Saturday, 2 November 2013

"Caledonia is Ours" - Not True

Actually, no it is not.  If one lives in this neck of the woods, and attends rallies on both side of the issue, one is bound to hear someone blurt out, "Caledonia is ours".  I am highly doubtful that anyone issuing these words has every visited the National Archives to view the relevant records - which show that everything was done above board and spot on. 

In the case of the lands in and about Caledonia, they were owned by the Crawford family, who were Barefoot Onondagas.  Early maps show "Crawfords" in the locations where the town is now sited.  In the year 1835 the Crawford family, led by William Crawford, put their respective signatures to a deed ceding their right, title and interest in the land that was to become Caledonia.  It should be noted that Six Nations members were at that time permitted to select an unoccupied plot of land and make "improvements" (usually a clearing and a small cabin).  They sold their "improvements" in the "Crawford Tract" which had been in the family for about 20 years, to the amount of 400 acres next to the lands of John Buck alias Clearsky, an Onondaga Chief, to a White buyer, Jacob Turner.  The signatures (or marks) on the deed include Chief William Crawford, John Crawford, Mary Crawford and Abraham Crawford (the latter being the brother of William).  See, National Archives, RG10, Vol. 151, pp. 87568 to 87597.  The sheer number of pages gives an indication of the detail of the transaction, which included a detailed survey map.  This was the Caledonia Town Plot. 

The Crawford family then moved on to another unoccupied location and repeated the process.  In this case the Crawford family sold the Town Plot opposite to the Seneca Township part of Caledonia in 1841, and moved to Lots 1 to 4, Concession 6, Oneida Township (see reference below).  Some of course stayed generations on the land, not selling until the General Surrender, or later.  For example land records and the Census of Ontario for 1851 and 1861 show large landholdings outside the consolidated Reserve boundaries where members of the Curly and Latham families possessed extensive farms in North and South Cayuga Townships.  The sale was then ratified by the Chiefs in Council, with their signatures appended, and a Crown deed was issued to the purchaser.

As noted earlier, the Land Inspection Returns for Seneca (1844) went missing about 1986.  Since the north part of Caledonia is within the old Township of Seneca, that part of the town's land transactions are "unavailable" in a "user friendly format", but can be found in bits and pieces with a dedicated search.  It appears that the Six Nations are at this time only interested in the southern part of Caledonia "below the River" in Oneida Township - perhaps because this is closest to the Reserve and they are better able to use "leverage" to meet their goals.  This is fortunate in one way because the 1844 Oneida Township Land Inspection Returns were sent to the National Archives and microfilmed before the "removal" of documents from the Indian Office in Brantford.  Here one can see a map of each parcel of land (by then fully surveyed), and research the ownership of each lot, from the original Indian occupants to those who held the land at the time of the survey.  The compilers, "James Kirkpatrick and Allan Park Brough of the Township of West Flamborough, District of Gore Esquires" appear to have taken their job very seriously and the amount of detail in each entry is a virtual goldmine for researchers.  They even included sketches of the "improvements" made by each occupant, and interviews with Indian informants.

The ownership and transfer of land at the time of the consolidation of the Reserve lands as it relates to the Douglas Creek Estates (Kanonhstaton) which was the bone of contention that sent Caledonia into chaos in 2006, and now the newly announced McKenzie Meadows Project, can be traced via these records.  For more recent years, the deeds can be viewed in sequence in the Haldimand County Land Registry Office in Cayuga.

The bottom line - there is no evidence whatsoever that any part of Caledonia still belongs to the Six Nations.  End of story - one would think.  For those who wish to verify what I have said, the reference for said Inspection Returns is:

National Archives (Ottawa)
RG10, Vol. 729
Land Inspection Returns, Townships of Oneida and Tuscarora, 1844
Microfilm number C-13415



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  3. Did they buy the land from the natives or from the crown? Who did they get the crown deed from? I dont hear any mention of money? Who paid and who got the money for the land? This is some pretty one sided research. It doesnt even mention the fact that natives couldnt sell land legally to anyone other than family or friends. Was the sale done as set forth by Haldimand which is the only legal way for anyone to buy native land? Admit it. The native people got robbed.