Compass & Chain: Joseph Kellogg of Deerfield (1691-1756)

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Indian Captive, Interpreter & Guide, Explorer & Soldier

Probably the first Englishman to have seen the Mississippi River, Joseph Kellogg’s observations caused the celebrated English cartographer, John Senex, in 1719 to revise his map of 1710 entitled "North America Corrected From the Observations Communicated to the Royal Society at London. and the Royal Academy at Paris."

During the last decades of the seventeenth century the palisaded town of Deerfield, Massachusetts was often exposed to the incursions of the French and their savage allies. It became one of the targets of repeated Indian attacks. Between attacks the inhabitants lived in daily fear of the return of the attackers. Every English or colonial victory brought about more ferocious French-Indian reprisals as a consequence. Then, in the evening of February 29, 1704, came the greatest of village tragedies.

It had been snowing heavily for days throughout New England, and although the snow was deep, it did not hinder Major Hertel de Rouville. He had just massacred the inhabitants of Falmouth, and was on the march once more in his determination to destroy the English. He started from the village of St. Francis with 200 French and 142 Indians, loaded down with heavy packs. Piling their provisions on hand sleds, they walked on snow shoes, toiling their way through the Canadian wilderness to the headwaters of the Connecticut River. They continued down its valley as far as the little town of Deerfield, arriving on February 29, 1704, completing a tedious march of almost three hundred miles through deep snow, and arriving at an elevated pine forest approximately two miles north of the village bordering Deerfield meadow.

There they lay concealed until after midnight. Then, when all was quiet and the snow had become covered with a crust adequate to support the men, they prepared to move. Leaving their snow shoes and packs at the foot of the elevation, Rouville and his men crossed Deerfield River and began their march silently through the open meadow. Moving stealthily and with the utmost caution through the snow towards the garrison, they arrived at the northwestern corner of the fort. In places where the snow had drifted to the top of the palisades, Rouville and his men entered silently, to find all inhabitants profoundly asleep, with no sentinel on watch. Parties were dispatched in several directions and two men were posted at each house.

Then, with terrifying whoops, the invaders broke into one house after another, dragging the astonished and frightened half-awakened people from their beds. Whenever resistance was attempted, they were slain. One of the parties forced the door of the Reverend Williams, who upon awakening, seized a pistol and shot one of the Indians entering his room (Figure 1). Williams was seized, bound, and kept standing in only his nightshirt for over an hour while his house was plundered and he saw two of his children and a black female servant murdered in front of the door. Then he, his wife and five other children were allowed to dress.

When Captain John Sheldon’s house was attacked, the Indians found the door securely bolted and were unable to open it. Although they aggressively chopped away with their tomahawks, they were only able to perforate it. Thereupon, they inserted a musket through the opening they had made, and upon firing killed the captain’s wife as she was rising from her bed. The captain and his son and his son’s wife escaped through a window and fled to the woods.

The result was a wild scene of massacre illuminated by burning buildings, the snow crimsoned with blood, with a total of 112 taken prisoners and 47 slain. Seventeen houses with their barns were burned. Every building within the fort was reduced to ashes except for the meeting house and Sheldon’s house, of which the marauders seized possession. Because it was a large building, they used it as a depot to hold the prisoners as they were being collected. It was the last house to be set on fire, and saved by the English who arrived soon after the French party departed with their prisoners. The damaged door showing the perforation made with the tomahawks, has survived as a relic of the massacre, preserved as the only relic symbolizing the Deerfield Raid (Figure 2).

That night following the attack, the invaders encamped in the meadow about four miles away and there the captives were lodged in slight cabins made of brush. When the sun was about one hour high, the captives were assembled and Rouville set off on a journey through ice and snow to Canada. The survivors, consisting of 108 men, women and children, were driven, some barefooted and almost all of them scantily clad, through the snow drifts northward to the Canadian border. Many perished in the wilderness, some starving, others falling before the tomahawk. Others, the more hardy among them, managed to endure the hardships, toil and suffering of the terrible march, as day after day they were wading through streams of icy water or dragging their weary limbs through the snow. The march of the captors and captives on to the Connecticut River continued for several days without note except for the slaying from time to time of exhausted captives who could not continue and whose scalps were taken. Other captives died from exposure.

Upon reaching the mouth of White River, Rouville divided his forces into several parties, one proceeding down Onion River to Lake Champlain and from there into Canada. The Reverend Williams was in this party, and he and his companions were generally treated with civility. Two years later when a flag ship was sent to Quebec, Williams and 57 other captives were redeemed and brought to Boston. Twenty-eight of the captives remained in Canada, mixing with the French and Indians and adopting their manners and customs. After his return Williams wrote about his sufferings and those of his family and his townsmen in a work entitled "The Redeemed Captive, &c.," which was published in several editions. A portion of Williams’ poem appears on the facing page.

The Kellogg Survivors
Among the straggling prisoners was the family of Martin Kellogg, including two of his sons. Martin, his namesake and the older son, born in about 1686, managed to return from Canada but was captured again in 1708. This time the Indians were about to burn him alive when he was saved by a friendly squaw. He remained in Canada for several years and acquired a knowledge of French which served him upon his return and he became an interpreter.

Another son named Joseph, born at Hadley, Massachusetts on November 8, 1691, was twelve years of age when he had taken on the march to Canada. He become a captive first of the Mohawk Indians at Caughnawaga Mission and remained with them for a year before being delivered to the French. In that time he had become especially proficient in the Mohawk dialect, and in French. The French with whom he remained for the next ten years used him as an interpreter.

During this period while traveling with the French traders, he not only learned the French and Mohawk languages, but those languages of all the other Indian tribes with whom he traded as well. As a consequence, it was reported, "he had got into a very good way of business; so as to get Considerable of monie & other things & handsomely to support himself & was under no restraint at all."

Joseph Kellogg traveled extensively with Indians and French on trading expeditions. In 1710, at the age of 19 while still in captivity, he accompanied "six French men from Canada with two Cannoos mad
e of Birch Bark"
on a trading expedition over the usual route from Montreal to the Great Lakes region from "Chigaquea" near "the South west end" of Lake Michigan overland "to a branch of the River Illinois," thence to Mississippi as far south as the mouth of the Ohio. It was one of many French attempts to extend trade among the western Indians and preserve from English encroachment control of the fur trade of the lakes region. Kellogg probably was the first English or native-born New Englander to view it.

During the years of Joseph’s absence, his family in Deerfield had become increasingly anxious for his return, and finally in 1714 his half brother Martin was sent to Canada to find him and induce him to return to New England. Joseph was given assurances that he would be given government employment if he returned. Martin was successful and the two came home by land. In May 1715 it was ordered "That a Message be sent up to His Honour, the Lieut. Governor, Requesting him to improve Joseph Kellogg, lately returned from Canada, where he was a Captive, to some Post wherein he may support himself."

Joseph was quickly "improved," for in June 1716 it was noted that "Joseph Kellog, a captive lately returned from out of the hands of the Salvages be allowed after the rate of Four pounds per month for the space of six months as Interpreter to the Indians and Serjeant of the Guard at Northfield." In the meantime his father had moved his family to Suffield and for several years Joseph lived with them.

Then in 1719 Kellogg married Rachel Devotion, the local parson’s daughter, and in the course of the years they had five children. Joseph began serving as interpreter and upon the outbreak of what became known as Father Rasle’s War, he was commissioned lieutenant under Captain Samuel Barnard. The next year he was put in command at Northfield with the rank of captain.

At some time before his marriage, Kellogg became acquainted with Paul Dudley, who had been appointed judge of the colony’s superior court. The son of Governor Joseph Dudley, he had graduated from Harvard, studied law, entered the Middle Temple London and in the course of the next five years in London he became acquainted with several learned men and members of the Royal Society.

At the time of Dudley’s election to the Royal Society, among the Society’s interests was the revision and publication of a series of maps that had been prepared by the London engraver, cartographer and bookseller John Senex, who later was elected to membership in the Society. In 1710 (the year that John Kellogg had visited the Mississippi Valley), Senex had published a map of North America corrected from observations communicated to the Society from various sources (Figure 3).

In the course of his conversations with Kellogg, Dudley showed him a copy of Senex’s 1710 map of North America. Kellogg viewed it with the eye of one having firsthand information and offered corrections based upon his own observations, which Dudley considered to be worthy of the Royal Society’s attention. With the Senex map in front of him, Kellogg dictated to Dudley an account of his expedition to the Illinois country.

Kellogg Moves On
In 1715 Senex produced "A Map of Louisiana and of the River Mississippi," and in 1719 Senex published "A New Map of the English Empire in America" (Shown on pp. 10-11). The account of Kellogg’s expedition was not published in the Society’s Philosophical Transactions, perhaps because it was deemed inexpedient to make public Kellogg’s information at a time when tension was growing between France and England in the New World. Dudley’s manuscript is filed in the Society’s archives. In March 1720/21 Dudley communicated to John Chamberlayne the account of Kellogg’s trading voyage that he had copied from Kellogg’s dictation. Chamb erlayne showed the manuscript to Sir Hans Sloane. In turn it was read by Sloane to the members of the Royal Society of London on May 11, 1721, together with Dudley’s accompanying letter, and it was recorded in the Society’s register for 1722-24. [fols. 13 2 3-13 6.] Numerous references to Kellogg are to be found in the archives. Kellogg made several journeys to Albany, back to Canada and other distant places.

In 1714 the General Court of Massachusetts had voted to build a block house above Northfield and to post forty able men to it, including Englishmen and Western Indians. They were to be employed in scouting a good distance up the Connecticut River, and as far above Great Monoadnock in order to spot the enemy approaching frontier towns. A fort, named Fort Dummer, measuring about 180 feet square and built of yellow pine, was erected at the southeast corner of the present town of Brattleboro on the west bank of the Connecticut River.

In command at Northfield in 1722 and until his death, Kellogg continued to be constantly occupied as either scout or interpreter with the Indians. His unique knowledge and skills in Indian signals, modes of ambush and warfare enabled him to meet them on almost equal terms. In 1726 he received an urgent call from the New York authorities asking him to settle in Albany with liberal pay, but he refused, and instead, for the next twenty years Kellogg chose to remain at Fort Dummer as captain in command of the fort and trader with the Indians at the "Truck House" that had been established there for that purpose.

In January 1727/8 in acknowledgment "for his services as interpreter to the Western Indians and in several other publick Employments," the General Court awarded Kellogg two hundred acres of unappropriated land in the County of Hampshire, on top of Coys Hill.

It was noted that "during his Captivity he observed the Circumstances of the Peltry Trade which be thinks this Government could carry on to Good Advantage and advises a Trading-house at the Block-house above Northfield or higher up the Connecticut River."

In 1740 he was called to be the general interpreter to the Indian nations, a post he retained until his death. For nearly two years Kellogg was employed as an interpreter in the Reverend Seargent’s Indian mission at Stockbridge, Massachusetts and paid from the fund "left by Sir Peter Warren for the education of Mohawk children" and he succeeded his brother Martin in the care of the Hollis school for Indian boys. He also served as Justice of the Peace at Northfield.

A Final Journey
n 1756, at the age of sixty-five, although by this time he was broken in health, Kellogg was persuaded by Governor William Shirley to accompany him as his interpreter on his Oswego expedition when he took the field with the unfortunate expedition against Niagara. It was an ill-fated endeavor; Shirley’s second son, a captain, died of fever on the expedition, which reached no further than Oswego. Kellogg’s strength proved not to be equal to the arduous journey, and he died on the way. He was buried in Schenectady, New York. Despite his fame in his time, his burial site in Schenectady is unknown and unmarked, nor does the community have any knowledge or record of Kellogg.

Kellogg was regarded as the finest Indian interpreter of his day in New England. A passage in The History of Northfield could serve as his eulogy:
Capt. Kellogg was one of those brave, true natures that are not appreciated while living and receive little renown when dead. Unselfish, fearless, conscientious, always ready to go where duty called, he gave the strength of his manhood to the defense of these frontiers. He lived to see doubtful beginnings become sturdy growths; he lived to see the question settled that the French rule would never be dominant in the Connecticut valley. Northfield owes it to him that it was not a third time destroyed.

Dr. S
ilvio Bedini is an Historian Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of more than 300 articles and monographs published in scholarly periodicals, and is presently completing his 23rd book.

Account of A Trading Voyage

A Short Account of A Trading Voyage Performed by Joseph Kellug, an English Man of New England, in Company With Six French Men From Canada to Missasippi In the Year 1710, In Two Cannoos Made of Birch Bark, With Some General Remarks Made By the Said Kellug.

His departure was from Mon-Real, which is an Island in Canada River Sixty Leagues above Quebeck (it would be best to have a map of north America before you while you are reading) from thence they went not up the River Iriquois [Saint Lawrence] and so to the falls of Niagara, but a Northwest Course up the Grand River [Ottawa], as high as Mattawan, and then carried their Canooes a Short League over land to the Small Lake Nippising (which should be placed nearer to Mattawan and the Grand River), and from thence by a Small River called the French River they went into one of the Great Lakes, Viz’t. the Lake Huron. The Countrey from Mattawan to Lake Huron is as miserable as you can well Suppose. He observed no pine or Spruce from Canada to Missasippi, but abundance of Black Walnut. Mr. Senexe’s Map of North America calls the Lake Huron by the name of Michigan, but this Mr. Kellug affirms to be a Mistake, & the alias dictum of Michigan (or otherwise called Michigan) Should be placed upon the Lake Ilinois for that is often called by the Name of Michigan. Here also it may be remarked once for all that these great Lakes are never frozen (unless round the Edges) but the main Body of their Waters are always open like the Sea, being near fifty leagues in length.

Having Entred the Lake Huron they Coasted it along on the North Side of the Island Manytaualin [Manitoulin] till they came to the North-west end of it, keeping always pretty near the Shoare, for there is no Venturing far off in a Birch Cannoo, They Wintered in a Village Of the Outawas, an Indian Tribe, not very numerous setled between the three Lakes, the Name of the Village was Michalmakinas, which in the Language of the Outawas Signifies a Turtle. Here again Mr. Kellug, having Mr. Senexe’s Map upon the Table, offer’d another Correction as to the Situation of the Lake Superiour, for he Seemed confident that the Map had placed that Lake too near the other two Lakes by at least twenty or thirty Leages. The Streights or communication between the two Lakes Huron and Ilinois or Michigan are about two Leagues over, and frozen every Winter.

Here they found very good fishing for Trouts, and confirmed father Hennypins Account of their prodigious bigness. Mr. Kellug himself hall’d up Several of more than fifty pound weight. The Water clear, Sweet and fresh, forty Fathom deep. Having passed These Streights, They Entred the Lake Ilinois or Michigan; here again Mr. Kellug observed a Mistake as to the Situation of the Lake. For whereas the Map places the length of it North & South, he assures me that it lyes near North North East and South South west, or as his Phrase was, the South end Should be placed more to the Westward. This Great Lake also they Coasted till they came near the South west end of it, and then carried their cannoos over land a full League to a Branch of the River Ilinois, and this was their biggest carrying place of the whole Voyage, and is called Chigaquea. About the head of the River Ilinois are fine large Savannahs or Meadows of forty Miles in length, Some of the Richest Land the World affords. This River Ilinois is one of the Great Rivers that falls into Missasippi, and runs a Course of one hundred & thirty Leagues before it Empties itself into Missasippi. Into this River Ilinois comes the River Miamis or St. Joseph, as the French call it, issuing from the Lake Hinois. Mr. Kellug in his return went up that River into the Lake; there they met with Sturgeon of ten feet long. The Savannahs before mentioned are the noble pasture of thousands of Buffalo’s and wild Cattle and which they saw in great herds, and to their Surprise in Some of the feeding or lodging places of these wild Cattle they discovered bunches of true clover Grass. as they went to the River Hinois they raised Infinite number of wild fowl, Such as Cranes, Geese, Duck, and Swans in great abundance that feed upon wild oats [which] are called by the Indians Mauahomine, by the French Falavoine, and are very good Grain, and may be boyled and Eat as rice, and will Swell from one quart to ten or twelve; they grow in Such abundance by the Banks of the River as it runs thro’ Savannahs that a Man may fill a Cannoo with the grain in a few hours; upon this River Ilinois they found wild apple trees and plumb-trees, the apples bitter and Sower, but the plumbs good; and a fruit much like Cucumber that grow upon Small trees or Shrubbs. They call em Raisimins. before the River Ilinois falls into the Missasippi, it is Joyned by the Curamani, which in the Indian Signifies Vermillion and So may be named upon the Map.

The next Stage down this River was the Fort Louis, alias Crevecoeur. Here again happens a Considerable mistake in the Map, for whereas the Fort is placed at the lower end of the little Lake Pimetawi [Peoria]; it really stands thirty Leagues above that Lake. Below the Lake Pimetawi, the River Ilinois is Joyned by two Considerable Rivers & at length Empties all its Water into the Great River. The River Missasippi where the River Ilinois Joynes it is more than half an English mile broad, and very deep Water. Here Mr. Kellug found himself in a New World, Compared with the River Canada.

The climate Temperate, every thing Gay and pleasant, abundance of fine fruit trees, Stocks of Small parrots in the Woods; that which he remarked of them was that the hinder part of the Head was yellow, the fore part green, and at the Engd of the Bill a ring as red as blood. The Winter is here So moderate, that the Snow Seldom lyes about 24 hours, and no more than two or three inches deep.

Five Leagues from the Mouth of Ilinois bring you to the mouth of another Great River that Joyns Missasippi from the west Side, the name of it is Missouris, and is a very great rapid River & much biger than Ilinois. Below Mifsouris, the next place on the map is the Village Tamaroa alias Cawhukah [Cahokia]; the little River below Tamaroa is called Meschgamme, and deserves a name in the map, for there is a French Village Setled upon it, where they raise Excellent wheat, very good Indian Corn, have a Wind Mill and have a Stock of Catle, make a very a very good Sort of wine. Mr. Kellug Says they had Several hogshed of it when he was there; it is of a red Colour and has a rough tast. The Land produces Excellent mellons; good Beans, turneps and all Sorts of Garden Erbs, the Woods, oak and Several sorts of Walnuts. Just over against the mouth of Tamama River on the other Side of the Missasippi are abundance of Salt Springs where the Natives are Supplyed with Salt they lye just above a Small River called La Salme [La Saline] in the map, near to which little River it might be Said Salt Springs.

The next River towards the Sea that falls into Misssippi is Ouebache; This River Ouabache (taking in the River Acansea which Joyns it near the Missasippi) is a great River of at least Sixty rod broad and one of the largest that falls into the Missasippi. The River Acansea goes among the Natives by the name of Ohiyeu which with them signifies fine or beautiful River. Here also Mr. Kellug Says is a Noble Countrey, vast numbers of wild Cattle that make great and open roads for many miles together; and hereabouts Mr. Kellugs Company ended their trading Voyage and so returned back to Canada.

Author Note: In 1724 Captain Joseph Kellogg commanded a scouting party from Fort Dummer into the region of present-day Rockingham in Vermont, and on November 30th, reported ". . . they came to Sexton’s River,
six miles from ye foot of ye great falls, and then came down till they came to ye mouth of it and so returned." The first town lines of this region were made by a committee of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1736. Saxton’s River rises in the town of Windham and takes a southeasterly course through Rockingham near its southern boundary, emptying into the Connecticut River in the town of Westminster. Today, Fort Dummer is under water at the bottom of the river. Watch for a future article about the survey and development of the area, as well as Kellogg’s role in the construction and building of Fort Dummer and its establishment as a major trading post.

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