Marshall Historical Society

CEMETERY OF HISTORICAL INTEREST
M. W.
Newspaper article: no source, no date

Cemetery of "Brothertowns" Is of Historical Interest

On the west side of the Waterville-Deansboro highway on the farm now owned by Sims Wratten is a pasture, in one corner of which stands a beautiful old lilac tree, with large gnarled branches.

Underneath the spreading branches of the lilac tree stands an ancient tombstone and, lying on the ground, are half a dozen more stones, marking the graves of several of the Brothertown Christian Indians.

On the stones are names, dates and ages. Among them is one bearing the information that a six-year-old boy had been buried at this spot in 1835. A full grown man found his final resting place here in 1840, and the legend on the tombstone reads: "He Was An Indian from Rhode Island."

Among the names on the stones are Fowler, Dick and Scheesuck.

The Brothertown Indians at one time occupied this particular region in southern Oneida County.

The tribe of Indians, according to historical records, was composed of the remnants of various tribes who had resided in New Jersey, on Long Island and on the northern shore of Long Island Sound. They had been reduced to mere wrecks by the various wars. The Oneida Indians invited them to come and reside upon their territory, and the state governments also aided in collecting them together and settling them in their new homes.

The Brothertown Indian tribe was composed of the remains of the Nanticokes, Narragansetts, Montauks, Mohegans, Pequots, Nehantics, Conoys, Tutecoes, Saponeys, Shinecocks and, possibly, some others.

Located On Oriskany Creek

The Brothertowns located on and near the Oriskany Creek, within the limits of the present Town of Marshall. Having no common language, they early adopted the English language, and soon no other was spoken among them. They derived their name from the fact of the union of so many tribes.

At the time of the treaty of Fort Stanwix in November, 1768, the Governor and Commissioners of New Jersey purchased of the Oneidas, with the consent of their attorneys, a tract of upwards of 30,000 acres, in trust for the natives of New Jersey, south of the Raritan, which tract took the name of Brotherton.

In 1763, Sir William Johnson reported that the Nanticokes, Conoys, Tutecoes, Saponeys, etc., number ... thousand persons, including two hundred warriors, had removed from the south and settled "on and about Susquehanna, on lands allotted by Six Nations," and lived immediately under their direction. These were doubtless Brothertons.

On June 22, 1775, the Colonial Congress of New York granted a pass ... .Joseph Johnson, "a Mohegan Indian and licensed preacher among the Brotherton and Oneida Indians, his three friends, James Shattuck, J... Skesuck and Samuel Tallman, to ... London, Conn., and back to Brothertown." In 1776 David Fowler and other Indians from Connecticut and Long Island, who were Baptists, moved to Brothertown and established Baptist meetings, the second by ... denomination west of Albany.

The territory of the Brothertown Indians was much more extensive than was ever used or occupied ... they early sold quite a section to the state, reserving for themselves the part which lay on each side of the Oriskany Creek, and one of the ... settlements was near Deansville ... Dicksville. Asa Dick, for whom the latter settlement was named, was a very intelligent member of the Narragansett stock. Some of the family settled in this place prior to the Revolution and prominent among ... names were David Fowler, Eli.. Wampey and John Tuhi.

War Scattered Indians

A large proportion of those who settled before the war, left their settlement soon after its commencement fearing the ravages of the Senecas, Cayugas and Onondagas, who had espoused the cause of the king, ... they in feeling were with the colonialists, although profession neutrality. A few of the men stayed at this place part of the time for the purpose of ..ing to and cultivating their land to some extent, while the remainder of their time was spent at Fort Stanwix.

An Indian, known as Wampy, was one of the farm workers. On one ... hostile Indian sprang from behind a tree close to his path, and was about to shoot him down with his rifle, when Wampy flew at him, knocked up the muzzle of the gun, so that the ball passed harmlessly over him, and with his knife laid his brother red-skin dead at his feet. The victor, believing that other fores would soon be attracted by the sound of the rifle, caught the weapon from its now passive owner, and, bearing the trophy of his prowess, recasion, as he was going from the Fort to Brothertown, and had proceed some two or three miles on his way, a traced his way to the Fort in double quick time.

When the great body of the Indians left during the war, potatoes had been planted, and were left growing in the fields, and when they returned at the close of the war, after an absence of some five or six years, they found that the potatoes had continued to yield their annual crops; although in diminished quantities, there was a sufficiency at least for planting.

Rev. Occum, Indian Preacher

In 1786 the Rev. Samson Occum, a Mohegan, with a number of Montauks and Shinecocks from Long Island, Mohegans from Connecticut and Narragansetts from Rhode Island, emigrated to Brotherton. Mr. Occum was born at Mohegan, Conn., in 1723, and at the age of 19 entered Rev. Dr. Wheelock's charity school at Lebanon, and he was the first Indian ever educated at that place. He was ordained August 29, 1759, by the Suffolk Presbytery. In 1766 he was sent to England to solicit aid for the Indian school at Lebanon.

Being the first Indian preacher who had visited England, he attracted much attention, and preached to crowded houses. He preached in the King's Chapel before George III, and "the noblest Chapels in the kingdom were open to him." He obtained large sums of money and much personal distinction. During his subsequent life, he carried a gold mounted cane presented to him by the king, who with many of the nobility and persons of wealth and distinction became patrons of the school and continued their contributions for several years.

After his removal to Brotherton, he preached and labored with much zeal among his people. For some time he was, it is believed, the only ordained minister between the German Flats and Oneida, and was called upon as such to preach, attend funerals and solemnize marriages, by the white settlers.

He was a man of cultivated mind, pleasing address and manners, and in his life and conversation exemplified the spirit of the Gospel. He died at New Stockbridge in July, 1792. A marker has been erected on he Waterville-Deansboro highway in Dicksville by the New York State Educational Department bearing the inscription: "Home of the Brothertown Indians, 1783-1850, among whom lived Samson Occum, Indian Presbyterian preacher."

Grant Called "Brother Town"

By an act passed February 25, 1789, the Legislature of New York State ratified and confirmed the grant made by the Oneidas to the Brothertons, directing that said grant should be called "Brother Town."

The legislature of the State of New York approved an act relative to the lands owned by the Brothertowns and a commissioner was appointed to carry out the provisions. By the act of the people of Brothertown were to meet on the first Tuesday in April in each year to elect their town officers and at these meetings the Peace Makers presided. The office of Peace Maker answered in most respects to that of a present day justice of the peace.

There were many laws. One in regard to the observance of Sunday was of particular interest. Breaking the Sabbath meant a fine of 75 cents, however in case no property could be found to answer said fine, the offender would be set publicly in the stocks for two hours. A like sentence was to be inflicted for card playing on Sunday or on Saturday and Sunday evening.

Among the names of the Peace Makers were John Scheesuck and Jacob Fowler and in 1809 these two men were sent as delegates to treat with western Indians. Out in the middle west their labors bore fruit for the Brothertown Indians and in 1822, having sold their farms to individuals, with the advice and consent of the Superintendents of the Brothertown Indians, after the legislature passed a law permitting the sales, the greater proportion of the Brothertowns, with their neighbors of Stockbridge, removed to Wisconsin and the remainder followed in a few years.

Advancements Made

In the west they made great advancement in civilization, agriculture and the arts. By an act of Congress they were declared citizens of the United States. The report of the Indian .... for 1849 says that "in which capacity (of citizens) they appear advantageously, many of them filling very respectably town and country offices under our state organization. They have two schools, and are anxious that their children should become educated ... the whites."

Before the removal to the west, ... ever, many of the prominent members of the tribe passed away and several of their graves are marked by the ancient tombstones under the lilacs in the pasture.

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