Re: Tschoop/Uncas

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Posted by Gayle on March 12, 1998 at 07:31:08:

In Reply to: Tschoop/Uncas posted by Elaine on March 08, 1998 at 17:57:29:

HI Folks! I'm another transplanted Mohicanland person who's gotten interested in the history surrounding the Leatherstocking Tales characters. Cooper posed some really intriguing challenges for anyone interested enough to follow up on his many, many cleverly planted clues to the lives of his characters, and I am convinced that, despite his protestations to the contrary, he based his characters of Chingachgook, Uncas and Natty Bumppo on real people. You can imagine my glee at Elaine's discovery that the Moravians claim a grave containing Uncas. Also, the information on Shekemeko fits really well with the clues on the early life of Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook.

Here's where it gets sticky, though. According to THE PIONEERS, the 4th book of the Leatherstocking Tales (chronologically, not in order of publication), Chingachgook (Tschoop?) converted and took the name of John Mohican sometime between 1760 and 1790 (the 30 year gap between THE PATHFINDER and THE PIONEERS. He died in a forest fire (possibly the Mount Vision fire?) and was buried on the shores of Otsego Lake in about 1793. I'm inclined to think the Moravian grave might well be legitimate, however, (if not a tourist attraction) and that Cooper may have used some literary license in THE PIONEERS for the sake of the heavy symbolism involved in the burial arrangements of Chingachgook and Major Effingham. Are there dates on the gravestone in Bethlehem?

Uncas was the son of Chingachgook and Hist o Hist. He was portrayed in LAST OF THE MOHICANS (the book) as a young man probably less than 20 years old when he was killed by Magua within a couple of months after the historic massacre at Fort William Henry (1757, I think). He was buried in the area of Fort William Henry near Lake George.

Of course the big irony is that Cooper had Natty himself end up buried out in what is now Wyoming. But to peak the researcher's interest further - there is a "Pathfinder" Indian Reservation right at the location where the Pawnee Indians were supposed to have buried Natty Bumppo (Pathfinder being one of the last Indian names Natty went by).

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