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History of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 online

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in his map of the country he traveled over, marks this town "Shingoe's-
town." The French called it Chininque, Heckewelder defines Saucon as
a place where a smaller stream empties into a larger one. It will appear
that the outlet of the Big Beaver was a point well known to the Ohio
Indians and was a place of rendezvous during the French wars. It was
on the line of an Indian thoroughfare and a point of observation, conse-
quently the scene of frequent contests and bloodshed and the best known
of the many Saucons. It was a place of resort for travelers and traders
and on its site rose Fort Mcintosh, and later the town of Beaver.

The general idea of a stream of flowing water in common use among
the Algonquins was expressed by the term sipu, but in a mountainous
country, such as the AUeghenies, this term did not sufiiciently describe a
rapid stream roaring down a gorge, or flowing with great swiftness, hence
the term hanne with that significance.

The Big Beaver had other names. It has been designated Amockwi-sipu,
KaS'kas'ki'sipu, and Kush-kush-ky. The Iroquois called it On-gui-ar-ha,
Weiser in his Journal in 1748 mentions ten warriors who came there by
water from Niagara, or the "river of the neutrals" and these men caused
him much uneasiness. The French term Chininque has been handed down
Shenango in Pennsylvania and Chenango in New York; and it is claimed
that this is the original in the Tuscarora tongue for "beautiful, flowing
water," and that the French adapted it to their form. Other well known
geographical terms could be likewise analyzed — ^Kis-kim-inetas and Cone-
maugh among them.

Juniata — Is one of our best known and sweetest sounding Indian
names. The Delawares said Juchniada, and in Pennsylvania Council min-
utes various spellings occur — Scokooniady an odd one. Famous the river
— ^renowned in history and song.

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LoYALHANNA — Is a familiar name in Pittsburgh history, one of the
branches of the Kiskiminetas. Lx)yalhanna is a corruption from LaweU-
hanne — "the middle stream." The sufRx, hanne, is found also in such terms
as Neshannock and Rappahannock, in the sense of a flowing stream, these
signifying respectively "two adjoining streams" and "a stream with an ebb
and flow." The name Loyalhanna and the fort on the stream at Ligonier
find frequent mention in Pittsburgh colonial history.

Mahoning — "Where there is a lick," or "at the lick," is a Delaware
term, and Slippery Rock, a branch of the Big Beaver, owes its English
name to the literal translation of a long Delaware word with that signifi-
cance. So, too, "Turtle Creek," (emptying into the Monongahela at Brad-
dock), was translated literally. Celebrated in Braddock's battlefield and
in subsequent history, this stream shares with Bushy Run, its tributary, the
fame of a crisis in the affairs in Western Pennsylvania during the French
regime. General John Forbes bivouacked his army on the banks of Turtle
creek November 24, 1758, the night before he marched to the Forks of
the Ohio and found Fort Duquesne evacuated.

A good instance of Indian naming occurs in William Penn's name Onas,
which 19 a phonetic alteration of Wonach, literally a tip or extremity of
anything. The Indians had been shown a feather to explain Penn's family
name, probably a quill pen, and this a tail feather, gave them the transla-
tion Wonach, the gutteral "ch" having been softened by the English to ap-
proach a degree of sibulancy which changed the term to Onas; hence
"Onas" and "Brother Onas" through pages of Pennsylvania's Indian

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The Wilderness Trail and the Wilderness Traders.

Our history is progressing. The first comers to the region of our
homes who have left us descriptions of it, tell of the woodland wilder-
ness and its savage inhabitants. Anon, others found many traces of
human beings of a long past age — prehistoric man of the science of
archaeology. In time the wonderful relics of such beings incited indus-
trious explorers and students who strove to penetrate the veil that ages
has wrapped about the first inhabitants of the continent. These ex-
plorers wrote also, describing their discoveries, and in the course of a
century their deductions and conjectures have grown into an extensive
bibliography, ethnological and archaeological in matter, wide in scope,
exhaustive in treatment and comparison, and sometimes deeply tech-
nical. All of which is instructive and interesting, but not history. The
stirring history of our region began with the coming of the white man —
who, why and where, more or less uncertain. The first white man was
undoubtedly a trader in Indian goods, if we except an explorer and his
company, such as La Salle. The white trader came back again and
again, and his success induced others to take upon them the hazards
of the wilderness trail and those among the habitations of savages for
the sake of gain, and in a few years the trader and his train was an
accepted feature of the wilderness trade. The Pennsylvania Indians,
driven from east of and along the Susquehanna, had gradually settled
along the Allegheny and the Ohio and their tributaries in Western
Pennsylvania; hence the Pennsylvania traders who dealt with these
tribes naturally followed them. There was another potent cause of
this than the tyranny of the Iroquois. With the encroachments of the
settlers, their clearings more numerous, and pushing westward, game
became scarce ; not only game used for food, but more especially the
fur-bearing animals. The Indians would have taken the westward
trail in any event as a matter of self preservation in their savage tribal
state, and as a matter of business, for with two European nations claim-
ing the vast area trans-Allegheny, and the traders of these antagonistic
and frequently warring nations circulating among the Western Indians,
clashes naturally arose, gradually increasmg in virulence and becoming
more frequent and leading eventually to war. There arose keen rivalry
between these French and English traders afrecting barter, for such
was the manner of trading, and each class strove earnestly for the good
will of their savage customers and the retention of their patronage. In
course of a few years after the traders came, storehouses became nec-
essary, for it was a long trail to bases of supply, and, except where

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such rivers as the Ohio and Allegheny were available as waterways,
a poor road. With the storehouse came the fort for protection. Stocks
accumulated in the Indian country to such an extent that when Pontiac
struck, Indian goods valued at many thousand pounds were confiscated
or destroyed.

It is always to be remembered that the beginning of Pittsburgh's
history as a place is in the account of the small fort attempted by Ensign
Ward, a subordinate of Washington, at our Point in 1754, atnd that the
French checkmated this attempt and built their fort instead. Ward's
fort was to have been a traders' fort. With the destruction of the
French fort, Duquesne, and the building of Fort Pitt by the English,
a traders' town of rude log cabins arose around it, subsequently destroyed
during Pontiac's War and rebuilt much as before. So trade and traders
inadvertently laid the foundations of a great city, frail indeed at the
beginning, and ere the foundations had fairly settled there came the
baptism of blood always attendant upon anything born of war. The fort
was rightly located, for in the words of Washington, it had "the absolute
command of both rivers." Traders in Indian goods came into the region
about the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers as early
as 1730 — at least, in the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania that is the
earliest date under which mention of them is found. The region is
referred to by the traders in their accounts as "the Ohio" and "On Alle-
gheny ;" and the term "Forks of the Ohio," after the confluence literally
came to be a well known point, was always used to describe the ground
comprising the lower part or peninsula of Pittsburgh. The head-
waters of the Ohio had in the course of a score of years become the
center of trading operations in the upper Ohio country. The French,
from Canada, had an easy waterway via the St. Lawrence and Lakes
Ontario and Erie, thence by a few portages either from Presque Isle,
via what is now called French creek, to the Allegheny at Venango, its
mouth, or via Lake Chautauqua and thence to the Allegheny. Thus the
French traders in point of carriage were at a greater advantage than
their English competitors who dragged their goods in packsaddles in
long trains of horses proceeding in single file and requiring a number
of attendants. The story of the wildjerness trader is a story of a
pioneer who passed with the Indians from our region. It is a story
of daring and suffering, of hardihood and energy. Some of the story's
pages are stained with dishonor; many are crimson dyed. The trader
was most often an explorer. Necessarily he was a man of some educa-
tion in order to keep his accounts ; he wrote of his travels and adven-
tures; he described the geographical features of his field of activities,
the availability of the various water routes for transportation ; the best
roads he found; the condition and environments of the Indians, and
always of their affiliations to the French or English cause and the

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efforts and designs of the enemy. Hence many journals written and
maps made by the early English traders in the Western Country that
have been retained, are most valuable historical matter to this day,
priceless in money value and carefully guarded.

It is to such sources we must seek recourse in writing the first history
of Pittsburgh and its environs. Endeavors long extended have been
made by historians of our region in their researches to ascertain who
indeed was the first white man to set foot on any part of Western Penn-
sylvania. Hanna has been one of the most indefatigable. In his
researches he found acceptable proofs that the first white men to reach
the Ohio Valley were twelve New York traders led by Arnold Viele
in 1692. Viele was an interpreter, and had had various adventures in
the wilderness, having been captured and held a prisoner by the French
in 1687. Many references to Viele can be found in the early records
of New York. He was an Albany trader, because he hailed from that
Dutch settlement which was the base of supplies for the northern trade,
in distinction from the Pennsylvania traders from Paxtang and Cones-
toga on the Susquehanna and also from Shamokin and Wyoming.
Viele had been on a trading expedition to Michillimackinac when cap-
tured. In 1692 Governor Fletcher of New York sent him and some
other Christians to accompany a small band of Shawanese to their homes
in the West. Viele remained among these Indians for fifteen months,
but his companions returned to Albany. While on this tour of duty,
Viele is presumed to have explored the country between the Susque-
hanna and the Ohio, and part of the Ohio Valley. No credit is assigned
to La Salle in this relation, for there is no documentary evidence that
he descended any tributary of the Ohio but the Wabash. La Salle's
explorations will find mention in the chapter relating to French claims
to the debatable land beyond the AUeghenies.

There is no doubt that Viele led a band of Shawanese back from
the Ohio region to the Minnisink Flats in Northeastern Pennsylvania
in 1694, and that he was with them from the time he reached their
country in the West in the fall of 1682. To endeavor to trace Viele
further among the nomadic Shawanese seems futile, but that he became
familiar with the region of the Upper Ohio is indisputable. It was most
essential that any woodsman know the region through which he trav-
eled and where he sojourned. The long journals of Gist, Croghan,
Washington, Hutchins and De Lery, describing the country through
which they passed, are sufficient evidence that due notice was taken of
geographical details and topographical features. These are the well
known journals— others could be cited in corroboration.

Viele's route from Albany on his way west was by way of Esopus
on the Hudson to the Minnisink region of Pennsylvania, thence through
the Wyoming Valley and along the west branch of the Susquehanna as

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far as he could go by water; thence overland to the headwaters of the
Allegheny and on down to the Forks of the Ohio and thence down the
main stream. The Shawanese were known to have had habitations
between the Cumberland and the Ohio as late as 1684. The Shawanese
came back to Pennsylvania, for there ^re Pennsylvania records in 1732
that the Five Nations (Iroquois) had told the Shawanese "to look back
towards Ohio, the place from whence you came."^

A French attestation of Viele's presence in the Ohio country is
cited by Hanna, in addition to the published and manuscript records
of New York State. This was a letter written by Pierre Le Moyne
dTberville, founder of the French colony of Louisiana, to the French
minister, dated Rochelle, France, August 30, 1699, in which Iberville
says: "I am well aware that some men, twelve in number, and some
Maheingans, who are savages whom we call Loups, started some seven
years ago to ascend the River Andaste, in the Province of Pennsylvania,
as far as the River Ohio, which is said to join the Oabache, emptying
together into the Mississippi. This is the opinion given by all the
Frenchmen who have traveled in these quarters. To their opinion I give
no credence, I never having been able to approach the Ohio enough to
know this river which the savages call a very beautiful one, and where
the Sonnontouans go often hunting."?

The Loups were the Delawares and the Sonnontouans, Senecas, in
French designations. The Andaste was the Susquehanna. Iberville
was referring to a map of the Mississippi sent him by the minister.
This letter is in a manner informative of the direction Viele traveled
after leaving the Minnisink region.

Our Pittsburgh historian, William M. Darlington, tells of some later
voyagers of whit^ blood. He says: "By 1728-29 the Shawanese were
settled along the Allegheny, to which region they were drawn chiefly
by the measures adopted by the Marquis Vaudreuil in 1724. The way
being now open, in 1729 M. dc Lery, chief engineer in Canada, with a
detachment of troops, crossed from Lake Erie to Chautauqua Lake and
to Conewango creek and the Allegheny river, descending it and the
Ohio. They made a careful topographical survey of the course of the
rivers with observations of the latitude and distances as far as the
Great Miami."'

The fort at Niagara. on the Lake had been reconstructed by the
French with the consent of the Iroquois. It had been abandoned by
the French in 1688. Its reconstruction made the way to the Ohio open.
The new fort was built by De Lery. On this, expedition he went below
the mouth of the Miami, and records of his voyage, although meager,
are extant. Hanna quotes these and illustrates with a reproduction

I'Tcniuu Archives;" First Series. Vol. I, p. 329.
•••Wilderness Trail;" Hanna, Vol. II, p. 124^
^••Gtst's Journals:" Introductory Memoir; p. 27.

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of Bellin's map of Louisiana, published in 1744 and preserved in Char-
levoix's "History of New France."*

Still we are without definite history of our region other than that
some white men passed the site of Pittsburgh, and other white men
explored the Ohio. It was left for half breeds and traders to make our
first history. That good old Pennsylvania historian, Isaac D. Rupp,
tells of the "early settlements west of the AUeghenies — on the head-
waters of the Ohio;" we may read him with interest on this point—
(indeed at any point). He says:

Western Pennsylvania was untrodden by the foot of the white man before the year
170a As early as 1715 and 1720 an occasional trader would venture west of the Alle-
gheny mountain, and of these the first was James LeTort, who resided In 1700 east of
Susquehanna, but took up his residence west of it, at LeTort Spring, Carlisle, in 172a
Peter Cheaver, John Evans, Henry DeVoy, Owen Nicholson, Alex. Magenty, Patrick
Bums, George Hutchinson, all of Cumberland county ; Bamaby Currin, John McQuire,
a Mr. Frazier, the latter of whom had at an early day a trading house at Venango, but
afterwards sCt the Monongahda, at the mouth of Turtle creek, were aU traders among the
Indians. But no attempts had been made by the whites at settlements in the region now
occupied by the several counties west of the AUeghenies before 1748, when the Ohio
Company was formed. This company sent out the undaunted Christopher Gist, in 1750,
to explore the country and make a report.5

Gist's report is to be found in his Journal of 1750, "For the Honorable
Robert Dinwiddie, Governor and Commander of Virginia," together with
his instructions given by the Committee of the Ohio Company .•

Gist crossed the Allegheny on this journey about two miles above
the "Forks," or our "Point," and proceeding on foot across the flat coun-
try on the north side of the Allegheny, went down the Ohio river to
a point below the Big Beaver and thence to the Muskingum country.
He fell in with "Bamy Curran," a trader for the Ohio Company, below
the mouth of the Big Beaver, and they continued together to the Mus-
kingfum. Both Curran and McQuire (McGuire) accompanied Wash-
ington and Gist on their mission to the French forts in 1753. Gist
on his trip in 1750 did not get nearer the "Point" than the present
Thirty-second street in Pittsburgh, for he records setting his compass
there at Shannopin's town, a Delaware village on that site. Gist him-
self was the first permanent settler within the limits of Fayette county,
Pennsylvania, made on a tract of land on which the town of Mount
Braddock stands, the tract known by the same name. This town is
on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad between Connellsville and Uniontown.
In the colonial history the tract is referred to always as Gist's plantation,
and located "West of the Youghiogheny River." Gist induced eleven

4Q. y. Also "The Wilderness Trail;" Hanna, Vol. II, pp. 87-1^. suid authorttlet
there quoted.

•"History of Western Pennsylvania and the West," by a ''Gentleman of the Bar"
(I. D. Rupp), p. 40.

o^Christopher Gisf s Journals f Darlington, p. 31, €i stq.

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families to settle around him on lands presumed to have been within
the Ohio Company's grant.

Rupp, writing in 1846, his history published that year in Pittsburgh
and Harrisburg simultaneously, had not the information concerning
De Lery's expedition, and did not go into any extended research, for
it was always believed that the traders broke the way into the Indian
country. It is plain also that Rupp had no knowledge of Arnold Viele,
though he might have secured it. The traders he lists as frequenters of
the Allegheny region were all noted men in the history of the Penn-
sylvania traders, and several enumerated by him have frequent mention
in the State's Archives and Colonial Records. Le Tort and Frazicr
(also found spelled Eraser) are historical characters in the history of
the West of our colonial years. Hanna has traced the records of all
the Pennsylvania traders and located the documents and books wherein
each has mention. From his researches it appears that John Evans was
taken by French Indians in 1752, "beyond the Ohio," and sent to France.
He was one of five English prisoners captured at the Pickawillany fort
on the Miami, three others, most likely George Henry, James Devoy
and Owen Nicholson. These prisoners were released by the intervention
of the English ambassador to France and eventually reached their homes
in Cumberland county, almost penniless, and on petition to the Penn-
sylvania Assembly were given recompense to the amount of sixteen
pounds each. Alexander McGinty, or Magenty, as Rupp has it in his
''History of Western Pennsylvania" and in the "History of Cumberland
County, Pennsylvania." was also a noted trader, traveling with his
pack-train into Kentucky, where he was taken prisoner by the French
Indians in 1753. He is accredited by Lewis Evans in his "Analysis," etc.,
with Joseph Dobson and Alexander Lowry as furnishing certain infor-
mation concerning the Ohio river for Evans' celebrated map of the
Middle British Colonies printed with Evans' "Analysis" in Philadelphia
by B. Franklin and D. Hall in 1755. Peter Cheaver, properly. Shaver, a
variation of Shafer, was a noted borderer and trader. His name is pre-
served in Shaver's creek, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania.

Rupp has named but a few of the many traders who came to Western
Pennsylvania and passed on to the Kentucky region, the Scioto and
Muskingum towns of the Western Indians, and even to the Illinois
country. He omits mention of George Croghan, "King of the Traders,"
though he has much concerning Croghan's official career as deputy
Indian agent of the Crown at Fort Pitt, and he is voluminous with
extracts from the minutes of conferences held at Pittsburgh prior to
the Revolution. Nor does Rupp mention the great trading firms of
Baynton, Wharton & Morgan; Baynton & Wharton, and Baynton,
Wharton & Company, composed of John Baynton, Thomas Wharton
and George Morgan, the latter succeeding Colonel Richard Butler as

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Indian agent at Fort Pitt in 1776. Butler, famous as the eldest and best
known of the five Butler brothers of Revolutionary service and in
great degree identified with Pittsburgh history, was himself a trader
at Fort Pitt with his brother William. Richard Butler, second in com-
mand with the rank of major-general, perished in St. Clair's disastrous
battle in 1791. Richard, William and Thomas Butler resided in Pitts-
burgh after the Revolution. Their family name is commemorated
widely; Butler, city and county, Pennsylvania, and Butler street in
Pittsburgh, are the best known locally in the Pittsburgh region.

There were many of these daring and energetic pioneers of the
trading class who should have mention in Pittsburgh's history, among
them Henry Bailey, who died in 1745 and who was a trader on the
Allegheny as early as 1737, and prominent among the Western traders,
1730-1734. James Brown was another, who was at Logstown in 1751,
where Washington met him in 1753, and who is supposed to have been
the trader named Brown who acted as guide for Colonel Henry Bouquet
and assisted in building Forbes' road when that officer hewed his way
to Fort Duquesne in 1758. Thomas Burke, a trader's employe, is an-
other; captured by the French in the Sandusky region in 1750, who
fought with Washington at the Great Meadows in 1754 and was one
of General John Armstrong's guides to Kittanning in 1756. Burke, with
Luke Arowin, Joseph Fortiner and John Patten, all prisoners of the
French, captured while trading in the Indian country claimed by the
French, were examined at length before Jonquiere, admiral and lieu-
tenant-governor of all New France ; De Longueuil, governor of Montreal,
and M. Varin, a director of affairs in Montreal, at Vaudreuil's Castle
in Montreal, June 19, 1751. Much information regarding the English
trade among the Indians was obtained then from the prisoners, for they
thought it great wisdom to answer unreservedly. The name "Arowin''
is supposed by Craig, and with good reason, to be meant for Irwin —
Arowin being the broad Irish form of pronunciation. Irwin was an
employee of Crogfaan's, and Fortiner (or Faulkner) was an employee
of Michael Taafe, spelled by Craig, "Teaf," who was an early trader,
with a base at Logstown in partnership with Robert Callender. John
Patten was a native of Pennsylvania and a trader on his own account
All the prisoners were young men. Irwin, the oldest, was twenty-eight.
It appears that they were imprisoned at least a year, and Patten longer,
and all returned to Pennsylvania, for there are subsequent notices of
them in border history, such as the one given above in the case of
Thomas Burke. These traders maintained innocence before their
French inquisitors, asserting that they relied for protection on their
licenses from the governor of Pennsylvania, for which they paid fifty
shillings each, and claimed that this license permitted them to trade

Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 21 of 81)