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Horatio Jones, Indian Translator: 1763 - ?

[Editor's Note: This esteemed Indian Interpreter was captured by Seneca Indians as a boy and spent 5 years in captivity. He learned their language, ways and history, including the story that the Seneca came out of a mountain, in the area of Canandaigua, NY. The Granger letter of January 6, 1816 is addressed from the Oneida Indian Chief, Captain Abner Hendrick , in New Stockingbridge, Oneida County, NY to both Erastus Granger and Horatio Jones, Indian Interpreter. The information below is borrowed from 'The Life of Horatio Jones', by George H. Harris, published in the late 1800s.]
Erastus Letter from 1816

Both Horatio Jones and Jasper Parrish were the interpreters at the treaty concluded September 15, 1797, at Geneseo,(.Big Tree.) at which a contract was entered into, under the sanction of the United States Government, between Robert Morris and the Seneca Nation, for the sale to Morris of all the Indian lands in New York State west of the Genesee, excepting ten reservations aggregating 337 square miles. This is known as the Treaty of Big Tree. It is said that 3,000 Indians gathered for the occasion, the negotiations lasting three weeks. Here, even more strikingly that, on any previous occasion, Horatio Jones was the medium of communication through whom the Six Nations signified their relinquishment of their rich domain.


It was in 1802 that Horatio Jones served as interpreter in a treaty between the Seneca Nation and Joseph Ellicott, representing Wilhelm Willink and his company of Dutch land speculators at Amsterdam by which a tract a mile wide along the south shore of Lake Erie, from the month of Eighteen Mile Creek to the Cattaraugus, and another tract on the south side of Cattaraugus Creek, were exchanged for lands lying to the north of the Cattaraugus, and now embraced in the Cattaraugus reservation.


One further extract from "The Life of Horatio Jones" might gracefully be given. In 1798 Horatio Jones and Jasper Parrish were given gratifying evidence of the esteem in which they were personally held by the Seneca chiefs: .

"The Senecas wished to give to Horatio Jones and Jasper Parrish a substantial proof of their friendship and goodwill. This motive brought them together at Geneseo in the year of 1798. The occasion proved to be of lasting importance in the history of Buffalo. The principal speech at this council was made by Farmers Brother. As interpreted, signed by the chiefs present and submitted to the Legislature for approval, it ran as follows: .

"Brothers: As you are once more assembled in council for the purpose of doing honor to yourselves and justice to your country, we, your brothers, the sachems, chiefs, and warriors of the Seneca Nation, request you to open your ears and give attention to our voice and wishes. .

"You will recollect the late contest between you and your father, the great King of England. This contest threw the inhabitants of this whole island into a great tumult and commotion, like a raging whirlwind which tears up the trees, and tosses to and fro the leaves so that no one knows from whence they come. or where they sill fall. This whirlwind was so directed by the Great Spirit above as to throw into our arms two of your infant children, Jasper Parrish and Horatio Jones. We adopted them into our families, and made them our children. We loved then, and nourished them. They lived with us many years. At length the Great Spirit spoke to the whirlwind and it was still. A clear and uninterrupted sky appeared. The path of peace was opened, and the chain of friendship was once more made bright. Then these, our adopted children, left us to seek their relations; we wished them to remain among us, and promised if they would return and live in our country. to give each of them a seat of land for them and their children to sit down upon. They have returned and have, for several years past, been serviceable to us as interpreters. We still feel our hearts beat with affection for them, and nosy wish to fulfill the promise we made them, and reward them for their services. .

We have therefore made up our minds to give them a seat of two square miles of land, lying on the outlet of Lake Erie, about three miles below Black Rock, beginning at the mouth of a creek known by the name of Scoy-gu-quoy-des Creek, running one mile from the River Niagara up said creek, thence northerly as the river runs two miles, thence westerly one mile to the river, thence tip the river as the river runs two miles, to the place of beginning, so as to contain two square miles.' .

''Thc tract, or rather tracts, of land which the Legislature contributed to the interpreters, in accordance with the wishes of the Senecas, have borne the names of Jones and Parrish from that day to this. They were laid out by the Surveyor General of the State in 1803, and form the irregular northwestern corner of the city. Both tracts are part of the Mile Strip, the Parrish tract being the southerly one, its south line following the Scajaquada, and its north line running from the Niagara, just above the month of Cornelius Creek to near the west end of Race Street.

In 1824 Parrish sold a strip across the northerly side of his grant, 172.46 acres, to William A. Bird, and this has since been known as the Bird Farm. .

"The Jones tract extends from the northerly line of the Parrish tract running back one mile from the river, to what is now the southeast side of Riverside Park, along Esser Avenue, and intersecting lands between Doyle and Wiley avenues. The irregular extension of the city limits northwesterly from the Jones tract, is hounded by a continuation of the northwest line of Riverside Park, to an intersection of the easterly line of the Mile Strip. This old State reserve -the Mile Strip-is responsible for many peculiarities in the map of Buffalo." .

"The gift by the Seneca Nation to the interpreters, and especially the gratefulness expressed by them on that occasion, through Farmer's Brother, is one of innumerable instances found in America records proving that the American Indian was inherently honorable, and nobly generous in thought; fearless and ferocious in battle. undoubtedly, but appreciative, affectionate and unselfish in home life. Withal a man of uplifting dignity of thought and action; this notwithstanding that some reached a besotted condition of wretchedness through an insatiable craving for spirituous liquor Red jacket was a striking example: "Dignified, high-minded, a wonderful orator, yet often in a pitiable state of drunkenness...".



Link to online version of biography of Horatio Jones. The creators of this digital collection wish to offer their thanks to Cornell for use of George Harris' book and their online collection.




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