George Hallenbrooke Morgan.

Annals, comprising memoirs, incidents and statistics of Harrisburg. From the period of its first settlement .. online

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Online LibraryGeorge Hallenbrooke MorganAnnals, comprising memoirs, incidents and statistics of Harrisburg. From the period of its first settlement .. → online text (page 4 of 31)
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P. S. I shall endeavor to keep out a number of Mohawks,
that are here, as spies. The '* Belt'' promised to send out
some ; but it was oar river Indians, and some scouts from the
French army, attacked us at Mr. Penn's creek.

Yours, J. H.


On the 23d of October following this massacre, upwards of
forty of the inhabitants of Paxton went to Mahanoy, or Penn's
creek, for the purpose of inquiry and burying the dead. The

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fidlowing dedaration^ from one of the party, gives the result of
the expedition :

^< I and Thomas Forster, Esq., Mr. Harris, and Mr. McKee^
with upwards of forty men, went to Capt. MoRee at New Pro-
vidence, in order to bury the dead, lately murdered on Maha-
hony creek; but understanding the corpses were buried, we
then determined to return imediately home. But being urged
by John Sekalamy and the " Old Belt" to go up to see the In
dians at Shamokin and know their minds, we went on the 24thy
and staid there all night — and in the night I heard some Dela-
wares talking — about twelve in number — ^to this purpose :

" What are the English came here for ?*' Says another, '*To
kill us, I suppose." '^ Can we not then send off some of our
nimble young men to give our friends notice that can soon be
here f" They soon after sang the war song, and four Indians
went off, in two canoes, well armed — the one canoe went down
the river, and the other across.

On the morning of the 25th, we took our leave of the In-
dians, and set off homewards, and were advised to go down the
East side of the river, but fearing that a snare might be laid
on that side, we marched off peaceably on the west side, having
behaved in the most civil and friendly manner towards them
while with them ; and when we came to the mouth of Mahanoy
creek, we were fired on by a good number of Indians that lay
among the bushes ; on which we were obliged to retreat, with
the loss of several men ; the particular number I cannot exactly
mention ; but I am positive that I saw four fall, and one man
struck with a tomyhawk on the head in his flight across the
river. As I understand the Delaware tongue, I heard several
of the Indians that were engaged against us speak a good many
words in that tongue during the action.


<< The above declaration was attested by the author's voluntary

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qualificatioD^ no magistrate being present, at Paxton, this 26tli
day of October, 1755, before us.

Jdo. Elder, Thos. McArtbur, Michael Graham, Al^x. Mc-
Clure, Michael Teass, Wm. Harris, Thos. Black, Saml
Lennis, Samuel Pearson, Wm. McClure,

N. B. Of all our people that were in the action, there are
but nine that are yet returned. ''


HEiDELBURa Oct. 26, at 11 o'clock night 1755.
Mr, Jos, Reed — Loving Friend :

About one hour ago I recived the news of the enemy haying
crossed the Susquehanna, and killed a great many people from
Thos. M'Kee's down to Hunter's Mills.

Mr. Elder, the minister at Paxton, wrote to another Pres-
byterian minister, in the neighborhood of Adam Reed, Esq
The people were then in a meeting, and imediately designed to
get themselves in readiness to oppose the enemy, and lend aA-
sistance to their neighbors. * * ♦




On the 28th of October, 1755, John Harris wrote the follow-
ing letter to Governor Morris :

" Paxton Oct. 28, 1755.
^^May it please your Honor :

This is to acquaint you that on the 24th of October, I arrived
at Shamokin, in order to protect our frontiers (people ?) up that
way till they might make their escape from their cruel enemies ;
and learn the best intelligence I could.

The Indians on the West branch of the Susquehannah cer-


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tainly killed our inhabitants on Penn's creek ; and there are a
hatchet and two English scalps sent by them up the North
Branch, to desire them to strike with them, if they are men.

The Indians are all assembling themselves at Shamokin to
counsel ]^ a large body of them was there four days ago. I can-
not learn their intentions ; but it seems Andrew Montour and
Mona-ca-too-tha are to bring down the news firom them. There
is not a sufficient number of them to oppose the enemy ; and
perhaps they will join the enemy against us. There is no de-
pendence on Indians ; and we are in imminent danger.

I got certain information from Andrew Montour and others,
that there is a body of French with fifteen hundred Indians,
coming upon us, Picks, Ottaways, Onandox, Delawares, Shaw-
anese, and a number of the Six Nations ; and are now not many
days march from this Province and Virginia, which are ap-
pointed to be attacked ; at the same time some of the Shamokin
Indians seem friendly, and others appear like enemies.

Montour knew many days ago of the enemy being on their
march against us, before he informed ; for which I said as much
to him as I thought prudent, considering the place I was in.

On the 25th inst., on my return with about forty men, we
were attacked by twenty or thirty Indians — received their fire,
and about fifteen of our men and myself took to the trees, at-
tacked the villians and killed four upon the spot, and lost but
three more — retreating about half a mile through the woods,
and crossing the Susquehanna, one of whom was shot off an
horse riding behind myself, through the river. My horse was
wounded, and failing in the river, I was obliged to quit him,
and swim part of the way.

Four or five of our men were drowned crossing the river. I
hope our journey, though with fatigue, and loss of our substance,
and some of our lives, will be of service to our country, by dis-
covering our enemy, who will be our ruin if not timely pre-

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I just now received information that there was a French offi-
cer, supposed Captain, with a party of Shawanese, Dekwares,
&c., within six miles of Shamokin, ten days ago; and no doubt
intends taking possession of it, which will be a dreadful conse-
quence to us, if suffered. Therefore I thought proper to dis-
patch this message to inform your honor. The Indians here, I
hope your Honor, will be pleased to cause them to be removed to
some place, as I do [not] like their company ; and as the men
of those here were not against us, yet did them no harm, or else
I would have them all cut off. Belt (Indian so called) promised
at Shamokin, to send out spies to view the enemy, and upon
hearing of our skirmishes. Old Belt was in a rage, gathered up
thirty Indians immediately and went in pursuit of the enemy,
as I am this day informed.

I expect Montour and Mona-ca-too-tha down here this week,
with the determination of their Shamokin Council. The in-
habitants are abandoning their plantations, and we are in a

dreadful situation. I am, &c.,


P. S. The night ensuing our attack the Indians burnt all

George Qabriers houses — danced around them.''


"Paxton, Oct. 29, 1765.
''Udward Shippen, Esq. :

Sir : We expect the enemy upon us every day, and the in-
habitants are abandoning their plantations, being greatly dis-
couraged at the approach of such a number of cruel savages,
and no present sign of assistance. I had a certain account of
fifteen hundred French and Indians being on their march against
us and Virginia, and now close upon our borders ; their scouts
scalping our families on our frontiers daily. Andrew Montour
and others at Shamokin desired me to take care, that there was
a party of forty Indians out many days, and intended to burp.

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my "house and destroy myself ^^^ family. I have this day cut
loop-holes in my houBe, and am determined to hold out to the
last extremity if I can get some men to stand by me. But few
can be had at present, as every one is in fear of his own family
being cut off every hour. Great part of the Susquehanna In-
dians are no doubt actually in the French interest, and I ana
informed that a French officer is expected at Shamokin this
week with a party of Delawares and Shawanese, no doubt to
take possession of our river. We should raise men imediately
to build a fort up the river to take possession, and to induce
some Indians to join us. We ought also to insist on the In-
dians to declare for or against us, and as soon as we are prepared
for them we should hid up their scalps, and keep our woods full
of our people upon the scout, else they will ruin our province ;
for they are a dreadful enemy. I have sent out two Indian
spies to Shamokin ; they are Mohawks.

Sir; Yours, &c,


The defences which Mr. Harris constructed around his dwell-
ing at this time, are thus noticed by Edward Shippen, in a let-
ter to Governor Morris :

"John Harris has built an excellent stockade around his
house, which is the only place of security that way for the pro-
visions of the army, he having much good celler room ; and as
he has but six or seven men to guard it, if the Government
would order six more men there to strengthen it, it would in my
opinion be of great use tb the cause."

The late Robert Harris saw the remains of this stockade when
he was young.


In October, 1765, the enemy was in the neighborhood of
Shamokin in considerable force, and in the month following,

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murdered a number of settlers, upon which the people of Pax-
ton published the following address to the inhabitants of the
Province :

" John Harris', 12 o'clock p. m.,
• Oct. 31st, 1755.

^* To all his Majesty s subjects in the Province of Pennsylvania,
or elsewhere:
Whereas, Andrew Montour, Belt of Wampum, two Mo-
hawks, and other Indians came down this day from Shamokin,
who say the whole body of Indians, or the greatest part of
them, in the French interest is actually encamped this side of
George Gabriels [thirty miles above Harris' Ferry, on the west
side of the river] near Susquehanah, and that we may expect
an attack in three days at farthest ; and a French fort to be
begun at Shamokin in ten days hence. Tho' this be the Indian
report, we, the subscribers, do give it as our advice to repair
immediately to the frontiers with all our forces to intercept their
passage into our country, and to be prepared in the best manner
possible for the worst event.
Witness our hands :

James Galbraith, Jno. Allison, Barney Hughes, Robert
Wallace, John Harris, Jas. Pollock, Jas. Anderson,
William Work, Patrick Henry.

P. S. They positively affirm that the above named Indians
discovered a party of the enemy at Thos. McKee's upper place
on the 30th of October last.

Mona-ca too-tha, the Belt, and other Indians here insist upon

Mr. Weiser coming immediately to John Harris', and his men,

and to council with the Indians.

Before me,


Mr. Hamilton informed the Provincial Council that " in No-
vember, 1755, he was at John Harris', and found the people

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collected there in the utmost confusion, and in continual fear of
being fallen upon by the French and Indians/' Houses that
had been occupied, bams filled with the fruits of a rich and
plentiful harvest, newly sowed field% and standing com, were all
abandoned by the hardy and industrious frontier settlers.

<« In December, 175f), John Harris, Jr., of Paxton township,
in oonsequence of instractions from George Groghan, continued
a guard of thirty-two men upon the frontiers of said township
for the space of eighteen days.'' — Votes of Astemhly,


On the 8th of January, 1756, a council with the Indians was
held at the house of John Harris, Jr., in Paxton, composed of
lion. Robert Hunter Morris, Governor, James Hamilton, Rich-
ard Peters, Secretary, Joseph Fox, and Conrad Weiser, Inter-
preter ; two Indians of the Six Nations, called << The Belt of
Wampum," a Seneca, and the '' Broken Thigh,'' a Mohawk.

The Qovernor addressed the two Indians as follows :

<< Brethren : I am glad to see you and your families in good
health. You have ever been esteemed our hearty friends, and
you show you are really so by residing among us at a time when
so much mischief is done on every side of the Province.

I sent Mr. Weiser to acquaint you that I had kindled a coun-
cil fire here, and had invited the Indians on Susquehannah to
meet me the beginning of this moon, and that I expected you
would stay here till I should come, and afford me your assist-
ance in council.

I thank you for staying here. You see that, agreeable to my
message, I come at the time appointed ; but I find no other
Indians here than you two, and indeed I expect no more, as I
believe my messengers were prevented going to Wyomink by

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the ravages of the Indians; which began in their neighborhood
at the time they were preparing to set out on their journey.

The public business requires my presence at Carlble, where I
am now going, and I invite you to go along with me. If you
incline to take any of your families with you, I shall readily
i^ree to it; and provide a carriage for them and you/'

To this *' The Belt" replied :

'^ Brethren : I thank you for sending for us to council; and
for your kind speech. What you have said is very agreeable.

Brethren : The sky is dark all around us. The mischief done
to you I consider as done to the Six Nations, and I am sorry for
what has happened, and heartily condole with you upon it ; but
be not disheartened. As the public business is committed to
yoU; nothing should be suffered to lie on your minds that might
in any wise impair your judgment, which is now more necessary
than ever. Let me therefore, by this string, intreat you to put
away all grief from your heart; and to dry up your tears, that
you may think and see clearly when you come to council.

I accept your invitation, and shall follow you to Carlisle."

Gave a string.

At the time this council was held there appears to have been
but a single house and few conveniences at Harris' Ferry, and
*' Mr. Weiser was asked if it might not be better to hold it at
Carlisle, where all the business of that county could be done at
the same time, and proper entertainment provided, as well for
the Governor and his company as for the Indians, should they
prove numerous/' They then went to Carlisle.


Conrad Weiser, in a letter to Governor Morris, dated January
29; 1756; says : << On the Slst of last month, one James Young

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camo over from Tobias Hendricks', and told me privately, in the
presence of John Harris, that above fifteen men with arms came
that day to Tobias Hendricks', in order to come to this side of
the river to hill the Indians at John Harris^ judging them of
being guilty or privy to the murder committed in Shearman's
valley a few days ago; and that he had much ado to stop them,
and desired me to take all the care I possibly could. I took for
granted what they said, and sent immediately an express to bring
the Indians that remained in Carlisle, since the last treaty, away
to Harris' Ferry."

The treaty alluded to was held at Carlisle, in January, 1756,
where it was left to the Indians' choice till a fort had been
erected at Shamokin, to reside at one or other of the forts then
building, or at Harris' Ferry or Conestoga Manor. They chose
Harris' Ferry.


After the adjournment of the Assembly, in April, 1756, Gov-
ernor Morris again visited Harris' Ferry, and in the early part
of May issued a message summoning the members of Assembly
to. convene at Philadelphia. He also signed several bills here,
and ^' affixed the great seal of the Province to the transcribed
copies thereof."

In concluding his message to the Assembly, dated Harris'
Ferry, May 23, 1756, he says : *' I propose to leave this place
to-morrow, or on Tuesday at farthest, and hope to be with you
by the time you can have any business prepared to lay before


The storm of Indian warfare which had been so long raging
in the neighboring districts, at length spread into the settle-
ments of Paxton and adjoining townships.

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" The first assanlt/' says Eupp^ "was upon a wagon beloDging
to a German, in which he was endeavoring to more off; but
being killed a small distance behind the wagon, those with the
wagon fled to a fort not far distant. The men at the fort being
alarmed at the report of the Indians' guns, came to see the oc-
casion of it, and met a woman running towards them, crying ;
they proceeded to where the wagon stood, and at some distance
behind laid the man, tomahawked and sculped, and the brains
issuing from the wounds, although he was still breathing.'^

Murders in Paxton and Derry townships appear to have been
an e very-day occurrence in August, 1756 :

" Deery Tp., 9th Aug., 1756.
SiE : There is nothing but bad news every day. Last week
there were two soldiers killed and one wounded, about two miles
from Manada fort; and two of the guards that escorted the
batteaux were killed. * * Wc shall all be broken in upon
in these parts. The people are going off daily, leaving almost
their all behind them. * * ♦ *

Ed. Shipfbn, Esq."

" Debet Tp., 10th Aug., 1756.
Honored Sir : There is nothing here almost every day but
murder committed by the Indians in some part or other. About
five miles above me, at Manada Gap, there were two of the
Province soldiers killed, one wounded. ♦ *



P. S. I am in want of the pistols.''

. The names of some of those mur<)ered and abducted in Pax-
ton, Deny and Hanover townships, are given in the Pennsyl-
vania Gazette of 1755, and are as follows :

EHiabcth Gallway, Henry Gibson, Robert Peer, Wm. Berry-


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hilly and David McClellaDd; Beatty, ilemming's sod, and one
Hicks, James Mackej, murdered. A son of James Maokey, a
son of Joseph Bamet, Elizabeth Dickey and her child, the wife
of Samuel Young and her child, John Martin's wife and five
children, William Oallway's wife and two children, and a young
woman ; Chas. Stewart's wife and two children, David MoClel-
land's wife and two children, and Wm. Flemming and wife were
taken prisoners.

"Aug. 19, 1757. — Fourteen people killed and taken from
Mr. Cinky's congregation, and one man killed near Harris'

The Colonial Records and Archives contain numerous letters
from Paxton, written at this period, giving accounts of Indian
massacres in this neighborhood.

Estherton, the present country seat of Judge Hiester, and
Fort Hunter, the present residence of J. C. McAllister, Esq.,
both a short distance above Harrisburg, were important posts
of rendezvous for the early settlers.


^'A party of hostile Indians had came down the river to
murder the people of Paxton. They formed a camp in the
thicket back of Elder's mill-dam. They designed falling on
the people when at worship in Paxton church. They are sup-
posed to have come on Monday, and after waiting several days
they came to the conclusion that the congregation would not
assemble, and they went off. They left the settlement by the
way of Indiantown Gap. On their way off they murdered sev-
eral persons and took a prisoner, from whom it was afterwards
ascertained that they had been encamped here for several days.
The people of this congregation, before and afterwards, came to

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the cliTirch armed ; and Mr. Elder^ the pastor; also carried hia
gun into the pulpit." — G, W. Eiarrts, Esq,

The above incident is mentioned in " Webster's History of
the Presbyterian Church" as having occurred in 1756. The
same authority also states that in 1757 an attack was actually
made on the settlers as they were leaving the church, two or
three of whom were killed.

Mr. Elder was pastor of the above church when it was first
built, about 120 years ago, and preached to that congregatiom
and in the Deny church upwards of 60 years. He was a colonel
of the Paxton Rangers, whose duty it was to keep a look out
for the Indians, and range the settlements for their protection,
from the Blue Mountain to the river. He died at the advanced
age of eighty-six, in 1792, on his farm near Harrisburg.

Paxton Church is still standing, about two and a half miles
from Harrisburg, near the Hummelstown turnpike, and many
of the descendants of the early settlers still continue to worship


"A meeting of the Six Nations and their Allies, and George
Croghan, Esq., Deputy Agent to the Hon. Sir William John-
son, Baronet, His Majesty's sole Agent and Superintendent of
the Six Nations, their allies and their dependents, was held by
special order at John Harris', the 1st day of April, 1757.
Present— The Rev. John Elder, Capt. Thos. M'Kee, Mr. Jas.
Armstrong, Mr. Hugh Crawford, Mr. John Harris, Wm. Pen-
trup. Interpreter, and warriors from the Mohawks, Oneidas, Tus-
caroras, Onondagoes, Nanticokes, Cayugas, Delawares, Senecas,
and Conestogoes, with their women and children."

Before this conference had concluded, the council fire was
removed to Lancaster, where the remainder of its business was

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The following letters are copied verbatim et literatim from
the original, in the hand-writing of John Harris, Jr., now in
the possession of his grandson, David Harris, Esq. :

"Paxton April 80, 1767.
Sir : I sent you Butter with * * * Hambright last
Command w'ch I hope you Received safe. I shall Endeavor to
Procure another Crock for you against next trip. I forwarded
all the Letters you sent me by * • * to Lancaster Imme-
diately & Capt'n M'Kee was going to Philada. from there, k
took them with him, so that there was not the Least Delay.
Mr. West wrote me this week that there was an English Packet
arrived at Antigua w'ch left Spithead the 26th Feb'ry. * *
& that there was laying there 200 Transports, Btoreships, &c,
with 16 Sail of the Line Commanded by Admiral Knowles,
which were to sail in a few Days for North America (God send
them a Quick & Safe Passage) there is actually arrived at Ft.
Cumberland 126 Catawba warriors & 50 or 60 other Indians &
a number m(N*e Expected who seems Hearty in our Cause. I
Expect they'll pay our Cruel Enemys in their own Coin this
Sumer I am sir in Hase your most obed't Humble Serv't

To Major James Bubd att Fort Augasta.*'

"PaxtonNov'iIS, 1757.
"Z>r. 8r:

I am Just arrived from Philada. No News of Importanoe,
the Troops from the Northwerd are Part arrived in Philada.,
such as are to be Quartered there this Winter, & three Compa-
nys if not more of the first Battallion of Ye Royal American
Riegement from Carlisle is to Pass here Next thursday, on their
way to Winter Quarters in Philada., the 2nd Battallion is to
soon follow & Remain at Lancaster, Excepting some who is by

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the General lieport^ to be at York, Eeadingy &Cy this Winter.
We have acoo'ts of onr Grand Englbh Fleet Sailing in Sep-
tember last on a Secret Expedition, & good acconnts soon Ex-
pected from them. No Battles Lately in Europe Except Skir-
mishing between us, the French, Prusians, Austrians, Rusians,
&c, tho' ^ts currently Reported Generally Believed that ab't
Seventy thousand Turks is actually on their March against the
Queen of Hungary, & a Larger Army of Turks & Tarters is
also marching against the Russians, to make a Diversion on the
side of Prussia. Good accounts is also Expected from his Prus-
sian Majesty, tho' his Enemy is numerous on all sides the
French seems to be yet to strong for the Duke in Hanover but
considering the Numbers Greater Strokes might have been Ex-
pected from them. We have been Tollerably Quiet tn all the
Frontiers this Long-time (from Indian Incursions) the Barracks
in Philada. in Great Forwardness. I am sir your most obed't

Humble Serv't

Online LibraryGeorge Hallenbrooke MorganAnnals, comprising memoirs, incidents and statistics of Harrisburg. From the period of its first settlement .. → online text (page 4 of 31)