John Smith gave Susquehannocks their name

John Smith drew this Susquehannock Indian after his visit to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in 1608. He described them as giants and claimed one warrior’s calf measures 27 inches around. Also of interest: 400 years ago, John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay.

Many in York County are relieved that a developer did not win the bid for the Oscar Leibhart property in Long Level near the Susquehanna River.
Researchers believe Susquehannock Indians built a village on the site around 1665.
Who were the Susquehannocks?
For several entries of early York County history, see entries from “Never to be Forgotten”. But here’s a sneak preview:

1608: Tribe named for ‘muddy river’
Capt. John Smith meets members of the Susquehannock Indian tribe near Port Deposit, Md., and travels upstream to its village. It is Smith who calls the tribe “Susquesahanocks,” a Delaware Indian term meaning “muddy river.” The Susquehannocks build stockaded villages and live in multi-family longhouses, measuring 60 to 80 feet in length. The Susquehannock society is matriarchal, meaning these American Indians trace their descent through their mother, and married men live with their wives’ families. “The Susquehannocks were an alert, well-organized, military people and great traders,” a historian wrote. Their lower Susquehanna home put them close to European traders on the Delaware and Chesapeake bays.
When residents seem like giants
Capt. John Smith, friend of Indian princess Pocohontas, explores the Chesapeake Bay and Lower Susquehanna River in 1608. He meets the Susquehannocks and describes them as giants. He claims one warrior’s calf measures 27 inches around.
The Susquehannocks, a powerful warlike tribe, live along the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania and Maryland. These American Indians also impress Smith with their varied weaponry.
The Susquehannocks are among the later American Indian groups to live in the area that eventually becomes York County. These Indians leave behind arrowheads, carvings on rocks and other artifacts for us to study.
And what about their size? Well, Susquehannock graves give no indication that they were the size of giants.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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