HISTORIC NOTES ON WATERTOWN, JEFFERSON CO. NY

from WATERTOWN RE-UNION NEWSPAPER


Part 1, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12


February 13, 1873, p. 3: Part 9:

At the time of the first settlement of Watertown, this whole region of the country was a favorite hunting and fishing ground of the Oneida Indians, a right reserved to them when they sold the land to the State in 1788. My father came here in 1801 with his wife and three small children--the first and the third are now living in this city. We had not been here but a few weeks when we had a call from a party of the Oneidas on a hunting expedition. Deer and other wild animals were quite plenty all through the country at that time and continued to be in a measure for ten or twelve years, and it was quite a common occurrence to see deer quietly feeding in our pasture lots in the morning and even in our door yard. I once saw a full grown deer get up within forty feet of the house and walk away at his leisure. Among our Indian visitor were two that were well advanced in years. One of them said he was Captain John and the other was Captain Lewis and they were apparently head men or chiefs of the Oneidas.

By always using them well and dealing with them at all times justly and fairly my mother won their confidence and many favors, and in all of their hunting and fishing excursions ever after they were sure to call on us and bring us a goodly portion of their game, whether of salmon from Salmon River or venison from the forest, or white fish or other kinds from the lake shore fishing grounds. Sometimes they would desire my mother to roast or otherwise cook the venison or bear meat for them and while the process was going on they would see that she had a good supply of wood, and would go to the big spring and bring water; and while one would rock the cradle the other would amuse and play with the other children, and in all ways use their best efforts to make themselves useful and agreeable. They would not let the rest of the hunting party come to the house to annoy us except sometimes one or two of the older squaws would come in to see the white woman's baby and show their own. When we moved up to our new house on the west side of Washington Street, my father had neither cart nor wagons, and I believe there was not one in the place. The most of our household goods were drawn up with oxen and sleds. Just at night captains John and Lewis came and soon found where we were. They were delighted to see us. In the morning they offered to help bring up the rest of our things. We had two hogsheads filled with various articles ready to roll on to the sled. My father nailed some strips of boards on the open ends and told Captain John he might roll one up to the new house and Captain Lewis took the other. They made lively work of it, and were probably never so happy in their lives before or since over that wonderful performance. I have often thought how much better it would have been for the white man, as well as the Indian had the white man treated the Indian justly, and in all his dealings acted on the principle that the Indian had rights that the white man was bound to respect.



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