Middlesex County Ontario Tribal Histories


The Mohawks, one of the tribes composing the Six Nations, were adherents of the British, and in the British service during the American Revolution. They were also known by the French as Agniers. After the war the Mohawks crossed from their temporary home on the American side of the Niagara, and ultimately settled on a tract of land on the Bav of Quinte, purchased from the Mississaugas by the British for them. The Senecas desired that the Mohawks should live nearer to them, and on the latter expressing a desire to accede to the wish of the Senecas, the Government granted them six square miles on Grand River. Their advent to Canada dates back to 1780-1, even before the downfall of the British force under Cornwallis. Brant commanded the whole tribe, with his cousin, John Brant, an older man, second in command. In 1783-4 the tribe wintered at Cataraqui.

Thayendinagea was the original Indian name of the chief, Joseph Brant. He was born on the banks of the Ohio in 1742, where his father, Tchowaghwengaraghkwin, a full-blooded Mohawk of the Wolf Tribe, held sway; but Soieugarahta old King Hendrick was the great chief whom Joseph Brant succeeded. John Brant, chief of the Six Nations, died of cholera, at Brantford, Aug. 27, 1832. He was the son of the Indian Chief Brant, who died Nov. 24, 1807, while his squaw retired to Grand River, where she also died. His annual pay and perquisites, granted him by the British for his service against the Americans, amounted to 500 annually.

John Smoke Johnson, a Mohawk chief, who aided the British in 1812-14, died in 1886, aged 94 years.


After a part of the Oneidas ceded their lands near Oneida Lake, N. Y., in 1829 or 1830, they migrated westward in charge of two Church of England missionaries Davis and Williams. They settled near Green Bay. In 1840, the remainder of their lands was sold, and coming to Canada they purchased 5,000 acres in Delaware township, where Moses Schuyler was a chief, and Taylor Dockstader, a large fanner, in 1850. In 1871 this band numbered 641; in 1881, 688, and in 1887, 775. Their reservation comprises 5,000 acres in Delaware Township, purchased by them about 1838, and held in trust for them by the Government. Of their four schools, one is presided over by a white female teacher, and the others by natives. The Oneidas belong to the second division of the Western Superintendency, of which Thomas Gordon is agent.


The Munceys originally belonged to Pennsylvania, and were among the tribes with whom Penn’s memorable, though unwritten, treaty was made. From this time until the year 1757 they lived quietly under British rule. In the series of conflicts which then took place between the English and French troops, the Munceys invariably fought under the English flag despite all overtures made to them by the French. By a treaty made between them and Sir William Johnston, commander of the British forces at Fort Johnson in 1757, these Indians were promised in return for their alliance, the protection of the “Great King George the Third” against all their enemies; that their material interests should be continuously looked after, and the possession of their lands guaranteed to them. The Indians, on their part, agreed to “rise up as one man, and assist His Majesty’s arms in driving the French out of the country.” It is upon this treaty, and the promises it contained, the Munceys now rely. The Munceys kept their promises, and when the Revolutionary War broke out some years later were moved by their allies to undisturbed British soil. Colonel Sir William Butler, then commanding the Royal troops, having said to them on that occasion, that King George III would replace their losses in Canada. Grants of land were made to all the friendly Indians except to the Munceys and the Shawanees. The former ultimately settled on the Grand River, till their services were called for on the outbreak of the War of 1812, when they fought under Tecumseh. When peace was proclaimed, the claims of the Munceys (now only a remnant of a tribe) were again overlooked, but they were allowed to wander at will. Finally they settled where they now are, on land belonging to the Otchipwas, who allowed them to remain there temporarily. Some years later the land was purchased of the Otchipwas by the Canadian Government, but the Munceys have been in possession down to the present time. The reservation is about seven miles in length, forming an irregular square, and is now intercepted by two railways – the main line of the Canada Southern, and a loop line of the Grand Trunk.

In 1881-1882 the question of evicting the whole tribe was discussed by the Otchipwas and carried to such extremes that Half Moon, an educated youth, was deputed to visit Philadelphia in search of evidence to sustain their claims, and the second chief of the tribe, who was also their schoolmaster, to go to England and urge them before the Queen. Half Moon, however, died, but the Quakers of the city found the records, and the delegate, Wahbunahkee, who called himself Scebie Logan, was sent to England. He is a broad shouldered fellow of five-and-twenty, a full-blooded Indian, having descended from Muncey and Mohican parents. In appearance he possesses all the most marked characteristics of the red race, including the heavy gait which appears so prominent if European costume is worn, but ceases to be apparent in Indian costume. He was educated at the Mohawk Institute at Brantford, Ontario, and was elected second chief of the Munceys in April, 1881, his selection being on account of his education which was superior to that of most Indians, and of his being a total abstainer from the destructive fire-water. Besides being a school-master, he was a substantial farmer. The historic tomahawk, which was carried by their chief through many a battle, and hung in the wigwam’s smoke for many a year, was to be presented to the Queen. In March, 1883, a deputation from the Munceys visited Ottawa, to ask the Government’s assistance in settling their dispute with the Otchipwas. In 1886, Inspector Dingman suggested that the Munceys should be left in possession of their lands, except 498 acres. This area was to be detached in fifty acre tracts from the holdings of James Huff, Jacob Dolson, Jacob, Joseph and Scebie Logan, Nellis, Timothy, the heirs of widow Wilson, and W. Waddilove, thirty-eight acres from the lands of James Wolf, Sampson, John, and Richard Wilson, and seventy acres from James Wolf. The Indians protested. In 1871 the Munceys numbered 130; in 1881, 129, and in 1887, 125. Their single school is presided over by a white teacher.


Six families of Pottawattamies, and three families of half-breeds, who live on this reserve, are not enumerated in the census and tabular statement, as they do not belong to either of the bands owning it, although they are located on the land they occupy. These families, numbering twenty souls, make the number of Indians within the agency 1,378.

Otchipwa or Chippewa

The Otchipwas, or Chippewas, are, according to Bishop Baraga, a branch of the Algonquin race. They were inhabitants of Nippissing and Lake Superior region before the historic period, and have, since that time, been associated with the Upper Lake country. The name was first given to a band of Nippercineans, and ultimately was applied to all speakers of the Nippercinean language, who, in 1649, fell back on Lake Superior before the advancing Iroquois, just as the Bone Cave Builders fell back before the Nippercineans. Their dialect was the most refined of all the Indian tongues, and won the praise of the great French students who visited their villages. Such historic names as Mudjekeewis, Wanbojug, Andaigweos, and Gitchee Waiskee were applied to the early chiefs, who kept the tribal fire burning perpetually. The first war within the historic period was waged against the Upper Nippercilleans by the Menominees, who dammed the mouth of Menominee River, and thus abolished the upper sturgeon fisheries. The war raged from 1627 to 1648 without intermission, and the feud was carried down even to 1857. Their war against the Sauks began about 1519, and continued until nearly the whole of Michigan and Canada, from Erie to Nippissing, bore marks of the strife. Nawassiswanabi succeeded the first chief of the Otchipwas of the Thames. Tomaco, the next chief of importance, was an uncle of the present Nelson Beaver, on his father’s side. In 1812, those Indians served with Tecumseh against the Americans. Old Simon, Yahobance, Miskokoman, Jim Muskalonge, Kanotaing, Jim Carey or Bakakadus, and other warriors, are well known names connected with the war and with this tribe, the present Nelson Beaver being born within a half mile of Lambeth, in 1819. At this time the tribe was uncivilized, but believed in one ruling spirit who would take them west to the happy hunting grounds, where huckleberries grew, the bad Indians falling off a log into a deep river.

In 1851, the Otchipwas possessed 9,000 acres in Caradoc. At Upper Muncey or Colborne, at Old Munceytown, and at Bear Creek, on the north line of the reservation, were their settlements. The Munceys settled among the Otchipwas since the beginning of the present century, and shared in the presents annually made to the Otchipwas, but not in the annual payment of £600. At Upper Muncey, John Riley was Chief and Peter Jones was Methodist Missionary. In 1840, Rev. R. Flood was appointed Missionary at Old Muncey, and later a church house was erected there. Logan was Chief at this time.

The Otchipwas of the Thames, in 1871, numbered 470; in 1881, 483, and in 1887, 458. With the Munceys they occupy the Caradoc Reserve. The reserve is composed of the best land in the Township of Caradoc, and contains 12,095 acres. A very large proportion of the waste land belonging to this band has been leased by the Department to white farmers for a short term of years, under conditions of paying a certain rental, and improving the land by clearing it, making good fences and ditching. The work already done by these lessees has made a marked improvement. Agent Gordon, in his report of 1887, states: “There are three schools upon the reserve, all taught by Indian teachers. Ihe attendance at these schools is not so numerous as could be wished. Indians are careless, and often indifferent in sending their children to The teachers state that they have done all in their power to get children to attend, but with indifferent success. The three teachers are very exemplary men; one of them is head chief of the band, another is chief of the Indians of Ontario, chosen at the last meeting of the Grand Council, and the third teacher was lately head the Munceys of the Thames. The new Council house upon Reserve is just finished, and appears to be a very fine building indeed. It is built of brick with stone foundation, and is 60 by 35 feet. Much credit is due to the contractor for the manner in which the work was done. The Church of England and the Methodist Church of Canada have also each a mission on this reserve. Dr. Sinclair, of Melbourne, is their medical adviser, and appears to be very attentive to them.

The Mount Elgin Industrial Institution, under the able management of the Rev. W. W. Shepherd, continues to do good work. The children in school and in the workshops are making very good progress.”


W. A. & C. L. Goodspeed. History of the County of Middlesex, Ontario: from the earliest time to the present, containing an authentic account of many important matters relating to the settlement, progress and general history of the county, and including a department devoted to the preservation of personal and private records, etc. London: W. A. & C. L. Goodspeed, Publishers, 1889.

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