Historical Markers

This marker is located on the south side of Coye Road in Jamesville, N.Y., not far from the junction with LaFayette Road. See Map This marker is located on the north-east corner of the intersection of Bull Hill Road and Sentinel Heights Road, southwest of Jamesville. See Map

The so-called "purchase of 1817" at Sentinel Heights, involving some 4,000 acres of land, was the fifth "purchase" of Onondaga land by New York State. All of these were in direct violation of the 1790 federal Indian Trade and Intercourse Act, the United States Constitution, the Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1784 and the Treaty of Canandaigua of 1794. The Onondaga Nation has always claimed that "none of the purported conveyances were made by persons having authority or legal capacity to convey the land."

Further historical background from Onondaga; or Reminiscences of earlier and later Times by Joshua V. H. Clark, Vol. 2, pp 241-242:

"Mr. John Wilcox was the first white settler on the Township, who came out in the spring of 1789, with an Indian chief from Oneida, for the purpose of exploring the country. He made selection of the lot on which he settled, known as the Haskins farm, two miles north of La Fayette village. Here was an extensive Indian orchard, and with a view to its improvement, Abel Olcutt came out the same spring, and made arrangements for pruning it. He spent his nights at the Onondaga Castle, three miles distant, there being no white people nearer than Danforth's or Morehouse's. He lodged in the cabin of Cawhicdota. In the prosecution of his labors in pruning, he was surprised that in the center of each and every tree was a collection of small brush, about the size of a bushel basket. Wondering at the singularity of such a circumstance, he inquired of his Indian friend and host the cause, who explained after the following manner:

"He said, that after the war of the Revolution, the Indian settlement at that place was abandoned, in consequence of the destruction of the corn fields, and a part of the great orchard, by Col. Van Schaick, in 1779; that the Onondagas had become completely discouraged, in consequence of the severe losses they had sustained during the war; consequently the Indians, since the war, had not occupied or cultivated any of their lands in that quarter, and the brush he had found collected in the apple-trees, was the work of bears, who ascended the trees in autumn, gathering in the slender branches loaded with apples, with their paws, leisurely devouring the fruit, at the same time depositing the branches under them, between the larger diverging limbs, for a more comfortable seat.

"Sometime after Mr. Wilcox had settled in his new place of abode, his harvests had been abundant, and his stacks of hay and wheat numerous; (for as yet, he had no barns,) every thing seemed to prosper in his hands, but lo, in a single night his cherished hopes were blasted, for some ruthless hand had lighted the torch, and applied it with complete fatality to the gathered treasures of the year. He awoke in the morning only to behold the desolation, and the smoking ruins of his labors, his sustenance and wealth. The Indians were suspected as guilty of the outrage, and complaint was at once made to theprincipal chief at Onondaga, who upon investigation, remarked to Mr. Wilcox with the most perfect non chalance, without palliation or denial, "You dig up no more dead Indian, no more will your stacks be burned." The admonition was sufficient, for although it had been a common practice to rob Indian graves, for the brass kettles and trinkets buried with the bodies; it was from this time discontinued, and the harvests of the farmers were henceforth unmolested."

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