History From America's Most Famous Valleys
This article was sent to us by Elizabeth (Klock) Hoagey. It appeared at some time during the late 1920's or early 1930's in the St. Johnsville Enterprise and News. The owner of the E & N at the time was Lou D. MacWethy. His granddaughter has permitted articles from this time period to be used on the Fort Klock web site.
Brant and Herkimer
The Story of Their Last Council at Unadilla June 18- 27, 1777 and Route Traversed by Herkimer and His Men to and From Fort Herkimer and Unadilla.
A paper prepared by Mrs. C. W. Crim.
And Read before the Jordanville Chapter D. A. R.
For acts of courage and heroism none are more worthy to be recorded than those of the first settlers in the defenseless settlements in the southern part of Herkimer county (the Mohawk Susquehanna Divide) and Upper Susquehanna region.
This country was known, at the time of the settlement of the Mohawk Valley to be a popular resort and favorite hunting ground of the five great nations that had joined in forming a confederacy which for durability and power was unequaled in Indian history,
"The numerous Indian trails leading through the southern part of Herkimer county, where the settlements were made, give evidence of the former occupation of these tribes. They were the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas, called by the French, Iroquois and the Five Nations by the English."
The six beautiful lakes, almost within sight of each other, Otsego, Canadarago, Wiantha, Summit, Allen and Cedar. Also "Mineral Springs" that abound at Richfield Springs and head waters of the Otsquago, are mentioned in Vanden Bogart's Journal written in winter 1635 When he traversed the Oneida and Seneca Trails to and from "Fort Orange (Albany) to Oneida Castle.
In consequence of the close proximity of Brant and his warriors during the spring of 1777 the people of these settlements were kept in a constant state of excitement, he having come down from Canada, without committing any depredations, suddenly appeared at Unadilla and required the people of that settlement to furnish his followers with provisions.
He stated that the object of his visit was to procure food which his people were greatly in need of and if they did not allow him to take this peaceably he must resort to force, and on Their departure they were allowed to drive off several cattle and sheep.
This visitation so alarmed the in habitants of the Mohawk-Susquehanna divide and the Upper Susquehanna region that they left their homes; some returned to the Mohawk valley and some to Cherry Valley.
The Indian forces continued to increase at Ohwaga and the anxiety of the people became greater with every report. Not a little uneasiness was also occasioned at the same time by the evidence that two of the loyalists who, had taken their departure the previous year were in communication with their wives and children in the remote settlements.
Some of the colonists wrote the committee of safety for troops to guard the frontier, while those from the exposed settlements proposed peaceable means of settling their difficulties. Brant had not been known to commit any acts of hostility in New York province and they were uncertain whether it was his intention to raise the hatchet in the contest or not.
General Herkimer had been a near neighbor of Brant before the trouble with England began, and it was thought he above all others, might persuade him not to take up arms against the colonies. Accordingly he was appointed to collect some of the local militia, 350 in all, to accompany him and visit Brant.
Outwardly the expedition was one of peace, but from the extent of the preparations and number of men selected to accompany him, it was evident the general was prepared for an emergency .
General Herkimer with men from the German Flats and Kingsland districts marched over the old road built from Fort Herkimer to Youngsfield (now Warren) by General Herkimer's father when he was road commissioner before the Revolution. This road led through Henderson patent and intersected the Oneida trail at Crain's Corners, thence south through Youngs patent.
Here they were joined by several men from the six settlements in this locality . These people were on the best of terms with the Indian chief and it was thought that through his influence, as well as by their square dealings with the Indians that they had nothing to fear though living remote from the protected settlements in the Mohawk valley.
The old Indian trail leading from Fort Herkimer to the Seneca country and the trail leading from Canajoharie to the Cayuga country intersected at the Kyle where lived Capt. Eckler. Brant was a frequent caller at his home and there are many incidents connected with these visits.
Many bands of Indians traversed these trails en-route to the settlements in the Mohawk Valley to dispose of their furs. Brant was a frequent caller at the homes of the settlers and some of them had attended school with him at Canajoharie and one of them was Capt. Eckler.
Gen. Herkimer selected these men thinking they might be influential in helping him detach the dusky warrior from the cause he had already espoused. He sent forward to Brant at Oswago apprising him of his coming on a mission of peace.
From Henderson Patent they passed through Young's patent and followed the Indian trail to Schuyler lake continuing on the west shore of the lake and down the valley to the Susquehanna river to below the settlement at Unadilla.
It was fully a week after they encamped before Brant put in appearance and sent a messenger to Herkimer desiring to be informed of the object of his visit.
General Herkimer replied that they had been old friends and neighbors and that he wanted to talk with the Chieftain in a friendly way.
After the exchange of several messages which, occupied several days, arrangements were completed for the conference. General Herkimer with some of his officers, one of them being Captain Eckler, and about 50 others on the appointed day repaired unarmed to the shed which had been erected by his men about a mile distant from both encampments. On the outskirts of the forest soon appeared the chief of the Mohawks accompanied by about 50 warriors.
Gen. Herkimer sent two) of his officers to escort Brant and two of his followers to the circle which he had formed and into which he entered with Herkimer and some of his men. After some conversation in regard to their former acquaintances, Brant inquired the reason of his being thus honored and why Gen. Herkimer should have brought so many with him if he were coming on a friendly visit. General Herkimer replied, "These people all desire peace with your friends."
He then approached Brant on the subject of trouble with England, inquiring why he had sided against the colonists. For this he gave various reasons, but nothing to indicate that he intended taking up against his old friends and neighbors, as one and another remonstrated with him to love peace and maintain it, to sympathize with them in their troubles but not to join on either side.
They did not want him to take up the hatchet against the king's troops but to keep it buried deep. If anything should ever occur between them to wound their peace, not to resort to arms, but to listen to each other's voices. At this Brant told him plainly his intention to fight for the king and that he must not come any nearer, no even cross the field on which they were standing or he could not restrain his warriors. They were in sympathy with the king as their fathers had been, their belts were lodged with them and they were not such villains as to violate their pledge.
"You and your people are very unwise in siding with the Boston people for the colonists are few compared with the king's men and their Indian allies and Tories and the king would soon subdue them, for he had money and power and he would soon conquer. He had plenty of clothing to give to, his Indians for their services and his rum was plenty as the waters of Ontario; that General Herkimer and Schuyler had not been able to offer them one thing when the chiefs of the several tribes were at German Flats.
At this Col. Cox said something that irritated Brant. At a given signal to the warriors attending him at a short distance, ran to the woods and immediately on the discharge of a gun their dismal war-whoop resounded through the forest.
General Herkimer succeeded in pacifying Brant but he declined to hold any further conversation as long as Col. Cox was near and said he could not restrain his men longer unless he departed, but if possible he would return the next morning, charging Gen. Herkimer not to come any nearer.
After Brant's departure Gen. Herkimer and his men returned to their encampments where all was confusion and excitement. Some were not willing to remain any longer fearing that Brant had purposely delayed the conference to give reinforcements time to arrive and that they would be slaughtered like innocent and defenses sheep before wolves. They had received a message from General Schenck who was dispatched to their assistance from Canajoharie on the fifteenth of June at the request of Herkimer that he had arrived at Cherry Valley. The inhabitants where he was encamped were fearful of an attack and they would only provide food for him as long as he remained with them. Col. Schenck's men numbered about 200.
General Herkimer had a council with some of his trusted officers telling them he was afraid they would see trouble before they got out of Unadilla and he must be prepared to protect his men as they were not to receive the promised reinforcements. Accordingly the next morning when they repaired to the shed, some carried their weapons with them. Fortunately Brant's conduct did not cause alarm and when he entered the circle, attended as before he appeared in the best of spirits, thanked them for the confidence they had apparently placed in him, for they must know he was able to utterly annihilate them, for his forces outnumbered theirs two to one. But he had succeeded in pacifying his warriors telling them that some of Herkimer's men were old friends and school mates and he must, not take advantage of them.
They agreed to comply with his requests, provided that he could succeed in securing some dozen head of cattle as a peace offering, and the immediate withdrawal of his troops.
General Herkimer expressed his disappointment at not being permitted to visit his kinsmen in their village beyond. To this Brant replied he might consider himself fortunate in not being carried there by force; advising him to comply with his request as he could not restrain his men any longer, and soon the well known war whoop resounded through the forest. He assured them that no harm should befall them if they complied with his, request, neither would he allow his warriors to molest them before they had time to seek protection. At this he turned proudly away and buried himself in the forest.
"Thus ended the last council with the wily Thyendenega Indian though he yet possessed a strong personal magnetism to which was added the advantage of education, together with the native sagacity of this race.
The morning had been remarkably clear and cool but the echo of the war-whoop had scarcely died away hen a violent storm arose, obliging both parties to seek protection and the best shelter they could find. This appealed to their superstitious nature. Gathered in little groups they lastly retraced their steps picking their way through the wilderness as best they could to find the shores of Schuyler lake. From here the men from German Flats and Kingsland district took their nearest route over the Indian trail which led to the head of the lake.
Old New York Frontier page 182:
Col. Bellinger's fourth Regt. at Unadilla affidavit of John Duesler 1833 a private in militia.
The day before the public meeting General Herkimer and Brant had talked a good deal together about the business. Understood there was a treaty made and that Brant would come back and live on the river again.
They returned the same way as far as Otsego then Col. Bellinger's regiment went home by a place called the Butternuts. They were gone in all the time about 17 or 18 days.
Brant's manuscripts in the Draper collection Butternuts road leads from Gilbertsville to Tunnicliff thence along the east shore of Schuyler (Canadarago) Lake to Federal Corners (early settlement on land given to, Conrad Matthes by King Hendrick on hill north east shore of lake.)
History of Schoharie county Border Wars, N. Y. page 223.
After a little more conversation in which the parties agreed to separate amicably the conference ended at which time General Herkimer presented to Brant. 7 or 8 head of cattle that had just arrived owing to obstructions to the outlet of Otsego lake down which stream they were driven or transported. For three days previous to the arrival of the cattle the Americans were on very short allowance.
It is evidenced by Gen. Herkimer's and his men's conduct at Unadilla that they were men of peace but believed in preparedness as they went prepared for any emergency.
The reason Herkimer chose this route was that there was a good road. The one built from Fort Herkimer was built in 1773 and intersected at Youngsfield (Warren) the road built the next year, from Otsego, Lake to Canadarago, Lake.
Whichever way they went from Youngsfield matters little. One thing certain the memory of these men who suggested peaceable means of settling their difficulties should be perpetuated. What can appeal to one more forcibly than this going on this "Mission of Peace."
John Tunnicliff's Bill June 29, 1777
June 29, 1777. General Herkimer's bill sent by General Harkman's desire 31 lb. cheese to Cherry Valley for officers on thare personal after the Indians on the Susquehanna.
Note 51 lb. at on shilling $2.10.
1 suppose as the militia might be 250 men which stayed all night. 10.00.
June 29, 1777 on their return eat me a large oven full of bread and as much as cheese as they liked and 18 cans milk night and morning. And all night 17 horses on the mowing ground.
Above copy of bill written by John Tunnicliff, Sr. Exact copy published in Coopers Story of Northern Country.
"The chieftain Brant was well known to the Tunicliffs who treated him with kindness as did the other settlers, being actuated by policy undert he peculiar circumstances of the times."
Quotations from Barley's History, Richfield Springs, Stories Life of Brant and Beers History of Herkimer County.
Comments From Jerod Rosman author of many articles on Joseph Brant. Brant, Joseph
• Mrs. Crim referred to the "Five Nations" and did not count Tuscarora. Of course it was Six Nations.
• Brant's Mohawk name was mispelled - or rather, spelled another way.
• She references "Brant's manuscripts in the Draper Collection". Brant didn't have any. They were Lyman C Draper's copies of various documents.
• The glaring problem is that there is no mention of the conspiracy between Herkimer and his subordinates to kill Brant in response to a signal from one of the officers. They had agreed it would be a good time to get rid of this troublesome Indian once and for all. The Cox mentioned was a son-in-law of George Klock, with whom Brant had more than a little trouble and dispute in the past. The arrogant Cox was an Indian hater who met his maker in the Battle of Oriskany. What irritated Joseph was a disparaging remark, supposedly, "you damned red devil!"
• It is not mentioned, either, that Joseph had an inkling about the plot to kill him. That's why he brought such a force with him and hid them until he signaled them out into sight. He outnumbered Herkimer's group and the Americans backed off.
Copyright © 1998, -- 2003. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.