Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Copperhead burial site

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Institution Name: Houghton College
Original/Historic Place Name: Copperhead burial site
Location on Campus: corner of Willard St. and Genesee St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1914original construction
Designer:
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Function:
ca. 1914-present (2006)memorial site (to commemorate the last of the Seneca Indians known in this part of the county)
 

Narrative:
As the desire for land in western New York increased in the early part of the 19th century, the Seneca Indians native to the area eventually sold their land to white settlers. A treaty signed in 1826 ceded the Caneadea Reservation to land speculators for $48,216; forty-seven chiefs were said to have signed that treaty.

Copperhead was a Seneca Indian who lived in Houghton Creek who claimed to be 120 years old when he died in 1864. Copperhead's remains were moved to the Houghton campus in 1914. Leonard Houghton donated the large boulder that marks the grave, and 11 years later the college yearbook was named The Boulder.

"One Seneca Indian claimed he had not received payment for his land and concluded the white people owed him a living. His name was Copperhead. Living in a hut on the bank near the present intersection of Centerville and Old River Road, he lived on the charity of the people of the community and often shared lunch with children who visited him. Badly burned when his cabin caught fire, he died March 23, 1864. An Indian who had come to care for him buried him facing the east as he desired so he could see the sunrise and the corn growing in the valley below, and according to Indian custom, buried him with his rifle and kettle." (Frieda A. Gillette and Katherine W. Lindley, And You Shall Remember [College Press, Houghton, NY: Houghton College Press, 1982]).
 

References:

Gillette, Frieda A., and Katherine W. Lindley. And You Shall Remember. Houghton, NY: Houghton College Press, 1982.

 

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Last update: November 2006