Tutelo bones, the Cockshutts and Tutela Heights
TUTELA HEIGHTS – Arthur Stanford is a history buff for obvious reasons. A study of early Brant and Brantford history is also a study of his family tree. He is in the direct lineage of Ignatius Cockshutt — who opened a dry goods store on Colbourne Street more than one hundred years ago.
It is his former estate that now serves Brantford’s art community as Glenhyrst Gardens; then there’s the youngest of Ignatius’ sons, Harry, who after serving the city of Brantford as mayor for a short term, became Lieutenant-Governor General of Ontario from 1921 to 1927.
Throughout his life, Harry Cockshutt always claimed that he had been the first resident of Brantford to speak over the telephone from the house of his neighbour, Alexander Graham Bell, on Tutela Heights.
In 1896, Harry married Isabelle Rolls of the famous Roll-Royce founding family and moved into the Cockshutt family estate Ignatious built at 208 Tutela Heights in 1785. They had two daughters, one named Margaret, who in turn had two sons and one daughter. That daughter is Frances, Arthur’s mother.
Last week, Arthur told Two Row Times of an old family tale of a massacre of Tutelos right in his back yard, killing the men and tossing women and children off the bluffs. A few escaped down river and joined the Cayuga Village at Cainsville. One story is that it was a lynch mob of whites, but another story says it was Mohawks.
There is no written record anywhere of this massacre, but Arthur believes that the story is true. He tells of a story his mother was told by her mother when she was very old. A story of bags of human bones being collected from the fields behind the homestead.
After Harry’s death in 1944, his daughter Margaret left Brantford for a time to live in Toronto. During that time, the farm was worked by resident farmers. One year, they decided to lower the plow depth from the standard 8” to 10-14” thinking it would churn up fresh soil.
After plowing they noticed countless bones strewn around the entire field. They collected as many as they could into 150 large burlap seed bags. Not knowing what to do with them, they were stored in the basement of the house and in a shed for years before the bags were finally taken to the landfill.
In 1974, archaeologist Virginia Hill was brought in by the family. During a dig she found the remains of the Tutelo Longhouse and other relics. The site was covered over again and never excavated since, according to Stanford who knows exactly where the longhouse is.
He believes that the storied massacre of the Tutelo happened before Dr. Lafferty and his Indian wife Molly Johnson lived on the Heights. Since the bones were so close to the surface, he believes the remains were never buried, just left to rot and eventually covered over with time.
This is a big reason why he is opposing the further development of Tutela Heights.
“What they are trying to do is destroy the history of that place so they write a new one,” says Stanford.