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.
Indian Outbreak of 1763.
Between the years 1759 and 1763 there was somewhat of a lull in the continued frequency of Indian atrocities. Then came the peace with the savages, and immediately followed the short and bloody outbreak called Pontiac's War, which, in 1764, finally closed the history of Indian Massacre in eastern Pennsylvania. Indeed, even during the years 1763-64 the territory of which I am treating, between the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers, south of the Blue Mountains, saw little of the effects of this war, and so few incidents are recorded in comparison with the terrible events of previous years, that its treatise as a separate article, would hardly be warranted were it not for the occurrences which took place along the Lehigh River. Because they did occur in the immediate neighborhood about which I have just been writing, and because they treat so prominently of the Wetterholt brothers, I have deemed it best to take up the subject at this point, and so make a more or less consecutive narrative.
Through the kindness of Miss Minnie F. Mickley, of Mickleys, PA, I have furnished with a sketch, written by her father, Jos. J. Mickley, Esq., in 1875, entitled a "Brief Account of Murders by the Indians, and the cause thereof, in Northampton County, Penna., October 8th, 1763," from which I have taken the liberty of making many extracts, because of the complete manner in which his subject is treated.
I have said that, with the exception of what is about to follow, Eastern Pennsylvania was comparatively free from Indian massacres during 1763-64. This, in itself, would indicate a special reason for their occurrences removed from that which brought about the general hostilities. Such was actually the case. In "Heckewelder's account of the Indian Nations," p. 332, he says:
"In the summer of the year 1763, some friendly Indians from a distant place came to Bethlehem to dispose of their peltry for manufactured goods and necessary implements of husbandry. Returning home well satisfied, they put up the first night at a tavern (John Stenton's) eight miles distant from Bethlehem. The landlord not being at home, his wife took the liberty of encouraging the people who frequented her house for the sake of drinking, to abuse those Indians, adding, "that she would freely give a gallon of rum to any one of them that would kill one of these black devils." Other white people from the neighborhood came in during the night, who also drank freely, made a great deal of noise, and increased the fears of those poor Indians, who"for the greatest part understood English,"could not but suspect something bad was intended against their persons. They were, however, not otherwise disturbed; but in the morning, when after a restless night they were preparing to set off, they found themselves robbed of some of their most valuable articles they had purchased, and on mentioning this to a man who appeared to be the bar-keeper, they were ordered to leave the house. Not being willing to lose so much property, they retired to some distance in the woods, when some of them remaining with what was left them, the others returned to Bethlehem and lodged their complaint with a justice of the peace. The magistrate gave them a letter to the landlord, pressing him without delay to restore to the Indians the goods that had been taken from them. But, behold! When they delivered the letter to the people of the inn, they were told in answer, that if they set any value on their lives they must make off with themselves immediately. They well understood that they had no other alternative, and prudently departed without having received back any of their goods. Arrived at Nescopeck, on the Susquehanna, they fell in with some other Delaware Indians, who had been treated much in the same manner, one of them having his rifle stolen from him. Here two parties agreed to take revenge in their own way for those insults and robberies for which they could obtain no redress, and this they determined to do as soon as war should be again declared by their nation against the English."
As proof of the truth of this narrative Heckewelder added a note, "This relation is Authentic. I have received it from the mouth of the chief of the injured party, and his statement was confirmed by communications made at the time by two respectable magistrates of the county. Justice Geiger's letter to Tim. Horsfield proves this fact."
It might be interesting to add that the Rev. John Heckewelder was born in Bedford, England, March 12th, 1743. He came to America, with his parents, when quite young; during forty years was a missionary among the Indians in different parts of this country, exposed to many hardships and perils. He wrote several works on the Indians, which are instructive and interesting on account of his having been familiar with their language, manners and customs. He died at Bethlehem January 21st, 1823.
About the same time as this unfortunate occurrence, another one of similar character took place, which is given in Loskiel's "History of the Missions of the Indians in America," as follows:
"In August, 1763, Zachary and his wife, who had left the congregation in Wechquetank- on Poca-poca (Head's) Creek, north of the Blue Mountain, settled by Moravian Indians - (where they had belonged, but left some time previous), came on a visit, and did all in their power to disquiet the minds of the brethren respecting the intentions of the white people. A woman called Zippora was persuaded to follow them. On their return they stayed at the Buchkabuchka (this is the name the Munseys have for the Lehigh Water Gap - it means "mountains butting opposite each other") over night, where Captain Nicholas Wetterholt lay with a company of soldiers, and went unconcerned to sleep in ahayloft. But in the night they were surprised by the soldiers. Zippora was thrown down upon the threshing floor and killed; Zachary escaped out of the house, but was pursued, and with his wife and little child put to the sword, although the mother begged for their lives upon her knees."
The presence of Capt. Wetterholt at Lehigh Gap was probably owing to the fact that he was on his way either to or from Fort Allen, at Weissport, where a body of soldiers under his command, was still stationed. His Lieutenant at this time was a man named Jonathan Dodge, who seems to have been a most precious scoundrel. He had been sent from Philadelphia by Richard Hockley to Lt. Col. Timothy Horsfield, with a letter dated July 14th, 1763, recommending him as "very necessary for the service," and had been assigned by the latter to Capt. Wetterholt's company. It might be well to explain here that Timothy Horsfield, whose name appears frequently, was born April, 1708, in Liverpool, England. He emigrated to America, and settled on Long Island, in 1725; moved to Bethlehem in 1749; was appointed Justice of the Peace for Northampton County in May, 1752; commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel, and, as such, had the superintendence and direction of the two military companies commanded by the two Captains Wetterholt, which were ranging along the frontier; they sent their reports to him, and he corresponded with the Government at Philadelphia. Mr. Horsfield was of great service to the Government, as well as to the frontier inhabitants. He resigned both offices in December, 1763, and died at Bethlehem, March 9th, 1773.
Dodge committed many atrocious acts against his fellow soldiers, also against the inhabitants of Northampton County, but particularly against the Indians.
In a letter to Timothy Horsfield, dated August 4th, 1763, Dodge writes:
"Yesterday there were four Indians came to Ensign Kern's (where Worthington now is). * * * * I took four rifles and fourteen deer-skins from them, weighed them, and there was thirty-one pounds." After the Indians had left him, he continues: "I took twenty men and pursued them, * * * * then I ordered my men to fire, upon which I fired a volley on them, * * * * could find none dead or alive."
These were friendly, inoffensive Indians, who had come from Shamokin (Sunbury) on their way to Bethlehem.
Jacob Warner, a soldier in Nicholas Wetterholt's company, made the following statement September 9th: That he and Dodge were searching for a lost gun, when, about two miles above Fort Allen, they saw three Indians painted black. Dodge fired upon them and killed one; Warner also fired upon them, and thinks he wounded another; but two escaped; the Indians had not fired at them. The Indian was scalped, and, on the 24th, Dodge sent Warner with the scalp to a person in Philadelphia, who gave him eight dollars for it. These were also friendly Indians.
On the 4th of October, Dodge was charged with disabling Peter Frantz, a soldier; for striking him with a gun, and ordering his men to lay down their arms if the Captain should blame him about the scalp.
In a letter of this date Capt. Nicholas Wetterholt wrote to Timothy Horsfield: "If he (Dodge) is to remain in the company, not one man will remain. I never had so much trouble and uneasiness as I have had these few weeks; and if he continues in the service any longer, I don't propose to stay any longer. I intend to confine him only for this crime."
All this was at a time when, after years of warfare and murder, peace had just been concluded with the Indians, who seemed to be inclined to fully accept its terms. Care and good treatment of them were matters of great moment. The ill-timed and barbarous actions of Dodge, who was a bully and coward, execrated alike by his fellow soldiers and the Indians, had, therefore, much to do with bringing on the sad events which presently followed.
On October 5th, Capt. Nicholas Wetterholt place Lieut. Jonathan Dodge under arrest "for striking and abusing Peter Frantz," and sent him in charge of Captain Jacob Wetterholt, Sergeant Lawrence McGuire, and some soldiers to Timothy Horsfield at Bethlehem. We are not informed as to the result of his trial. His punishment could not have been much more than a reprimand, because he immediately started back for Fort Allen with Capt. Jacob Wetterholt. It would look as if Mr. Horsfield hesitated to give him a severe punishment because of influential friends, or connections.
On the 7th of October, Captain Jacob Wetterholt, with his party, left Bethlehem, on their way to Fort Allen. That same evening they arrived at John Stenton's tavern and lodged for the night. Being, so to say, in time of peace, when no danger of an Indian attack was apprehended, they did not deem it necessary to place sentrys about the building. To be sure, Capt. Wetterholt must have been aware of the treatment recently accorded the Indians at this very same place and might have thought that the presence of Dodge at this time, in this very building, would be a double incentive for the savages to wreak their vengeance, yet he had no reason to suspect their presence, and from his daring nature was inclined to look lightly on danger, so he neglected an ordinary precaution and violated a common military rule in not stationing guards.
During the night, the Indians, unperceived and unsuspected, approached the house. What happened, at break of day on October 8thy, is related as follows in Gordon's History of Pennsylvania:
"The Capt. designing early in the morning to proceed for the fort, ordered a servant out to get his horse ready, who was immediately shot down by the enemy; upon the Captain going to the door he was also mortally wounded, and a sergeant, who attempted to draw the Captain in, was also dangerously hurt. The lieutenant then advanced, when an Indian jumping on the bodies of the two others, presented a pistol to his breast, which he putting aside, it went off over his shoulder, whereby he got the Indian out of the house and shut the door. The Indians then went around to a window, and, as Stenton was getting out of bed, shot him; but, rushing from the house, he was able to run a mile before he dropped dead. His wife and two children ran to the cellar; they were fired upon three times, but escaped uninjured. Capt. Wetterholt, notwithstanding his wound, crawled to a window, whence he killed one of the Indians, who were setting fire to the house; the others then ran off, bearing with them their dead companion."
This description was taken from a detailed account sent by Mr. Horsfield with a messenger (John Bacher, who was paid for this service Oct. 12, £2 10s 4d. to the Governor, at Philadelphia. It was published in the Pennsylvania Gazette of October 13th, 1763, printed by Benjamin Franklin, also in the Philadelphische Staats-bote, printed by Heinrich Miller, in the German language, of October 17th, 1763.
The wounded were taken to Bethlehem, where Captain Wetterholt died the next day, at the Crown Inn, and so passed away a brave and energetic officer who deserved a better fate.
The effect upon our redoubtable Lieutenant Dodge was of a rather demoralizing character, if we may judge by his letter to Timothy Horsfield:
"John Stenton's, Oct. the 8, 1763.
Mr Horsfield, Sir, Pray send me help for all my men are killed but one, and Capt'n Wetterhold is almost dead, he is shot through the body, for god sake send me help.
These from me to serve my country and king so long as I live.
Send me help or I am a dead man.
This from me Ly'n't Dodge
sarg't meguire is shot through the body -
Pray send up the Doctor for god sake."
He evidently was of the class of men who spell God with a little "g" and his own name with a big "D", but in time of danger is anxious enough to call on the former for help, knowing how little reliance he can place on the latter.
Mr Horsfield, besides forwarding his report to the Governor, at once sent an express to Daniel Hunsicker, Lieutenant in Captain Jacob Wetterhold's company, with the following letter, to inform him of this disaster:
Bethlehem, Oct. 9, 1763
Sir: This morning at about break of day, a number of Indians attacked the inhabitants of Allen's Town (Allen Township); have killed several, and wounded many more. Your Captain, who was here yesterday, lays at the house of John Stenton, at Allen's Town, wounded. Several of the soldiers have been killed. I send to Simon Heller, and request him to send a safe hand with it, that you may receive it as quick as possible. Now is the time for you and the men to exert yourselves in defence of the frontier, which I doubt not you will do. I expect to hear from you when you have any news of importance. Send one of your worst men; as it will be dangerous in the day time, send him in the night. The enclosed letter to Mr. Grube (Rev. B. D. Grube, a Moravian Missionary at Wechquetank) I desire you send as soon as possible.
I am &c., TIMOTHY HORSFIELD.
To Lieutenant Hunsicker, Lower Smithfield.
This, however, was not the only mischief done by the Indians. They had come to avenge themselves on those who had ill-treated them, but, unfortunately, their savage nature once aroused, and excited by the first taste of blood, they continued their work of death throughout the whole neighborhood, sparing neither friend nor foe, slaying those who had abused them as well as those who had shown them many continued acts of kindness, until obliged to retreat. The missionary Heckewelder in his Account of the Indian Nations, p. 334, endeavors to palliate their crime by saying that the murder of the innocent people was owing to a mistake on the part of the savages. He remarks that "The Indians, after leaving this house (Stenton's) murdered by accident an innocent family, having mistaken the house they meant to attack; after which they returned to their homes." It was generally believed that they mistook this house for that of Paulus Balliet, which they intended to attack. Mr. Bailliet lived at the place now Ballietsville, and kept a store and tavern, similar to that of John Stenton.
Whatever may have been the explanation, the terrible fact still remains. The following account is given in the Pennsylvania Gazette, being an extract from a letter from Bethlehem, dated October 9:
"Early this morning came Nicholas Marks, of Whitehall Township, and brought the following account, viz:
That yesterday, just after dinner, as he opened his door, he saw an Indian standing about two poles from the house, who endeavored to shoot at him; but, Marks shutting the door immediately, the fellow slipped into a cellar, close to the house. After this said Marks went out of the house, with his wife and an apprentice boy. [This apprentice boy was the late George Graff, of Allentown, then fifteen years of age. He ran to Philip Jacob Schreiber with the news of these murders. He was Captain of a company in the Revolutionary War. In 1786 he resigned as Collector of the Excise, and was Sheriff of Northampton County in the years 1787-88-89. For three years he was a member of the Legislature, then holding its sessions in Philadelphia, from Dec. 3, 1793, to Dec., 1796. He lived many years in Allentown, where he died in 1835, in the 88th year of his age,] in order to make their escape, and saw another Indian standing behind a tree, who tried also to shoot at them, but his gun missed fire. They then saw the third Indian running through the orchard; upon which they made the best of their way, about two miles off, to Adam Deshler's place, where twenty men in arms were assembled, who went first to the house of John Jacob Mickley, where they found a boy and girl lying dead, and the girl scalped. From thence they went to Hans Schneider's and said Mark's plantations, and found both houses on fire, and a horse tied to the bushes. They also found said Schneider, his wife, and three children, dead in the field, the man and woman scalped; and, on going farther, they found two others wounded, one of whom was scalped. After this they returned with two wounded girls to Adam Deshler's and saw a woman, Jacob Alleman's wife, with a child, lying dead in the road and scalped. The number of Indains they think was about fifteen, or twenty.
I cannot describe the deplorable condition this poor country is in: most of the inhabitants of Allen's Town and other places are fled from their habitations. Many are in Bethlehem, and other places of the Brethren, and others farther down the Country. I cannot ascertain the number killed, but think it exceeds twenty. The people of Nazareth, and other places belonging to the Brethren have put themselves in the best posture of defence they can; they keep a strong watch every night, and hope, by the blessing of God, if they are attacked, to make a good stand."
"In a letter from the same county, of the 10th instant, the number killed is said to be twenty-three, besides a great many dangerously wounded; that the inhabitants are in the utmost distress and confusion, flying from their places, some of them with hardly sufficient to cover themselves, and that it was to be feared there were many house, &c., burned, and lives lost that were not then known. And by a gentleman from the same quarter we are informed that it was reported, when he came away, that Yost's mill, about eleven miles from Bethlehem, was destroyed, and all the people that belonged to it, excepting a young man, cut off."
After the deplorable disaster at Stenton's house, the Indians plundered James Allen's house, as short distance off; after which they attacked Andrew Hazlet's house, half a mile from Allen's, where they shot and scalped a man. Hazlet attempted to fire on the Indians, but missed, and he was shot himself, which his wife, some distance off, saw. She ran off with two children, but was pursued and overtaken by the Indians, who caught and tomahawked her and the children in a dreadful manner; yet she and one of the children lived until four days after, and the other child recovered. Hazlet's house was plundered. About a quarter of a mile from there the Indians burned down Kratzer's house, probably after having plundered it. Then a party of Indians proceeded to a place on the Lehigh, a short distance above Siegfried's Bridge, [Note: Cementon is located in the northwestern part of Whitehall Township, Lehigh Co., PA, along the west side of the Lehigh River. The town of Northampton, in Northampton Co., PA, is across the Lehigh River from Cementon. A ferry was originally established there some time around 1760. Later is was called Siegfried's Ferry, after Colonel John Siegfried, who kept a tavern on the Northampton Co. side. The actual bridge was erected in 1828, and then called Siegfried's Bridge. From Lehigh County History, v. I, page 1016. This is about a mile "up river" from Coplay.] to this day known as the "Indian Fall" or Rapids, where twelve Indians were seen wading across the river by Ulrich Schowalter, who then lived on the place now owned by Peter Troxel. Schowalter was at that time working on the roof of a building, the site of which being considerably elevated above the river Lehigh, he had a good opportunity to see and count the Indians, who, after having crossed the river, landed near Leisenring's Mountain. It is to be observed, that the greater part of this township, was at that time, still covered with dense forests, so that the Indians could go from one place to another almost in a straight line, through the woods, without being seen. It is not known that they were seen by any one but Schowalter, until they reached the farm of John Jacob Mickley (the great grandfather of Mr. Jos. J. Mickley), where they encountered three of his children, two boys and a girl, in a field under a chestnut tree, gathering chestnuts. The children's ages were : Peter, eleven; Henry, nine; and Barbary, seven; who, on seeing the Indians, began to run away. The little girl was overtaken not far from the tree by an Indian, who knocked her down with tomahawk. Henry had reached the fence, and while in the act of climbing it, an Indian threw a tomahawk at his back, which, it is supposed instantly killed him. Both of these children were scalped. The little girl, in an insensible state, lived until the following morning. Peter, having reached the woods, hid himself between two large trees which were standing near together, and, surrounded by brushwood, he remained quietly concealed there, not daring to move for fear of being discovered, until he was sure the Indians had left. He was, however, not long confined there; for, when he heard the screams of the Schneider family, he knew that the Indians were at that place, and that his way was clear. He escaped unhurt, and ran with all his might, by way of Adam Deshler's to his brother, John Jacob Mickley, to whom he communicated the melancholy intelligence. From this time Peter lived a number of years with his brother John Jacob, after which he settled in Bucks county, where he died in the year 1827, at the age of seventy-five. One of his daughters, widow of the late Henry Statzel, informed Mr. Mickley, among other matters, of the fact, related by her father, that the Mickley family owned at that time a very large and ferocious dog, which had a particular antipathy to Indians, and it was believed by the family that it was owing to the dog the Indians did not make an attack on their house, and thus the destruction of their lives was prevented. John Jacob Mickley and Ulrich Flickinger, then on their way to Stenton's, being attracted by the screams of the Schneiders, hastened to the place where, a short time before, was peace and quietness, and saw the horrible mangled bodies of the dead and wounded, and the houses of Marks and Schneider in flames. The dead were buried on Schneider's farm.
I take pleasure in reproducing Mr. Mickley's Map, giving the topography of the country and location of places just enumerated.
(Front View of Deshler's Fort, 1895)
In the narrative of events just given, mention has been made several times of Adam Deshler's house as a place of refuge and also of rendezvous. He lived on the north bank of the Coplay creek, in the stone house built by him in the year 1760. The name of the creek, Coplay, is a corruption from Kolapechka, and Indian, who was the son of the Shawanese Indian chief Paxinosa. He lived at the head of the creek, named after him, on friendly terms with the white inhabitants. He was an honest and trustworthy man. Timothy Horsfield employed him on several occasions to carry messages to the Governor at Philadelphia.
This house is still standing in a good state of preservation and inhabited, although by some Hungarian families who work in the Cement Mills close by. Miss Mickley informs me that it was quite a mansion in its time. It was built much higher than the other houses around it. The oaken beams in one of the rooms are smoothly finished and grooved. Two of the original walnut doors, with Dutch locks, still remain. Mr. Mickley says, "Adjoining this house on the north was a large frame building, sufficiently large for quartering twenty soldiers, and for military stores. This place was, during the Indian trouble, a kind of military post. I remember well having seen that frame building, partly in ruins, about sixty years ago (in 1815)."
Adam Deshler was employed by the Provincial Government to furnish supplies to the soldiers. Until recently the building still remained in the Deshler family, when sold by Mr. D. J. F. Deshler to Danied Schaadt, who turned it into a tenement house.
(See Site of Deshler's Fort or Block House.)
The engraving is a rough copy of a pencil sketch of the Deshler Fort made by the Rev. W. C. Reichel, which appears in Dr. Egle's History of Pennsylvania, Vol. ii, p. 876. I also include photographs taken June 5, 1894, giving front and side views of the building as it now appears.
Side View of Deshler's Fort.
I have called this "Deshler's Fort". We have, however, no further history of it than that just given. Whilst it has been asserted that soldiers (Provincial troops) occupied it, yet this is doubtful. Still, owing to the nature of the building, its central location and commanding position, it is not beyond the bounds of reason to presume that, even before 1763, it may have been used at various times as a military station. Still, if it played no further part in the bloody drama of Indian warfare than that just narrated, it is a noteworthy building, and when, in addition, we consider how few changes have taken place in its appearances during all these years, it is certainly worthy of sufficient care to keep it in a state of preservation, and of a tablet to commemorate its history.
The people of Northampton County thoroughly alarmed by the murders which had just taken place, and fearing a general invasion of the foe, at once formed a company for mutual defence. The following letter to Gov'r Hamilton from Rev. Roth, the minister of Allentown, written Oct. 10, 1763, gives an account of it:
"We send Greeting:
As I, Joseph Roads, of Northampton Town, Church Minister, of the Eighth of this Instant, Octbr, as I was a preaching, the people came in Such Numbers, that I was obliged to quit my Sarmon, and the Same time Cornel James Bord was in the Town, and I, the aforesaid Minister, spoke with Cornel Bord concerning this afarres of the Indians, and we found the Inhabitance that they had nither Gons, Powder nor Lead, to defend themselves, and that Cornel Bord had Latly spoke with his Honour. He had informed me that he would assist them with Gons and Ammunition, and he requested of me to write to your Honour, because he was just Seting of for Lancaster, and the Inhabitance of the Town had not Chose their officers at the time he set of, So we, the Inhabitance of the said Town hath Unanimus Chose George Wolf, the Bearer hereof to be the Captain, and Abraham Rinker to the Lieutennet; we hose names are under written, promises to obey to this mentioned Captain and Lieutennet, and so we hope his Honour will be so good and send us 50 Gons, 100 Pounds of Powder and 400 Pound Lead, and 150 Stans for Gons. These from your humble Servant, Remaining under the Protection of our Lord Saviour, Jesus Christ.
JOSEPH ROTH, Minister.
The Names of the Company of this said Northampton Town.
George Wolf, Captain
Abraham Rinker, Lieutennet
John Martin Dourr
Georg S. Schnepp
(Penn. Arch., iv, p. 124.)
Upon his arrival at Lancaster Col. James Burd also wrote the Governor, October 17th, saying:
I arrived here on Monday night from Northampton. I need not trouble your Honr with a Relation of the misfortune of that County, as Mr. Horsfield told me he would Send you an Express, and Inform you fully of what had happen'd; I will only mention that in the Town of Northampton (where I was at the time) there was only 4 guns, three of which unfit for use, & the enemy within 4 miles of the place." (Penn. Arch., iv, p. 125.)
It is needless to say the authorities at Philadelphia were very much alarmed at this sudden incursion of the enemy. The Governor at once laid the matter before the Assembly and requested their aid in providing means of defense. This body promptly passed a bill appropriating twenty-four thousand pounds for the purpose of raising and supporting eight hundred men, with their officers, for the defense of the Province.
The danger, however, had passed as quickly as it came. The stray band of Indians who had come to wreak their own especial vengeance on certain persons, had, to a certain extent, accomplished their purpose and were already on their way back, committing further depredations as they went. The last we hear of them is in a letter of October 25th, written by Rev. John Elder to Gov. Hamilton, from Paxtang. He says:
In a Lett'r I writ to your Hon'r the 17th Ins't, I acquainted you that it was then impossible to Suspend the Wyoming Expedition. The party is now returned, and I shall not trouble your Hon'r with any account of their proceedings, as Major Clayton informs that he transmitted to you, from Fort Augusta, a particular journal of their transactions from their leaving Hunter's till they returned to Augusta. The mangled Carcasses of these unhappy people presented to our Troops a melancholly Scene, which had been acted not above two days before their Arrival; and by the way the Savages came into the Town, it appears they were the same party that committed the Ravages in Northampton County, and as they set off from Wyoming, up the same Branch of the River towards Wihilusing, & from several other Circumstances, it's evident that till that Branch is cleared of the Enemy, the frontier Settlem'ts will be in no safety." (Penn. Arch., iv, p. 127.)
With the departure of this party came peace to Lehigh and Northampton Counties, and an exemption from Indian atrocities, at least, never more to be broken.
It only remains to be seen what became of our quondam friend, Jonathan Dodge. It is natural to suppose that his further stay in the service of his country would have been short and inglorious. On the contrary we find he was immediately promoted to Captain, probably to fill the vacancy caused by the death of poor Capt. Wetterhold. How long be retained his position we do not know. The following extract however, from a letter of October 31st, 1763, written by Jas. Young, from Weiser's Tavern, to Jos. Shippen, Jr., may be of interest to the reader:
"I left Cap'tn Dodge very ill in the small pox at Easton, if he makes a Vacancy I would Recommend Lieu Web who bears a good Character & is liked by the People." (Penn. Arch., iv, p. 129.)
I wonder how many of his fellow soldiers and fellow citizens hoped that Capt'n Dodge might then and there "make a vacancy."
The Ralston Fort, or Brown's Fort of Northampton County.
(Ralston and Brown Stockade. - "Irish Settlement.")
Prominently identified with the Indian Outbreak of 1763 in Northampton County, just narrated, was the Ralston Fort, as it should be more properly denominated, or Brown's Fort, as it is frequently called. By this latter name it is given on the Historical map of Pennsylvania, 1875.
In continuation of Mr. Mickley's Map, detailing the neighborhood, especially on the west bank of the Lehigh, and in connection with which it should be consulted, I give herewith a map of the County between the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers, showing principally the details of the "Irish Settlement." I have been fortunate in securing the temporary use of an old map from Rev. D. M. JAMES which enables me to mark the location of many of the old settlers of the Settlement.
(See Site of Ralston's Fort or Block House.)
It will be seen that the Ralston Fort is practically in the center of the Settlement. It was with great difficulty I succeeded in learning the whereabouts of this defense. My first thought, when glancing at its location and name on the Historical Map, was that it was merely an incorrect position for the Brown's Fort near Manada Gap, which has been such an enigma to historians. Nevertheless, I fully realized that it was my duty to ascertain the actual facts of the case and not merely to surmise.
Accordingly, in the first place, I entered into correspondence with very many gentlemen living within a radius of from ten to fifteen miles of the supposed locality, most of whom were men thoroughly acquainted with the history of their vicinity, but without avail. I then determined to make a personal tour of investigation, and accordingly drove through the whole country near its supposed site, but met with no more success. In addition to all my efforts I could find no printed records of any description bearing on the subject. I had fully concluded that this fort was, beyond peradventure a myth, when, at the very last moment, I received a letter from Mr. A. H. Snyder, of Weaversville, who had been faithfully aiding me in the search, stating that he had finally succeeded in finding some one who could enlighten me, and referring me to Rev. D. M. James, D.D., of Bath, pastor of Presbyterian Church near his place. Dr. James has most kindly placed his historical knowledge, which is probably not excelled by any one in the Irish Settlement, at my disposal, and enables me to lay most of the following facts relative to the Ralston Fort before the reader.
The first settlers in Northampton county, as now divided, were the Scotch-Irish or Ulster Scots. As early as 1728 John Boyd, who had married Jane Craig went with Colonel Thomas Craig from Philadelphia and settled at a place on the Catasauqua creek, known later as Craig Settlement. They were followed by others of their countrymen, prominent amongst whom were Hugh Wilson, born in Ireland in 1689, and one of the Commissioner appointed to select the site of Easton, and Samuel Brown. By 1731 a sufficient community had gathered together to form quite a settlement, which came to be known as the "Irish Settlement." Its members were never derelict in duty towards their country. General Robert Brown and General Thomas Craig, of the Continental Army, were both natives of the Settlement. Capt. Hays commanded a company in the service of the Province during the war with the Indians, and we will presently see how greatly it suffered from them at Fort Allen. He also commanded a company in the Revolutionary War which saw service in the battles of Long Island and Trenton. The homes of these men are shown on the map, as well as that of Governor Geo. WOLF, the Seventh Governor of Pennsylvania, who was born in August, 1777, and educated in the Academy, established by the Presbyterians of his neighborhood in 1791, also indicated on the map. The present town of Weaversville occupies, practically, the site of these early occurrences. Near it stands the Presbyterian Church of which Dr. James is now pastor, which supersedes two others previously erected, the first having been built in 1746. In its grave yard lie the remains of General Robert Brown as well as those of many of the early settlers. One of its pastors, the Rev. John Rosbrough, accompanied his parishioners, who enlisted in Capt. Hays company at the outbreak of the Revolution, as their Chaplain. The morning after the capture of the Hessians at Trenton, where the company was engaged, Mr. Rosbrough was surprised by the British whilst in a farm house near the village of Pennington, and cruelly put to death. He lies buried in the grave yard of old "Trenton First Church." Unfortunately most of the lands occupied by the Scotch-Irish were owned by James Allen, a son of Wm. Allen, the original proprietor, both of whom were loyalists. When, immediately subsequent to the Revolution, the estates of loyalist landowners throughout the Commonwealth were confiscated, many of the settlers, to avoid litigation, abandoned their farms and removed elsewhere. The Irish Settlement is now very generally occupied by Germans, but a few names of the original settlers remaining extant.
The Ralston Fort was located as indicated on the map. The Brown property adjoins the Ralston farm. Dr. James says the fort was on the land owned by these two men, hence it was called the Ralston Fort by some and Brown's Fort by others. The old map, however, of which mine is partly a copy, seems rather to show that it stood especially on the Ralston property. The farm is now owned by Samuel Achenbach. It was distant about two miles southwest from the present town of Bath, five miles west of north from Bethlehem, four miles east of Catasauqua. It stood between the Lehigh river and the Monocacy creek, two miles west of the latter. It was about one and a half miles east of the Allen Township Presbyterian Church graveyard, near Weaversville, of which recent mention has been made.
(Ralston and Brown's Stockade, in the "Irish Settlement.")
To further aid me Dr. James kindly entered into correspondence with Gen. R. S. Brown, a grandson of General Robert Brown, of the Revolution. I cannot do better than quote his reply in his own language. He says:
"On the Shaffer farm (now Achenbach farm) in the Settlement is or was the Block-House you speak of. The first stone house in the Settlement was on the Shaffer farm. I don't know whether it is still standing (it is - D. M. J.) [This note was in 1916.] About fifty yards south of the house on the farm which was my sister's, was the breastwork, and when my father bought that farm I was a boy and helped to haul away the stones behind or at the breast work. There men awaited the enemy, the women and children were in that house, it was guarded by a detachment, and the house was pierced with loop holes to fire through. Such is the information I received from my father, transmitted to him by those who participated. I have no doubt of its correctness. I am glad to impart this information to you. After the lapse of a few years even this would have been gone. It is well to treasure up these facts, for in a generation or two all would have been lost."
Dr. James adds that the fort seems to have been stone in foundation, 7 or 8 feet high, with logs on top of the walls extending like an overshoot barn all around, so that an Indian could not approach without being seen. Some of its logs are still incorporated in a neighboring building.
It was undoubtedly built by the settlers, but just when is not so certain. Dr. James says it was built in 1763, but with all due deference I cannot help but think he is mistaken. We will remember that the outbreak of hostilities in 1763 was very sudden and unexpected, beginning and ending almost literally in a day's time. Under these circumstances it can hardly be possible that such a substantial defense should have been erected. It is possible, of course, that it may have been built after the danger was over with a view of preparing for future attacks, but this does not seem to be so likely. I think it is more probable that it came into existence during the earlier troubles of the Fall of 1755, when the Settlement lost so many of its people, and when the savage was almost knocking at its doors.
However that may be, it appears to have played an active part in the sad drama of 1763, very much similar to that of Deshler's Fort. At daybreak on Saturday morning, October 8th, of that year, as the savages were stealthily approaching John Stenton's house to massacre its inmates, they met Jane, the wife of James Horner, living near by, who was on her way to a neighbor's for some coals with which to light her morning fire.
Fearing she would betray them or raise an alarm they dispatched her with their tomahawks, and then proceeded with their bloody work as already narrated. We can readily imagine the women and children fleeing to their house of refuge, when the alarm was given, and the men occupying their stations in the fort. The location of the fort so centrally in the Settlement and at some little distance from the scene of the Stenton massacre, would seem in itself, to bear out my conjecture as to the time of its erection.
Mrs. Horner's body lies at rest in the graveyard of the Allen Township Presbyterian Church, with that of General Brown. The inscription on her tomb is as follows:
"In memory of Jane, wife of James Horner, who suffered death by the hands of the Savage Indians October Eighth, Seventeen Hundred and Sixty-three, aged fifty years."
It is to be regretted that we have no further record of the Ralston Fort, and yet, upon consideration, we can readily understand why such is the case. With this one exception, the settlement was fortunately spared the inroads of the foe, and happily the history of the fort became one of passive protection rather than of active resistance. It did its duty none the less, and, none the less, deserves to live in the memory of mankind.
I am glad to be able to give two photographic views of the original stone house which stood near the fort, and which was used by the women and children as a place of refuge. One view is south, the other west and north.
In my search for this fort I had almost reached the point of despair when I learned of an old building at Kreidersville called "Fort Hannes" or "The Old Fort." I immediately drove there.
Its position corresponded so exactly with that given of Brown's Fort that, at first, I could not help feeling I had discovered what I was seeking. Upon ascertaining its history, however, I found how mistaken I had been. Even at the risk of causing a smile I feel that the story of "The Old Fort" should be here told, to prevent any future liability to error, which, I saw, was already beginning to creep in, with the lapse of years. Those in the neighborhood, of whom I enquired concerning this building, all knew of it. They were unanimous in saying that it was very old, that it most likely was built prior to the Indian War, and, whilst they knew nothing of its history, they thought it had probably been used as a fort at that time. It stood on the road to Siegfrieds, one-half mile west of Lerch's bridge across the Hockendauqua, at Kreidersville. They referred me, however, to Mr. Samuel Lerch, at the bridge, for more complete information. I found Mr. Lerch to be an intelligent gentleman, about 70 years old, who was more than usually well read on matters pertaining to the Indian Wars. I immediately made known my errand to him. Yes! he was well acquainted with the story and location of "Fort Hannes," and then a smile came over his face as he added that he was certain it never played any part in the local history of the Indian troubles. He went on to explain that a couple named "Hannes" or "Hanus" lived in it when he was a boy, who did not bear very good characters and who frequently had rather rough gatherings in the house. On this account the boys, of whom he was one, nicknamed it "The Old Fort." The "boys" have grown up and died off, but the name still remains, although, the reason for giving it and the time when given, have been forgotten. In fact my extensive inquiry throughout the locality may have originated a belief that "The Old Fort" was indeed an old "Indian Fort". Had it not been for Mr. Lerch, I would have been deceived myself, and, as I have previously said, I deem it worthy to here insert my experience as a safeguard for the future.
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