Indians in Stow Township


"Indians in Stow Township" by Henry Wetmore, 1872 (adapted from The Bronson Book)

At that time the line of the present Carriage Road just south of Silver Lake was occupied by a continuous line of Indian huts. This was on a beautiful site, along a sandy ridge. The huts were made generally of poles, caulked with moss and covered with bark. The Indians [probably of the Mingo tribe], squaws and children, numbered in all about 500. Their chief was called Wagmong.

"Fertility of the Virgin Soil"

Immediately upon our arrival the Indians brought us venison and wild fowl. They expected no compensation, as the idea of a money recompense did not enter their minds at that early day, but brought their offerings solely out of friendship. My father [Judge William Wetmore], however, registered the names of each donor in a book. He instructed them to call again, and he would make them some presents.

The new rich soil produced an abundant yield, and the crop proved a mine of wealth to us in our dealings with the red men. All our vegetables were new to them, and a marvel in their estimation. After giving to all who had given to us, Father got them to establish prices. They fixed upon six good turnips or cucumbers for a quarter of venison or a turkey. In making these exchanges, Father added to the vegetables calling the addition a present, thereby securing the friendship of the Indians. In no instance did they steal vegetables from us. By this system we were supplied with meat, fowls and wild fruit in abundance from June, 1804, until the War of 1812, when the red men left us.

Thus we lived in friendship and confidence; never fastening our doors at night, and never molested. During the daytime some of them, or of their squaws or children, were at our house every day more or less. One of the great attractions was our looking glass, all had to go and see it, and make faces in it, and scarce one that did not look behind the glass also. It was a great amusement for us boys.

"He Did Admire that Knife"

We never had but one article stolen from us and that was under circumstances of peculiar temptation. My father had in those days a remarkable knife, with many blades, and including tools for several purposes. An Indian was overcome with temptation and stole it. When the Chief found out he directed four Indians to convey the thief to Father and make him give up the knife. The Indian keenly felt his disgrace, and was ashamed to confront my Father, so persuaded his captors to take him instead to Heman Oviatt in Hudson, where he gave up the knife. That Indian never made his appearance to us afterwards, nor did any of them take the least thing from us.

All went on well with them and us until a short time after the Declaration of War [for the War of 1812] in June 1812. One day Father observed that they did not go out hunting as usual, and soon saw all the adult Indians assembling near the outlet of the Lake, and evidently holding a council. This discovery was at once supposed to be concerning the War, which we had imagined they were ignorant of; but they were not; and I will state how they acquired their knowledge....

[This story is continued in the Bronson Book]