Who was the white man of Whiteman’s Creek

The area just south of Paris, Ontario known as Whiteman’s Creek has carried that name since long before the towns of Brantford and Paris were formed. The first written account of this area was captured by a Jesuit Priest and his team of explorer/evangelists in 1630.

At that time he recorded a vast village known as Kandoucho, located somewhere near present day Brantford. He renamed it, “All Saints Village”.  He writes about another large Onkwehonwe (Native) stronghold, known as Andrachoch living at the mouth of what is now

Whiteman’s Creek. He encountered no whites at all on his journey through the Grand River area.

According to a Globe and Mail article which ran in 1948, the Pottfruff family who later settled the region, found several arrow points, a stone moccasin molding last as well as flint chards and British coins from 1837 when the first known excavation of this site was done.

It is believed the Neutrals, as they were known, were driven out of this region by the Mohawks,  around 1626. Although used from then on as a hunting ground under their control, Mohawk and other tribes did not actually occupy the area in abundance. The Mississauga Ojibwa did, and were peacefully living in numbers and hunting along what became known as the Grand, or Ouse, River.

According to the earliest records, this arrangement became enshrined in the “Bowl with One Spoon” wampum agreement, stating that peaceful hunting parties from all tribes and Nations were welcome to the abundance of the Creator, without harassment, but could not settle.

When the white settlers began to arrive in waves, they too selected lands close to the river, bringing with them small-pox and other diseases which killed nine out of 10 in  Onkwehonwe families. Many of the original occupants of Whiteman’s Creek had buried their belongings in the forest nearby and evacuated to more established, and safer reserves.

Their burial grounds still lies undisturbed near what is now Five Oaks Camp, hidden behind a little knoll, behind the embankment, deep in the woods. That is the only description given.

According to a 1910 publication by the Brant Historical Society, a settler boy was raised by Mohawks in New York in 1750. He was named Dehanagerehgwenk. While growing up, he had chance to meet and become friends with Joseph Brant. He became a travel companion of Brant’s on several of his trips into what is now Southwestern Ontario.

According to the book, Herons and Cobblestone, when the Six Nations moved to the Grand River Valley, Dehanagerehgwenk came with them and was given land including the Whiteman’s Creek region. He built a log cabin nearby the mouth of the creek and became known as the white man of Whiteman’s Creek.

There is another story involving a white woman who, is said, was also captured at a young age by “Mohawk Indians” (sic)and grew up as a white-skinned Mohawk. Her name was Jamieson or Jemison. She married a Mohawk and later, Dehanagerehgwenk married their daughter. In that culture, the woman’s name is taken in marriage. Today’s Six Nations Jamiesons are descendants of this woman.

(Ed. note: It should be noted that capturing people was a form of ancient Indigenous justice which usually occured after a murder had occured by another nation. To recoup the loss, the person who was murdered was replaced. Without proper cultural context it sounds like Indigenous people kidnapped people at random which is not true. This concept of replacing people was echoed in HBO’s The Game of Thrones with Theon Greyjoy.)

A third story is also in print in an 1883 Warner and Beers publIshed book History of the County of Brant. In it is the story of Chief Josiah Hill, former secretary for the Six Nations Confederacy, born 1843, the son of Abraham and Mary Hill.

It is said that Abraham Hill’s father is the origin of the name of Whiteman’s Creek. He was a white man rewarded for his alliance with the British during the Revolutionary War and given land in the same locality, supposedly by Joseph Brant as well. Abraham was said to have been born there, fathered by a Tuscarora woman named Hill. He had sons of which Richard and Josiah survived into adulthood.

Take your pick. They are all interesting. Do you have family information about this or any other article about the early history of Six Nations and Brant County, please forward to jim@tworowtimes.com.

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