CAPT. MONTOUR, sometimes called Andrew, and sometimes Henry, was a most valuable ally to the English in the perilous days on the border that preceded the founding of Pittsburgh and the decade succeeding. We have his name in an obscure alleyway in this city, but the state and county have done better in commemorating him and his equally loyal mother, as noted in last Sunday's story in The Gazette Times.
William M. Darlington's account of the life and services of Capt. Montour ends with 1769. Personal descriptions are always interesting. Pictures we have not of any of the Montours. Zinzendorf, the Moravian missionary and historian, met Capt. Montour first in 1742 at Shamokin (now Sunbury).
Montour was then quite a young man. It will be noted that Mme. Montour was a half-breed and Montour's father an Oneida chieftain, so that Montour was three-quarters Indian blood. Zinzendorf's description is therefore somewhat surprising.
His caste of countenance is decidedly European and had not his face been encircled with a broad band of paint, applied with bear's fat, I would certainly have taken him for one. He wore a brown broadcloth coat, a scarlet damaskeen lappel waistcoat, breeches over which his shirt hung, a black Cordovan neckerchief, decked with silver bugles, shoes and stockings, and a hat.
Earrings of Wire.
His ears were hung with pendants of brass and other wires plaited together like the handles of a basket.
He was very cordial, but on addressing him in French he, to my surprise, replied in English.
However incongruous we consider Montour's raiment it was undoubtedly such as to inspire admiration among the savages with whom he dwelt and also to meet the Indian love of finery as strong in Montour as in any brave.
Andrew Montour by permission of the provincial authorities located in what is now Perry county, Pa., a small stream there being called Montour's Run for him. He evidently did not remain long, for soon after, or in May, 1752, he was present at a treaty at Logstown with Col. Joshua Fry, L. Lomax and James Patten, commissioners from Virginia.
On this Mission, Montour had permission from the governor of Pennsylvania. Christopher Gist and George Croghan were also present. Joshua Fry was George Washington's superior officer in the regiment raised from Virginia in the campaign against Fort Duquesne in 1754, and whose death gave Washington the command he had in the operations in that year.
Montour's Indian name was Sattelihu. To enumerate all the treaties at which he officiated would make a long list. He was well appreciated.
We read that for his services with the Virginia commissioners at Logstown, the Ohio company passed a resolution to "allow him 30 pistols for his trouble at Logstown in May last, on account of the company, and that if he will remove to Virginia and settle on the company's lands, and use his influence with the Indians to encourage and forward our settlements, that the company will make him a present of one thousand acres of land to live on, and will make him a legal title to the same."
Thirty pistols would be $108.
Indians Choose Montour.
The next year, 1753, the Iroquois about the Ohio chose Montour as one of their counsellors to the great council of the federation at Onondaga, and observed all the forms of ceremony usual on admitting members of the council.
Montour, it will be seen, was more of an Indian than a white in that his tribal relations continued notwithstanding his affiliations with the whites.
He visited the council house on several occasions on missions from the Virginia and Pennsylvania authorities by reasons of the attempts of both the French and English to open up, or occupy the Ohio country, the Iroquois being averse to this, and wishing both nations to quit the country and not even build forts.
We have records of Montour being present with Capt. Trent at the forks of the Ohio (our Point) in August, 1753. At this time, Trent viewed the ground and selected a spot where a fort should be built. John Frazer, the English trader at the mouth of Turtle Creek, speaks of Trent on this occasion as present with "French Andrew."
In January of that year Croghan recorded in his journal, which he sent to Gov. Morris of Pennsylvania:
Arrived at Tortle [sic] Creek, about eight miles from the forks of the Monongahela, where I was informed by John Frazer, an Indian trader, that Mr. Washington, who was sent by the governor of Virginia to the French camps, had returned.
Croghan recited the facts of Washington's eventful journey to the French forts as we know them and closed the account with the remark:
This is all I heard of Washington's journey worth relating to your Honor.
On January 13 Croghan relates that he arrived at Shannopin's Town (about Thirty-third street, in Pittsburgh), and there met Mr. Montour and Mr. Patten. The next day they arrived at Logstown and found the Indians all drunk and the three were immediately made prisoners by the Shawanese. Croghan, a born diplomat, explained that some Shawanese who had been imprisoned "at Carolina," meaning in that colony, had been released and Croghan had two of them in his own company.
The Shawanese had been extremely solicitous about these prisoners and became appeased at once, releasing Croghan and his companions; otherwise, he relates, "it might have been of very ill consequence at this time."
Emissaries from the French were at Logstown at this time, and with the Indians continually drunk for more than two weeks, the predicament of Croghan and his companions was most unenviable.
Shingiss, the half-king; Newcomer and Delaware George were there, and evidently with the most "say," for the half-king addressed Croghan. "Onas" was the Indian name for Penn, literally a feather or quill. The name "Onas" applied to any representative of the Penns. He said:
Brother Onas—We return you our hearty thanks for the trouble you have taken in sending for our poor relations, the Shawanese, and with these four strings of wampum we clear your eyes and hearts that you may see your brothers, the Shawanese as you used to do.
Continuing with much more palaver and pow-wow, from which it will appear that even the Delawares had poor relations that were a source of trouble, and they were most certainly to the English later.
English Get Away.
However, at the end of the month Croghan and his companions got away, Shingiss assuring them that he was glad to see his brethren of one mind and that he lived "by the riverside which is the French road," and he assured them that he would neither go down nor up, but would move nearer his brethren, the English, where he could keep his women and children safe from the enemy—and in testimony gave three strings of wampum.
This is an example of border treaty-making and the difficulties under which the emissaries of the provinces labored in dealing with the tribes about the forks. Even cool, crafty Croghan had need of men like Montour, men to be depended on in any emergency.
The Indians had taken back the permission to settle along the Ohio, and then there was another treaty—this time at Winchester, Va., between Col. Lord Thomas Fairfax and 80 chiefs and warriors, who were received with due ceremony. Gist, Trent, Croghan and Montour were present. This was in September, 1753.
Montour was the interpreter, and very efficient in arranging the business in hand.
The Iroquois, Overlent, Scarrooyady, also called Monacafoocha, while objecting to settlement, then asked for a "strong house" or fort to store their goods in, and were told they should have one and the Virginia authorities would supply them with ammunition to defend themselves against the French. Croghan, Trent and Montour saw to its distribution. The Iroquois were inimical to the French.
From Winchester the Indians went to Carlisle where thy met the Pennsylvania Commissioners, Richard Peters, Isaac Norris and Benjamin Franklin, and another conference ensued, the chiefs having been encouraged and solicited to treat by Montour.
The "Strong House."
This conference lasted four days, the Indians repeating their determination expressed at Winchester not to permit settlements west of the mountains. They thought the strong house the governor of Virginia intended to build on the Ohio would occasion the Governor of Canada to invade their country.
The Indians appeared to be in doubt as to the "strong house." They were firm in opposition to the settlement. The strong house was begun and the French came as they feared.
Scarrooyady, who was an Oneida, and Montour a half-Oneida, one-quarter Huron and the rest French, could easily understand each other in all things. The chief said at Carlisle:
That you may believe that what Andrew Montour says to be true between the Six Nations and you; they have made him one of their counsellors and a great man among them and love him dearly
The Six Nations usually spoke of their confederacy thus—the French and history, following the French, usually say the Iroquois.
Montour was close to Washington, who sent for Montour to meet him "at Ohio," that is at the site of Pittsburgh. In 1754 Montour apprised the Pennsylvania authorities of the immediate necessity of sending men and arms to join the Indian allies to resist the impending French invasion.
Ensign Ward, about to complete Trent's fort at "The Forks," was compelled to desist and give up that project, on April 17, 1754, by Contrecoeur with his overwhelming French force that came down the Allegheny.
Following this setback to English dominion, Croghan and Montour sought out Washington on the Monongahela, and finding him continued with him until the surrender at Fort Necessity July 3. They joined his forces June 9.
Montour Is Active.
Montour there commanded a mixed force of whites and Indians under Washington.
Montour continued active during the summer of that year with Weiser, Croghan, Scarrooyady and other Indians, in efforts to counteract the effects of the French invasion of the Ohio country.
The year 1755 was a most memorable one. That was Braddock's year. May 20 Braddock wrote Gov. Morris that he had engaged between 40 and 50 Indians to go over the mountains and that he would take Croghan and Montour into service. Montour, Scarrooyady and seven other Indians remained with Braddock and were present in the battle of July 9, usually known as "Braddock's Defeat."
Scarrooyady's son was killed and the chief commented with great severity on the pride and ignorance of the British general. This was in Philadelphia at a conference in August, 1755, Montour, Weiser and a few Indians being present.
Throughout that year with the chieftain named, Montour was active and zealous in gaining intelligence of French movements and in warning settlers of danger, notably John Harris at Harris Ferry, now Harrisburg.
During 1756 Montour was engaged in missions and was frequently among hostiles with Scarroyady. Gov. Morris took charge of Montour's children. He had a daughter among the Delawares, named Madelina, who was sent for and taken in care. Three children were already in Philadelphia to be independent of their mother.
Montour had a boy of 12, also, by a former wife, a Delaware, and he, too, became a ward of the province.
In the "Items of Accounts" for the year 1758 by votes of assembly, appears the name John Montour. This was the same individual who afterward lived on Montours Island in the Ohio, and who claimed it, the island since being called Neville Island. He is said to have died there in 1830.
The colonial records of New York are frequent in mention of Andrew Montour during the year 1756. Croghan was there, too, and both in close touch with Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian affairs for the Crown, and Montour was in active service at the relief of Fort Edward.
Montour continued active during 1757 under the same authority. Croghan was along with him, as deputy agent for Indian affairs. The two were at the treaty at Easton, Pa., in October with the Six Nations and Gov. Denny of Pennsylvania.
This treaty made Croghan and Montour again set out for the Ohio. They met Christian Frederick Post at Saukon, the Indian town at the mouth of the Beaver River.
We find this name variously spelled, Judge Agnew calling it Saukonk. It was a Delaware town.
Post had been at Kush-Kush-King—now New Castle. Post had a most perilous trip and a full account of it is in his second journal. November 29, 1758, he records that he visited Mr. Croghan and his company at "Sawkung." This is another spelling.
Indians [sic] names seem to have been spelled phonetically and each writer had his way.
King Beaver, Shingiss, his brother, and other chiefs and warriors of the Delawares were informed that Fort Duquesne was no more and that the forks were then in possession of the English forces under Gen. Forbes, and had been since the twenty-fourth.
Camp on the Island.
December 2 the party reached Logstown, and the next day got to Smoky Island, opposite the Point in the Allegheny, also known as Kilbuck's Island, which gradually washed away. The party was obliged to camp on the island. Late on December 4 the party got over on rafts; the weather was inclement with snow, and the river was running with ice. Montour, Croghan and Col. John Armstrong held conferences that day with Col. Bouquet as recorded in our Pennsylvania Archives, Col. Bouquet having remained.
On December 3, 1758, Post records that while he waited, he observed the general (Forbes) march off from Pittsburgh, which fixes the date of Forbes' departure. The party on the island had a cold and hungry time.
Croghan made his headquarters now at the new Fort Pitt, and we begin to find accounts of treaties with the "tribes of the Ohio" and Col. Hugh Mercer, commander at the fort, begins to figure in our history; also Capt. William Trent and Capt. Thomas McKee, and among the various chiefs, Guyasuta (Mr. Darlington's spelling, the name preserved in his home above Sharpsburg).
We begin also to find Montour of record as "Capt. Henry Montour, interpreter." So in Rupp's "History of Western Pennsylvania and the West."
In Darlington's biography of Montour, we find the lines:
"Captain Thomas McKee, Captain Henry; Montour interpreter."
This at the great conference at Fort Pitt lasting from July 4 to July 11, 1759.
The importance of accurate punctuation becomes apparent and the question arises: Did William Kaufman of Pittsburgh, who printed Rupp's book, run the words "Capt. Henry" and "Montour" together by omitting a comma, or have the printers of Mr. Darlington's book followed copy or punctuated to suit their ideas?
We read in Post's second journal that Andrew Montour and Croghan were with him on Smoky Island December 3, 1758, and the next day they were in conference with Bouquet. Post uses the same designation. This is verbatim in Rupp's history.
A few pages after in the same book, containing both of Post's journals, we find Appendix No. XII, where Rupp furnishes the heading "Bouquet's Conference With the Indians," referring to the Delawares at the new Pittsburgh. This was on December 4, and Rupp notes at the head of the account of the proceedings:
Present—Col. Armstrong and several officers; George Croghan, deputy agent to Sir William Johnson, Capt. Henry Montour, interpreter.
Post called him Andrew, these records say Henry. He was the only Montour present on December 4, 1758, and the presumption of Charles A. Hanna that Andrew and Henry Montour, or Capt. Montour, are the same person is good. Some one is certainly called by two names in the two records of the same transactions.
In the minutes of the conferences recorded by Rupp at Fort Pitt in October, 1759, we find:
Present—His Excellency, Brigadier General Stanwix, with sundry gentlemen of the army, George Croghan, deputy agent to the honorable Sir William Johnson, baronet, Captain William Trent, Captain Thomas McKee, Assistants to George Croghan, Captain Henry Montour, Interpreter.
Pipe of Peace Smoked.
We are told that Capt. Montour (the title a right one) "lit the pipe of peace left here by the warriors of the Ottawas, handing it to Gen. Stanwix and the other officers of the army and the Indians to smoke, then acquainted the Indians by whom the pipe was left and upon what occasion, showing them the belts of wampum left at the same time."
The next year, on August 12, we read that Gen. Monckton held a conference at the "camp before Pittsburgh, and with the Western Indians, and Darlington records:
Captain Andrew Montour, Interpreter, George Croghan, Deputy Agent.
And this is in the same paragraph as the line:
Captain Henry, Montour, Interpreter.
The judgment to be taken is that a comma is not to be trifled with.
We find records of Montour with Croghan at the siege of Detroit, and 20 Indians, Six Nations, Shawanese and Delawares, under Capt. Montour. Detroit surrendered November 29, 1760.
Maj. Rogers, commanding the successful expedition, with Montour and some Indians set off December 8 to capture Mackinaw. After proceeding 90 miles by Lake Huron, it froze and without snow shoes the Indians would not proceed overland, so the mortified Rogers was compelled to return to Detroit.
Gov. Hamilton formally appointed Montour state interpreter for Pennsylvania in 1762.
During Pontiac's War, his services were again of inestimable value. He was a scout that always had reliable news.
In 1764 we have records of Montour under direction of Sir William Johnson, with a body of 200 Indians, Six Nations and a few rangers, punishing hostile Delawares and Shawanese near the forks of the Ohio and also along the Susquehanna. some of these captured Indians were confined at Albany, and others were distributed among the friendly Indians to supply the place of lost relatives—an Indian custom.
Name in Doubt.
In the mention of the conference at Fort Pitt, April 26, 1768, Darlington records: "'Henry [sic] Montour, interpreter," thus expressing doubt, and in the next paragraph states that Andrew Montour was one of the interpreters of the great congress with the Indians at Fort Stanwix, beginning October 24, a great day in Pennsylvania history.
He also tells of a tract of land at the junction of Loyalsock Creek on the Susquehanna that was surveyed in November, 1769, for Andrew Montour and called "Montour's Reserve," and that "Henry" Montour claimed and built a house near Fort August, near Sunbury, the tract containing 600 acres.
"Andrew" or "Henry" or "Captain," there was a Montour here who had much to do with our history and undoubtedly the same person and we commemorate a man of sterling worth and mostly Indian at that.