County of Brant Public Library Digital Collections
History of Onondaga Township


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By Reg. Cooper, Brant Historical Society, Radio Broadcast

Onondaga was acquired its name through the fact that the Onondaga tribe of the Six Nations settled in that part of the county now comprising that township. The Onondaga’s territory at the time of the formation of the confederacy was chosen as the site for the council fire, the home of their parliament as it were, it was central territory. This Council fire was kept burning night and day for over 300 years with annual peace meetings and discussions of mutual interest and when the Greet Council was held at the time of the American Declaration of Independence, the council fire solemnly extinguished to express their devotion and loyalty to the British Empire.

Hiawatha, Onondaga Chief was the first to propose the Six Nations Confederacy to put on end to tribal warfare and improve the lot of his people. This at about the same time that Jacques Carter made his first visit to the New World. It is apparent that the name Onondaga born by this Township is one of which to be proud. History records only one instance of active hostility to the whites ever recorded in Brant County. Mr. John Solomon Hagar, who in the early days of the Township was quite a prominent figure, was the the person concerned in this incident. In 1838, he located on lots 62 and 63 river range land which unknown to him had been used by Pagan Indians as their “Fire Grounds”. The site of many ceremonies-including the annual custom of sacrificing white dog. A ceremony still celebrated 8 am informed. For these reasons, sacred to them they did their best to make Mr. Hagar leave the spot. But he stuck, and acts of violence, the burning down of his shanty — until finally they assembled in great force that he sent his family down the river in a canoe to his fathers-in-laws house and remained to defend his property. He was badly beaten and left as dead. He recovered however and subsequently obtained his patent. He also obtained damages in a suit against the Six Nations. In after years he lived on friendly terms with them and brought a bright ending to the only violent incident of the early settlers of Brant County. He was the first settler and store-keeper in the Village of Middleport. Onondaga was the last of the Township to be settled, was surrendered by the Indians in 1840 and survey 1841-1842. White settlers however beat the gun and in 1856 David Jones and his father tie the first settlers with Joseph Brown close behind. Brown later opened the first tavern on the river front. A log schoolhouse was erected in 1842 with Wm. Shannon as teacher in the first attempt at education in the Township. An early settler who was later 20 years treasurer of the Township was Richard Herdsman, who in 1844 petitioned the Crown Lands Department in which he stated that he had served for 31 years 3 months with the King's Guards fought with the regiments at Waterloo where he had had a horse shot and received a medal, also a medal for meritorious conduct, on being discharged in. addition to his pension. {C}Onondaga village was first known as Smiths’ Corners, its first postmaster and store-keeper was Wm. D. Soules Following the first settlers were the lumber-men soon at work on the large forests of trees. A sawmill at Caledonia owned by Jas. Little was the first to get out logs which he floated down the Grand River. Several others soon followed, and for many years, it was a major industry.

Middleport was the scene of great activity in the industry with thousand of spars cut from logs floated down the Grand River to the spot shipped by steamers loaded there to many outside points.

{C}Three taverns soon followed the advent of the lumbermen with the needed accommodation for men and their horses, the chief means of travel. {C}The first visiting clergyman was rev. Hill — Church of England minister with no church or place of public worship he preached in house's, barns, and etc. Rev. Dr. Ferrier Pres. Minister of Caledonia carried similar campaign among the residents of Onondaga. The first church was erected by the New England Co.

The 1st session of the Township Council of Onondaga after inclusion in Brant County took place in January 1852. George Youell was elected Reeve by the other members Messrs. Alger, Carryer, Mulligan, and May. When the municipality was included in the United Township of Onondaga and Tuscarora, the first Council adopted some rules - one of which commanded that no councilor shall speak disrespectfully of the Queen or any of the Royal family, or person administering the Government of this Province, nor shall he use unmannerly or indecent language against the proceedings, or against other councilors. I suggest that this was an aftermath of the MacKenzie Rebellion of 1847 led in Brant County by Dr. Duncombe of Burford. A picturesque part of the Township for many years has been the ferries propelled by an endless chain across the Grand River as there are no bridges on that portion of the river. Historic Chiefwood, the home of Pauline Johnson is situated in the township. Built by chief G. M. Johnson, Pauline’s father, for his English bride. The finest and largest home on the reservation. It was termed a Mansion and earned him an Indian name meaning George Mansion. Here Pauline Johnson spent her happy childhood and began her writing to display her literary ability end poetic fancy. Here she set and listened to her father and grandfather John Smoke Johnson recite many tales and Indian legends that stirred the imagination. From the Martin settlement in the Township many went forth to win distinction in various phases of life. And so we close on the subject of Onondaga Township which translated means “the big hill”.

The original name of Onondaga tribe in N. Y. State was on the side of big hill in fact the present Onondaga reservation is near Syracuse N.Y.

Notes:
This article originally appeared on the County of Brant wiki at ourbrant.wikia.com. It has been included in this collection for ease of research.
Date of Publication:
1835
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.1334 Longitude: -80.11635
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Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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History of Onondaga Township


By Reg. Cooper, Brant Historical Society, Radio Broadcast

Onondaga was acquired its name through the fact that the Onondaga tribe of the Six Nations settled in that part of the county now comprising that township. The Onondaga’s territory at the time of the formation of the confederacy was chosen as the site for the council fire, the home of their parliament as it were, it was central territory. This Council fire was kept burning night and day for over 300 years with annual peace meetings and discussions of mutual interest and when the Greet Council was held at the time of the American Declaration of Independence, the council fire solemnly extinguished to express their devotion and loyalty to the British Empire.

Hiawatha, Onondaga Chief was the first to propose the Six Nations Confederacy to put on end to tribal warfare and improve the lot of his people. This at about the same time that Jacques Carter made his first visit to the New World. It is apparent that the name Onondaga born by this Township is one of which to be proud. History records only one instance of active hostility to the whites ever recorded in Brant County. Mr. John Solomon Hagar, who in the early days of the Township was quite a prominent figure, was the the person concerned in this incident. In 1838, he located on lots 62 and 63 river range land which unknown to him had been used by Pagan Indians as their “Fire Grounds”. The site of many ceremonies-including the annual custom of sacrificing white dog. A ceremony still celebrated 8 am informed. For these reasons, sacred to them they did their best to make Mr. Hagar leave the spot. But he stuck, and acts of violence, the burning down of his shanty — until finally they assembled in great force that he sent his family down the river in a canoe to his fathers-in-laws house and remained to defend his property. He was badly beaten and left as dead. He recovered however and subsequently obtained his patent. He also obtained damages in a suit against the Six Nations. In after years he lived on friendly terms with them and brought a bright ending to the only violent incident of the early settlers of Brant County. He was the first settler and store-keeper in the Village of Middleport. Onondaga was the last of the Township to be settled, was surrendered by the Indians in 1840 and survey 1841-1842. White settlers however beat the gun and in 1856 David Jones and his father tie the first settlers with Joseph Brown close behind. Brown later opened the first tavern on the river front. A log schoolhouse was erected in 1842 with Wm. Shannon as teacher in the first attempt at education in the Township. An early settler who was later 20 years treasurer of the Township was Richard Herdsman, who in 1844 petitioned the Crown Lands Department in which he stated that he had served for 31 years 3 months with the King's Guards fought with the regiments at Waterloo where he had had a horse shot and received a medal, also a medal for meritorious conduct, on being discharged in. addition to his pension. {C}Onondaga village was first known as Smiths’ Corners, its first postmaster and store-keeper was Wm. D. Soules Following the first settlers were the lumber-men soon at work on the large forests of trees. A sawmill at Caledonia owned by Jas. Little was the first to get out logs which he floated down the Grand River. Several others soon followed, and for many years, it was a major industry.

Middleport was the scene of great activity in the industry with thousand of spars cut from logs floated down the Grand River to the spot shipped by steamers loaded there to many outside points.

{C}Three taverns soon followed the advent of the lumbermen with the needed accommodation for men and their horses, the chief means of travel. {C}The first visiting clergyman was rev. Hill — Church of England minister with no church or place of public worship he preached in house's, barns, and etc. Rev. Dr. Ferrier Pres. Minister of Caledonia carried similar campaign among the residents of Onondaga. The first church was erected by the New England Co.

The 1st session of the Township Council of Onondaga after inclusion in Brant County took place in January 1852. George Youell was elected Reeve by the other members Messrs. Alger, Carryer, Mulligan, and May. When the municipality was included in the United Township of Onondaga and Tuscarora, the first Council adopted some rules - one of which commanded that no councilor shall speak disrespectfully of the Queen or any of the Royal family, or person administering the Government of this Province, nor shall he use unmannerly or indecent language against the proceedings, or against other councilors. I suggest that this was an aftermath of the MacKenzie Rebellion of 1847 led in Brant County by Dr. Duncombe of Burford. A picturesque part of the Township for many years has been the ferries propelled by an endless chain across the Grand River as there are no bridges on that portion of the river. Historic Chiefwood, the home of Pauline Johnson is situated in the township. Built by chief G. M. Johnson, Pauline’s father, for his English bride. The finest and largest home on the reservation. It was termed a Mansion and earned him an Indian name meaning George Mansion. Here Pauline Johnson spent her happy childhood and began her writing to display her literary ability end poetic fancy. Here she set and listened to her father and grandfather John Smoke Johnson recite many tales and Indian legends that stirred the imagination. From the Martin settlement in the Township many went forth to win distinction in various phases of life. And so we close on the subject of Onondaga Township which translated means “the big hill”.

The original name of Onondaga tribe in N. Y. State was on the side of big hill in fact the present Onondaga reservation is near Syracuse N.Y.