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French in Syracuse, New York

The first Europeans to arrive in the region around Syracuse, New York were the French. In 1615, Samuel de Champlain launched an attack against the Oneidas with the aid of the Huron and Algonquian Indians who were bitter enemies of the Iroquois.

On August 5, 1654, Father Simon Le Moyne, a Jesuit missionary, arrived in the Onondaga village. During his short stay, Le Moyne drank from a spring which the Onondagas believed to be foul due to an evil spirit. He found it to be a salt water spring and he returned to Canada with salt made from the spring water.[1]


  • History 1
    • Champlain 1.1
    • Jesuit missionaries 1.2
    • French and Indian war 1.3
    • French fort 1.4
  • External links 2
  • References 3


Engraving from a drawing by Samuel de Champlain of his 1609 voyage. Depicts a battle between Iroquois and Algonquians near Lake Champlain


Enlarged detail from the center of the engraving "Deffaite des Yroquois au Lac de Champlain," from Champlain's Voyages (1613). The only contemporary likeness of the explorer to survive. It is also a self-portrait.[2]

In 1608, Samuel de Champlain established the French settlement that is now Quebec City.[3] Champlain was the first European to explore and describe the Great Lakes, and published maps of his journeys and accounts of what he learned from the natives and the French living among the Natives.

He formed relationships with local Algonquian and with Huron Wendat, and agreed to provide assistance in their wars against the Iroquois.

During 1615, Champlain launched an attack against the Oneidas with the aid of the Huron and Algonquian Indians, however, they were not able to gain a foothold in Central New York and returned to Canada. The attack left feelings of hatred by the Iroquois, who were already bitter enemies with the Hurons and Algonquians, towards the French people for the next 40 years.[1]

Jesuit missionaries

Over the next few decades the Huron Indians of Upper Canada found Christianity through the efforts of the Jesuit fathers who were part of the French missionaries that came to Upstate New York in the early 17th century.[1]

The 1640s were years filled with "troubling" battles between the French, Huron and Iroquois and during this period, several Jesuit priests were martyred. Many French missionaries from Quebec, retreated to the north after the skirmishes began.[4]

Taking the lead of the Huron Indians, the Onondagas requested the services of a Jesuit priest. A delegation was sent to Montreal, Quebec and peace with the French was proposed. On July 2, 1654,[4] Father Simon Le Moyne set out for the Onondaga village where he arrived on August 5, 1654. Le Moyne was very aware of the danger the Iroquois presented, but he flattered the group and won their confidence. He spent ten days among the Onondaga people and then began his return to Montreal. On the way he stopped along the banks of Onondaga Lake to choose a site for a French settlement. During his visit, Le Moyne drank from a spring which the Onondagas believed to be tainted due to an evil spirit. He found it to be a salt water spring and he returned to Quebec with salt made from the spring water.[1]

Chief Garakontie, chief of the Iroquois, traveled to Quebec in the summer of 1655 to invite the Jesuits to build a mission in the territory of the Onondagas. The French did send a small number of missionaries to Onondaga, however, refrained from sending a large contingency because of mistrust of the Iroquois.[4]

Conference between the French and Indian leaders around a ceremonial fire.

After Le Moyne's departure, Father Claude D’Ablon was sent to Onondaga, now known as Manlius. He returned to Montreal, Quebec on March 2, 1656, a journey that took 28 days. By that time, the French had been waiting almost three years for a response on a peace treaty with the Iroquois. In order to obtain final permission for the mission to be built, D'Ablon and Father Cahumonot took the journey together. Upon their arrival in Montreal, Governor Jean de Lauson granted the Jesuits a concession of land on April 12, 1656. A month later, Lauson ordered a command of soldiers to remain at the Mission of Sainte Marie.[4]

A party of colonists, including 50 French and several Iroquois and Huron arrived in Central New York to begin construction of the Ste. Marie de Gannentaha Mission at Onondaga Lake which was established in the summer of 1656.[4]

The settlement founded by Le Moyne was inhabited until 1657, when the French narrowly escaped a massive attack by the Onondagas. In the late 1600s, the relationship between the Native Americans and the French was tenuous and the English were beginning to show interest in the area, much to the displeasure of the French.[1]

Soon after, at the invitation of the Onondaga Nation, one of the five constituent members of the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of Jesuit priests, soldiers, and coureurs des bois (including Pierre Esprit Radisson) set up a mission, known as Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois, or Ste. Marie de Gannentaha, on the northeast shore of Onondaga Lake.[5]

The mission was short lived, as the Mohawk Nation hinted to the Onondaga that they should sever their ties with the French, or the Onondaga's guests would suffer a horrible fate. When the men in the mission caught wind of this, they left under cover of a cold night in March. Their stay had been less than two years.[5]

The remains of the mission have since been located underneath a restaurant in nearby Liverpool. There is now a living history museum in Liverpool that recreates the mission.[5]

French and Indian war

New York and Pennsylvania theaters of the war c.1755

The French and Indian War (1754–1763), was the last of four North American confrontations that were waged from 1689 to 1763 between the French and British. Each country fought for control of North America with the assistance of both Native American and colonial allies.[6]

The French and Indian War differed from previous confrontations, however, because earlier wars consisted primarily of skirmishes between small units of the European powers aided by local militiamen. The French and Indian War was part of a "great war for empire" which was a determined and successful attempt by the British to attain a dominant position in North America, the India and the West Indies.[6]

Although the war began in America, it expanded into Europe and was known as the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). At the same time, the war spread into Asia as the Third Carnatic War. The French and Indian War not only stripped France of its North American empire, it also caused Britain to change its relationship to its colonies, a change that eventually led to the American Revolution.[6]

During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Native Americans were allied with both sides. The Iroquois sided with the British against the French and their Algonquin allies who were traditionally the enemies of the Iroquois.[7]

French fort

The Old French Fort at the Mission of Sainte Marie was one of the first attempts to establish a permanent European presence in Central New York. The original fort was replaced in the 1930s with what was claimed to be a "replica" of the site, however, research revealed that it was a poor imitation.[8]

During the 1980s, a decision was made to replace the structure and add a visitor's center to allow artifacts recovered over the years to be displayed in a more accurate "hands on" living museum.[8]

External links

  • Big events and festivals. The Post-Standard, July 28, 2010


  1. ^ a b c d e "Early History of Syracuse". Shades of Oakwood, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ Fischer, p. 3
  3. ^ Thanks to Pierre Dugua de Mons, who fully financed—at a loss—the first years of both French settlements in North America (first Acadia, then Quebec).
  4. ^ a b c d e Jadran Pike, Farah. "A Path of History on Onondaga Lake". CNYlink Local News, March 7, 2010. Retrieved December 3, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "Syracuse City Guide". SuperMedia LLC., 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "French & Indian War". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2001. Retrieved November 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ "French & Indian War 1755–1763". New York State Education Department, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Sainte Marie among the Iroquois". VirtualTourist, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 

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