Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Little Taste Of History (35)

Topic: Selected Indians of New York State #2

Henry O'Bale

Henry O 'Bale, Gas-so- wah-doh, * was a son of Cornplanter and was also born at Canawaugus. He was generally addressed as Major O'Bale. In person he was a portly and fine looking, and his manners were not without polish. He was placed at school in New Jersey by Benjamin Bouton, and graduated at Dartmouth, college. He was somewhat boastful of his courage. In early times, while at the Mansion house in Avon, some question arose one day between him and Doctor Ensworth. O 'Bale was told that nothing short of a duel would adjust the matter. The ground was paced off, and principals and seconds took their places. Word was given and O'Bale fired. The Doctor reserved his charge and walking close up to his opponent fired point blank at his heart. O'Bale, supposing himself shot, fell into the arms of his second, but recovered on learning that the pistols had been loaded with blank charges, a fact of which the Doctor had been duly apprised. While not wanting in honesty, O'Bale's business transactions were not always marked by that scrupulous promptitude so agreeable to early merchants. Colonel Lyman had trusted O'Bale for goods and went down to Canawaugus to remind him that the debt was past due. "Oh, yes," said the Major, "I will pay you at once. Mr. Hosmer owes me. You know him of course, and I '11 go to him and get the money." He went, but forgot to return, and, after two or three similar attempts, the debt was earned to loss account. Of his advantages of parentage and education the Major did not fully avail himself. He was fond of the Genesee country and was one of the last of the natives to quit this region.

Handsome Lake

Handsome Lake, Ga-nyu-da-i-yuh, the Peace Prophet, was a half-brother of Cornplanter, as already stated.He stood high with his people both as a medicine-man and a spiritual guide. Mr. Horsford was told of a young Indian girl of Squakie Hill, who was cured by him of a dangerous illness. All remedies failing, the friends despatched a runner to the Prophet, with the clothes of the afflicted squaw. He took them, laid a handful of tobacco upon the fire, and, as it burned, offered an address to the Great Spirit. After a moment's silence he observed, looking at the clothes, "This affliction is a punishment to her for wickedly drowning a nest of young robins, and, a few hours later, for repeating the offence. Two young deer must be killed — a yearling buick and yearling doe — the whole of both must be boiled at once and the entire village be called to the feast, and then to dance." Some days were spent in finding the deer, when the directions of the Prophet were complied with, and the girl recovered at once. In person the Prophet was of medium size, of goodly presence, and of modest and quiet demeanor.

Little Beard

Little Beard, Si-gwa-ah-doh-gwih, resided at the town to which he gave his name. He was noted both as a warrior and councilor, and for great firmness and zeal, and, though not an orator, was a fluent talker. Physically, he was a favorable specimen of the Indian chieftain, rather below the medium size, yet straight and firm. In faith a pagan, he always awarded respectful attention to the views of Christian teachers. Border annals show how fierce hia nature was, yet, after the
Revolution, he proved friendly to the pioneers and was esteemed by them for his good faith. No Indian was better informed, none more sociable than he, and with none could an hour be more profitably spent. He conversed with good sense on the events of the colonial wars, and the future of his nice, and though it is a fact well established that he not only consented to the death of the scouts, Boyd and Parker, and quite likely suggested the exquisite tortures to which these devoted soldiers were subjected, yet, it must be recollected, he was chief of the village menaced by Sullivan's army. Moreover, he took these two men in the act of securing information that would enable the American General to march directly to the destruction of his peoples' homes, possibly to put to death any of them who chanced to fall into his hands, facts which serve to mitigate, perhaps, though by no means to excuse this act of almost unparalleled barbarity. In a drunken quarrel at the old Stimson tavern in Leicester, in 1806, Little Beard was thrown from the outer door, and, falling upon the steps, received an injury from which, as he was advanced in years, he shortly died. The great eclipse, which occurred soon after his death, filled the Indians with superstitious fears. The manner of his taking off could not but give him offence, the natives thought, and they imagined he was about to darken the sun", so that their corn could not grow. The hunters assembled and shot arrows and bullets at the obscured luminary, while others screamed, shouted, and drummed, until the brightness was fully restored. (20)

Sources Utilized to Document Information

Contact: miriammedina@earthlink.net or miriam@thehistorybox.com

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