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Red Jacket (Seneca Chief)

(The following accounts were originally posted at the EZBoard Forum "The Frybread Hut" in the section called INDIGINEOUS VIEWS by Craig West. I have re-copied them here in order to preserve them for those who might be interested in reading them.)

DEATH OF RED JACKET.

*** The wife and daughter were the only ones to whom he spoke parting words or gave a parting blessing; but as his last hour drew nigh his family all gathered around him, and mournful it was to think that the children were not his own his were all sleeping in the little churchyard where he was soon to be laid; they were his stepchiIdren the children of his beloved wife.

So there were none around his dying bed but step-children. These he had always loved and cherished, and they loved and honored him, for this their mother had taught them. The wife sat by his pillow and rested her hand upon his head. At his feet stood the two sons [Henry and Daniel Two Guns], who are now aged and Christian men, and by his side the little Ruth, whose little hand rested upon his withered and trembling palm. His last words were still, "Where is the missionary?" And then he clasped the child to his bosom while she sobbed in anguish her ears caught his hurried breathing his arms relaxed their hold she looked np and he was gone.

HOW THE GREAT CHIEF'S REMAINS WERE LOST AND RECOVERED.

BUFFALO, June 25, i884.

Gen. Ely S. PARKER:

Dear Sir

In 1852, Red Jacket's remains reposed in the old Mission Cemetery at East Buffalo, surrounded by those of Young King, Capt. Pollard, Destroy Town, Little Billy, Mary Jemison, and others, renowned in the later history of the Senecas. His grave was marked by a marble slab, erected by the eminent comedian, Henry Placide, but which had been chipped away to half of its original proportions by relic hunters and other vandals. The cemetery was the pasture ground for vagrant cattle, and was in a scandalous state of dilapidation and neglect. The legal title to the grounds was and still is in the possession of the Ogden Land Company, although at the time of the last treaty the Indians were led to believe that the cemetery and church grounds were excluded from its operation. At the time mentioned (1852), George Copway, the well-known Ojibwa lecturer, delivered two or mere lectures in Buffalo; in the course of which lie called attention to Red Jacket's neglected grave and agitated the subject of the removal of his dust to a more secure place and the erection of a suitable monument. A prominent business man, the late Wheeler Hotchkiss, who lived adjoining the cemetery. became deeply interested in the project, and he, together with Copway assisted by an undertaker named Farwell, exhumed the remains and placed them in a new coffin1 which was deposited with the bones in the cellar of Hotchkiss' residence.

There were a few Senecas still living on the Buffalo Creek Reservation, among them Moses Stevenson, Thomas Jemison, Daniel Two Guns, and others. They discovered that the old chiefs grave had been violated almost simultaneously with its accomplishment. Stevenson, Two Guns, and a party of excited sympathizers among the whites, hastily gathered together and repaired to Hotchkiss' residence, where they demanded that the remains should be given up to them. The request was complied with and the bones were taken to Cattaraugus and placed in the custody of Ruth Stevenson, the favorite step-daughter of Red Jacket, and a most worthy woman. Ruth was the wife of James Stevenson, brother of Moses. Her father was a contemporary of Red Jacket and a distinguished chief She was a sister of Daniel Two guns. Her father, a renowned warrior and chief fell at the battle of Chippewa, an ally of the United States.

When the demand was made by the excited multitude Hotchkiss manifested considerable perturbation at the menacing attitude of the crowd. He turned to Farwell and, indicating the place of deposit of the remains, requested that Farwell should descend into the cellar and bring up the coffin or box, which, by the way, was made of red cedar and about four feet in length.

Ruth preserved the remains in her cabin for some years and finally buried them, but resolutely concealed from every living person any knowledge of the place of sepulture. Her husband was then dead and she was a childless, lone widow. As she became advanced in years it grew to be a source of anxiety to her what dispo-sition should finally be made of these sacred relics. She consulted the Rev. Asher Wright and his wife on the subject, and concluded at length to deliver them over to the Buffalo Historical Society, which, with the approval of the Seneca Council, had undertaken to provide a permanent resting place for the bones of the old chief and his compatriots.

I do not believe that there is any ground for doubting the identity or the remains, and I think Hotchkiss and his confederates should be acquitted of any intention to do wrong. It was an impulsive and ill-advised act on their part. The few articles buried with the body were found intact. The skull is in excellent preserva-tion and is unmistakably that of Red Jacket. Eminent surgeons, who have exam-ined it and compared it with the best portraits of Red Jacket, attest to its genuineness.

The Rev, Asher Wright was a faithful missionary among the Senecas for nearly half a century.

There was no opportunity afforded Hotchkiss and his companions to fraudulently substitute another skeleton, had they been so disposed. I knew Hotchkiss well and have his written statement of the facts. Farwell, who still lives, and is a very reputable man, says that when the remains were surrendered to the Indians the skull had (as it has now) clinging to it in places a thin crust of plaster of Paris, showing that an attempt had been made to take a cast of it, which probably was arrested by the irruption of Two Guns and his band.

I have dictated the foregoing because on re-perusal of your esteemed letter I discovered I had not met the question which was in, your mind when you wrote Mr. Marshall, and I greatly fear that I have wearied you by reciting details with which you were already familiar.
The old Mission Cemetery, I grieve to say, has been ,invaded by white foreigners, who are burying their dead there with a stolid indifference to every sentiment of justice or humanity.
Yours very respectfully,
WILLIAM C. BRYANT.

==============================================

The famous soldier and Indian chief; Gen. Ely S. Parker, who was chief of staff to Gen. Grant during the war, and wrote out the terms of Lee's capitulation, recently sent the following letter to Mr. William C. Bryant, of the Buffalo Historical Society:

No. 300 MULBERRY SEREET NEW VORK, May 8, 1884

W. C. BRYANT, Esq., Buffalo, N.Y.
Dear Sir,
Yours of the 25th ult was duly received I am very much obliged to Mr. Marshall for mentioning to you the circumstance of my having written him on the subject of the re-internment of Red Jacket's remains. My principal object was to obtain an assurance of the genuineness of the remains. This I did because J was informed many years ago that Red Jacket's grave had been surreptitiously opened and his bones taken therefrom into the City of Buffalo, where some few "Indians, under the leadership of Daniel Two Guns a Seneca chief, recovered them a few hours after they were taken. They were never re-interred, but were securely boxed up and secreted, first in one Indian's house and then in another At length I saw by the papers that they were now lodged in the vaunt of some bank in Buffalo, I wished only to be satisfied that his remains which the Buffalo Historical Society proposed to re-inter were really those or the celebrated chief Red Jacket. That was all. Whatever views I may have entertained respecting this scheme, which is not new, is now of no consequence, for your letter advises me that the subject has been fully discussed with the survivors of the families of the departed chiefs, and also of the Council of the Seneca Nation, who have all assented to the project of re-interment and to the site selected.

I am, with respect, yours, etc.,
ELY S. PARKER,

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