A Bit about Brant

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Posted by Victoria on February 06, 1998 at 14:30:13:

Thayendanegea, Joseph Brant, (mentioned at Cameron's cabin)was one of the true-life amazing people who lived in the latter half of the 18c. Although he fought under Sir William Johnson during the F & I War as a teenager, he mainly fought during the American Revolution on the British side. Repeatedly assured that he was fighting not only for the King, his "father," but also to keep the line of demarcation between the American settlements at the Treaty Line decided at Fort Stanwix. He led a company of Indians and white volunteers, who preferred to fight with and amongst Indians than to subject themselves to the discipline of either Rangers or regular forces. They mostly fought in the Mohawk Valley area and down into Pennsylvania but at times made it as far as the Ohio River near Cincinnati. (Where he captured my father's granmother's grandfather.) His base of operations was British Fort Niagara (Major Bray's bailiwick)and even after the war he spent much time there.

He went to England twice and made quite an effect each time. During his life he had several portraits painted, preferring each time to appear in Indian dress, true to his people and his culture. After the war he settled in the Grand River area not far from Fort Niagara. He welcomed many travellers and was known as a hospitable and generous host. One traveller, Patrick Campbell, left a description of Brant's wife Catherine, the daughter of George Croghan (another amazing person). When Catherine came into the room dressed in silk and embroidered lace, Campbell lost his heart. He admired "the elegance of her person, grandeur of her looks and deportment, her large, mild black eyes, the symmetry and harmony of her expressive features." He thought she far surpassed the two fair, young, white ladies present, though they were considered very pretty. He could not "so much as look at them as to mark the difference."

Brant got on very well with his white neighbors at Grand River. He like to take their children on his knee and sing Mowhawk lullabies to them, and he was always playing pranks. Once a Mrs. Jones was stooping over her fireplace cooking, with her small child playing nearby, and Joseph slipped in and took them by surprise. He seized the good woman by the hair, brandished his tomahawk, and let out a ferocious war whoop. Mrs. Jones refused to be intimidated. Obviously this had happened many times before. "Is that you Brant?" she calmly asked, without even turning around. The child never forgot the incident, told it to his own son, who related it to the historian Lyman C. Draper.

All of the above information is taken (nearly verbatim) from Isabel Thompson Kelsay's book "Joseph Brant 1743-1807: Man of Two Worlds." Published by Syracuse University Press in 1984.

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