[p. 27] Ancient Traditions — French Missions — First English Explorers — The Moravians.
The ancient or pre-historic people, genrally known as the "Mound Builders," have left some evidences of their former presence in Lawrence County, though they are not as numerous as in some other portions of the state and in some neighboring states. The well known mound situated near the village of Edenburg, and also near the site of the famous Indian village of Kush-Kush-Kee, is undoubtedly the work of their hands.
"The traditions of the Lenni-Lenape (or Delawares) and Mengwe nations, whom the first Europeans found inhabiting the vast region stretching from the Atlantic Ocean and the St Lawrence River to the Mississippi Valley and southward to the Carolinas and the Ohio River, point unmistakably to this mysterious people, who rose and flourished, who built extensive cities and gigantic fortifications; who worked the wonderful copper deposits of Lake Superior, and who manufactured millions of the elaborate stone implements of war and husbandry still found upon the hills of the Ohio, the grand prairies of the West and the broad savannahs of the a South.
"The Indian nations had a tradition that their ancestors came from the far western wilds of the continent many centures ago, and crossing the great river Mississippi, which they called Namoesisipu, or river of fish, fell upon this ancient people and after many years of bloody and terrific warfare succeeded in driving the shattered remnant of the once powerful race toward the vast region of the South and West. After this great conquest, the Lenni-Lenape and the Mengwe, who had joined hands against the Allegewi, as the conquered people were called, divided the country between them; the Lenape, or Delawares, as they were known by the English, taking the region lying along the Ohio—the famed 'La Belle Riviere' of the French, and the Mengwe, the Iroquois, or Six Nations, or 'Mingoes' of the French and English, choosing the region lying around the Great Lakes and on both sides of the St. Lawrence River."
At a subsequent date hostilities broke out between those nations, and the Lenape were finally subdued by the all-conquering Iroquois. The first knowledge obtained by white men of this region was due to the French traders and explorers, who as early as 1616 had penetrated into the wilderness as far as the west end of Lake Superior.
French Catholic missionaries had established themselves at various points in the vicinity of the northwestern lakes by the middle of the seventeenth century, and Chevalier De La Salle had journeyed from the head of Lake Michigan to the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1682.
[p. 28] There were two routes from Lake Erie to the Ohio River—one was by way of Erie (Presq' Isle), French Creek, and the Allegheny River; the other was from Presq' Isle over the dividing ridge, and down the Shenango or Mahoning and Beaver Rivers. The traders and missionaries probably began to visit this region about 1731, for the English colonies of Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia were complaining of their encroachments in that year. The Neshannock Creek is said to have been named by the Delawares, and the Shenango by the Senecas, then the dominant Indian nation in northwestern Pennsylvania. Among the lesser organizations, the Cornplanter tribe of the Seneca nation (called after one of their chiefs) was the most powerful and numerous one in this region. Their principal village was on the Allegheny River.
"The first white man who visited this region from the English colonies was Christopher Gist, the friend and companion of Washington, who went in the interests of the Ohio Land Company, on a visit of exploration, as far west as the Miami, in 1750. He did not, however, visit the territory of Lawrence County, but probably, passed down the right bank of the Ohio River.
"It is probable that the first white man from 'beyond the mountains,' who visited the territory now comprised within the limits of Lawrence County, was Christian Frederick Post, a Moravian missionary, who was sent on a peace mission to the western Indians, in the year 1758, in advance of General Forbes' army, then on its way toward Fort Du Quesne. He arrived, according to his journal, at Kush-Kush- Kee, the Indian capital of King Beaver, on the 12th of August. This was twelve years previous to the settlement made by the Moravian missionaries, Zeisberger and Senseman, at what is now Moravia station.
"Whether 'King Beaver' was identical with the Chief Pack-an-ka, who ruled in the valley afterwards, we cannot know, but it is at least probable. On the 17th of August, a grand council was held. All the chiefs and rulers for many miles around, were present, and there was also a French captain and fifteen men on the ground. Among the celebrated kings and chiefs present were King Beaver, King Shingis, Teedy-Us-Kung, and Delaware George, of the Delawares, and there was present, also, a party of Shawnese and Mingoes." This French detachment may have thrown up the fortification at old Moravia village in Taylor Township, as a protection against the always possible treachery of their savage allies. From that date, until the spring of 1770, we know little of the history of this region. Hunters, traders and trappers probably visited it, but the savages were the reigning lords and masters.
The year 1770 was marked by the advent of the Moravians, two missionaries of that sect—Zeisberger and Senseman—coming into the valley of the Beaver River, in April of that year, by invitation of the principal chief, Pack-an-ka. These missionaries had attempted to establish a mission at the mouth of the Tionesta Creek, but meeting with discouragements, they gladly accepted Pack-an-ka's offer of land and protection, and commenced a settlement a little west of where the old village of Moravia now stands. A few weeks later, however, they crossed the river and made their permanent settlement on the high bluff a little northwest from the present Moravia station on the E. & P. Railway. This mission flourished for nearly three years, after which, in 1773, the missionaries removed to a point on the upper waters of the Muskingum, in the present State of Ohio. Post describes the village of Kush-kush-kee as being composed of four separate towns, and containing about "ninety houses, and 200 able warriors." [p. 29] Pack-an-ka was the head chief or king, and his capital, called New Kas-kas-kunk, was located on the ground where New Castle now stands. Another town called Old Kas-kas-kunk, was located near the mouth of the Mahoning River. The principal chief and orator, under King Pack-an-ka, was called Glik-kik-an. He was afterwards converted to Christianity by the Moravians and finally perished in the massacre at the mission towns in Ohio, in March, 1782. Though never converted, the king remained the steadfast friend of the missionaries as long as they continued in the Beaver Valley.
20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens Hon. Aaron L. Hazen Richmond-Arnold Publishing Company, Chicago, Ill., 1908
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Updated: 5 Apr 2002