REPORT OF THE COMMISSION TO LOCATE THE SITE OF THE FRONTIER FORTS OF PENNSYLVANIA.
CLARENCE M. BUSCH.
STATE PRINTER OF PENNSYLVANIA.
The Frontier Forts in the Cumberland and Juniata Valleys.
By Jay Gilfillan Weiser.
Darlington's 1755 Map
"FORT PITT AND LETTERS FROM THE FRONTIER"
edited by Mary C. Darlington, 1892.
It is impossible for the writer to specify the many persons to whom he is under obligations for courtesies and assistance rendered him in gathering material in this compilation.
There are some, however, to whom he is especially indebted for favors and he takes this means to express his thanks to William S. Horner, Esq., Chambersburg, Pa.; M. S. Lytle, Esq., Huntingdon, Pa.; Dr. T. H. Wintrode, Huntingdon county; Dr. C. N. Hickok, Everett, Pa.; George C. Frysinger, Esq., Lewistown, Pa.; Hon. Fred K. Kurtz, Centre Hall, Pa., and John C. Wagner, Shippensburg, Pa. Also to his friend William K. Miller, Esq., of Salem, Snyder county, Pa., for valuable and efficient aid in its preparation.
JAY GILFILLAN WEISER.
To Hon. John M. Buckalew:
Sir: I have the honor herewith to submit to you, as Chairman of the Commission established by authority of act of Assembly, for the purpose of locating and marking the various forts erected as a means of defense against the Indians by the early settlers of this Commonwealth, prior to the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, my individual report upon the history of such of these fortifications as I have found, by careful and diligent research, to have been located within the period of time prescribed in the act, under which we are now discharging our duties in this particular, in the territory allotted to me by your commission.
I was duly commissioned by your direction, through the instructions received from Mr. Sheldon Reynolds, Secretary of the Commission to undertake the preparation of the history of the forts confined within the following described territory:
"The district bounded north by the 41st degree of latitude; east by the West Branch and the main river Susquehanna; west by the Allegheny mountains and south by Mason & Dixon's line. The territory thus allotted to me embraces sixteen counties of this Commonwealth, being in their alphabetical order as follows: Adams, Bedford, Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin (partially), Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Union and York.
I have found from all sources in my investigations in this connection, a total of forty-five forts, which at one time or the other were located within the limits of the above mentioned district, and were used by the early settlers, traders, travellers, soldiers and frontiersmen, as a means of defense against the Indians. The collection of data necessary to establish by historical proof, which in my judgment it is quite proper to interject, in order to enforce the integrity of the work undertaken, that forts were erected and maintained by the pioneers, has occupied much time, imposed considerable labor and has not in every case been as satisfactory as the writer would have wished. The time given to these investigations has been necessarily of a desultory and an interrupted character. The writer made numerous trips to remote parts of the district for the purpose of gaining such information as was required to make a faithful report on the subject and some of the personal visits have been fruitless of results. On the other hand, he has elicited by means of correspondence, from reliable gentlemen of historical attainments and knowledge, such information with relation to the location of the several forts as it was impossible to gain in any other manner. Unfortunately, however, many to whom I have written on the subject have not deemed it of sufficient importance to honor me with a reply, and thus, perhaps a portion of this work has not received, much as I may regret it, the attention which it justly merits. It is also to be regretted that within the district to which my labors were confined we are lacking in any organized societies, the object of which is the promotion and preservation of matters pertaining to the early history of our State. Absence of historical societies, libraries of reference to which one might go in search of information and sometimes the marked lack of appreciation of and utter indifference to matters of this kind, have militated against me to an extent which I am perfectly justified in mentioning in this connection, and here I may state that, perhaps all the other gentlemen serving in this particular behalf have had great advantage over me in the work undertaken by reason of having had, I assume, and I believe justly so, excellent libraries and historical societies at their elbows to aid and support them in their mission.
I have, however, found several gentlemen who have exhibited the greatest concern and interest in the promotion of the work in hand and they have contributed liberally and generously to the work, wherever the suggestions have been made that their co-operation would be valuable; but this portion of the assistance has principally come to me from those particular localities within my territory rich in historical data; rather than from the more isolated regions, where history is scarce, facts difficult to obtain, and the interest manifested, if any at all, in the prosecution of the work, outside of the writer, barely worth mentioning.
The Juniata Valley is especially rich in the matter of early history. This section of country became the great highway to the west from Fort Hunter and Harris Ferry, being traversed by traders, travelers and detachments of troops sent out under provincial authority, to a very great extent, being at an early day one of the tracks of commerce. This section, stretching on to the west to Fort Pitt as well as the highways reaching out into the same locality from the Cumberland Valley, to-day bears testimony to the fertility of the soil under the guiding hand of the industrious and patient husbandman which are among the most powerful arguments in favor of the art of peace and its irresistible supremacy over any other condition to which man may be subject.
The country likewise to the north, as far as Fort Augusta along the Susquehanna river, was early opened and became one of the paths of business and interchange. The red man has left an imperishable impress upon everything he has touched; his beautiful and rhythmic names cling to the spots to-day and ever will, where he roamed in his wild state. The Indian nomenclature lives in everything, towns, counties, states, rivers, cities, mountains, valleys, creeks and localities.
I find that as early as 1736 the lands in the Kittatinny region, which is now known as the Cumberland Valley were purchased from the Indians and thereafter open for sale to the permanent settlers. In that particular section peace and quiet remained for a number of years, up until about the great treaty that was made in the year 1754. That treaty assumed to take in all the lands west of the Susquehanna as far as the setting sun. This indefinite boundary line occasioned a great deal of dispute, and, in fact, the Indians resented the idea that they had ever entered into such a sweeping sale of their lands. The Delawares being a tribe which was made up of a number of smaller tribes found fault because their hunting grounds were thus taken away from them and without rightful compensation, the Six Nations having appropriated all the proceeds thereof to themselves. The Delawares, therefore, and their allied tribes began to treat with the French instead of the English who were the friends of the Six Nations and to sum it up, this difficulty led to the defeat of General Braddock in 1755 and as a writer has stated, "the blood of Braddock's soldiers was added to the price of the land." The Governor of the Province, being apprehensive of danger to the people, ordered one line of forts to be built through the Cumberland Valley, leading westward to the Ohio, and another taking its course through the Juniata Valley, extending westward to the Allegheny mountains and the Kittanning. This strife and turmoil lasted until 1758, when a more perfect treaty with the Six Nations and their cousins the Delawares was formed, and peace and quiet were again restored.
After the restoration of peace the Province again began to enjoy a considerable degree of repose and quiet, the more warlike Indians buried the hatchet in October, 1764, which enabled the husbandmen to re-assume their labors and to extend their cultivation and improvement. The prosperity of Pennsylvania increased rapidly and the country became more thickly populated, so that after that period, with the exception of a few isolated frontier places, the settlements were so strong that the Indians dared not again disturb them. I have stated there were no forts in Union county, and here insert a letter from J. Merrill Linn, Esq., brother of Hon. John Blair Linn, to whose work, "The Annals of Buffalo Valley," I would refer those seeking information in this regard concerning that county and its early history:
J. G. Weiser, Esq.:
Dear Sir: Your letter of January 27, 1894, was duly received relative to forts in Union county. I believe there were no regularly built forts of any kind. The mills were generally built and loop-holed, and were the places of resort generally, such as Jenkins , Derr's, French Jacobs' , Mequel Gray's and Mrs. Smith's, and they were the places of refuge in times of trouble, sometimes the flow passing by them to take refuge at Sunbury. The history of those old mills is quite interesting. Ludwig Derr's was the only trading post, and there were several other houses which were made to stand siege.
Very truly yours,
J. MERRILL LINN.
Upon an examination of those places of rendezvous referred to in Mr. Linn's letter, I am unable to find such data as would establish them sufficiently in a list of forts in my particular district, or warrant my placing them among the number with directions that they should be marked. It has been suggested that the forts under provincial control and those under private direction be separated in this report, but as the Act of Assembly suggests no such distinction, I am constrained to obey the intention of the act much as I value the wise suggestion in this behalf.
I here append in the order which seems proper, a tabulated statement exhibiting the counties, in their alphabetical order, the names and the number of forts located within each county, where located, the year, as near as could be ascertained when erected and by whom established:
County Forts When erected. I. Adams, None II. Bedford, 1. Fort Bedford 1757 2. Fort Martin 3. Fort Piper 1777 4. Fort Wingawn III. Blair, 5. Fort Fetter 1777 6. Fort Holliday 1777 7. Fort Lowrey 1778 8. Fort Roberdeau 1778 9. Fort Roller IV. Centre 10. Potter's Fort 1777 V. Clearfield None VI. Cumberland 11. Fort Croghan 1755 12. Fort Dickey 1764 13. Fort Ferguson 1764 14. Fort Franklin 1740 15. Fort Letort 1753 16. Fort Lowther 1753 17. McComb's Fort 18. Fort Morris 1755 VII. Dauphin, (a) 19. Fort Halifax 1756 VIII. Franklin 20. Fort Chambers 1756 21. Fort Davis 1756 22. Fort Loudoun 1756 23. Fort McConnell 1764 24. Fort McCord 1756 25. Fort McDowell 1756 26. Fort Steele 1755 27. Fort Unknown 1743 28. Fort Unknown 1752 29. Fort McAlister, (b) (?) 1764 IX. Fulton 30. Fort Lyttleton 1756 X. Huntingdon 31. Fort Anderson 1778 32. Crum's Fort, (c) before 1780 33. Fort Hartsock's, (c) 1778 34. Fort Lytle, (c) 35. McAlevy's Fort 1778 36. McCormick's Fort, (c) 37. Fort Shirley 1755 38. Fort Standing Stone 1762 39. Fort Bingham 1749 XI. Juniata 40. Fort Patterson (James) 1751 41. Fort Patterson (William) 1755 42. Fort Granville 1755 XII. Mifflin 43. Fort Robinson 1755 XIII. Perry 44. Hendrick's Fort 1770 XIV. Snyder 45. McKee's Fort 1756 XV. Union, (d) XVI. York, (e)
(a). Dauphin was but partially assigned to me; Fort Halifax.
(b). Fort McAlister belongs to Cumberland County.
(c). These are marked as "Forgotten Forts."
(d). See Linn's Buffalo Valley. No Forts.
(e). York county. No Forts.
The foregoing is herewith presented not without a sense of much imperfection in its preparation, and the writer can but express the hope that the work thus imperfectly and hastily performed may be completed under further legislative direction, in harmony with the general plan and scope of the act authorizing this historical investigation.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
JAY GILFILLAN WEISER.
Middleburgh, Penna., December 14, 1894.
Disposition of the Pennsylvania Troops in the Western District
for the Winter Season, 1764.
Samuel Hazard says when this fort was erected is not certainly known, but it was probably not before 1757, as on February 22d, Colonel John Armstrong writes to Major Burd, and among other things stated some of his plans of operation, "This is all that can possibly be done, before the grass grows and proper numbers unite, except it is agreed to fortify Raystown, of which I, yet, know nothing." This fort was located on the Raystown branch of the Juniata river, at or near the town called Raystown, now Bedford, which is greatly celebrated and known, the civilized world over, for the famous mineral springs situated there.
Fort Bedford, there is no doubt, was celebrated on account of the important position which it held relative to the French and Indian wars. It was one of the earliest settlements west of the Allegheny mountains. Among these earlier settlers, who came to this locality were the traders and adventurers of the Conecocheague and Conedoguinet settlements. Mr. Jones in his history of the Juniata Valley claims that the earliest settlement made in Bedford county was on the Rays-town branch of the Juniata, by a man named Ray, in 1751, who built three cabins near where Bedford now stands. In 1755, the Province agreed to open a wagon road from Fort Loudoun in Cumberland county to the forks of the Youghiogheny river. For this purpose three hundred men were sent up, but for some cause or other the project was abandoned.
Early in April, 1757, however, Governor Denny orders Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong, then in command of a battalion of eight companies of Pennsylvania troops doing duty on the west side of the Susquehanna river, to encamp with a detachment of three hundred men near Raystown. "A well chosen situation," said the Governor in a letter to the Proprietaries, "on this side of the Allegheny Hills, between two Indian roads." As foreshadowed in the Governor's communication, Colonel Armstrong did not move forward from Raystown, the necessary supplies not having been furnished him. He was at Carlisle on the fifth of May addressing a letter to the Governor, in which he says: "The coming of the Cherokees appears to be a very favorable Providence, which should in my opinion, be speedily and properly improved, as well for the benefit for us as of othersHis Majesty's colonies, and prompts me to propose to your Honour what I have long ago suggested, to the late Governor and gentlemen commissioners, that is the building a fort at Raystown without which the King's business and the country's safety can never be effected to the westward. To this place were we there encamped, or fortified, might the southern Indians be brought frequently from Fort Cumberland, provided the necessaries of life and of war, could there be given them and from it might proceed patrolling parties to spy, waylay, intercept etc., which duties should constantly, or frequently be followed by while others might carry on the building. Tis true this service will require upwards of five hundred men, as no doubt they will be attacked if any power be at Fort Duquesne, because this will be a visible, large and direct stride to that place, but no doubt Colonel Stanwix will bear a part in duty and expense."
Some time during the month of June, 1757, Captain Hance Hamilton led a scouting party from the Fort at Carlisle to Raystown, but encountered no Indians. And at the same time Captain Dagworthy likewise sent out a party as far as the Great Crossing, who also failed to discover any signs of the enemy. But, notwithstanding all the warlike attitude of the English, nothing was done to impede the French in their depredations by numerous small bands of Indians, until a change of British ministers took place and Pitt, the Earl of Chatham, assumed control of matters.
On the 16th of August, 1758, Major Joseph Shippen writes from the camp at Raystown: "We have a good stockade fort here, with several convenient and large store houses. Our camps are all secured with good breastworks and a small ditch on the outside, and everything goes on well. Colonel Burd desires his compliments."
He further states: "It is very uncertain what number of Indians we shall have with us. It seems little dependence can be put on any of them. I believe there have been above one hundred and fifty Cherokees at this place since the army first formed a camp here, but they have all left us, except twenty-five of them. Besides these, we have Hambus and three Delaware warriors, who came two days ago from Fort Augusta, and two or three of the Six Nations, and Colonel Bouquet expects Captain Bullen (a Catawba Captain) with thirty of his warriors to join us very soon. I understand they are to come from Winchester by the way of Fort Cumberland. The army here consists now of about twenty-five hundred men, exclusive of about fourteen hundred employed in cutting and clearing the road between this and Loyal Hanning, a great part of which, I suppose, by this time is finished, so that I am in hopes we shall be able to move forward soon after the General comes up, who, we hear, is at Shippensburg on his way up. Colonel Montgomery, with part of his battalion, is with him. Colonel Washington and four hundred of his regiment have not yet joined us, nor has any of Colonel Byrd's of Virginia, except two companies."
As is indicated from the above, the road was completed in 1758, when the allied forces of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania marched against Fort Duquesne, under General John Forbes. About the same time the fort was built at Raystown and called Fort Bedford. Colonels Bouquet and Washington first marched to Bedford with the advance and were followed by General Forbes, who had been detained by illness, at Carlisle.
These successful troops that put to route the French, without striking a blow, amounting to seven thousand eight hundred and fifty men, were reviewed where Bedford now stands, one hundred and thirty-six years ago. Of the triumphant march and splendid victory of General Forbes and Colonels Bouquet and Washington, there is little use in speaking here more than incidentally mentioning that, profiting by the dear bought experience at Braddock's defeat, the suggestion of Washington to fight the savages after their own manner was adopted, and, after defeating them in several skirmishes, the Indians fled before them like chaff before the wind, and when they reached Fort Duquesne, the name and the fort alone remained.
Colonel Armstrong, whose name frequently appears in the dissertation on these varied Forts, served as a Captain in the expedition, under General Forbes against Fort Duquesne. It may as well be remembered that Colonel Washington, as well as the Virginians generally, jealous of the Pennsylvanians gaining a footing, in the Monongahela country, violently opposed the cutting of the road, from Raystown to the mouth of the Youghiogheny, and urged strongly upon Forbes the propriety of using the old Braddock trail. The decision of General Forbes procured for the people of Pennsylvania a wagon road over the Allegheny at least twenty years before the inhabitants would have entertained the idea of so formidable an undertaking.
Col. Armstrong wrote to Richard Peters, under date of Raystown, October 3d, 1758: "Since our Quixotic expedition, you will no doubt be greatly perplexed about our fate. God knows what it may be, but I assure you the better part of the troops are not at all dismayed. The General came here at a critical and seasonable juncture. He is weak, but his spirit is good and his head clear, firmly determined to proceed as far as force and provisions will admit, which through Divine favor, will be far enough.
"The road to be opened from our advance post is not yet fully determined and must be further reconnoitred. Tis yet a query, whether the artillery will be carried forward with the army when within fifteen or thirty miles of the fort or not. The order of march and line of battle is under consideration, and there are many different opinions respecting it. Upon this the General will have a conference with the commanders of the sundry corps. About four thousand five hundred are yet fit for duty, five or six hundred of which may yet be laid to the account of keeping of different posts, sickness, accidents, etc.
"We know not the number of the enemy, but they are greatly magnified by report of sundry of the people, with Major Brandt, to what we formerly expected. The Virginians are much chagrined at the opening of the road through this government, and Colonel Washington has been a good deal sanguine and obstinate upon the occasion; but the presence of the General has been of great use on this, as well as other accounts. We hear that three hundred wagons are on the road. If this month happens to be dry weather, it will be greatly in our favor.
"My people are in general healthy and are to be collected together immediately, except such as are posted, on the communication and the artillery. Many of them will be naked by the end of the campaign, but I dare not enter upon clothing them, not knowing who or how many of the troops may be continued. Colonel Bouquet is a very sensible and useful man, notwithstanding, had not the General come up, the consequences would have been dangerous. Please to make my compliments to Mr. Allen, and, if you please, show him this letter as I have not a moment longer to write. About the last of this month will be the critical hour. Everything is vastly dear with us and the money goes like old boots. The enemy are beginning to kill and carry off horses, and every now and then they scalp a wandering person. I leave this place today, as does Colonel Bouquet and some pieces of artillery."
We see by the above letters that Bedford was an important centre for the troops supplies and the munitions of warfare during this important period of our early Provincial history.
The best authorities, Egle and Hazard, show this fort to have been a place of rendezvous; and the following shows the various disposition of troops:
August 19, . According to the returns of Adjutant Kern, of the Second Battalion of Pennsylvania, there were here six hundred and fifty-six effective rank and file under Colonel James Burd.
August 24th. First battalion of Royal American regiment, Colonel Henry Bouquet, in camp; march three hundred and sixty-four men rank and file; also, Captains Harding, Landers, and Joycelyn's companies.
August 26th. Maryland forces encamped near Raystown, Captain Dagworthy, two hundred and seventy-six.
September 15th and 17th. Two hundred and seventy-four of same.
Sept. 11th. Also, Captain A. Beall, Josiah Beall and Ware's company, etc.
Sept. 15th. Sixty-two regular, or First Highland Battalion, commanded by Honorable Archibald Montgomery, companies: Capt. Sir Allen MacLean, Captains Cameron and detachments, total four hundred and fifty-four; John McLachlan as adjutant.
Sept. 17th. Lower county companies, commanded by Major Wells and Captains McCluggan and Gooding.
October 14th. "The rear division of the army moved from Raystown towards Loyal Hanna" (See Craig's History of Pittsburgh, p. 76.)
October 22d. General Forbes, being then there, says two hundred men will be required here. (See Col. Rec. Vol. viii, p. 226.)
August 4th, 1759. Brigadier G. Stanwix advertises for wagons to convey provisions from Carlisle to Bedford under escort. (i. e. p 337.)
Jany. 21st, 1760. Colonel Shippen writes to Colonel Burd that a violent general mutiny broke out in the garrison, in consequence of a rumor that they were to receive no pay after the 15th, which was happily quelled by the firmness of the Colonel. (See. Shippen Letters, p 170.)
It appears that Captain Lieutenant Lewis Oury Esquire, of the Royal American regiment of foot, and deputy quartermaster general of His Majesty's troops, was in command at this fort. And here another pertinent matter regarding the early history of this fort is appended:
"To Tobias Risenor Baker: By virtue of the power and authority unto me given, by John Stanwix Esquire, Major General and Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's forces in the southern district of North America, I do by these presents, grant unto you during his Majesty's Pleasure, the use and possession of a certain lot of ground situate near this fort, on the south side of Bedford street (meaning the old military road) in the town of Bedford, Province of Pennsylvania, thereon to build and make garden for your own private use and advantage, and for the better accommodating and supplying this garrison and other, His Majesty's troops, employed on this communication. (Having reference to the route or line of communication, leading westward to Fort Pitt.) In consideration of which grant from the Crown, you are to pay as an acknowledgment to His Majesty, one Spanish dollar per annum, ground rent. Given under my hand and seal at Fort Bedford, this twenty-sixth day of March, 1760, & in the thirty-third year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, George the Second by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc., etc."
Although, as a result of Forbes expedition, the French were driven beyond the borders of the Province, many of their Indian allies continued hostile, and harrassed the frontier settlements, of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia for several years thereafter. Hence in keeping open the line of communication between Carlisle and Fort Pitt, the Forts at Shippensburg, Loudoun, Lyttleton, Juniata, Bedford, formerly called Raystown and Ligonier, were each garrisoned with a force of from one hundred to three hundred men. Besides the regularly enlisted soldiers, there also gathered at each post various camp followers, including army sutlers, Indian traders, inn-keepers, artisans, etc. A great number of them remained permanently in the vicinity of the fort named, established claims and in consequence, became the first settlers of their respective neighborhood.
Toward the close of the year 1762, a treaty between England and France was concluded, but was not proclaimed in Philadelphia until 1763. Peace with Spain having also been concluded, it left the inhabitants of Pennsylvania no enemies but the Indians. Even these had been to a certain extent pacified, and the long sufferings to which the inhabitants had been subjected, had, in a measure, happily terminated.
But it was not long until the minds of these savages began to run riot and another struggle shortly ensued, known as the Pontiac war of 1763. During that summer the savages in great numbers attacked Fort Pitt, Ligonier, Bedford and other fortified positions, but being repulsed, they broke up into small predatory bands and left naught but death and desolation over a wide region of the Province. In this same year, they murdered a number of families near Bedford. In a letter written by William Plunkett, of June 20th, addressed to Colonel Shippen, Junior, he says:
"The gentlemen at Bedford seem to be of opinion that the design of the Indians may end in dispersing some inhabitants out of their unpurchased lands. Whether their cruel rage will end there, I don't pretend to conjecture; but must take liberty to wish that the poor, scattered, defenceless inhabitants on the frontiers of this Province were put into some posture of defence, for I can safely say, from my own knowledge, that their present situation discovers them an easy prey to their enemies."
At this period Fort Bedford was the principal depot for military stores between Carlisle and Fort Pitt. In order to strengthen it, the command was given to Captain Oury and the small stockades at the Juniata Crossing and Stony Creek were abandoned, and the force concentrated at Bedford. By this means, two volunteer companies were formed to guard the fort, which, besides being a refuge for the distressed families for ten or fifteen miles around, contained vast quantities of ammunition and other government stores.
General Jeff. Amherst, then stationed at New York, being the Commander-in-Chief of the English forces in America, addressed a letter to Governor Hamilton, of which the following is important:
"As it now appears from the intelligence received from all quarters, that the Indians seem determined to push their depredations, owing, I suppose, to some advantages they have gained over struggling parties of traders, and false hope of the Detroit and upper posts being cut off, I think it my indispensable duty once more, to renew my instances with you to lose no time in calling your Assembly and pressing them to enable you to raise, with the utmost despatch a body of men to be employed in the defence and protection of the frontier.
"Captain Ouray writes me that there are many of the inhabitants near Bedford who are ready to enter into the provincial service. Should you be enabled to issue commissions, which I hope you will, no time should be lost in sending proper orders for recruiting these men, as well as for forwarding any others that may enlist, as fast as raised, to the communication above.
"I find Mr. Croghan has very judiciously engaged twenty-five men to garrison Fort Lyttleton and I make no doubt but the province will readily defray the expense of those men so long as it may be judged necessary to continue them."
Under this suggestion of General Amherst, Governor Hamilton directed Colonel John Armstrong to organize a battalion of frontiersmen for immediate service, and concluded his communication as follows:
"On the recommendation of Captain Ouray, at Fort Bedford, I have promised commissions to the following gentlemen, now doing duty as volunteers at Bedford: Christopher Lewis (Limes), [he it was who caused to be built and who owned the stone structure on Pitt street, now owned and occupied by Mr. Carn]; John Proctor, Captain; Philip Baltimore, Charles Rigger, Lieutenants; William Yaxley, Robert Swancey, ensigns; which commissions, with the necessary advance money, I desire you will either deliver to the said Captains, or forward to them as you shall think best, as soon as may be. I also desire you will give a commission of Captain to James Piper, at present Lieutenant to Colonel Wert's company, whose place in that company, I will supply, as soon as the vacancy is made known to me."
Under these instructions Colonel Armstrong succeeded in raising a force of three hundred volunteers from the vicinity of Bedford, Shippensburg and Carlisle, for the purpose of attacking the Indian settlements. He left with this band of soldiers in high hopes of surprising and attacking the Indians in their settlements, but when he reached their settlements many of them had gone a few days before. But pushing on in his endeavors, with great despatch and secrecy, when he overtook them, there were not any scarcely able to escape. Meanwhile, the outlying forts remained in the most hazardous condition. The Indians being constantly at work, they surrounded them, and, at times, were successful in cutting all communication. At this time almost all the efforts to raise the requisite number of the Provincial forces, proved nearly fruitless. General Amherst ordered Colonel Henry Bouquet to leave Fort Bedford in order to give support to Fort Pitt. Bouquet's forces then constituted the shattered remains of several regiments, scarcely five hundred men in all, who had lately returned from the West Indies, with several companies of Rangers from Lancaster and Cumberland counties, amounting to about two hundred men.
Fort Ligonier, at this period, was in an alarming condition, being surrounded by savages; and containing a large quantity of military stores, it was a matter of great moment to them, lest it might fall into the hands of the enemy. Apprehensive of this, Captain Oury, in command at Fort Bedford, sent twenty volunteers, good marksmen, to its aid. Learning of the perilous situation of Fort Ligonier, soon after his departure from Carlisle, and fearing the savages might capture it, and thereby be enabled from the munitions of war they would obtain there, to make a most vigorous attack on Fort Pitt, and likely demolish it before he could reach it, Col. Bouquet sent forward a party of thirty men with guides familiar with the lay of the land, who were recommended to avoid Forbes route, and thus making a skillful and forced march, succeeded in finding their way through the forests undiscovered by the wily enemy, until they came in sight of the fort, where they were intercepted by the Indians, but by their determined effort, reached the fort amidst the tumult, unhurt.
Fort Bedford at this time was also in a precarious condition and feebly garrisoned, although its force had been strengthened by the intermediate posts, being abandoned for this purpose. Many of the families for miles about collected at this fort in order to secure their safety from the enemy. Many, however, had not reached the fort when they found themselves pursued by the merciless enemy, and at whose hands some forty odd families were murdered and scalped, and many taken into captivity. The savages apparently being satisfied with this attack on the inhabitants, did not have the courage to attack the strong and defensible fort at Bedford and happily it was, too, that they did not, because there were but few inside to resist a successful attack upon it.
Colonel Bouquet now passed out of Bedford, up the Raystown Branch, with two regiments of regulars and a large convoy of military stores, to relieve the beleagured garrison at Fort Pitt. As was before stated, he found matters in a deplorable condition at Fort Bedford, and it having been reported to him that the Indians had attempted to make an attack upon this fort, he left for their protection, two companies of his army. The names of the persons killed or taken prisoners at the time above referred to, are not recorded, and we regret to say that we are unable to obtain data sufficient to establish the full particulars of this affair.
During the summer of 1764, another force for expedition purposes was organized in the settlements west of the Susquehanna and put under the command of General Bouquet, who marched by the way of Forts Bedford, Ligonier, Pitt and the Muskingum country. There he defeated the savages several times and was the means of compelling them to sue for peace. Among some of the commanders who accompanied him on this expedition were Captains James Piper, William Piper and William Proctor, gentlemen who became afterwards prominent citizens of Bedford county.
After the beginning of the peace period in 1764, after a relentless struggle with the savages for over a period of ten years, the inhabitants began to re-establish themselves, feeling secure in their new locations. They were, however, secure in the more densely inhabited places, yet at the same time, in the outlying districts were, nevertheless, subjected to the marauds of the savages. And that was not all that they had to contend with, because the line of action had brought many disreputable characters to the front who were not content to seek a livelihood by any honest means, but preferred to eke out an existence by robbing and plundering the pack trains traveling from place to place, and as an illustration of this, we have the widely known history of the "Black Boys" who infested the path from Forts Loudoun to Bedford. Much of this comes from that intrepid and daring frontiersman, James Smith, who had been captured by the Indians and carried out into the western country, returning to his native place where he assumed command of a company under Colonel Armstrong and was in Bedford, with positions of honor and trust which he held, subsequently, he living to relate an interesting narrative, of which there is much data at hand. The affairs of the "Black Boys" largely led them into the exercise of their reckless proclivities in and about Fort Bedford and much of the surrounding country. Capt. Smith later held a commission in the American army when fighting for independence. He was a daring man and served his country in the behalf of redressing wrongs upon aggrieved settlers, harrassing the British and unscrupulous Indian traders for furnishing arms to the red men. His popularity in this vicinity was attested by the fact that at his trial for alleged lawlessness, he was acquitted upon appeal of about seven hundred of the neighboring settlers. He held a colonelcy prior to his death.
The history of this fort was celebrated in this that it was honored by the presence of such distinguished military celebrities as Forbes, Washington, Bouquet, Armstrong, Burd, and an army of some six or seven thousand men, surrounded by quarters for officers, barracks and a number of shanties for the traders and other camp followers. This fort stood upon the grounds bounded north by Raystown branch, east by Richard, south by Pitt and west by Juliana streets. It embraced about seven thousand square yards and besides its five bastionsplaces for the use of swivel gunsit had a "Gallery with loop-holes" extending from the central bastion on its north front to the water's edge, in order to secure the water and secure the banks of the stream. The main gate was on the south side and parallel with the southern rampart, ran Forbes road or avenue, now known as Pitt street. There was also a smaller gate on the west side and a postern gate opening northward. Ample quarters for the officers and men composing the garrison were arranged inside, but the storehouse and hospital buildings were situated outside and to the southward of the front of the fort. While as already mentioned the traders houses were located about one hundred yards to the southwestward. The manner of construction of this stockade or like stockades, at that period was as follows: Around the area to be enclosed a ditch was dug, to the depth of four or five feet. In this oak logs or logs of some other kind of timber, not easily set on fire, or cut through, about eighteen feet long and pointed at the top, were placed side by side in an upright position. Two sides of the logs or stockados, as they were termed in those days, were hewn flat and the sides were brought close together and fastened securely near the top by horizontal pieces of timber, spiked or pinned upon their inner side, so as to make the whole work continuous, firm and staunch. The ditch having been filled up again, and the loose earth well rammed down about the base of the stockado, platforms were constructed all around the inner side of the enclosure, some four or five feet from the ground, and upon these, in case of an attack, the garrison stood and fired through loop-holes cut at the requisite height above the platforms. For the swivel guns, port-holes were cut on either side of the bastions. Fort Bedford was also protected on the south and west side by a moat about eight feet deep, ten feet wide at the bottom, and fifteen feet wide at the, top. The great mass of earth taken from the ditch was thrown outward and the same being graded down into an easy slope, formed the glacis.
The near proximity of the stream on the north and the peculiar formation of the original surface of the ground on the east front of the fort precluded as well as rendered unnecessary the construction of a fosse or moat on those sides. In a word, the site of Fort Bedford was an admirable one and the fort itself was strongly and very regularly constructed. Built by the vanguard of Forbes army in the summer of 1758, it had become a ruin before the beginning of the Revolutionary struggle and was never rebuilt.
As first related, that Ray was the first settler in that section, we have data showing that with him came one Garrett Pendergrass, who, by consent of the chiefs of the Six Nations, took up his settlement at this place, made improvements, and it was supposed that he did a thriving business with the Indian traders, and set up his claim for three hundred acres of land, which included the three springs, but by an account furnished later, on account of the French and Indian wars, he sought safety at some other point eastward.
The next person that we have some account of is William Fraser, being the first child born in Raystown. The town of Bedford was laid out by Lukens, the Surveyor General. The State will, doubtless, suitably mark the place of this fort.
This fort was erected prior to the termination of the Revolutionary struggle. The writer, from data at hand cannot with any authority, give it the dignity of a fort. It doubtless was a mere blockhouse or rendezvous for the settlers in that vicinity and built with the private funds of the owner of the property, who, doubtless, was Mr. Martin. The writer is indebted to Doctor C. N. Hickok, of Everett, Pennsylvania, for the following substantial account:
Fort Martin was somewhere on what is now known as the Whetstone farm in West Providence township, Bedford county, about five and one-half miles east from Everett near the Old Chain Bridge Crossings of Juniata. This farm was the old homestead place of the first Judge Martin, one of the important celebrities of this locality, in the colonial days, before the erection of Bedford county. I fear the exact site of the fort is lost, though about where it was located can be determined. It was one of the line of defences "On the Packer's Path" between Forts Lyttleton and Bedford near the midway between the two.
In the early history of this township, West Providence, owing to the beautiful hills and the fertility of the valleys, it was a frequent resort for the aborigines, and the soil is teeming with arrow-heads, spear-heads and pieces of pottery which have been discovered by the inhabitants of this township. And they have been found in such great quantities that it demonstrates clearly that the forests of this section were once the camping and hunting ground of the savage. The legendary and traditionary details of this locality are meagre, and notwithstanding that we have made an attempt to ascertain its true history, yet it leaves us in much doubt and uncertainty. It has been stated upon authentic data that there were a number of settlers within this township a number of years prior to the Revolutionary War. There is a nook in the rocks along the west bank of Shaver's creek which is locally known as Fort Defiance. Whether this is the same fort in question or not, I am unable to say, but tradition tells us that the early white settlers constructed a rude fortification to which they fled for safety from the savages. The last vestiges of the rude structure have long since been torn away. There were several ancient pack-horse trails doubtless, the earliest routes of travel through this country and through this township, and traces of them are still visible in uncleared lands.
This fort was erected, as near as can be ascertained, in 1777. The site of this fort is six miles northwest of Everett, in Hopewell township, and in the heart of Yellow Creek Valley. The old stone house which was the refuge of the early settlers, within the palisade is still standing and in good repair and is used as a dwelling. It is on the farm of James Piper, Esquire, county commissioner of Bedford and a descendant of the original owner of the estate, General Piper. This fort had its origin whilst Colonel John Piper was the lieutenant colonel of the county, during the Revolutionary war and whilst in serving in this capacity he was actively engaged in protecting the frontier settlements from the hostile encroachments of the Indians. When Colonel Piper first settled in the Yellow Creek Valley, it was about the year 1771. He then began the construction of a log fort at the southern end of Black Oak Ridge, near Colonel Piper's house, and frequently was this place occupied by troops of the Revolution who were sent there to protect the settlers. Some time after this Colonel Piper erected a substantial stone house of two stories, to which many settlers at various periods fled for refuge, until the building became known as Fort Piper, and so it is still called at this late day. This old house is remarkably well preserved, and its strong open woodwork seems capable of lasting as long as the masonry. The writer has not data of provincial records showing that a fort was authorized to be built or that there ever was a garrison there.
This fort, bearing the name of Colonel Piper, one of the distinguished heroes of the times, and who held various positions of honor and trust under the early authorities of that period and left a line of distinguished descendants, both in military and civil pursuits, still stands as a monument in perpetuation of the patriotism and zeal which characterized the motives and deeds of its immortal founder.
Doctor Hickok, a cultivated gentleman, possessing a large and varied fund of interesting anecdotes and history relative to this locality, as well as being one of the best known antiquarians in the State, says that he knows nothing as to this fort, nor does he know of any who does; only that by conjecture it might have been an ancient earthwork he once visited in the midst of a dense forest on the eastern summit of the Alleghenies, formerly within the lines of Bedford county, but now a mile, possibly, within the eastern boundary of Somerset county. With such statement the writer is compelled to relinquish further investigation relative to this and the other forts in Bedford county. The fact is that Fort Bedford was the only fort in Bedford county ever occupied by British troops.
This fort, erected within what are now the boundary lines of Blair county, Pennsylvania, came into the list of frontier defences in the year 1777. It was built not far from where the town of Hollidaysburg now stands, being somewhat to the southwest of that borough, and its location seems to have been on the banks or near to the banks of a creek flowing northward, which creek discharges its waters into what is called the Frankstown branch of the Juniata river. It is near McCahan's mill and was used for local purposes. Its location was not far distant from where appears on the Historical Map of Pennsylvania, the Indian path starting at the town of Bedford, running north, past Hollidaysburg, Fort Lowry, crossing the Juniata at or near Anderson's Fort and thence on northward into Centre county to where Milesburg now stands.
This fort was a blockhouse used for local purposes. It appears nowhere from any of the Provincial records that it was authorized to have been built; nevertheless, it served its purpose and like all the others of like importance, is entitled to its appropriate place, along with the rest of the unauthorized forts. Mr. Jones relates, in his Juniata Valley, that in the fall of 1777 Fetter's Fort was occupied with some twenty-five men capable of bearing arms, belonging to the Frankstown district. Among those were both the Colemans, their own and a number of other settlers families. The Indians who had murdered the Dunkards, it appears, met about a mile east of Kittanning Point, where they encamped, in order to await the arrival of the scattered forces. Thomas and Michael Coleman and Michael Wallack had left Fetter's Fort In the morning for the purpose of hunting deer. During the day snow fell to the depth of some three or four inches and in coming down the Gap, Coleman and his party crossed the Indian trail and discovered fresh tracks. It was soon determined to follow them, ascertain their force and then repair to the fort and give the alarm. They had followed the trail scarcely half a mile before they saw the blaze of the fire and the dusky outlines of the savages seated around it. Their number, of course, could not be made out, but they conjectured that there must be in the neighborhood of thirty, but in order to get a crack at them, Thomas Coleman made his companions promise not to reveal their actual strength to the men in the fort. The available force, amounting to sixteen men, loaded their rifles and started in pursuit of the savages. By the time they reached the encampment it had grown quite cold and the night was considerably advanced, still some ten or twelve Indians were seated around the fire. They cautiously approached the men and with silence, the command was given. When within sixty yards a halt was called.
The Indians appeared to be engaged, some in mixing paint and the others were talking. Their rifles were all leaning against a large tree and Thos. Coleman conceived the bold design of approaching the tree and securing their arms before attacking them. The achievement would have been a brilliant one, but the undertaking was deemed so hazardous that not a man would agree to second him in so reckless and daring an enterprise.
When the word was given it was agreed that they should all fire and that each man should single out a particular savage to fire at. Aim was taken, the word was given, some three or four of the savages fell and those who were sitting around the fire, as well as those who were lying upon the ground instantly sprang to their feet and ran to the tree where their rifles stood. The boys did not even have time to reload their guns before they ran away. It appears that Wallack and Holliday were the only ones left to obey Colemans orders. The number of the savages being large, they became frightened and ran to the fort. From this time on Coleman assumed command at the fort and was one of the principal men in this locality in resisting the Indians. This encounter with the Indians created alarm through the sparsely settled country. People from the neighborhood gathered their families into the fort under the firm impression that they were to be harrassed by savage warfare, not only during the winter, but as long as the Revolutionary struggle was to continue.
This cloud of war soon passed by and the people betook themselves again to their homes, before the holidays of 1777, where they remained without molestation. During these alarms and troubles which followed in the course of the war, Adam Holliday took a conspicuous part in defending the frontiers. He aided in erecting Fetter's Fort and afterwards expended his means into turning Titus stable into a fort. This fort was located on a flat nearly opposite the second lot below Hollidaysburg, and the two served as a place of refuge for all the settlers of what was then merely called the upper end of Frankstown district. He also, with his own money, purchased provisions and through his exertions arms and ammunition were brought from the eastern counties. His courage and energy inspired the settlers to make a stand at a time when they were on the very point of flying to Cumberland county. In December, 1777, he visited Philadelphia, for the purpose of securing a part of the funds appropriated to the defence of the frontier. The following letter to President Wharton was given to him by Col. John Piper, of Bedford county:
Bedford County, December 19th, 1777.
"Sir: Permit me, Sir, to recommend to you for counsel and direction, the bearer Mr. Holliday an inhabitant of Frankstown, one of the frontier settlements of our county, who has at his own risk been extremely active in assembling the people of that settlement together and in purchasing provisions to serve the militia who came to their assistance. As there was no person appointed, either to purchase provisions or to serve them out, necessity obliged the bearer, with the assistance of some neighbors, to purchase a considerable quantity of provisions for that purpose, by which the inhabitants have been enabled to make a stand. His request is that he may be supplied with cash, not only to discharge the debts already contracted, but likewise to enable him to lay up a store for future demand. I beg leave, Sir, to refer to the bearer, for further information, in hopes you will provide for their further support. Their situation requires immediate assistance."
The mission of Mr. Holliday was successful. He returned with sufficient means to recruit the fort with provisions and ammunition, and continued to be an active, energetic frontiersman during all the Indian troubles.
This fort was erected about the beginning of the Revolutionary period. Its date is not exactly given, but sufficient to say that there were a number of forts erected for the protection of settlers, known as blockhouses or stockades, in about 1777. The only data we have as to its location, is that it was at Peter Titus' place, about one mile below Hollidaysburg, which was a barn and was afterwards transferred into a fort. Adam Holliday was among the first settlers of this section. He came from the Conecocheague settlement in Franklin county, and whose name has been perpetuated by the town (Hollidaysburg). His farm was situated just southwest of the railroad bridge, near the town. He and others came here about the commencement of the Revolutionary war and endured the fullest extent of the privations and sufferings incident to a wilderness still inhabited by the red men. Stockade forts were built to protect the inhabitants in case of invasion. Mr. Holliday, however, on one occasion had not availed himself of the fort, and was engaged in the labors of the field when the savages appeared suddenly. The family took flight, Mr. H. jumping on a horse with his two young children, John and James. His elder son Pat and daughter Jeanette were killed while running from the enemy.
It is related that about the beginning of the year 1779, the Indians along the frontier, emboldened by numerous successful depredations, came into Bedford county within the boundaries of which Holliday's Fort then was. They came in such large bands that many of the inhabitants fled to the eastern counties. The Holidays, however, and some few others, tarried in the hope that the Executive Council would render them aid. The following petition, signed by William Holliday and others, will give the reader some idea of the distress suffered by the pioneers. It was dated May 29th, 1779:
"To the Honorable President and Council:
"The Indians being now in the county, the frontier inhabitants being generally fled, leaves the few that remain in such a distressed condition that Pen can hardly describe, nor your Honours can only have a faint idea of, nor can it be conceived properly by any but such as are the subjects thereof, but while we suffer in the part of the county that is most frontier, the inhabitants of the interior part of this county live at ease and safety. And we humbly conceive that by some immediate instruction, from Council, to call them that are less exposed to our relief we shall be able under God to repulse our enemies and put it in the power of the distressed inhabitants to reap the fruits of their industry. Therefore we humbly pray, you will grant us such relief in the premises as you, in your wisdom see meet. And your petitioners shall pray, etc.
N. B.There is a quantity of lead at the mines (now Sinking Valley) in this county council may procure for the use of said county, which will save carriage and supply our wants with that article. Which we cannot exist without at this place, and our flints are altogether expended, therefore we beg council would furnish us with those necessaries as they in their wisdom see cause.
P. S.Please to supply us with powder to answer lead."
This petition was not speedily answered and the fort was evacuated soon after. The Council, no doubt, did all they could to give these people support; but the tardy action of the militia gave the savages confidence and drove the few remaining settlers almost into despair. Relief finally came, but not sufficient to prevent the Indian depredations.
After all this, when forbearance ceased to be a virtue, the people of the neighborhood moved their families to Fort Roberdeau, in Sinking Valley, and Fetter's Fort, and formed themselves into scouting parties, and by these means protected themselves so as to gather their crops. After remaining at Fort Roberdeau for a period, Mr. Holliday returned to his land for the purpose of gathering the crops. While on his way, he was brutally attacked by the savages, some of his family killed and he made a narrow escape himself. After he reached the fort, being worn out with the fatigue of the exciting journey, without hat or shoes, his clothes in tatters, his body lacerated and bleeding, he failed to recognize either the fort or the sentinel on duty. The loss of his children was a sad blow to him. Mr. Holliday lived to a good old age and died at his residence on the banks of the river in 1801. He left two children, John and a daughter married to William Reynolds. John married the daughter of Lazarus Lowrey of Frankstown.
This blockhouse or private fort was built in the winter of 1778 or the spring of 1779 in Canoe Valley, three miles southwest of Water Street, in Catharine township, this county, on the site of where the German Reformed Church now stands. It was a small fort erected simply as a defence for the settlers. Water Street was so called from the circumstance of the road in early days, passing through the gap in the mountain, literally in a stream of water. It was on a path leading from Fort Bedford, northward to the Juniata river, where Petersburg now stands. It was erected upon Lowrey's farm. Captain Simonton was, by unanimous consent elected the commander. These local forts were erected in what was termed the second period of the Indian troubles, as compared with the first period when Forts Shirley, Granville, Lyttleton, etc., were erected. During the year 1779, and part of 1780, the settlers were divided as to their time between working their farms and protecting their forts.
The settlers of that neighborhood were frequently alarmed by Indian depredations, which sent the people to their forts in great haste, but as soon as quiet had been restored they again returned to their farms. It is reported that there were some few neighbors who would not fort at this place, probably due and owing to the fact that there was some animosity existing between them. Among the neighbors in this particular settlement was Matthew Dean, a very influential citizen. Capt. Simonton, who had command of this fort, frequently visited the house of Mr. Dean, where they spent the evening in conversation. At which time the Captain informed him that it had been reported that there was a considerable band of Indians in Sinking Valley and that he was fearful of their committing outrage, but Dean not being fearful, thought there was no cause for alarm. The result was that upon his going to work the next morning in his cornfield it was not long until he discovered his house to be on fire, which was done presumably by the Indians lurking about, and upon going to it, he found Mrs. Simonton there, she having come over, and when she reached the place she saw a little girl about eight years of age lying upon the steps scalped.
The news of this affair reached the fort and in a very short time the entire neighborhood was alarmed. A strong force headed by the Beattys, started in pursuit of the savages, but could not find them. A remarkable coincidence concerning the settlers of this section, is that of the Beattys there were seven brothers, seven brothers of the Kriders, seven of the Ricketts and seven of the Moores, constituting the most formidable force of active and daring frontiersmen to be found between Standing Stone and the base of the mountains. It is said of the Beattys that they were regular flowers of the forest, who never would fort during all the troubles and they cared no more for an Indian than they did for a bear. They lived in a cabin about a mile west of Water Street. It is further said that the Indians knew the Beattys and feared them; for more daring and reckless, hardy young fellows never existed in the valley. It is stated that in the burning of Mr. Dean's house, Mrs. Dean and her three children were burned; also a son of Captain Simonton.
In a letter dated Columbia, Pa., August 20th, 1894, written by Samuel Evans, a great grandson of Col. Alexander Lowrey, we have the following concerning the subject:
"I notice in the Press a list of Indian forts prior to 1783. I see no mention of Lowrey's Fort, which stood along the north bank of the Juniata, not far from Williamsburg. James Lowrey and Daniel Lowrey owned large tracts of land at and around Frankstown, below Hollidaysburg prior to the Revolution. They were Indian traders, as early as 1740. Lazarus Lowrey, son of Col. Alex. Lowrey, Indian trader of this neighborhood inherited all or nearly all of James and Daniel Lowrey's land, from his father Alexander, who was a brother of James and Daniel. Lazarus Lowrey was living on this land during the Revolutionary War. I do not know whether the fort was built by Daniel or Lazarus, or by the children of the two former. There are still some of the Lowrey descendants at Hollidaysburg, (Esquire Garber) and at Hopewell, Bedford county, Pa. I believe the mill and all the land at Frankstown has passed out of the family name."
This fort bears the name of a distinguished Pennsylvanian. It was erected in the year 1778, in what is known as the Sinking Spring Valley. It stands in the northeastern section of this county, in Tyrone township, and was called the Lead Mine Fort. It was several miles above Arch Spring and west of the site of Byer's Mill. The fact is, it was not built for the purpose of a defence against the Indians, but for the protection of those engaged in the work of mining lead. However, the country seemed to have been settled to some extent and on account of its better fortification and being garrisoned by a body of men with arms and ammunition, it afforded greater safety to those seeking refuge there. We find from a letter of General Daniel Roberdeau, dated Carlisle, April 17, 1778, who appears was then on his way to work some lead mines to supply the great scarcity of lead to the public, and at this time a member of Congress, of which body he asked and obtained leave of absence for the purpose. He states: "I find the State is guarding against the incursions of the savages. This confirmed my pre-conceived intention of erecting a stockade fort in the neighborhood of the mine, I am about to work, if I could stir up the inhabitants to give their labor in furnishing an asylum for their families, in case of danger, and prevent the evacuation of the country. Mr. Carothers being convinced of the necessity of the work for the above detailed purpose, offered one company of the militia which he expected would consist of about forty men under my command to co-operate in so righteous a business. I intend to build such a fort, as with sufficient provisions under the smile of providence would enable me to defend it against any number of Indians that might presume to invest it. It is very important that the intended stockade should be seasonably furnished with provisions. My landing is at Water Street, on Juniata, but I could unnoticed, receive any supply from Standing Stone."
It appears that General Roberdeau had been on a tour of inspection before. In a contribution to the writer from Mr. Lytle, of Huntingdon, we have the following:
"Fort Roberdeau was built during the latter period, meaning the period after such forts as Shirley, Granville, etc., were erected. This was in 1777. On the 23d of April, in that year, General Daniel Roberdeau, after whom the fort was named, wrote a letter from Standing Stone, now Huntingdon, to Lieut. Carothers, at Carlisle, in which he says: "With ten men here under the command of Lieut. Cluggage, in continental service, until the first of December next, I intend to move forward as soon as the arms, ammunition and other things come forward to afford an escort to Sinking Springs Valley, where I shall be glad to meet as great a number of militia, as you will station there to enable me to erect a stockade to secure the works so necessary to the public service and give confidence to frontier inhabitants by affording an asylum for their women and children."
From this it is evident that General Roberdeau was then on his way to Sinking Valley, and the works he speaks of were the lead mines, and in this connection it may be stated that there was a fort used by the settlers prior to the establishment of this one. It was called Roller's Fort. For without this there could have been no defence for the settlers prior to the establishment of Fort Roberdeau. General Roberdeau wrote from Sinking Valley to the Council on the 27th of April, as follows:
"I have little more time to refer you to the enclosed examination, taken in great haste, but correct, as it respects the testimony. The confiscation of the effects of the disaffected, in these parts is very irregular, and the brutality offered to the wives and children of some of them, as I have been informed in taking from them even their wearing apparel, is shocking.
"* * * * * * I am happy to inform you that a very late discovery of a new vein promises the most ample supply, but I am very deficient in workmen. Mr. Glenn is with me to direct the making and burning of bricks, and is to come up to build a furnace, by which time I expect to be in such forwardness as to afford an ample supply to the army. The want of provisions, I dread, is hard to be got; therefore, I beg leave to refer you to a hint on this subject in my letter from Carlisle, of forty militia at most; seven with me which retards the building a stockade, to give confidence to the inhabitants who were all on the wing before I reached this.
"I sent Richard Weston under guard to Carlisle jail to await your orders. He is conducted by Lieut. John Means, of the militia. The inhabitants are hunting the other insurgents and hope they will all be taken, but wish any other the trouble of examining them, as my hands are full."
Little is known to us about this fort, or where or when it was erected. This is stated in a letter from General Potter, dated Penns Valley, May 19th, 1777. Three forts are spoken of in this Valley as having together but one lieutenant and fifteen men as a guard. He says: "I cannot help being surprised that there has been no militia sent to that part of Bedford county, that joins us, neither to Frankstown nor to Standing Stone except that small company of Buchanan's battalion that would not go to Fort Roberdeau.
General Roberdeau's stay at the mines must have been brief. The next we hear of him is in his letter, dated York, on the 30th day of May of the same year. The direction of affairs at the mines was probably left in the hands of Lowrey and Cluggage. It is altogether uncertain how long the mines were carried on by the government, but not longer probably than till the fall of 1779. What the yield of lead was we are unable to discover. In one place in the records we find an order, forwarded to one of the sub-lieutenants of the county for five hundred pounds and we also learn at different times that quantities were issued to the militia. There must have been some arrangement existing between the government and Roberdeau for taking out this lead. In a letter written to Vice President Bryan, for pay due him, he says: "My last engagement in the lead works has proved a moth to my circulating path and obliged me to make free with a friend in borrowing."
On the 6th of August, 1779, Capt. Thos. Cluggage dates a letter from Fort Roberdeau and says: "This morning I arrived at this post, bringing with me what men I could collect on the way. I think from the accounts of my brother that the number of the enemy in these parts must be large," and adds in a P. S. "This moment there is twelve men arrived and with them and with what can be spared from this garrison, I will immediately march to Morrison's Cove." In another letter dated at this fort, October 10th, 1779, Captain Cluggage says: "My company has been reviewed and passed muster. Three officers and forty-three rank and file, one of the latter killed or taken."
We presume therefore, that this was Fort Roberdeau, built on account of the lead mines and named after them in Sinking Spring Valley. It has been referred to that there was an attempt made to procure lead from these mines, during the Revolution. After Roberdeau's project had fallen to the ground in consequence of the scarcity of the ore and the great expense of mining and melting it, the miners who had been taken there, attempted for a while to carry on operations themselves. Their close proximity to the Indians, the several incursions into the valley by them in search of plunder and scalps, made these foreign miners, unused to border life, quit and seek refuge in the east. The fort was evacuated by the government militia. Nevertheless, it was still a place of refuge and was used by the settlers of Sinking Valley, and Bald Eagle, up to the close of the war.
The writer here appends the following interesting letter dated Marshalltown, Iowa, August 26th, 1894, and written by John H. Keatley, commandant of the Iowa Soldiers' home, who says:
"About seven miles west of Union Furnace on the Pennsylvania Railroad, in Sinking Valley, are the remains of old Fort Roberdeau, built during the Revolutionary War, by General Roberdeau, under authority of the Continental Congress. In 1866 I had a set of the Secret Journal of that Congress and found the resolution authorizing the building of the Fort for the protection of the lead miners who were mining lead for the use of the Revolutionary forces. The lead was carried down the Juniata river in canoes. In 1880, I was at the site of the Fort where a part of the brick powder magazine was still standing, on the farm once owned by Frederick Ramey, and almost in front of one of the houses in a field. I brought one of the bricks of the vault west with me. It is in the upper end of the Valley, and nearby is quite a quantity of lead or zinc slag from the melting furnace."
This was another one of the many fortifications built in Blair county at or about the time of the erection of Fort Roberdeau, many of them being private enterprises and this was one of them. We find that Jacob Roller, a frontier man of more than average hardihood, energy and daring, was for many years, during the revolutionary period, a very prominent figure in the locality of Hollidaysburg and surrounding vicinity, and it was he who erected this fort or stockade, for the defence of his family and his neighbors from the Indians. This may have been a fort, but we are inclined to the belief that it was only a stockade, the same as existed at Water Street and used as a retreat by the French Tories and their allies, the Indians, from their headquarters at Punxsutawney. This fort or stockade must have been contemporaneous with or later than Fort Roberdeau, for there could have been no defences in Sinking Valley prior thereto, as General Roberdeau had to take a military force with him.
It is stated that there is an original petition in existence from the people in the Juniata region asking protection from the savages, which was read in the Pennsylvania Assembly, February 14th, 1781, and which contains the name of Jacob Roller and other names, still familiar in Sinking Valley and in all parts of this county. When they sought protection then, they probably undertook to protect themselves by building the forts and stockades that figure in our early history. These forts were of the Revolutionary period, rather than of any anterior one.
Mr. Jones, in his History of the Juniata Valley, refers to this fort. He also refers to an encounter by Roller with the Indians in which he came out the victor and the savages dreaded him very much on account of his well known and successful fighting proclivities. Indeed, he was in continual quarrel with the redskins and his name was a terror to them. The time of Roller's death is not positively known; Mr. Maguire thought it was in the fall of 1781. From after discovered evidence, three Indians came down from the mountain, avoiding the fort of Jacob Roller, which was located at the head of Sinking Valley, and passed on down through the Valley to the house of Rebault, whom they tomahawked and scalped. He further speaks of Jacob Roller, Jr., being killed while at his father's fort.
So eminent an authority as Mr. Jones should have weight in statements concerning these matters. We have also introduced information about this fort gathered from personal sources in the neighborhood of its alleged erection.
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