Oil Spring reservation, in Cattaraugus County, New York, as indicated on the Allegany reservation map, contains 640 acres in 2 towns and counties. It was by oversight included in the treaty made at Big Tree, in the sale by the Seneca Nation of 3,500,000 acres to Robert Morris, and passed with his title to the Holland Land Company. A suit for the recovery of this land was brought in 1856, and resulted in favor of the Seneca Nation. On the trial Governor Blacksnake, as he was named by Washington when he visited the capital in company with Cornplanter, testified, at the advanced age of 107 years, to being present at the treaty of Big Tree in 1797, and that, when the exception was missed upon the public reading of the treaty. Thomas Morris, attorney for Robert Morris, gave to Pleasant Lake, a prominent sachem of the Seneca Nation, a separate paper, declaring that the Oil Spring tract was not included in the sale. Governor Blacksnake also produced a copy of the first map of the Holland land purchase, on which this reservation was distinctly marked as belonging to the Seneca Indians. An exhaustive report of Judge D. Sherman to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated Forestville, New York, October 9, 1877, contains the most succinct, accurate, and just statement of the titles and rights of the Six Nations that has been published. The land is under lease, and, in the language of Judge Sherman, “the Seneca Nation own this reservation, unencumbered by any pre-emption right, and it is all the land they do so own”.
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The place and date of birth of Governor Blacksnake (The Nephew) are unknown. He died at Cold Spring, in South Valley, on the Allegany reservation, December 26, 1859. His Indian name was “Tha-o-wa-nyuth”. He was associated with John Halftown and John O’Bail (Cornplanter) in negotiations with Washington, and was greatly esteemed by him. The best estimate of his age is 117, although many have placed it as high as 125 and even 130. The famous trio were Senecas.