Pierre Chartier, Wacanackshina (White One Who Reclines)|
1759 (aged 69)|
Old Shawneetown, Illinois
|Cause of death||Smallpox|
|Known for||Promoting Native American civil rights, early Temperance movement|
|Spouse(s)||Blanceneige-Wapakonee Opessa (1695-1737)|
|Parent(s)||Martin Chartier (1655-1718); Sewatha Straight Tail (1660-1759)|
Sister: Mary Seaworth (Sewatha) Chartier (1687-1732)Children: Francois "Pale Croucher" (1712-1763); René "Pale Stalker" (1720-1777); Anna (1730-1779)
Peter Chartier (1690—c.1759) (Anglicized version of Pierre Chartier, sometimes written Chartiere, Chartiers, Shartee or Shortive) was a fur trader of French and Shawnee parentage who became a tribal chief and was an early advocate for Native American civil rights, speaking out against the sale of alcohol in indigenous communities in Pennsylvania. He first attempted to limit the sale of rum in Shawnee communities in the Province of Pennsylvania, then launched a movement to prohibit it altogether. Conflict with the colonial government motivated him to lead his community of over 400 Pekowi Shawnees on a four-year odyssey through Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and Indiana, eventually resettling in Illinois. He later fought on the side of the French during the French and Indian War.
Two communities (Chartiers Township and Chartiers (Pittsburgh)), several rivers including Chartiers Creek, Chartiers Run (Allegheny River) and Chartiers Run (Chartiers Creek), and two school districts (Chartiers-Houston School District and Chartiers Valley School District) are named after him.
- 1 Parentage and early life
- 2 Early career as a trader
- 3 Conflict with the colonial government
- 4 Participation in the French and Indian War
- 5 Death
- 6 Chartier's legacy
- 7 See also
- 8 Further reading
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
Parentage and early life
Peter Chartier was born Pierre Chartier and was the son of Martin Chartier (1655-1718), a glovemaker born in St-Jean-de-Montierneuf, Poitiers, Vienne, Poitou-Charentes, France. Martin Chartier arrived in Quebec with his brother and sister and his father René in 1667. He accompanied Louis Jolliet on his 1674 journey to the Illinois Territory, where he first met Peter's mother. They were married in a Shawnee ceremony in 1675 and Peter's older sister was born the following year. Martin later went with La Salle on his 1679-1680 journey to Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. He assisted in the construction of Fort Miami and Fort Crèvecoeur where, on 16 April 1680 he and six other men mutinied, looted and burned the fort, and fled. (In a letter of 1682, La Salle stated that Martin "was one of these who incited the others to do as they did.") Martin spent the next several years traveling with a group of Shawnee and Susquehannock Indians.
Peter was born on the Cumberland River in northern Tennessee where his father ran a trading post for a short time. Peter's Shawnee name was Wacanackshina which means "White one who reclines". Around 1697 he moved with his family to Pequea Creek in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Chartier married his first cousin, Blanceneige-Wapakonee Opessa (1695-1737), about 1710. They had three children: Francois "Pale Croucher" (b. 1712), René "Pale Stalker" (b. 1720), and Anna (b. 1730).
In 1712, Governor William Penn granted Peter's father Martin a 300-acre tract of land along the Conestoga River in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Together they established a trading post in Conestoga Town. In 1718 they moved to Dekanoagah on the Yellow Breeches Creek near the Susquehanna River where his father died in April of that year.
Peter's father's funeral was attended by James Logan, the future Mayor of Philadelphia. Immediately afterwards, Logan seized Martin Chartier's 250-acre estate on the grounds that Martin owed him a debt of 108 pounds, 19 shillings and 3 and 3/4 pence. He had Peter and his family evicted, and expelled a community of Conestoga Indians who were also living on the property. He later sold the property to Stephen Atkinson for 30 pounds. Logan permitted Peter to maintain his trading post on the land as a tenant, and eventually Peter opened another post at Paxtang on the Susquehanna River (a 1736 map of Paxtang Manor by surveyor Edward Smout shows Chartier's home in what is today Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). Although Peter Chartier eventually became a wealthy landowner, this experience with Logan embittered him, and was one of several factors causing him to turn against the Provincial Government.
Early career as a trader
On 3 November 1730 Peter Chartier was licensed by the English court in Lancaster County to trade with the Indians in the south-western Pennsylvania area. By 1732 Chartier had become well known as a negotiator between the Shawnees and the traders who came to sell them goods. The Quaker trader Edmund Cartlidge wrote to Governor Patrick Gordon on 14 May 1732:
I find Peter Chartiere well inclined, and stands firm by the interest of Pennsylvania, and very ready on all accounts to do all the service he can. And as he has the Shawnise Tongue very perfect, and [is] well looked upon among them, he may do a great deal of good.
In September and October 1732, Chartier and Cartlidge served as interpreters during a conference in Philadelphia attended by Opakethwa and Opakeita, two Shawnee chiefs, with Thomas Penn, Governor Gordon and the 72-member Pennsylvania Provincial Council. With Chartier and the two chiefs was Quassenung, son of the Shawnee chief Kakowatcheky. The minutes of the conference record that both Opakethwa and Quassenung died of smallpox during their visit to Philadelphia.
Conflict with the colonial government
Alcohol abuse and Native Americans in Pennsylvania
Beginning around 1675 traders had been selling rum in Shawnee communities which had resulted in more than one incident of violence resulting in death. In October 1701 the Pennsylvania Assembly had prohibited the sale of rum to the Indians, however as the law was poorly enforced and the penalty was light—a fine of ten pounds and confiscation of any illegal supplies—rum continued to be used to barter for furs. Traders soon began selling rum on credit in order to extort furs and skins and labor out of the Shawnees.
Great quantities of rum [are] continually brought to their town, insomuch as they [are] ruined by it, having nothing left but have laid out all, even their clothes, for rum, and may now, when threatened with war, be surprised by their enemies when beside themselves with drink, and so be utterly destroyed.
By the 1730s the effects of alcohol abuse were damaging Shawnee communities. Rum as well as brandy and other distilled beverages had become important trade items and essential elements in diplomatic councils, treaty negotiations, and political transactions and had become part of Native American gift-giving rituals. The result was the erosion of civility, an increase in violence and widespread health problems. Alcohol made men less reliable hunters and allies, destabilized village economics and contributed to a rise in poverty.
Attempts to control the sale of alcohol to the Shawnee
On 24 April 1733 the Shawnee chiefs at "Allegania" sent a petition to Governor Gordon complaining that "There is yearly and monthly some new upstart of a trader without license, who comes amongst us and brings with him nothing but rum..." and asking permission to destroy the casks of rum: "We therefore beg thou would take it into consideration, and send us two firm orders, one for Peter Chartier, the other for us, to break in pieces all the [casks] so brought."
On 1 May 1734 this was followed by another letter dictated by several Shawnee chiefs to a trader, probably Jonah Davenport, listing the names of some fifteen traders who either had no license or had exhibited undesirable behavior such as frequent disputes or violence. Another seven, including Chartier, were named as being in good standing, and these would be permitted to bring up to 60 gallons of rum a year, as long as they could show a license. Chartier was described as "one of us, and he is welcome to come as long as he pleases...[and] to bring what quantity [of rum] he pleases..." The letter concludes, "And for our parts, if we see any other traders than those we desire amongst us, we will stave their [casks] and seize their goods." The Shawnee evidently felt that control over the sale of rum would reduce problems resulting from its abuse.
The prohibition of rum in Shawnee communities
By 1737 Chartier had become chief of the Pekowi Turtle Clan, with whom he was living. He apparently made the decision to prohibit the sale of rum in Shawnee communities in his area, and persuaded other chiefs to do the same. In a letter of 20 March 1738, addressed to Thomas Penn and Acting Governor James Logan, three Shawnee chiefs stated:
All our people being gathered together, we held a council together, to leave off drinking for the space of four years, and we all in general agreed to it, taking into consideration the ill consequences that attend it and what disturbance it makes, and that two of our brothers, the Mingoes, lost their lives in our towns by rum, and that we would live in peace and quietness and become another people...The proposal of stopping the rum and all strong liquors was made to the rest [of the tribe] in the winter, and they were all willing. As soon as it was concluded of, all the rum that was in the Towns was all staved and spilled, belonging both to Indians and white people, which in quantity consisted of about forty gallons, that was thrown in the street, and we have appointed four men to stave all the rum or strong liquors that is brought to the Towns hereafter, either by Indians or white men, during the four years. We would be glad if our brothers would send strict orders that we might prevent the rum coming to the hunting cabins or to the neighboring towns. We have sent wampum to the French, to the Five Nations, to the Delaware...to tell them not to bring any rum to our towns, for we want none...so we would be glad if our brothers would inform the traders not bring any for we are sorry, after they have brought it a great way, for them to have it broke, and when they're once warned they will take care.
This letter was accompanied by a pledge, signed by ninety-eight Shawnees and by Chartier, agreeing that all rum should be spilled, and four men should be appointed for every town to see that no rum or strong liquor should be brought into their towns for the term of four years. Governor Patrick Gordon sent Chartier a reprimand, and traders continued to bring rum into Shawnee communities, including several traders who the Shawnees had requested be barred from their territory.
For several years the French government had been trying to win the support of indigenous communities for a war against the British, and in 1740 the Governor of New France, Charles de la Boische, Marquis de Beauharnois, attempted to persuade Chartier and other Shawnee leaders to meet in Montreal to discuss relocating to Detroit and forming an alliance. In a letter of 25 June 1740 Chartier declined, promising to visit Montreal the following year (a promise which he evidently did not keep).
Tensions with the Pennsylvania government escalated in 1743 when on 6 June three traders appeared before the Pennsylvania Provincial Council saying that two others had been murdered and that they had been advised by the Shawnees to leave or they too would be killed. The governor regarded this as an act of provocation to violence, and sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Assembly alleging that Chartier's Native American heritage inclined him to have a "brutish disposition...and it is not to be doubted that a person of his savage temper will do us all the mischief he can."
In 1743 Chartier moved to Shannopin's Town, which would become Pittsburgh, and established a trading post on the Allegheny River about twenty miles upstream from the forks of the Ohio near the mouth of Chartiers Run at what is now Tarentum, a place which later became known as Chartier's Old Town. Several Shawnee communities from the Chalahgawtha, Pekowi and Mekoche bands later resettled near Chartier's Old Town.[Note 1]
Chartier's flight from Pennsylvania
His efforts to protect his people from the influence of British traders having been frustrated, in April 1745 Chartier accepted a military commission from the French. Chartier had decided to lead his people away from the influence of rum-peddling traders, cutting off the lucrative supply of furs that the British received from the Shawnee in exchange for rum.
In July 1745 two traders, James Dunning [one of the traders that had been banned in 1734] and Peter Tostee appeared in Philadelphia claiming that they had been robbed on 18 April:
...as they were returning up the Allegheny River in canoes, from a trading trip, with a considerable quantity of furs and skins, Peter Chartier, late an Indian Trader, with about 400 Shawnese Indians, armed with guns, pistols and cutlasses, suddenly took them prisoners, having, as he said, a captain's commission from the King of France; and plundered them of all their effects to the value of sixteen hundred pounds.
The Pennsylvania provincial council issued an indictment of "Peter Chartier of Lancaster County...Labourer [who], being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil...falsely, traitorously, unlawfully and treasonably did compass, imagine and intend open war, insurrection and rebellion against our said Lord the King." Chartier's landholdings in Pennsylvania, totaling some 600 acres, were seized and turned over to Thomas Lawrence, a business partner of Edward Shippen, III.
Chartier led his Shawnee band to Lower Shawneetown on the Ohio River where they took refuge for a few weeks. Chartier and his people recognized that, by defying the Provincial Governor and accepting French patronage, they were now compelled to leave Pennsylvania. A French trader in Lower Shawneetown witnessed Chartier's Shawnees performing a two-day "Death Feast," a ceremony conducted before abandoning a village.
Fortunately, the Shawnees were accustomed to relocating—Peter's father Martin had traveled with them from Illinois to Maryland in the early 1690s. The group now proceeded to Kentucky to establish a new community called Eskippakithiki. Fighting with Iroquois and Chickasaw, as well as a smallpox epidemic, led them to move south to the Coosa River in 1748, where they established the village of Chalakagay near what is now Sylacauga, Alabama. The warrior and chieftain Black Hoof (1740–1831), then a child, was a member of this Shawnee band and recalled it in later years.
In 1747 Chartier appeared in Detroit (although this may actually have been one of his sons) to meet with Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière and explain why his Shawnees had chosen not to move to Detroit. The French had hoped to lure large numbers of Shawnees and other tribes away from British influence, but Chartier was the only leader to accept French patronage. His band preferred to settle on the Wabash, which is where they had been living when Martin Chartier first encountered them in 1674. After leaving Detroit, Chartier visited Terre Haute, Indiana and in 1749 he met Captain Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville at the forks of the Ohio, during the Colonel's "lead plate expedition". Céloron also reported passing through the abandoned ruins of Chartier's Old Town.
Chartier's Shawnee band split several times; many returned to Pennsylvania to join the British during the French and Indian war. Chartier and about 190 Shawnees eventually settled in Old Shawneetown, Illinois, however tensions immediately developed between them and the established tribes, the Illinois Confederation, the Piankashaw, the Kickapoos and the Mascoutin. Fighting ensued until Chartier signed a treaty brokered by the Marquis de Vaudreuil in Mobile, Alabama on 24 June 1750.
Participation in the French and Indian War
In June 1754 Chartier was present with his Shawnee warriors and his two sons, Francois and René, at the death of Captain Joseph Coulon de Jumonville at the Battle of Jumonville Glen. In July 1754 he and his sons participated in the French victory over George Washington at the Battle of Fort Necessity. Both of Chartier's sons fought against the British in numerous engagements during the French and Indian War. René may have been killed with Cornstalk when he was detained at Fort Randolph in November 1777.
There is evidence that Chartier (as well as his mother Sewatha Straight Tail) died in an outbreak of smallpox that had originated in 1757 in Quebec and later spread to Native American communities across North America.
Chartier's decision to join the French and to lead his community out of Pennsylvania sparked fears that French influence over Native Americans would motivate them to attack British settlements. Accordingly, the Pennsylvania provincial government took measures to comply with the repeated requests of Shawnee leaders to control the practice of trading rum for furs. On 7 May 1745, shortly after Chartier had announced his defection to the French, Lieutenant-Governor George Thomas issued a proclamation stating:
...Whereas frequent complaints have been made by the Indians, and of late earnestly renewed, that divers gross irregularities and abuses have been committed in the Indian countries, and that many of their people have been cheated and inflamed to such a degree by means of strong liquors being brought and sold amongst them contrary to the said laws, as to endanger their own lives and the lives of others...I do hereby strictly enjoin the magistrates of the several counties within this province, and especially those of the county of Lancaster, where these abuses are mostly carried on, to be very vigilant.
Thomas strengthened the law against the sale of rum in indigenous communities, doubled the fine to twenty pounds, required a surety bond of one hundred pounds from anyone applying for a license to trade furs with Native Americans, required that the goods of traders traveling to indigenous communities be searched, and gave
full power and authority to any Indian or Indians to whom rum or other strong liquors shall be hereafter offered for sale contrary to the said laws, to stave and break to pieces the cask or vessel in which such rum or other strong liquor is contained.
Although this was the most severe proclamation yet implemented to control the distribution of alcohol to Native Americans, it was also not strictly enforced and alcohol abuse continued to be an increasing problem in indigenous communities.
Historian Stephen Warren describes Chartier as an "audacious example of independence [which] infuriated Englishmen and Frenchmen alike," saying that Chartier "encouraged Pan-Indian expressions of unity...He discovered valuable lessons in movement and reinvention and...turned Shawnee histories of migration and violence toward adoption of a new racial consciousness for Indian peoples in the eastern half of North America." 
Warren argues that Chartier influenced the Shawnee attitudes towards their neighbors and rivals, both European and Native American:
The Shawnees...modeled themselves after men such as Martin and Peter Chartier, who moved between regions and empires in a single lifetime. Like the Chartiers, the Shawnees refused to acquiesce to French, English, or Iroquois "overlords." Frustratingly independent, Shawnee migrants made deliberate choices based on the realities of Indian slavery, intertribal warfare, and access to European trade goods.
- Martin Chartier
- Lower Shawneetown
- French and Indian War
- North American fur trade
- Alcohol and Native Americans
- William Albert Hunter, Peter Chartier: Knave of the Wild Frontier, New Cumberland, Pa.: Historical Papers of the Cumberland County Historical Society Vol 9, no. 4 (1973); Cumberland County National Bank and Trust Co.
- Chartier Family Association family tree Archived 2014-05-12 at the Wayback Machine.
- Martin Chartier
- Don Greene, Shawnee Heritage II: Selected Lineages of Notable Shawnee (Lulu.com: Fantasy ePublications, 2008), Lulu.com: Fantasy ePublications, 2008; pp. 44-45 and 70.
- Harriette Simpson Arnow, Seedtime on the Cumberland, Michigan State University Press. (2013)
- Zuber Family Tree: Martin Chartier
- History of Fort Crevecoeur
- Charles Augustus Hanna, The Wilderness Trail: Or, The Ventures and Adventures of the Pennsylvania Traders on the Allegheny Path, Volume 1, Putnam's sons, 1911
- Chief Straight Tail, posted Aug 22, 2011.
- American-Canadian Genealogist, (New Hampshire: American Canadian Genealogical Society), Vol 19, No 2, p. 61: "The Chartiers: An Indian Life".
- Noel Schutz, Don Greene, Shawnee Heritage I, Vol. 1: Shawnee Genealogy and Family History, Lulu.com, 2008 ISBN 143571573X
- William Henry Egle, Historical Register: Notes and Queries, Biographical and Genealogical, Vol. 2, 1884; p. 254.
- Zuber Family Tree: Pierre Chartier
- Zuber Family Tree: Blanceneige-Wapakonee Opessa
- C. Hale Sipe, The Indian wars of Pennsylvania : an account of the Indian events, in Pennsylvania, of the French and Indian war, Pontiac's war, Lord Dunmore's war, the revolutionary war, and the Indian uprising from 1789 to 1795; tragedies of the Pennsylvania frontier based primarily on the Penna. archives and colonial records, The Telegraph Press, Harrisburg PA, 1929.
- Bob Rowland, "History of the Callapatschink / Yellow Breeches Creek," prepared for the Yellow Breeches Watershed Association, August 2001.
- Paul A. W. Wallace, Indians in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1993; pp. 125-128
- George Thornton Fleming, Volume 1 of History of Pittsburgh and Environs, from Prehistoric Days to the Beginning of the American Revolution, American Historical Society, 1922.
- Stephen Warren, Worlds the Shawnees Made: Migration and Violence in Early America, UNC Press Books, 2014 ISBN 1469611732
- Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from Its Beginnings to the Lancaster Treaty of 1744, W. W. Norton & Company, 1984; p. 270. ISBN 0393303020
- Donald H. Kent, Harry E. Whipkey, and Martha L. Simonetti, Descriptive list of the map collection in the Pennsylvania State Archives: catalogue of maps in the principal map collection (MG 11). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Division of Archives and Manuscripts, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1976; p. 52.
- James H. Merrell, Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN 0393319768
- C. Hale Sipe, The Indian Chiefs of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania: Wennawoods Publishing, 1995.
- Peter C. Mancall, Deadly Medicine: Indians and Alcohol in Early America, Cornell University Press, 1997. ISBN 0801480442
- Joseph Galloway, ed. The Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, Carefully Compared with the Originals: And an Appendix, Containing Such Acts and Parts of Acts, Relating to Property, as are Expired, Altered, Or Repealed. Together with the Royal, Proprietary, City, and Borough Charters, Pennsylvania, Hall and Sellers, 1775.
- Colonial Records: Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania from the organization to the termination of the proprietary government, v. 11-16: Minutes of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania from its organization to the termination of the revolution, Volume 2. J. Severns & Company, 1852; p. 141
- A. Glynn Henderson, "The Lower Shawnee Town on Ohio: Sustaining Native Autonomy in an Indian "Republic"." In Craig Thompson Friend, ed., The Buzzel about Kentuck: Settling the Promised Land, University Press of Kentucky, 1999; pp. 25-56. ISBN 0813133394
- Randolph Chandler Downes, Council Fires on the Upper Ohio: A Narrative of Indian Affairs in the Upper Ohio Valley Until 1795: Vol 42, Western Pennsylvania Historical Survey, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1940. ISBN 0822971267
- Pennsylvania Archives, first series, Harvard University, 1852; p. 551.
- "Hanna on Peter Charter", E.P. Grondine, posted Thu Feb 14, 2013.
- Where Did the Name Chartiers Come From?
- Michael N. McConnell, A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774, Bison books History e-book project; U of Nebraska Press, 1992. ISBN 0803282389
- William Albert Hunter, Peter Chartier: Knave of the Wild Frontier, New Cumberland, Pa.: Historical Papers of the Cumberland County Historical Society Vol 9, no. 4 (1973); Cumberland County National Bank and Trust Co.
- "History". Borough of Tarentum. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- Boyd Crumrine, Franklin Ellis, and Austin N. Hungerford, History of Washington County, Pennsylvania: with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men, Philadelphia: H.L. Everts & Co., 1882.
- Lois Mulkearn, Edwin V. Pugh, A Traveler's Guide to Historic Western Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh Press, University of Pittsburgh, 1954. ISBN 0822975319
- Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 Cambridge studies in North American Indian history, Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN 1139495682
- Céloron de Blainville states that Chartier was ordered by the Marquis de Beauharnois to leave Pennsylvania. See Expedition of Céloron to the Ohio Country in 1749.
- Guy Lanoue, "Female Rituals of the Iroquois," Université de Montréal.
- Jerry E. Clark, The Shawnee, University Press of Kentucky, 1977. ISBN 0813128188
- Ian K. Steele, Setting All the Captives Free: Capture, Adjustment, and Recollection in Allegheny Country, Vol. 71 of McGill-Queen's Native and Northern Series; McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2013. ISBN 0773589899
- Orsamus Holmes Marshall, Andrew Arnold Lambing, Joseph Pierre de Bonnécamps, Charles Burleigh Galbreath, eds. Expedition of Céloron to the Ohio Country in 1749, F.J. Heer Printing Company, 1921.
- Israel Daniel Rupp, Early History of Western Pennsylvania, and of the West, and of Western Expeditions and Campaigns, from MDCCLIV to MDCCCXXXIII. A.P. Ingram, 1848.
- Gordon Calloway, The Shawnees and the War for America, The Penguin library of American Indian history; Penguin, 2007. ISBN 0670038628
- Dunbar Rowland, Albert Godfrey Sanders, Patricia Kay, (eds.) Mississippi Provincial Archives: French Dominion, Vol. 5. 1749-1763, Mississippi. Dept. of Archives and History, LSU Press, 1984. ISBN 0807110698
- William Henry Foote, "Cornstalk, The Shawnee Chief," The Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp. 533-540, Richmond, Virginia. 1850. Transcribed by Valerie F. Crook, 1998.
- "Smallpox", in The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Russell Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492, Volume 186 of Civilization of the American Indian series; University of Oklahoma Press, 1987. ISBN 080612220X
- Samuel Hazard, ed. Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania: From the Organization to the Termination of the Proprietary Government, Mar. 10, 1683-Sept. 27, 1775, Vol 4 of Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Provincial Council, Pennsylvania Committee of Safety; J. Severns, 1851.