John Gibson.

History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

. (page 10 of 218)
Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 10 of 218)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

castle, as near as can be computed can ■
be found; and a circle described around |
that town, which is the fairest way. for
otherwise it might be fourteen miles in
some parts of it, if it is a long town. Then
what must be the extent of the circle ? It
is given up at the bar, though not in the
answer. It cannot be twelve miles distant
from Newcastle, unless it has a semi-diame-
ter of twelve miles; but there is one argu-
ment decisive without entering into nice
mathematical questions: the line to be the
dividing line, and to be drawn north from
Henlopen, was either to be a tangent or inter-
secting from that circle, and if the radius
was to be of two miles only, it would neither
touch nor intersect it, but go wide. There is
no difference as to the place or running of
the line from south to north, though there
is at the cape from which it is to commence.
In America the defendant's com-
missioners behaved with great chicane in the '
point they insisted on, as the want of a i
center of a circle, and the extent of that
circle, viz. : whether a diameter of two or
twelve miles; the endeavoring to take advan-
tage of one of plaintiffs' commissioners com-
ing too late to make the plaintiffs incur the
penalty. The defendant has been misled by
his commissioners and agents in America,
to make their objections his defense." It was
ordered "that before the end of three calen- ■
dar months from May 15th, two several proper '
instruments for appointing commissioners,
not more than seven on a side, may run and
mark the boundaries, to begin some time in
November next, and to be completed on or
before the last day of May, 1752."





THE history of York County, by
the disputed proprietary ciaims, was in-
augurated by disturbances which involved its
first settlers in serious diificulties. They had
settled themselves in one of those unfortunate
sections of country known to all history as
border land. The persons who came west of
the Susquehanna in quest of new homes, as
citizens of the province of Pennsylvania, soon
found that there were other claimants of the
soil upon which they had planted themselves,
coming here under the authority of the gov-
ernment of the province of Maryland. The
broils and riots which followed in the wake
of those who had fu-st cleared the forests
and sowed their crops on this side of the
river, tilled the annals of that period with
protests and remonstrances, criminations and
recriminations, affidavits and counter affida-
vits, unparalleled in the archives of any
other government. While it is -our duty, as
Pennsylvanians, to maintain the rights of
the founder of this commonwealth, it is
equally our duty to examine fairly the
grounds upon which his rival proprietor on
the south disputed these rights, and made
claims of his own. The people who are em-
broiled in differences of the character exhib-
ited in the documents and traditions of that
period, are not, as a general rule, to blame,
especially in an age when the sentiment of
loyalty to rulers made them regardless of the
rights of others, in behalf of those who were;,-
ready and willing to protect them in their
outrages. The blame must rest with those
in authority, who could have no cause for
encouraging unlawful claims, much less for
the assertion of them by violent measures.
In all frontier settlements there are fierce
and reckless men who are eager to carry out, .
by any means, what they conceive to be the
will of those in power, of whom they ai'e the
partisans. It is a remarkable feature in the
details of those early disturbances, in which
the interests of the rival proprietaries
clashed, that the Governors of each province
for the time being apparently believed and
relied on the ex parte statements of their
partisans on the one side or the other. It is
not the Cressaps, and the Higgenbothams,
whom we are accustomed to consider as
fmarauders and disturbers of the peace, or the
'Wrights or Blunstons, whom, on the other
hand, we consider the conservators of the
peace, but those to whom was committed the
government of the respective colonies, and

the welfare of his Majesty's subjects therein,
who are properly to be made the subject of
animadversion, if they failed to use all the
means in their power to restrain the evils
existing, or from a spirit of partisanship
closed their eyes to the real causes of those
evils. The details of these disturbances and
the mutual grounds of contention between
the proprietaries are too tedious to relate.
But a narrative of such incidents as led the
respective provincial governments into the
bitter controversy, may not be without inter-
est to our people, especially to those who
dwell in the locality where the occurrences
took place. J The first complaint as to in-
trusions on the west side of the Susquehanna,
after the agreement of 1724, appears in a
letter from Gov. Gordon to Gov. Calvert,
on the 14th of September, 1731:

Oov. Gordon: — I am further creditably informed
that some persons of Mar3'land, having obtained
grants of land from your offices, have pretended to
lay them out over the river Susquehanna, where our
Commissioners would never allow any survey to be
made, not only on account of ouv agreement with
the Indians, but also of that made with Maryland.
Yet some of your people have pretended to large
tracts thereof, which some, 'tis affirmed, lie many
miles further north than this city of Philadelphia,
and have further had assurance even to offer them
to sale to some of our inhabitants, without making,
on their parts, any scruple of the situation. 'Tis
now some months since I heard the rumor of this,
but very lately I have had a much fuller confirma-
tion of it.

To which complaint there was the follow-
ing reply fi'om the Governor of Marylan:

Oov. Calvert—" As, to what you mention of our
people taking up lands high up the river Susque-
hanna, I shall endeavor to enquire into it as soon
as possible, till when I must beg leave to defer anj'
further answer on that head."*

It would appear from this that whatever
settlers there were over the river at that
period in the teiTitory, now the counfy of
York, were ostensibly there without the knowl-
edge or consent of either government. The
sequel will not bear this out. The complaint
came first from the Indians to the government
of Pennsylvania. A letter from Samuel
Blunston, "of the 3d of October, 1731, con-
tains a message from Capt. Civility to Gov.
Gordon, that "the Conestogoe Indians had
always lived in good friendship with the
Christian inhabitants of Pennsylvania,
and have behaved themselves agreeable to
their treaties with them. That Williamjr'enn
had promised them they should not be dis-
turbed by any settlers on the west side of the
Susquehanna, but now, contrary thereto, sev-
eral Marylanders are settled- by the river on
that side, at Conejohela. And one Crissop,
particularly, is very abusive to them when

*I Archives, 294.


they pass that way. And had beat and
wounded one of their women, who went to
get apples from their own trees. And took
away her apples. And further said, that as
they shall always take care their people do
us no hurt, so they also expect we shall pro-
tect them.''* This incident, trivial as it
may seem, introduces and exposes the char-
acter of the principal participant, on the
side of Maryland, in our border troubles. In
thissameletter it issaid, in a postscript, "that
James Logan had said he should be glad if
Crissop could be taken," and Mr. Blunston
writes, " we have now just cause to appre-
hend him for a breach of the law in enter-
taining and protecting a bound servant, be-
longing to one of our people, and threaten-
ing to shoot any person who shall offer to
take away said servant. If you think it
will be of any service to the government
to have him taken, he believed it may be
done." According to an affidavit of Thomas
Cressap, made by him on the 29th of Janu-
ary, 1732, he had lived on the west side of
the Susquehanna River since the 10th of
March, as tenant of Lord Baltimore, by vir-
tue of his Lordship's grant and patent. He
was the owner of a ferry opposite a point on
the river called Blue Rock. The incident
which occasioned his affidavit requires men-
tion, because it first drew the governors of
the rival provinces into angry controversy.
He made oath that one day, about the last
of October, he heard the report of three guns
at the Blue Rock, the signal usually made by
people who want to come over the river.
That he and Samuel Chance, who was a
laborer with him, went over the river, and
that he saw two men and a negro whom he
took into his boat. He then details an as-
sault upon him, that after a struggle they
threw him into the river, out of his depth,
and went away with his boat and his ser-
vant, and that he was rescued from an island
after night by an Indian. He complained to
a magistrate in Pennsylvania, Mi-. Cornish,
against the men, and when he demanded a
warrant the magistrate enquired where he
lived. He said he was an inhabitant of
Maryland, a tenant of Lord Baltimore, iipon
which the magistrate told him he knew no
reason he had to expect any justice there
since he was a liver in Maryland. It appears,
however, that the magistrate granted Cres-
sap his warrant, and that the men were ap-
prehended and bound over to court, and were
indicted, convicted and fined for the assault.
This deposition was sent to the Governor of
Maryland, and a full account of the matter

was also sent to Lord Baltimore. Gov.
Ogle sent a coj)y of the deposition to Gov.
Gordon, and complained in his letter of
the saying by Mr, Cornish, that he knew no
reason why Cressap had to expect justice
there, since he was a liver in Maryland, And
that Cressap was in great fear of other inju-
ries from the behavior of the magistrate and
other circumstances, and that some Indians
said they were offered a good reward by one
Cartlidge, of Conestogoe, to drive Cressap
and his family off his land and burn his
house. The affadavit of Cressap also stated
that a great number of horses and mares,
which were claimed by James Patterson and
others, inhabitants of Pennsylvania, had
been very injurious and troublesome to him
and his neighbors, in throwing down their
fences and destroying their corn. This mat-
ter of the horses becomes important, because
of another incident arising out of the killing
of the horses, which led to the arrest and in-
carceration of iDersons on both sides, and my
Lord Baltimore became a participant in the
scenes that were enacted on this border
land of ours. To the letter of Gov. Ogle,
Gov. Gordon replied, among other things,
that " Cressap, believing himself ag-
grieved, applied to one of our magistrates,
telling him that he was an inhabitant of
Maryland. In which application it must be
owned that he had a large share of assur-
ance, for Justice Cornish lives more northerly
than Philadelphia, andCressap's dwelling, by
his own description of the Blue Rock, cannot
be less than five miles northward. That jus-
tice had been administered in Pennsj-lvanta,
and that as to the fray, the government was
in no way concerned in it, unless justice was
denied, which was not the case. "For 'tis
plain the whole amounts to no more than
that a quarrel happened between Cressap and
some others in Pennsylvania, which he thinks
tit to call Maryland." It appears from this
and throughout the whole controversy, that
the Pennsylvanians continually resented the
intrusions of the Marylanders into their ter-
ritory, above a designated line, while on the
other hand the Marylanders, with the con
nivance of their government, refused to recog
nise that line and collisions occurred necessa
rily incident to settlements under such con
fiicting claims. The lands about the Codo-
rus and Conewago were attractive, as Gov
Gordon wrote in the course of the corres-
pondence, "and some Maryland gentlemen
cast their eyes on those lands made valuable
by the neighborhood of our inhabitants, and
it suited their purposes to settle such persons
there as would intimidate Pennsylvanians,


and give some coTintenance to their claims."*
Indeed Marjiand surveys had been made
and returned many years before, as in the in-
stances related in the chapter on Indian titles,
among which was a warrant issued for the
survey of a manor to the Lord Baltimore,
upon the banks of the Susquehanna, includ-
ing Newberry, which led to the survey of
Springetsbury Manor in 1722, and earlier,
that made by Phillip Syng, by a Maryland
title that same year. ? In the year 1729,'
Charles Carroll, as appears by a petition of
his, about the time of the commencement of
our border troubles, located a warrant of
10,000 acres on the vacant lands lying on
Pipe Creek, and Codorus and Conewago
Creeks, and lands contiguous, according to
the accustomed method used within his Lord-
ship's province. This location was in pos-
session of the surveyor of Baltimore County
and was renewed from time to time.

Charles Carroll states in his petition that,
apprehending some cultivation made during
the former location, which the said warrant
could not effect, he had obtained a special
warrant to take up the same on express
terms. About the l-4th of June, 1732, he
and John Ross went to view the lands, the
better to inform themselves how to finish a
survey of the same, and on the 21st of that
month they came to the house of John Hen-
dricks, on the Susquehanna River. The com-
plaint of Carroll was that while they were
at Hendrick's house several persons came
there with a warrant from Justice Wright to
arrest John Tradane, of the province of
Maryland, resident at Monochasie, and which
they were told was intended to try whether
they would interfere, by objecting to the
power of Pennsylvania. But they took no
notice of the proceedings. Carroll com-
plained that John Wright, Jr., a son of the
Justice, had said " that in case the hominy
gentry hindered their executing the warrant,
they themselves should be put in prison, and
that the best of their hominy gentry in Mary-
land should not get them out, and that if the
Governor were there they would serve him in
the same manner; that they would teach
them to come to take their lands, and that
neither they nor their Marylanders should
come there to make a hominy country of
their lands." He complained also, he said,
of other reflecting and abusive language to
that purport. The complaint of Carroll
also set out that one James Pattison, who
came over, said that all the lands thereabout
belonged to Mr. Penn. That Mr. James
Logan advised the people of Pennsylvania

to stand up manfully against the Maryland-
ers, and that Pattison said, for his own part,
he wotild tight to his knees in blood before
he should lose his plantations on either side
of the river. Carroll asked him if ever he
had a patent under Mr. Penn for his planta-
tion or the lands he claimed, or had a war-
rant for taking it up, to which Pattison an-
swered that he had neither warrant nor pat-
ent, and Carroll then said that Mr. Logan's
advice was dangerotis. This memorial of
Charles Carroll was presented for the purpose
of praying protection from the Maryland
government in executing his warrant, and
settling the lands, as they, the petition said,
would have to repel force by force. *

James Patterson, or Pattison as above
called, had been settled, according to
Gov. Gordon, on Springetsbury Manor
about fifteen years, but because it was a manor
he had no patent, f

The titles within this manor are elsewhere
explained. Patterson had a plantation on
this side of the river, but resided on the east
side. He had, it appears, a number of
horses necessary for carrying goods and skins
in his trade with the Indians. Some of the
family of John Lowe killed his horses,
whereupon he came in the night time with a
warrant, and the sheriff's posse, to arrest two
of Lowe's sons, Daniel and William Lowe.
But they also seized John Lowe, the father, .
and he, being brought before Justices Blun-
ston and Wright, and nothing appearing
against him, was discharged. Affidavits
made by John Lowe and Thomas Cressap
were sent to Gov. Ogle, representing the ar-
rest to have been made with great violence.
In Cressap' s affidavit it is represented that
Patterson had said he would let them know
that they were prisoners of Pennsylvania.
Cressap said that if Lord Baltimore would
not protect them in their rights and land,
they, the inhabitants of the west side of the
river, must appeal to the King. To which
Patterson answered "that they had no busi-
ness with the King, or the King with them,
for Penn was their King." Such were the
representations sent for the grave considera
tion of the proprietary and authorities of
Maryland. John Lowe, in his affidavit, rep-
resented that the party came in the dead of
night and arrested him in bed, and violently
dragged him on the ground and over the river
on the ice and kept him in custody the re-
maining part of the night. The consequent
struggle arising from the resistance to the
arrest was made the ground of complaint for

«I Archives, 333.
fl Archives, 338.



riot in Maryland. The affair was communi-
cated to the Lord Baltimore, and' a letter was
received from him by Gov. Gordon. As
this letter came from a person of such dig-
nity, and aa it contains his own opinion of
liis- rights, and his claim to obedience in
this particular, it is given in full:

Annapolis, Deer, ye lotb, 1733.

Sir: — Bv the enclosed precept, founded upon In-
formation given upon Oath to a Magistrate here, you
will see that a most outrageous Riot hath lately lieen
committed in my Province, by a great number of
People calling themselves Pennsylvanians. It
appears by the same Information that some of your
Magistrates, instead of preventing or discouraging
these violences. Countenance and abet the Authors
of them ; whether with or without the approbation
of your Government, you best know. For my own
part, I think myself in Honor and Justice obliged,
and I am determined, to protect such of his Maj-
esty's subjects who are ray own Tenants, in all their
Rights, and therefore, to the End the Persons com-
plained of may be punished, if upon a fair tryal
they shall be found guilty. I desire that they-or
such of them as can be found in your Province, may
be sent without loss of time into this, as the Onlj'
and proper place, where the fact with which they
are charged is cognizable, and where my Officers
will be ready to receive them, particularly the Sher-
ifEs and Justices of my Counties of Baltimore and
Cecil. I also desire that such of your Magistrates
as shall appear to have Encouraged the commission
of these or any other violences in my Province by
the people of Pennsylvania, may be punished for
their abuse of Authority, and that you'll favor me
with a Categorical answer to these my just demands
by this bearer.

Your Humble Servant,

Addressed thus: To his Excellency Patrick Gor-
don. Esq., at Philadelphia.*

The letter enclosed a precept for the arrest
of the persons concerned in the alleged riot.
Lord Baltimore was then at Annapolis, and
was of course acquainted with the location of
the scene of this affair. In a subsequent let-
ter, he speaks of it as having taken place in
the province of Maryland.

At a meeting of the Provincial Council
held at Philadelpia on the 9th of January,
1733. the Governor acquainted the Board with
the letter of Lord Baltimore, together with a
report of the atfair from Messrs. Wright and
Blunston. The btatements of this report are
material to the consideration of the qttestion
regarding the claims of the respective prov-
inces, to allow settlements within the ter-
ritory west of the river Susquehanna, and
north of Philadelphia, The substance of it
is as follows :

In the year 1729, when the county of Lan-
caster was formed, the southern boundary was,
by the order, to be Octoraroe Creek and the
province of Maryland, and including the in-
habitants, to lie open to the westward. But
as the line between the provinces was never

ruU; nor the exact boundaries known, no ati-
thority was claimed over those few families
settled to the northward of Octoraroe, by or
under pretense of Maryland rights. They"
remained undisturbed, thotigh many inhabit-
ants of Pennsylvania lived some miles to the
soutjiward of them. At. that time there were
no English inhabitants on the west side of
the Suscpehanna River, in those parts, for,
about two years before, Edward Parnell and
several other families who were settled on the
west side of the river near the same, at a
place called by the Indians Gonejohela, were
at the request of the Conestogoe Indians re-
moved by the Governor — the Indians insist
ing upon the same to be vacant for them. But
about two years since, Thomas Cressap and
some other people of loose morals and turbu-
lent spirits came and disturbed the. Indians
who were jaeaceably settled on those lands
from whence Parnell and the others had been
removed — burnt their cabins, and destroyed
their goods and drove them away. The for-
mer settlers were good citizens of Pennsyl-
vania, and before Cressap and his company
none had settled by a Maryland claim, so far
to the northward by nearly thirty miles.
These men would fly to our laws for redress
against their own party, and they who had
fled from their creditors into this province,
when creditors would pursue them hither,
would cry Maryland. They disturbed the
peace of the government, carried people out
of the province by violence, took away guns
from friendly Indians, tied and made them
, prisoners without any offense given, and
threatened all who should oppose them. They
killed the horses of such of our people whose
trade with the Indians made it necessary to
keep them on that side of the river for carry-
ing their goods and skins, and assaulted and
threatened to look after them. That this
usage obliged James Patterson to apply' to
them for a warrant to apprehend and bind to
the peace the two young men who had been
most active, Daniel and "William Lowe, and
they were dismissed on security for their good
behavior and appearance at court. They then
say, that if they had sapposed the issuing of
their warrants would have given the least of-
fense to Lord Baltimore, or that he would
have looked upon those persons as his sub-
jects and under his protection, they would
have represented the case to the Governor
and waited his direction.* "With this re-
port they sent affidavits which were read
• before the Board. The affidavits showed that
Patterson was informed that his horses were
killed near Lowe's plantation and that his

*III Col. Eec, 470 et. seq.


sons said they would kill all the horses that
came upon that land, and would tie and whip
all he should send over thither. The consta-
ble, Charles Jones, to whom the precept was
directed, having formerly met with resistance
from these people and fearing new insults, i
for Thomas Cressap and his associates had
threatened to shoot any officer who should
come into those parts to do his duty, though
he only took his staif himself, yet he thought
it necessary to have a suitable strength, took
in all nine men with him. Amongst them
were only three guns, and these not loaded,
serving only as an appearance of defense.
They went quietly to the house of Lowe, the !
father, and the door being opened appre
hended Daniel and William Lowe, his two
sons. They made no disturbance but what
was occasioned by the resistance of the pris-
oners, and those who came to their relief.
That Lowe's house, where his sons were taken,
is several miles more northerly than Philadel-
phia (which appears by a well known line
that had been ran about forty years since on
a due west course from the city to the Susque-
hanna, in order to a more certain discovery '
of the country) and that there are about
400 people living more southerly than
Lowe's house who pay taxes in the county of
Lancaster, and have always acknowledged
themselves inhabitants of Pennsylvania. The
Council having fully considered the said let-
ters and affidavits and remarking on the style
!ind manner of Lord Baltimore's letter,
which they conceived too peremptory, were
inclinable to think that his lordship had left ,
room for no other answer than barely to ac-
quaint him that the supposed riot was com-

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 10 of 218)