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Bethel Indian Town

Bethel's Role in the French & Indian War

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Archaeological Pitfalls at Bethel
Historical Proof of Bethel's Location
National Register Nomination
Help Preserve Bethel
David Brainerd's Early Work
From Crosswicks to Bethel
Bethel's Role in the French & Indian War
Bethel in 1752
Documents from the Friends Indian Committee
The New Jersey Association for helping the Indians
Crosswicks Treaty of 1756 & Native Men in Military Service
From Bethel to Brotherton
The Search for Bethel
William Tennent & the Move to Brotherton
Proof of Wigwam Brook's Headwaters
Miscellaneous Notes
Books for Sale
Guest Book

The influence of the Brainerd brothers played a significant role in determining the alliance of the Delaware Indians, both in New Jersey and on the frontier. Most Delawares born in New Jersey, including Teedyuscung and Moses Tatamy, had removed to Pennsylvania as part of the forced migration. Both Indian men became important leaders of their people, and Teedyuscung was dubbed King of the Delaware by colonial officials. Tatamy had been converted by David Brainerd, and Teedyuscung was a Moravian convert. They retained strong ties to their relations left behind in New Jersey, including those at Bethel. The Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley Delaware Indians became the pawns of the French and English at the outbreak of hostilities inaugurated by George Washington and his fateful mission to Fort Duquesne in 1754. By the fall of 1755, the western Delaware were strongly aligned with the French, and even Teedyuscung for a time raised the hatchet against American colonists in eastern Pennsylvania. On November 11, 1755 the Moravian settlement of Gnadenhutten located near Bethlehem was wiped out by pro-French Delaware Indians. This was a force of more than three hundred Indians that raided all the way to the Delaware River and had made travel almost impossible between Philadelphia and frontier communities, including the border with New Jersey.

On December 2, 1755, Tennent arrived in Newark to confer with John Brainerd and Aaron Burr regarding Indian matters on the frontier. Esther Edwards Burr wrote in her journal that Tennent "has an Indian with him from the Forks of the Delaware who has fled to Mr. Brainerd’s Indians. The Indian with Mr. Tennent is gone to the Governor and Council."  Moses Tatamy, a well-known Delaware leader went on to provide the New Jersey Assembly with an affidavit regarding actions of Pennsylvania Indians who were in favor of the French plans to raid frontier settlements. The newspaper account noted that Tatamy was a convert to the Christian religion.

With New Jersey exposed to raids along the Delaware River; Indians living within the colony feared for their safety, not from their kinsmen, but from retribution by colonists. In December, the Indians at the two native settlements of Cranbury and Bethel petitioned the New Jersey Assembly for protection from assault. The Assembly reviewed the matter, and directed that each county appoint agents to register local Indians and issue them arm bands signifying their protection as inhabitants of New Jersey.

This petition clearly delineates the existence of two distinct, yet related groups of Indians near the Cranbury area; those who were identified by their regional habitation and those of the mission community located on the Manalapan. The document provides clear evidence of the two separate, yet concomitant settlements.

Indian raids on the New Jersey frontier were an immediate and violent expression of unsettled matters between Indians and whites, and the New Jersey Assembly appointed commissioners to meet with Indians at Crosswicks in January 1756 in an effort to secure peace.

The Crosswicks Conference of 1756 led to ongoing efforts to secure a lasting peace among the Delawares and colonists. Peace negotiations were held from July 21 to August 7, 1757 at Easton, attended by both New Jersey and Pennsylvania Delawares. Andrew Woolley, Thomas Store, and Peter Tule (also interpreted as Jule or July) complained of being defrauded of nearly fourteen thousand acres of land in Middlesex County. In February 1758 thirty-nine Delawares met with New Jersey’s Indian Commissioners at Crosswicks. Here the Indians again submitted a list of land grievances that the commissioners agreed to investigate and remedy. In addition to the various Indian groups identified, including the Crosswicks and Cranbury communities, "the Indians, in general claim their settlements near Cranbury, on Menolapan river, in Falkner’s tract, whereon many of the Indians now live."  This description refers to Bethel noted twelve years earlier in John Blain’s complaint to the New Jersey Assembly.

Playing key roles as interpreters and diplomats were "Jersey" Indians, identified directly with the Brainerds.  Moses Tatamy, David's first convert amongst the Delawares, John Pumpshire, Stephen Calvin, Joe Peepy and Isaac Still were all Jersey Indians who served as official interpreters at colonial conferences amongst the various Indian tribes on one side, the the several colonial governments (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York) on the other side.  These men were critical to securing the peace of the Delaware Indians in Pennsylvania and in the Ohio country west of Fort Duquesne, and thereby securing the peace of the Delaware allies, including the Shawnee and Wyandot.  Isaac Still, in particular, may be rightfully credited with gaining western Delaware support in advance of the Forbe's expedition to Fort Duquesne in the fall of 1758. This diplomatic success led to the French evacuation of the fort, and of the establishment of Pittsburgh.

Military Service in the Jersey Blues

New Jersey’s response to the military necessity of supporting England in its fight against the French included the Bethel Indians. As early as 1746, the Colonial Assembly had passed an act to enlist five hundred free men and "well-affected" Indians into the New Jersey Regiment, the famous Jersey Blues. This act was reauthorized during the course of the French and Indian War, and each time, Indian men, including a large contingent from Bethel, were allowed to serve. In 1757, the New Jersey Regiment was instructed to act in conjunction with his Majesty’s regular troops, which were posted on the New York frontier near Lake George.

On July 23, 1757 an advance scout in force, consisting of 350 men of the New Jersey Regiment were ambushed at Sabbath Day Point, Lake George. More than two hundred men were killed or captured. This catastrophe was made only worse by the capture of Fort William Henry one month later and the capture of the entire garrison, including the remainder of the Jersey Blues. Writing in December 1757 to Wheelock, Brainerd bemoaned the loss of twenty Bethel Indian men at the fall of Fort William Henry.

Another eyewitness to the fall of the fort was Joseph Johnson, Sr., father of Mohegen missionary, Joseph, Jr. Joseph the elder served as an Indian soldier with the British forces in the Lake George area during the summer of 1757 and wrote the following account of the campaign to his wife:

The French have taken our fort at lake George and killed and carried captive a great many Indians. But none of our Connecticut are taken at this time. (p. 26, To do good to my Indian brethren : the writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751-1776 / edited by Laura J. Murray. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, c1998. )

It is possible that Johnson was referring to the Delaware Indians from New Jersey as the Mohicans and other New England Indians serving with Rogers Rangers were not lost at Fort William Henry. In Ian K. Steele’s Betrayals (1990, p 116), an account of the capture of Fort William Henry, and analysis of the true scope of the ensuing massacre, he quotes eyewitness accounts of French Indian allies leaping into the Provincial camp outside of the fort, and capturing the Indian warriors of the Provincial regiments. Many of these men were most likely the Bethel soldiers.

The loss of so many men from Bethel contributed to the weakening of that community and to the decline in population of Delaware Indians in New Jersey in general.

wmhenry.gif
Fort William Henry: The Jersey Blues were in the entrenched camp at the upper left.

American Indian Historical Research

For information on Brotherton & Weekping

For information on Weequehela & Spotswood, NJ

For information on the Gnadenhutten Massacre

For information on the Indian Company of 1778