Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 16 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 16 of 193)
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of a greater or less space of land, inclosed on all sides
by high log parapets or stockades, with cabins adapted
to the abode of families. The only external openings
were a large puncheon gate and small port-holes
among the logs, through which the unerring rifle of
the settler could be pointed against the assailants.
Sometimes, as at Ijindley's, and many of the other
forts in the adjacent country west of the Mononga-
hela, additional cabins were erected outside of the
fort for temporary abode in times of danger, from
which the sojourners could, in case of attack, retreat
within the fort. All these erections were of rough
logs, covered with clapboards and weight-poles, the
roofs sloping inwards. A regularly built; fort of the
first class had its angles, block-houses, and sometimes
a ditch protected a vulnerable part. These block-
houses projected a little past the line of the cabins,
and the upper half was made to extend some two feet
farther, like the over-jut of a barn, so as to leave an
overhanging space, secured against entrance by heavy
log floors, with small port-holes for repelling close
attacks or attempts to dig down or fire the forts.
These rude defenses were very secure, were'seldora
attacked, and seldom, if ever, captured. They were
always located upon open, commanding eminences,
sufiiciently remote from coverts and wooded heights
to prevent surprise.

" The sites of the ' old forts' (or prehistoric mounds)
were sometimes chosen for the settlers' forts. This
was the case with the site on the Goe land, just above
the mouth of the Little Redstone, where, as before
mentioned, there was erected a settlers' fort, called
Cassell's, or Castle Fort. How far ' Redstone Old
Fort' was so used cannot certainly be known, as,
while it existed as a place of defense after settlements
began, it was a kind of government fort for the



storage of ammunition and supplies, guarded .by sol-
diers.' Its proper name after 1759 (though seldom
given to it) was ' Fort Burd.' And there is evidence
that besides its governmental purposes it was often
resorted to by the early settlers with their families
for protection, though for that object it was less
adajjted than many of the private forts."

One of the earliest erected forts of this kind was by
John Minter, the Stevensons, Crawfords, and others,
on land of the former, — since Blackiston's, now
Ebenezer Moore's, — about a mile and a half west-
ward of Pennsville.

There was one on the old Thomas Gaddis farm,
two miles south of Uniontown, but what was its name
cannot certainly be learned, or by whom or when
erected, probably, however, by Colonel Gaddis, as he
was an early settler and a man of large public spirit.

Another, called Pearse's fort, was on the Catawba
Indian trail, about four miles northeast of Union-
town, near the residences of William and John Jones.
Some old Lombardy poplars, recently fallen, denoted
its site.

About one mile northwest of Merrittstowu there
was one on land now of John Craft. Its name is

Su-earingen's fort was in Spring Hill township, near
the cross-roads from Cheat River towards Browns-
ville. It derived its name from John Swearingen,
who owned the land on which it stood, or from his
son. Van Swearingen, afterwards sheriff of Washing-
ton County, a captain in the Revolution and in the
frontier wars, and whose nephew of the same name
fell at St. Clair's defeat.

One of considerable capacity, called Lucas' fort,
was on the old Richard Brown farm, near the frame
meeting-house, in Nicholson township.

McCoy's fort, on land of James McCoy, stood where
now stands the barn of the late Eli Bailey, in South
Union township.

Morris' fort, which was one of the first grade, was
much resorted to by the old settlers on the upper
Monongahela and Cheat, and from Ten-Mile. It
stood on Sandy Creek, just by, and near the Virginia
line, outside Fayette County limits. It was to this
fort that the family of the father of the late Dr. Jo-
seph Doddridge resorted in 177-4, as mentioned in his
notes. The late Col. Andrew Moore, who resided
long near its site, said that he had frequently seen the
ruins of the fort and its cabins, which may yet be

Ashcraft's fort stood on land of the late Jesse
Evans, Esq., where Phineas Sturgis lived, in Georges
township. Tradition tells of a great alarm and resort
to this fort on one occasion, caused thus: On land
lately owned by Robert Britt, in that vicinity, there is
a very high knob, called Prospect Hill, or Point Look-

out. To this eminence the early settlers were woa
in times of danger to resort daily to reconnoitre th
country, sometimes climbing trees to see whether an'yi
Indians had crossed the borders, of which they judged
by the smoke of their camps. This hill commanded
a view from the mountains to the Monongahela, and
from Cheat hills far to the northward. On the occa-
sion referred to, the scouts reported tiiat Indians had
crossed the Monongahela, judging from some smoke
" which so gracefully curled." The alarm was given^i
and the settlers flocked to Ashcraft's fort, with wives
and children, guns and provisions, and prepared to
meet the foe, when, lo ! much to the vexation of
some and the joy of others, the alarm soon proved I
be " all smoke."

Besides the settlers' forts mentioned as above by
Veech, there was one where Perryopolis now stand^
built by Gilbert Simpson (as previously noticed :
letter of Valentine Crawford to Washington), also
a strong block-house at Beeson's Mill (now Unioni-
town), and perhaps a few others within the limits of
Fayette County.



Troops liaised fur llie Field— Sii

Disaffeetiou— Lor.lir.v's Espe-

:)g evidently cniifui

tlie Redstone 01.1 Fort with F.)

Whex, in the early part of May, 1775, the news of

J the battle of Lexington sped across the Alleghenies,
announcing the opening of the Revolutionary st,rug-

j gle, the response which it brought forth from the
people west of the mountains was prompt and unmis^
lakably patriotic. In this region the feud was then
at its height between Virginia and Pennsylvania, both
claiming and both attempting to exercise jurisdiction
over the country between Laurel Hill and the Ohio;
but the partisans of both provinces unhesitatingly
laid aside their animosities, or held them in abeyance,
and both, on the same day, held large and patriotic
meetings, pledging themselves to aid to the extent of
their ability the cause of the colonies against the en-r
croachmentsof Britain. Prontiuent in the proceedings
of both meetings were men from that part of West-
moreland County which is now Fayette. The meet-

I ing called and held under Virginia auspices was
reported as follows :

I "At a meeting of the inhabitants of that part of I
Augusta County that lies on the west side of the !
Laurel Hill, at Pittsburgh, the 16th day of May, |
1775, the following gentlemen were chosen a com-
mittee for the said district, viz. : George Croghan,
John Campbell, Edward Ward, Thomas Smallman,
John Canon, John McCullough, AVilliam Goe, George

1 Valhiiidighani, John Gibson, Dorsey Pentecost, Ed-



tvard Cook, William Crawford, Devereux Smith,
John Anderson, David Rodgers, Jacob Van Meter,
Henry Enoch, James Ennis, George Wilson, William
Vance, David Shepherd, William Elliott, Eichmond
Willis, Samuel Sample, John Ormsby, Richard Mc-
Maher, John Nevill, and John Swearingen."

A standing committee was appointed, to have " full
power to meet at such times as they shall judge neces-
sary, and in case of any emergency to call the com-
mittee of this district together, and shall be vested
with the same power and authority as the other
f standing committee and committees of correspond-
ence are in the other counties within this colony."

It was by the meeting " Resolved, unanimombj,
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 of American rights and privileges to the
utmost extreme, and that eacli member of this com-
mittee respectively will animate and encourage their
neighborhood to follow the brave example. . . .

" Hesolved, That the recommendation of the Rich-
mond Convention of the 20th of last March, relative
to the embodying, arming, and disciplining of the
militia, he immediately carried into execution with
the greatest diligence in this country by the officers
appointed for that end, and that the recommendation
of the said convention to the several committees of
this colony to collect from their constituents, in such
manner as shall be most agreeable to them, so much
money as shall be sufficient to purchase half a pound
of gunpowder and one pound of lead, flints, and
cartridge, paper for every tithable person in their
county be likewise carried into execution.

"J'his committee, therefore, out of the deepest
sense of the expediency of this measure, most earn-
estly entreat that every member of this committee do
collect from each tithable person in their several dis-
tricts the sum of two shillings and sixpence, which
we deem no more than sufficient for the above pur-
pose, and give proper receipts to all such as pay the
same into their hands. . . . And this committee, as
your representatives, and who are most ardently la-
boring for your preservation, call on you, our con-
stituents, our friends, brethren, and fellow-sufferers,
in the name of God, of all you hold sacred or valua-
ble, for the sake of your wives, children, and unborn
generations, that you will every one of you, in your
several stations, to the utmost of your power, assist
in levying such sum, by not only paying yourselves,
but by assisting those who are not at present in a
condition to do so. We heartily lament the case of
all such as have not this sum at command in this day
of necessity ; to all such we recommend to tender se-
curity to such as Providence has enabled to lend them
so much ; and this committee do pledge their faith and
fortunes to you, their constituents, that we shall, with-
out fee or reward, use our best endeavors to procure,
with the money so collected, the ammunition our

present exigencies have made so exceedingly neces-

" As this committee has reason to believe there is a
quantity of ammunition destined for this place for
the purpose of government, and as this country on
the west side of Laurel Hill is greatly distressed for
want of ammunition, and deprived of the means of
procuring it, by reason of its .situation, as easy as the
lower counties of this colony, they do earnestly re-
quest the committees of Frederick, Augusta, and
Hampshire that they will not suffer the ammunition
to pass through their counties for the purposes of
government, but will secure it for the use of this des-
titute country, and immediately inform this com-
mittee of their having done so. Ordered, that the
standing committee be directed to secure such arms
and ammunition as are not employed in actual ser-
vice or private property, and that they get the same
repaired, and deliver them to such captains of inde-
pendent companies as may make application for the
same, and taking such captains' receipt for the arms
so delivered.

" Resolved, That this committee do approve of the
resolution of the committee of the other part of this
county relative to the cultivating a friendship with
the Indians, and if any person shall be so depraved
as to take the life of any Indian that may come to us
in a friendly manner, we will, as one man, use our
utmost endeavors to bring such offenders to condign

" Resolved, That the sum of fifteen pounds, current
money, be raised by subscription, and that the same
be transmitted to Robert Carter Nicholas, Esq., for
the use of the deputies sent from this colony to the
General Congress ; whicli sum of money was imme-
diately paid by the committee then present." The
delegates referred to in this resolution were John
Harvie and George Rootes, who were addressed, in
instructions from the committee, as " being chosen to
represent the people on the west side of the Laurel
Hill in the Colonial Congress for the ensuing year,"
the committee then instructing them to lay certain
specified grievances of the people of this section be-
fore the Congress at their first meeting, " as we con-
ceive it highly necessary they should be redressed to
put us on a footing with the rest of our brethren in
the colony."

The meeting held at the same time at the county-
seat of Westmoreland County, under the call of the
Pennsylvanians, was reported as below :

" At a general meeting of the inhabitants of the
county of Westmoreland, held at Hanna's Town on
the 16th day of May, 1775, for taking into considera-
tion the very alarming situation of the country oc-
casioned by the dispute with Great Britain, —

" Resolved, nnanimously. That the Parliament of
Great Britain, by several late acts, have declared
the inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay to be in
rebellion, and the ministry, by endeavoring to en-


force those acts, have attempted to reduce the said
inhabitants to a more wretched state of slavery tlian
ever before existed in any state or country. Not
content with violating their constitutional and char-
tered privileges, they would strip them of the rights
of humanity, exposing lives to the wanton and un-
punishable sport of a licentious soldiery, and de-
priving them of the very means of subsistence.

" Rcsdhed, unanimously, That there is no reason to
doubt but 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
therefore become the indispensable duty of every
American, of every man who has any public virtue
or love for his country, or any bowels for posterity,
by every means which Gnd has put in his power, to
resist and oppose the execution of it ; that for us we
will be ready to oppose it with our lives anil fortunes.
And the better to enable us to accomplish it, we will
immediately form ourselves into a military body, to
consist cif r(ini|i:uiies, to be made up out of the sev-
eral tii\vn>liiiis, uiulerthe following association, which
is declared to be the Association of Westmoreland
County :

" Possessed with the most unshaken loyalty and
fidelity to His iMajesty King George the Third, whom
we acknowledge to be our lawful and rightful king,
and who we wish may long be the beloved sovereign
of a free and happy people throughout the whole
British l-jiipire, we declare to the world that we do
not mean by this association to deviate from that loy-
alty which wo liold it our bounden duty to observe ;
but. atiiiiiat'd with the love of liberty, it is no less
our duty tn maintain and defend our just rights
(which with s(]rrow we have seen of late wantonly
violated in many instances by a wicked ministry and
a corrupted Parliament), and transmit them entire to
our posterity, for which we do agree and associate

"First. To arm and form ourselves into a regi-
ment, or regiments, and choose oiHcers to command
us, in such projiortions as shall be thought necessary.
"Second. Wc will with alacrity endeavor to make
ourselves masters of the manual, exercise, and such
evolutions as may be necessary to enable us to act in
a body with concert, anil tcj that end we will meet at
such times and jilaces as shall be appointed, either
. for the conijianies or the regiment, by the officers
commanding each when chosen.

"Third. 'J'hat shmiM our country be invaded by a
foreign enemy, or should troo|>s Vie sent from Great
Britain to eulorce the late arliitrary acts of its Par-
liament, we will clieerfuUy submit to military disci-
pline, and to the utmost of our power resist and
oppose them, or either of them, and will coincide
with any jilan that may bo formed for the defense of
America in general, or Pennsylvania in particular.

" Fourth. That we do not wish or desire any inno-
vation, but onlv that things may be restored to and

go on in the same way as before the era of the Stamp
Act, when Boston grew great and America was happy.
As a proof of this disposition, we will quietly submit
to the laws by which we have been accustomed to be
governed before that period, and will, in our several
or associate capacities, be ready, when called on, to
assist the civil magistrates in carrying the same into

"Fifth. That when the British Parliament shall
have repealed their late obnoxious statutes, and shall
recede from their claim to tax us and make laws lor
us in every instance, or some general plan of union
and reconciliation has been formed and accepted liy
America, this, our association, shall be dissolved, but
till then it shall remain in full force ; and to the ob-
servation of it we bind ourselves by everything dear
and sacred amongst men. No licensed murder! No
famine introduced by law !"

The first men who went forward from this region
to service in the Revolutionary army were about
twenty frontiersmen, who marched from the Monon-i
gahela country and crossed the Alleghenies to join
the Maryland company commanded by Capt. Michael
Cresap, of Bedstone Old Fort (afterwards Browns-
ville). He had been in Kentucky in the spring of
1776, but being taken ill there had set out by way of
the Ohio and across the mountains for his home in
Maryland, where he hoped to recover his health.
"On his way across the Allegheny Mountains' he
was met by a faithful friend with a message stating
that he bad been appointed by the Committee of
Safety at Frederick a captain to command one of the
two rifle companies required from Maryland by a
resolution of Congress. Experienced officers and the
very best men that could be procured were demanded.
' When I communicated my business,' says the mes-
senger in his artless narrative, 'and announced his
appointment, instead of becoming elated he became
pensive and solemn, as if his spirits were really de-
pressed, or as if he had a presentiment that this was
his death-warrant. He said he was in bad health,
and his affiiirs in a deranged state, but that neverthe-
less, as the committee had selected him, and as lie
understood from me his father had pledged himself;
that he should accept of this appointment, he would
go, let the consequences be what they might. He |
then directed me to proceed to the west side of the
mountains and publish to his old companions in arms
this his intention; this I did, and in a very short
time collected and brought to him at his residence in
Old Town [Maryland] about twenty-two as fine fel-
lows as ever handled rifle, and most, if not all of
them, completely equipped.' "

It was in June that these men were raised and
moved across the mountains to Frederick, Md., to
join Cresap's company. A letter written from that
place on the 1st of the following August to a gentle-

' Logiii

' hy Col. Bruntz Ma



man in Philadelphia said, " Notwithstanding the
urgency of my business, I have been detained three
days in this place by an occurrence truly agreeable.
I have had the happiness of seeing Capt. Michael
Cresap inarching at the head of a formidable com-
pany of upwards of one hundred and thirty men
from the mountains and backwoods, painted like In-
dians, armed with tomahawks and rifles, dressed in
hunting-shirts and moccasins, and though some of
them had traveled near eight hundred [?J miles from
the banks of the Ohio, they seemed to walk light and
easy, and not wit'.i less spirit than on the first hour
of their march." . . . They marched in August, and
joined Washington's army near Boston, .where and
in later campaigns they did good service. Their
captain's health growing worse he resigned and
started for Maryland, but died on his way in New
York in the following October. The names of the
men who were recruited west of the mountains for
Cresap's company cannot be given, but there can be
little doubt that most of them were from the vicinity
of the place where their cai)taiu had located his fron-
tier home, — Redstone Old Fort, on the Monongahela.

The first considerable body,,of men recruited in
the Monongahela country for the Revolutionary army
was a battalion, afterwards designated as the Seventh
Virginia. It was raised in the fall of 1775, chiefly
through the efforts of William Crawford, whose head-
quarters for the recruiting of it were at his home at
Stewart's Crossings on the Youghiogheuy, then in the
county of Westmoreland, or rather, as the Virginia
partisans claimed, in the western district of Augusta
County, Va. After raising this regiment, Crawford
did not immediately secure a colonelcy, but was com-
lissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Fifth Virginia in
January, 1776, and in the latter part of the same year
became colonel of the Seventh. The regiment wliich
he raised was made up principally of men from the
region now embraced in the counties of Westmore-
land and Fayette, but no rolls or lists of their names
can be given. The regiment took the field early in
1776, fought well in the battle of Long Island,
marched with Washington's dispirited army in its
retreat through New Jersey in the latter part of the
same year, and performed good service at Trenton,
and other engagements, but in the latter years of the
war served in the Western Department, and for a long
time formed part of the garrison of Fort Pitt.

The " West Augusta Regiment" — designated as the
Thirteenth Virginia— was afterwards raised, princi-
pally by Col. Crawford's eflbrts, in the same region
of country in which his first regiment had been re-
cruited. Of this last regiment he was made colonel.
An extract from a letter written by him to Gen.
Washington,^ dated " Fredericktown, Maryland, Feb-
ruary 12, 1777," is given below, because of its reference

gton-Crawford Lttte

, p. 02.

to the two Virginia regiments raised in the valleys of
the Youghiogheny and Monongahela, viz. :

"Many reasons have we to expect a war [with the
Indians] this spring. The chief of the lower settle-
ments upon the Ohio has moved off; and should both
the regiments be moved away, it will greatly distress
the people, as the last raised by myself [the West
Augusta Regiment] was expected to be a guard for
them if there was an Indian war. By the Governor
of Virginia I was appointed to command that regi-
ment at the request of the people.

" The conditions were that the soldiers were enlisted
during the war, and if an Indian war should come on
this spring they were to be continued there, as their
interest was on the spot; but if there should be no
Indian war in that quarter, then they were to go
wherever called. On these conditions many cheer-
fully enlisted. The regiment, I believe, by this time
is nearly made up, as five hundred and odd were made
up before I came away, and the officers were recruit-
ing very fast ; but should they be ordered away before
they get blankets and other necessaries, I do not see
how they are to be moved ; besides, the inhabitants
will be in great fear under the present circumstances.
Many men have already been taken from that region,
so that if that regiment should march away, it will
leave few or none to defend the country. There are
no arms, as the chief jmrt of the first men ivere armed
there, which has left the place very bare; but let me
be ordered anywhere, and I will go if possible. . . ."

By the above letter is shown the rather remarkable
fact that by the early part of 1777 the Youghiogheny
and Monongahela region of country had furnished
two regiments^ to the quota of Virginia (besides
eight full companies to the Pennsylvania Line, as will -
be noticed below), and that the men of the first regi-
ment raised here had been almost completely armed
before marching to join the army. Crawford's last regi-
ment, the Thirteenth Virginia, performed its service
in the West, being stationed in detachments at Fort
Pitt, Fort Mcintosh, and other points on the Ohio
and Allegheny Rivers. No list of its officers and
men has been found.

Under Pennsylvania authority a company was
raised in Westmoreland County in 1776, under com-
mand of Capt. Joseph Erwin. It marched to Mar-
cus Hook, where it was incorporated with Col. Sam-
uel Miles' " Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment." It was ■
subsequently included in the Thirteenth Pennsylva-
nia, then in the Second Pennsylvania Regiment, and

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 16 of 193)