REPORT OF THE COMMISSION TO LOCATE THE SITE OF THE FRONTIER FORTS OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Vol.1, Thomas Lynch Montgomery, 1916.
Contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by Georgette Ochs.
Transcription is verbatim.
( Present Site of Fort Everett.)
This fort is located very near the town of Lynn Township, of Lehigh County. During the Indian wars the territory covered by the adjacent township of Albany, in Berks county and Lynn township, in what was then Northampton county, from which Lehigh county was taken, was known as "Allemeangel," meaning "All-Wants," from the arid character of a part of the land, as previously mentioned.
That part of the State was already well settled, and, with the outbreak of Indian hostilities in the Fall of 1755, an established military organization became a matter of necessity. Plans were accordingly laid and Benjamin Franklin sent up the Lehigh Valley to execute them. Our introduction to the subject now under consideration is an extract from a letter written Jan. 14, 1756, from Bethlehem, by Franklin to the Governor, in which he says, "To secure Lyn and Heidelberg Township, whose Inhabitants were just on the Wing, I took Trexler's Company into Pay, (he had been before commission'd by Mr. Hamilton) and I commission'd Wetterholt, who commanded a Watch of 44 men before in the Pay of the Province, ordering him to compleat his Company." (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 549.)
It also mentions the name of Wetterholt, which will appear before the reader more or less frequently in connection with the history of Lehigh and Northampton Counties. There were two Provincial officers of the same name, who were brothers. From "Murders by the Indians in Northampton County," written by Joseph J. Mickley in 1875, I glean the following brief account of each:
"Johann Nicholaus Wetterholt arrived in Philadelphia, October 22d, 1754, in the Ship Halifax, Thomas Coatam, captain, from Rotterdam. He was either a Hollander or a German, most likely the latter. In the same ship came a large number of German emigrants. He entered the military service, probably soon after his arrival in this country, as it appears by his having been commissioned Captain in the First Battalion Pennsylvania Regiment, December 21st, 1755, and by the different sums of money paid to him for his and his company's services, and for provisions, viz:
1756, April 29 - To Captain John Nicholaus Wetterholt, for his Company's pay, £332 3s. 0d.
1756, May 28 - To Captain John Nicholaus Wetterholt, for pay for himself and company and allowance for thirty-six guns furnished by his men, £166 5s. 6d.
1756, June 21 - Samuel Depuy, in full, for his account for purchasing provisions for a detachment of Captain Wetterholt's Company, £33 1s. 8d.
1756, Dec'r 15 - Samuel Depuy's order for victualling Captain Wetterholt's Company, &c., £108 1s. 8d.
In the year 1762, Captain Nicholaus Wetterholt resided in Heidelberg Township, Northampton County, now Lehigh, and his name is on the tax list of 1764, at the same place."
"Johann Jacob Wetterholt came to this country in the same vessel with his brother Nicholaus. He was commissioned Lieutenant in Major Parson's Town Guard, December 21st, 1755; in April 19th, 1756, as Lieutenant, stationed at Dietz's; and as Captain, in September 21st, of the same year; 1757, September 2d, he was paid, for enlisting 53 men in the Provincial service, £88 6s. 6d.
Captain Jacob Wetterholt possessed undaunted courage, which was accounted for in his firmly believing he had the power of making himself invulnerable (kugelfest); that is that he could not be killed by a gun shot; he was therefore well suited for the military service on the frontier. (He bravely met his death, however, in 1763, as will appear later.) In 1762, he resided in Lynn Township, now Lehigh County; his widow still resided there in 1764, as per tax list. George Wetterholt, formerly Sheriff of Lehigh County, living in Allentown, is his grandson."
It so chances that the two brothers, both eventually of the same rank, operated in the same general territory. They practically had charge of the country along the southern base of the Blue Range from Fort Everett to the Delaware River, and both reported to the same superior officer, Timothy Horsfield. Unfortunately, in the records of the time, the last name only is given in most cases, so that it becomes difficult in many instances to know which is meant. Wherever possible I will endeavor to specify the one intended. It may be generally taken for granted, in the case of Fort Everett, that wherever Captain Wetterholt is mentioned it refers to Nicholaus, and where the term "Lieutenant" is used it refers to Jacob.
Whilst it is true that the district of Allemeangel, south of the Blue Mountains, was quite populous, and that therefore, Fort Everett occupied an important position, yet, unfortunately, we have practically nothing recorded concerning it. This was doubtless owing to the fact that it was the only defensive station on that side of the mountain between the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, and, because the territory was so large, the garrison was ranging around the country literally all the time. Events, of any consequence, in and about the fort were probably, of necessity, few. We need not be surprised therefore to read much of the two Wetterholts and their doings, and but little of Fort Everett.
In fact, Fort Everett held somewhat of an anomalous position. Captain Wetterholt, who had charge of that part of the country, seems to have been in it but little, and it is even possible that it was not constantly occupied by a garrison of soldiers.
Whilst many occurrences were continually taking place, some of which will be given later, the first actual mention of the station is by Col. Weiser, on November 24th, 1756. He had just visited Fort Franklin and seen its poor condition; he also saw that most of the inhabitants lived south of the mountain, and concluded that its condition was of but little value. He accordingly says, "I ordered Lieu't Engle to Evacuate it, and come to the south side of the Hills himself with Nineteen men, at John Eberts, Esq'r, and the Rest being Sixteen men more, at John Eckenroad, both places being about three miles distant from each other, and both in the Township of Linn, Northampton County, until otherways ordered." (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 68.)
We do not know definitely whether Lieut. Engle did actually proceed as directed, or not, but it is altogether likely he did, for whilst Fort Franklin was not entirely abandoned until the Fall of 1757, we have no reason to doubt that during the latter part of 1757 it was certainly in charge of Capt. Wetterholt, and it is therefore possible that he may have garrisoned it even previous to that time, and that Lieut. Engle occupied Fort Everett as originally ordered. Even if such were the case Lieut. Engle was ordered away in the latter part of May, 1757, to take command of Fort Norris, and Fort Everett once more resumed its former status.
During this period the following petition was forwarded to the Governor. Whilst eminating from Lynn Township, it was intended to apply in a general sense, to the whole of Northampton County, south of the mountains, as far east as the Delaware:
Northampton County, Lynn Township, May 4 Day, 1757.
To His Onner, the Governor and Commander in Cheaf of the Provence of Pennsylvania:
Youre Most Humbly S'vant
These is to Acquant your Honner of the Difficultyes, Hardships and Dangers that youre Poore Pertitioners Ly Under at this Present Time, Being the Frunteeairs, and being yester Day A Coppy of an Express Sent to us and others from Mr. Parsons, Major, Which he reseaved from Cornel Wiser, that He was Credebly Informed by A frind Indian that a Grat Body of French and Indians Was one there march from Ahio Fort, Desined against Som parts of Pennsylvania, Minnesink, Patter Co. and som Murder Has Lately ben Don at the Minnesinks in this County, and Like Wise at Scoolkill in Barks County, and this is what wee was Desired and Warned to be one of our Gards, and to associate our Selves and others Immediately into Companies under Discreet officers of oure one Choice, But as youre Honner Vere well knows the Natour and Mis Manegment of the Generaty Part of the People, when that these are at thaire one freedom, without Some Paresns in Shap Authority to Compe them, and further wee Do Think it a Great Hard Ship that wee the Frontears, that is Almost Already Ruened By being Cep So much out of oure Laboure. Being the Poorer Sort of People at the Beginning, and the Loer Inhabentance the mean time Lyes Quiat and Ease and out of Danger, and wee Desire and Humbly Beg that your Honner Will Take oure Case into Consideration, and Cause Us to be Better Garded by Soldiers, at the expence of the Provence, while the Loer Inhabitance will be obliged to Baire Part of the Burden as Well as wee, and wee Do think that if the Gerresens that is Now Lying over the Blue Mountaine in the Forts was all Removed to This side of the Mountaine and Laid 4,6,8, or 10 men in a Good House at Not a grate Distance apart, and a Road Cut from one Plantation to the other, of About 3 or 4 Perches Broad, as the Plantations is Prete Neaire to Gether, on this Side of the Mountaine. We do think that it would Cause the Indians to be Afraid to Com in small Companies over the Road, as theaire yousel way is to Goo, for faire of Being taken agoing Back, for when Ever there is Murder Don within the Road there must be A Good Watch Cept on that Road to Take them as they Pas Back, and by Larem Guns there Can be many People Cald to Gether in Short Space of Time Besides the Soldiers, and further, the People in General is Removed from the other Sid of the Mountain and Dayre Not Goo to Live on theaire Plantations til Better times Excepting 2 or 3 famelyes Round Each Fort, and from the other Settlers on this Side of the Mountaine to the Forts is som 10, Som 16 miles to Fort Franklen, is to Fort Allen 10, to Fort Norres 16, to Fort Hambelton 16 miles. So that in Case of Nesety the Soldiers Can't Com to oure Assistance, nor Wee to Theairs Not in any Resenable Time, Til the Eneme would Be Gone Againe, for Wheaire they fal in They make No Long Stay, and Besides the Hills and Hallows is so bad over the Mountaine that the Indians might Destroy all the Wagens and Provishens Coming to the Fort, if they take Care to Wayley them in Som Deep Hallows, and the Soldiers as they are Scouting and marching from one Fort to the other, and at Present Leftenant Wetherhols Lyes in our Township with About 40 Men Against Fort Franklin, which is Now Empty of Soldiers, and he Expects Every Day to Receave order to March from us, there wil then Ly open without any Sholders abot 28 M'lds that there will be no Soldiers, and youre Patisionners Do umbly Beg that youre Honner Would Take oure Case Into Consideration, and not Let these Soldiers be Removed But Rather order more in these Parts, as in Dute Bound
Wee shall Ever Pray.
(Signed by 41 persons, whose names appear chiefly in German) (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 151.)
From this we see that Lieut. Wetterhold was then in Lynn Township "against Fort Franklin," that is south of Fort Franklin. The petition of the people, urging the retention of soldiers with them, was successful. In February, 1758, Adjutant Kern reports Capt. Wetterhold still on duty at Fort Everett with 41 men, distant from Fort William 12 miles, and having 12 men stationed at "A Block House," 10 miles from Fort Everett and 20 miles from Fort Allen. The detailed report shows at Fort Everett, Capt. Wetterholt, 41 men, 22 Province arms, 21 Private guns, 4 ms. Provisions, 10 cartridges, and at the Block House Lieut. Geiger (absent), who had relieved Lieut. Hyndshaw then at duty at Teads Block House below wind Gap, 12 men, 9 Province Arms, 5 Private Guns, 4 mos. Provisions, 8 cartridges. Jacob Levan, Esq'r was their Commissary. (Penn. Arch., iii, p.340.)
Fort Everett was visited by Jas. Burd during his tour of inspection, in February, 1758. His journal gives the following record:
26th Sunday. Marched from hence (Fort William) at 10 A.M. went over the Mountains to Mr. Everett's, where Captain Weatherholt is stationed, the snow exceedingly deep could make little way, at 3 P.M. arrived at Valentine Phileprots, 20 miles, here I stay all night.
27th Munday. Marched this morning at 8 A.M. for Mr. Everett's arrived at 9 A.M., 4 miles ordered a Review of that part of the Company that is here, found Cap't Weatherholt, Lieut. Geiger & 24 men, 3 being sick & absent, 3 months Provisions, 5 pounds powder, no lead, each man has a pound of powder in his Cartouch box & lead in proportion, no Kettles, nor blankets, 25 Province Arms.
Ordered to Cap't Weatherholt 56 blankets, 25 lb of powder & 50 bars of lead & 400 flints, Cap't Weatherholt to Scout to the Westward 10 miles & to the eastward 10 miles, Lieut. Geiger from thence to his post in Coll. Armstrong's Battalion.
Marched from hence to Fort Allen at 11 A.M., gott to the top of the Blue Mountain at 2 P.M., from hence saw Allamingle, it is a fine Country, but the Country on the North side of the Mountain is an intire barren wilderness, not capable of Improvements.
Arrived at Fort Allen at ½ after 2 P.M. a prodigious Hilly place, and poor land, 15 miles from Mr. Everett's, ordered a review of this Garrison tomorrow at 8 A.M. (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 355.)
The accompanying topographical map gives the exact location of Fort Everett.
It stood in what is now a level, ploughed field, about ¼ mile north of Lynnport, Lynn township, Lehigh county, distant about 150 feet from the house of M. K. Henry, a tenant of Mrs. David Stein, to the East, and about 250 feet from the creek to the West, which flows past the Slate works and empties into Ontelaunee creek. A spring, but a few feet south of where the fort was erected, marks the position of what was then a well of water. It was a blockhouse, about 25 ft. x 30 ft. It stood on the property of John Everett, a man of prominence at the time, and of the same family as Edw. Everett, of Massachusetts, whence he came. Whether, however, the building was the house of Mr. Everett, or whether the fort was a separate building erected on his place, it is difficult to say. From what I could learn I am inclined to believe that it was a separate building, erected as a house of refuge and defense, consisting of a log house surrounded by the regulation stockade. In that case we may very properly fix upon the beginning of 1756 as the time of its birth, otherwise we are unable to name any date fixing the time of its erection. Mr. Henry stated that, even to this day, he occasionally ploughs up some of the foundation stones.
For this information I am indebted to Mr. Charles Everett, residing near the spot, whose great grandfather was a brother of John Everett. Mr. Charles Everett is now 75 years old. He was told all about the fort, and the soldiers which occupied it, by his father, Jacob, who died 25 years ago, 80 years old; also by his grandmother, Mary Miller, who died 60 years ago, aged about 70 years.
I would recommend a tablet to mark the position of Fort Everett, to be located by the public road near the site.
It will be remembered that mention was made of orders given Lieut. Engel to proceed himself to Fort Everett, and to send a detachment of sixteen men to John Eckenroad's three miles distant. I made diligent inquiry concerning this latter place, but, whilst many had heard of the Eckenroth family, none ever knew of a fort at his house. There certainly was none. If anything his own house was merely used temporarily as a station.
Besides Mr. Eckenroth's house I also learned of several other interesting places between New Tripoli and Lynnport. One of these is the old block house at Benj. Oswald's, which I visited. It is a curious old relic, well worth examination. The building is one story high, now weather-boarded on the outside, but inside almost exactly the same as it was 150 years ago. Its preservation, unaltered, is owing to the fact that it is only used as a wash house and for storage purposes. The hugh old fire place still stands as of old, and over the door is cut a port hole at an angle to command the entrance. It was then the home of a Mr. Seisloch, who was killed whilst fleeing away from it. It stands about one mile from New Tripoli. The above information Mr. Oswald, who is 65 years old, obtained from his father, Benj. Oswald, who died 21 years ago, at the age of 75.
Sam'l Reitz, 67 years old, living about one mile beyond Lynnport on the road to New Tripoli, says there was a house of refuge on the bank of Ontelaunee creek, right down from the dwelling of Cornelius Peter. He also stated that immediately in front of his own home there stood a similar building, having a cellar, the entrance to which was covered by a large stone. In this cellar the people would secrete their effects when obliged to flee away. He was told these facts by his grandfather, Lawrence Reitz, who died over 50 years ago, aged nearly 80 years.
The vicinity of Fort Everett was not exempt from its scenes of violence and death.
Timothy Horsfield writes to Gov. Denny from Bethlehem, November 30th, 1756, that "John Holder came here this Evening from Allemangle, and Informed me that last Sunday Evening, ye 28th Inst. three Indians Came to the House of a Certain Man Named Schlosser, and Nockt at the Door, the People within called who is there? Answer was made, A good Friend; they within not Opening the Door, they Nockt Again, they within answer'd Who is there? No Answer being made from Without, Then one of the Men Named Stonebrook, Lookt Out of the window, when an Indian Discharged a gun and kill'd him on the Spot. They then Open'd the Door, the Woman & two Children Endeavoring to Escape, and the Indians pursued & took Both the Children; One of the Men Fired at the Indians, and Saw One of them fall, when one of the Gairls he had possession of, made her Escape from him, but the other they took away; the Indian y't was fired at which fell Cryed Out Very much, but in a Short time he got up & made off.
The above said Holder Informs me he had this Acco't from good Authority, said Schlosser's House is situated in Allemangle." (Penn. Arch., iii, p .771.) We now give a characteristic letter which, in itself, would show that it came from Jacob Wetterholt, even if his name were not signed to it. It is written to Major William Parsons at Easton, and is headed:
(Lehigh) Northampton County, Lynn Township, July 9, 1757.
These are to Acquant you of A murder Happened this Day at the Houce of Adam Clance, in said Township of Lynn, whaire three or fore Nabors was Cutting said man's Corn as they Was Eating thaire Diner they waire fell one By A Perty of Saviges, Indians, and Five of the Whits Took to there Heals, two men, two Women, and one Gerl, and Got saf out of theire hands. Was killed and Scalped, Martin Yager and his Wife, and John Croushores, wife and one Child, and the Wife of Abraham Secles and one Child of one Adam Clauce and the Wife of John Coucehere, and the wife of Abram Secles was Sculpt and is yet Alive, But Badly wounded, one Shot Thro' the Sid and the other in the Thy, and two Children kild Belonging to said Croushere, and one to said Secles, and one Belonging to Philip Antone Not Sculpt, and this Was Don at Least three Miles within the out side Settlers, and 4 miles from John Everett's and Philip Antone's wife was one that Took her Tilit and came hom and acquainted her husband, and he came and Acquainted me, and I went Emeaditly to the Place with seven men Besides my Self and Saw the Murder, But the Indians was Gon and I Derectly Purs'ed them About 4 Miles and Came Up with them in the thick Groves weaire Wee met with Nine Indians, and one Sprung Behind a Tree and took Site at me and I run Direct at him, and another one the sid Flast at me, and then Both took to there Heals, and I shot one as I Goge Thro' the Body, as he fell on his face, But I Loaded and after another that was Leding A maire, and ye meane time he Got up and Run away and I fired on the other, and I think I shot him in ye Buttux, and my Soldiers had ippertunity to shot three times, and then they Got out of oure Site in the thick Groves, and Wee Cold Not find them No more, But I Got from them one maire and tow Saddels, one Bridel and Halter, & one Bag with a Cag of Stil Licker in it, and Cloths and one Brace Cittel and fore Indian Cake Baked in the ashes of wheat meal and to Aquat you further, that I have Several New Soldiers that has No Guns, and were Little Powder and Led, and I have sent this Express to you Hoping that you Wold Help me with Arms and Ammenishan, and so I Remaine yours friend and Umble Servent JACOB WETHERHOLD
(Penn. Arch., iii, p. 211.)
Referring to this sad occurrence, Col. Weiser writes Gov. Denny from Easton on July 15th:
"In coming along thro' the Maxitawny, I heard a melancholly Account of Ten People being killed by the Enemy Indians. They passed by two or three Plantations on this side of the mountain before they attacked. A certain woman ran off towards her Place and told her Husband of the attack, who cut the Gears off his Horses then in the Plow, and rid as fast as he could to Lieut. Wetherholts, about three miles off. Lieut. Wetherholt, with a small Detachment, I am told Seven in number, came away immediately, and came to the Place where the murder was committed, where, by that time, a number of People had gathered. Wetherholts proposed to pursue the Enemy but none would go with him, so he took his Seven men & pursued the Enemy a few miles from the House & found the Place where they rested themselves, and in ab't three miles He overtook them in thick Brushes, at a very little Distance. It seems they saw one another at once. One of the Indians was before hand with Wetherholts & aimed at him, but his Gun flashed. Wetherholt, a moment after, fired at the Indians, and thinks he hit him, but is not sure. Several Guns were fired by our People but did no Execution, and the Indians Guns missing Fire they ran off & left two Horses behind them, one belonging to the man they killed, laden with the best of his Household Goods." (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 218.)
In a letter written by Valentine Probst to Jacob Levan, of Maxatawney, dated February 15, 1756, he gives the following account of another murder:
I cannot omit writing about the dreadful circumstances of our township, Albany [see this under Fort Henry also]. The Indians came yesterday morning, about eight o'clock, to Frederick Reichelderfer's house, as he was feeding his horses, and two of the Indians ran upon him, and followed him into a field ten or twelve perches off; but he escaped and ran toward Jacob Gerhart's house, with a design to fetch some arms. When he came near Gerhart's, he heard a lamentable cry, 'Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus!' which made him run back towards his own house; but before he got quite home, he saw his house and stable in flames; and heard all the cattle bellowing, and thereupon ran away again. Two of his children were shot, one of them was found dead in his field, the other was found alive, and brought to Hakenbrook's house, but died three hours after. All his grain and cattle are burnt up. At Jacob Gerhart's they have killed one man, two women, and six children. Two children slipped under the bed; one of which was burned; the other escaped, and ran a mile to get to the people. We desire help, or we must leave our homes.
Mr. Levan immediately repaired to Albany Township, but before he reached the scene of horror, additional intelligence ws received by him of other murders. In a letter from him to James Read and Jonas Seely, of Reading, he says: "When I had got ready to go with my neighbors from Maxatawney, to see what damage was done in Albany, three men that had seen the shocking affair, came and told me, that eleven were killed, eight of them burnt, and the other three found dead out of the fire. An old man was Scalped, the two others, little girls, were not scalped." (Rupp, p. 58.)
On the 24th of March following, ten wagons went to Allemaengle (Albany) to bring down a family with their effects, and as they were returning, about three miles below George Zeisloff's, were fired upon by a number of Indians from both sides of the road; upon which the wagoners left their wagons and ran into the woods, and the horses frightened at the firing and terrible yelling of the Indians ran down a hill and brake one of the wagons to pieces. That the enemy killed George Zeisloff and his wife, a lad of twenty, a boy of twelve, also a girl of fourteen years old, four of whom they scalped. That another girl was shot in the neck and through the mouth and scalped, notwithstanding all of which she got off. That a boy was stabbed in three places, but the wounds were not thought to be mortal. That they killed two of the horses, and five are missing, with which it thought the Indians carried off the most valuable goods that were in the wagon." (Penn'a Gazette, April 1, 1756.)
In November, 1756, the Indians carried off the wife and three children of Adam Burns, the youngest child being only four weeks old. In June, 1757, they murdered one Adam Trump. They took Trump's wife and his son, a lad nineteen years old, prisoners, but the woman escaped, though upon her flying she was so closely pursued by one of the Indians (of whom there were seven) that he threw his tomahawk at her and cut her badly in the neck. (Rupp, p. 124.)
The following extract from a letter written by James Read, from Reading, June 25th, 1757, refers to the Trump murder: "Last night Jacob Levan, Esq., of Maxatawney, came to see me and showed me a letter of the 22d inst. from Lieutenant Engel, dated in Allemangel, by which he advised Mr. Levan of the murder of one Adam Trump in Allemangel, by Indians, that evening, and that they had taken Trump's wife and his son, a lad nineteen years old, prisoners; but the woman escaped, though upon her flying, she was so closely pursued by one of the Indians (of which there were seven) that he threw his tomahawk at her, and cut her badly in the neck, but 'tis hoped not dangerously. This murder happened in as great a thunderstorm as has happened for twenty years past; which extended itself over a great part of this Northampton counties.* * * *
I had almost forgot to mention (but I am so hurried just now, 'tis no wonder), that the Indians after scalping Adam Trump left a knife, and a halbert, or a spear, fixed to a pole of four feet, in his body. (Rupp, p. 70.)
In March, 1756, the Indians laid the house and barn of Barnabas Seitle in ashes, and the mill of Peter Conrad, and killed Mrs. Neytong, the wife of Baltser Neytong, and took his son, a lad of eight years old, a captive. Next morning Seitle's servant informed Capt. Morgan of the injury done by the Indians, whereupon the Captain and seven men went in pursuit of the enemy, but did not find any. On his return he met a person named David Howell, who told him that when on his way to the watch-house, these Indians shot five times at him, the last shot he received a bullet through his arm.
And on March 24th, the house of Peter Kluck, about fourteen miles from Reading, was set on fire by the savages, and the whole family killed while the flames were still ascending, the Indians assaulted the house of one Lindenman, in which there were two men and a woman, all of whom ran up stairs, where the woman was shot dead through the roof. The men then ran out of the house to engage the Indians, when Lindenman was shot in the neck, and the other through the jacket. Upon this Lindenman ran towards the Indians, two of whom only were seen, and shot one of them in the back, when he fled and he and his companion scalped him and brought away his gun and knife. (C. Saure's German Paper, March, 1756.)
About the same time the Indians carried off a young lad named John Schoep, about nine years old, whom they took by night, seven miles beyond the Blue Mountain; were, according to the statement of the lad, the Indians kindled a fire, tied him to a tree, took off his shoes and put moccasins on his feet; - that they prepared themselves some mush, but gave him none. After supper they marched on further. The same Indians took him and another lad between them, and went beyond the second mountain, having gone six times through streams of water, and always carried him across. The second evening they again struck up fire, took off his moccasins, and gave him a blanket to cover himself; but at midnight when all the Indians were fast asleep, he made his escape, and by daybreak had traveled about six miles. He passed on that day, sometimes wading streams neck-deep, in the direction of the Blue Mountain. That night he stayed in the woods. The next day, exhausted and hungry, he arrived by noon at Uly Meyer's plantation, where Charles Folk's company lay (probably at or near Fort Franklin), where they wished him to remain till he had regained strength, when they would have conducted him to his father. He was accordingly sent home. (C. Saure's German Paper, March 1756.)
Fort at Lehigh Gap
(Site of Fort Lehigh.)
With its consideration we can, at the same time, carry on somewhat consecutively other matters with which the Wetterholt brothers were concerned.
Strictly speaking, it is hardly proper to denominate this station as a fort. It was merely a blockhouse, erected in the latter part of 1755 by various families in its neighborhood, and at no time occupied by any considerable number of soldiers. Yet, nevertheless, it stood at a most important position, and, whilst it so chanced that it was permitted to add but a small contribution to the pages of history, yet it might well have been otherwise. We will, however, let the record speak for itself.
We are already aware that after the Gnadenhutten massacre, and first outbreak of hostilities, Benjamin Franklin and James Hamilton were sent up the Lehigh River to arrange protection for the settlers. In his letter of January 26, 1756, from Fort Allen, to the Governor, he says:
We left Bethlehem the 10th instant with Foulk's Company, 46 men, the Detachment of McLaughlin's 20, and 7 waggons laden with Stores and Provisions. We got that night to Hays' Quarters, where Wayne's Company joined us from Nazareth.
The next day we marched cautiously thro' the Gap of the Mountain, a very dangerous Pass, and got to Uplinger's but twenty-one miles from Bethlehem, the Roads being bad and the Waggons moving slowly." (Col. Rec., vii, p. 16.)
The only other record we have is from the Journal of Jas. Young, when inspecting the various forts in June, 1756, viz:
June 22 - At 4 P.M. Sett out (from Fort Allen), at 6 came to Leahy Gap where I found a Serjeant and 8 men Stationed at a Farm house with a small Staccade Round it, from Fort Allen here the Road is very hilly and Swampy, only one Plantation ab't a mile from the Gap. I found the People here were a Detachment from Capt'n (Nicholas) Weatherholts Comp'y, he is Station'd on the other side of the Gap, 3 miles from this with 12 men, the rest of his Comp'y are at Depues and another Gapp 15 miles from this. I dispatch'd a messenger to Capt'n Weatherholt, desiring him to Come here in the morning, with the men under his Com'd, to be muster'd, the People Stationed here and on the other side the Gapp I think may be of great service, as it is a good road thro' the mountain and very steep and high on each side, so may in a great measure prevent any Indians to pass thro' undiscovered if they kept a good guard, here the River Leahy Passes thro' the mountain in a very Rapid Stream.
23 June - Leahy Gapp, North Side, -- At 7 in the morning, I mustered the men here, the Serjant inform'd me that Capt'n Weatherholt was gone 12 miles from this and he believed on his way to Philad'a for there pay, which was the reason the people did not come here, and I finding this Comp'y so much dispers'd at different Stations in small parties, I could not regularly Muster them therefore at 8 A.M. I sett out for Fort Noris * * * * (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 678.)
In the Penn'a Archives, vol. iii, p. 325, is given what is called the "Position of the Troops in Northampton County in 1758." In this list we have "A Sergeant and 5 men at Upplinger's," which means the Fort at Lehigh Gap, and "Capt. Foulk, with 63 men, at the new Fort not named between Fort Allen & Fort Lebanon."
This date is unquestionably wrong. A footnote in the Archives practically admits that fact when it says "There was no date to this paper, it was found among the papers of this year (1758)," and because of that fact it was placed amongst the Archives of that year. A moment's reflection will show that it is really the position of troops in Northampton County during the early part of 1756. As we have already seen, Mr. Young, in June, 1756, found at Lehigh Gap a Sergeant and 8 men, which agrees almost precisely with the report; then again it could only have been in the early part of 1756 that Capt. Foulk would be at the new Fort not named, between Fort Allen and Fort Lebanon, which was Fort Franklin, then building and not even yet named. By careful examination I have found that this report should be dated April, 1756, and that it belongs to a letter of Gov. Morris, dated April, 1756, in Penn. Archives, vol ii, p. 637, from which it evidently became separated.
On February 5, 1758, Adjutant Kern reports Lieut. Engel, in command of Fort Lehigh, with 30 men, 16 Provincial Arms, 14 Private guns, 40 lbs of powder, 80 lbs of lead, 4 months provisions, 10 cartridge, Jacob Levan Commissary, the distance from Fort Allen 10 miles, and from Peter Doll's Blockhouse 8 miles. (Penn. Arch., iii, p. 340.)
We see from this that it was considered a position of sufficient importance to be not only retained, but to have its garrison increased. The map herewith given shows its location.
Fort Lehigh was at Lehigh Gap, immediately on the north side of the mountain. Its distance from Col. Jno. Craig's store, at which is the Lehigh Gap Post Office, is about one-half mile. It stood on property originally belonging to Nathaniel Irish, adjoining that of Nicholas Opplinger, where Benjamin Franklin stayed all night, when on his way to Fort Allen, as he tells us. It is now the farm of Chas. Straub. The fort was on slightly elevated ground, at the foot of which a small run of water meanders down to the Aquashicola creek. The importance of its position is easily seen. It commanded the entrance to Lehigh Gap, and was at the junction of the road to Fort Allen at Weissport, on the north, and the road to Fort Norris, on the East. We have been told that it was merely an ordinary blockhouse surrounded by a stockade. We know it to have been built by the settlers, either in the latter part of 1755, or beginning of 1756. We know nothing, however, of the close of its history, but have no reason to doubt that it was abandoned, as a station, during the year 1758, when hostilities had almost come to an end. There is nothing to indicate that it was needed or used again in 1763.
Amongst the settlers who lived in the vicinity of the Fort, during the war, was a Mr. Boyer (his first name we do not know). His place was about 1½ miles east of the Fort, on land now owned by Josiah Arner, James Ziegenfuss, and George Kunkle. With the other farmers he had gathered his family into the blockhouse for protection. One day, however, with his son Frederick, then thirteen years old, and the other children, he went home to attend to the crops. Mr. Boyer was ploughing and Fred was hoeing, whilst the rest of the children were in the house or playing nearby. Without any warning they were surprised by the appearance of Indians. Mr. Boyer, seeing them, called to Fred to run, and himself endeavored to reach the house. Finding he could not do so, he ran towards the creek, and was shot through the head as he reached the farther side. Fred, who had escaped to the wheat field, was captured and brought back. The Indians, having scalped the father in his presence, took the horses from the plough, his sisters and himself, and started for Stone Hill in the rear of the house. There they were joined by another party of Indians and marched northward to Canada. On the march the sisters were separated from their brother and never afterwards heard from. Frederick was a prisoner with the French and Indians in Canada for five years and was then sent to Philadelphia. Of Mrs. Boyer, who remained in the blockhouse, nothing further is known. After reaching Philadelphia, Frederick made his way to Lehigh Gap and took possession of the farm. Shortly after he married a daughter of Conrad Mehrkem, with whom he had four sons and four daughters. He died October 31, 1832, aged 89 years.
I desire here to express the obligation under which I rest to Col. Jno. Craig, of Lehigh Gap, for courtesy shown me and much valuable information given in connection with Fort Lehigh, and other points in his vicinity.
Mr. Craig, who is now 65 years old, was told all about the Fort, its location and garrison, by his father, who received it directly from Mr. Frederick Boyer, who was an actor in the bloody drama just given, and whose return from captivity we have just recorded. He was also given the same information from sundry other old persons.
A tablet should certainly be erected to mark the site of Fort Lehigh, and I think, should be placed aside of the public road near it.
Fort South of Lehigh Gap
(Site of Kern's Block House (Trucker's Fort.)
At Trucker's (KERN's) Mill in Slatington.
Whilst I have headed this subject as the "Fort south of Lehigh Gap, yet, I do not wish to convey the impression that it was one of the regular forts established by the Government. Such was not the case. It was but a private mill, at which a garrison of soldiers was stationed, and of which we have but the slightest mention, and yet the position was of such importance that, in my judgment, it deserves a rank and standing in history above that of the mere private blockhouse, used as a place of refuge.
The reader will recall that, when Jas. Young visited Fort Lehigh, at the Gap, on June 22, 1756, he said "I found the people here were a Detachment from Capt'n Weatherholt's (Nicholas) Comp'y, he is Stationed on the other side of the Gapp, 3 miles from this, with 12 men,* * * I dispatch'd a messenger to Cap'tn Weatherholt, desiring him to Come here I the morning with the men under his Cam'd, to be muster'd, the People Stationed here and on the other side of the Gapp I think may be of great service, as it is a good road thro' the mountain and very steep and high on each side, so may in a great measure prevent any Indians to pass thro' undiscovered if they keep a good guard, here the River Leahy Passes thro' the mountain in a very Rapid Stream." (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 678.)
This is the only information we have with regard to this station. We are simply told that it was three miles south of Lehigh Gap. With this slight clue I went to work. Taking it for granted the place would be on the same side of the Lehigh River as was Fort Lehigh, I found this distance would bring us to Walnutport, opposite Slatington. Having prepared my way, with much correspondence, I drove through the entire country from Walnutport up to Lehigh Gap, visited every old resident in the whole region, and many younger ones, but discovered absolutely nothing except that there was an Indian village, or settlement, near the river, half way between the two places. I believed I had done everything possible and felt somewhat discouraged at my apparent failure. And yet here was but another instance of the extreme care necessary in research of this character, where strict accuracy is aimed at. I had failed to take the Commanding officer, Capt. Wetterholt, into consideration, and to remember that, as his operations about this time were principally west of the river, so he would be more likely to select a station on that side, more especially so if, in addition, other important reasons were present to so influence him, as in this instance.
In searching carefully the Penn'a Archives, I came across (Vol. ii, p. 618) the following letter from Gov. Morris to Capt. Weatherholt (Nicholas):
Philada., 8th April, 1756.
As there are Eleven of your men stationed at Trucker's Mill, I think it for the publick safety that they should be employ'd in ranging the woods, when the people of that township are inclinable to Joyn them and assist in such service; I do, therefore, order that the said men stationed at Trucker's Mill, when they are no employ'd in escorting Provisions or Stores, shall employ themselves in scouring and ranging the woods; and I recommend it to the inhabitants to Joyn them from time to time for that purpose, and you are to take care that this, my order, be carry'd into full Execution.
I also notice a letter from Major Parsons to Capt. Orndt, of August 15th, 1756, I which he says, "Capt. Reynolds has powder and lead, and can spare 6 lb of powder & 20 lb of lead to the forces at Trucker's Mill, and if you order anybody for it they may show this letter (Penn. Arch., ii, p. 742)
About the same time I received a letter from Mr. A. J. Andrews of Walnutport, telling me he understood there was a fort at Slatington not far distant from where Mr. A. J. Kern's grist mill now stands, called "Dry Fort," or "Kern's Fort," after Mr. Kern, the original owner of the place. I, at once, looked up the history of Slatington and was fortunate to find that Trucker was a nickname given to Wm. Kern, as I will mention presently, this showing conclusively that Capt. Wetterholt's station, south of Lehigh Gap, was at Kern's Mill in Slatington.
The date of the Governor's letter was April, 1756, whilst Jas. Young's visit of inspection was in June, 1756, almost exactly the same time. In his letter the Governor even speaks of eleven men being stationed there, which agrees almost literally with the number (twelve) given by Mr. Young. With the kind assistance of Mr. W. H. Troutman of Reading, I have prepared the map herewith given.
The old, original saw mill stood on the site of the present saw mill, on Trout Creek, some 175 feet north of the bridge at Main Street. It belonged to the Kern family, and was built prior to 1755. It was subsequently removed to the place now occupied by the Slate (Mantel) Factory.
Nicholas Kern, the first settler, took up this land as early as 1737, on which he subsequently built his home. Upon his death in 1748, the property, by will, was equally divided between his widow, six sons and one daughter, who survived. All the family remained at the place until the youngest children had arrived at maturity, when some of them removed to the lower part of the county, where their descendants still reside. William and John remained at the homestead, taking care of the farm and mills which had been erected on Trout creek. William seems to have been of a jovial disposition, and given somewhat to joking. Mrs. Michael Ramaly, long since dead, told Charles Peters, of Slatington, many years ago, that, because of this fact, he was called "Trockener," in German signifying a joker, or wit. This, in time, became corrupted to "Trucker," so that on the Evans map of 1755, as well as that of Edward Scull of 1770, one of the Kern mills, that in which we are interested, was designated as "Trucker's Mill." William Kern's house, built of logs and possessing the distinction of a double porch, stood where the residences of Benjamin Kern and Henry Kuntz now are. It was torn down about 1858. The old stone barn, built about 1807, is still standing. (Matthews and Hungerford, History of Lehigh Co., p. 556.)
From information kindly given by Mr. Benjamin Kern, now 59 years old, I have marked on the map the house occupying the site of the original homestead. The small log building attached to it, now weatherboarded, is said to be of the original house. The stone barn, built in 1807, is also given, but the original barn stood as shown, on the other side of the road, just beyond. All these properties, including the mill, were on or near the only road then existing, which was made and used by the Indians. It crossed the Lehigh at a ford, some 500 feet above the bridge leading to Walnutport, then followed along Trout Creek, as shown, past sundry wigwams and villages to the north. Because of that fact it was called the "Warriors' Path," and the ford denominated the "Warrior's Crossing." In 1761 a road was laid out, following its line, which still exists in Slatington.
These facts are corroborated by Mr. J. W. Andrews, of Berlinsville, Northampton Co., PA, an intelligent, elderly gentleman, thoroughly acquainted with the history of the locality.
We have now learned the location of Trucker's Mill and why it was so called. We have also seen that it was, for some time at least, occupied as a military station. It only remains to say that it was of great importance to the neighborhood. It supplied the settlers with much needed lumber. Even Benjamin Franklin was obliged to obtain his material for Fort Allen from this mill. In his letter of January 25, 1756, he says,"The next day being Sunday, we march'd hither (Fort Allen); where we arrived about 2 in the afternoon, and before 5 had inclosed our Camp with a Strong Breast work, Musket Proof, and with the Boards brought here before by my Order from Drucker's Mill, got ourselves under some shelter from the Weather." (Col. Rec., viii, p. 15)
It was important, then, not merely as a saw mill, but, besides that, it was important from a military point of view, commanding, as it did, the routes of intercourse between Albany Township on the West to Nazareth and Easton on the East, as well as Bethlehem and Allentown on the South, and Forts Lehigh and Allen on the North. It would seem to me that the preservation of matters of importance in the history of the State should cause such a liberal view to be taken with regard to the placing of tablets as would assign one to this position.
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