Bartholomew Calvin was my fourth great grandfather on my father’s side of the family.
Shawriskhekung ( also shown as Shawuskukhkung) or “Wilted Grass” was a Delaware Indian. He attended the Indian missionary school founded by Eleazer Wheelock that became Princeton College, having been educated at the expense of the Scotch Missionary Society, which had given him the name of Bartholomew S. Calvin.
At the time he petitioned the legislature of New Jersey to pay the Indians for the fishing rights they had given up, he was more than eighty years old. His speech praised the New Jersey people for their fairness in treatment of the Lenni Lenape.
The rapid decline of the Indian population after the coming of the white men was due principally to sale of their lands, to disease, and to liquor. By 1758 there were but a few hundred scattered over the entire Colony. In that year the Colony purchased 3,000 acres of land for a reservation at the present village of Indian Mills in Burlington County. Here were collected almost l00 Indians, mainly Unamis, who agreed to surrender their title to all unsold lands, and attempted to form a self-supporting community. Governor Bernard appropriately named the community Brotherton. The Colony erected private homes, a meeting house, a general store, and a sawmill. The Indians kept their rights to unrestricted hunting and fishing. Stephen Calvin, a native interpreter, was the local schoolmaster. This Utopia did not last long, and in 1762 the group petitioned the as- sembly to pay bills for provisions, clothing, and nails.
In 1801 the Indians living at New Stockbridge, New York, invited their kinsmen at Brotherton to join them. The Lenape petitioned the legislature again, and a law was passed in that year appointing three commissioners to dispose of the Brotherton tract at public sale. The land brought from $2 to $5 an acre, enough to pay the Indians’ fare to their new home, allow a donation to the New Stockbridge treasury, and leave a remainder that was invested in United States securities.
In 1822 the Stockbridge group moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Ten years later the New Jersey contingent appealed to Bartholomew Calvin, son of their old schoolmaster, for further monetary aid in exchange for the relinquishment of hunting and fishing rights not mentioned in the 1801 settlement. Calvin obtained a legislative grant of $2,000. In a stirring speech of acceptance he said:
“Not a drop of our blood have you spilled in battle; not an acre of our land have you taken but by our consent. These facts speak for themselves, and need no comment. They place the character of New Jersey in bold relief and bright example to those States within whose territorial limits our brethren still remain. Nothing save benisons can fall upon her from the lips of a Lenni Lenape.”
- Bartholomew S. Calvin
- Calvin and New Jersey
- Lenape and Calvin
- The Indian Deeds
- Indians in Sussex County
“The Story of An Old Farm; or Life in New Jersey in the 18th Century” by Andrew Mellick has an excellent article about Calvin’s speech to the New Jersey legislature. The “Calvin Family” genealogy is the source for much of the above paragraph.