The early yearsChristian Daniel Claus was born in Beuningham, Germany in 1727. He arrived in North America via Philadelphia in 1749. Claus was soon working for Conrad Weiser, Pennsylvania's Indian agent, who brought him along to an Iroquois council at Onondaga in 1750. Weiser sent Claus back to the Mohawk country the following year to study native dialects. While in the valley, Daniel made his initial contacts with the people who would become central to his later life. He first lodged with the family of Joseph Brant at Fort Hunter; shortly after that he has staying at Sir William's home Fort Johnson.
The Johnson YearsSir William apparently recognized the talent at hand; Claus joined the Indian department in 1755 as an intrepreter, Lieutenant, and deputy secretary to Johnson. Claus saw service during the French and Indian war, and was present at the surrender of Quebec. With Sir William's aid, Daniel purchased a Lieutenant's commision in the 60th (Royal American) regiment. His stock in civil service also rose as he was appointed Deputy Secretary for Indian Affairs in Canada on September 20, 1760. This appointment obviously reflected Sir William's confidence in Daniel's abilities; the Seven Nations of Canada had been allied with France for generations, and bringing them into the British fold would seem no easy task.
Claus' military star also seemed on the rise as he next purchased a captaincy in the 60th, but a sea change was in the works. Somewhere along the way, Daniel was no doubt introduced to Sir WIlliam's daughters. He resigned his commision so that he could marry Ann (Nancy) Johnson in 1762. Again Sir William came forward for Claus; he gave him his own estate and a one story stone home (styled Williamsburg). Williamsburg was located between Fort Johnson and Guy Park, on the Mohawk.
As a member of the Johnson dynasty, Daniel Claus held many important civil posts: serving as a Judge in the baronet's courthouse in Tryon County, and acting as Junior Warden of St. Patrick's Masonic Lodge(whose headquarters were Johnson Hall). Claus was named Superintendant of Indians in Canada after Sir William's death in 1774.
WartimeWhen hostilities threatened to flare up in the valley, Claus and his family left with Guy Johnson, the Butlers, and various other loyalists. Further turbulence was waiting in the wings: Daniel's position in the Indian Department was about to become null and void.
Trouble came in the form of one Major John Campbell; Campbell was a distinguished veteran of the past wars, and spoke fluent French. This aside, he had no previous experience in Indian affairs. What he did have were two powerful benefactors-Sir Guy Carleton and Luc de la Corne, Sieur de Chapt et de St. Luc. Carleton had long resented what he saw as the Johnsons' efforts to direct native fur trade towards Albany at the expense of Canadien traders. Carleton was a strong supporter of Canadian commerce and political interests, so it's perhaps not surprising that he turned towards the most influential French Canadian Indian agent-St. Luc de la Corne.
la Corne had served for many years as the primary French Indian agent to the Seven Nations, and still held a great deal of influence with the tribes. Not at all coincedentally, St. Luc's daughter Marie-Anne had married John Campbell. Thus, Campbell was poised to reap the benefits of the Carleton-Johnson feud. He had been put fort once by Carleton for a position in the Indian Department, but Sir William was able to turn him aside. Campbell was inserted again as the Superintendant for Quebec in July 1773. He arrived in Canada in the fall of 1775 bearing his commision.
Campbell's authority seemed to displace Claus, and also potentially usurped some of Guy Johnson's power. Claus, Johnson, and other members of their retinue (including Joseph Brant and Walter Butler)travelled to England to try to sort this mess out. In the end, Guy not surprisingly put his case forward at Claus'expense; Guy Johnson was confirmed as Superintendant of the Northern Indian Department, while Daniel was left without a commision. He continued to act on behalf on the Canadian Mohawks at Caughnawaga without pay.
Claus received a temporary commision from Carleton to oversee the Canadian Indians on the Oriskany campaign. He journeyed to Oswego, then on to Fort Stanwix. On the way he met (then)Major John Butler leading a group of rangers and Indians from Fort Niagara. It is probable that there was a disagreement between the two as to who had seniority on this expedition. From this point forward, Claus seems to have done everything he could to discredit and defame the Butlers
PostwarClaus did not abandon his charges after the war; he worked on the resettlement of the Mohawks at the Bay of Quinte and on the Grand River. He attended to their spritual needs as well; he collaborated with Joseph Brant on a Mohawk translation of the book of common prayer(which was eventually published by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel).
Like many loyalists, Claus lost his home and lands to rebel confiscation; he was never to return to Williamsburg on the Mohawk. He travelled to England to make a case for his claims in 1787, and died in England during this trip.
SourcesStevens, Paul M. "His Majesty's Savage Allies..".
PhD. dissertation published as #8410594 by UMI
Kelsay, Isabel Thompson. "Joseph Brant: 1743-1807; Man of Two Worlds";
Syracuse University Press, Syracuse,NY; 1986.
The Center for World Indigenous Studies for the date on Claus' appointment.
St Patrick's Lodge No. 4, F&A.M. for the Johnson's lodge offices.
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