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Subject: Pontiac's War, Smallpox, History of Pennsylvania, History of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Thomas Hutchins Map of Henry Bouquet's 1764 Expedition
Turtleheart, (Turtle's Heart or Tortle's Heart) was a Delaware (Lenape) principal warrior and Chief who lived during the French and Indian Wars, and Pontiac's War. He and Lenape Chief Killbuck represented the Delaware Nation at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768.

Early Life and Family

Little is known about the exact date of his birth or death. Apparently, Turtleheart was possibly the brother of Wolf Clan Chief Custaloga (Pancake) and perhaps the father or uncle of Captain Pipe called Konieschquanoheel and also known as Hopocan. In 1763 he lived in the Indian Town of Shaningo. located on a tributary of Big Beaver Creek. In the Journal of James Kenny, operator of the Trading Post at Fort Pitt, he writes ."This morning soon came over ye Allegheny Custologas' Brother & Son James Mocasin ye Tortles Heart & another Ind'n from Shenangoe."[1]

Pontiac's War

For the main article, see: Pontiac's War

A.E. Ewing, descendant of Indian Captive, John Ewing, writes that "the new moon or "Pontiac moon of May, (13)[2]1763, had blood on it. The Algonquin chieftains, in secret council near Detroit, summoned by king Pontiac April 27, 1763, agreed to attack all the English posts recently surrendered by the French. A certain phase of the moon in May was to be the signal for a concerted attack. This was the beginning of Pontiac's War."[3]

Forts and battles of Pontiac's War

The commencement wasn't concerned with just killing the garrisons at the Forts - but the extermination of some one hundred traders between Fort Loyall Hannon (Ligonier) and Fort Du Troit (Detroit). Indian Captive, John McCullough, after witnessing the shooting, tomahawking and stabbing of trader, Tom Green, wrote,"All the Indians in the Town immediately collected together, and started off to the Salt Licks, where the rest of the Traders were, and murdered the whole of them, and divided their goods amongst them, and likewise their horses. My adopted brother took two horse loads of beaver-skin and set off with them to Tus-ca-law-ways [Tuscarawas], where a number of Traders resided, and sold the fur to them." Of those traders, upon receiving payment, McCullough continues "However, as I heard, they went on safe until they got to Ksack-hoong [Sauconk], an old Indian Town at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio, where they came to an Indian camp unawares. Probably the Indians had discovered them before they reached the camp, as they were ready for them. As soon as they made their appearance, the Indians fired on them. The whole of them fell excepting old Daniel and one [Thomas] Calhoon [and three of his men], who made his escape into Pittsburg."

On Day of May 27 James Kenny continues: "I went to ye Shore to meet them & invited 'em to our House to Deal, so most of them came; we Delt about 80 Pounds worth before Dinner; they were in an unusual hurry, bot a Good deal of Powd'r & Lead & want'd more Powd'r but we had it not well to Spair; they seemed in no bad humour but rather in fear & haste, ye Tortle's Heart did not cross ye river with ye rest but went to Allex'r McKee & asked him when he tho't to go down in ye Country, McKee answer'd in Ten Days; ye Indian desired he would go that Day or in four Days at furthest or else he should not expect to see him alive more & Signified as if ye Indians was just ready to Strike us."[4]

In the report to Colonel Henry Bouquet by Captain Simeon Ecuyer, Turtleheart was responsible, at "Beaver Creek", for killing traders "John Calhoon" and "Tho's Coplin".

Siege of Fort Pitt

For the main article, see Siege of Fort Pitt

After Indians around Pittsburgh heard the news of Fort Detroit, they attacked Fort Pitt on June 22, 1763. Too strong to be taken by force, the fort was kept under siege throughout July. Meanwhile, Delaware and Shawnee war parties raided deep into the Pennsylvania settlements, taking captives and killing unknown numbers of men, women, and children. Panicked settlers fled eastwards.

William Trent's Journal entry states that On June 24, "The Turtles Heart a principal Warrior of the Delawares and Mamaltee a Chief came within a small distance of the Fort Mr. McKee went out to them and they made a Speech letting us know that all our [POSTS] as Ligonier was destroyed, that great numbers of Indians [were coming and] that out of regard to us, they had prevailed on 6 Nations [not to] attack us but give us time to go down the Country and they desired we would set of immediately. The Commanding Officer thanked them, let them know that we had everything we wanted, that we could defend it against all the Indians in the Woods, that we had three large Armys marching to Chastise those Indians that had struck us, told them to take care of their Women and Children, but not to tell any other Natives, they said they would go and speak to their Chiefs and come and tell us what they said, they returned and said they would hold fast of the Chain of friendship. Out of our regard to them we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect. They then told us that Ligonier had been attacked, but that the Enemy were beat of"

Attempted Biological Warfare

Biological Warfare was Ineffective

While no existing evidence supports that this deliberate attempt of "the Spaniard's Method",[5][6] was successful, a preponderance of documented evidence suggests that the smallpox among the natives preceded the exchange, was contracted from a different source, and the attempt to "inoculate" the recipients, Turtle's Heart and Mamaltee,[7] was unsuccessful.

Turtleheart and Mamaltee did not get Smallpox

On his own initiative and according to sundries trader and militia Captain, William Trent, on June 24, 1763, Captain Ecuyer, gave two blankets, one silk handkerchief and one linen from the smallpox hospital,[8] to two Delaware delegates, Turtleheart, a principal warrior, and Maumaultee, a Chief.[9]

Smallpox (variola major) has an incubation period of about two weeks before eruptions appear on the skin. On July 26, 1763, a full month later, an Indian delegation, Turtleheart and Maumaultee among them, came back to the Fort, under a flag of truce, to parley.[10]

Turtleheart And Killbuck would later represent the Delaware Nation at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768[11]

Smallpox Preceded the Exchange of 24 June 1763

Thomas Hutchins Map of Henry Bouquet's 1764 Expedition
Thomas Hutchins, in his August 1762 Journal entry among the Natives at Fort "Mineamie", reports: "The 20th, The above Indians met, and the Ouiatanon Chief spoke in behalf of his and the Kickaupoo Nations as follows: '"Brother, We are very thankful to Sir William Johnson for sending you to enquire into the State of the Indians. We assure you we are Rendered very miserable at Present on Account of a Severe Sickness that has seiz'd almost all our People, many of which have died lately, and many more likely to Die."

Later, Hutchins writes "The 30th, Set out for the Lower Shawneese Town' and arriv'd 8th of September in the afternoon. I could not have a meeting with the Shawneese untill the 12th, as their People were Sick and Dying every day."[12]

Gershom Hicks, taken captive in May 1763 by the Shawnee and Delaware people reported that the epidemic was well underway, among the natives, since spring of 1763. Hicks escaped and arrived to Fort Pitt on April 14, 1764 and reported to the 42nd Regiment Captain, William Grant, "that the Small pox has been very general & raging amongst the Indians since last spring and that 30 or 40 Mingoes, as many Delawares and some Shawneese Died all of the Small pox since that time, that it still continues amongst them."[13]

Smallpox from a Different Source

John McCullough, was Delaware captive, since July, 1756, who was then 15 years old, wrote that "Soon after we got home to Mahoning, instead of taking me to Pittsburgh, agreeable to their promise, they set out on their Fall hunt, taking me along with them; we staid out till some time in the Winter before we returned" He continues that, on June 2, 1796,[14][15] "Shortly after the commencement of the war, they plundered a tanyard near to Pittsburgh, and carried away several horse-loads of leather;",[16][17] and recalled that, beginning on July 5th, 1763,[18] the Lenape people, under the leadership of Shamokin Daniel, "committed several depredations along the Juniata; it happened to be at a time when the smallpox was in the settlement where they were murdering, the consequence was, a number of them got infected, and some died before they got home, others shortly after; those who took it after their return, were immediately moved out of the town, and put under the care of one who had the disease before."[19][20]

No Remarkable Connection

With the vast wealth of contemporary eyewitness accounts from the French, British and Native Camps, none make mention of an outbreak in the July, 1763 (two weeks after the exchange) except John McCullough - who claimed, verifiably so, that the Delaware contracted it in the Juniata River Valley.[21][22]

Mary Jemison, a Seneca captive, was captured in 1755, in what is now Adams County, Pennsylvania, from her home along Marsh Creek. She married to a Delaware, and later chose to remain with the Seneca over liberation. In James E. Seaver's (Jemison's biographer)interview, she describes her many hardships including travels to Fort Pitt. In her 7th year of captivity, (1762)she reports the death of her first husband from "sickness" - but makes no mention of smallpox among her adoptive people.[23]

Treaty of Fort Stanwix

For the main article, see: Treaty of Fort Stanwix

The Treaty of King George I.

"On the 29th [of September] some Delawares arrived from Muskingham who left the Shawanees at Fort Pitt on their way to Fort Stanwix

30th The Bounds between the Mohawks and Stockbridge Indians were adjusted to mutual Satisfaction, and the latter returned home

At the beginning of October, there were 800 Indians assembled & continued coming in daily till after the Treaty was opened. The upper Nations still remaining behind through evil Reports, and Belts sent amongst them. Sir William dispatched Messengers to hasten them and held several Congresses with those on the spot, antecedent to the Treaty, for adjusting differences and preparing them to enter heartily upon business on the arrival of the rest

On the 15th of October Governor Penn urged by the Affairs of his Province set off for Philadelphia leaving behind him as Commissioners Messrs Peters & Tilghman.

By the 22d there were 2200 Indians collected and several large Parties coming in the next day, amongst whom were all the chiefs of the upper Nations, Sir William prepared to open the Congress on the 24th[24]

While Turtleheart signed, he did not make a presentation at the Treaty.


  1. ^ Journal of James Kenny, 1761-1763.
  2. ^ Online Interactive: Moon phases for UTC
  3. ^ Ewing, A.E.:Cornstalk's Raid on the Greenbrier - 1763. West Virginia Review, June 1936 pp. 266-268
  4. ^ Kenny, James: Journal of James Kenny, 1761-1763. pg. 198
  5. ^ (pg. 95)
  6. ^ Ecuyer, Simeon: Fort Pitt and letters from the frontier (1892)Captain Simeon Ecuyer's Journal: Entry of June 24,1763
  7. ^ Ecuyer, Simeon: Fort Pitt and letters from the frontier (1892)Captain Simeon Ecuyer's Journal: Entry of June 24,1763
  8. ^ Fenn, Elizabeth A. Biological Warfare in Eighteenth-Century North America: Beyond Jeffery Amherst
  9. ^ Ecuyer, Simeon: Fort Pitt and letters from the frontier (1892)Captain Simeon Ecuyer's Journal: Entry of June 24,1763
  10. ^ Trent, William, Journal of William Trent, 1763 from Pen Pictures of Early Western Pennsylvania, John W. Harpster, ed. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1938), pp. 99, 103-4.
  11. ^ Proceedings of Sir William Johnson with the Indians at Fort Stanwix to settle a Boundary Line. 1768
  12. ^ Hanna, Charles A.:The wilderness trail : or, the ventures and adventures of the Pennsylvania traders on the Allegheny path, with some new annals of the old West, and the records of some strong men and some bad ones (1911) pg.366
  13. ^ Burke, James P., Pioneers of Second Fork (pgs. 19-22)
  14. ^ McCullough, John: The Captivity of John McCullough Personally written after eight years of captivity.
  15. ^ Ecuyer, Simeon: Fort Pitt and letters from the frontier (1892)Journal of Captain Simeon Ecuyer Entry June 2, 1763
  16. ^ McCullough, John: The Captivity of John McCullough Personally written after eight years of captivity.
  17. ^ Ecuyer, Simeon: Fort Pitt and letters from the frontier (1892)Journal of Captain Simeon Ecuyer: Entry of July 22, 1763
  18. ^ Ellis, F. and Hungerford, A.N.(Editors).History of that part of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleysembraced in the counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania Published 1886 by Everts, Peck & Richards in Philadelphia.
  19. ^ McCullough, John: http://[ The Captivity of John McCullough Personally written after eight years of captivity.]
  20. ^ Dixon, David, Never Come to Peace Again: Pontiac's Uprising and the Fate of the British Empire in North America (pg. 155)
  21. ^ McCullough, John: http://[ The Captivity of John McCullough Personally written after eight years of captivity.]
  22. ^ Dixon, David, Never Come to Peace Again: Pontiac's Uprising and the Fate of the British Empire in North America (pg. 155)
  23. ^ Seaver James E.A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison(1824)
  24. ^ Treaty of Fort Stanwix
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