Monday, September 30, 1996


Where Are the Lenni-Lenapes Who Sold Manhattan?

LOOKING BACK by Wally Dobelis

While visiting with T&V neighbors for a two-day party and birthday celebration at their Hemlock Farms weekend hideaway in the Poconos near Lake Wallenpaupack, we stayed overnight at a most delightful Bed and Breakfast.

The Double W B&B, at the Triple W Riding Stable in Honesdale PA, near Hurley (717/226-2620) is run by a sturdy lady, Doris Waller, with curly white hair, who is three-quarters Lenni-Lenape (that means "original people"), also known as the Delawares, a nation within the Algonquian Native American family. In case you're wondering what this has to do with T&V terriotory, the Lenni-Lenapes are our hosts, having sold Manhattan to Peter Minuit, first Director General of New Netherlands in 1626, for 60 guilders ($24), in a questionable contract. Alan Dershowitz would make mincemeat of it. Anyway, they helped create New Amsterdam, much to their eventual sorrow. Old Peter Stuyvesant (Director General 1647-64) took their children hostage, to insure good behavior. That was after the Dutch massacred Lenapes who had killed two farmers in the Hackensack area for letting their cattle mess up the Indian's corn fields.

Doris hosts the Labor Day Native American Pow Wow at her 181 acre ranch, with educational programs, arts and crafts demonstrations and sales (she had 40 participants from various tribes with traditional silver, leather and wowen products), and dance programs. On the ranch there are 30 horses available for saddle riding and the Double W will board your horse for $300/month, in a herd, with farrier and limited in-house care services supplied by the manager, her son Kevin Waller, who has experience. If you want a stall, it is extra money, more for daily excercise. Similar boarding in Belmont would cost $1,000. T&V horsey trade please note.

Doris' great-grandfather was a shaman, and great-grandmother Kathryn a medicine woman who collected healing herbs and smoked them in a clay pipe. When Doris was born, prematurely, weighing 2 1/2 lbs, the 7th child and first daughter, her great-grandmother wrapped her and put her in a lit owen, the equivalent of a modern hospital incubator. The child survived thanks to the oven and and Eagle Brand store-bought milk.

Doris' mother was a healer too, a midwife. The environment was not favorable for Native Americans, who were looked down upon by the Anglos. Doris' family appears to have been local gentry, judging from family photographs. The women wore quality couture, garden hats and fine heeled shoes. Nevertheless, the Lenapes were outsiders.The tribe had been driven out of Pennsylvania by the successors of William Penn, a good Quaker and a friend, who in 1682 learned the language ("a gentle speech") and made friendly treaties, buying land at fair prices. After William's death in 1718, his son Thomas produced a spurious treaty giving land "as far as a man could walk in 1 1/2 days" - the Walking Purchase - to the Quaker settlers. To get the most of it, they trained three men in running and after two dropped out, one, Edward Marshall, managed to cover 60 miles of distance, giving 1,200 sq. miles to the settlers. The coastal Lenapes had to accept, under protest. Pressured by the Iroquois Federation, they moved out in the Susquehanna Valley and in time were forced further out west to Eastern Ohio (1740s), then to Spanish Missouri and north to Ontario in the 1800s, eventually reaching the dumping grounds of all displaced Native American tribes, in what is now Oklahoma.

Doris, over the past 20 years, has returned to many of her inherited ways. Lenapes practiced meditation long before the current fad, and would spend many quiet hours "letting bad thoughts wash away." They were tolerant ("never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his mocassins") and did not use corporal punishment on children - "get on that chair and sit" was the worst. When Doris' teenage brother started acting up, his father took him outside, pointed to the road and told him to take it, unless he apologized to his mother. It worked. When Doris' mother was on her deathbed, she summoned the family to announce: "The white horse was here last nigh to call me away. Never cry for me, remember the happy times. We were lucky to have each other.Throw some wildflowers to the four winds in my memory."

When Kevin Waller was married, the official ceremony was performed by his cousin, a Methodist minister, followed by a Native American celebration led by a medicine man, in which Kevin and Susanne were wrapped in a blanket, given a symbolic vase and a corn bowl, and walked to the four winds, east, west, north and south, to complete a full circle of life. The names of Grandfather Sun, Grandmother Moon and the Great Creator (Spirit) were invoked in the blessing.

Not all times were happy. The family home, on an island in Popeek Creek, was flooded in the 1920s to form the Wallenpaupack Lake and resort area, and the small pack of "the Paupacs of the Lenapes of the Munsee band" (in Grand Sachem Tashawinso's time, 1560s, the tribe split in three main groups, Unami, Munsee and Turkey) had to move, once more. Doris and her husband eventually bought the ranch, a cluster of fieldstone buildings built 130 years ago by an Italian mason, whose family settled in the area.

Still under the impact of Doris' stories, we walked through the meadows, only to run into a large enclosure with a nervous white horse pacing back and forth. To our relief, it turned out to be one of the two Arabian stallions of the ranch.

If the Poconos area appeals to you for weekend or retirement living, Hemlock Farms community, with 2500 homes on 4500 acres, may be of interest. There are 900 year-round residences and 72 miles of pawed roads, and the comunity is surrounded by 40,000 acres of state forest. The part we visited was woodsy, with no lawn upkeep to speak of. Summer life seems to center around the four lakes with beaches and boating docks, tennis courts and ballfields, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and group activities managed by a Community Association. Visitors are issued separate daily passes for entry and pool use. The main part of the property was assembled from 12 land grants issued by the Commonwelth of Pennsylvania in the 1780s (you know now how they got the land), purchased in the 1920s by contractor William Brewster and kept as a steer ranch and hunting lodge. It once served as a secret meeting place for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. When the Brewster Corporation met with unforeseen losses in constructing the ramp for the George Washington Bridge, in 1963, the property was sold to Canadian developers, and within 10 years they built and sold 1000 homes. Current prices range upward from $72,000 for a rustic retreat to $300,00 for lakefront, and some $15,000 for acreage. Our hosts have had their house for 17 years, with excellent privacy and security.

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