His style of living was plain and his industry great.
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His figure was robust and his deportment manly, and commanding. Yet he made himself very friendly and familiar among the people, with whom he mingled in their rustic sports, and speedily became popular. Young Johnson likewise succeeded, beyond all other men, in winning the confidence and affection of the Mohawk Indians, whose most con- siderable town, Dyiondarogon, was but a few miles distant. His trade with them speedily became considerable and the spirit of enterprise which was to rapidly raise him to fortune, was manifested in a letter which he sent to his uncle in , and in which he spoke of opening a trading house in the settlement of the Six Nations on the Susquehanna river some two hundred miles south.
William Stone in writing of him in says:. From the subordinate station of an agent in charge of the landed prop- erty of his relative, he became successively a farmer, a dealer in peltries, a merchant, a government contractor, a general in the armies of his adopted country, and a baronet of the British realm possessed of an estate of great value, and transcending in extent the broadest domains of the nobles of his parent land.
The hero alike of veritable history and romance, his actual career being withal more romantic by far than any of the tales which the writers of fiction have succeeded in inventing for him. She always regarded herself as married to the Baronet after the Indian fashion. The story current at the time, was that she was a very sprightly and beautiful Indian girl of about sixteen, when he first saw her at a regimental muster.
One of the field officers coming near Molly on a prancing steed, by way of banter she asked permission to mount behind him. Not supposing she could perform the exploit he said she might. At the word she leaped upon the crupper with the agility of a gazelle. The horse sprang off at full speed, and, clinging to the officer, her blanket flying, and her dark tresses streaming in the wind, she flew about the parade ground to the infinite merriment of the collected multitude. Johnson was a witness of the entire spectacle and was much impressed.
The alliance was a still further help to Johnson in his influence with the red men. He died suddenly in June of , and was succeeded in his title and estate, by his son John, but the reins of authority, as General Superintend- ent of the Indian Department, fell into the hands of his son-in-law, Col. Guy Johnson. Brant for a while, acted as Secretary to the latter. The Johnsons maintained great style in their living, and Brant was quite an intimate participant. The birth and parentage of the celebrated Indian leader, whose car- eer had a part in the general history of two great civilized nations, as well as constituting an important factor in the local history of the par- ticular County which bears his name, is involved in uncertainty.
By some writers Brant, whose. Indian name is Thayendanegea, has been called a half breed; by others he has been pronounced a Shawanese by parentage, and only a Mohawk by adoption. He was also mentioned as a son of Sir William Johnson, but there is not a tittle of evidence to support this assertion. In the Kingston Christian Record edited by Bishop Strachan, contained a brief account of Joseph Brant, stating that he was born in on the banks of the Ohio, whither his parents had migrated from the valley of the Mohawk.
The memo goes on to say that the mother returned after a lapse of some years with two children, Mary and Joseph. Her first husband, a full blooded Mohawk had then been dead a short time, and after her return she married a respectable Indian by the name of Carrihogo, a news carrier, whose name was Burnet or Bernard, but by way of contraction he went by the name of Brant.
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This argument, weak as it may seem, is the only plausible one advanced to explain the otherwise unexplainable appellation. Boswell the famous biographer of Dr. Johnson, became intimate with Brant on his first London visit and, as the probable author of the article spoken of, it has been assumed that he obtained such information at first hand from the Chief.
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By the courtesy of the curator of the British Museum, the writer has been furnished with a copy of the sketch, and in so far from having any authority on the point under discussion, it speaks of a single Chief visiting England in the reign of Queen Anne, and Brant as his grandson. As already related there were five sachems and they were introduced at Court by the Duke of Shrewsbury, their visit to the Old Land exciting considerable attention. All the evidences which count point to the fact that Brant was not an hereditary chief. Nevertheless, whatever his origin, he stands acknow- ledged as one of the big men of his time and the greatest of all Indians.
Of the boyhood of young Brant history is a little more satisfactory in its details. That he early showed sagacity, and intelligence is evident from the fact that he came under the favorable notice of Sir William John-. How long Joseph remained at this seat of learning, and the proficiency he showed in his studies, are matters of contention. It is known however that in he was taken by the Rev. Jeffrey Smith, a missionary, as an interpreter, so that it is fair to assume that he had made good scholastic progress.
In fact, Weld, the English historian who travelled through the States in , goes so far as to state that he had made considerable advance in the Greek and Latin tongues. This is to be doubted, because at a later period he announced that he had it in mind to commence the study of Greek. A mere boy, he.
In relating the particulars of this engagement to Rev. Stuart some years after, the youthful warrior acknowledged. His next experience appears to have been with the expedition against Niagara in Prideaux left Oswego on September 1st, with about 2, men and Sir William Johnson joined the expedition with 1, warriors of the Six Nations.
Brant, then only seventeen, accom- panied Sir William, who, after Prideaux had been killed, took command of the expedition. In the attack which followed, the French were utterly routed. The Pontiac war next followed, Brant was in the several campaigns connected therewith, and the brave, and courageous spirit of himself and fellow warriors helped in the discomfiture of the foe. Peace then nestled upon the much vexed land and Brant was free to follow a life of comparative ease.
Brant County History
Here, for some years he spent a quiet life, acting as interpreter between his people, and the whites, and lending his aid to missionaries in teaching the Indians, whose conversion and civilization was commencing to engage much attention. Sir William Johnson and the Rev. Inglis drew the atten- tion of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to the necessity of a Church of England missionary among the Mohawks, and in they sent out Rev. Brant assisted him in the translation of a portion of the New Testament and the Reverend Gentleman wrote con- cerning this labor as follows:.
He lived at the Mohawk Village, Canajo-. His wife died soon after, on which he came to Fort Hunter and resided with me for a considerable time, in order to assist me in adding additional translations, to the Indian prayer book. Stuart further stated that the work accomplished, in the way of translation, consisted of the Gospel of St. Mark, part of the Acts of the Apostles, and a short history of the Bible, with a concise explanation of the Church Catechism. She died at the Mohawk Village, Brantford. In Brant married a half sister of his deceased wife.
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There is considerable doubt, as to the date on which Principal Brant was made p r i nc i pa i War Chief of the Confederacy. Lake George, and he had been succeeded by Little Abraham.
The latter however refused to fall in with Johnson, and a majority of the tribes, and he was superseded by Thayendanegea. Without doubt the latter owed this preferment in large part to war achievements, always potent with the red men.
Brant, by this elevation, now became a prominent personage not alone among the Indians, but also with the English speaking people of America. In the ominous muttefings upon the part of the Colonists broke forth into a regular upheaval, and when Col. Johnson arrived in Montreal July 14th, expecting soon to organize a sufficient force to return, and take possession of the Mohawk Valley homes.
At Montreal. Brant appears to have met Generals Carleton and Haldimand, who courted the services of himself and his followers, and strengthened them in their allegiance to the King.
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For the prosecution of a border warfare, the officers of the Crown could not have obtained a more valuable ally than Brant. One of his exploits was to make a speech in English, setting forth Mohawk grievances. It was during this visit that the famous Chief procured a gold finger ring, with his name engraved thereon, stating that he intended the same should provide evidence of his identity in case he fell in any of the battles he anticipated.
This ring he wore until his death. After his demise it was kept as a precious relic for years, but finally became lost. Later it was found by a little girl, in a ploughed field, near Wellington Square, Burlington where Brant passed the later years of his life. Brant did not remain long in the Old Land, but his visit served to still more firmly weld the links that bound him to the English cause. When he threw in his lot with the British at the commencement of the trouble, it was purely on account of the engagements which his fore- fathers had made with the King, but the royal reception he received in London made the cause in which he afterwards fought so valiantly, a personal one.
He was solicited by both sides to give his as- sistance and found himself perplexed amidst a contrariety of arguments upon a great subject, which he could not well understand. Before coming to a decisive resolution he resolved to go himself into the presence of the Great King, as the British Sovereign is styled amongst the American Indians. He accordingly came to London, accompanied by Captain Tice, an officer of English extraction, born in America and who has a settlement just in the neighborhood of the Mohawk Nation.
By what mode of reasoning this chief was convinced of the justice of the demands of Great Britain upon her colonies, and the propriety of enforcing them, we have not been informed, but it is said he has. This chief had not the ferocious dignity of a savage leader. Upon his tomahawk is carved the first letter of his Christian name Joseph and his Mohawk appellation thus Thayendanegea.
His manners are gentle, and quiet, and to those who study human nature he affords a very convincing proof of the tameness which education can produce upon the wildest race. He speaks English very well and is so much master of the language that he is engaged in a translation of the New Testament into the Mohawk tongue.