Workings of unshackled mind--Comity of the American Addison--Lake
periodical fluctuations--American antiquities--Indian doings in
Florida and Texas--Wood's New England's Prospect--Philological and
historical comments--Death of Ningwegon--Creeks--Brothertons made
citizens--Charles Fenno Hoffman--Indian names for places on the
Hudson--Christian Indians--Etymology--Theodoric--Appraisements of
Indian property--Algic researches--Plan and object.
1839. Feb. 22d. Hon. Lucius Lyon, Senator in Congress from
Michigan, writes, informing me of the movements of political affairs
in that State. The working of our system in the new States is
peculiar. Popular opinion must have its full swing. It rights
itself. Natural good sense and sound moral appreciation of right are
at work at the bottom, and the lamp of knowledge is continually
replenished with oil, by schools and teaching. That light cannot be
put out. It will burn on till the world is not only free, but
enlightened and renovated.
24th. Washington Irving kindly encloses me a letter to
Colonel Aspinwall of London, commending to him my contemplated
publication on the oral legends of the North American Indians. "I
regret to say," he adds, "that the last time he wrote to me, he was
in great uneasiness, apprehending the loss of one of his daughters,
who appeared to be in a rapid decline."
25th. Mrs. Jameson, on returning from her trip to the lakes,
writes for my opinion on the causes of the phenomenon of the rise in
the waters of the lakes. Alluding to this subject, the
Superintendent of the works in the Ohio says: "The water of Lake
Erie, which has been rising for many years, and has attained a
height unequaled in the memory of man, seems to have attained its
maximum, and to have commenced its reflux. Since the first day of
June last, as I have ascertained by means of graduated rods at
different points along the coast of Lake Erie, the water has fallen
perpendicularly nineteen inches, and is still falling. The
meteorological character of the present season, as compared with
that of several previous seasons, clearly shows the cause of the
rise and fall of the lakes not to be periodical, as has heretofore
been asserted, but entirely accidental. For several years the
summers have been cloudy and cold, with a prevalence of easterly
winds and rainy weather. The last summer has been excessively warm
for the whole season, and of exceeding drought. When it is
remembered that the amount of water evaporated over the surface of
these vast bodies of water, during a period of warm sunny weather,
greatly exceeds that which passes the outlet of one of these lakes
(Niagara River, for example), the cause of the phenomenon is
apparent."--See Mr. Barrett's inquiries, ante.
26th. The New York Star publishes a notice of
Delafield's Antiquities. This handsomely printed and illustrated
work contains four things that are new to the antiquarian inquirer:
1. A theory by the author, by which he conceives the Indian race to
be descended from the ancient Cuthites, who are Hamitic. This is
wrong. 2. A curious and valuable pictographic map of the migration
of the Aztecs, not heretofore printed. This is an acquisition. 3. A
disquisition of Dr. Lakey, of Cincinnati, on the superiority of the
northern to the southern race of red men. This seems true. 4. A
preface, by Bishop McIlvaine, showing the importance in all
inquiries of the kind, of keeping the record of the Bible strictly
in view. This is right.
27th. The Houston Telegraph of this date gays: "A
party of about eighty men from Bastrop County, accompanied by Castro
and forty Lipan warriors, recently made an expedition into the
Comanche country, and, near the San Saba, attacked and routed a
large body of Comanches, who, with their women and children, were
encamped on a small branch of the stream. About thirty of the
Comanche warriors were killed in the engagement, many huts and
considerable baggage destroyed, and a large number of horses and
mules captured. On their return, however, a few Comanches stole
silently into the droves of horses, while feeding at night, and
recaptured the whole except ninety-three horses, which the shrewd
Castro, with ten of his warriors, had driven far in advance of the
main company, and which he subsequently brought in safety to
Lagrange. Only two of the citizens of Texas were injured on this
"General Burlison, at the head of about seventy men, recently
encountered a large body of Indians on the Brushy, and, after one or
two skirmishes, finding the enemy numerous, retreated to a ravine in
order to engage them with more advantage; but the Indians, fearing
to attack him in his new position, drew off and retreated into a
neighboring thicket. Being unable to pursue them, he returned to
Bastrop. It is reported that he has lost three men in this
engagement; the loss of the Indians is not known; it, however, must
have been considerable, as most of the men under Burlison were
excellent marksmen, and had often been engaged in Indian warfare."
March 4th. The N. Y. Evening Post says, that a
gentleman from Tallahassee, just arrived at Washington, states that
murders by the Indians are of everyday occurrence in that vicinity,
and that between the 17th and 21st Feb. fifteen persons had been
5th. Finished the perusal of William Wood's "New England's
Prospects," a work of 98 12mo pages, printed at London, 1634.
This was fourteen years after the first landing of the pilgrims at
Plymouth, and the same year that John Eliot came over. Its chief
claim to notice is its antiquity. "Some have thought," he says,
"that they (the Indians) might be descendants of the Jews, because
some of their words be near unto the Hebrew; but by the same rule
they may conclude them to be some of the gleanings of all nations,
because they have words which sound after the Greek, Latin, French,
and other tongues. Their language is hard to learn, few of the
English being able to speak any of it, or capable of the right
pronunciation, which is the chief grace of their tongue. They
pronounce much after the diphthongs, excluding B and L, which, in
our English tongue, they pronounce with much difficulty, as most of
the Dutch do T and H, calling a lobster, a nobstan."
The examples of a vocabulary he gives show them to be Algonquins,
and not "Skroellings," or Esquimaux, as they are represented to have
been by the Scandinavians (vide Ant. Amer.), who visited the present
area of Massachusetts in the tenth century.
The close alliance of their language with the existing Chippewa and
Ottawa of the north, is shown by the following specimens:--
New England Tribes.
Chippewa of Lake Superior.
He divides the tribes into:--
Churhers (local tribes even then under instruction).
Aberginians (Algonquins of the St. Lawrence, probably).
Narragansetts (a tribe of the N.E. Algonquins with dialectic
Mohawks (a tribe of Iroquois).
The people whom he calls "Tarrenteens," are clearly Abenakies.
Cotton Mather, L. of E., 1691, p. 78, denominates the Indians "the
veriest ruins of mankind. Their name for an Englishman was a
knifeman; stone was used instead of metal for their tools; and for
their coins they have only little beads, with holes in them, to
string them upon a bracelet, whereof some are white, and of
these there go six for a penny; some are black or blue,
and of these go three for a penny; this wampum, as they call
it, is made of shell fish, which lies upon the sea-coast
P. 79. "Nokehick, that is, a spoonful of parched meal with a
spoonful of water, which will strengthen them to travel a day."
"Reading and writing are altogether unknown to them, though there is
a stone or two in the country that has unaccountable characters
engraved upon it."
The intention of the King in granting the royal charter to
Massachusetts was, says Cotton Mather:--
"To win and invite the natives of that country to the knowledge and
obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind, and the
Christian faith, is our Royal intentions, and the adventurer's free
profession is the principal end of the plantation."--Life of
Eliot, p. 77.
10th. Died at Little Traverse Bay, on Lake Michigan,
Ningwegon, or the Wing, the well-known American-Ottawa chief--a man
who distinguished himself for the American cause at Detroit, in
1812, and was thrown into prison by the British officers for his
boldness in expressing his sentiments. He received a life annuity
under the treaty of 28th March, 1836.
11th. Received notice of my election as a corresponding
member of the Brooklyn Lyceum.
12th. A small party of chiefs of the Seneca tribe under the
command of "Blacksmith," successor to Red Jacket, arrived in this
city yesterday from Washington, and took lodgings at the Western
Hotel in Courtland Street. They were received by the Mayor at the
Governor's room about 12 o'clock. In the address made by one of the
number, it was stated that the object of their visit had been to
urge upon the President the impropriety of driving them from their
13th, PEACE AMONG THE INDIANS.--The two nations of Upper and
Lower Creeks, who were hostile while residing east of the
Mississippi, have, in their new homes in Arkansas, united in general
council, at which fifteen hundred were present. The oratory on this
occasion, of smoking the calumet, is described as of the highest
14th. Judge Bronson, of Florida, last evening, at a party at
his cousin's (Arthur Bronson, 46 Bond Street, N. Y.), states that,
as Chairman of a Committee in Congress, a few years ago, he had
reported a bill for allowing the Brotherton Indians to hold their
property in Wisconsin individually, and to enjoy the rights of
citizenship; and that this bill passed both houses.
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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the
Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851
Years with the Indians |