Published on February 6, 2013 by Carol
On his return to Lake Ontario, LaSalle and his guide passed the huge cavern in the cliff of the gorge, below the whirlpool, which is known today as the Devil’s Hole. LaSalle look down into it, and his guide told him that it was the abode of the Evil Spirit. This interested LaSalle, and he proposed that at once to descend into it. His guide, seeking to dissuade him, related to him the following story, a tradition which has been handed down among the Seneca Indians for generations:
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“Ages and ages of prosperity and happiness to the red men had passed from the time of his first creation. The Great Spirit loved his red children, and gave them this country for the sole use and enjoyment. So it would have continued forever, if the Great Falls of Onguiaahra, whose thunder, we now hear so plainly, had continued near the spot where your canoe landed. (Lewiston). But the red men became bad, and vexed the Great Spirit with their war parties. The rocks began to fall off amid thunders and storms, and scarcely a moon passed that was not marked by some change. Moons and moons passed and the falls were above this “Devil’s Hole” which then became open to the rapids, and the Evil Spirit could get out.
Noise of thunder, shrieks and groans were often heard from his darkened den, which greatly excited the curiosity of the young man. One of them, a fine young brave, insisted upon examining the secrets of this dark prison house. Armed for battle, he descended with much difficulty, and we never saw him more. Then came the word that the pale faces, in the vast canoes which could each carry an army, had come out of the great sea, and landed under the midday sun. The evil was distant, and we thought little of it. Time passed on, and another of our young men descended into the cavern; he returned in a few hours, a raving maniac, and his hair, which had been black and glossy as a Raven had become white as snow. Then came the word that a paleface, Jean Cabot, had landed on the shore of the great sea, convinced that the spirit of evil lived in this deep, dark hole, and that the fate of the red man depended upon his not being disturbed.
Such declared the guide “is the tradition of our race. Judge them, my white brother, whether you could disturb the Evil Spirit in his abode, and not suffer the penalty?”
LaSalle replied that he respected the Indian tradition. LaSalle had 11 men with him when he left Montréal: presumably, all of them followed him back from the west end of Lake Ontario to the mouth of Niagara River, and take their places behind LaSalle, himself for the second time, and the ninth arrival of a white man on Niagara county’s soil.
A day or two later, LaSalle could no longer resist the longing to examine the abode of the Evil Spirit. So, according to legend he returned to it, alone, and without the knowledge of anyone, descended into it. Voices he heard and distinct, and was led by them to the mouth of a small cave partly filled with ice. Here a voice, in the Iroquois language, became distinct in an urgent warning against his prosecuting his proposed discoveries in the West. “Return” said the voice, “to your home in Canada, and wealth, honors, a long life and usefulness will be yours, and when death comes, generations of your descendents shall follow you to your grave, and history shall transmit your name to prosperity as the successful founder of a great empire. Proceed to the West, and although gleams of hope may, at times, shine in your path, in gratitude and disappointment will be sure to meet and follow you, until a treacherous murder shall end your days remote from human habitation, without the shelter of even a wigwam of a friendly red man. The Eagles of the desert shall strip the flesh from your bones, which shall lay bleaching under the tropical sun, unburied and unprotected by the cross you now so devotedly cherish.”
LaSalle heard no more, but fled out of the Devil’s Hole with the utmost of most speed, regretting that he had ignored the advice of his guide. On return to his men, he found that some of them had deserted and started back to Montréal. This was his first misfortune after his visit to the Devil’s Hole. He proceeded to the West. During a subsequent journeys he reached Niagara, and passed the Devils hole again, at least 10 visits and all when he passed it for the last time, in 1683 he must have meditated how exactly every prediction made by the voice and the Devil’s Hole, 14 years before, had been fulfilled, and he must have recalled with horror the final prediction of that voice, for he was then on his way to France, all his fortune gone, his Indian Empire in Illinois wiped out entirely, and he plans to secure the aid of the French court to found a colony in Louisiana. In that attempt, the last and direct prophecy of his voice of the Evil Spirit was destined to be fulfilled to the letter.