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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York

by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher


Chapter I.
The Local Tribe and their Absorption by the Cayugas— Route of Sullivan's Army on both Sides of Cayuga Lake—Indian Villages Destroyed—Their Location—Flight of Indians to Niagara—Their Destitution after Sullivan's Victory—Cession of their Lands to the State.

The present territory of Tompkins county was, at the date of SULLIVAN's expedition in 1779, inhabited by a local tribe of Indians known as the "Todarighroones." In 1753 Sir William JOHNSON mentions that the Cayugas holding the country around the lake were "about to strengthen their castle by taking in the Todarighrooners." In the same year they are mentioned as attending a conference at Mount Johnson, and are described as one of the "nine confederate nations." The town is indicated at the head of Cayuga Lake on the Guy JOHNSON map of 1771 in the same position where it was found by Colonel DEARBORN in 1779, under the name of " Todarighrono," the name of the people. The Indian village known as "Coreorgonel," called "De- horiss-kanadia" by George GRANT, was located on the west side of Cayuga Inlet, about three miles from the head of Cayuga Lake, and about two miles southwest of Ithaca city, on high ground south of the present school house on the farm of Joseph ALLEN, and just beyond Buttermilk Falls on the Inlet-Newfield road. Several skeletons have been exhumed here at various times within a few years past, and the usual variety of relics found, such as hatchets, wampum, beads, etc. The town at the time of its destruction by a detachment of SULLIVAN's army, under command of Col. Henry DEARBORN, on the 24th of September, 1779, contained twenty-five houses, besides ten or twelve scattered between the main village and the lake. The detachment of the army came up the west side of the lake, reaching GOODWIN's (or Taughannock) Point, on the 22d of September, 1779, then marched to the Indian village on the Inlet on the 23d, and burned the houses, corn and vegetables on the 24th.This detachment united with that from the east side of the lake on the 25th and marched thence to meet the main army at Newtown (Elmira).The notes of Gen. John S. CLARK, of Auburn, found in the "Journals of the Military Expedition of Major-General John SULLIVAN, against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779," published under authority of chapter 361, laws of 1885, passed by the Legislature, seemed to furnish by far the most authentic as well as the most detailed information in reference to the Indian history of this locality.

The detachment of SULLIVAN's army which destroyed the towns on the east side of Cayuga Lake, joining the detachment from the west side at Ithaca, marched down the east side of Seneca Lake, crossed the outlet where it leaves the lake, and very near the present Lehigh Valley Railroad track, thence the route lay north of the outlet through the swamp, to what is now known as Mud Lock, three miles north of the present railroad depot at Cayuga. Here the Seneca River was again crossed and a trail followed to Union Springs, where East Cayuga, Cayuga Castle, and Upper Cayuga Indian villages were situated; thence to Chonodote, or Peachtown, the site of the present village of Aurora, and thence to Ithaca, which was reached on the 25th of September, 1779, the day after the village on the Inlet had been burned by the soldiers under DEARBORN, as above stated.

On map 103 C, of the Simeon DE WITT collection in the archives of the New York Historical Society, being the manuscript maps and surveys of Robert ERSKINE, who was geographer to the American army, the distance is fixed at thirty-eight miles from Cayuga to Ithaca. On this map a fall of 120 feet perpendicular is indicated on the Fall Creek stream.

In CLARK's History of Onondaga County it is stated that on the Jesuit's map, Cayuga Lake is called "Tichero-lac." Charlevoix calls it "Gejugouen" while THURBER's map designates it as "Gwangweh" The Indian designation of Ithaca was "Ne-o-dak-he-at"; its signification, "At the End of the Lake."

The Cayugas retreated to Niagara before the march of SULLIVAN army after the battle of Newtown, and few ever returned to their old hunting grounds; neglected and badly treated by their English allies, and insufficiently provided with food, sickness and death made fearful ravages among them during, the cold winter following SULLIVAN's campaign. In 1789 a treaty was concluded with the Six Nations whereby the Indians acknowledged allegiance to the general government and ceded to the State of New York the lands lying east of Seneca Lake. This cession and treaty opened up the country to the immigration of white settlers from. the Eastern States, and new characters appear upon the scene.

Father CARBEIL was a missionary among the Cayugas and probably his labors reached into the territory now included in Tompkins county. In a letter dated June 24, 1672, he speaks in glowing terms of the beauty of the country, of the great quantity of fish in Lake Tiohero (Cayuga), and immense clouds of game on its waters and in the forest bordering its shores. He found the Cayugas more tractable and less haughty than the Onondagas or Oneidas. He mentions also a battle between the Andastes and the Cayugas while the latter were on their way to the Susquehanna River from the head of Cayuga Lake, the Cayugas losing twenty-four warriors slain or taken prisoners.

Landmarks - Chapter II

Carl Hommel donated this material and transcribed into digital format.
Thank you Carl Hommel.

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