Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

February 15, 2018

 

 

 

CHIEF KING HENDRICK

(Theyanoguin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       Chief King Hendrick was born on March 28, 1692 in Westfield, Massachusetts.  His mother was a Mohawk Indian of the Bear Clan and his father was believed to be a Stockbridge Mohegan Indian.

        He was the second Native American to be called King Hendrick.  The first was Tejonihokarawa (1660-1735) of the Wolf Clan.  A painting of the former done in 1710 is often mistaken for Theyanoguin, although the Wolf Clan totem appears in the painting.  The English knew Theyanoguin  as Harry or Henry Peters, while the French called him “Tete Blanche” or White Hair.

       Theyanoguin was larger than pictures show.  He was about six feet tall, slender with three tattoo lines across his forehead.  He wore his hair in a scalp lock and had a tattoo of a serpent on his left cheek.

       Hendrick played a prominent role in colonial affairs in the first half of the 1700s.  His knowledge of language enabled him to be involved in treaty negotiations between the Indians and the colonial British.  His friendship with Sir William Johnson and other Britishers enabled him to vie with or best the British for control of the fur trade, a major colonial enterprise.

       Hendrick’s known life has a short span of 15 years.  Early on he moved with his mother to Canajoharie where his brother Abraham was most likely born.  At age 40, in 1772, he travelled to Massachusetts to try to bring a peace between the Whites and the Abenaki Indians.  This effort failed as he was perceived to be trying to recruit soldiers.

       In 1740, Hendrick visited England where he was given a suit of clothes and a cocked hat by King George.  He is shown in an engraving wearing these gifts which he later wore at the Albany Conference in 1754.

       In 1744, Hendrick travelled to Boston to effect treaties and pacts with the British.  He was present at Governor Clinton’s conference in Albany in 1745.

       With other Mohawks, Hendrick went to Montreal in 1746 where they were given gifts of good will by the French.  On the way home, the Mohawks attacked a party of the French on Isle LaMotte on the Richelieu River.  This act marked Hendrick as ‘Most Wanted’ by the French.

       In the spring of 1747, Sir William Johnson, a close friend of Hendrick, had the Mohawks attack the French in the Lake Ontario-Oswego river area.  In 1748, Hendrick and other chiefs were invited to talk with the French again but there is no evidence the invitation was pursued.

       Sir William Johnson formed strong bonds with the Native Americans.  He had a red coat and suit which Hendrick admired.  Johnson gave it to him after Hendrick told him he had dreamed about it.  Johnson responded that in his dream Hendrick had given him 150 acres of Iroquois land.  Hendrick gave the gift of land but stated , “I will never dream with you again.”

Sir William Johnson, the British Indian Agent who helped develop good relations with the Native Americans following the French and Indian War. He was headquartered in Johnstown, NY, where today his home is a national treasure, but he traveled extensively throughout upstate New York.

       In 1750, Hendrick and Johnson unsuccessfully tried to get the Ohio Territory tribes to ally with the British.

        Hendrick was at the Albany Conference of 1754 when treaties between the British and most of the Iroquois were signed.  He attended a conference in Philadelphia the following year, returning to Canajoharie in May.

       In 1755, Hendrick, his son and his brother Abraham were at Lake George in the early days of the French and Indian War.  Here Chief King Hendrick delivered his famous words concerning going to battle.  “One stick will break, several will not”.  He noted that the force which Johnson wanted to send out against the French were “too few to fight and too many to die.”  Johnson then increased his force to 1,000 men.

       These were ambushed to the south of Fort William Henry.  Chief King Hendrick who had gone with the group was killed in the Battle of Lake George on September 8, 1755.

       Hendrick served his people well as a diplomat, orator and war chief, showing loyalty to his clan, tribe, nation and the British.  His legacy remains marking him as one the most notable Native Americans in the pre-Revolutionary colonial days.

Sources:

Dodge, Edward J. “King Hendrick” in Fort George Advice, Spring 2004.

Dodge, Edward J. Relief Is Greatly Wanted: The Battle of Fort William Henry. Bowie, Maryland, Heritage Books, Inc., 1998.

Eisenhadt, Ed. The Encyclopedia of New York State. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 2005.

 

 

This manuscript was found among the papers of the Warren County Historical Society.  It was edited by Stan Cianfarano, Warren County Historian for the Warren County Historical Society.

 

 

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