Iroquois Land Deed
Susquehanna Land Company.
0.21 linear feet (1 box)
The Iroquois Land Deed documents a secret agreement between the Susquehanna Land Company and the Iroquois Nation regarding the sale of the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania to Connecticut settlers. The deed outlines the stipulations of the agreement, the names of the colonial land purchasers, and the marks of the Iroquois involved in the negotiations. Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.
ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
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Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Finding aid prepared by Matt Gorzalski.
Controlled access terms revised (dar)
In the mid eighteenth century, the ever-growing colonies were beginning to expand westward from the coastal cities. Colonists from Connecticut took an interest in settling the Wyoming Valley, the northern branch of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania. In the 1750s, Connecticut land speculators formed the Susquehanna Land Company to examine ways in which they could colonize the area. They claimed ownership of the Wyoming Valley by virtue of a royal charter from King Charles II in the 1660s, despite the fact that Pennsylvania also claimed the land from a King Charles II charter to William Penn in 1681. In June of 1754, an intercolonial Indian conference in Albany, NY began the negotiations for the purchase of the Wyoming Valley from the Native Americans.
The Susquehanna Land Company faced two major challenges in obtaining the land. First, the Penn family was also contemplating the purchase of the Wyoming Valley. Second, the main inhabitants of the valley were Delaware Indians that had been displaced by the Walking Purchase of 1737. The Delaware, however, were not a part of the June 1754 conference. It was actually the easternmost Iroquois Nation, known as the Mohawks, who were the primary negotiators at the Albany Conference. The Mohawks favored the opportunity to sell land that they did not legitimately possess. This led the Susquehanna Land Company to meet with the Mohawks secretly, and under the influence of alcohol and brides, forced them to sign the Wyoming Valley over to the English. The controversy resulted in skirmishes between the Delaware Indians and Connecticut settlers, and the Pennamite-Yankee wars between Pennsylvanians and Connecticut settlers in 1769 and 1799.
Collection Scope and Content Notes
This land deed documents the purchase of land by the Susquehanna Land Company from the Iroquois Indians in the Wyoming Valley of northeastern Pennsylvania. It is dated July 11, 1754, and contains a narrative of the agreement, the names of the land purchasers, and the marks of the Iroquois involved with the agreement. Although written by an Englishman and favoring the English settlers, the deed reflects the perspective of the Native Americans. The name Susquehanna Land Company is not specifically mentioned in the deed, but research discerns that this was the colonial party responsible for the purchase of the Wyoming Valley.
In the deed, the Iroquois acknowledge that although they are the native owners of Wyoming Valley, the land also falls within a charter from King Charles II granting ownership to the colony of Connecticut. The Iroquois recognize that many settlers from Connecticut have applied for purchasing the land in order to maintain friendly relationships and trade with the English, and to solidify Iroquois protection from the French and their Indian allies.
- Delaware Indians -- Land tenure -- Pennsylvania -- Wyoming Valley
- Iroquois Indians -- Land tenure -- Pennsylvania -- Wyoming Valley
- Land speculation -- Pennsylvania -- Wyoming Valley
- Land titles -- Registration and transfer -- Pennsylvania -- Wyoming Valley
- Mohawk Indians -- Land tenure -- Pennsylvania -- Wyoming Valley
- Susquehanna Land Company.
- Pennsylvania, Northeastern -- History
- Wyoming Valley (Pa.) -- History
Access and Use
Part of the original donation of William M. Darlington’s family library to the University of Pittsburgh in 1918 and 1925 by his daughters, Edith Darlington Ammon and Mary Carson Darlington.
Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.
This copy belonged to the Iroquois and was deposited with Sir William Johnson. Johnson's biographer, Mr. William L. Stone, then sold it to William Darlington.
This collection was located in the Darlington Memorial Library in the University’s Cathedral of Learning until 2007 when it was moved to the ULS Archives Service Center for processing, storage, preservation and service. However, it remains in the custodianship of the ULS Special Collections Department.
Iroquois Land Deed, 1754, DAR.1925.13, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh
This collection was processed by Matt Gorzalski in June 2008.
No copyright restrictions.
- Pennsylvania Historical Markers. "Connecticut Settlement."Shannon, Timothy J. Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: the Albany Congress of 1754. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000.)Classic Encyclopedia. "Wyoming Valley."