Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 16 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 16 of 192)
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shadow of hope remained, and while some of
the garrison slept, the rest watched. They
told them to wait until morning. They as-
sented, and suspended their fire. When
morning came, they sent out two persons, on
pretense of treating, but in reality to learn the
truth of the preparations to burn the block-
house, whose sides were pierced with bullets

and scorched with fire. In spite of the capit-
ulation, they were surrounded and seized,
and, having been detained for some time in
the neighborhood, were sent as prisoners to
Detroit, where Ensign Christie soon made his


During the interval between the summer
and fall of 1763 many barbarities were com-
mitted by the Indians upon the white settlers.
Late in tliat year a covenant was made with
the tribes of New York and Western Penn-
sylvania, but hostilities, though not upon an
extended scale, were soon renewed. Early in
1764, a British army of 8,000, under the com-
mand of (Jen. Bradstreet, passed up the lake
in canoes. They stopped at Presque Isle and
dragged their canoes across the neck of the
peninsula to avoid paddling several miles
around. After relieving Detroit, Bradstreet
returned to Presque Isle, where, on the 1:2th
of August, 1764, he made a treaty of peace
with the Dela wares and Shawnees, which
was scarcely signed till it was broken.

No authentic record of events in this sec-
tion can be found from that date until 1794.
The fort appears to have been abandoned,
and it is probable that the English made no
attempt to exercise more than nominal control
over the country.



The treaty of peace with Great Britain,
which secured the independence of the United
States, was made in 1788. By its provisions
the British Government abandoned all claim
to the western country, and agreed to with-
draw its troops and yield up the forts, block-
houses and other military structures. In Oc-
tober, 1784, a treaty was made with the vSix
Nations by which they relinquished to Penn-
sylvania all of the northwestern part of the
State to a line parallel with the southern
boundary of New York. By another treaty,
made on the 9th of January, 1789, with a por-
tion only of the Six Nations, they acknowl-
edged " the right of soil and jurisdiction to
and over" the Triangle " to be vested in the
State of Pennsylvania." Some dissatisfaction
having arisen among the Seneca tribe in
consequence of this act, the Legislature em-
powered the Governor to draw a warrant for
$800 in favor of Cornplanter, Half Town and



Big Tree, in trust for the use of the tribe and
in full satisfaction of all demands, in consider-
ation of which the said chiefs, on the 8d of
February, 1791, signed a release of all claims
against the State for themselves and their peo-
ple forever. On the M of March, 1792, the
Triangle was purchased from the United States
by the Commonwealth, and a month later an
act of Assembly was passed to encourage its
setilement by white people. State troops, to
facilitate this puipose, were first stationed at
LeBa?uf early in May, 1794.


The treaty which ceded the territory em-
braced in the Triangle was very obnoxious to
a large portion of the Six Nations, among the
most hostile being Joseph Brant, head of the
Mohawk tribe. On the other hand. Corn-
planter, the Seneca chief, was friendly to the
Americans, and it was mainly through his ef-
forts that another war with the Indians was
averted. Early in 1794, an Indian council
was held at Buffalo to protest against the set-
tlement at Presque Isle, on the result of which,
it was given out, would depend the issue of
peace or war. To this council Cornplanter,
whom Brant was seeking to win to his side,
W'as invited. It was attended by Gen. Israel
Chapin, United States Superintendent of the
Six Nations, who wrote to the Secretary of
War: "lam afraid of the consequences of
the attempt to settle Presque Isle at present.
The Indians do not acknowledge the validity
of the Cornplanter sale to Pennsylvania." By
request of the council, he went to LeBoeuf on
or about the 26th of June, 1794, accompanied
by Mr. Johnson, British Indian Agent, and
twenty-five chiefs and warriors, the purpose
of the latter being to remonstrate with the
State officers at that post against the placing
of garrisons in the Northwest. The repre-
sentatives of the Six Nations claimed to be
anxious to live at peace with the United
States, but pretended to be much disturbed by
the presence of the troops, fearing that it
would involve them in strife with the hostile
Indians. They were assured by Ellicott and
Denny, the state officers at LeBicuf, that the
soldiers could not move from there till or-
dered, and that they would await the com-
mands of their superiors in authority. The
council adjourned without accomplishing any-
thing of a definite character. Another Indian

council was held at LeBoeuf on the 4th of
July, 1794, at w-hich the chiefs reiterated their
purpose of preventing a garrison being sta-
tioned at Presque Isle.

Wayne's vicTduv settled all trouble.
The savages continued to be sullen and
threatening for some months. .Several raid.s
were made upon the southern settlements,
among others on Cussewago, near the Craw-
ford county line. A Mr. Dickson, living
near there, was fired upon by a party of In-
dians on the 10th of September. Twelve
soldiers, sent from LeBunif for the protection
of the settlement, were fired upon, and the
Indians drove oft' several horses.

Matters remained in this alarming condi-

I tion till October, when news reached LeBopuf

I of Wayne's victory on the Maumee. This had
a wonderful effect on the Indians of our vicin-

; ity. A number of warriors of the Six Nations
had taken part in the fight, and the reports
they brought back of Wayne's fighting quali-
ties had a disheartening effect upon their com-
rades. The .Senecas, who had been strongly
urged to go into the war, gave the messengers
a peremptory refusal. Notwithstanding this
decision, disturbances broke out on several

j occasions. On Saturday, the 29th of May,
1795, four men who were journeying from
LeBwuf to Presque Isle were attacked
near the present Union depot in Erie, by a
party of Indians, in retaliation, it is supposed,
because some of their friends had been fired

i upon by wliites along the Allegheny. Ralph
Rutledge, one of the number, was killed and
scalped, and his body was interred on a piece
of rising ground on the west side of State

i street, near its junction with Turnpike. His
son was also shot and scalped, but lived to be
taken to the fort at LeBoeuf, where he died.

i This is the last Indian difficulty known to
have taken place in the county.

A treaty of peace was effected with the
Western tribes by Gen. Wayne at Greenville,
Ohio, on the 3d of August, 1795, and another
was made with the Six Nations at Canan-
daigua, X. Y., on the 9th of November en-

1 villages and graveyards of the INDIANS.

There is no evidence that any large num-

' ber of Indians ever made their abode within

the limits of Erie county after it became



known to the whites. In 1795, there were
Indian villages on Mill creek, and at the head
of the bay, each numbering from twentj' to
thirty families. Other villages were located at
Waterford and Cranesville.

On the Scouller farm, in the southeast cor-
ner of the city, was an Indian graveyard,
where the boys of fifty years ago used to dig
into the mounds and gather bones as relics.
The first field east of the burial ground was
cleared in 1821. For some years after it was
a frequent thing to find stone hatchets and
other rude implements of the aborigines. It
was the custom for many years after the in-
coming of the whites, for parties of Indians
to camp near by and indulge in peculiar rites
in commemoration of their ancestors. The
last Indian encampment was in June, 1841,
when about a dozen Indians spent a couple of
days on the site.

Indian graves, arrow heads, pieces of pot-
tery, and other curiosities have been found in
a grave on the Hunter place, bordering French
creek, in LeBoeuf township. A graveyard
was opened on the Ebersole farm, east of

Erie City, which contained numerous bones,
beads and other Indian remains. All of the
bodies were in a sitting position. Graves
have been foimd in spots all along the Ridge
road from Ebersole's woods to State street in

Early in the century occasional bodies of
Indians passed through the county on friendly
visits between the New York and the West-
ern tribes. Parties of 100 to 150 red men,
women and children are known to have en-
camped on the parks in the City of Erie.

ixniAX PuncirAsp;s.

The land in tiic northern and northwestern
parts of the State was purchased from the Si.x
Nations by commissioners appointed by the
Legislature, who met in conference with the
Indians at Fort Stanwix (now Rome), N. Y.,
and concluded a treaty in October, 1784. This
action of the Six Nations was confirmed by a
treaty made with the Delawares and Wj'an-
dots at Fort Mcintosh in January, 1785.
Neither of these purchases covered the terri-
tory known as " The Triangle."


iND Death of Gkx. A:

THIS work would not be complete with-
out a sketch of the career of Gen. An-
thony Wayne, whose last sickness,
death and burial are inseparably asso-
ciated with the history of Erie county.
He was born in the, township of Eastown,
Chester county, Pa., on the 1st of January,
1745. After receiving a good education,
he embraced the profession of a surveyor,
at which lie was engaged for a brief period in
his native county. A member of the Assem-
bly in 1774, and of the Provincial Convention
in the same year, to consider the troubles with
Great Britain, he became one of the Commit-
tee of Safety in 1775. Believing war to be
inevitable, he resigned his civil office in Sep-
tember, and, after some time spent in military

study and practice, raised a regiment, of which
he was commissioned colonel. His first serv-
ice was with Gen. SulliNan in the spring of
1776, and he bore a brilliant part in the battle
of Three Rivers, Canada. When the expedi-
j tion returned, he was placed in charge of the
posts of Ticonderoga and Mt. Independence.
In February, 1777, he was commissioned a
brigadier general, and served with Washing-
ton in the New Jersej' and Delaware Valley
campaign. On the 20th of September, 1777,
while stationed at Paoli, near his Ciiester
county home, with a detachment of 1,500
men, "his position was betrayed by some tories
to the enemy, who fell upon him during the
night and killed and wounded one-tenth of his
command. A court-martial convened bv Gen.

^A^^^-dL^^^^-^ cV^



Washington, at Wayne's urgent request, de-
cided, after minute investigation, tliat he did
everything that could be expected from an
active, brave and gallant officer under the
orders which he then had.


He led the attack of the American right
wing at Germantown, and received the special j
applause of Washington for his conduct at ■
■Monmouth. His surprise and capture of i
vStony Point, one of the strongest British posi- '
tions on the Hudson, was among the most gal-
lant events of the war, and elicited resolutions
of thanks from Congress and the Legislature
of Pennsylvania. His last sphere of duty
during the Revolution was in Georgia, from
which he succeeded in driving the enemy- He
was distinguished in all councils of war for
supporting the most energetic measures, from
which, and from his wonderful dash and cour-
age, he won the popular appellation of " Mad j
Anthony." At the close of the war, he re- !
tired to his farm in Chester count^^ He was
called in 1789 to serve in the Pennsylvania i
convention, and in that body earnestly advo- i
cated the adoption of the United States Con- ;


In the year 1792, Wayne was commis-
sioned major general by President Washing-
ton and assigned to the Northwestern frontier,
for the purpose of forcing the Indians into
subjection. After various minor engage-
ments, he gained a signal victory over the sav-
ages on the Maumee, in August, 1794. His
skill, promptness and bravery made a strong
impression among the hostile tribes, and they
hastened to sue for forgiveness. He was then
appointed sole commissioner to deal with them
on the part of the United States, and effected
a treaty of peace at Greenville, Ohio, in 1795,
which paved the way for the settlement of
northwestern Pennsvlvania and northern Ohio.


In the fall of 1796 he embarked in a small
vessel at Detroit for Presque Isle, now Erie,
on his way homeward. During his passage
down the lake, he was attacked with the gout,
which had afflicted him for .some years, and
Tieen much aggravated by his exposure in the

Western wilds. The vessel being without
suitable remedies, he could obtain no relief,
and on landing at Presque Isle was in a dan-
gerous condition. By his own request, he was
taken to the block house, the attic of which
had been fitted up as a sleeping apartment.
Dr. J. C. Wallace, who had served with him
as a surgeon during his Indian campaign, and
who was familiar with his disease, was then
stationed at Fort Fayette, near Pittsburg. The
general sent a messenger for the doctor, and
the latter started instantly for Erie, but on
reaching Franklin was astonished to learn
the news of his death, which occurred on the
15th of December, 1796. Two days after his
death the body was buried, as he directed, in
a plain coffin, with his uniform and boots on,
at the foot of the flagstaff of the block house.
The top of the coffin was marked, "A. W.,
O. B., December 15, 1796," in round-headed
brass tacks, driven into the wood. At the
time of his decease Wayne was the ranking
officer of the United States army.


In the spring of 1809, Col. Isaac Wayne,
the general's son, came to Erie, through what
was then a wilderness, for the purpose of re-
moving the remains to Chester county. He
engaged Dr. Wallace, the same one spoken of
above, to attend to the disinterment and pre-
paration of the remains, and gave him entire
charge of the operation, declining to witness
it on the giound that he preferred to remem-
ber his father as as he knew him when living.
On opening the grave, all present were amazed
to find the body petrified, with the e.xception
of one foot and leg, which were partially gone.
The boot on the unsound leg had decayed and
most of the clothing was missing. Dr. Wal-
lace separated the body into convenient parts
and placed them in a kettle of boiling water
until the flesh could be removed from the bones.
He then carefully scraped the bones, packed
them in a small bo.x and returned the flesh,
with the implements used in the operation, to
the coffin, which had been left undisturbed,
and it was again covered over with earth.
The box was secured to Col. Wayne's sulky
and carried to Eastern Pennsylvania, where
the contents were deposited in a second grave
among those of the general's deceased relatives.

In explanation of Dr. Wallace's course, it
is argued that the remains had to be placed in


as small a space as possible, to accommodate
the means of conveyance. Col. Wayne is
reported to have said, in regard to the affair:
" I always regretted it ; had I known the state
the remains were in before separated I think
1 should certainly have had them again depos-
ited there and let them rest, and had a monu-
ment erected to his memory. "


About the year 1878 Dr. Germer, for many
years Health Officer of the city of Erie, ascer-
tained the site of the block-house, which had
long before disappeared with the other struc-
tures, and digging down at the foot of the
flagstaff readily found the grave and coffin.
The lid of the coffin, with the initials, etc.,
before described, upon it, was fairly preserv-
ed, but the balance had mostly rotted away.
Largely through the efforts of Dr. Germer
and Capt. Welsh, an appropriation was ob-
tained from the Legislature, with which a
substantial log block-house in imitation of the
original was built in 1880, to mark the site,
and the grounds were surrounded by a railing
with cannon at each of the four corners. The
grave has been neatly and substantially built
up with stone, and the coffin lid, with other
relics of the early days, is carefullj- sheltered
within the block house — the whole forming as
appropriate a monument to the hero as could
well be devised. The block-house is on the
grounds of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home,
and is open to visitors during certain hours of
each week dav.


The Wayne familj' burial ground, where
the bones of the gallant General repose, is in
the cemetery attached to St. David's Episco-
pal Church, at Radnor, Delaware county, not
far from the Chester county line, less than an
hour's walk from Waj'ne Station, on the
Pennsylvania R. R., and fourteen miles west
from Philadelphia. A plain granite shaft,
with a pyramid cap, has been erected over
the remains, one side of which contains the
following inscription :






A. D. 1745.















FuExcH AND English Occupation.

AS early as KUl-li' Sieur do Cham-
plain, an athenturou.s Frenchman, as-
cended the chain of lakes as far as
Lake Huron. At a period extending
from 1()L>0 to 1640 the Indians were
\ isitod by numerous French Catholic priests,
among whom were the celebrated Joliet and
Marquette, on the double mission of spread-
ing the Gospel and promoting the interests of
their king and nation. In 1679 La Salle
launched the schooner Griffin in Niagara
river, and sailed with a picked body of men to
Green bay, in Lake Michigan. A French
post was established at Mackinaw in 1G84.
The dominion of the country was not wholly
given over to the French by the English until
1T53. The French did a large trade with the
Indians by exchanging beads, goods, pro-
visions, guns and ammunition for furs.

Although the French possession was un-
disturbed for years, it must not be inferred
that it was quietly acquiesced in by the Eng-
lish. The French claimed that their discovery
of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi en-
titled them to the ownership of the territory
bordering upon those streams and their tribu-
taries. The English claim was based upon a
grant by King James I, in 1606, to "divers
of his subjects, of all the countries between
north latitude 48 deg. and 34 deg., and west-
ward from the Atlantic ocean to the South
sea," and also upon purchases of Western
lands made from the Six Nations by commis-
sioners from Pennsylvania, Maryland and
Virginia, representing the mother country^
A long and sometimes acrimonious contro-
versy was waged between the foreign depart-
ments of the two nations over the question.


Up to the year 1749 the French had done
nothing of an official nature looking to the

occupation of the country between Lake Erie
and the Ohio. Their discoverers had taken
possession of it long before in the name of the
king, and from that time it had been a sort of
common tramping ground for traders of both
nations, without being directly subject to the
control of either. In the year named Capt.
Celeron, with a detachment of 800 men, was
sent by the Captain General of Canada to
" renew the French possession " of the Ohio
and its tributaries. He came up Lake Erie to
the mouth of Chautauqua creek, from which
point he crossed over to the Allegheny. De-
scending the latter river and the Ohio as far
as the Muskingum, he deposited leaden plates
at the mouths of some of the most important
streams, as a "monument of renewal of pos-
session," and as a mark for the guidance of
those who might follow him. The expedition
caused much alarm among the Indians, who
regarded it as the beginning of a scheme to
" steal their country," and also created much
commotion throughout the English colonies.


The final occupation by the French began
in the spring of 1753. The expedition was in
charge of three young officers — Sieur Marin,
commander, and Major Pean and the Cheva-
lier Mercier, assistants — and consisted, ac-
cording to various authorities, of from 250 to
800 men. The little army marched up Lake
Erie by land and ice to Presque Isle, where it
was decided to build a fort and establish a
base of supplies. The reasons which prompt-
ed the selection of Presque Isle were the short
portage to Lake LeBoouf and the facility with
which canoes could be floated down French
creek from the latter to the Allegheny.

On the 3d of August the fort at Presque
Isle was finished, the Portage road, six leagues
long, was " ready for carriages," the store-
house, half way across, was in a condition to


receive stock, and the fort at LeBoeuf was
nearly completed. The Indians willingly as-
sisted in the transportation of the stores.
Among the soldiers was one Stephen Coffin,
who gives the following account of the Fi-ench
Fort Presque Isle : "It was of chestnut logs,
squared and lapped over each other to the
height of fifteen feet, about 120 feet on the
sides, with a log house in each corner, and
had gates in the north and south sides."


The Commander-in-Chief, Marin, died in
the fall of 1753, soon after the main body of
the troops started on their return to Can-
ada, leaving the forts at Presque Isle and Le-
Bceuf respectively in charge of Capt. Riparti
and Commander St. Pierre. The latter was
visited during the winter by a gentleman who
afterward rose to the first place in American
love and history. This was no less a person-
age than George Washington, then in his
twenty- first year, who was accompanied by
Christopher Gist, an experienced white fron-
tiersman, and one Indian interpreter. They
reached LeBcpuf on the 11th of December and
remained till the 16th, during which time Capt.
Riparti was called over from Presque Isle to
confer with Washington and St. Pierre.
Washington's treatment, though formal, was
courteous and kind, and he has left on record
in his journal a warm compliment to the gen-
tlemanly character of the French officers.
The object and result of Washington's mission
are given in the following letters, the first be-
ing the one he was charged with delivering to
the Commander-in-Chief of the French forces
by Gov. Dinwiddle, of Virginia, and the sec-
ond the reply of St. Pierre :

uinwiddie's letter.

October 31, 1753.
Sir: The lands upon the River Ohio, in the
western part of the colony of Virg-inia, are so no-
toriously known to be the property of the crown
of Great Britain that it is a matter of equal con-
cern and surprise to ine to hear that a body of
French forces are erecting^ fortresses and making-
settlements upon that river within His Majesty's
dominions. The many and repeated complaints I
have received of these acts of hostility lay me un-
der the necessity of sending-, in the name of the
King, my master, the bearer hereof, George
Washington, Esq., one of the Adjutants General
of the forces of this dominion, to complain to you
(if the encroachments thus made, and of the in-
juries done to the subjects of Great Britain, in

violation of the law of nations and the treaties
subsisting between the two crowns. If these facts
are true and you think fit to justify your proceed-
ings, I must desire you to acquaint me by whose
authority and instructions you have lately
marched from Canada with an armed force and
invaded the King of Great Britain's territory, in
the manner complained of; that, according to the
purport and resolution of your answer, I may act
agreeably to the commission I am honored with

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 16 of 192)