Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 14 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 14 of 193)
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lilely. The BiownBeWs located south and southeast of Uui'ntovvu."

that results fixvorable to their continued occupation
would come from the treaty council which was ap-
pointed to be held at Fort Pitt about a month later.
At that treaty council there were present nearly two
thousand Indians, including, besides chiefs and head
men of the dominant Six Nations, representatives of
the Delaware, Shawanese, Munsee, and Mohican
[Gist], Charles Lindsay, | tribes. On the part of the white men there were
present George Croghan, deputy agent for Indian
affairs; John Allen and Joseph Shii)pcn, Jr., Esiirs.,

- Captain (afterwards colonel) William Crawford settled on the west
bank of the Youghiogheny at Stcwait's Crossings. A deposition sworn
l>y him, and having reference to his settlement here and some other
matleis, is funn<l in the -'Calendar of Virginia State Papers and other
Mauusciipts, li;..2-178I. Preserved in tlio Capitol at Eichmond. Ar-
ranged and edited by William Palmer, M.D., under anthuiily of the
l.c^i-luiuii' >■! Vii^iiiia, v,.l, i. 1st.'.." Tin- ili'impiii was taken

1,-, , .. : ,,:•..■.,,- u. .. ■ ' ,- : ,,. .-xplain-

tlie cxpnlsiun of the Fieiiili and tin- building uf the K.iglish forts, Pitt
and Bnrd.

" Colonel William Crawford Dcposeth and saitli that his first acquaint-
ance with llie Country on the Ohio was in the year 1758, he then being
an OITiccr in the Virginia Service. That between that time and the year '
1705 ft number of Settlements were made on the Public Roads in that
Country by Permission ol the Several Commanding Officers nt Fort Pitt.
Tliut in the Fall of the year 1705 lie made some Improvements on the
West Side of the Allegheny Mountains ; in the Spring of the year fol-
lowing he settled, and has continued to live out hero ever since. That
liefoie thiit 1i[ne, and in that yrar, a f'.>n^iderable number of Settleuiel
\( : . i,..i I , ij. tliii,:.- Hi .11 ilii . !i>;:i 111 d, without permis.«ion from any
' II : _' :: ~ :,, II -•tllcments were made with

i I ■' I 1,1 iii|.i . 1 iiiii. and some others within Col.

< I lI n. -. ii III II. it iiiii.. r , : ; , | .—.|it the people continued to emi-
grate to this (.'.'untry vi-iy fast. Th" Deponeiit lieing asked by Mr.
Morgan if he knows the names of those who settled on the Indiana
Claim in the year nCO, and on what Waters, answers that Zachel Mor-
gan, James Chew, and Jacob Prickett came out in that year, and was in-
formed by them that they settled up the Jlonongahola ; lliat he hassince
seen Zachel Morgan's plantation, which is on the South side of the lino
run by Mason and Dixon, and that he believes that to be the first set-
tlenielit made in this Country. . . ." The "Zachel Morgan's pinntaliou"


iny \
th« '


commissioners for the province of Pennsylvania;
Alexander McKee, commissary of Indian affairs; Col. '
John Keed, commandant of Fort Pitt, and several I
other military officers. The principal interpreter was
Henry Jfoutoiir, and many of the Monongahela and
Redstone settlers were present and among the most
anxious of the spectators.

The council proceeded in the usual way, with high-
sounding speeches, hollow assurances of friendship,
the presentation of divers belts and strings of wam- j
pum, and tlie distribution among the Indians of pres-
ents to the amount of .£1-500 ; but as the deliberations
progressed it became more and more apparent that
there existed among the savages no deep-seated dis-
satisfaction against the settlers ; that nearly all the j
indignation at the encroachments of the whites was j
felt and expressed by the gentlemen acting for the !
Pennsylvania authorities ; that these were extremely
angry with the Indians because in a few instances
they had sold small tracts to white men, and be-
cause they were now exhibiting a decided disincli-
nation to demand the immediate removal of the set-
tlers. Almost the only Indian of the Six Nations
who complained was Tohonissahgarawa, who said,
"Some of them" (the settlements) "are inade di-
rectly on our war-path leading to our enemies' country,
and we do not like it. . . . As we look upon it, it will
be time enough for you to settle them when you have
purchased them and the country becomes yours." i
The commissioners addressed the Indians, telling i
them that when Steele and his associates had visited |
the settlers the latter had promised to remove. " But,
brethren," continued the commissioners, " we are sorry
to tell you that as soon as the men sent by the Gover-
nor had prevailed on the settlers to consent to a com-
pliance with the law, there came among them eight
Indians who live at the Jlingo town, down this river,
and desired the people not to leave their settlements,
but to sit quiet on them till the present treaty at this
place should be concluded. The people, on receiving
this advice and encouragement, suddenly changed
their minds, and determined not to quit their places
till they should hear further from the Indians. Now,
brethren, we cannot help expressing to you our great
concern at this behavior of those Indians, as it has
absolutely frustrated the steps the Governor was taking
to do you justice by the immediate removal of those
people from your lands. And we must tell you, breth-
ren, that the conduct of those Indians appears to us
very astonishing; and we are much at a loss to ac-
count for tlie reason of it at this time, when the Six
Nations are complaining of encroachments being
made on their lands. . . . But, brethren, all that we
have now to desire of you is that you will immedi-
ately send off some of your prudent and wise men
with a message to the people settled at Red Stone,
Yougbiogheny, and Monongahela, to contradict the
advice of the Indians from the Mingo town, and to
acquaint them that you very much disapprove of their

continuing any longer on their settlements, and that
you expect they will quit them without delay. If you
agree to this, we will send an honest and discreet
white man to accompany your messengers. And,
brethren, if, after receiving such notice from you, they
shall refuse to remove by the time limited them, you
may depend upon it the Governor will not fail to put
the law into immediate execution against them."

Finally a reluctant consent to the proposition of
the commissioners was gained from the Six Nations'
chiefs. At a session held with these chiefs on the 9th
of May, " It was agreed by them to comply with the
request of the commissioners in sending messengers
to the people settled at Red Stone, Youghiogany, and
Monongahela, to signify to them the great displeasure
of the Six Nations at their taking possession of the
lands there and making settlements on them, and
also that it is expected they will, with their families,
remove without further notice. They accordingly ap-
pointed the White Mingo and the three deputie.s sent
from the Six Nations' country to carry a message to
that effect, and the commissioners agreed to send Mr.
John Frazer and Mr. William Thompson to accom-
pany them, with written instructions in behalf of the
government of Pennsylvania."
" Monday, May 9, 17G8, p.m. :
" The Indian messengers having agreed to set out
for Red Stone Creek to-morrow, the commissioners,
as an encouragement, to them for the trouble of their
journey, made them a present of some black wampum.
They then desired Mr. Fraser and Capt. Thompson to
hold themselves prepared for accompanying the In-
dian messengers in the morning, and wrote them a
letter of instructions." In those instructions they
said, —

" As soon as you arrive in the midst of the settle-
ments near Red Stone Creek, it will be proper to con-
vene as many of the settlers as possible, to whom the
Indians may then deliver their message, which shall
be given to you in writing; and we desire you will
leave a few copies of it with the principal people,
that they may communicate the same to those who
live at any considerable distance from them. . . .
You may then acquaint them that they must now be
convinced by this message and the speech of the Six
Nations that they have hitherto been grossly de-
ceived by a few straggling Indians of no consequence,
who may have encouraged them to continue on their
settlements, and that they will now be left without
the least pretense or excuse for staying on them any
longer. . . . But should you find any of those incon-
siderate people still actuated by a lawless and obsti-
nate spirit to bid defiance to the civil authority, you
may let them know that we were under no necessity
of sending, in the name of the Governor, any further
notice to them, or of being at the pains of making
them acquainted with the real minds of the Indians,
to induce them to quit their settlements, for that the
powers of the government are sufficient to compel


them to pay due obedience to the laws, and they may
depend on it they will be eftectnally exerted if they
persist in their obstinacy. You nuiy likewise assure
them that they need not attempt to make an offer of
terms with the government respecting their removal,
as we hear some of tiieni have vainly proposed to do,
by siiying they would go off the lands immediately
on condition that they should be secured to them as
soon as the purchase is made. It is a liigh insult to
government for those people even to hint at such

Tiie two gentlemen whom the Pennsylvania com-
missioners liad designated, Messrs. John Frazer and
■William Thompson, being ready to set out on their
coutcmplated journey from Fort Pitt to Redstone
Creek, the Indian messengers were sent for, and at
last made their appearance at the fort, but said that,
after due consideration of the business on which it
was ])roposed to send tliem, they had decided that
tliey could by no means undertake it, and immedi-
ately returned to the commissioners the wampum
whidi had been given them. Upon being interro-
gateil as to their reasons for now declining to perform
what they had once consented to, they answered that
three of them were sent by the Six Nations' council
to attend the treaty at the fort, and having received
no directions from the council to proceed farther, they
chose to return home in order to make report of what
they had seen and heard. They further added that
the driving of white people away from their settle-
ments w.TS a matter which r.o Indians could, with any
satisliiction, be concerned in, and they thought it
most proper for the English themselves to compel
their own people to remove from the Indian lands.
After this refusal of the Indians who had been ap-
pointed to carry the message from the Six Nations,
the commissioners in vain attempted to persuade or
procure others to execute the business, though they
used great endeavors for that purpose, and they
thought it both useless and imprudent to continue to
press on the Indians a matter which they found they
were generally so much averse to, and therefore they
concluded to set out on their return to Philadelphia
without further delay. But in a short time after-
wards Guyasutha' came, with Arroas (a principal
warrior of the Six Nations), to the commissioners, to
whom the former addressed himself in effect as fol-
lows :

" Brethren, — I am very sorry to find that you have
been disappointed in your expectations of the Indian
messengers going to Redstone, according to your de-
sire and our agreement; and I am much afraid that
you are now going away from us with a discontented
mind on this account. Believe me, brethren, this

' This GujMutlia, or Knyashuta, was a chief who met Wosliington on
his first appearauce in tliis region in the fall of 1753. He was friendly
to the Knglish as against tlio Freucli, but in tlio Revolnlionary war tooli
sides against the settlers, and was the leader of the Indian party which
burned Hannastown, tJie county-seat of Westmoreland, in 1782.


thought fills my heart with deepest grief, and I could

not suffer you to leave us without speaking to you on

I this subject and endeavoring to make your minds

I easy. We were all of us much disposed to comply

I witii your request, and expected it could have been

I done without difficulty, but I now find not only the

' Indians appointed l)y us but all our other young men

are very unwilling to carry a message from us to the

j white people ordering them to remove from our lands.

They s.iy they would not choose to incur the ill will

of those people, for if they should be now removed

they will hereafter return to their settlements when

the English have purcha.«ed the country from us.

And we shall be very unhappy if, by our conduct

towards them at this time, we shall give them reason

j to dislike us and treat us in an unkind manner when

they again become our neighbors. We therefore

hope, brethren, that you will not be displeased at us

for not performing our agreement witli you, for you

may be .assured that we have good hearts towards all

our brethren, the English."

Upon the conclusion of this speech the commis-
sioners returned to Guyasutha many thanks for his
friendly expressions and behavior, assuring him that
the conduct of all the Indians at the treaty council
met their full approbation, and that they were now
returning home with contented minds. They said to
him that they had urged the chiefs to send a message
by their own people to the Redstone and Monon-
gahela settlers, entirely on account of the great anxiety
they had to do everything in their power to forward
the designs of the government, to do the Indians
justice, and to redress every injury they complained
of; but, as they found that the course proposed was
repugnant to them, that they (the commissioners)
would not press the matter further, though it appeared
to them to be a proper and necessary course, and one
which they regretted to be obliged to abandon. " They
then took leave of the Indians in the most friendly
manner, and set out on their return to Philadelphia."
This unlooked-for conclusion of the treaty council
at Fort Pitt ended the efforts on the part of the pro-
prietary government of Pennsylvania to expel the
pioneer settlers from the valleys of the Monongahela,
the Youghiogheny, and the Redstone.

The aboriginal title to the lands composing the
l)resent county of Fayette, as well as those embraced
in a great number of other counties in this State,
was acquired by the proprietaries of Pennsylvania by
the terms of a treaty held with the Indians at Fort
Stanwix (near Rome, N. Y.) in the autumn of 1768.
In October of that year there were assembled at the
fort, by invitation of Sir William Johnson, superin-
tendent of Indian affairs, a great number of chiefs of
the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca,
and Tuscarora tribes (composing the Six Nations),
with other chiefs of the Delawares and Shawanese
tribes, and on the 24th of that month these were ccn-


vened in council with representatives of tlie royal
authority and of the governments of Pennsylvania,
Virginia, and New Jersey. The principal white
persons present at the council were " the Honorable
Sir William Johnson, Baronet, his Majesty's super-
intendent of Indian aflfiiirs; his Excellency William
Franlclin, Esq., Governor of New Jersey ; Thomas
Walker, Esq., commissioner for the colony of Vir-
ginia; Hon. Frederick Smith, chief justice of New
Jersey ; Richard Peters and James Tilghman, Esqrs.,
of the Council of Pennsylvania; George Croghan
and Daniel Glaus, Esqrs., deputy agents of Indian
affairs; Guy Johnson, Esq., deputy agent and acting
as secretary, with several gentlemen from the differ-
ent colonies ; John Butler, Esq., Mr. Andrew Mon-
tour, and Pliilip Phillips, interpreters for the Crown."

The council was opened by Sir William Johnson,
who stated that Lieutenant-Governor Penn, of Penn-
sylvania, had been there and waited a considerable
time, but was forced by press of business to return, leav-
ing Messrs. Peters and Tilghman as his commissioners.
He also explained to the chiefs the business on which
he had called them together, and then, after some
preliminary talk, the council adjourned for the day.
Afterwards its sessions were continued from time to
time until the 5th of November, when a treaty, known
in history as the treaty of Fort Stanwis, by which the
chiefs of the Six Nations ceded to Thomas Penn and
Richard Penn, for the consideration of ten thousand
pounds, an immense tract of land in Penn-^sylvania,
described in the treaty by a great number of bounda-
ries which it would be tedious to quote. This great
purchase may, in a general way, be described as com-
prehending all of the present territory of the counties
of Fayette, Westmoreland, Washington, Greene, Som-
erset, Cambria, Columbia, Wyoming, Sullivan, and
Susquehanna, nearly all of Wayne, Luzerne, Mon-
tour, Northumberland, Union, and Indiana, and parts
of Beaver, Allegheny, Armstrong, Clearfield, Centre,
Clinton, Lycoming, Bradford, Pike, and Snyder.

The Indian title to this great tract having now been
acquired by the Penns, measures were immediately
taken to prepare the newly-purchased lands for sale
to settlers. On the 23d of February, 1769, they pub-
lished an advertisement for the general information
of tlie public, to the effect that their Land Office in
Philadelplii;i w.miI.I lu' open on the 3d of April next
following at ten (I'rlurk a.m. to receive applications
from all person- inrlincl to take up lands in the new
purchase, upon the terms of five pounds sterling per
one hundred acres, and one penny per acre pe

" It being known that great numbers of people
would attend [at the Land Office on the day of open-
ing], ready to give in their locations at the same
instant, it was the opinion of the Governor and pro-
prietary agents that the most unexceptionable method
of receiving the locations would be to put them all
together (after being received from the people) into a

box or trunk, and after mixing them well together to
draw them out and number them in the order they
should be drawn, in order to determine the preference
of those respecting vacant lands. Those wlio had
settled plantations, especially those who had settled,
by permission of the commanding officers, to the
westward, were declared to have a preference. But
those persons who had settled or made what they
called improvements since the purchase should not
thereby acquire any advantage. The locations (after
being put into a trunk prepared for the purpose, and
frequently well mixed) were drawn out" ' in the man-
ner above described.

Prior to the opening of the Land Office in 1760, the
settlers west of the Alleghenies (with a very few ex-
ceptions^) held the lands on which they had located
solely by occupation, on what were then known as
"tomahawk improvement" claims. The manner in
which the settler recorded his tomahawk claim was
to deaden a few trees near a spring, and to cut the
initials of his name in the bark of others, as indicative
of his intention to hold and occupy the lands adjacent
to or surrounded by the blazed and deadened trees.
These " claims" constituted no title, and were of no
legal value, except so far as they were evidences of
actual occupation. They were not sanctioned by any
law, but were generally (though not always) recog-
nized and respected by the settlers ; and thus, in the
applications which were afterwards made at the Land
Office for the various tracts, there were very few col-
lisions between rival clainumts for the same lands.

The plan of drawing the names of applicants by,
lot, which was adopted at th.e ojjening of the Land
Office in April, 1769, as before noticed, was discon-
tinued after about three months, and then the warrants
were issued regularly on applications as reached in
the routine of business at the office. In the first three
months there had been issued daily, on an average,
over one hundred warrants for lands west of the
mountains and below Kittaning. The surveys of
lands within the territory which now forms Fayette
County were begun on the 12th of August, 1769, by
the three brothers, Archibald, Moses, aud Alexander
McClean, of whom the first two were deputy survey-
ors, while Alexander (who afterwards succeeded to
that office and became a more widely-f;\med surveyor
than either of his brothers) was then a young man of
about twenty-three years of age, and an assistant sur-
veyor under them. During the remainder of that

J Addison's Reports, Appendix, p. 305.

- These very few exceptions were pei-sons who lield military pemut3
for settlement ue;\r the forts and on the lines of army roads; also those
U> whom " grants of jirefercnce" had heeu given. Veech 6;iys only out
t*' grant of preference" issued in .Fayette County, viz., to Hugh
Crawford, dated Jan. 22, 1768, for 500 acres, for lii^ - - i,-, r ,; " Ti,rrr-
prctcr and conductor of the Indians" in the nninii . : :,. u

of Mason and Di.\on's line in 1707. Andinafe«ii : i:, I,:, is

sold lands direct to settlers in this county,— a.s t- t.i ■. ih l',! wn-,
and to sonic of Uie Provances, at Provauce's Bollcui, vu llu .Muiii.n-


year they made and completed seventy official surveys
in Fayette County territory; and in the following
year they executed eighty more in the same terri-
tory, besides a large number in tiic part which is
still Westmoreland County, and some in Somerset
and Washington.

In the next succeeding five years there were but
few surveys of land made in what is now Fayette ter-
ritory, viz. : In the year 1771, twelve surveys ; in 1772,
fourteen surveys; in 1773, eleven; in 1774, seven;
in 177'), two. During tlie Revolution, Pennsylvania
adopted tlie recommendation of Congress to cease the
granting of warrants for wild lands to settlers. This
was intended to discourage settlements (temporarily)
and thus promote enlistments in the Continental army.
It is doubtful whether this measure had the effect in-
tended, but it closed the Land Office, thus preventing
settlers from acquiring titles to their lands, and from
procuring otlicial surveys, of which none were made
in the ])rcscnt territory of Fayette County from 1775
to 1782, in which latter year three surveys were made
here, and the same number in 1783. On the 1st of
July, 1784, the Land Office was reopened by the State
of Pennsylvania,' and from that time until 1790, the
number of surveys made each year in what is now
Fayette County were as follows : In 1784, twenty ; in
178'), two hundred and fifty-eight; in 1786, one hun-
dred and fifty; in 1787, eighty-eight; in 1788, sixty-
two; in 1789, twenty-eight; and in 1790, nineteen.
Two or three years afterwards they began to grow a
little more numerous, but never again reached any-
thing like the previous figures.

During the Revolution, when Pennsylvania had
closed lier Land Office and issued no warrants for wild
lands west of the Alleghenies, the government of
Virginia pursued an opposite course in the issuance
of " certificates" (corresponding to the Pennsylvania
warrants) for lands in this same section of country.
The reason why this was done by Virginia was be-
cause she claimed and regarded as her own, the terri-
tory which now forms the western part of Pennsyl-
vania as far eastward as the Laurel Hill. Ou this
territory (extending, however, farther southward) she
laid out her counties of Yohogania, Monongalia, and
Ohio, the latter bordering on tlie Ohio River, and the
two others lying to the eastward of it, covering all of
what is now Fayette County. It was on lands in
these Virginia counties that the " Virginia certifi-
cates" were issued in great numbers, principally in
1779 and 1780. A board of commissioners, appointed
for the purpose, granted to such bona fide settlers as
would build a cabin and raise a crop a certificate for
four hundred acres, of which the purchase price was
ten shillings per one hundred acres. The cost of the
certificate wjis two shillings and sixpence; this latter

I > There was no longer nny propriotarysliip by tlio Penns, this Imvlng
I ceased on the pass.ige of "Au .\ct for vesting tlie estates of the late pro-
iprietaries in this Commonwealth." Tliii, usually calk>a the "Divesting

being all that the settler was compelled to pay down on
his purchase of four hundred acres. Thus the pur-
chaser of lands from Virginia paid less than one-tenth
the amount which he would have been compelled to pay
to Pennsylvania for the same lands. For this reason

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 14 of 193)