Charles Storer to Timothy Pickering
New-York 4th October 1793.
Captain Ford1 & Lady arrived here yesterday: they left Niagara the 13th ulto & came by the way of Oswego. He gives me some information of things which took place after we left that country, and which, as they probably will be new to you, I herewith communicate them.
He says that Talbot,2 Brant and Shehan3 had arrived at Niagara some days before he sailed: that they informed the Governor, that as soon as the last message was sent to the Council at the Rapids of the Miami,4 a party of Indians was dispatched to Detroit River: they crossed at Brown’s Town, and arrived at Caldwell’s5 the morning after we sailed; and their object was to take our party prisoners, to cut off our noses and ears, & to detain us as hostages, in hopes thereby to obtain their own terms. They further say that it was very fortunate we did not go to the Miami, as once intended; since the Western Indians went armed into Council, and assuredly would have done us mischief. However, that Captain Bunbury had been severely reprimanded by the Governor, for having misconstrued his orders, in the act of refusing to let the vessel sail when the Commissioners desired it. Captain Ford was also told it was his duty to have sailed had the Commissioners insisted upon it. He has promised me a copy of his orders.6
Mr Shehan, in the absence of Colo. Butler, took the direction of the Six Nations: He was therefore early called upon by Colo. McKee to know his mind upon the treaty. He said he went there to treat of peace; that he and the Six Nations were enclined to peace, and should therefore urge it all that lay in their power. In consequence of this he & McKee had a quarrel, and neither he nor Brant were admitted once into the Indian Councils; but were marked out as Yankies. They both have declared to the Governor that the Indians were controuled by advice, & urged on to war; and that McKee and sundry traders were at the bottom of it. The Governor had publicly reprobated the conduct of McKee, and the whole proceedings of the Indians, regretting very much that the mission was successless.
Mr Givens7 also had been severely reprimanded by the Governor for his conduct while with us; & particularly for striking Paine with his drawn sword, on our return to Navy-Hall, for which he was in disgrace.8
Brant & Shehan say, before breaking up of the Council at Miami, the Six Nations were called upon to join in the war: that those present said they must first consult their nations: that they had returned, & that Shehan was gone to Buffaloe Creek to attend the Council. And Ford says that they and the Governor were decidedly for their neutrality. When the council broke up, 3000 Indians went off to strike Wayne. This account is delivered the Governor by Brant, Shehan & Talbot. Captain Ford further adds, that a large party of Western Indians were preparing to attack the Genesee Country: that as soon as the Governor was informed of it, he sent to them positively to forbid it, saying, that as that was the route thro’ which he had intercourse with the states, he would stop all presents, supplies &c. to that nation who should send their warriors into Genesee. This broke up the expedition. Ford says the Governor is extremely provoked at the issue of the treaty, and regrets very much he could not see the Commissioners on their return.
I asked Capt. Ford if he had learned what Welbank’s business was with the Governor. He says that Shehan informs him, that when Welbank returned to Miami, he related to the Indians that he was sent by the Creeks and Cherokees to know if the Governor of Upper Canada would assist the Western Indians against the states; in which case they would continue their war with Governor Blount, & form an extensive league: that Colo. Simcoe had said he had nothing to do in their dispute with Govr Blount; that he would not countenance it; nor would he aid the Western Indians at all against the states. That, however, both had been exchanged between the Creeks, Cherokees & Western Indians; and that Welbank had gone southward.9
Should Captain Ford communicate any thing further, I shall duly forward it to you.
Enclosed is a piece of Canada news, which I cut out of one of their papers on our route. Ford says it was written by some merchant, and not by an officer. Does it not sound something like Macomb?10
I wrote you yesterday, in reply to yours of the first,11 and am sir with due respect yr humble servt
Copy, DLC:GW. The ALS from which this copy was taken is in MHi: Pickering Papers.
1. Pickering placed a footnote at this point: “Captain of the Dunmore, in which we made both passages on Lake Erie. T.P.”
2. Pickering’s footnote at this point reads: “A young officer in Govr Simcoe’s family, & who was sent by him to the council of the Indians at the Miami. T.P.” Thomas Talbot (1771–1853), who was at this time a lieutenant in the British army, was appointed to be John Simcoe’s private secretary in February 1792. He left Canada in 1794 to take up an army promotion, but in 1800, after rising to lieutenant colonel, he sold his commission to return to Canada, where he became an important figure in the settlement of Upper Canada.
3. Pickering’s footnote at this location reads: “An Assistant of Colo. Butler’s, and who attended the same council, as superintendant of the Six Nations. T.P.”
4. This is apparently a reference to the commissioners’ message of 16 Aug. (see ASP, Indian Affairs description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:357).
5. Pickering’s footnote at this point reads: “Half a mile from Elliots, where the Commissioners had quartered—T.P.” Capt. Matthew Elliott (c.1739–1814) was an assistant to Alexander McKee. His residence was near the mouth of the Detroit River. William Caldwell (c.1750–1822), who had been a captain in the Loyalist Butler’s Rangers during the Revolutionary War, was at this time a merchant active in promoting settlement east of the Detroit River. In 1814 he succeeded Elliott as superintendent of Indians for the Western District. Brownstown was a Wyandot town located south of where Marsh Creek enters the Detroit River, in what is now Wayne County, Michigan.
6. For details on this incident, see ASP, Indian Affairs description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:355.
7. Pickering placed a footnote at this point: “Capt. Bunbury & Lieut. Givens were the two British Officers assigned by Govr Simcoe to attend the Commissioners. T.P.” James Givins (Givens; c.1759–1846) was at this time a lieutenant in Simcoe’s regiment, the Queen’s Rangers. In 1797 he was appointed assistant superintendent of Indian affairs for the Home District, and while he continued to serve for a time in the army and later as a militia officer, his main career was in the Indian Department, where he rose to chief superintendent for Upper Canada in 1830.
8. Navy Hall at Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake), Ontario, was a group of barracks erected by the British in 1765 and destroyed during the War of 1812. Simcoe used the site as his residence. John Paine was the cook for the treaty commissioners.
9. For documents about George Welbank’s activities, including two accounts by Simcoe of their meeting, see Philip M. Hamer, “The British in Canada and the Southern Indians, 1790–1794,” East Tennessee Historical Society’s Publications, 2 (1930): 107–34.
10. The enclosure has not been identified. Storer probably was referring to William Macomb (c.1751–1796), a merchant who lived near Detroit and represented the riding of Kent in the Canadian provincial assembly, 1792–96.
11. Storer’s letter to Pickering of 3 Oct. discussed the commissioners’ accounts and the yellow fever at Philadelphia (MHi: Pickering Papers). Pickering’s letter to Storer of 1 Oct. has not been identified, but Pickering quoted a long paragraph about yellow fever from it in his letter to John Clarke of that date (MHi: Pickering Papers).