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everywhere with friendly Indians in general. They denied in plain

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i62 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

terms and dignified manner that these licenses were obtained to trade
in French territory in order that they might act as spies, whose business
it was to give presents to the Indians there residing, and to stir them
up to war against the French.

Irwin, who was the first examined, gave definite information concern-
ing methods of trade among the distant Indians. Irwin, whose home
was in Philadelphia, testified he had left that place in August, 1750;
he had been in the company of two others, English traders, and six
servants, also English, with the design of trading among the Indians,
having for that purpose goods that suited them, which they proposed
to sell soon to the Indians in order to return home laden with skins.
Their traders' licenses were signed by James Hamilton, Esq., governor
of Pennsylvania.

Being asked whether he had not sold goods to those Indians settled
on the Ohio, Rock river and round about, at a low rate, endeavoring to
persuade these Indians that his goods were much cheaper and better
than those sold by the French, Irwin answered that he had sold goods
in the region specified and wherever he could see Indians and that he
had sold goods very cheap in exchange for skins, but that he had never
undervalued the French goods, but the Indians themselves made a
vast difference between them and the English goods.

Some of the questions put to the prisoners were long; the fourth
reading :

It is not true that some years before, You, at the order of the Governor of Pennsyl-
vania and at the expense of that province, carried messages, wampum, English ducks for
tents, and hatchets to the said Indians, as also considerable presents and abundance of
rum, in order to induce them to acknowledge no other than the English and to animate
them against the French, and to engage them to destroy the French, promising them for
that purpose a stmi of money for every French scalp? And continuing: Can you not
speak the Shawanese language or any of the languages spoken by the Indians on tiie
River Blanche, or elsewhere, and has not the said Governor sent you on this account to
the River Ohio, Rock River, and to other parts to accomplish his views?

In reply, Irwin admitted carrying all the goods specified, but denied
that he had ever carried anything from or by the order of the governor,
and never any messages; that Governor Hamilton employed for that
purpose one George Croghan, a trader, whom he sent with all his
messages to those Indians and who had continually a native of Canada
with him named Andrew Montour (as he had been informed), who
understood the Indian languages perfectly well. Irwin did not know
whether Croghan was in the Indian country at that time, but when
Irwin left Pennsylvania, Croghan had orders from the governor to
proceed in the quality of an express to the Miamis and several other
Indian nations for the reason that some Miamis had come the last
spring to Veskak or Oghvirick (Auchwick) to pay Croghan a visit, as
Croghan was settled there with sixteen other traders, and that the



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WILDERNESS TRAIL AND WILDERNESS TRADERS 163

Miamis had entreated Croghan to receive them; whereupon Montour
went to the Miamis to assure them in the name of Governor Hamilton
that the English would receive them well. Irwin could not admit that
Hamilton had given orders to stir up these Indians to destroy the
French, for the Miamis had not yet arrived in Philadelphia when he
left and nothing had come to pass. Irwin acknowledged that he spoke
Shawanese and other Indian languages, but the governor had never
chosen him as an express to the Indians.

The prisoners were all asked the same questions, and made depo-
sitions to their testimony as a whole. Patten's contradicts Irwin's
excuse for Croghan's mission to the Miamis. In Irwin's evidence is the
first mention of Andrew Montour in the history of the Pittsburgh
region, the name preserved in a Pittsburgh thoroughfare, Montour Way,
an alley immediately above Smithfield street, extending from Sixth
to Seventh avenues. The name is also familiar in Montour run and
the Montour Valley in Allegheny county on the south side of the Ohio
river, and was the first name applied to Neville Island, for Andrew
Montour once owned it. The history of the Montours, especially
Andrew, also called Henry, runs through many pages of Pennsylvania's
colonial history prior to the Revolution, for Andrew was most fre-
quently the interpreter at Croghan's many conferences at Fort Pitt,
and at other conferences with the Pennsylvania Indians, as attested
by frequent mention in the Colonial Records and the Pennsylvania
Archives.

Irwin was asked further if he had not been on the Ohio in 1749
with a number of English traders when M. de Celoron, a major and
commandant at Fort Detroit, was there, who had orders from the Mar-
quis de la Galissonnierre, commander-in-chief of all New France and
the territories thereon depending, to summon them to withdraw forth-
with from the territories of the King, Our Master? and whether these
traders had not been strictly forbidden to return there any more, and
whether M. de Celoron had not written to the governor of Pennsylvania
to acquaint him thereof and to give notice that if any more English
traders ever appeared on the territories of His Majesty, he (Celoron),
would not be answerable to the governor for what might happen? To
all of which Irwin answered affirmatively; however, he had the gov-
ernor's license, and he considered that sufficient to indemnify him without
regard to any orders to the contrary.

From Fortiner's evidence some information relative to a trader's
life in the then Far West can be obtained. Fortiner, a native of "the
Jerseys (a place belonging to the Province of New York," he said),
testified that he was a hired servant and a traveler, that he had been
away from his home for four years and had lived most of the time
in the woods, but in the winter commonly retired to a village in the



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i64 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Province of Pennsylvania, called Scanaris; that he traded with the
Shawanese on the Ohio and wherever he could see any Indians; that
he had been hired by Taafe for no other purpose than to trade with
the Indians and to help him with his horses and goods; that he and
the other prisoners had burnt their invoices and they could not tell the
value of what goods they had. Fortiner had a license from the governor
of Pennsylvania which he had left in his cabin at an Indian town
called by the English Vendack, adjoining the Shawanese. He sold to
all the nations settled on the Ohio and adjacent parts ; he never despised
the French goods, but the Indians themselves had told him that they
preferred to trade with the English, knowing the English goods to be
better and cheaper than those the French sold them. He was on the
Susquehanna in 1749, and had heard that M. de Celoron was at the Ohio.

Fortiner's name is presumed to be a French corruption of Faulkner.
The interpreter at the hearing was one Maddox, an Englishman, who
was sworn to interpret truly. The prisoners were examined separately.
When arraigned, each laid his hand upon his breast, according to the
laws and customs of Great Britain, and in that manner each promised
and swore to tell the truth. No information is given by Craig or Hanna
in regard to the situation of Scanaris or Vendack, so that we are left
without knowledge of Fortiner's retiring places.

Burke was a traveler also, who had been in America eight years,
and ten months out from his base on the Susquehanna; he was the
hired servant of John Martin, an English trader on the Ohio. Burke had
set out with two other servants in order to trade near Otsandusket
(Sandusky), and from there intended to return to Lancaster, Pennsyl-
vania. Burke knew more than the others regarding the information
sought by his inquisitors' third question; he had no other company
than the two English servants; all his effects, including his horses, he
had left at a small river in care of these two servants, who as soon as
they heard warrants had been issued for them, had left everything and
fled. The goods belonged to Martin and were worth 1,500 livres (francs),
who had purchased them from two merchants in Philadelphia; one
named Shippen. Burke had a Pennsylvania license, which he had left
with his effects. He had heard of M. de Celoron having been at the
Ohio, and of the letter sent by Celoron to the governor of Pennsylvania,
but it had been entrusted to the hired servants of George Croghan, the
chief interpreter. Burke could not tell whether the letter had been
delivered or not.

John Patten had been in the Indian country from the preceding
August, trading with the Miamis settled on Rock river. This was the
Big Miami of the English, called by the French, La Roche. The name
Blanche was applied by the French to several rivers, and probably
referred in this connection to the Cuyahoga. Patten had with him



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WILDERNESS TRAIL AND WILDERNESS TRADERS 165

two hired servants and had been in company with an English trader
who had five more; they all came together at Rock river, where they
found upwards of fifty traders, including servants, lodging in cabins
belonging to the Miamis, the name of their chief La Demoiselle; the
traders' cabins were in a fort. The value of Patten's goods was about
7,000 livres. Patten had a Pennsylvania license which he had left shut
up in a little box in the cabin provided for him by the Miamis. He had
sold goods to the Indians settled on the Ohio, Rock river and adjacent
parts; however, it was the first time of his coming to the Rock River;
the only way he traded with the Indians was by showing them his goods
and agreeing as to the price; he had never undervalued the French
goods.

Patten testified further that he had only heard that the governor
of Pennsylvania had entrusted George Croghan, head Indian interpreter,
with goods to the value of a thousand pistoles ($3,640), who went up
and down the woods with Montour, a French Canadian, in order to
distribute the said goods among the Indians who were settled on the
Ohio and Rock rivers, particularly the Miamis. Patten denied know-
ing any Indian language. He had gone to the Miami fort because the
Indians told him the French wished to see him, and he was greatly
surprised when arrested ; he had had occasion to buy, in the fort, muskets
and some tobacco, and had taken five silk caps,' a pieoe of coarse holland,
and twelve silk handkerchiefs, for the purpose, and all had been seized
by M. de Villiers, as also his horse; his boots and portmanteau, in which
were his clothes, had been left in an Indian cabin and were to have
been sent to him at Detroit, but he had never had any tidings of them
since ; that another horse had been taken from him, whereon an Indian,
his guide, was riding. He denied, that presents had been made to the
Indians on the Ohio and Rock rivers in order to obtain their assistance
against the French in case the French attacked the English.

Patten had left his goods at a place called by the French, La Croix,
and by the English, "The Cross," twenty leagues from the fort of the
Miamis, and he was satisfied that the goods mentioned in the verbal
process of a French officer, M. de Montigny, dated December 2, 1750,
were the same sort as his, but in much less quantity. Patten could not
tell what became of the rest; perhaps his servants had carried them
away when they fled. He was not at the Ohio in 1749; he was told
of M. Celoron being there at that time, and what orders Celoron had
enjoined on the English traders; he had also been told of the letter
which M. Celoron had written to the governor of Pennsylvania on that
account, but had been informed that the governor had never received it ;
that Croghan had torn it, that the governor might not know its contents,
lest the governor should act agreeable to it.

As in the case of the others, Patten's examination was written out and



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i66 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

read to him, word for word, question and answer, and, as the others,
he was asked if he was inclined to add to or extenuate his answers, to
which Patten replied that all he had said was true, and furthermore,
that Croghan had at all times persuaded the Indians to destroy the
French, and had so far prevailed on them by the presents he had made
them that five French had been killed by the Indians in the upper part
of the country; that self-interest was Croghan's sole motive for every-
thing he did ; that his views were to engross the whole trade and scare
the French from trading with the Indians, and as to the letters which
M. Celoron had written to the governor of Pennsylvania, three of them
had been intercepted by Croghan lest the governor being acquainted
with his deeds should forbid him to go amongst them again. This last
clause, Craig explains, was added by Patten to justify the governor, for
Patten had testified previously that the governor had given Croghan
goods to the value of one thousand pistoles to be distributed among the
Indians. Patten was required to set his hand to every page of his testi-
mony, as did also the French officials and Maddox, the interpreter.
Craig's account closes: "Thus signed John Patten, D. J. Maddox, La
Jonquiere, Longueuil, Varin, and Saint Sauveur, secretary."

Craig explains the question of licenses; they were criminal against
the laws of trade founded on treaties ; the Indians having no territories
of their own could freely trade in any part of the country, whether
belonging to the English or French; but as to European nations, none
could trade with any Indians except those in their own territories. Let-
ters of license granted traders by the English governors in order to
permit them to trade on land possessed by the French, were so many
enterprises or usurpations. The English traders, properly speaking,
kept up a contraband trade with their governor's permission.

Patten was taken first to Detroit, where he was held for four months ;
thence via Lake Erie and Niagara to Montreal, thence to Quebec, and
after some months in prison, harshly treated, and in bad health, was
sent to France and again put in jail for three months, but having been
granted his liberty, went to Paris to solicit the restitution of his goods,
but in vain. He was told that he would be given nothing; his goods
had been confiscated, for he had been found trading within the limits
of French territory. Patten alleged in his petition to the Pennsylvania
Assembly that he was totally ruined, and that the Pennsylvania trade
must at length be quite discouraged and lost to this province.

The journal of the Pennsylvania Assembly for October i6, 1752,
shows that Patten, "an Indian trader lately returned from England and
now in town, etc.," was cited by the clerk in obedience to the orders
of the Assembly to be in attendance the succeeding day and appeared.
The clerk was instructed to take down in writing the account which he
gave of the manner of his being taken, and the places in Canada through



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WILDERNESS TRAIL AND WILDERNESS TRADERS 167

which he passed in his captivity. This was done» and in the following
January the clerk reported this to the House, together with a map of
Canada made by the said Patten. His account is very interesting. He
was captured near the headwaters of the Miami river, two hundred miles
by water from the mouth of that stream and one hundred by land. La
Croix or "The Cross" is plainly shown on Evans' map of 1755 under
that name, and situated on the St. Mary's river, a branch of the Maumee
— once known as the Miami of the Lake. La Croix was a literal desig- ,
nation, a large cross having been set up there. On this same map,
"Fort du Quesne, Shannopin's T. and Loggs T.," appear. Patten was
taken at a Twightwee town, as he states, about four hundred and fifty
miles from Logstown. There were, he estimated, two hundred fighting
men in the town, all of that nation, who had left the French seven or
eight years ago to trade with the English. Albach, in his admirable
chronological table'' for the year 1750, records these items:

English traders, it is said, were made prisoners at Great MianiL
Twightwee or Miami Indians killed by French soldiers. Both time and place are
uncertain.

English driven from their station on Miami by the French.
Twightwee, or Miami Indians defend the English and are killed.

Albach's account in his text (page 106), states that the French party
with their Ottawa and Chippewa allies demanded the English traders
of the Miamis as unauthorized intruders on French land, and on being
refused by the Miamis, a battle ensued in which fourteen Miamis were
killed and the traders were taken and carried to Canada, or, as one
account says, burned. It is probable those traders were Pennsylvanians,
as that province made "a gift of condolence to the Miamis for those
slain in their defense." Albach had not been thorough in his researches,
it will be noted.

This was actually the first blood shed in the long contest that ensued
for the trans-Allegheny region— or the Cis-Mississippi, if one wants to
reckon eastward. The effects of this collision were widely felt and led
to immediate action by both nation claimants, though warfare was not
begun until Washington's affair. May 28, 1754, with Jumonville, in which
the latter was killed, a source of sorrow to Washington ever after.

Gist was in the Indian country in December, 1750, and there heard
of the capture of the traders, for he records in his Journal that he came
"to Muskingum, to a town of the Wyendotts, Dec. 14th, who were
divided between the French and the English." This town was where
Coshocton now stands. Gist saw the English colors hoisted on the
King's house (the chief's) and on Croghan's, and was told that Croghan
had ordered all the traders to assemble there. Two trader helpers
belonging to Croghan arrived December 17th, who reported that two



T"Annals of the West," xviiL



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i68 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

of Croghan's men had been captured by forty French and twenty Indi-
ans, who had carried them and seven horse loads of skins to a new fort
that the French were building on one of the branches of Lake Erie.
These men were Irwin and Fortiner, or Faulkner. The fort was at
Sandusky.®

Michael Taafe, described by Gist as "One Teafe (an Indian trader)/'
came to the same town of the Wyandots, January 4, 1751, from Lake
Erie, and informed the other traders that the Wyandots had advised
him to keep clear of the Ottawas. "These," says Gist in parenthesis,
"are a nation of Indians firmly attached to the French and inhabit near
the lakes. The Wyandots said the branches of the lakes were claimed
by the French but that all the branches of the Ohio belonged to them
and their brothers, the English, and that the French had no business
there and that it was expected that the other part of the Wyandot
nation would desert the French and come over to the English interest,
etc." January 9th, two English traders came in from the Twightwees
town and reported the capture of Patten. Two days later an Indian
from the lakes came in and confirmed all the news Gist had heard.
Croghan and Montour were there and held a council on the 14th. They
were actively engaged, as Gist records, in what is now known as propa-
ganda work among the Ohio Indians, seeking by every means to draw
them away from the French interest and they were successful at the
time.®

Of the early traders on the Allegheny, and that meant to the Ohio
region also, there must be mentioned Thomas McKee, whose family
name has been preserved in McKees Rocks. Thomas McKee was the
father of Alexander McKee, a notorious Tory leader at Fort Pitt during
the Revolution, who filed to the British in 1778 in company with Matthew
Elliott and Simon Girty and some others. Thomas McKee was a licensed
trader on the Susquehanna as early as 1742, and "at Allegheny" in 1753.
He served as a captain in the French and Indian War. He has frequent
mention in Pennsylvania Colonial Records and Archives and other
Pennsylvania histories and in Dr. Egle's "Notes and Queries." In
1764 Alexander McKee received the grant of 1400 acres at the mouth
of Chartiers creek. On the lower side of the creek is the famous rock
that has given name to a great industrial town, the "Petit Rocher" of
De Lery's and the "Written Rock" of Celoron's mention.

Thomas McKee's adventures and perils would more than fill a
chapter. He was one of the best known of the traders on the Susque-
hanna, having had a trading post on Big Island, now Haldeman's
Island, at the mouth of the Juniata, and was also of the class of traders



8"Christophcr Gist's Jouranls ;" W. M. Darlington, p. 2;;.

•"Gist's Journals;" W. M. Darlington, pp. 41, 44-45, 161. Cited by Hanna, "Wil-
derness Trail ;" Vol. II, p. I45> e* sea. "History Western Penna., etc.," p. 39. "Pennsyl^
vania, G)lonial and Federal;" Vol. I, p. 417*



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WILDERNESS TRAIL AND WILDERNESS TRADERS 169

called in history the Shamokin traders, and one of the most noted;
others, John Fisher, John Hart, James Le Tort, Antony Sadowsky,
and John (or Jack) Armstrong, who was murdered by a revengeful
Delaware in 1744 at the gorge in the Juniata, since known as Jack's
Narrows. Darlington calls Thomas McKee the chief Indian trader
on the Susquehanna for many years, and states that he built Fort
McKee, a border outpost on the Susquehanna, in 1756. Some accounts
make McKee's wife a Shawanese woman; others a white woman cap-
tured by that nation on one of their raids in the Carolinas and adopted
and reared among them. Hanna draws the deduction that this explains
why the son Alexander should have inherited a half savage nature,
which he thinks was developed by the long residence of his father among
the savages, as a trader, and Alexander's own lifelong association with
savages. This latter fact would be more striking if his mother had
been a Shawanese. The Rev. David Jones found Alexander in 1773
living near Chilicothe, Ohio, and added a line in his " J^^^'^^^il :" "Here
the captain's Indian relatives live." Thomas McKee had another son,
James, who remained on the McKees Rocks tract, and he became the
ancestor of the many descendants in and about Pittsburgh. James'
name is found on the "List of Persons well disposed to His Majesty's
Government," which was furnished that government by Lord Dunmore
in 177s, and thought to have been prepared by the notorious Dr. Con-
nolly, Dunmore's tool at Fort Pitt, However, there was nothing prima
facie particularly obnoxious in that, for this list contains the names of
Colonel William Crawford, his brother Valentine, his half-brother, John
Stephenson, and his nephew, William Harrison, Thomas Gist and others,
subsequently proven patriots. These were, however, Virginia adherents
prior to the Revolution, in opposition to the Pennsylvania party headed
by Arthur St. Clair, Devereaux Smith, iEneas Mackay and Andrew
McFarlane.

Alexander McKee was the Tory leader at Pittsburgh. He was a
man of some education and wide influence on the border. He, too,
was a trader among the Indians, and for twelve years prior to the
Revolution had been the King^s deputy agent for Indian affairs at Fort
Pitt. For a short time he had served as a justice of the peace in West-
moreland county. He was intimately acquainted with most of the
Indian chiefs of the Ohio Valley, and spoke their tongfues. As the
Rev. Jones attests, he had an Indian family among the Shawanese. He
divided his time between his Pittsburgh cabin and his farm at McKees
Rocks. Both Thomas and Alexander took part in many conferences with
the Western Indians at Fort Pitt, the first, July 4, 1759, where there
were present, according to the minutes, "George Croghan, Deputy Agent
to the Hon. Sir William Johnson, Baronet; Col. Hugh Mercer, Com-
mandant at Pittsburgh; a number of officers of the Garrison; Capt.



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170 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

William Trent and Capt. Thomas McKee, assistants to G. Croghan, Esq.,
and Capt. Henry Montour, Interpreter." Most likely Thomas McKec
was also at the conference at the same place, October 25, 1759, as the
records read: "Present His Excellency, Brigadier Gen. Stanwix, with
sundry other gentlemen of the army ; George Croghan, Esq., and sundry
assistants."

Alexander McKee's name first appears in the minutes of a confer-



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 22 of 81)