The History of Fulton County Pennsylvania

Elsie S. Greathead


Earliest Settlers (pp. 1-6)

DR. W. H. EGLE, in his history of Pennsylvania, says that Ayr Township seems to have been coeval with the erection of Cumberland County in 1750, since no date of the formation of the township can be found in the Cumberland County courts. At first it extended from Maryland northward, embracing what is now Huntingdon County, westward or even beyond Sideling Hill. After the formation of Bedford County in 1771, it embraced all that is now Fulton County, and Warren Township, Franklin County, the latter having been included in Franklin when that county was erected in 1789. The greater part of this section was rich limestone soil, the rest being red shale. This valley, then known as the Great Cove, to distinguish from Little Cove (Franklin County), was of the richer limestone. Into these rich valley lands the Scotch-Irish settlers came as early as 1740, coming from east of the Tuscarora and Kittochtinny Mountains, as the older counties became well-settled; and where they had been known as early as 1719, having been driven from their native land by religious persecution. Ayr, Bethel, Belfast, and Dublin Townships, by their names indicate Scotch-Irish settlers; sturdy, brave, enduring, religious, but of all our settlers the most restless, most land-hungry, always pushing forward with the hope of gaining more territory. These came into Ayr Township and settled upon lands not purchased from the Indians.

Richard Peters, Secretary of the Province, reports that in the year 1741-1742, information was given that settlers from Maryland and from other parts of the Province of Pennsylvania were settling in Little Cove and the Big and Little Tonolloways. Little by little they stole into the Great Cove until it was said that about thirty families were settled there. Egle says that these settlers in the lower part of the Great Cove were largely French, and more cosmopolitan in character than those coming from the east. The following proclamation against these intruders upon the lands of the Six Nations was issued by the Hon. James Hamilton, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania. These intruding settlers were the cause of the troubles with the Indians.

A Proclamation

Whereas the deputies of the Senecas at a treaty lately held at Philadelphia complained to me in behalf of the Six Nations that contrary to the tenor of a former treaty now subsisting between them and this government and without their consent, divers persons, inhabitants of this province, have seated themselves upon lands not purchased of them, lying westward of the Blue Hills, very much to their hurt, earnestly pray that they should be forthwith removed to prevent the bad consequences that might otherwise ensue. And forasmuch these persons have neither license from the proprietaries nor color of title to said lands, and to permit them to stay there would not only he a breach of the public faith given to the Six Nations, but may occasion dangerous quarrels with them and be the cause of much bloodshed; therefore for preventing these mischiefs, I have thought fit with the advice of the council to issue this Proclamation, and do hereby in his Majesty's name, strictly charge, command, and enjoin all and every, the persons who have presumed to settle on any part of the Province westward of the Blue Hills to remove themselves, their families and effects off those lands on or before the first day of November next. And in case of their neglect or refusal I do in his Majesty's name strictly charge and command all and every justices of the peace, sheriffs and officers within this Province whose assistance may be necessary that they immediately after the said first day of November cause the delinquents with their families and effects to be removed off the said lands as the law in such eases directs, and, hereof, all persons concerned are to take notice and not to fail in their obedience as they will answer the contrary at their peril.

Given under my hand and great seal of the Province of Pennsylvania this 18th day ofJuly, in the 23rd year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, George II, King of Great Britain and Ireland, and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty-nine. July 18, 1749.

By his Honour's Command

Richard Peters, Secretary

God Save the King.

This proclamation of the governor failed to have any effect and Sipes, in his Indian Wars of Pennsylvania, says that the Province made no really energetic effort to remove the intruding settlers until the proprietaries, hoping to avoid trouble, directed Richard Peters, Secretary ofthe Province, with Conrad Weiser as interpreter, to proceed into the County of Cumberland and expel the intruders. They set out May 15, 1750, were joined by George Crogan, James Galbraith, Benjamin Chambers, and others, the delegates of the Six Nations, a chief of the Mohawks, and Andrew Montour, an interpreter. They went first to Path Valley, convicted the trespassers, compelled them to give bonds for the immediate removal of their families and effects, and also for their appearance at the next term of court and burned eleven of the settlers' houses. They next visited the Aughwick Settlement, now in Huntingdon County. The next place visited was the Great Cove.

Secretary Peters writes, "The same proceedings at Big Cove against Andrew Donaldson, John McClelland, Charles Stewart, James Downy, John MacKean, Robert Kendall, Samuel Brown, William Shepperd, Roger Murphy, Robert Smith, William Dickey, William Millican, Willlam McConnell, Alexander McConnell, James Campbell, William Carroll, John Martin, John Jamison, Hans Potter, John MacCollin, James Wilson and John Wilson, who were convicted on their own confessions and executed like bonds to the proprietaries. Three cabins in the northern end were burned. (Burnt Cabins-Marker placed near highway).

Mr. Peters further adds that the bulk ofthese settlements were made during President Palmer's administration, which lasted from May 1747, toNovember 1748. Sipes, (Indian Wars of Pennsylvania) adds, "But the restless spirit of these settlers impelled them to return to their desolated homes and with these came others wil1ing to risk the wrath of the Indians."

On August 8, 1750, Governor Hamilton reports this to the Assembly as follows:

Report to Assembly Concerning the Ejection ofSettlers From Indian Lands


Finding that the proclamation which I issued last summer on the complaint ofthe deputies of the Six Nations against such as had presumed to settle on their unpurchased lands had had no effect, I thought it dangerous any longer to suffer such an open contempt ofthe authority ofgovernment, and therefore gave orders that the law should be put into execution against them. And from a report of the proceedings of the magistrates appointed for that service which will be laid before you, I thought there would have been no further complaint on this head; but by a letter I received last week from the magistrates of Cumberland County, it looks as if such as were then spared have been since spirited up to stay, and that there will be absolute necessity of taking still further measures against them.

(Gov.) James Hamilton

August 8, 1750


(The purchase of which Fulton County was a part).

A conference was ordered by the British Ministry to be held at Albany, New York, in June and July, 1754, to which the Six Nations were invited. Governor Hamilton of Pennsylvania, unable to be present, commissioned John Penn and Richard Peters, of the Provincial Council, and Isaac Norris and Benjamin Franklin, of the Assembly, to attend the conference in his stead. Conrad Weiser also attended the conference as interpreter in the negotiations with the, Six Nations.

At this Albany Conference, the title of the Iroquois to the Ohio Valley was recognized, and the Pennsylvania Com?\missioners secured from the Iroquois a great addition to the Province to which the Indian title was not extinct. The deed, which was signed by the chief of the Six Nations on July 6, 1754, conveyed to Pennsylvania all the land extending on the west side of the Susquehanna River from the Blue Mountains to a mile above the mouth of Penn's Creek, thence northwest by west to the western boundary of the Province; thence along the western boundary to the southern boundary; thence along the southern boundary to the Blue Mountains; and thence along the Blue Mountains to the place of beginning.


The provocations given to the Indians in 1737 by the crafty and unprincipled Colonial Authorities, in what is known as the Walking Purchase, whereby through treachery in the method of taking the measurements the Indians had been cheated out of thousands of acres of their land; and the intrusion of settlers upon unpurchased lands as early as 1730, in this part of Pennsylvania and much earlier to the eastward, little energetic effort being made by the Provincial Authorities to check these intrusions before 1750, and these having proved ineffectual, it is not strange that there should be massacres of these settlers nor that this belated purchased of 1754 did not prevent them. The earliest of these massacres occurred in this valley and is known as --


On Saturday, November 1, 1755, a party of about one hundred Indians, Shawnees and Delawares, among them Shingas, the Delaware king, entered the Great Cove and massacred most of the inhabitants. On November 5, 1755, Governor Robert Hunter Morris made this announcement to the Assembly at Philadelphia:


I this minute received intelligence the settlements at a place called the Great Cove in the County of Cumberland are destroyed, the houses burned, and such of the inhabitants as could not make their escape either slaughtered or made prisoners. This and other cruelties committed upon our frontiers have so alarmed the remaining inhabitants that they are quitting their habitations and crowding into the more settled parts of the Province which in their turn will become the frontier if some stop is not speedily put to the cruel ravages of these bloody invaders. In this melancholy situation, our affairs may be attended with the most fatal consequences. I must therefore again most heartily press upon you this further intelligence to strengthen my hands and make me speedily to draw forth the forces of the Province against his Majesty's enemies, and to afford the timely and necessary assistance to the back inhabitants.

Robert Hunter Morris.

The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 13, 1755, gives the names of several of the killed and captured as follows: "Hicks and a boy named Fleming were killed and scalped. Elizabeth Galway, Henry Gibson, Robert Peer, William Berryhill and David McClelland were murdered. The missing are John Martin, wife and five children, William Galway's wife and two children, David McClelland's wife and two children. William Fleming and wife were taken prisoners.

On November 14, Sheriff Potter was in Philadelphia, before the Provincial Authorities. He made the following statement as to the extent of the ravages of the Indians. He said that twenty-seven plantations were burnt and a great number of cattle was killed. That of the ninety-three families in the Cove and the Tonolloways, forty-seven were either killed or taken, and the rest had deserted.

Rupp's History gives the following list of settlers in the Little Cove--then included in Ayr Township, now in Franklin County, as stated before, and the Tonolloways in 1750. It is interesting to note that only the men are counted. Joseph Coombe, John Herrod, William James, Thomas Yates, Lewis Williams, Elias Stillwell, Levi Moore, John Graham, Henry Pierson, Andrew Coombe, John Messer, John Newhouse, Rees Shelby, William Layton, Charles Wood, William Lynn, George Rees, William Morgan, John Lloyd, John Polk, and Thomas Haston.

Joseph and Andrew Coombe are mentioned in the official records as among the very earliest settlers here. They built a blockhouse which tradition says was between Warfordsburg, Fulton County, and Hancock, Maryland. On January, 1756, a war-party of savages fell upon the settlement about daybreak. History gives only a meager account of the occurrence, reporting the wife of Richard Stillwell as killed and scalped, also the oldest girl. Two younger girls, one eight, the other three, were carried off. Richard himself was away from home at the time. James Leaton was also killed and scalped. The others escaped to Coombe’s Fort House. House and barns were burned, livestock killed, provisions and supplies carried off.

McCord’s Fort, in the Pennsylvania Archives, is located as having been a few miles northwest of Loudon.? The men from this fort, under command of Captain Alexander Culbertson, divided into three parties, pursued the Indians. The Archives give no date. Rupp, about April 4, 1756. One party came up with the Indians at Sideling Hill with whom they had a sharp engagement, which lasted for two hours. The whites were overpowered, the Indians having been succeeded by a force under Shingas.

The following were reported killed: Captain Alexander Culbertson, John Reynolds, William Kerr, James Blair, John Layton, William Denny, Francis Scott, William Boyd, Jacob Paynter, Jacob Jones, Robert Kerr, William Chambers, Daniel McCoy, James Robinson, James Peace, John Blair, Henry Jones, John McCarty, and John Kelley. Wounded: Abraham Jones, Francis Campbell, William Reynolds, John Barnett, Benjamin Blythe, John McDonald, Isaac Miller, Ensign Jamison, James Robinson, William Hunter, Mathias Gaushorn, William Swails, James Cowder.

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