Boyd Crumrine.

History of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

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" Given under my Hand, at Fort Dunmore, this 30th Day of December,

"John Connolly."

The Augusta County Court.— The Augusta County
court had not been opened at Fort Dunmore on
December •20th, as had been determined, but on the
12th of December, 1774, a writ had been i.ssued by
Lord Dunmore, tested in the name of his Majesty,
adjourning the county court of Augusta County from
Staunton to Fort Dunmore, accompanied with a new
commission of the peace, embracing, with the old
justices of the parent county, the names of such of the
adherents in the Monongahela valley as were re-
garded as proper persons for Virginia magistrates.'
Their first term of court was held at Fort Dunmore
on Feb. 21, 1775, at which time George Croghan,

John Campbell, John Connolly, Thomas
1775. Smallman, Dorsey Pentecost, John Gibson,

George Vallandigham, and William Goe
appeared, took the qualifying oaths, and occupied
their seats as justices. And see the policy observed
even here. Croghan, during the Dunmore war, had
become quite a Pennsylvanian; he is now made the
presiding justice, and this brought him back among
the Virginia partisans. And from this date there were
not only two different sets of magistrates, with their
subordinate officers, assessors, and commissioners,
over the same people in the Monongahela Valley,

^ For the record of this writ, and the new commission of the peace,
see the records of the Augusta County Court, hereafter.

but within a few miles of each other had been estab-
lished two different courts, regularly (or irregularly)
administering justice under the laws of two different

governments !

On the very next day after the first sitting of the
Fort Dunmore court, on Feb. 22, 1775, Robert llanna
and James Caveat, ju-stices, were both arrested for the
performance of their duties as Penn.sylvania magis-
trates and confined at Pittsburgh, where they re-
mained for about three months, vainly endeavoring
to obtain a release.'' After fruitless efforts to obtain
relief from the Governor and Council, then probably
employed with affairs of a most auspicious nature,
the sheriff of Westmoreland County aided by a posse
of an effective strength proceeded to the place of their
incarceration the latter part of June, and set them at
large, carrying Dr. Connolly along with them. .Just
when they were released does not appear, but to July
term, 1775, of the Court of Common Pleas of West-
moreland County there is found an action of Capias
in Cose indicating an arrest for damages, brought by
Robert Hanna, E.sq., v. John Connolly. The writ
is returned, C. C, that defendant is arrested. This
cause, the only one in the records of Westmoreland
County having a reference to the Virginia contro-
versy, is marked, " October, ended, says Plfl'.," which
is probably explained by a letter from Valentine
Crawford to George Washington, dated June 24,
1775,' from which is extracted as follows :

" We have chosen committees out heie, and are raising an independ-
ent company, regulating matters the liest we can ; but an unliappy
confusion happened the other day. The Pennsylvanians came to Fort
Pitt with the Sheriff and about twenty men, and took Major Connolly
about midnight, and carried him as far as Ligonier, the very night he-
fore we were to have the talk with the Indians. ... On Major Connolly
being taken, the people of Chai tiers came in a company and seized tliree
of the Pennsylvania magistrates, who were concerned in taking off
Connolly, — Geoige Wilson, Joseph Spear, and Devereux So ith. They
were sent in an old leaky boat down to Fort Fincaslle* under ginird.
Our court, however, had no hand in this. It was done l»y a mob or set of
Connolly's friends on Chaitiers Creek. Tlie members of our committee
wrote a very spirited letter to the gentlemen of the Pennsylvania com-
mittee,^ demanding Connolly hack. All signed it and sent it with an
express. On its receipt tliey immediately sent Major Connolly back."

The Revolution. — In the foregoing letter there are
references to a new condition of things. A crisis in
the affairs of the colonies had been reached. The 19th
of April, Lexington and Concord had become famous
as the places where the first struggles for independ-
ence were made, and it is now to be seen what effect
the new order was to have upon the boundary con-
troversy. The astounding news had scarcely reached
the Monongahela River when, on the same day, the
16th day of May, 1775, meetings of citizens were held
both at Hanna's Town and Pittsburgh, at which sep-
arate meetings the two committees — the Virginia and

2 IV. Penn. Archives, 625 ; and see 1. St. Clair Papers, 351, 35S, 355.

2 Washington-Crawford Letters, 102.

* A title in honor of Lord Dunmore; at the present IpVheeling. By
"our court" Crawford means the Fort Dunmore court.

& These committees were Committees of Safety formed to further the
Revolution just begun, and even in this were they divided.



the Pennsylvania committees — referred to by Valen-
tine Crawford were constituted. Extracts from the rec-
ord of the proceedings of these two meetings are now
given :


" At a meeting of tlie inhabitauts of that part of Augusta county that
lies on the west side of Laurel Hill, at Pittsburgh, tlie 16lh day of May.
1775, the following gentlemen were cliusen a committee for the said dis-
trict, viz. : George Croglian, John Campbell, Edward Ward, Thomas
Smallman, John Cannon, John McCulIough, William Goe, George Val-
landigham, John Gibson, Dorsey Pentecost, Edward Cook, William Craw-
ford, Devereux Smith, John Anderson, David Rodgers, Jacob Vanmetre,
Henry Enoch, James Ennis, George Wilson, William Vance, David Shep-
herd, William Elliot, Richmond Willis, Samuel Semple, John Ormsby,
Richard McMahon, John Neville, and John Swearingen.l

" The foregoing gentlemen met in committee and , . .

" Rfisolved, xtnammously^ That this committee have the highest sense
of the spirited behavior of their brethren in New England, and do most
cordially approve of their opposing the invaders ol American rights
and privileges to the utmost extreme, and that each member of this
committee, respectively, will animate and encourage their neighbor-
hood to follow the Iprave example.

"Theimminentdanger that threatens America in general, from min-
isterial and parliamentary denunciations of our ruin, and is now carrying
into execution by open acts of unprovoked hostilities in our sister col-
ony of Massachusetts, as well as the danger to be apprehended to this
colony in particular from a domestic enemy, said to be prompted by the
wicked minions of power to execute our ruin, added to the menaces of
an Indian war, likewise said to be in contemplation, thereby think to
engage our attention, and divert it from that still more interesting ob-
ject of liberty and freedom, that deeply and with so much Justice hath
called forth the attention of all America; for the prevention of all or
any of these impending evils, &c.'^2

Measures were taken to collect from the people, in
a manner the most agreeable to them, so much money
as would be sufficient to purchase half a pound of
gunpowder and one pound of lead, flints, and car-
tridge-paper from every tithable person in the
county, which sum was fixed at two shillings and
sixpence for each tithable. The resolutions, only a
small portion of which are given above, are full of
energy and directness :

"committee of WEST.M0RELAND COUNTV, PA.

"At a general meeting of the inhabitants of the county of Westmore-
land, held at Hanna's Town the 16th day of May, 1775, for taking into
consideration the very alarming situation of the country, occasioued by
the dispute with Great Britain :

" Resolved, unmnmoushj. That the Parliament of Great Britain, by sev-
eral late acts, have declared the inhabituuts of Massachusetts Bay to be
in rebellion, and the ministry, by endeavoring to enforce those acts, have
attempted to reduce the said inhabitants t<j a more wretched state of
slavery than ever before existed in any State or country, not con-
tent with violating the constitutional and chartered rights of humanity,
exposing their lives to the licentious soldiery, and depriving them of the
very means of subsistence,

" Eesolued, vnanivKmsly , That there is no reason to doubt bnt the same
system of tyranny and oppression will (should it meet with success in
Massachusetts Bay) be extended to other parts of America: it is there-
fore become the indispensable duty of every American, of every man who
has any public virtue or love for bis country, or any bowels for posterity, '
by every means which God has put in his power to resist and oppose the
execution of i"t; that for us we will be ready to oppose it with our lives I
and fortunes. And the better to enable us to accomplish it, we will im- i

1 Quite a number of these committeemen were sound Pennsyli
Devereux Smith, George Wilson, William Elliott, John Ormsby, and I
John Swearingen are known to have been, and probably others were.
John Swearingen was the father of Van Swearingen, and lived on the I
Honongahela, below Georges Creek. j

- Craig's History of Pittsburgh, 128. ■'

mediately form ourselves into a military body, to consist of companies
to be made up out of the several townships under the following associa-
tion, which is declared to be the Association of Westmoreland County."

Then follow the Articles of Association, which pro-
vided that the people should form themselves into a
regiment or regiments and choose officers to com-
mand them, in such proportions as should be thought
necessary, and they ended with " No licensed murder 1
no famine introduced by law !"

End of Dr. Connolly's Power. — The spirit of the
Kevolution being abroad, the Monongahela valley
is soon rid of Dr. John Connolly. His royal chief.
Lord Dunmore, had early become alarmed and re-
moved his family on board the " Fowey," a British
man-of-war in the Chesapeake, having previously
taken away the powder from the magazine in Wil-
liamsburg. Patrick Henry, afterwards the illustri-
ous, at the head of a body of armed volunteers, forced
him to surrender the powder, and soon afterwards the
news of Lexington having come, the last British Gov-
ernor of Virginia, on the 8th day of June, 1775, fol-
lows his family to their refuge, and hereafter is the
enemy of his late subjects.' As to Connolly himself,
it has already been seen from the letter of Valentine
Crawford that he had been arrested and carried to
Ligonier, where, on the application of the Revolu-
tionary Committee at Pitsburgh, he had been released.
Arthur St. Clair wrote to Joseph Shippen, Jr., July
12, 1775:* "Whilst Connolly was at my house en-
deavoring to procure bail, I treated him with a good
deal of civility, by which, with the help of a cheerful
glass, I got at some of his designs. He is immediately
to go to England with White Eyes and some other
Delaware chiefs, to solicit for them a confirmation of
the country which they now live in, a great part of
which is within the bounds of this Province, and Lord
Dunmore is to back it with all his interest." But St.
Clair's wine was not quite so successful in uncovering,
Connolly's intentions.

Immediately upon his release. Dr. Connolly pro-
ceeded from Pittsburgh to Lord Dunmore, who sent
him to Gen. Gage, commanding the British forces at
Boston. He left Boston on the 14tli or 15tb September,
and reached Lord Dunmore about the middle of Oc-
tober with instructions from Gen. Gage to Dunmore,
who granted him a commission of lieutenant-colonel
of a regiment to be raised in the " back parts" and
Canada, with power to nominate his subordinate
officers. On Nov. 22, 1775, when the new lieu-
tenant-colonel was on his way to Detroit, where he
was to meet his commission and instructions as an
officer of the British troops to operate against his late
fellow-citizens, he was captured at Hagerstown, in
Maryland, and amongst the papers found in his pos-
session was the following in his own handwriting,

' A History of Virginia, by J, W. Campbell (1813), 154.
1 IV. Penn. Archives, 637 ; I. St, Clair Papers, 3.08,



evidently a copy of the proposals he had laid before
Gen. Gage in the previous September:^

"Propofjala for Raising an Army to tlie westward, Ac, And for oflTect-
uallyObstructinga communication between the Southern and Noiihern

"As I have, by directions from his Excellency, Lord Dunmore, pre-
pared the Ohio Indians to act in conceit with me against his Mnjesty^a
Enemies in that quarter, and have also dispatclied intelligence to the
different Officers of the militia on the frontiers of Augusta County, in
Virginia, giving them Lord Dunmore's assurances that such of them aa
shall hereafter evince their b-yalty to his Majesty, by putting tbeniBelves
under my comnmnd, when I should appear amongst them with proper
Authority for that purpose, of a confirmation of title to their lands,
and the quantity of three hundred acres to all who should take up Arms
in support of the Constitution, when the Present Rebellion is subsided ;
I will undertake to penetrate throngh Virginia, and Join his Excellency,
Lord Dunmore, at Alexandria, early next spring, on the following con-
ditions and authority. . . . [Here followed the several provisions of the
plan of his campaign, the supplies, etc., required.] ... If your Excel-
lency judges it expedient for the good of the service to furnish me with |
the Authority & other requisites I have mentioned, I shall embrace the
earliest opportunity of setting off for Canada, and I shall immediately
dispatch Lord Dunmore's armed Schooner, (which now awaits my Com-
mand,) with an account of what your Excellency has done, and that I
shall be ready, if practicable, to Join his Lordship by the 20th of April,
at Alexandria, where the troops under my command may fortify tbeni-
Belves under Cover of the Men of War on that station. . . ."

This paper, found concealed carefully in Connolly's
saddle at the time of his arrest, is without date, but
is there any further doubt as to the secret purpose of
Dunmore and Connolly, by their usurpations within
our borders, to handicap the efforts of the colonies in
the struggle for independence? But Connolly took
none of the leaders of his Virginia forces into the
British camp with him. Samuel Semple, his father-
in-law ; George Croghan, his uncle ; Dorsey Pente-
cost, the chief of his co-workers, were joining in the
Revolutionary arrangements of the Augusta County
committee, perhaps at the very time lie was prepar-
ing the Ohio Indians to act in concert with him
against his relatives and friends.^

1 For the papers relating to the arrest of Dr. Connolly, the Proposals
and his subsequent fate, see IV. Pennsylvania Archives, 681, 68*2, 654,
695 ; II. Olden Time, 93, 104, 112, 348. He was turned over to Congress
and held until the winter of 1780-81, when he was exchanged. In tlie
summer of 1782, he with one Johnson was at the head of a body of Brit-

sh and Indians at Lake Jadaque(a8 Chautauqua was then called) threat-
ening an attack upon Fort Pitt, but being deterred by a report of the
abundant preparation made, a body of his Indians made the raid on
Haniui's Town on July 13th. After the Revolution was over and the
treaty of peace made with England, Connolly seems to have settled in
Canada, and in 1788 he is found at Louisville, intriguing with the people
of Kentucky, who were said to have made overtures to Lord Dorchester
to be taken under the protection of the British government. (II. St. Clair
Papers. 9S, 101.) Kentucky was theu still within the State of Virgiuia.
(See also coucerning him Jacobs' Life of Cresap, 57, 60.)

2 As this paper is long only portions can be given ; the whole is in IV.
Penu. Archives, 654.

s Cnilg's History of Pittsburgh, 134.

As we are now done with the celebrated Dr. Connolly in the text (and
has this illustrious individual received too much consideration?), that
the reader may know more about his personal history, the following,
found on an interleaf of a * History of the Civil W^ar in America,' in the
handwriting of John Oi'msby, one of the Augusta County Conmiittee, is
added :

"The above Dr. Connolly was born and bred near Wright's Ferry, in
Pennsylvania. His father was a jobber among the farmers on the Sus-
quehanna, who found the secret of pleasing an orderly Quaker widow of
the name of Ewing, and the jobber was a professed papist. This match.

It might have been supposed that once the colonies

of Virginia and Pennsylvania were united in a com-
mon cause of such magnitude as now was pending,
the territorial controversy between them would have
ceased. Not so. However, it will now be necessary
to avoid details and go to generals, showing how that
contest continuing the attention of the Colonial Con-
gress as well as the common friends of both peoples
became actively involved.

Address of Delegates in Congress.— On July 25,
1775, the date when Connolly reached Lord Dunmore
from Gen. Gage at Boston, an address was sent to our
people from the delegates from Pennsylvania and Vir-
ginia in the Continental Congress. As this paper has
been preserved in but few, if in more than one, of the
publications in which it is referred to, it is here copied
entire :

"To THE Inhabitants OF Pennsvlvjs
siO£ OP Lauhel Hill:

*^ Friends and Counlrymeii : It gives ut
turbances have arisen and still contiu
boundaries of our colonies. In the character in which we now address
you, it is unuecessary to inquire into the origiu of these unhappy dis-
putes, and it would be improper for us to express our approbation or

concern to find that dis-
iig you, coucerning the

as might be expected, proved very disagreeable, so that he left nothing
to commemorate his memory but the villanous doctor. This fellow bad
traversed the Illinois country till be could subsist there no longer, so
that he appeared at Pittsburgh a few years before the commencement
of the Revolution. Here he was introduced to Lord Dunmore, who
traveled through the western country to sound the inclination of the
iobabitiiuts as well as the Indians. Connolly, like a hungry wolf, closed
with Dunmore a bargain that he would secure a considerable interest
among the white inhabitants and the Indians on the frontier. In con-
sequence of this agreement my lord made him a deed of gift of 2000
acres of laud at the Falls of the Ohio, and iOUO more to Mr. Jolin Camp-
bell, late of Kentucky, both of which grants are now owned by the heirs
of Col. Campbell. Connolly immediately set himself to work in dia-
eeminating his hellish insinuations among the people. He employed an
adjutant to drill the militia, aud had the audacity to engage artificers
to repair the old fort, and in every respect acted the part of a tyrant.
He sent runnei-s among the Indians far and near, with large promises
of soon supplying them with goods and money. Having thus far paved
the way for his atrocious designs, he met Lord Dunmore at Alexandria,
where they concerted the infernal scheme of massacring all those oo
the frontiers who would not join in their work. Matters thus pn.>gres8ed
and Lord Dunmore sent Connolly to General Clinton at New York [this
should be General Gage, at Boston, — Ed.], who approved the scheme,
appointed Connolly a lieutenant-colonel and commander of two or three
regiments of whites aud Indians, with authority to draw on the |»ay-
master-general for cash. Upon this exaltation, the great and mighty
Connolly set out for Baltimore, where he joined the persons who were
taken (captured) along with him, aud who were no doubt as sanguinary
villains as himself. A report was whispered among the minute-men at
Hagerstown, etc., of Connolly's schemes, so that they had a sharp look-
out for him, and happily succeeded in arresting him and his comrades,
and all the commissions for the new regiments, with the general plan
of their operations, were fouud upon him, upon which he was committed
to prison. This news, you may be sure, was joyfully received on the
frontier antl especially at Pittsburgh, where the writer of these lines
resided with his family.

"When Lord Dunmore arrived in Pittsburgh (in 1773 or 1774) he V
lodged at my house, and often closeted me, as he said, for information
respecting the disposition of the inhabitJints. He threw out some
dark in-^inuations as to my usetiilness, in case I would be concerned,
but as he found I kept aloof he divulged his plans to Connolly, and I
suppose to Campbell, else why give him the aforesjiid grant of land
which he enjoys and is very valuable? , . . Connolly and Arnold, both
of whom merited a halter, are now on half-jiay on the British establish-
ment." From II. Olden Time, 93.



censure on either side ; but as representatives of two of the colonies
united among many others for tlie defence of the liberties of America,
we tijink it our duly to remove, na far as lies in our power, every obsta-
cle that may prevent her sons fjoni co opejaling as vigorously as they
would wish to do toward the attainment of this great and important end.
Influenced solely by this motive, our joint and earnest request to you is
that all animosities which have lieretofoi-e subsisted among you as in-
habitants of distinct colonies may now give place to generous and con-
curring efforts for the preservation of everything that can make our
common country dear to ns. '

" We are fully pereuaded that you, as well as we, wish to see your dif-
ferences terminate in this happy issue. For this desirable use we recom-
mend it to you, that all bodies of armed men kept up under either prov-
ince be dismissed, that all those on either side who are in confinement
or under bail for taking a part in the contest be discharged, and that
until the dispute be decided every person be permitted to retain his pos-
sessions unmolested.

"By observing these directions the public tranquillity will be secured
without injury to the titles on either side; the peiiod, we flatter oui-.
selves, will soon arrive when this unfortunate dispute, which has pro-
duced much mischief, and, as far as we can learn, no good, will be peace-
ably and constitutionally determined.

"We are your friends and countrymen.

" P. HEsnv.

"Richard Henry Lee.

"Benjamin Harrison.

" Thomas Jefferson.

"John Dickinson.

"George Ross.

" B. Franklin.

"James Wilson.

„ „ " Chas. Humphreys.

Philadelphia, July 25, 1776." '

There were no armed men maintained by the Penn-
sylvania authorities on their side, nor, so far as known,
were there any Virginians held in confinement after
Connolly had been liberated ; whereas the Virginians
had a regularly organized militia, and at the date of
this communication held George Wilson, Joseph
Spear, and Devereux Smith in confinement at Fort
Fincastle, "exposed to every species of insult and
abuse," unless they were released when Connolly was
discharged. 2 Hence the expression as to " either
province" and " either side" were doubtless used to
avoid making disagreeable distinctions.-'


The Boundary Controversy continued— Proceedings of the Virginia
Legislature— Division of the District of West Augusta into Three
Counties : Ohio, Yohogania, and Monongalia— Council of War at Catfish
Camp— Petition for a new State— Oath of Allegiance to Virginia
—Virginia Land Laws— The Baltimore Agreement as to the Boundary
Line— Virginia Surveys— Pennsylvania Indignant— Final Ratification
of Boundary Agi

Virginia Legislative Proceedings.— Hencefor-
ward, though deeds of violence between the con-
tending parties were neither so frequent nor of so
grave a character, yet there was no disposition on the

1 This paper is copied from Jacobs' " Life of Michael Cresap," 62, the
only place where it is known to be printed. The author says, " As I con-
sider this proclamation an important document, and nowhere recoi-ded,
I give it to the reader verbatim in toto."

2 See St. Clair to Joseph Shippen, Jr., I. St. Clair Papers, 358.
'■> I. Olden Time, 445.

part of Virginia, now about to become an independ-
ent sovereignty, to surrender her foothold in the val-
leys of the Monongahcla and Ohio. Lord Dunmore's
power having ceased, her "Convention of Delegates
for the Counties and Corporations in Vir-
ginia" was held at Richmond, July 17, 1775. 1775,

Online LibraryBoyd CrumrineHistory of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 46 of 255)