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

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the present Mason and Dixon line. The
balance was run in 1782 and 1784. Archi-
bald M'Clean in 1776 was chosen a member
of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.
He was an ardent patriot, and the next year
became chairman of the Committee of Safe-
ty for York County, during the Revolution.
He served as prothonotary and register and
recorder of York County from 1777 to 1786.
At bis death his remains were interred in the
historic old Marsh Creek burying ground, on
a part of what is now the famous battle-field
of Gettysburg.


Gen. Henry Miller was born near the city
of Lancaster, Penn., on February 13, 1751.
Early attention was paid to his education,
but his father, who was a farmer, thought it
necessary to place his son within the walls of
a university. The high school of Miller, as
of Washington and Franklin, was the world
of active life.

Young Miller, having received a good
English education, was placed in the office of
Collison Reed, Esq., of Reading, Penn.,
where he read law and studied conveyancing.
Before, however, he completed his studies,
he removed to Yorktown, in about the year
1760. At this place he pursued his studies
under the direction of Samuel Johnson, Esq.
At that time Mr. Johnson was prothonotary of
York County and in his office Mr. Miller acted
as clerk.

The subject of our memoir was married on
June 26, 1770, about which time he pur-
chased a house in Yorktown, and furnished
it. Here he supported his family mostly by
the profits arising from conveyancing, and
from his clerkship; for as he found that he
did not possess talents for public speaking,
he devoted his industry and attention to those

The war of the Revolution was now ap-
proaching, and young Miller's noble soul
was kindled to a generous indignation as he
heard and read of the wrongs of his country,
A man like him could not doubt a moment.
On June 1, 1775, he commenced his march
from York to Cambridge, Mass. He went
out as first lieutenant of a rifle company
under the command of Capt. Michael Doudel.
This company was the first that marched out
of Pennsylvania, and was, too, the first that
arrived in Massachusetts from any place
south of Long Island, or west of the Hudson.
The company to which he belonged was
attached to Col. Thompson's rifle regiment,
which received the first commissions issued
by congress, and took rank of every other

On the arrival of the company at Cam-
bridge, the gallantry and zeal of Miller
prompted him to attempt some military act
before the remainder of the regiment could
arrive. His active mind immediately formed
apian to surprise the British guard at Bun-
ker's Hill. This was the second day after
his arrival, fresh from a march of 500
miles, a march which would have deprived
ordinary men of their fire of feeling, but
which left Miller in the glowing enthus-
iasm of a young soldier, impatient of delay.
Miller submitted the plan to his captain,
whose courage was more tempered with pru-
dence and who wished to decline engaging
in such an attack, alleging, as reasons against
it, the small number of his own men and his
want of acquaintance with the ground and
works. But Miller, who was never checked
in his military career by the aii2:)earance of
danger, informing his captain that if he
should decline engaging personally in the
attack, he would solicit Gen. Washington
to appoint him (Miller) to the command.
Thus urged, the captain allowed his laudable
prudence to be overcome by the ardor of his
gallant young lieutenant, and his own desire
to effect the caj)ture of the guard. The at-
tempt was made — but, as the captain had
predicted, without accomplishing the object.
They were obliged to retreat — though not
till after several British soldiers had bit the
dust, and several others were prisoners in the


hands of the gallant Yorkers. Captain i
Doudel's health being very much impaired,
he was obliged to rssign not long afterward ]
when Miller was appointed to the command
of the company. From that time onward he
was distinguished as a most enterprising,
intelligent and valuable officer.

In 1776, his company with the regiment
to which he belonged, commanded at first by
Col. Thompson,, and afterward by Col. Hand,
marched to New York. In 1777, on the 12th
of November, he was promoted by congress
to the office of Major in the same regiment.
In the year following (1778) he was appoint-
ed lieutenant-colonel, commandant in the
Second Eegiment of Pennsylvania. In this
latter office he continued until he left the

Miller was engaged, and took an active
and gallant part, in the several battles of
Long Island, York Island, White Plains,
Trenton, Princeton, Head of Elk, Brandy-
wine, Germantown, Monmouth, and in a con-
siderable number of other but legs important
conflicts. At the battle of Monmouth, he
displayed most signal bravery. Two horses
were, during that conflict, successively shot
from beneath this youthful hero and patriot:
but nothing depressed the vigor of his soul,
for mounting a third he was in the thick of

A companion in arms, writing of Miller, in
the year 1801, says, "He was engaged in
most of the battles of note in the middle
States. It would take much time to enumer-
ate the many engagements he was into, as
the general engagements, as such, as are inci-
dent to light corps. It may,with confidence,
be stated, that he must have risked his person
in fifty or sixty conflicts with the British foe.
He served with the highest reputation as an
heroic, intelligent and useful officer." In a
letter of Washington to Congress dated
"Trenton Falls, December 12, 1776," are these
words: "Capt.Miller,of Col. Hand's regiment,
also informs me, that a body of the enemy
were marching to Burlington yesterday morn-
ing. He had been sent over with a strong
scouting party, and, at daybreak, fell in with
their advance guards consisting of about f oui-
hundred Hessian troops, who fired upon him
before they were discovered, but without any
loss, and obliged him to retreat with his
party and to take boat." Gen. Wilkinson,
in his memoirs, states that Major Miller of
Hand's riflemen, was ordered by Gen. Wash-
ington to check the rapid movements of the
enemy in pursuit of the American Army,
while retreating across the State of New Jer-
sey. The order was so successfully executed,

and the advance of a powerful
embarrassed, that the American troops which
afterward gained the independence of their
country, were preserved from an overthrow
which would have proved the grave of our
liberties. In a note to the memoirs, the
author says, among other things, "Gen.
Miller, late of Baltimore, was distinguished
for his cool bravery wherever he served. He
certainly possessed the entire confidence of
Gen. Washington." To multiply quotations
would be useless, suffice to say that Miller is
mentioned by many of the American histor-
ians, and always with miich applause.

When Miller first engaged in the war of
the Revolution, he had little or no other
fortune than his dwelling-house. But before
the close of the war he was reduced to such
necessities to support his family that he was
compelled to sell the house over the heads of
his wife and children. He sometimes spoke
of this as a very hard case, and in terms so
pathetic as to excite the most tender emo-
tions. At other times he would say, " I have
not yet done all in my power to serve my be-
loved country, my wife and my children I
trust will yet see better days."

In his pleasant manner he was heard to say
that, as to the house, the sale had at least
saved him the payment of the taxes. Col.
Miller being thus, through his patriotism,
humiliatingly reduced in pecuniary circum-
stances, was obliged in the sjsring of 1779 to
resign his commission in the army and return
to York. Here he continued to reside for
some years, enjoying the love and afiection of
all his fellow citizens. In October, 1780, he
was elected high sheriff of the county of
York, and as such he continued until the ex-
piration of his term of office in November,
1783. At the several elections in October
of the years 1783-84-85, he was elected
a member of the Legislature of Pennsylva-
nia. In May, 1786, he was commissioned as
prothonotary of York County, and in August
of the same year he was appointed a justice
i of the peace, and of the court of Common
Pleas. In the year 1790 he was a member
of the convention which framed the present
; constitution of the commonwealth of Penn-
j sylvania. He continued in the office of pro-
thonotary until July, 1794. In this year
(1794:), great dangers were apprehended from
the encroachments of the English on our
western territories. Wayne was, at that
time, carrying our arms against the Indians
into the western wilderness. Agreeably to
the requisition of the president of the United
States, contained in a letter to the secretary
' of war, dated May 19, 1794, Pennsylva-


nia was required to furnish her quota of
brigades toward forming a detachment of
10,769 militia, officers included. At this
time Miller was general in the first brigade,
composed of the counties of York and Lan-
caster, and belonging to the second division
of Pennsylvania Militia commanded by Maj.-
Gen. Hand. This division, with several oth-
ers, was required to be in readiness to march
at a moment's warning.

In the same year was the " western expe-
dition," an expedition occasioned by an in-
surrection in the foiu- western counties to re-
sist the laws of the Union.

At this time Gen. Miller was appointed,
and went out as quartermaster-general. In
the same year he was appointed, by Gen.
Washington, supervisor of the revenue for
the district of Pennsylvania. In this office
he acted with such ability, punctuality and
integrity, that no one ever laid the least
failure to his charge. But in 1801, Mr. Jef-
ferson having been elected President, Gen.
Miller was removed from the office of super-
visor and was succeeded by Peter Muhlen-

Upon this event he left York Nov-
ember 18, 1801, and removed to Balti-
more, where he resided for some years as an
honest and respectable merchant. At the
commencement of the war of 1812, his soul
was kindled to the former fires of youthful
feeling. Relinquishing his mercantile pur-
suits he accepted the appointment of brig-
ader general of the militia of the United
States, stationed at Baltimore, and charged
with the defense of Fort McHenry and its
dependencies. Upon the enemy's leaving
the Chesapeake bay, the troops were dis-
charged and Gen. Miller again retired to
private life.

In the spring of 1813, Gen. Miller left
Baltimore, and returned to his native State,
Pennsylvania. He now resided on a farm at
the mouth of the Juniata river, in Cumber-
land County, devoting himself, with Eoman
virtue, to agricultural pursuits. But his
country soon called him from his retirement.
The enemy having again made their appear-
ance from Baltimore, he marched out with
the Pennsylvania troops in the capacity of
quartermaster-general. He again, after a
short time, returned to Pennsylvania, to re-
side on his farm at the mouth of the Juniata.
At that place, like a Cincinnatus, away from
the tumult of war, he continued to reside
until the spring of 1821. At that time, be-
ing appointed prothonotary of Perry County,
by Gov. Hiester, he removed to Landisburg,
the seat of justice for that county. He con-

tinued to live at Landisburg, until he was!
removed from office, by Gov. Shulze, inj
March, 1824. On the 29th of the
month, the Legislature of Pennsylvania be-
gan to make, though at a late period, some
compensation for his important Revolutionary
services. They required the state treasurer
to pay him 1240 immediately; and an an-
nuity of the same sum during the remainder
of his life. But Gen. Miller did not live long
enough to enjoy this righteous provision. He
removed with his family to Carlisle; but he
had hardly fixed his abode there, and caught
the kind looks of his relatives and friends,
when he was called by the messenger of
peace to a distant and far brighter region
where the music of war is unheard, and the
storms of contention are at rest. He was
siezed with an inflammation of the bowels
and died suddenly, in the bosom of his fam-
ily, on Monday, the 5th of April, 1824. On
Tuesday afternoon, the mortal part of the
hero and the patriot was consigned, with
military honors, to the small and narrow

In private life Gen. Miller was friendly,
social and benovelent. He was generous
even to a fault.

In public life, he had, what Lord Claren-
don says of Hampden, a head to contrive, a
heart to persuade, and a hand to execute.


Jacob Dritt, of York County, was a mili-
tary officer in our Revolutionary strug-
gle, being a captain in Col. Swope's Battal-
ion of the Pennsylvania Flying Camp. He
was made prisoner at the taking of Fort
Washington, and underwent a long cap-
tivity. When the lines of our army were
attacked by the enemy, previous to the cap-
ture of the fort, Capt. Dritt, with a party of
men chiefly of his own company, was ordered
in advance to oppose the landing of the
British, who came in boats across Harlem
Creek, below King's Bridge. He defended
his position with great bravery, until having
lost a number of his men, and being nearly
surrounded with the Hessian riflemen on one
side, and the British troops on the other, he
retreated into the fort with difficulty and was
there captured.

Gen. Jacob Dritt was drowned in the Sus-
quehanna, in the year 1818, between Christ-
mas and New Year. He had crossed the
river in the early morning with a young man
named Griffith, had been to the Marietta
bank and obtained a sum of money. It was
estimated by some at §500. Upon his return
to the ferry, on the Lancaster County side,


he was admonished by his son, who lived
there, not to venture as the river was then
very dangerous to cross, on account of the
rapid current and the floating ice. He was
naturally a bold, and brave individual, hav-
ing frequently, on former occasions, faced
many dangers; venturing upon the surging
waters, some place near the middle of the
stream his boat was capsized by coming sud-
denly in contact with a huge cake of ice.
He and his comrade both lost their lives.
This occurred about 3 o'clock in the after-
noon. Many fruitless eiforts were made
by friends and neighbors to find the remains
of the old hero and his companion, but all
in vain. Over three months after the drown-
ing, on a pleasant day in April, while some
slaves were working on a plantation, along
the eastern shore of Maryland, all that re-
mained of the gallant old Revolutionary
hero was found by them in a secluded spot on
the shore. The astonished and frightened
negroes conveyed the singular intelligence to
their master, who had the remains interred
near the spot where they were found. The
only marks of identification were a pair of
silver sleeve-buttons and his boots, which
were recognized by some of the members of
his family. The death occurred at a time
when it was not so customary to disinter and
remove the remains of the dead, so they were
left to sleep on what afterward became hal-
lowed soil in our sister State. The body of
Griffith was also found about the same time.
Jacob Drift, one of Gen. Dritt's sons,
afterward moved to York and became a suc-
cessful merchant, and built the large house
a few doors east of the National hotel. Miss
Kitty Dritt, of Lower Windsor, is the only
surviving member of the Dritt family.


Francis Worley, an intelligent English
land surveyor, who in 17'i'2, was one of the
three persons sent across the Susquehanna
by Gov. Keith, to survey Springettsbury
Manor. He was a member of the Episcopal
Church, but some of his descendants became
Quakers. He removed from Lancaster County
in 1742, and purchased 750 acres of land
about one mile northwest of York. His sons
were Nathan, James, Jacob, Francis, Daniel
and George. Francis married Ruth Collins,
a Quakeress of Chester County, and adopted
her faith. He lived in the building, now the
Eyster House, on West Market Street, York.
James Worley, on the death of his father,
succeeded to a part of the paternal estate, a
part of which is now owned by Jacob Loucks,
of West Manchester. In his house, which

was not a tavern, as has been published, the
doctrines of Methodism were first preached
in York County. Francis Worley died be-
fore a permanent organization of the Epis-
copal Church had been established in York.
His remains are supposed to lie in the old
graveyard near where he lived. His great-
grandson, George Worley, lives retired in
West York.


Patrick Scott was a man of great individu-
ality of character, and one of the first set-
tlers who attained prominence in the local
affairs of Peach Bottom Township. He was
an Irish Presbyterian, and early in the his-
tory of Slate Ridge congregation, became an
influential ruling elder. When the church
building was moved from the mouth of
Scott's Run to its present position, he took
an active part in the work. He was known
far and wide among the Scotch-Irish of the
lower end, as " Paddy Scott, the coffin-
maker. " When a new road was to be laid
out, Patrick was either one of the viewers,
or else had considerable to say about the
road. One of the first large houses among
the early settlers of that section was built
by him. When the Revolution began he
became an ardent supporter of the new gov-
ernment, and was chosen a representative to
the first convention that met in York, on
December 16, 1774. He assisted in raising
a fund of £6 from his township to be
sent to Boston. In 1775 he belonged to the
Committee of Safety for York County. In
1783-84 he was a member of the House of
Reprepentatives. He was doubtless a man
of considerable force of character, and great
individuality. As a mark of prominence in
church affairs, he built for himself a much
larger pew than any one else, and was a con-
spicous figure in it. Many an early settler
of the lower end was laid beneath the sod
by his direction, in the pursuit of his occu-
pation. It was even said that his own
casket was made at his direction before his
death. Characteristic of the Irish, he never
would tell the date of his birth, but on the
granite slab, that marks his tomb, at the
southeast corner of the Slate Ridge Church,
is found the following inscription : " In
memory of Patrick Scott, who departed this
life August 8, 1825, in the ninety-sixth year
of his age." Three wives died before him,
and each was remembered by a granite
slab similar to his own. The fourth wife
survived him.


Matthew Dill was one of t

first settlers




in the vicinity of the present town of Dills-
burg. He was of Scotch -Irish ancestry.
Diu'ing the troubles immediately before the
French and Indian war, he was one of five
commissioners, one of whom was Benjaoiin
Franklin, appointed to make a treaty with
the Indians at the Croghan fort, which was
located near the Susquehanna, in the lower
end of Cumberland County. He afterward
took a part in the French and Indian war.
In 1749, he was one of the eight justices of
the peace, and justice of the court of Com-
mon Pleas of York County, He died before
the Revolution. His remains, together with
those of many of his descendants lie in the
family grave-yard a few hundi-ed yai'ds west
of Dillsburg, this county. His daughter
married Col. Richard McAllister, founder of
the town of Hanover.

Col. Matthew Dill of Revolutionary fame,
was a son of Matthew Dill. In October.
1764, he was appointed justice of the
peace and of the Court of Common Pleas,
under the Colonial Government, and con-
tinued in same office upon the adoption
of the constitution of 1776. Served
in the General Assembly in 1877-78-79.
Diu-ing the year 1779 was appointed sub-
lieutenant of York County, to organize the
county militia, and in March 30, 1780, was
appointed one of the three commissioners to
seize the personal effects of Tories in York
County. For a short time after the Revolu-
tion he was president justice of the Court of
Common Pleas.


Major Joseph Prowell, a grandson of James
Prowell, who was one of the first Welsh emi-
grants to Pennsylvania, locating in the north-
ern part of Chester County, as early as 1715.
The children of James Prowell were Charles,
Mary, and Thomas. Charles joined a Chester
County regiment at the advanced age of six-
ty years; and was lost, either killed or cap-
tured, in the first Jersey campaign, during
the Revolution. Martha was married to Rich-
ard Buck, in the First Presbyterian Church
of Philadelphia. Thomas Prowell, the young-
est son, in 1752, was married to Rachel Grif-
fith, in the Old Swede's Church, Philadel-
phia. Many of her relatives, by same name,
located with the early Quaker emigrants in
Warrington Township, this county. He, hav-
ing beea there earlier in his life, soon after
marriage, removed to Warrington, and pur-
chased a tract of land near the Conewago
Creek. Their children were Joseph and Will-
iam, the first of whom was born in York
County, and the latter in Chester County, to

which place the parents retm-ned in 1760, and'
Thomas died in 1765, leaving an estate of £412
Is. 9d., in Chester County, of which David
Thomas and Joseph Coates were executors;
and an estate of £336 in York County,
of which Robert Nelson and Peter Gardner
were executors. His will bequeathed equal
shares to his widow and two sons, and named
Rev. Owen Thomas as guardian of his son
Joseph, and Joseph Coates guardian of his son
William; and further requested that both
sons should be " put to trades" at the age of

Joseph Prowell, the subject of this sketch,
upon attaining manhood, became a member
of the City Troop, a noted military organiza-
tion of Philadelphia; and during the War
for Independence participated with his com-
pany in the Jersey campaign and the battle
of Brandy wine. In 1778, at the age of twen-
ty-six, he became major of Colonel Patton's
Regiment, and joined in the march of Gen.
Sullivan's expedition against the Indians in
the Genesee country. New York.

After the Revolution, he became a pros-
perous merchant on the high seas, and en-
gaged in trade with many foreign ports. On
June 4, 1804, he took sick while on board
his vessel, which he landed on the Barbadoes
Islands, east of the West Indies, and the
same day made his will. From this sickness
he partially recovered, lauded at Philadel-
phia, ^and a few days later added a codicil
to his will, in his own hand-writing : " at the
house of my esteemed friends. Captain James
Josiah and his estimable lady, near Phila-
delphia." There he died on April 8, 1805,
aged fifty-three years. He was buried with
"the honors of war" by the City Troop of

Major Prowell is remembered traditionally
as a bold, daring and fearless officer, and
had a romantic history. He participated in the
sailors' troubles with the pirates of the Bar-
bary States, and afterwards owned large posses-
sions in the Colony of Dernaii, bequeathed to
his daughter Rachel, then living with Robert
Pulsford of London, whose son she married.
He owned a plantation called "Washington,"
in the Colony of Berbice, which is the eastern
division of British Guinea on the west coast
of Africa, and there assisted the British Gov-
ernment to quell an insurrection in 1803.
When taken sick on the Islands of Barbadoes,
he released his three servants or slaves,
namely, "Harry Christmas," "Old John"
and " Captain, ' ' and granted them £20 a
year. The executors of Major Prowell' s estate
were David Lennox, of Philadelphia; Robert
and William Pulsford, of London; and John


! Douglass of the Colony of Berbice — in each
of which places he had possessions.

William Prowell,the Bocond son of Thomas
Prowell, moved to Warrington in 1779, hav-
ing previously been engaged in manufactur-
ing powder in Chester County for the Con-
tinental Army. He married Mary Nelson,
daughter of Robert Nelson, and a few years
later moved to Fairview Township, where he
purchased land. His children by first mar-
riage were Joseph, Samuel and Jane; children
by second marriage were William, Thomas,
Jacob, Mary, Ann and Elizabeth.

The writer of this, a grandson of Joseph
and a son of Samuel N. Prowell, is a lineal

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 82 of 218)