Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 3 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 3 of 193)
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within rifle-shot of the place indicated — say that the
account is unsupported by anything they have ever
seen or heard narrated by their fathers. Still, the
fact remains unquestioned that the first white ex-
plorers found here, within the present limits of
Brownsville, and occupying an elevated site which
commands the Monongahela River above and belo
an inclosure of several acres, surrounded by an earthen
embankment, evidently centuries old, antedating even
the most ancient traditions of the Indians, and this
mysterious work they christened Redstone Old Fort.
But the hand of Time has obliterated all traces of it,
and neither parapet nor central mound have been
visible for many years. So it is with the mounds
which have been mentioned as having existed in
other parts of Fayette County. By the processes of
agriculture, continued for generations, and by various
other means, they ha:ve become so far leveled that in
many cases not a trace remains, and in others the
outline is barely discernible of works which a cen-
tury ago stood out bold and clearly defined.

With regard to the origin of these ancient works
and relics many theories have been advanced, some
apparently reasonable and others wholly absurd.
Some writers on the subject have believed that they
were built by the French, while some have attributed
their construction to the Spanish.' Others, with more

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Rppareiit show of reason, have endeavored to prove
that the builders were the ancient Aztecs, and finally
some have advanced thcopinion that they were erected
by descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. What-
ever may be said of these latter theories, the idea of
their construction by the French or Spanish seems
wholly inadmissible, on account of the number and
e.\tent of the works west of the AUeghanies ; again,
on account of their evident antiquity, many of them
having from every appearance been erected long before
the discovery of America, and finally by their form,
which is entirely diti'erent from any system of Euro-
pean fortification, ancient or modern.

This much and no more may be set down as
reasonably certain, that these. works were roared by a
people who preceded those found here by the first Eu-
ropean visitors, but whether they were Aztecs, Toltecs,
or of Jewish origin, as some have supposed, is a ques-
tion which will probably never be solved. The imagi-
n.ition, unrestrained by facts, may roam at will in the
realm of ingenious speculation, but the subject is one
of pure conjecture which it is not profitable to pursue.



Theuk is nothing found either in written history
or in tradition to show that the section of country
which now forms the county of Fayette was ever the
permanent home of any considerable number of the
aboriginal i)eople whom we know as Indians, the suc-
cessors of the mysterious mound-builders.

When the first white traders (who preceded the
earliest actual settlers by several years) came into this
region, they found it partially occupied by roving
Indian bands, who had here a few temporary villages,
or more properly camps, but whose principal perma-
nent settlements were within a few miles of the con-
fluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers,

its vicinity, lie at liist assigned it to tlie awiiie tbat generally, ns he saiil,
attended the Spanish in tliose days, it being, in his opiniun, very necessary
in order to prevent them from becoming estrays and to protect them
from the depredations of the Indians.

"Lewis Dennie, a Frenchman, aged upwar U .r - v. 1,1 v , .nil who had
been settled and nianied among thcCunr<'<I": t - ^ " ,11 i- fnrniore
tlinn hiilfa century, told me in ISIO Ihni. i : litionsof

the ancient Indians, these forts were ore i i t ^ n i .n-. 1 >i';\i)iurde,
who were the firet Europeans ever seen l-y th-Mu vtho French ne.vt, then
the Dntch.nnd finally the English); that this army first appeared at
Oswego in great force, and penetrated through the interior of the conn-
try searching for the precious metals; that they continued there two
years and then went down the Ohio." After giving several reasons why
this account was to be considered unworthy of 1 elief, Mr. Clinton con-
tinued : " It is equally clear that they were not the work of the Indi:ins.
Until the Senecas, who are reuownfd for their national vanity, had seen
tlie attention of the Americans attracted to these erections, and had in-
Tented the fabulous accouut of which 1 have spoken, the Indians of the
present day did not pretend to know anything about the origin of these
works. They wore beyond the reach uf all their traditions, and were
lost in the ai'vss of unexplored antiquity.'*

both above and below that point. These were com-
posed of the Delaware and Shawanese' tribes and
some colonized bands of Iroquois, or "Mingoes," as
they were commonly called, who rei)reseiited the
powerful Si.x Nations of New York. These last named
were recognized as the real owners of the lands on
the upi)cr Ohio, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela
Rivers, and it was only by their permission- that the
Delawares and Shawanese were allowed to occupy the

1 Zeisbergor, tho Moravian, wiys, "Tho Shawnnos, a warlike people,
lived in Florida, but having been subdued in war by tho Moshkos, they
left their land and moved to Susquehanna, and from one place to another.
Sleeting a strong parly of Delawares, and relating to them their forlorn
condition, they took them into their protection as grai)tlehildrcn ; tho
Shnwaiios called the Delaware nation thiir .jmu.tfnlhet: They lived
thereupon in tho Forks of tho Delaware, anil -.iil..l f.i .i luuc in AVy- '
oming. When they had increased again tl.i w I'tstotho

Allegheny." 'When they came from th.- i..^ ' ; : ■ .\ located

at and near Montonr's Island, below the ..onilu- 1 1 i;..' .\ll.-ghcny

and Slononguhela. Tho Delawares cnmo with tliern to Ih.. Wrat. both
tiiUes having boon ordered away from tho valleys of tho Delaware and
Susiiuehunua by the Iroquois, wheni they were compelled by conquest
to recognize as tliclr nnistors.

! Tho fact that tho Six Nations wero tho acknowledged owners of this
region of country, and that the Shawanese and Delawares wore hero
only on sufl'eiance, seems clear. At tho ti-eaty held with tho Indians
at Fort Pitt, in May, 1708, a Shawanese chief comidained bitterly to
the English of their encroachniunt^, iind said, " Wo desired you to de-
stroy your folts. . . . Wo also desired you not to go down tho river."
In the next day's council, Guyiisullia, a chief of the Six Nations, rose,
with a copy of the lrv:i I, f 1, liil, "By this treaty yon had a
light to build fi-rts mi : 1 lu re you pleased, and to travel

the road of peace from 1 1 1 r- sun setting. Atthuttrcaty

the Delawares and .si,;, .. m ,. «. 1. «i;li uio and they know all this well;
and they should nevei- have ajioU.-ii to .vou as they did yesterday." Soon
after, the Shawanese chief, Kissinaughta, roso and said, apologetically,
to tho English, "You desired us to speak from our hearts and tell you
what gave us uneasiuess of iniial, and wo did so. We are very sorry
wo should have said anything to give offense, and wo acknowledge we
were in the wrong."

In 'tho same year (1708), when the Pennsjlvnnia commissioners,
-Mien and Shippen, proposed t. il.. TriMuis t 1 =.-nd a deputation of

chiefs wini


white settlors who had located «r 1 : . n iho Monongahela
Elver and Bedstone Creek, in wli.n i. n v, 1 i.ui 1. unity, the"Whito
Mingo" (whose " Castle" was on tlie west side of the Allegheny, a few-
miles above its mouth) and throe other chiefs of tho Six Nations wcio
selected to go on that luisbioii, but no notice was taken of the Delaware
or Shawanese chiefs in the matter, uliicli allows clearly enough that
these two tribes were not reganliil .- 1 imi j n 1 Aiicrshipin the lauds.
And it is related liy George c.._ nl of a treaty council

held with the Six Nations at Lo„ I ; 1, below Pittsburgh,

in 1751, that "A Dunkord from Vm„i..i.i ..ii.m I., town and requested
leave to settle on the Yo-yo-gaiue [Yoiighioglieny] River, a branch of
the Ohio. He was told that he must apply to the Onondaga Council
aud be recommended hy the Governor of Pennsylvania." Tlie Onondaga

the central headquarters of the Six Nations.

Another fact that shows the Six Nations to have been the recognized
owners of this region of country is that when the surveyors wero about
to extend tho Mason and Dixon line westward, in 1707, the proprietaries
asked, not of the Delawares and Shawanoao but of the Iroqin)i3 (Six Na.
tions) permission to do so. This permission was given by their chiefs,
who also sent several of their warriors to accompany tho surveying
party. Their presence afforded to the white men tho desired protection,
and the Shawanese and Delawares dared not offer any molestation.
But after the Iroquois escort left (as they did at a point on tho ^larylaud
line) tho other Indians became, in the absence of their masters, so de-
fiant and threatening that the surveyors were compelled to ubaudon the
running of the line west of Dunkard Creek.

Finally, it was not from the Delawares and Shawanese but from tho
Six Nations that the Penns purchased this teriitory by tin - treaty of
FortStanwix in 1708.



hunting-grounds extending from the head of the Ohio
eastward to the Alleghenies. Still thej' ahva3-s boldly
claimed these lands as their own, except when they
were confronted and rebuked by the chiefs of the Six
Nations. At a conference held with the Indians at
Fort Pitt in 17()8, " the Beaver," a chief speaking in
behalf of the Delawares and Mohicans, said, "Breth-
ren, the country lying between this river and the Al-
legheny Mountain has always been our hunting-
ground, and the white people who have scattered
themselves over it have by their hunting deprived
us of the game which we look upon ourselves to have
the only right to. . . ." And it is certain that, though
the Iroquois were the owners of these hunting-grounds,
they were occupied almost exclusively by the Dela-
wares and Shawanese. Washington, in his journal
of a trip which he made down the Ohio from the
mouth of the Allegheny in 1770, says, " The In-
dians who reside upon the Ohio, the upper part of it
at least, are composed of Shawanese, Delawares, and
some of the Mingoes. . . ." And in the journal of
his mission to the French posts on the Allegheny,
seventeen years before, he said, " About two miles
from this (he then being at the mouth of the Alle-
gheny), on the south side of the river (Ohio), at the
place where the Ohio Company intended to lay off
their fort, lives Shingiss, king of the Delawares.'"
The exact point where this '" king" was located is
said to have been at the mouth of Chartiers Creek,
and the principal settlements of his people were clus-
tered around the head of the Ohio. From here and
from the neighboring settlements of the Shawanese
■went forth from time to time the hunting-parties of
those tribes, which formed the principal part of the
Indian population of the territory of the present
county of Fayette.

These Indians had, as has already been remarked,
but very few settlements east of the Monongahela,
and most of those they had wore more of the nature
of temporary camps than of permanent villages.
Judge Veech, in his " Monongahela of Old," men-
tions those which he knew of as existing within the
limits of Fayette County, as follows: "Our territory
(Fayette County) having been an Indian hunting-
ground, had within it but few Indian towns or vil-
lages, and these of no great magnitude or celebrity.
There was one on the farm of James Ewing, near the
southern corner of Redstone and the line between
German and Luzerne townships, close to a fine lime-
stone spring. Near it, on a ridge, were many Indian
graves. Another was near where Abram Brown
lived, about four miles west of Uniontown. There
was also one on the land of John M. Austin, formerly
Samuel Stevens', near Sock. The only one we know
of north of the Youghiogheny was on the Strickler
land, eastward of the Broad Ford."

1 King Shingiss, liowover, was inferior in tank and power to Tanacli-
arison, the Half-King, who was a sachem of tlio Six Nations, residing

There was also an Indian village on the Mononga-
hela, at the mouth of Catt's Run, and it is said that
this village was at one time the home of the chief
Cornstalk, who commanded the Indian forces at the
battle of Point Pleasant, Va., in 1774.

On the Monongahela, at the mouth of Dunlap's
Creek, where the town of Brownsville now stands,
was the residence of old Nemacolin, who, as it ap-
pears, was a chief, but with very few, if any, warriors
under him, though it is not unlikely that he had had
a respectable following in the earlier years, before the
whites found him here. It was this Indian who guided
Col. Thomas Cresap across the Alleghenies, in the first
journey which he made to the West from Old Town,
Md., for the Ohio Company in 1749. The route which
they then pursued was known for many years as
"Nemacolin's path." Later in his life this Indian
removed from the Monongahela and located on the
Ohio River. It is believed that the place to which
he removed was the island now known as Blenner-
hassett's Island, in the Ohio, below Parkersburg, AV.
Va. ; the reason for this belief being that there is
found, in Gen. Richard Butler's journal of a trip
down that river in 1785, with Col. James Monroe
(afterwards President of the United States), to treat
with the Miami Indians, mention of their passing, in
the river between the mouths of the Little Kanawha
and Hocking, an island called " Nemacolin's Island."
This was, without much doubt, the later residence of
the old chief of that name.

An old Indian named Bald Eagle, who had been a
somewhat noted warrior (but not a chief) of the Dela-
ware tribe, had his home somewhere on the Upper
Monongahela, probably at the village at the mouth
of Catt's Run, but whether there or higher up the
river near Morgantown is not certainly known. He
was a very harmless and peaceable man and friendly
to the settlers, yet he was killed without cause about
1765, and the cold-blooded murder was charged by
the Indians upon white men. Of the Bald Eagle and
the circumstances of his death, Mr. Veech says, " He
was on intimate terms with the early settlers, with
whom he hunted, fished, and visited. He was well
known along our Monongahela border, up and down
which he frequently passed in his canoe. Somewhere
up the river, probably about the mouth of Cheat, he
was killed, by whom or on what pretense is unknown.-
His dead body, placed upright in his canoe, with a
piece of corn-bread in his clinched teeth, was set
adrift in the river. The canoe came ashore at Prov-

- Withers, in his '-Chronicles of Border Warfare," states tlie coso dif-
ferently, and gives the names of tho He savs, "Tlio Bald

Eagle was an Indian of notoriety, not niil\ i>_ lil- . \mi uiition, hnt

also with the inhabitantsof the Nortli\V' ' uli whom ho

was in the liabit of associating and hiuitii._ ! v !>ils among

them lie was discovered alone hy Jiuvl' -^ n. N\ i ' ;.i Ihuker, and

Elijah Knnner, who, reckless of the conscqneiirr*, rdt-i cd him, solely

to gratify a most wanton thirst for Indian blood. After the commission
of this most outrageous enormity, they seated him in the stern of a
canoe, with a piece of juurney-cakc thrust into his mouth, and set Ilim
afloat iu tlie Monongahela."



ancc's Bottom, where the familiar old Indian was at
once recognized by the wife of William Yard Prov-
ance, who wondered he did not leave his canoe. On
close observation she found he was dead. She had
him decently buried on the Fayette shore, near the
early residence of Robert McClean, at what was
known as McClean's Ford. This murder was re-
garded by both whites and Indians as a great out-
rage, and the latter made it a prominent item in their
list of grievances."

A number of Indian paths or trails traversed this
county in various directions. The principal one of
these was the great war-path over which the Senecas
and other tribes of the Si.x Nations traveled from their
homes in the State of New York on their forays against
Cherokees and other Southern tribes in the Carolinas,
Georgia, and Tennessee. This was known as the
Cherokee or Catawba Trail. Passing from the " Gen-
esee country" of Western New York, down the valley
of the Allegheny, it left that river in the present
county of Armstrong, Pa., and traversing Westmore-
land, entered the territory of Fayette near its north-
eastern e.\tremity, crossing Jacob's Creek at the mouth
of Bushy Run. From there its route was southwcst-
wardly, passing near the present village of Pennsville
to the Yougliiogheny River, which it crossed just
below the mouth of Opossum Run ;' thence up that
small stream for some distance, and then on, by way
of Mount Braddock, to Redstone Creek, at the point
where Uniontown now stands. From there it passed
in a general southwesterly direction, through the pres-
ent townships of South Union, Georges, and Spring
Hill ; and crossing Cheat River at the mouth of Grassy
Run, passed out of the county southward into Vir-
ginia, on its route to the Holston River and the Caro-
linas. From this main trail, at a point a little south
of Georges Creek, in Fayette County, there struck off
a tributary path known as the Warrior Branch,- which
passed thence across the Cheat and Monongahela
Rivers, and up the valley of Dunkard Creek into Vir-
ginia. It was at this trail, near the second crossing
of Dunkard Creek, that the surveyors who were run-
ning the extension of the Mason and Dixon line, in
October, 17(37, were compelled to stop their work, on
account of the threats of the Delaware and Shawanese
warriors, and their positive refusal to allow the party

to proceed farther west; and it was not until fifteen
years later that the line was run beyond this trail.

An Indian path much used by the natives was one
which led from the " Forks of the Ohio" (now Pitts-
burgh) to the Potomac River at the mouth of Wills'
Creek (where Cumberland, Md., now stands). This
was known as " Nemacolin's Path" or trail, though
it was doubtless traveled by Indian parties many
years, and perhaps ages, before the birth of the old
Delaware whose name it bore." This trail, starting
from the head of the Ohio, joined the Cherokee trail
in Westmoreland County, and from the point of junc-
tion the two trails were nearly identical as far south
as Mount Braddock, at which point Nemacolin's trail
left the other, and took a southeasterly course, by way
of the Great Meadows, in the present township of
Wharton, the Great Crossings of the Yougliiogheny,
near the .southeast corner of Fayette County ; thence
it crossed the southwestern corner of Somerset County
into Maryland. There were numerous other trails
traversing the county of Fayette, but none of them
as important or as much traveled as those above men-

These trails were the highways of the Indians, —
the thoroughfares over which they journeyed on their
business of the chase or of war, just as white people
pursue their travel and traffic over their graded roads.
" An erroneous impression obtains among many at
the present day," says Judge Veech, " that the In-
dian, in traveling the interminable forests which once
covered our towns and fields, roamed at random, like
a modern afternoon hunter, by no fixed paths, or that
he was guided in his long journeyings solely by the
sun and stars, or by the courses of the streams and
mountains. And true it is that these untutored sons
of the woods were considerable astronomers and geog-
raphers, and relied much upon these unerring guide-
marks of nature. Even in the most starless night
they could determine their course by feeling the bark
of the oak-trees, which is always smoothest on the
south side, and roughest on the north. But still they
had their trails or paths, as distinctly marked as are
our county and State roads, and often better located.
The wdiite traders adopted them, and often stole their
names, to be in turn surrendered to the leader of some
Anglo-Saxon army, and finally obliterated by some
costly highway of travel and commerce. They are

* The place whoro this trail crossed tlie Yougliiogheny was identical
with that where Gen. Braddock cruaacd his army, on his march towards
Tort Du Quesnc, in 1755.

- Judge Ve<'ch describes the route of this trail (proceeding northward)
naftdlows: ** A tributary trail called the Warrior Bninch, coming from
Tennessee, through Kentucky and Southern Ohio, came up Fish Creek
and down Dunkard, crossing Clieat Kiver at McFarland's. It mn out a
junction with the chief trail, intersecting it at William Gans' sugar-
camp (between Morris' Cross-Roads and Georges Creek, in Spring Hill
township), but it kept on by Crow's Mill, James Robinson's, and the old
pun factory (in Nicholson township) and thence towards the mouth of
Bedstone; intersecting the old Redstone trail from the lop of Laurel Hill,
near Jackson's, or Grace Church, on the N'ational road."

3 It received this name from the fact that when theold " Ohio Company"
was preparing to go into the Indian trade at the head of the Ohio, in the
year 1740, one of the principal agents of that company — Col. Thomaa
Cresnp, of Ohl Town, 5Id.— employed the Indian Nemacolin (who lived,
as before mentioned, at the mouth of Dnnlap's Creek, on the Monongahela)
to guide him over the liest route for a pack-horse path from the Potomac
to the Indian villages on the Ohio, a short distance below the confluence
of the Allegheny and Monongahela. The old Indian pointed out the
path in question as being the most feasible route, and it wils atlopted.
In 1754, Washington followed its line with liis tmops as far north and
west as Gist's Fayette County ; and in 1755, Gen. Braddock
made it, with few variations, his route of march from Fort Cumberland
to Gill's, and tlience northwardly to near the point in Westmoreland
County where lie first crossed the Monongahela.


now almost wholly effaced and forgotten. Hundreds
travel along or plow across them, unconscious that
they are in the footsteps of the red man."

The Indian history connected with the annals of
Fayette County is very meagre. During the military
operations of the years 1754 and 1700, when the op-
posing forces of England and Franco marched to and
fro over the hills and through the vales of this
county, they were accompanied on both sides by In-
dian allies, who did their share of the work of
slaughter, as will be narrated in the history of those
campaigns, given in succeeding pages. After the
French and their Indian allies had e.xpelled the Eng-
lish power from the region west of the Alleghenies, in
175o, nearly all the Indians of the Allegheny and
Monongahela Valleys sided with the victorious
French ; but many years elapsed from that time be-
fore there were any white settlers here to be molested,
and when they did come to make their homes here
they suffered very little from .«uch outrages as were i
constantly committed by the savages upon the inhabit- I
ants west of the Monongahela. This was doubtless
largely due to the fact that the red men regarded the
people east of that river as Pennsylvanians, with
whom they were on comparatively friendly terms ;
while those west of the same stream were considered
by them to be VirginianSj against whom they held
feelings of especial hatred and malignity. With the
exception of the murder of two men on Burnt Cabin
Eun,' and the taking of some prisoners south of
Georges Creek, the inhabitants of the territory that is
now Fayette County were entirely exempt from the
savage incursions and barbarities with which the
people living between them and the O'lio River were
so often visited during the thirty years of Indian
warfare and raidings which preceded Gen. Anthony
Wayne's decisive victory on the Maumee, in August,

1 The ch-curash

COS nttoiiaing this Iinlian mil.:,.-

hy Judge Veech :

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 3 of 193)