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The Indian Occupation
excerpted from History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Everts and Peck, 1883.
It is not proposed to speculate upon the origin of the aboriginal tribes who may have had a settlement within the present limits of the county centuries before the white man landed upon the shores of the Delaware. This ground has been gone over by historians again and again, but they have failed to throw much light upon the subject. Rather have they bewildered the minds of their readers by their persistent speculative theories, yet they have led many persons to believe that the traditions which they have fostered or invented are history.
The Indians were essentially a nomadic race, and Gen. Clark, of New York, who has given this subject his whole study for some years, has come to the conclusion that not a single tribe ever had a permanent location for a period of fifty years in one place. If there was an exception to this rule, it was probably the old Indian town in Manor township, where the Susquehannocks flourished in 1608, when the famous Capt. John Smith entered the mouth of the Susquehanna River.
The Shawanese belonged to the Algonquin family, and, like the Arabs, wandered from place to place. They were a warlike and brave people, but a perfidious and treacherous nation, and their base conduct towards other tribes, and towards the white people, made them despised and hated wherever they went. They moved from the Ohio to Alabama, and from there to Georgia, where they were soon embroiled in a war with the Catawbas and Cherokees. They held their own for some years, but were finally compelled to move farther north to save the remnants of their several tribes. They came as far as the Potomac. From thence they sent some of their chiefs to the Susquehannock Indians and to Philadelphia to get permission from Penn to locate near the former. The Susquehannocks became responsible for their good behavior. Sixty families came from the Potomac in 1697, and from that time greater numbers followed at intervals of a year or less. They located near the mouth of Pequea Creek, where their principal town remained for thirty-four years, and where their king, Opessah, and his successors resided. These gipsey Indians were not satisfied to remain together in one place, but, true to their character, they split into fragments. We find a Shawannah town in Sadsbury township, where the New Castle Road crossed the Octorara, about two miles above Christiana. They also had a town ten or twelve miles farther down the same stream, where the Charlestown and Conestoga road crossed. These two points were doubtless chosen because game and fish were plenty, with which they were ready to barter with the emigants passing over these two routes for merchandise or other articles. They also had a town along Shawanese Run, at Columbia, and did not leave that vicinity until several years after the arrival of the white settlers,--Barber, Wright, and Blunston.
During the summer months hunting parties pitched their tents along the banks of the Conestoga, Pequea, and Mill Creeks, but changed their location frequently when they found game scarce or poor fishing. Their usual mode to catch the latter was to gig or strike them with a spear at night, the fish being attracted by a fire made with faggots.
They mingled with the early settlers, and outwardly were on the best of terms with every one. But it is known that small war parties sneaked away at night and traveled hundreds of miles to strike an enemy in the far South. They seldom returned empty-handed, and if they could get nothing else, they would induce some of the negro slaves in Virginia to come with them. When questioned by the Governor or Council or the Conestoga Indians as to their conduct, they professed to be very innocent, and assured them that they had kept all their covenants with "Onas" (Penn) and their cousins, the Delawares and Conestogas. The colonial authorities and the neighboring tribes of Indians professed to believe what they said while in their presence, but they were not able to conceal their fears when their backs were turned. It cost the proprietors large sums in their efforts to placate and attach them to their cause, which they after all failed to do. No amount of cajolery, or promises of land, or the constant giving of goods was sufficient to bring these wayward and treacherous children of the forest to a true sense of their obligations to the government. Many years of valuable time were frittered away upon them, even after they destroyed the lives of many of the frontier settlers.
Martin Chartière, a French-Indian trader, took up his abode with the Shawanese Indians at Pequea, as did also Joseph Jessup, another French-Indian trader. The latter remained among them but a few years, when he removed a hundred or more miles farther up the river. A few families of this tribe of Indians moved to the same place about the same time. Jessup spoke the Shawanese and Delaware language, and was frequently chosen as interpreter at councils when treaties were made with these Indians. Chartière married an Indian squaw, probably a member of this tribe. Several years before his death, which occurred in 1708, he removed his trading post to a point about a mile above the "Indian Fort" in Manor township. His son, Peter Chartière, married a Shawanese squaw, and took the most warlike section of the tribe over to the French interests in the war of 1755-58.
On June 27, 1707, Governor John Evans, with Messrs. French, Mitchel, Bizaillon, Gray, and four servants, started from New Castle, Del., and on the next morning arrived on the Octorara, where the Shawanese met them and presented the Governor with some skins, and the same night the party arrived at Pequehan, the Indian town, and was received at Martin Chartière's by Opessah, their king, and some chiefs, who conducted them to their town, and upon entering were received with a salute of fire-arms. From thence the Governor and his party, on Monday, proceeded to the Susquehanna Indian town, where they met delegations or representatives of the Shawanese, Senequois, Ganawese or Canoise, and Nanticokes. These Shawanese were not from the town at Pequea, but belonged to two or three other towns, at the mouth of the Juniata, and farther up the river. Of these tribes, the Nanticokes understood the English language.
On the 30th day of June the Governor returned to Pequehan, where Opessah received him, and spoke in behalf of the youth of the town. The Governor remained there a few days, during which time there arrived several families of Shawanese from Carolina, where four hundred and fifty Flat-head Indians had besieged their town. Peter Bizaillon, who was present, informed the Governor that the Shawanese in the South had killed several white people.
On July 1st the Governor and party went to Conestoga and remained there all night. From thence, the next day, they went to within three miles of Paxtang village. Martin Chartière, who went along with the party, went into the town and brought Joseph Jessup and James Le Tort back with him. It was then and there that Nichole Godin, an Indian trader who had no license, was arrested and taken thence to Philadelphia.
In June, 1709, the Governor offered each of the young Shawanese braves a gun if they would join an expedition then about to start against the French in Canada. The Shawanese declined the proffered inducements, and refused to risk themselves in a conflict where they were likely to get the worst of it.
In 1711 King Opessah absented himself from his tribe, and remained away for more than three years. During that time he pretended to have been hunting for game in the woods, but it was generally supposed at the time that his absence was due to his attachment to a Delaware squaw, as it was known that he spent much of his time among the Delawares, then located along the Brandywine. In October, 1714, the Shawanese elected a new king in place of Opessah, called "Cakundawanna." On the 22d day of June, 1715, Opessah appeared before the Governor and Council in behalf of his tribe. He never was reinstated, however, in his old position in the tribe, and gradually went out of notice.
His speeches and bearing at several treaties indicate that he was no ordinary man. He was frank in speech and outwardly friendly to the whites, but he unquestionably gave bad advice to his tribe, who were doubtless ever ready to be at some mischief.
In 1715, Thomas Chalkley, a prominent speaker of the Friends, visited the Shawanese and Conestoga towns and preached to the Indians at both places. Governor William Keith visited the Shawanese and held a conference with them and other Indians at Conestoga July 18, 1717, and again in June, 1722. James Logan also held a conference at the same place in 1720, and he was particularly severe upon the French Jesuits, and blamed them for getting the Indians to take sides against the English. Bizaillon, Le Tort, Chartière, and Jessup, Canada French-Indian traders, fell under suspicion, and they were arrested and thrown into jail, but subsequently were released upon giving bail for their good behavior.
The Governor of Virginia complained frequently to Governor Keith about the Shawanese for harboring-slaves. They became more restless, and chafed under the restraints laid upon them by the Governor and the Conestogas, who became answerable for their good conduct. In May, 1728, they killed two of the Conestogas. In 1731 that portion of the tribe who lived within the present limits of this county suddenly gathered up their movables and moved away at night without asking permission from the Governor or the Conestogas. They crossed the mountains and pitched their tents along the Allegheny. The Governor and Council and Conestoga Indians became very much alarmed, and took immediate measures to coax them back. Samuel Blunston and John Wright were sent to Cumberland Valley to survey and lay out a reservation for them in 1732, and as an additional inducement told them that no one was to live among them but Peter Chartière, whose wife was a Shawanese. Finding that they could not be coaxed back, the colonial authorities undertook to prevent the Indian traders from crossing the mountains and bartering with them upon the Allegheny. This was about as difficult an undertaking as getting the Indians back. In 1735 the Six Nations of Indians, who compelled the Shawanese many years before this time to behave themselves along the Allegheny or leave that hunting-ground, tried to persuade them to return east of the mountains, but they refused. The Six Nations not being satisfied with them, they sent out a chief to talk to them. One of their tribes, consisting of thirty young and ten old men, and several women and children, murdered this chief and fled to the South, the place from whence they moved to the Potomac. A few of the Shawanese returned to Cumberland Valley. In 1737 there were one hundred and thirty Shawanese living along the Susquehanna.
For more than forty years the Shawanese along the Ohio were in an almost perpetual state of war with America, either as British colonies or as independent States. They were the most active allies of the French during the Seven Years' war, and after the conquest of Canada continued in concert with the Delawares in their hostilities, which were only terminated after the successful campaign of Gen. Bouquet. The settlers who crossed the mountains and were pushing their way to the Ohio had to fight this treacherous and perfidious tribe at every step. Western annals are full of descriptions of their atrocities. When the tribe became greatly diminished in numbers by reason of their wars, the places of their dead were more than made good by recruits from other hostile tribes. Many valuable lives were sacrificed through the imbecility of the colonial authorities in their treatment of, and tampering with, these wretches. No tribe of Indians has given its name to so many places in the United States as the Shawanese, and, perhaps, no other was ever split into so many fragments or changed their place of abode so frequently or deserved to go down through the pages of history as the most perfidious of all the savage tribes.
The Ganawese moved from Piscataway to an island in the Potomac River. From thence their king and chiefs went to Philadelphia to see William Penn in 1698, and get permission to settle in his province, which was readily granted. They returned and brought their whole tribe with them to Conejohala, where the borough of Washington now stands. There they built a town upon the land now owned by Mr. Staman. They remained at that place two or three years, when they asked permission to move farther up the river. They selected a spot upon the land now owned by John Haldeman, a mile or two below the mouth of Canoy Creek. This tribe were also called and better known as Canoise, from whom the stream took its name. They were also called Nanticokes. They were probably an offshoot from the Nanticokes, and came from the eastern part of Maryland. The tribe was small, and under the control of the Six Nations. They were not a vicious people, and gave but little trouble. They were entirely surrounded by Indian traders, who found it profitable to barter with them. They, like the Shawanese, were mere tenants at will, and as game began to get scarce, and the settlers in Donegal township encroached upon their hunting-ground, they became dissatisfied, and asked permission to move farther up the river. In 1743 they removed to Shamokin, now Sunbury, and had the impudence afterwards to ask the proprietors to pay them for the land they vacated at Canoy. Although treaties were held in their town, and their chiefs presented themselves at treaties held at Conestoga, Lancaster, and Philadelphia, the tribe never had much influence, and sank into obscurity, and the name has disappeared from current history.
The Delawares for many years carried on a sanguinary war with the Iroquois, or Six Nations, but after a bloody struggle they were conquered and subjugated, and became dependents of the Six Nations, who selected one of their own chiefs to rule over them, the greatest of whom was the Cayuga chief Shikellimy, the father of Logan, the famous chief in the West. He was a person of great ability, and remained true in his fidelity to the whites until his death. He was not, however, able to control the entire tribe, and they became very troublesome. Penn purchased all their lands, but they acted as though they wanted to regain them and retain their presents also. They were constantly asking for more. Pemberton, and a few other Quakers, listened to their lies, and gave the proprietors no little trouble. Their dealings with the Connectiout people brought forth a brood of troubles for all parties concerned. The Six Nations treated them as women, and gave them no voice in their councils. A portion of this tribe settled along the Brandywine, from whence small parties found their way to the streams in this county, where they remained a few years, after which they found congenial spirits in villainy and murder among the Shawanese, near whom they settled, and traveled on the same war-path. They called themselves Lenni Lenape, or the Original People.
The Nauticokes settled upon the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. They were quite numerous, but could not hold their own against the Six Nations, and were compelled to submit to that confederation, and become their vassals. They obtained permission to move to Tulpehocken Valley, where they remained until 1721, when the large settlement of Germans which came from New York and located near them made them restless, and a large portion of them moved east into Cocalico township, and settled along "Indian River." This place was known as "Indian Town" as late as 1758, when there were still a few scattered families living along the little streams and springs in the vicinity. The town embraced five hundred acres, which came into the possession of John Wistar and Henry Carpenter. Another portion of this tribe had also a town upon the land now owned by Levi S. Reist, called "Lehoy." That land was also purchased from the proprietors by John Wistar. As this tribe understood the English language, they mingled and were on good terms with the white settlers. They also moved up to the West Branch of the Susquehanna. The Nanticokes and Ganawese spoke a kindred tongue. When these tribes were in the height of their power, they were constantly thrown upon their defense by their more powerful neighbors, the Susquehannocks, alias Minquas, alias Conestogas, who sent out small war parties to pick off the hunters of these tribes whom they found in the woods away from their principal towns.
The Susquehannocks were at one time the most powerful and aggressive of all the tribes along the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. They were able to subdue their weaker brethren, but they did not absorb or form a confederation like the Six Nations of New York, and compel their conquered enemies to pay tribute every year or furnish young men to swell their war parties. They were strictly a warlike and hunting nation. After an intercourse of more than one hundred and fifty years with the white settlers, they failed to adapt themselves to agricultural pursuits. Penn, in the goodness of his heart, gave to the remnant of this tribe, whom he called Conestogas, five hundred acres of land, the finest farm within his province, to which they moved from their old stockaded town along the river shore. The Proprietors were compelled to furnish a person to manage and have a portion of the land cultivated until the remnant of this tribe was extinguished. This tract of land was a source of expense and trouble to the Proprietors while they owned it.
On the 2d day of June, 1608, Capt. John Smith left Jamestown, on the James River, with a company of fourteen persons, in an open barge of three tons burthen, and sailed up along the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay on a voyage of exploration. The party returned to Jamestown on the 21st day of July, and on the 24th of that month, Smith again started down the river and up the bay to finish their discoveries, taking this time twelve men with him. After an absence of seven weeks, he returned on the 7th day of September, 1608. When Capt. Smith arrived at the head of the bay, he met a hunting party of Susquehannocks. From his description they were evidently more muscular and larger in stature than other Indians, of whom he saw a great many. Capt. Smith prepared a map of the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the streams entering into it, and also drew a picture of a Susquehannock chief, of which the above is a facsimile.
Historians have ridiculed Smith, and looked upon his Indian race of giants as existing only in his fertile imagination. Subsequent discoveries, however, would seem to corroborate or give color to his statement. When the Columbia and Port Deposit Railroad was being constructed, and the foundations of the bridge which spans the Octorara were being excavated, human skeletons were found, which indicated that they belonged to persons of extraordinary size. At this point this tribe had a small stockade, to afford protection to their hunting parties who went to the head of the bay. Bones were also excavated at or near where their town and fort stood, and where their king lived (a short distance below Washington borough), which indicated that they were the remains of persons above the average height. They were doubtless an athletic and manly race. Knowing their superiority over adjacent tribes, they doubtless upon every occasion displayed an aggressive disposition, and assumed postures and a voice calculated to intimidate strangers, and give them an idea of extraordinary powers which they did not possess.
At this time the tribe could turn out six hundred warriors. They had a stockaded fort, which stood upon what is now John H. Wittmer's land, about midway between Wittmer's Mill and Strickler's Run, at the foot of Turkey Hill. This was large enough to not only protect the warriors, but the whole population also. Bastions were subsequently erected at each of the four corners, where small cannon were placed to protect and rake the sides. It is probable that the fort at first was a plain parallelogram, and that the bastions were added after the implements of civilized warfare were introduced by the Dutch Swedes and the Marylanders. At what particular period they erected this fort is hard to determine. As they penetrated the forest as far north as the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, and had many a skirmish with the Iroquois, who had their towns protected by stockades, they doubtless copied from their enemies. Some writers have asserted that this tribe belonged to Iroquois stock. This must be a mistake, for it is known that they were at war for at least one hundred years with them. After they were conquered and dismembered by the Cayngas and Oneidas, members of the confederated Six Nations, they spoke the Mingo language and were reckoned as a branch of that stock, which also belonged to the Six Nations. This can be accounted for by the fact that it was the policy of the Iroquois, when they conquered a tribe, to send their chiefs away, and select one from the confederated nations to rule over them, and in this instance they may have selected a Mingo.
Smith, in his mention of the chief whom he met at the head of Chesapeake Bay, described the "calves of his legs" as being "three-quarters of a yard about, and all the rest of his limbs so answerable to that proportion, and he seemed the goodliest man I ever saw." They met them with skins, bows, arrows, targets, beads, swords, and tobacco-pipes for presents. "They seemed like giants, and were the strangest people in all these countries, both in language and attire; their language well becomes their proportions, sounding from them as a voice in a vault. Their attire is the skins of bears and wolves, some have cassocks made of bears' heads, and skins that a man's head goes through the skin's neck, and the ears of the bear fastened to his shoulder, the nose and teeth hanging down his breast, another bear's face split behind him, and at the end of the nose hung a paw, the half-sleeves coming to the elbows, where the neck of bears and the arms through the mouth, with paws hanging at their noses. One had the head of a wolf hanging in a chain for a jewel, his tobacco-pipe, threequarters of a yard long, prettily carved, with a bird, a deer, or some such device at the great end sufficient to beat out one's brains, with bows, arrows, and clubs suitable to their greatness."
This description accords very well with the illustrated specimen of the chief.
The Massawomekes, a war-like tribe, were located along Bush River, and were enemies of the Susquehannocks. Not only this, but all the tribes on both sides of the bay lived in towns, around which they had palisades. This system of civilized means of defense among these several tribes was in existence before the arrival of Smith in James River, or the Dutch or Swedes in the Delaware.
The fact that the Susquehannocks ceded to the English all the land on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and about the head of the bay would seem to indicate that they had subjugated the tribes living there. The fur trade with the Susquehannocks at the mouth of the river became so great and profitable (according to John Pory, secretary of the Virginia Company) that one hundred English settled on Kent Island, at the mouth of the river. (This number is probably an exaggeration.) Those that were there hoped to reap a rich harvest from the Indians, and to control the entire trade at a very small outlay. The Susquehannocks were quick-witted, and soon discovered that these people were too avaricious to be honest. Hence they refused to trade with them, and broke up their settlement.
A few years later (in 1630) William Claibourne, a member of the Virginia Council, effected a settlement upon the same island, and established a trading-post, which he surrounded with a stockade for protection. He was apparently firmly established, and a bold freebooter, ready to maintain his foothold upon the island by force of arms. Not long afterwards a body of men, called the "Pilgrims," offered the king fifty pounds for this island. They came in the "Ark and Dove." This was anterior to the date of the arrival of Lord Baltimore and his colonists. After the arrival of George Calvert, the first baron of Baltimore, who was the founder of Maryland, he undertook to dispossess Claibourne, which led to what is called in Maryland history "Claibourne's Rebellion."
On the 27th day of March, 1634, the Pilgrims found the Yoacomacoes Indians, from whom they purchased the land upon which they made their settlement, in great dread of the Susquehannocks, who were their mortal enemies, who never ceased to make war upon them and ravage their country.
Claibourne saw in this Pilgrim settlement a lurking danger, which might any moment dispel his sanguine hopes of a peaceful possession of his island. He stirred up hostilities between the settlers and the Indians. The former concluded that they would have no peace while Claibourne was free to get the Indians to do the fighting, and they made war upon him. He was not subdued until 1637, when his property was confiscated and himself arrested and attainted of high treason. In 1642 he and Richard Ingle, who was called a pirate and rebel, and a few others from Virginia, recaptured Kent Island, invaded the western shore of Maryland, and forced Leonard Calvert, the Lieutenant-Governor, to seek safety in flight to Virginia. Whether Claibourne's object was the overthrow of Baltimore's government, or to compel him to acknowledge his right to the possession of Kent Island, from which he had been ejected, is not known.
The Susquehannocks continued to give the Pilgrim settlers at Saint Mary's a great deal of trouble, and in May, 1639, the Council resolved to invade that country upon the eastern shore of the bay. An expedition was planned against them, but was abandoned upon receipt of the intelligence that the Susquehannocks were supplied with fire-arms. The Indians of that tribe continued to harass the settlers, and we are not aware that a successful resistance was made to them or their country along the Susquehanna invaded by the Marylanders. But the fire in the rear from the Iroquois became so hot that the Susquehannocks concluded to form an alliance, aggressive and defensive, with the whites. On the 5th of July, 1652, a treaty was made with them at the river of Severn, where Annapolis, the present capital of Maryland, stands. At this treaty the Susquehannocks ceded all the land from Pautuxet River to Palmer's (or Kent) Island, on the western side of Chesapeake Bay, "and from the Choptauk River to the northeast branch, which lyes to the northward of Elke River, on the eastern side of said baye, the island of Kent and Palmer's, which belongs to Capt. Claibourne, excepted."
But in this treaty it was provided that both parties were to be permitted "to build a house or forte for trade on Palmer's Island." This treaty indicates the extent of the jurisdiction of the Susquehannocks along the shores of the bay, and also that Claibourne had made his peace with Baltimore and regained possession of his island. This treaty provided for a peace between the parties "which was to endure forever, to the end of the world;" and yet there was a clause inserted which allowed either party, if they grew weary of the terms of the treaty, by giving twenty days' notice, to annul the same. This treaty was signed by Richard Bennett, Edward Floyd, Thomas Marsh, William Fuller, and Leonard Strong, commissioners on the part of the Marylanders, and on the part of the Susquehannocks by Sawahegeh, Ameghtaregh, Scarhuhadig, Ruthehogah, Nathheldiauch, war captains and councilors appointed and sent to represent the nation.
In April, 1661, the Susquehannocks, as was then supposed, went to Gunpowder River and plundered the settlers, and killed the wife of Robert Gorsuch (ancestor of the one who was killed by his own slave near Christiana, in this county, in 1851), and a few days later killed John Fouster, and wounded William Wigwell. The Indians went upon a marauding expedition, and meant only to plunder the settlers, but meeting with some resistance, a general fight resulted and several were killed on both sides. Only a few Indians were engaged in this affair, and they probably acted without the consent of their own tribe. A short time after this a small party of Delaware Indians came to Bush River and killed several of the settlers. The latter, however, rallied and killed some Indians. The settlers came to the conclusion that the first murders were committed by Delawares and not by the Susquehannocks. The Indians gave the latter name to mislead the whites, so that the real murderers might escape a just retribution.
At a meeting of the Maryland Council on Spesutia Island in May, 1661, Capt. John Oldber was authorized to take command of fifty soldiers and march to the fort of the Susquehannocks at or near the mouth of the Octorara. This was but a small stockade, and only used to protect hunting parties. He was instructed to "choose some fit place either within or without the fort, which he was to fortify for his own security, and to demand the assistance of the Susquehannocks to fetch timber and other necessaries for the fortification according to articles now concluded between them; and further to cause some spurs and flankers to be laid out for the defense of the Indian fort, whom he was upon all occasions to assist against the assaults of their enemies. Upon his arrival at the fort he was to press the Susquehannocks to appoint one of their great men to assist him, and through whom he was to communicate his wishes to this tribe. He was cautioned to keep his eye upon the Dutch who might come to the fort." These warlike preparations were aimed against the Senecas and other New York Indians who were expected to attack their old enemies and the white settlers.
On the 12th day of October, 1661, Capt. Oldber appeared before the Council at St. Mary's, and when asked why he came down from his expedition without orders, replied that the Susquehannocks could not compel their men to furnish the soldiers with provisions, etc. The fact was the captain and his men were cowards, and had never been as far up as the fort.
At this period the Susquehannocks were at war with the Senecas, who crossed the river many miles above the former's fort and penetrated to the head of the bay, where they robbed the settlers. Several of the whites were killed. In June, 1664, one of the Senecas was captured, and at his trial forty of the Susquehannock warriors were present, among whom were two of Capt. Civility's uncles. They wanted the Indian burned, as they well knew him and his bloodthirsty character.
In 1664 the Senecas came again to the Chesapeake and killed several of the settlers and some stray Susquehannocks, whom they caught hunting. There were one hundred warriors in this raid. In June of the same year, the Marylanders declared war against the Senecas, and appointed Col. Lewis Stockett in command of the forces.
In 1665 preparations were again made to go to war with them, and Col. William Burgess was placed in command, and marched his troops to the frontiers, did not come in contact with the Senecas, who were then on the war-path against the Susquehannocks.
In June, 1666, three of the Susquehannock war captains appeared before the Maryland Council, which met at St. John's, in St. Mary's County. They stated that the Senecas had taken a number of their men at the head of the Patapsco and Bush River, and that they (the Senecas) intended to storm their fort in August next, and if successful would also fall upon the English settlers and exterminate them. The Senecas failed to make the attack upon the fort at the time stated, but they came in the spring of 1667. On Feb. 8, 1667, the Maryland Council ordered an expedition to be fitted out immediately and march against the Senecas. This expedition proved, like those that preceded it, to be a total failure. When they arrived at a point where there was a probability of meeting the Indians their courage failed them, and they returned to their homes.
In August, 1667, the Susquehannocks sent for assistance and ammunition to fight the Senecas. The Indians had been skirmishing for some time. When the Marylanders agreed to send some troops up to assist their friends, as usual, they did not go up the river, but left the Susquehannocks to carry on the war single-handed. Matters grew worse and worse, until the Marylanders became greatly alarmed for their own safety, and they renewed their efforts to raise troops to go and help the Susquehannocks. They selected Col. Ninian Beall to command the troops. At last a commander was chosen who was no coward. He marched with his forces up the left bank of the Susquehanna River to the town and for which stood, as before stated, on what is now Mr. Wittmer's farm. Col. Beall took several small cannon with him. The exact date of this march and the time when the sanguinary battle was fought at the fort is not given, but it must have been in the year 1675-76. Mr. Johnston, in his "History of Cecil County," places the period about the year 1682. Evans, in his "Analysis" (2d ed., 1755), says that Bell (Beall), in the service of Maryland at the fort (remains of which were still standing in 1755 on the east side of the Susquehanna, about three miles below Wright's Ferry), by the defeat of many hundreds, gave them a blow that they (the Five Nations) never recovered of. This victory was followed in two or three years by defeat, and the dismemberment of the Susquehannocks by the Cayugas and Senecas, which occurred previous to the arrival of William Penn in the province in 1682. In the following year Penn visited the Susquehannocks at their fort. Col. Talbot, the freebooter, who lived on the eastern side of Chesapeake Bay, heard that Penn was about to make this visit, and be proposed to capture him and his party. No mention has been made by Penn or his Council of any battle being fought by these Indians after his arrival in the province, and it is not likely an event of so much importance occurred in his time, or there would have been some negotiations with the Five Nations in relation thereto. Penn was particularly cautious in not giving offense to the Indians or allowing them to quarrel among themselves, and every event which was likely to cause trouble was inquired into, and the proceedings thereon had was duly recorded in the Council minute-book. In the absence of any mention of a battle, it is presumed that none took place after 1682. After their defeat the old men, women, and children, and a few warriors that survived the general disaster, left their old fort upon the banks of the river and located upon Turkey Hill, four miles east of the place they left. There was an abundance of spring water there, and Penn gave them a reservation of five hundred acres.
In the year 1699, on the 22d day of July, the Maryland Legislature passed an act, entitled "An Act of Gratitude to Col. Ninian Beall, viz., for his services upon all incursions and disturbances of the neighboring Indians seventy-five pounds sterling, to be laid out for three serviceable negroes to him and his wife during their lives, and afterwards to their children. The said negroes and their increase not to be subject to any executions or judgments during the life of Col. Beall or his wife." (Vide chap. xx., Bacon's Laws, 1699.)
Although the military power of the tribe was completely broken when they had to succumb to superior numbers, their influence with surrounding tribes and the colonial authorities did not cease until the remnant of that once powerful tribe ended their existence in blood.
After this tribe located upon Turkey Hill, they were called Conestogoes, and always retained that name. Governors Evans, Gookin, Keith, and Logan, held conferences with the Indians in that place, and Penn again visited them in 1700. In 1710 the tribe was ruled by a queen. The tribe afterwards lived a vagabond life, and begged from farm-house to farmhouse. The only articles of barter they had were willow-baskets and brooms. If they received any money they spent it for "fire-water." They were constantly begging the colonial authorities for clothing and moccasins. They traveled through the community bare-footed, and many of them had no clothing but a breechclout, and it is stated that many went to Philadelphia naked. To keep them from starving or freezing, James Wright (who lived in the stone house on Second Street, Columbia) was appointed by the Governor to furnish them with clothing and food, which he did faithfully. The clothing he procured in Philadelphia, and the flour he provided was made at the "little stone mill" on Shawanese Run, which was torn down many years ago.
"Bill Sock" and one or two more of these Indians were in the habit of going up to Shamokin to hunt with the Shawanese. When the French and Indian war was impending, in 1754, their absence from Conestoga was frequent and long, and it was the general impression among the frontier settlers that they were secretly aiding the Indians who sided with the French. They were closely watched, and whenever a family along the border was cut off by the Indians the indignation against this tribe ran very high. When the inhabitants along the Upper Susquehanna had to flee to this county and the city of Philadelphia, in 1755, for safety, the lives of this tribe were imperiled. The atrocities committed upon the settlers along the border blunted the conscience of a heretofore peaceful people, and they no longer looked on in horror at the death of an Indian, or shrank back in dismay when a proposition was made to take the law in their own hands and retaliate upon their copper-colored brothers. James Wright wrote to the Governor during this war that these Indians were afraid to go out to hunt any where except around his house and his brother's, who lived on the west side of the river. In the spring of 1758 these Indians begged to be allowed to go up to Shamokin and build some cabins and live there, but the request was not granted. They were regarded as the "pets" of the Quakers, but they never showed any gratitude to their benefactors, nor were they of the slightest service to the Proprietors. After this once powerful tribe was defeated and broken, thenceforth their career was downward, and a strange fatality seemed to guide them on and on to their final doom. The following copy of a letter of Jacob Taylor, the surveyor for Chester County, was written to the Proprietors:
"May it please the Proprietor.
"This bearer, Michael Baughman (being apprehensive that he can agree with ye Indians to remove from Conestogoe Manor), desires to purchase the spot where the old Indian town stands, with the whole vacancy between ye lines of Henry Bostler and Michael Moyer, James Logan, John Cartlidge, and Peter Leman and to extend towards Susquehanna as far as may be not to incommode the other land, the quantity that may be regularly taken there will be, I think, about 350 A".
"Thy Servant, "J. T. "Dec. 3, 1739."
These Indians, although worthless vagabonds, became attached to their home, and could not be persuaded to leave it. Although they cultivated but little, if any, of this land, they frequently complained that some of their white neighbors cultivated hemp upon certain parties, and sometimes grain, without remunerating them for the use of the land.
After the termination of the French and Indian war, in 1758, another war was commenced by the famous Indian chief Pontiac in 1763, and before they were conquered by Gen. Bouquet, in 1764, the destraction of the border settlers was terrible. Some of the Indians who were on familiar terms with the whites declared to them that "Bill Sock," of Conestoga, had committed two or three murders. These reports, whether true or false, had a tendency to exasperate the border settlers against the whole tribe. Under the state of public sentiment then prevailing among the people, this feeling was but natural. Of course there are not included in this class, Quakers and Mennonites, for they believed that no provocation justified the taking of a human life. Nor is it proposed to justify the killing of these Indians, for it was an act wholly indefensible. Had the "Paxton Boys," under a competent leader like Col. Armstrong, instead of attacking these few Indians in the heart of a white settlement, gone to some of the Indian towns over the mountains and destroyed every living thing in them, they would have been regarded as heroes.
On the 13th day of December, A.D. 1763, a company of associators, commanded by Capt. Lazarus Stewart, and made up from the settlers in Paxtang, Hanover, and Donegal, started in the direction of Conestoga Indian town, to destroy the place and its people. It was a cold and blustery day, and before they arrived at the place of their destination it began to snow and sleet, and they were compelled to stop at the dwelling of a German farmer to warm themselves before they commenced their bloody work. In the morning before the break of day the town was surrounded, and the following-named Indians were shot and scalped, viz.: "Sheehays," "George," "Harry," a son of Sheehays, "Sally," an old woman, and another woman, making six victims. The buildings were all burned. A boy made his escape, and ran to the place of Capt. Thomas McKee, who lived near Lancaster borough, and was the manager of the "Indian farm," and gave the first alarm of the tragedy.
Matthias Slough selected the following-named jurors, and hastened to the scene on the morning of Dec. 14, 1763: Matthias Dehuffe, John Dehuffe, John Miller, Anthony Snyder, George Strickler, Wilton Atkinson, Christopher Crawford, Christian Wertz, Andrew Graffe, John Hambright, John Barr, Frederick Stone, James Ralph, Patrick Work.
The day before this affair Bill Sock and several other Indians went to Thomas Smith's Iron-Works in Martic township to sell baskets and brooms, and did not return to their town, and the Indians, John Smith and Peggy, his wife, and their child, and young Joe Hays were at Peter Swarr's, about two miles and a half northwest from Lancaster, and near the present Harrisburg turnpike. These Indians were greatly alarmed for their safety, and hastened to Lancaster, where they were placed in the work-house (attached to the jail) for safety.
The German with whom the "Paxton Boys" stopped to warm themselves did not suspect the nature of their mission. He went to his neighbor, Robert Barber, who resided in the brick house now used as an office by the Susquehanna Rolling-Mill, in the southeastern part of the borough of Columbia, and complained that some robbers had been at his house and melted some pewter plates upon the stove, which they ran into bullets. He wanted Barber to go with him in pursuit of them. The latter only laughed at the German, and told him that they were only on a foolish frolic, and advised him to take no notice of the matter. He was scarcely gone when five or six men came into the house, leaving their guns outside. They were very cold, their coats covered with snow and sleet. Barber made up the fire, and gave them the customary morning refreshments. While they were in the house two of Barber's sons, aged ten and twelve years respectively, went out to look at their horses, which were hitched in a shed near the door.
After these strangers left these boys told their parents that there were tomahawks tied to their saddles, and they were all bloody, and that they had a small gun belonging to a little Indian named "Christy," who they well knew and were much attached to. He was their playmate, and participated in all their boyish sports. An hour later Mr. Herr, who resided in the Manor, brought the news of the dreadful deed. As the news spread over the eastern part of the province it caused great excitement among the Quakers and the colonial authorities. At this time it was the general opinion that the violence displayed by the "Paxton Boys" had spent its force, and that they would not dare to repeat or wreak their vengeance upon those who survived the massacre. It was little known how terribly in earnest these bordermen were, who had suffered the horrors of Indian warfare in all its phases. They did not disband, and as soon as they heard that their work was not completed, they made preparations to go to Lancaster, storm the jail, and wipe out of existence the remnant of the tribe that at one time held complete sway over numerous other tribes in Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland. They were doomed, and the end was near.
Robert Beatty and John Miller, who resided in the Manor, were appointed by the Proprietors to "oversee" the Indian town and the lands belonging to the Indians. After the killing of the six Indians on the 14th of December, they gathered up the remnants of the tribe to the number of fourteen and placed them, as before stated, in the "work-house." John Hay, who was sheriff at that time, gave a list of the Indians in jail who were killed, to wit:
Captain John, Betty (his wife), Bill Sock, Molly (his wife), John Smith, Peggy (his wife), Little John (Captain John's son), Jacob, Christy, and Little Peter, boys, and Molly, Peggy, and another little girl, name not given. These were the English names as given by Peggy, wife of John Smith, and taken down by Sheriff Hay, who wrote to Governor John Penn on Dec. 27, 1763, stating that fifty or sixty men, armed with rifles and tomahawks, made their appearance suddenly in the town about two o'clock in the afternoon, and went immediately to the "workhouse," and after a feeble resistance by the sheriff and coroner and a number of others, broke open the "work-house" and killed the fourteen Indians named.
They returned by the way they came. They were compelled to stand together in self-defense. They had the sympathy of the entire community along the border townships to sustain and encourage them. One of the strangest and most peculiar features which grew out of these transactions indicates in some measure the motives which governed and impelled the "Paxton Boys" to carry out to the bloody end their terrible work of annihilation. Some of them had been reading, no doubt, the laws of nations and the history of European conquests. The men who participated in these affairs were among the first to strike off the shackles of allegiance to the British crown and proclaim entire independence.
In the spring of 1764 a number of the Paxton Boys came down to Turkey Hill, took possession of the Indian farm and erected a number of log cabins, and made preparations to stay; and as they claimed to own the land by right of conquest, it was some time before they were dispossessed of this land by the Governor's orders, after which the Governor appointed Jacob Whisler, who lived in the neighborhood, overseer of the farm for five years.
On the 18th day of December, 1770, the Rev. Thomas Barton, the Episcopal minister in Lancaster, wrote to Edmund Physick, in Philadelphia (Penn's agent), to appoint him overseer of the farm for five or more years, with permission to plant or sow grain in some of the land for his own use. He stated that there were fifty acres which had been cleared for thirty years. When Barton took possession the fences had gone to decay, it had neither house, barn, or stable, except two cabins erected by the Paxton people. Mr. Barton built a commodious frame barn, lined with boards, and planted a small orchard of fifty grafted apple-trees, and feneed in a small garden. The Penns did not dispose of their interest in this farm until after the Revolutionary war.