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

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at least there is ample evidence that his father was stern and cruel in
discipline. The boy was continuously chastised by his father and
determined to run away, but was tied with cord to prevent him from
carrying out his resolution. However, after a severe beating, Conrad
left home and went among the Indians, where he continued for fifteen
years. Thus he became well versed in Indian habits and languages. His
education, Walton notes, was an education of the woods; a daily con-
tact with men and things, much like Lincoln's. In 1720, during the
absence of his father in Europe, Conrad married his "Anna Eve" at his
father's home in Scoharie. Previous to 1731 all the negotiations with
the Iroquois had been conducted at Albany. With his coming, treaties
began on Pennsylvania soil.

Conrad Weiser in our Colonial history has been properly called an
ambassador. He was an ideal ambassador, for he had, as has been
indicated, admirable qualifications for the post He was master of the
Iroqupian and other tribal dialects, and by his long residence among
and association with the Indians, had gained complete knowledge of
the customs, habits, conditions and political contentions o£ the tribes
with which the colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Vir-



3"History of Western Pennsylvania," etc.; App. II, p. 10. See also "History Berks
and Lebanon Counties," by the same author.

s^'Conrad Weiser and the Indian Policy of Pennsylvania;" Joseph S. Walton, Phil-
adelphia, 1900; Chapter I.



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CONRAD WEISER, AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY 187

ginia had to deal. When he came to Logstown he had been for seventeen
years an official interpreter by appointment of the Pennsylvania Council,
and during that period had participated in almost every important nego-
tiation with the Indians. To native ability he added tact, and his loyalty
to the interests of the colonies was unswerving.

With the story of the diplomatic Weiser there runs parallel and
contemporaneous that of Colonel George Croghan, likewise a diplomat
and interpreter, well suited by his alert mind and pugnacious tempera-
ment to push his way anywhere, despite obstacles that would appall one
of less strength of will. We shall learn more of this product of Ireland,
who came to Pennsylvania in 1741, in his youth, and whose name runs
through hundreds of pages of our State's history. He is first heard
of when licensed in Pennsylvania as a trader, and, as Weiser tells us in
his Journal of 1748, then lived on the west side of the Susquehanna, near
Harris' Ferry, now Harrisburg. Croghan's daring courage and keen
business instincts stood him in good place always. Embarking in the
Indian trade, he soon had a long string of packhorses and many hired
men attendant upon them, who then found their way to the Indians on
the Ohio river and in the Lake Erie region and apiong the Indian towns
on the interior .streams of Ohio. He became a great trader, readily
acquiring the Indian languages, and he has gone down into history as
the "King of the Traders." Weiser introduced him to the Pennsylvania
Council, vouching for him as prudent and faithful, and hence Croghan
was acceptable and was soon employed by the Council as the official
almoner to the tribes of the Ohio and Lake Erie regions. He, too,
became a favorite interpreter, and his long career at Fort Pitt and his
intimate connection with Pittsburgh's early history entitles him to
a separate chapter in that history. He had a trading post at Logstown
— one of many throughout the West. He became most influential among
the tribesmen, and after Weiser's death was the one most relied on
by the provincial authorities of Pennsylvania in the political transactions
between them and the Western Indians. It was in Croghan's Logstown
storehouse that Weiser lodged while there in 1748.

It was Croghan who brought the information to the Council at
Philadelphia that some of the tribes in the Ohio and Lake Erie were
waning in their affiliations with the French and some tribes had lost all
amity for them, and that these tribes desired an alliance with the Eng-
lish. The Pennsylvania Council on receipt of this news voted £1,000
as a fund for the purchase of presents for the Indians. Virginia and
Maryland were requested to cooperate. Virginia responded with an
appropriation of £200. Croghan was dispatched as a forerunner to
announce the coming of Weiser as the ambassador of peace and the
dispenser of bount}^ We shall learn in the story of Logstown that
it was the most important trading post in the Upper Ohio country and



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i88 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

that many chiefs of influence and authority made it a temporary resi-
dence, among these Tanacharison, the Half King, and his successor,
Monacatoocha, or as frequently called, Scrarooyady, both overlords of
the Iroquoian Confederacy, to whom they acknowledged fealty. At
Logstown, it will develop, Weiser met Andrew Montour, a picturesque
and romantic character of more than ordinary renown, whose history
will appear later, for the name Montour has endured in the geographical
nomenclature of Pennsylvania and of the Pittsburgh region, and is
common today in several localities near the city as well as in a small
local thoroughfare. What Weiser, assisted by Croghan and Montour,
did at Logstown, will be set forth here as Weiser himself recorded at
the time, and that this trio paved the way for propitiation by extending
an invitation to the various tribesmen in the neighborhood, will readily
be apparent, for all that could be reached were invited to Logstown,
where on arrival, in modern parlance, "the glad hand" was extended
to them, along with sundry drams of rum and rolls of tobacco. How
many different tribesmen responded, Weiser has told us, and their
number, and the distance of some from their home country is most
surprising. The Indian orators recited their grievances and
emphasized their demands. Weiser in reply extolled the power and
advised the protection of the English, and deprecated the ability of the
French to advance the interests of the Indians. Weiser was liberal in
the dispensation of the liquids provided for the occasion, and delivered
the donated goods, consisting of blankets, clothing, weapons and trinkets,
distributing the articles among the tribal delegates with proper discrimi-
nation.

While Weiser and his assistants were executing the purposes of
the Pennsylvania Council at Logstown on the Ohio, another project of
greater importance and wider scope was in progress. This was the
organization of the "Ohio Company," sometimes referred to as the
"Ohio Land Company," whose history will follow in a more relevant
•chapter.

It is well to preface Weiser's Journal with the matter which Rupp
has used in that manner, and with the instructions given Weiser by the
Pennsylvania Council. These Rupp has obtained from the Colonial
Records of Pennsylvania, as well as Weiser's Journal, which he has
inserted in full.* It is well also to quote our well revered Pittsburgh
historian. Father Lambing, in a few paragraphs taken from a rapid
resume of the secular history of our region in his great work on the
history of the Roman Catholic church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He
said:

Forebodings of the coming inevitable struggle between the French and English
could no longer be concealed or disregarded, and they b^^an to watch each other's move-



4"History Western Pennsylvania and the West;" App. II, pp. 10-13. "Col. Rec-
ords ;" Vol. V, pp. 290-293.



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CONRAD WEISER, AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY 189

ments more closely. In this struggle the Six Nations and the remnants of the other
tribes occupying the western part of our State, and the adjacent country, must necessarily
be an important factor; and it was of the very first importance to each party to have
their support, if possible, and if that could not be had, at least their good-will. Perfect
neutrality was, in the nature of things, out of the question. To the attainment of this
end both nations, accordingly, addressed themselves; the English having in their favor
the greater facility in supplying the natives with articles of trade on account of the short
distance they had to carry them ; but having the equally great disadvantage, the unmis-
takable evidence which their movements gave, of their intention to occupy the hunting
grounds of the savages and ultimately driving them out. With the disadvantage under
which the French labored in the matter of supplying articles of trade, they were well
known to possess greater tact in dealing with the Indians, while they did not as yet mani-
fest any desire for robbing them of their ancestral domain, but only of occupying certain
points for the purposes of trade and defense against the English. Thus matters stood
in the middle of the eighteenth century.

The English took the initiative, the Executive G>uncil of Pennsylvania sending Con-
rad Weiser, their official Indian interpreter, a man of remarkable integrity of character,
and one in whom the Indians had unbounded confidence, with message and presents to
the Indian village of Logstown, which lay on the northern bank of the Ohio about
eighteen miles below the Forks.^

Riipp, rehearsing the treachery of Peter Chartier and the consequences
of his overt acts four years previously, cites Governor Thomas' message
to the Assembly and the various references to Chartier's treachery, and
his actions, in the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, and includes them
in his Appendix III. He spells the name of one of the traders "Dinnew."
This was James Dunning, an old trader on the Allegheny whose family
name has endured in the geographical nomenclature of Pennsylvania.
Under the heading, "Weiser's Mission to Logstown, 1748," Rupp
proceeds :

The Delaware and Shawanese Indians had settled on the Ohio prior to 1730, among
whom the French emissaries, and persons disaffected with the English rule, had been for
several years endeavoring to detach them from the English interest. Among them was
one Peter Chartier. He owned at one time a tract of land, the present site of New Ctmi-
berland, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. At this place the Shawanese Indians had a
town about 1700-20. It was for many years the landing place of Peter, an Indian agent,
and an individual of some notoriety. He owned at one time six hundred acres of land,
botmded by the Yellow Beeches creek and the Susquehanna river. April 18, 1744, at the
head of four hundred Shawanese well armed with guns, pistols, and cutlasses, he sur-
prised and took prisoner two Indian traders, James Dinnew and Peter Tostee, on the
Allegheny river, robbed them of all their effects to the amount of 1600 pounds. Some
time afterwards a few of the seduced Shawanese returned again to the English, and
acknowledged that th^ had been misled, and had carried on a private correspondence
with the French.

Governor George Thomas, in his message to the Assembly, April 25, 1745, says : **I
have just received information that Peter Chartier, after disposing his effects in this
Government, is gone to the enemy (French). His conduct for some years past had
rendered hun generally suspected: and it seems my reprimanding him for some very
exceptional parts of it, is made use of amongst other things to excuse his infidelity.
Had he been ptmished as he deserved, for the villainous report he spread among the
black inhabitants, two years ago, in order to spirit them up against such of the Six
Nations as should happen to travel through those parts of the country, he would not



^"Foundation Stones of a Great Diocese;" Rev. A. A. Lambing, D. D., Vol. I,
pp. 23, 24.



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190 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

have been at this time with the enemy; but an apprehension that the Shawanese, whose
perfidious blood partly runs in Chartier's veins, might resent upon our traders any severi-
ties to him, restrained me from making use of such, and induced me to use the gentle
method of reproof, which his brutish disposition had construed into an affront.

**1 am likewise informed, that he has persuaded a considerable number of the Shaw-
anese to remove from their old town, to a greater distance upon another river, and it is
not to be doubted that a savage person of his temper, will do us all the mischief he can.
If you think it worth while, I will send a special messenger to persuade those Shawanese
to return to their former, place of abode, or I will take any other method you shall
advise; though it is my opinion, the advantages of the trade excepted, the furtfier these
people remove from our borders, the better it will be for us. I have written letters from
time to time to the Shawanese chiefs, inviting them down to Philadelphia, and particularly
a very kind one last fall, which Peter Shaver tells me he delivered ; but that I have of
late . received no answer, may be imputed to Chartier's influence over them; and it is
too probable that he will make use of it to defeat any further attempts we shall make to
revive their friendship with us."

The Delawares and the Shawanese were connected with the Six Nations. In 1747
some of them on the banks of the Ohio visited Philadelphia, ^to tender their homage to
the English, and to invite the province to send commissioners to a G)uncil Fire," at Logs-
town, in the present county of Beaver, at which the neighboring nations were to be
present. Impressed with' the importance of such a conference, the G)uncil at Phila-
delphia invited the governments of Maryland and Virginia to send their agents, and
to unite in preparing a suitable present On the part of Pennsylvania, goods were pro-
vided to the value of a thousand pounds, and G>nrad Weiser, the Provincial Interpreter
and Indian Agent was sent, with the instructions given from the Governor. Weiser, in
obedience to his instructions, proceeded to Logstown, and executed with his wonted
fidelity, the object of his mission.^

It is plain from the specific instructions given Weiser, that the
Pennsylvania authorities were uneasy regarding matters on the Ohio.
The frontier settlers were greatly disturbed. King George's War was
over, but the treaty at Aix-la-Chapelle concluding it was only a truce.
It is well to read Weiser's instructions carefully.

Instructions to Conrad Weiser.

Sir : — ^This Government having promised the Indians, who came here from Ohio in
November last (1747), to send you to them early in the spring, and having provided a
present of a considerable value, you are to proceed thither with all the convenient dis-
patch. Mr. George Croghan, the Indian trader, who is well acquainted in the Indian
country and the best roads to Ohio, has undertaken to this convoy of you and the goods
with his own men and horses at the public expense; and as it cannot be foreseen how
long the journey will take him, nor what trouble may attend it so as to enter contracts
before hand with him, all affairs relating thereto are entirely left to you, wherein we
recommend all the frugality that can consistently with the nature of your business, the
treasury being low and a large stun expended in the purchase of the present, be prac-
ticed.

As soon as you come to the place of rendezvous, you are to notify your arrival
in a speech to all the tribes, wherein you are to deal in generals, reserving all particular
matters to your closing speech.

You are to use the utmost diligence to acquire a perfect knowledge of the number,
situation, disposition and strength of all the Indians in or near those parts, whether they
be friends, neutrals or enemies, and be very particular in knowing the temper and influ-
ence of the tribes of Indians who send deputies to receive you ; for by the knowledge of
these matters you are to regulate the distribution of the goods which are to be divided
amongst them in as equal and just manner as possible, that all may go away satisfied,
and none receive the least cause of disgust at any undue preference given to others.



e"Hist West. Penna.," etc. ; Rupp, App. Ill, p. 33.



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CONRAD WEISER, AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY 191

You cannot be at a loss for matter whence to form your speeches. The ancient enmity
of the French to the Indian Nations, their perfidy upon all occasions, of which, if any
reliance can be had on the articles of news in the public papers, you may give some late
instances in the death of Taghananty, the Black Prince, who perished in a jail at Mon-
treal, and in the cruel treatment of the Indians in general in Canada, who are confined to
loathsome prisons without proper or wholesome sustenance.

The inability of the French to protect the Indians or to supply them' with such
necessaries as they stand in need of for their subsistence. These observations are what
cannot but occur to you. You may further enlarge on the constant and ancient friendship
of the English, and their readiness at all times to assist them against the attempts of the
French, who have ever been for destroying or enslaving them.

And an ample field will be furnished to you in doing justice to this Province, which
has ever shown the greatest readiness to supply the Indians in the most pressing neces-
sities, mentioning the several valuable presents made them from time to time, particularly
since the commencement of the present war, instancing the Government's presents at
Philadelphia, over and above th.e price of their lands in the year 1742 ; the large presents
at Lancaster and at Albany ; and then the present occasion will bear a particular enlarge-
ment : this Government having no sooner heard of the distress of the Indians, and that
abundance of families and young warriors had for the convenience of hunting removed
to the waters of Ohio and Lake Erie, than they determined to send them a supply of
goods and powder, which, in this time of scarcity, they could have from no other place.
This tenderness for those, who, out of every Nation had come and fixed their habitation
in these parts, must needs make deep impressions on their affections, and especially on
the minds of their young people, to the advantage of the kindness of this Province for
all the Indians.

By the treaties subsisting between his Majesty's subjects and the Indian Nations,
they are laid under the strongest obligations to give each other the earliest intelligence
of whatever may affect their persons or their properties. In discharge of our duty, you
are to inform the Indians that the management of the war being committed to the Gov-
ernors of New York and Boston, the operations of this year are concerted by them;
that they have received orders from his Majesty, exceedingly favorable to the Indians,
and in pursuance thereof, they will prosecute the war against the French and their adher-
ents with the utmost vigor; that his Majesty, in token of his regard to the Indian
Nations has sent a large present to the Governor of New York, to be distributed at
Albany; but, that as their distance from this place, the Indians in Ohio and Lake Erie,
may be supposed not to receive much benefit from the Albany present This is an addi-
tional consideration why this government chooses to be kind to those Indians and assist
them readier when they are in distress, because they cannot, without extreme difficulties,
get supplies from other places.

On the other hand, you are to use all means in your power to get from them all .
kind of intelligence, as to what the French are doing, or design to do, in these parts,
and indeed, all other parts. You are not to satisfy yourself with the generals ; but to
inform yourself, truly and fully of the real disposition of these Indians, and what
dependence can be had of them for the security of this province, and for the total preven-
tion of all hostilities within our limits. You are to make particular inquiry into the
number and situation of the Indian Nations, between these people's settlements on the
Ohio and the river Mississippi, and to the west of Lake Erie, since it is said, there are
several Indian Nations within these limits, and on the lakes Huron and Illinois, who are
disobliged with the French, and might easy be brought into the amity of the ^iglish.

You will see by the Assembly's answer to the Council's message, a copy whereof will
be given you herewith, what sentiments they entertain about us; and, as they have the
disposal of the public money, it would be wrong to urge the Indians to war, since no
dependence could be had on the Assembly to support them in such an undertaking ; and,
consequently, and in the end might prove extremely hurtful. This considered, nothing of
the kind must be urged by you ; and if the Indians mention it themselves, you need not
be explicit. You are to tell them that this point is not in your instructions, that your
business was to make them a visit, and to be truly informed of their situation, and to
bring them a valuable present, the most substantial mark that can be given of ^e great
affection which this province bears to their friends, the Indians ; and if they insist any



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192 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

further, you are to tell them, that at their instance you will make a faithful relation of
everything given you, by them, in charge to the government, and transmit to the Indians
their resolves. But whatever you do on this head, as a good deal must be left to your
discretion and judgment, on such information as shall be given you, you are to take
special care not to disoblige the Indians, or in any wise diminish their heartiness for his
Majesty's cause against the French.

You are to make particular inquiry into the beheavior of the Shawanese, since the
commencement of the war, and in relation to the countenance they gave to Peter Char-
tier. It is proper to tell you that they relented, made acknowledgments to the govern-
ment of their error in being seduced by Peter Chartier, and prayed they might be per-
mitted to favor of the government ; and though the Governor gave them assurances that
all past misbehavior should be pardoned, on their sending deputies to Philadelphia, to
acknowledge their fault, yet they contented themselves with the loose letters by Indian
traders, some of which have been delivered, and some not ; but had they all been deliv-
ered, this was not a becoming manner of addressing the government, nor could they
expect anything from it.

You will, therefore, speak to them by themselves, and give them such a quantity of
goods, as upon their present temper, and the frankness of their submissions, you shall
think they deserve.

Given in Council, under my hand and the lesser seal of the said Province, at Phila-
delphia, the 23rd day of June, Anno Domini, 1748.7 Anthony Palmsb.

Anthony Palmer, president of the Council, 1747-48, was a man of
great wealth, who had come to Pennsylvania from the West Indies in
1708. He lived in Philadelphia in royal style. His death took place in
1749. These instructions had been drawn up in March preceding the
date given but there had been some delay in getting away with the
goods. An invoice to George Croghan for them amounting to £224 5s.
is recorded in the Colonial Records.® Some additional instructions were
given Weiser in regard to two men "carried into slavery from South
Carolina." These instructions were dated July 26, 1748. Weiser was
to mention the affair and make the inquiry and intercede for the prison-
ers who had been carried off in April, 1748, by some Northern Indians
raiding in the CaroUnas, and not denied by them when Weiser brought
this matter to their attention. In the Records these prisoners are named
Captain Haig and one Brown.® How successful Weiser was is gleaned
from his Journal entry of September 12, 1748.

Weiser's route to the Ohio is of great interest. There were several
itineraries of the "Main Path to Allegheny" and three, at least, have
been preserved which were made by persons traveling from Harris'
Ferry, later Harrisburg, to Logstown on the Ohio. Weiser was one —
his Journal written five years before that of John Harris, founder of
Harrisburg. Other paths were the Juniata, otherwise called the Franks-
town Path, and the more southerly path via Raystown, later Bedford,
changed in 1758 by General Forbes into his celebrated military road in
the expedition against Fort Duquesne that year. Some story of these



7"Colonial Records;" Vol. V, pp. 290-293. "Hist. West. Penna.," etc.; Rupp, App.
II, pp. 10-13.

8V0I. V, pp. 294-295.
•Vol. V, p. 304.



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CONRAD WEISER, AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY 193

historic highways is essential to this history, for they have much place



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 25 of 81)