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Andrew Montour
Sattelihu, Eghnisara
Personal details
Born c. 1720(?)
Died 1772
Spouse(s) Sally Ainse
Children John Montour, b. 1744; Nicholas
Parents Madame Montour, Carondawanna

Andrew Montour (c. 1720–1772), also known as Henry (possibly due to the similarity of the French "Andre"), Sattelihu, and Eghnisara,[1] was an important métis interpreter and negotiator in the Virginia and Pennsylvania backcountry in the latter half of the 18th century. Montour's date of birth is unknown; historian James Merrell estimated it to be 1720.[2]


Montour was of European and Native American ancestry. His mother was Madame Montour, a well-known, influential interpreter, who, though her identity is obscured in speculation and myth, is believed to have been born in 1667 at Three Rivers, Canada. Her father, a Frenchman named Pierre Couc. Her mother was an Algonkin woman by the name Marie Miteoamegoukoué.[3] Madame Montour spoke several languages and often served as an interpreter between Europeans and Native Americans. Andrew Montour's father was Carondawanna, an Oneida war chief who was killed in a raid on the southern Indians in 1729. Montour shared his mother's gift for languages. He spoke French, English, Delaware, Shawnee, and at least one of the Iroquois languages.[4] In 1742, Andrew was tasked with acting as guide and interpreter for Count Zinzendorf, a Moravian missionary. The Count gave this description of Andrew,

"This man had a countenance like another European but around his whole face an Indianish broad ring of bear fat and paint, and had on a sky-colored coat of fine cloth, black cordovan neckband with silver bugles, a red damask lapelled waistcoat, breeches over which his shirt hung, shoes and stockings, a hat, and both ears braided with brass and other wire like a handle on a basket. He welcomed us cordially and when I spoke to him in French he replied in English. His name is Andre."

In May, 1745 Montour accompanied Conrad Weiser and Shikellamy to Onondaga, the central meeting place of the Iroquois confederation.

In 1748 Weiser recommended Montour as a person especially qualified to act as an interpreter or messenger and Montour was presented to the Pennsylvania Council of the Proprietary Government.[5] Though Weiser spoke Highly of Andrew, and showed him great respect. Montour did allow his drinking to cause some problems between them, In a letter from Weiser to Provincial Secretary of Pennsylvania, Richard Peters.

"I bought 2 quarts of Rum," Weiser wrote,"to use on our Journey out he drunk most all the first day. He abused me very much Corsed & Swore and asked pardon when he got Sober. did the Same again when he was drunk again. Damned me more than a hundred times so he did the governor & Mr. Peters for not paying his troubles & Expences." Weiser continues: "I reprimanded him when sober he begged pardon, desired me not to Mention it to you. but did the same again at another drunken frolick. I lift him drunk at Achwick, on one legg he had a Stocking and no Shoe on the other a Shoe and no Stocking."

When Wieser arrived at his destination, Montour was there (having rode hard the day before in order to catch him) "He wellcomed me with Shaking hands Called me a one Side [and] Asked pardon for offences given."[6]

Richard Peter's opinion of Andrew is not as flattering, calling him, "a dull stupid creature" "untractable" and a "fellow who kept low company of which he was more than likely to be the dupe." In a letter to a friend, Peters stated:

"He has been arrested for fifty Pounds and indeed I would have suffered him to have gone to Jayl for he is an expensive man having a Wife who takes up Goods at any rate and to any value, but as he is going to Onondago in a publick Character, and is lately chosen a Member of the Onondago Council for the Ohio Indians it may be dangerous to the Publick to suffer him to be imprisoned."

Montour seems to be plaqued with personal demons most of his life the most often mentioned being Drunkenness and Debt. However, when sober, Montour was someone who could be depended on. And There were those who were willing to pay a high Price to secure his services. Colonel George Washington wrote a letter to Virginia's Governor Robert Dinwiddie, just before the former's capitulation at Fort Necessity. Washington requested the assistance of Montour, saying that he "would be of singular use to me here at this moment, in conversing with the Indians, for I have no Person's that I can put any dependence in." Washington continued by admitting that he was unsure as to how he should treat the Indians:

"I make use of all the influence I can to engage them warmly on our side, and flatter myself that I am not unsuccessful, but for want of a better acquaintance with their customs, I am often at a loss how to behave, and should be relieved from many anxious fears of offend'g them if Montour was here to assist me; and he is in the governm'nts employ't, I hope your Hon'r will think with me, his services Cannot be apply'd to so g't advantage as here upon this occasion."

Montour also served under Major General Edward Braddock, though the experience was a sour one for him and the Indians involved. At a council held in Philadelphia during August, 1755, one month after Braddock's defeat, Montour told the assembly for Scaroyady:

"We Six Nations must let you know that it was the pride and ignorance of that great General that came from England. He is now dead; but he was bad when he was alive: he looked upon us as dogs, and would never hear anything what was said to him. We often endeavoured to advise him and to tell him of the danger he was in with his soldiers; but he never appeared pleased with us, & that was the reason that a great many of our warriors left him & would not be under his command."

In September of 1755, Washington again requested Montour's services,saying that he was,

"desirous of seeing you here; and the more so, because I have it in my power to do something for you in a Settled way which I hope will be agreeable to you. You have, much contrary to my inclinations been tossed about from place to place, and disappointed in your just Expectations which Inconveniences I will Remedy, as much as lies in my power."

Washington also asked for more Indian aid promising that "they shall be better used than they have been, and have all the kindness from us they can desire." Washington felt that even the use of flattery was "justifiable on such occasions "

Andrew received a Captain's commission in 1754, and under Sir William Johnson's Indian Department in 1764 he captained one of the Raiding Parties in Ohio. For his numerous efforts Montour received (but did not keep) land in present Mifflin County, PA. and at present Montoursville, as well as Montour's Island near Pittsburgh. So strong was his influence with tribes in the Ohio River Valley that the French put a bounty on his head. During Pontiac's Rebellion, Montour captained several raiding parties. On May 22, he and a group of Indians arrived at Niagara. While there, The Indians got drunk and threatened to kill him. Suffering from aching heads the next morning, they all but forgot their mutinous actions of the night before. To which he forgave without hesitation.

Montour is last mentioned in a letter writer by Major Isaac Hamilton from Fort Pitt on January 22, 1772 reporting that

"Captain Montour the Indian interpreter was killed at his own House the Day before Yesterday by a Seneca Indian who had been intertained by him at his House for some Days he was buried this Day near the Fort."

It would seem this time Montour's drinking companions really did kill him!

As a final tribute to their lost friend, "the Indians who came to the funeral beg'd a few gallons of Rum to drown their Sorrows for the Life of their friend." The cost of the spirits for the Indian's lamentations was pegged at a little better than £7.[7]


Andrew had a number of children, who he hoped would also live in both white and Native American worlds. He married an Oneida woman, Sally Ainse (c. 1728–1823, also known as Sally Montour), when she was a teenager.[8] Montour left her in 1757 or 1758.[8] Their children were sent to live with people in Pennsylvania, with one child, Nicholas, staying with Ainse in an Oneida settlement near the Mohawk River.[9]

The best known child was a son, John Montour born in 1744, who followed in his footsteps. He became a well-known negotiator, translator and go-between, and served with American Troops at Pittsburgh during the American Revolution.


Montour County, Pennsylvania, is named for Andrew Montour.[10] The Montour School District, a comprehensive public school system located 16 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also bears his name.


  1. Hagedorn, 57. "Eghnisara" has also been rendered as "Echnizera" and "Oughsara"; Merrell, 19.
  2. Merrell, 20n15.
  3. Hagedorn, 44.
  4. Merrell, 23.
  5. "Andrew Montour (Sattelihu), fl. 1745-1762. [full text"]., The Pierian Press, 1998. Online. Internet.. 18 May 1743. Retrieved [6 Sep 2010]. 
  6. "Conrad Weiser's Report on the Journey to Shamokin," Pennsylvania Colonial Records, IV, 641
  7. Major Isaac Hamilton to General Thomas Gage, January 22, 1772' in C. E. Carter, ed., Correspondence of General Thomas Gage (2 vols., New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931-1933)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gretchen M. Bataille; Laurie Lisa (2001). Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-415-93020-8. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  9. Clarke, John. "AINSE (Hands), SARAH (Montour; Maxwell; Willson (Wilson))". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  10. Donehoo, Dr. George P. (1999) [1928] (PDF). A History of the Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania (Second Reprint Edition ed.). Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Wennawoods Publishing. pp. 290. ISBN 1-889037-11-7. Retrieved 2007-03-07. "ISBN refers to a 1999 reprint edition, URL is for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission's web page of Native American Place names, quoting and citing the book" 


  • Hagedorn, Nancy L. "'Faithful, Knowing, and Prudent': Andrew Montour As Interpreter and Cultural Broker, 1740–1772". In Margaret Connell Szasz, ed., Between Indian and White Worlds: The Cultural Broker, 44–60. University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.
  • Kelly, Kevin P. "John Montour: Life of a Cultural Go-Between". Colonial Williamsburg Interpreter, Volume 21, No. 4 (2000/01).
  • Lewin, Harold. "A Frontier Diplomat: Andrew Montour" (pdf). Pennsylvania History Volume 33, Number 2 (April 1966): 153–86.
  • Merrell, James. "'The Cast of His Countenance': Reading Andrew Montour." In Ronald Hoffman, et al., eds., Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on Personal Identity in Early America, 13–39. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 199.
  • Wallace, Paul A. W. "Indians In Pennsylvania" p. 179.
  • Merell, James H. " Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier" W.W. Norton & Company 1999

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