The writer briefly refers to the person, motives and principles of the first charter proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania, once the owner of the soil of this county. Two hundred and thirty years ago was born in the city of London the subsequent founder of that province. He was the son of William Penn, of the county of Wilts, Vice Admiral in the time of Cromwell, and whom King Charles II knighted for his successful naval services against the Dutch.
His son our William Penn was a serious youth. He received religious impressions in his twelfth year, which were confirmed by the preaching of Thomas Lowe, a Quaker preacher. In his fifteenth year, while a commoner in Christ Church, Oxford, he met with other students who were devoutly inclined, and with whom he joined in holding private meetings, in which they prayed and preached, which it seems, was offensive to the college authorities, by whom those young religionists were confined for non-conformity, but continuing in their religious exercises, they were finally expelled. Young Penns father vainly endeavored to turn him from his religious bent and exercises, which the more worldly minded senior feared would interfere with his promotion in the world, but finding him still determined to adhere to his religious convictions, gave him a severe beating and turned him adrift upon the world.
The young martyr was restored to his home by the intercession of his mother. He afterward visited Paris, and after his return was admitted to the study of the law in Lincolns Inn. He soon after became a member of the staff of the Duke of Ormond, who was then the Viceroy of Ireland. He was thus engaged for awhile in military service, of which he became fond. His father, however, would not permit him to enter the army, which he then eagerly wished to do. "It was at this interesting period of his life," says Wayne McVeagh, in his eulogy, "that the authentic portrait of him now in the possession of the Historical Society was painted a portrait which dispelled many of the mistaken opinions of his person and his character generally entertained.
It presents him to us clad in armor, of frank countenance, and features delicate and beautiful, but resolute, with his hair long and parted in the center of his forehead, falling over his shoulders in massive, natural ringlets. This portrait bears the date of his twenty-second birthday, and the martial motto Pax quaeritur bello." Having been sent, in his twenty-second year, by his father, to Ireland to manage an estate, he again met Rev. Thomas Lowe, in Cork, by whose preaching and through his deep sympathy for a persecuted sect, he became a confirmed Quaker, and, with others, was imprisoned for attending Quaker meetings. He was, however, soon released, through the intervention of the Earl of Orrery. His father ordered him home, and finding him still inflexible in his conviction of religious duty, would have compromised with him if he would have agreed to remain uncovered before the king, the duke, and himself, which, refusing to do, he became hateful to his father, by whom he was again driven from his home, but was again restored.
Though his father never afterward openly countenanced him, still he would intercede for his release when imprisoned, as he occasionally was, for consciences sake. When Sir William died, in 1670, he was fully reconciled to his son. He left him a large estate. In bidding him farewell, he said, "Son William. Let nothing in this world tempt you to wrong your conscience. So will you keep peace at home, which will be a feast to you in a day of trouble."
The writer passes by young Penns ministry, his marriage, and the persecution of his sect. Finding that these persecutions would not cease, he resolved to settle in America, remarking: "There may be room there, though not here, for such a holy experiment."
In 1681 he obtained from Charles II a patent for a province in North America, which the king readily granted, in consideration of his fathers services and a debt of sixteen thousand pounds due his estate from the Crown, which the government was either unable or unwilling to settle with him in money. After a long and searching course of proceedings, lasting from June 14, 1680, till March 4, 1681, the charter was granted, in which the boundaries of the Province are thus prescribed: "Bounded on the east by Delaware River, from twelve miles distance northward of New Castle town (Del.) unto the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, if the said river doth extend so far northward, but if the said river shall not extend so far northward, then by the said river so far as it doth extend; and from the head of said river the eastern bounds are to be determined by a meridian line, to be drawn from the head of said river unto the said forty-third degree.
The said land to extend westward five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said eastern bounds, and said lands to be bounded on the north by the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, and on the south by a circle drawn at twelve miles distance from New Castle, northward and westward, unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of northern latitude, and then by a straight line westward to the limits of longitude mentioned." By a calculation of the contents of those charter boundaries the Province contained thirty-five million three hundred and sixty-one thousand six hundred acres. The present area of the Sate of Pennsylvania, according to the census of 1870, is forty-six thousand square miles, or twenty-nine million four hundred and forty thousand acres. The area was diminished by the subsequent adjustment of the boundaries between this and the states of Maryland, Virginia and New York.
The impossible southern line, mentioned in the charter, caused much dispute between Penn and Lord Baltimore, which was at length permanently fixed by Mason and Dixon, who were eminent mathematicians and astronomers. In 1774 Lord Dunmore groundlessly claimed that the western boundary of Pennsylvania did not include Pittsburgh and the Monongahela river. After Gen. Gage ordered the evacuation of the English troops from Fort Pitt, one Dr. John Connolly, as Dunmores agent, took possession of Fort Pitt with a military force which he had collected in Virginia, changed the name of the fort to that of Dunmore, issued his proclamation asserting the claim of Virginia to the fort and the territory in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania, and commanding the people west of Laurel Hill to submit to the authority of Lord Dunmore as the Governor of the King of England. Settlers who had derived their titles from Virginia located in various parts of that region. Governor Penn, however, caused Connolly to be arrested and imprisoned, and the intruders under the Virginia titles to be expelled.
In December, 1774, the boundary line between Pennsylvania and New York was ascertained and fixed by David Rittenhouse on the part of the former, and Samuel Holland on the part of the latter, to be the north latitude 42° , with a variation of 4° 20. The forty-third parallel of north latitude, mentioned in the charter, extends through central New York. Messrs. Rittenhouse and Holland placed a stone on a small island in the western branch of the Delaware as a monument on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania, with the words and figures New York, 1774, and the above-mentioned latitude and variation cut upon the top. They also placed another stone, four perches due west from the former, cutting on the top thereof the word Pennsylvania and the same latitude and variation as on the other. The extension of that line farther west was postponed until 1786-7, when it was completed by Andrew Ellicott, on the part of Pennsylvania, and James Clinton and Simeon Dewitt on the part of New York.
By act of March 27, 1790, £300 were granted to Reading Howell for delineating on his map all the lines of this state, as established by law, or otherwise ascertained.
Penn sailed in the ship Welcome, August 30, 1682, for his newly acquired province. He arrived after a long passage at New Castle, Del., where the colonists, English, Dutch and Swedes, assembled to welcome him as their beloved proprietor. He wished the Province to be called New Wales, but the king persisted in naming it "Pennsilvania." In reference thereto Penn wrote to his friend, Robert Turner, on the 5th of January: "I proposed, when the secretary, a Welshman, refused to have it called New Wales, Sylvania, and they added Penn to it, though I much opposed it, and went to the king to have it struck out and altered, he said it was past and would take it upon him; nor could twenty guineas move the undersecretaries to vary the name; for I feared lest it should be looked on as a vanity in me, and not as a respect in the king, as it truly was, to my father, whom he often mentions with praise."
Notwithstanding his rights under the charter, he purchased the territory from the Indians at a fair price.
Before leaving England he drafted and published the Fundamental Law and Frame of Government of Pennsylvania, from which I cite the thirty-fifth section: "All persons living in this province who confess and acknowledge the one Almighty and Eternal God, to be the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the world, and that hold themselves obliged in conscience to live peaceably and justly in civil society, shall in noways be molested or prejudiced for their religious persuasion or practise in matters of faith and worship; nor shall they be compelled at any time to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place or ministry whatever" wherein was granted a greater degree of religious liberty than had been elsewhere allowed.
A sketch of the early history of the Colonial government established by Penn, of the just treaties made between him and the Indians, and of the disturbed state of affairs in the colony after his return to England, properly belongs to state history. The writer will not, therefore, dwell on them, but proceed to present some of the events which help make up the history of our own county.
THE THREE ORIGINAL COUNTIES, laid out by the immortal founder of Pennsylvania in 1682, were Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester.2 To the last named the territory now included within the limits of Armstrong county once, theoretically at least, belonged, under the charter of Penn, but before he had purchased the Indian title.
Though the Province was divided in 1682 into the three above-mentioned counties, their boundaries were not distinctly ascertained until several years thereafter, i.e. the division lines between those three counties. The Provincial Council unanimously agreed and ordered what they should be February 1, 1865. Nevertheless a petition of the justices of Chester county for themselves and the inhabitants thereof was presented to the council January 25, 1689, setting forth that Chester county was but a small tract of land not exceeding nine miles square, and but thinly settled, so that it was "not able to support the charge thereof;" that upon their humble request the proprietor and governor (Penn) had been pleased, before his departure, to grant an enlargement of the same, viz., to run up from the Delaware river along the Darby Mill creek, the several courses and distances until they took in Radnor and Hereford townships; then down to the Schuykill; then upward along the several courses thereof, without limit.
The prayer in the petition was that the council would confirm these bounds so that the people of Chester county might in some measure be able to defray their necessary charge. The allegation that the proprietor before his return to England had indicated his wishes respecting the increase of the area of that county was corroborated by the written attestations of John Blunston, Randall Vernon and Thomas Usher, and by the assertions of some of the members of the council, that these courses and distances accorded with the map of the Province. John Blackwell, being then governor, directed that the minutes of the council, held February 1, 1682, be examined. It was found that the copy which was then before the council agreed in substance with the entry of the minutes.
On February 26, 1689, the council reaffirmed their vote of February 1, 1682, fixing the dividing lines between the counties of Chester and Philadelphia, so that the area of Chester county was enlarged. To what extent? Not expressly, yet impliedly or inferentially, so as to include all the territory of the Province not included in Bucks and Philadelphia counties. At all events, the jurisdiction of the courts of Chester county, after its enlargement, over the settlements as they extended westward, until the formation of Lancaster county forty-two years later. Its western and northwestern boundaries were not expressly designated they were left open.
The petition for its organization was presented to the Provincial Council, February 6, 1828-9. (It appears from the 41st chapter of the Acts of the First General Assembly, passed December 7, 1682, that the first settlers of this state began the year on the first of March; that sixth of February was, according to their calendar in 1828, but according to ours, in 1829.) That was "a petition of the inhabitants of the upper [western] parts of Chester" which "was laid before the board and read, setting forth that by reason of their great distance from the county town, where courts are held, offices are kept, and annual elections are made, they lie under very great inconveniences, being obliged, in the recovery of their just debts, to travel one hundred miles to obtain a writ; that for want of sufficient number of justices, constables, and other officers, in these parts, no care is taken of the highways; townships are not laid out, nor bridges built, when there is an apparent necessity for them; and further, that for want of a gaol there, several vagabonds and other dissolute people harbor among them, thinking themselves safe from justice in so remote a place; and therefore praying that a division line be made between upper and lower part of said county, and the upper part thereof erected into a county, with all the immunities, rights and privileges which any other county of this province does now enjoy."
This petition led to the formation of another county. York, including also what is now Adams county, was separated from Lancaster by act of August 9, 1749.
was formed out of Lancaster county by act of January 27, 1750: "All and singular the lands lying within the Province of Pennsylvania, to the westward of the Susquehanna, and northward and westward of the county York, and is hereby erected into a county, named and hereafter to be called Cumberland, bounded northward and westward with the lines of the Province, eastward partly with the river Susquehanna, and partly with the county of York, and partly with the line dividing the said province from Maryland."
was formed out of Cumberland county by act of March 9, 1771: "All and singular the lands lying and being within the following boundaries: Beginning where the Province line crosses the Tuscarora mountain, and running along the summit of that mountain to the gap near the head of Path valley; thence with a north line to the Juniata; thence with the Juniata to the mouth of Shavers creek; thence northwest to the line of Berks county" which had been formed from Philadelphia, Chester and Lancaster counties, March 11, 1752; "thence along the Berks county line northwestward to the western bounds of the Province thence southward according to the several courses of the western boundary of the Province to the southwest corner of the Province; thence eastward with the southern line of the Province to the place of beginning" from which, and from Berks, Northumberland county was separated by act of March 21, 1772, and then extended to the north and west boundaries of the Province; and from it Lycoming county was formed by act of April 13, 1795, and comprised all the northwestern part of the State beyond Huntingdon, Mifflin and Westmoreland counties.
was formed out of Bedford county by act of February 26, 1773: "Beginning in the Province line where the most westerly branch, commonly called the South or Great branch, of Youghiogheny river crosses same; thence down the easterly side of the said branch and river to the Laurel hill; thence along the ridge of the said hill northeastward so far as it can be traced, or till it runs into the Allegheny hill; thence along the ridge dividing the waters of the Susquehanna and Allegheny rivers to the purchase line at the head of the Susquehanna; thence due west to the limits of the Province; and by the same to the place of beginning," from which Washington county was separated by act of March 28, 1781. It was provided by act of April 8, 1785, "That all the land within the late purchase from the Indians, not heretofore assigned to any other particular county, shall be taken and deemed, and they are hereby declared to be, within the limits of the counties of Northumberland and Westmoreland, and that from the Kittanning up to the Allegheny to the mouth of the Conewango creek, and from thence up said creek to the northern line of this state, shall be the line between Northumberland and Westmoreland counties in the aforesaid late purchase."
was formed out of parts of Westmoreland and Washington counties by act of September 24, 1788: "Beginning at the mouth of Flahertys run, on the south side of the Ohio river; from thence by a straight line to the plantation on which Joseph Scott, Esq., then lived, on Montours run, to include the same; from thence by a straight line to the mouth of Millers run, on Chartiers creek; thence by a straight line to the mouth of Perrys Mill run, on the east side of the Monongahela river; thence up the said river to the mouth of Beckets run; thence by a straight line to the mouth of Sewicklay creek, on Youghiogheny river; thence up Turtle creek to the main fork thereof; thence by a northerly line until it strikes Ricketys creek; thence down said creek to the Allegheny river; thence up the Allegheny river to the northern boundary of the state; thence along the same to the western line of the state; thence along the same to the river Ohio, and thence along the same to the place of beginning." To which another portion of Washington county was annexed in 1789; and a tract of land between two and three hundred thousand acres, on Lake Erie, purchased by the Governor of Pennsylvania, March 3, 1792,from the United Sates (to which it had been ceded by New York and Massachusetts), for $151,740.45, continental money, was declared, by act of April 3, 1792, to be a part of Allegheny county.
was formed out of parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland and Lycoming counties by act of March 12, 1800. All that portion west of the Allegheny river was taken from Allegheny county; all that portion on the east side of that river, between the Kiskiminetas river and the then boundary of Westmoreland county, viz, a line due west from the purchase line at the head of the Susquehanna, striking the Allegheny river a short distance below the mouth of Cowanshannock creek, was taken from Westmoreland county; and all that part between the northern boundary of Westmoreland county east of the Allegheny river and Clarion river was taken from Lycoming county which had been formed out of Northumberland county by act of April 13, 1795.
The original boundaries of Armstrong county were: "Beginning on the Allegheny river, at the mouth of Buffalo creek, the corner of Butler county," which was also erected by act of March 12, 1800; "thence northerly along the line of said county of Butler to where the northeast corner of said county of Butler shall strike the Allegheny river; thence from the said corner, on a line at a right angle from the first line of the county of Butler, until the said line shall strike the Allegheny river; thence by the margin of said river to the mouth of Tobys creek" Clarion river "thence crossing the river and up said creek to the line dividing Woods and Hamiltons districts; thence southerly along said line to the present line of Westmoreland county; thence down the [Kiskiminetas] river to the mouth thereof on the Allegheny river; thence across the said river to the westwardly margin thereof; thence down the said river to the mouth of Buffalo creek, the place of beginning." By act of March 11, 1839, that part east of the Allegheny river and between Red Bank creek and the Clarion river was detached from Armstrong and annexed to Clarion county. Thus it appears that the territory of Armstrong county has been successively included in the counties of Chester, Lancaster, Cumberland and Bedford, wholly, and in Northumberland, Westmoreland, Allegheny and Lycoming, partly.
It may not be so well and generally known a hundred years hence as it is now why our county received the name it bears. It may then be a matter of greater interest and curiosity than it now is to know why it was thus christened. The writer, therefore, turns back in the chronological order of events beyond the middle of the last century.
CONTEST BETWEEN THE ENGLISH AND FRENCH.
From and after 1744, both the British and French governments claimed a large portion of the territory west of the Allegheny mountains, embracing portions of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia. In 1743, one Peter Chartier, a half-blood and trader, and a French spy, residing most of the time in Philadelphia, attempted to cause the Shawnee Indians on the Ohio, who had become hostile to the English and friendly to the French, to wage war against the Six Nations, who were in the main friendly to the English. With four hundred Shawnee warriors, he captured two provincial traders on the Allegheny, and, showing his commission as captain, granted by the French government, seized their goods, worth sixteen hundred pounds. Thus began open hostilities in the French and Indian war. The French authorities were watching, with a jealous eye, the settlements made by the Ohio Company and others on the disputed territory. The then governor of Canada, Gallisoniere, resolved to establish evidences of the claim and occupancy of the French to and of that disputed region. Hence he ordered one Louis Celeron, with a body of soldiers, to place plates of lead, whereon was inscribed the claim of France, in the mounds and at the mouths of the Ohio. Several of those plates were afterward found. On the one at the God-rock was this inscription, as translated from the French:
"In the year 1749, during the reign of Louis XV, king of France, we, Celeron, commandant of a detachment sent by the Marquis de la Gallisoniere, commander-in-chief of New France, to restore tranquillity in some Indian villages of these districts, have buried this plate at the confluence of the Tch-a-do-koin," now called French Creek "this 29th of July, near the river Ohio, otherwise Beautiful River (Belle Riviere), as a monument of our having taken possession of the said river Ohio and of those that fall into the same, and all of the land on both sides as far as the sources of said rivers, as well as of those which the preceding kings of France have enjoyed possession of and maintained, partly by force of arms, partly by treaties, especially by those of Ryswick, Utrecht and Aix-la-Chapelle."
The Allegheny was then called Ohio, so that the claim mentioned in that inscription covered the tributaries of the Allegheny and the land in our county as well as elsewhere.
The English claim to the same territory was asserted thus: "That all the lands or countries westward from the Atlantic ocean to the South Sea, between 48° and 34° of north latitude, were expressly included in the grant of King James I, to divers of his subjects, so long since as the year 1606, and afterward confirmed in 1620; and under this grant the colony of Virginia claims extent so far west as the South Sea, and the ancient colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut were, by their respective charters, made to extend to the said South Sea, so that not only the right to the sea-coast, but to all the inland countries, from sea to sea, has at all times been asserted by the Crown of England."
Thus it was that the territory of our county, in common with that of others, was disputed territory claimed by both French and English.
The French early and vigorously endeavored to fortify themselves along the Ohio and Allegheny rivers for the purpose of substantiating their claim and title to the contiguous territory.
From information derived by Washington while on his mission to Logstown and Venango, in 1753-4, and from prisoners who had escaped from the French and Indians, it became evident to the English that the French were making timely and vigorous efforts to establish a cordon of forts from Lake Erie to the Ohio, and thus hem in the English east of the Allegheny mountains. The conflict could be settled only by the wager of battle, to which neither party was eager to appeal, but each sought otherwise to fortify their claims, and gain over to their respective interests the favor, good will and aid of the Indians. The French appear to have been more adroit and successful in winning the Indians to their side of the contest than were the English. There was a misunderstanding between the Six Nations and the English as to the extent of territory embraced in the sale and purchase of the treaty made at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 22, 1744, which was produced at a meeting, or conference, held at Logstown, seventeen miles below Pittsburgh, June 9, 1752. When the sales, in pursuance of that treaty, were urged as valid, the chiefs replied: "We have not heard of any sale west of the warriors road, which runs at the foot of the Allegheny ridge." So intense was the feeling of the Indians respecting this matter, that William Fairfax said that in the conference with the Indians, held at Winchester, Virginia, in September, 1753, he had not dared to mention to them either the Lancaster or Logstown treaty.
The Shawnees had already gone over to the French, and the Delawares were just waiting for a favorable opportunity to follow them and wreak their vengeance on the English colonists for their instrumentality in forcing them to leave the forks of the Delaware that is, the territory of Northampton county between the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. When ordered off from their homes in the forks by the Six Nations, at the instigation of the colonists, they removed to Wyoming, carrying with them a keen sense of the wrongs which they conceived had been done them, among which was the famous walking purchase, or the Indian walk, a transaction which was said not to have been creditable to the proprietary government, and by which it was alleged, the Indian title to the land in the forks was extinguished, and by which the Indians thought they were wrongfully overreached as to the quantity of land or extent of territory embraced in that sale and purchase. That was one of the prominent causes which incited the Delawares, Shawnees and Maumees to become allies of the French in 1755.3
It is probable that the aboriginal inhabitants of the territory within the limits of this county belonged mainly to the Lenni Lenape, who held that they were the original people and of western origin. The Delawares claimed that their ancestors lived, many hundred years ago, in the far distant wilds of the West, and were the progenitors of forty other tribes; that after many years of emigration toward the rising sun, they reached the Mississippi river, where they met the Mengwe, who came from a very distant region and had reached that river higher up toward its source; that they found a powerful nation east of the Mississippi, who were called Alligewi, and from whom originated the name of the Allegheny mountains; that the Lenape wished to settle near the Alligewi, which the latter refused, but allowed them to cross the river and proceed further to the east; that when the Alligewi discovered how multitudinous the Lenape were, they feared their numerical strength and slew the portion that had crossed the river, and threatened to destroy the rest if they should attempt to cross; that the Lenape and Mengwe united their forces against the Allegewi, and conquered and drove them out of that part of the country; that the Lenape and Mengwe lived together in peace and harmony for many years; that some of the Lenape hunters crossed the Allegheny mountains, the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers, and advanced to the Hudson, which they called the Mohicannituck river; that on their return to their people they represented the country which they had discovered so far toward the rising sun to be without people, but abounding in fish, game, fowls and fruits; that thus the Lenape were induced to emigrate eastward along the Lenape-whittuck, the river of the Lenapes, also called Mack-er-isk-iskan, which the English named the Delaware, in honor of Lord de la Ware, who entered Delaware Bay in 1610 and was Governor of the Colony of Virginia from about that time until 1618. The Dutch and Swedes called it the South river to distinguish it from North river, which bears the name of Hudson.
That such was the tradition preserved by the Delawares is truthfully stated by Rev. John Heckewelder, a Moravian missionary, in his "Account of the History, Manners and Customs of the Indian Nations who once Inhabitated Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States," published, in 1819, under the auspices of the historical and literary committee of the American Philosophical Society. The passing remark may here be made that Indian laws and historical events were not preserved on parchment, paper or in books, but by tradition they were handed down from one generation to another. William Rawle, in his able "Vindication of Heckewelder's History,"4 pertinently says: "The ancient history of every part of Europe depends on such traditions, the probable truth of which is sometimes supported by circumstances that are subsequently authenticated. In the Lenapian history of the total extirpation of the Alligewi we see nothing inconsistent with that well-known ferocity of savage tribes which still unhappily continues to rage among them."
The Shawanees were driven out of Georgia and South Carolina, and came to the mouth of the Conestoga, within the present limits of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, about 1677, and spread thence over what was afterward Cumberland county, along the west branch of the Susquehanna, in the Wyoming valley, and thence to the Ohio. As early as, if not earlier than, 1719, Delaware and Shawanee Indians were settled on the Allegheny. About 1724, says Bancroft, the Delaware Indians, for the convenience of game, emigrated from the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers to the branches of the Ohio; in 1728, the Shawanees gradually followed them, and they were soon met by Canadian traders, and Ioncaire, an adopted citizen of the Seneca tribe, used his power of intrigue to win them over to the French.
THE INDIAN TOWN OF KITTANNING.
The old Indian town of Kittanning was settled by the Delawares, prior to 1730.5 It subsequently became an important point. Shingas, king of the Delawares, on whom Washington called, in 1753, at his residence near McKee's Rock, in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, occasionally resided with Capt. Jacobs, at the Kittanning, on the left bank of the Allegheny, or, as it was then called, Ohio, which the Indians pronounced Oh-he-hu or Ho-he-hu, meaning beautiful or handsome, of which name the Senecas are said to be very tenacious. In 1673, when Joliet and Marquette passed from Quebec, through the lakes, and down the Wisconsin to the Mississippi, there was no account of any white man visiting the head of the Ohio, that part of the stream below the mouth of the Wabash being then called Ouabache, or Wabash, and being so named on maps made before 1730. Heckewelder says: "Ohio, corrupted from Ohio-peek-hanne, signifying very deep and white stream, by its being covered all over with white caps." It does not, appear just when that part north of Pittsburgh received the name of Allegheny,6 which was derived from the Allegheny mountains. It is a general impression, so far as the writer has learned, that the meaning of Allegheny is clear or fair water. Benjamin Smith Barton, M. D., who had a very extensive knowledge of the aboriginal dialects, informed Rev. Timothy Alden, former President of Allegheny College, that Allegheny means "the great war path" which corresponds with what the chiefs at the Logstown conference called "the warriors road which ran at the foot of the Allegheny ridge." (Vide infra, the sketch of the present Allegheny township.)
In consequence of the failures of the expeditions against Ports Niagara, and Du Quesne, and especially Braddock's terrible defeat in 1755, hundreds of miles of the frontier of Pennsylvania and Virginia were exposed to the ravages of the Indians. In the autumn of 1755, the inhabitants along the frontier of Pennsylvania were in constant peril from the attacks of scalping parties of Indians, who were instigated to and assisted in their bloody attacks by the French. At a council held at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, about the middle of January, 1756 at which: Gov. Morris, James Hamilton, William Logan, Richard Peters and Joseph Fox, commissioners, George Croghan and Conrad Weiser, interpreters, and Belt, Seneca George and other Indians were present, Mr. Croghan informed the governor and council " that he had sent a Delaware Indian, called Jo Hickman, to the Ohio for intelligence, who had returned to his house the day before he came away; that he went to Kittanning, an Indian Delaware town on the Ohio" (now Allegheny), "forty miles above Fort Du Quesne, the residence of Shingas and Capt. Jacobs, where he found 40 men, chiefly Delawares and Shawanees, who had there with them above one hundred English prisoners, big and little, taken from Virginia and Pennsylvania. From the Kittanning Jo Hickman went to Logstown, where he found about one hundred Indians, and thirty English prisoners; that he returned to Kittanning, and there learned that ten Delaware had gone to the Susquehanna to persuade, as he supposed, those Indians to strike the English who might have been concerned in the mischief" then "lately done in Northampton." Mr. Croghan said be was well assured by accounts given by the Indians that the Delawares and Shawanees acted in this hostile measure by the advice and occurrence of the Six Nations, and that such of them as lived in the Delaware towns went along with them and took part in their incursions."
King Shingas, who, Heckewelder says, was "a bloody warrior, cruel his treatment, relentless his fury, small in person, but in activity, courage and savage prowess unexcelled," heading a party of warriors fell upon the settlements west of the Susquehanna and committed the most cruel murders. To guard against such and other depredations a cordon of forts and blockhouses was erected along the Kittatinny hills, from the Delaware river to the Maryland line, east of the Susquehanna river. West of that river were Fort Louther, at Carlisle, Forts Morris and Franklin at Shippensburg, Fort Granville, near Lewistown, Fort Shirley, at Shirleysburg, on the Sugwick branch, Fort Littleton, near Bedford, and Fort Loudon, in what is now Franklin county. Still Indian depredations continued to be committed through the spring and summer of 1756. In July of that year Fort Granville was stormed and a number of prisoners taken and transferred to Kittanning.
Mr. Morris informed the governor and council, August 2, 1756, that he had concerted an expedition against Kittanning, to be conducted by Col. John Armstrong, who was to have under his command the companies under Capt. Hamilton, Capt. Mercer, Capt. Ward, Capt. Potter, and besides to engage what volunteers he could. The affair was to be kept as secret as possible, and the officers and men were ordered to march to Fort Shirley and thence to set out on the expedition. Mr. Morris had given Col. Armstrong particular instructions, which were entered in the orderly book. In pursuance thereof and agreeably to the plan concerted, Col. Armstrong had made the necessary preparations and had written to Mr. Morris a letter from Fort Shirley in which he gave an account of the capture of Fort Granville by the French and Indians, and stated that they intended to attack Fort Shirley with 400 men, and that Capt. Jacobs said, "I can take any fort that will catch fire, and I will make peace with the English when they learn me to make gunpowder."
Source: Page(s) 13-59, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq.
Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed January 1999 by Jeffrey Bish for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Published 1999 by the Armstrong County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project.