Perhaps no Freemason who ever lived in America has been so condemned by some authors and praised by others as Joseph Brant, the powerful and influential Mohawk chief who sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War…
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Perhaps no Freemason who ever lived in America has been so condemned by some authors and praised by others as Joseph Brant, the powerful and influential Mohawk chief who sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War.Born at Cuyahoga Ohio Country on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, near present-day Akron, Ohio, during the hunting season when Mohawks travelled to the area, Brant was originally named Thayendanegea, which has possibilities of meaning two wagers (sticks) bound together for strength, or "he who places two bets." The parents of Joseph Brant were Mohawks whose home was at Canajoharie on the Mohawk River in New York. Brant, however, was born on the banks of the Ohio River in 1742 while his parents were on a hunting excursion to that region.(1) His father was Nickus (or "Nicholas") of the Wolfe family, who, although not a chief, was a Mohawk of some standing in the tribe. His mother Margaret, or Owandah, the niece of Tiaogeara, a Caughnawaga sachem, took Joseph and his older sister Mary , alsoknown as Molly, to Canajoharie, on the Mohawk River in east-central New York, where she had lived before her family moved to the Ohio River. His mother remarried on 9 September 1753 in Fort Hunter (Church of England) a widower named Brant Canagaraduncka, who was a sachem of the tribe. Thus he got the name of Brant.Sir William Johnson, the British superintendent of the northern Indians of America, who was extremely popular with the tribes under his supervision, developed a liking for Brant when he was just in his youth. During his time
with the Iroquois, Johnson became particularly close to the Mohawk tribes. He was also a Mason and a former
Provincial Grand Master of the New York colony. In 1759 Johnson's wife, Catherine died and he then married his
Indian mistress who happened to be Brant's sister, Molly in an Indian ceremony later that year. It was due largely to
Johnsons relationship with Molly that Brant received the favor and protection of Sir William and through him the
British government, which set Brant on the road to promotion.
Brant and a number of young Mohawks were selected by Johnson to attend Moors Charity School for Indians at
Lebanon, Connecticut- the school which was later to become Dartmouth College. Here he learned to speak and write
English and was introduced to Western history and literature studies. He is the only one of those chosen known to
have derived any benefit from the educational process standing at that time. He left school to serve under Sir
William from 1755-1759 during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). After these participatons, he became Sir
William's close companion and helped him run the Indian Department which was administered by the British out of
Quebec. He was also assigned the work of an interpreter for an Anglican missionary and helped translate the prayer
book and Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language, which he did in a quite orderly fashion.
About 1768 he married Christine, the daughter of an Oneida chief, whom he had met in school. He then settled with
her on a farm near Canajoharie which he had inherited. While here, Brant assisted in revising the Mohawk prayer
book and translating the Acts of the Apostles into the Mohawk language. He also joined the Anglican Church, was a
regular communicant, and evinced a great desire to bring Christianity to his people. His wife died of tuberculosis
about 1771, leaving him with a son and a daughter. In 1773, he married his wife's sister, Susannah, who died a few
months afterward, also of tuberculosis. In 1780, he married Catherine Adonwentishon Croghan, the daughter of the
prominent American colonist, Indian agent, fur trader, and New York-Pennsylvania-Ohio landowner/speculator
George Croghan and a Mohawk mother, Catharine Tekarihoga. They had seven children: Joseph, Jacob, John,
Margaret, Catherine(2), Mary and Elizabeth. Through her mother, Catharine Adonwentishon was head of the Turtle
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