REPORT OF THE COMMISSION TO LOCATE THE SITE OF THE FRONTIER FORTS OF PENNSYLVANIA.
CLARENCE M. BUSCH.
STATE PRINTER OF PENNSYLVANIA.
THE FRONTIER FORTS OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA.
FORT MACHAULT.Venango County.
French Fort Machault. 1753-9.
When the French took possession of the Ohio river region and began to erect forts, they did not come in the route of the expedition of 1749, but came by way of Presqu' Isle, thence across the country to French creek, and so down to the Allegheny. The first and second forts, called Presqu' Isle and Le Boeuf, were constructed in 1753. Some time late in the summer, while yet the fort at Aux Boeuf was building, Mons. Morin, the commander of the expedition, sent Monsieur Bite with fifty men to erect a third fort at a place which the Indians called Ganagarah'hare, at the mouth of French creek. (1.) The Indians, however, opposing his intentions, he was obliged to return; and the season being now too far advanced to think of completing the structure here, nothing more was done to that end.
Possession, however, was taken of the point by Captain Chabert de Joncaire, who, with several others, occupied a deserted house, which had been built and used by John Frazer, a Pennsylvania Indian trader. (2.) When Washington came to Venango in December, 1753, he found the French flag flying over this house. (3.)
In the meantime the workmen who had been left at Le Boeuf on the return of the main part of the forces to Canada, were engaged in preparing lumber and making boats for operation when the winter should break up. (4.) When spring arrived, and the French were ready to resume operations, the Indians did not offer any opposition, and work was begun. A saw mill had been erected on a little stream just above the site of the fort. The machinery for this mill had been brought from Canada. The oak and chestnut trees adjoining were cut down and sawn into timber to erect quarters for the soldiers. It seems to have been completed in April, 1754, under the superintendence of Joncaire. It was not an elaborate work, but suited to the circumstances. It was called Machault (5), after a celebrated French financier and politician. The name is not a familiar one here, but in every instance in which the Fort is spoken of by the French authorities, either here or in Canada, it is called Machault. By the English it was usually called the French Fort at Venango. (6.)
No accurate description or plan of Fort Machault was available until recently, and there was no positive certainty as to its exact location. The plan and map of the fort and of the region immediately surrounding it was made public as late as 1875. It is here produced. (7.) The fort is thus described: "Venango Fort is situated on a rising piece of ground, on a rich bottom, abounding with clover, sixty yards west of the Ohio. The north and south polygon is forty-five yards, and the east and west polygon thirty-seven yards. The bastions are built of saplings, eight inches thick, and thirteen feet in length, set stockade fashion. Part of the curtains are hewed timber, laid lengthwise upon one another, which also make one side of the barracks."
The body of the work was in the form of a parallelogram, in size about, seventy-five by one hundred and five feet, with bastions in the form of polygons at the four angles. The gate fronted the river. In the interior were the magazine, fifteen feet by eighteen feet, protected by a thickness of three feet of earth, and several buildings for officers barracks. Two of these were eighteen by fifty feet, with three others that were smaller. The barracks were two stories high and furnished with stone chimneys. A door in the northeastern bastion led to a large cellar. The soldiers barracks consisted of forty-four separate buildings, disposed around the fort, chiefly on the north and east sides.
At the saw mill, before spoken of, was prepared the lumber used for barracks, and perhaps for boats and barges to be used in conveying supplies for the camp and transportation down the river. Along the northern flank of the fort, and within fifty feet of it, there was a small stream that flowed from the neighboring hills and supplied the camp with water. On the present plan of the city of Franklin, Elk [illustration says Elm] street passes through the site of the fort, whilst its southern side reaches nearly to Sixth street. (8.)
This fort from the first was not intended to be more than a stronghold for a garrison and supplies on the line of the French occupancy from Lake Erie to the Forks of the Ohio. (9.) They, however, contemplated strengthening it as the occasion offered; and according to the statement of one John Adam Long, an escaped prisoner from the French (10), they were occupied during the winter of 1755 and summer of 1756 in collecting materials and making preparations to build stronger works.
Long said he was taken from Fort Duquesne about the last of April, 1756, to Venango, "where resided an officer in a small stockade fort with a command of forty men," and that a number of square logs had been "got together at that place sufficient to build a large fort on a pretty, rising ground in the Forks of Ohio and French creek."
In the account of an escaped prisoner from the Indians, William Johnson, late in 1756, it is said that there was "at Venango a Captain's command of about fifty men; the Fort of Stockades, very weak, and scarce of provisions; a few Indian families about the place; and that the new fort intended for that place not built." (11.)
From another statement (12) made somewhat later in the same year, it would appear the "small fort made of logs and stockades was mounted with nine cannon of a pretty large bore, and was generally garrisoned with a company of sixty soldiers, besides Indians, who to the number of about two hundred are lodged in cabins that have been built for them near the fort."
He further adds that the garrison had been "for some time employed in collecting and preparing materials for building a strong fort there next spring, and being apprehensive, having been informed by two deserters from Shamokin (Fort Augusta, Sunbury), that the Pennsylvanians had come to a resolution to march against them as soon as a body of men could be raised for that purpose."
From the examination of Michael Chauvignerie (13), taken down the 16th of October, 1757, the fort was said to be of wood, filled up with earth. It had bastions and six wall-pieces, or swivel guns; and the whole works took up about two acres of ground. There were at the fort fifty regulars and forty Canadians. No Indians were there, but they passed and repassed to and from a little town they have about seven leagues west from Fort Machault, called "Ticastoroga." (14.)
He said further that his father was a lieutenant of marines and commandant at Fort Machault, lately built and then finishing; that at the fort they expected soon a considerable reinforcement from Montreal; and that almost daily there dropped there some of the detachments passing from Montreal to Fort Duquesne. (15.)
He said the French planted "considerable pieces" of Indian corn about the forts for the Indians, whose wives and children do come to the forts for it, and there are they furnished with clothes at the King's expense, but that there are traders in the forts who purchase the peltry from the Indians. That there are several houses, but the people don t care to inhabit them at present, as they would be more liable to be scalped, and keep chiefly in the forts."
Post, in his journal for 7th of August, 1758, says: "By what I could learn of Pisquetumen, and the Indians who went into the fort, the garrison consisted of only six men, and an officer blind of one eye;" (16), and under date of November 30th, 1758, "The Fort at Venango is the smallest, and has but one officer and twenty-five men in it, and is much distressed for want of provisions, as is the two upper forts." (17.) An Indian spy found, about this time, at Machault, two officers and forty men, with De Lignerie in command.
Colonel Mercer, in a report from Fort Pitt, as of the 10th of May, 1758, (18), says: Cutfingered Peter is gone to Shamokin, (Fort Augusta, now Sunbury), two scalping parties were sent from Venango to infest the communication, and another, consisting of twenty over Lakes Indians were to go off about that time.
"There are about one hundred soldiers at Venango, and several officers, besides what are gone upon party with Indians. They are fitting up platforms and lining their stockade; have but a small quantity of flour, and give out that they are four hundred strong on this side of the Lake. That two hundred battoes are on their way, with five hundred soldiers besides Indians to reinforce them. They expect we will proceed up the river, and Le Narie is determined, as he says, to fight us in the woods. They have eleven battoes at Venango, and one great gun of the size of a quart pot which they fire off by a train of powder."
Colonel Mercer further reports, early in 1759, on the authority of Bull, an Indian spy, that there had been found at Venango two officers and forty men. La Marie was given as the name of the commander. The road was trod and good from Venango to Le Boeuf, and from thence to Presqu' Isle for about half a day's journey was very low and swampy, and bridged almost all the way. (19.)
After the loss of Fort Duquesne, and its occupancy by the English, Fort Machault became a place of much greater importance to the French than was originally contemplated. It served as a rallying place for the savages who were yet under their domination; and as they still entertained hopes of recovering Fort Duquesne, the armament and garrison at Machault, from all accounts, were greatly strengthened. At length it was determined to venture on the attempt to capture Fort Pitt. (20.) Fort Machault became the base of operations for this expedition, and all the men who could be spared were called here from the upper forts, and even from the far western posts of Kaskaskia and the Mississippi. (21.) Boats were built on French creek to transport the material and men. With great labor and difficulty they carried their provisions from most remote points, and by the middle of July, 1759, there were, at Venango, as has been estimated, nearly one thousand Frenchmen and the same number of Indians, with a sufficient number of boats to convey the whole force down the river. We may form some opinion, as it has been observed, of the number of boats from the statement that at Le Boeuf (Waterford) all the trees of sufficient size to make boats had been cut down, and the project advanced of making pirogues of sawed timber, such as they had seen the English use. These boats were probably "dug-outs," run either singly or bound together after the style of the catamaran. (22.)
But when all the arrangements had been made, and the expedition was about ready to start, orders suddenly came to abandon the project. The English were advancing against the French strongholds from different points of attack. Fort Niagara was one of the objective points, and it being a post of the greatest importance, (as its capture would cut off the French from the whole interior country), every effort was made to raise the siege. It therefore became necessary to draw the forces, both French and Indians, from the distant garrisons of Detroit, Presqu' Isle, Le Boeuf and Venango, and hasten them to Niagara. (23.)
This was in July, 1759. The order was given to evacuate the fort and destroy all the supplies there which they could not carry with them, and to dismantle and utterly destroy the fort. To the Indians were given much military apparel and provisions. Dusky warriors were tricked out in laced coats and cocked hats; swarthy maidens were made happy with presents of French calico and red blankets; strings of beads were thrown lavishly around the necks of papooses, all guileless of them before; flour which had been carried on the shoulders of men over those tiresome portages from Kaskaskia were distributed in lavish rations, and other stores were passed freely around among their red allies. All the perishable property was collected together within the fort, and the whole set on fire. The boats and batteaux were also consigned to the flames. The barracks, without as well as within the walls, were involved in one common ruin. The swivel guns, or wall pieces as they were called, were first disabled, then buried in the earth, and everything of value, removed from sight. This destruction was in accordance with instructions from the French government. Vaudreuil, Governor of Canada, in anticipation of an assault from the English, had instructed De Lignerie to "fall back successively upon Forts Le Boeuf and Presqu' Isle, and so completely destroy the works as to leave nothing behind that would be available to the enemy." The entire party took leave of their Indian allies, telling them that although they found it necessary to leave them now, they would return in a year and stay with them permanently. (24.) Then they took their way up the creek, and left the place forever. The French Creek Valley was left to silence and to savages. (25.)
There is no tangible evidence of the former existence of the French work. When Franklin was settled, there were some little mounds covered with briar bushes that were a visible token of the site, but all have now disappeared and we have but the points of the compass and the peaks of the hills to points of the location. (26.) This fort was succeeded by the English-American fort, Venango.
English Fort Venango, 1760-1763.
In August, 1759, about the time of the departure of the French from Venango, General Stanwix, the Commander-in-Chief of the British army in the middle colonies, arrived at Fort Duquesue. With the loss of Niagara and the abandonment of the three forts of Presqu' Isle, Le Boeuf and Machault, the direct contest between the English and the French in Western Pennsylvania came to an end. With the defeat of the French, the hostility of the Indians abated. On this point very little is heard for several years. In 1760 General Monkton visited the fort, and there held a treaty with the Indians, in which their nominal consent was obtained by the English to build forts and establish in the wild lands. The English now carried the war against the French into Canada; and in July of 1760, all the garrison that could be spared from Fort Pitt under General Monkton and Colonel Mercer was taken to Presqu' Isle as the base of operations, from thence destined against Montreal, the last stronghold of the French.
After the departure of the French from these posts they were soon occupied by the English. The fort at Venango having been destroyed utterly, a new one had to be built. This was done during the summer of 1760. The fort here built was garrisoned, and is the one properly known as Fort Venango.
"At this place an entirely new site was selected, and a new fort erected. Fort Machault was so thoroughly dismantled that there was nothing valuable left. The site for the new work was about forty rods higher up the river, and nearer the mouth of French creek. In the present plan of the town (of Franklin), Elk [illustration says Elm] street runs through the center of it, and the northern bastion extends out into Eighth street. It was a much more permanent and substantial work than that of the French. The original plan has been lost, but from the earth-works, yet in good condition at the early settlement of the country, a very good idea can be formed of its general features. The general outline was a square, with bastions projecting from the curtains. The enclosed area was eighty-eight feet square, with a blockhouse in the center. This was surrounded by a ditch twenty-four feet in width. Outside of this was the embankment, about eight feet in width, with bastions of earth on each side, and completely commanding all the angles of the fort." (27.)
Only a small garrison was stationed at Fort Venango by the English, under the command of Lieutenant Gordon, and from the time of their occupation until the treaty of peace between Great Britain and France, which was definitely ratified on the 10th of February, 1763, nothing of any great importance seems to have occurred on the Pennsylvania frontier. During this time the principal centre of importance for all the English posts in the west was Fort Pitt, and Venango was a subordinate garrison in the department.
Nothing unusual attaches to its history until the uprising of the tribes under Pontiac, when Venango being on the line of the English frontier, was made one of the objective points of the attack. This was in the spring of 1763, and Lieutenant Gordon, the senior officer on the line from Fort Duquesne to Presqu' Isle, (or Erie), was stationed here. In June the three posts were attacked, almost at the same time, and all fell. The garrison at Presqu' Isle, for the most part, were taken by their captors to Detroit. A few at Le Boeuf escaped; but all those who were at Venango were lost. While its destruction was complete, the details of the occurrence are meagre.
From the account of Ensign Price, who commanded at Le Boeuf, and who when it was in flames, made his escape with some of his garrison to Fort Pitt, was had the first knowledge of its terrible fate.
The terrible experience of Price and his companions is spoken of in the account of Le Boeuf, but we again refer to it here. After their flight from Le Boeuf, they pushed on all day, and reached Venango at one o'clock of the following night. Nothing remained but piles of smouldering embers, among which lay the half burned bodies of its hapless garrison. They now continued their journey down the Allegheny. On the third night their last biscuit was consumed, and they were half dead with hunger and exhaustion before their eyes were gladdened at length by the friendly walls of Fort Pitt. Of those who had straggled from the party, all eventually appeared but two, who, spent with starvation, had been left behind, and no doubt perished." (28.)
"Not a man remained alive to tell the fate of Venango. An Indian, who was present at its destruction, long afterwards described the scene to Sir William Johnson. A large body of Senecas gained entrance under pretense of friendship, they closed the gates, fell upon the garrison, and butchered them all except the commanding officer, Lieutenant Gordon, whom they forced to write, from their dictation, a statement of the grievances which had driven them to arms, and then tortured over a slow fire for several nights till he expired. This done, they burned the place to the ground, and departed." (29.)
The ruins of Fort Venango were within the recollection (lately) of a number of the older citizens of Franklin, and many relics were found by the early settlers, including gun-barrels, locks, musket balls, knives, pieces of burnt iron and stone, melted glass, &c. (30.) But in referring to the same subject, it is said by a later authority, that "in the old days of militia musters, it was the custom to march down there and then march around the top of the earthwork. The earthwork presented a broad esplanade, suitable for the purpose, and a common resort at such times. But it has all passed away to make the approach to the Allegheny bridge, and gradually the other works were removed to fill up the ravines and form a smooth and even course for the street. The remains of the earthworks were visible until within the last twenty years, when the last vestige was swept away." (31.)
Mention of the place in connection with the upper forts from Pittsburgh, or in connection with the Indian incursions, is found in the Archives and Records, and in the correspondence or journals of individuals, down to the end of the Revolution. Nothing of unusual importance would appear to have been connected with the location during all this time. Colonel Brodhead, commanding the Western Department, had permission from General Washington to establish a post at Venango in the early part of 1779 (32); but nothing noteworthy seems to have been done. (33.) The Revolution had long been over when the occasion arose for another fort near the site of Fort Venango.
The close of the Revolution did not bring lasting peace with the Indians of the Northwest. At the end of the war settlements were attempted along the upper Allegheny and the contiguous territory; but on many occasions the settlers were obliged from the turbulent disposition of the Indians and the unsettled state of affairs to return to Fort Pitt or gather close to the other forts. Owing to this state of affairs, and the apprehension of another general Indian war, the Government of the United States decided to erect a military post at Venango. In the spring of 1787 a company of regular troops, under the command of Captain (afterward Major) Jonathan Heart, (who had received his orders on the 10th of April), arrived here from Fort, Pitt for that purpose. The company, including officers and men, numbered eighty-seven; and in addition to this number there were perhaps a dozen of other persons not immediately connected with the corps. Immediately on their arrival they commenced the erection of the fort, which they called Fort Franklin. The following extracts are from the Military Journal of Major Ebenezer Denny for the 3d May, 1788.
About eight o'clock this morning, after passing one island, we entered the mouth of French creek. The fort stands half a mile up. Several miles below we were discovered by some Indians, who cut across and gave notice to Captain Heart of our approach. The arrival of General Harmar was announced with seven rounds of a six-pounder from the fort. Very kindly received by the captain and Lieutenant Frothingham, at the head of their command. The company reviewed and dismissed. Spent the day in examining Captain Heart's work, viewing the adjacent country and the old fortifications of the French and British. There is a fine flat of good land here, altogether on the lower side of French creek, but sufficient for several farms, the only flat land from Mahoning or Mogulbughtiton up * * * Captain Heart's fort, or Fort Franklin, as it is called, is built precisely after the plan of the one which had been erected by the British, called Venango. It is a square redoubt, with a blockhouse three stories high in the center; stands better than half a mile up French creek, upon very good ground, but the situation, in my opinion, is by no means so eligible as that of old Fort Venango, built by the English. The last work stood upon a commanding ground pretty close to the bank of the Allegheny, half a mile below French creek and a mile from Fort Franklin. The cellar wall and huge stack of chimneys of the blockhouse are of stone and yet quite entire. The parapet and some other parts remain perfect, and the whole work might have been built with half the labor and expense of that built by Heart. The only reason the captain could offer for taking new ground was the convenience of timber. (34.)
On the occasion of the Indian troubles of 1794, when there was very general apprehension that Cornplanter would break with the whites, and fall on the settlers of northern Pennsylvania, the fort, then found to be in a rather unsatisfactory condition, was again repaired. On June 29th, 1794, Andrew Ellicott writes in regard to Fort Franklin:
"On my arrival, the place appeared to be in such a defenceless condition, that, with the concurrence of Captain Denny, and the officer (Captain Heart) commanding at the fort, we remained there some time, and employed the troops in rendering it more tenable. It may now be considered as defensible, provided the number of men is increased. The garrison, at present, consists of twenty-five men, one-half of whom are unfit for duty, and it is my opinion that double that number would not be more than sufficient, considering the importance of the safety of the settlement on French creek."
The location of Fort Franklin has been criticised, with what justice we do not pretend to have an opinion. On this subject the following quotation partly refers:
"In place of locating it at the mouth of French creek, so as to command that stream, as well as the Allegheny river, they made their location about one hundred and eighty rods above the mouth of the former, and at a point that would not at all command the latter. The road from Fort Pitt to Le Boeuf crossed the creek within a few rods of the site selected for the fort, and, bad as the reason may appear, it was, perhaps, the only one that superinduced the selection of a spot on which to erect a fort so far from the mouth of the creek. It was a mere path then, but the fording was good, and the ascent of the opposite hill was the most practicable from it.
"The existence of this path, and the erection of the fort near it, induced those who settled here, at an early period, to make their location also as near as possible to both these supposed advantages. The town was established, the hotel built, and near this tract the merchant erected his stall and the mechanic his shop. Thus was the town, in time, built upon its present site, far from where strangers think it ought to be located.
"The fort was located immediately above and west of the south end of the French creek bridge, and consequently on the south bank of French creek. Like Fort Venango, it was a parallelogram, the outworks including about one hundred feet square. The works consisted of high embankments, outside of which arose tall, pine pickets, deeply and firmly sunk into the ground, securely fastened together and fastened at the top. These were sixteen feet high.
"There were four bastions on this work, surmounted by small cannon, the size not now known. Within the area formed by the ditches was a huge stack of chimneys in the center. In this building were the magazine and munitions generally. The huts of the soldiers were in the ditch around the blockhouse, and within the pickets.
"This fort was situated on a bluff bank of the creek, twenty-five or thirty feet high, and nearly perpendicular. To this day is distinctly to be seen a deep ditch running along the top, and near the edge of the bank, some one hundred and twenty (120) feet in length, up the creek. This was intended for a covered way leading from the fort to a small redoubt at the very margin of the creek, which was surmounted by two gunsfour-pounders, I think.
"The Garrison had what they called a green-house, or cave, in which they kept vegetables and meat, within a few feet of the excavation now being made at the end of the bridge, for the site of the new toll-house. A garrison of near one hundred, including officers and men, was kept in Fort Franklin until 1796, when what is familiarly known as the Old Garrison,' at the mouth of the creek, was erected.
"This was accomplished by the troops at the fort, and was erected at a point more convenient for receiving provisions and munitions brought up by the boats on the river from Pittsburgh. The Garrison was a strong wooden building, a story and a half high, and perhaps thirty or forty feet in length. It was picketed in, but not calculated to be mounted with cannon. Indeed, the necessity for this had ceased, as the treaty of Gen. Wayne with the Indians at Fort Greenville had been made in August, 1795, and which was then believed, as it proved to be, a lasting peace."
The troops removed from the fort, which was from that time suffered to dilapidate, and occupied the Garrison. This they continued to do until 1803, when they were withdrawn from Franklin altogether. Fort Franklin soon went entirely to ruin. The stone in the chimneys, like those in Fort Venango, were hauled away by the citizens of the place, and used in building foundations and chimneys for private dwellings.
THE OLD GARRISON.
This fort (Franklin) was occupied for nine years, or until 1796, when a new and more sensible selection was made and a new fortification erected at the mouth of the creek. This was called subsequently the "Old Garrison." There was no longer any danger to be apprehended only from predatory squads of Indians; and the possibility of these incursions was daily growing less. (35.) The old fort was dismantled as the new one was occupied, and in time its pickets fell, its ditch filled up, and the citizens of the new town took the stone of the large chimneys to assist in the construction of their dwellings. Time and the spirit of improvement have now swept away the last vestige of old Fort Franklin. Its position can only be learned from the map and the recorded history of the times.
"The Old Garrison' was the fourth fortress that was erected for defense. The site was changed again, and to a more sensible locality. This was just at the mouth of French creek, where there would be a view of both creek and river. It was built in 1796. The location was down in the bottom near the foot of Tenth street, near the creek. The site is now covered with water, with no landmarks to locate it, and will soon be referred to only by tradition. The building had no high-sounding name, but was always known as the Old Garrison.' It was a strong wooden building, without ditch or bastions or embrasure. In plain language, it was a log house, strongly built, and well fortified. It was a story and a half high, and thirty by thirty-six feet square. Outside it had the invariable line of pickets to avoid being surprised by the Indians. These pickets were simply small, round logs set in the ground close together and from ten to fifteen feet in length. In this the government kept troops stationed from the time of its erection until 1799, when all apprehension of trouble with the Indians having subsided, they were withdrawn, and the infant town was left to its own resources for defense against the savages who were now on friendly terms and desirous only of trade and traffic."
The "Old Garrison" was not dismantled or left to fall into decay for many years after there ceased to be any use which its construction originally contemplated. Upon the organization of Venango county in 1805, the building was utilized for the purposes of a jail, and continued in use for that purpose until 1819, when the jail was built on the South Park. After this the work of dilapidation commenced. It remained standing, though in ruins. The storms beat against it; the walls fell and decayed; the high waters of the creek encroached on its foundations, and in time it disappeared entirely. (36.)
Notes to Fort Machault.
(1.) The following is from the Deposition of Stephen Coffen, who was for a time a prisoner among the French in Canada. The deposition was made on the 10th of January, 1754, to Colonel, afterwards Sir William Johnson, at New York. This paper, one of the greatest historic value, is preserved among the State Archives of New York, and has been copied into our State Archives from thence. Regarding this place and its first occupancy, the deposition says:"
As soon as the Fort [at Lake Erie] was finished, they marched Southward, cutting a Waggon Road through a fine level Country twenty-one Miles to the River Aux Boeufs (leaving Captain Derponteney with an hundred Men to garrison the Fort La Briske Isle); they fell to work cutting Timber, Boards, &c., for another Fort, while Mr. Morang ordered Monsieur Bite with Fifty Men to a Place called by the Indians Ganagarahhare,[This is the original name of the ancient Indian village of Venango, now Franklin] on the Banks of Belle Riviere, where the River aux Boeufs empties into it; is the meantime Morang had Ninety large Boats or Battoes made to carry down the Baggage and Provisions, &c., to said Place. Monsieur Bite on coming to said Indian Place was asked what he wanted or intended. He, upon answering it was their Father the Governor of Canada's Intention to build a Trading House for their and all their Brethren's Convenience, was told by the Indians that the Lands were their's, and that they would not have them build upon it. The said Monsieur Bite returning, met two Englishmen, Traders, with their Horse and Goods, whom they Bound and brought Prisoners to Morang, who ordered them to Canada in Irons [These are the two men spoken of in Washington's journal, named by him John Trotter and James McCloclan]. The said Bite reported to Morang the Situation was good, but the Water in the River aux Boeuf too low at that time to carry down any Craft with Provisions, &c.; a few Days after the deponent says that about one hundred Indians, called by the French the Loos, [spelled by the French, Loups], came to the fort La Riviere aux Boeuf to see what the French were doing; that Monsieur Morang treated them very kindly, and then asked them to carry down some Stores, &c., to the Belle Riviere on Horseback for Payment, which he immediately advanced them on their undertaking to do it. They set off with full loads, but never delivered them to the French, which incensed them very much, being not only a loss but a Disappointment. Morang, a man of a very peevish, choleric Disposition, meeting with those and other crosses, and finding the Season of the Year too far advanced to build the Third Fort, called all his Officers together and told them that as he had engaged and firmly promised the Governor to finish the Three Forts that Season, and not being able to fulfill the same, was both afraid and ashamed to return to Canada, being sensible he had now forfeited the Governor's Favour forever; wherefore, rather than live in Disgrace, he begged they would take him (as he then sat in a carriage made for him, being very Sick some time) and seat him in the middle of the Fort and then set Fire to it and let him perish in the flames, which was rejected by the Officers, who (the Deponent says) had not the least regard for him, as he had behaved very ill to them all in general."
(2.) John Frazer, by birth a Scotchman, had been licensed by the State authorities of Pennsylvania as an Indian trader in 1748. He removed from Venango when the French came there and located on the Monongahela river at the mouth of Turtle creek, near the present location of the Edgar Thompson Company's works, at Braddock.
(3.) "We found the French colors hoisted at a house from which they had driven Mr. John Frazer, an English subject. I immediately repaired to it, to know where the commander resided. There were three officers, one of whom, Captain Joncaire, informed me that he had the command of the Ohio; but there was a general officer at the near fort, where he advised me to apply for an answer. He invited us to sup with them, and treated us with the greatest complaisance." [Washington's Journal, Dec. 4th, 1753.]
This Joncaire was the younger, a son of the more celebrated Joncaire, who, according to Charlevoix,"spoke the Indian language with the sublime eloquence of an Iroquois." [From Smith's History of New York.]
(4.) "Three hundred of which [the French-Canadians] remained to Garrison the Two Forts, Fifty at Niagara, the Rest all returned to Canada, and talked of going up again this winter, so as to be there the beginning of April. They had Two Six-Pounders and Seven Four-Pounders which they intended to have planted in the fort at Ganagarah'hare, which was to have been called the Governor's Fort, but as that was not built, they left the Guns in the Fort La Riviere aux Boeufs, where Morang commands." [Deposition of Stephen Coffen, Pa. Archives, vi, 2d series, 184.]
(5.) Jean Baptiste Machault was born at Amonville, France, December 10, 1701; in 1745 was the controller of finance; in 1750 keeper of the seals; succeeded to the home department in 1750; in 1794 was imprisoned by the Revolutionary government; and died the same year at the age of ninety-three. [History of Penna., by Wm. H. Egle, M. D., p. 1123.
(6.) Monsieur Pouchot, in his memoirs, speaks of it rather contemptuously: "At its mouth (River aux Boeuf), called in English, Venango, the French had a very poor, mean fort called Fort Machault, which is also an entrepot for that which is going down to Fort Duquesne." (1754-5?) [History of Penna., by Dr. Egle, p. 1124.]
(7.) This map was found among the papers of the late Judge Shippen, who was appointed judge of the judicial district to which Venango county belonged, in 1825, and who after his appointment took up his residence at Meadville, Crawford county. He came from Philadelphia, bringing with him a great number of papers, which were placed in the attic of his house and not opened until after his death. Some time after this event they were opened by the late J. C. C. Kennedy, when the map was brought to light after its long oblivion. Judge Shippen was the grandson of Edward Shippen, frequently mentioned in Pennsylvania Provincial affairs. The plan and dimensions of Fort Burd or Redstone Old Fort, as given in the Pa. Arch.. xii. 347, were found among the papers of Joseph Shippen, who was an engineer who accompanied Colonel Burd, and who is supposed to have planned that fort.
The circumstances that the annotations to this plan are in the English language; that the name Machault does not occur on it; that the road leading westward is marked "Road to Pittsburgh," and that the creek is named French creek, a name it never bore among the French, have given rise to various conjectures. If it is traceable through the Shippen family to the Joseph Shippen who was the engineer with Col. Burd, the explanation would appear to be that it was a copy of an authentic document, made by a professional man in the line of his profession, from a French original. It is called "Venango Fort," the common name by which it was known to the English; Pittsburgh was so called on the day after the occupancy of the point by the English, November 25th, 1758, and in early correspondence that place was called Pittsburgh more frequently than Fort Pitt; and the stream was generally known to the English as French creek from the time Washington mentions it in his journal, 1753.
The Allegheny here is called the Ohio, while the annotation, "Road to Le Boeuf" would indicate its approximate date, 1758-60.
(8.) History of Venango County, Edition 1890, p. 49.
(9.) In a memoir by Duquesne to the Marquis de Vaudreuil, 6th July, 1755, we have an early account of the advantages already resulting from the erection of this fort. Touching this subject, he has the following, which is reproduced as part of the documentary history of this fort.
"I must explain to the Marquis de Vaudreuil that much difficulty is experienced in conveying all sorts of effects as far as Fort Duquesne; for, independent of the Niagara carrying place, there is still that of Presqu' Isle, six leagues in length. The latter fort, which is on Lake Erie, serves as a depot for all the others on the Ohio; the effects are next rode to the fort on the River aux Boeuf, where they are put on board pirouges to run down to Fort Machault, one-half of which is on the River au Boeuf, and serves as depot for Fort Duquesne. (a.) This new post has been in existence only since this year, because it has been remarked that too much time was consumed in going in one trip from the fort on River au Boeuf to Fort Duquesne, to the loss of a great quantity of provisions which have been spoiled by bad weather. Tis to be hoped that, by dispatching the convoys opportunely from Fort Machault, everything will arrive safe and sound in twice twenty-four hours; besides, it will be much more convenient at Fort Duquesne to send only to Fort Machault for supplies. [Pa. Arch., vi, 2d ser., 253. Dated, Quebec, 6th July, 1755.]
(a.) As to this dispatch wherein Machault is said to be built "one-half on the Ohio and half on the Les Boeufs," Dr. Eaton, whose account of Fort Machault, as contained in his History of Venango County, has served as the basis of all the subsequent narrations, and is in substance the foundation of the authorities cited in other histories of that county, says "there is a mistake in this matter. No French writer even speaks of more than one fort. Nor do the English. The earliest settlers came here less than thirty years after the abandonment of the country by the French, and they found not a trace of any military works on the Point. The expression, half on the Ohio and half on the Les Boeufs, probably means that the fort was designed to cover both streams."
(10.) History of Venango County, Ed. 1890.
(11.) "An account of the Information of William Johnston, who has been prisoner among the Indians about 14 months, &c." [Endorsed Oct. 16, 1756. Arch., iii, 13.]
(12.) History of Venango County, 53.
(13.) "Examination of Michael Chauvignerie, Jr., a French officer, who surrendered himself near Fort Henry." [Arch., Iii, 294.]
(15.) Further examination of Michael La Chauvignerie, Jr. [26th Oct., 1757, Arch., Iii, 305.]
(16.) From Post's Journal. [Arch., Iii, 522.]
Aug. 7th."We arrived at Fort Venango, situated between two mountains in a Fork of the Ohio River. I prayed the Lord to blind them as he did the enemies of Lot and Elisha, that I might pass unknown; when we arrived, the Fort being on the other side of the River, we haled, and desired them to fetch us over, which they were afraid to do, but showed us a place where we might ford; we slept that night within half gun shot of the fort.
8th."This morning I hunted for my horse round the fort, within 10 yards of it; the Lord heard my prayer, and I passed unknown, till we had mounted our horses to go off; when two came to take leave, who were much surprised at seeing me, but said nothing. By what I could learn of Pesquecum and other Indians who were in the Fort, the whole Garrison consisted of only six men, and one, officer 'blind' of one eye."
Concerning this officer, there is mention in a report from Col. Mercer to Gov. Denny, dated at Pittsburgh, August 4th, 1759, whereby it appears he met his death in an attempt of the French to drive the English out of the trenches at Niagara, then invested by them. In these attempts "great numbers were killed on both sides, but most of the French officers that were on this river [the Allegheny] were killed or taken, particularly the blind Captain (called so by the Indians by his being blind in one eye), who commanded at Venango, killed, one Neverville, a great partisan, who used to go frequently with the Indians from this place against the frontier settlements of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, killed."
(17.) Penna. Archives, iii, 561, et seq.
(18.) Pa. Arch., Iii, 625.
(19.) Colonial Records, viii, 313.
(20.) In his report to Governor Denny, of July 17th, 1759, he says: "The first intelligence of the enemy's design we had from Presqu' Isle the 11th; the next from the Delawares, above Venango, the 13th; both which communicated to the General. The 15th we had the following accounts from two Six Nation Indians sent to spy at Venango, who left this place the 7th. They found at Venango seven hundred French and four hundred Indians. The commanding officer told them he expected six hundred more Indians; that as soon as they arrived, he would come and drive us from this place. Next day two hundred Indians came to Venango, and the same number the next day, and the third. They were all fitted off for the expedition by the 11th, at night; and three pieces of cannon brought from Le Boeuf, the others expected every hour, with a great many battoes loaded with provisions. In the morning of the 12th a grand council was held, in which the commander thanked the Indians for attending them, threw down the war belt and told them he set off the next day. The Indians consented, but were somewhat disconcerted by one of the Six Nations who gave them wampum, telling them to consider what they did, and not be in too great a hurry. Soon after, messengers arrived with a packet for the officer who held the council, at which he and the other officers appeared much concerned, and at length he told the Indians: Children, I have received bad news; the English are gone against Niagara; we must give over thoughts of going down the river till we have cleared that place of the enemy.' * * * Orders were immediately given to proceed with the artillery, provisions, &c., up French creek, which the spies saw set off, and the Indians making up their bundles to follow. They reckon there were upwards of one thousand Indians, collected from twelve different nations, at Venango." [Arch., Iii, 674.]
(21.) From Western Annals. , Albach, p. 157
"And to that all the French in the Valley had contributed. M. de Aubrey, commandant at the Illinois, brought to join the enterprise four hundred men, two hundred thousand pounds of flour, from Kaskaskia to Venango. Cut off by the abandonment of Fort Duquesne, from the route of the Ohio, he proceeded with his force down the Mississippi, and up the Ohio to the Wabash, thence up that river to the portage at Fort Miami, or Fort Wayne, and carried his stores over to the Maumee, passed down that river, and along the shore of Lake Erie to Presqu' Isle, and carried again his stores over the portage to Le Boeuf; thence descended French creek to Venango."
(22.) History of Venango County, Edition 1890, p. 54.
(23.) Sir William Johnson succeeded General Prideaux, who was killed by the bursting of a cohorn. [The Conspiracy of Pontiac, Francis Parkman, i, 125.]
(24.) On the 12th of August, 1759, Colonel Mercer writes to Governor Denny: "We have at last got rid of our neighbors at Venango, who to render their memory grateful among the Indians, made a virtue of necessity, and what they could not carry off, very liberally distributed to their friends. * * * Like true Frenchmen, they went off with a gasconade, telling the Indians, tho' they must run away at present, yet this river would be in their possession before the end of the year." [Pa. Records, viii, 394.]
(25.) History of Venango County, p. 55, et seq.
(26.) "There were found here by the first settlers several grape vines, of varieties not indigenous to this region. There was a black grape, very sweet and of a powerful aroma, that was propagated for many years; also a white variety that was fair to the eye and pleasant to the taste, and at that time a very desirable grape. But the transplanting and want of care as well as the crowding in of new varieties of native origin have taken their place, and both these species are now extinct. No doubt they were brought here by the French, and originally from France, as they could not be indigenous to Canada." [Id., 55.]
(27.) History of Venango County. Infra. On authority of Dr. Eaton.
(28.) The Conspiracy of Pontiac, Parkman, ii, 20.
Notes to Fort Venango.
(29.) Id., (a) quoting from Johnson Papers MS., Historical Collections of Pennsylvania.
(b.) After the fate of Venango was known to General Amherst, he wrote to Colonel. Bouquet on the 16th of July, as follows:
"My former orders for putting such of the Indians as are or have been in arms against us, and that fall in our power, to death, remain in force; as the barbarities they have committed on the late commanding officer at Venango (Gordon, whom they roasted alive during several nights) and his unfortunate garrison fully prove that no punishment we can inflict is adequate to the crimes of those inhuman villains."
(c.) From a letter written to Rev. S. J. M. Eaton, by Mrs. M. A. Irvine, of Erie, Pa., under date of January 20, 1876, when the venerable lady was over ninety-two years of age, is taken the following extract: "I must now tell you all I know about the old forts. The French fort was nearly obliterated, and where the pickets stood was grown up with blackberry bushes and grape vines. Both forts were near the bank of the Allegheny river; the British fort, a little farther up. There was a little stream running between them, which supplied the British garrison with water. They had an underground passage to it in order to be protected against the Indians, in the same way. The Indians in playing football, would roll their ball inside the enclosure, as if by accident, and were allowed to go in and get it. Having done so several times, at last, when the garrison was off its guard, they rushed in in a body and killed every soul except one woman, whom they carried to Canada. A sister of mine saw this woman afterwards at Fort Erie, and she then told her of the massacre." [Quoted in History of Venango County.]
The reader will recall the like stratagem of the Indians under Pontiac at the siege of Detroit. We have not seen this circumstance narrated as to the capture of Venango elsewhere, but it is partly corroborated in the account given to Sir William Johnson above.
Guyasutha was chief of the Senecas, and he had control of the operations, under Pontiac, in all this region during this uprising.
(30.) History of Venango County, Edition 1879, p. 65.
The location of Fort Franklin with respect to the landmarks made at that time, namely, the date of publication of the History of Venango County, edition 1890, is thus given (p. 58): "This fort was situated about forty rods above the site of Fort Machault. Elk street runs through the middle of its site, while its northern bastion just touched Eighth street. M. W. Sage's house is in the eastern ditch, and B. W Bredin's is on the opposite side."
(31.) History of Venango County, Edition 1890, p. 60.
(32.) Archives, xii, 113.
(33.) "Whether this fort was rebuilt and garrisoned by the English after this time is extremely doubtful. There is a gap in the history that we have not the means of filling up. The probabilities are that the country was abandoned until after the Revolutionary war, and the possession of the United States authorities." [History of Pennsylvania, by Dr. W. H. Egle, p. 1126.]
(34.) Military Journal of Major Ebenezer Denny, for 3d May, 1788.
Notes to the Old Garrison.
(35.) Arrangements in the meantime were being made for the settlement of the country in a systematic and less precarious way. In the summer of 1795, General William Irvine and Andrew Ellicott, with an escort of fifty men, were sent up from Pittsburgh to protect surveyors, and at the same time lay out a town at the junction of French creek and Allegheny river. They arrived here duly, accompanied by a corps of surveyors and escorted by a company of State troops under the command of Captain John Grubb. They laid out Franklin.
(36.) History of Venango County, Edition 1890. Quoting from "Democratic Arch.," Aug. 11th, 1842, et seq.
The last vestige of it, it is said, disappeared about 1824.
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