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place be appointed to hold their Council at, and, as they express it, to have a fire place here. Their importunity was so pressing on that account, that I promised them to inform the Congress, and our Assembly of their request, and would beg the opinion of yourself, and our other delegates, whether it is best to lay it before the Congress, and that you would be pleased to inform his Honour, our Governor, immediately, what you apprehend will be best for the Colony to do, if any thing, in that matter. The Indians when they come here, expect presents, or at least to be supported while among us, and no one is appointed to treat with them. They come to me, and I have frequently given them, but find the burthen too great for one man to bear.
“ They also insist upon a new flag, such as is used by the army of the United States. They say their old flag came over the great water, and they now want a new one, as a token of their friendship to the United States.
“By the last papers we find that the report of Col. Butler, etc., with Indians and Canadians being at Oswego, is disbelieved. By the accounts we had before received of that matter, some were much agitated here, but seem more easy at present.
“I expect to be at the Assembly, and shall gladly receive any information you shall think proper to send me. “I am, sir, your humble servant,
« Z. BUTLER."
“ N. B. The Indians deny having any hand in the attack made upon Wilson, and have engaged to let us know if they make any discovery of that matter. Hon. Roger SHERMAN."
The earnest desire to have a fire-place erected at Wyoming, and that a great council should be held there, was probably a devised plan to introduce the savages into the settlement without creating alarm, and then treacherously to destroy the whole. Their importunity it seems, "was pressing."
It would also appear that now, since war rumors were afloat, numerous chiefs, claiming consideration, visited Wyoming, expecting presents and entertainment. “I have frequently given" says Colonel Butler, “ but find the burden too great for one man to bear.”
But they wanted a new flag, such as the “ United States Army used,” probably as a decoy on a fitting occasion. In respect to the news of Colonel John Butler with his Canadians and Indians being at Oswego, Colonel Z. Butler says :—“SOME WERE VERY MUCH AGITATED HERE.” The more sagacious men at Wyoming, could not fail to foresee and dread the danger. A tremendous avalanche hung over them, which the least jar might precipitate on their heads.
In September following, a deputation of three chiefs arrived at Wyoming, and brought a “ Talk,” the “Great Head” at Onondago having held a council. The talk was agreed upon at Chenango by certain authorized chiefs. While it professes peaceable intentions, the tone is one of complaint. The length is too great to render proper its publication entire. A paragraph or two will give its spirit.
“ Brothers—There is a great deal between us. The Devil is always putting something between us, but this is to clear your hearts that you may speak clearly and pleasantly to us. A string of wampum.
“Well Brothers—There is a great deal of trouble around you. Your lids are all bloody, but we come to clear away all suspicion that your hearts may be pleasant.” Three strings of wampum.
Still desirous that a great council fire should be kindled at Wyoming, they proceed :
“Well Brothers-Our fire-place is almost lost, and our fire almost out. We think it hard, and desire it may be renewed, and the fire-place fixed here, that our mutual fire may give light from one end of this river to the other.
“ Brothers—We are unwilling to have forts built up the river, but wish you would be content to build sorts here among the lower settlers. A fort at Wyalusing will block up our new made, wide, and smooth road, and again make us strangers to one another."
Three other paragraphs urgently desire that a "Fire" may be kindled at Wyoming, “so that the flame and smoke may arise to the clouds," etc.
After complaining of some wrong by a white man, done an Indian in the exchange of cows, and demanding satisfaction, they ask a new flag, and beg for some flour to take home with them, and request that as they are for peace their guns and tomahawks may be put in order.
In conclusion, “ Well Brother, Colonel Butler, you must have an Indian name; Koorenghloognana, (signifying a great tree,) we will henceforth call you.”
The Chiefs present were
WILLIAM NANTICOKE, Nanticoke Chief.
A Seneca Chief.
Capt. JOHNSON, The “ Talk” was regarded as evasive and unsatisfactory. It may be considered as creditable to the Wyoming people, that Indian jealousy could find nothing in their five years intercourse, for their friends scattered through the Valley to complain of, except the matter of the cow exchange.
In a letter from Colonel Butler to Roger Sherman, dated August 6, 1776, he says >
* You will see by the representations from this town that we are under apprehensions of danger from the Indians, as our army has retreated to Crown-point, and every artifice using to set the Indians on us, by Johnson and Butler, at Niagara.”
Colonel Butler also speaks of the settlement being in want of arms, “ as those eighty guns taken from our people at Warrior's Run, have not been returned," etc.
A report reached the valley the same month, that Colonel John Butler, “ with Indians and Canadians, was at Oswego." Notwithstanding the professions of the Six Nations, no one doubted before the close of 1776, but that they were pledged to the interest of Great Britain, and on the invasion by Burgoyne early in the following year, numbers of them were found arrayed under his standard, active, brave and cruel, as became their long established character.
Westmoreland extended north, five miles above the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers. The upper part of the town was therefore not only within the range of the Indian paths, but as previously stated, actually included several of their settlements at Tioga Point, Sheshequin and the Great Bend. In the immediate neighborhood were the populous villages of Oquaga, (one of the head quarters of Brandt,) Chenango, Owego, Choconut and Newtown, the latter a place where many distinguished chiefs resided. The general, almost the universal, course of travel for the Indians going east or west, was through the upper part of Westmoreland. A moderate freshet in the river, would bring their boats and canoes, in twentyfour hours, from their place of rendezvous at Tioga, into the heart of the Wyoming settlement. Being therefore within easy striking distance, they were fully aware of their danger, and might well look with anxious solicitude to the public authorities for protection.
A colony projected out from her own bosom beyond New York, forty miles north of the Blue Mountains, and divided by an inhospitable wilderness, from any other settlement of sufficient strength to yield support in case of invasion, Connecticut seemed called upon by the strongest considerations of justice and mercy to take measures to afford effectual protection to this her exposed frontier.
An important inquiry presents itself; What were the numbers, and what the strength of Westmoreland ? Trumbull states, and on his authority, Chapman copies the assertion, that there were five thousand inhabitants in the town. It will be observed that the number is stated roundly at five thousand, as if it were matter of guess, rather than of enumeration. From all the lights before me, I am confident the number is greatly exaggerated. In the first place, during the years of peace and prosperity from 1774 to 1776 only two hundred and eighty-five (285) persons had taken the Freeman's oath, and exercised the right of suffrage in town meetings, when there were many and obvious motives to do so, and none that we can conceive of, to deter.
Second. When, after the Declaration of Independence, a new oath was demanded, only two hundred and sixty-nine (269) had appeared and been sworn. Allowing an hundred freemen to have been absent with the army, and the whole number would be three hundred sixtynine (369.) If we allow six persons to each voter, the number would be two thousand two hundred and fourteen (2214.) Third. A list of settlers at Wyoming for 1773, two years before, in Col. Butler's hand writing, numbers only two hundred and sixteen (216.) Fourth. An assessment for Wilkesbarre township in 1774, corrected January 1775, contains one hundred and twenty (120) names. The sum assessed was £3646. The whole assessment in Westmoreland that year was £13,083. Now if £3646 give 120 persons, how many would 13083 give? It is apprehended this would be one fair mode of approximating the truth. The answer is 430, which multiplied by 6, gives 2580.
In the Plunket battle, when full notice had been received of the impending and pressing danger, and every thing was at stake, only about three hundred men could be mustered, and not all those with fire arms.
We see no reason to suppose the whole number of inhabitants exceeded about twenty-five hundred (2500.) Perhaps to impress the enemy with an idea of her formidable power, might have been regarded as a means to prevent invasion, and therefore warranting the exaggeration. The data on which our conclusion is founded,
being submitted, every person who takes an interest in the matter will form an opinion for himself.
Having presented a brief view of the position of Wyoming, the dangers the people had reasonable ground to apprehend, and as accurate an estimate as possible of the number of inhabitants, we approach a matter of the utmost moment; but previous to entering thereon, duty and pleasure call on us to state some highly patriotic proceedings; while an equal sense of duty demands our notice of several painful events.
At a town meeting, held March 10th, “ Voted, that the first man that shall make fifty weight of good salt-petre in this town shall be entitled to a bounty of ten pounds, lawful money, to be paid out of the town treasury.”
“ Voted, that the selectmen be directed to dispose of the grain now in the hands of the Treasurer, or Collector, in such way as to obtain powder and lead to the value of forty pounds, lawful money, if they can do the same."
The Continental Congress having recommended the appointment of committees of vigilance in every town, and the arrest of persons hostile to the cause of liberty, a committee of inspection was established, a measure that became the more pressingly necessary, as, with the breaking out of the war, and the prohibition on the part of Connecticut of any further emigration to Wyoming, there had come in strange families of interlopers from Minnisink, from West Chester, New York, from Kinderhook, and the Mohawk, neither connected with Pennsylvania nor Connecticut, between whom and the old settlers there was neither sympathy in feeling, nor community of interests—Wintermoots, Vangorders, and Von-Alstines.
A path of communication was opened by the disaffected between New York and Niagara, to strike the Susquehanna twenty miles above Wilkesbarre. Some of those new and unwelcome settlers soon made their sentiments known, and disclosed their hostility to the American cause, while others for the time remained quiet, though subsequent events showed the purpose of their emigration to the Susquehanna.*
* This view is attested by the fact, that in January 1776, Mr. Hageman being examined before the committee of inspection, said, "that riding with Mr. S.-they spoke of the people coming in up the river to join the enemy [" as a familiar and well understood matter."] He, Hageman, observed that the Yankees would go up and take their arms from them. S. replied, he was the man, if it were done, who would see that they were returned to them."