Copyright
American Historical Society George Thornton Fleming.

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

. (page 30 of 81)
Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 30 of 81)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


plate and the speech of the sachem to Colonel Johnson, and the French
inscription on the plate, can be found in the "Colonial Records of Penn-
sylvania."®

As he proceeded down the Allegheny, Celoron endeavored to
strengthen the attachment of the Indians to the French cause, but soon
found that all along that stream there was a strong feeling in favor of
th English.

Reaching the mouth of the "Riviere aux Boeufs," which we know as
French creek, emptying into the Allegheny at Franklin, M. Celoron found
several English traders, among them John Frazier, a Scotch gunsmith,
who had been there several years. Washington subsequently stopped
at Frazier's house while at the French fort there in 1753. This was the
same Frazier with whom Washington found refuge at the mouth of
Turtle creek after his and Gist's terrible night on the Allegheny. Frazier,
it is to be remembered, was again driven from his home the next year
by the French during Washington's campaign of that year. Frazier was
altogether a character in the first history of our region of Western Penn-
sylvania.



«"Story of Stolen Plate," in "Magazine of Western History;" Vol II, p. 207, by
T. J. Chapman.



Digitized by



Google



222 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Passing down the Allegheny, which Celoron calls the Ohio, the
flotilla reached the bend nine miles below Franklin, where on the eastern
bank lay a large boulder, twenty-two feet in length and fourteen in
breadth, on the inclined face of which were rude inscriptions, evidently
of Indian workmanship representing the triumphs of the race in war
and the chase. This rock was the celebrated Indian God rock, and was
held in superstitious reverence by the Indians attached to the expedition.
It was a well known landmark and did not fail to attract the attention
of the French. Celoron deemed it a fitting point at which to bury his
second plate. This was done with due pomp and ceremony, the
inscription differing only in the date and designation of the place of
deposit. Celoron's record here reads: "Buried a leaden plate on the
south bank of the Ohio river four leagues below the River Aux Boeufs
opposite a bald mountain and near a large stone, on which are many
figures rudely engraved."

Father Bonnecamps states that the deposit was made under a large
rock. A picture of this rock showing the hieroglyphics on its face, can
be found in Schoolcraft's work, "Indian Tribes in the United States,"
(Vol. VI, p. 172). It was drawn by Captain Eastman of the United
States army while standing waist deep in the river, its bank being then
nearly full. At the time of the freshets the rock is entirely submerged.
The abrasion of its exposed surface by the ice and flood-wood in winter
has almost obliterated the rude carvings. When Celoron was here it was
entirely uncovered. It is called "Hart's Rock" on Hutchin's Topo-
graphical Map of Virginia. The distance of four leagues from the mouth
of French creek, to the rock, as given by Celoron, is, as usual, a little
exaggerated. The actual distance by the windings of the river, is about
nine miles. The league as used by Celoron may be estimated as con-
taining about two miles and a half.^

From this station Celoron sent Joncaire forward to Attique the next
day, to announce the approach of the expedition, it being an Indian
settlement of some importance on the left bank of the river, between
eight and nine leagues farther down, containing twenty-two cabins.
There is mention in their journals of passing a river three or four leagues
from French creek, the confluence of which with the Allegheny is
described as "very beautiful," and a league farther down another having
on its upper waters some villages of Loups and Iroquois.

In the Pennsylvania Archives the stream "Riviere Aux Boeufs" of the
French, called by Washington French creek, which name it has retained,
is simply translated into English as the "Beef river," or the "Buffalo
river," as buffaloes were found in the valley of the stream by the early
traders. It was also called Venango by the English, a name presumed
to have been corrupted from the Seneca term In-un-gah. The Rev.
Dr. Timothy Alden, founder of Allegheny College at Meadville, states
that the name was given the creek from a certain figure carved on a
tree near its bank. Father Lambing quotes several authorities, including



T^Magazine of Western History;" 1885, Vol. V, No. 4, p. 4^; artide by Thos. J.
Chapman. Also "History of Venango County," i8go, published Brown, Runk ft Co.,
pp. 31-35.



Digitized by



Google



IN THE NAME OF THE KING 223

Heckewclder and Washington.* The name is found also In-nun-gau on
the Historical Map of Pennsylvania. Heckewelder said that the Dela-
wares called the creek Attike, and that the form "Onenge" was also found.

The stream on the left after passing the mouth of French creek was
East Sandy creek, five miles below that stream and almost opposite the
Rock. The next stream mentioned, a league farther down, was Scrub-
grass creek, emptying from the west seven miles below, but not marked
on Father Bonnecamps' map. Other streams, all of which flow from the
east, have been designated by him, among them the Riviere au Fiel,
which we know as the Clarion river, called Toby's creek on many old
maps, the mouth of which is eighty-three miles above Pittsburgh. The
Riviere au Vermillion of Bonnecamps is undoubtedly Red Bank creek.

It seems strange that no name was given the Mahoning, though
mention is made of it. The reverend father did not mark on his map
Pine creek, Cowanshannock and Crooked creek, fifty-one, forty-eight and
thirty-eight miles respectively above Pittsburgh.

The French fort at Venango where Washington halted in 1753 ^^is
built that year by the French, its site on the western bank sixty rods
below the mouth of the stream and called by them Fort Machault. In
1760, when the English took possession of the place, they built their
fort forty rods farther up stream and nearer the mouth of the creek.
This was the famous Fort Venango, made so by the tragic events of its
fall during Pontiac's conspiracy, and of much mention in all the history
of the region.

In 1787 the United States government built a new fort on the south
bank of the creek, called Fort Franklin. The mouth of this stream was
at an early period an important point on the river. When Celoron was
there the Indian village consisted of ten cabins.*

In the translation of the inscription on the second plate these words
occur : "Have buried this plate at the Three Rivers below Le Boeuf River,
this third of August near the River Oyo, otherwise the Fair River, etc."
This led the compiler and editor of the "Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania"
to say (Vol. II, p. 166) : "A number of these plates were found in after
years. One deposited at the point of land at the junction of the Ohio
and Monongahela rivers bore date August 3, 1749, at the Three Rivers."
This we know from the journals of the expedition was at the Indian
God Rock. Father Lambing vigorously combatted the statement that
there was a plate buried at the Forks of the Ohio. Any junction of two
streams to form another was "Three Rivers" with the French. There
was their town on the St. Lawrence, for instance— one of the principal
points in their Province of Canada. Father Lambing said :

A number of such plates were buried during this expedition but none within the
limits of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, although it is asserted in the "Frontier Forts of



8"History Vanago County," p. 97- 'Washington's Journal," 1753, Dec 4th. Hecke-
welder's "Indian Names," etc, p. 46.

•Extended accounts of the Venango forts are in the State publication, "Frontier
Forts of Pennsylvania," Vol. II, and in "Settlements and Land Titles," Judge Daniel
Agnew, and in the histories of Venango county, especially in that published by Brown,
Runk & Co., 1890, in the chapters written by the Rev. S. J. M. Eaton, running through
many pages. The references to "Celoron's Expedition" and the "History of me Events
of the Years 1 749-1 7S8/' are most excellent



Digitized by



Google



224 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Pennsylvania/' published by the State in 1897, that one was buried at the Porks on the
3rd of August, 1749. I effectually refuted that statement in a paper which I read before
the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, March 10, iSgS, and showed that Cel-
oron was not within a hundred miles of Pittsburgh at that date, and that no plate was
ever deposited there, the authority on which the statement is based being utterly reliable.

Father Lambing's story continues thus:

The expedition continued its course, stopping at the several Indian villages, but the
savages fled to the woods, and were with difficulty induced to return to hold a "talk"
with Celoron. It was apparent that they did so rather from fear than from good-will,
so successfully had the English presented the advantages of their friendship. The com-
mander was accustomed during this expedition to send in advance a half-breed, Chau-
bert de Joncaire, in a canoe with a few men to announce his approach and assure the
savages of his friendly intentions. This Joncaire was the son of a French soldier and
an Indian squaw, as possessed of remarkable tact in managing the savages, and was
successfully employed during the next few years winning and retaining their allegiance
as far as it was possible. The expedition stopped for a few hours at Kittanning, which
they called Attique, on the 6th of August, and then proceeded to the ruins of Chartier's
old town on the right bank some twenty miles above Pittsburgh, where they spent the
night. On the morning of the 7th they continued their course and stopped for dinner
at Shannopinstown, an Indian village on the east side of the river, about two miles
above the forks.

Marshall thought Attique was probably on or near the Kiskiminetas,
which empties into the Allegheny twenty-nine miles above Pittsburgh.
Montcalm in a letter in 1758 calls it Riviere d' Attigue.

Attigue was the French name for the town which the Iroquois called
Adigo, but most frequently found "Adiego," and with variations. It is a
celebrated place in the history of Western Pennsylvania, the Delaware
name, Kittanning, having survived, a flourishing town of that name,
the county seat of Armstrong county, the Indian town of Kittanning
having been utterly destroyed by General Armstrong in 1756.^^

Joncaire was awaiting his chief at Attigue, and the expedition pro-
ceeded. Bonnecamps mentions the "old village of the Chauanons," and
marks it on his maps. This was the village abandoned by Chartier's
band of Shawanese which had not been inhabited since Chartier's flight
to the Wabash country in 1745. The place was known in border history
as "Chartier's Old Town," and was, as has been noted in the story oi
Chartier (Chapter X), about the mouth of Bull creek, and near the
site of the town of Tarentum, in Allegheny county. Some authorities
locate it above and nearer Freeport. August 8th the flotilla passed a
village of Loups, all the inhabitants of which except three Iroquois and
an old woman who was regarded as a queen and devoted to the English,
had fled in alarm. To quote Celoron accurately as his Journal records :
"The Iroquois inhabit this place, and an old woman of that nation is their
leader. She looks upon herself as a queen and is entirely devoted to the
English."

This was the celebrated Aliquippa made famous by Washington.
This town was within the present boundaries of Pittsburgh at the mouth
of Two Mile run, which once emptied into the Allegheny at or about
Thirty-second street and in a manner still empties there through a large
sewer.



loSee various references in "The Wilderness Trail ;" C. A. Hanna.



Digitized by



Google



IN THE NAME OF THE KING 225

Mr. Marshall has Chartier fleeing in 1745. Perhaps it was later.
Father Lambing justly states that no character in our history has been so
difficult to trace as the mercurial Chartier, and that if he (Lambing)
gave little satisfaction to the reader he gave less-*to himself. He finds
a reference by which it appears that Chartier did not leave this vicinity
until November, 1741.^*

Marshall thought Celoron's description of Alliquippa's town so vague
that it is impossible to identify it with any certainty, but it is not. It
was once Shannopin's town and was on the east bank of the Allegheny
two miles above the Forks.^*

The traders at Shannopins were lodged, Bonnecamps said, "in mis-
erable cabins, and had a storehouse well filled with peltries which we
did not disturb."

We have a curious instance of an old tim^ historian mentioning this
insignificant Indian village and giving almost the exact latitude of
Pittsburgh — two minutes only at variance with recent official figfures.
It was on the extreme western boundary claimed by the Penns. The
paragraph reads :

Shannopinstown, an Indian settlement on the Allegheny near Pittsburgh, is said to
be in North Latitude 40"* 26', and is supposed to be about five degrees from the Dela-
ware at Philadelphia the extent of Pennsylvania east and west.i>

Craig has a paragraph stating Mr. J. C. G. Kennedy of Meadville
had loaned him a large number of old maps, etc., and among these papers
a draught, or map of Forbes' march to Fort Duquesne, and on the map
Shannopins Town is placed near the Allegheny and just below the mouth
of Two Mile run. Craig in another paragraph thinks the name Shan-
nopin is a contraction of "Shawanoppin," a Delaware chief's name on
an old document in the records at Harrisburgh.^* The voyagers float
gracefully into the main stream. Marshall appeals to the imagination in
his story at this point. He says :

The clear, bright current of the Allegheny and the sluggish, turbid stream of the
Monongahela, flowing together to form the broad Ohio, their banks clothed in Itixuriant
summer foliage, must have presented to the voyagers a scene strikingly picturesque, one
which hardly would have escaped the notice of the Chief of the Expedition. If, there-
fore, the allusion to ''the finest place on the river" has no reference to the site of Pitts-
burgh, then no mention is made of it whatever.

Washington found the situation at the Forks striking, for he wrote
(Journal, Nov. 22, 1753):

As I got down before the horses I spent some time in viewing the rivers and the
land in the fork which I think extremely well situated for a fort The land at the point
is twenty-live feet above the common surface of the water and a considerable bottom of
flat, well timbered land all around it very convenient for building.



"The date is 1745. See "Colonial Records of Pennsylvania," Vol. IV, pp. 756-759^
""American Catholic Historical Researches;" Vol. I, p. 22. "Olden Time;"
Vol. I, p. 96.

i8"Hist6ry of Penna;" Robert Proud, Vol. II, p. 256.
""Olden Time;" II, 139; I. 96.

Pltta.^15



Digitized by



Google



226 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

It is remarkable that no mention is made in the Journals of Celoron
and Bonnecamps of the Monongahela river, the largest stream by far
that they passed in the whole expedition. A stream is marked by Bon-
necamps but not named on his map, and this must have been intended to
represent the Monongahela.^*^

The expedition did not stop overnight at the site of their future fort,
Duquesne. Their camp being only two leagues above Chiningfue, they
were enabled to reach that point August 9th. They found this village
the largest on the river — about fifty cabins; Iroquois, Shawanese and
Loups, from St. Louis and the Lake of the Two Mountains, with some
Nippisings, Ottawas and Abenakis. Father Bonnecamps estimated the
number of cabins at eighty, and said : "We called it Chiningue from its
vicinity to the river of that name." He recorded the latitude and lon-
gitude of the place almost correctly. This village was the celebrated
Logstown — "a large and flourishing village," remarks Mr. Marshall,
"which figures prominently in Indian history for many years after
Celoron was there." He is right. The name "Chinigue" has been retained
in Western Pennsylvania, applied to the eastern branch of the Big
Beaver river under the modern spelling, Shenango.

Just how flourishing the village was will be told in a subsequent
chapter. At "Chiningue" M. Celoron almost met Colonel Croghan, who
had been sent to visit the Western Indians in August, 1749, by Governor
Hamilton of Pennsylvania. Celoron wrote the governor immediately.
Croghan was sent to Allegheny by the governor after receiving word
from Clinton, as appears in the minutes of the meeting of the Council
at Philadelphia, June 30, 1749. The news in Philadelphia was that some
prisoners released by the French had seen an army of one thousand
men depart to prevent the English making any settlements on Belle
Riviere.^®

Therefore, following close upon Celoron there came to Logstown in
August, 1749, the redoubtable George Croghan, sent by Governor Hamil-
ton of Pennsylvania. Croghan, too, was a journalist. He noted down
that "Monsieur Celaroon with two hundred French soldiers passed
through Logstown just before my arrival." Croghan asked the inhab-
itants of the town the object of the expedition and was told that it was
to drive the English away and by burying plates with inscriptions upon
them at the mouth of each remarkable creek to steal away their country.
Croghan's opportune arrival enabled him to effectually checkmate Cd-
oron's efforts to alienate the Indians at Logstown.

In January, 1750, Hamilton, naturally alarmed, forwarded one of
Celoron's letters to the Proprietaries in London, and another to the
governor of New York, that they might be laid before the ministry. The
following is a translation of one of these :

From Oar Camp on Bdle River, at an Ancient Village of the Chooanons, 6di
August, 1749.



i«Cf. T. J. Chapman's note, "Magazine of Western History;" Vol. V, No. 4
(Feb., 1887), p. Aff7.



Digitized by



Google



IN THE NAME OF THE KING 227

Sir:— Haviog been sent with a detachment into these quarters by Monsieur the
Marquis de la Galissoniere, commandant general of New France, to reconcile among
themselves certain savage nations, who are ever at variance on account of the war
just terminated, I have been much surprised to find some traders of your government
in a country to which England never had any pretensions. It even appears that the
same opinion is entertained in New England, since in many of the villages I have
passed through, the English who were trading there have mostly taken flight Those
whom I first fell in with, and by whom I write you, I have treated with all the mildness
possible, although I would have been justified in treating them as interlopers and men
without design, their enterprise being contrary to the preliminaries of peace signed five
months ago. I hope, sir, you will carefully prohibit for the future this trade, which is
contrary to treaties; and give notice to your traders that they will expose them-
selves to great risks in returning to these countries, and that they must impute only to
themselves, the misfortunes they may meet with. I know that our commandant general
would be very sorry to have recourse to violence, but he has orders not to permit for-
eign traders in his government

I have honor to be with great respect. Sir your humble and obedient servant^T

ClEM»0N.

Celoron's force was a formidable one for its time and especially for-
midable at the place. Celoron awed the hostile Indians at Logstown
and remained there two days. He had the English flag hauled down
and the French flag raised. Celoron was firm but wary ; he doubled his
guard and took no chances. He left on August nth. Bonnecamps re-
lates that the village was quite new :

It is hardly more than five or six years since it was established. The savages who
live here are almost all Iroquois; they count about 60 warriors. The English there
were 10 in number and one among them was their chief. M. de Celeron had him come
and ordered him, as he had done the others, to return to his own country. The Eng-
lishman who saw us ready to depart, acquiesced in all that was exacted from him—
firmly resolved, doubtless, to do nothing of the kind, as soon as our backs were turned.

On August 8th Bonnecamps made this record :

M. de Celoron sent me with an officer to examine certain writings which our sav-
ages had seen the evening before on a rock, and which they imagined to contain some
mystery. Having examined it, we reported to him that this was nothing more than three
or four English names scrawled with charcoal. I took the altitude of our camp, the
latitude of which was 40 degrees, 46 minutes.

The real latitude, as fixed by the United States Geological Survey is
40 degrees 28 minutes at the Allegheny Observatory, North Side.

This mention of these rocks is about the first of what the French
and Indians subsequently referred to as the "Written Rocks," and the
English and we following have since called McKees Rocks from the
early McKee settlement there.^* This famous place, now the site of a
large suburb of Pittsburgh, will as this history proceeds, have frequent
mention. Four years later Washington stopped there with Gist to
invite Shingiss to the conference at Logstown (Journal, November 24,
^753)- It was at Logfstown also that Colonel Joshua Fry and the Vir-
ginia commissioners concluded a treaty with the Western Indians, June
i3» 1752.



iTLcttcr copied from ''Histonr Western Penna.,'* etc, p. 36.
isSee various references in "The Wilderness Trail;" C A Haona* Vol. I and Vol
II, p. 180



Digitized by



Google



228 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Celoron having compelled the English traders whom he found estab-
lished at Logstown to leave, sent by them the letter dated August 6,
1749, to Governor Hamilton. There is an apparent discrepancy in the
date of this letter, but Father Lambing thinks the error arose from
transcribing an inverted figure, 6 easily taken for 9. It is well known
from Celoron's own account that he did not reach Chiningue until Au-
gust 9th.

Celoron made a speech to the Indians at the town. He told them he
was on his way down the Ohio to whip home the Twightwees (Miamis)
and the Wyandots for trading with the English. The Logstown Indians,
however, treated his speech with contempt, insisting that to separate
them from the English would be like cutting a man into halves and
expecting him to live. At this place Celoron's Iroquois and Abenakis
allies refused to accompany him farther. They destroyed the plates
which had been affixed to trees, the memorials of the French King's
sovereignty bearing the royal coat of arms.

Leaving Chiningue, the expedition passed two rivers, one on either
side of the Ohio. These evidently were the Big Beaver and Raccoon
creek. They came to the stream they called Kanououara, August 13th.
Here they interred the third plate bearing the usual inscription and with
the customary ceremonies. Part of the description translated read:
"Buried at the mouth and on the north bank of the River Kanououara,
which empties into the eastern side of the Ohio river." Neither Celoron
nor his chaplain gfives such a description of the locality as to warrant
a positive identification of the site. Most probably it was on the north-
erly bank of Wheeling creek at its junction with the Ohio, and near
where Fort Henry was built in 1774. No vestige of this, the third plate,
has ever been discovered.

August 15th the voyagers came to the mouth of the Muskingfum and
buried the fourth plate on the right bank of that river at its junction
with the Ohio. Celoron called the Muskingum, Yenanguakonon, and
stated the burial was on its western bank. This plate was found in 1798
by some boys. It was projecting from the perpendicular face of the
river bank three or four feet below the surface. With a pole the boys
loosened it from its bed and found its composition lead, stamped on its
face with letters in an unknown tongue. Unaware of its historic value
and in want of lead, then scarce in the new country, they carried the
plate home and cast a part of it into bullets. News of the discovery of
so curious a relic soon reached a Marietta resident, who obtained pos-
session of the plate. The boys in their defacement had cut off a large
part of the description, but enough remained to indicate its character.
The plate came into the hands of Caleb Atwater, the Ohio historian,
who sent it to De Witt Clinton, then governor of New York, who pre-
sented it to the Aatiquarian Society of Massachusetts, in whose library
it was deposited. A poor facsimile is shown in Hildreth's "Pioneer His-



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 30 of 81)