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Brotherton & Weekping Indian Communities of NJ

Petition of the Indians, 1817

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Petition of Chiefs & Principal Men, Delaware Indians in New Stockbridge to the Legislature to sell the lands of Charles Moolis, Jan. 7, 1818

[Source: NJ State Archives, Location H-24-02-05] Original spelling.

To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, in Senate and Assembly convened.-

The petition of the undersigned Chiefs & principal Men of that branch of the Delaware Tribe of Indians formerly from New Jersey, but now resident in New-Stockbridge, county of Oneida & State of New York, in behalf of themselves & Tribe, humbly representeth to your Honors.-

Than your petitioners, impressed with a deep sense of past favors received from your Honorable Body, having always looked up to the Governor & Legislature of the State of New Jersey while resident therein, as our fathers protectors & friends, would now (although in a different State) look up to you as such, & for important reason pray, that your Honorable Body would be pleased to pass a law, authorizing Messrs. Charles Ellis, William Stockton, & Joseph Budd Esqrs. to sell our right & title to the only remaining piece of land we have in New Jersey State, formerly the life estate of Charles Moolis an Indian deceased, & usually known there by the name of the Coaxen plantation. - For as it now is, we receive no profit from said land, & in consequence of Josiah Foster’s claim it may so remain, although we are fully sensible that in the line of strict justice, he has no right to any part of said lands.- And

Whereas, it is the expectation of your humble petitioners, to remove to the white river in the Indiana Territory, about seven hundred miles a westerly direction from this place, & not likely we shall ever trouble the ears of your Honorable Body with another petition. We therefore presume to hope, that you will condescend to open your ears to the cries of your red petitioners, & answer our humble, perhaps, farewell requests herein made: which will in a great degree enable us to remove unto the said wilderness country & erect mills etc. for our accommodation. And lastly we pray, that the monies arising from the sale of said property, may be placed in the hands of said Commissioners, subject to the orders of Mr. Winthrop M Chandler our Treasurer.-

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.-

New Stockbridge 24th December 1817.           

Benjamin Nicholas,  Barthw. Calvin,  John Haize his mark [Moolis’ brother-in-law],  Thomas Hickman,  Stephen Calvin

We the undersigned Chiefs and principal men of the Mehhecunnuk or New Stockbridge Tribe of Indians, do certify that the above named petitioners are the remnant of the Delaware Indians, who emigrated from the State of New Jersey to this town several years since, and that they are desirous to promote the welfare of their tribe. And we hope that this petition will be granted by you honourable Body, as it will be beneficial to them and their posterity, and will greatly assist them if they should emigrate to the west ward in making or erecting mills etc. as stated in their petition: & which we think will be the case before many years hence. You may further know that the Delaware Indians, who reside at or about White River, State of Indiana, have relinquished all their claims of this land to those that are in this town many years since: as some of us were present at that place when they held council respecting it.

New Stockbridge witness  December 24th 1817

John Sergeant  Missionary

Hendrick Aupaumut, Joseph Quinney, John Metoxen,  Abner W. Hendrick, Solomon U. Hendrick

I approve of the above petition, but would recommend that when the Lands should be sold, the money arising there from be bonded or put out to Interest. And when ever the Commissioners have sufficient evidence that they are ready to remove as above stated, that the Commissioners have power to Furnish them with such part of the principal to be judged by the Chiefs of the New Stockbridge Indians, and then be paid by the Commissioners to the order of said Indians.

John Sergeant Missionary

[on reverse]

Petition of the New Stockbridge tribe of Indians for right to sell land claims by them in Burlington, NJ etc & the Report therein - 1817

Indian Petition Presented Jan. 7th 1818 and committee to Messrs Coxe Shreve & Nixon

Addendum:

Minutes of the Assembly, 1818 held at Trenton, January 7, 1818 (p. 7)

Mr. Coxe presented a petition from a number of chiefs and principal men of that branch of the Delaware tribe of Indians, formerly of this state, now residents of New-Stock-Bridge, in the state of New-York, owners of certain lands in the county of Burlington, in this state, praying, for reasons therein set forth, Legislative aid in the premises… Which petition was read and committed to Messrs. Coxe, Shreve and Nixon.

Minutes of the Assembly, 1818 held at Trenton, January 21, 1818 (p. 71)

Mr. Coxe from the committee to whom was committed the petition from certain chiefs and principal men of the Delaware tribe of Indians, formerly residing in this state, but now of Stockbridge in the state of New-York, praying Charles Ellis, William Stockton and Joseph Budd, esquires, be authorized to sell a certain tract of land called COAXEN FARM, in the county of Burlington, and apply the proceeds of the sale to the relief of the said petitioners, made the following Report,

That a vew to obtain such information, as would enable the committee to form a correct opinion on the subject committed to them, the gentlemen, above named and Josiah Foster, esquire, of the county of Gloucester, who is stated in the said petition to have a claim to the said farm, were requested to attend the committee.  Mr. Foster alone attended by his Attorney.

After imperfect examination of the subject, which under the circumstances, the committee has been enabled to make, they do not feel prepared to recommend a compliance with the prayer of the petitioners.

The property in question, being a farm of about 250 acres, estimated at the value of about 8000 dollars [Foster had previously claimed it was only worth $2,000], is claimed by Josiah Foster, under a devise from Charles Mooless, an Indian.  The will under which he claims, was by the Orphans court, of the county of Burlington, not admitted to proof, on the caveat of other Indians claiming an interest in the said property.  This decision of the Orphan Court was reversed by the Prerogative Court on a full hearing of the case.  After this reversal, the Legislature, by an act passed on the 18th day of March, 1806, appointed commissioners for the management of the said property, expressly reserving the right of all persons claiming the same.  In this state the subject has rested since that time.

With respect to the interest which the petitioners are entitled to in the property, were there no adverse claims, there has been laid before the committee no satisfactory evidence.  There are numerous Indians in this state claiming a participation in the property (emphasis added).  Their claims can only be correctly determined by such rules of evidence, as the judicial tribunal which may have cognizance of the same has established in such cases.

The policy of extending any support to the Indians at Stockbridge, beyond the liberal provision made for them by former acts of the Legislature, may admit of much doubt - The still more questionable policy of any interference by the Legislature, in matters of property, during the existance of conflicting claims; the declaration of a former Legislature, that an act passed by them under the view of the necessity of the case, was not intended to impair or oppose the lawful claims of others for the said Indians; and the belief in the minds of the committee, that no sale under such circumstances will probably bring a price in any degree equal to the value of the property, after a settlement of these claims by a due course of law, are considerations which have induced the committee to recommend the following Resolution:

Resolved, That it is not expedient to grant the prayer of the petitioners. 

What report was read, and agreed to by the House.

[end]

Note:  Sometime in late 1817 or early 1818, Foster instituted federal court action to evict the tenant then living on the Weekping tract.  He was successful by 1819.  From that point on, Indian possession to Weekping was terminated - as to whether it was terminated legally is left up to debate.

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