Wyandot-Seneca War

By Joseph Warrow

Some time during the first quarter of the sixteenth century, we will say, the above-mentioned young couple were deeply in love with each other, and they expected that in the near future they would be made man and wife according to the customs of their tribe, and were preparing for the happy event. But, to their great surprise, the old chief withheld his consent from his son about his taking her to wife.

This greatly disappointed the young couple. The young man wandered away from his home and tribe never to return, while the young maiden was left to brood over her disappointment. Many young men were afterwards rejected by the disappointed maiden. Only on one condition would she give her hand to any one of them: slaying the chief who had wronged her.

A young Wyandot warrior hearing of this, visited the maiden, and was love- struck at her beauty. Unfortunately he complied with her condition which brought about a terrible warfare between the Wyandots and the Senecas, that lasted many years. The young warrior became her avenger and husband.

The whole Seneca village was enraged. The men flew to arms to avenge the assassination of their chief by destroying the Wyandots. The murderer and his bride attempted an escape but were soon overtaken and were despatched in short order. The enraged Senecas returned to the Wyandot village, and massacred the Wyandots to a fearful extent, as the latter were not pre- pared for war, and were not expecting any trouble. At that time and back to an unknown period, the Wyandots and Senecas had always lived in peace, and dwelt in a region where the abode and hunting grounds of each were conterminous.

The Tuscaroras and Iroquois joined the Senecas in their warfare against the Wyandots.

The Wyandots broke up their villages on the St. Lawrence (river) and journeyed westward, while the Senecas were waiting for the return of some of their own nation from the hunting grounds to join them in their warfare.

For some unknown reason they did not, at that time, pursue the Wyandots who continued their wandering westward until they reached the banks of the Niagara river. The Wyandots remained there for some time. But, fearing lest their enemies might come upon them and destroy them, they journeyed northward until they reached the shores of Lake Huron.

In that region they found game in abundance and remained there for many years. In those days the Wyandots were a happy people, happy and free — free from the white man’s vices and immorality. They were unacquainted with the fiery liquid invented by the ingenuity of the white man.

In the year 1701, the Wyandots received tidings of the renewed hostility of the Senecas against them; and, as they expected never to live in peace and security in their homes, they concluded to migrate to some other country. They broke up their villages, once more embarked in their birch-bark canoes, and bid a last adieu to their old homes. The Wyandot fleet passed out of Lake Huron, and glided down the River St. Clair, the banks of which were then inhabited by some Chippewa Indians, with whom they were on friendly terms. When passing out of Lake St. Clair, they saw at a distance a group of white tents where the city of Detroit now stands. “Whoo!” exclaimed the Indians; “What can this mean?” The head-chief ordered his bark fleet ashore and sent some of his men to ascertain what kind of strange beings those were who had found their way into this part of the world. No sooner did the Wyandots land than they were surrounded by the pale-faced occupants of the white tents and thatched roofed huts. It was a French colony prior to this period (1701). These Wyandots of the west had only occasionally met with French traders, explorers, and Jesuit priests at Michillimackinac and St. Joseph. The governor of the colony received them kindly, and the Wyandots represented to him how they had been threatened with annihilation by the Senecas and their allies. The governor invited them to take shelter there, “under the shadow of my wings, I will protect you.” The Wyandots readily accepted the humane protection extended to them in time of need. They were then in quest of some new place of abode, and hunting grounds, and intended to have passed on down Detroit river thence to parts unknown.

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