the white man came to give you a better knowledge of the Great Spirit, to teach you to read, that you may know what he says to us, and to write, so that you can breathe your thoughts to each other when separated.
Brothers: You have seen from what I have told you about the arrival of the first big canoe, and the covenant chain that was made, that the red men were not displeased when the white men first came among them. I know that the white men were then few and feeble, and that you were many. Now they have become like the leaves on the trees, that cannot be counted, and they have pressed hard upon your seats. What is the reason of this great change ? Brothers, the white men have grown rich and strong and many, because they obey the Great Spirit in tilling the ground. The earth is the mother of the red man and the white, and if we draw our sustenance from her breast, she will bountifully supply us all we can desire, let us therefore labor, that owe may live upon her bounty, and when weary "recline upon her bosom."
Brothers: There are bad white men as well as bad Indians. They often come to you with forked tongues to deceive you, and they put the fire-waters to your lips to stupify, that they may cheat you. But the Great Spirit is angry with such. He did not make the fire-waters, but gave you cool sweet springs to slake your thirst; and if you will drink nothing else, and be industrious, and open schools for your children, although your seats are not so broad as they were once, you may still become happy and numerous like the white men.
Brothers: I have told you that when the Great Spirit made man, he placed him in a beautiful garden, to till and dress it; and he bound him to himself by a golden chain. But the Spirit of Evil crept into that garden in the shape of a serpent, and contrived to break that chain. The Great Spirit then sent his own Son to make it over, and wash away the rust that had got on it. But the canker of that rust was 80 deep that it took his own blood to make it Aright again. Now we must believe in that Son, and do as he has told us in the Good Book ; and then, when the Master of Breath shall call for us, he will take us up to the fair hunting grounds through clouds bright as fleeces of gold, upon a ladder as beautiful as the rainbow, where we shall live with the Mannitoes-the happy spirits-forever !
Brothers: My talk is done. I am proud to be called a Seneca, to be numbered among a people who have raised such warriors and orators as Old Smoke and Young King, the Farmer's Brother, the Corn-Planter, Sa-go-ye-wat-ha and Captain Pollard, and a long list of other brave chiefs whose names I cannot remember, but who have long ago been called away by the Great Master of Breath. Brothers adieu! May you always possess your minds in peace.
I am, very truly, &c., &c.
WILLIAM L. STONE, or
To the Sachem, SAHDEGEOYES,
and the Chiefs, GAUGOO, and
HA-DYA-NO-DO, and others.
New York, April 15, 1844.
(1) That is, He renders their name conspicuous,-in other words an historian or biographer.
A Memorandum for Trifles, sent to London for, through Captain Knox-by Sir William Johnson.
February 19th, 1749-50.
TWO volumes quarto of Mathematical Elements of Natural Philosophy, confirmed by experiments-or an introduction to Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy; translated into English by the late J. T. Desaguliers.
Also the second edition of Doctor Desaguliers Course of Experimental Philosophy, adorned with 78 copper plates, in two volumes quarto.
Chambers Dictionary, 2 volumes.
Bakers Microscope made easy.
The Gentleman's Magazine, from December 1748 to the present time.
The Family Magazine, in two parts.
An Historical Review of the Transactions of Europe from the Commencement of the War with Spain.
The whole proceedings in the house of peers against the three condemned lords.
Amarylis, a new musical design, well bound.
A good French horn, with the notes.
A good common hunting horn.
A good loud trumpet.
A dozen of good black lead pencils.
1 lb. of best red sealing wax.
1 lb. of black sealing wax.
2 Reams of good common writing paper.
200 lbs. of ground white lead.
100 lbs. of good red lead.
20 gallons of good linseed oil.
A good globe to hang in the hall with light.
A prism----Some prints as-
Titians Loves of the Gods,
Le Bruns Battles of Alexander.
Some numbers of Pousin's Landscapes by Knapton.
4 Seasons by Lancred.
4 Prints of a camp by Watteau.
Some numbers of Houbraken's heads.
The pictures of some of the best running horses at New Market.
The following sketch of this gallant officer, is taken from the Rev. Cortlandt Van Renselaer's Historical Discourse of the BATTLE OF LAKE GEORGE.
Ephraim Williams was descended from the best Puritan ancestry. He was always enterprising. Having lost his parents early in life, he was brought up by his grandfather, Abraham Jackson. In his youth, he made several voyages to Europe, visiting England Spain, and Holland, probably for commercial purposes. In 1744, he was made captain and put in command of Fort Massachusetts, in the western part of the province, in the valley of the Hoosic. After the war, he had an important agency in settling that section of country. At the beginning of the campaign of 1755, he was made colonel, and commanded the third Massachusetts regiment. His aide was William Williams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Colonel Williams, being well versed in warfare, especially with the Indians, was placed at the head of the detachment sent out against Dieskau's column. His great error on that day was in not sending out scouts. Colonel Williams was early struck with a ball through the head, and fell dead on the spot. Two of his companions immediately concealed the body from the scalping-knife of the advancing Indians. His body was found after the battle, unmutilated, and it was buried some fifteen or twenty rods rods southeast of where he fell, at the foot of " a huge pine beside the military road." About twenty years ago, his nephew, Dr. William H. Williams, of Raleigh, North Carolina, "disinterred and carried off the skull." The ancient pine has fallen, but the stump remains. Two smaller trees have sprung from the parent stock, and still shade the place of burial. E. W. B. Canning, Esq., who superintended the erection of the monument on the part of the alumni of Williams college, and who explored the ground carefully, says:
"Directed by an aged man, who dug up the skull, I found the grave, and had it refilled, and a large pyramidal boulder set over it, with the inscription E. W. 1755."
The rock on which Colonel Williams fell is now surmounted by a marble monument, twelve feet high. The earth has been excavated a little around the rock, so that the top of the rock is now seven feet from the ground. The monument was erected by the alumni of Williams College, in 1854, and is an appropriate, tasteful and worthy memorial. It is surrounded by a good iron fence, which visitors find the means of climbing. The writer, without recommending others to follow his example, went up to the monument for the purpose of copying the inscription; and as he now gives the inscriptions verbatim et literatim, this historical motive cannot be so well plead hereafter. The inscriptions were copied exactly according to the words in the lines, and the division of syllables, as cut upon the marble, but they are here given continuously, partly to save space, and partly to avoid the exhibition of an unskillful performance, for the words and syllables are arranged (at least on two sides of the monument) in not the most tasteful style. This is a matter of regret, I notice it simply to put the Lake George Committee of Monuments upon their guard, and to induce them to see that the stonecutter had a fac-simile of the work to be done. The beauty of a monumental inscription depends very much on the arrangement of the lines and of the words.
The following inscription is on the east side of the monument, towards the plank road:
To the memory of Colonel EPHRAIM WILLIAMS. A native of Newton, Mass., who after gallantly defending the frontiers of his native state, served under General Johnson against the French and Indians, and nobly fell near this spot in the bloody conflict of Sept. 8th, 1755, in the 42 year of his age.
On the north side, towards the lake:
A lover of peace and learning, as courteous and generous as he was brave and patriotic. Col. Williams sympathized deeply with the privations of the frontier settlers, and by his will, made at Albany on his way to the field of battle, provided for the founding among them of an institution of learning, which has since been chartered as Williams college.
On the west side, towards the old road:
Forti ac magnanimo Eph. Williams, Collegii Gulielmi Conditori;
Qui in hostibus patriae repellendis, prope hoc saxum cecidit; grati alumni posuerunt, A. D. 1854.
On the south side, towards the toll-gate:
This monument is erected by the alumni of Williams College:the ground donated by E. H. Rosekrans, M. W. Perrine, J. Haviland.
The monument makes a beautiful appearance from the road, and is looked for and admired by all travelers. The monument is more accessible from the old road than from the new; but the old road is not in a very good condition, although it can be used.
Joseph White Esq.,(1) thus sums up the traits of Colonel Williams character :-" For whatever is known of his opinions, as well as of his personal appearance, habits and manners, we are indebted to the impressions he made upon his contemporaries, as revealed in the scanty notices of the times and in the few traditions that yet linger amongst us." From these we learn that his person was large and fleshy," his countenance benignant, and his appearance commanding; that he loved and excelled in the rough games of agility and strength so common in his day, and often engaged in them with his soldiers during the intervals of duty; that his "address was easy, his manners simple and conciliatory;" that he loved books, and the society of literary men, "and often lamented the want of a liberal education;" that to these endowments were added the higher qualities of mind-quick and clear perceptions, a solid judgment, a lofty courage, and an unwavering constancy in scenes of danger, and that military genius which needed only a fitting opportunity to place him in the highest walks of his profession. He knew both how to command and to conciliate the affections of his men. " He was greatly beloved by them while living, and lamented when dead." And, finally, in the language of Colonel Worthington, who knew him well, " Humanity made a most striking trait in his character, and universal benevolence was his ruling passion." He truly adds, " His memory will always be dear."
Although this great sachem has been called a Mohawk, yet his family was Mohegan, and he himself only a Mohawk by adoption. According to his own statement his father lived in the first years of his (Hendrik's) life, at Westfield in Connecticut. The exact
(1) "Joseph White's address before the alumni of Williams College, 1855, commemorative of Ephraim Williams abounds in historical incident and eloquent discription. I am indebted to this address for the biographical hints of Colonel Williams in the beginning of this sketch, and also for other items of information."
time of his birth is not known, though it is believed to have been between the years 1680 and 1690. Equally difficult is it, to ascertain at what time he moved into the Mohawk valley. His usual residence however, during the latter portion of his life was in the present town of Minden, in Herkimer county, N. Y., and near the Upper or Canajoharie castle. The site of his house is described by Dr. Dwight, as being a "handsome elevation, commanding a considerable prospect of the neighboring country." Mr. Schoolcraft, in his Notes of the Iroquois thus speaks of him:
" There was a time in our settlements when there was a moral force in the name of King Hendrik and his Mohawks, which had an electric effect; and at the time he died, his loss was widely and deeply felt and lamented even in Great Britain. It is said that he on two occasions visited his British sovereign. On one of these occasions, doubtless the last, which is conjectured to have been about the year 1740, his majesty presented him a rich suit of clothes,-a green coat, get off with brussels and gold lace, and a cocked hat, such as worn by the court gentry of that period. In these he sat for his portrait, which was executed by a London artist. From this portrait, which has no date, engravings were made, of a large cabinet-size, and colored in conformity with the original. I saw one of these engravings in the family of a relative in Schenectady, which has, however, been long since destroyed by fire; and recently I have seen another, which had been, for nearly a century, the property of Jeremiah Lansing Esq. of Albany, N.Y. The prosolopogical indicia of his countenance denote a kind disposition, honesty of purpose, and an order of intellect much above mediocrity. Although his complexion was the "shadowed livery of the burning sun," his figure and countenance were singularly prepossessing and commanding. The concurrent testimony of every traditionist awards to him great natural talents, judgment, and sagacity. As a diplomatist and orator he was greatly distinguished, and divided the palm only with his brother Abraham, of pious memory, who was exclusively devoted to civil pursuits."
Hendrik's most famous speech was the one delivered at the congress in Albany, 1754. It excited at the time universal attention, both in America and in England. In reference to it, a journalist of that day says : " For capacity, bravery, vigor of mind and immovable integrity combined, he excelled all the aboriginal inhabitants of which we have any knowledge." Hendrik was quite a lion in his day, and his spirit and martial powers were upon every tongue. He was also esteemed the bravest of the brave among the Iroquois." He led many war parties against the Canadian frontier in the old French and Indian war; and his staunch friendship for Sir William Johnson, caused him to use his great influence to keep the Six Nations, especially the Mohawks faithful to their covenants. Indeed, many times, had it not been for his efforts, the entire Confederacy would have probably broken through all restraint and gone over to the French. He died lamented by many, and by no one more than by Sir Wm. Johnson. Judge Campbell in his Annals of Tryon County has preserved the following anecdote illustrative of the friendship that the Great Mohawk was capable of inspiring in the hearts of the whites towards himself:-" During some of the negotiations with the Indians of Pennsylvania and the inhabitants of that state, Hendrik was present at Philadelphia. His likeness was taken, and a wax figure afterward made which was a very good imitation. After the death of Hendrik an old friend, a white man, visited Philadelphia, and among other things was shown this wax figure. It occupied a niche, and was not observed by him until he had approached within a few feet. The friendship of former days came fresh over his memory, and forgetting for the moment Hendrik's death, he rushed forward and clasped in his arms the frail icy image of the chieftain."
The famous story of Sir William Johnson's dreaming with King Hendrik for the royal grant, or indeed for any other piece of land, is a pure fiction. See chapter xvi, vol. II.
Map of Battle of Lake George
References to map on opposite page.
First Engagement.-1. The road. 2. The French and Indians 3. Hendrik on horseback. 4. Our men. 5. Our Indians, far within the ambuscade.
Second Engagement.-6. Canadians and French Indians. 7., Dieskau's regulars making the attack on the center. 8. The road. 9. Our men in the action posted in front. 10. The trees felled for the breastworks. 11. Three of the large cannon. 12. One of the cannon posted " advantageously" on the eminence. 18, 14, 15,16. Illustrating the attack on the right, particulars not known. 17. The guards on the flanks and rear. 18. Woods and swamp. 19. Low ground near the lake. 20. Cannon defending flanks and rear. 21. Baggage-wagons. 22, 23, 24.. Military stores and ammunition. 25. Mortars. 26. Road to the lake. 27. Bateaux on Lake George. 28. Four Storehouses. 29. Storehouse. 80. Iroquois Indians. 31. General Johnson's tent. 32. Major-General Lyman's regiment. 33. Colonel Harris's regiment. 34, Colonel Cockcroft's regiment. 35. Colonel Williams's, now Colonel Pomroy's regiment. 36. Colonel Ruggles's regiment. 37. Colonel Titcomb's regiment. 38. Colonel Guttridge's regiment. 39. Officers.
The heading of the map is not quite accurate in the number of troops stated to he engaged on both sides, and is quite inaccurate in the number stated to be killed on the side of the French.
Through the kindness of the Rev. Henry Bollard of Brunswick, Me., Secretary of the Maine Historical Society, I am enabled to give on the opposite page a fac-simile of perhaps the only sketch of Fort Wm. Henry in existence. The Sketch was carved on a powder-horn by a Provincial doing garrison duty at the fort in October, 1756. The horn was presented to the Maine Historical Society in January, 1864, by the Hon. "Wm. P. Haines, of Biddeford, Me., who at the time of its presentation, accompanied it with an exceedingly interesting paper, relating to its history. Mr. Haines, who deserves great credit for his instrumentality in rescuing this interesting relic from oblivion, courteously sent me a copy of this paper, from which I take a few extracts.
"Recently I learned that Tristram Goldthwait Esq., an esteemed citizen of Biddeford and once its representative, had in his possession a powder horn which had a history. At my request he brought it to me, and now permits me to deliver it to the Maine Historical Society for safekeeping and inspection of the curious, and, to use his precise words, probably never to be reclaimed by him. He informs me that it was delivered to him as the male representative of the original owner, and came down in the family.
Upon inspection it will be noticed that this powder horn bears upon its face on the right, a well-carved and spirited sketch of Fort William Henry at the head of Lake George. Showing the outlines of the fort and its guns mounted, its barracks, lofty flagstaff, and at the top the English ensign unfolded to the breeze, and over against it, on the left, an island in the lake [Tea Island], and between these, a sloop being towed by a boat well-maned to the island, over the rough waters of the lake.
Beneath is the following inscription carved in beautiful letters, which are in perfect preservation.
" Michael B. Goldthwait's horn, 1756, at Fort Wm. Henry,
October 2, A.D."
* * * * * *
It was precisely at this period, October second 1756, the date of this inscription, midway between the building of the fort in the autumn of 1755, and its destruction in 1757, that the interesting relic before us was fashioned by its owner into the form in which it is now presented to us ! A humble soldier, on duty at the fort, in his moments of leisure, turns artist, and with his rustic knife, gives us an animated and truthful outline of the scene then in his eye, the winding shore, the waters of the beautiful lake, the island, the headland surmounted by the fort, and floating over all the glorious flag of England, and thus daguerreotypes for posterity, the only picture in existence of objects of so much historical interest!
Manuscript Letter No. I.
This letter bears this endorsement in the Baronet's hand.
" Alderman Baker's letter about my money in the funds," and is as follows:
" Sir William Johnson, Baronet.
" LONDON 31st March, 1757.
" I have no letter from you since I wrote the original of the foregoing. I have received from Mr. John Pownall the money which he received from the exchequer being clear of fees, &c., £4945, 18s., 6d. You have the particulars annext which I have extracted from Mr. Pownall's letter to me. I have invested this money as near as I well could in three per cent bank annuities which now stand in my name and cost you £4943, 2s., 6d., being the purchase of £5500, capital in said fund of which the particulars are annext. I have been extremely hurried of late, otherwise you should have had the advices sooner. Now I have only to add that I am:
"Your most humble Serv't
An account of money received by John Pownall Esq. for Sir William
Johnson granted by parliament.......... £5000:00:0
Fees at the treasury for the warrant order and letter........................................ £8:04:6
Fees at the exchequer, viz. pills, 4:07
Tellers and poundage.................. 143:10
Auditor................................... 9:07 157:04 165:08:6
Received at the Exchequer poundage remitted, £125:0
Deduct fees at the treasury for that order...... 1:1 123:19:0
Paid for Sir Wm. Johnson's appointment to be Agent for Indian affairs .......................................... 12:12:0
Received for Sir "Wm. Johnson and transferred for his account into the name of Wm. Baker £5500 bank three per cent annusties, viz:
£4000 transferred by Theodore Crowley at 89 1/4p.c. £3570.
1500 Wm. Colsford 891 p.c. 1338:15
Paid I. Shipston broker a 1/8 p.c. on £5500.....................6:17:6.
My commission 1/2p.c. on do................27:10.
Thanks to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on the internet.
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