History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Its Legends and its History
by Max Reid
New York and London G. P. Putman's Sons
The Knickerbocker Press, 1901
with illustrations from photographs by J. Arthur Maney
Chapter III Journal of Arent Van Curler
CONNECTED with the early history of the colony or province of New York, the names of three men stand out bold and clear for their honesty, energy, and kindly treatment of the Iroquois Indians, namely:
Arent Van Curler, from 1634 to the time of his death by the overturning of a boat during a storm on Lake Champlain in and who was held in such high esteem by the Mohawks that they used his name when addressing the governors of New York and called them "Brother Corlear," a fitting tribute to him whom they called " good friend."
Peter Schuyler and Sir William Johnson were the two other men referred to. Peter Schuyler seems to have gained the good will of the Indians to the extent that they called him "Quiddar," which was as near as they could pronounce the word Peter, as the labials p, b, m, are not to be found in their language. He was the first mayor of Albany, and afterward acting governor of New York for a short period. Like Van Curler, he had unbounded influence over the Indians, by whom he was greatly admired.
Sir William Johnson, of our own section of the Mohawk Valley, seems to have succeeded Van Curler and Schuyler in the affections of the Mohawks, and from 1738 until the time of his death at Johnstown, in 1774, used his power to the benefit of the colonists of the Mohawk Valley, and to the defeat of the Canadian French and Indians. But at this time it is of Van Curler that we would speak. Professor Pearson says:
The acknowledged leader of the little colony at Schenectady, in 1662, was Arent Van Curler. He came over in 1630, as superintendent of the Colonie Rensselaerswyck, and continued in office until 1646, besides acting as colonial secretary. In 1643 he married Antonia Slaagboom, widow of Jonas Bronk, and soon after settled on the "Flatts" above Fort Orange [Albany]. Here he remained until the spring of 1662, when he took up his residence at Schenectady, where he remained directing and furthering the interests of the settlers until his unfortunate death.
While yet living in Albany, in 1642, he heard that a Jesuit priest named Isaac Jogues was being shamefully treated by the Mohawks and threatened with death, and on a mission of mercy he penetrated the Mohawk country to the first Castle, and succeeded in saving the life of Father Jogues for the time being, but could not procure the release of the prisoner. Father Jogues afterward escaped and returned to France, where he remained until 1643, when he returned to Canada and in 1646 to the Mohawk country, to meet a shameful death by the hands of the Indians, at Os-se-ru-e-non, October 18, 1646.
It was after Van Curler returned from his mission of mercy, in 1642, that he wrote, to Killian Van Rensselaer, the Patroon, in Amsterdam.. Holland, that "a half day's journey from the Colonie, on the Mohawk River, there lies the most beautiful land that the eye of man ever beheld." lt was on this land that in 1662 he settled the colony of Schenectady. It has been thought that his journey of 1642 was his first advent into the Mohawk's country; but recent events have brought to light a diary of a journey he made through this locality as early as 1634, and it antedates all other records of the Mohawk Valley, between Schenectady and Oneida. In the Independent of October 1895, we find the following:
HIS JOURNEY OF 1634.
A GREAT DISCOVERY IN NEW YORK HISTORY
THE OLDEST RECORD OF THE DUTCH PERIOD.
A NOTABLE VISIT TO THE MOHAWK INDIANS.
By GENERAL JAMES GRANT WILSON
The original journal of an expedition to the country of Mohawks and Sennekens [this should read Oneidas], made in 1634-35,by Arent V an Curler--or Corlear, according to the pronunciation of the name in English--is now before the writer. It consists of thirty-two well-preserved pages of foolscap, which have lain perdu in a Dutch garret for two hundred and sixty years. It is of great historical value, antedating as it does any existing document relating to the history of New Netherland, and coming from the pen of one of the leading actors in the early annals of the colony.
[The miles spoken of in this journal are Dutch miles, and were equal to about three English miles.]
This diary records that Van Curler, with two other white men and five Maquaase Indians, as guides, left Fort Orange December 11, 1634, travelling mostly northwest about eight miles, and arrived at halfpast twelve in the evening, at a hunter's little cabin, where we slept for the night, near the stream that runs into their [Mohawks'] land, and of the name of Vyoge (?). The land is most full of oak trees, and the flat land is abundant. The stream runs into their land near their [Mohawks'] Castle, but cannot be navigated up stream, on account of the heavv current.
Dec. 12.-At three o'clock, before daylight, we proceeded again, and the savages that went with us would have left us there
secretly, if I had not perceived that their dogs had eaten our bread and cheese. So we had to be contented with dry bread on which
to travel; and after going for an hour we came to the branch [Mohawk River] that runs into our river, and passed the Maquas
villages, where the ice drifted very fast. Jeronimus crossed first, with one savage in a canoe made of the bark of trees, because there was only room for two; after that Willem and I went over; and it was so dark that we could not see each other if we did not come close together. It was not without danger.
When all of us had crossed we went another mile and a half and came to a hunter's cabin, which we entered to eat some venison, and hastened further, and after another half mile we saw some Indians approaching, and as soon as they saw us they ran off and threw their sacks and bags away, and fled down a valley behind the Underwood, so that we could not see them. We looked at their goods and bags, but took only a piece of bread. It was baked with beans, and we ate it. We went further, and mostly along the aforesaid kil [Mohawk River] that ran swiftly. In this kil there are a good many islands, and on the sides upward of 500 or 6oo morgens of flat land. Yes, I think even more. And after we had been marching about eleven miles we arrived at one o'clock in the evening, half a mile from the first Castle, at a little house. We found only Indian women inside. We should have gone further, but I could hardly move my feet because of the rough road, so we slept there. It was very cold, with northerly wind.
Dec. 13th.-In the morning we went together to the Castle over the ice that during the night had frozen on the kil, and, after going half a mile, we arrived in their first Castle, which is built on a high mountain [hill]. There stood but thirty-six houses, in rows like streets, so that we could pass nicely. The houses are made and covered with bark of trees, and mostly are flat at the top. Some are one hundred, ninety, or eighty paces long, and twenty-two and twenty-three feet high. There were some inside doors of hewn boards, furnished with iron hinges. In some houses we saw different kinds of iron chains, harrow irons, iron hoops, nails-all probably stolen somewhere. Most of the people were out hunting deer and bear. The houses were full of corn that they lay in store, and we saw maize; yes, in some of the houses, more than three hundred bushels.
They make barrels and canoes of the bark of trees, and sew with bark as well. We had a good many pumpkins cooked and baked
that they called anansira. None of the chiefs were at home, but the principal chief is named Adriochten. He lived a quarter of a mile from the fort in a small house, because a good many savages in this Castle died of smallpox. I sent him a message to come and see us, which he promptly did; hecame and bid me welcome, and said that he wanted us very much to come with him. We should have done so, but when already on the way another chief called us and so we went to the Castle again.
This one had a big fire lighted, and a fat turkey cooked, which we ate. He gave us two bearskins to sleep upon, and presented me with three beaver skins. In the evening William Tomassen, whose legs were swollen from the march, had a few cuts made with a knife therein, and after that had them rubbed with bear's grease. We slept in this house, ate heartily of pumpkins, bear's meat and venison, so that we were not hungry; but were treated as well as they could possibly do. We hope that all will succeed well.
They stayed at this castle three days, or until December 16th, when they resumed their journey.
Dec. 16th.-After midday, a famous hunter came here, named Sickarus, who wanted very much that we should go with him to his Castle. He offered to carry our goods, and to let us sleep and remain in his house as long as we liked; and because he was offering us so much I gave him a knife and two awls as a present, and to the chief in whose house we had been, I presented a knife and a pair of scissors; and then we took our departure from this Castle, named Onekagoncka, and after going another half mile over the ice, we saw a village with only six houses, of the name Canowarode; but we did not enter it, because it was not worth while; and after another half mile we passed again a village where twelve houses stood. It was named Senatsycrosy. Like the others, it was not worth while entering, and after another mile, or mile and a half, we passed by great stretches of flat land and came into this Castle, Medashet, about two o'clock in the evening. I did not see much beside a good many graves. This Castle is named Canagere. It is built on a hill without any palisades or any defense. We found only seven men at home, beside a party of old women and children. The chiefs of this Castle, named Tonnosatton and Tamwerot, were hunting, so we slept in the house of Sickarus, as he had promised us, and we counted in his house one hundred pieces of salable beavers skins that he captured with his own dogs.
Van Curler continued his journey to the Sinneken (Oneidas) where he arrived on December 30th, and remained with the Indians until the 12th of January, 1635, when he took his departure for Fort Orange, following the same route he had travelled in his outward journey, and arrived at Onekagoncka, the first castle, at sunset, January 19th.
January 20th in the morning, before daylight, Jeronimus sold his coat for four beaver skins. We departed at one hour before daylight, and after marching by guess two miles, the savages pointed to a high mountain [hill] where their Castle stood nine years before. They had been driven out by the Mahicans [Mohicans] and after a time they did not want to live there.
0n January 21st the party reached Fort Orange. This ends the journal. At this time I wish to speak of his journey of December 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 16th, or of that portion of the journey that brought him in the vicinity of the present city of Amsterdam. It is conceded by good authority that the stream he crossed, which was named " Vyoge" (probably Oioghi, which was the Indian name for river), was the Mohawk River and that he crossed to the north side of the Mohawk (the kil that ran so swiftly) on December 12th, west of Schenectady. On the morning of December 13 he recrossed to the south side, over the ice, and after going a half mile arrived at the castle of Onekagoncka, which was situated on a high hill, and whose chief's name was Adriochten.
It was this name, Adriochten, that suggested the possibility of Onekagoncka, having been located a short distance below Amsterdam, instead of at Auriesville as suggested by some of the historians of the valley.
In Pearson's Schenectady Patent we find record of a deed o land given by the Mohawks, December 16, 1686, to Hendrick Cuyler, of Albany, which is described as "a piece of land situate mostly on the north side of the Mohawk Adriutha or Adriuche, above Schenectady, beginning on the north side of the river from a white oak tree that is marked with a wolf standing on the west side of a creek (Lewis), to a beech tree, also marked with a wolf, standing on the east side of a small kill or creek (Eva's Kill), and thence over the river on the south side from a great black oak tree, which is also marked with a wolf, together with all the small islands, or banks that lie within said limits, to an old oak tree marked with a bear, wolf and turtle (the arms of the three clans of the Mohawks).The property described as on the north side is the old Groot place, now in possession of Francis Morris, and that on the south side is part of the settlement now called Kline.
Having in mind the similarity of the names Adriochten and Adriuche, or Adriutha, I made strict inquiry among the old settlers in the vicinity of Kline, and found traditions of Indian occupation, and also found that arrowheads and hatchets had been found in the fields and woods. Also a well authenticated account of Indian remains, together with a pipe and other articles having been unearthed in this locality, between the canal and the railroad, during the construction of the West Shore Railroad.
Inquiring of Mr. Oliver S. Kline, whose ancestors have lived in that vicinity for about a century, he informed me that on an elevation of land on the homestead farm, about one hundred and fifty feet above the river, and in a field that was covered with woods in his boyhood, had been a clearing of about three or four acres, and in this clearing were several holes about four feet deep and perhaps about three feet wide and six feet long. (These holes were undoubtedly corn pits, and were used by the Indians as storehouses for their grain in winter.) Between this clearing and the edge of the hill that slopes to the flats below on the river side were to be found crystals of flint, attached to much rock, that appeared above the surface of the sod in many places, also chips of flint in the earth near the rocks. With this valuable information I visited this field, of about twenty acres, and found a place, which, with my limited knowledge of Indian sites, seemed to have been an ideal place for an Indian stronghold.
The plateau, which I have said had an elevation of about one hundred and fifty feet, was protected on the west and south by a deep ravine whose steep banks were not very easy to ascend, and the bed of a creek that at some seasons of the year and during heavy rainstorms becomes a shortlived torrent. Two ever-flowing springs are located in this ravine and one on the slope towards the river, and an extensive flat and islands. About a mile west of this point is the Cowilligan Creek, which runs into the Mohawk River.
Gen. John S. Clark informs me that the word Canowaroda probably signifies place of canoes from Canowha, canoes, and that the Indians were in the habit of placing their canoes at some nearby creek for safe-keeping.
Being in possession of this information, and assuming that Cano waroda --one-half Dutch mile from Onekagoncka--was located at Cowilligan Creek, I proceeded to search for further information in regard to Onekagoncka. From the fact that Van Curler, on December 12th, speaks of travelling eleven (Dutch) miles, which would be thirty-three English miles, I assume that he meant that he had travelled eleven Dutch or thirty-three English miles from Fort Orange (Albany). As the average rate for his whole journey of twelve days' travel was about ten English miles, he could not in one day travel thirty-three English miles over that part of his journey that he describes as being the most difficult. As the distance from Albany to Amst erdam by railroad is thirty-three miles, and to Kline about thirty miles, it seems to me that we should look for the ancient site of Onekagoncka on the south side of the Mohawk River and on a hill near Kline.
A journey to the State Library, and an examination of the Vanderdonk map, reveals the fact that Vanderdonk located Carenay, an Indian village of his time (1656) on the bank of the Mohawk River, and directly north of a small lake or pond.
"Vanderdonk resided at Fort Orange from 1641 to 1646. The material for this map was of about the period of 1635, and may have been the map of Lacrock (Lacrois) who accornpanied Van Curler."--Gen. J. S. Clark.)
On the Amsterdarn section of the topographical map of the State of New York, we find the pond at Mariaville to lie directly south of Kline, and the only lake or pond in that section of the country. Most historians concede that the Carenay of the Vanderdonk map, 1656, and Onekagoncka of Van Curler's Journal, 1834-35, are only different names for the same castle site.
[Previous to 1642 the village had been removed to near Schoharie Creek, and became the Osseruenon, of Isaac Jogues, 1642, and where he suffered death in 1646. The sites of Indian villages were changed frequently, seldom remaining more than ten years in the same place, and frequentlv not more than six."--J. S. Clark.]
Van Curler did not enter Canowaroda, but after going another half-mile he passed a village named Senatsycrosy, without entering. And after another mile, or mile and a half, they passed by great stretches of flat land, and came to a castle which he calls Wetdashet; and immediately after he says: "This Castle is named Canagere." " In this Castle are 16 houses 50, 60, 70, or 80 paces long."
December 20th we took our departure from the second Castle, and after marching a mile--came to a stream that we had to pass. This stream ran very fast, besides big flakes of ice came drifting.
We were wet up to above our waists.
This would seem to be a very good description of the mouth of the Schoharie Creek, and that the site of Canagere must be looked for two or three English miles east of said creek.
After passing the creek they travelled about a half-mile (Dutch) and came to the third castle, named Sohanidisse, on the top of a very high hill. This would seem to be the Schanatissa of Vanderdonk.
I do not feel competent, from my limited knowledge of the Indian villages, formerly located in the western part of the county of Montgomery, to follow Van Curler in his journey west of this immediate locality, and therefore will confine my researches to this vicinity, and wait for the acceptance or rejection of these conclusions by others who are interested in Indian history.
On the return journey of Van Curler and party, when they had travelled by guess (?) two miles, his guide pointed to a high mountain where their castle stood nine years before, or in 1625, when they were driven out by the Mohicans. They were undoubtedly travelling on the south side of the river where the high hills to the south could not be seen until they were in the vicinity of Pattersonville, where the high country called Vantaputchaberg may be seen to the southeast. As the range is very long, and of nearly uniform height, he would be imparting very indefinite information. The hill at Kinaquarone on the north, however, and the high hill to the east of it, are said to be rich in Indian relics, the highest point of th e eastern hill in particular; and as it is situated about five English miles east of the supposed site of Onekagoncka, Carenay, etc., it is very probably the site of the ancient village destroyed by the Mohicans.
General J. S. Clark, in a letter dated Sept. 5, 1898, says:
"There is no doubt whatever as to the site described by you; it is certainly the Carenay of the earliest maps, and the Onekagoncka of Van Curler. Carenay was indicated directly north of a sinall lake or pond, and there is no other than Maria Pond or Featherstonhaugh Lake anywhere in that neighborhood."
A theory of Van Curler's journey is as follows: Van Curler called the first castle of the Mohawks Onekagoncka, in 1634-35. In 1642 he again visited the first castle on a mission of mercy to rescue Jogues from death. He does not make mention of any change in the site which was near extensive flat lands and fertile islands. The Mohicans had been driven to Connecticut, and as the Mohawks were always the aggressors when at war with the French and Indians, they at least had no great fear of an attack from them at the eastern end of the Iroquois Confederacy. In addition to the above, they were near, and in communication with, the traders at Fort Orange. In 1642 and 1643 Isaac Jogues was a captive at the castle, which he names Osseruenon; and again in 1646, when, as he says, he was led naked to Gandawague, the place of his former captivity. He also says that the name of the place was changed from Osseruenon to Oneongoure, evidently showing that the names of the Indian castles changed frequently, and not the sites. On the Vanderdonk map of 1656, made from data obtained from Van Curler, "with whom he resided from 1641 to 1646," is an Indian castle called Carenay, located directly north of a pond (Mariaville Pond), and near the Mohawk River, which corresponds with the recently discovered site of Onekagoncka at Kline, or Adriuche. If Vanderdonk obtained his information of the Indian sites from Van Curler in 1656, it is evident that the first castle was then located at Kline and was known by the following names at the periods mentioned:
In 1666 two expeditions of French and Indians visited the Mohawk country, in February and in September. In September, 1666, they destroyed all three of the Mohawk castles, together with their stores of provisions. It was probably at this time that the Mohawks moved to the flats at Fort Hunter and Auriesville, and beyond, as they had good reasons for changing their location. Vanderdonk says: "The Indian villages changed their location quite frequently; but their castles or fortified places were occupied a longtime," or until they were destroyed by fire or by an enemy. But it is quite evident from the foregoing list that the names of the castles were frequently changed, and from this circumstance a confusion of location of sites has probably arisen.
Parkman, in speaking of Labatie's account of the murder of Isaac Jogues, says: " He (Labatie) was the interpreter at Fort Orange, and being near the scene of the murder, took pains to learn the facts." This would indicate that Osseurunon in 1646 was not far from Fort Orange.
It is generally conceded that the words Gandawaga, Cahaniaga, and Kanyea-geh are the same, and that their definition is not " At the rapids,"but "The people of the flint. "Why of the flint?"
I am aware that the above theory does not conform to preconceived ideas of Indian sites that have always, more or less, been mere conjecture, built around some vague statements that in some cases admit of different interpretation; but it is the theory of a student in Indian history, after a careful research of available material, and without being hampered by the haze of preconceived theories.
The Indian history of the Mohawk Valley is very interesting; but the section between Fort Hunter and Hoffmans has received scant consideration from local historians, whose attention has been directed to their immediate locality, and theories built up frorn the later occupation of the valley, which did not extend below Fort Hunter to any great extent.
It will be noticed that Van Curler gives two names to the second Castle, located one Dutch mile east of a large stream, "where the flakes of ice drifted fast "(Schoharie Creek). Wetdashet and Canagere, going to confirm the fact that the names of the castles were frequently changed.
In locating castle sites, one thing should be taken into consideration, and that is that the Mohawks were, in a measure, an agricultural people, as they raised corn, beans, pumpkins, and tobacco in such quantities that they stored it for winter use. The fertile flats of the Mohawk are not evenly distributed along the river. The bottom lands are quite wide, all the way from Schenectady, on both sides of the river, particularly so on the south side. At Adriuche, or Cranesville, are fertile flats and large islands, and again at Fort Hunter, Auriesville, Fonda, and so on, The river from Cranesville to Schenectady was the home of a large body of Mohawks, owing to the fertile flats situated along the river bottom, and from the fact that navigation practically ended there, and the "carry" over the trail to Albany began. Probably the reader is aware that the French and Indians always spoke of being in the Mohawk country when they arrived at the upper or southern end of Lake Champlain and Lake George. Saratoga Lake and vicinity were frequently visited by Mohawk hunting and fishing parties, and all Indian trails from the north, of early date, seem to lead to points between Hoffmans and Albany, Taking all these things into consideration, I am inclined to think that prehistoric sites of Indian castles should be sought for between Sandsea or Zandige Creek, and the Schoharie River.
Van Curler's journal seems to indicate that one Dutch mile cast from Schoharie River the second Castle of the Mohawks was situated. Some very interesting prehistoric rernains and embankments and evidences of Indian occupation have been found on the flats and hills at the Wemple place, near Fort Hunter.
One of the earliest and most tragic events that is recorded, of the advent of the Jesuit priests in the Mohawk Valley, occurred in this locality, the massacre of Jogues and Goupil.
In all the early expeditions of France and Spain to the coast of America, the priest seems to have been a very necessary part of the equipment. Some of them were from the order of the Franciscans or Recolects, and, later, from the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, as the disciples of St. Ignatius Loyola are called. They were found with Cortez in Mexico, Ponce de Leon, Menendes, Narvaez, and the Frenchman, Jean Ribault, in Florida, and Hernando de Soto on the Mississippi. Also with Jacques Cartier when he discovered the river St. Lawrence, in 1535, at which time he visited the Indian villages Stadacone, afterward the site of Quebec, and Hochelaga, named by Cartier Mont Royal, from the mountain in the rear of the Indian village, and now known as Montreal. At an early period in the history of Montreal it was also called Ville Marie. They came again with Champlain in 1603, also in 1609. But among the first of the long lines of French Jesuits who made the conversion of the Indians their life-work, were Fathers Baird and Masse, in 1610, who were joined in 1613 by Father Quentin and Brother du Thet, and in 1625 by Charles Lalemant and Jean de Brebeuf.
In this age we look with wonder upon the records of the Jesuits of that period and marvel at the zeal and self-sacrificing spirit of those pioneers of the Roman Catholic Church in America. Parkman, in speaking of the Jesuits of Canada, says: "No religious order has ever united in itself so much to be admired and so much to be detested." "A fervor more intense, a self-abnegation more complete, a self-devotion more constant and enduring, will scarcely find its record on the page of human history." "In all the copious records of this period, not a line gives occasion to suspect that one of this loyal band flinched or hesitated." The fate of Jean de Brebeuf will illustrate the perils with which they were beset, the ferocity of the Mohawkwqarriors, and their hatred of the French and the "black-robed" Jesuits.
With your permission I will quote from Parkman's Jesuits in North America, to illustrate the fate of many of these devoted priests. Brebeuf and Lalernant were captured by the Mohawks at the final destruction of the Huron nation on the shores of Lake Huron in 1649. Parkman says:
On the sixteenth of March (1649)-the day when the two priests were captured-Brebeuf was led apart, and bound to a stake. He seemed more concerned for his captive converts than for himself, and addressed them in a loud voice, exhorting them to suffer patiently, and promising heaven as their reward. The Iroquois, incensed, scorched him from head to foot, to silence him; whereupon, in the tone of a master, he threatened them with everlasting flames for persecuting the worshippers of God. As he continued to speak with voice and countenance unchanged, they cut away his lower lip and thrust a red-hot iron down his throat. He still held his tall muscular form erect and defiant, with no sign or sound of pain; and they tried another means to overcome him. They led out Lalemant, that Brebeuf might see him tortured. They had tied strips of bark, smeared with pitch, about his naked limbs. When he saw the condition of Brebeuf he could not hide his agitation, and threw himself at the feet of his Superior, upon which the Iroquois seized him, made him fast to a stake and set fire to the bark that enveloped him. As the flame rose, he threw his arms upward with a shriek of supplication to heaven. Next they hung around Brebeuf's neck a collar made of hatchets heated red-hot; but the indomitable priest stood like a rock. A kettle was slung, and the water boiled and poured slowly on the heads of the two missionaries. "We baptize you," they cried, "that you may be happy in heaven, for nobody can be saved without a good baptism."
Brebeuf would not flinch, and in rage, they cut strips of flesh from his limbs and devoured them before his eyes. Others called out to him, "you told us that the more one suffers on earth, the happier he is in heaven." After a succession of other revolting tortures, they scalped him; when, seeing him nearly dead, they laid open his breast and came in a crowd to drink the blood of so valiant an
enemy, thinking to imbibe with it some portion of his courage. A chief then tore out his heart and devoured it.
Thus died Jean de Brebeuf, the founder of the Huron mission, its truest hero, and its greatest martyr. It is said that he was a noble specimen of manhood, being of great size and strength, and with noble features, better fitted to be a knight than a priest.
As Brebeuf was a martyr of the Huron mission, so Isaac Jogues may be called the martyr of the mission to the Mohawks. On the bank of the Mohawk, at the little hamlet of Auriesville, the society of which he was a member has erected a shrine, as a tribute to the memory of that noble, self-sacrificing priest. In this age we may smile at his belief, and at some of his methods; but we cannot help admiring him for his strict obedience to the dictates of his conscience, and his humility and heroism in the discharge of his duties.
It is said that he was born at Orleans, of a worthy family, January 10, 1607, and at an early age entered the college of the Jesuits, at his native place, and at the time he was ordained priest, in 1636, he was an exceedingly well-educated man. He accompanied a fleet that sailed for Canada in April, 1636, arrived at Quebec in July of the same year, and was almost immediately assigned to one of the missions in the country of the Hurons, being one of the companions of Father Brebeuf, spoken of above. For five years he labored among those savages, suffering all manner of hardships and privations among the Hurons, Tobacco Indians, Ottawas, and Chippewas (Ojibwas) of northern Canada. Returning to the Huron country, from Quebec, in 1642, he was captured by a war party of Agniers. The Agniers, or Mohawks, were located near the Dutch post of Rensselaerwyck (the Albany of the .present time). They were noted for their deadly hatred of the French and the apostles of the Catholic faith, and were continually at war with the Hurons and Algonquins of Canada. In parties of from ten to a hundred, they would leave their villages on the Mohawk and descend Lake Champlain and the river Richelieu to lay in ambush on the banks of the St. Lawrence and attack passing boats, follow the trails of travellers or hunters, or break upon unguarded camps at midnight, and often in large parties attack the palisaded villages of their enernies. The account of the capture of Father Jogues, Rene Goupil, and Couture, is taken from the Relations of the Jesuits:
In the early morning of the second of August, 1642, twelve Huron canoes were moving slowly along the northern shore of the expansion of the St. Lawrence, known as Lake St. Peter, west of Three Rivers. There were on board about forty persons, including four Frenchmen. Jogues sat in one of the leading canoes. His oval face and the delicate mold of features indicated a modest, thoughtful, refined nature. He was constitutionally timid, with a sensitive conscience and great religious susceptibilities. He was a finished scholar, and might have gained a literary reputation; but he had chosen another career, and one for which he seemed but little fitted.
Physically, however, he was well matched with his work; for though his frame was light, he was so active that none of the Indians could surpass him in running. In stature he was the opposite to the majestic Brebeuf.
With him were two young men, Rene Goupil and Guillaume Couture--donnes of the mission--that is to say, laymen, who, without pay, had attached themselves to the services of the Jesuits. Goupil was formerly a Jesuit novitiate at Paris, but while in Quebec had been an attendant at the hospital. His surgical skill was of great help to Jogues in case of sickness among the savages. Couture was also a man of intelligence and vigor.
The twelve canoes had reached the western end of Lake St. Peter, when from the forests on the bank was heard the dreaded war cry of the Mohawks, mingled with the reports of guns and the whistling of bullets, and several Iroquois canoes, filled with warriors, bore down upon Jogues and his companions. The Hurons were seized with a shameful panic, and leaving canoes, baggage, and weapons, fled into the woods, but not soon enough to prevent many being either killed or captured. Jogues and Couture sprang into the bulrushes, and could have escaped; but seeing Goupil in the clutches of the Mohawks, they came out of their hiding-place and gave themselves up to their astonished victors, rather than desert a friend.
As Couture advanced, five Iroquois sprang forward to meet him, and one of them snapped his gun at his breast, but missed fire. In his confusion and excitement, Couture fired his own piece and laid the savage, who was a chief, dead. The remaining four sprang upon him, tore off his clothing, beat him with clubs and with their fists, and finally tore out his fingernails with their teeth, gnawing his fingers with the fury of famished dogs, and thrust a sword through the offending hand that had fired the shot. Jogues broke away from his guards, and rushed to the assistance of his friend. He was dragged away and beaten with war-clubs until he was senseless. Goupil was also subjected to the same treatment and his hands and those of Jogues were badly lacerated by the teeth of the savages.
The Iroquois started at last, ascending the Richelieu and entered Lake Champlain. On the eighth day they ascertained that about two hundred Iroquois (Mohawks) were encamped on an island in the lake, about one day's distance away. Reaching the island, the captives were forced to run the gauntlet, and were tortured in various ways.
Jogues, the last of the line, fell drenched in blood and half dead, but was forced to resume the journey the next morning and on the 10th of August reached Lake George, four days march from the first Mohawk Castle. The hardships of this march were rendered even more intense by the want of food. The 11th of August they crossed the upper Hudson, which they called Oiogue (the river), and on August 15th reached the end of their journey.
In a letter to the Provincial of the Jesuits, at Paris, Jogues says:
On the eve of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, about 3 o'clock, we reached the bank of the second river (Mohawk), about three-quarters of a mile from their village called Os-se-ru-e-non. Both banks were filled with Iroquois, who received us with clubs, fists and stones. When satisfied with their cruelty, which we thus received by the river side, they crossed the river and led us to their village on the top of the hill. At its entrance we met the youth of all that district awaiting us in line on each side of the road, all armed with clubs, and through this double row of savages the captives were led, single file, Couture in front; because he had killed a chief, after him some Huron captives, then Goupil, then the remaining Hurons, and at last Jogues. Some of the prisoners were killed, but the three Frenchmen managed to drag themselves through that line of torture, and were all placed on a high platform in the middle of the village. They were kept on this platform for three days, and were then led in triumph to the second castle, and afterward the third, suffering at each a repetition of the former cruelties. Jogues and Goupil were afterward led back to the first castle, where they expected to be burned at the stake. Couture, according to custom, had been adopted into one of the families and taken to the farthest town, named Ti-o-non-to-guen.
About this time the Dutch of Rensselaerwyck, which was not forty miles from this town, having heard of the capture and torture of several Frenchmen, desired to interpose and obtain their deliverance. On September 17th, Arendt Van Corlear, commandant of the fort, Jean Labatie, his interpreter, and Jacob Jansen of Amsterdam, went as ambassadors to the town of An-da-ga-ron, the second castle, and although they made flattering offers and a promise of two hundred dollars, they were unable to obtain the release of the prisoners.
One day, after they had been in the hands of the Mohawks about six weeks, Goupil attempted to make the sign of the cross on some children, but was warned that if he did anything of the kind he would be killed. Shortly after, Goupil, in placing his cap on the head of a child, attempted to make the sign of the cross on its forehead. The grandfather of the child detected him, and as Goupil left the cabin said to one of his nephews, a young buck just ready for the war-path: " Go kill that dog of a Frenchman; the Hollanders tell us the sign he has made is not good." The young brave was only too glad of the order, and watched to catch Goupil outside of the palisade when he would be at liberty to kill him.
Shortly after, as the two captives were returning from the forest, saying their rosary, they met two Mohawks near the gate. One of them raised a tomahawk and struck it into the head of Goupil, who fell on his face. Jogues fell on his knees and uncovering his head awaited the same fate, but the Indians told him he had nothing to fear, for he belonged to another family. (The Mohawks were in the habit of giving their prisoners to different families.) The body of Rene Goupil was dragged through the village by the children to a ravine at a considerable distance, where they flung it in. The next day Jogues instituted a search for the body in the ravine, at the bottom of which ran a torrent. Here Jogues, with the help of an old Indian, his master, found it stripped naked and gnawed by dogs. He dragged it into the water and covered it with stones to hide it and save it from further mutilation, intending to return the following day and bury it. He was not able to return until two days after, when he found the stream a rolling, turbulent flood, from a recent storm, and the body nowhere to be seen. I quote his words from the Relations, in a letter to the Provincial:
I returned to the spot, I ascended the mount at the foot of which the torrent ran. I descended again and searched the woods on the opposite bank; my search was useless. In spite of the water, which came up to my waist, for it had rained all night, and in spite of the cold (as it was the first of October), I sounded with my feet and with my staff, to see if the current had not carried the corpse further along. The Indians, who are liars by nature, told me it had been carried down by the current to the river near by, which was untrue.
They also told him that they had dragged it to the river three-quarters of a mile away, " which I did not know," because no such river existed; they lied to him. It was some young Indians and not the torrent that had borne the body away. In the spring, when the snows were melting in the woods, he was told by some Mohawk children that the body was in the ravine in a lonely spot lower down the stream. There he found the scattered bones and hid them in the earth, hoping that a time would come when he could give them Christian burial.
Jogues remained with the Mohawks at Os-se-ru-e-non until July, 1643, when lie went to a fishing-place on the Hudson about twenty miles below Fort Orange. Having learned of prisoners having been burned to death at Os-se-ru-e-non, during his absence, his conscience smote him because he had not been on hand to baptize them, and he urged the Indians to allow him to return. Reaching Rensselaerwyck, he was advised by Megapolensis, the Dutch clergyman at that post, and others not to return to the Mohawk Castle, as he would surely be killed. Taking their advice, and with their help, he secretly went aboard a vessel bound for Manhattan (New York), and from there was assisted to a passage on a ship bound for France. In 1644 he returned to Canada.
In 1645 a treaty of peace was confirmed between the Iroquois and the French and Algonquins after some reverses to the Iroquois on Lake Champlain, which treaty was broken by the western tribes. The Mohawks were becoming uneasy and it was felt by the governor, General Chevalier de Montmagny, that it would be policy to send an envoy of higher rank than Couture, the former ambassador, to win over the turbulent Mohawks.
Jogues was chosen for the task; also to found a new mission, which was named "The Mission of the Martyrs." Jogues for the past two years had been at Montreal, and as soon as he received his orders started for Three Rivers, which he left on May 16th with Mr. Bourdon and four Mohawk deputies and two Algonquins as guides. Their route to the Mohawk country was up the St. Lawrence to the river Richelieu, and Lake Champlain and Lake George. It was on this journey that, having reached Lake George on the eve of Corpus Christi, he named it Lac St. Sacrament, which name it preserved until 1757, when Sir William Johnson christened it Lake George in honor of King George 11.
From Lake George, being short of food, they crossed over to Fish Creek, "where the Indians catch a small fish like herring." (Jogues) Borrowing canoes, June 4th, of the Iroquois, they descended the Hudson to Fort Orange. After two days' rest they continued their journey, and reached the first Mohawk town on the evening of June 7th, about one day's travel. He says: "We reached the first castle on the evening of June 7th. Its name had been changed from Os-se-ru-e-non to On-e-ou-gou-re." Crowds came from the neighboring Indian villages to gaze on the abused slave, who now came among them as an ambassador of power. A semblance of peace was patched up, but the old hatred of the French still burned sullenly, making the prospect of the future very ominous.
Hardly had the business of the embassy been finished before the Mohawks (probably the Wolves), urged them to depart for fear some of the western tribes, who were already preparing for a predatory raid to the St. Lawrence, would lie in ambush and kill their Algonquin guides, if not the Frenchmen themselves. Upon his departure, Jogues left a small chest containing his scanty outfit and a few religious articles, expecting to return soon to the valley and establish the "Mission of the Martyrs " among the savage Mohawks.
On the 24th of August he again set out for his dangerous post among the Iroquois (Mohawks). His only companions were a young Frenchman named Lalande, and three or four Hurons. On the way they met some Indians, who warned them not to continue their journey, as a change of feeling had taken place in the Mohawk towns and they would surely be killed if they persisted in going there. The Hurons, becoming alarmed, refused to go any farther, but Jogues and his young companion, Lalande, would not turn back.
The reported change had taken place owing to the superstitious ignorance of the Indians. The small box left by Jogues seemed mysterious to them and they imagined it to contain some secret charm. At this time a contagious disease was raging among them, and many of the Mohawks were dying; besides, the caterpillars had destroyed nearly the whole harvest, and this they ascribed to the little box and the sorceries of the Jesuits. The trunk was thrown into the river unopened, and they were ready to wreak vengeance on the supposed author of all their woes. A war party on the march to Fort Richelieu came upon Father Jogues and Lalande two days' march from their village, and in fury fell upon them, stripped them of their clothes, beat them, and in triumph led them to the first castle. Jogues says: " I was led naked to Gandawague, the place of my former captivity." This place was variously called by Jogues, Os-se-ru-e-non, On-e-ou-gou-re, and Gan-da-wa-gue. Here they cut thin strips of flesh from the back and arms of Jogues, the crowd shouting, " You shall die to-morrow." Of the three great clans of the Mohawks, the Bear, the Tortoise, and the Wolf, the Bear chiefs were clamorous for his death, but the Wolves especially were more friendly to the captive. However, the Bears prevailed. Francis Parkman describes his death as follows:
In the evening--it was the eighteenth of October-Jogues, smarting from his wounds and bruises, was sitting in one of the lodges, when an Indian entered and asked him to a feast. To refuse would have been an offense. He arose and followed the savage, who led him to the lodge of a bear chief. Jogues bent his head to enter, when another Indian, standing concealed within, at the side of the doorway, struck at him with a hatchet. An Iroquois, called by the French-Le Berger, who seems to have followed in order to defend him, bravely held out his arm to ward off the blow, but the hatchet cut through it and sank into the missionary's brain. He fell at the feet of his murderer, who finished his work by hacking off his head. Lalaride was left in suspense all night, and in the morning was killed in a similar manner. The bodies of the two Frenchmen were then thrown into the Mohawk, and their heads, displayed on the points of the palisade which enclosed the town.
Thus died Isaac Jogues, one of the purest examples of Roman Catholic virtue which this western continent has seen. Le Berger, who tried to save the priest's life, had at one time been taken prisoner and kindly treated by the French. He showed his gratitude by his unsuccessful attempts to defend the life of the French Jesuit.
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