THE year 1769 having closed, the system of filing applications for land ceased with it also, and in 1770 the work of issuing warrants commenced. These, were busy times at the Land Office. The conditions were fully set forth in the warrant, which was signed by the Governor and the seal of the Land Office attached. The original was filed in the surveyor general's office, and a copy directed to the, deputy in the district where the land was located, for which the warrant had been granted. When it was doubtful where the land lay they were in many cases directed thus:, "To the proper deputy surveyor," and he was supposed to be able to find the land. In the scramble for land great confusion often ensued, and in many instances sharp practices were resorted to by applicants to secure eligible locations, especially along, the river.
The year 1770, therefore, was one of great activity. Settlers commenced pouring in from the lower counties, and from New Jersey; in fact, a very large number who settled along the river on land now embraced in the county of Lycoming came from the latter State. They were attracted by the reports of explorers concerning the beauty of the valley, the richness of the soil, and the ease by which land could be obtained by the warrant system. Among the very earliest squatters on a tract at the upper end of the borough of Jersey Shore was a man named James Armstrong, who made some improvements. James Alexander ascended Pine creek a short distance and built a cabin on what is now the Tomb estate. When the Indian troubles broke out he disappeared. Simon Cool settled at the mouth of Larry's creek and very likely took possession of the promises abandoned by Larry Burt, the Indian trader, who had followed his retreating red friends.
As early as 1769 the Susquehanna Land Company, of Connecticut, decided to found a colony in the West Branch, as they claimed that their territory extended from Wyoming to that point and beyond. One authority states that they resolved to send 540 emigrants to Wyoming, 300 of whom were to have lands as a gratuity in the West Branch valley. Two townships, named Charleston and Judea, were surveyed in 1771. They embraced the Muncy settlement. A few settlers came but there are no records to show the exact number. There were a number in the Warrior run district, and their leaders intimated their intention to hold the country, if they had to resort to force. At first this portion of the Province was not included in the limits of Westmoreland by the Connecticut grant, which extended only fifteen miles beyond the North Branch. Later, however, an act was passed by the Connecticut council to extend the limits of the town of Westmoreland as far westward as the line fixed upon with the Indians at the treaty of 1768. This took in the West Branch territory as far westward as Lycoming creek.
The presence of these Wyoming settlers was not agreeable to those who had preceded them, and bad feeling between them was the result. They were looked upon as interlopers, or invaders of a territory that did not belong to them. Finally the feeling among the original settlers assumed such a pitch that they remonstrated against the "Connecticut invasion," as they termed it, by petitioning Richard Penn, then acting Governor, for legal redress and protection. They charged that a large body of armed men had invaded this territory, and intimated that if they were not protected by the government they would resort to arms to defend themselves and their rights. The petition was laid before-the Board of Council, June 9, 1773, and after careful consideration the Board decided to lay the matter before the Assembly, accompanied by a message from Governor Penn. The Governor was very emphatic in his declarations and denounced the act of invasion as an "insolent outrage by a set of men who had long bid defiance to the laws of the country," and closed by recommending that they be repelled by force, as their presence threatened the "destruction of that infant county," and "the peace of the whole Province. "The Assembly instructed the Governor to issue a proclamation requesting the magistrates of Northumberland county to be vigilant in the discharge of their duty, and see that the intruders from Wyoming no longer imposed upon the Pennsylvania settlers.
Zebulon Butler, the Connecticut leader, also issued a proclamation-and distributed it through Northumberland county, announcing that he had been appointed a justice by the authorities of Connecticut. To counteract this "manifesto," Governor Penn issued a proclamation forbidding the people to pay any attention "to this usurper," as he had no right to exercise the functions of a justice in the Province.
Excitement continued to increase among the people. The Connecticut colonists were determined to occupy the land and the Pennsylvania settlers were resolutely determined that they should not. The former insisted that the land belonged to them, the latter that it did not, and they determined to expel them by force of arms if they did not leave.
At last it became evident that the intruders did not intend to obey the orders to leave, but were preparing to bring 300 colonists to the valley. Samuel Wallis gave information to this effect and warned the authorities to be on the alert. Dr. Plunkett, who was serving as president judge, was informed that large reinforcements had arrived, when a force of fifty men was despatched from Fort Augusta to "meet and demand the reason of this intrusion and hostile appearance." Colonel Plunkett accompanied the expedition under orders from the government to destroy the settlements at Charleston and Judea. How much resistance was offered is nowhere stated, but it must have been small, as only one man was reported killed and several of the Connecticut people wounded. After burning the buildings and collecting what property be could, Colonel Plunkett returned to Sunbury with a number of prisoners. The women and children were sent to their friends at Wyoming. William Judd and Joseph Sluman, the leaders, were captured and sent to jail in Philadelphia. This broke up the Connecticut settlement on the West Branch.
A NEW COUNTY FORMED.
The rush of settlers continued during the years 1771 and 1772, and the population soon became so great along the river that the settlers began to clamor for the erection of a new county. Berks and Cumberland counties embraced the territory, and their seats were too far away. Residents on the east of the Susquehanna, north of Lancaster, were in Berks, whilst those on the west side belonged to Cumberland. The idea of going to Reading and Carlisle, over almost impassable roads, for the transaction of county business, could no longer be entertained. Finally an act was passed by the Assembly on the 21st of March, 1772, erecting a new county out of parts of Berks, Bedford, Cumberland, Lancaster, and Northampton, to be called Northumberland. The name selected was in honor of the most northerly county of England.
The county seat was established at Fort Augusta and the courts ordered to be held in the fort until a court house could be built. The Governor was authorized to nominate a competent number of justices, any three of whom could hold the several courts on the fourth Tuesday of February, May, August, and November. The first court met, April 9, 1772, as a "private sessions of the peace," in the "twelfth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, George the Third, etc.," when it was announced that a commission had been received from the Governor appointing justices to hold the several courts. Dr. William Plunkett was chosen president. One of the first motions was to divide the new county into seven townships, one of which was named Muncy. It embraced an extensive territory, out of which a large number of townships have since been made. At that time it was probably the most thickly settled portion of the West Branch valley. The first constable appointed was James Robb. He resided in the Muncy settlement and became quite conspicuous afterwards. Amariah Sutton and John Alward were appointed road overseers. The first lived on the east bank of Lycoming creek, and the latter at Muncy.
The first court of general quarter sessions was held at Fort Augusta, May 26, 1772; and the first important business that came before it for consideration was a petition from "sundry inhabitants of the West Branch of Susquehanna and places adjacent," setting forth the inconvenience they labored under for want of public highways, and praying that proper persons should be appointed "to view and lay out a road from the end of the road lately opened from the head of Schuylkill to Fort Augusta, across the North Branch of the River Susquehanna to the main point opposite Fort Augusta, thence up the easterly side of the West Branch of said river to the line of the late Indian purchase at Lycoming. "The court appointed Richard Malone, Marcus Hulings, Jr., John Robb, Alexander Stephens, Daniel Layton, and Amariah Sutton to lay out the proposed road. Those that did exist at that time were little better than bridle paths and followed the principal Indian trails. The proposed road on which a view was ordered was authorized at the October term, 1772. It was to be thirty-three feet wide, but it does not appear to have been laid out for some time afterwards, for we find that Lieut. Col. Henry Antes and others were appointed at the August sessions, 1775, "to view, and if they saw cause, to lay out a bridle road from the mouth of Bald Eagle creek to the town of Sunbury."
This order evidently led to the construction of a highway to the settlements at Muncy, Lycoming, and beyond, for soon afterwards we hear of wagons loaded with emigrants passing over it.
One of the most curious documents that survived the "Big Runaway," and the exciting years following, is the notes of the surveying party which laid out this public road. It was found in the Wallis collection and the material portions are condensed and reproduced here.
Courses of the new road from Fort Augusta to Laycauming.
Beginning as follows:
Course & Distance of a road viewed and laid out in Pursuance of an order of Court for the same. Begin’g at Fort Augusta thence n. 56 east to Sergt Grants 160 Perches, thence to a mark Hickery nigh the Bank on the north side of the East Branch, thence N 50 west 90 P to the first street of Northumberland along the man street of sd Town 200 Perches, thence north 56 west 200 perches, and so on by several courses and distances 726 perches to "John Alexanders." Thence by several courses and distances 546 perches "at a fording of Chisquaque." Thence 306 perches "to William Plunkets Esqrs." Thence 836 perches "to John Doughertys." Thence 512 perches "(Marcus Hulings)."
Marcus Hulings lived at what is now Milton. After leaving his place no definite point is noted until the "Gap of Muncy Hills "is reached. 318 perches beyond the "gap" occurs this sentence: "Thence by northward and westward by a line of marked trees to Laycauming." But this appears to have been considered too indefinite, as it is marked "Canceled," and the following substituted, carefully giving the courses and distances:
"To the fording of Muncy Creek," "to Wolf run" "to Mr. Wallis's Run," "to the run above Wallises." "Across Loyalsock Creek thence N 74 W. to the upper end of Barbers field 100 P." and finally "to Lycauming."
Of the six viewers originally appointed by the court, all signed the report but Robb and Layton. This view resulted in the first regularly authorized highway through the valley, and the route selected has undergone but few changes since that day.
The second public road of which we have any account, was from John Scudder's place, on the east bank of the river, to the crossing of Muncy creek by the Wyalusing path. This order was made by the court in August, 1773, and Samuel Carpenter, Robert Robb, John Scudder, John Micheltree, John Alward, and James Robb were designated as viewers. As the distance was not very great, it is supposed the road was promptly laid out and built.
At the May term, 1773, John Harris, who lived near the mouth of Loyalsock, was confirmed as constable; Amariah Sutton and John Alward, overseers of roads; Samuel Wallis and Nathaniel Barber, overseers of the poor. Sutton lived on Lycoming creek and Alward at Muncy. Wallis lived on Muncy Farm, and Barber on the west side of Loyalsock creek.
FIRST GRIST MILL.
The first grist mill west of Muncy Hills was erected on Muncy creek by John Alward in 1772. , It stood on the spot now occupied by the "old plaster mill," a few yards from the brick mill now owned by the Jacob Cooke heirs. Henry Shoemaker, grandfather of Charles Shoemaker, bought the mill before the Indian troubles of 1778-79 began. When the savages invaded the valley the mill gearings were concealed. and saved, but they destroyed the building. The mill stood outside the present borough limits.
John Alward was from Berks county. An autograph letter, written in 1784 to Samuel Wallis, shows that he was living in Windsor township at that time. In 1786 he was imprisoned for debt at the suit of Baltzer Neyfang for £3 10s. In his petition to the court of Berks county for discharge upon the ground of being an insolvent debtor, he shows that Samuel Wallis owed him £1,000. Others owed him large sums but he could not collect them. Upon assigning his estate for the benefit of his creditors he was discharged, March 12, 1788.
The mill was no doubt small and rudely constructed, but it served the purpose for which it was erected and was of great service to the pioneers. People came to it with grists a long distance, and "going to mill" in those days was an event of more than ordinary importance. Alward, the original builder, was a man of considerable enterprise and very useful in the settlement.
NAMES OF ORIGINAL SETTLERS.
It may be interesting to know the names of the original settlers of Muncy township. Several of them were conspicuous participants in the stirring times of that period, and their names frequently occur in history, but the majority at this lapse of time are unknown. The following list embraces the names of all who were bona fide settlers in 1774, when it was returned by the assessor to the commissioners at Sunbury:
John Alward, (servant, one negro,) David Austin, John Archer, John Andrews, David Berry, Daniel Brown, David Benjamin, Jonathan Benjamin, John Brady, Matthew Blukeny, (carpenter,) Benjamin Burts, Nathaniel Barber, Joseph Bonser, Thomas Bonner, John Coats, Nicholas Cline, Albert Covenhoven, Joseph Craft, John Covenhoven, Joseph Carpenter, John Carpenter, Thomas Collins, John Curr, Cornelius Cox, Margaret Duncan, Robert Guy, James Giles, Henry Gerner, William Gannon, Samuel Gordon, Charles Gallipsy, Samuel Herod, Jacob Hooke, John Hall, William Hall, John Hall, Jr., Thomas Hunt, James Hampton, Joseph Hogland, Samuel Harris, James Harris, David Hamman, William Hamman, Peter Jones, Benjamin Jacobs, Enos Lundy, Frederick Leuf, Cornelius Low, Jr., Cornelius Low, Sr., Thomas Lemier, Henry Marratt, (two servants,) Godlove Millers, Edward Masters, John Morris, Warrick Miller, Convert Nap, Hannah Newman, Thomas Newman, Jr., John Newman, Joseph Newman, Thomas Newman, Sr., Thomas Oliver, Daniel Perine, Israel Parshall, Abraham Parr, Alexander Power, James Parr, Robert Peoples, James Richardson, James Robb, Robert Robb, David Robb, John Robb, James Reader, Ephraim Row, Ralph Slack, John Scudder, Paulus Sheap, Peter Smith, Samuel Sealy, Michael Sealy, George Silverthorn, Oliver Silverthorn, Joseph Sutton, John Stryker, Bernard Stryker, Oaky Stevens, John Sutton, William Snodgrass, Amariah Sutton, Turbutt Francis, John Thompson, Eaton Thorp, William Thorp, Jerome Tanner, Michael Tray, Andrew Workman, David Workman, Peter Wykoff, Tray White, Samuel Wallis, James Wilson, Daniel Williams, Joshua White, Joseph J. Wallis, John Young.
None of the names of the settlers west of Lycoming creek are given in the above list, because they were living in forbidden territory outside the limits of the county. Many of those mentioned above left descendants who still reside in the county, and there are others who left none, because they were either killed or never returned after the flight. And all of the above, with few exceptions, had improvements and were possessed with more or less stock, which indicated that they intended to become permanent settlers. Conspicuous among them were the Robb brothers, who, at that early day, were surrounded with more than the comforts usually found in a new settlement. The Covenhoven family, consisting of father and two sons, settled on Loyalsock, a short distance above Montoursville. They suffered much at the hands of the savages, but Robert, one of the sons, lived to mete out vengeance to them for what they did to his family, and he became conspicuous as a guide, patriot, and soldier. They, like many of the other settlers, came from New Jersey. John Scudder enjoyed the proud distinction of being the father of the first girl baby born west of the Muncy Hills. Peter Wychoff, also from New Jersey, was an uncle to the Covenhoven boys. He settled on Loyalsock, near the present borough of Montoursville, and established a tannery for the dressing of leather. Probably it was the first in the valley.
FLIGHT OF THE MORAVIANS.
June, 1772, was noted as the time of the flight of the Moravians of Wyalusing through this part of the county on the way to their new place in Ohio. Reference has been made in a previous chapter as to how they were deceived by the sale of the land on which their town was built, at the treaty of 1768. Failing to receive assurance from the Proprietary government that their land would be held in trust for them, they decided to abandon the place. One party descended the North Branch in canoes and then ascended the West Branch. The other party, in charge of Bishop John Ettwein, came overland by way of the Wyalusing path down Muncy creek. The. party by the overland route numbered fifty-four souls. The journey was a perilous one. The Bishop in his journal informs us that on entering the great swamp in what is now Sullivan county, "the undergrowth was so dense that oftentimes it was impossible to see one another at the distance of six feet. The path, too, was frequently invisible, and yet along it sixty head of cattle and fifty horses and colts had to be driven." And to add to their discomfort it rained incessantly as they were passing through this wilderness. The path "led thirty-six times across Muncy creek." The journey consumed five days to reach the beautiful valley of Muncy, which was on the 15th of June. "Here," remarks the Bishop "hunters in two days shot fifteen deer, the meat of which was dried at the tires for use on the journey."
On the 20th the party that came by the canoes, numbering 140 souls, joined them on the river a short distance above Samuel Wallis's plantation. While tarrying here they hold religious services at Wallis's house on Sunday, the 21st, and Bishop Ettwein preached "to from fifty to sixty hearers, all English, some of whom had come twenty miles distance."
When Monday came they "had a market day in camp." Samuel Wallis bought fifteen head of their young cattle and some canoes." Other persons "bought bowls, firkins, buckets, tubs, chains, and diverse iron ware." An incident occurred while the traffic was going on. The Bishop says: "A trader's agent had smuggled some, rum into the purlieus of the camp. The transgression was soon discovered and after threatening him to his great anxiety we handed the contraband merchandise [rum] to Mr. Wallis for safe keeping, until the trader should return from the Great Island. Twenty hundred-weight of flour, which I had purchased with the money presented to our Indians by friends in Philadelphia, were here distributed." Ettwein brought with him £100, the gift of benevolent friends in. Philadelphia. The appearance of this great caravan, mostly composed of converted Indians, was an event of more than ordinary consequence in the settlement and attracted much attention.
They tarried here to the 24th, when they broke camp and moved up the river. The Bishop says they "passed the Loyalsock at the spot where the sainted disciple [Zinzendorf] visited thirty years ago, and Lycoming creek, which marks the boundary line of lands purchased from the Indians." At both places he found white settlers, but he does not mention their names. After passing Lycoming creek and "the site of the old Indian town," their "cattle were driven to grass into the woods." The Bishop undoubtedly has reference to "French Margaret's Town," which appears to have been destroyed at that time. a He also speaks of the Indian town of "Quenischaschachki, "which stood on, or near, what is now the site of the village of Linden. From his brief remarks concerning it we infer that it, too, had been destroyed. It must have been a place of some note in aboriginal times, because it was frequently visited by the Moravian missionaries prior to 1754. Nathaniel Davis, a converted Indian, lived there six years, and there Grube and Mack visited him in 1753. At the time of their sojourn in the town two Shawanese Indians, who where opposed to the whites, had demanded Grube of Davis that they might murder him, alleging that he was an evil spirit. Davis informed them that he (Grube) was his guest, he had heard nothing evil from him, but he was very kind to his (Davis's) children, and he would protect him. This caused the Indians to desist from their murderous intentions. The name of this Indian town is perpetuated by a creek which falls into the river near where it stood.
Continuing their journey, the Bishop notes in his journal that they "encamped above Larry's creek" on the 24th. Here Newholecka's wife visited them. Her husband was a Delaware chief and lived at the Great Island. She was acquainted with some of the Indians in the Bishop's party. Owing to the illness of the chief he was unable to accompany her.
On the 25th of June they encamped "opposite Long Island." This was probably on the ground now occupied by the borough of Jersey Shore. The Bishop makes this entry in his journal concerning the place: "Here rattlesnakes seemed to hold undisputed sway, and they were killed at all points. Not more than a half-hour after our arrival a horse was brought in that had been bitten in the nose. His head swelled up frightfully, and as it rained the remedy failed to take the proper effect and the poor animal perished the next day, as we lay in camp at the lower end of Long Island and halted there on the 26th. Here I assembled all the men, told them that we had progressed but thirty miles during the past week, and that if we failed to make more rapid headway our company would come to serious want."
The conditions of the country have undergone great changes since this motley caravan camped on the site of the town one hundred and twenty years ago. A rattlesnake would now be a rarity.
The Bishop and his party continued their journey to Great Island and over the mountains to their new home in Ohio. While tarrying at the Great Island on the 28th the Bishop, by request, preached to "the English settlers from the Bald Eagle creek, and the south shore of the West Branch." He informs us that "a goodly audience assembled," and as "no ordained minister of the Gospel had as yet settled in the neighborhood," he was requested to administer the rite of baptism to "the new born daughter of a Frenchman, Fourney by name, calling her Conigunda, and to the son of a Catholic, Antoine White," whom he named John. As Conigunda was probably born in the latter part of June, 1772, as the Bishop speaks of her as a 64 new born daughter," her birth must have occurred in the settlement near the mouth of Bald Eagle, and less than a year after the birth of Mary Scudder (May 21, 1771) at Muncy, who has always been claimed as the first female white child born in this valley west of the Muncy Hills.
THE REVOLUTION BEGINS.
The breaking out of the Revolution caused much excitement in the country, but it did not stop the tide of emigration to the West Branch valley, and the region beyond the line laid down by the treaty of 1768. No portion of the Province seemed to fill up more rapidly than the "New Purchase." It was an El Dorado to those seeking homes and thither they bent their footsteps, prepared to brave all dangers. They were patriotic, however, and when the government called for aid they were ready to, furnish their quota.
With the beginning of the war the Proprietary regime soon ceased and the State government took its place. The first movement looking to its organization was the "Meeting of the Provincial Deputies" at Philadelphia on the 15th of June, 1774. Notification of the meeting was given in a letter from the committee of correspondence, addressed to William Maclay, William Plunkett, and Samuel Hunter, at Sunbury, on the 28th of June, 1774. They were the highest officials of the new county, and to them the wishes of the committee were conveyed. In compliance with instructions the different townships chose a Committee of Safety which met July 11, 1774, and selected William Scull and Samuel Hunter to represent Northumberland county. The delegates to the Provincial Convention of January 23, 1775, were William Plunkett and Casper Weitzel, of Sunbury; to the Provincial Conference of June 18, 1776, William Cooke, Alexander Hunter, John Weitzel, Robert Martin, and Matthew Brown; and to the Constitutional Convention of July 15, 1776, William Cooke, James Potter, Robert Martin, Matthew Brown, Walter Clark, John Kelly, James Crawford, and John Weitzel. The latter were elected on the 8th of July. At this meeting Thomas Hewitt, William Shaw, and Joseph Green served as judges. In accordance with the ordinance of the Constitutional Convention, the old justices were superseded by new ones on the 3d of September following.
In a patriotic letter, dated April 20, 1775, and directed to John Lowdon and Samuel Maclay, Charles Weitzel announced the beginning of the struggle for liberty, and called their attention to the importance of holding a meeting "in order to form some regular plan, in conjunction with our countrymen, to give every opposition to impending tyranny and oppression, either by force or otherwise." The appeal had a good effect. June 15th Thomas Willing announced by letter that Congress had resolved that as many of the best marksmen as possible should be raised and forwarded to Boston. For this purpose it was expected that out of the force required Northumberland and Bedford counties would raise one company. John Lowdon was commissioned captain and instructed to raise a company of riflemen. He performed the duty assigned him with alacrity. In the list of privates the following names of residents of what is now Lycoming county are recognized: Samuel Brady, Robert Carothers, Thomas Kilday, Edward McMasters, Timothy Murphy, Peter Pence, John Robinson, George Saltsman, George Silverthorn, Henry Silverthorn, John Shawnee, (a Shawanese Indian,) John Smith, Arad Sutton, and James Sweeney.
The company rendezvoused at Sunbury; marched thence to Reading and Easton; thence through the northern part of New Jersey, crossed the Hudson at New Windsor, not far from West Point; thence through Hartford, to Cambridge, where it arrived about the 8th of August, having started on the 8th of July. Of the members of the company one writer informs us that "thirty came from the Great Island." This evidently means from the West Branch valley, as there were not inhabitants enough at that time about the island to have contributed such a large number. The company on its arrival at Cambridge became part of the battalion of riflemen commanded by Col. William Thompson, of Carlisle. This battalion became the Second Regiment "of the Army of the United Colonies, commanded by his Excellency, General George Washington," and, on the 1st of January, 1776, the First Regiment of the Continental Army. Thatcher in his Military Journal thus describes the company: "They are remarkably stout and hardy men, many of them exceeding six feet in height. They are in rifle shirts and round hats. These men are remarkable for the accuracy of their aim, striking a mark with great certainty at 200 yards distance. At a review a company of them while on a quick advance, fired their balls into objects of seven inch diameter, at a distance of 250 yards. They are now stationed on our lines, and their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers." In the Hand Papers there are many references to this company. Gen. Edward Hand was then lieutenant colonel and afterwards colonel of the regiment.
On the 14th of March, 1776, the company left Cambridge with the battalion which was detached by General Washington, with five other regiments under General Sullivan, to prevent a landing of the British at New York, when they evacuated Boston. They arrived at Hartford on the 21st, and at New York on the 28th. The company was stationed on Long Island during May and until June 30th, when it was mustered out of service on the 1st of July, 1776.
The company, however, reenlisted almost to a man for the term of two years, but in October the limit was extended to the close of the war. Captain Lowdon, who became a member of the Supreme Executive Council, was succeeded as captain by James Parr. Thirty-two of his company were enlisted out of the old battalion and fourteen from the flying camp.
The company was in the battle of Long Island. Col. James Chambers, who succeeded General Hand in command of the First Regiment, wrote as follows from "Mount Prospect Camp," June 18, 1777: "We have a partisan regiment-Colonel Morgan commands-chosen marksmen from the whole army compose it. Captain Parr, Lieutenants Lyon and Brady, and fifty men from my regiment are among the number."
Morgan's famous riflemen included many men from Northumberland county, drawn from the companies of Captain Parr, of the First Pennsylvania, and Captain Boone, of the Twelfth. They joined the northern army in August, 1777, and took part in the battles of Saratoga, September 19th and October 7th. For accuracy of aim some of these riflemen were remarkable. Timothy Murphy, who came from the town of Northumberland, achieved great distinction in that battle. William L. Stone in his "Campaign of General Burgoyne," page 61, says: "Brigadier General Frazer, who had been stationed on the right, noticed the critical situation of the center, and hurried to its succor with the Twenty-fourth Regiment. Conspicuously mounted on an iron gray horse, he was all activity and vigilance, riding from one part of the division to another, and animating the troops by his example. Perceiving that the fate of the day rested on that officer, Morgan, who, with his riflemen, was immediately opposed to Frazer's corps, took a few of his sharpshooters aside, among whom was the celebrated marksman, Tim Murphy, men on whose precision of aim he could rely, and said to them: That gallant officer yonder is General Frazer; I admire and respect him, but it is necessary for our good that he should die. Take your station in that cluster of bushes and do your duty."
"Within a few moments, a rifle ball cut the crouper of Frazer's horse, and another passed through his horse's mane. Calling his attention to this Frazer's aide said: 'It is evident that you are marked out for particular aim; would it not be prudent for you to retire from this place?' Frazer replied, 'My duty forbids' me to fly from danger. The next moment he fell, mortally wounded by a ball from the rifle of Murphy, and was carried off the field by two grenadiers." "The distance between Frazer and Murphy," adds Stone in a footnote, "when the latter fired, was about one quarter of a mile. In those days this was considered a great shot." There has been some dispute as to the killing of Frazer by Murphy, General Mattoon, who was a lieutenant in the battle, taking the position that he was killed by an "elderly man with a long hunting gun." See his letter in Stone's Burgoyne, page 373. Subsequent investigation, however, has pretty clearly established the fact that Frazer was killed by Murphy.
It is not pertinent to our work to give the names of all the officers of the companies of "Associators and Militia" for Northumberland county; therefore only such as relate to this territory are noted. The county lieutenants, however, were: Samuel Hunter, William Wilson, and Bernard Hubley, Jr. The First Battalion was commanded by Samuel Hunter, with the rank of colonel; the second by Col. James Potter.
The Fifth Company of the Second Battalion was officered as follows: Captain, Cooks ' on Long, January 24, 1776; first lieutenant, William McElhatton, January 24, 1776; second lieutenant, Robert Fleming, January 24, 1776; Ensign, Robert Fleming, Jr., January 24, 1776.
Sixth Company.-Captain, Samuel Wallis, January 24, 1776; first lieutenant, John Scudder; second lieutenant, Peter Jones, January 24, 1776; ensign, James Hamp-ton, January 24, 1776.
Eighth Company.-Captain, Henry Antes; first lieutenant, Thomas Brandon; second lieutenant, Alexander Hamilton; ensign, Simon Cole. All were appointed, January 24, 1776. Under date of March 13, 1776, these same company organizations were continued with the same officers. In October the organizations were still in force with but few changes in officers.
Each captain was ordered by the Committee to return at least forty privates, and each battalion consisted of six companies. They were held in readiness to move on short notice.
THE PINE CREEK DECLARATION.
The spirit of patriotism ran high among the majority of the settlers on the West Branch at this time, and when it was rumored that the Continental Congress contemplated declaring the colonies independent the leading Fair Play men, living on the forbidden territory west of Lycoming creek, were greatly elated. As they lived on Indian lands, outside of the jurisdiction of all provincial law, they at once set about making preparations to indorse the proposed action of Congress by an emphatic expression of their sentiments. Accordingly, on the 4th of July, 1776, they met in mass meeting on the plain a short distance west of Pine creek. From the meager accounts that have been handed down, the meeting was organized, when its object was stated by one of the leading men. The proposition was warmly discussed and a number of patriotic speeches made, when it was decided to indorse the proposition under discussion in Congress by a formal declaration of independence! A series of resolutions was drawn up and passed, absolving themselves from all allegiance to Great Britain, and henceforth declaring themselves free and independent!
The result of this meeting was the most remarkable coincident of the Revolutionary struggle. The declaration was proclaimed about the same time the Declaration was signed in Philadelphia. It was remarkable that the Continental Congress and the Squatter Sovereigns on the West Branch, separated by more than 200 miles, and without any knowledge of what each other was doing, should declare for freedom and independence about the same time. The coincidence stands without a parallel in the annals of history!
It is regretted that the names of the officers of this meeting, and the record of the proceedings, have been lost. The names of the following who were present and participated have been preserved: Thomas, Francis, and John Clark, Alexander Donaldson, John Jackson, Adam Carson, Henry McCracken, Adam De Witt, Robert Love, and Hugh Nichols. Among the names will be recognized several whose descendants still live in that part of Clinton county. Their ancestors, notably Hamilton, Love, and Clark, were men distinguished for their ability and representative character, and did much in their day to give tone and stability to the new settlement.
APPEARANCE OF FITHIAN.
During the summer of this momentous year the Rev. Philip Vicars Fithian made his horseback journey through this valley, and left a charming account of it in his journal. He was licensed to preach by the First Presbytery of Philadelphia, November 6, 1774. On the 4th of April, 1775, he received an honorable dismission from the presbytery, as there were no vacancies within its boundaries, and he soon afterwards started on a horseback journey through Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, preaching by the way and conferring with the people as an evangelist. Monday, July 24th, he passed over "Muncy Hills and Muncy's beautiful crook to Mr. Crownover's on the bank of the river." The residence of Crownover was really on Loyalsock creek. Here he remained over night and made an entry in his journal as follows:
This gentleman came from Stonybrook, near Princeton, in New Jersey, and is intimately acquainted with many there. He has here a large and most excellent farm, is yet busy with his harvest, seems to be a moderate, pleasant person, and which I shall always after this age admire; he has a clever, neat woman for his wife. Opposite to this farm is a very high on hill on the other side of the river under which the river runs without any level country.
Bald Eagle mountain is the "hill" he has reference to. The following morning, Tuesday, July 25th, he entered in his journal:
I slept soundly and fine without being disturbed by either a bug or a flea. And the house is as poor and as much surrounded with woods and brush as other houses, where, through entire carelessness, I am surrounded by numberless numbers of these insects. A very foggy morning; I drenched myself with a most stinging bitter, and left Mr. Crownover's by eight; expenses, 8s 8d.
I rode up the river, course west and to the southward of west, over several fine creeks and rich lands to Lycoming creek, all the way a good wagon-beaten road. Here the Pennsylvania "New Purchase" ends and the "Indian land" begins. On I rode, however, on a worn path, over the enemy's country, with much reverence and am now at one Ferguson's, on the very bank of the river, and scribbling this while my horse, who is now my only agreeable companion, eats a sheaf of oats.
Since I left Muncy there is on the other side of the river, and to the very edge, a high ridge of hills, which makes that side uninhabitable. I rode on to Pine creek, on both sides of which is a large, long clearing, said to be anciently Indian towns, clear, level, and unbroken, without even a stump or hillock only high, thick grass. On this common I saw many cattle and droves of horses, all very fat, wantonly grazing. In passing over this creek I met an Indian trader with his retinue. Himself first on horseback, armed with a bright rifle and apparatus, then a horse with packs, last his men with baggage. Meeting these in the dark part of a lonely road startled me at first. On I rode over a part of the river on to the Great Island, and thence over the other branch to Esquire Fleming's. He was out, but his daughter, Miss Betsy, was at home. She was milking. She is chatable, and I was soon entered upon useful business.
The compliment he pays Mrs. Crownover for her excellence as a housekeeper can not fail to be very gratifying to her great granddaughters of today, one of whom at least lives on the very spot where her house stood at the time of Fithian's visit, and they are noted for their neatness and cleanliness as housekeepers.
He speaks of there being a "good wagon" road from Loyalsock to Lycoming creek. As this was 117 years ago, and only a few years after the first road view had been ordered by the court, it shows that the "road masters" had either. succeeded well in having a highway constructed, or the reverend traveler had a poor conception of what constituted a good road, There were swamps at that time east of Williamsport which were regarded by travelers a few years later as almost impassable.
The Ferguson Mr. Fithian speaks of resided a short distance above the present borough of Jersey Shore. He was an early settler on the Indian lands and an original Fair Play man. Some of his descendants are still living in that part of the county. There were very few settlers between Loyalsock and Pine creek at that time.
When the first white men came they found the "clearings," or "barrens," as they were called, on both sides of Pine creek. But the most extensive "clearings" were above the creek. The lack of timber on these grounds led many to believe that the land was poor, and it is on record that several parties, after living there a short time, abandoned their claims and sought other places in the hills. It was on this opening that the famous meeting was held two weeks before he passed through, that declared for independence.
Mr. Fithian spent several days very pleasantly at the house of "Esquire Fleming" and enjoyed himself greatly, if we may judge from what he entered in his journal. He then passed up the Bald Eagle valley and over the mountains to the Juniata and on to his home in New Jersey.