Fred (Frederick Charles) Brenckman.

History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, online

. (page 5 of 44)
Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 5 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

phia, if the posture of affairs on the frontier was such
that he felt warranted in leaving. The other two forts,
which the separate detachments of his command had
been ordered to build, were now completed, and the
settlers of the region feeling reasonably secure in the
protection they afforded, he resolved to return to civ-
ilization, the more willingly, as he tells us, since Colo-
nel Clapham, an officer experienced in Indian warfare,
and who was a visitor at the fort, consented tempor-
arily to accept the command.

Franklin gave this officer a commission, and, parad-
ing the garrison, had it read to them. He assured the
soldiers that the Colonel, who was a New Englander,
was better qualified, owing to his military experience,
to command them than himself.


Delivering a short address of farewell and of exhor-
tation, he then took his leave, being accompanied by
an armed escort as far as Bethlehem, where he rested
a few days to recover from the hardships which he
had undergone. Just nineteen days had elapsed since
he, with his little army, had broken camp at Bethle-
hem for the march into the wilderness ; but during that
brief interval a defenseless frontier, which had been
almost entirely deserted by the settlers, was converted
into a defensible one. This change had been brought
about largely through the energies and good sense of
one man, whose services in this respect were later over-
shadowed by his more eminent achievements in civil
life. Once more the people could breathe freely,
though the danger had not fully passed, and it was not
until the close of the Revolutionary War that the peo-
ple felt themselves secure from Indian attacks. Fort
Allen was garrisoned for five years from the date of
its erection, and was occasionally occupied by soldiers
after the expiration of that time. Some of the com-
panies stationed at the fort during its earlier history,
and during the period of greatest danger, served with-
out pay, besides furnishing their own arms and am-

Later, however, the soldiers who garrisoned the
forts along the Blue Ridge were provincial troops,
which, almost without exception, were details from the
First Battalion, Pennsylvania Regiment, commanded
by Lieutenant-Colonel Conrad Weisser, a gallant and
energetic officer, who for many years played a promi-
nent part in various capacities in the Indian affairs of
the province.

A marked change had now taken place in the com-
position of the assembly of Pennsylvania. In the face
of earnest opposition on the part of the Friends, that


body had enacted legislation providing for the pay-
ment of bounties on Indian scalps. Indians were em-
ployed to fight Indians ; and the cruelty of the savage
was stimulated by the promise of reward. In response
to this cold invitation to murder, a number of scalping
parties penetrated the Indian country early in 1756.
One of these bands was from New Jersey, and num-
bered one hundred men.

Soon after the inauguration of this policy by the
province. Governor Morris opened negotiations with
the Indians with a view to putting an end to the strife,
if possible. In pursuance of this object he issued a
proclamation ordering a cessation of hostilities, and
recalling the scalping parties.

Further efforts finally effected a meeting between
the Governor and Teedyuscung, the Delaware chief, at
Easton, about the middle of July. This was the first
appearance in the settlements of Teedyuscung since
he had taken up the hatchet against the whites. Ac-
companied by about thirty Indians, men, women, and
children, he stopped at Fort Allen on his way to the
conference. It was on this occasion that he first pro-
claimed his kingship. We are told that at this, and
succeeding conferences that were held, Teedyuscung
stood up as the chamjiion of his people, fearlessly de-
manding restitution of their lands, or an equivalent
for their irre])arable loss, and in addition, the free
exercise of the right to select, within the territory in
dispute, a permanent home.

The chieftain's imposing presence, his earnestness
of appeal, and his impassioned oratory, as he plead
the cause of the long-injured Lenape, evoked the ad-
miration of his' enemies themselves.

He always spoke in the euphonious Delaware,
although he was conversant with the white man's


speech. It would almost appear from the records of
these gatherings, that the whites artfully attempted to
evade the points at issue, and to conciliate the indig-
nant chieftain with fair speeches and uncertain prom-"
ises. The hollowness of the former he boldly exposed,
and the latter be scornfully rejected; so that it was
soon perceived that the Indian king was as astute and
sagacious as he was immovable in the justice of his
righteous demands. This conviction forced itself upon
his hearers, and they yielded to the terms he laid down.
In return the Indians were pledged first to release all
the white prisoners they held.

Having been given presents, the chief departed to
arrange for the carrying out of his part of the pro-
gram. All his movements, however, were so dilatory
as to cause grave suspicion with regard to his sin-
cerity of purpose. He loitered about the frontiers,
went away, and came back again.

Finally, in the early part of August, he re-appeared
at Fort Allen, where the lieutenant in command kept
plying him with rum until he was in no condition to
move away, much to the detriment and disgrace of the
province. The officer who was in supreme command of
the fort at this time was Captain Reynolds, but he
being absent, a subordinate was temporarily in charge.
The rum which he supplied to Teedyuscung was em-
bezzled from the public stores, and was sold to the
chief. When the Delaware king came to the fort he
brought with him sixteen deer skins, which he pro-
posed sending to Governor Morris as a present, and
out of which to make himself a pair of gloves. The
lieutenant ridiculed Teedyuscung for this, and told
him that one skin would be sufficient to make all the
gloves that the governor would need. The king re-
plied that this was the way the Indian spoke to show


his generosity. However, the corrupt lieutenant gam-
bled all but one of the skins awav from the chief be-
fore his departure.

It is not surprising to learn that under such a leader
a mutiny occurred at the fort before the return of
Captain Reynolds.

It appears that a number of the soldiers had im-
bibed too freely of rum, and grew insubordinate.
Christian AVeyrick, a corporal, was the chief offender.
He had a bodily encounter with his superior officer,
and later quarreled with the Indians who were at the
fort, threatening to drive them out.

Both the corporal and the lieutenant were placed
under arrest and lodged in jail at Easton for their mis-

Captain Jacob Arndt was placed in command of the
fort soon after this incident.

Early in July, 1757, Teedyuscung was again quar-
tered at Fort Allen, being enroute between the Sus-
quehanna and the Delaware for the purpose of attend-
ing another conference with the governor.

On this occasion he was accompanied by two hun-
dred Indians of all ages and both sexes. Upon his
arrival he informed the commandant that he expected
to stay five or six days, when he would be joined by
about one hundred Senecas.

In the Spring of 1758 Teedyuscung removed to
Wyoming, where, agreeably to his request and the con-
ditions of treaty, a town had been built for him and
his followers by the province, in the beautiful valley
of the Susquehanna. Thus happily situated after so
many vicissitudes, he looked forward to the time when
he should be enabled to wipe out the blot which had
tarnished the escutcheon of the immemorial Lenape
ever since the Six Nations had insidiously made


women of them, years before. But his dreams were
destined not to be realized ; for here he was burned to
death on the night of the nineteenth of April, 1763,
while asleep in his lodge.

It is said that the Iroquois were the instigators of
this wicked deed, for they hated the man who testified
against their arrogant assumption, and who opposed
their lust of power. As long as he lived, therefore, he
was a standing rebuke to their designing oppression,
and although they no longer dreaded his arms, they
feared his words, which left their guilty consciences
no peace. Hence it was resolved in council that he
ought not to live ; and when the news was brought back
to Onondaga that the Delaware king was no more, and
that the lodges of the warriors had ascended in smoke,
the treacherous Six Nations exultantly celebrated
their triumph in having destroyed an enemy whose
brave spirit they had despaired of subduing.



The memory of the horrors and barbarities which
attended the Indian uprising of 1755 lingered long in
the minds of the settlers and their families. Notwith-
standing that the Blue mountain frontier was rendered
as safe as forts and garrisons could make it, only the
most obstinate and adventurous of the pioneers re-
turned to their clearings after the first violence of
the storm had subsided. Even ten years after the
massacre of Gnadenhiitten only a handful of white
people lived in what is now Carbon county, and almost
a generation passed away before the ring of the axe
was again heard in the forests, and the curling smoke
wreaths ascended from the chimneys of the log cabins
of Towamensing, as this whole region was then known.

Among those whom the feeling of returning security
lured across the Blue Ridge was Benjamin Gilbert, a
peaceful Quaker, who, in 1775, located in the Ma-
honing Valley, a few miles from the spot where the
^loravians had thirty years earlier planted their ill-
fated mission. He came from Byberry, near Phila-
delphia, and was married to his second wife, who had
been the widow of Bryan Peart. Their united families
of children made a large household. The Dodsons
and a number of other families lived in the same neigh-
borhood. Gilbert erected a log dwelling house and
barns, a saw and grist mill, and for five years all went
well ; for the forest supply of timber was abundant,
while Mahoning creek ran its strong full course un-
checked by ice or drought. The mill-stones whirred
cheerily all the year round, and the sharp, grating



mill saw played a joyous accompaniment. In an evil
hour this scene of peace, contentment and prosperous
toil was rudely broken by the stealthy and savage in-
truder. On the morning of April 25, 1780, just a
year after General Sullivan's exj^edition, the family
was surprised by a party of eleven Indians, who took
them all prisoners. The names and ages of the cap-
tives were: Benjamin Gilbert, aged sixty-nine; Eliza-
beth, his wife, fifty-five ; Joseph Gilbert, his son, forty-
one; Jesse Gilbert, another son, nineteen; Sarah Gil-
bert, wife of Jesse, nineteen; Rebecca Gilbert, a
daughter, sixteen; Abner Gilbert, a son, fourteen;
Elizabeth Gilbert, a daughter, twelve; Thomas Peart,
a son of Benjamin Gilbert's wife, twenty-three; Benja-
min Gilbert, a son of John Gilbert, of Philadelphia,
eleven; Andrew Harrigar, employed by Gilbert,
twenty-six; and Abigail Dodson, aged fourteen. The
last named was a daughter of Samuel Dodson, who
lived on a farm nearly a mile away. She had come to
the mill that morning with a grist. Having securely
bound the prisoners, the Indians then proceeded to the
dwelling of Benjamin Peart, about half a mile distant.
There they made captive the head of the household,
who was a young man of twenty-seven, his wife Eliza-
beth, aged twenty, and their nine-months' old child.

A guard was placed over the prisoners while the
Indians employed themselves in plundering their
homes and packing up such goods as they chose to
carry off. When they had secured all that their horses
could carry, they loaded the remainder of their booty
upon the backs of the distressed prisoners. Having
finished their plundering, they began their retreat,
first detaching two of their number to fire the buildings
of the luckless captives.


From a nearbv eminence called Summer Hill, the
prisoners had their last view of the spot where they
had lived so prosperously and contentedly for five
years, and as their glances lingered mournfully on the
scene, the falling roofs of the buildings sent showers
of sparks toward the heavens.

The Indians were led by Rowland Monteur, a half-
breed, whose father was a Mohawk, while his mother
was a French woman. Five of the band were Senecas.
They lost no time in pushing forward into the wilder-
ness, evidently fearing pursuit and retribution. The
route which they pursued led first to Mauch Chunk.
A halt was called near the point where Flagstaff Park
now is, and considering themselves comparatively se-
cure, the Indians leisurely prepared a hearty meal,
which they shared with the prisoners. Moccasins were
then made for the children, after which they resumed
their journey. Mauch Chunk creek was crossed and
the climb of the hill on the opposite side begun. This
the prisoners climbed with difficulty, and they were
permitted to rest for a brief period at the foot of
Mount Pisgah. The party then pressed on to the
Nesquehoning creek, at the foot of the Broad mount-
ain, where they halted for an hour. Here they struck
the Warriors' Path, leading toward the Susquehanna.
As the ascent of the Broad mountain was begun, Ben-
jamin Gilbert's wife was greatly discouraged and
fatigued, the unevenness and ruggedness of the path
rendering the journey exceedingly toilsome. Being
threatened with death by the Indians, however, she
was compelled to move forward with the rest. After
crossing Laurytown Valley, preparations were made to
camp for the night. The Indians secured their pris-
oners by felling a tree, in which notches were cut at
regular intervals. Having placed their legs in these


notches, a pole the length of the tree was placed on
top. Across this, stakes were driven, after the manner
of an old-fashioned rail fence, other poles or riders
being placed in the crotchet' of the stakes, effectually
confining the prisoners, with their backs to the ground.
In addition to this, they tied a strip of rawhide about
the neck of each of the captives, fastening one end to
a tree. Hemlock branches strewed on the ground took
the place of mattresses, while woolen blankets were
provided for covers. In this unaccustomed manner
the night was passed.

Before resuming their march the next morning, the
captors separated the prisoners into small companies,
placing a particular Indian in command of each com-
pany and spreading them to a considerable distance in
order to render pursuit as impracticable as possible.

Overcome with fatigue, the old people could not
move as rapidly as their taskmasters desired, and they
were forced to travel far beyond their strength under
penalty of being tomahawked. As evening drew near,
the parties again met and encamped. A deer having
been killed, a fire was kindled, each one roasting pieces
of flesh on sharpened sticks.

The mode of confinement the second night was the
same as before, but the prisoners submitted to it with
greater resignation than on the night previous. The next
morning again found them early on their way. During
the day's journey they passed near Fort Wyoming,
situated on the eastern branch of the Susquehanna.
The Indians observed every precaution as they ap-
proached the garrison. Lest some slight noise might
betray their presence, they carefully avoided treading
on the twigs that were lying in the path, stepping from
one stone to another, and requiring the captives to do


On the morning of the fourth day of their captivity,
the prisoners were all painted according to the usages
of the Indians. Some were painted red and black,
others red, and some pure black. Among those to
whom the ebony hue was applied was the old man,
Benjamin Gilbert. This was a fatal omen, indicating
that he was considered of little value and was marked
for death. Soon thereafter the Indiane essayed to
kill him, but he was saved through the intercessions
of his wife. On the fourth of May, Andrew Harrigar
succeeded in making his escape. After a perilous jour-
ney he returned in safety to civilization, bringing the
first detailed news of the whole affair to the settle-
ments. The prisoners who remained were treated with
greater severity on account of his escape, and were ac-
cused of having been privy to the design.

For a time the Indians experienced no difficulty in
procuring a plentiful supply of food. Deer, turkey,
and fish were found in abundance, and at some of the
Indian villages which had been deserted on the ap-
proach of General Sullivan's army the year before,
plenty of turnips and potatoes remained in the ground.
The Indians were holding their course toward the
Genesee river, and after the hunting grounds of north-
ern Pennsylvania were passed, food hecame very
scarce, and some of the prisoners were well nigh fam-
ished. In this extremity all were compelled to depend
on wild onions and a species of root, somewhat re-
sembling the potato, which the Indians called ''whop-
panies." Benjamin Gilbert failed rapidly on this diet
and the Indian who had him in charge, highly irritated
at his want of strength, put a rope around his neck,
leading him along with it. Fatigue at last overcame
him, and he fell to the ground, when the heartless
savage pulled so hard on the rope that he was nearly


choked to death. The Indian seemed determined to
kill the aged man, but his life was again spared
through the resolute entreaties of his wife.

Some of the companies were at times far separated
from the others, thus adding additional fear and un-
certainty to their miserable lot.

On their approach to the country of the Senecas,
brought with them cakes of hominy and Indian corn,
abroad in search of provisions. Returning, they
brought with them cakes of hominy and Indian corn.
The prisoners were then put to work in the hot sun,
pounding hominy, which, in their enfeebled condition
was a hard task. This was then boiled and prepared
for supper. The Indians sat down to eat first; when
they had finished their meal, they wiped the spoons on
the soles of their moccasins and then gave them to the
captives, who were obliged to eat from them or go

Subjected to such conditions, the forlorn band was
dragged, goaded and driven over the rugged region
of northern Pennsylvania, and through the swamps
and rivers of the Genesee country toward an unknown

When food was plentiful, no attempt was made to
lay by a portion toward the day of scarcity, the Indians
being accustomed to gormandize when the opportunity
offered, and to go hungry for a long period without
repining when nothing to eat could be found. This
mode of life, however, was foreign to their prisoners,
which, together with their unaccustomed hardships
and sufferings wore them to the bone.

On the twenty-third of May, after a fearful and ad-
venturous journey of twenty-nine days, the prisoners
were brought into an Indian village not far from Fort
Niagara. They were now called upon to encounter the


dreadful ordeal of the gauntlet. They had been re-
lieved of the heavy loads which they had heretofore
been compelled to carry, and, had it not been for the
treatment which they knew was in store for them, their
situation would have been tolerable. The Indians
entered the village whooping in the most frightful
manner, and soon the squaws and children began to
gather, hurling clubs and stones at the heads of the
defenseless captives as they came, seeking revenge in
this manner for friends and relations who had been

Two of the women who were on horseback were
much bruised by falling from their mounts, which were
frightened by the Indians. Elizabeth, the mother, took
refuge by the side of a warrior, who, upon observing
that she met with some favor on his account, sent her
away; she then received several violent blows, and
was almost disabled.

The blood trickled from their heads in streams, and
at the sight of this the Indian women and children
redoubled their cries and the fury of their onslaught.
The warriors did not take part in this brutal affair,
except by looking on and encouraging the demonical

The hair of the prisoners was close cropt, while their
clothes, as may easily be imagined, were in rags.
The piteous spectacle which they presented at length
moved the Indian king to put a stop to further cruelty,
telling his people that the punishment which had al-
ready been meted out was ** sufficient."

These preliminaries having been carried out, as pre-
scribed by custom, the prisoners were given something
to eat, the women of the party in particular being
treated with kindness.


Two English officers from Fort Niagara, Captains
Dace and Powell, came to see the. prisoners, and in-
formed them that they would exercise their good offices
to prevent them from suffering any further abuse.

Soon after this a severe trial awaited the captives.
Against their tearful and unavailing protests they
were separated from each other. Some were given
over to the Indians to be adopted, others were hired
out by their Indian owners to white families^ and
others were sent by way of Lake Ontario down the St.
Lawrence river to Montreal as prisoners of war.
Among the latter was the venerable Benjamin Gil-
bert. He had been greatly indisposed before leaving
Fort Niagara, and his distress was increased by a
rain which fell on their passage, as they were without
any covering. They passed Oswagatchy, an English
garrison by the side of the St. Lawrence, but were not
permitted to stop here; the rain continuing as they
proceeded down the river, they landed on an island
in order to secure themselves from the weather. A
shelter was made for Benjamin Gilbert, but the rain
ceasing to fall after a time, he was again placed in
the boat, where he might be more at ease. The aged
man was, however, broken in body and mind, and he
sank rapidly under the complications of woe and hard-
ship. He died on the evening of the eighth of June,
1780, his faithful wife and two children being by his
side. In the morning the party passed Fort Coeur de
Lac, and waited for a considerable time some distance
below while arrangements were being made for the
burial of the body of the unfortunate Quaker. The
remains were placed in a coffin and hastily interred
under the wide-spreading branches of an oak, not far
from the fort. The boatmen, an unfeeling company of
four Frenchmen, would not allow his widow to pay the


last tribute to his memory, and regardless of her piti-
able plight, refused to wait.

The last nine miles of the journey to Montreal were
made by land. The women were allowed to ride in an
empty cart, which was on the way to the town.

Arriving at Alontreal, the prisoners received kind
treatment at the hands of the officers in command of
the garrison there.

A concise account of the privations and sufferings
which the family had undergone was taken down and
forwarded to General Haldimand at Quebec, who
issued orders that those who were held in captivity at
Niagara should be released, with })articular injunc-
tions for every garrison to furnish them with neces-
saries on their way down the St. Lawrence to Mon-
treal. To carry out these orders, however, required
a great deal of time, and those of the family who had
been adopted by the Indians fared miserably before
they were released.

Joseph Gilbert, in jiarticular, found the Indian man-
ner of life disagreeable. The band which held him
captive improvidently consumed their stock of pro-
visions in indulging their voracious appetites, and a
famine ensued. They were obliged to have recourse
to herbs and roots, and during a time of especial
scarcity they lived upon the carcass of a dead horse
which had been found lying in the woods. He finally
escaped, but his strength had been so greatly reduced
that he made his way to Fort Niagara with extreme

After many sore trials and vicissitudes, all of the
during the period of her captivity.

After many sore trials and vicissitudes, all of the

Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 5 of 44)