This Native American Village in Vestal Was Wiped Out in One Fell Swoop
If you've ever walked the Vestal Rail Trail in the vicinity of the mouth of the Choconut Creek, you have walked exactly where Native Americans once did as that spot was where they called home.
The history of Native Americans runs deep in upstate New York, so it comes as no surprise that in our river town, there were Native American villages at one time but how much do you know about the group of Native Americans called "Chugnut?"
According to Access Genealogy, in 1755, a very small number of Native Americans who were under the protection of the Iroquois set up villages on the opposite sides of the Susquehanna River at both the mouth of the Choconut Creek and the mouth of the Nanticoke Creek. It is believed that this group, which called themselves "Chugnut" was actually made up of a group of Native Americans that represented several different tribes.
The belief is that "Chugnut' wasn't so much a tribal name as it was a local one and that the Native Americans who were part of the group might have been made up of tribes including came from Conoy, Mahican, Nanticoke, Shawnee, and perhaps even the Munsee tribe.
During the Revolutionary War, the Iroquois supported the British which obviously angered the Continental Army who made it their mission to destroy Native American settlements. According to the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, it was on August 18, 1779, and as part of the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, that General Enoch Poor and his troops completely and totally burned the Chugnut village to the ground.
If you're familiar with the Choconut Creek and think it sounds a lot like "Chugnut" that's because it was named after the group of Native Americans who once called a portion of the creek their home. The next time you're walking the Rail Trail in Vestal near Choconut Creek, take a minute to think of those who once lived there and how, in an instant, their village was overtaken and destroyed so cruelly and unnecessarily.
One more interesting note is that in 2014 before developer local Rocky DiFrancesco could begin work in Endicott on Skye View Heights, his development for people ages 55 and older, a team of archeologists from Binghamton University needed to comb through the area because where the development was to be built "fell within a large area that could have archaeological significance" due to records of a Native American cemetery. Some thought that members of Chugnut may have been buried there. According to Press Connects, "...reports from the team indicate nothing of major significance was unearthed."