I’ve enjoyed the back and forth on this forum over the Franklyn Bearce controversy. My main views are on message #206. I have some further thoughts.
1. The Library of Congress catalog which holds his original manuscript gives his birth year as 1878. Using the manuscript and the 1880 U.S. census you can easily find this man with parents Noble and Mary in Allegan, Allegan County, Michigan, Page no. 8, SD #2, ED #16, although his given name (at that time) was Frederick. He and his parents are listed as white. I cannot locate him in subsequent censuses.
2. The New York Times of May 17, 1947 ran a story: “If Chief Swimming Eel of this southern New England community (Stamford, CT) has his own way, the Dominion of Canada will shortly be brought before the bar of the United Nations to answer to accusations of aggression against the American Indian. In an impassioned letter to Secretary General Trygve Lie, dated may 15, Swimming Eel, speaking in the name of his “Canadian constituents, “ charges Canada with violating the Hay treaty of 1794 and requests a hearing before the United Nations to plead the cause of his people. Locally, Swimming Eel also goes by the name of Franklin Bearce, and makes his home at 18 Comet Street. [cut text] Friends of “The Eel” hastened to make known today that this was not his first communication with the United nations. Last fall, they recalled that he had challenged both Mr. Lie and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, chairman of the Human Rights Commission, to support his claims for a “league” seat on the commission.
3. The New York Times of June 17, 1946: headline: To Seek Seat on U.N. Council for American Indians [this story comes with a photo]. “Announcement of the delegates was made at Woodside Park by Chief Swimming Eel of Stamford, general representative of the “Chiefs Grand Council” and its affiliates, at a tribal council and powwow.
4. The Washington Post of June 1, 1951: headline: Indians Ask Pay For New York City. “The last of the Schaghitcoke Indians want the Great White Father in Washington to give them 20 million dollars for land, including all of New York City, which they claim was confiscated from their ancestors. Chief Swimming Eel, of Stamford, said today the claim will be heard by the Indian Claims Commission.
5. On December 5, 2002, the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) issued a negative preliminary finding for the petition for The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation which has waited decades for a finding that legitimizes our longstanding claim.
So, let’s review. Clearly Franklyn Bearce/Swimming Eel was a man with “issues” mostly that he wanted attention. Yet people are willing to believe his fanciful tale rather than Donald Lines Jacobus, the dean of American genealogy?
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