CHIEF CORNPLANTER Gaiänt'wakê (Kaintwakon; generally known as Cornplanter) (c. 1750s - February 18, 1836). Historic Seneca War Chief during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, during which the Seneca and three other Iroquois Nations were allied with the British. After the American Revolutionary War Cornplanter known for his diplomacy, led negotiations with the United States and was a Signatory of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1784 and then he helped gain Iroquois neutrality during the Northwest Indian War._ _In the postwar years, he worked to learn more about European-American ways and invited Quakers to establish schools in Seneca territory. Disillusioned by poor treatment of his people by the Americans, he had the schools closed and renewed some Seneca ways. The United States government under President George Washington granted him about 1,500 acres of former Seneca territory in Pennsylvania in 1796 for "him and his heirs forever," which became known as the Cornplanter Tract, which was flooded in 1965 by the Kinzua Dam, and most remaining Seneca moved to Allegany Reservation.
March 6th, 1811-Dated, Autographed Manuscript Letter Signed, “Jonathan Ames Interpreter for the Cornplanter” and below also Signed with “his “X” Mark (Seneca War Chief) “The Cornplanter” and “his wife her ‘X’ Mark,” Cornplanter Township (Pennsylvania), Being Written on behalf of Chief Cornplanter, Fine. A historic, Signed Autographed Manuscript Letter, 3 written pages with Integral Mailing Cover. It measuring 6.5” x 7.75” (folded) and is addressed, “To one of the heirs of Wilkins, Esq. deceased - Pittsburgh.” There are folds with tone and soiling to the outside Address Cover from handling, plus some scattered small wear holes to each page and has scattered tone spots. Overall, whole and solid being well written in dark brown upon period laid paper. This remarkable Letter was apparently Hand-delivered upon the arrival of the famous Seneca War Chief “Cornplanter” and his interpreter “Jonathan Ames,” explaining the purpose of their visit, which was to see that a Title Transfer for Land that had been promised to Chief Cornplanter by his deceased friend be properly completed.__In the letter, Cornplanter relates to the heirs of Wilkins, Esq., (a recently deceased friend who had granted him property on the Muskingum but then died before he completed the title transfer), to see if they could find some documentation amongst their father’s belongings to be used as proof of his intention to transfer title, as Cornplanter’s paperwork was lost. “He [Cornplanter] had an instrument of writing for it but it was lost by some bad people that broke open his chest not far from Pittsburgh in the year 1791 while he was in Philadelphia he now has nothing to show for it.” __The Seneca War Chief Cornplanter was one of the most famous and feared of all Indian Chiefs, who aligned with the Loyalists and British in the American Revolutionary War. In 1790, Cornplanter and his brother Half-Town (also a chief) traveled to Philadelphia to meet with President George Washington and Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin; they were protesting the current treatment of their people. Cornplanter and Half-Town extracted an agreement from Washington and Mifflin to protect Iroquois land. (see: The speech of the Cornplanter ..., December 1, 1790). In addition, other land was granted to Cornplanter in 1791 and his people.__This other land of 1791 included Richland (near current West Hickory in Forest County) and the Cornplanter Tract, also known as “The Gift.” Cornplanter promptly sold this land to his good frient, General John Wilkins, Jr. “The Gift” the third land grant is the present-day business district of Oil City, Pennsylvania. Major General John Wilkins, Jr. was the 7th Quartermaster General of the United States (June 1796-June 1802) who was from Pennsylvania. After his office was abolished by the Army, he turned his full attention to building the fortunes of the Wilkins family in Pittsburgh. He served as the president of city's first bank organized in 1802. John Wilkins died suddenly in Pittsburgh on April 20, 1816. Though this Letter is written and dated in 1811, it is likely that Cornplanter is thinking that he had already died.__In gratitude for his assistance to the State, Cornplanter was given a grant of 1,500 acres by Pennsylvania in 1796, along the western bank of the Allegheny River (about three miles (5 km) below the southern boundary of New York state) to him and his heirs "forever". By 1798, 400 Seneca lived on the land, which was called the “Cornplanter Tract” or “Cornplanter Grant.” During the War of 1812, Cornplanter supported the American cause, convincing his people to do so as well. At one point he offered to bring two hundred warriors to assist the U.S., but his offer was refused. In 1821 Warren County, Pennsylvania tried to force Cornplanter to pay taxes for his land, which he protested on the basis that the land had been "Granted" to him by the United States Government, to which the State finally agreed that the Cornplanter Tract was indeed exempt.__Cornplanter died on the Cornplanter Tract in 1836. He requested a grave with no marker. The massive Monument in tribute to Cornplanter, which was installed over his grave by the State of Pennsyvania in 1866, "is believed to be First Monument erected in honor of a Native American in the United States." The relocation of Cornplanter's remains and gravesite figure in the song, "As Long As The Grass Shall Grow" that Johnny Cash recorded in 1964; it was originally written by Peter LaFarge. (From Wikipedia)_ _This historic Letter reads, in full:__“Cornplanter’s town 6th M’c 10th 1811 - Respected Friends - this may Certify that I heard the Cornplanter, state that the white man now accompanying him to Pittsburgh, _should have a talk as an Interpreter between the heirs of Wilkins, Esquire - deceased - & himself respecting some land that was granted to the Cornplanter on the Muskingum opposite to Fort Warner or near to it, the Cornplanter says that he requested your father in his life time to see to the business, which he agreed to do, after which time he did not see him to discourse on the subject, he now hopes that some information respecting it may be amongst your father’s papers or some how come to your knowledge if so or any thing can be done in the business he wishes for the sons or one of them, of his Old deceased friend - Wilkins, Esq. to take upon them to act for him by way of enquiry first what can be done. He had an instrument of writing for it but it was lost by some bad people that broke open his chest not far from Pittsburgh in the year 1791 while he was in Philadelphia he now has nothing to show for it, he hopes by referring to the record, near the Muskingum or to those of the President, that some light may be had on the subject, if any can be had he request that one of you may get into the business, make sale of it for him when he will sign on (receiving of one half of what it will bring) all his right title to the same, the other half he says he will give to the undertaker for him or on his behalf as a present for his pain in so doing.__The Cornplanter his wife being present when the foregoing was interpreted to him & the both agreed to sign the title to the land when he received the half that it might bring.” __(Signed) “Jonathan (appears to be) Ames Interpreter for the Cornplanter”( and below Signed) “his X mark The Cornplanter” and (Signed) “his wife - her X mark”.__See Extensive Official Records and Period Documentation: Papers Relating to the DEFENCE OF THE FRONTIERS. 1790 - 1796. Pennsylvania Archives, Series Two, Volume IV. Pages 525-652. (Reproduced by Donna Bluemink) at:_http://www.usgwarchives.org/pa/1pa/paarchivesseries/series2/vol4/defence/defence1.htm__
Chief Cornplanter's people knew him as Kaintwakon, meaning "by what one plants." The White people knew him also as John Abeel (rendered also as Obail) and by other names.__Cornplanter was born to his Seneca Indian mother about 1750 at Ganawagus, near Avon, New York. The Wolf Clan to which she belonged was a ranking Indian family. Among its members were several prominent Indian leaders, Kiasutha, Handsome Lake, Red Jacket, and Governor Blacksnake, all principals in the drama of Indian-white relations which spanned the remainder of the century after 1755. Ultimately, this drama would determine whether this country, especially that part west of the Allegheny Mountains, would be French or English, European or Indian. __About 1784, Cornplanter assumed rather, had thrust upon him-his principal's role. This role derived from his leading position among the Iroquois of the upper Allegheny and Genesee rivers, a position which he had gradually assumed from his maternal uncle, Kiasutha.__Cornplanter was only half Indian. His father was John Abeel, of a prominent Albany Dutch family. Abeel had gone into the Indian country in western New York to trade as early, possibly, as 1744-he was 22 that year-and he would spend the rest of his active life as a trader there. His special passport among hostile Indians was his ability as a gunsmith. French, Dutch, or British saw to it that the Indians had plenty of arms, and the Indians welcomed white men who could repair them. __Cornplanter was the child of a temporary union, common then between whites and Indians. In Iroquois society the "Nationality" of the mother determined that of her children. Cornplanter was reared as an Indian and an Indian he remained. It is hard to believe that one who had so many contacts with whites never spoke their language, but it apparently is true.__The Native American Indians' hostility was not without cause. In 1790, Cornplanter visited Philadelphia to protest white inroads upon Iroquois lands. In his frustration, he characterized President Washington as a "Town Destroyer," recalling the disastrous effects of the Sullivan expedition upon his people during the Revolution. He pleaded for his people: "Where is the land which our children, and their children after them, are to lie down upon?" they asked. The Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania and Governor Thomas Mifflin listened to Cornplanter's plea and assured him that Indians and their lands would be protected.__The following year President George Washington sent Cornplanter to cultivate Peace and Friendship with the Indians of Ohio and Michigan. Conferences with them on the Ohio and at Painted Post in New York ended in failure. Major General Anthony Wayne's bloody defeat of the Indians in the Battle of Fallen Timbers near Toledo, Ohio, August, 1794, finally convinced the western tribes to end their resistance. Cornplanter, however, was successful in keeping the Iroquois from joining the rebels. __On his numerous visits to New York, Albany and Philadelphia, he discussed religion and education with those who were concerned about his people. During his long stay in Philadelphia in the winter of 1790, he attended Quaker meetings with some regularity. The following year he asked the Quakers to accept his oldest son Henry and two other boys for schooling in Philadelphia, to which they agreed. He also asked the Society of Friends for a Seneca mission:__“We wish our children to be taught the same principles by which your fathers were guided. Brothers! We have too little wisdom among us, and we cannot teach our children what we see their situation requires them to know. We wish them to be taught to read and write, and such other things as you teach your children, especially the love of peace.”__In 1798 the Quakers accepted Cornplanter's invitation to teach his people. He encouraged schools and missions. The Quakers made no attempt to convert, but instead devoted themselves to morals, education, and improved agricultural techniques. With their guidance, his community became a model, with roads, good houses, fences, plowed fields, and more cattle than could well be wintered.__Cornplanter strongly opposed liquor and he was supported in this by his half-brother Handsome Lake, who in 1799 became a religious reformer and a prophet to the Iroquois people. To an extent, the Quakers complemented and influenced Handsome Lake's, "new religion."__After 1812, however, Cornplanter became disillusioned with the Americans. Their increasingly shabby treatment of his people confirmed for him the earlier warning of Handsome Lake that Indian salvation demanded a turning away from white ways and a return to the best Indian tradition. In remorse over his part in assimilating his people to the culture of the white man, Cornplanter burned his military uniform, broke his sword, and destroyed his medals; he closed the schools and dismissed the missionaries. Yet, despite this, he retained his affection for the Quakers, who now settled at Tunesassa, near the Allegany Reservation in New York state. He died at home on the Cornplanter Tract on February 18, 1836. __Cornplanter's descendants and other Indians continued to live on the tract. The community had its own school and its Presbyterian Church. Eventually, however, the population dwindled as residents moved to the adjacent, larger, and related Allegany Reservation of New York.__Residence became largely seasonal and in late 1964 the last inhabitant left, permitting Kinzua Dam to be closed and the reservoir to be flooded. The Cornplanter Indians would no longer call Pennsylvania their home.____
Item Number: 101852