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Collection: Champlains Expedition

The Inland Route to the Fort Ticonderoga

My reasons in favor of the mouth of the Salmon River as the point of departure for the interior are as follows: First. It is the southernmost and last point on the lake in the direct line of travel between Stony Point and the foot of Oneida Lake. The mouth of Salmon Creek lies west of that line, requiring a detour that would increase the travel without affording any corresponding advantage. Second. The mouth of Salmon River-the Otihatangué of the early French maps -has always been a noted place in Indian history. It is mentioned on the oldest Ms. maps of the Jesuit missionaries found in the French Archives at Paris. A trail is laid down on several of said maps, running direct from that point to the great fishery, called ” Techiroguen.” Franquelin, the celebrated geographer to Louis XIV., in his ” Carte du pays des Iroquois” of 1679, calls the trail ” Chemin de Techiroguen a la Famine.” La Famine was a name applied by the Jesuits to the mouth of the Salmon River, in allusion to the sufferings experienced there by Monsieur Du Puys and his companions, in July, 1656, from want of provisions. It has generally been called by later writers, “Cahihonoüaghé,” which may be a dialectical variation from Otihatangué. A Ms. map of 1679, says: “it is the place where the most of the...

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The Starting Point of the Expedition on Lake Ontario

The narrative states that the expedition descended what is now known as Trent River, which empties into Lake Ontario, and after short days’ journeys, reached the border of Lake Ontario. It then proceeds. I give the original French, as Champlain’s works are quite rare, and copy from the edition of 1619, modernizing the old French orthography: “où etans, nous fimes la traverse en l’un des bouts, tirant a. l’orient, qui est l’entrée de la grande rivière St. Laurens, par la hauteur de quarante-trois degrés de latitude, où it y a de belles iles fort grandes en ce passage.” Where then was the starting point of the expedition? Gen. Clark says ” Kingston.” Dr. Shea says, ” from a peninsula beyond (east of ? Quinté Bay, on the north shore,” agreeing with Gen. Clark that it must have been at Kingston. There is some confusion among geographers as to the extent of Quinté Bay. Some represent it as reaching to Kingston. Quinté Bay proper, according to the best authorities, extends no farther eastward than the eastern extremity of Prince Edward Peninsula, called Point Pleasant. It is often called the River Trent, being as it were an extension of that stream. Champlain evidently considered, and correctly so, that when he had passed Point Pleasant, he had arrived at the Lake. He says that the river he descended “forms the passage into...

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The Landing on the South Shore

I suggested in my article that the expedition probably landed in the secluded cove now known as Henderson Bay, sheltered by Stony Point. Not that the text or map of Champlain indicates that, or any other particular place with any certainty, but First. Because it appeared a convenient and appropriate locality. It did not seem probable that Champlain, accompanied by so large an army, would boldly land on an enemy’s shore, exposed to observation for twenty miles in two directions, with scarcely a hope of successfully concealing the canoes, which were so essential for his return voyage. Second. Because Henderson Bay, long previous to the settlement of the country, had been a favorite landing place for the Indians passing to and from Canada, as is well attested by tradition. The name of ” Indian Wharf ” still bears witness to the fact. A portage road led from the landing to Stony Creek, called by the French the ” rivière a Monsieur le Comte.” That the expedition landed there, was a mere suggestion derived from the probabilities of the case. I do not insist upon it. In good weather an equally favorable landing could have been made in the small cove at the mouth of Stony Creek, though not so secluded from observation. It is not possible, from the meager details of the narrative, to state with any certainty, much...

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Reply to Dr. Shea and General Clark

The first number of this magazine (Jan., 1877) contains an article on the Expedition of Champlain against the Onondagas, in 1615. It was founded on a communication read before the New York Historical Society in March 1849, in which I had discussed the evidences, which exist as to the route of the expedition, and the site of the Iroquois fort, which it besieged. My position having been questioned by several eminent historians, who claimed a more western location for the fort, the main object of my last article was to fortify my former conclusions. In it I endeavored to trace Champlain’s route across Lake Ontario to its south shore, and from thence to his objective point. While my location of the fort in the Onondaga, rather than the Seneca Country, has generally been approved, some difference of opinion is entertained as to its exact site, as well as to the precise route by which it was reached. General James S. Clark, of Auburn, in a paper read before the Buffalo and New York Historical Societies, and Georges Geddes, Esq., of Camillus, in an article in the last September number of this magazine, vol. I., p.. 521, while they agree that the site was in the Onondaga Country, dissent from my views in other particulars. Dr. John Gilmary Shea, in a recent article in the Penn Historical Magazine, vol. II.,...

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The Route Across the Lake

If I am right in fixing the starting point opposite Point Pleasant, it would follow, both from the text and the map, that the route extended southerly, between that point and Amherst Island, to the False Ducks, and along the Main Duck, Gallo, and Stony Islands, which stretch across the lake in the direction of Stony Point. That this was the course pursued may be inferred from the following considerations: First. On examining the Champlain map, the line indicating the route starts from the northern shore of the lake, and passes directly south between Point Pleasant and the first island easterly there from, which would correspond with Amherst Island. The next island on the map east of Amherst Island would correspond with Simcoe Island, and the next, lying in the entrance of the river, would correspond with Wolf or Long Island. These three islands constitute all that are represented on the map as lying in the east end of the lake, except those along which I claim that the expedition crossed. Now if, as claimed by General Clark, the crossing was along Simcoe, Wolf and Grenadier Islands, which closely hug the eastern shore of the lake, then those islands would have been so represented on the map. The chain of islands along which they did pass, as shown by the dotted line, are laid down at some distance from...

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Jesuit Doblon’s traveled the Route Twice

It may be interesting, in this connection, to compare Champlain’s statements with those of the Jesuit Dablon, who traveled twice over the same route in 1655 and 1656, under much more favorable circumstances for correctly estimating the distances. He informs us that, in company with Father Chaumonot, he left Montreal on the 7th day of October, 1655, for the Onondaga country, and reached ” Otihatangue” (the mouth of Salmon river) by canoe on the 29th of the same month. 1Relation of 1656, p. 7. Quebec Edition. That he landed the next day, and prepared to go on foot to Onondaga. That on the first day of November, after going ” five good leagues,” he encamped for the night on the banks of a small stream. Early the next day he continued his journey for “six or seven leagues,” and encamped for the night in the open air. On the third, before sunrise, he resumed his way, and reached ” Tethiroguen,” which he describes as ” a river which issues from Lake Goienho” (Oneida Lake), and ” remarkable as a rendezvous for a great number of fishermen.” Here he passed the night in an Indian cabin. The distance traveled this day is not stated, but we may assume it to have been six leagues, which is about the average of the other days. On the fourth he went “about six...

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The Location of the Fort Ticonderoga

It is utterly impossible, from the Champlain text and map, aided by the best modern charts, and an accurate knowledge of the country, to establish, with any certainty, the exact position of the Iroquois fort. The location which I suggested was on or near Onondaga Lake, 4 leagues or 10 miles from the great Iroquois fishery at the foot of Oneida Lake. The limits of this article forbid my presenting at this time my reasons for this conclusion I will therefore confine myself to an examination of General Clark’s position. He locates the fort on Nichols Pond, in the north-east corner of the town of Fenner, in Madison County, 3 miles east of the village of Perryville, and 10 miles by an air line, south of the east end of Oneida Lake. The following are some of the reasons suggested by Champlain’s text and engraved view, against this proposed location. First. Nichols Pond is over 24 miles, measured on a direct line, from the outlet of Oneida Lake, where the expedition crossed that stream. By any route practicable in 1615, it could not have been reached by less than 30 miles travel, owing to the intervening impassable swamps. Champlain states that the fort was 4 leagues (10 miles) from the “fishery,” a distance more likely to be exaggerated than understated. Second. The expedition reached the fort at 3 P....

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The March on the Beach

Champlain says: ” Les sauvages cachèrent tous leurs canaux dans les bois, proche du rivage. Nous fimes par terre quelques quatre lieuës sur une plage de sable, ou je remarquai un pays fort agreable et beau, traversé de plusieurs petits ruisseaux, et deux petites rivières, qui se dechargent au susdit lac, et force etangs et prairies.” ” The Indians concealed all their canoes in the woods near the shore. We proceeded by land about four leagues over a sandy beach, where I observed a very agreeable and beautiful country, intersected by many small brooks and two small rivers which empty into the said lake, and many lakelets and meadows.” On referring to the map, we find it furnishes nothing in addition to the above, except it represents three small bodies of water as lying along the route parallel with the shore, which are undoubtedly those referred to by Champlain under the name of ” Etangs.” There are still existing three such collections of water between Stony Point and Salmon River, two of which are known by the name of North and South ponds, and the largest by the name of Little Sandy Lake. The latter is about 3,000 acres in extent. Dr. Shea says: ” General Clark identifies the three small lakes noted on the map, as North and South Ponds, in Jefferson County, and Little Sandy Lake.” But...

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The Authenticity and Accuracy of Champlain’s 1632 Map

In order to account for the many manifest discrepancies between Champlain’s text of 1619 and the map annexed to the edition of 1632, I suggested that the map and the latter edition were not the work of Champlain and never passed under his personal supervision. I gave my reasons for this opinion on pages 5 and 6, vol. I, of this magazine. Dr. Shea replies to this, ” the map is evidently Champlain’s, and he was too good a hydrographer for us to reject his map as a guide for parts he actually visited.” This, however, is assuming the...

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Champlain’s Expedition of 1615 Against the Onondaga

In the year 1615, there dwelt on the south-eastern shore of Lake Huron, between Lake Simcoe and the Georgian Bay, a nation of Indians who were called in their own language, “Wendats” or “Wyandot,” and by the French ” Huron.” There is no record of their having been visited by the white man prior to the above date. In the same year, the Sieur de Champlain, the Father of French Colonization in America, who had entered the St. Lawrence in 1603 and founded Quebec five years later, ascended the river Ottawa as far as the Huron country-Le Caron, the Franciscan, having preceded him by a few days only. These adventurous pioneers were seeking, in their respective spheres, and by concurrent enterprises, the one to explore the western portions of New France, and the other to establish missions among the North American Indians.

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