The Territory of Cortland County with Reference to the Indian Tribes - The Leni Lenape -Their Traditionary Origin - Their Relations with the Iroquois - The Peculiar Office Assigned Them -Final Supremacy of the Iroquois - Indian Villages - Their Personal Habits and Social Customs -Religious Beliefs, Marriages, Festivals, etc.

WHILE the territory with which we are chiefly interested in this work was, during its Indian occupation, a portion of the broad domain of the great Confederacy described in the preceding chapter, it is also true that, as far as history can inform us, no considerable Indian village was ever located within the preceding chapter, it is also true that, as far as history can inform us, no considerable Indian village was ever located within the present limits of Cortland county, and little of the bloody warfare which so long formed the principal occupation of the Five Nations occurred within its borders. 1   Our unbroken forests, umbrageous with luxuriant foliage in summer and stretching their barren arms to the wintry blast on hillside and valley; the beautiful river that winds its way southward, and its many clear, spring-fed tributaries, once undoubtedly formed a favorite hunting and fishing ground of the Onondagas, while they escaped the bloody scenes in which the once powerful nation were so prominent, the reason for this was almost wholly one of location. It is not improbable, moreover, that the hunters of the Leni Lenape, or Delawares, at one period in their history followed the Tioughnioga as far northward as this. This nation, according to tradition, came from the far western part of the American continent, whence they migrated eastward to the Mississippi, where they fell in with the Iroquois, likewise proceeding eastward. On this side of the Mississippi, the country was occupied by the Alligewi, a powerful nation who had many large towns, with fortifications of earth on the rivers flowing through their lands. They refused to allow the Lenape to settle in their country, but gave them permission to pass on eastward. Upon seeing the great numbers of the Lenape, however, they became alarmed and treacherously attacked those who had crossed the river and threatened destruction all who attempted to cross. The Lenape, being to weak to force their passage against so powerful an enemy, made common cause with the Iroquois, and, after a sanguinary battles, the Alligewi, to avoid destruction, fled down the Mississippi and never returned to their abandoned country. This tradition was entertained also by the Mahicans (or Mohegans) who inhabited the country immediately east of the Hudson river and were, according to Heckwelder's Historical Account of the Five Nations, a branch of the Lenape family. The tradition continues that the Iroquois and the Lenape dwelt together for a long period in their conquered territory, rapidly increasing in numbers. Finally some of the Lenape hunters and warriors crossed the mountains to the Atlantic, discovering on their way the Delaware and the Susquehanna rivers. Upon their return they gave so favorable an account of the new country, that it led to the belief among the nation that it was destined by the Great Spirit for their occupation. They accordingly migrated thither, making their central possessions on the Delaware. There they divided themselves into three tribes---the Turtle, the Turkey and the Wolf---named in their language the Unamis, the Unalachtgos and the Minsis. The first two chose the country nearest the sea, for settlement, while the latter located to the northward between them and the Iroquois, their territory originally extending from the headwaters of the Delaware and Susquehanna southward to the mountainous regions of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and from the Hudson river west and southwest beyond the Susquehanna.

    Whatever may or may not be true of this tradition, the territory just alluded to was formerly occupied by a branch of this nation, who eventually became parties to the treaty made by William Penn. The Delawares dwelt at peace with the Iroquois for many years; but at length the Iroquois, growing more numerous and powerful, became distrustful of their neighbors, whose numbers were also rapidly increasing, and endeavored to involve them in difficulties, especially with the Cherokees, then occupying the banks of the Ohio river and its branches. Between these and the Delawares a bloody war ensued. The treachery of the Iroquois was finally discovered by the Delawares and they resolved to seek revenge by the extermination of the Iroquois nation. So strong were their prospects of success that the Iroquois were impelled to resort to strategy as a means of terminating the conflict; otherwise they were fearful that "their extirpation would be inevitable." 2   Heckwelder even attributes to the severity of these wars through formation of the great Iroquois league.

    The plans of the Iroquois were to pacify the Delawares (characterized by Marryat, in his Diary of America as their most formidable enemy) by urging upon them the novel proposition that they should assume the office of women, 3   in which they should act as mediators and judges among their warlike neighbors, leaving the Iroquois to devote their entire energies to conquering their enemies, the French. They, therefore, sent the following message to the Delawares: "It is not profitable that all nations should be at war with each other; for this will at length be the ruin of the whole Indian race. We have, therefore, considered of a remedy by which the evil will be prevented. One nation shall be the woman. We will place her in the midst, and the other nations who make war shall be the man and live around the woman; no one shall touch or hurt the woman, and if anyone does it, we will immediately say to him, why do you beat the woman? Then all the men shall fall upon him who has beaten her. The woman shall not go to war, but endeavor to keep peace with all. Therefore, if the men who surround her beat each other, and the war be carried on with violence, the woman shall have the right of addressing them. 'Ye men, what are ye about? Why do ye beat each other? We are almost afraid. Consider that your wives and children must perish, unless ye desist. Do ye mean to destroy yourselves from the face of the earth? The men shall then hear and obey the woman." 4

    This appeal to the magnanimity of the Delawares was a high tribute to their character for valor and integrity, as well as a skillful and ingenious one on the part of the Iroquois. A weak or vacillating nation could not have undertaken such a work. Unhappily they accepted the proposal, that was to rob them of their power in war, "which had," according to Heckwelder, "exalted them above all the other Indian nations.

    Upon the assent of the Delawares to the proposition of the Iroquois, the latter ordered a bounteous feast at which their dupes were solemnly installed into their novel office as women, with an exhortation counseling them among other things, to henceforth make agriculture their employment and means of subsistence. This singular treaty is supposed to have taken place near the site of Albany, between the years 1609 and 1620. The treaty was participated in by the Dutch, and "by it" says Moulton, "the Dutch secured for themselves the quiet possession of the Indian trade, and the Five Nations obtained the means to assert that ascendency which they ever after maintained over the other native tribes, and to inspire terror far and near among the other savages of North America."

    Whether or not these traditions are worthy of full credence, it is certain that the relative positions of the Delawares and the Iroquois were reversed, as to their military status, the former being looked to for the preservation of peace. While these proceedings, resulting in the Delawares being forced to submit to the humiliation of being made "women," have been generally assumed by writers to be true, several have labored to refute what they believed to be a gross error; notable among these are Rutenber, in his Indian Tribes of the Hudson's River and Heckwelder, p. 44, 45.

    At the beginning of the Revolutionary War the Delawares, who in 1763 had numbered six hundred warriors, were divided; the greater portion of them having migrated across the mountains to the Ohio river, where they located at Muskingham. They were drawn into that war and their numbers so reduced that "they lost all desire of becoming a civilized people," although the Moravian missionaries labored long and faithfully among them. They participated in numerous attacks upon western frontier posts, having joined Pontiac; but a peace was established with them in 1765 and they were gradually followed across the mountains by their brethren, so that by the year 1786, according to Lossing, there was not a Delaware east of the Alleghanies. In 1818 they ceded all their lands to the United States. The vestiges of the Delawares are now in the Indian Territory, whence they furnished one hundred and seventy soldiers to the Union cause during the war of the rebellion; let that fact stand to their lasting credit, whether or not they ever visited the valley of the Tioughnioga to any considerable extent. 5

    Before passing on to events that followed upon European settlement, it will be interesting to refer briefly to some of the social customs, domestic habits, religious and superstitious beliefs, festivals, games, etc., of this people who were once the sole human occupants of this soil that now blossom under the hand of civilization. It has been written that, "while hopelessly unchanging in respect to individual and social development, the Indian was, as regarded tribal relations and social haunts, mutable as the wind." 6   Their villages and habitations were constantly subject to changes made desirable on account of the results of their wars, or to remove beyond the reach of possibly dangerous neighbors, or to occupy more desirable lands for their primitive agriculture. The extermination of game, too, had its influence in this respect. Some of the Iroquois nations, however, had villages which had more the appearance and character of permanency. Of these the Senecas, who occupied the most fertile portion of the State, were most conspicuous and carried their agriculture to the greatest perfection. General Sullivan reported that, in 1779, the "Indian gown of Genesee contained 128 houses, mostly large and elegant. It was beautifully situated, encircled by a clear flat extending a number of miles, over which fields of corn were waving, together with every kind of vegetable that could be conceived of." In Stone's Life of Brant, the author says "they had many towns and large villages laid out with considerable regularity. They had framed houses, some of the well finished, having chimneys and painted; they had broad and productive fields." This is contrary to the often entertained opinion. Their ordinary dwellings differed in shape and size, but were generally about thirty feet square and nearly as high. The sides were formed of hickory saplings set in two parallel rows and bent inward, thus forming an arch. To these, transverse poles were bound and the whole covered with bark held in place by smaller poles fastened to the framework by strips of linden bark. An open space a foot wide extending along the peak served as both window and chimney. Scaffolds or bunks were arranged along the sides and covered with skins, for sleeping places, beneath which was stored firewood, etc. In cold weather the inmates slept huddled together about the fires, ranged through the center of the house. In some of the larger structures the sides were formed of upright posts, and the roofs of separate poles. The Iroquois followed this general mode of building until comparatively recent times.

    The Indian towns were commonly but a confused mass of houses arranged with little regard to order and covering from one to ten acres; they were often fortified and situations favorable to defense were always chosen. The fortifications were constructed of timber palisades, against which earth embankments were thrown up. The large quantities of timber used in the fortifications left the many clearings which were afterwards devoted to agriculture.

    The staple article of food with the Iroquois was corn, "cooked without salt in a variety of different ways," each, says, Parkman, "more odious than the last." Corn thus cooked with beans was one of their dainties. Their bread, an article of daily consumption, was of inferior quality and made of corn. Dog flesh was held in high esteem; venison a luxury for feasts, for which captive bears were also sometimes fattened. The cooking previous to the advent of the French fur-traders, who supplied them with copper kettles, was done in earthen pots which were made by the women. The women spun twine, also, from native hemp, by rolling it on their thighs, from which to make their fishing nets; and they pounded the corn in huge mortars of wood hollowed out by alternate burnings and scrapings. The women performed the household drudgery and worked in the fields. To the men belonged the work of making implements of war and the chase, building canoes of bark or by hollowing out logs.

    The dress of both women and men consisted of skins of various kinds, worn in the shape of kilts, or in doublets thrown over the shoulders. These were subsequently superseded by a kind of coarse cloth procured of the whites. The rich wore a piece of black, blue or red cloth, about two yards long, fastened around their waists and ornamented with ribbons and wampum. The poor were content with a bear skin; these were also worn by all classes in the winter, or, instead, a kind of pelisse, made of beaver skins. Stockings and shoes were made of deer and elk skins; some wore shoes made of corn husks. The garment which was most worn by the women was a sort of petticoat of cloth about two yards long wound about the hips and tightly fastened, falling a little below the knee; this was worn day and night. Women of rank wore fine under-garments with red collars.

    All Indians were fond of ornamentation, the women especially so; in their decorations consisted their wealth and they also designated their rank. The men paid particular attention to their wives' ornamentation and thought it scandalous to appear the better dressed.

    Much pains was taken in painting their faces and in some cases in tattooing almost their entire bodies. Each day their faces received a fresh coating, of which vermilion was the favorite color. A piece of gold, silver or wampum was sometimes worn in a hole pierced through the cartilage of the nose, while from their ears, stretched and distended by heavy ornaments, depended rings, sparkling stones, feathers, corals or crosses. The hair was also often thus decorated, and was worn by the women at full length, often reaching below their hips. They anointed it with bear's grease to make it shine. The women of the Delawares, according to Loskiel, never braided or plaited their hair; it was folded and tied round with a piece of cloth, and sometimes rolled up and a serpent's skin was wrapped around it. The men did not wear their hair long, and sometimes pulled it out except a little on the crown of the head. This was often ornamented with plumes. The Iroquois studied and practiced ornamentation and dress more than any other Indian nation.

    Marriage among the Iroquois was indulged in early in life; often at eighteen by the men and fourteen by the women. The ceremony was of the simplest character, usually consisting of a present from the suitor and its acceptance by the bride; she returned a dish of boiled maize and an armful of fuel. Divorces were attended by even less ceremony; the most trivial causes were sufficient for a separation. While monogamy was the rule, polygamy was tolerated, especially among the chiefs. Provisional, or experimental, marriages were common and usually of short duration; they were entered into in the same manner as the permanent marriage, through the presentation and acceptance of gifts. A woman thus sometimes accumulated a handsome fortune in wampum and the like, before she was really settled in life. This sort of matrimony was no bar to a license, boundless and apparently universal, unattended with the loss of reputation on either side. 7

    Although the Indians were taciturn, morose and cruel in their warlike expeditions, in their own homes they were extremely social, patient and forbearing, engaging in their festal seasons in a continuous round of dancing, feasting and gambling. The latter pastime was constantly indulged in, the stakes often involving all the worldly property of the players. One of the devices used was a number of plum-stones, the sides of which were flattened and one side of each painted black; these were thrown up from a wooden bowl, and the betting was upon the number of black or white sides that would fall uppermost. This game possessed for them a wonderful fascination, two entire villages sometimes entering the contest. Their dances were to the sole music of a sort of drum made by stretching a deer skin over one end of a hollow log. The common dance was held in a large house or in an open field around a fire. The men shouted in this and leaped and stamped violently, showing their wonderful agility; but the women observed the utmost decorum, never speaking a word to the men; they kept their bodies upright and straight and their arms hanging loosely at their sides. This kind of dancing is still indulged in by the Onondagas. Other dances were participated in by the men only; and others still were adapted to special occasions. Chief among these was the dance of peace, or dance of the calumet, in which the pipe was handed around. A song, devoted especially to this ceremony, following the return of a war party. It was often thrilling in the extreme; but its details need not be given here.

    Feasting was often indulged and sometimes participated in by whole villages, upon the invitation of some especially prodigal host. To refuse an invitation to such a feast was considered a grave offense, and the debauchery sometimes continued throughout the entire day, being interspersed with singing, feasting, laughing and smoking. If the feast partook of a medical character, as was sometimes the case, it was incumbent upon the guest to eat all that was placed before him, even if he died in the effort. Should he fail, the host would be outraged, the community shocked and the spirits rise in vengeance; disaster would befall the nation. If the guest, however, found himself utterly unable to swallow his portion, there was one way out of the dilemma; another of the company, upon being rewarded with a present, might finish the meal.

    The God of the Iroquois was called "Hawenniio," meaning "he rules---he is master;" and their belief in immortality was almost universal. Animals, even, were immortal and worshiped. The Iroquois had, also, another God, with equal claims to supremacy with the one mentioned. He was called "Areskoui," the god of war. A third deity was "Tarenyowagon," whose place and character is not well defined. He has by some been identified with "Hiawatha," to whom the Iroquois ascribe their great confederation. They also had numerous objects, animated and inanimate, to which were attributed supernatural powers and were supplicated. These were called by the Iroquois "Okies," and by the Algonquins, "Manitous." They existed throughout the world and controlled the destinies of the Indians. For the most part they took the form of animals. Each Indian had his guardian "Manitou," to whom he looked for counsel, guidance and protection. The points of the compass were also looked upon as "Manitous;" there was a Summer-Maker and a Winter-Maker, the latter being kept at bay by throwing brands of fire into the air. The hunter endeavored to propitiate the game he pursued, and was often known to address a wounded bear in a long harangue before dispatching him. This was also true of the fish. Says Parkman: "The fish were addressed (by the fishing party) every evening, by one chosen for that duty, who exhorted them to take courage and be caught, assuring them that the utmost respect should be paid to their bones." The fishing nets were also objects of solicitude, and that they might the better do their work, they were married every year or two to two young girls, with a ceremony far more formal than that observed in human wedlock.

    The Iroquois had five different festivals annually. The first was held in the spring, after the close of sugar-making, and was in gratitude for the abundance of the sap. The aged chiefs exhorted the young men to lives of virtue as a road to a continuance of the favor. It closed with dancing, singing and games.

    The second festival occurred immediately after corn-planting, when thanks were given for the favorable seed-time and the Great Spirit invoked to grant a good crop.

    The third was the well-known green corn feast, when thanks were rendered for the valuable gift, and immense quantities of the young corn was cooked in various ways and eaten. Songs and dances formed a large portion of the accompanying ceremonies, closing with the famous succotash dance.

    The fourth festival was held at the close of the corn harvest, and was one of thankfulness for the crop, followed by festivities. To these festivals three days were formerly set apart for each; latterly, one day only has been given to each.

    The fifth and crowning festival of the year was held late in January or early in February, immediately after the return of the hunters from the chase; it was celebrated with great pomp and ceremony. When the preliminary preparations had been made, runners were dispatched to every cabin in the nation to give notice of the event. The fires were put out in all the cabins, each of which was then visited and purified by persons appointed for that purpose, who scattered the ashes, swept the hearth and rekindled the fire. On the second day the managers of the festival visited each house to receive the gifts of the people, consisting of articles of food, incense or sacrifice. This was continued for several days, during which time the assemblage at the council-house engaged in sports. On the day preceding the last, preparations were made for the great sacrifice. The gifts which had been collected were presented separately by the giver to the master of ceremonies, and hung around the council-room. The sins of the people, supposed to have been conveniently transferred to the managers, were in turn transferred to two persons dressed in white, and from them to two white dogs, which had been previously fantastically painted with red figures, and decorated with wampum, ribbons and feathers, and killed by strangulation. The dogs were taken to the council house, laid upon a platform amid the most devout solemnity, and afterwards taken to the fire and each in turn thrown into it. This act was preceded by prayer and song. The multitude around the fire threw baskets of herbs, tobacco, etc., upon the burning carcasses, which were entirely consumed. A convenient and enjoyable method of disposing of the year's sins of the tribe.

    The prevailing readiness of the Indian to believe in the supernatural led to the existence inn every community of numbers of medicine-men, sorcerers and the like, who professed to control the spirits, cure disease and protect their patrons from various other ills. They thus obtained a powerful influence over the minds of their fellows. The Indian doctors could cure wounds and had methods not devoid of virtue for the relief of simple diseases. One of these was the sweating oven, an earthen arch into which the patient crawled to undergo perspiration from the heat of stones piled about the oven. From this he was plunged into a bath of cold water. Beaver's oil was much used also; but their principal reliance for the cure of disease was magic and mysticism. Disease was supposed to arise from supernatural causes; so the patient was pinched, beaten, surrounded by deafening noises and incantations, to drive out the evil spirits. These, together with dancing, singing, feasting and the accompanying din in the cabin of the patient, were believed to be sufficient for a cure, if he were not beyond hope. It would seem that such a process would either cure a patient or place him beyond the reach of mortal cares.

    Divination and sorcery prevailed to a wonderful extent and was implicitly trusted by all. The sorcerers professed to be able to penetrate the future, and many momentous measures were inaugurated upon their predictions. They made sacrifices to the ruling spirits whom they wished to propitiate. Dreams, too, were the guiding oracles with many of the Indians and caused a great deal of misery and misfortune. Their duty, their destiny, was and peace, rain and drought, all were revealed by a class of professional dreamers an interpreters. But witchcraft (purely) was held in the utmost abhorrence and was punishable with death in all cases. A witch might by killed by any one on sight, with impunity. As late as 1805, two witches (so-called) were tomahawked by Hon Yost, at Oneida.

    The most ancient method of burial among the Iroquois was to first place the corpse upon a scaffold about eight feet high and allow it to lie there until the flesh decomposed and fell away from the bones, which were then interred. Latterly and after their contact with the whites, the corpse has been clad, a grave dug about three feet deep and lined with bark and the body laid therein. Beside it were placed a kettle of provisions, deer-skin and sinews with which to replace the moccasins which, it was believed, would be worn out in the long journey to the spirit land, bows and arrows, a tomahawk, knife and sometimes a gun. The grave was then filled with earth upon which the women knelt and wept. After a little time the men began a doleful cry and solemnly returned homeward.

    "With the Delawares," says Loskiel, "the first degree of mourning in a widow consists in her sitting down in the ashes near the fire and weeping most bitterly; she then rises and runs to the grave, where she makes loud lamentations, returning again to her seat in the ashes. She will neither eat, drink, nor sleep and refuses all consolation. But after some time she suffers herself to be persuaded to arise, drink some rum and receive some comfort. However, she must attend to the second degree of mourning for a whole year; that is, to dress without any ornaments and wash herself but seldom. As soon as she appears decent, combs and anoints her hair, and washes herself clean, it is considered a sign that she wishes to marry again." Funeral and burial ceremonies differed considerably with different Indian nations.

    The wampum of the Indians not only served as a currency, but was used as an ornament and as public archives. This fact rendered it of great importance to them. It was of two kinds---purple or black, and white, the black being estimated at twice the value of the white. The purple was made from the inner portions of the conch, and the white from the pillar of the periwinkle; both kinds were fashioned into round or oval beads about a quarter of an inch long and perforated; they were then strung on a fibre of deer sinew, and latterly on a linen thread. As a substitute for gold and silver its value was fixed by law, but its valuation was subject to variation, at different times and in different places. Three purple beads were equal to a stiver in Dutch, or an English penny, each equal to two cents of United States currency. The price of a string six feet long, called a fathom of wampum, was held at five shillings in New England. Previous to the advent of the whites wampum was largely made of small bits of wood and equal size and stained black or white; its manufacture from shells was difficult for the Indians, but the Dutch introduced the lathe in its manufacture, and by supplying a far superior article, soon practically controlled the trade. It was made principally at Hackensack, N. J. Porcelain and glass imitations soon became abundant, which may have been the first example of counterfeiting in America.

    The most important use in which wampum was applied was in the confirmation of compacts and treaties between nations, both Indian and European; feathers had been used in early days. Every speech, and its principal parts were made valid by a string or belt of wampum. A black belt signified a warning against evil, and if it was marked in red and had a hatchet of white wampum in the center, it meant war. Black or purple always signified some matter of grave importance, while white was the symbol of peace.

    Hospitality among the Iroquois was the most generous, not only among their own kindred, but was extended towards the stranger with equal freedom; it was regarded as a sacred duty from which none were exempt. Whoever refused relief to any one was guilty of a grave offense and made himself liable to revenge from the offended. An instance is related by Loskiel in which a party of two hundred warriors of the Huron nation, who had taken the war path against the Delawares, were led to give up their purpose by the generous hospitality tendered them by the latter. No evidence is wanting to show that this trait in the breast of the savage Indian was at least as prominent as among those who now occupy his once wild home.

1 - The Wyoming Indians occasionally visited the valley, (Otselic) during the few first years after the settlement commenced. The Onondagas and Oneidas, also, made periodical visits. In 1796 forty of the Oneidas camped on the ground occupied by the Brick store (Cincinnatus); and during the fall and winter they killed forty-two bears.
    They (Dr. Japheth Hunt and family, pioneers of Marathon) entered the valley of the Tioughnioga from the south, in canoes, in the year 1794, and located on a piece of land on the east side of the river, about a mile south of Marathon. Upon this rising ground were discovered a great number of excavations or depressions, of a circular form in close proximity, rendering the surface of the ground uneven. Each of these depressions upon examinations was found to contain human bones, which had apparently been deposited here for several preceding centuries. Upon removing the road a few years since from the top to the base of this hill, some of these depressions were opened by the plow, and were found to contain not only human bones, but several curiously carved vessels or pots, of a substance resembling clay, probably wrought by the Indians.---GOODWIN.
    About one mile south of the village (of Marathon), on the east bank of the river, is the site of an old Indian village and burial ground. Tradition says that this was once the seat of a powerful tribe of Indians - French's Gazetteer.
    We are informed by the old residents of Cincinnatus that bands of Onondagas visited that town every summer for many years, and as late as 1820, that they tilled small plots of ground, hunted and exchanged venison with the settlers for bread, and that there was a burial ground not far from the village of Cincinnatus.
2 - Loskiel, part 1, ch. X. p. 124.
3 - Wars between these savage nations were never terminated except through the interposition of women, whose prerogative it was to demand a cessation of hostilities. The men, however, tired of war, maintained a persistent hostile attitude: they considered it an evidence of cowardice to intimate a desire for peace.---HECKWELDER.
4 - Loskiel, part 1, ch. X, p. 124.
5 - Goodwin, in his History of Cortland County, relates a "legend of the Tioughnioga," for which he claimed "authority and corroborating facts sufficient to entitle it to a place in history," to the effect that a small settlement of the Lenape Indians was once made near the mouth of Cold brook, in the present town of Homer; this was early in the sixteenth century, and they came to this valley in quest of quiet repose where they might peacefully pursue the chase. Here they suffered the incursions of the "Mingoes," until finally they were impelled to cry out for revenge. Their old chief was disabled and infirm, and he therefore, called young "Ke-no-tah," whom he counseled in a speech to take his place at the head of the warriors and attack the enemies. The choice was ratified by a council of the braves. The aged sachem had a beautiful daughter named "Altahalah," who had been promised in marriage to Kenotah. One day before the departure of the war party, three savages from among their enemies appeared at the old chief's cabin and demanded the surrender of their village. Hearing this Altahalah bounded away to Kenotah and informed him of the event. He met the three ambassadors, and such was their power of his eloquence before them that they quailed, and left the village muttering curses of vengeance. The following night the Mingoes came and attacked the village. A fierce and bloody contest ensued, resulting in the success of the Lenape; but the old chieftain was found by his daughter dead upon the field. While she was bending over his cold form, a powerful savage stealthily crept to her side, seized her in his arms and quickly disappeared in the thick forest. The shriek of the maiden aroused the warriors and pursuit was immediately made and continued through the night, when all traces of the trail were lost. When the last rites were paid to the dead, Kenotah gathered the remainder of his warriors about him, took their lead and again started in pursuit of the captors of his bride. For weeks and months their weary search was pursued, but without avail. At last one evening, during a violent thunder storm, the pursuers saw their enemies, by a flash of lightning, sleeping at the bottom of a ravine; but the maiden was not with them. Awaiting another vivid flash of lightning, Kenotah and his braves fell upon their enemies and left them all dead on the ground. Kenotah called in vain for Altahalah, and the thought that she was wandering alone in the forest drove him to the verge of madness and despair. The valley of the Tioughnioga was deserted. The Lenape had abandoned their homes made desolate by the Mingoes and joined the "Monceys," whose council fires burned at Minisink, on the Delaware river. One evening at some undefined subsequent date, a beautiful Indian maiden might have been seen sitting on the bank of "her native river" (according to legend), her loosened hair hanging in long braids over her unclad shoulders, while she sweetly sang her lover's favorite song. Anon she gazed down the river and presently heard the light sound of dipping oars. A moment more and she beheld the white plume of her affianced. Kenotah had found his bride.
    This is a pretty enough legend; but if the author had "various corroborating facts derived from the traditions of the early Indian occupants of the Wyoming valley, to clothe it with a barb of undoubted reality," it is much to be regretted that such facts and other details as to its source were not given with the story; if absolutely true, it would stand ad, perhaps, the only real evidence that a permanent Indian village was ever located in the Tioughnioga valley within the limits of Cortland county.
6 - Parkman.
7 - Parkman's Jesuits.
Transcribed by Elaine Decker - November / December, 2006.

You are visitor since 27 Aug 2011.

There were 1185 visitors to our previous host from 7 Dec 2006 to 27 Aug 2011.

  If you have any suggestions, please e-mail   Tim Stowell

LAST UPDATED: 27 Aug 2011

Thanks for Stopping By!

1885 History of Cortland County
Cortland County AHGP
Cortland County NYGenWeb