Sunday, December 22, 2013

Deposition

Colonel Henry Bouquet
The following is the text of our ancestor Jacob’s deposition, carried out by British Colonel Henry Bouquet on May 30, 1758. Jacob had just escaped from behind the French lines and possessed military intelligence that was valuable to the British military, thus their interest in what he could tell them.

You’ll note that the spelling of Jacob’s name is wrong in this record, probably due to the language barrier. The Hochstetler name appears in a variety of different forms in the records of the day. This John Hochstattler most certainly was Jacob, however, because the details he gives so closely follow the story handed down by the family and aren’t consistent with any other attack during that period. We know from contemporary records that some of the other information in the preface is also incorrect, such as the date of the attack, which happened toward the end of September. Unusual spellings and French accent marks on some words may indicate a transcriber of French descent; Bouquet himself was Swiss and spoke French. Editorial information is shown within brackets.

Bouquet mentioned Jacob in a letter he wrote to his commander, General John Forbes, and called him a “German peasant” who is “very stupid, and speaks only rude German.” The description isn’t surprising since Bouquet was highly unsympathetic to the Swiss Germans who refused to bear arms, and his letters characteristically expressed disgust at having to protect people who won’t protect themselves. However, Jacob’s account of his ordeal and what he observed during his captivity among the Seneca is riveting and a testimony to his intelligence, resourcefulness, endurance, and faith.

Intelligence given by John Hochstattler a Swiss by nation which settled in Bergs County, Berner Township, near Kauffman’s Creek was taken by the enemy Indians the 12th of October 1757 and escap’d from them arriving at Shamokin 5th May 1758. [Shamokin was a former Indian Village at the junction of the north and west branches of the Susquehanna River, at the present site of Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pa. Fort Augusta was erected there by Pa. in 1756].

Q. By what, and how many Indians were you taken?

A. By the Delaware and Shawanese 15 in the whole.

Q. Which way did you pas’d before you came into the enemys country?

A. We march’d 3 days before we arrived at the Est branch of Susquahanna 20 miles from Shamokin where it was fordable, from there we keept entirely west all along the west branch, till after 17 days journey we arrived on the Ohio.

Q. In what place on the Ohio do you arrivd?

A. Where the French Creek empties in to Ohio there upon the corner is a small fort [Fort Mechault built by the French in 1756] established lately, of logs, framed together, there are 25 men garrisoned in it, without artillery, there we passed the Ohio for to come by it, the place is call Wenango. [Venango, a former Indian village and important trading post at the mouth of French Creek, the present site of Franklin, Venango Co., Pa.]

Q. How do you proceed further?

A. Up the French Creek 3 days traveling on Battoes at the end of it we came to a fort [Fort LeBoeuf built by the French in 1753 at present day Waterford, Erie Co. Pa.] built in the same manner as the other, and garrisoned with 25 men, from there the French Creek a Road to Presque Isle [Fort Presque Isle built by the French in 1753 located west of the mouth of Mill Creek and a little east of the foot of Parade Street in Erie, Pa.], which is a days journey from it distant.

Q. What became of you after that?

A. After 3 days travel East south East, I was brought to Buxotons Creek [Buxotons is another spelling of Buckaloons, one of the names given to Brokenstraw Creek and to the village at its mouth near present Irvine, Pa.] where it emptys in the Ohio we came to an Indian castle which lys upon the corner of it, there I was kept prisoner all the that time.

Q. Do you ever hear anything of Fort DuQuesne?

A. Ten days before I escaped five Dutch prisoners was brought up by the Indians from there which told me there was 300 man garrisond in Fort du Quesne, the provision scarce, so that the Indians was oblichd to bring away their womans and famelys which they generally left there, for to be nourish’d in their absence.

Q. Are there any works about besyts the Fort jous heard of?
A. The same people told me that there was a Dutchman prisoner for 3 years in the Fort, a baker by trade, which shewd them a hill, at the opposite Fort over the Monungahela, telling them if the English was there that they could certainly take the Fort with 200 man because the French had nothing upon it.

Q.Do you never heard what canons the French had there.

A. Yes I heard several but all dismounted.

Q. Do you never learnd if the Indians recevd Order for marching against us?

A. 5 days before I escape an old Indian was telling to me shewing against all parts of the world, that Indians was coming there and then he shewed about East south East, telling that the would attack the English there, which I did imagine that it was intended for Shamokin.

Q. Do you ever learn from how the French got intelligence of?

A. 6 weeks before my departing there came 2 Delaware Indians telling that they came from Shamoking that the Comandat took their arms from them not trusting, and that the English was drawing together about Conostoge [Conestoga about seven miles south of Lancaster near present Millersville] or Lancaster, paying up a great deal of cattle, that they desind to attack the great Fort du Quesne and the was waiting till the grass was groan.

Q. How do you escapd from there, how long and in what maner do jou was coming, and where did you arrive?

A. I got the liberty for hunting, one morning Wery soon took my gun finding bark canoe on the river wherein I crossd it, traveling East for 6 days from there I arrvd at the source of the west branch, there I march for 4 days further till I was sure of it, there I took several bloks tying them together till I got a flott, there I flotted myself down the River for 5 days where I did arrive at Shamokin, living all time upon grass I passd in the whole for 15 days.

From The Papers of Henry Bouquet,1972, Vol I, pp. 391-393. 

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