Clearfield County Pennsylvania
Present and Past

Chapter V
The Red Men Called Indians

The people who hunted, fished and traveled through the country now called Clearfield county by us, and who lived more or less permanently in their town of Chinklacamoose before, and to some extent after the white people came, were Red Men, improperly called Indians, since Columbus gave the people he found in America that name because he thought he had reached India and its islands. They were properly called Red Men from the reddish color of their skins. The Smithsonian Institution, on the authority of Mr. J. P. Harrington, says, in relation to Chincleclamoose or Chinkla-camoose, "Chingua-Klakamoos is clear Delaware for 'Large Laughing Moose.' It is evidently the origin of the word and may be a personal name that later became perpetuated as a place-name, as so often happened. Atcha-Clammue means 'It almost joins', but explains only half of the word at best, and seems far-fetched.

"Moos-hanna means most clearly 'moose river.' I give here the more phonetic spelling".

In regard to Clearfield Creek, or Lovas Spulchanning, he says: "Lowushkis means 'northerners' and is mentioned in the Walum Olum in 1833. See Brinton, Lenape Legends. Sipuos is 'wild plum'; hanning, is of course river. In spite of its corrupted condition, the name looks as if it might mean 'At the Northern Wild Plum River."

"Mahoning means 'at the deer lick.' This is most clear; -hanna, locative -hanning, means 'river.' It corresponds for a word meaning river or water, that runs through many Indian languages. These names are in the old Delaware language." [Lenape

Moose Creek, which empties into the West Branch at Clearfield, was called Chinklacamoose by the Indians, and must then have meant "Large Laughing Moose Creek."

The spelling Chin-klaca-moose (accent second syllable) has been adopted by the writer as corresponding most nearly and phonetically with the seeming origin and original meaning of the word as given above by the Smithsonian Institution.

The Town of Chinklacamoose. The only Indian town of a permanent character that was within the limits of Clearfield county in so far as there is any record to show, was the old town of Chinklacamoose, where Clearfield now stands. The temporary Indian camps were made by putting up three or four poles tied together at the top with a thong of rawhide and more or less covered with bark or skins, but all the accounts speak of Chinklacamoose as a town of cabins. Under stress of war and danger, part of these cabins were occasionally burnt, but the old town seems to have certainly persisted until the coming of the first white settlers, Daniel Ogden seeming to have respected the rights of the Indians here when he came in-1796 or 1797 and passed the town and the Indian field near it, locating just above them. Some of the Indians are said to have helped him build his cabin.

Anne Marie le Roy in her account of the journey she and Barbara Leininger and Marie's brother made as Indian captives from Penns Creek to Kittanning by the Old Indian path in 1755 makes mention of the Indian town of Chinklacamoose where they stayed ten days before going on to Punxsutawney, and where Marie's brother was left. Frederick Post also mentions going through the town on his way to and from the Ohio on a mission to the Indians in 1758, and the year before Captain Patterson, having been sent up to the West Branch to learn what he could about an Indian expedition that it was feared was coming down that stream, went as far as "Chinclacamousche" where he says most of the houses had been burned, and apparently no Indians had lived for a long time. In 1772 the Moravians passed through the old town, "where," Bishop Ettwein says "we found but three huts and a few patches of Indian corn." So it would appear that the town had been burned, or most of it, and for a time at least, deserted, some time between 1755 and 1757, though it was afterwards inhabited at times by the Indians..

Indian Houses (They Were Called Wikwams). The cabins of the permanent Lenape town were probably fashioned with a good deal of ingenuity, but unfortunately the exact method of their construction is not very well known. The houses were not communal, like the Iroquois, but each family had its separate residence, a wattled hut, with rounded top, thatched with mats woven of the long leaves of the Indian corn or the stalks of the sweet flag, or of the bark of trees. These were built in groups and surrounded by a palisade to protect the inhabitants from sudden inroads. In the center of the cabin was sometimes erected a mound of earth, for observation and as a place to put the women and children. A small hut was called a jagawam. It must not be forgotten however, that the Indians did not care to live much indoors, but preferred open air life and its effect was that they did not mind the cold on their bodies any more than you or I mind it on our hands or faces.

To make an abode was called Wikwamhassin. To make fire was tindeuchen. This had nothing to do with the word tinder, though it sounds like it.

Once a white man asked an Indian whom he saw wearing only a blanket if he was not cold. "No", said he, "me not cold." And he said to the white man whose face was of course bare, "Your face cold?" "No," the white man said, "Well," said the Indian, "Me face all over." In historic times at least, the Indians used Mahellis, (flint) to strike fire.

Indian Relics. Many arrow heads, some pestles, skinning stones and a little crude pottery have been picked up by the Ogdens and others on or about the Old Indian town, but few of these relics of a by-gone age have been preserved.

There were also Indian burial places, as at the mouth of Anderson creek, on Clearfield creek near Madera, and at other places in the county. There are accounts of Indian camps, where the P. R. R. station now is at Curwensville, also in the cove across the B. R. & P. from Arnoldtown. On the river between Lumber City and Curwensville seems to have been a great resort for the Indians as the remains of campfires are found along the river bank, a number of them having been uncovered during the building of the N. Y. C. Railroad.

The Daughters of the American Revolution have placed a tablet on a peculiarly shaped stone, reputed to be an Indian mill, that lies beside the Lakes-to-the-Sea Highway near Barrett.

The Levi-Lenape. The Red Men who lived in this part of the country, after the beginning of the 18th century, called themselves Leni-Lenape, meaning "original people," but the whites called them Delawares, because they made their head-quarters along the river the whites called the Delaware-the eastern boundary of Pennsylvania. They were of Algonkin (or Algonquin) stock. Not so long before Pennsylvania was settled, 1640 to 1680, the Leni-Lenape were conquered by the Iroquois or Five Nations of the Great Lake Region. They were allowed to still live on their lands, but were subject to the Five Nations. The Lenape claim they were not really conquered, but became a peace-people, by treaty with the Five Nations. William Penn and his successors did not seem to understand this arrangement for some time. It is not clearly understood yet. It was later found necessary to have the treaties made with the Lenape, confirmed by the Five Nations, or after they took in the Tuscaroras, Six Nations.

Origin of the Lenape, and of the Mengwe, Later Called the Five Nations. One tradition of the Lenape is that they originally came from the far western country, beyond the Mississippi. About the time they reached that river on their journey eastward, they fell in with another tribe, the Mengwe, who were also migrating east.

As they came to the country of the Allegewi, they asked permission to dwell among them. This was refused, but they were given permission to pass through their country on the way farther east, but for some reason the Allegewi made a fierce attack upon the Lenape and killed many of them before the entire tribe had crossed the river.

The Mengwe, who had remained neutral during the first fight, now formed an alliance with the Lenape and all waging a fierce war against the Allegewi drove them from the country toward the south. The Lenape lost many warriors in the strife and claimed that the brunt of the battle fell on them, while the Mengwe hung in the rear.

Gradually the now conquering forces worked their way eastward, the Mengwe making choice of the territory bordering the Great Lakes, while the Lenape followed the streams flowing eastward and occupied the country from the Hudson River to Chesapeake Bay, including the shores of four great rivers, the Hudson, the Delaware, the Susquehanna and the Potomac, and making the country along the Delaware the chief center of their vast possessions. There are also other traditions of their wanderings.

The Three Original Clans of the Lenape and Their Sub-Divisions. The three original clans of the Lenape, the Unamis (totem the turtle), the Unilachtigo, (totem the turkey) and the Mensi (totem the wolf) were later sub-divided into other smaller tribes or sub-tribes known as the Shawnese, the Nanticokes, the Neshanines, etc., yet they seem to have kept up a sort of union.

The Mengwe's Five Tribes Form a Confederacy and Conquer the Lenape. The Mengwe were later separated into five distinct tribes: the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onandagas, the Cayugas and the Senecas. While their principal dwelling places were near the Great Lakes, they liked to hunt farther south to the land of the Lenape. Before 1700 they are thought to have occupied the valley of the Susquehanna. Finally the Mengwe called a council and formed a union of the five tribes and called themselves the five nations. It was soon after this confederation was formed that they conquered the Lenape

The Mohawks, one of the five tribes, had gotten fire arms and learned their use from the Dutch about this time, so were much feared by the other tribes. The French called the Five Nations Iroquois, the Dutch called them the Magues and the English called them the Mingoes, but they called themselves the Hedonosannee, meaning, "The people of the long house." The whole confederacy of the Mengwe or Iriquois was divided into twelve clans which extended through all the five tribes. This knit them together in such a way that they were a very strong confederacy.

There were in all about fifty sachems divided among the five tribes, and each sachem had a war chief to carry out his orders. The sachems formed a sort of congress to exercise civil authority. In time of war, war chiefs were in authority. Later the Tuscaroras joined, making six tribes.

The language of the Lenape was somewhat different from that of the Six Nations. Shekelimy was for many years the ruler-chief of the Six Nations over the Lenape, especially along the Susquehanna, making his home on the West Branch above the present site of Lewisburg. He was a wise ruler and a friend of the whites. The Indian orator Logan was one of his sons.

Relations of the Indians and Whites. Etienne Brule was most probably the first white man to visit the West Branch of the Susquehanna and the Indians that dwelt along its bank. It is not certain that he was ever within what is now Clearfield county, though he may have been.

He was sent by Champlain, the French explorer, from Canada in 1615 to visit the Carontonans or Andastes or Susquehannocks, as they were variously called by the French and others, at their town on the upper waters of the Susquehanna. (West Branch). These Indians were at war with the Iroquois. His report says that the town called Corontonan, the town of the Andastes, was palisaded and had a population of about 4000, with 800 warriors. The dwellings seem to have been well built, like those of the Hurons. Brule afterwards made a trip to the mouth of the Susquehanna. His object in visiting these Indians was to secure their alliance against the Iroquois or Five Nations. Later the Iroquois seem to have almost destroyed the Andastes or Susquehannocks.

At the time of the Revolution, the Indians of at least part of the tribes of the Six Nations tried to remain neutral, but the lure of British gold and the promise of a bounty on every scalp that should be brought in, won most of them over to that side. The Oneidas however took no part. The Shawnese, a Lenape tribe, at first remained neutral; their recognized leader, Cornstalk, tried by his eloquence to induce his people to side with the colonists, but in vain. In 1777, Cornstalk, in company with a friendly Delaware chief, named Red Hawk, came to Mt. Pleasant and informed the garrison that he could not influence his tribe to side with the Colonists. Capt. Arbuckle thought prudent that both should be detained within the fort, which was done. Soon after Ellinipsico, Cornstalk's son, came to the place in search of his father.

While they were there, two soldiers who were hunting in the woods near the fort, were killed by Indian prowlers, whereupon the enraged whites murdered the three hostages and the interpreter. Thus died Cornstalk, Ellinipsico and Red Hawk at the hands of the people they had wished to serve. This unprovoked and willful murder of the chiefs was afterwards fearfully avenged by the blood of the whites. From this time forward the Shawnese became the most deadly enemy to the pioneers along the border. The Shawnese seem to have been the sub-tribe of the Lenape that lived at Chinklacamoose. There were probably other tribes that frequented the Indian path that led through the county past this old town.

Evil White Men and Liquor Drinking the Ruin of the Indians. "It is now due the Indian to admit that the white men were the first to break faith, the first to break the promise made between the Indians and William Penn that 'This treaty shall stand as long as the sun and moon shall shine."

It was not until after the Indians had learned by bitter experience the bad character and treachery of many of the white people that they lifted a hand against them. They soon found that the whites coveted every bit of their land and that many of them were entirely unscrupulous as to how they got it.

Often the Indians were plied with liquor under the false pretense of friendship until they had signed away their rights under its benumbing influence. Even Benjamin Franklin once said: "If it is the design of Providence to exterminate these savages in order to make room for the cultivators of the earth, it seems not impossible that rum may be the means, for it has already killed off all the tribes that formerly inhabited the sea-coast."

When one, Sylvester Garland, in 1701 introduced rum among the Indians and induced them to drink, at a council held in Philadelphia, Shemekenwhol, chief of the Shawnese, complained to Governor William Penn, and at a council held on the 13th of October, 1701, this man was held in the sum of 100 pounds never to deal rum to the Indians again; and the bond and sentence were approved by Judge Shippen of Philadelphia. At the Chief's suggestion the Council enacted a law prohibiting the trade in rum with the Indians.

Red Jacket, a chief of the Five Nations, in a speech at Buffalo, wished that whiskey would never be less than a dollar a quart. He answered the missionaries remarks on drunkenness thus: "Go to the white man with that."

It is worthy of consideration whether, if liquor had not been in use as a beverage during the periods of exploring, trading and settlement in the colonies, most of the Indian wars and bloodshed might not have been avoided. This is a matter the historian has almost uniformly passed over all too lightly, yet the evil effects of its use are traceable in almost every page of early history.

Indian Treaties. By a treaty made at Fort Stanwix, N. Y., November 5th, 1768, a tract of land was purchased from the Indians extending from the north-east corner of Pennsylvania to the south-west corner, through the center of the province. The north boundary line extending through what is now Clearfield county, following the course of the West Branch on the south side thereof.

By a treaty made at Fort Stanwix, N. Y. in October 1784, between three commissioners of the United States, and the Sachems of the Six Nations, a large tract of land was conveyed to the whites by the Indians, not only in Pennsylvania but in New York also. This sale included all the remaining territory in the state not previously disposed of by the Indians. At this Council the Marquis de LaFayette was present and made a speech, but was not one of the cornmissioners. The Chief, Red Jacket, was also there, but took no part in the Council. Cornplanter made a speech on behalf of the Senecas, but "Old King" was the recognized Sachem of the tribe at the Council. This treaty was ratified by the Wyandotte and Delaware Indians at Fort McIntosh in January, 1785.

The lands acquired by the treaties of 1784-1785 were called the New Purchase. In accordance with these treaties it will be seen that no patents could be legally given by the province or state of Pennsylvania for lands south or east of the West Branch of the Susquehanna in Clearfield county, prior to 1768, that would be recognized by the Indians, as the treaty of 1754 was in dispute. Also that no legal patents could be given north or west of the West Branch before 1785, though surveys were made before these dates in the different sections.

The Lenape and Their Legends; Moral and Mental Characteristics The Missionaries were severe on them.

Brainerd describes them as "unspeakably ignorant and slothful, - not one in a thousand has the spirit of a man."

Zesberger called them "the most ordinary and vilest of savages."

Other competent observers report much more cheer-fully. One of the first explorers of the Delaware, Capt. Thomas Young, describes them as "Very well proportioned, well featured, gentle, tractable and docile."

"Of their domestic affections," Mr. Heckwelder writes: "I do not believe there are any people on earth who are more attached to their relatives and offspring than these Indians."

"Amidst all the devastating incursions of the Indians in North America, it is a remarkable fact that no Friend, who stood faithful to his principles in the disuse of weapons of war, the cause of which was generally well understood by the Indians, ever suffered personal molestation from them."

Account of the Conduct of the Society of Friends Toward the Indian Tribes,-London 1844.

General William H. Harrison writes these words about the Delawares: "A long and intimate knowledge of them, in pace and war, as enemies and friends, has left upon my mind the most favorable impression of their character for bravery, generosity, and fidelity to their engagements." Even the Missionary Brainerd writes: "The children learn with surprising readiness; their master tells me he never had an English school that learned, in general, so fast."

Religious Beliefs of the Lenape. As an embodiment of Light, some spoke of the sun as a Deity. Others imagined the Sun to be the only Deity, and that all things were made by him." -Brainerd.

"The primitive religious notions of the Delawares are, the worship of Light, especially in its concrete forms of fire and the sun; of the Four Winds, as typical of the cardinal points, and as the rain bringers; and of the Totemic Animal."

"Both sun and fire were only material emblems of the mystery of light. This was the body or the Fountain of Deity, which Brainerd says they described to him in terms that he could not clearly understand; something all light; a being in whom the earth, and all the things in it may be seen; a 'great man, clothed with the day of everlasting, continuance."

"From Him proceeded, in Him were, to Him returned, all things and the soul of all things. Such was the extraordinary doctrine which a converted priest of the native religion informed Brainerd was the teaching of the medicine men. 'After the strictest inquiry respecting their notions of the Deity,' says Brainerd, 'I find that in ancient times before the coming of the white people, some supposed there were four invisible powers who presided over the four corners of the earth.'"

"Heckwelder, Brainerd and Loskiel all assure us in positive terms that the notion of a bad spirit, a "devil," was wholly unknown to the aborigines, and entirely borrowed from the whites.

"Nor was the Divinity of light looked upon as a beneficent father, or anything of that kind. The Indian did not appeal to him for assistance, as he did to his totemic or personal gods.

"There was general belief in a soul, spirit or immaterial part of man.

"Their doctrine was that after death the soul went south where it would enjoy a happy life for a certain time, and then could return and be born again into the world. In moments of spiritual illumination, it was deemed possible to recall past existences and even to remember the happy epoch passed in the realm of bliss.

"The principal sacred ceremony was the dance and ac-companying song. This was called kanti kanti, from a verbal found in most Algonkin dialects, with the primary meaning to sing. From this, the settlers coined the word cantico, which has survived and become incorporated into the English tongue.

Manufactures. "The Lenape made some vessels of pottery, but they were generally quite crude. Their skill in manufacturing baskets, bead work and feather mantles, and in the dressing of deer skins was quite remarkable.

"The bark canoe and the moccasin were Indian inventions."

Indian corn was red and white flint. It was ground in mortars and sifted in a basket, then baked in loaves an inch thick and about six inches in diameter. They had a way of charring corn so it would keep for years, by picking the ears while green, roasting, drying in the sun, mixing with about a third of maple sugar and pounding into flour. This they carried with them on long trips.

Rawhide and bark were used for straps and ropes. The inside bark of the elm or bass-wood was boiled in ashes, separated into filaments, and then braided into rope.

Soap stones were hollowed out to form bowls, and sassafras wood was often used for the same purpose.

Arms. "Their arms were the war club, the tomahawk, tomhickaw, the spear, tanganaoun, and for defense says Bishop Ettivein, they carried a round shield of thick, dried hide. The spear was also used for spearing fish, which they also knew how to catch with "brush nets" and with fish hooks made of bone and of the dried claws of birds.

Decorations, etc. The paints and dyes used by the Lenape and neighboring Indians were derived from red, white and blue clays and from the juices of various plants; red from the Indian paint root; orange from the poke; black from a mixture of sumac and butternut bark.

The Indian who had artistically daubed his skin with red, ochreous clay, was esteemed in full dress, and delightful to look upon. Hence the term wulit, or walam,-fine, pretty, came to be applied to the paint itself.

The Indians' feathers and war paint were crude heraldry. The squaws did the work, they were more apt at it than the braves. Paint spread upon the face and body indicated the tribe, prowess, honor, etc., of the individual and family, and the arbitrary methods employed by the squaws made their heraldry hard to understand. The facial heraldry was unique both in representation and subject. Every picture had its significance. If a squaw was in love, she daubed a ring around one of her eyes. This meant "I am ready for a proposal." This symbol worn by a buck, indicated that he was in the market, too. When love matters were running smoothly with a squaw she painted her cheeks a cherry red, and a straight red mark on her forehead, which meant a happy road. A zigzag mark on the forehead meant lightning.

In case of death in the family, the squaw painted her cheeks black.

Before a battle, each warrior had smeared on the upper part of his body, a wolf, herron, snipe, etc., to indicate his tribe so that if he was killed, his tribe or clan could recognize his body and come for it.

This description of the use of paints for decoration applies particularly to the Senecas, one of the tribes of the Five Nations that frequented the paths and hunting grounds of Clearfield county.

The Indians were great ball players and fond of games, swift in races. The Indian was built for fleetness more than for strength, his life of pursuit educating him that way.

The only domestic animal they had was a small dog (allum) with pointed ears.

Counting and Time. They counted time by nights, and by "suns" or days, also by moons. They had a word for year, - gachtin, and counted their ages and the sequence of events by yearly periods. They kept a record of events by means of notched or painted sticks, each about six inches long tied up in bundles. So one of their books may be said to have been a bundle of such record sticks. Their word for book was malackhickan. They also did picture or sign writing on stone, wood, or the bark of trees.


Many, many years ago, before the white people came to this region, as the Indians pushed their canoes up the Otsinachsin on the way to the Ohio or to the Great Lakes to hunt and fish, they dug deep with their paddles as they passed the shelving rocks just below Chinklacamoose, and tried, if night were falling, to steal quickly by.

For here, in the dusk of the evening, the tall form of the Sorcerer was like to appear sharply outlined against the rocks of the cliff, as he waved his arms in menace, making incantations and shouting strange words which only he understood.

Then did the Red Men steer towards the opposite side of the river, plying their paddles with all their strength, seeking to slip by in the shadows, while the women and children hid their faces under their skin robes and shuddered.

Thus for many years did this hermit Indian Sorcerer haunt the beautiful forest meadow at the mouth of Chinklacamoose, no one daring to tarry there in the dusk of the evening or to dispute his lonely dominion.

But at last, one beautiful evening in summer, as night was beginning to fall, a brave young warrior was guiding his canoe up the stream and saw what a fine place this would be to live, to hunt the deer and to fish.

But just as these thoughts came to him, the Sorcerer appeared making his incantations and waving his arms in dreadful menace, so that the young Red Man's courage almost left him, as had that of the others. He hesitated but a moment, however. Then fitting an arrow to his bow and drawing it to the head, he let fly and shot the hermit Indian.

Ah! At last he had killed the great Sorcerer whose spells had put terror into the hearts of many a warrior! How proud he felt! Yet, fearful of the Sorcerer's power to harm even in death, the warrior gathering driftwood from the river bank, piled it high on the body and made a funeral pyre, watching and tending it until the Sorcerer's body was entirely consumed into ashes.

But just as this happened, there arose a great wind that caught up the ashes, whirling it in clouds over the warrior in a stinging, burning, blinding dust that smarted and tortured and stung him until he cried out in agony. Then the mighty wind swept on, carrying the "living dust and ashes" over the forest and into the swamps westward for many miles, so that even to this day are the lowlands and swamps every summer covered and infested with the "ponkis" (gnats), which means in the Indian language "living dust and ashes." They swarmed in clouds, getting into the eyes of the people and animals, stinging and torturing the flesh as did, long, long ago, the ashes of the Sorcerer's body when burned by the Indian Warrior on the rocky river brink opposite the mouth of Chinklacamoose.

But the brave young warrior was not to be deterred from his purpose of making a new home by the bites of the "ponkis", and soon after brought his fair young bride to the "clear field", where, others following, they built an Indian town that was given the name of the creek opposite whose mouth it stood, Chinklacamoose

How A Savage Hog Killed The Indian Babies. Paul Clover kept a public house, or hotel as we would call it now, near where the old Susquehanna House now stands by the river in Curwensville, selling liquor, of which the Indians were very fond.

One day an Indian squaw came, presumably to get a drink of whiskey at the tavern. She had with her, her twin pappooses which were strapped on a broad board, Indian fashion, so they could be carried on her back. Before going in, she reared the board, with the pappooses on it, up beside the door outside. After she had been in a while, there was a great racket and squalling outside, and when she came out she found that a savage hog that had been running at large, had attacked her poor helpless babies, torn them nearly to pieces and killed them. Picking them up, she ran screaming to the Indian camp which was in the cove back of where the B., R. & P. railroad bridge now crosses the little run opposite Arnoldtown.

Paul Clover was terribly alarmed for fear the Indians would come and kill him in their anger. He therefore immediately shut up the hog. And sure enough the Indian braves soon came over with their guns and tomahawks, very angry at what had occurred. Paul Clover seared nearly out 0f his wits, pointing to the hog where she was shut up shouted to them, "There she is! There she is! She did it! She did it! Kill her! Kill her!" But the Indians were not so unreasonable and when they found out just what had occurred, they said if Clover would promise to keep the hog shut up hereafter, they would not kill her. So they went away again.

Source:  Pages 80-96, Clearfield County Pennsylvania Present and Past,  T.L Wall, 1925

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