One of the defining clues of the site at Carantouan where Brule visited is
that he notes that they are "well fortified." The
"fortifications" issue is therefore important as it relates to Spanish Hill, if
we are to make the case that it was indeed the meeting place of Brule and the leaders of
the Carantouans. Although the fortifications are not there to be seen today on the top of
Spanish Hill, they have been noted since the 17 hundreds in historical references.
I have included
some actual historical documetation below as well for your review:
description known is that of Duke Rochefoucault de Liancourt, a French Traveler in 1795,
who enroute to Niagara, saw the hill and thus wrote of it:
confines of Pennsylvania a mountain rises from the bank of the river Tioga (Chemung) in
the shape of a sugar loaf upon which are seen the remains of some entrenchments. These the
inhabitants call the Spanish Ramparts, but I rather judge them to have been thrown
up against the Indians in the time of M. de Nonville. One perpendicular breastwork is yet
remaining which, though covered with grass and bushes, plainly indicates that a parapet
and a ditch have been constructed here." (La Rochefoucald-Liancourt 1795:76-7)
The next record
known is that of Alexander Wilson, celebrated ornithologist from Philadelphia who wrote in
1804: (Murray 1908:53)
to the left the ranging mountains bend,
level plains before us wide extend;
rising lone, old Spanish Hill appears, The post of war in ancient unknown years.
steep and rounding sides with woods embrowned,
level top with old entrenchments crowned;
hundred paces thrices we measured o'er,
overgrown with woods alone it stands,
looks abroad o'er open fertile lands."
In April 1878,
before General Clark drew his survey of the fortifications on Spanish Hill, Mr. I.P
Shepard of Waverly, NY, presented a paper for the Tioga Point Historical Society. Mrs.
Murray in the "Old Tioga Point and Early Athens" goes on to tell us that he
created the following illustration with the help of Charles Henry Shepard, whose
residence, throughout a long life of eighty seven years, was close to the hill and who
remembered "distinctly" the "Spanish Ramparts" before the plow of an
overzealous farmer nearly leveled them to the ground. Drawing by Mr. I.P Shepard to
illustrate fortifications on Spanish Hill. (Murray 1908:58) "Mr. C.H.Shepard
described these fortifications as consisting of an embankment with a trench behind, giving
a height of four or five feet inside. When he was a boy and first visited them, about 1820
or 1825, large trees were growing in the trenches, showing that a long time had elapsed
since they were used.
double lines in the diagram indicate portions still clearly defined, and were evidently
made much higher to protect those portions of the hill that were easily assailable? The
dotted line inside this angle, Mr. Shepard thinks indicated a palisade for greater
security?" (Murray 1908:58)
also noted that in the "American Anthropologist" Volume 23, No.2, April-June1921
there was an article titled "Aboriginal Sites in and Near Teaoga, Athens PA" in
which there was a map of Spanish Hill showing palisade lines, as depicted by early
Moorhead even made reference to these fortifications in the Susquehanna River
Expedition when he visited the Sugar Creek site further south of Spanish Hill. Even
Barry Kent's (1984:300) work tells us that the Moorehead expedition also made "brief
tests and/or surface inspections" at Oscalui (BR44), Clark's Sugar Creek village
location. But again, Barry Kent didn't read far enough to find the evidence he claims in
his "Susquehanna's Indians" is not there: "traces of a fortified hilltop,
there being distinct traces of embankments. This being smaller than Spanish Hill, but it
resembled same. It contained Iroquoian pottery and triangular flint points, probably
Andaste." (Moorehead 1938:70)
then is stating that he also saw the "distinct traces of embankments" on Spanish
Hill, only larger than that found at Sugar Creek.
General John S.
Clark visited Spanish Hill in May of 1878, and described what he saw in his notes:
"Rises abruptly from the surrounding plain about 200 feet with a nearly level
platform top of about 10 acres enclosed by the palisades which appear to have been banked
up on the outside and in." (Murray, ed. 1931:32)
General John S.
Clark also painstakingly surveyed and mapped out the location and layout of the entire
palisades atop Spanish Hill during his visit, which again resembles the earlier drawing of
the same entrenchments by Mr. Shephard. I think it is important to state that while I am
well aware of the belief by some that General Clark tended to exaggerate at times, to
claim that he staged the following survey is to claim that he was much more than an
exaggerator. It would instead make the claim that he was a liar. Since I have found no
evidence that he was indeed a liar, and truthfully instead was a man who had the respect
of both the white man and the whole Iroquois League at the time, I cannot find any
possible reason for discounting this survey as untrue. I would be interested to know of
any other instances where he did misrepresent such a survey.
in 1931, there was a study conducted on top of Spanish Hill by James Griffin, that seemed
to erase all of these other reports of the fortifications, even though it was never
published his book entitled "Susquehanna's Indians," which was a ground breaking
work in 1984 for anyone studying the Susquehannocks. His work is a standard to day for
many archeologists in the field. And while his work was "groundbreaking"
on many topics concerning the Susquehannocks, I believe he fell short in his understanding
of the Carantouans and Spanish Hill, as well as all of Bradford County. To read more
on this topic go to : http://www.spanishhill.com/Carantouan/Kent.htm
As for the
fortifications, Barry Kent referred to the "unpublished report" I spoke of
earlier when he stated:
work confirmed the presence of a few Indian artifacts on top of Spanish Hill(36BR27), but
had his report been published, it would have put to rest any further concerns about its
being the site of Carantouan, or it?s having Indian earthworks around it's top
margins" (Kent 1984:301)
I was able to
locate the Griffin Report from 1931 titled The Tioga Point Museum Expedition. Mr.
Griffin clearly states one of the reasons for his excavations on the hill was to
"clear up some of the unanswered questions" concerning "the exact nature of
the earth rim around the top of the hill." He was hired by the Tioga Point Museum in
Athens, PA. Having very few funds, the museum could not afford a well known or experienced
anthropologist; but Mr. Griffin's price was most probably acceptable. You see in 1931,
James Griffin had just graduated from college, having not even begun his graduate studies.
In basic terms, the "Griffin Report" referred to by Barry Kent was written
during Griffin's first field season out of college. This does not mean that lack of
experience in this area could not warrant respect for a respectable report that had been
well researched. On the other hand, thorough research should be expected.
The truth is
that Spanish Hill was only covered on pages 31-37 in Griffin's report a total of five
typed pages to be exact with a few pictures and diagrams added.
I hardly see
how this five page report should be worthy of rewriting history, or of rewriting the works
of those that claim to have seen the trenches many years before. My personal opinion is
that the fact that the report was not published makes it seem more influential than
if it had been. On the other hand, the Griffin Report is the only report that I believe
exists claiming the fortifications did not exist. Therefore, it was the only one Kent
could have used to make the claim that there were no fortifications, even though his
source was never published.
I apologize if
it appears that I have little respect for the work of Mr. Griffin. I do not question that
Mr. Griffin was well respected in his trade by his peers for achievements throughout his
career. However, I need to remind you that James B. Griffin was at the very most a new
graduate from college in 1931. In fact he did not get his graduate fellowship until
February 1933 (two years later), and received his PHD in 1936 (five years later.) In my
humble opinion, the short "Griffin Report" on Spanish Hill seems to have too
little research to make Clark's, Moorehead's, and so many others abilities to tell a
man-made embankment from a natural one faulty. I just find this to be a little hard to
earlier, while I am sure Mr. Griffin was very excited to have had the opportunity to
conduct this study for the Tioga Point Museum which was directed at that time by Jessie
Murray, he was very disappointed that it was never published. There were rumors around
that time that Jessie Murray didn't like the results about Spanish Hill and therefore did
not publish any of the report. While I have no way of knowing what had happened to cause
it not to be published, after reading the report, I have to believe that this report by
this young man simply did not meet Ms. Murray's standards.
example is that Griffin starts out his report by describing Spanish Hill, "According
to some old measurements, it is 100? high, 900? long, and 173? wide." (Griffin
1931:31) In fact, the hill actually rises about twice the height at two hundred feet above
the plain and encloses roughly ten acres. He also states that the hill is situated about
one half mile from the Chemung River, when it is actually no more than one quarter mile.
He also used General Clark's map from 53 years prior to his visit, and does not note it as
such. For these reasons alone, most would have to agree that this report fell short of
being outstanding, or one of the reports Griffin would have most wanted to be remembered
In the end, Mr.
Griffin circulated this report to enough people that it seemed to have been published
anyway, and Mr. Griffin certainly found a way to get a copy to Mr. Kent many years later.
Kent's words, "it would have put to rest any further concerns about its being the
site of Carantouan, or it's having Indian earthworks around its top margins," are
disturbing to me; and I am sure have disturbed those who have studied this subject in more
depth. What is most disturbing is that the words used concerning Spanish Hill were stated
as fact, when quite possibly they were merely his opinions on the subject.
To be sure, it
did not take this researcher much effort to find quite a bit of information suggesting
these claims that no fortifications existed on Spanish Hill to be without the proper
research or backing; and therefore, undeserving of the merit that it received. One only
needs to go back through the vast number of historical accounts of those that witnessed
those embankments when they were still able to be seen (only some of which I have included
here) to realize that at one time fortifications did indeed exist on top of Spanish Hill.
This information about the location of Carantouan is just
part of the whole story for Spanish Hill, but it does lend credence to the Andaste
(Susquehannocks) being here - and thereby also gives more credit to the stories of the
Giant Skeletons being found here.
As General John S. Clark so wisely stated that where the
historical documentation and archeological results can "sing in harmony" - is
where you will be able to find the truth. Hopefully - if you read the following
areas of this site, Giant Skeletons , Carantouan (this page), and
you will begin to hear the opening notes of our distant past being played out.
"The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
should be its basis, presented without fear or favor, conscientiously and in good
faith," and again: "If I succeed in exciting a more earnest determination to
investigate the rich historical mines that reexamine almost unknown and untouched in our
libraries, and awaken the wise men of the day to realize the importance of securing while
it is yet possible the vast stores of antiquarian wealth in fields yet untrodden, then
I will feel that I am more amply repaid for my labors." - from the
Selected Manuscripts of General John S. Clark, Relating to the Aboriginal History of the
"After very careful study of all accessible facts, I
unhesitatingly commit myself to the conclusion that Spanish Hill is nothing more or less
than this ancient fortified town, the stronghold of the Carantouans" ~ General
John S. Clark