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Connecticut Settlement Historical Marker
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Name:
Connecticut Settlement

Region:
Poconos / Endless Mountains

County:
Luzerne

Marker Location:
River Rd. (SR 2004) N of Wilkes-Barre

Dedication Date:
October 13, 1947

Behind the Marker

In 1754, a group of Connecticut land speculators cut a land deal with the Iroquois in Albany that would have repercussions for the Susquehanna Valley's Indians for years to come. Even when compared to the infamous markerWalking Purchase, the Connecticut purchase in Albany was a particularly brazen swindle. By virtue of a royal charter granted in the 1660s, Connecticut claimed that the northern branch of the Susquehanna River–known as the Wyoming Valley–fell within its borders. In the early 1750s, some of Connecticut's leading citizens formed the Susquehannah Land Company to act on that claim. An intercolonial Indian conference that convened in Albany in June 1754 presented the perfect opportunity to purchase the lands in question from the Indians.
Oil on canvas of the charismatic chief of the Mohawk, Joseph (Thayendanegea) Brant.
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Joseph (Thayendanegea) Brant, by Gilbert Stuart, 1786.

However, the Susquehannah Company's plans faced two big obstacles. First, the Penn family was also trying to purchase the Wyoming Valley, and its agents decried the New Englanders' efforts at every step. Second, the Indians who lived in the northern Susquehanna Valley, mostly Delaware displaced by the Walking Purchase, were not party to the negotiations in Albany. Rather, the Mohawks - the easternmost Iroquois nation - were the chief negotiators there. Even though they had not been party to earlier land purchases within Pennsylvania, the Mohawks saw this as a good opportunity to profit from selling land they did not occupy. Obviously, the Delaware who lived in the Wyoming Valley would not recognize the legitimacy of such a purchase. These circumstances led John Henry Lydius, the agent for the Susquehannah Company in Albany, to work in secret, meeting with Mohawk and other Iroquois leaders in his home, where he convinced them - aided by alcohol and bribes - to sign away the Wyoming Valley.

The Delaware Indians and the Penn family cried foul as soon as they learned about the Susquehannah Company's deed. Their accusations of fraud, however, did not stop the Connecticut speculators from selling the land to purchasers anxious to leave the rocky soil of southern New England for the fertile Wyoming Valley.

The three-way contest among Indians, Pennsylvanians, and Connecticut Yankees for this region continued during the French and Indian War. The Delaware leader Teedyuscung emerged as the chief spokesman for the Indians living along the northern Susquehanna, and he lobbied hard for his people to receive a permanent deed to the Wyoming Valley. Unfortunately, neither the Iroquois, who claimed to have conquered the region in question in their seventeenth-century wars with the Susquehannocks, nor the Pennsylvanians would confirm Delaware possession. Likewise, the Connecticut speculators ignored the Delaware claims and began colonizing the region in earnest after the French and Indian War.

In retaliation for this encroachment on their land, Delaware war parties led by Teedyuscung's son, Captain Bull, destroyed the first Connecticut settlements in the Wyoming Valley in October 1763. The New Englanders did not return to the valley until after the markerPurchase of 1768, another deal struck between colonists and the Iroquois that sold land out from under the local Delaware.

In the succeeding years, the contest over ownership of the Wyoming Valley was fought primarily between Connecticut Yankees and colonial Pennsylvanians, but the Delaware Indians" resentment over the loss of the territory continued to fester. The outbreak of the American Revolution brought renewed Indian-European violence. The markerBattle of Wyoming and subsequent torture and killing of prisoners taken there was one of the most infamous episodes of Indian warfare from the American Revolution. What contemporary accounts of this famous battle left out, of course, was the Indians' perspective on their decades long effort to preserve a small portion of their homelands in Pennsylvania.

After the American Revolution, the Pennsylvanians and New Englanders continued their competition for the Wyoming Valley, but neither side was interested in recognizing the Indians' claims. At the Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1784, the United States government claimed that it had conquered this territory during the markerSullivan Campaign of 1779 and refused to allow any remaining Indian occupation of it.
 
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