Josiah Rhinehart Sypher.

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often fled for safety. In 1782, a party of Indian warriors
attacked Wheeling, in Virginia, but being compelled to re-
tire, the savage marauders resolved to avenge their defeat
by overrunning and destroying the settlements in the south-
western part of Pennsylvania. The people at Rice's fort
received warning of the approaching danger, only half an
hour before the attack.

16. The instant the alarm was given, every man ran to his
cabin, seized his rifle, and hurried away with his family into
the block-house. The terrible warwhoop rang through the
forest from every side, and the savage warriors rushed upon
the fort expecting to take it by storm. Only six men with
rifles stood inside to resist the assault. These, however,
were brave and skillful sharpshooters, and every shot brought
down one of the assailants. The deadly fire from the fort
soon drove the" Indians behind trees and logs for shelter.
The battle continued nearly four hours. The Indians fre-
quently called out to the people in the fort: "Give up ! give
up I too man}^ Indian. Indian too big. No kill." But the
sturdy defenders could not be deceived; they answered, de-
fiantly: "Come on, 3^ou cowards, we are ready for you!"

15. Where was Eice's fort?

IG and 17. Describe the attack on the fort?



It. When the savages found they could not take the
fort, they set fire to barns and other buildings outside, and
shot the cattle, sheep, and hogs belonging to the inhabitants.
At two o'clock in the night, the enemy, alarmed by the ap-
proach of reinforcements for the garrison, hastily gave up
the siege and fled. One of the sharpshooters was killed at
the beginning of the battle, and thus the brave defense was
made by only five men, against over 100 assailants.

18. Many pioneers in the west fell victims to the Pontiac
conspiracy and other Indian incursions. At one time, nearly
every settlement was destroyed by the savage foe. The forts
were captured by storm, or taken by stratagem; the villages
and dwellings of the people were burned, and the inhabitants
carried away into barbarous captivity. Hannastowu, then
the county seat of Westmoreland county, was destroyed in
July, 1782.

19. This village, located thirty-one miles east of Fort Pitt,
and near where Greensburg now stands, contained about
thirty houses, and a few small cabins built of hewn logs.
There was also a log court-house, a jail, and a stockade fort.
The court of Common Pleas was opened in this place in April,
ItYS, and was the first held west of the mountains.

20. On the 13th of July, 1782, a party of the inhabitants
went to the fields, about a mile and a half north of the town,
to cut their harvest. In the midst of the work, an alarm
was given of the approach of a body of Indians. The whole
reaping party fled.toward the town in terror and confusion.
The alarm spread through the settlement, and the people

18. How were the settlements west of the Alleghanies destroyed?

19. Where was the first court held west of the mountains?

20. Describe the destruction of Hannastown.


sought safety in the fort. The Indians rushed into the vil-
lage, and being exasperated at finding it deserted, first plun-
dered the houses and set them on fire, and then assailed the
fort. There were only 25 or 30 men within the stockades,
but these made such stout resistance, that the assailants soon
gave up the attack, and returned to their plunder.

21. A number of the savages left the main body at Han-
nastown, and went to Miller's Station, about two miles
farther south. There they found a wedding party at the
height of its enjoyment, and, with fiendish 3^ells, rushed upon
it. The men of the party were so agitated by the cries of
the women and children, and the warwhoop of the Indians,
that all stood for a moment irresolute, and that moment
sealed their fate. One young man seized a child near him,
and, with it, made his escape. The rest, including bride
and bridegroom, were taken prisoners, loaded with the plun-
der of the savages, and carried into the most cruel captivity.

22. A number of men at work in their meadows, and the
women in the cabins, fled to a neighboring settlement. One
man was carrying away a little child and assisting his aged
mother, but finding the pursuers gaining on him, he put
down his child, that he might save his mother. A merciful
Providence, however, took care of the little one, and next
day, when the father returned, he found it asleep in its own
bed, the only human being left amid the fearful desolation.

23. Hostilities of this character continued with but slight
intermission, until the close of General Wayne's expedition
against the tribes in the west; when the treaty at Green-
ville, Ohio, in 1795, settled the Indian question, and secured
permanent peace to the western frontiers of Pennsylvania.

21 and 22. What occurred at Miller's Station?

23. How was permanent peace secured to Western Pennsylvania?




Organization of Counties. — Development of the Gountrywest
of the Mountains. — Whisky Rebellion. — Pittsburg.

1. Previous to the year IttS, Bedford county was on the
western frontier, and comprised all the territory lying* west-
ward, to the western boundary of the State. When Northum-
berland county was organized, it extended westward along
the northern boundary to the Alleghany river. Twenty-
three years later, Lycoming became the frontier on the

2. In nt3, that part of Bedford county lying west of the
Alleghanics was erected into a new county, which was called
Westmoreland. The county seat was located at Hannas-

Chapter XXXII. — 1. What counties were on the frontier in

2. What new county was organized? Where was the county seat?
What do you know about Hannastown? What is now the county
town of Westmoreland ?


town. This being the only seat of justice west of the mount-
ains, was the center of the new settlements until it was
destroyed by the Indians. Hannastown was not rebuilt ;
but about three miles from its ruins, Grecnsburg was laid
out and became the county town of Westmoreland.

3. As the Revolutionary war drew to a close, the tide of
emigration w^estward, carried many pioneers into the valleys
of the Monongahela, Alleghany, Conemaugh, and Youghio-
gheny. Roads were cut through the deep wilderness in every
direction, thrifty villages grew up on the banks of the rivers,
and it soon became necessary to subdivide the country by
the organization of new counties.

4. "Old Westmoreland" may truly be called the mother of
counties in the west. Washington county was separated from
it in 1781 — with Catfish, on Catfish run, as its seat of justice.
Two years later Fayette county was established, with Union-
town for its county town; and in 1788, Pittsburg and the
settlements around it, were organized into the county of

5. In 1800, Westmoreland yielded part of its territory to
Armstrong, and three years later another portion for In-
diana county. Greene was taken from Washington county
in 1796. Beaver was separated from Alleghany and Wash-
ington ; and Butler, Mercer, Crawford, and Erie, from Alle-
ghany in 1800. In the same j^ear, Warren and Yenango were
taken from Alleghany and Lycoming; and Armstrong from
Westmoreland, Alleghany, and L3^coming. Indiana county
was taken from Lycoming and Westmoreland in 1803. In

3. How did the close of the war affect the west?

4. What new counties were taken from Westmoreland, and when?

5. What other counties were formed ?



1804, Jefferson, Clearfield, and McKean were taken from
Lycoming, and Cambria from Huntingdon county.

6. Thus within a period of a few years, the western divi-
sion of the State was organized into counties. As the
growth of population and the development of natural re-
sources required, new counties were erected until the pres-
ent organization was attained.*

7. These counties west of the mountains, in the midst of
their prosperity, were disturbed by an unfortunate domestic
difficulty. Early in the history of the settlement, the inhab-
itants were employed chiefly as farmers, and therefore more
grain was raised than could be used for bread. It was im-
possible to carry it across the mountains, and hence efforts
were made to consume it in some other way. Numerous
distilleries were erected on the Monongahela and other
streams, wherein great quantities of corn, rye, and even
wheat were converted into whisky.

8. In 1790, Congress passed a law imposing excise duties
on spirits distilled in the United States. This law was vio-
lently opposed, especially in the western part of Pennsyl-
vania, where many of the inhabitants were engaged in the
manufacture and sale of whisky. During the period from
1790 to 1794, meetings were held in the western counties
in opposition to the national tax. Yiolent measures were
adopted to defeat the law, and prevent the government
officers from doing their duty. Many outrages were com-

* See Table of Counties.

6. Were any new counties formed after this ?

7. How were the inhabitants of the western counties employed?
What was the effect of this? How was the grain consumed?

8. What law was passed? What followed the passage of this law?


mitted. The whole country was in a state of excitement.
The United States Marshal for this district was openly re-
sisted, and fled for his life; General Neville's house was
burned because the Marshal had been harbored there. Pub-
lic disorder and violence grew rapidly worse. Neighbor-
hoods were torn by dissensions; houses and other property
were burned by the insurgents, and there was little security
for life, especially to those who stood forward prominently
in defense of the law.

9. Meanwhile the government did all it could, consistently
with dignity and justice, to conciliate the disaffected. The
laws were modified, proclamations were issued, and an am-
nesty proffered ; but all this was in vain. At length, in 1794,
President Washington called on the governments of the
neighboring States for aid to quell the rebellion ; and in the
autumn of that year, 12,000 men from Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, Maryland, and Yirginia, advanced upon the insur-
gents, by way of Bedford and Cumberland. Governor Lee,
of Yirginia, commanded; under him were the governors
of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The approach of this
formidable force soon settled the difficulty. The proffered
terms of pardon Avere accepted. A few of the leaders, who
were found, were taken to Philadelphia for trial. No life
was lost; the liberty poles disappeared; the "whisky boys"
quietly submitted; and thus happily ended the "Whisky

10. The erection of manufacturing establishments at Pitts-
burg and at other points in the west, soon created good

9. How did the national government act? What was finally done?
How did the Whisky Kebellion end ?

10. How were markets created for the farmers' produce?


markets, and the farmers then found ready sale, and obtahied
reasonable prices near home, for the products of their farms.
A few years later, the great turnpike road across the mount-
ains, then the canal, and after that the railroads, gave an
outlet as well as an inlet for everything that was produced
for sale, or required for consumption, in this enterprising and
prosperous community.

11. During the war, and while the west was annually
overrun by Indian marauding parties, no settlement or vil-
lage could attain permanent and vigorous prosperity. The
settlers were unsafe, beyond the reach of the small garrisons.
Fort Pitt was the strongest military post west of the Alle-
ghanies, and emigrants naturally looked to the soldiers at
that place for protection. Situated at the junction of two
rivers, it was a convenient point for traders to meet and
exchange their goods and peltry. A few log-huts were built
on the banks of the rivers near the fort, iand thus gradually
a small village grew up, where the great city now stands.

12. The lands lying in and about the forks of the rivers
were held by the Penn family, as a private manor, until the
year 1784, when arrangements were made with the proprie-
tors to divide it into lots, which could be purchased by the
settlers. This circumstance, and the restoration of peace with
the Indians, invited a strong tide of emigration westward.

13. The city of Pittsburg, great in wealth, the result of
the industry of its own people, no less noted for its manu-
factures than for the vigorous character of its inhabitants,
rose rapidly from a very humble beginning.

11. "What was the most favorable place for traders to meet in the
west? Why?

12. How were the lands about the forks of the rivers held? What
arrangement was made?

13. What is said of Pittsburg?


14. In It 84, the place where it stands was inhabited
almost exclusively by Scotch and Irish, living in extreme
poverty. Considerable trade was carried on in a small w^ay;
goods were brought on pack horses and w^agons from Phil-
adelphia and Baltimore, and exchanged in the shops for
wheat, flour, skins and money. There were four lawyers and
two doctors, but there was not a priest, of any persuasion, nor
church nor chapel in the place.

15. Tw^o years later, John Scull and Joseph Hall, two
poor but enterprising young printers, carried a printing press
and type over the mountains, and on the 29th of July, 1186,
issued the first number of the Pittsburg Gazette. This was
the first paper printed west of the Alleghanies.

16. The mail line was extended thither from Greensburg
in It 86, and in the same year, a schoolhouse and a Presbyte-
rian church were erected ; the village of Pittsburg then con-
tained nearly 500 inhabitants. It was incorporated as a
borough, on the 22d of April, 1794, and as a city, on the 18th
of March, 1816 The borough of Alleghany, on the west
bank of the Alleghany river, was incorporated on the 14th
of April, 1828, and is now a flourishing city. Several man-
ufacturing towns have grow^n up near the junction of the
rivers, receiving aid from, and in turn contributing w^ealth
and strength to, this great community. Alleghany county
w^as organized, with the seat of justice at Pittsburg, in

14. "What was its condition in 1784? "What is said of its trade?

15. When and b}" whom was the first newspaper printed west of
the Alleghanies.

16. What improvements were made, and when? What»is said of
Alleghany and the surroundings of Pittsburg ? When was Alleghany
county organized?


17. The extraordinary growth of these cities, and the rapid
increase of population and wealth in the western counties,
best show the energy, industry, and skill of their inhabitants.
Soon after the country had been opened to peaceful trade, a
number of merchants and mechanics settled at Pittsburg.
These at once gave character to the place, and, by judicious
behavior, led the people in every enterprise that was under-
taken for the public good. Churches and schools were
opened, manufacturing establishments were erected, and an
extensive trade was carried on with the State of New York,
by way of the Alleghany river, with the west and south
on the Ohio and Mississippi, and with the east by roads
across the mountains. As early as the year 1189, the editor
of the Gazette predicted that, "this town must in future time
be a place of great manufactory."

18. This prediction has been fulfilled. The city, which is
the gateway to the west, is very truly a place of great manu-
factory. Here, furnaces, founderies, rolling mills, nail works,
wire mills, and manufactories of metallic, glass, and other
wares, had an early and rapid growth.

19. Mechanical skill soon attained a degree of perfection
in Pittsburg, that gave a wide reputation to its manufac-
tures. In the production of steel, iron and glassware, the
city is now the foremost in America.*

* See Chapter XXXYIII.

17. "What shows the character of the people? What is said of early
settlers and trade? What prediction was made?

18. How is the prediction fulfilled?

19. What is Pittsburg celebrated for ? What is said of its produc-
tions ?





Counties organized Northwest of the Alleghany River. —
The Oil Region.

1. A LARGE portion of land lying in the northwestern coun-
ties, was, for many years, owned by the Holland Land Com-
pany and by the Pennsylvania Population Company. These
great corporations were organized soon after the close of the
Revolutionary war. They purchased from the State extensive
tracts, and endeavored to plant settlements on them.

2. A considerable part of the territory west and north of
the Alleghany and Ohio rivers, not held by these companies,
was surveyed and given to the ofl&cers and soldiers from
Pennsylvania, w^ho had served in the Continental army.

3. There was also a tract of land of triangular shape,

Chapter XXXIII. — 1. By whom were the lands in the northwest

2. What was given to the officers and soldiers ?


bounded on the northwest by Lake Erie, which belonged to
the United States, and cut off Pennsylvania from the use of
the lake. This tract was purchased in 1788, and was ceded
by act of Congress to the State, — thus placing within its
boundaries a valuable harbor, and enough of the lake shore
to accommodate its commerce.

4. By this purchase, and through the operations of the
great land companies, the territory of the northwest was
opened to settlers. Wayne's treaty with the Indians secured
peace to the frontier, and invited emigration westward, where
the soil was fertile and the land very cheap. A new field
was now opened, and people from New England, New York,
Eastern Pennsylvania, and Europe, moved thither in quest
of homes and fortunes.

5. The first permanent settlements in the northwest were
made in 1795, under the patronage of the "Pennsylvania
Population Company." This company was organized in
March, 1793. It procured a grant for a large tract of land
lying in the northwestern part of the State, and offered
liberal terms to persons, Avho would move thither and estab-
lish homes. Small tracts of land were surveyed for actual
settlers, on the shores of Lake Erie and on Le Boeuf river ;
yet, in 1795, only four families had found homes in the terri-
tory now comprised in the county of Erie.

6. During the same year, a fort was erected on Garrison
Hill, and the town of Erie was laid out by a board of com-

3. How did the State secure a valuable harbor ?

4. What opened a new field?

5. When were the first permanent settlements made in the north-
west? When was the Pennsylvania Population Company organized?

6. When was the first fort erected in Erie ? When was the town
of Erie laid out?


Diissioner/B appointed by the Population Company. The first
mill in Erie county was built at the mouth of Walnut creek.

7. The -pioneer settlers repaired the old military roads,
cut by the French, on Lake Erie, and from Erie to Fort Le
Boeuf, and new roads were opened by the agents of the
Population Company. In 1805 the Erie and Waterford
Turnpike Company was organized, and four years later, the
road leading from Lake Erie to the Alleghany river at
\\^aterford, a distance of fifteen miles, was completed. This
was the great highway between the lakes on the north, and
the Ohio river, at Pittsburg. Large quantities of salt were
carried down from the State of New York; iron and glass
from the factories at Pittsburg ; flour and grain from the rich
valleys of southwestern Pennsylvania; whisky from the dis-
tilleries on the Monongahela; and bacon from Kentucky
and Ohio, were taken to Erie, and thence distributed to the
settlements along the lakes westward to Detroit. This traflic
continued many years, until the manufacture of salt in the
Kanawha and Kiskaminatas, and the production of provi-
sions in the new settlements on the lakes, made the exchange

8. The pioneers in Erie county came from New England,
New York, and from the thrifty Scotch-Irish settlements in
the central counties of Pennsylvania. They were an ener-
getic, skillful, intelligent, devout, liberty-loving people, who
gave wealth and character to the country.

9. In 1800, only five years after the date of the first settle-
ment, Erie was separated from Alleghany, and erected into

7. Describe the opening of roads? How was trafiic carried on?

8. Who were the pioneers of Erie county?

9. When was the county erected ? When was the judiciary organ-
ized? When was Erie made a borough, and when a city?



a county, having 1468 inhabitants; ten years later, its popu-
lation was nearly 4000; in 1820, it was 8553; in 1830, it
was 17,041; and in 1860, the date of the last census, the
county contained a population of 49,69t. The judiciary of
the county was organized in 1803, and the seat of justice
was located at Erie. A court-house was erected in 1807 ;
Erie became a borough in 1805, and was incorporated a city
in 1851.

10. The territory of the northwest was further divided into
the counties of Crawford, Mercer, Yenango, and Warren, all of
which were established in the year 1800. During three years
all of the new counties, including Erie, were combined into
one judicial district, and the court was held at Meadville;
but in 1803 the organization of the several counties was com-
pleted. Meadville then became the seat of justice for Craw-
ford, Mercer for Mercer, Franklin for Venango, and Warren
for Warren county.

11. The first settlement in Crawford county was made at
Meadville in 1788. The pioneers came from the Wyoming
valley, whence they had been driven by the people from Con-
necticut. They were led by David Mead, a young man of
daring but generous spirit. He settled his little conipany of
families on a beautiful flat on French creek, and called the
place Meadville. During the period of Indian hostilities that
followed close upon the Revolutionary war, these pioneers
found refuge in the military garrison at Franklin, though
some of them fell in their own fields and cabins, the victims
of Indian cunning and savage treachery.

10. How was the northwest territory further divided? What were
the seats of justice?

11. When was the first settlement in Crawford county made?
Who were the pioneers, and by whom led? Where did they settle?


12. The town of Meaclville was laid out in 1790; the orig-
inal plan was improved and enlarged in 1795. In 1816
there were two churches fully established, a Lutheran and a
Presbyterian ; both of these had begun with the early settle-
ment, and had grown up with it, to strength and influence.
Alleghany College was founded at this place in 1815, was
opened for students in the following year, and in March,
1817, was chartered by the legislature. It afterward became
one of the most successful colleges in the State.

13. Mercer county w^as an uninhabited wilderness until
after the treaty of 1795, and the opening of the lands west
of the Alleghany. A few bold pioneers came into the county
in 1796; but no general settlement w^as made until fourteen
years later, when several families from the adjoining counties
located near the present site of Mercer.

14. The territory now included in Venango county, was
the scene of many interesting incidents in the history of
Pennsylvania. For many generations, it w^as the custom
of the powerful tribes of Seneca Indians, to assemble on
the borders of the streams in this territory, to worship the
Great Spirit. At certain seasons of the year, when the water
was low, they would collect the oily scum that floated on
the surface, into pools and eddies. To this they would
apply the torch, and when the flame ran along the stream,
and flashed up among the branches of the trees, the wild
sons of the forest danced along the banks and worshiped
their idols by repeating rude incantations. Figures engraved
on rocks, and stone images, called by the early settlers "In-
dian gods," were found here in great numbers.

12. Give dates of the founding and improving of Meadville ?

13. "When was Mercer county settled?

14. Describe the meetings of the Indians in Venango county?


15. When the French traders overran the country, they

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Online LibraryJosiah Rhinehart SypherSchool history of Pennsylvania, from the earliest settlements to the present time → online text (page 15 of 24)