Answer: French and Indian War
In 1712, a farmer from New York sent his 16-year-old son to live with a local Mohawk tribe in the upper Schoharie Valley. This young man, named Conrad Weiser, spent the winter of 1712-1713 with the tribe and learned about their language and customs. Weiser went on to become an envoy and interpreter between the British colonial government and the Native tribes.
Weiser was born in Germany 1696 as Johann Conrad Weiser Jr. and immigrated to America with his family in the early 1700s. In 1720, Weiser married Anna Eve Feck (or Faeg) and they moved to Womelsdorf, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He developed a friendship with an Iroquois man, an Oneida chief, who brought Weiser with him when he traveled to Philadelphia in 1731 to meet with a delegation of Pennsylvania leaders. The Pennsylvania governor and his council were impressed by Weiser’s abilities as an interpreter and by the trust that the Iroquois had in him.
In the following years, Weiser acted as an interpreter between the British colonial government and the Six Nations (an alliance of tribes in the New York and Pennsylvania region). During the French and Indian War in 1756, when the Lenape began to raid central Pennsylvania, government officials appointed Weiser as a Lieutenant Colonel and charged him and Benjamin Franklin with building forts between the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. During the conflict, Weiser would continue to advocate for Pennsylvania and maintain a relationship with the Iroquois, while commanding a small company of men against the French and their allies.
The papers of Conrad Weiser at HSP (#700) consist of correspondence, financial records, muster rolls, legal documents, and a bound ledger. Published resources on Weiser and early domestic policies are available in our library.
Image: Conrad Weiser Home, Womelsdorf, PA, postcard (circa 1932)