Aldrich History Project

Chapter IV

Wars with the Indians


Pontiac's War -- The League -- Depredations on the Frontier -- Forts Taken -- Indians Driven Back -- The Treaty of Peace -- Threatenings of an Outbreak -- Departure of the Moravians -- Incidents -- The Cresap War --Logan

Upon the close of the French and English war and the withdrawal of the French army from the province, the struggling colonists looked and hoped for an era of peace and quiet, that they might re-establish their wasted fortunes and extend their settlements farther along the frontier. But no, although the power of the French was entirely extinguished, the Western Indians still remembered them with affection, and were still disposed to wage war upon the red-coated English, and all who had aided or abetted their cause. The renowned Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas of Canada, united many of these tribes of the West in a league against the hated red-coats, immediately after the advent of the latter into Canadian territory; and as no such confederation had ever been formed against the French during all their long years of possession, his action must be assigned to some other motive than mere hatred of all civilized intruders.

In the month of May, 1763, the league assailed and captured nine out of twelve forts on the frontier, and massacred their garrisons. The post at Michilimakinac fell first, and soon after Le Boeuf, Venango, Presque Isle, Le Bay, Saint Joseph's, Miamis, Ouachtunon, and Sandusky. Niagara, Fort Pitt, and Detroit alone withstood this terrible shock. Detroit was saved through the efforts of an Indian woman who informed the commander of the post of the intended attack, and a proper defense was made. This attack was led by the mighty Pontiac in person, and although unsuccessful in his design against the place, he reaped a revenge in the terrible massacre perpetrated on the troops under Captain Dalyell, who had been sent to the relief of the garrison.

After several murders had been committed by the Indians around Fort Pitt, Governor Hamilton took measures to protect the frontier, and sent out several detachments of troops, and strengthened the garrison at Fort Augusta. The whole country west of Shippensburg was overrun with marauding Indians, who destroyed and plundered every village and hamlet. On both sides of the Susquehanna the inhabitants were compelled to flee to the woods and mountains for safety. Colonel Boquet was sent to relive Fort Pitt with a force of troops and supplies. Before arriving there he detached a strong force and sent them to assist in defense of Fort Ligonier, where large quantities of ammunition were stored. The Indians having become aware of this, raised the siege of Fort Pitt and hastened to attack Fort Ligonier and intercept the reinforcements. As the relief party were nearing the fort, they were attacked by the Indians, but drove them back. Again and again did the merciless savage foe charge the little band of sturdy troops, but were as often repulsed at the point of the bayonet, and finally routed and driven from the ground.

The command under Colonel Boquet was attacked, but defeated the enemy by leading them into an ambuscade, saving his whole force from destruction. In due time he made his way to Fort Pitt, but the Indians, disheartened by their recent defeat and heavy loss, made no attack against it. The Indians soon after abandoned the country between Presque Isle and Sandusky, and retreated to the land west of the Ohio.

 In the month of September, 1763, occurred the awful tragedy at Devil's Hole, when a band of Senecas under Honayewus, afterward celebrated as Farmer's Brother, and Cornplanter, ambushed a train of English army wagons with an escort of ninety soldiers, when every man, save four, fell victims to their cruel and relentless foe.

In October of the same year a regiment of six hundred soldiers under Major Wilkins, was attacked by the Senecas at Black Rock, but succeeded in repulsing them with severe loss. This was the last serious attack by the Senecas upon the English. Becoming at length satisfied that Pontiac's scheme was a failure, they sullenly agreed to abandon further ravages and remain at peace with the whites.  

On the retirement of the Indians to the Muskingum and the regions beyond the Ohio, the inhabitants returned in fancied security to the settlements and resumed their usual avocations. The winter months came and with them general tranquillity prevailed. But at length, with the coming warm season, the frontier settlements were again aroused with the familiar but unexpected war-whoop in all its savage barbarity. The Indians fell suddenly upon the border settlements, devastating and destroying everything in their path. The tomahawk and scalping knife again were in full play, creating alarm, suffering, bloodshed, and death in their unnatural and inhuman greed. To meet and check this terrible onslaught, a decisive action was taken by the British and provincials. Colonel Bradstreet, with a strong body of troops, came by water to Fort Niagara, accompanied by Sir William Johnson and a body of his Iroquois warriors. A council of friendly Indians was held at the fort, among whom Sir William exercised his skill, and satisfactory treaties were made with them. The Senecas, who had repeatedly promised friendship, still held aloof, and were said to be meditating a renewal of the war. Bradstreet ordered their immediate attendance, under penalty of the destruction of their villages. They then came, ratified the treaty and thenceforth adhered to it.

Colonel Boquet, with a strong force of regulars and provincials, and a complement of about two hundred friendly Indians, was to sweep through Pennsylvania and then act in concert with Bradstreet along the lakes. The forces under Boquet reached Fort Loudon in August, when he received a courier from Bradstreet to the effect that he had concluded a treaty of peace with the Delawares and Shawnese; but as these savages were still murdering and plundering he had no confidence in them, and continued preparations for an aggressive campaign against them. After a long and weary march, and having met with no considerable opposition from the Indians, Boquet, with his command reached Tuscarawas, near the forks of the Muskingum. Here he was informed that chiefs of the Delawares and Shawnese were coming to negotiate a treaty of peace, and preparations were made to receive them.

At the conference Custaloga and Beaver appeared for the Delawares; Keissinautchtha for the Shawnese, and Kiyashuta for the Senecas. After considerable discussion a treaty was agreed upon, but was not confirmed until all white prisoners were delivered up.

 In the month of May following the treaty was ratified, and the Indians fulfilled their promises to deliver up all prisoners. Peace now once more was restored, families returned to their homes, and the tide of population once again began its westward move toward the frontier.

Trade again was carried on along the lakes, almost entirely in open boats propelled by oars, and an occasional temporary sail. In fair weather tolerable progress could be made, but woe to the craft which might be overtaken by a storm.

No further event of importance occurred to disturb the peace and prosperity of the settlers along the borders until the spring and summer of 1767. Some of the lawless whites, by encroaching upon the Indian lands, nearly

provoked them to a renewal of hostilities. The Indians, however, willing to abide by their declarations of peace, restrained themselves upon the promise of the proprietaries that their grievances should be redressed. So tardy, indeed, was the promised justice that in 1768 another open war with the Indians menaced the province. At this juncture Sir William Johnson came to the rescue, and through his efforts, war was averted. At his request a council was held at Fort Stanwix, in New York State, with the chiefs and sachems of the Six Nations. By the terms of the treaty made there on the 5th day of November, 1768, the Indian title to another tract in Pennsylvania was extinguished. The northern boundary of the lands sold under this treaty followed the West Branch through Clearfield county and entered Indiana county at the point where Clearfield, Indiana, and Cambria counties join. It will be remembered that these lands were claimed by the whites under the treaty of 1754, and their encroachments on them at thattime had much to do with provoking the Indians occupying those lands to hostilities during the French and Indian war.

The year 1772 marked another event in the history of this vicinity, although not warlike in its nature. The Moravian Indians and missionaries had built up a village called Friedenshutten, a few miles below Wyalusing, in what is now Bradford county. By the treaty at Fort Stanwix the Six Nations sold this land to the proprietaries, and this Christian band were compelled to vacate. Although the proprietaries had forbidden that any surveys should be made near them, the disturbance consequent upon the Connecticut claim intervened, and having been invited by the Delawares on the Ohio to come and settle among them, they made preparations and departedin 1772.

Early in the month of June the party, comprising two hundred and forty persons, young and old, with their cattle, horses, and other effects, took up their journey through Indian roads and over the Allegheny Mountains, by way of the Bald Eagle, for the Ohio. They were divided into two bodies, one pursuing the journey in boats up the West Branch under charge of John Roth, and the other by land under John Ettwein. The party in boats carried their church bell in advance of the fleet, and proceeded in this manner as far as the island, where they were soon after joined by those on the land route. From this point the boats were abandoned, and all proceeded together by land. When they reached the mountains the greatest difficulty was experienced in crossing them, as they had not sufficient horses to transport all their personal effects, and were, consequently, obliged to carry the balance on their backs. To add to the inconvenience of this task they were seriously troubled by rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles, and lost several of their horses by being bitten by them.

They complained further of being greatly annoyed by an insect known to the Indians as "punks," or "punkeys," which were so exceedingly small as to be almost invisible to the eye, but whose bites were painful as red-hot ashes. Some persons died during the journey, among them a crippled child, ten or eleven years of age, who was carried by the mother in a basket on her back.

In the "Sketches of the Snow-shoe Region," by James Gilliland, he says: "One of the party was buried at Moravian Run, where the Indian path crosses, about a mile west of Big Moshannon Creek, and from this the name was given to the run." The original journal has this entry: "July 14, 1772, we came to Clearfield Creek, so called by the Indians, because on its banks there are acres of lands that resemble clearings, buffalo that resort thither having destroyed every vestige of undergrowth, and left the face of the country as bare as though it had been cleared by the grub-axe of the pioneer."

The run, which since that time has been called Moravian Run, is now partly in Graham and Bradford townships. Graham was originally a part of Bradford. The reader will understand that up to this time there had been no permanent settlements made by the pioneers in this vicinity; that the country for many miles around was an unbroken and dense forest, with only an occasional opening along the river and its tributaries. On the site of the present borough of Clearfield was the Indian village of "Chincklacamoose," frequently mentioned in the foregoing chapters. This name has been spelled in so many ways that we shall not attempt to say which is correct, but adopt that most frequently used by past authorities.

After the conclusion of Colonel Boquet's campaign and the treaty of peace at Fort Stanwix, and after the transgressions of the whites had been forgiven under that treaty, there occurred another outbreak in 1774, which, it must be acknowledged, was occasioned by the whites themselves. Several murders were committed upon the Indians in various localities on the head waters of the Susquehanna, Ohio, Monongahela, and Cheat Rivers. The Senecas made frequent complaints against the depredations of the whites upon some of their people. Logan, the celebrated chief, was one of those selected by the whites as an object of their vengeance. Bald Eagle was another against whom a special attack was made, and who was murdered by them. However, through the mediating nfluences of Sir William Johnson, no serious outbreak occurred. He did his best to redress their grievances, and sought to have them withdraw to their villages and away from those isolated localities, where he could have them more completely under his protection.

The Indians remaining were not content with an arrangement which protected only the Senecas, nor were they willing to abandon their old and favorite haunts to which they had perfect right. Instead of growing less, the atrocities of the white bordermen became more frequent and more bold, and in 1774, another destructive war broke out, which threw the whole frontier into a state of tumultuous excitement. A false rumor, to give color of excuse to their acts, was set afloat by the whites that the Indians had stolen a number of horses from exploring parties on the Ohio and Kenhawa Rivers, and for the purpose of obtaining a position of defense against an expected attack by the Indians, the land-jobbers collected a force and stationed themselves at Wheeling, then commanded by Captain Cresap. Soon after this, Captain Cresap, with a party, intercepted two Indians and cruelly murdered them. The affair at Captina Creek, by Daniel Greathouse and his command, and only a short time after at Yellow Creek, by the same party, only served to increase the fury of the outraged natives. By these two assaults, the whole of Logan's family were murdered. Suddenly, a consternation pervaded the whole frontier. A foe, always quick to resent, and ever eager to shed the blood of the white man, was roused to a feeling of revenge which he would not be long in obtaining. The frontier was changed into a scene of war, the fields of the husbandman were destroyed, the cabins of the villagers were burned and his property destroyed,incautious settlers were overtaken and killed. Messengers were dispatched to the military posts calling for aid, and General Lewis and Lord Dunmore were sent to relieve the whites. General Lewis reached Point Pleasant after a tedious march of nineteen days, but Lord Dunmore had not yet appeared. On the morning of the next day the Indians made a furious attack against the white force, which, with varying results, was kept up till night, when the savages withdrew across the Ohio. The loss to the whites was reported as seventy-five killed and one hundred and forty wounded, while the Indians suffered a greater loss. The latter were commanded by the celebrated Shawnee chief, Cornstalk.

After the battle the Indians called a council and made peace with the white commander. Meanwhile, Lord Dunmore was approaching, when he received other messengers from the Indians asking for peace, which was granted. It was on this occasion that the celebrated chief, Logan, made a speech to Lord Dunmore which made him famous. He said: "I appeal to any white man to say, if he ever entered Logan's cabin hungry and he gave him no meat; if ever he came cold and naked and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was his love for the whites, that his countrymen pointed as they passed, and said: 'Logan is the friend of the white men.' I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace, but do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."

It will be remembered that Logan was a Six Nations chief, whose father Shikelimo, was a resident chief sent by the Six Nations to live among the Delawares. He named his son Logan, after James Logan, a conspicuous personage in the province. During the French and Indian war, Logan acted only as peacemaker. After the close of the Cresap war he became morose and drank heavily. He made a mistake in saying that Cresap murdered his family; the party under Greathouse committed that offense. While on a journey from Detroit to Miami, several years after this, Logan was murdered.


Source: Pages 31-37, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed April 1999 by Amy S. Ramage for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (

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