Onondiyo, known to the Dutch and English at Albany as Captain John, was an Oneida sachem respected as both a fine orator and a warrior who had served as a scout to the Americans during the Revolution. He was described by white contemporaries as “a young Chief of first abilities” in his nation.
Along with Skenandoah (Shenandoah), he was a member of a delegation of Oneida sachems who had traveled to Albany to negotiate a treaty between their nation and New York State. While in Albany, Skenandoah and Onondiyo both fell seriously ill, possibly from smallpox. Skenandoah recovered, but Onondiyo died on September 12, 1795. The Oneida delegation remained in the city to honor him with their own rites according to a September 15 death notice printed by Joel Munsell in Volume 3 of his Annals of Albany.
Capt. John, one of the Oneida sachems, and the principal orator and public speaker of the nation, died and was interred in the Presbyterian cemetery. The deputation of chiefs and sachems of the Oneidas, then in this city, attended the funeral, and performed the solemnities thereof, according to the custom of their nation.
Onondiyo was a Presbyterian convert and, as noted above, buried in that church’s cemetery. The Presbyterians had recently acquired a section of the municipal burial ground just off Eagle Street and immediately south of the present East Capitol Park. The remains in this early municipal cemetery were removed to the State Street Burying Grounds after 1800, and, ultimately, reburied in the Presbyterian portion of the Rural Cemetery’s Church Grounds. Among the many remains interred here without any record or headstone are those of the eloquent Onondiyo.