Last night I was carded, for the first time in years, at the Half King, a tavern owned by scribes and filmmakers. I was thrilled: maybe the Ponce de Leon rejuvenating herbs that I had purchased online from the Nigerian oil minister were finally taking effect. I was enjoying the moment. Alas it was only a moment. My dining companion, who had also been carded, gave me a patronizing, don’t-flatter-yourself look and proclaimed that the Half King’s policy was to card everyone. I said that it wasn’t. But I had no idea—she might have been right. I lost myself in the crab cakes, which thankfully were moist and crabby and not the dough pucks so often turned out by inferior kitchens.
I was wondering who this Half King was, and the restaurant’s Web site helpfully provided half an answer:
The eighteenth-century Seneca chief known as “The Half King” is a figure so obscure that no one knows his real name – it was most likely Tanaghrisson, or something close to it. Tanaghrisson stepped into American history in 1748, when the Iroquois League designated him leader of the Senecas and
Delawares who had migrated to the upper Ohio valley. Ordinarily an Iroquois headman who acted as an official spokesman for the League was called a “King”, but because the Ohio Indians were hunters and warriors without permanent council fire, Tanaghrisson enjoyed only an abridged authority; hence his title, “Half King.”