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DEVAU, Retor, CLAUDE – Volume IV (1771-1800)

d. 14 April 1784 at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade (La Pérade, Que.)


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KAGHSWAGHTANIUNT (Coswentannea, Gaghswaghtaniunt, Kachshwuchdanionty, Tohaswuchdoniunty, Belt of Wampum, Old Belt, Le Collier Pendu, White Thunder), a Seneca Indian living on the upper Ohio River by 1750; d. c. 1762.

As Cadsedan-hiunt he was identified in 1750 as one of the “Chiefs of the Seneca Nations settled at Ohio”; as Kachshwuchdanionty, he appeared in 1753 as one of “the Chiefs now entrusted with the Conduct of Publick affairs among the Six Nations” on the Ohio; and in 1755 he was described as “Belt of Wampum or White Thunder [who] keeps the wampum.” His English and French designations apparently attempt to translate his Seneca name; compare Zeisberger*’s form, gaschwechtonni, of the Onondaga word meaning to make a belt of wampum.

Kaghswaghtaniunt was closely associated with Tanaghrisson from 1749 to 1754, during the rising conflict between English and French over the Ohio country. In 1753 he was one of the delegation that confronted Paul Marin de La Malgue at Fort de la Rivière au Bœuf (Waterford, Pa.) with a protest against the French military advance toward the Ohio. Suffering some hurt, Kaghswaghtaniunt made the return trip to Logstown (Chiningué, now Ambridge, Pa.) by canoe, arriving in mid-January 1754. He was accompanied by Tanaghrisson and a French party under Michel Maray de La Chauvignerie. Soon afterward he was accused by an associate, Jeskakake, of conspiring to betray the French officer to the English.

Kaghswaghtaniunt was among the 80 to 100 Mingos who later in 1754 joined Lieutenant-Colonel George Washington near present Uniontown, Pa., on his march toward Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh, Pa.). With Washington’s defeat by Louis Coulon de Villiers, the group of Mingos took refuge at Aughwick (Shirleysburg, Pa.). Kaghswaghtaniunt was one of the Indians who joined Major-General Edward Braddock’s campaign against Fort Duquesne in 1755 and after the British defeat retired to the vicinity of Harris’s Ferry (Harrisburg, Pa.).

After Tanaghrisson’s death in October 1754, Scarroyady had succeeded him as “half king” or spokesman for the Iroquois of the Ohio; but Scarroyady’s absences in New York left the leadership unsettled, and in January 1756 Kaghswaghtaniunt and another Seneca, the White Mingo, were reported to be at odds about the succession to Tanaghrisson.

Later in 1756 the Mingo refugees moved from Pennsylvania to New York under the protection of Sir William Johnson*, the superintendent of Indian affairs. In June of that year Johnson sent Kaghswaghtaniunt with a message to the Senecas, and advised him and his family to settle among them. The western (Geneseo) division of the tribe, encouraged by Louis-Thomas Chabert* de Joncaire and his sons, had traditionally been favourable to the French, but Kaghswaghtaniunt continued to attend Johnson’s councils and in April 1759 announced to him the Geneseo decision (said to have been made the previous winter) to take the British side. He was one of the Seneca chiefs who conferred with Johnson at Oswego (Chouaguen) in August 1759 after the British capture of Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.); a year later he headed a party that with 600 other Iroquois accompanied Major-General Jeffery Amherst*’s army to Montreal, which fell on 8 Sept. 1760.

In 1761 Donald Campbell, commandant of Detroit, sent Johnson word of Seneca activity against the English in the west. When Kaghswaghtaniunt met Johnson at Niagara in August, however, he assured Johnson that “he was invested with the direction of the affairs of the nation where he lived” and that “all [was] well and very peaceable.” Kaghswaghtaniunt visited Fort Niagara again during the winter, and William Walters, the commandant, wrote of him on 5 April 1762: “He is a good old fellow & I always Receive him Kindly and give him a Little Ammunition & provision.” Not long after this, Kaghswaghtaniunt seems to have died.

Not much is known of his family. His wife and three grown daughters were with him at a council in Philadelphia in April 1756, and also at Fort Johnson, New York, in November 1759. A stepson, Aroas or Silver Heels, prominent in his own right, appears in documents of 1755 and later. A reference to “the Old Belts Daughter” in June 1763 gives the impression that her father was then dead, and in subsequent documents the daughters are identified as Silvers Heels’ sisters.

William A. Hunter

The diaries Of George Washington, 1748–1799, ed. J. C. Fitzpatrick (4v., Boston, New York, 1925), I, 54, 62–63. The history of an expedition against Fort Du Quesne in 1755, under Major-General Edward Braddock, ed. Winthrop Sargent (Philadelphia, 1855), 378. Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.). NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), VII, 141–47, 197, 325–28, 391. Papiers Contrecœur (Grenier). Pennsylvania, Colonial records, V–VI. Pennsylvania archives, 1st ser., II. David Zeisberger, Zeisberger’s Indian dictionary . . . (Cambridge, Mass., 1887).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

William A. Hunter, “KAGHSWAGHTANIUNT,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 14, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/kaghswaghtaniunt_3E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/kaghswaghtaniunt_3E.html
Author of Article:   William A. Hunter
Title of Article:   KAGHSWAGHTANIUNT
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1974
Year of revision:   1974
Access Date:   April 14, 2024