Monday, 1 August 2022

 A Forest Sounds Like a Ship at Sea:

Catharine's Town

Day 13: Remote Residency at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, Ireland, 7/18/22 to 8/13/22,  Maria Driscoll McMahon checking in from New York State

Memorial for Catharine Montour on the Catharine Valley Trail, Montour Falls, NY

Today I took a bicycle ride on the Catharine Valley Trail which is not far from Ridgebury, Pa. and stopped by a memorial made to honor Catharine Montour who was a Seneca leader in the 18th century.  Although my Irish paternal ancestors arrived in Ridgebury more than 40 years after the Revolutionary War and the tragic events which unfolded as described below, the importance of these events for all who lived in the United States during and after (to this very day) cannot be overstated.

The Catharine Valley Trail runs through the village of Montour Falls, NY, which was once known as Sheaquaga, a village predominantly (if not exclusively) inhabited by members of the Seneca Nation as part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy as late as the 18th century. It was also known as "Catharine's Town."  The town straddled a creek and bordered what is now known as Queen Catharine's Marsh.  The population was around 300 and included about 30 - 50 longhouses, substantial corn fields, and orchards full of fruit trees. Sadly,  all were destroyed by Sullivan's campaign as ordered by George Washington in order to defeat the British with which some members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy had aligned. 

The village was destroyed, but under Catharine's leadership,  the people had all fled for Canada where they would be safe from Sullivan and Clinton's mayhem. 

Catharine's mother was known as "French Margaret," 
because she was part French and part Haudenosaunee. 
 Catharine's father was Katarioniecha (Peter Quebec), a Mohawk who had been converted to Catholicism. Catharine would marry Telenemut (Thomas Hudson) who was a Seneca Chief. 

The dwellings in  Sheaquaga  would have included long houses.  The gardens would have included the "three sisters" - corn, squash and beans - farmed by women and which sustained the indigenous people with vegetables providing perfect protein. Corn, which does not grow in the wild,  demanded very careful cultivation.  Agriculture as a science almost certainly started with women and First Nations women were master farmers. 

Visitors to Sheaquaga included
 Iroquois Chief, Red Jacket and Joseph Brant, controversial, but fascinating people in the history of the region. 

Catharine's Memorial

Memorial for Catharine Montour on the Catharine Valley Trail, Montour Falls, NY

Memorial for Catharine Montour on the Catharine Valley Trail, Montour Falls, NY

Sullivan-Clinton Campaign - Indigenous Values Initiative

TrailTalk_web_11-05.pdf (

Montour Falls - Life in the Finger Lakes

0:02 / 1:48 Queen Catharine Montour | Path Through History | WSKG History

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