OF THE COMMISSION TO LOCATE THE SITE OF THE
FRONTIER FORTS OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Vol.1, Thomas Lynch Montgomery, 1916
for use in the USGenWeb Archives by Georgette
Transcription is verbatim.
(Present Site of Fort Norris.)
The next defensive station erected by the Government was some 15 miles east of Fort Allen, between that and Fort Hamilton, at Stroudsburg.
To bring the occasion again to our memory it becomes necessary to refer once more to Benjamin Franklin's letter of January 25th, 1756, to Governor Morris. We will recall that it was written from Fort Allen, about the time of its completion. In it he says, "As soon as Hays returns I shall detach another party to erect another fort at Srufas', which I hope may be finished in the same time" (as Fort Franklin, in a week or ten days). (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 16.)
Again in his letter of the next day he repeats, officially, "As soon as Capt. Hays returns with the Convoy of Stores and Provisions, which I hope may be tomorrow, I purpose to send Orndt and Haeds [doubtless meant for Hays] to join Capt. Trump [who was busy erecting forts at Stroudsburg], in erecting the middle Fort there, purposing to remain here between them and Foulk [at Fort Franklin], ready to assist and supply both as occasion may require, and hope in a week or ten days, weather favouring, those two Forts may be finished and the Line of Forts completed and garrisoned, the Rangers in Motion, and the Internal Guards and Watchers disbanded.* * * * (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 16.)
This fort, which was completed during the early part of February, 1756, was called "Fort Norris", after Isaac Norris, Speaker of the Assembly, he who directed that there should be cast on the State House Bell of 1752 the words "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof." When finished it was placed under the command of Captain Jacob Orndt, who occupied it with his company of 50 men. (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 325 - date incorrectly given as 1758.)
Commissary James Young, on his tour of inspection, reached the place on June 23rd, 1756. His report about it reads as follows:
"Fort Norris — At 11 A.M. Came to Fort Norris, found here a Serjeant Commanding 21 men, he told me the Ensign with 12 men was gone out this morning to Range the Woods towards Fort Allen, the Cap'tn was at Philad'a since the 16th for the peoples pay, and the other Serjeant was absent at Easton, on Furlough Since the 20th. This Fort Stands in a Valley ab't midway between the North mountain, and the Tuscorory, 6 miles from Each on the high Road towards the Minisink, it is a Square ab't 80 f't Each way with 4 half Bastions all very Completely Staccaded, and finished and very Defenceable, the Woods are Clear 400 y'ds Round it, on the Bastions are two Sweevel Guns mount'd, within is a good Barrack, a Guard Room, Store Room, and kitchin also a Good Well. — Provincial Stores, 13 g'd Muskets, 3 burst Do, 16 very bad Do, 32 Cartooch Boxes, 100 lb Powder, 300 lb Lead, 112 Blankets, 39 Axes, 3 Broad Do, 80 Tamhacks, 6 Shovels, 2 Grub Hoes, 5 Spades, 5 Drawing Knives, 9 Chisels, 3 Adses, 3 Hand Saws, 2 Augurs, 2 Splitting Knives.
At 1 P.M. the Ensign with 12 men returned from Ranging, they had seen nothing of any Indians. I mustered the whole 34 in Number Stout able men, the En'sn has no Certificates of inlistments, the arms loaded and clean, the Cartooch Boxes filled with 12 Rounds p'r man. Provisions at Fort Norris, a Large Quantity of Beef Very ill Cured Standing in Tubs, a Quantity of Biscuit and flower, & ab't 50 Gallons Rum.
23 June, Fort Norris. - At 2 P.M. Cap'tn Weatherholt came here to us, he had been on his way to Phil'a, but the Messinger I sent last night (from Fort Lehigh) overtook him 8 miles from his station, he brought me his muster Roll of his whole Comp'y, and Certificates of Inlistments and proposed to go with me to Sam'l Depues, where his Lieu't and 26 men are Stationed, to see them Muster'd, I accepted of his Company. At 3 P.M. we sett out from Fort Norris on our way to Fort Hamilton." (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 678.)
The reader will doubtless be struck with the excellent condition in which Mr. Young found Fort Norris, and we need hardly be told that it was not a matter of chance, but was owing to the fact that Captain Orndt was a most excellent and capable officer. That he was held in very high esteem by the Government is evidenced by his assignment to the command of Fort Allen, a most important point, shortly after and, still later, by his promotion to Major.
It will be remembered when the mutiny occurred at Fort Allen that, in August, 1756, Lieut. Miller, on account of his conduct, was disciplined by being sent to Fort Norris, where he would be in the hands of a real soldier. It was even deemed advisable to remove Capt. Reynolds, himself, from Fort Allen, because of his lack of experience, so that, on October 8th, 1756, Capt. Orndt took command of Fort Allen, whilst, at the same time, Capt. Reynolds and his company were transferred to Fort Norris.
In the beginning of April,1757, Major Parsons notified the garrison that a party of Indians were on their way to commit depredations in that part of the country. As the occurrences, however, took place near Fort Hamilton, they will be related under that head.
In May, 1757, Fort Norris underwent another change of commanders, mention of which Major Parsons makes in his letter of May 26th, to Gov. Denny, as follows:
"Commissary Young came to Town last Sunday about noon, and on Tuesday about two, Afternoon, set out from hence for Fort Norris, Fort Allen, &c., escorted by Capt's Busse and Reynolds; Lieut. Engell (from Fort Franklin), who is going to take the command of Fort Norris, and Ensign Biddle with about 50 men, all in good Spirits." (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 163.)
During the Conference with the Indians in July, 1757, at Easton, Fort Norris furnished its quota of men to act as guards. Colonel Weiser says, July 15th, to Gov. Denny. "Those from Fort Norris and Hamilton I have sent for to Day in all the Rain, by two of Capt'n Orndt's men." (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 218)
On Tuesday, February 28th, 1758, Major James Burd, after inspecting Fort Allen, "Sett off from hence at 10 A.M. for Lieut. Ingle's post, arrived at Lieu't Ingle's at 4 P.M., ordered a Review Immediately, & found here Lieu't Ingle and 30 good men in a very good Stockade, which he is just finishing, 15 miles from Fort Allen. Stores, 10 lb powder, 10 lb lead, 12 Province Arms bad, no blankets, 4 spades, 3 shovels, 2 Grubbing bows & 4 axes, arrived at Lieu't Snyder's Station at 7 P.M." (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 357.)
As in the case of Fort Allen, so Fort Norris seems to have been in need of some repairs, which Lieut. Engle appears to have been completing at the time of Major Burd's visit.
In 1756, Maj. Parsons reports the following supplies sent to Fort Norris:
Octob'r 17th 20 lb powder, 23 lb lead.
Octob'r 26th 25 lb powder, 11 lb lead. (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 81.)
I have not seen any definite location given of Fort Norris, except in the excellent History of Pennsylvania, by Dr. Egle, which place it near Greensweig's, in Eldred Township of Monroe County. This is an error. I drove personally through the entire neighborhood, where my judgment led me to look for it, and have been able to fix its site beyond any doubt. For my success, I am much indebted to the valuable aid of T. H. Serfass, Esq., of Gilberts, Superintendent of Schools in Monroe County. I herewith give a sketch of its position.
The ground on which Fort Norris stood belonged to Mr. Conrad Frable, is now the property of Mr. Charles Frable, his son, but was formerly a part of the original Serfass property, that of John Serfass (as the name is now spelt), the great grandfather of Mr. T. H. Serfass. We are told that this fort stood on "the high Road towards the Minisinks," that is on the road to what is now Stroudsburg. That is strictly true. Whilst the present State road is about 200 yards south of the fort, yet the original road, as it then existed and is shown by the dotted lines on the map, passed immediately by it. For this and other valuable information herewith given the reader I am indebted to Mr. Conrad Frable, through Mr. T.H. Serfass. Mr. Frable is a gentleman nearly 87 years old. He was born about two miles from the Serfass place, and was well acquainted with the original John Serfass. He began practical life, about 1827, on the property now owned by John Smale, on the State road one-quarter mile east of Nathan Serfass.
Mr. Frable says when a boy, nine or ten years of age, he used to accompany his father while fishing in the Big creek, and then learned to know the locality of the fort. The present State road then had no existence, but ran as indicated by the dotted lines. Where it forked to the north, just before passing Fort Norris, was the old homestead of James Frable. Further on, near the creek, an old orchard, and at the terminus of the fork lived an old settler named Fisher. From the orchard south to the forks of the old road the land is low and level, in fact marshy, being even in this day sometimes under water; from the forks eastward along the old road the ground rises gradually towards the present State road, which is near the foot of the Wire Hill.
Mr. Frable says the fort was dug out, cellar like, with pretty high banks on the east and west sides, not quite so high on the south, and level on the north side which he thinks was the place of entrance. The land had been cleared on all sides for quite a distance from the fort, to within a few rods of the present State road. Now the field has grown up with small pines. Mr. Frable gave the length of one side as fully 75 feet by actual measurement, that is by pacing off the distance. The outline of these embankments, marking the line of stockades, is still visible.
A small graveyard stands about one hundred yards from the fort, probably used by the old settlers and garrison. A spring is found at the site of the fort, and about 200 yards to the East stood a well which Mr. Frable and his sons filled up. This Mr. Frable remembers hearing called the "Indian Well," which would indicate that it was the well mentioned by Mr. Young as being in the fort. This has been a source of some perplexity as the well just named could hardly have been in the fort. And yet there seems but little reason for puzzling over the matter. There may have been another well "in the fort," or the well mentioned by Commissary Young may have been outside of the fort. It is a trivial matter, where the other information is so undoubtedly authentic.
The location of Fort Norris is distant from the nearest point of the present State road about 200 yards, from the house of Charles Frable about 230 yards, from the nearest point on the Big creek, formerly Hoeth's creek or Poco Poco creek about 400 yards, from Meitner's Store ¾ of a mile, from house of Nathan Serfass 5/8 of a mile, and in an air line from Kresgeville 1-1/8 miles. It is about 3 miles or more from Gilberts.
Further authority relative to Fort Norris hardly seems necessary, but, if needed, I might say that the testimony of Mr. Frable is corroborated by that of Mr. Jos. Smale, residing in the vicinity as well as various old residents in the neighborhood.
There was no lack of stirring events about Fort Norris. As most of them, however, took place between it and the locality where Stroudsburg now stands, and rather nearer the latter place, I have deemed it advisable to defer their mention until in connection with the history of the forts on the Delaware.
Near here was the home of the Minisink Indians, and hostilities began at an early day. Rumors of outbreaks were already ripe in November, 1755. On the 30th of that month Major Parsons wrote to Sec'y Richard Peters:
"Since writing my last, of the 27th Instant, everything remains pretty quiet. There has been a report of some Damage being done on the other side the Mountains, beyond Broadbeads, but it wants Confirmation. Last Fryday the Jersey People took an Indian Man and brought him to our Gaol (at Easton) and last night about 7 o'clock they brought 15 Indians more, 3 of them were Men and the rest Women and Children As it was thought unsafe to keep the Indians long in this place, which might draw a particular Resentment on us from the other Indians when they should hear we had them here in Goal, They were this Morning all sent over into the Jerseys, under Convoy of those who brought them to us, with advice to convey them safely to some prison in the lower and more Populous Counties of their own Province. Whether we have done right or no must be left to our Superiors, but the People of the Town were exceedingly dissatisfied at the Indians being brought here, and I do assure you that I find a good deal of difficulty to keep our People in spirits to which end I am obliged upon every occasion to humour them and to keep them in Temper, and they have been much insulted and put upon by some of the Jersey People from Greenwich, who Came in great numbers to feast upon us under the pretence of Friendship being too much encouraged therein by a few of our own People, but I have hitherto kept them patient under these Menaces." (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 534.)
The storm, which had been lowering over the devoted people north of the mountains, suddenly burst on the 10th of December, and, as the greatest sufferers dwelt comparatively near Fort Norris, it is most appropriate to relate the sad occurrence at this time.
On December 12th, 1755, Timothy Horsfield wrote the Governor from Bethlehem, inclosing "a faithful Translation of two Original German letters to the Reverend Mr. Spangenberg, which are just now come to hand, & which will inform your Honour of the particulars which I have to lay before you; your Honour will thereby see what Circumstances we are in in these parts, I would also just mention to your Honour that the bearer brings along with him some pieces of arms which fail in the using, and which makes the people afraid to take them in hand. I pray your Honour will take it into your further Consideration & give us all the assistance that lays in your power." (Col. Rec., vi, p. 756.)
The following was one of the above letters to Bishop Spangenberg:
Nazareth, 11th December, 1755.
"Mr. Bizman who just now came from the Blue Mountains & is the bearer of this Letter will tell you that there is a number of 200 Indians about Broadhead's Plantation, they have destroyed most all the Plantations thereabouts, and killed several families at Hoeth's. You will be so kind and acquaint Mr. Horsfield directly of it, that he may send a Messinger to Philadelphia & let all our Neighbors know what we have to expect, and that they may come to our Assitance."
(Col. Rec., vi, p. 756.)
And this was the other:
"An hour ago came Mr. Glotz and told us that the 10th Instant in the night Hoeth's Family were killed by the Indians, except his Son & the Smith, who made their Escape, and the houses burnt down. Just now came old Mr. Hartman, with his Family, who also escaped and they say that all the neighborhood of the above mentioned Hoeth's viz't: Broadhead's, Culbers', McMichael's, & all Houses and Families thereabouts were attacked by the Indians at Daylight and burnt down by them.
Mr. Culvers' and Hartmans' Family are come to us with our Waggons & lodge partly here in Nazareth, partly in the Tavern. Our Waggons, which were to fetch some Corn, were met by Culvers 3 Miles this Side his House, and when they heard this shocking News they resolved to return & to carry these poor People to Nazareth. They say also that the number of Indians is about Two Hundred. We want to hear your good advice what to do in this present Situation & Circumstances, and desire if possible your assistance."
Nazareth, 11th Decemb'r, 1755. (Col. Rec., vi, p. 757.)
Hardly had Mr. Horsfield sent his first letter to the Governor when he dispatched this second one:
"May it please your Honour:
Sir: I have dispatched an Express this Morning to your Honour in Philadelphia to inform you of the Circumstances we are in. But since hearing that you was in New York, I thought it my Duty to dispatch another Messenger with this, thinking it might yet find your Honour there.
In the night an Express arrived from Nazareth, acquaint'g me that there is certainly People now in Nazareth who fled for their Lives, and informs us that one Hoeth and his Family are cut off, only two escaping, & the Houses, &ca. of Hoeth, Broadhead, and others, are actually laid in Ashes, & People from all Quarters flying for their Lives, & the common report is that the Indians are 200 Strong.
Your Honour can easily Guess at the Trouble and Consternation we must be in on this Occasion in these parts. As to Bethlehem, we have taken all the Precaution in our Power for our Defence: we have taken all our little Infants from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the greater Security, and these, with the rest of our Children, are near 300 in number. Altho' our gracious King & Parliament have been pleased to exempt those among us of tender Conscience from bearing Arms, yet there are many amongst us who make no scruple of Defending themselves against such cruel Savages. But Alas! What can we do, having very few Arms & little or no Ammunition, & we are now as it were become the Frontier, and as we are circumstanced, our Family being so large it is impossible for us to retire to any other place for Security.
I doubt not your Honour's goodness will lead you to consider the Distress we are in, & speedily to afford us what relief shall be thought Necessary against these merciless Savages.
I am with all due respect, your Honour's most obedient, h'ble Servt,
Bethlehem, 12'th Decem'br, 1755.
P.S.- Hoeth's, Broadhead's, &ca are situate a few miles over the Blue Mountains about 25 or 30 Miles from hence." (Col. Rec., vi, p. 757.)
Those present at or near the scene of disaster fled to Easton, where their affidavits were taken. One person, however, seems to have crossed over to Philipsburg, in New Jersey, if we may judge from the following:
Joseph Stout received one Express this morning by a young man from that place, where John Carmeckle & Broadhead lives back of Samuel Dupues, where they were attacked Yesterday about 11 O'Clock, where the Barn & Barracks was on fire, & heard the Guns a firing (for Broadhead had Barracaded his House), & there was several People killed, & I fled to Jno. Anderson for help; & as near as I could think there was an hundred Enemy that appeared to me, and was in White People's cloathing - only a few Match Coats.
Sworn before me this 12th Day of December, 1755.
Col Stout: I desire you would come up directly with your Regiment till you and I see if we can Save our Country. Your Compliance will oblige your real friend,
Philips Burgh (Col. Rec., vi, p. 758.)
The following two depositions were taken before Wm. Parsons at Easton:
"The 12th Day of December, 1755, Personally appeared before me, William Parsons, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Northampton, Michael Hute aged about 21 Years, who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, did depose & declare that last Wednesday about 6 of the Clock, Afternoon, a Company of Indians about 5 in number attacked the House of Frederick Heath, about 12 miles Eastward from Gnadenhutten on Pocho Pocho Creek. That the family being at Supper the Indians shot into the House & wounded a Woman; at the next shot they killed Frederick Hoeth himself, & shot several times more, whereupon all ran out of the House that could. The Indians immediately set fire to the House, Mill and Stables. Hoeth's wife ran into the Bakehouse, which was also set on Fire. The poor Woman ran out thro' the Flames, and being very much burnt she ran into the water and there dyed. The Indians cut her belly open and used her otherwise inhumanly. They killed and Scalped a Daughter, and he thinks that three other Children who were of the Family were burnt. Three of Hoeth's Daughters are missing with another Woman, who are supposed to be carried off. In the Action one Indian was killed & another wounded; and further this Deponent saith not."
JOHN MICHAEL HUTE
Sworn at Easton, the day and Year said, Before me,
(Col. Rec., vi, p. 758.)
This would seem to have been one of the two survivors of that terrible affair, possibly the son, as the name HUTE may be merely another way of spelling HOETH.
The next deposition has more direct reference to the events about Broadhead's, where the Indians went from Hoeth's:
"The 12th Day of December, 1755, Personally appeared before me, William Parsons, one of his Majesty's Justices of the peace for the County of Northampton, John McMichael, Henry Dysert, James Tidd & Job Bakehorn, Jr., who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, did depose and declare, that Yesterday about 3 of the Clock, afternoon, two Indian Men came from towards Broadhead's House, who fired at these Deponents and several others, who returned the fire and made the Indians turn off. And the said Deponents, James Tidd and Job Bakehorn, further said, that as they were going round the Stack Yard of the said McMichael, where they all were, they saw, as they verily believe, at least 4 Indians on their knees, about twenty perches from the Stack Yard, who fired at the Deponents. And these Deponents further say that they were engaged in manner aforesaid with the Indians at least three Quarters of an hour. And these Deponents, John McMichael and Henry Dysert further say, that they saw the Barn of the Said Broadhead's on fire about nine of the Clock in the morning, which continued Burning till they left the House, being about 4, afternoon, and that they heard shooting and crying at Broadhead's House almost the whole Day, and that when they left McMichael's House the Dwelling House of said Broadhead was yet unburnt, being, as they supposed, defended by the People within it. And the Deponents, James Tidd& Job Bakehorn, further say, that they did not come to MCMichael's House till about 3 in the afternoon, when they could see the Barn and Barracks of the said Broadhead's on fire. And these Deponents further say that they did not see anyone killed on either side, but James Garlanthouse, one of their company, was shot through the Hand & Arm; and further these Deponents say not."
The mark of JNO. M. McMICHAEL
The mark of HENRY H. DYSERT
The mark of JAMES X. TIDD [and] JOB BACORN
Sworn at Easton the Day and Year aforesaid Before me
(Col. Rec., vi, p.759.)
The Hoeth family, which was almost exterminated, lived on the Poco Poco creek, later know, because of this murder, as Hoeth's creek, and now as Big Creek, a tributary of the Lehigh River above Weissport. The tragedy occurred in the near vicinity of where Fort Norris was afterwards built. Rather unfortunately, the attack on Broadhead's house was so interwoven with the Hoeth narrative that I have felt constrained to give them both together, although in fact, the places were somewhat separated from each other, the former being near the mouth of the Broadhead creek, still bearing the name of that family. The house was not far distant from where Stroudsburg now stands, and otherwise, its story should have been related in the history of Fort Hamilton. After completing their barbarous destruction of Mr. Hoeth's family and property, the Indians proceeded to Broadhead's where, however, they were not so successful. Meeting with a determined resistance, they were finally obliged to retire. All the members of this household were noted for their bravery. Amongst the sons who aided in this defense was, doubtless, the one who afterwards distinguished in the Revolution, and in subsequent Indian Wars, as General Broadhead. He had command of Fort Pitt about the year 1780, and previous to that had charge of a garrison on the West Branch. He was particularly noted for his intrepidity and success in heading small parties of frontier men against the Indians.
Fort Near Wind Gap
As I left the site of Fort Norris to drive the fifteen miles intervening between it and Wind Gap, the sky was overcast and threatening, the utter darkness of a cloudy night closed in on me, and found me in a sparsely settled part of the country trying to make my way, with jaded horses, over a dangerous road in a terrible condition, and where it was utterly impossible to discern objects at a distance of three feet from the carriage. And yet, in the midst of all my discomfort, I could not help thinking how favorably even my present lot compared with that of our fathers in the "good old times" for whose return so many of us sigh even yet.
Fortunately I secured shelter before the storm burst, and the next day was able to proceed. Passing through that peculiar pass in the mountain, called the Wind Gap, and through the picturesque, but long drawn out, town of the same name, for about one mile, I finally reached its other end, called Woodley, where I stopped, for information, at the "Woodley House." This tavern stand, known as Stotz's, and prior to that, for a long time, as Heller's, occupies the place where a public house had been erected as early as 1752, deriving its resources from the travel which passed its doors along the new Minisink road through the Wind Gap. Fortunately its landlord, Mr. Seeple, had been brought up as a boy near the old Teed Blockhouse and was able to tell me its location, which was three miles south of his hotel, at Miller's Station on the Bangor and Portland railroad. I immediately proceeded to the spot and made all necessary inquiries. As a preliminary to its discussion I beg to give a map of the locality:
(Fort or Blockhouse Near Wind Gap.)
This military station is variously called "Teet's House," "Deedt's Block House," "Tead's Block House," &c., at Wind Gap. The reader, by this time, is probably not surprised at the variety of phonetical spelling he has come across in our old records, and need not be told, what is evident, that this is the same name variously spelled. At our present time it is my privilege to have been acquainted with members of a family whose name is similar, They spell it "Teed," which is probably correct. In the neighborhood of what was the original Teed property, still live many descendants of that pioneer, three of them having farms on the Ackermanville road from ½ to 2 miles distant, and another, Mrs. Amandus Ehler, about 55 years old, who is the eldest, residing about one mile beyond Stephen Heitzman's house on the road to Nazareth. I am indebted to the latter especially for information. In the course of many years, however, the name has become slightly changed to "Teel."
The original building was not a fort erected by the Government, but merely a blockhouse, the private residence of Mr. Teed, which '''as occupied because it was then the only building standing near the position which it was desired to possess. This position was certainly an important one, commanding as it did the roads to and from the Wind Gap, the Forts at and near the present Stroudsburg, Easton and Nazareth. From the Wind Gap, proper, it was distant four miles, in a direction south slightly east, and from Woodley, the lower end of Wind Gap, some three miles. Its distance from Nazareth was six miles, and from Easton about twelve miles.
The Fort, or Blockhouse, stood near the present Miller's Station on the Bangor and Portland R. R., about 350 yards east of the station building, in which is also the store of Mr. Adam Schurg. The situation of the Blockhouse itself was unfortunate in one respect; it stood on the low ground, which, about 75 ft. distant to the south, rises to an elevation of some 50 ft. Near the base of the elevation is now a spring house, distant about 125 ft. from the site of the fort. In olden times this was, apparently, ground of a more or less marshy character.
Exactly when the soldiers first occupied it we are not told. This district was under command of Capt. Nicholas Wetterholt, who, in the exercise of his good judgment, or possibly in accordance with orders, very likely placed a small garrison in it at an early date in the year 1756. In the report for April 20, 1756 (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 325 - incorrectly dated 1758), we are told that Ensign Sterling, with 11 men, was stationed "at Wind Gap, Teet's House."
Commissary James Young, whilst inspecting the various forts in 1756, enters this item in his journal:
"25 June - At 5 A. M. sett out from Depues for the Wind Gapp, where part of Capt. Weatherholts Comp'y is Stationed, stopt at Bossarts Plantation to feed our horses, was inform'd that this morning 2 miles from the house in the Woods they had found the Body of Peter Hiss, who had been murdered and Scalped ab't the month of Feb'y. At 11 A. M. Came to the Wind Gap, where I found Cap'n Weatherholt's Ensign, who is Station'd here with 7 men at a Farm house, 4, only were present, one was gone to Bethlehem, with a Letter from the Jerseys on Indian affairs, one was at a Farm house on Duty, and one absent on Furlough from the 15'th to the 22'd, but not yet returned, I told the Officer he ought to Esteem him a Deserter as he did, found here 6 Provincial Muskets, all good, and 6 Rounds of Powder and Lead for Each, I told Cap'n Weatherholt to send a supply as soon as Possible.
At 3 P. M. Sett out from the Wind Gapp for Easton * * * at 6 Came to Easton." (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 680.)
Will the reader pardon me if I call his attention to the fact that, in speaking of this station, it is called Teed's Blockhouse "at Wind Gap." We know that this was not actually the fact but that, as has been said, it stood four miles away from the real Gap. I desire to mention it as an added proof of what I have already written relative to the location of Fort Henry "at Tolihaio Gap." It was the only way in which those of that time could understandingly refer to certain positions.
With this digression we return to our subject, and reach it at a time to introduce a part of the narrative which, for a while was a source of perplexity to me. Reference to the map shows the residence of Stephen Heitzman at the top of the elevation, near the spring house, distant from Jas. Florey's house, and the site of Teed's Blockhouse, about 75 yards south somewhat easterly, and from Miller's Station, about 1/4 mile S. E. This farm is now the property of Mr. Heitzman, but was formerly the Ruth farm. A short distance across the road from it will be noticed the site of an old blockhouse, used as a place of refuge. Concerning this building I was able to get information even more readily than of the fort. Mrs. Ehler, previously named, was familiar with it, having been told of it by her father (a Teel), and other old residents. She was informed of its use as a blockhouse during the Indian War. Several interesting letters were received from Rev. Eli Keller, of Zionsville, Lehigh County, Pa., on this same subject. Its position on the hill gave it an excellent view of the country and, at first, I concluded it must be the fort for which I was searching. And yet the fact of its being on the hill is proof conclusive that such could not be the case, as we will see, later, that Teed's Blockhouse stood on low, swampy ground. Then again the original Teed property, was on the other side of the spring, and it is doubtful whether he ever owned any part of the land on the elevation above the spring. Rev. Keller's letters, which are most authentic and come from an unquestionable source, as will be seen in a moment, corroborate this, and give other valuable statements. The Fort near Wind Gap, or Teed's Blockhouse, was certainly the home of Mr. Teed, probably the only building in the vicinity, and of course, on the original Teed property. All members of the family now living, with whom I spoke, told me this was where the house of Mr. Jas. Florey now stands and I have no hesitation in marking this as the site of our fort.
And yet the universal statement of those who should know is that a blockhouse stood on top of the hill, and I do not doubt the fact myself. I hardly think either, that the explanation of the matter is difficult, but will leave it to the reader to judge.
We know that this fort, so called, was merely a farm house, and, in 1756, its garrison was, at the most, but a handful of men. From this time until 1758 no further mention is made of it, the natural inference of which would be that it had been abandoned as a station. Indeed there is but little doubt of this, for we will soon see a petition from the inhabitants, in 1758, praying that the soldiers may be sent there, which was done. For a while all went well, when suddenly the blow fell from an arm which was always uplifted and ready to strike. The sufferer was Joseph Keller (great grandfather of Rev. Eli. Keller, my authority), who was settled in that neighborhood, having come to the country in 1737. On September 15th, 1757, his family was attacked by a band of Indians, his wife and two sons carried captives to Canada, and the oldest son, a lad of 14, killed and scalped in the attack.
Necessarily the neighbors were much alarmed, and felt that protection of some sort, for the future, was a thing requiring immediate attention. In the absence of troops at Teed's House they decided to erect a blockhouse, as a place of refuge. Then it was that the building came into existence on the hill, and in it gathered all the people every night during the winter of 1757-58.
Rev. Keller here says, "The title of the land on which this fort stood was not at that time conveyed to anyone. A Patent was given to Casper Doll April 26, 1785, by the 'Supreme Execuitive Council of Penn'a' (Thos. Mifflin, Pres't) for 153a. - 90p. for the consideration of £8 16s. 6d. I examined the document and by the boundaries given there can be no doubt as to the farm. In 1795 John Young and Lewis Stacher, Executors of Casper Doll, sold that tract and other of 80a.-120p. adjoining to John and Henry Ruth for £975. The part on which the fort stood was taken by Henry Ruth, subsequently owned by his son, Jacob Ruth, and now by the latter's son-in-law, Stephen Heitzman. These documents I found in the hands of Jno. F. Haney, also a son-in-law of Jacob Ruth, and Executor of his last will, who lives in the neighborhood.
The above Henry Ruth tore down the fort and built himself a log dwelling house of the timber (when is not known). That house was 26x36 ft. in size, two stories high, and stood till 1861, when a new house was erected on the same spot (Stephen Heitzman's residence-Author). Mr. Jno. F. Haney, being a carpenter, had the building to do, and gave me interesting facts with reference to the timber, &c. It was all of the finest white oak. The logs were hewn very smoothly and of equal width. The courses were of equal height, some fully two feet. Their thickness was eight inches. The corners were not notched, but dovetailed in such a way as to fit exactly and rest on each other throughout. The ends of the logs were sawed off. Two corners of Henry Ruth's house were as the fort had been, and the others (the logs being shortened) were lapped squarely and fastened by wooden pegs. The timber had no signs of being worm-eaten, not even in a little bark left at a few corners. Mr. Haney noticed a number of two inch auger holes bored through which might have been intended as portholes.
The locality of the fort is not to be doubted. There are persons there who saw the foundations ploughed up and the stones removed. It was on the high ground above the spring (see sketch-Author).
A Mr. John Teel lived at that spring sixty years ago, a relative of Mr. Ruth, but he never owned the land where the fort was. Mr. Teel had but a lot on low ground, west of the spring, but Mr. Ruth owned the farm (and spring) and had the high ground where the fort was located. Miller's Station on the B & P. R. R. is the place. We called that (when he was there 40 years ago) "Springtown," and where the Station is "Dreisbach's." That there should have been soldiers at that Blockhouse I never heard, nor can I believe it. The house was built in order that the people of that neighborhood might gather in it every night, but attend to their work during the day. Why should they have needed soldiers when they could take care of themselves, under existing arrangements? Soldiers having been quartered there would have been handed down traditionally, and (as I think) I would have heard something of it. The raid made on our family (as we always believed) was made by but a few Indians, as Mother Keller (who duly returned from her captivity) also testified. There was then no open foe, and no need for regular soldiers. Of the size and appearance of the Blockhouse I know nothing.
What I know I learned traditionally, and also from certain statements contained in the family Bible of the said Joseph Keller, still in my possession. As a lad I often saw and heard my grandfather, Philip Keller, and a brother of his, some years older, speak of those times."
Rev. Keller is a gentleman well advanced in years himself, and his information can hardly be doubted. I feel that what he has said confirms what I have been endeavoring to prove.
Mr. Keller's great-grandmother was eventually released from her captivity, and, naturally, related many interesting incidents connected with the same. "Whilst held as a prisoner at Montreal in Canada by certain French officers, she heard of the Indians there, who had come from 'beyond the Blue M'ts,' as they called it, that there were excellent marksmen at the fort, - that one evening, whilst the Indians were watching the fort, one was almost shot by one of them, at a great distance."
Mr. Keller also relates the following:
1 - "That the girls one evening had been unruly, and, to tease them, the boys put them outside. As was natural, they became alarmed, and, promising behavior, were allowed to enter again. This story was brought back from Montreal by Mother Keller, who had learned it of Indians who had been on the watch at the time."
2 - "Father Keller one evening had left his home for the Blockhouse, but, remembering something he wished to do, turned back. Coming near his house he discovered several Indians in it. He hastened away to secure help, but, when they came, the Indians were gone, and so was the greater part of his tobacco he had on his garret, He expressed great sorrow ever after for not attacking them single handed. 'A few of them at least would have remained on the spot,' he expressed himself."
3 - "One evening the men were at target shooting, having the mark against a tree. One of them (I think his name was Andre) shot into the root of the tree, which met with unpleasant remarks, inasmuch as they were excellent marksmen in general In defence of the man others said, 'He would shoot them in the feet, and we would get them sure, not being able to run.'"
So ends our narrative of the Blockhouse on the hill which indeed is more interesting than that of the Fort.
In 1758, probably the early part, hearing that troops were to be removed south of the mountain, from above, the following petition was sent to the Governor:
"To his Honour William Denny, Esq., Governor of Pennsylvania:
The humble Petition of Divers of the Inhabitants of Mount Bethel, Plainfield and Forks of Delaware, and Places Adjacent, Humbly Sheweth:
That Whereas your Distress'd Petitioners, many of us having suffered much by a most barbarous and Savage Enemy, and we hearing that the Company which has been stationed above us is going to be Removed over the Blew Mountain which has put us to the utmost Confusion, we being Sensible by Experience that the Company has been of Little or no Benefitt unto us while over the Mountain, and Altho' we would by no means be understood to Dictate unto Your Honour, we hope that it will not be counted presumption humbly to Inform your Honour, That a Station for a Number of Men somewhere near the Wind Gapp, under the Blew Mountain on the East side thereof, might have the best Tendency to Secure the Inhabitants of these parts. Therefore, We, your honour's Destressed Petitioners humbly Implore you to take it into Consideration as your honour's Goodness thinks proper. for the safety of your humble petitioners who are in Duty bound to pray."
[Numerous Signatures.] (Penn. Arch., iii. p. 321, also 358.)
Unfortunately there is no date attached to this petition, and we cannot say definitely when it was sent, but it was, most likely, the latter part of 1757 or beginning of 1758. Whether owing to this, or not, we find, from Adjutant Kern's Report of February 5th, 1758, that there was then stationed at "The Wind Gapp, Tead's Blockhouse," Lieu't Hyndshaw, of Garraway's Company, with 27 men, 20 Province Arms, 11 private Arms, 60 lbs powder, 120 lbs lead, 4 months provisions, 10 cartridges, that Mr. De Pew was the Commissary, and that it was 20 miles distant from P. Dolls Blockhouse. (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 340.)
Major James Burd, on his visit of inspection in 1758, says:
March 1'st. Wednesday.
Marched from hence (Lieut. Snyders at P. Dolls Blockhouse) to Lieut. Hyndshaw's Station at 10 A. M., arrived at Nazareth at 1 P. M., here dined, 8 miles, Sett off again at 2 P. M. arrived at Tead's at 3 P. M., 6 miles. Here I found Ensigne Kennedy with 16 men, who informed me that Lieut. Hyndshaw & Ensigne Hughes would be here one hour hence, at 1/2 after 5 P. M. Mess'rs Hyndshaw & Hughes arrived with 14 men.
Ordered a Revew and found here 30 good men, stores, 50 pounds of powder & 100 pound of lead, no flints, one Wall piece, 1 shovell, 13 axes good for nothing, & 28 Tomahawks, 56 Blanketts, 46 Guns & 46 Cartouch boxes, little Provision here and no Convenience to lay up a Store; this is very bad Quarters, the House is built in a Swamp, bad water.
Marched from hence at 9 A. M. for Mr. Samuel Depews. * *
Sett off this morning for Easton (from Depews), extream cold, arrived at Tead's, 21 miles, at 1 P. M. here dined, at 2 P. M. sett off from hence, arrived at Easton at 7 P. M., 12 miles. * * * (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 356.)
We hear nothing more of Tead's Blockhouse near Wind Gapp.
With the return of comparative peace in 1758 the station was undoubtedly abandoned, like many others. Whilst it was but a farm house, presumably surrounded by the usual stockade, yet it was still a fort, and deserves to have its name perpetuated in history. I would recommend a tablet for it, at the side of the public road near by.
(Site of Doll's Block House.)
On his tour of inspection to Tead's Blockhouse Major Burd makes mention of a station at Peter Doll's Blockhouse. As will be seen in more detail presently, this defense was close to the southern base of the Blue range, between Little Gap and Smith's Gap. Heretofore no attempt seems ever to have been made to fix its location, and it was only with much difficulty that I succeeded in my effort, and even then I met with success only at the last minute. For it I am indebted to the kindly aid of Mr. James H. Scholl, of Klecknersville, whose family are old residents of the vicinity and whose father, Mr. James Scholl, still lives and has been the owner of Scholl's Mill, but a short distance from the site of Doll's Blockhouse for over half a century.
Moore township, of Northampton county, in which the defense just mentioned stood, was equally unfortunate with other parts of the frontier, even if history has failed so far, to make equally prominent its sufferings. The traditions of the neighborhood tell of many massacres by the savages, but unfortunately the lapse of so many years has robbed them of all details and made them of little value for historical mention. The only record I have found is that given by Dr. Egle (History of Penn'a, vol. ii, p. 995), where he states that, in January, 1756, the Indians entere d the township and committed a series of depredations and murders, firing the houses and barns of Christian Miller, Henry Diehl, Henry Shopp, Nicholas Heik, Nicholas Sholl, and Peter Doll, killing one of Heil's children and John Bauman. The body of the latter was found two weeks after the maraud and interred in the Moravian burying ground at Nazareth.
This, however, was but one of the many like occurrences which kept the settlers in a constant state of alarm for more than a year and half, during which time they endeavored to defend themselves as best they could, or fled from their homes. Then came, in the summer of 1757, the treaty of peace with the Indians at Easton, and the people looked forward to a cessation of hostilities and immunity from further danger. We have seen how little real basis there was for this anticipation, and know how the enemy continued, almost without intermission, their deadly work. We can realize the discouragement of the inhabitants and feel no surprise at the following petition from those living just south of the mountains, including especially, the settlers of our present Moore township. This letter may be said to have given birth to the station now under consideration:
To the Honourable the Governor and General Assembly, &c:
The Petition of the back Inhabitants, viz't, of the Township of Lehigh situate between Allentown and the Blue Mountains, in the county of Northampton, most humbly Sheweth:
That the said Township for a few years past has been to your knowledge, ruined and destroyed by the murdering Indians.
That since the late Peace the said inhabitants returned to their several and respective Places of abode, and some of them have rebuilt their Houses and Outhouses, which were burnt.
That since the new murders were committed some of the said inhabitants deserted their Plantations, and fled in the more improved Parts of this Province, where they remain.
That unless your Petitioners get Assistance from you, your Petitioners will be reduced to Poverty.
That the District in which your petitioners dwell contains 20 miles in Length and eight miles in Breadth, which is too extensive for your Petitioners to defend without you assist with some Forces.
That your Petitioners apprehend it to be necessary for their Defence that a Road be cut along the Blue Mountains, through the Township afores'd, and that several Guard Houses be built along this said Road, which may be accomplished with very little Cost.
That there are many inhabitants in the said Township who have neither Arms nor Ammunition, and who are too poor to provide themselves therewith.
That several Indians keep lurking about the Blue Mountains who pretend to be Friends, and as several People have lately been captivated thereabouts, we presume it must be by them.
May it therefore Please your Honours to take our deplorable condition in Consideration, and grant us Men and Ammunition that we may thereby be enabled to defend ourselves, our Properties, and the Lives of our Wives and Children, Or grant such other Relief in the Premises as to you shall seem meet, and your Petitioner, as in Duty bound, will ever pray.
Forks of Delaware, Oct'r 5th, 175
Peter Barber Bernard Kuntz Paul Flick Jacob Buchman Bernard Reiss Peter Walcker Jacob Aliman, Sr. Samuel Pern Nich's Fall Jacob Aliman, Jr. Jean Pier Adam Kramler Adam Freisbach George Wannemacher Henry Lutter Jacob Bricker Valentine Waldman Nicholas Roth Michael Keppel John Fried Nich's Heil Peter Doll Jost Triesbach Simon Trumm John Kannady Fred Altimus Henry Liend William Boyd Philip Tromin John Detter Jacob Musselman John Schlegel Adam Marsh Jacob Letherach Henry Schubp Peter Eissenman Henry Frederick Fred Nagel Peter Anton Schobety Christian Miller George Meyer William Best Christian Laffer John Scheier Jocob Haag Henry Beck John Gress Geo. Haag Nich's Schneider Christopher Feuchtner William Detter Peter Schopffell Conrad Geisly Nich's Schneider William Beck Jacob Kropff Geo. Acker Henry Diehl Jacob Roth Jacob Fry John Bethold Jacob Death or Rodt Martin Siegel John Remberry Henry Flach Christian Andreas John Dorn Henry Creutz Bath'w Rivel Fred Eissen Michael Rieb George Altmar James Hutchinson Simon Triesbach Jacob Altmar James Rankin William Kannady
These are to certify that we have impowered Frederick Eissen to give this, our Petition, to the Honour'bl the Governor and the Assembly.
The foregoing and within writing was translated from the German Paper writing hereto annexed, by me,
PETER MILLER (Penn. Arch., vol. iii, p. 284.)
This very proper and deserving petition seems to have met with prompt recognition and action. To a certain extent at least better communications were opened up along the base of the mountains, and several stations were selected to be garrisoned by Provincial troops and used for defensive purposes. In this instance they were generally private residences or buildings already in existence. Amongst them was the dwelling of Peter Doll, whose name has already been noticed by the reader on the petition just given and amongst the sufferers in the raid of January, 1756. He was most likely the Johannes Peter Doll who was qualified in the Province on August 30th, 1737, having arrived on the ship "Samuel," Hugh Percy, Master, from Rotterdam. On the original list his name is given, as we have it, simply Peter Doll. His age was then 24. We are unable to mention the exact date on which the troops occupied this station, but Adjutant Kern, in his report of February 5th, 1758, gives Lieut. Snyder , of Capt. Davis' Company, as on duty at P. Doll's Blockhouse, with 25 men, 16 province arms, 9 private arms, 40 lbs of powder, 50 lb of lead, 4 months provisions, 10 cartridges, and names Jacob Levan as the commissary of the station. The distance from Mr. Dupui's house on the Delaware river, as well as from Teed's Blockhouse near Wind Gap, is given as 20 miles, and from the fort at Lehigh Gap as 8 miles. (Penn. Arch., vol. iii, p.339-340.) The building was probably, as its name indicates, a log house, but an exact knowledge of its character and appearance has passed out of the memory of the descendants of those who took part in the stirring events which we are relating. We do know, however, that, unlike most other places of defense, it was not surrounded by a stockade, but had connected with it two barracks for the accommodation of the garrison.
The map herewith given will show its exact location.
Peter Doll's Blockhouse stood on the road running along the base of the mountain, or near it, and along the Hockendauqua Creek. The spot marked "Burries" Spring," about half way up the mountain on the road through the old Smith's Gap, shows the source and headwater of the Hockendauqua and was noted as a prominent Indian resort, many relics of its former habitués, in the form of arrow heads, etc., being still found there. The site of Doll's Blockhouse was some 3/8 mile west from the mill now occupied by James Scholl, Sr., who, as already stated, has been its owner for over half a century. The mill stands at the intersection of the road to Klecknersville, from which it is distant 1 ¼ miles. Continuing on the road along the creek, we come to the house of Sylvester Smith, in close proximity to the Blockhouse, and, some three miles further on, to Santee Mills, nearly in a line south from Little Gap. The place marked as now occupied by John Henry is supposed to be the first farm taken up and occupied by white men in the vicinity. The son of the owner, by name Beck, from New Jersery, was massacred on the tract after a long and desperate struggle. Mr. Scholl's present property was a part of this original tract. The whole locality, which seems to have been naturally adapted to the comfort of the aborigines, contains many remains of their hunting implements. Santee Mills and indeed all the neighborhood, was the scene of numerous murders and depredations.
It is to be regretted that so little of the history of Peter Doll's Blockhouse has been preserved. There only remains the mention made of it by Major James Burd in his tour of inspection during the Spring of 1758, after which it drops out of our sight. It was doubtless more or less occupied until the final cessation of hostilities in that same year. Major Burd says, under date of Tuesday, February 28th, 1758, "Arrived at Lieut. Ingle's at 4 P.M. (Fort Norris); ordered a Review Immediately * * * * arrived at Lieut. Snyder's Station at 7 P.M. (Peter Doll's Blockhouse), 8 miles, ordered a review tomorrow morning, here I stay all night.
March 1st, Wednesday.
Reviewed this morning & found here Lieut. Snyder & 23 men undisciplined, 15 lb powder, 30 lb lead, no blankets, 8 Province Arms bad. Lieut. Humphreys relieved Lieut. Snyder this morning, ordered Lieut. Snyder to his post over Susquehanna.
I am informed by the officers here, Lieut's Ingle & Snyder, that ____ Wilson, Esq'r, a Majestrate in this County, has acquainted the Farmers that they should not assist the Troops unless the officers immediately pay & that said Wilson has likewise informed ye soldiers they should not take their Regimentals, as it only puts money in their officers pockets. I have found a Serg't confined here on acc't of mutiny, and have ordered a Regimentall Court Martiall this morning; at this Station there is two barracks, no stockade.
Marched from hence to Lieut. Hyndshaw's Station at 10 A.M., arrived at Nazareth at 1 P.M., here dined, 8 miles. Sett off again at 2 P.M. arrived at Tead's at 3 P.M., 6 miles." * * (Penn. Arch., vol. iii, p. 356.)
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