The Deaths of Boyd & Parker

The Boyd-Parker killings have stoked moral outrage and controversy. On the one hand, they were killed, if not tortured, in captivity, and their bodies left and found in a mutilated state. On the other hand, Boyd's scouting party meant to locate the Seneca capital - the Iroquois Western Door - and burn it down. They were killed on or about September 14 or 15th; at a time soon before Little Beard's Town was totally destroyed on September 15th. Analysts disagree on whether they were disfigured before or after their actual deaths. Boyd and Parker are the only victims of the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, white or red, who are so individually as well as publicly memorialized. (Note: There's this park near Cuylerville, plus a Monument at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester and the Ambuscade at Groveland.)

This shows part of Boyd-Parker Memorial Park and the "Torture Tree." The monument plaque mentions that Little Beard's Town, the Seneca capital, was once here...

This expresses the conflict among interpretations...


Topic Under Development / Watch this Space

Posted by sullivan at 09:19 AM | Comments (7)

Salt in the Wounds: The Mines at Little Beard's Town

On March 12, 1994, a section of the massive 6,000-acre Retsof salt mine collapsed under Cuylerville. Underground water flooded the mines, threatening wells and the underlying aquifer. The collapse allowed an underground lake of groundwater to enter the mine. Upwards of 20,000 gallons per minute was rushing into the mine, along with toxic gases. On September 2, 1995, the new mine owner - a giant Dutch multinational, Akzo Nobel - finally closed the mine under sustained public pressure. But monitoring continues to the present day...

Note: See for a fine summary thru 1999.

Click to see one section of the sink hole...

In 1999, after years of controversy, Akzo seemed to withdraw from plans to further develop the derelict Retsof mine. Also, a new mine was started up in the nearby Hampton Corners area by a consortium called American Rock Salt. Its construction, however, was hotly contested from 1995 by a host of civic and enivromental action groups as well as by the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. At issue was the likely presence of Seneca burial remains at the intended mine site. Native Americans staged a demonstration at Hampton Corners in August, 1995; and a larger protest in September. This was the very month that Little Beard's Town - the former Seneca capital which once stood on these sites - was burned by the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign...

On December 11, New York's Appellate Division Court dismissed the environmentalist appeal and blasted open the way for the mine construction.

Click to see the new mine...

Then, late in 1998, the concerns of Indian mine opponents eventually proved out. In December, human bones ranging between 1,500 and 3,000 years of age were turned up at the new mine site. In March of 1999, more remains were unearthed. While Indian leaders insisted that ancestral remains not be touched, mine officals demanded that these should not prevent a railroad spur needed for mining operations...

Most recently, in early 2004, brine was detected rising in the collapse area; and, as before, poses a potential threat to the aquifer and local water supply, at least for private wells. Hidden in plain sight of most passing motorists, the resulting sink hole still festers: there, at the former Little Beard's Town, the once epicenter of Seneca life and site of the Iroquois' Western Door.

My ancestors were laid in the ground there 200 years ago, and some maybe even longer... I don't want them dug up.

Peter Jemison
Speech At Geneseo Central School
Quoted in The Clarion
Geneseo, New York
January 1995

“Nobody imposed this (the development of a plan) on us. We’re working on a problem that hasn’t become catastrophic. We’re trying to fend it off."... The company’s goal is to “not let the tragedy of the mine collapse and water fill-up continue... This is the last vestige.”

Ken Payment
Attorney for Akzo Nobel
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
February 10, 2004

Click to see the salted earth...

The company evaluated three options for disposing of the brine before deciding that the desalination and processing of the water and the salt into usable products was the “most viable option due to cost, needs and sustainability,” according to the plan’s executive summary. ...The other options considered were discharging the brine into the Genesee River or trucking it to an off-site facility.

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
February 10, 2004


To be continued...

Posted by sullivan at 09:17 AM | Comments (9)

Sullivan-Clinton: A Strategy of Starvation?

The entries that follow address this terrible question...

Provision is scarce with us, owing to our having been at Fort Stanwick &ca by which means our Corn, which is our Chief support, was neglected.

Council, Niagara
December 1777

The object will be effectually to chastise and intimidate the hostile nations; to cut off their settlements, destroy their next year's crop, and do them every other mischief which time and circumstances will permit.

George Washington
Letter to General Gates/
Forwarded to Gen. Sullivan
February 25, 1779

Click to see Washington's image in 1779...

The Indians in this part of the Country are so ill off for Provisions that many of them have nothing to subsist upon but the roots and greens which they gather in the woods.

Major John Butler (English)
Letter to Colonel Bolton (English)
May 1779

Although there was last Fall a considerable quantity of Cattle in the Indian Country, these have been chiefly consumed by the Indians themselves. It is well known that they never raise more Corn, Pulse and things of that kind which compose the principal part of their food than will just suffices for their own subsistence… [Many had not] had an ear of corn the whole winter and were obliged to live such as had them upon Cattle, [and] such as had not Cattle upon Roots.

Major John Butler (English)
Letter to Colonel Mason Bolton (English Commander at Ft. Niagara)
July 1779

September 15th. This day was spent in destroying corn which had become so ripe that we were obliged to burn it in the kilns. Some corn-stalks were seventeen feet long. The whole army was employed, but at 3 o'clock we faced to the right about. A most joyful day!

Major Jeremiah Fogg (Yankee)
Eyewitness Journal of the Campaign
Little Boyd's Town
September 15, 1779

…But the Indians not being supported [by English/Loyalist reinforcements] as they expected, thought of nothing more than carrying off their Families, and we had at this Post the 21st of last month [September, 1779] 5036 to supply with Provisions, and notwithstanding a number of Parties have been sent out since, we have still on the ground 3678 to maintain – I am convinced Your Excellency will not be surprised, if I am extremely alarmed, for to support such a multitude I think will be absolutely impossible.

Col. Mason Bolton (English Commander at Ft. Niagara)
Letter to Gen. Haldimand (English Commander for N. America)
Fort Niagara, New York
October 2, 1779

The snow fell about five feet deep, and remained so for a long time, and the weather was extremely cold; so much so indeed, that almost all the game upon which the Indians depended for subsistence, perished, and reduced them almost to a state of starvation through that and three or four succeeding years. When the snow melted in the spring, deer were found dead upon the ground in vast numbers; and other animals, of every description, perished from the cold also, and were found dead, in multitudes. Many of our people barely escaped with their lives, and some actually died of hunger and freezing.

Mary Jemison
Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison
November 1823

Their health was destroyed; without proper food and shelter they became susceptible to famine and disease; the ensuing winter was the coldest on record and many of the Indians froze and starved and died of disease.

Allan W. Eckert, Historian
Author of The Wilderness War

Sullivan was entering Indian country so late in the season [1779] that the crops he destroyed could not possibly be replaced by a new planting… The winter of 1779-80 was one of the most bitter in the memory of those then living. For a long while, a five-foot-deep snow covered the ground and the temperature remained well below freezing. So severe was the weather that deer and other animals perished in large numbers. Indians out hunting had much difficulty in obtaining even a small amount of game to feed their families. Not only had their crops been destroyed by the Americans, but even nature seemed to have conspired against them. The sufferings of the Iroquois were intense that winter, and numbers of them succumbed to freezing and starvation. Had the Americans been aware of the true condition of these people they might have seen the hand of the Almighty in their sufferings.

Barbara Graymont, Historian
Author of The Iroquois in the American Revolution

Today, when they're doing road work in the area [the Ft. Niagara vicinity], they're still uncovering Indian bodies from that winter.

Timothy T. Shaw
Resident & Historian
Western New York
Spring 2004

Posted by sullivan at 09:15 AM | Comments (3)

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