If You Hear Not My Word I Will Be The First To Wage War Against You

2/4 Second tale of Pattersons of Canada origins

They came at night, an army of 1,500 Iroquois warriors, overwhelming the Québec village of Lachine and terrorizing Montréal a couple of miles east for days after. It happened August 5, 1689. The Iroquois took some captives that day and those they didn’t kill or keep were returned in the year or so after the massacre. One of these returnees was Anne Mouflet, an ancestor.

Anne Mouflet’s mother, Anne Dodin, was one of the filles du roi sent by the Sun King Louis XIV to help populate Quebec, which was then a French colony. In 1669 she married Jean Mouflet, one of the 450 soldiers in the Carignan-Salières Regiment who opted to remain here when the regiment went home to France after its two year campaign against the Iroquois. With a pension and a plot of land, Jean and Anne would have eight children.

The assault on Lachine, with 375 inhabitants one of the larger communities in Quebec, was the culmination of nearly a century of take-no-quarter, show-no-mercy brutality. If there was a single incident or instigator, it would have to be Canada’s founding father, Samuel de Champlain, who lined up with the Wendat nation (called Huron by settlers) against the Iroquois. In their very first encounter, Champlain killed two Iroquois chiefs. These foes were more menacing than Champlain or his native allies bargained for. They all but obliterated the Wendat and stayed at war continuously with Champlain and his successors for 80 years, finally exploding in the savagery at Lachine.

Iroquois had seen the colonists as a threat to their sovereignty from virtually the first encounter. As time went on and newcomers kept coming, the Mohawk Chief Teoniahigarawe would warn, “Brethren, the Governor of Virginia and the Governor of Canada are both quarrelling about lands which belong to us, and such quarrelling as this may end in our destruction.”

Iroquois are not an Amerindian nation per se, but a confederacy of member nations — in the 17th century, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca. They lived for the most part in what is now northern New York, southern Quebec and eastern Ontario, an area not then under colonist control and referred to in French as Iroquoisie.

Furs were the primary reason for the French presence in Canada. A primary motive of Iroquois was to control access to furs, which could be traded for metal goods, guns and ammunition, cloth and brandy. This meant fighting off Wendat and Illinois and other nations that wanted a piece of the action, as well as resisting the push of settlers for land. Skirmishes and battles, part of a way of life on this frontier, escalated in 1665 when the Carignan-Salières regiment arrived from France and promptly destroyed several Mohawk villages where inhabitants had been decimated by smallpox. In 1687, Governor General Denonville lured 30 Iroquois chiefs under a flag of truce from a council at Onondaga. He had them seized, chained and shipped to France to be used as galley slaves. He then led 2,000 men deep into Seneca territory and destroyed their largest village. The confederacy, infuriated, set out to terrorize the colony as never before.

There was a summer storm that August night. Thunder rolled over the St. Lawrence. Lightning flashes lit the 77 log, plank and stone homes in the rural community, 10 miles west of Montréal. A hard rain pelted the roofs and ground. There were guards on duty, as always, because the danger of attack was constant. But they sought shelter from the weather and were sleeping as a war party stepped ashore from the St. Lawrence in the dark. Undetected, they fanned out in pairs, threes, fours, holding to the edge of the woods, away from dogs that might bark a warning. Dressed in loincloths, bodies and faces painted to terrifying effect, they were armed with metal hatchets and guns supplied by English provocateurs in Albany, New York.

At dawn Friday, August 5, they descend, smashing windows and hacking doors, with howls and shrieks that disable their victims with fright. Some colonists tried to barricade their homes. The attackers set fires and wait for them to flee the flames. Twenty-four settlers are killed in the initial raid (Jean Mouflet, Anne Dodin and two of their daughters among them), more than ninety were taken prisoner and many died in captivity (including Anne Mouflet’s husband Mathias Chateaudeau and their son Jean).

But Anne Mouflet survived and she married again, this time a Christian Iroquois of the Onondaga nation, Jacques-René Tsiheme (sometimes spelled Tsihène, Tsihouy or Chioui), who adopted the nickname ‘Massias’ (after Anne’s first husband). They would live first at La Montagne, a mission settlement near where Atwater and Sherbrooke streets now meet in Montreal, and later Kanehsatake where their son Paul-Mathias Tsiheme dit Massia was born in 1696.

Tsiheme’s links to the people and leaders of Onondaga remained strong in spite of his withdrawal to the St. Lawrence. Patterns of kinship and migration played a significant role in peace and war and the Christian Iroquois were a power to be reckoned with. Kahnawake and Kanehsatake had developed a vibrant religious and political identity distinct from that of the Five Nations from which they had detached themselves, but they maintained many links and a vital line of communication with colonial government. Though he was recognized to be ‘entirely attached to the French nation’, Tsiheme often spoke on behalf of Five Nation deputies during their meetings with the French. The fact that Ohonsiowanne, an adult son of his by a previous union, remained among the Onondaga, where he was recognized as ‘one of the principal chiefs,’ facilitated even further relations. In January and September of 1699 Ohonsiowanne visited his father in the colony, where he was challenged on several occasions by the people of Kahnawake and Kanehsatake to account for the fact that the Five Nations had not yet sent a formal delegation.

In the last days of the great governor Frontenac, who had returned to take charge two months after the Lachine raid, the Christian Iroquois continued to act as diplomatic emissaries between Montreal and Iroquoisie. In the fall of 1698, a young man named Tegayesté was entrusted with a wampum belt with which the Onondagas asked the Canadian Iroquois to intercede with the governor to obtain peace.

“When an intransigent Frontenac refused to receive the message and belt brought by the young Tegayesté,” writes Jean-François Lozier in a doctoral thesis, “he exposed himself to the reproaches of Christian Iroquois . . . they expressed their amazement that Onontio was declining ‘those fair offers of peace, it is as if bereaved of your senses or drunk,’ and compared him unfavorably with New Yorkers and Mohawks who, they claimed, were now all doing their part to promote ‘the public good, peace and tranquility of us all.’

“An Onondaga resident of Kanehsatake named Tsiheme (known among the French as Massias) intervened at this juncture,” Lozier continues, “and convinced an initially reluctant Frontenac to send Tegayesté back on his personal (Tsiheme’s, that is) account to exchange conciliatory courtesies and to request that the Onondaga assemble all the Five Nations and deliver them to Montreal in forty or fifty days. If the Five Nations complied, promised Tsiheme, a ‘firm peace’ would result. But ‘If you hear not my word I will be the first to wage war against you.’ Frontenac would not see the peace. He died a month later. But his successor would.

The new player was Louis-Hector de Callière, whose name doesn’t echo through history’s halls as loud as Champlain, Maisonneuve or Frontenac, for whom he had been deputy. But his contribution was at least as valuable.

Callière called for a peace council in Montréal. He had the assistance of some French military successes to bring adversaries to the table, but for his time he was a diplomat. He went first to meet Iroquois for a conference in the territory of Onondaga, in March 1700. In September, Callière signed a preliminary treaty with 13 chiefs. He then invited all Amerindian nations of the Great Lakes region to meet in Montréal in the summer of 1701.

Thirty nine nations sent chiefs, sachems and orators, who gathered in general assembly as here described by Francis Parkman.

“A vast, oblong space was marked out on a plain near the town, and enclosed with a fence of branches. At one end was a canopy of boughs and leaves, under which were seats for the spectators. Troops were drawn up in line along the sides; the seats under the canopy were filled by ladies, officials, and the chief inhabitants of Montréal; Callière sat in front, surrounded by interpreters; and the Indians were seated on the grass around the open space. There were more than thirteen hundred of them, gathered from a distance of full two thousand miles, Hurons and Ottawas from Michillimackinac, Ojibwas from Lake Superior, Crees from the remote north, Pottawatamies from Lake Michigan, Mascontins, Sacs, Foxes, Winnebagoes, and Menominies from Wisconsin, Miamis from the St. Joseph, Illinois from the river Illinois, Abenakis from Acadia each painted with diverse hues and patterns, and each in his dress of ceremony, leathern shirts fringed with scalp-locks, colored blankets or robes of bison hide and beaver skin, bristling crests of hair or long lank tresses, eagle feathers or horns of beasts.

“Pre-eminent among them all sat their valiant and terrible foes, the warriors of the Iroquois Confederacy, who could make a whole new world tremble and spread dread over an extent of more than fifteen hundred leagues.”

What a crowd it was, almost doubling the city’s population for the summer! What an event! A constellation of chiefs. Anne Mouflet, now 31, was something of a celebrity as a Lachine survivor. Her husband, the Onondaga sachem who had brazenly admonished Frontenac two years earlier, was among the interpreters. He met with Callière just before the conference was to get underway, when an incident threatened to derail the process. A band of Onondaga hunters had been ambushed by Ottawa warriors despite the truce agreement signed the previous year.

“Massias, who had married a French woman, spoke first on this occasion,” the record reads. He asked first that the attackers be punished. Then he turned to a personal matter. He said that his frequent voyages between Canada and Iroquois territory on behalf of the peace process had prevented him from going to the hunt. Because of this, his family was suffering. “I ask of you for my son,” Massias said, “a donkey no more than 10–12 years old that will be able to haul wood for heating.” One was found and given to him.

On August 4, 1701, eve of the massacre a dozen years before, the representative of each nation affixed his mark to the peace treaty. While tensions between governors, settlers and Iroquois would continue they never erupted into warfare again. The Great Peace of Montréal is still recognized as a valid treaty by the nations involved.

Anne Mouflet would live to be 70 and, after Massias died, took a third husband. But it was the Onondaga René Tsiheme Massias who fathered this line. Out of the ashes of Lachine they survived to help populate the nation that in time would become Canada.

Theirs was far from the first mixed marriage between white and aboriginal although it was early in the origins of that distinct Canadian population, the Métis. Most of the unions that produced the 400,000 Canadian Métis alive today began in the 18th and 19th centuries, between Algonquin, Cree, Ojibway or Mi’kmaq women and Canadien voyageurs and Scottish traders on their travels east and west from Montréal. But René Tsiheme Massias was the man of Anne’s house.

Unusual it was for her to be Canadienne and he Onondaga. How much more unusual that they had set aside the hate from that day of infamy when their peoples had been on opposite sides? Despite furious provocation, this early willingness to bury the hatchet — Callière and the chiefs threw war-axes irretrievably into a “pit so deep that no-one could find them” — has become, after germinating all these centuries, a quasi-genetic Canadian trait to consult, to compromise, to accept and welcome differences, to mix, to keep the peace.

Paul-Mathias Tsiheme dit Massia married Angelique Hunault in 1725 and they moved to Lachine, where his mother had married a third time after the death of René, and where the family retained properties they had cultivated before the raid in 1689. Into the next generation they were still maintaining the Onondaga patronymic. Catherine-Angelique Massia dit Tsiheme was born in 1733 and the family spread among west island communities, Les Cèdres, Ile Perrot, Vaudreuil. Catherine-Angelique married Pierre Lecompte dit Lafleur and three generations later their great-granddaughter, Marie Aurelie Lecompte, born at Les Cedres in 1822, would marry Julien Sauvé, direct descendant of the family’s first arrivals from Europe in 1636, Nicolas Peltier and his wife Jeanne de Voisy.

3/4 Third tale of Pattersons of Canada origins, Invaded Twice By The United States, Canada Built A Canal For Defence And Defiance, is freely available at Cannections on MEDIUM