Oneida Interviews by Lyman Draper

The Oneida removed to a reservation in Wisconsin beginning about 1820, a migration process that lasted until about 1880.  This move was influenced by a white man named Eleazor Williams who was a missionary among the tribe beginning about 1817.  Lyman Draper interviewed a number of tribal members in Wisconsin in 1877. 

We often read about Indian slavery, Indian captives and marriage among the Europeans, but seldom can we obtain any perspective relative to the frequency of these occurrences or how they affected different families.

By reviewing the various interviews, it’s possible to piece together a family history.  Some stories seem to conflict, but that could be due in part to the fact that English naming traditions had been adopted and people had the same first and last names in subsequent generations.

One extended family is discussed, that of Catherine Denny and Jacob Doxtator. 

Let’s start with Jacob who died in 1832, aged about 77, a chief of the Oneida.  Unfortunately, he drank a bit too much, got into a scuffle and had his neck broken.  Their sons were Peter who married a Stockbridge woman and went to live with the Stockbridge and about whom nothing more was known.  Son Cornelius, his father’s successor as chief, was killed in the War of 1812 at age 56, tomahawked and scalped in front of his two sons, aged 15 and 17 who were also fighting.  Jacob’s son George who married Aunt Polly, born of Delaware parents in Cape May, NJ, who was being interviewed, and daughter Dolly who married a John Denny, son of Abram Denny whose father was a French captive from the Mackinaw area (of Michigan) and a Mohawk mother.  Abram’s father also had a brother, Martin, who was separated from him when they were captives in the area of Niagara Falls.  They never heard any more about the brother. 

Jacob Doxtator’s wife, Catherine Denny, whose Indian name was “Two Kettles Together,” was the daughter of Abram Denney, although it is unclear if this is the same Abram Denny as discussed above.  He died during the removal to Missouri and Kansas.  Catherine aided her husband and fought physically in the Revolutionary War.  After he was shot through the wrist, in addition to loading and firing her own gun, she reloaded his as his injury prevented reloading. 

Jacob Doxtator was the son of Hon Yerry Doxtator and Sarah Martin who was captured as a Shawnee prisoner as a child, along with her sister, Katy, who remained among the Mohawk and never married. 

Hon Yerry Doxtator was the son of a German man named Doxtator and a Mohawk woman.  Another source also says she too was a Shawnee prisoner.  She also had a child or children by a German man named Schuyler whose nickname was Flathead.  His grandson was Moses Schuyler who led the settlement in Canada in 1857 with about 600 Oneida.  Moses father was Blatcop or Platcoff whose Indian name was “Old Legs” and he is noted as being a very able warrior, not a chief, but a counselor of the Nation.  Blatcop died when he was about 80 in 1819 or 1822.  Hon Yost Schuyler, remembered by Aunt Polly who was born about 1786 as being very aged when he died about 1810 and described as a Mohawk German may have been the father of Blatcup, Moses Schuyler’s father.

Hon Yerry Doxtator died about 1794 and it was noted that he was probably a Pagan as there “were but few then of the Christian Party.”

Catherine Denny and Jacob Doxtator were very clearly Oneida in every way, yet, ironically, in their family history, there is not one Oneida ancestor discussed.  Catherine’s father was the French man Denny and she probably had an Indian mother.  Jacob’s mother was Shawnee and his father was the child of a German and a Mohawk who may also have been a Mohawk adopted Shawnee captive.

Jacob Doxtator was born about 1762, so these intermarriages with Europeans took place in the early 1700s.  Intermarriage between tribes and with Indians captured from other tribes was routine and had been occurring for generations.

Other interesting facts also were revealed during these interviews.

The people interviewed mentioned that there was a lot of intermarriage between the Americans and the British with the Indians.  The British General Brant himself fathered at least one female child with an Indian woman. 

Skenando was a Tuscarora chief and apparently fought for both sides.  He was captured and held in a British prison until he agreed to aid the British as a condition of his release.  After the war, he returned to the Oneida 5 years later after realizing his error in judgment, confessed his error and asked forgiveness.  Apparently someone nearly killed him, but he survived and lived among the tribe for the rest of his life.  He was already an older man when he fought in the Revolution.  He was captured when delivering a letter that his warriors had shrunk from delivering.  In one location, it mentions that he was in his 70s in prison, although that’s somewhat difficult to believe, and we know that he had grown sons at that time due to Draper’s interviews.  Skenando could have been born in North Carolina if he were age 50 so born about 1720.  If he was ago 70, then he was born in North Carolina. 

When the war was over, apparently Brant made advances to persuade Skenando to remain in Canada, but Skenando said his case was different from the Mohawk Chiefs, as all of their people had fled to Canada and their lands were confiscated, but most of the Oneidas remained in their native locality and he would prefer to go back to his people.  Skenando’s Indian name was “the Deer” which was written as As-ga-non-ton-ha. 

Many Indian names are given, translated to English, which are quite interesting.  Hon Yerry Doxtator was known as “he who takes up the snow shoe”. Another Oneida war Captain is noted as “The Standing Bridge” and another, “the Lodging Tree.”  Silversmith is mentioned, but no one seems to know anything about him.  Two more Lieutenants are known as “Huffs Sticking Up” and “His Lips followed Him.” 

Henry Powless father, Paul Powless, was a chief and was known as the “Saw Mill.”  Paul died about 1847 at nearly 90 years of age (so born about 1758). It was reported that Paul used to speak about the settlement on Oriskany which was comprised of mixed Mohawks and Oneidas being burned.  He mentioned that it was “quite a settlement.”

The Indian name of a grandfather only referenced as Cornelius was “Drag him in the House.” 

Another war was mentioned as well, having taken place in 1764, noted as a “little war” when the Mohawks and Oneidas went against the Delawares on the Upper Susquehanna.  Note that in the War of 1812, the Delaware Chief is listed among the 6 Nations veterans.  In the 1877 interviews, Aunt Polly mentions that she was born among the Delaware in New Jersey.

Although these tribes seem to war occasionally, they also seem to intermarry relatively regularly as well.


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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11 Responses to Oneida Interviews by Lyman Draper

  1. Becki Molitor says:

    Hi Roberta,

    A friend just sent me the link to this article on Draper and the Denny and Doxtator lines. I am currently researching this branch of my tree and I have different information. I am very interested is correcting anything that I have wrong and wondered if you could clarify some of the discrepancies.

    First, according to the Draper Manuscript Vol. 11 U, page 196, I have that “Hon Yerry was shot through the right wrist so as to disable him from loading his gun…” and you have Jacob Doxator as the one shot. Did I misread this bit or was there some other information used to draw this conclusion?

    I also have Sarah Martin, Hon Yerry’s wife as “Two Kettles Together”. I ran across this information in “Forgotten Allies” by Joseph Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin (page 149,) They reference it back to the Draper Manuscript as well.

    You have a Catherine Denny married to Jacob Doxtator. I only mention her because I do have two “Catherine Dennys” in my tree and would like to weed this Catherine out from my Catherines. One is Catherine Nellis who married Abraham Denny, son of John Denny and Dorothea Doxtator (daughter of Hon Yerry). And then Catherine Denny Sheriff, the daughter of Amos Denny (son of Abraham and Catherine) and Mariah Babcock. I also have the information that the “Frenchman who was Catherine’s father” as being the father of John Denny, his name possibly Louis Denny.

    I do have couple of “brick walls” that I am trying to tear down so if you could share with me your sources for my incorrect info, it would be greatly appreciated. I would love to correct any of my wrong info.

    Thanks in advance for your time and consideration!

  2. Ea opfer says:

    Trying to locate info on rachel and john brown listed in 1st Christian movement with moses schuler to wisconsin territory. John lists his birthplace broome n.y. John and rachel are in the 1840 census of rock co. Wisconsin. Seemed they denied bring Indian.

  3. Roberta-
    The information in this article is so inaccurate, I ask you please delete it.
    Caroline K. Andler

    • Carolyn, I publish records I find in contemporaneous documents. If you can provide me with documented, sourced information which provides updated information, I will publish it as well and make a note on the original document. Roberta

  4. Antonio Doxtator says:

    This information here is all wrong, it’s just transcribed all wrong. None of it is correct, these are my ancestors and the correct records were all documented with the help of tribal records.

  5. Talib Cornelius says:

    It is interesting my father has a duppleganger in today’s Munsee tribe, My brother in another Haudenosuanee Tribe our last name is Cornelius. I think I will follow your advice Roberta.

  6. EuniceAnn Prier says:

    I am at the end of my search. I was told my great grandmother was part native american. All my family was told thiss and proud. I have my family tree and have reconcilled with my inabilty to identify Mary Jane Brown Prier born 1834 in rick Co.wisac. To john brown and rachel jay ( lisle chenango n.y. ). So i could do DNA. Might do. I was born on or by the trail of tears in Springfield , mo highway 13 by pass. ( just found that out). Did i feel the pains? Oh well, all things cannot be found out!

  7. EuniceAnn says:

    Finally doing the dna thing. We were all told we were part native americans thru our great grandmother Mary Jane brown born 1834 rock co. Wisc. Her father John J Brown married Rachel Jay daughter iof peter jay in Broome NY. No leads about our heritage being Am natuve . So I guess i will know if the dna is accurate. I am 74 years been a long research journey!

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