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Native American Land Sale, Signed with Totem Marks
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Deed for land in Ulster County, N.Y., signed by three Indians with their totem marks and red wax seals, conveying a mine and 400 acres of land to Cornelius Hornbeek and Frederick Schoonmaker.

[NATIVE AMERICAN]. Tateew, Ochangues and Neckarind, Manuscript deed for land in Ulster County, N.Y. to Cornelius Hornbeek and Frederick Shoonmaker, signed by Abraham Gaasbeek Chambers and Gilbert Livingston, countersigned by John Schoonmaker, Anderyes Decker, J. Pruyn, Jr., and Conrad Weiser as witnesses June 15, 1728. Rochester, Ulster Co., N.Y. 2 pp., with a filing Memorandum on third. 8 x 13 in.

Inventory #21419       Price: $9,000

Partial Transcript

 “…We Tateew, Ochangues and Neckarind, Indians, and native owners and proprietors of a Certaine Tract of Land - situate, lyeing and being in Rochester in the County of Ulster in the Province of New York . . . for divers good and vallueable considerations … and Especially for and in Consideration of the sum of Tenn pounds Currant Money of the Province of New York to us in hand … do grant bargaine and sell unto the said Cornelius Hornbeck and Frederick Schoonmaker their heirs and Assigns forever all that a certaine mine now found out (now supposed to be lead oar) whether the same be copper, tinn, pewter, Lead or Irone Oar, or whatsoever the same may prove to be hereafter, scituate lyeing and being within Rochester aforesaid on the south side of the Sanborgh's Kill near to a certaine place called Kopenagh Togeather with the quantity of four hundred acres of land to be laid out to comprehend the said mine in such shape and forme as the said Cornelius Hornbeck and Frederick Schoonmaker shall see cause for or think convenient…”

Historical Background

Sale of land in the Catskill foothills between three Munsee Delaware Indians and two local Dutch settlers. It is remarkable because of the clear marks and wax pictographs used by the Indians and purchasers to seal the deal on paper. Relations between colonists and Indians were not always characterized by conflict and violence. The years 1715 to 1745 marked a significant era of tranquility in the mid-Atlantic region; not coincidentally, this was also a period of peace between France and Britain in Europe.

About the year 1720, the Iroquois Confederacy claimed sovereignty over the Delaware Indians, but this was sometimes contested. At conferences between the Iroquois and colonial agents of New York and Pennsylvania, Iroquois sachems sold lands, some of which were Delaware tribal lands. This confluence of events probably explains the appearance of Conrad Weiser as a signing witness to this document. Weiser was born in Germany and migrated with his father, an indentured servant, to the New York frontier in 1710. When Conrad was 16, his father agreed to a local Mohawk chief’s proposal for him to live in his Schoharie Valley village, where he learned the Mohawk language and customs (the Mohawks were the easternmost Iroquois tribe). Over time, he became a trusted emissary between the Iroquois and local settlers, and was later employed by colonial governors in this period when the British government did not conduct or coordinate Indian diplomacy. The Delaware and Mahican Indians of eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York recognized that they occupied a shrinking middle ground between the British colonies, the Iroquois, and New France. Though some families chose to remain in the vicinity of white settlers, others joined new mission communities, such as Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Gnadenhutten, Pennsylvania, while others began to venture west. A great majority of Delaware Indians, angered by what they felt was exploitation at the behest of Iroquoian and colonial diplomats, joined the French side during the French and Indian War in the 1750s.

This document is also interesting for its reference to mineral extraction. When it became apparent that the British North American colonies did not possess gold or silver, the colonists largely chose not to explore for rare or valuable minerals. As settlement progressed into the Appalachian frontier in the eighteenth century, a few individuals saw potential profits in mining. It is not known whether Schoonmaker and Hornbeek succeeded in this venture. The first major iron foundry in colonial New York was constructed in 1743 in Ancram on lands owned by the Livingston family.


A fine and attractive document; Weiser’s signature appears to be heightened.


Tomlinson Collection, Mercantile Library Association (with inked deaccession stamp).

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