George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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Indians were repulsed from Fort Ligonier, and Colonel Boquet was dispatched
with two regiments to relieve Fort Pitt. lie was attacked on the 5th of August,
1763, at Bushy Run, a point twenty -one miles from Pittsburgh, in Westmoreland
county, by a large force of Indians. After a desperate fight he defeated them
with great slaughter, the English having fifty men killed and sixty wounded.
After repulsing the Indians Colonel Boquet continued his march to Fort Pitt,
where he arrived on the 9th of August, and relieved the garrison. In the fall of
the succeeding year he erected a small redoubt, or block-house, inside the walls of
the fort, which is still extant. The stone tablet, with his name and date of erec-
tion, which he had placed over its door, is now preserved in the inside wall of the
City Hall of Pittsburgh.

The object of the erection of this redoubt is not of record, nor is its necessity
apparent, utiless the fort was deemed unsafe, and the block-house provided as an
ultimate resort in case of attack. There was another redoubt, also, erected near
the fort, by Major William Grant, the same officer commanding at the battle of
Grant's Hill. He returned to Fort Pitt from Montreal after being exchanged or
released by the French.

Of this redoubt Neville B. Craig writes: "Major Grant afterwards returned
to this place, and erected the redoubt which stood on the banks of the Mononga-
hela, opposite the mouth of Redoubt alley. W^e recollect distinctly seeing the
stone tablets stating Golonel William Grant built the redoubt."

Of this there is no relic. There are no dates to fix the period of its erection,
but it is probable from the dates of the various occurrences of that period of time
that it was built after the building of Fort Pitt by General Stanwix and before
Colonel Boquet arrived at the fort.

For some years after the Pontiac war there were not any occurrences at or
around the forks of the Ohio of any great historical importance. While at the
north of the Allegheny and south of the Monongahela the Indians were trouble-
some, it does not appear that they in any formidable body made incursions into
the section of country around the fort. Although there are sparce accounts of
outrages by Indians in groups of two or three, no marked injury was done.
This condition of aflPairs was the result of Colonel Boquet's expedition from Fort
Pitt in 1764 against the Indians in "Muskingum county," as it was called. This
expedition departed from Fort Pitt October 3d, 1763. Their course was along
the low ground which is now in the First and Second wards of Allegheny, to the
narrows; then along the river beach to Beaver creek; thence to Tuscarawas, near
the forks of the Muskingum. The Indians w^ere overawed and sued for peace-


The Delawares, Sliawnees and Senecas agreed to cease hostilities and surrendered
a great number of prisoners, who were brought to Fort Pitt.

The result of Colonel Boquet's expedition was to inspire such confidence at
Fort Pitt that in 1764 a plan of lots and streets, commonly called "The Old Mili-
tary Plan," was laid out. It embraced that portion of the present city lying be-
tween Water street and Second street and Market and Ferry streets.

In 1762 James Gondin raised a house at Eleven-Mile run, and William Shea-
ner and Harry Shirach made improvements in the vicinity of the fort by order of
Colonel Boquet, and Kasper Loup improved land four miles from Fort Pitt by
permission of Colonel Boquet.

In 1760 a house was erected at a place called Somerset, five or six miles from
Fort Pitt, and five or six families commenced improvement on a tract of 1,500
acres on the Ohio at the mouth of Two-Mile run, up the river to the narrows.

Alexander McKee also made improvements on the Ohio river four miles below
Fort Pitt, at the mouth of Chartiers creek. Portions of this tract are held by
his heirs and their descendants through marriage, resident in Allegheny, in 1888,

In 1769 William Christy applied for a location of 300 acres " within two miles
of Fort Pitt." Mr. Christy's application was granted and permission given " to
improve for the benefit of travelers."

The tract so taken up included what was long known as " Grant's Hill," being
the rising ground whereon is now the Court House of Allegheny County, and
several squares of city dwellings, office buildings, St. Paul's Cathedral and St.
■Peter's Episcopal Church.

Among the early settlers of Allegheny County at this time and shortly after
were John Carrothers, Eobert Smith, Walter Denny, John Greir, Joseph Hunter,
William Ramsey, John Wilson, James Hannah, James Dean, Richard Butler,
Robert Dewling, Devereaux Smith, John Wilkins, Jr., Thomas Bend, Jr., William
Preston, Robert Harrison, Matthew Grimes, John Frankman and John Crush.

In the spring of 1765 Fort Pitt was again the scene of a grand Indian confer-
ence with George Croghan, Esq., deputy agent for Indian affairs. On the 9th of
May of that year the chiefs of the Shawnees, Delawares, Senecas, Munsies and
Sandusky Indians, accompanied by five hundred warriors, besides their women
and children, assembled at the fort.

On April 26th, 1768, the principal chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations^
Delawares, Shawnees, Munsies and Mohicans, to the number of 1,103, besides
their women and children, once more assembled at Fort Pitt to confer with Colonel

Some items are quoted from the original manuscript, requisitions for articles
needed for distribution to the Indians at that council. The entire value of the
articles in the requisition is given at $26,575. Among them are 1,500 white ruffled
shirts, at $3.00 each ; and 2,000 ruffled calico shirts, at $2.00 each ; 50 dozen black
silk handkerchiefs, at $12 00 a dozen ; 50 gross scarlet, pink, blue, green and yellow
plain bedlace, at 3 cents a piece ; 150 pieces scarlet, blue, pink, green, yellow rib>


boning tafFerty, at $1.50 a piece; and 20 pieces of scarlet gartering. These, it is
to be presumed, were for the adornment of the "bucks," as 150 pounds of vermillion
is also called for, and 150 dozen gilt looking glasses. The requisition for 60 dozen
redding combs and 50 dozen ivory combs is suggestive. The requisition for 600
tomahawks, 100 scalping knives, 62 best brass box rifles, at $14.00 each, and 80
quarter cwts. of rifle powder, shows that the government early began the policy
they have pursued to the present day of placating the savage by giving them the
means to continue their depredations. A special requisition is made for "silver-
ware for the chiefs." This is specified as three large gorgets, at |8.00 each ; 6 pairs
of large armlets, at $8.00 each ; 6 pairs of ear wheels, at $2.00 each ; for each of
the ten nations who are thus orthographieally designated : Shawnocs, Delawares,
Hurons, Twithawies, Putawatimes, Otfawas, Chipawa«, Saigneas, Outatanons, Fox
Nations. "Silverware for the women" is also thus specified: 20 dozen crosses,
at $4.00 a dozen ; 60 pairs wrist bands, at $3.00 a pair ; 200 dozen large plain
brooches, at $1.50 a dozen; 100 dozen heart brooches, at $2.00 a dozen; 100
small scalloped, at $1.00 a dozen; 30 dozen finger rings, at $1.75 a dozen. There
is also 300 bunches of garnet beads, and 68 lbs. of email white, green and coral.
This would suggest that if the women did not have a vote at the Indian caucus,
they were supposed, as at the present day, to exert a home influence, it was well
to influence. The pomp and parade at these councils, when the white and ruffled
calico shirts had been donned, the gilt looking glasses, brilliant ribbons and red
vermillion adjusted on the persons of the " bucks," the silver crosses, earbobs and
armlets, beads and brooches upon the persons of the "squaws," suggest a brilliant,
picture of the savage display around Fort Duquesne when these Indian confer-,
ences were held. Years and years hence, when the original Indian has become-
a myth, so far as any living type may be, the records of such gifts, and the per-
sonal decorative uses to which they were put by the recipients, will come to be
regarded almost as a mythical legend, or that the forks of the Ohio was the scene-
of such barbaric display.

It is hard to realize even now, that but a little over the hundred years of the^
existence of Allegheny County, with all its wealth of mills, factories, schools^,
churches, and grand architectural buildings, the most crowded part of its great
city was frequently the scene of such savage pageantries.

In May, 1769, a warrant was issued for the survey of the Manor of Pittsburgh
which, when completed, embraced fifty-seven hundred acres. The title to this
was in the Penn family. John Penn, the grandson of William Penn, being at
that date Lieutenant Governor of the province of Pennsylvania. As incident to
this proprietorship, it is of interest to mention a proclamation issued by Governor
Penn, as showing how the feeling against the Indians swayed his sentiments from
the Quaker scruples, in which he had been educated, against bloodshed. In July,
1764, this grandson of William Penn offered, by proclamation, as bounties for
Indians killed or secured, " For every male above the age of ten years captured,
$150 ; scalped, being killed, $134. For every female Indian enemy and every


male under the age ten years, |130 ; for every female above tlie age of ten years,
scalped, being killed, |50."

Under this proclamation it may easily be assumed that at that date Fort Pitt was
a starting point for many scalping parties, and the rendezvous of the adventurous
scouts of that day. Neither tradition or record show that within Allegheny
County were any cruelties perpetrated, and the issue of the warrant to survey the
Manor of Pittsburgh indicates that it was thought that settlements around the
"Forks" were prudent and safe. During the war of the Kevolution, the Penn
family were adherents of the British government, and in 1779, the Legislature
confiscated all their property, except certain manors, of which surveys had been
made and entered in the Land Office, prior to July 4th, 1776. The Manor of Pitts-
burgh having, as before mentioned, been surveyed in 1769, thus remained the
property of the Penns.

On October 19th, 1770, as previously mentioned. General Washington visited
Fort Pitt. He lodged, as he writes in his journal, at " the house of one Mr.
Semple." This house was at the corner of Water and Ferry streets. It was built
of logs roughly hewn, in 1764, by Colonel George Morgan, and was the first
shingle roofed house at Pittsburgh, and is also the house where Aaron Burr stopped
when at Pittsburgh, on his way to Blennerhasset Island in pursuance of the ex-
pedition for which he was tried for treason.

Washington was also at Pittsburgh on the 22d of October, as he records in his
journal, " stayed at Pittsburgh all day. Invited the officers and some other gentle-
men to dinner with me at Semple's, among whom was one Dr. Connelly, nephew
to General Croghan." This is probably Dr. Connelly who seized Fort Pitt at a
later period, acting for Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia.

In 1772, the English garrison was withdrawn from Fort Pitt by order of Gen-
eral Gage. It was during this year that Lord Dunmore, possible following up the
claim made by Governor Dunwiddie in 1754, set up the pretension that the
western boundary of Pennsylvania did not included Pittsburgh and the Mononga-
hela river. It was in support of this claim that, in 1774, Lord Dunmore, Governor
of Virginia, took possession of Fort Pitt by his agent, Dr. Connelly, two years
after the withdrawal of the royal troops by order of General Gage.

The fort seems to have been in a dismantled condition at the time, as a letter
written by Devereaux Smith from Pittsburgh, June 10th, 1776, says : " Dr. Con-
nelly has embodied upwards of 100 men, and will have the fort in good order in a
short time."

At the same time a deputation of the Six Nations had a conference with this
Dr. Connelly, as Lord Dunmore's representative, in respect to the murders com-
mitted by Cresap and Greathouse, which had led to the Indian war of 1774, called
" Lord Dunmore's War."

It is singular that the province of Pennsylvania, bounded on its western end
1 )y a broad river, and on its sides by long, straight lines of latitude, should have
had any dispute as to her western boundaries. Governor Dunwiddie, as before


laientioned, in 1754, and Lord Dunmore, in 1774, undoubtedly thought Virginia
had a good claim to what is now Allegheny County, and much more, and it is not
clear that even Colonel Washington, who knew the country well, and had taken
up much land in it, did not entertain the idea that what are now the counties of
Fayette, Greene and Washington were in Virginia, for in and about the year 1774
Governor Lord Dunmore opened several offices for the sale of lands within the
bounds of what are now the counties of Fayette, Washington, Allegheny and
Greene, the warrants being granted on paying two shilling and six pence fee.
The purchase money was trifling, being only ten shillings per hundred acres, and
■even that was not demanded. This was an inducement to apply to Governor
Dunmore's agents rather than to those of the province of Pennsylvania. Governor
Dunmore also procured the judicial authority of Virginia to be extended to the
Ohio, and two courts were established and held south of the Monongahela, within the
territory afterwards held by Pennsylvania, and one north of it at old Fort Bed-
stone, now Brownsville.

Be that as it may, Governor Penn promptly repulsed the intruders under the
Virginia titles, arrested and imprisoned Connelly, and kept on pay for some time
the rangers who had rallied for the defence of the frontier.

In 1775, October 20th, a meeting was held at Pittsburgh to sustain the people
■of New England in their resistance to King George III. of England. There not
being as yet any newspaper printed in the west, no documentary evidence can be
quoted as to the facts of this action of the people of the town. This meeting
must have been a small one, as Isaac Harris, in his Directory of 1837, giving
some account of the early history of Pittsburgh, says: "In 1775 the number of
houses within the present bounds of the city did not,' according to the most
authentic accounts, exceed twenty-five or thirty."

In 1776 Messrs. Gibson and Linn, the latter the grandfather of Dr. Linn, at
one time a Senator of the United States for Missouri, descended^the river from
Pittsburgh to New Orleans to procure military stores for the troops at the former
place. They completely succeeded in their hazardous enterprise, and brought
back a cargo of 136 kegs of gunpowder. On reaching the falls of the Ohio on
their return, in the spring of 1777, they were obliged to unload their boats and
carry the cargo around the rapids, each of their men carrying three kegs at a
time on their back. The powder was delivered in Wheeling, and afterwards
transported to Fort Pitt.

In 1777 was began at Pittsburgh that branch |of the mechanic arts which,
through its increase, made the city the famous boat building center it became. On
the 23d of February fourteen carpenters and surveyors came to Pittsburgh from
Philadelphia, and were set at work a few miles above the fort building a batteaux
to transport troops. In the spring of 1778 General Mcintosh, with regulars and
militia from Fort Pitt, descended the Ohio and built Fort Mcintosh on the
site of the town of Beaver.

In January, 1778, there was almost a famine at Fort Pitt, bacon being one
dollar a pound, and flour sixteen dollars a barrel.


In 1780 General Brodhead, who was distinguished as a daring partisan officer^
charged with the defence of this part of the frontier, made Fort Pitt his head-
quarters. One of his principal aids was Captain Samuel Brady, the renowned
'' Indian killer," as he was called. Pittsburgh was the point of this scout's de-
parture in many of his adventurous expeditions, but none of his exploits occurred
in the territory now Allegheny or Westmoreland counties. Simon Girty, the
famous ally of the Indians, and a British scout and leader in many of the Indian
inroads, also made Allegheny County one of his haunts when not out scouting
and had a half brother, named John Turner, who lived on what was called
Squirrel Hill, Twenty-second ward of Pittsburgh, whom Girty often visited.

In 1781 General Irvine superceded General Brodhead in command of Fort
Pitt, and continued until the peace of 1783. He enjoyed to a very high degree
the confidence of General Washington. It was about this time that projects were
discussed at Fort Pitt of colonizing the section of country now the State of Ohio.
General Irvine entertained the idea that something more than colonization was
intended, and wrote at length to General Washington touching the matter from
Fort Pitt, under date of April 20th, 1782.

The public mind seemed at that date not yet to have realized that the acquired
independence of the American colonies was the formation of a new government,
which would exercise governmental authority over the whole territory, and had
therein rights of eminent domain.

Grasping the idea fully that all allegiance was abrogated to the crown of Great
Britain, they did not realize that it was or should be transferred to the United

While realizing the territorial rights and control of the United States, and
prepared to respect their laws within their bounds, the frontier population looked
upon the whole Indian country to the west of the forks of the Ohio as free land.
It is not difficult to realize how such an idea in a crude shape took hold of the
popular mind on the frontier, and did possibly with some restless and ambitious
persons incite the scheme of self-aggrandizement which General Irvine hints at in
his letter. While accepting as a Nation the federation of the thirteen State?,
they considered the governmental right of England on this continent abrogated,
and looked upon the Indian territory as of a foreign nation, which, being conquered
by a combination of individual forces, belonged to the victors, and any State or
government was independent of the United States, on the same principle as the
thirteen colonies became so of Great Britain.

Whether there were such schemes or ambitions there is no documentary evi-
dence to show, other than General Irvine's letter, but it is evident from that that
there was a spirit of restlessness which, under the moulding of ambitious men,
might have led to such ends.

The subjoined extract from his letter, dated Fort Pitt, April 20th, 1782, shows
the state of public sentiment :


"I arrived here the 25th of March. At that time things were in greater con-
fusion than can well be conceived. The country people were in a state of frenzy,
about three hundred had returned from the Moravian towns, where they found
about ninety men, women and children, all of whom they put to death, it is said,
after cool deliberation and considering the matter three days. * * -h- *

" On their return a party came and attacked a few Delaware Indians, who have
yet remained with us, on a small island close by this garrison. Killed two who
had captains' commissions in our service and several others. The remainder
eiiected their escape from the fort, except two, who ran into the woods and have
not since been heard of. * * ^ * This last outrage was committed the day
before I arrived. Nothing of this nature has been attempted since.

"A number of strong-headed men had conceived the opinion that Colonel
-Gibson was a friend of the Indians, and that he must be killed also. These trans-
actions, added to the mutinous disposition of the regular troops, had nearly
brought on the loss of the whole country.

"I am confident that if this fort was evacuated the boundaries of Canada
would be extended to Laurel Hill in a few weeks.

" Civil authority is by no means established in this country, which proceeds in
some degree, I doubt not, from the inattention of the executives of Virginia and
Pennsylvania not running the boundary line, which is at present an excuse for
■the neglect of duty of all kinds, for at least twenty miles on each side of the line.
More evils will arise from this than people are aware of.

"Emigration and new States are much talked of. Advertisements are set up
announcing a day to assemble at Wheeling for all those who wish to become mem-
bers of a new vState on the Muskingum. A certain J is at the head of this

party. He is ambitious, restless, and some say disaffected, and most people agree
he is open to corruption. He has been in England since the beginning of the
present war. Should these people actually emigrate, they must either be entirely
<}ut off or immediately take protection from the British, which I fear is the real
design of some of the party."

From this it is evident that at and around Fort Pitt schemes were projected
to acquire territory by driving the Indians from the Muskingum region and there
erect a new State independent of the federation under British protection if nec-

One year after this a glimpse of the town, in an extract printed in Neville B.
■Craig's "History of Pittsburgh," is afforded, from the journal of Arthur Lee, who,
under date of December 24th, 1784, writes : " Pittsburgh is inhabited almost en-
tirely by Scotts and Irish, who live in paltry log houses, and are as dirty as in the
north of Ireland, or even Scotland." It should be noted that Mr. Lee had been
a commissioner Avith Dr. Franklin and Silas Dean to the court of Versailles, and
fresh from the elegance of the French court the rudeness of the frontier towns
were not congenial to his fastidious tastes. Mr. Lee also writes : " There is a
.:great deal of small trade carried on, the goods being brought at a vast expense of
forty-five shillings per cwt, from Philadelphia and Baltimore. There are in the
town four attorneys, two doctors, and not a priest of any persuasion — no church,
no chapel." H. H. Breckenridge, James Boss, Alexander Addison and John
Wood were those four lawyers. Dr. Nathaniel Bedford one of the doctors,
and Doctor Stevenson possibly the other. One John Wilkins, a Quaker, who vis-


ited Pittsburgh in 1803, wrate of it that: "All sorts of wickedness were carried
on to excess, and there was no appearance of morality or regular order."

These assertions of the writers quoted are somewhat modified by the fact that
as early as 1754 French priests gave religious services to the French soldiers and
the Indians. While in 1758, the Eev. Charles Beatj^ preached to the settlers and
was followed by the Eev. Duffield. In 1782, the Eev. Wilhelra Weber founded
the first church of the German United Evangelical Protestant denomination in
the west. This is probably the Dutch church that H. H, Breckenbridge in his
''Eecollections" thus makes mention of, "At that time to which I allude, the plain
was entirely unencumbered by buildings or enclosures except the Dutch churck,
w^hich stood aloof from the haunts of men." This church, far from the haunts of
men, w^as on the corner of what is now Sixth avenue and Smithfield street, where
the elegant church, the successor of the little log church, now stands.

In 1784, the Eev. James Power preached at Fort Pitt by order of the Eedstone-
Presbytery, and in 1786, the Eev. Samuel Barr was prominently located at Pitts-

In 1784, Mr. French Francis, as agent for the Penns, made arrangements to laj
out the Manor of Pittsburgh in tOAvn lots, and out lots, with orders to sell them
without delay.

In May of that year, Mr. George Woods, an experienced surveyor, arrived
from Bedford, bringing with him Thomas Vickroy, for whom Vickroy street in
Pittsburgh is named, to assist him. In January, 1784, the first sale of lots in the
town of Pittsburgh were made to Stephen Bayard and Isaac Craig by John Penn
and John Penn, Jr. This might be considered the beginning of the town of
Pittsburgh. As the plan of 1764 was called " a military plan," and the settlers^
upon the lots did so under tacit permission of the commander of the fort, without
having however any legal title to their lots. The 29th of July, 1786, is a date in the
history of Allegheny County of special note. On that day was issued the first num-
ber of " The Pittsburgh Gazette,'^ and the first newspaper west of the mountains,.
John Scull and Joseph Hall, having embarked their little capital in what must
have seemed a most hazardous venture. John Scull was the descendant of Nicolas

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 3 of 43)