Apr 27, 2017 - Sale 2444

Sale 2444 - Lot 8

Price Realized: $ 1,375
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(AMERICAN INDIANS.) Letters regarding efforts to track a lost relative captured and raised by the Senecas. 2 Autograph Letters Signed, one from D.R. Barker of Versailles, NY to Enos H. Southwick of Ellicottsville, NY, 19 January 1860, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches; and the other from Southwick to Mrs. Sarah Ann Farber, 31 January 1860, 8 x 5 inches. Each 3 pages; minor wear; with later family envelope. Vp, January 1860

Additional Details

Hank Johnson's parents were white settlers in western Pennsylvania. He was taken captive as a child during the American Revolution and raised by the Senecas, then spent his life on the Cattaraugus Reservation as a full member until his death circa 1843. In 1860, a relative named Mrs. Sarah Ann Farber attempted to learn his fate, writing to Enos H. Southwick, the clerk of Cattaraugus County, NY, for any information. The clerk in turn contacted his friend D.R. Barker who lived near the reservation. Offered here are Barker's response describing the famed "old Indian white man" Hank Johnson, and Southwick's letter transmitting it to Mrs. Farber.
Barker asserts that he was a friend of Johnson's for three years. He recalled that Johnson, "being a great linguist, was frequently used for an interpreter as he spoke many Indian languages as well as English." Johnson had "a very lively opinion that Christianity was (to use a modern word) a humbug." Once Johnson was hired to translate while a missionary gave a sermon, but "the missionary soon learned that while he was preaching Christian religion, Johnson was reciting tales of the prowess of the war path, or the trophy of the hunting ground." He recalls that upon Johnson's death, his reservation property reverted to his widow, and then to the tribe, and discourages any effort to press legal claims for the property.
We believe the original inquirer to be Sarah Ann Simonton Farber (1820-1892), who was in 1860 a recent settler in Iowa. She was the daughter of Sarah Johnston Simonton (1779-1847), raised in Huntingdon County, PA, daughter of Anthony and Margaret Johnston. Her exact relationship to Hank Johnson is unclear. The letters come with an early envelope addressed to her daughter Anna R. Farber (1854-1905) and reading "Old letters about a relative of Grandma Farber's carried off by Indians."