An Interesting Article from the Pen of T.W. Casey - History of the Tribe -
Some of the Great Chiefs - Rev. John Stuart and His Attention to the Indians
Mrs. Catherine Hill, one of the oldest and best-known residents of the Tyendenaga Indian reserve, near this place, died a few days ago at the advanced age of eighty-five years. She was, at the time of her death, the oldest resident of the reserve. She was of pure Mohawk Indian blood, being a grand-daughter of the celebrated chief, Joseph Brant and chief captain, John Deseronto, two of the best-known Indian chiefs connected with the early history of the Mohawks in Upper Canada. Among her daughters, all of whom are well educated and intelligent women, is Mrs. Ellen Oronhyatekha, wife of the well-known Dr. Oronhyatekha, supreme ranger of the I.O. Foresters, probably now the most widely known Indian in the world.
The Mohawk Indians of this province are not aborigines of Canada. They came to Upper Canada as U.E.L. after the close of the American revolution, and about the same time as the other U.E.L. pioneers of the Bay of Quinte county. They were a part of the celebrated and powerful Six Nations Indians, settled in the Mohawk valley, near Albany, N.Y., and remained truly loyal to the British flag during all the trying seven long years of that bloody war. They took a prominent part in many of the hardest-fought battles, and of their skill and bravery Dr. Parkman makes some of the most interesting pages in his great history of those times. They saw all their homes destroyed and many of their comrades and families slain, and when the fortunes of war turned against Great Britain they resolved to emigrate to Canada and remain loyal citizens under the British flag. At first the whole township of Tyendenaga, consisting of 92,700 acres, was set apart as a reserve for them and their children. it is beautifully located on the north shore of the Bay of Quinte, extending from what is now the fine town of Deseronto to the mouth of the Salmon river, near where the village of Shannonville now stands. Chief Joseph Brant and chief John Deseronto were their leaders. As part of the Six Nations had previously moved to what is now Brant county and other points in the Niagara peninsula, a number of the Mohawks resolved to settle near their old allies and neighbors. Accordingly a part of the tribe received a grant on the Grand river, near where Brantford now stands; the government purchased back again 74,100 acres of the rear of the township, still leaving a reserve of a 18,600 acres across the front, bordering on the shores of the bay, which has ever since been occupied. The government purchase money was never paid over, but has been held as a trust fund for them ever since, of about $122,000, the interest of about $6,500 being paid half yearly.
These Indians' relations to each other are tribal, both as to lands and money, every adult being entitled to a share. Out of this interest due from the government is first paid such sums as are voted by them each year for the minister, the doctor, the school teachers, the building or repairs of the churches, schools, roads, bridges and the like, and the balance is handed over pro rata in cash by the government agent. There are, therefore, no municipal taxes chargeable.
THE GREAT CHIEFS
Chief Joseph Brant, who was the recognized head of the whole Mohawk tribe when they came to Canada, has always stood as the most noted of the Canadian Indians, not even excepting Tecumseth. The following in regard to him is from a writer of the New Dominion monthly magazine of 1872: "The noted warrior after whom the city of Brantford is named was born in 1742 of royal Mohawk blood. Joseph Brant grew up tall and majestic, with the air and mien of one born to command. His manners were affable and dignified, and his good sense and ready insight into character made him a power, not only among his own people, but also amid Europeans. At the age of thirteen he entered on the war path at the battle of Lake George. After passing through the bloody wars with the French under Sir William Johnson (then a noted British general at Albany) who subsequently married Brant's sister, Mollie, the young Indian brave attended a school in Connecticut and made such rapid progress that ten years after we find him assisting Rev. John Stuart, D.D. in a translation into the Mohawk tongue of a part of the new testament." (This was not published until after the close of the American revolution and was used with a similar translation of the prayer book for many years in Canada). In 1775, just on the eve of the breaking out of the great rebellion, Brant, who was then a well known royalist, visited England to learn more fully the policy of the "Great King." On his return the war broke out in all its fury and all classes were involved in the struggle. Brant greatly noted himself in those historic times. At the close of the war he came with is people to Upper Canada and finally settled on the Grand river, leaving his relative and comrade on the Bay of Quinte. He visited England again in the interest of his people, to whom he was always truly loyal. He finally made his home on the shores of Lake Ontario, near Wellington Square (now Burlington), a few miles east of Hamilton, where he died in 1807, aged sixty-four years and eight months. His last words that have been preserved were addressed to an adopted nephew: "Have pity on the poor Indians. If you can get any influence with the great, endeavor to do them all the good you can."
REV. JOHN STUART
It may be as well here to make some passing reference to the Rev. John Stuart, the pioneer Anglican clergyman in Upper Canada, whose history is so intimately identified with that of the early settlement of Kingston and who was so intimately associated with the early Mohawk settlers. He was of Irish descent, born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1730. He graduated from one of the early colleges in Philadelphia; went to England and received holy orders in 1770, and was then appointed missionary to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter, near Albany. He continued to faithfully discharge his duties during all the time of the great excitement preceding the declaration of independence in 1776, never omitting the regular prayers for the king. In consequence of his well known loyalty his position was made unbearable to him. His house was attacked, his property plundered, his church was turned into a tavern and a barrel of rum was placed in his reading desk. His church was afterwards used as a stable. Finally he was ordered to leave the locality in four days or be imprisoned. He offered proof that he had taken no part in the political doings of the day. All but three families of his congregation joined the king's forces. He had to abandon his house and move to Albany. He saw neighboring houses in flames as he left, their "great crime", like his, being loyalty to the British crown. He finally resolved to emigrate to Canada. He was considered and treated as a prisoner of war and all his real estate was confiscated. With his family and his negroes, he went to St. John under protection of a flag, and thence to Montreal - then a tedious and perilous journey of over fifteen days. At Montreal he was compelled to open a school, there being no church opening, and was appointed chaplain of a regiment stationed there. He soon after resolved to move to Cataraqui, the name by which Kingston was then known. He was appointed chaplain of a regiment there and soon after opened a school, which was, for a time at least, the most important in Upper Canada. One object of his settling west was to be near his former Indian flock, who were now on the Bay and Grand river. He made it a custom to visit them regularly each year till his death, and always felt a spiritual father's care over them. When he came to Kingston there were "about thirty good houses and some 1,500 souls, who intended to settle higher up." There was also a garrison of three companies of soldiers. He laid the foundation of the Church of England, not only in Kingston, but in Upper Canada. He finally settled in Kingston in 1785 and obtained 200 acres of land within half a mile of the garrison. He soon wrote hopefully of the prospects of the thriving village.
VISITS THE INDIANS
He soon visited the Indians at both Grand River and Tyendenaga, who always remained staunch adherents to the Church of England. It may be here remarked that the first two churches built in Upper Canada were the Indian churches at Grand River and Tyendenaga, both Anglican. That at Grand River had both a steeple and a bell; that at Tyendenaga was less pretentious, being of logs, but it was substantial and was used as a place of worship for many years. That was about in 1786. Dr. Stuart's visits were long looked for with great interest by the Indians. At his death his son, Rev. George O'Kill Stuart, so well remembered as "The Archdeacon" in Kingston, continued his father's work among these tribes. Rev. John Stuart was the first chaplain of the first "Upper House of Assembly" of Upper Canada, which first met in Newark (now Niagara) in 1792. Newark was at that time a very flourishing and growing town and was without a regular minister. A unanimous invitation was given to Mr. Stuart to remain there as minister, but he declined, remaining there only during the session of parliament. To a friend he wrote at that time that he was tempted to move his family there from Kingston, as he had a pressing invitation and there would be an addition to his emoluments equal to about $1,200 a year. "But on mature reflection," he wrote, "I have determined to remain here (at Kingston). I have a comfortable house, a good farm here, and an excellent school for my children, in a very healthy climate, and all these I could not have expected had I removed to Niagara." He was also commissioned as first judge of the court of common pleas for the district of Mecklenburgh, but declined the honor.
INDIANS ON THE RESERVE
They are Industrious, Thrifty and Civilized
A Touching Incident of Their Affection - Queen Anne's Gift -
Indian Schools - Increase in Population - Their Success in Farming
A very touching instance is given of the affection of the Indians for Dr. Stuart and his family, while yet at Fort Hunter. When their son Charles O'Kill was a babe his mother became sick and the child was deprived of his natural food in consequence. An Indian mother had a daughter of about the same age, which she weaned in order that she might thereby nurse the missionary's child. Both children thrived and grew well under such faithful care. When that boy became the well known and popular archdeacon he visited the Tyendenaga reserve each year, and always found out his "sister", as he called the Indian woman whose mother's milk he once shared. That foster mother was a sister of Capt. John Deseronto, and a grand-aunt of the late Mrs. Catharine Hill. Mrs. Hill was baptised and confirmed by archbishop Stuart, and he was present and took a leading part in the laying of the corner stone of the beautiful Mohawk stone church, a mile or so west of Deseronto. It was laid by bishop Strachan and the Hon. S.J. Jarvis, then superintendent of Indian affairs for Upper Canada, in 1843. Surrounding that church is a large burial ground in which nearly all the Indians who have ever lived on the reserve have found their last resting place.
QUEEN ANNE'S GIFT
Among the treasured relics of the tribe is the solid silver church communion service presented to their forefathers by good queen Anne of England, the last of the Stuarts. That was in 1711. A deputation of christian Indians went from about the Mohawk valley to England to request a missionary and other things. Queen Anne, to encourage them, presented them with a silver service, suitably engraved. This was carefully guarded from year to year. When the war of the revolution was raging in the seventies, and the Mohawks were compelled to flee from their old homes, the communion set was carefully wrapped in the communion table cloth and buried, lest it should fall into the hands of the "rebels." After all trouble was over, and the Indians were leaving for Canada, they returned and exhumed their sacred treasure. The cloth had rotted away by the damps of seven years but the silver vessels were untarnished. Parts of the set were allotted to the churches at Brantford and Tyendenaga. The late Mrs. Hill was the honored custodian of that service until her death. These are carefully guarded by all the church members.
It seems truly surprising to note the high average of education and intelligence among these Indians, and especially among the young people. They have had excellent schools for years, with a good average attendance. Large salaries have been paid and pains have been taken to select good teachers. There are four good schools on the reserve. An experienced teacher who has taught there informs the writer that the children are unusually quick at learning and the superintendent reports to the government that the parents manifest much interest in seeing their children enjoy these advantages. In most of the houses a good supply of books and papers are found and in a number of them music books and musical instruments. Recently several of the scholars passed the high school examinations and are now attending the Deseronto high school. Some have teachers' certificates, and one is now a successful music teacher in New York state. The change in regard to educational matters among them has been very marked within the past few years. There are now two good places of worship and four Sunday schools in the reserve. They are nearly all adherents to the Church of England. A Presbyterian congregation has been formed and it is in contemplation to erect a church of that denomination. There are flourishing Orange lodges and temperance organizations at work, and there is a very creditable Indian brass band.
INCREASE IN POPULATION
The popular idea was at one time that the Indian population of this country would soon all die out - "fade away as snow before the summer's sun" was the poetical phrase. But in Tyendenaga and in several of the other reserves of this country, where christianity and civilization have been well introduced, the rate of population seems to be now increasing about in the same ratio as among the whites in the same localities. When the Mohawks first went up the bay there were said to be but a few canoe loads of them. When Rev. John Stuart first visited them one hundred and ten years ago he reported he found about 150. In 1863 their number had increased to 650, and now the government agent reports 1,206. These figures are significant, and show that as these people became well accustomed to the habits of peace, civilization and agriculture, and are properly educated they are destined to increase and multiply as do the "pale faces".
SUCCESS IN FARMING
The success made in farming in the reserve is one of the encouraging signs of the times. Forty years ago, the writer well remembers, few of the families maintained themselves by farming. Now nearly all are engaged in agriculture in some way. There are no hunting grounds left near and the fishing in the bay has become poor. At one time the land of the reserve was nearly all leased to the whites or lay in commons; now all that is really workable is under cultivation, and is being tilled by these people themselves. Here are some facts to the point, gleaned from the annual report of the dominion Indian department of the past year, which has just been published: "Acres in the reserve, 16,970; acres fenced, 16,700; dwelling houses, 3 brick (and fine comfortable ones), 225 frame, 21 log; 103 barns; 88 stables; value of farming implements and vehicles, $14,707; horses, 350; milch cows, 400; quite a number are now patrons of the cheese factories and two milk waggons are employed for that purpose. Value of live stock and poultry, $19,285; value of household effects, $14,400; value of real and personal property, $474,080. The grain raised last year was reported as follows: Wheat, 200 acres, yield 2,000 bushels; oats, 300 acres, yield 4,500 bushels; barley, 400 acres, yield 5,000 bushels; corn 100 acres, yield 3,000 bushels; rye, 70 acres, yield 1,000 bushels; buckwheat, 110 acres, yield, 2,500; potatoes, 180 acres, yield, 4,000 bushels; hay, 225 acres, yield 450 tons. Value of farming products during the year, $10,800. Total industrial income of the Indians during the year, $18,588." Most of these figures will compare very well with those of other farming localities. They indicate what christianity, civilization, education and good government will do.