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American Historical Society George Thornton Fleming.

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

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etc., again, which they received, and adjourned into a private apartment for the cap-
tain to translate, who understood a little English. After he had done it, the com-
mander desired I would walk in and bring my interpreter to peruse and correct it;
which I did.

13th — The chief officers retired to hold a council of war, which gave me an oppor-
tunity of taking the dimensions of the fort, and making what observations I could.

It is situated on the south or west fork of French Creek, near the water; and is
almost surrounded by the creek, and a small branch of it, which form a kind of
island. Four houses compose the sides. The bastions are made of piles driven into the
ground, standing more than twelve feet above it and sharp at top, with port-holes cut
for cannon, and loop-holes for the small arms to fire through. There are eight six-
pound pieces mounted on each bastion, and one piece of four pounds before the gate.
In the bastions are a guard-house, chapel, doctor's lodging, and the commander's pri-



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248 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

vate store; round which are laid platforms for the cannon and men to stand on.
There are several barracks within the fort, for the soldiers' dwellings, covered some
with bark, and some with boards, made chiefly of logs. There are also several other
houses, such as stables, smiths, etc.

I could get no certain account of the number of men here; but, according to the
best judgment I could form, there are a hundred, exclusive of officers, of whom there
are many. I also gave orders to the people who were with me, to take the exact account
of the canoes, which were hauled up to convey their forces down in the spring. This they
did, and told fifty of birch bark, and a hundred and seventy of pine; besides many others,
which were blocked out, in readiness for being made.

14th — As the snow increased very fast, and our horses daily became weaker, I sent
them o£f unloaded, under the care of Bamaby Currin and two others, to make all con-
venient dispatch to Venango, and there to wait our arrival, if there was a prospect of
the river's freezing ; if not, then to continue down to Shannopin's Town, at the Fork
of the Ohio, and there to wait until we came across the Allegheny; intending myself
to go down by river, as I had the offer of a canoe or two.

As I found many plots concerted to retard the Indians' business, and prevent their
returning with me, I endeavored all that lay in my power to frustrate their schemes,
and I hurried them on to execute their intended design. They accordingly pressed for
admittance this evening, which at length was granted them, privately, to the com-
mander and one or two other officers. The Half-King told me, that he offered the
wampum to the commander, who evaded taking it, and made many fair promises of
love and friendship; said he wanted to live in peace and trade amicably with them, as
a proof of which, he would send some goods immediately down to the Logstown for
them. But I rather think the design of that is to bring away all the straggling traders
they meet, as I privately understood they intended to carry an officer, etc., with them.
And what rather confirms this opinipn, I was inquiring of the commander by what
authority he had made prisoners of our English subjects. He told me that the country
belonged to them; that no Englishman had a right to trade upon those waters; and
that he had orders to make every person prisoner, who attempted it on the Ohio, or the
waters of it.

I inquired of Captain Reparti about the boy, that was carried by this place, as it
was done while the command devolved on him, between the death of the late general,
and the arrival of the present. He acknowledged, that a boy had been carried past;
and that the Indians had two or three white men scalped (I was told by some of the
Indians at Venango, eight) but pretended to have forgotten the name of the place
where the boy came from, and all the particular facts, though he had questioned him
for some hours, as they were carrying him past. I likewise inquired what they had
done with John Trotter and James McClocklan, two Pennsylvania traders, whom they
had taken with all their goods. [James McLaughlin, a servant of Trotter's; see G>L
Recs., Vol. VI, p. 22]. They told me, that they had been sent to Canada, but were now
returned home.

This evening I received an answer to his Honor the Governor's letter from the
commandant

15th — ^The commandant ordered a plentiful store of liquor, and provision to be put
on board our canoes, and appeared to be extremely complaisant, though he was exert-
ing every artifice, which he could invent, to set our Indians at variance with us, to
prevent their going until after our departure; presents, rewards, and everything,
which could be suggested by him or his officers. I cannot say that ever in my life I
suffered so much anxiety, as I did in this affair. I saw that every stratagem, which
the most fruitful brain could invent, was practiced to win the Half-King to their inter-
est; and that leaving him there was giving them the opportunity they aimed at I
went to the Half-King and pressed him in the strongest terms to go; he told me that
the commandant would not discharge him until the morning. I then went to the com-
mandant, and desired him to do their business, and complained of ill treatment; for
keeping them, as they were part of my company, was detaining me. This he promised
not to do, but to forward my journey as much as he could. He protested he did not
keep them, but was ignorant of the cause of their stay; though I soon found it out
He had promised them a present of guns, if they would wait until the morning. As I



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WASHINGTON AND GIST; EMISSARY AND GUIDE 249

was very much pressed by the Indians to wait this day for them, I consented, on a
promise that nothing should hinder them in the morning.

i6th — ^The French were not slack in their inventions to keep the Indians this day also.
But as they were obliged, according to promise, to give the promise, they then endeav-
ored to try the power of liquor, which I doubt not would have prevailed at any other
time than this ; but I argued and insisted with the King so closely upon his word, that
he refrained, and set off with us as he had engaged.

We had a tedious and very fatiguing passage down the creek. Several times we
had liked to have been staved against rocks; and many times we were obliged to get
out all hands and remain in the water half hour or more, getting over the shoals. At
one place, the ice had lodged, and made it impassable by water; we were, therefore,
obliged to carry our canoes across the neck of the land, a quarter of a mile over. We
did not reach Venango until the 22nd, where we met with our horses.

This creek is extremely crooked. I dare say the distance between the fort and
Venango cannot be less than one hundred and thirty miles, to follow the meanders.

23rd — When I got things ready to set off, I sent for the Half-King, to know
whether he intended to go with us or by water. He told me that White Thunder had
hurt himself much, and was sick, and unable to walk ; therefore he was obliged to carry
htm down in a canoe. As I intended to stay here a day or two and knew that Monsieur
Joncaire would employ every scheme to set him against the English, as he had done
before, I told him, I hoped he would guard against his flattery, and let no fine speeches
influence him in their favor. He desired I might not be concerned, for he knew the
French too well, for anything to engage him in their favor, and that though he could
not go down with us, he yet would endeavor to meet us at the fork with Joseph Camp*
bell, to deliver a speech for me to carry to his Honor the Governor. He told me he
would order the Young Hunter to attend us, and get provisions, etc., if wanted.

Our horses were now so weak and feeble, and the baggage so heavy, that we
doubted much their performing it Therefore, myself and others, except the drivers,
who were obliged to ride, gave up their horses for packs, to assist along with the bag-
gage. I put myself in an Indian walking-dress, and continued with them three days,
until I found there was no probability of their getting home in any reasonable time.
The horses became less able to travel every day; the cold increased* very fast; and
the roads were becoming much worse by a deep snow, continually freezing; therefore
as I was uneasy to get back, to make a report of my proceedings to his Honor the
Governor, I determined to prosecute my journey, the nearest way through the woods,
on foot.

Accordingly, I left Mr. Vanbraam in charge of our baggage, with money and
directions to provide necessaries from place to place for themselves and the horses,
and to make the most convenient dispatch in traveling.

I took my necessary papers, pulled off my clothes, and tied myself up in a match-
coat. Then, with gun in hand, and pack on my back, in which were the papers and
provisions, I set out with Mr. Gist, fitted in the same manner, on Wednesday the 26th.
The day following, just after we had passed a place called Murdering Town, we fell
in with a party of French Indians, who had lain in wait for us. One of them fired at
Mr. Gist or me, not fifteen steps off, but fortunately missed. We took this fellow into
custody, and kept him until about nine o'clock at night, then let him go, and walked all
the remaining part of the night without making any stop, that we might get the start
so far, as to be out of reach of their pursuit since we were assured that they would
follow our tracks as soon as it was light The next day we continued traveling until
quite dark, and got to the river about two miles above Shannopin's. We expected to
have found the river frozen, but it was not, only about fifty yards from each shore. The
ice, I suppose, had broken up above^ for it was driving in vast quantities.

There was no way for getting over but on a raft, which we set about, with one poor
hatchet, and finished just after sun-setting. This was a whole day's work; we next
got it launched, then went on board of it, and set off; but before we were half way
over, we were jammed in the ice in such a manner, that we expected every moment
our raft to sink, and ourselves to perish. I put out my setting-pole to try to stop the
raft, that the ice might pass by, when the rapidity of the stream threw it with such
violence against the pole, that it jerked me out into ten feet of water; but I fortunately



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250 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

saved myself by catching hold of one of the raft-logs. Notwithstanding all our efforts,
we could not get to either shore, but were obliged, as we were near an island, to quit
our raft and make to it.

The cold was extremely severe, that Mr. Gist had all his fingers and some of his
toes frozen, and the water was shut up so hard, that we found no difficulty in getting
off the island on the ice in the morning, and went to Mr..Frazier's. We met here with
twenty warriors, who were going southward to war; but coming to a place on the
head of the Great Kenhawa, where they found seven people killed and scalped, they
turned around and ran back, for fear the inhabitants should rise and take them as the
authors of the murder. They report that the bodies were lying about the house, and
some of them much torn and eaten by the hogs. By the marks which were left, they
say they were French Indians of Ottoway nation, who did it

As we intended to take horses here, and it required some time to find them, I went
up about three miles to the mouth of Youghiogany, to visit Queen Aliquippa, who had
expressed great concern that we passed her in going to the fort I made her a present
of a match-coat and a bot|le of nun, which the latter was thought much better than
the former.

Tuesday, the ist of January, we left Mr. Frazier's house, and arrived at Mr.
Gist's, at MonongaKela, the 2nd, where I bought a horse and saddle. The 6th, we met
seventeen horses loaded with materials and stores for a fort at the Fork of Uie Ohio,
and the day after, some families going out to settle. This day, we arrived at Will's
Creek, after as fatiguing a journey as it is possible to conceive, rendered so by the
excessive bad weather. From the last of December to the 15th, there was but one day
on which it did not rain or snow incessantly; and throughout the whole journey, we
met with nothing but one continued series of cold, wet weather, which occasioned very
uncomfortable lodgings, especially after we had quitted our tent.

On the nth, I got to Belvoir, where I stopped one day to take necessary rest; and
then set out and arrived in Williamsburg the 16th, when I waited upon his Honor the
Governor, and to give an account of the success of my proceedings. This leave to do
by offering the foregoing narrative, as it contains the most remarkable occurrences,
which happened in my journey.

I hope what has been said will be sufficient to make your Honor satisfied with my
conduct; for that was my aim in undertaking the journey, and chief study throughout
the prosecution of it

Gist kept a journal also of this eventful journey. He corroborates
Washington. The terrible night on the island in the Allegheny, Gist
passes over lightly, admitting that he had his fingers frostbitten. If the
cold was so severe that Gist suffered so much, how about Washington ?
Washington says Gist had his toes frosted. If Washington was affected
by the frost on this night, the world never knew it. It may have been
he took more caution and had better covering. It is certain that neither
slept.

Christopher Gist's Journal— 1753.

Wednesday 14 November, 1753 — Major George Washington came to my house at
Will's Creek, and delivered me a letter from the council in Virginia, requesting me to
accompany him up to the commandant of the French fort on the Ohio river.

Thursday 15— We set out, and at night encamped at George's Creek, about eight
miles, where a messenger came with letters from my son, who had just returned from
his people at the Cherokees, and lay sick at the mouth of the Conegocheague. But as I
found myself entered again on public business, and Major Washington and all the com-
pany unwilling I should return I wrote and sent medicines to my son, and so continued
my journey, and encamped at a big hill in the forks of Youghiogany, about eighteen
miles.

Friday 16 — The next day set out to go to the big fork of said river, about ten
miles there.



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WASHINGTON AND GIST; EMISSARY AND GUIDE 251

Saturday 17 — ^We encamped and rested our horses, and then we set out early in the
morning.

Sunday i8—iAnd at night got to my house in the new settlement, about twenty-one
miles; snow about ankle deep.

Monday 19 — Set out, across Big Youghiogany, to Jacob's cabins, about twenty
miles. Here some of our horses straggled away, and we did not get away until eleven
o'clock.

Tuesday 20— Set out, had rain in the afternoon, I killed a deer; traveled about
seven miles.

Wednesday 21 — ^It continued to rain'. Stayed all day.

Thursday 22 — ^We set out and came to mouth of Turtle Creek, about twelve miles,
to John Frazier's; and he was very kind to us, and lent us a canoe to carry our bag-
gage to the forks, about ten miles.

Friday 23 — Set out, rid to Shannopin's town, and down Allegheny to the mouth of
the Monongahela, where we met our baggage, and swimmed our horses over the Alle-
gheny, and there encamped that night

Saturday 24— Set out; we went to King Shingiss, and he and Lawmolach went
with us to the Logstown, and we spoke to the chiefs this evening, and repaired to our
camp.

Sunday 25 — They sent out for their people to come in. The Half -King came in
this afternoon.

Monday 26— We delivered our message to the Half -King and they promised by him
that we should set out three nights after.

Tuesday 27 — Stayed in our camp. Monacatoocha and PoUatha Wappia gave us
some provisions. We stayed until the 29th when the Indians said, they were not ready.
They desired us to stay until the nc:tt day and as the warriors were not come, the Half-
King said he would go with us himself, and take care of us.

Friday 30 — ^We set out, and the Half -King and two old men and one young warrior,
with us. At night we encamped at the Murthering town, about fifteen miles, on a
branch of Great Beaver Creek. Got some com and dried meat.

Saturday i December — Set out,, and at night encamped at the crossing of Beaver
Creek from the Kaskuskies to Venango about thirty miles. The next day rain; our
Indians went out hunting; they killed two bucks. Had rain all day.

Monday 3 — ^We set out and traveled all day. Encamped at night on one of the
head brandies of Great Beaver Creek about twenty-two miles.

Tuesday — ^We set out and traveled all day. Reached the town of Venango, about
fifteen miles, where we were kindly and complaisantly received by Monsieur Joncaire,
the French interpreter for the Six Nations.

Wednesday 5 — ^Rain all day. Our Indians were in council with the Delawares,
who lived tmder the French colors, and ordered them to deliver up to the French the
belt, with the marks of the four towns, according to desire of King Shingiss. But the
chief of these Delawares said, "It is true King Shingiss is a great man, but he had
sent no speech, and," said he, "I cannot pretend to make a speech for a King." So our
Indians could not prevail with them to deliver their belt; but the Half -King did deliver
his belt, as he was determined. Joncaire did everything he could to prevail on our
Indians to stay behind us, and I took all care to have them along with us.

Thursday 6— We set out late in the day and accompanied by the French General
and four servants or soldiers and

Friday 7— All encamped at Sugar Creek, dye miles from Venango. The creek
being very high we were obliged to carry all our baggage over on trees, and swim our
horses. The Major and I went first over, with our boots on.

Saturday 9 — ^We set out and traveled twenty-five miles to Cussewago, an old Indian
town.

Sunday 9 — We set out, left one of our horses here that could travel no further.
This day we traveled to the big crossing about fifteen miles, and encamped, our
Indians went out to look out logs to make & raft ; but as the water was high and there
were other creeks to cross, we concluded to keep up this side of the creek.

Monday lo—Set out traveled about eight miles, and encamped. Our Indians killed



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252 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

a bear. Here we had a creek to cross, very deep ; we got over on a tree, and got our
goods over.

Tuesday ii — ^We set out, traveled about fifteen miles to the French fort, the sun.
being set. Our interpreter gave the commandant notice of our being over the creek;
upon which he sent several officers to conduct us to the fort, and they received us
with a great deal of complaisance.

Wednesday 12 — The Major gave the passport, showed his commission, and offered
the Governor's letter to the commandant ; but he desired not to receive them, until the
other commander from Lake Erie came, whom he had sent for and expected next day
by twelve o'clock.

Thursday 13— The other General came. The Major delivered the letter, and
desired a speedy answer; the time of year and business required it They took our
Indians into private council, and gave them several presents.

Friday 14 — ^When we had done our business, they delayed and kept our Indians,
until Sunday; then we set out with the two canoes, one for our Indians, and the
other for ourselves. Our horses we had sent away some days before, to wait at
Venango, if ice appeared on the rivers and creeks.

Sunday 16— We set out by water about sixteen miles, and encamped. Our Indians
went before us, passed the little lake, and we did not come up with them that night.

Monday 17 — ^We set out to our Indians' camp. They were out hunting; they
killed three bears. We stayed this day, and

Tuesday 18 — One of our Indians did not come to camp. So we finding the waters
lower verj' fast, were obliged to go and leave our Indians.

Wednesday 19— We set out about seven or eight miles and encamped, and the
next day

Thursday 20 — About twenty miles, where we were stopped by ice, and worked
until night.

Friday 21 — The ice was so hard we could not break our way through, but were
obliged to haul our vessels across a point of land and put them in the creek again.
The Indians and three French canoes overtook us here, and the people of one French
canoe that was lost, with her cargo of powder and lead. This night we encamped
about twenty miles above Venango.

Saturday 22— Set out. The creek began to be very low and we were forced to get
out, to keep our canoe from over-setting, several times; the water freezing to our
clothes; and we had the pleasure of seeing the French overset, and the brandy and
wine afloat in the creek, and run by them, and left them to shift for themselves. Came
to Venango, met with our people and horses.

Sunday 23 — We set out from Venango, traveled above five miles to Lacomick
Creek.

Monday 24 — ^Here Major Washington set out on foot in Indian dress. Our horses
grew weak, that we were mostly obliged to travel on foot, and had snow all day.
Encamped near the barrens.

Tuesday 25 — Set out and traveled on foot to branches of Great Beaver Creek.

Wednesday 26 — ^The Major desired me to set out on foot, and leave our company,
as the creeks were frozen, and our horses could make but little way. Indeed, I was
unwilling he should undertake such a travel, who had never been used to walking
before this time. But as he insisted on it, I set out with our packs like Indians, and
traveled eighteen miles. That night we lodged at an Indian cabin, and the Major was
much fatigued. It was very cold ; all the small runs were frozen, that we could hardly
get water to drink.

Thursday 27 — We rose early in the morning, and set out tbout two o'clock. Got
to the Murdering town, on the southeast fork of Beaver creek. Here we met with an
Indian whom I thought I had seen at Joncairc's, at Venango, when on our journey up
to the French fort. This fellow called me by my Indian name, and pretended to be
glad to see me. He asked me several qustions, as how we came to travel on foot, when
we left Venango, where we parted with our horses, and when would be there, etc
Major Washington insistd on traveling on the nearest way to forks of the Allegheny.
We asked the Indian if he could go with us, and show us the nearest way. The



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WASHINGTON AND GIST; EMISSARY AND GUIDE 253

Indian seemed very glad and ready to go with us. Upon which we set out, and the
Indian took the Major's pack. We traveled very brisk for eight or ten miles when the
Major's feet grew very sore, and he very weary, and the Indian steered too much
northeastward. The Major desired to encamp, to which the Indian asked to carry his
gun. But he refused that; then the Indian grew churlish and pressed us to keep on,
telling us that there were Ottawa Indians in these woods, and they would scalp us if
we lay out, but to go to his cabin and we would be safe. I thought very ill of the
fellow, but did not care to let the Major know I mistrusted him. But he soon mis-
trusted him as much as I. He said he could hear a gun to his cabin, and steered us
more northwardly. We grew uneasy, and then he said two whoops might be heard to
his cabin. We went two miles further; and then the major said he would stay at the
next water, and we desired the Indian to stop at the next water. But before we came
to water, we came to a clear meadow; it was very light, and snow on the ground.
The Indian made a stop, turn about; the Major saw him turn his gun toward us and
fire. Said the Major, '*Arc you shot?" No," said I. Upon which the Indian ran for-
ward to a big standing white oak, and to loading his gun ; but we were soon with him.
I would have killed him, but the Major would not suffer me to kill him. The Major or
I always stood by the guns; we made him make a fire for us by a little run, as if we
intended to sleep there. I said to the Major, "As you will not have him killed, we must
get him away, and then we must travel all night." Upon which I said to the Indian,
"I suppose you were lost ; and fired your gun." He said he knew the way to his cabin,
and 'twas but a little way. "Well," said I, "do you go home, and as we are much tired,
we will follow your track in the morning ; and here is a cake of bread for you, and you



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 34 of 81)