Monthly Archives: October 2011

Legend Series (The legend of John Van Guilder ” Toanunck”

John Van Guilder was a Mahican Native American, his Native American name was Toanunck, a man whom in 1724 signed the great treaty of the Mohican tribe, at which all the bands not by that time exterminated by the wars and genocide privately conducted against them by the traders and settlers were gathered. A missionary group established itself at what became known as Stockbridge Massachusetts, about 12 miles by the Indian trail or up the Housatonic River from Toanunck house. The mission offered refuge and influence to protect the Indians. They sought peace and treated for peace, but not without securing for Van guilder a reservation of substantial proportions on his own grounds. It ran from four miles west of the Housatonic River almost to the Hudson River.

The Original Mission House

The Original Mission House in Stockbridge Mass.

The other Mahican bands accepted Christianity, and the die was cast for their exodus to lands west of the Mississippi River as part of the great ethnic cleansing of the Atlantic coastal region of North America.
On November 15, 1756, Toanunck had too much of Robert Livingston’s arrogant pretensions as Lord of the Manor. He bullied the Indians into either serving as his quasi-slaves, or getting off “his” land, out of which, Van Guilder’s reservation actually took the lion’s share. Mutually aggressive words were exchanged between one of Livingston’s many tenant farmers. At which time Livingston roused the Sheriff, who deputized some other of Livingston’s men and they set out to confront and eject Van Guilder.
The Albany sheriff and Livingston posse, said to be unarmed, again attempted to evict several tenants, and destroy their houses. One of the tenants was apparently a good friend of Mohican John Van Guilder, who with two of his sons and a settler soon arrived on horseback at the tenant’s place.
The Van Guilder or Toanunck’s party was armed with guns, bayonets, and tomahawks, and Van Guilder threatened to kill some of the posse if they touched the house. The sheriff ordered his men to arrest them, and as the posse approached, the Indians gave a war cry. Van Guilder leveled his gun, and in self-defense shot and killed one of the deputies, then fled with his sons and his friend.
The sheriff’s men quickly captured “Toanunck”, one of his sons, and the settler, took them to the Albany jail, and put them in irons. It was rumored that Van Guilder’s other son vowed to involve the Stockbridge Indians, to capture one of the posse dead or alive, and to burn down Livingston’s house.
The most ancient and august of the Mahicans at the Stockbridge Mission wrote to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern District of North America Sir William Johnson demanding immediately of “Toanunck’s” release into the custody of the Mahican tribe, on the ground that since the alleged crime had taken place upon territory for which no Indian treaty of cession could be produced, the Governor of New York had no jurisdiction to hold them or to put them on trial. Constitutionally the deal was that
the Indian tribes and the Crown colonies each had the jurisdiction and the responsibility to take care of their own and not to disturb the peace established by the constitution and the treaties under the constitution.

After a heated exchange, or at least as heated as words get in diplomatic communiques, Sir William persuaded the Governor that if he did not release the Van Guilders what was left of the Mahican tribe was joining with the Mohawk tribe and possibly the entire
Haudenosaunee Confederacy of Iroquoian speakers to join with the Algonquian speaking Mahicans and their allies throughout north-eastern North America. This was pretty crucial since at that very juncture of history the Seven Years War was about to get serious as a globally significant military event.

The point is, the world could well be a different place if the Governor of New York had not capitulated to the demand of the Mahican tribe to release the Van Guilders. Every part of the global struggle that was the Seven Years War was crucial to the success of Great
Britain and, by extension, to the United States and Canada that are the British Empire’s successors to British North America. The other critical players in the Seven Years War also included and certainly stood to affect the long-range interests of the “great maritime powers of Europe” that created the “doctrine of discovery” agreement that is the bedrock of the commerce, defense and treaty clauses of the several constitutional democracies that constitute today’s American Empire of Commerce.

This information was researched, and found to be truthful, however there may be certain mistakes, due to the fact that there was very limited information about this story, however all in all there is a little old west in the northeast as well. I thank Jackie Gordon for telling me this story so that I could research it, and depict a legend as this man was.

Categories: Western, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Breaking News! Louis L’Amour Was Not the Last Western Writer

I snagged the title for this blog from a great site for all things about western writers.

The reason I did, is because I keep hearing that same ole thing, just like many other western writers do, “Too bad Louis L’Amour’s gone. Nobody writes Westerns any more.”

However, we are writing westerns, many of us in fact. a small list of authors like W.R. Benton, Steven Law, Peter Brandvold, and Howard Hopkins come to mind, even myself.

The idea for this blog post came to me in a comment made on my Facebook wall, and I say this with all respect, and I quote “Unless you change it to Louis L’Amour no one will know who the new one is anyway.” which was in reference to a question, I asked about using a pen name for my western novels. This statement got me thinking, yes we all know Louis L’Amour, and at this point in my life not many have heard of me as an Author at this point,under my birth name or any pen name, but wasn’t there a time in 1951 that the public had not yet heard of Louis L’Amour and “Westward The Tide?” So it would stand to reason why people haven’t heard of me or will not know who I am when Laramie’s Thunder is first published either, I actually expect that at first, however with the several stories I have laid out to follow my first western, hopefully I will draw in some good readers, and prove that I am a western writer of the old frontier. I already know, I am not Louis, and I am certainly not Zane Grey either, but if you mix the two together, well in a simple kind of way you will be able to say that I can write among them as a western writer and author.

You see it started for me long ago, the first time I felt a that wild west wind blow through me, I was just 15 and was beginning a chapter in my life that later I would pursue as my adventures across the country. Rodeo season had begun, and a friend asked if I wanted to try to ride a bull, it sounded great so I had to give it a try, what I didn’t realize was that after I got up off the ground, tasting the arena dirt for the first time, and dusting off my wrangler jeans I looked out into the crowd, and I saw the great unknown, the desert sands under pounding hooves chasing after a band of outlaws, with a six-shooter and a horse as fast as you could see. At first I knew it was only my imagination running wild, but as time went on, I learned many things about myself, not only was I a modern-day cowboy, but something else entirely. The love of the old west always left me to wonder what could have been, why wasn’t I born a hundred years ago, and where do these visions keep coming from. It was simple I needed to tell these stories, write them down, and explore across the great divide, see as a writer, I live the story as my readers are reading it, and with each description, I show what I have dreamed about for the last decade, and show you from the beginning what I saw that one summer night as I looked out into the cheering audience.

So I hope that no matter what name I choose, you will see the west as I do, and see that western writing is here to stay. It is a part of our history whether it is fiction, or non-fiction, the western genre tells the story of what it was like, to live in a time where there were few rules, an open range and a six-shooter was judge and jury.

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