Marking Time highlights one of the more than 2,500 markers that have been installed throughout the state since 1914 as part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, operated by PHMC's State Historic Preservation Office.

Among Native Americans immortalized by Pennsylvania’s state historical marker program is Teedyuscung (circa 1700-1763), born near what is present-day Trenton, New Jersey. He was of the Unami, or Turtle (Pakoango) Clan, one of three subtribes associated with the Lenape, known through history as the Lenni-Lenape, or Delaware Indians.

For early settlers, ownership of land was a key to prosperity. To Teedyuscung, it was much more. “I thought that the Great Spirit who made the land,” he proclaimed, “never intended one man should have so much of it as never to see it all, and another not have so much as to plant corn for his children.” He hoped to share the land, not be removed from it.

William Penn (1644-1718) had dealt fairly with the Native Americans in land sales, but after the proprietor’s death at the age of seventy-four, his sons and agents proved to be far less magnanimous. A Unami clan led by Chief Nutimus was informed its land had already been sold by Lenape leaders when they relocated from New Jersey to the tribal lands in Pennsylvania. Nutimus was told that Penn had negotiated a purchase of Lenape land in 1686 that was, subjectively, the measurement of the distance an individual could walk in a day and a half. In 1733, Penn’s sons, faced with mounting debts, wanted the Native Americans to leave so they could sell more of the land. The two sides reached a compromise in which the first literal walking measurement would take place.

Instead of walkers, the unscrupulous Penns hired the best runners they could find, one of whom ran the full eighteen hours and covered about sixty-five miles, vastly more territory than the Lenape could have ever imagined. Nutimus protested the Walking Purchase of 1737 as unfair, but he was forced to accept the agreement.

Teedyuscune, a follower of Nutimus, stepped forward to represent Lenape interests. Described as “an able, and imposing man, though unstable and with more than the usual Indian fondness for rum,” he was considered highly intelligent. He was a baptized Moravian and an eloquent speaker. For formal state occasions, he dressed
in English clothing. Teedyuscung attempted to diplomatically bridge the gap between the old world his people knew and the New World of colonial America. Caught in a complex political environment, his allegations of fraud concerning the Walking Purchase led to an investigation by England’s King George II. When confronted with documents supporting the claim that the rights to occupy the land no longer belonged to the Lenape people, Teedyuscung accepted their validity and moved to northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley.

The Lenape became a buffer to resist Connecticut’s claims for northeastern Pennsylvania territory while discouraging attacks by Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Mohawk warriors. In 1756, Teedyuscung led a delegation to meet with the provincial governor, Robert Hunter Morris (circa 1700-1764),in Philadelphia, who promised to send further instructions and supplies. Neither advice nor provisions arrived. Teedyuscung turned to the French who were engaged in fighting the English in the French and Indian War. The French, however, also could not provide protection and supplies to the Lenape, forcing their chief to seek peace with the British.

On the night of April 19, 1763, several Lenape dwellings in and near the present-day Luzerne County seat of Wilkes-Barre were set ablaze, including Teedyuscung’s cabin. Teedyuscung died in the inferno. His son, Captain Thomas Bull, who had resettled in the Ohio territory, believed that Connecticut settlers murdered his father by arson. Leading a group of warriors, he avenged his father’s death, destroying the Connecticut settlement.

On Thursday,June 23,2005, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission dedicated a state historical marker commemorating Teedyuscung on Wilkes-Barre’s Riverside Drive, near the site of his cabin.