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.
This fort was built by Colonel James Potter, in the year 1777, and was situated on an elevation a little north of the present "Old Fort Hotel," and is near Centre Hall, a station on the Lewisburg and Tyrone railroad, about nine miles southeast of Bellefonte. There is a spring near the site of the fort, where General Potter built a cabin when prospecting for lands in 1773.
The fort, according to Mr. John B. Linn, was built in 1777; the stockade including the spring. It was subsequently occupied as a tavern by Stephen Smith. In 1825, when the turnpike was made, J. and L Potter built a stone tavern on the turnpike a short distance from the old one, which stands at this present time, and which has always gone by the name of "The Old Fort Hotel." At a period later, the old hotel was known as McCoy's Tavern. In the erection of the frame house which stands really on its site, or close to it, there were dug up a number of relics. It is in Potter township, Centre county, and was occupied in July, 1778, by Captain Finley's company of Col. Brodhead's command, for a few weeks, and two of his soldiers were killed there by the Indians. The only evidence we have of the fort being connected with the general service, is the fact that Col. Brodhead ordered Captain Finley with twenty-five privates to go into Penn's Valley to protect the reapers.
We find the following concerning this locality and the fort in question in Day's Historical Collections: "Sometime after the treaty of 1768, James Potter, afterwards a brigadier general under Washington, came up the West Branch and Bald Eagle Creek to seek for choice lands. He crossed the Nittany mountain at Logan's Gap, and for the first time set his eyes upon the lovely Penns Valley, afterwards his happy home. No traveler who has crossed that mountain on the road from Bellefonte to Lewistown can forget the impression made by a glance from the mountain into that luxuriant valley, spread out before him like a map, checkered with its copses of woodland and fertile farms, with their cheerful white cottages. After reconnoitering the valley, he descended Penn's creek in a canoebut soon returned again, took up a large body of land, made a settlement there, and erected a stockade fort. Traces of the fort are still seen near McCoy's Tavern, which stands at the intersection of the Bellefonte and Lewistown turnpike with the Penn's Valley and Northumberland road. The corners still bear the name of Potter's Fort, and many rich farms about it belong to the Potter family; although their principal residence is at Potter's bank, four miles further south. There is a tradition that near Potter's Fort there occurred a desperate fight between two white men and two Indians, in which they grappled and cut each other to pieces, the whole four having been killed."
General Potter, in company with others, was driven from his settlement by the hostile incursions of Indians at the opening of the Revolution. He entered the service of his country and was with Gen. Washington during the campaigns at Valley Forge, Brandywine, Germantown and in New Jersey. Many of Washington's orders and letters are preserved among General Potter's papers. At the close of the war another treaty was made with the Indians for the purchase of all the territory in the State northwest of the West Branch; and General Potter was employed as agent and surveyor of a company of land speculators, to visit and superintend the settlement of their lands on the Sinnemahoning and West Branch above the Allegheny mountains. The Honorable Frederick Kurtz, of Centre Hall, furnished the writer with the following information: "Old Fort," sometimes called "Potter's Fort," was erected in 1777, by Capt. Potter. The site of the "Old Fort" was a short distance from the southern line of the borough of Centre Hall, less than one-eighth mile on the turnpike leading from Bellefonte to Lewistown. It was built on an eminence that commanded a view of the surrounding country and from which the approach of Indians could be seen. Here the early settlers found shelter from the eastern and western parts of the valley, when Indians made incursions into the valley. Settlers from the lower end, now Haines township, came to the fort in times of danger, a distance of eighteen miles. Indian raids were frequent and a number of whites were killed at various times, at that early day. The fort was built of logs, and some of the corner stones of the foundation are yet to be seen. Within the fort was a house used as a dwelling; this was erected first, and thereafter, when safety required a place of refuge, the log enclosure was built around the house, so as to answer the purposes of a fort. The farm upon which this fort is located is now owned by Captain John P. Taylor, of Mifflin county.
The writer called upon the late Ex-Governor Andrew G. Curtin, who, on account of his abundant faith in the history of John B. Linn, concerning that particular locality, was unable to add anything except to make the following suggestions:
"Anything which I could give you would only be the traditions common in the country and assuredly, if I had any definite information, I would be very happy to furnish it, as I sincerely approve of the raising of the commission and the propriety of retaining the history of Pennsylvania in all its relations to the early settlement and the struggles of the pioneers in this and adjoining parts of the State."
The writer, after a personal inspection of this fort, saw nothing excepting what might be the outlines of the foundations. The spring, which was supposed to be on the inside, is still there and the ground showed every evidence of there having been a building erected on it, some of the stones being yet visible.
Site of Fort Lowther, and Plan of Fort Lowther.
A fort was erected in Carlisle, Cumberland county, and we have record of a garrison there as early as May, 27, 1753. In 1753 a stockade was erected within the present borough limits of that place, now extending beyond its original site, so that we find its location to be in this town, today. The location of this fort is described as follows: On High street between Hanover and Pitt streets, opposite Lot No. one hundred, and the house of the late General Lamberton occupied a part of the ground, being in what is now the most populous part of the town. There are no remains of the fort to mark its precise locality. The creek bearing the Indian name of Conedoguinet flows to the northward from where this fort was established. The Historical Map of Pennsylvania, however, places its site on the western bank of a small stream, tributary to this Indian creek, the name of the tributary stream being most likely Letort creek. The cause leading to the erection of this fort was mainly owing to various bands of Indians who occupied the territory between the Susquehanna and Potomac rivers. These bands consisted principally of the Delawares, Shawanese and the Tuscarora tribes. They had been for a considerable period prior to this time, regarded peaceable toward their white neighbors.
In the same year that this fort was erected, John O'Neill, an agent of Governor Hamilton, had a talk with these various bands of Indians, in Path Valley; but it was never known what took place on that occasion or in that interview, as history is silent upon that subject. When these bands of Indians began to be troublesome, the settlers formed under the command of Captain Jack, who was considered one of the most remarkable characters in the Province of Pennsylvania and was regarded as a bold, daring, intrepid soldier, and as ardent in his affections and zealous in his occupations as a hunter as he was courageous in his military pursuits, and he it was who by the combined efforts of all the settlers in the neighborhood, resisted their invasions. So rapid were the movements of these bands of marauding redskins that at one time these companies would be at Fort Augusta, then at Fort Franklin, then at the Juniata, or Fort Loudoun or down among the Conococheague settlements. And many were the outrages committed by these people, between the Conococheague settlements and the Juniata river.
War raged with the Indians for upwards of a period of twelve years and this it was that led to the erection of this and other forts in the Cumberland Valley and the Conococheague settlements. This fort was constructed in the following manner: Around the area to be embraced within the fort a ditch was dug to the depth of about four feet. In this, oak logs or logs of some kind of timber not easily set on fire or cut through, and about seventeen or eighteen feet long, pointed at the top, were placed in an upright position. Two sides of the logs 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 sides, so as to make the whole stockade firm and staunch. The ditch having been filled up again, platforms were constructed all around the inner side of the inclosure some four or five feet from the ground and upon these the defenders of the fort stood and fired through loop-holes left near the top of the stockade upon those who were investing or attacking the fort.
It was at this fort that Governor Morris was stationed June 5th, 1755, for the purpose of being nearer to Braddock's army, in order to give counsel and aid and for such other matters as could be expected of him under these circumstances, and while at this place he received the last letter ever written by Braddock, the lamented English soldier recounting in his correspondence with Governor Morris the troubles out in the neighborhood of Fort Duquesne. And Governor Morris, from this fort, also despatched several letters and messages to the British General so soon to be cruelly butchered by the savages.
Some time in the fall of this year, 1755, the citizens of Carlisle were very greatly alarmed in consequence of numerous massacres by the Indians. John Armstrong, therefore, writes Governor Morris, November 2d, "I am of opinion that no other means than a chain of blockhouses along or near the south side of the Kittatinny mountains from the Susquehanna to the temporary line can secure the lives and properties of the old inhabitants of this county, the new settlements being all fled except those of Shearman's Valley, who, if God do not preserve them, we fear will suffer very soon."
In a letter dated, Carlisle, February 15, 1756, William Trent writes to Richard Peters:
"Wednesday evening two lads were taken or killed at the Widow Cox's, just under Parnell's Knob, and a lad who went from McDowell's Mill to see what fire it was, never returned, the horse coming back with the reins over his neck; they burnt the house and shot down the cattle. Just now came news that a party of Indian warriors were come out against the inhabitants from some of the Susquehanna towns, and yesterday some people who were over in Shearman's Valley discovered fresh tracks. All the people had left their houses, betwixt this and the mountain, some come to town and others gathering into the little forts. They are moving their effects from Shippensburg; every one thinks of flying unless the Government fall upon some effectual method, and that immediately, of securing the frontiers, there will not be one inhabitant in this Valley one month longer.
"There is a few of us endeavoring to keep up the spirits of the people. We have proposed going upon the enemy tomorrow, but whether a number sufficient can be got, I cannot tell; no one scarce seems to be effected with the distress of their neighbors and for that reason none will stir but those that are next the enemy and in immediate danger. A fort in this town would have saved this part of the county, but I doubt this town in a few days, will be deserted, if this party that is out should kill any people nigh here. I was of opinion the forts, as they were built would be of no service; I was laughed at for it, but now the inhabitants here are convinced of it. I wrote for the militia and expect an answer, etc."
We also here insert the correspondence between Commissary Young and Governor Morris, relative to this fort:
"I have endeavored to put this large fort in the best possible defense I can; but am sorry to say the people of this town cannot be prevailed on, to do anything for their own safety. I proposed to them to associate and to place a picket guard at a small distance from the fort, to prevent being surprised, but to no purpose, they say they will guard when there is danger, though the enemy is now committing murder but ten miles from them. They seem to be lulled into fatal security, a strange infatuation, which seems to prevail throughout this province."
Colonel Armstrong writes to Governor Morris July 23d, 1756, as follows:
"Lyttleton, Shippensburg and Carlisle (the two last not finished) are the only forts now built that will in my opinion be serviceable to the public. The duties of the harvest have not permitted me to finish Carlisle Fort with the soldiers, it should be done otherwise, the soldiers cannot be so well governed, and may be absent or without the gates at the time of the greatest necessity."
On June 28, 1757, Col. Stanwix writes from Carlisle: "I march a Captain's picket two or three times a week as scouting parties. I am throwing up some works round our camp and if it may have no other use, it keeps our soldiers properly employed." A few days before, he wrote Governor Denny: "By this express, I am to let you know that I only wish for wagons to March to Shippensburg, but when I shall be able to set out, it is impossible for me to say, as in two days notice I have yet been able to get but few wagons, and those my quartermaster stocked himself, however the magistrates give me to hope I shall be supplied in a day or two. The reason of my moving is the hearing of intelligence from Captain Dagworthy, who commands at Fort Cumberland."
Colonel Armstrong writes, under date, Carlisle, June 30th, 1757: "Colonel Stanwix has begun and continues his entrenchment on the northeast part of this town and just adjoining it."
By a reference to Volume twelve o the Pennsylvania Archives, first series, we have the following relative to this fort:
On the 30th of June, John Armstrong writes to _____(name not given): "Tomorrow we begin to haul stone for the building of a meeting house on the north side of the square. There was no other convenient place, I have avoided the place you once pitched upon for a church. The stones are raised out of Colonel Stanwix's entrenchment. We will want help, to this political, as well as religious work."
Colonel Stanwix, on July 25th, writes to Secretary Peters:
"Am at work at my entrenchment, but as I send out such large and frequent parties, with other necessary duties can only spare about seventy working men a day, and these have been very often interrupted by frequent and violent dust, so that we make but a small figure yet, and the first month was entirely taken up in clearing the ground, which was full of monstrous stumps, etc. Have built myself a hut in camp, where the Captains and I live together."Had Colonel Stanwix two entrenchments and was the first one abandoned by him, being that alluded to by Colonel Armstrong above?"
On September 5th, 1757, Lord Loudoun sends from New York the Second battalion of the Royal Regiment to re-inforce Colonel Stanwix. October 22d, 1758, General Forbes recommends one hundred men to be at Shippensburg and Carlisle, and it appears at some time, during this year, there were two companies or fourteen men stationed at the latter place. January 5th, 1764, General Gage ordered the King's troops from Carlisle to Lancaster, if required by Governor Penn, "To support the civil authority in the execution of the law."
This fort, no doubt, was called after an English nobleman, a relative of the Penns. It presents less of the exciting tales incident to savage warfare and incursions than many of the forts hitherto treated of, but this is accounted for by the fact that this section early became a centre of peace and counsel rather than one of hostile contention; being remote from the seat of Indian warfare, to the north, the west and southwest.
The Historical Map of Pennsylvania places this fort in the town of Shippensberg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. It was built in the year 1755the same year in which General Braddock made his fateful march against the French and Indians beyond the Alleghenies. The ground on which Fort Morris was located, in Shippensburg, is on a high bluff of rocks on the main street of the town and is about twenty feet higher than the grade of the street. It commands an eminent view from all parts of the country; thus, in point of location, it was for a place of defence one of the best adapted for a fort in that section. Its present ownership is vested in the Mount Moriah Baptist Church.
There had probably been a fort for some time also in Shippensburg, called Fort Franklin, and tradition reports that it stood on a steep, rocky bluff near the west end of the town, sometimes called the Bull's Eye, from a large round opening in the gable. The remains of the walls stood there until 1836, and a schoolhouse has since been erected on the site. The fort commenced at Shippensburg, in 1755, was called Fort Morris, after the Governor of that name. Was finished in 1756 and 57 under the direction of Colonel Burd. It was probably near the northeastern end of the borough on land owned by the late William McConnell, and known as The Fort, where a well dug for the use of the garrison still exists. (Kennedy's Historical Sketches in American Volunteer of 1871.)
Other authorities make these forts in Shippensburg exchange places, and put Franklin on the northeastern part and Morris on the western part of the borough. We read in 1755 of Fort Morris and in 1756 of Fort Franklin. As early as November 2d, 1755, James Burd writes from Shippensburg:
"We have one hundred men working at Fort Morris, with heart and hand every day. The town is full of people, five or six families in a house, in great want of arms and ammunition; but, with what we have we are determined to give the enemy as warm a reception, as we can. Some of our people have been taken prisoners, but have made their escape, and came into us this morning * * * * *
General Braddock's army had been defeated in the preceding July, and the Indians, flushed with victory and prompted to the commission of deeds of atrocity and violence by the French, were prowling along the entire frontier settlements and making forays, slaughtering men, women and children, carrying some into captivity, burning houses and barns, and spreading desolation and ruin throughout the valley; hence the necessity of an early completion of this place of shelter and protection.
Fort Morris, as before stated, was built on a rocky hill, at the western end of the town. The brick school house now standing there, which was erected some thirty-five years ago, stands within the boundary of the fort, the foundation of a part of which can still be traced. The walls were about two feet in thickness and were of stone, taken from a quarry a few yards west of where it stood. These walls were very substantially built of small stones, with mortar which became as hard as cement. There were openings in them several feet from the ground, but whether these were intended simply as places for the admission of light or for some other purpose, is not clear. The roof, together with all the timber used in the construction of the building, had been removed years before 1821. The portion of the wall, which remained at that time was torn down in 1836 by a party engaged in a drunken frolic. It would appear from the following entry, which is taken from the quit rent book of the heirs of Mr. Shippen, that after the Indian trouble had subsided, Mr. S. had taken possession of the fort and leased it as a dwelling:
"Stone House on the Hill, at west end of Shippensburg, with about twenty acres of cleared land; October 31st, 1781, Walter Welsh, a balance for one-half rent of eight years to March 1st, 1781. 6 pounds, Pennsylvania currency."
The book from which the entry is taken, contains payment of quit rents from other parties, down to 1795; but it is probable that after that date the building became untenantable, and was no longer occupied as a dwelling. The twenty acres of land spoken of must have included a portion of what is now within the limits of Spring Hill cemetery. A number of cabins were built on the hill near the fort but not a vestige of them remained in 1821.
On June 30th, 1755, by a letter referred to, there must have been a fort of some kind here, as Edward Shippen alludes to the same at that date, to William Allen from Shippensburg, in which he sends an account of murders "committed near our Fort." This may have been only a temporary stockade or defence for the protection of cattle and provisions, etc., as suggested by Mr. Shippen, and he further suggests that the magazine ought to be protected by twenty or thirty soldiers and a stockade built.
Mr. Swain writes to Governor Morris from Shippensburg, July 30th, 1755. * * * * * * "I suppose the people will now come fast into these parts and shall use all the expedition in forwarding a Fort. I have pitched on a piece of ground of Mr. Shippen's, and the timber about here is all his, therefore should be glad, he was to write about it, etc."
Shortly after this period, the French and their Indian allies, emboldened by their success, pushed their incursions into these parts, and many were the scenes of murder, and burning of houses for a considerable period, and the apprehension of those who feared the direful consequences of Braddock's defeat, were sadly realized. After this horrible defeat, followed massacres beyond description. Shingas and Captain Jacobs, the Delaware warriors, were supposed to have been the principal instigators of them, and a considerable reward was offered for their heads. And it was at this juncture that dead bodies of some of those murdered and mangled were sent from these settlements to Philadelphia, to inflame the minds of the Quakers against the Indians, whose mild forbearance was attributed to their remissness, the result of which was that a reward was offered for these heads.
August 7th, 1755, James Burd, is instructed to get together the people immediately and build a fort and that he was to get pine logs and black oaks from saplin lands. If Mr. Swain and you differ in judgment about the fort, let me know it privately. And again he writes to Mr. Burd, expressing the hope that the building of the fort is moving on rapidly and you may expect the Governor before his return..
On the 30th of October, 1755, a meeting was called by Sheriff Potter, of (Cumberland county, at Shippensburg, at which it was resolved to build five large forts. One of the places designated was Shippensburg, so that it was probably about this time that Fort Morris was erected. Although in July of that year, Edward Shippen writes from Lancaster to Governor Morris: "If you think I can be of any service by going to procure pastures and by riding to Shippensburg to encourage the people to erect a fort, I will strain a point and undertake the business."
On November 2d, 1755, Colonel Burd writes from Shippensburg that they are in great confusion, from having received information that a large body of French and Indians are in the Cove intending to fall upon this place. "We for these few days past have been working at our fort here, and believe we shall work this day (Sunday) this town is full of people, they being all moving in with their families, etc., we are in great want of arms and ammunition; but, with what we have, are determined to give the enemy as warm a reception, as we can. Some of our people have been taken prisoners, by this party, and have made their escape from them and came in to us this morning. As our Fort goes on with great vigor, we expect it to be finished in fifteen days, into which we intend to throw all the women and children. I would be greatly encouraged could we have reason to expect assistance from Philadelphia, by private donations of swivels, a few great guns, small arms and ammunition."
Governor Morris writes to Major Burd, dated at Harris Ferry: "When, you return from Shippensburg, I would have you bring with you, to this place the thirty men belonging to Colonel Clapham's Regiment, now posted there, under Lieutenant Courtland, and you will order Mr. Courtland to attend Colonel Armstrong, for his orders, as I shall direct him, to take post in one of the Forts on the west side of the Susquehanna."
Colonel Armstrong dates a letter from Fort Morris, November 21st, 1756, April 10th, 1757, Shippensburg is named by the Governor as one of the forts which were to remain over the Susquehanna to be garrisoned by two of the eight companies of Colonel Armstrong's battalion, two in each fort, by whom patrols could be kept constantly marching between fort and fort.
Thus, by these last detached paragraphs, being all the facts referred to in letters, prove certainly the existence of Fort Morris, and that it was in all probability erected in 1755, by Colonel James Burd, though it is probable that there might have been a hasty stockade fort erected, because of the incursions of the Indians. The town of Shippensburg, with the exception of York, was the oldest town in Pennsylvania west of the Susquehanna, having been laid out about 1749 by Mr. Shippen, who owned the land, and who had some intention of building a mill in 1754.
It is said that a second fort was built and called Franklin; many have advanced this idea that Governor Morris ordered the erection of the fort and that Franklin had superintended the construction, and hence from that there may have been the confusion of names.
Another letter says: The village of Shippensburg was laid out by Mr. Shippen, the proprietor of the land. As before stated, it was the oldest town, with the exception of York, and for a time consisted of but a few houses. The stockade fort was soon superseded by Fort Morris, erected in the latter part of 1755 by the Province. The fort was at the southwestern side of the hill of some elevation, which gave it a commanding position. Convenient was a spring at the base of the hill, which supplied its garrison and inmates with water. The stone chimneys of buildings within the fort remained standing in part until some years since, by their fall and ruins marking the site. The fort, like Loudoun, had generally a small garrison of Provincial troops and was used as a place of deposit for arms and ammunition, and military supplies, as well as provisions for the armies or military companies on the frontier or when marching west."
We find the names of two of Pennsylvania's greatest men in the Colonial or Provincial times thus perpetuated in connection with these early frontier defences against the savagesFranklin and Morris.
The Historical Map of Pennsylvania is silent as to the date of the erection of this fort; but notwithstanding all the confusion that has arisen between the names Forts Franklin and Morris, the writer is of the opinion, with what data he has at hand, that this fort, as well as Fort Morris, had existence at Shippensburg. Fort Franklin was located on Burd street, in the northeastern side of the town, and is supposed to have been established as early as 1740. The ground on which Fort Franklin was erected is now full of residences and owned by different parties. The ground was last owned by Mr. John Hosfeld, and he owns considerable yet. The old well mentioned in connection with this fort is still visible, thus establishing, beyond doubt, that there was a fort erected on this spot.
The writer has been furnished some data by Mr. John C. Wagner, editor of The News, at Shippensburg. Various accounts have been written from time to time relative to Fort Franklin, all of which appear to be somewhat at variance. Some writers have expressed doubt as to it ever having had an existence; others located it at the western end of the town, whilst others asserted that it was built of stone and none of them dated its existence further back than 1756.
Owing to the rapid increase of population before 1740, the Indians of this section began to exhibit alarming symptoms which became evident to the settlers, and caused considerable uneasiness. In order to be prepared for any emergency, the citizens of the town, met at the public house of the widow Piper to consider the propriety of providing some place of safety in case there should be a surprise. The meeting agreed that such provisions should not be delayed; but in order to obtain the co-operation of those who resided in the surrounding country an adjournment was had and a day named for the second meeting, to which the entire male population of the surrounding country were invited. At that meeting it was decided that a log fort should be erected on the northwestern side of the town. A time was fixed upon, when the people assembled, cut the logs and put up the building in a very few days. This was in the early part of the year 1740. During the autumn of that year, Governor Thomas sent a garrison of twenty-two men to the fort. As there was no water convenient to the fort, the soldiers, with the assistance of some of the people of the town and such as were willing to aid in this behalf, dug a well, within the outward enclosure of the fort. This well was filled up with stones and rubbish about fifty years ago, but its location is still visible in Burd street, just outside of a field belonging at present to Mr. John Grabill, known as Fort field. My impression is, that this fort had no name until 1755, when it was called Franklin, to distinguish it from Fort Morris, which was then in process of construction.
Edward Shippen, in a letter to William Allen, dated June 30th, 1755, gives an account of murders committed "near our Fort." In that year a garrison of fifty men was stationed in Fort Franklin. This fort was subsequently enlarged by adding several sections to it. After the Indian troubles of 1763 were over, these various sections were occupied by private families. As it was looked upon as the property of the people at large, no care was taken of it, and it soon began to decay, became untenantable, and was torn down about the year 1790. Some writer has stated that the Old Fort, built of logs and called Franklin, was afterwards during Governor Morris' administration torn away and a larger and a more commodious one constructed of stone, was erected on the same site and named in honor of Governor Morris. Another writer, whose article may be found in the appendix to the Pennsylvania Archives, says: "It is said that a second fort was built at Shippensburg, and called Franklin, but by whom and when erected, we have no information."
By some persons, it is thought this name was subsequently given to Fort Morris. The same writer says: "An old gentleman, Mr. J. J. (Joseph Johnston), who was born in the town and is now nearly ninety years of age, but with a strong mind and good memory, says there was a fortification at the northeast part of the borough on the land of the late William M. Connel, known by the name of The Fort, where the remains of a well dug for the use of the fort still exist. In the memory of Mr. J____, two or three log houses that constituted part of the fort were still standing and were occupied by families. From Mr. Johnston's account of it there cannot be a doubt but that it was a log structure. In a conversation which was had with an old citizen of Shippensburg, in 1853, it was stated that no part of this fort was of stone; that when he was quite a young man, he had assisted in tearing the various sections of it down, and that some of the logs of which it was constructed were in a good state of preservation.
The history of these two forts, located in such close proximity, in the vicinity of where the town of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, now stands, adds another measure of significance to the history of that valley, having played a prominent part in the important historical epoch to which their history is confined, and they are worthy of a mark by the State to perpetuate early facts clinging historically to one of the oldest towns in this section of the State of Pennsylvania.
This fort, if it can be called one, was established in 1753, near Carlisle, as a trading house. James Letort, a trader, resided at Beaver Pond, near where Carlisle now stands. There is a creek in Cumberland county bearing the same name, and which forms a branch to the Conodoguinet. We have no data at hand as to any precise location, nor to its use as a fort.
This fort was established in 1755, and it is stated that George Croghan lived eight miles from the Susquehanna river along the North mountain. This fort has been treated of as being anterior in point of time to Fort Shirley at Aughwick, and all the indications point that that contention is correct. We stated in our report of forts, that George Croghan was an Indian trader and that he had a station on the mountain in Croghan's Gap, leading to Shearman's Creek Valley, all of which has been fully passed upon heretofore; we conclude that there was no fort bearing his name in this county.
Fort Dickey is placed by the Historical Map of Pennsylvania in Cumberland county, about ten miles west of the Susquehanna river, and on the south side of the Blue Hills, outspurs of the Kittatinny mountain. It was erected in the year 1764. Its prominence in the catalogue of early forts is without foundation. It seems to have been one of the numerous places of resort as a means of defence against the Indians.
Supposed to have been erected in 1764 near the present site of Carlisle Springs. It is marked on the Historical Map of Pennsylvania as being in the same latitude with Fort Dickey, and not far to the west of it, perhaps a mile or some little more.
This fort is supposed to have been erected about the same time as those above, and stood where the Conodoguinet creek cuts through the mountain, its site being in the northwestern corner of Cumberland county, at the junction of Cumberland, Perry and Huntingdon counties, and in the same latitude as the preceding two forts.
This fort is also mentioned in connection with the preceding three just treated of, and was located at or near Doubling Gap. Along with the others in this list it was regarded as a place of rendezvous for the settlers along the mountain. The writer is informed that these forts are unknown, the last three mentioned, to residents of Carlisle. Their meagre data is added for what it is worth, as it is not deemed proper to pass by any evidence, direct or indirect, tending to establish historical information in this regard.
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