« IndietroContinua »
or, in his “ Monthly Chronicle," begs myself from a credulity which I felt parcion of the public for having yielded predisposing me to believe what the to “the enthusiastic faith and trust of circumstance at Newport, some years the Rev. John H. Hanson, whose belief previously, and the late testimony of in the rightfulness of Mr. Williams' the Duke of Wurtemberg, had fixed in claim, and whose zeal in pushing it,
my mind. amounted almost to a monomania." The answer to these inquiries was this
Alas! dear brother! the world thinks simple explanation : Skenondough was thee dead, and bemoans thy credulity, a principal man of the Oneidas, who while it is forced to honor thy“ enthu- was accustomed to go to the city of siastic faith and trust."
Washington to receive the bounty. But thou art not dead, but sleepest; money, or on other business, of the In. and I, in venturing to indite more “last dians. On this year he left Syracuse words of the Bourbou story,” may be with the usual contribution of Indian likened to that loving sister of whom traps of bead-work, by the sale of which it was said, “ She goeth unto the grave he paid his expenses. But there was to weep
there." But that grave was the such an unusual delay at Washington theatre of a resurrection. It was " THE in the payment of the Indian annuity, TRUTH” who said, “Our friend Lazarus that Skenondough's resources were exsleepeth ; but I go, that I may awake hausted. He was obliged to return him out of sleep.”
without money, reaching Philadelphia
penniless. III. In the summer of 1853, Mr. Han- In this strait, he called on Mr. Peter son called on me in Brooklyn, where I Sken Smith, of Philadelphia, a wellwas then settled, to acquaint me with known, wealthy, and highly-respected what promised to be a singular con- citizen; wlose middle name was derivfirmation of his theory, as published in ed, I was told, from that of the chiefs the March and April numbers of the of the Oneidas "Skenondough,"-with Magazine, through the testimony, he whom the ancestors of Mr. Smith were said, of Skenondough, a very old In- familiar in their early settlements dian chief of the Oneida tribe, who had around Syracuse.
Mr. Gerrit Smith, known Williams when he was a boy of brother of Peter Sken, is, I believe, still ten or twelve years of age, having been the possessor of the immense patripresent when two Frenchmen gave him mony derived from an Indian title. into the custody of the elder Williams, Old Skenondough was hospitably in 1795, at Ticonderoga; and who entertained by Mr. Peter Sken Smith would testify that Eleazer Williams was in Philadelphia. It was just at this of French birth, for the reason that he time that Mr. Hanson's discussion of had talked with him in the French lan the question of Eleazer Williams' idenguage at that time.” Moreover, the old tity with the Dauphin of France was Indian affirmed that “ Williams was re- engaging the public mind. Mr. Smith, corded in the census of the Six Nations therefore, seized the opportunity of as a Frenchman adopted by the St. questioning old Skenondough on the Regis tribe, and transferred to the Onei- subject. Skenondough had not heard das ;” with many other particulars of of the theme, nor had he ever suspected great interest.
that Williams was of royal blood; but All this seemed, indeed, to be impor- he said that he knew he was a Frenchtant testimony, if true. Who is this old man, because he was present at Lako Indian? How carne he to turn up just George in 1795, when he was brought at that time? What credentials does over and committed into the custody he show? What proof of his great age of Thomas Williams; and further words and sound memory exists ?
to like effect, as above narrated, and as These were among the queries that I afterward embodied in an affidavit. thought proper to suggest, to guard Mr. Smith thought it worth while to
acquaint the Rev. Mr. Hanson with this his reason; thence he narrated Wilstartling and unexpected confirmation liams' carcer through the War of 1812, of his theory, and suggested that Sken- and spoke of the Indian spy-system, in ondough be asked to take New York which the old chief was engaged-and in his route home to Syracuse, so that especially referred to an occasion when his testimony might be taken before a they went together to obtain a subsidy notary.
from the United States Government; Mr. Hanson invited Skenondough to at which point, Williams, who had been visit New York, where, by a happy con- listening attentively, as to a revelation juncture, Williams was also sojourning, of by-gone times, interrupted Skenonwhile engaged in the printing of his dough, saying, “No; it was the State " Indian Prayer-Book."
of New York who gave the subsidy;" Mr. Hanson desired me to be present and after some discussion whether it with him when Skenoadough's affidavit was the State of New York or the Genwould be made. I consented. Where- eral Government, or jointly, Skenonupon, on the day of Skenondough's dough, as if tired of this question, exarrival, I was suinmoned to meet the claimed to us, “Let that go. He is not parties in the office of Richard Bus- an Indian! He was never reckoned as teed, Esq., in William-street. There sat an Indian. Look here! Look at bis old Skenondough, his long white hair hand!” (taking it). “ This is not an streaming on his shoulders, the deep Indian's hand! Look at mine! It is wrinkles furrowing his swarthy face, double-jointed ;” and so he threw his but his form hardly yielding to the fingers “out of joint," backward and pressure of years. Mr. Hanson was by forward. his side. In a few minutes Eleazer I mention these incidents, not as Williams entered; and it was impres- proving much on the main question, sive to observe the greeting of these old but because they happened ; throwing, men. They spoke together in the In- I thought, an aspect of simple sincerity dian dialect for some time, then in Eng- on the intercourse of these simple but lish, then again in Indian, just as the dissimilar old men. subject of their discourse seemed to I recollect asking Skenondough of prompt. They had not seen one an- his age. He replied, jocosely, other for a long period; and remi- “I am old enough to be in my second niscences seemed to start up in rapid childhood, as they say ; for, look here succession, while various emotions were -I am getting a second set of doubleevinced to the observer by their vary- teeth ; " and he opened liis mouth, and ing expressions of countenance—now showed us, sure enough, a fresh set of sad, now merry, and now dubious, as if molars, which, also, he made us touch the recollections of one perplexed the with our fingers. other.
The substance of Skenondough's tesI watched this converse of mingled timony was, finally, put to paper, sublanguages and pantomime, till I feared scribed and sworn to, as follows: that the long summer afternoon would
“John O'Brien, a half-breed Indian, other. wear away, unless we went to business. wise known as Skenondough, deposes and says, Whereupon Skenondough settled him- that he resides in the town of Salina, Onondaga self, and related his story, beginning at
County, State of New York; that he is known
to the Hon. P. Sken Smith, of Philadelphia, the year 1795, when he first saw Wil
and to Gerrit Smith, Squire Johnson, Mayor liams and talked French with him-8 Baldwin, and Lawyer Wood, of Syracuse; that • fou boy," as he said; thence he pur- he is now directly from Philadelphia, where he sued the story to the time when this boy
was taken sick on his way from Washington, dove into Lake George, and was taken
and is returning to Salina; that he is now very out of the water half-drowned, and car
aged, having been born in Stockbridge, Mass.,
in 1752; that his father was an Irishman, of ried into Williams' wigwam on the
the name of Wm. O'Brien, and his mother an shore-after which event he recorered Indian woman of the Oneida tribe, named Mary
Skenondough ; that, at the age of twelve years, ferred to the Oneidas.” This deponent was, at he was sent from America to France, for his the time, a member of the General Council of education, and remained there until during the the Nation, serving in the capacity of Marshal, War of the Rerolution, when he returned, in and gave, bimself, the returns to Captain Parthe same ship with La Fayette, to America. ish; and this deponent bas seen the record of After bis return, this deponent went among the census; which record may probably be the Oneida Indians, in the State of New York; found at Cavandaigua, by writing to Mr. Ed and, in the year 1795, was at Ticonderoga, on ward Parish aforesaid. Lake George.
“ This deponent further says, that he re “At that time, two Frenchmen came to the members the spot at which the child, now Indians on Lake George, and this deponent known as Eleazer, fell into the water, and that conversed with them, in their own language. it was at the south end of Lake George, on the Their names deponent does not remember. west side, not far from the old Fort. They had with them a boy, which this depo
“John O'BRIEN." nent supposed to be between ten and twelve
“Sworn before me, this 14th day of Jupe, years of age. This boy, the deponent talked with
1853. in the French language. The two Frenchmen
"RICHARD Busteen, told this deponent that the boy was French, by
“ Commissioner of Deeds, birth. The boy seemed weak and sickly, and
“43 William Street, New York." his mind was wandering, so that he seemed rather silly.
The review of this remarkable testi"This child, after the Frenchmen had de.
mony revives the impression of its truth, parted, this deponent saw in the family of
which it made at the time. Williams Thomas Williams, an Indian, where the child lived. This deponent further recollects that
sat as one who was hearing tidings that he was at Lake George some time after this, were new and strange. While old Skenwhen this boy, playing with other children, fell, ondough was relating his early history, or threw himself, from a rock into the Lake,
bis jaw drooped, and his eyes were and was taken out with a wound, he thinks up.
fixed on the relator with intense earneston the head, and was carried into the but of Thomas Williams. After this he from time to
ness; but when the story reached his time saw the boy, and that boy is the person
middle life, his attitude and expression now known as the Rev. Eleazer Williams.
were changed, and he uttered ejacula“Deponent further declares, that, in 1815,
tions, now and then, such as, “ Yes ! ” when Mr. Williams first came to Oneida Castle
“I remember.” Especially when Skento preach to the Indians, deponent was there, ondough testified that Captain Parish and asked Mr. Williams if he remembered his fall into the Lake; which he did not. Depo.
was appointed by the General Govern. nent further declares, that one of the two ment as agent of the Six Nations, WilFrenchmen who brought the child to Lake liams interrupted, and said, that “ CapGeorge seemed to have the appearance of a
tain Parish was appointed by the State priest of the Church of Rome. Deponent recollects Colonel Lewis, Captain Peters, Captain of New York ;” whereupon there was a Jacob Francis, chiefs of the St. Regis tribe, slight discussion, and Skenondough's who always believed Mr. Williams to be a testimony was amended, as above, by Frenchman.
the dubious alternate. While rendering “This deponent also declares, that he was
his testimony, the picturesque old Inacquainted with Thomas Williams, and Mary
dian leaned on his staff, holding it beAun his wife, and that there is no resemblance between the Rev. Eleazer Williams and the said
tween his legs, and gazing, as it were, Thomas Williams, or his wife, or any of the into the deep past. But during the inchildren of the said Thomas Williams and his
tervals, when Mr. Busteed was recording wife Mary Ann, who was also known to this
the important facts, the conversation deponent.
turned on the most commonplace topics; “This deponent also further declares, that Captain Jasper Parish, of Canandaigua, was ap.
such as "the weather," and "what Wilpointed, by the General or State Government, liams was in the city for,” and “when agent for the Six Nations, some time before the
Skenondough was to leave;
as if the War of 1812; and after the war was over, in mind demanded relief from its musings 1815, he took the census of each family, for the
and its memories. purpose of distributing the presents from the Government. Eleazer Williams was set down
The Rev. Mr. Hanson's fine face by Captain Parish, on the record, as “ a French- brightened as the narrator proceeded, man, adoptel by the St. Regis tribe, and trans- like one whose disputed conjectures
were verified as truth. I was in the in- of New Orleans, acquainting him with tellectual attitude of a critic, hardly a a fact which he deemed decisive on the skeptic, yet requiring further confirma question of the identity of Eleazer Wiltion of the credibility of the witness. liams und the Dauphin Louis Charles. I resolved on the spot, therefore, to ask The letter stated that further informafor this confirmation. It occurred to tion had been derived from the old perme, also, to provide a lasting memorial son (Mrs. Margaret Deboit, whose affidaof this interview, by requesting that vit, on another point, is published in both Skenondough and Williams would “ The Lost Prince,” p. 430; Append., consent to the daguerreotyping of their 475), who was some time in the houselikenesses so that other eyes than mine hold of Count de Provence and the might picture these old men, and see Duchesse d'Angoulême. This informathe difference in their type of physiog- tion, he said, accorded with a letter from nomy.
Madame Rambaud to the Duchesse Williams and Skenondough consent- D'Angoulême, lately brought to his noed; and, by appointment, we proceeded tice. The substance of this fresh evi. to Brady's Gallery, where their like- dence was this : that, when Naundorf's nesses were admirably taken. These claim to be the Dauphin was rejected by pictures are deposited with the Long the Duchesse d'Angoulême, she had Island Historical Society.*
said that “when her brother should be disIn pursuance of my desire to learn covereil, if he were yet alive, there would the credibility of old Skenondough, I be found, on the back of his shoulder, the addressed a letter, on the 18th of June, mark of the lancet in the shape of a cres1833, to the Hon. Peter Sken Smith, of cent, which was made there by the surgeon, Philadelphia ; from whom I received at the time of the inoculation of the Duuthe following reply:
phin, for the purpose of identification.” “My dear Sir: I have been much indisposed,
And the letter begged Mr. Hanson to ind noi able to answer your letter of the 18th
see if such a mark was on the shoulder, nlt, till now, and I am still weak. I bare of Eleazer Williams. known John O'Brien Skenondough, a half- I asked Mr. Hanson if he had exambreed Indian of the Oneida tribe, for thirty ined into the case. He replied that he years and upwards. suspect the important
had; and the mark was there, and he testimony" from him, which you refer to, re. lates to the Rev. Mr. Williams.
wished me to verify it. He said, be“I hesitate not to say, Skenondongh can be sides, that if he had not found the scar relied on. I also know much of Mr. Williams. of identification, his opinion would “ In much haste, very truly and respectfully
likely have been upset; for he might Yours, " P. SKEX SMITH."
not justly have disputed the evidence
of this woman's testimony, since he IV. About this time Mr. Williams was
himself had journeyed to New Orleans carrying through the press his revised
to procure her affidavit. Time might edition of the “ Book of Common Pray
indeed have obliterated the wound; er,” translated by him into the Mohawk
and this fresh testimony might be reand Iroquois languages, by the request jected as hearsay; yet, nevertheless, he of the Domestic Committee of the Board
had suffered trepidation in asking Mr. of Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Williams to allow him to put his theory, Church. This work required his fre
to the test; and when he had seen, with quent, and sometimes prolonged, sojourn
his own eyes, this remarkable confirmain New York.
tion of his faith, he could not doubt of It was during this period when Mr.
the truth, and wished, as I had served Hanson called on me, to say that he had
him heretofore, that I would consent to received a letter from Mrs. Com. Read, bear witness to what I might also see.
I found myself in a very delicate posiWe have not considered it necessary to engrave
tion. It was to request an aged end them, but any one interested can see them at our offico.--Editor.
venerable man to strip his back, that
I might subject him to a scrutiny; but from regard to the desire of the
," he replied ; “I should the sarcasms tossed at him as a ro- be ungrateful to decline compliance mancer and a credulous person. I con
with Mr. Hanson's desire." sented. A day or two after,* Mr. Hanson Accordingly, Williams threw off his was to have his infant-child baptized coat and vest, and allowed me to scruby the Rev. Dr. Hawks, in Calvary tinize the mysterious mark. The light Church, New York. I promised to be of the robing-room was very dim. I present on that occasion, if possible. could see the deep pit of the inoculation I arrived just after the administration on the arm. I could not discern on the of the Sacrament, when the parties back of the shoulder any thing peculiar. were dispersing, and proceeded to the Nor could Mr. Hanson. Williams prerobing-room, where I found Mr. Wil- served the same calm composure while liams (who had been sponsor to the we were discussing the matter. child), and Mr. Hanson, awaiting.
“ Will you step out into the church a I shall not forget this meeting, nor
moment ? there is no one there," I sugthe dignified bearing of Mr. Williams. gested. I was reluctant to proceed. Yet I ven
“If you wish it," said Mr. Williams. tured to say, “I hear that you bear a I opened the door, and he followed mark on your-shoulder, such as is said me outside; when, turning his shoulder to have been put on the Dauphin for his to the light, there was the cicatrix, in identification. Have you such a mark ?” the shape of a crescent, three-fourths of Williams replied, with a smile,
an inch across, nearly obliterated, yet • They tell me I have; but I have palpable and unmistakable. Hanson never seen it."
saw it again, and tears silently stole There was no elation, no symptom of
down bis cheeks. It was proof positive triumph, no suggestion that this report to him, now that he had found The Lost of his “identification” had ruffled the PRINCE. He grasped my hand. We serenity of his soul as a simple mission- said nothing, except my ejaculations, ary to the Indians.
" The mark is there! I see it with my I inquired if he would “submit to my eyes ! What does it mean? He must, examination, not from idle curiosity, indeed, be the Dauphin !
Such was the final personal observa* The record of the baptism above referred to is
tion that fell to my lot, to test the truth certified by Rev. W. D. Walker, assistant-minister of Calvary Church, as being in the register of that
of the question, church, and as occurring June 14, 1853, Eleazer Wil- “ Were Louis XVII. and Eleazer Wil liams being one of the sponsors.-Editor Pulnam's liams the same person ?" Magazine.