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WYOMING VALLEY WAR IN PA

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Compiled by Jim Moyer 22 October 2015, last update 10/26/15

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Disputed Territory: The Wyoming Valley between the Susquehanna River and the Delaware River.

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The dispute began with King Charles II who gave Connecticut  in 1662 a claim. The same King Charles II gives William Penn in 1681 an overlapping claim.  Never mind the Dutch there.  Or the ones before them: The Native Americans.  And later these same Indians sell each other’s lands without consultation.

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Overlapping claims, shifting loyalties. A multi-sided, multi-level conflict.  A true cluster.

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This dispute created by overlapping charters since 1681, initiated in 1753 went on through the French and Indian War 1754-1763  and Pontiac’s War 1763  through the Revolutionary War in the 1770s through President Washington’s 2 administrations through John Adams one administration and through the early years of Jefferson’s first administration to a final cessation of hostilities in 1804.

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THE OPPOSING ACTORS

The opposing parties  often acted independently and defiantly of each other during the French and Indian War and later Pontiac’s War … AND into the War for Independence and past it.

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 – Susquehanna Company of Connecticut settlers.

 – Delaware Companies of Connecticut settlers.

 – Iroquois 6 nations.

 – Delaware Indians led by Teedyuscung and son.

 – Pennamites against the Connecticut settlers.

 – Pennsylvanians from Paxton area side with Connecticut settlers

 – Pennsylvania Governor and legislature

 – Connecticut Governor and legislature

 – Royal Authorities: The Privy Council of England

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After the French and Indian War and Pontiac’s War, the War for Independence added another layer of complication:

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 – Many Susquehanna Company and Delaware Company settlers from Connecticut favored the Rebel Patriot Cause.

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– In particular, a group from Paxton-Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania who came to the Wyoming Valley area rebelled against Pennsylvania authorities for favoring their own well-connected gentlemen over ordinary settlers, so they aligned with the Connecticut settlers, known as Wild Yankees who sided with the Patriots over the Loyalists.

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 – The Pennsylvanians were split among both Patriots and Loyalists, as all colonies really were.

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 – The Iroquois 6 Nations were split amongst their own nations and Delaware (Lenape) tribes were split on both sides of the White’s War of Independence

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ABOUT LOYALTIES AND MOTIVATIONS

The loyalties and motivations of all these groups shifted according to expedience, accident, or true beliefs and they shifted over time depending on circumstances.

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Excellent analysis of loyalties and motivations for all these factions in this link:
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Anne M. Ousterhout author of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic StudiesVol. 62, No. 3, PENNSYLVANIA LOYALISTS (Summer 1995), pp. 330-363

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The author Anne M. Ousterhout points out that “disaffected”  was a term used by contemporaries. This term was the better term for the loyalists (a term that came mostly towards the ends of the White War for Independence).  She uses Alexander Hamilton’s assessment:

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Alexander Hamilton wrote in his “Second Letter from Phocion”: The number of the disaffected, who are so from speculative notions of government, is small. The great majority of those who took part against us did it from accident, from the dread of the British power, and from the influence of others to whom they had been accustomed to look up.”    See Link.

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Difficulties of being brief:

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Short summaries of the motivations and loyalties of these factions will not tell the full story as any author of a summary knows, its very shortness being the boundaries limiting full analysis.

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Short descriptions and labels are a convenience to a reader new to a story, who if still interested will sense the more complex.

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This article doesn’t mention the contemporary term of the times, “disaffected,” but it does discuss the motivations to be “Loyalist.”  One quote from article: “” As one contemporary noted during the Revolutionary War, people “wait[ed] to go with the stronger.” That is, they sided with the strongest military, or political, presence. Their ideological or political beliefs mattered less than their lived reality.[3] “”

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CHRONOLOGY

Sources for this listed at end of page.  See also maps further down the page.

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1662 – King Charles II grants Connecticut

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1681 – King Charles II grants William Penn.  Click on Map below to enlarge.  See a different Map.

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PA CT MD NY Statecessions

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MAY 1750Simsbury Connecticut inhabitants petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly for grant to establish a town west of the Hudson River

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1750 – 1753  – Connecticut General Assembly received 12 similar petitions.

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March 1753 – Inhabitants from several towns in Connecticut made the first mention of the Wyoming Valley area along the Susquehanna. : “Humbly Sheweth that whereas there is a Large   Quantity of Land Lying upon a River Calld Suscohannah.”

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18 July 1753First meeting Minutes of the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut agreed to send a committee of 7 men to scout out suitable land

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October 1753 – The “Journeying Committee” of the Susquehanna Company explored the Wyoming Valley area

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November 1753Richard Peters, Pennsylvania’s provincial secretary reports to the proprietors that these Connecticut men disturbed the people already there saying they would return in the Spring “with a Thousand Men and settle those lands.”

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July 11, 1754.   Susquehanna Purchase Deed.  Conveyed  all land between the 41st and 42nd degrees of North Latitude from a line ten miles east of the Susquehanna for two degrees of Longitude West or one hundred twenty miles to the Susquehanna Company. This comprised most of eighteen present day Pennsylvania counties. The deed was signed by two Seneca, seven Mohawk, two Onondaga, six Oneida and one Cayuga Chief on behalf of the Iroquois Confederacy.

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A number of Delaware Chiefs conveyed all territory between the 41st and 42nd degrees of North Latitude from the eastern boundary of the Susquehanna purchase to the Delaware River to the First and Second Delaware Companies, two Connecticut companies, on December 20, 1754, May 6, 1755, and October 27, 1755 . The first settlement was made at Cushietunk in present day Damascus Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania by Joseph Skinner about September 4, 1755.

 See link for dates.

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1754 Albany Conference:

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This event is famous for Ben Franklin’s first appearance of the Snake cut in pieces asking for the colonies to unify in the manner of the Iroquois League of 6 Nations. There is much to this conference between the colonists and Native Nations.

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So, What is relevant to the Wyoming Valley at this Albany Conference?

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New Englanders purchase millions of acres in upper Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers from the Iroquois inducing them with alcohol.  These drunk Iroquois didn’t check with their leaders of the 6 Nations  who were selling to the Pennsylvanians the same lands.  And who had more of a claim than the Iroquois sellers?   The Delaware tribe.  The Iroquois were using the colonist’s desire to deal with one overall power as leverage over lesser native nations.

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June 1755. Lewis Evans’ Map published June 23, 1755. Notice Connecticut-Pennsylvania line going all the way across present day Pennsylvania. Click on this zoom map to see clearly the Evans’ original map. Look for “Colony from Connecticut” on this 1776 updated version by Pownall of Evans’ General Map of the Middle British Colonies of America.  Click on that map to enlarge.  . See history of different editions of the Evans’ map.  More maps from this time period.

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October 1755.  Following the devastation of Braddock’s Expedition in July, this Penn’s Creek Massacre 16 October 1755 was one of many attacks for the next 3 years in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania.   A group of 49 men from the Paxton area, led by fur trader, John Harrris Jr, were returning home after seeing settlements along Penn’s Creek recently devastated by Indians.  While crossing Penn’s Creek on island of Que, more than half a dozen men were shot dead by the Delawares or drowned trying to escape.

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1758 Treaty of Easton.  Not only was this part of Forbes strategy to have the Indians desert the French at Fort Duquesne, but also this stopped Delaware Indian attacks in the Wyoming Valley for the next 5 years of the French and Indian War ending in 1763.  The attacks began again under Pontiac’s War starting in 1763.  A major player was there: Teedyuscung representing the Delawares.

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Summer 1760. Connecticut settlers under the Delaware Company  in Cushietunk along the Delaware River were discovered by Philadelphia authorities.

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September 1760. Teedyuscung visited Philadelphia promising PA Gov James Hamilton, his Delawares would “turn them off. ” meaning drive off those Connecticut settlers.

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August 1761. The Six Nations denied the validity of the Connecticut Susquehanna and Delaware Company land purchases.

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May 1762. Susquehanna Company sent a large group of settlers to the Wyoming Valley.

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18 November 1762. Teedyuscung conference with PA Gov James Hamilton. Teedysuscung reports, “that soon after I returned to Wyoming from Lancaster (August 1762) there came one hundred and fifty of those people, furnished with all sorts of tools, as well for building as husbandry, and declared that they bought those lands from the Six Nations and would settle them, and were actually going to build themselves houses and settle upon a creek called Lecha wanoch, about seven or eight miles above Wyoming. I threatened them hard and declared I would carry them to the governor at Philadelphia…”

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April 1763. Teedyuscung is murdered. He was burned to death in his home. Twenty neighboring dwellings also burned down.

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May 1763. More than 150 Connecticut families took possession of Teedyuscung’s settlement.

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15 June 1763. Privy Council of England instructs Connecticut Governor Thomas Finch:

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“Whereas it hath been represented to Us that a Number  of Persons, Inhabitants of Our Colony of Connecticut,  have presumed, without Licence from Us or any acting  under Our Authority, to begin a Settlement on certain  Lands, at Wyoming on the River Susquehanna, belonging  to Our good Subjects the six Nations of Indians and their  Allies the Delawares, whereby the said Indians are greatly  disquieted and aggrieved: And whereas We have thought  it necessary as well for the Support of Our Royal Authority  as in Justice to the said Indian Nations, whom We are  determined at all times to protect in the peaceable Enjoyment of all their just Rights and Possessions, that an  effectual Stop should be put to the Settlement which the  said People of Connecticut have thus unwarrantably  attempted to make; …”

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August 1763.  Teedyuscung’s son, Captain Bull, leading a Delaware war group, slaughtered or took captive New Englanders who remained in the Susquehanna Company settlement.

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Fall 1763.

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January 1768. Frederick Stump, John Ironcutter murdered 10 Indians.  When PA Cumberland Co authorities arrested the two, a mob broke them free from the county jail.

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27 March 1769. Lazarus Stewart and 63 frontiers folk petitioned the PA Assembly accusing favoritism,  that well connected gentlement were approved for the lands in the “New Purchase” and not ordinary settlers.  See list of deeds on PA archive site concerning the “New Purchase.”

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1771.  Connecticut’s claim was confirmed by King George III. See Wikipedia link, Pennamite–Yankee War.

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May 1778. Multiple Attacks. From Wikipedia link, the Big Runaway: On May 16, 1778 three settlers were killed by Native Americans near the mouth of Bald Eagle Creek and three men, seven women, and several children were captured by Native Americans in two attacks over the next four days. Later in May three settler families on Loyalsock Creek were wiped out: their cabins were burnt, two were killed, and fourteen disappeared, presumed captured by Native Americans. In separate incidents in late May, three settlers (a man, woman and boy) were taken prisoner near modern Linden in Woodward Township and three Fair Play men were killed (while one escaped) as they tried to get a boat to evacuate their families to Fort Horn at the mouth of Pine Creek.. Near modern Lock Haven a skirmish led to the wounding of one Native American and one Fair Play man.

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June 10, 1778 has been called the “bloodiest day” in the history of Lycoming County. Two of these attacks were along Loyalsock Creek and the third was near Lycoming Creek.

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3 July  1778.  Wyoming Valley Massacre

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Up-river settlers, comprised of Dutch, German, some Pennsylvanians knowing they cannot count on the Penn Family for protection  and not really enamored of the British cause yet joining them for protection and redress of wrongs from the Connecticut settlers of the Susquehanna Company known as the Yankees or Wild Yankees.

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From the Wikipedia link:  Colonel John Butler recruited a regiment of Loyalists for the effort, while Seneca chiefs Sayenqueraghta and Cornplanter recruited primarily Seneca warriors, and Joseph Brant recruited primarily Mohawk men for what essentially became a guerrilla war against frontier settlers. By April 1778 the Seneca were raiding settlements along the Allegheny and Susquehanna Rivers, and by early June these three groups met at the Indian village of Tioga, New York. Butler and the Seneca decided to attack the Wyoming Valley while Brant and the Mohawks (who had already raided Cobleskill in May) went after communities further north.

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See Explore Pa History Markers link.

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See this link of petitions for redress: “The Massacre of Wyoming. The acts of Congress for the defense of the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, 1776-1778: with the petitions of the sufferers by the massacre of July 3, 1778, for congressional aid ”  by Wyoming Historical and Geological Society; United States. Continental Congress; Hayden, Horace Edwin, 1837-1917, Published 1895

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18 June to 3 October 1779. Sullivan-Clinton Expedition.

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TRENTON DECREE

12 November 1782.  Continental Congress appointed a Court of Commissioner who convened on this date at Trenton conference NJ to adjudicate the dispute between Connecticut and Pennsylvania and the settlers in the Wyoming Valley.

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30 December 1782. Trenton Decree.  See page 134 of Sketches of Wyoming.  See The Trenton decree of 1782 and the Pennamite war by Frederick W Gnichtel, published 1920, The Trenton Historical Society,  New Jersey.

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May 1784.  State of Westmoreland is proposed

Context: Pennsylvania armed men force-marched the Connecticut settlers away from the valley. In November, they returned with a greater force and captured and destroyed Fort Dickinson. With that victory, Captain John Franklin proposed that a new state separate from both Connecticut and Pennsylvania be created, to be called Westmoreland.
See Wikipedia link, State of Westmoreland.

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September 23, 1786. Pennsylvania General Assembly created Luzerne County, named for the French minister the Chevalier de la Luzerne. This newly organized county encompassed a large area; Lackawanna, Wyoming, Susquehanna, and part of Bradford counties were later formed from its territory.   Both Westmoreland County, Connecticut and the proposed State of Westmoreland are unrelated to the current Westmoreland County located in southwestern Pennsylvania. It was created by an Act of the Assembly and approved on February 26, 1773 by Governor of Pennsylvania Richard Penn.  See Wikipedia link, State of Westmoreland.

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July 1804.  Edward Gobin, a surveyor employed by land speculators was killed by “a company of about 18 persons, dressed like Indians.” This occurred near the Tioga River.

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In the Name and by the Authority of the Commonwealth of PA – By Thomas McKEAN,   Governor of said Commonwealth. A Proclamation.

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Whereas it appears to me, by divers dispositions of credible witnesses, that   a certain Edward GOBIN, of Lycoming County, yeoman, on the morning of the 27th   July last, near the door of the house of Henry DONNEL, Esq. situated on the   Tioga River, in said county, was maliciously and willfully shot through the   body with a rifle bullet, and so grievously wounded that his life was despaired   of; and that the same was done with an intent him the said Edward GOBIN to kill   and murder, by a person unknown.

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And whereas I have received information on   oath, that a company consisting of about eighteen persons, dressed like Indians,   and said to be employed by persons residing on Sugar Creek in said county, at   the rate of twelve dollars a month each, during the Summer, to prevent by force   and arms any person or persons from Surveying lands under the laws of Pennsylvania.
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Editor’s note: we can infer this group is comprised of Connecticut settlers defying specificly Pennsylvania authority.

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Now be it known, that a reward of $800 shall be paid to any person or persons,   who shall arrest or cause to be arrested the principal offendor aforesaid, who   shot the aforesaid Edward GOBIN and $400 for arresting or causing to be arrested,   each and every of the accomplices of the principal offender aforesaid, and for   bringing them to trial and conviction:

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And I do further promise a pardon to   any of the accomplices, who shall give information to any Magistrate against   the said principal offendor, or any of the aidors or abettors of the aforesaid   nefarious act, and shall give evidence against them.

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Given under my hand, and the Great Seal of the State, at Lancaster, the 11th    August 1804, and of the Commonwealth the 29th. By the Governor, James TREMBLE,   Deputy Secretary.

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from  Wyoming County PAGenWeb Project

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1809.  Gertrude of Wyoming; A Pennsylvanian Tale by Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1844).   This poem is about the  July 3, 1778 Wyoming Massacre.  There are many historical inaccuracies in the poem.  One inaccuracy is attributing to the “Monster Brant” as one of the leaders of this massacre. Chief Joseph Brant  of the Mohawks was involved elsewhere, not here. Brant was at Oquaga on the day of the attack.

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1790 Cornplanter’s Speech

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Background:

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Chief Cornplanter met with Washington 11 years after  the devastating Sullivan Expedition, a response to the Big Runaway and other British allied operations with the Indians such as Chief Joseph Brandt’s attack on German Flatts in 1778, which in turn was a response to the usurping of native land, despite attempts to draw the line not to cross in the Proclamation of 1763 and the first Treaty of Fort Stanwix 1768.

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Chief Cornplanter, heading the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois, addressed  Washington, 1 December 1790,  refering to his Town Destroyer name:

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“When your army entered the Country of the Six Nations, we called you the Town-destroyer and to this day when that name is heard, our women look behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers.”

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Founders Online,  of Seneca Chiefs at Philadelphia make address to George Washington 1 December 1790

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A US News and World Report claims, “To this day, Town Destroyer is still used as an Iroquois name for the president of the United States.”    Also it claims the orgin of this name was from Chief Cornplanter.

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But I cannot find any source for either claim. In fact a contradictory fact emerges.

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From this  link http://www.ratical.org/many_worlds/6Nations/

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Figure 31. On June 11, 1776 while the question of independence was being debated, the visiting Iroquois chiefs were formally invited into the meeting hall of the Continental Congress. There a speech was delivered, in which they were addressed as “Brothers” and told of the delegates’ wish that the “friendship” between them would “continue as long as the sun shall shine” and the “waters run.” The speech also expressed the hope that the new Americans and the Iroquois act “as one people, and have but one heart.”[18] After this speech, an Onondaga chief requested permission to give Hancock an Indian name. The Congress graciously consented, and so the president was renamed “Karanduawn, or the Great Tree.” With the Iroquois chiefs inside the halls of Congress on the eve of American Independence, the impact of Iroquois ideas on the founders is unmistakable. History is indebted to Charles Thomson, an adopted Delaware, whose knowledge of and respect for American Indians is reflected in the attention that he gave to this ceremony in the records of the Continental Congress.[19] Artwork by John Kahionhes Fadden.

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As an aside,  2 years after that moment above, another battle of Wyoming 3 July 1778

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To find Wyoming Massacre (or any fort name you know) , click on upper right corner square icon. This will open a new tab window. On top left corner you will see a magnifying glass icon. Click on that magnifying glass and type Wyoming Massacre. You will see Wyoming Massacre Monument be suggested just below. Click on that and press enter or return.

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AND still almost a year after the Wyoming Massacre,  the devastating Sullivan Expedition began 18 June 1779

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MAJOR SOURCE OF RESEARCH

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William A. Pencak, Daniel K. Richter, eds. Friends and Enemies in Penn’s Woods: Indians, Colonists, and the Racial Construction of Pennsylvania. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004. 329 pp :  This book is an anthology of articles.

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Article from the above book:

Chapter 12, pages 221-237, “Real” Indians, “White” Indians, and the Contest for the Wyoming Valley by Paul Moyer.

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The Susquehannah Company papers, edited by Julian P. Boyd. Editorial Advisory Committee: Charles M. Andrews, N.S.B. Gras [and] St. George L. Sioussat. Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Wyoming Historical & Geological Society, 1930-33.

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 OTHER RESEARCH LINKS

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The massacre of Wyoming. The acts of Congress for the defense of the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, 1776-1778: with the petitions of the sufferers by the massacre of July 3, 1778, for congressional aid by Wyoming Historical and Geological Society; United States. Continental Congress; Hayden, Horace Edwin, 1837-1917, Published 1895

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The Trenton decree of 1782 and the Pennamite war by Frederick W Gnichtel, “An address delivered before The Trenton Historical Society”, November 18, 1920, published 1920, The Trenton Historical Society, Trenton New Jersey

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History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania, edited by John F. Meginness; ©1892

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Historical Essays…Indians, Teedyuscung, Old Forge, Early Methodism, Coal; Its Antiquity, Sabbath–Sunday, by Geo. B. Kulp. 1892, pages 43-48.

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Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 11, January 1759 – December 1763
Edited by K H Ledward. Covers the whole period 1759 to 1763.
Board of Trade and Plantations, Journals. Originally published by His Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1935.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/jrnl-trade-plantations/vol11/pp288-303

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“Ye Land Affair Which Is Dirt”, Teedyuscung’s Struggle for a Homeland, Kendra Whitaker Yates, 2011  senior at the University of Utah major in history, contest winner of University of Utah).

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The Indian wars of Pennsylvania : an account of the Indian events, in Pennsylvania, of the French and Indian war, Pontiac’s war, Lord Dunmore’s war, the revolutionary war, and the Indian uprising from 1789 to 1795 ; tragedies of the Pennsylvania frontier based primarily on the Penna. archives and colonial records / by C. Hale Sipe ; introduction by Dr. George P. Donehoo …..by Sipe, C. Hale (Chester Hale), b. 1880  Published 1929

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A SKETCH HISTORY OF WYOMING, BY THE LATE ISAAC A. CHAPMAN, ESQ. ,TO WHICH IS ADDED, AN APPENDIX, CONTAINING A STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF THE VALLEY, AND ADJACENT COUNTRY. BT A GENTLEMAN OF WILKESBARRE. WILKESBARRE, PENN.PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY SHARP D. LEWI5. 1830

This  above source A SKETCH HISTORY OF WYOMING   provided by Mike Conaboy

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Survey and Surveyors of the Public Domain, 1785 to 1975

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Documents Relating to the Connecticut Settlement in the Wyoming Valley Edited by William Henry Egle, M.D. Harrisburg E.K, Meyers, State Printer 1893

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Conrad Weiser Papers 1741-1783 <– list of items with no links, but lists a lot

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Pennsylvania State Archives, RG-17, Records of the LAND OFFICE

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Forts in the Pennsylvania Frontier, 1753-1758 By William A Hunter, 1960

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DOCUMENTS  RELATING TO THE  CONNECTICUT SETTLEMENT IN THE WYOMING VALLEY.  Pennsylvania Archives   Second Series.  VOL. XVIII.   Edited by William Henry Egle, M. D. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: E. K. Meyers, State Printer, 1893.

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Connecticut Timeline

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Pennsylvania French and Indian War Timeline

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Antique Maps of Pennsylvania

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CHRISTOPHER GIST AND HIS SONS The author of this paper, Mr. Lawrence A. Orrillof Crafton, Pennsylvania,
is a former student of the Carnegie Institute of Technology with a hobby for historical research. The paper was read at a meeting of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania on January 26, 1932. Ed.

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