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

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and murdered families. People from York
County fled to the thickly s,ettled parLs of the
province, some to Wright's Ferry, from
whence the women and children were re-
moved as an unsafe place. The Western
settlements were opened to the horrors of

*VI Col. Eec, 487.


Indian invasion, and numbers of people
from Cumberland passed through York; while
in the midst of these alarms, arms and am-
munition were not to be had.

Marsh Creek, in Adams County, became the
frontier; the country beyond was deserted.
Able-bodied men enlisted in companies and
drilled daily. There was great consternation,
and reports of outrages grew apace. News
was recei-ved at Lancaster that the Indians
had massacred and scalped many of the in-
habitants not more than forty miles above
Harris' Ferry.

A petition from the magistrates of York
County, Geo. Stevenson, Henry TJpdegraff,
Thomas Armor, James Smith, John Adlum,*
to Gov. Morris, dated York, Saturday, 11
o'clock, P. M., 1st November, 1755, sets
forth, that a numerous body of Indians and
some French were in the province, which put
the inhabitants in great confusion, the prin-
cipal of whom had met sundry times and
found that many had neither arras nor amu-
nition. That the Indians were encamped up
Susquehanna, within a day or two's march
of Harris' Ferry. That there were men
enough to bear arms and go out against the
enemy, were they supplied with arms, ammu-
nition and reasonable allowance for their
time. That a company was going from the
town and parts adjacent next day, to the as-
sistance of the inhabitants on the frontiers,
and will take almost all the arms and ammu-
nition with them. They therefore pray the
Governor to order them some arms and am-
munition, otherwise they must desert their
habitations. A letter from Geo. Stevenson,
dated the same day, York, 12 o'clock Satur-
day night, to Mr. Peters, says: "By the ex-
presses which came more than daily from
the frontier parts of the province, you can
conceive the confusion, horror and distress
with which every breast is filled. All possi-
ble attempts have been made to stockade this
town, but in vain. On receipt of the Gov-
• ernor's suaimons, the sub-Sheriff was dis-
patched to David McConaughey's, knowing
that Mr. Hamilton was over the hills. While
they where signing the petition sent down,
they received the express from Harris', "f

On the ■ 2d of November, 1755, a place
called Great Cove, in Cumberland County,
was destroyed by the savages. A letter of
Mr. Thomas Barton at 3 o'clock in the morn-
ing, November 2, 1755, says: "Mr. Hans
Hamilton marches this morning with a party
of sixty men from Carlisle to Shippens Town.
Mr. Pope and Mr. McConaughey came over

with me to raise reinforcements in order to
join Mr. Hamilton immediately."* A letter
to Governor Morris from John Armstrong,
Esq., at Carlisle, 2d of November, 1755, says :
"At 4 o'clock this afternoon, by expresses
from Conegachege, we are informed that
yesterday 100 Indians were seen in the Great
Cove; among them was Shingas, the Dela-
ware King. That immediately after the dis-
covery as many as had notice fled, and look-
ing back, from an high hill, they beheld
their houses on fire, heard several guns
fired and the last shrieks of their dying
neighbors. Mr. Hamilton was here with
sixty men from York County when the ex-
press came, and is to march early to-morrow
to the upper part of the county. I'm of
opinion that no other means than a chain of
block-houses, along or near the south side of
the Kittatinny Mountains from Susquehanna
to the Temporary Line, can secure the lives
and properties even of the old inhabitants of
this county; the new settlement being all
fled except Sherman's Valley, whom (if God do
not preserve) we fear will suffer very 80on."t

The intelligence from Benjamin Chambers,
November, 2, was that houses were in flames.
" They lare Delawares and Shawanese. .
The part that came against the Cove are
under the command of Shingas, the Dela-
ware King. The people of the Cove, that
came off, saw several lying dead. They
heard the murder shout, and the firing of
guns, and saw the Indians going into houses
that they had come out of. I have sent ex-
press to Marsh Creek, so I expect there will
be a good company from there this day, and
as there is but 100 of the enemy, it is in
our power to put them to flight if you turn
out well in your parts. "J

A letter from George Stevenson, York,
Monday, Nov. 3, one-half hour past 11 A. M.,
says : ' ' Herewith you have a copy of Ben.
Chambers' letter, reoeived about an hour ago.
We have ^formed a council here of the prin-
cipal inhabitants, who join in begging you to
deliver the petition, and copy of letter here-
with sent, to the speaker of the Assembly,
and pray them, in our names and behalf, for
God's sake either to send us arms, ammuni;
tion and blankets, and a letter to encourage
the people, and assure us of what we may
expect, or else our country will be deserted. "§

And he writes to E. Peters, in a letter dated
York, 11 o'clock A. M., Wednesday, Novem-
ber 5: "We have sent fifty -three men, well
filled, from this town last Monday, 2 o'clock

«VI Col. Hec, 675.
tibid, 676.
tibid, 675.
Ill Archives, 461.


P. M., and a doctor, some medicines and
what ammunition we could spare, to Tob's
Hendricks' to join the main body of English
tories on the most needful part of the fron-
tiers. Mr. Adlem is with them. Mr. Ham-
ilton is gone toward Conigogeeg last Sunday
with a company. Mr. Bay yesterday with,
and at head of another. We are all
aloft and such as have arms hold themselves
ready, but also they are few in numbers.
Forty men came here yesterday willing to
defend, but had but three guus and no
ammunition, and could get none here, there-
fore went home again; we stay all here yet,
how long God knows; six families tied from
their homes, distance about fifteen miles, via
Conewago, last night. The last came into
town about daybreak this morning. A few
of us have pledged our credit for public ser
vices; if we are encouraged we will stand till
we are cut off; if not, some of us are bound
to the lower parts of Maryland immediately,
if not scalped by the way." Herewith you
have another of our petitions to the Assembly,
all I shall say about it is that the biggest part
of its signers are Menonists, who live about
fifteen miles westward of York."*

On the same day, York, 3 o'clock P. M.,
Mr. Stephenson wrote to Rev. Mr. Smith:
The grand quaere here now is, whether we
shall stand or run. Most are willing to stand,
but have not arms nor ammunition. This is
the cry of the people. We have sent tifty-
three men to Harris' last Monday from this
town. Such as have arms stand ready, and
we watch night and day. People from Cum-
berland are going through this town hourly
in droves, and the neighboring inhabitants
are flocking into this town, defenseless as it is.
I must add that Mr. Barton heads a company,
Mr. Bay another."f

At a meeting of the council held at Phil-
adelphia, Sunday, 2d of November, 1755,
sundry petitions from the most respectable
persons in the several counties of Cumber-
land, York, Lancaster, and Chester, setting
forth the dismal condition of the inhabitants
were read, and sundry companies were formed
and commission granted to such as were re-
commended for Captains, Lieutenants and
Ensigns.;}; And at a meeting of same, on the
6th of November, it appeared that the Gov-
ernor had caused the inhabitants of several
counties to be told that if they would enter
into associations, form themselves into com-
panies and recommend fit persons for their
officers, he would grant them commissions,

*II Archives, 514.

tibid. 466.

tVI Col. Eec, 670.

and give them all the encouragement in his
power. He had received a great number of
petitions for companies, and to the officers
recommended, he very readily granted com-
missions, who all took the oaths to his Majesty
and subscribed the declarations required by

On the 25th of November, 1755, the
Assembly passed a militia law, which the Gov-
ernor pronounced impracticable, but signed.
The Penn's sent an order for £5,000 as a
gift to the province, and the Assembly, on the
27th of November,1755, passed an act grant-
ing the sum of £60,000 to the King's use, to
be disposed of with the Governor's approba-
tion, and not otherwise, by persons named in
the act,f and Provincial commissioners were
appointed, of whom Benjamin Franklin was
one, to disburse the same.

In the list of officers and soldiers in the
provincial service, in 1756, appear the follow-
ing: Second Battalion: Capt. Hance Hamil-
ton, January 16, 1756; Lieut. William
Thompson, January 16, 1756; Ensign, John
Prentice, May 22, 1756; Serg. William Mc
Dowell, Private John Kelly, killed at Kit-
tanning. Third Battalion: Capt David
Jameson, May 19, 1756. Lieut. William
Clapham, Jr., August 20, 1756; Ensign
Joseph Scott, May 24, 1756. The following
is a list of the men of Capt. Jameson's com-
pany, killed or wounded near McCord's Fort,
April 2, 1756:

John Barnett, James Campbell, Matthew
Gutton, William Hunter, Henry James, John
McDonald, William Reynolds. James Blair,
killed; William Chambers, killed; Daniel
Mackey, killed; James Pierce, killed; John
Reynolds, killed; James Robertson, (tailor)
killed; James Robertson, (weaver) killed.;];

At a meeting of the Provincial council, on
the 8th of April, 1756, the returns of seven
associated companies of foot militia, in the
County of York, were read, the officers ap-
proved, and commissions ordered to issue.
The want of powder and amunition is set
forth in all the returns and a petition for a
supply referred to the Commissioners.

On the 9th of April, 1756, Hance Hamil-
ton wrote from Fort Littleton, 8 o'clock P. M.,
to Capt. Potter: " These come to inform you
of the melancholy news of what occurred ber
tween the Indians, that had taken many
captives from McCord's Fort, and a party of
men under the command of Capt. Alexander
Culbertson, and nineteen of our men, the
whole amounting to about fifty, who came

*IV Col. Eec, 680.

fll Archives, 516, 531.

JII Archives, Second Series, .540.



upon the Indians with the captives, and had
a sore engagement, many of both parties
killed and many wounded, the number un-
known. These wounded want a surgeon, and
those killed require our assistance as soon as
possible to bury them. We have sent an ex-
press to Fort Shirley for Dr Mercer, sup-
posing Dr. Jameson is killed or mortally
wounded in the expedition, he being not
returned. Therefore desire that you will
send an express immediately for Dr. Prentice
to Carlisle, we imagining that Dr. Mercer
cannot leave the Fort under the circumstances
that Fort is under. Our Indian, Isaac, has
brought in Capt. Jacob's scalp.* In another
letter he states that the Indians had taken
an"d burnt McCord's Fort, and taken many
captives, upon the news of which. Dr. Jame-
son, with nineteen men, went over Ray's, near
Sideling Hill, and came up with the Indians
and captives, and a sore engagement happened.
Only five of our men returned, mostly
wounded Capt. Culbertson and Dr. Jameson
were thought to be killed, having received
several wounds. Our men engaged two hours,
being about thirty-six in number, and would
have had the better had not thirty Indians
come to their assistance. Some of our men
fired twenty- four rounds apiece, and when
their ammunition failed were obliged to fly. j

On Wednesday morning, 5 o'clock, August
19, 1756, Hance Hamilton wrote to Adam
Hoops: "We are scarce of powder and
lead at our forts. There is a party of Capt.
Mercer's company here, and on our receiving
this latter we march directly, taking with us
twelve beef cattle and what jjack horses
belongs to the two forts. The rest is to be
brought up by Capt. Potter's and Steel's
men." J

From Fort Littleton, on the 14th of
September, 1756, Col. John Armstrong
wrote an account of the expedition against
Kittanning. This expedition is classed
among the heroic acts of the war, in which
Hanoe Hamilton participated. The notorious
chief, Capt. Jacobs, and Shingas. a faithless
ally of W^ashington, headed the Indians.
Here were fitted out incursions, and prison-
ers and plunder were continually brought in.
Two hundred and eighty Provincials marched
under Col. Armstrong, with whom was Dr.
Hugh Mercer, subsequently a renowned gen-

*VII Col. Rec, 77. This last appears to have heen a mistake.
Capt. .lacobs was killed at ICittanning, infra.

tThe Dr. Jameson reported killed by the Indians near Mc-
Cord's Fort was David Jameson, a captain in the provincial serv-
ice, was also a surgeon or doctor, and was from York. Alex-
ander Culbertson, reported also killed, was a captain in the i
vice, from Cumberland, and a relative of Capt.

eral in the war of the Revolution. The men
were led secretely over the mountain from
Fort Littleton in the night time, and waited
for the cessation of the revels of the Indians,
some of whom were scattered in parties
through the cornfields. Towards the break
of day the Indians were attacked. Their
houses were set on fire. The Indians re-
fused to surrender. One of them said he
was a man and would not be a jDrisoner, and
that he would kill four or five before he died.
The Indians were driven out by the flames.
When the fire became too hot, Capt. Jacobs
tumbled himself out of a garret or cock-loft
window, at which he was shot. The powder-
horn and pouch taken off him were identified
as his, which things he had lately got from a
French officer in exchange for Lieut. Arm-
strong's boots, which he had carried off from
Fort Granville. His scalp was such as no
other Indian wore his hair in the same man-
ner. They also knew his squaw's scalp by a
particular bob, and the scalp of his son, a
giant seven feet high. Capt. Hugh Mercer
was wounded in the arm in the early part of
the action. Of Capt. Hamilton's company,
John Kelly, from York, was killed. *

On the I8th of October, 1756, there was
read in council the following letter from
David Jameson to Edward Shippen, October
13, 1756, from Fort Halifax:

"As Col. Clapham is at Carlisle, audit
being reported here that his honor, our Gov-
ernor, has gone round by York, and there-
fore not knowing when he will receive an
express that is sent to him from Shamokin,
I have thought fit to send an abstract of
Maj. Burd's letter to me that arrived here at
daybreak this morning, that the gentlemen
and militia of Lancaster County might take
such steps as they might think most prudent.
I thought it proper to acquaint you with a
piece of intelligence that I have received by
old Ogaghiadaritia, one of the Sis Nations'
Chiefs, who came here yesterday in the af-
ternoon, and is as follows: that about 10
days before he left Tioga, there was two Del-
aware Indians arrived there, who was just
come from Fort DuQuesne, and informed
him that they before they left said Fort
there was one thousand Indians assembled
there, who were immediately to march in
conjunction with a body of French to at-
tack this fort (Fort Augusta), and he,
Ogaghiadariha, hurried down here to give
us the information. He says further, that
the day before he came in here he saw upon
the North Branch a large body of Delaware
Indians and spoke with them, and they told

*I1 Archives, 767~


him that they were going to speak with ye
Governor of Pennsylvania ; whatever inten-
tions they have, they are marching towards
oiiir inhabitantB." N. B. — The Major's letter
is dated the ]2th inst., in the afternoon.
Directed on his Majesty's service, to Mr.
Edward Shippen, Esqr., or any Captain in the
Militia in Lancaster Town, to be forwarded
with all expedition."* In the minutes of
the Council of the ISth of October, it is
stated that an express arrived from Maj.
Burd, with letters giving an account of our
old friend Ogagbiadariha's coming a second
time to Fort Augusta, on purpose to tell
several things of consequence which he heard
at Diahoga. This honest Indian's intelli-
gence, with the examination of two English
prisoners who had escaped to that fort, was
read and ordered to be entered, f The in-
formation was in substance that contained in
Capt. Jameson's letter.

Oapt. Hance Hamilton and Capt. David
Jameson, as already stated, were officers in
the provincial service from York. There
were three battalions. The first was com-
manded by Lieut. -Col. Conrad Weiser; the
second by Lieut. -Col. John Armstrong; and
the third by Lieut. -Col. William Clapham.
Hance Hamilton was commissioned January
16, 1756, and was in the Second Battalion,
which was at McCord's Fort, and made the
successful attack upon Kittanning, an account
of which has been given. David Jameson
was commissioned May 19, 1756, and was in
the Third Battalion, known as the Augusta
Eegiment, which marched against the Indians
at Shamokin, and rendezvoused under the
immediate command of the Governor of
Pennsylvania, Robert Hunter Morris. They
marched from Harris' Ferry, now Harrisburg,
to the west side of the Susquehanna, and
recrossed in batteanx where the town of Sun-
bury now stands. Fort Augusta was built
by Col. Burd, at Shamokin, and after it was
finished the battalion remained there in gar-
rison until the year 1758. :J:

Following is a list of Associated Compa-
nies in York County, November 4, 1756:

Isaac Sader, Captain; Archibald McGrew, Lieu-
tenant; William Duffell, Ensign; sixty private

Hugli Dunwoody, Captain; Charles McMullen,
Lieutenant; James Smith, Ensign; sixty-six private

James Agnew, Captain; John Miller, Lieutenant;
Sam Withrow, Ensign; sixty private men.

Yorli Township — David Hunter, Captain; John
Correy, Lieutenant; John Barnes, Ensign; 100 pri-
vate men.

* III Archives, 9.

tVII. Col. Eec, 282.

til Archives, N. S. Col. Burd's Journal. Shamokin was on

Samuel Gordon, Captain; William Smiley, Lieu-
tenant; John Little, Ensign; 100 private men.

Shrewsbury Township— Andrew Findley, Cap-
tain; William Gamell, Lieutenant; Moses Lawsoii
Ensign; 106 private men.

Mount Joy Township— William Gibson, Captain;
William Thompson, Lieutenant; Casper Little, En-
sign; fifty private men.

Francis Hollon, Captain; Joseph Ross, Lieuten-
ant; Jolm McCall, Ensign; 100 private men.
The above is a true list.

Richard Peters, Secretary.
Col. Armstrong wrote from Carlisle, June
30, 1757, that a large number, consisting of
French and Indians, with baggage horses,
left Fort DuQuesne about the 9th inst., bend-
ing their course by the old Allegheny path,
which leads from that place toward Rays-
town,* on the departure of which detach-
ment the French lired their cannon : that
lest Loudoun or Littleton should be attacked,
he sent all he could from his battalion as far
as Littleton, and as much farther as requi-
site, not to exceed three days' march from
the inhabitants; that Capt. "Hamilton com-
manded the party, consisting of 200 private
men and a sufficient number of officers. They
were then encamped somewhere near Rays-
town, and nothing was yet heard from them.
On the 11th of July, he wrote: "Our people
are returned from Raystown, without making
any other discoveries than the tracks of very
small parties at a considerable distance."
Gov. Denny wrote from Easton, July 21,
lv57: "Mr. Barton comes express, with an
application from the inhabitants of York
County for a further protection of their
frontier during the harvest. They oifer to
raise a company of fifty men, if they may be
allowed the same pay as the provincial troops.
I strongly recommend this to your serious
and immediate consideration, as that gentle-
man waits only for an answer, and is very
much wanted at home." The Commissioners
replied to this, that they had considered the
letter respecting the raising and paying a
company of fifty men for the protection of
the frontier inhabitants of Y'ork County dur-
ing their harvest, and were desirous that
everything might be done for them that
could be, consistent with the law. It was
not in their power to pay more men than the
law directs, and therefore they knew of no
method of relieving those frontiers from
their threatened distress, but sending some
of the provincial troops already rai.sed or to
be raised, to their assistance. Or if the
battalions were defective, and the Governor
should think proper to raise the company
proposed, they would have no objection to
paying them, provided the company did not



make the number of the provincials exceed
1,400 men.*

The Commissioners here mentioned were
those appointed by law for the Province of
Pennsylvania, by act of 27 November, 1755,
to dis'pose of the 60,000 pounds voted for
his Majesty's use.


Hostilities had waged in America two years
before war was formally declared, on May
17, 1756. Governor Morris laid before the
council on the '2Sth of June, 1756, a letter
from the British Secretary of State, dated
March 13, 1756, giving information of the
King's having appointed the Earl of Loudoun
to be commander in chief of all his Majesty's
forces in North America, and that Major.
General Abercrombie was to be next in com-
mand to him.j Loudoun was appointed
military dicator.^ His commission estab-
lished a military power throughout the colo-
nies, independent of the colonial governors,
and superior to them. The king required of
them a general fund, to be issued and applied
as the Commander-in-chief should direct, and
provisioa for all such charges as might arise
from furnishing quarters. The British troops
were kept in the colonies and quartered at
pleasure. In Philadelphia there was consid-
erable trouble occasioned by the billeting of
soldiers. The public hoixses were not suffi-
cient in number to quarter them all. Some
of these houses were kept by very poor peo-
ple, and the soldiers had to be quartered in
private houses. The latter order greatly
surprised the inhabitants. But resistance
was useless, as they would have been taken
by force. § The commissioners appointed to
dispose of the public money provided quar-
ters. By a letter from Lord Loudoun to Gov-
ernor Denny, October 2, 1757, he says: "As
the season is so far advanced, I do suppose
you will not be able to furnish yo'ur barracks
this season, and it will be of the less conse-
quence, as. by my present plan of quartering,
I do propose., in case some motion of the
enemy do not alter my disposition, to have
the greatest part of the troops I send into
your province quartered in the back settle-
ments, in Beading, Lancaster and York, in
order to cover them from any inroads of the
enemy or Indians, which I think will be an
essential service to your province, so that I
imagine, one battalion will be as much as I
shall send to Philadelphia." There appear

» III Arcbives, 235, 236.

tVII Col. Eec, 179.

IBancroft's History, United States.

ivil Col. Eec, 359 et seq.

to have been no complaints as to the billeting
of soldiers in York. A bill was passed by the
Assembly to equalize the burden of quartering
soldiers on the public houses. Another
trouble that embarassed Lord Londoun in
Pennsylvania was the continued troubles
regarding militia law and the bill appro-
priating £100,000 for his Majesty's use,
on account of the continued differences
between the Governor and Assembly.*

By a letter from Col. John Armstrong to
Governor Denny, October 11, 1757, he says:
"I shall immediately put in execution your
Honor's order in regard of the new company
in York County, which can be conveniently
done by an express from Fort Morris." And
on October 17, ''Captain Hamilton is now at
Littleton, settling with and paying off his
company at that place. He has orders to
repair with all expedition to Marsh Creek, in
York County, in order to discharge the new
company there stationed, which I should
have done in his absence, only to give him
(as he is acquainted) an opportunity of en-
listing some of them for three years, which
it's probable he may do."-j"

In December, 1757, Hance Hamilton,
under a commission dated December 6, 1757,
with Lieut. Jacob Snyder and Ensign Hugh
Crawford, was posted west of the Susque-
hanna, J and David Jameson, with Lieut.
Wm. Reynolds and Ensign Francis Johnston,
at Fort Augusta.

A letter from William Pitt, Secretary of
State, to Governor Denny, dated Whitehall,
December 30, 1757, states: "The King had

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 22 of 218)