A VAST, mysterious, barbarian race, the aborigines of the Western Continent, emerged gradually from blank obscurity into the clear light of knowledge, and began to figure upon the pages of history with the other peoples of the earth, when the pioneer navigators of the Old World touched the shores of the New.
At the dawn of the historic era, which so far as the region that we here treat of is concerned, had its first gleaming in the advent of Henry Hudson upon the Delaware and the North River, the Indians occupying the country watered by these great streams were chiefly of the Algonquins, Lenni-Lenape or, as they have been more commonly called, Delawares,* and the Andastes, Iroquois or Five or Six Nations.**
The former extended from the lower Hudson to the Potomac, but they appear to have been centralized upon the Delaware River and Bay particularly the former, while their kinsmen the Nanticokes had their home upon the waters of the latter and occupied at that early period much of the territory now included in the southern parts of Delaware and Maryland and the eastern shore of the Chesapeake in the latter region being interspersed with the Mangures or Mingoes; often these were called the Susquehannas. The Lenni Lenape may thus be said, in a general way, to have held dominion over the forest-covered hills and plains in what is now southeastern New York, nearly the whole of New Jersey, all of Pennsylvania east of the Susquehanna and much of the region included in the State which is the especial province of this work. It was not, however, an undisputed dominion. Their great northern neighbors, the Iroquois, were their implacable enemies, and often waged war against them, repeatedly reducing and humiliating them, so that by a century and a half after the first authentic knowledge of the Lenape was obtained, they had sunk into comparative insignificance. The Iroquois occupied the region of the Upper Hudson upon its west shore, and their villages sparsely dotted the wilderness northward, to and beyond the St. Lawrence, and westward to the great lakes, their principal population being within what is now the State of New York.
When Henry Hudson, in September, 1609, after entering and examining the Delaware Bay, skirted the Atlantic Coast, sailed up the royal river that bears his name and rode at anchor in the majestic tide, he touched the northern and eastern extremity of the land of the Lenape. The Indians whom he met there and upon the island where it came about that New York was built, were of that nation, and with them were some of their friends the Mohicans or Mohegans.
Full of simple sublimity and lofty poetry was the conception these savages first formed of the strange pale-faced men, in dress, bearing and speech different from their own, who came in the "winged canoes" to their shores. In their astonishment they called out to one another, "Behold! the Gods are come to visit us!" They at first considered these hitherto unknown beings as messengers of peace sent to them from the abode of the Great Spirit, and welcomed and honored them with sacrificial feasts and with gifts. Hudson recorded that above the Highlands "they found a very loving people and very old men, and were well used."***
The gallant Dutch navigator and discoverer was not to be outdone in civility and generosity. He gave the wondering savages presents and put to their innocent lips bottles of spirits very probably Holland schnapps gin, thus introducing at the very inception of his acquaintance with them one of the destructive and important characteristics of civilization, the art of becoming drunk. The savages reciprocated by extending the tobacco-pipe, and thus the Old World and the New each gave the other a much-prized new vice.
As has been heretofore intimated, actual knowledge of these people their history begins with the coming of Henry Hudson, and such information as we have concerning them in after-years is afforded by the other early adventurers and settlers along the Atlantic seaboard. Of the origin or derivation of the race of its early movements there is absolutely no data, only an illimitable field for wild conjecture; and concerning the affairs of the several nations, even during the period closely preceding the discovery and occupancy of the country, the Indians were able to give only vague and fanciful traditions, some of them corroborated as to essentials by evidence from other sources. Of this class is the Delawares traditionary account of the migration of their people and the Mengwe or Iroquois from the far west to the east, which there is external evidence for believing in the main true. We present this with some other Delaware legends before drawing upon the accounts of the Dutch, Swedes and English for a description of the Indian character and manner of life.
The Lenape claimed great antiquity and superiority over other aboriginal nations. Indeed, the name Lenni Lenape (sometimes Renni Renappi) signifies "the original people" or "men of men" a race of human beings who are the same that they were in the beginning, unchanged and unmixed. They asserted that they had existed from the beginning of time, and many Indian nations, the Miamis, Wyandots, Shawanese and more than twenty other tribes or nations, admitted their antiquity and called them "Grandfathers." Their tradition of the advent of the nations upon the Delaware and the eastern sea-coast is poetical and interesting. They say that a great many hundred years ago their ancestors had dwelt in a faraway country beyond the Father of Waters the Mamaesi Sipu, or Mississippi and near the wide sea, in which the sun sank every night. They had, very long before the white men came to their country traveled eastward, seeking a fairer land, of which their prophets had told them, and as they neared the western shore of the great Mississippi they met another mighty nation of men, of whose very existence they had been in ignorance. These people they say were the Mengwe or Iroquois, and this was the first meeting of these two nations, destined to remain in the east for centuries as neighbors and enemies. They journeyed on together, neither in warfare nor friendship, but presently they found that they must unite their forces against a common enemy. East of the Father of Waters they discovered a race called the Allegwi, occupying a vast domain, and not only stronger in number than themselves, but equally brave and more skilled in war. They had, indeed, fortified towns and numerous strongholds.(4*) The Allegwi permitted a part of the emigrating nations to pass the border of their country, and having thus caused a division of their antagonists, fell upon them with great fury to annihilate them. But the main body of the allied Mengwe and Lenape rallying from the first shock, made resistance with such desperate energy that they defeated the Allegwi, and sweeping them forward as the wind does the dry leaves of the forest, they invaded the country, and during a long and bloody war won victory after victory, until they had not only entirely vanquished, but well-nigh exterminated them. Their country, in which their earth fortifications remained the only reminder of the dispersed nation, was occupied by the victors. After this both the Mengwe and the Lenape ranged eastward, the former beeping to the northward, and the latter to the southward, until they reached respectively the Hudson and the Delaware, which they called the Lenape Wihittuck, or River of the Lenape.(5*) Upon its banks, and in the wild region watered by its tributaries, the Lenape found the land they had journeyed in quest of from the setting sun.
Myths as to their origin as members of the human family their creation existed among the Delawares in great variety, attesting the proneness of even this barbarian people, in common with all civilized races, to speculate upon the mystery of life and their longing to solve the unknowable. They claim that they emerged from a cave in the earth, like the woodchuck and ground squirrel; to have sprung from a snail that was transformed into a human being and instructed in the mysteries of woodcraft and the hunt by a beneficent spirit, and that subsequently he was received into the lodge of the beaver and married his favorite daughter. According to another legend, a woman fallen or expelled from heaven is hovering in mid-air over a chaos of angry waters, there being no earth to afford her a resting-place. At this critical juncture in the career of the Lenape progenitors, a giant turtle rose from the vasty depths and placed his broad and dome like back at her service, and she descended upon it and made it her abode. The turtle slept upon the surface of the globe-covering sea, barnacles attached themselves to the margin of the shell, the scum of the waters gathered floating fragments of sea-weed, and all of the flotsam of the primal ocean accumulated until the dry land grew apace, and after ages had passed, all of that broad expanse which constitutes North America had emerged from the deluge. The woman, worn with watching and with the loneliness of her situation, fell into a deep sleep of vast duration, broken only by a dream in which she was visited by a spirit from her last home above the skies, and of that dream the fruits were sons and daughters, from whom have sprung all the nations of the earth. In another legend the Great Spirit is represented as descending upon the face of the waters in the form of a colossal bird and brooding there until the earth arose, when, exercising its creative power, the Spirit brought into life the plants, the animals and, lastly, man, to whom was given an arrow imbued with mystic potency a blessing and a safe-guard. But the man, by his carelessness, lost the arrow, and the Spirit, grieved and offended, soared away and was no longer seen, and man had thereafter to follow the hunt by means of his own rude devices and combat nature to gain his living. Still another and very prevalent fiction of the Lenape ascribes to the demi-god Manabozho the creation of all the tribes of red men from the carcasses of various animals, reptiles and birds, as the bear, the beaver, the wolf, the serpent, the turtle, the crane, the eagle, etc. Manabozho (also called Messou, Michaboo and Nanabush) was the central figure in the Indian mythology; was the restorer of the world after the deluge, brought on by the wickedness of the serpent Manitous or evil spirits; was regarded as working all of the mysterious changes in nature, and was supposed to be the king of the whole creation of beasts. He was the son of the west wind and a descendant of the moon. He sometimes appeared in the form of a wolf or a bird, and often in that of a man of majestic mien and stature, but his usual manifestation was in the shape of the Gigantic Hare. He had power over the magi; was, in fact, a sorcerer, and united in himself the qualities belonging to Prospero, Ariel and Puck, being sometimes actuated by a spirit of beneficence towards man, and again as an impish elf displaying in ingenious ways insatiable malice and malevolence.
The matter of the derivation of the Indian race has been as variously, if not as wildly and fancifully, speculated upon by scholars as by the red men themselves. William Penn gravely, and with complacent assurance, put forward the hypothesis that the so-called aborigines of America were descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel, and men of much more pretension of study, and usually confining themselves to the few hard facts that are known concerning this people, have permitted themselves pleasing, if profitless, dalliance with various unsupported theories of their origin. Bancroft argues that a Calmuck or Mongolian immigration was not impossible and, indeed, not improbable, and this hypothesis has found many advocates. Spanish legends have been adduced to confirm this view. M. de Guignes, in a memoir read before the French Academy of Inscriptions, argued with considerable plausibility that the Chinese penetrated America in A.D. 458, and used the description and chart of Fou Sang in proof, and Charles G. Leland, of Philadelphia, eminent as an ethnologist and explorer of the hidden byways of history, has been fascinated by the same half-myth and lent it the approval of his partial credence in his republication of the story of the so-called island of Fou Sang and its inhabitants. De Guignes asserted that the Chinese were familiar with the Straits of Magellan and that the Coreans had a settlement on Terra del Fuego. Another Chinese immigration is assigned to A.D. 1270, the time of the Tartar invasion of the "Central Flowery Kingdom." China, Tartary, Siberia and Kamtschatka, with the Aleutian archipelago, formed a natural route for immigration, though none of the students and speculators who have given it consideration have succeeded in explaining how the hordes of savages were able to make their way through the frozen wastes of Alaska and British North America. Some students, as Williamson, think the Indians of Cingalese or Hindoo origin, and that the Occidental world was peopled from the Oriental world in pre-historic times is very generally admitted upon the strong ground of the close resemblance which the ancient temples of Mexico and Peru bear to those of Egypt and India. But Egypt, India, China and Tartary have not been the only countries of the Eastern Hemisphere to which students of American antiquities have ascribed the origin of the red men. Wales, Ireland, Spain, Scandinavia, Phoenicia and other countries of the Eastern world have been pointed to in turn as the regions in which the mysterious movement of population finally spreading over North America had its origin. The most generally accepted theory is that the Indian race came originally from China. Humboldt thought that in time, "by greater diligence and perseverance, many of the historical problems" concerning this theory might "be cleared up by the discovery of facts with which we have hitherto been entirely unacquainted;"(6*) but Prof. W.D. Whitney, one of the most advanced students of our time, is less sanguine. He says that it is "futile to attempt, by the evidence of language, the peopling of the continent from Asia or from any other portion of the world outside. . . . If our studies shall at length put us in a position to deal with the question of their Asiatic origin, we shall rejoice at it. I do not myself expect that valuable light will ever be shed upon the subject by linguistic evidence; others may be more sanguine, but all must, at any rate, agree that as things are, the subject is in no position to be taken up and discussed with profit." The author from whom we have quoted, notwithstanding his attitude upon this question of Indian origin, is a warm advocate of greater diligence in the study of American antiquities. "Our national duty and honor," he says, "are peculiarly concerned in this matter of the study of aboriginal American languages, as the most fertile and important branch of American archaeology. Europeans accuse us, with too much reason, of indifference and inefficiency with regard to preserving memorials of the race whom we have dispossessed and are dispossessing, and to promoting a thorough comprehension of their history."(7*)
Reverting from what may seem a digression, to the matters of more immediate interest to the reader to the Lenape or Delawares as the white man found them on the shores of the bay and river bearing their name we find cause for regret that the first comers to these shores were not better observers and more accurate chroniclers. Hudson, Captain Cornelis Hendrickson, Captain Jacobson Mey, De Vries, Campanius, Acrelius, William Penn, Gabriel Thomas, Thomas Budd, George Alsop (of Maryland), and others among the early Dutch, Swedish and English adventurers and writers saw the Indians before they had undergone any material change from association with the civilized people, and before they had drunk in with Holland schnapps and English spirits very much of that knowledge which bred suspicion in the savage breast. Had these pioneers of the Delaware region been trained observers and investigators, able to divest themselves of prejudices and to have told what they learned intelligibly, they could have preserved many facts concerning the Indians which now are lost forever. Nearly all of these early writers give speculations, and dreams, and opinions, often exceedingly extravagant and ridiculous, instead of facts. They paid more attention to the Indian's astrology, and fable, and tradition, than to the Indian's manner of living, his social system and his language the most necessary factor in ethnological study. Some of them mingled most outrageously false statements, made evidently in the utmost seriousness, with the few truths they chronicled. Of this class, the baldest falsifier was Thomas Campanius, of Stockholm, albeit a most interesting raconteur, and the preserver of some valuable facts as well as of many more or less interesting statements, exhibiting high inventive genius, as, for instance, Campanius stories of the rattlesnake which could bite a man's leg off, and of the "sea spiders" (crabs) which had tails like edged swords, with which they could saw down trees. The way in which Campanius allows his imagination to enlarge upon and add to the marvels of the New World makes him worthy of the title Scandinavian Munchausen of the Delaware.
From the time of Hudson's voyage to the close of the seventeenth century there is frequent cotemporary mention of the Delawares and their kinsmen, the Nanticokes (of whom we shall presently treat), and their neighbors the Mengwes, Minquas or Mingoes, known in Maryland as the Susquehannas, and later in Pennsylvania as the Conestogas. Captain Cornelis Hendrickson who explored part of the Delaware, in 161516,(8*) met and traded with the Minquas (probably at the mouth of or upon the Christiana), and redeemed from them three Dutch prisoners. His intercourse with them was the beginning of the Delaware fur trade. In 1623 Captain Cornelis Jacobson Mey met them at the site of Gloucester, N.J., just below the place where Penn's great city was to be founded, and where he built Fort Nassau.
The first whites who formed a settlement in the lone, but lovely wilderness region now included in the bounds of Delaware a little colony planted by David Pietersen De Vries, on the Hoornekill, near Lewes, in the year 1631 soon afterwards fell victims to the savages, though they wrought their own doom by initiatory acts of violence.(8*)
When De Vries founded his colony, and at the time of his expedition in 1633 up the Delaware, the Minquas, of the lower part of the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia peninsula, appear to have been at war with the Lenape, who were then chiefly confined to the eastern or New Jersey side of the Delaware Bay and River, and to the region along that part of the west shore now in Northern Delaware and Southwestern Pennsylvania. In 1638 the Swedes came to the Delaware (as will be more fully set forth in the next chapter), and founding the first permanent settlement within the region which is our especial province at Christiana (Wilmington), and subsequently establishing themselves at other points, began an active and extensive trade with the Lenape, Minquas and Nanticokes, for furs. They bought the land which they occupied, and appear to have lived with the Indians on very friendly terms. They were supplied with professional interpreters, and systematically sought the good-will of the Indians for the purpose of carrying on an advantageous trade with them. The Swedish governors seem to have understood how best to conciliate the Indians and retain their confidence, and they soon supplanted the Dutch in the esteem of the savages. They even exercised a protecting power over the Delawares and the Minquas, and when the Iroquois came down to wage war against the latter, in 1662, they were baffled by a regular fort, constructed by Swedish engineers, with bastions and mounted cannon.
With the Swedish Governor Printz, there came to the Delaware, in 1643, John Campanius (9*) (to whom allusion has heretofore been made), rendered prominent from being the first to translate Luther's catechism into the Indian language, from the fact that he was for six years a pastor of the Swedes, and last, but not least, because of his keeping a journal from which his grandson, Thomas Campanius, wrote his famous "Description of the New Province of New Sweden,"(10*) illustrated with cuts and maps made by the Swedish engineer Lindstrom, several of which are reproduced in this work. From Campanius we glean some interesting information concerning the Indians taking care to exclude much that is clearly erroneous. He states that the Swedes in his time had no intercourse except with "the black and white Mengwes" an expression it is difficult to understand. The Minquas, or Susquehannas, had their chief population upon the river bearing their name, and in the region now Cecil County, Maryland (where they were regularly visited by the Swedish traders), but they are known also to have been quite numerous at times upon the Christiana and Brandywine, and thus in the immediate neighborhood of Fort Christina. What is meant by "black and white Minquas," however, is not even a matter for intelligent
conjecture though this is not surprising in the writings of the Swedish chaplain. Notwithstanding the fact that he disclaims intercourse except with the Minquas, he calmly enters upon a description of the life, manners and customs of the Lenape, whom he accuses of being cannibals, as, in truth, were nearly all tribes of American Indians, but only upon rare occasions.
The attitude of the Indians of the Delaware towards the early Swedish settlers is shown in an account of a council which they held while Printz was Governor, probably about 1645, given in Campanius work and undoubtedly authentic in its essential statements. The council was called by the Sachem Matta Horn, who owned the ground on which Wilmington stands, and sold that upon which Fort Christina was built. At the time of the council most of the inhabitants along the Delaware were Swedes, but there were a few Hollanders in the country. Matta Horn is represented as calling first his son, Agga Horn, and afterwards upon other chiefs and warriors, to ascertain the opinion of his people as to the advisability of allowing the white men to dwell peacefully in the country, or fall upon and disperse them. The dialogue which ensues is thus represented by Campanius:
Father Matta Horn. Where are the Swedes and the Dutch
Son Agga Horn. Some of them are, at Fort Christina, and some at New Gottenberg.
Father. What do the Swedes and the Dutch say now
Son. They say, why are the Indians so angry with us Why do they say they will kill all of us Swedes, and root us out of the country The Swedes are very good. They come in large fast sailing ships, with all sorts of fine things from Swede's country or old Sweden.
F. Go round to the other chiefs and to the common men, and hear what they say.
S. They say, yon Indians and we (Swedes, and Dutch, and English) are in friendship with each other. We are good men. Come to us. We have a great deal of cloth, kettles, gunpowder, guns and all that you may want to buy.
F. I understand. What do you say about this, Agga Horn, my son
S. I say that I think it best not to fall upon them, because the Swedes are skillful warriors.
F. My son, you must go about here and there, to our good friends, the chiefs and common men, and engage them to come immediately here to me, that we may consult together as to what we shall do.
S. It is well, I will go.
F. Do that, but dont be long away.
The son comes again and salutes his father.
S. Father Matta Horn, I have done what you ordered me.
F. Well, my son, what answered the officers.
S. They answered that they would come here to us, the day after to-morrow.
F. You, my son, Agga Horn, may go with the men to shoot some deer in the woods. Perhaps the good gentlemen (sic) may be hungry when they come.
F. I understand that well, I will go immediately out hunting.
After being hunting, he returns with venison.
F. Have you been hunting
S. Yes, I have.
F. What have you done
S. We have killed two elks, and as many deer as will be wanted.
F. Have you shot no turkeys
S. I shall have also, twelve turkeys.
F. Enough, enough.
The people are now assembled in Council.
Sachem. Are you here, good friends
Warriors. Yes, we are.
Sachem. That is well, you are welcome. Sit down and rest.
Warriors. With pleasure, for we are much tired.
Sachem. Are you also hungry
Warriors. Yes, may be we are hungry.
Sachem. I know you have gone a great way, so you must be very hungry. We shall have meat presently.
Warriors. That will do for us.
Sachem. Here, you have to eat. Eat all, ye good friends.
Warriors. Yes, we will do our best. Give us meat.
Sachem. Do you also want drink
Warriors. Yes, give us drink. This is sweet and good water. We are now well satisfied. Thanks, thanks.
Sachem's Speech to the Warriors. My good friends, all of you dont take it amiss that my son has called you to this place. The Swedes dwell here upon our land, and they have many fortresses and houses for their habitation. But they have no goods to sell to us. We can find nothing in their stores that we want, and we cannot trade with them. The question is, whether we shall go out and kill all the Swedes, and destroy them altogether, or whether we shall suffer them to remain Therefore, I am glad that you came here, that we may consult together on this subject. You chiefs and warriors, what advice do you give What shall we do with the Swedes They have no cloth, red, blue, or brown. They have no kettles, no brass, no lead, no guns, no powder. They have nothing to sell us; but the English and Dutch have got all sorts of merchandize.
Some of the Chiefs answer. We are for the Swedes, we have nothing against them.
Another Chief answers. It would be well to kill all the Swedes; for they have nothing in their stores, for which we can trade with them.
A common warrior says: Wherefore, should we kill all the Swedes, and root them out of the country They are in friendship with us. We have no complaint to make of them. Presently they will bring here a large ship full of all sorts of good things.
Others answer. You talk well, we common warriors agree with you. Then we shall not kill all the Swedes, and root them out of the country.
Others reply. No, by no means. For the Swedes are good enough, and they will shortly have here a large ship full of all sorts of goods.
The King's decision. Right so. We, native Indians, will love the Swedes, and the Swedes shall be our good friends. We, and the Swedes, and the Dutch, shall always trade with each other. We shall not make war upon them and destroy them. This is fixed and certain. Take care to observe it.(11*)
A sachem ruled over each tribe, the office being, hereditary upon the mother's side. "When a king, or sachem died it was not," says Campanius, "his children who succeeded him, but his brothers by the same mother, or his sisters or their daughters male children, for no female could succeed to the government." It was customary, when any act of importance was to be entered upon, as the sale of, land or making of war or peace, for the sachem to summon a council consisting of the wise men and also of the common people. In making a treaty of peace or friendship, they were accustomed to give to those with whom they were making it a pipe to smoke, which act being performed, the treaty was regarded as concluded and sacredly sealed. Their punishments usually consisted of fines. "A murderer," says Campanius, "may be forgiven on giving a feast or something else of the same kind; but if a Woman be killed, the penalty is doubled, because a woman can bring forth children and a man cannot." Nearly all authorities seem to agree with the Swedish chronicler that murder was very uncommon among the Indians until "the white man came, when, under the influence of intoxication from the liquor they sold them, several were committed by the Indians. When they committed murder under those circumstances they excused themselves by saying it was the liquor that did it."
Another writer (12*) gives some interesting facts concerning the relation of drunkenness and crime among the Indians, prefacing his local facts with the remark that intoxication was to them (the Indians) a new sensation; they did not come to it by slow and imperceptible degrees,. . . but plunged at once into the vortex and madness was the consequence." In the year 1668 some Indians in a state of intoxication attacked and murdered the servants of one of the settlers near where Burlington, N.J., now stands on the Delaware. "The Indians when sober appear to have been ever anxious to live on terms of friendship with the whites. Accordingly, we find that in this instance, as they had previously done in many others, they determined to bring the offenders to justice. Having ascertained who the murderers were, they arrested the chief of them, a man by the name of Tashiowycan, shot and brought his body to Wicacoa, (13*) from whence it was taken to New Castle and there hung in chains." It is a notable fact that after this event the Indians themselves requested that an absolute prohibition of the sale of liquor to the Indians should be ordered along the entire length of the Delaware. Governor Lovelace in 1671 actually prohibited, upon pain of death, the selling of spirits and powder and lead to the Indians, but the law was inoperative, for we find that these very articles were the principal considerations in land purchases from the Indians almost immediately after the proclamation, and continued to be for a century.
Resuming our extracts from Campanius work, though this time it is the engineer and map-maker Lindstrom who is quoted by the former, we find a description of one of the Indians great hunts.
"As soon as the winter is over they commence their hunting expeditions, which they do in the most ingenious manner. They choose the time when the grass is high, and dry as hay. The Sachem collects the people together, and places them in a circumference of one or two miles according to their numbers; they then root out all the grass around that circumference, to the breadth of about four yards, so that the fire cannot run back upon them; when that is done, they set the grass on fire, which of course extends all round, until it reaches the centre of the circumference. They then set up great outcries, and the animals fly toward the centre, and when they are collected within a small circle, the Indians shoot at them with guns and bows, and kill as many as they please, by which means they get plenty of venison. When the grass has ceased to grow, they go out into the woods and shoot the animal which they find there, in which they have not much trouble, for their sense of smelling is so acute that they can smell them like hounds. Their Sachem causes a turkey to be hung up in the air, of which the bowels being taken out and the belly filled with money, he who shoots the bird down gets the money that is within it."(14*)
The weapons of the Indians were stone hatchets, the bow and arrow and the war-club, and these primitive articles served them in the chase and in their battles with each other until they obtained guns and powder and lead, knives and iron tomahawks, the Delawares, Susquehannas, Nanticokes and some other tribes from the Dutch and Swedes and English, and the Iroquois of New York from the French. Their bows were made usually of the limbs of trees about six feet in length, and then strings were made of the sinews and skins and intestines of animals. Their arrows were reeds from a yard to a yard and a half long. They were winged with feathers, and in the end was fixed a hard piece of wood, in which was set a flint, a piece of bone or horn or sometimes the sharp tooth of an animal or large fish, which was securely fastened in with tough ligaments and fish glue. When they went to war each brave provided himself with a bow, a quiver full of arrows and a club, and they painted themselves and placed upon their heads red feathers as the insignia of blood. They fortified some of their houses or groups of huts against the sudden attacks of their enemies. Campanius says the Minquas had "a fort on a high mountain about twelve miles from New Sweden"(15*) (Fort Christina, on the Christians River, at the site of Wilmington), possibly meaning at Iron or Chestnut Hills, near Newark. He says" they surrounded their houses with round or square palisades made of logs or planks, which they fasten in the ground." Parkman (16*) more fully describes the mode of erecting these defenses. First, a ditch was dug around the village, the earth being thrown up on the inside. The trees of which the posts of the palisades were made were burned down and the trunks and larger branches partly cut through by fire, the work being finished by hacking them with such rude tools as the Indians possessed. The logs were then placed upright in the embankment, in one or several concentric rows, those of each row, if the latter plan was pursued, being bent towards each other until they intersected. Where the palisades crossed, a gallery of timber was thrown up for the defenders to stand upon. In some cases the palisades were placed perpendicularly in rude post-holes, and the earth from the ditch thrown up against them. None of these forts were regularly built or gave the appearance of any considerable strength, except where the Indians had the assistance of European soldiers.
Their lodges, according to Campanius, they constructed in this way: "They fix a pole in the ground and spread their mats around it, which are made of the leaves of the Indian corn matted together; then they cover it above with a kind of roof made of bark, leaving a hole at the top for smoke to pass through; they fix hooks in the pole on which they hang their kettles; underneath they put a large stone to guard themselves from the fire, and around it they spread their mats and skins on which they sleep. For beds, tables and chairs they use nothing else; the earth serves them for all these purposes. They have several doors to their houses, generally one on the north and one on the south side. When it blows hard, they stop up one of them with bark, and hang a mat or skin before the other." The Delawares, intimates our Swedish observer, had few towns or fixed places of habitation (though, as a matter of fact, they did have some permanent abiding-places), and he continues: "They mostly wander about from one place to another, and generally go to those places where they think they are most likely to find the means of support. . . . When they travel they carry their meats with them wherever they go and fix them on poles, under which they dwell. When they want fire, they strike it out of a piece of dry wood, of which they find plenty; and in that manner they are never at a loss for fire to warm themselves or to cook their meat."
The huts of the Lenape and other Indians of the region which we are considering could not have been very comfortable in winter. The smoke from their fires had no outlet save irregularly through a hole in the roof, and the interiors were stained and dingy, and the
half-stifling air so filled with pungent and acrid odors as to cause much inflammation of the eyes and blindness in old age. The fleas and other vermin were numerous and pestiferous, and noise and confusion reigned supreme in the closely-huddled family circle. Parkman draws a vivid picture of a lodge on a winter night, alternately in glow and gloom from the flickering flame of resinous woods that sent fitful flashes through the dingy canopy of smoke, a bronzed group encircling the fire, cooking, eating, gambling, quarreling or amusing themselves with idle chaff; grizzly old warriors, scarred with the marks of repeated battles; shriveled squaws, hideous with toil and hardship endured for half a century; young warriors with a record to make, vain, boastful, obstreperous; giddy girls, gay with paint, ochre wampum and braid; "restless children pell-mell with restless dogs."
Of foods the Indians had, besides their game and fish, fresh and dried, melons, squashes and pumpkins, beans, peas and berries, of which they dried many for winter use, and several roots and plants of which they ate largely, and they all raised corn, the Indians along the Lower Delaware, and in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia especially, paying considerable attention to its cultivation. They ground it in the hollow places of rocks either naturally or artificially formed, mixed the coarse cracked kernels with flour, and baked the paste in cakes upon the ashes. While engaged in the chase or traveling along distances they carried pouches full of parched corn for their sustenance. They had, too, the tuckahoe (the petukgunnug of the Delawares and the tauqoauk of the Minquas), called by the whites the "Indian loaf," a curious root supposed by some to be a sort of truffle. It was of the form of a flattened sphere, and varied in size from an acorn to the bigness of a man's head. It was roasted in the ashes, as was also the Indian turnip, which, thus deprived of its pungency, made a wholesome food.
The Indians of Campanius time had well-nigh given up the manufacture of pottery, for the cooking utensils they secured from the Europeans served their purpose better. They were perfect strangers to the use of iron, and their own tools were rude and poor, strictly speaking, being those of the stone age, Charles Thompson, who had an intimate knowledge of the Indians, but who, unfortunately, wrote but little about them, says in an essay: (17*) "They were perfect strangers to the use of iron. The instruments with which they dug up the ground were of wood, or a stone fastened to a handle of wood, Their hatchets for cutting were of stone, sharpened to an edge by rubbing, and fastened to a wooden handle. Their arrows were pointed with flint or bones. What clothing they wore was of the skins of animals taken in hunting, and their ornaments were principally of feathers."
Their skill in some kinds of domestic industry is attested by Campanius, who says:
"They can tan and prepare the skins of animals, which they paint afterwards in their own way. They make much use of painted feathers, with which they adorn their skins and bed-covers, binding them with a kind of net-world which is very handsome and fastens the feathers well. With these they make light and warm covering and clothing for themselves; with the leaves of Indian corn and reeds they make purses mats and baskets. . . . They make very handsome and strong, mats of fine roots, which they paint with all kinds of figures; they hang their walls with these mats and make excellent bed-clothes of them. The women spin thread and yarn out of wattles, hemp and some plants unknown to us. Governor printz had a complete suit of clothes, with coat, breeches and belt, made by these barbarians with their wampum, which was curiously wrought with figures of all kinds of animals. . . . They make tobacco pipes out of reeds, about a man's length; the bowl is made of horn, and to contain a great quantity of tobacco. They generally present those pipes to their good friends to smoke. . . . They make them otherwise of red, yellow and blue clay, of which there is a great quantity in the country; also of white, gray, green, brown, black and blue stones, which are so soft that they can be cut with a knife. . . . Their boats are made of the bark of cedar and birch trees, bound together and lashed very strongly. They carry them along wherever they go, and when they come to some creek that they want to get over they launch them and go whither they please. They also used to make boats out of cedar trees, which they burnt inside and scraped off the coals with sharp stones, bones, or muscle shells."
The dress and adornment of the Indian, according to the always trustworthy Thompson, exhibited many peculiarities:
"They all painted or daubed their face with red. The men suffered only a tuft of hair to grow on the crown of their head; the rest, whether on their heads or faces, they prevented from growing by constantly plucking it out by the roots, so that they always appeared as if they were bald and beardless. Many were in the practice of marking their faces, arms and breast by pricking the skin with thorns and rubbing the parts with a fine powder made of coal (charcoal), which, penetrating the punctures, left an indelible stain or mark, which remained as long as they lived. The punctures were made in figures according to their several fancies. The only part of the body which they covered was from the waist half-way down the thighs, and their feet they guarded with a kind of shoe made of hides of buffaloes or deerskin, laced tight over the instep and up to the ankles with thongs. It was and still continues to be a common practice among the men to slit their ears, putting something into the hole to prevent its closing, and then by hanging weights to the lower part to stretch it out, so that it hangs down the cheek Like a large ring."
Wampum and war and peace belts are described by the same writer:
"Instead of money they used a kind of beads made of conch shell manufactured in a curious manner. These beads ware made, some of the white, some of the black or colored parts of the shell. They were formed into cylinders about one-quarter of an inch long and a quarter of an inch in diameter. They were round and highly polished and perforated lengthwise with a small hole, by which they strung them together and wove them into belts, some of which, by a proper arrangement of the beads of different colors, were figured like carpeting with different figures, according to the various users for which they were designed. There were male use of in their treaties and intercourse with each other, and served to assist their memory and preserve the remembrance of transactions. When different tribes or nations made peace or alliance with each other they exchanged belts of one sort; when they excited each other to war they used another sort. Hence they were distinguished by the name of peace belts or war belts. Every message sent from one tribe to another was accompanied with a string of these beads or a belt, and the string or belt was smaller or greater according to the weight and importance of the subject. These beads were their riches. They were worn as bracelets on the arms and like chains round the neck by way of ornaments."
William Penn's observations and opinions of the Indians are interesting and well worth reproduction in these pages, for he not only first saw the natives of the New World on the shores of the Delaware (at New Castle), but those whom he afterwards had opportunity of minutely studying at Philadelphia were of the same people, and doubtless, in many cases, the same individuals who lived in the region which now constitutes the northern part of this State. In a letter to Henry Sewell, dated Philadelphia, 30th of Fifth Month, 1683, he thus chronicles his impressions:
"The natives are proper and shapely, very swift, their language lofty. They speak little, but fervently and with elegancy. I have never seen more naturall sagacity, considering them without ye help I was going to say ye spoyle of tradition. The worst is that they are, ye wors for ye Christians who have propagated their views end yielded them tradition for ye wors & not for ye better things, they believe a Diety and Immortality without ye help of metaphysicks & some of them admirably sober, though ye Dutch & Sweed and English have by Brandy and Rum almost Debaucht ym all, and when Drunk ye most wretched of spectacles, often burning & sometimes murdering one another, at which times ye Christians are not without danger as well as fear. Tho for gain they will run the hazard both of ye and ye Law, they make their worship to consist of two parts, sacrifices wh they offer of their first fruits with marvellous fervency and labour of holy sweating as if in a bath, the other is their Canticoes, as they call them, wch is performed by round Dances, sometimes words, then songs, then shouts, two being in ye middle yt begin and direct ye chorus; this they performe with equal fervency but great appearances of joy. In this I admire them, nobody shall want wt another has, yett they have propriety (property) but freely communicable, they want or care for little, no Bills of Exchange nor Bills of Lading, no Chancery suits nor Exchequer Acct. have they to perplex themselves with, they are soon satisfied, and their pleasure feeds them, I mean hunting and fishing."(18*)
A much fuller description of the red men of the Delaware was given by Penn in a letter to the Free Society of Traders, written in August, 1683. The natives, he says, are generally tall and straight,
"well built, and of singular proportion (i.e., of symmetry); they tread strong and clever, and mostly walk with a lofty chin. Of complexion black, but by design, as the gipsies in England. They grease themselves with bear's fat clarified, and using no defense against sun and weather, their skins must needs be swarthy. Their eye is livid and black, not unlike a straight-looked Jew. The thick lips and flat nose, so frequent with the East Indians and blacks, are not common to them; for I have seen as comely European-like faces among them, of both sexes, as on your side the sea; and truly an Italian complexion hath not more of the white; and the noses of several of them have as much of the Roman. Their language is lofty, yet narrow; but, like the Hebrew, in signification full. Like short-hand in writing, one word serveth in the place of three, and the rest are supplied by the understanding of the hearer; imperfect in their tenses, wanting in their moods, participles, adverbs, conjunctions and interjections. I have made my business to understand it, that I might not want an interpreter on any occasion; and I must say that I know not a language spoken in Europe that hath words of more sweetness or greatness, in accent and emphasis, than theirs; for instance, Octockekon, Rancocas, Oricton, Shak, Marian, Poquesian, all which are names of places, and have grandeur in them. Of words of sweetness, anna is mother; issimus, a brother; neteap, friend; usqueoret, very good; pane, bread; metsa, eat; mattu, no; hatta, to have; payo, to come; Sepassen, Passijon, the names of places; Tamane, Secane Menanse, Secatareus, are the name of persons. . . .
"Of their customs and manners there is much to be said. I will begin with children. So soon as they are born they wash them in water, and while very young and in cold weather to choose, they plunge them in the rivers to harden and embolden them. Having wrapt them in a clout, they lay them on a strait thin board a little more than the length and breadth of the child, and swaddle it fast upon the board to make it straight; wherefore all Indians have flat heads; and thus they carry them at their backs. The children will go (walk) very young, at nine months commonly. They wear only a small clout around their waist til they are big. If boys, they go a-fishing till ripe for the woods, which is about fifteen. There they hunt; and having given some proofs of their manhood by a good return of skins, they marry; else it is a shame to think of a wife. The girls stay with their mothers, and help to hoe the ground, plant corn and carry burthens; and they do well to use them to that, while young, which they must do when they are old; for the wives are the true servants of the husbands; otherwise the men are very affectionate to them. When the young women are fit for marriage they wear something upon their heads for an advertisement, but so as their faces are, hardly to be seen but when they please. The age they marry at, if women, is about thirteen and fourteen; if men, seventeen and eighteen. They are rarely older. Their houses are mats or barks of trees, set on poles in the fashion of an English barn, but out of the power of the winds, for they me hardly higher than a man. They lie on reeds or grass. In travel they lodge in the woods about a great fire, with the mantle of duffils they wear by day wrapt about them and a few boughs stuck round them. Their diet is maize or Indian corn divers ways prepared, sometimes roasted in the ashes, sometimes beaten and boiled with water, which they call homine. They also make cakes not unpleasant to eat. They have likewise several sorts of beans and peas that are good nourishment, and the woods and rivers are their larder If an European comes to see them, or calls for lodging at their house or wigwam, they give him the best place and first cut. If they come to visit us they salute us with an Itah! which is as much as to say, Good be to you! and set them down, which is mostly on the ground, close to their heels, their legs upright; it may be they speak not a word, but observe all passages (all that passes). If you give them anything to eat or drink, well, for they will not ask; and, be it little or much, if it be with kindness, they are well pleased; else they go away sullen, but say nothing. They are great concealers of their own resentments, brought to it, I believe, by the revenge that hath been practiced among them. In either of these they are not exceeded by the Italians. . . . Some of the young women are said to take undue liberty before marriage for a portion; but when married, chaste. . . .
"But in liberality they excel; nothing is too good for their friend; give them a fine gun, coat, or other thing, it may pass through twenty hands before it sticks; light of heart, strong affections, but soon spent. The most merry creatures that live, feast and dance perpetually; they never have much, nor want much; wealth circulateth like the blood; all poets partake; and though none shall want what another hath, yet exact observers of property. Some kings have sold, others presented me with several parcels of land; the pay or presents I made them were not hoarded by the particular owners; but the neighboring kings and their clans being present when the goods were brought out, the parties chiefly concerned consulted what and to whom they should give them. To every king then, by the hands of a person for that work appointed, is a proportion sent, so sorted and folded, and with that gravity that is admirable. Then that king subdivideth it in like manner among his dependants. . . . They care for little, because they want but little; and the reason is, a little contents them. In this they are sufficiently revenged on us; if they are ignorant of our pleasures, they are also free from our pains. . . . Since the Europeans came into these parts they are, grown great lovers of strong liquors, rum especially, and for it they exchange the richest of their skins and furs. It they are heated with liquors they are restless till they have enough to sleep, that is their cry, Some more and I will go to sleep; but when drunk one of the most wretched spectacles in the world!
"In sickness, impatient to be cured; and for it give anything, especially for their children, to whom they are extremely natural. They drink at these times a tisan, or decoction of some roots in spring-water; and if they eat any flesh it must be of the female of any creature. If they die they bury them with their apparel, be they man or woman, and the nearest of kin fling in something precious with them as a token of their love. Their mourning is blacking of their laces, which they continue for a year. They are choice of the graves of their dead, for, lest they should be lost by time and fall to common use, they pick off the grass that grows upon them, and heap up the fallen earth with great care and exactness. These poor people are under a dark night in things relating to religion; to be sure the tradition of it; yet they believe a God and immortality without the help of metaphysics, for they say, There is a Great King that made them, who dwells in a glorious country to the southward of them, and that the souls of the good shall go thither where they shall live again. Their worship consists of two parts, sacrifice and cantico. Their sacrifice is their first fruits; the first and fattest buck they kill goeth to the fire, where he is all burnt, with a mournful ditty of him that performeth the ceremony, but with such marvellous fervency and labor of body that he will even sweat to a foam. The other part is their cantico, performed by round dances, sometimes words, sometimes songs, then shouts, two being in the middle that begin, and by singing and drumming on a board direct the chorus. Their postures in the dance are very antick and differing, but all keep measure. This is done with equal earnestness and labor, but great appearance of joy. In the fall, when the corn cometh in, they begin to feast one another. There have been two great festivals already, to which all come that will I was at one myself; their entertainment was a greet seat by a spring under some shady trees, and twenty bucks, with hot cakes of new corn, both wheat and beans, which they make up in a square form in the leaves of the stem and bake them in the ashes, and after that they fall to dance. But they that go must carry a small present in their money; it may be sixpence, which is made of the bone of a fish; the black is with them as gold, the white silver; they call it all wampum.
"Their government is by Kings, which they call Sachama, and these by succession, but always on the mother's side. . . . Every King bath his Council, and that consists of all the old and wise men of his nation which, perhaps, is two hundred people. Nothing of moment is undertaken, be it war, peace, selling of land, or traffick, without advising with them, and, which is more, with the young men too. It is admirable to consider how powerful the Kings are, and yet how they move by the breath of their people. I have had occasion to be in council with them upon treaties of land, and to adjust the terms of trade. Their order is thus: The king sits in the middle of an half moon, and hath his council, the old and wise, on each hand; behind them, or at a little distance, sit the younger fry in the same figure. Having consulted and resolved their business, the King ordered one of them to speak to me; he stood up, came to me and, in the name of his King, saluted me; then took me by the hand and told me, He was ordered by his King to speak to me, and that now it was not he, but the King that spoke; because what he should say was the King's mind. He first prayed me to excuse them, that they had not complied with me the last time, he feared there might be some fault in the Interpreter, being neither Indian nor English; besides, it was the Indian custom to deliberate and take up much time in council before they resolve, and that if the young people and owners of the land had been as ready as he, I had not met with so much delay. Having thus introduced his matter, he fell to the bounds of the land they had agreed to dispose of and the price, which now is little and dear, that which would have bought twenty miles not buying now two. During the time that this man spoke not a man of them was observed to whisper or smile, the old grave, the young reverent in their deportment. They speak little but fervently, and with elegance. I have never seen more natural sagacity, considering them without the help (I was going to say the spoil) of tradition, and he will deserve the name of wise that outwits them in any treaty about a thing they understand. When the purchase was agreed great promises passed between us, of kindness and good neighborhood, and that the Indians and English must live in love as long as the sun gave light, which done, another made a speech to the Indians in the name of all the Sachemakers or Kings, first to tell them what was done, next to charge and command them to love the Christians, and particularly live in peace with me and the people under my government; that many governors had been in the river, but that no Governor had come himself to live and stay here before, and having now such an one, that had treated them well, they should never do him or his any wrong, at every sentence of which they shouted and said Amen in their way. . . .
"We have agreed that in all differences between us six of each side shall end the matter. Do not abuse them, but let them have justice, and you win them. The worst is that they are the worse for the Christians, who have propagated their vices and yielded their traditions for ill and not for good things. But as low an ebb as these people are at, and as inglorious as their own condition looks, the Christians have not outlived their sight, with all their pretensions to an higher manifestation. What good, then, might not a good people graft where there is so distinct a knowledge left between good and evil I beseech God to incline the hearts of all that come into these parts, to outlive the knowledge of the natives, by a fixed obedience to their greater knowledge of the will of God, for it were miserable indeed far us to fall under the just censure of the poor Indians conscience, while we make profession of things so far transcending.
"For their original, I am ready to believe them of the Jewish race; I mean, of the stock of the ten tribes, and that for the following reasons: First, they were to go to a land not planted nor known; which, to be sure, Asia and Africa were, if not Europe, and He that intended that extraordinary judgment upon them might make the passage not uneasy to them, as it is not impossible in itself, from the easternmost parts of Asia to the westernmost of America. . . ."
Gabriel Thomas discoursed of the Indians in a manner similar to Penn, but adds an interesting fact or two: "The English and the Indians," he says, "live together very peaceably, by reason that the English satisfies them for their Land. . . . The Dutch and Sweads inform me that they are greatly decreased in number to what they were when they came first into this country, and the Indians themselves say that two of them die to every one Christian that comes in here."(19*)
There is not much more that it is worth while to deduce from the cotemporary writers upon the Delawares, though we shall hereafter quote from George Alsop concerning the Minquas, Mingoes or Susquehannas. What we have extracted from the writings of Campanius, Penn and others, endeavoring to omit matters of minor importance and those which are clearly erroneous, affords quite a comprehensive view of the manners, customs, character and appearance of the supplanted race, in regard to whom there must be a constantly increasing interest as the years roll by.
The language of the Lenni Lenape, "the pure Castilian of the New World," in the opinion of several competent judges, is the most perfect of all the Indian tongues, although all of these belonged to what philologists regard as one of the lowest orders of speech the incorporative or polysynthetic type. It is distinguished by beauty, strength and flexibility. It has the power of compressing a whole sentence into a single word. This is done by taking the most important syllable of each word, and sometimes simply a single letter, combining them in slightly varying forms or with different terminations, the laws of euphony being observed, and thus forming a new word, expressing a variety of ideas. Nearly all of the Indian names, particularly those of the Lenape, are rich in rythmical euphony, and some which are exceptions have doubtless received their harshness through imperfect rendering into English (or, in many cases, Dutch and Swedish).
The earliest Indian deed transferring lands in Delaware which is on record is dated May 4, 1679, and is preserved in the archives of the recorder's office in New Castle County. It is a deed for the island upon the Delaware, in Duck Creek Hundred, Kent County, known as Bombay Hook Island, of which Mechacksit, a sachem, was the grantor and Peter Bayard (20*) the grantee. In the following, which is the full text of the deed, here reprinted as of antiquarian interest, the "ancher" of liquor mentioned as one of the items in the consideration was a Dutch measure, equivalent to about thirty-two gallons:
"Be it known unto all men by these presents, that I, Mechaecksitt, Chiefe Sachema of Cohonsink, & sole Indian owner and Proprietor of all that Tract or Land commonly called by the Christians Bompies Hook, and by the Indians Navsink, for & in consideration of one Gunn, fower handfulls of Powder, three Matscoats, one Ancher of liquor & one Kittle before the Ensigning and Delivery here of to me in hand paid, and Delivered by Peter Bayard, of New Yorke, wherewith I acknowledge and confesse myselfe to bee fully satisfyed, contented and paid, therefore doe hereby Acquit, Exonerate and fully Discharge the said Peter Bayard, for the same Have Given, Granted, Bargained, sold, assigned, Transported and Made over, and by these presents doe fully, Clearly and absolutely give, Grant, Bargaine, sell, assigne, Transporte & Make over unto him, the said Peter Bayard, his heirs and Assigns, all that part of Land Called Bompies hook, afsd lying and being on the west side of Deleware River and at the mouth thereof, Beginning at a Great Pond, and a little Creeke issuing put of the said Pond being the uppermost bounds of the sd Lands & stretching downe along the sd River to Ducke Creek, Including and Comprehending all the Land, woods, underwoods, Marshes, Creeks & Waters between the said uppermost Pond and Creeke & Ducke Creek aforesaid, To have & to hold the said tract of Land, Marshes & Premises, with all and Singular the appurtenances, as also all the Right, Title and Interest of him, the sd Machacksitt, his heirs and Assigns therein unto the said Peter Bayard, his heirs and assigns unto the soale and Proper use & behoofe of him, the said Peter Bayard, his heirs and Assigns forever.
"In witness whereof, hee, the said Machacksitt, hath hereunto sett his Hand & Seale at New Castle, in Delaware, the 4th of May, 1679.
"Was subscribed The signing or mark of
"MECHACKSIT (4 s)
"This is the mark of MORSSAPPENACHIN, the son of MEHOCKSIT.
"Signed, sealed & Delivered in the presence of us.
"J. DEHAES as Interpreter.
"A. WELLEONIS NARINGH.
"EPH HERMAN, cer.
"This above is a true copy of the original Deed Recorded and Examined.
Another deed similiar to the one here given was made November 1, 1680, by the same sachem, Mechacksit, transferring to Ephraim Herman, "for two half ancers of drink, one blancquet, one matscoate, two axes, two knives, two double handsfull of powder, two barrs of lead, and one kittle," a tract of land in Appoquininmink Hundred, in the lower part of New Castle County.(21*) In conveying lands the Indian sachems usually signed their marks to the deeds of conveyance for the various tracts. The autographs of the most prominent Indian chiefs from 1682 to 1692 are shown below:
Something of the tribal division and later history of the vanished Lenape nation remains to be told. It is not probable that at any time after they became known to the whites the Delawares had in their whole region more than twenty-five to thirty thousand people or from five to seven thousand warriors. In 1759, but little more than a century from the time that the first knowledge of them was obtained, they had but six hundred fighting men between the Delaware and the Ohio. It is probable that their numbers had been greatly reduced, decimated time and time again by the Iroquois prior to the coming of the Dutch and Swedes and English among them. The Delawares were divided into tribes of which the most notable were the branches of the Turtle or Unamis, the Turkey or Unalachtgo, and the Wolf or Minsi (corrupted into Monsey). While the domain of the Lenape extended from the sea-coast between the Chesapeake and Long Island Sound back beyond the Susquehanna to the Alleghenies and northward to the hunting-grounds of the Iroquois, it seems not to have been regarded as the common country of the tribes, but to have been set apart for them in more or less distinctly-defined districts. The Unamis and Unalachtgo nations, subdivided into the tribes of Assunpinks, Matas, Chichequaas, Shackamaxons, Tuteloes, Nanticokes and many others, occupied the lower country toward the coast, upon the Delaware and its affluents. The Unamis were the greatest and most intelligent the Lenape. They were a fishing people and to a larger extent planters than the other tribes, and equally skilled in the hunt. They had numerous small villages under minor chiefs, who were subordinate to the great council of the nation. They were less nomadic and more peaceable than the other tribes of Delawares.
The more warlike tribe of the Minsi or Wolf, as Heckewelder informs us," had chosen to live back of the other tribes, and formed a kind of a bulwark for their protection, watching the motions of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, and being at hand to offer aid in case of a rupture with them. "The Minsi," continues the authority from whom we have quoted, "extended their settlements from the Minisink, a place (on the Delaware, in Monroe County, Pennsylvania) named after them, where they had their council-seat and fire, quite up to the Hudson on the east, and to the west and south far beyond the Susquehanna; their northern boundaries were supposed originally to be the heads of the great rivers Susquehanna and Delaware, and their southern that ridge of hills known in New Jersey by the name of Muskanecum, and in Pennsylvania by those of Lehigh, Coghnewago."(22*)
The Lenape and the Iroquois confederacy, as has been before remarked, were almost constantly at war, but after the advent of the French in Canada, the Iroquois, finding that they could not withstand an enemy upon each side of them, shrewdly sought to placate the Lenape tribes, and, by the use of much skillful diplomacy, induced them to abandon arms and act as mediators between all the nations, to take up the peaceful pursuit of agriculture, and, by avoiding war, promote their own growth as a people, and at the same time exercise an influence towards the preservation of the entire Indian race. Into this trap, devised by the cunning Iroquois, they fell, and for a long period occupied, as they themselves expressed it, the position of women instead of men. The Five Nations, when opportunity presented itself, rewarded with treachery the confidence that the Lenape had reposed in them, and the latter, then resolving to unite their forces and by one great effort destroy their perfidious northern neighbors, again became men. This was before the era of the English in America had really begun, and the Lenape were diverted from their purpose by new and strange occurrences. The English came in great numbers to their coast. They received the new-comers kindly, as they had the Dutch, but in time the English, even the followers of Penn, turned from them and made friends with their enemy, the Iroquois, as the Dutch had done. They never ceased to revere the founder of Pennsylvania, Miquon, as they called him, but laid all of the subsequent wrong to mischievous people who got into power after their good brother had gone away, and who, not content with the land they had given them, contrived, they alleged, by every fraudulent means in their power, to rob them of all their possessions, and brought the hated Iroquois to humiliate them. They always maintained that they were insulted and treated in a degrading manner at treaties to which the English were parties, and particularly at that which took place at Philadelphia, in July, 1742, and at Easton, in November, 1756, when the Six Nations were publicly called upon to compel the Lenape to give up the land taken from them by the famous and infamous "Walking Purchase" of 1737. But for this and other outrages they declared they would not have taken up the tomahawk against the English in the so-called "French and Indian War" of 175563. It is possible that they would have remained neutral, notwithstanding their grievances, had they not been incited to enmity by the Iroquois. After the close of the war, in 1763, the Lenape withdrew altogether from the proximity of the white settlements into the wilds around the upper waters of the Susquehanna, and to Wyalusing, a hundred miles from the pioneer settlers of Pennsylvania. They did not long remain there, however, for the Iroquois sold the whole country to the English. Some of the Minsis or Munseys had gone before this to the head-waters of the Allegheny, and those of this tribe who were at Wyalusing joined them there. Subsequently the Lenape tribes were in Ohio, and a considerable number, chiefly of the Minsis, in Upper Canada, while others were upon the waters of the Wabash, in Indiana. Between the years 1780 and 1790 they began to emigrate from those regions to the territory west of the Mississippi. The remnant of the race thus if their legend was true retraced the steps of their ancestors, made centuries before.
It would be improper to conclude this sketch of the Lenni Lenape without a few words upon its greatest and noblest character, the most illustrious and revered chief in the whole history of the nation Tamanend or Tammany, who once lived somewhere in the territory now constituting the State of Delaware. Comparatively little is known of him. He lives principally in tradition, and his name has been perpetuated by frequent application to civic societies among the people who supplanted his race. He was a seventeenth century Indian, and is supposed to have died about the time of its close. In 1683 he, with a lesser chief, affixed their hieroglyphical signatures to a deed conveying to William Penn a tract of land in Bucks County Pennsylvania.(23*) While his home was doubtless for many years upon the Lower Delaware, and, there is reason to believe, near the Christiana, he doubtless moved northward as the English settlers encroached upon his domain, and it is traditionally asserted that he lived far up towards the head-waters of the river of his people in the extreme northeastern part of Pennsylvania.(24*) Of the character of Tamanend, Heckewelder says: "He was in the highest degree endowed with wisdom, virtue, prudence, charity, affability, meekness, hospitality, in short, with every good and noble qualification that a human being may possess," and Thatcher declares that the Indians "could only account for the perfections they ascribed to him by supposing him to be favored with the special communications of the Great Spirit."
The Nanticokes, to whom allusion has several times been made in this chapter, were allies and kindred of the Delawares, whom they called "grandfathers," and occupied the lower part of this State and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and were distinctively a fishing and trapping people, rather than hunters and warriors. These facts were asserted by one of their chiefs, White, to Loskiel and Heckewelder, the Moravian missionaries and historians at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Nanticokes moved northward before the pressure of the slow, but inexorable advance of the white settlers, and after waging for a long period an intermittent war with the early colonists of Maryland they retreated to the head of the Chesapeake Bay, and thence, some of them, under the advice and protection of the Iroquois, moved to the Wyoming Valley, and others went farther up the Susquehanna to Chemmenk or Zeningis (Shenango), to which region they all immigrated at the beginning of the French and Indian War against the English. The tribe suffered even more from contact with the Europeans than did the Delawares and Susquehannas. "Nothing," said White, "had equaled the decline of his tribe since the white people had come into the country. They were destroyed in part by disorders which they brought with them, by the small-pox, the venereal disease, and by the free use of spirituous liquors, to which great numbers fell victims."(25*) The tribe had so dwindled away that soon after the Revolution (in which they had joined the British standard) they did not number more than fifty men.
The last remnant of this people in Delaware took their departure about 1748,(26*) from the neighborhood of Laurel, in Sussex County. In this locality about a mile from Laurel, on the bank of a small stream there was quite an extensive burying-ground, which was opened early in the present century by workmen engaged in digging earth for the purpose of repairing a mill-dam. They dug up several wagon-loads of bones and left a large quantity still remaining in the earth. The skeletons were in a fair degree of preservation, lay side by side and each bone was in its proper place. Several of them were of such size as to denote that the men whose remains they were, possessed remarkably high stature and great, strength, one of them in particular being seven feet in length. At the time the grave-yard was opened by the spades of the laborers there were living in the neighborhood several very old men who remembered "the last of the Nanticokes," and said that a short time before they left that part of the country they all assembled at this spot, and bringing with them the bones of their dead who had been buried elsewhere in the region round about, interred them here with many peculiar ceremonies prior to their mournful final departure from the land of their fathers.(27*) Heckewelder remarks that "the Nanticokes had the singular custom of removing the bones of their deceased friends from the burial-place to a place of deposit in the country they dwell in," a statement which is qualified by the authentic account we have made use of in reference to the discovery near Laurel. In this instance the Indians did indeed remove the bones of their friends to a central locality and common burial-place, but they did not take them to the locality to which they were about to emigrate. That in some instances they did remove the bones of the dead from their old home in Delaware and Maryland to Northern Pennsylvania is incontestable, but in such cases The remains were doubtless those of sachems or chiefs, distinguished men or very close kindred. Heckewelder is authority for the statement that in the years between 1750 and 1760 many of these Indians went down to the Delaware-Maryland Peninsula to carry the bones of their dead up to Wyoming and Nescopeck, and he says, "I well remember seeing them loaded with such bones, which, being fresh, caused a disagreeable stench as they passed through the streets of Bethlehem."(28*)
The Susquehannas, who had their home upon the Potomac and the Susquehanna, and perhaps their greatest strength in what is now Cecil County, extending their population even into the territory of Northern Delaware, were a powerful tribe with whom the early adventurers, traders and settlers of the Delaware had much intercourse, and they have received frequent mention in this chapter, but their importance, historically, makes them worthy of a more specific consideration in these pages than has yet been accorded to them. They were conclude Francis Parkman and other students who have given special and intelligent attention to the subject a branch or outlying colony of that quite wonderful savage confederacy, the Five (afterwards the Six) Nations, or the Iroquois, and they seem to have acted as a guard or check upon the Delawares of the lower river and other southern tribes, often waging war against them and also committing occasional depredations on the frontier settlements of Maryland. They were the Minquas or Minquosy of the Dutch, the Mengwes of Campanius and the Swedes generally (the English corrupting the name into Mingoes), the Susquehannas or Susquehannocks of the Marylanders, and were also called the Andastes or Gandastogues (corrupted in Pennsylvania into Conestogas). The Susquehannas or Mingoes were a stalwart race of warriors, and those who saw them in their prime attest their physical superiority over other tribes. Captain John Smith describes them as
"such great and well-proportioned men as are seldom seen, for they seemed like giants to the English; yea, and to the neighbors, yet seemed of an honest and simple disposition, with much adoe restrained from adoring vs as Gods,. . . for their language it may well beseame their proportions, sounding from them as a voyce in a vault. . . . Five of their chief werowances came aboord vs and crossed the Bay in their Barge. The picture of the greatest of them is signified in the Mappe (accompanying Smith's narrative), the calfe of whose leg was three-quarters of a yard about, and all the rest of his limbes so answerable to that proportion that he seemed the goodliest man we ever beheld."
"They are regarded," says George Alsop, in a little work (29*) on Maryland, published in 1666:
"As the most Noble and Heroick Nation of Indians that dwell upon the confines of America; also are so allowed and lookt upon by the rest of the Indians, by a submission and tributary acknowledgment, being a people cast into the Mould of a most large and warlike deportment, the men being for the most part seven foot high in altitude and in magnitude and bulk suitable to so high a pitch; their voice large and hollow, as ascending out of a Cave, their gate and behavior straight, steady, and majestick, treading on the Earth with as much pride, contempt, and disdain to so sordid a Centre as can be imagined from a creature derived from the same mould and Earth."
The Susquehannas were on good terms with the Dutch and Swedes, being notably assisted and championed by the latter, who, as heretofore stated, built for them a fort which, in 1662, saved them from defeat at the hands of their kindred, the Six Nations. The English settlers upon the Delaware were equally skillful with the Swedes in gaining and securing the friendship of this tribe, and carried on a large trade with them. The maintenance of relations at once agreeable and advantageous constantly exercised the diplomacy of officials, and communications of an advisory nature were incessantly passing between the Governors at New York and the minor officers upon the Delaware during the early period of the English regime, as they did later between Penn and his functionaries in Pennsylvania and the "three lower counties." Governor Andros, writing to the court officials at New Castle, on November 23, 1676, says: "Iff the Susquehannas should apply to you for any thing, you are to use them kindly, still as transient friends, butt for more than that to Refer them to come hither to the Governor, where they may expect all further just favors wth dispatch in what they may desire"(30*) which affords a fair illustration of the prevailing disposition of the English towards the people they were destined to supplant.
Alternately at war with the whites and other tribes of their own race, with the Maryland colonists, the Delawares, the Chesapeake and Potomac Indians, and the Iroquois of the north, the Susquehannas at last gave way before the march of civilization and its attendant evils, rum and small-pox, combined with the onslaught of their savage enemies, until a mere fragment of their nation, called the Conestogas, was all that remained of a once powerful people, which, as late as 1647, had thirteen hundred warriors trained to the use of firearms by Swedish soldiers. These Conestogas were treacherously and brutally murdered by the "Paxton boys," in the Lancaster jail, where the Pennsylvania authorities had sent them for protection, and not many years later Logan, incomparably the greatest of the Mingoes, whose passionate but dignified and sententious eloquence, as displayed in his words of mourning for his slain kindred, is world-famous, fell a victim to the tomahawk of an Indian assassin while sitting by his lonely camp-fire in the wilds of Ohio. Thus passed the last of the Mingoes, the noblest of all that brave, if barbarous, people his own fate typical of that which befell his nation and his race.
* "The name Delawares, which we give to these people," says Heckewelder, "is known in their own language; * * they thought the whites had given it to them in derision but they were reconciled to it, on being told that it was the name of a great white chief, Lord de la Warre, which had been given to them and their river. As they are fond of being named after distinguished men, they were rather pleased, considering it as a compliment"
They called themselves Lenni Lenape, which means in their language "the original people."
The Dutch called them Mahikandeos; the French, Abenakis.
** The "Five Nations" became the "Six Nations" about 1712, by the incorporation with their body of the refugee southern tribe, the Tuscaroras.
*** The Lenni Lenape handed down the tradition of their reception of the Dutch, and always maintained that none of the
enemy the Iroquois, or Five Nations were present, though they sent for the Mohicans, to participate in the joyous occasion.
(4*) By many the tradition of the emigration of the Lenni Lenape is believed to have a solid foundation in fact, and the Allegwi are regarded as being the Mound-Builders, whose vast works are numerous along the Mississippi, the Ohio and their tributaries.
(5*) The DELAWARE RIVER was called by the Lenni-Lenape Lenape-wihittuck, i.e. the river of the Lenape. In the language of the Minsi Delawares the name was Kit-hnne, or Gicht-hanne, signifying the main stream in its region of country. Other names for it in various Indian tongues were Pontaxat, Chickohockee, Mariskitten and Mokerishkisken. The Dutch who were the first white people who sailed up the bay and river named the latter in contradistinction from the North or Hudson River Zuydt, or South River, and they also called it Nassau River and Prince Hendricks and Charles River. The Swedes referred to it as the Swenska Revier, Nya Swerige's Elf. or Nova Swecia Revier (now Swedens River or New Swedeland Stream). The English gave it the present name in honor of Lord de la Warre who was said to have passed the capes in 1610. The bay has also been respectively called Newport, Meys and Godyn's Bay.
(6*) Cosmos, Vol. II., p. 610 (note).
(7*) "Language and the Study of Languages," by Prof. W.D. Whitney.
(8*) See next chapter.
(9*) This name is sometimes printed John Campanius Holm, the last name being added to signify Stockholm, of which city he was a native. Where it so occurs it is equivalent to John Campanius, of Holm or Stockholm.
(10*) A copy of the original Swedish edition of this work, published at Stockholm in -----, is in the library of the Delaware Historical Society.
(11*) Campanius, pp. 153156.
(12*) William Huffington's Delaware Register. Vol. I. p. 242.
(13*) Wicaco, the Swedish settlement on the site of Philadelphia.
(14*) Campanius "New Sweden," p. 128
(15*) Campanius, p. 127.
(16*) Francis Parkman, in Introduction to "The Jesuits in America."
(17*) "Essay upon Indian Affairs" (a fragment), published in Transactions of the Pennsylvania Historical Society.
(18*) Pennsylvania Archives, Vol. I. pp. 68, 69.
(19*) "Historical Description of the Province and County of West New Jersey in America," London, 1698.
(20*) Bayard, so far as European law was concerned, was the owner of the tract five years before the making of this deed, Governor Andros having deeded it to him December 15, 1675.
(21*) This latter deed is published in Huffington's Delaware Register, Vol. II. p. 170, and is similar to the one here produced.
(22*) Heckewelder's "Manners and Customs of the Indian Nations."
(23*) Pennsylvania Archives, Vol. 1, p. 64.
(24*) It is believed that Tamanend lived for a considerable period on the west bank of the Delaware, in what in now Damascus township, Wayne County. The Connecticut settlers, who came there in 1757, called the fertile bottom land "St. Tammany Flat," and in later years his name was applied in its canonized form to a local lodge of the Masonic fraternity, The traditional fame of Tamanend's virtue, wisdom and greatness became so wide-spread among the whites that he was established as St. Tammany, the Patron Saint of America. His name was printed in some old-time calendars and his festival celebrated on the 1st day of May every year. On that day a numerous society of his votaries walked together in procession through the streets of Philadelphia with bucktail, adorning their hats, and proceeded to a "wigwam," in a rural localitys where they smoked the calumet of peace and indulged in festivity and mirth. The original Tammany Society in the United States was a Philadelphia organization of high repute, which had no other purpose than pleasure and quaint but innocent diversion. The later societies, being devoted to partisan politics, have lost the charm which the old society possessed. It is interesting to note, however, that one of the most widely known political associations in the country bears the name of the great chief of the Lenni Lenape.
(26*) A number of Nanticockes from Maryland passed by Shamokin in ten canoes on their way to Wyoming. Diary of Rev. Christian Pyrlaeus, May 21, 1748. Others, says Heckewelder, frequently passed by land through Bethlehem, and thence through the Delaware Water Gap to Nescopeck or Susquehanna.
(27*) Huffington's Delaware Register, Vol. I., pp. 16, 17.
(28*) Heckewelder's "Manners and Customs of the Indian Nations."
(29*) "A Character of the Province of Maryland," by George Alsop; London, 1666.
(30*) Records of New Castle County Court.
SOURCE: Page(s) 8 - 23, History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume One by Scharf, Thomas J., Philadelphia; L.J. Richards & Co., 1888