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A 1753 Christmas

George Washington and Christopher Gist’s adventure written by themselves.

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geo-wash-journal-300

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George Washington’s version gets printed in London, fascinating important readers across both sides of the Atlantic.

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GW is a famous author at age 22.

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First the George Washington version:

written by GW

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[December 23, 1753]

23d: When I got Things ready to set off I sent for the Half King, to know whether they intended to go with us, or by Water. He told me that the White Thunder had hurt himself much, & was Sick & unable to walk, therefore he was oblig’d to carry him down in a Canoe:

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[Picture credit: Emerson Magazine and Putnam Monthly 1857, vol 5 pages 567-568]

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[There were at Venango, Captain Joincaire is there.]

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As I found he intended to stay a Day or two here, & knew that Monsieur Joncaire wou’d employ every Scheme to set him against the English, as he had before done; I told him I hoped he wou’d guard against his Flattery, & let no fine Speeches Influence Him in their Favour:

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He desired I might not be concern’d, for he knew the French too well, for any Thing to engage him in their Behalf, & though he cou’d not go down with us, he wou’d endeavour to meet at the Forks with Joseph Campbell,61 to deliver a Speech for me to carry to his Honour the Governor. He told me he wou’d order the young Hunter to attend us, & get Provision &ca. if wanted.

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Our Horses were now so weak & feeble, & the Baggage heavy; as we were oblig’d to provide all the Necessaries the Journey wou’d require, that we doubted much their performing it; therefore my Self & others (except the Drivers which were oblig’d to ride) gave up our Horses for Packs, to assist along with the Baggage; & put my Self into an Indian walking Dress,

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& continue’d with them three Day’s, ’till I found there was no Probability of their getting in, in any reasonable Time;

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the Horses grew less able to travel every Day. The Cold increas’d very fast, & the Roads were geting much worse by a deep Snow continually Freezing;

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And as I was uneasy to get back to make a report of my Proceedings to his Honour the Governor; I determin’d to prosecute my Journey the nearest way through the Woods on Foot.

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Accordingly I left Mr. Vanbraam in Charge of our Baggage, with Money and Directions to provide Necessaries from Place to Place for themselves & Horses & to make the most convenient Dispatch in.

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I took my necessary Papers, pull’d off my Cloths; tied My Self up in a Match Coat; & with my Pack at my back, with my Papers & Provisions in it, & a Gun, set out with Mr. Gist, fitted in the same Manner, on Wednesday the 26th.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murdering_Town

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The Day following, just after we had pass’d a Place call’d the Murdering Town62 where we intended to quit the Path & steer across the Country for Shanapins Town,

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wt-painting

we fell in with a Party of French Indians, which had laid in wait for us, one of them fired at Mr. Gist or me, not 15 Steps, but fortunately missed.

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We took this Fellow into Custody, & kept him ’till about 9 o’Clock at Night, & then let him go,

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[Picture credit:  A local Judge and local historian commissioned a painting of Gist and Washington being shot at by an Indian.]

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& then walked all the remaining Part of the Night without making any Stop; that we might get the start, so far as to be out of the reach of their Pursuit next Day, as were well assur’d they wou’d follow upon our Tract as soon as it was Light:

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The next Day we continued traveling ’till it was quite Dark, & got to the River about two Miles above Shanapins; we expected to have found the River Froze, but it was not, only about 50 Yards from each Shoar; the Ice I suppose had broke up above, for it was driving in vast Quantities.

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There was no way for us to get over but upon a Raft, which we set about with but one poor Hatchet, & got finish’d just after Sunsetting, after a whole days Work:

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Washington-and-Gist

We got it launch’d, & on board of it, & sett off; but before we got half over, we were jamed in the Ice in such a Manner, that we expected every Moment our Raft wou’d sink, & we Perish; I put out my seting Pole, to try to stop the Raft, that the Ice might pass by, when the Rapidity of the Stream through it with so much Violence against the Pole, that it Jirk’d me into 10 Feet Water,

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[Picture credit:  George Washington and Christopher Gist crossing the Allegheny River, attributed to Daniel Huntington, ca. mid 19th century. [M-3941]. MVLA. ]

 

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but I fortunately saved my Self by catching hold of one of the Raft Logs.

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Notwithstanding all our Efforts we cou’d not get the Raft to either Shoar, but were oblig’d, as we were pretty near an Island, to quit our Raft & wade to it.

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The Cold was so extream severe, that Mr. Gist got all his Fingers, & some of his Toes Froze,

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[Picture credit Emerson’s Magazine and Putnam’s Monthly, 2nd part continued, page 669]

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& the Water was shut up so hard, that We found no Difficulty in getting off the Island on the Ice in the Morning,

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& went to Mr. Frazers.

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We met here with 20 Warriors that had been going to the Southward to War, but coming to a Place upon the Head of the Great Cunnaway, where they found People kill’d & Scalpt, all but one Woman with very Light Hair, they turn’d about; & ran back, for fear of the Inhabitants rising & takeing them as the Authors of the Murder:

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They report that the People were lying about the House, & some of them much torn & eat by Hogs; by the Marks that were left, they say they were French Indians of the Ottaway Nation, &ca. that did it.63

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As we intended to take Horse here, & it requir’d some Time to hunt them;

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[Picture credit: Wikipedia on Queen Aliquippa]

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I went up about 3 Miles to the Mouth of Yaughyaughgane to visit Queen Aliquippa,64 who had express’d great Concern that we pass’d her in going to the Fort. I made her a Present of a Match Coat; & a Bottle of rum, which was thought much the best Present of the two.65

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Tuesday 1st: Day of Jany:

We left Mr. Frazers House,

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& arriv’d at Mr. Gists at Monangahela the 2d. where I bought Horse Saddle &ca

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The 6th:

We met 17 Horses loaded with Materials & Stores for a Fort at the Forks;

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& the Day after, a Family or two going out to settle;

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this Day we arriv’d at Wills Creek, after as fatiguing a Journey as it is possible to conceive, rendered so by excessive bad Weather:

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From the first Day of December ’till the 15th. there was but one Day, but what it rain’d or snow’d incessantly & throughout the whole Journey we met with nothing but one continued Series of cold wet Weather;

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which occasioned very uncumfortable Lodgings, especially after we had left our Tent; which was some Screen from the Inclemency of it.66

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On the 11th.

I got to Belvoir,67 where I stop’d one Day to take necessary rest; & then set out for,

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& arrived at Williamsburg, the 16th.

& waited upon His Honour the Governor with the Letter I had brought from the French Commandant, & to give an Account of the Proceedures of my Journey.

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Which I beg leave to do by offering the Foregoing, as it contains the most remarkable Occurrences that happen’d to me.

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I hope it will be sufficient to satisfy your Honour with my Proceedings; for that was my Aim in undertaking the Journey: & chief Study throughout the Prosecution of it.

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With the Assurance, & Hope of doing it, I with infinite Pleasure subscribe my Self Yr. Honour’s most Obedt. & very Hble. Servant.

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Christmas of 1753

Christopher Gist’s version

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Monday 10. Set out, travelled about eight miles, and
encamped. Our Indians killed a bear. Here we had a creek
to cross, very deep ; we got over on a tree, and got our goods
over.
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Tuesday 11. We set out, travelled about fifteen miles to
the French fort, the sun being set. Our interpreter gave the
commandant notice of our being over the creek ; upon which

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he sent several officers to conduct us to the fort, and they
received us with a great deal of complaisance.
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Wednesday 12.  The Major gave the passport, showed his
commission, and offered the Governor’s letter to the com-
mandant ; but he desired not to receive them, until the other
commander from Lake Erie came, whom he had sent for, and
expected next day by twelve o’clock.

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[Picture credit: Emerson Magazine and Putnam Monthly 1857, vol 5 page 569]

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Thursday 13.  The other General came. The Major deliv-
ered the letter, and desired a speedy answer ; the time of
year and business required it. They took our Indians into
private council, and gave them several presents.
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Friday 14.  When we had done our business, they delayed
and kept our Indians, until Sunday ; and then we set out
with two canoes, one for our Indians, and the other for our-
selves. Our horses we had sent away some days before, to
wait at Venango, if ice appeared on the rivers and creeks.
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Sunday 16.  We set out by water about sixteen miles, and
encamped. Our Indians went before us, passed the little
lake, and we did not come up with them that night.
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Monday 17.  We set out, came to our Indians’ camp.
They were out hunting ; they killed three bears. We stayed
this day, and
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Tuesday 18. One of our Indians did not come to camp.
So we finding the waters lower very fast, were obliged to go
and leave our Indians.
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Wednesday 19. We set out about seven or eight miles,
and encamped, and the next day
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Thursday 20.  About twenty miles, where we were stop-
ped by ice, and worked until night.
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Friday 21.  The ice was so hard we could not break our
way through, but were obliged to haul our vessels across a
point of land and put them in the creek again. The Indians
and three French canoes overtook us here, and the people of

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one French canoe that was lost, with her cargo of powder
and lead. This night we encamped about twenty miles above
Venango.
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Saturday 22. Set out. The creek began to be very low
and we were forced to get out, to keep our canoe from over-
setting, several times ; the water freezing to our clothes ^
and we had the pleasure of seeing the French overset, and the
brandy and wine floating in the creek, and run by them, and
left them to shift for themselves. Came to Venango, and
met with our people and horses.
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[See Map of “Venango” area]

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Sunday 23.  We set out from Venango, travelled about
five miles to Lacomick creek.
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[See this part of the story as told in 1857 Putnam’s monthly
Emerson’s United States magazine on page 569 volume 5]

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Monday 24.  Here Major Washington set out on foot in
Indian dress. Our horses grew weak, that we were mostly
obliged to travel on foot, and had snow all day. Encamped
near the barrens.

Tuesday 25.  Set out and travelled on foot to branches of
Great Beaver creek.
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Wednesday 26. The Major desired me to set out on foot,
and leave our company, as the creeks were frozen, and our
horses could make but little way. Indeed, I was unwilling
he should undertake such a travel, who had never been used
to walking before this time. But as he insisted on it, I set out
with our packs, like Indians, and travelled eighteen miles.
That night we lodged at an Indian cabin, and the Major [George Washington] was
much fatigued. It was very cold ; all the small runs were
frozen, that we could hardly get water to drink.
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Thursday 27.  We rose early in the morning, and set out
about two o’clock. Got to the Murthering town, on the
southeast fork of Beaver creek. Here we met with an Indian,
whom I thought I had seen at Joncaire‘s, at Venango, when
on our journey up to the French fort. This fellow called me
by my Indian name  [Annosanah] , and pretended to be glad to see me. He

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asked us several questions, as how we came to travel on foot,
when we left Venango, where we parted with our horses, and
when they would be there, etc. Major Washington insisted
on travelling on the nearest way to forks of Alleghany. We
asked the Indian if he could go with us, and show us the
nearest way. The Indian seemed very glad and ready to go
with us. Upon which we set out, and the Indian took the
Major’s pack. We travelled very brisk for eight or ten miles,
when the Major’s feet grew very sore, and he very weary, and
the Indian steered too much north-eastwardly. The Major
desired to encamp, to which the Indian asked to carry his
gun. But he refused that, and then the Indian grew churlish,
and pressed us to keep on, telling us that there were Ottawa
Indians in these woods, and they would scalp us if we lay out ;
but to go to his cabin, and we should be safe. I thought
very ill of the fellow, but did not care to let the Major know
I mistrusted him. But he soon mistrusted him as much as I.
He said he could hear a gun to his cabin, and steered us more
northwardly. We grew uneasy, and then he said two whoops
might be heard to his cabin. We went two miles further ;
then the Major said he would stay at the next water, and we
desired the Indian to stop at the next water. But before we
came to water, we came to a clear meadow ; it was very light,
and snow on the ground. The Indian made a stop, turned
about ; the Major saw him point his gun toward us and fire.
Said the Major, ” Are you shot? ” ” No,” said I.

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treacherous-indian-guide

Upon  which the Indian ran forward to a big standing white oak,
and to loading his gun ; but we were soon with him.

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I would  have killed him ; but the Major would not suffer me to kill  him. We let him charge his gun ; we found he put in a ball ;  then we took care of him.

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[Picture credit: Emerson’s Magazine and Putnam’s Monthly page 668]

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The Major or I always stood by  the guns; we made him make a fire for us by a little run, as
if we intended to sleep there.

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I said to the Major, ” As you will not have him killed, we must get him away, and then we
must travel all night.”

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Upon which I said to the Indian, ” I  suppose you were lost, and fired your gun.” He said, he
knew the way to his cabin, and ’twas but a little way. “Well,”
said I, ” do you go home ; and as we are much tired, we will
follow your track in the morning ; and here is a cake of
bread for you, and you must give us meat in the morning.”
He was glad to get away. I followed him, and listened until
he was fairly out of the way, and then we set out about half a
mile, when we made a fire, set our compass, and fixed our
course, and travelled all night, and in the morning we were on
the head of Piney creek.
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Friday 28.  We travelled all the next day down the said
creek, and just at night found some tracks where Indians had
been hunting. We parted, and appointed a place a distance
off, where to meet, it being then dark. We encamped, and
thought ourselves safe enough to sleep.
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Saturday 29. We set out early, got to Alleghany, made a
raft, and with much difficulty got over to an island, alittle above
Shannopin’s town. The Major having fallen in from off the
raft, and my fingers frost-bitten, and the sun down, and very
cold, we contented ourselves to encamp upon that island. It
was deep water between us and the shore ; but the cold did
us some service, for in the morning it was frozen hard enough
for us to pass over on the ice.
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Sunday 30.  We set out about ten miles to John Frazier’s,
at Turtle creek, and rested that evening.
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Monday 31.  Next day we waited on queen Aliquippa, who
lives now at the mouth of Youghiogany. She said she would
never go down to the river Alleghany to live, except the Eng-
lish built a fort, and then she would go and live there.
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Tuesday January i, 1754.  We set out from John Frazier’s
and at night encamped at Jacob’s cabins.

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Wednesday 2. Set out and crossed Youghiogany on the
ice. Got to my house in the new settlement.
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Thursday 3. Rain.
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Friday 4. Set out for Will’s creek, where we arrived on
Sunday January 6.

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RELATED LINKS

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http://old.post-gazette.com/neigh_north/20030216ncover0216p1.asp

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Joncaire

http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/01-01-02-0003-0002#GEWN-01-01-02-0003-0002-fn-0046

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Digital Commons Link of 1st Journal Oct 1753 to Jan 1754 and 2 important maps

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Joncaire

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After the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, the French and British entered into competition in an attempt to gain Indian friendship as a basis for the fur trade and for future alliances. During King George’s War and the period of peace

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  • 29 It is of interest to note that the articles used by the British for presents to the Indians were quite similar to French presents. See Proposed Division of Presents for the Northern and Southern Indians by Sir William Johnson, November 1756, in Collection of Loudoun Papers, 2507; The Papers of Sir William Johnson, II, 898, 900.

  • 30 Some of the more hardened French administrators received scalps, and even heads of enemy tribesmen in exchange for gifts. See Vaudreuil’s Letter Book, in Collection of Loudoun Papers, 26.

  • 31 M. Doreil to M. de Paulmy, Quebec, October 25, 1757, in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, X, 653.

  • 32 M. Bigot to M. Berryer, Quebec, April 16, 1759, ibid., 967.

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following that war, the Joncaire brothers,33 Philip Thomas and Chabert, were sent to distribute presents in a lavish manner among the Ohio tribes and the Seneca in western New York. Here they engaged in sharp competition with the Pennsylvania agents, who carried elaborate merchandise worth hundreds of pounds sterling to the Ohio region. The agents from the Quaker colony, George Croghan, Conrad Weiser, and the half-caste interpreter Andrew Montour proved, however, to be more than a match for the Joncaires. When Céloron de Blainville34 visited Logstown on the Ohio in 1749, he found that his presents were not enticing enough to lure the Indians away from the English. Nor were his gifts sufficiently attractive to turn the rebellious Miami leader La Demoiselle, known as Old Briton to the English, away from the Pennsylvania traders who came to the Miami town of Pickawillany. Between 1748 and 1752, La Demoiselle encouraged the British traders to make presents, consummated

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  • 33 The activities of the Joncaire brothers are difficult to follow because of the fact that they were both called Sieur Joncaire or simply Joncaire. Philip Thomas, an ensign, was sent to reside among the Seneca in the 1740’s and by 1745 his reports covering the activities of all of the Six Nations were sent to the governor general. See “Militar and other Operations in Canada during the years 1745-1746, in ibid, 38-75. The younger brother Daniel, Sieur de Chabert et de Clausonne appears to have taken over the Seneca post in 1748 because of the ill health of Philip Thomas. Despite this handicap, Philip Thomas accompanied Céloron de Blainville in 1749 on the famous Ohio expedition, giving out presents and acting as an interpreter. As officer interpreters and as distributors of presents, these brothers were the most important rivals of Sir William Johnson for the control of the Six Nations. In 1755, Sir William offered a reward for any Frenchman in New York who would capture Chabert Joncaire. See Th Papers of Sir William Johnson, 11, 388-389. For a sketch of this important family, see Frank H. Severance, An Old Frontier of France (2 vols., New York, 1917), I, 151-196; II 442-443; Pease, Illinois on the Eve of the Seven Years’ War, in Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, XXIX, pp. xxxiv-xxxv. There is reason to believe that both of these brothers were captured by Sir William Johnson at Niagara in 1759. An excellent example of Chabert’s success with the Seneca is found in a record of a conference between the French and the sachems of that “nation.” To show his allegiance to the French one of the chiefs declared, “I forget that there are any English on earth, and to give you proof that I despise them and look on them as dogs, see, I tear off the medal of the King of England which hangs from my neck, and trample it under foot.” See M. de Vaudreuil to M. de Machault, Montreal, October 31, 1755, in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, X, 377-378.

  • 34 Also known as Céloron de Bienville. See his journal in “The French Regime in Wisconsin,” in the Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, XVIII, 36-58. For the original journal in French see Pierre Margry (ed.), Découvertes et Etablissements des Français dam I’Ouest et dans le Sud de l’Amérique Septentrionale (1614-1754), (6 vols., Paris, 1879-1888), VI (1888), 666-726.

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an alliance with the province of Pennsylvania through the exchange of calumets, wampum, and other goods, and made himself the center of a general conspiracy against the French. It appeared that the Wea, the Potawatomi, the Kickapoo, the Piankashaw, the Ottawa, and the other allies of the Miami had accepted the hatchet to strike the French!

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https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/7714/9141

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