Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
December 29, 1892


Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.


[Rev. W. O. Raymond, M. A.]

Col. Allen now assumed the duties of superintendent of the eastern Indian tribes.  His general policy for the next few years was to keep them engaged during the summer on the coast, either in fishing or such minor predatory operations as opportunity afforded.  In the winter he fitted them out with supplies for hunting about the shores of the Schoodic lakes.  In the spring they were enabled to repay with their furs and skins the advances made to them.  During the closing year of the war he kept them for the most part at Passamaquoddy, where he says they could find food in greater abundance, and also hold that place as an outpost.

Quunosquamcook, or St. Andrews point, appears to have been their principal camping place.  One of Allan’s numerous letters makes mention of an interview he had with the natives encamped on this spot July 1st, 1778, in the course of which, as he says:

I addressed the War captains, presenting each a medal (having procured several for the purpose) as a Token of Friendship & for a Distinguished Badge for their former conduct, which they rec’d & were saluted by all.  I then addressed them again presenting Each a Small Sword, which I delivered them in behalf of the Commander in chief to Defend their rights & Liberty, from the attempts & Insults of a Cruel & Blood thirsty Enemy & to secure them Invaluable Blessings to their most Distant Posterity . . . . After all was finished, I ordered the stores open for Trade, the Bountys to be given, and a Quantity of Provisions.

In this year the influence of Michael Francklin and Father Bourg began to tell against Allan, who had heretofore had matters all his own way.  Allan writes:

I am very well convinced that some schemes are laying, by different parties.  There are some Indians gone who are markd out by every Tribe to be warmly attached to Britain.

He had, indeed, good reason to feel alarmed.  In the previous year the British government had appointed Michael Francklin superintendent of Indian affairs.  A better person probably could not have been selected.  He had been a prisoner in the hands of the Indians in his younger days, and knew their mode of life.  He was also acquainted with the French language, which gave him a very considerable influence among the savages.  In August, 1778, M. Bourg, a priest from Canada, arrived as missionary to the Indians.  Through the efforts of Francklin and Bourg, a treaty of peace was made in September, near Fort Howe, with the Micmacs and some of the Maliseets, the chiefs and other principle Indians, on their knees, in solemn manner taking the oaths of allegiance to King George.  The Indian chiefs delivered up to Col. Francklin the presents which they had received from General Washington, and also the treaty which they had made with the government of Massachusetts at Watertown.  They were confirmed in their attitude by the coming of an influential delegation comprising deputies from the Ottawas, Hurons, Algonquins, Abenakis and other nations of Canada, requiring the Acadian Indians to withdraw from the Americans and to remain quiet, as they had declared war against them, and should treat all Indians found among them as enemies.

In the year 1779, the Indians at Passamaquoddy began to waver in the constancy with which they had hitherto adhered to the Americans.  The capture of Penobscot by General McLean and the establishment there of a strong British post had the effect of cutting off supplies from the westward.  Col. Francklin was able now to offer counter attractions superior to any which Allan could offer; and the Indians, always ready to consult their own interests, gradually became convinced that they would fare better by siding with the British, or at least remaining neutral.

Allan’s uneasiness is displayed in a letter written Oct. 20th, in which he says:

The unsteady conduct of the Indians has obliged me to use every means to prevent their going to St. John. . . I have not met with such difficulty previous to this summer.

No one who reads Col. Allan’s letters at this, to him, exceedingly trying period, can but admire the untiring energy and the fruitfulness of resource displayed in the endeavor still to retain the support of such unstable allies.

In July, 1780, came the great defection which had for some time been impending.  Three messengers sent by Major Studholm and Father Bourg arrived from the mouth of the St. John river, bearing an invitation to the Indians at Passamaquoddy to give their attendance at Fort Howe at the earliest possible date, coupled with the promise of large presents should the invitation be accepted.  In a lengthened conference, extending over two days, Allan used every effort to dissuade them; but, as he says, ‘all in Vain; go they would.’  They gave as a reason for their conduct ‘that they only meant to see the Priest, their Souls being heavy & Loaded with Burthens of Sins; that they acted upon a Duty commanded in their church which they could not neglect.’  Accordingly all but about one hundred, and these chiefly women and children, set off on the 3rd of July.  Writing to the council of Massachusetts, Allan says:

I am very unhappy in being obliged to acquaint the Honble Board of this, after the Success I have experienced in Disappointing the Priest & Mr. Frankline for this three years.

Some of the Indians afterwards returned to Passamaquoddy, but Col. Allan’s influence, great as it had been, was henceforth neutralized by the influence of Col. Francklin, combined with that of his faithful ally, Father Bourg.  Nevertheless, the intimate knowledge Allan possessed of the Indian character, and his persevering energy, enabled him still to be a thorn in the flesh to the British residents around the shores of Passamaquoddy bay.

A ‘Return of Indians and their Familys that are and have Been in the Service of the United States by order of Col. Allan, Superintendt and Commandr in Chief of Indians, Eastern Department, at Machias, July 28, 1780,’ signed by 1st Lieut. Fred’k Delesdernier, shows that there were then encamped at Passamaquoddy and on the Schoodic lakes 136 men, 118 women, 135 children belonging to the Passamaquoddy and Marisheet (or St. John river) Indians, besides a considerable number of Penobscots.  The most trusted of the Indian chiefs were Ambroise St. Aubin and Nicholas Hawawas.

Some of the St. John Indians, including Pierre Toma, had returned to their former abodes, and taken the oath of allegiance to the king.

Kidder, in his memoir, speaks of the great value of John Allan’s services to the United States; since, in all probability, but for his exertions the services of the Micmacs and Maliseets would have been secured for Great Britain, in which event the whole region east of the Kennebec would have fallen into the hands of the British.  He adds, ‘It is now generally conceded that our present boundary was fixed mainly on the ground of occupation, and had we not been able to hold our eastern outpost, we cannot say what river in Maine would now divide us from a British province.’