AS the Revolution was now in progress, and the future outlook not encouraging to the Proprietary interests, John Penn, who was then acting Governor of the Province, gave orders on the 15th of May, 1776, to have Muncy manor divided into farm tracts and sold. A number of parties had squatted on this fine body of land and made improvements, with the object of ultimately becoming possessed of them by priority of right when they would come into market. Among them was Capt. John Brady. He built a log house, which was stockaded, and afterwards known as "Brady's Fort."
The survey was made in accordance with the order of Penn. A copy of the report is given herewith, showing the size of each tract into which the manor was divided, and the names of the parties who occupied them:
No. 1 - Containing 300 acres and 139 perches and an allowance of six per cent, etc. Settled on and improved by Mordecai McKinney.
No. 2 - Containing 299½ acres and allowance, etc. Settled on and improved by Peter Smith and Paulus Sheep.
No. 3 - Containing 300 acres and 76 perches and allowance as aforesaid. Settled on and improved by John Brady.
No. 4 - Containing 300 acres and 61 perches and allowance, etc. Settled on and improved by Caleb Knapp.
No. 5 - Containing 301 acres and 105 perches and allowance, etc. Settled on and improved by John Scudder, who is displeased with the manner in which it is laid out, alleging there is not timber sufficient on it for fencing, etc., and desires his lot may be laid out agreeably to the red lines, (which contains 254 acres and 74 perches and allowance, etc.) which would greatly lessen the value of the lot Brady possesses. The S. thirty degrees E. line runs through Brady's improvement, and takes near all the rail timber from Brady's lot, that is on the south Bide of the Glade run, so that upon the whole we judge it most convenient, and to the general advantage of the plantations, that the black line should remain as the boundary between Brady and Scudder. We have therefore laid down Scudder's complaint that it may be judged of by his Honor the Governor.
It is by no means convenient that any of the plantations Should cross the creek, as the banks on the north side are high, and the creek In time of freshets flows so very considerable that it is thereby rendered impassable for several days. It is settled on and improved by Jerome Vanest and John Young, as described in the draft, etc., – in Young's improvement thirty acres, and in Vanest's sixty-seven acres.
To John Lukens, Esqr., Surveyor General.
JO. J. WALLIS,
John Penn continued to act as Governor until September 28, 1776, when the new Constitution took effect and the Penn regime in Pennsylvania ended. This was two months and twenty-four days after the Declaration of Independence. The surveys made under his warrants were afterwards legalized by act of Assembly and all trouble as to titles removed.
THE M’KINNEY FAMILY.
Mordecai McKinney, who appears as the occupant of tract No. 1, came from Middlesex county, New Jersey, in the spring of 1775. He served as a member of the Committee of Safety for six months from August 13, 1776. In 1778 he was appointed a justice of the peace for Northumberland county. At the time of the Indian invasion he fled with his family to Harris's Ferry and never returned. His improvements were destroyed. He had three sons and three daughters: John, who became a major in the Continental Army, and was living at Alexandria, Virginia, in 1803; Mordecai, Jr., who settled at Middletown (he engaged in mercantile pursuits and afterwards carried on business at Columbia and Newport. Judge McKinney, of Harrisburg, author of McKinney's Digest, was his son); Jacob, the third son, who settled near Ovid, in the State of New York. Mordecai McKinney, Sr., had brothers, and quite an extensive relationship among the early settlers in this valley. One of the wives of Rev. Asa Dunham was a niece. John Buckalow married a daughter of Mr. McKinney, October 21, 1773, and removed with him, to the vicinity of Muncy. He served as a member of the Committee of Safety six months from February 8, 1776. John Buckalow leased a grist and saw mill from John Hinds, of Muncy township, for four years, and carried them on until compelled to stop by the Indians. He fled with his father-in-law to Harris's Ferry and never returned. Catharine, a daughter, married Cornelius Low. They afterwards settled in the State of New York. Nancy, the third daughter, married Nicholas Elder and they lived at Middletown, Pennsylvania.
No. 3, which is within the present borough of Muncy, is the tract on which Capt. John Brady settled and built his log fort. 'His family were occupying it at the time he was killed, and thither his body was carried. Where the "fort" stood is now a cultivated field and it is owned by Mrs. Dr. William Hayes. A slight rise in the ground is pointed out as the place where the fort stood.
BIRTH OF THE FIRST CHILD.
John Scudder, who appears on the draft as the occupant of tract No. 5, came from New Jersey, where he was born, January 29, 1738. He was one of the first to find his way to Muncy manor and settle. January 24, 1776, he was appointed a lieutenant in the Sixth Company of the Second Battalion of Associated Militia, commanded by Samuel Wallis; on the 13th of March following he was transferred to the Second Company of the same battalion with the same rank, commanded by Wallis, who appears to have been transferred also. Scudder's wife was named Susan, and was born in New Jersey, June 2, 1746. They were probably married in 1765. Three children were the fruits of their union. William, the eldest, was born in New Jersey, April 4, 1766, and died at Muncy, April 19, 1825. John Scudder, accompanied by Richard Stockton, came to Muncy manor in 1769, on a prospecting tour. Some time in 1770 Scudder moved his family from New Jersey, as Mary, their second child, and the first female child born west of Muncy Hills, came into the world May 21, 1771. When she grew up she married Benjamin Shoemaker, became the mother of nine children, and died at the place of her birth, April 14, 1850. Her children were named: John; Henry; Susannah; Sarah; William; Hannah; Benja-min; Mercy, and Mary. Hannah, the youngest child, born February 1, 1776, married a man named Bell, but the date of her death is unknown.
John Scudder served in the Revolutionary army. He died at Muncy, February 12, 1786. When he settled on the manor he erected a log cabin. It stood on the high bank or terrace of Glade run, between the canal and railroad, a short distance from the river. The exact spot is pointed out near the rear of the large barn on the Walton estate, but no trace of the cabin is visible. Several aged apple trees near by indicate an early settlement. There was no wooden floor in the cabin, and it was without windows. The bed was supported by four stout posts, each with a fork, well elevated above the earthen floor to protect the sleepers from rattlesnakes and copperheads, which were very numerous. The Scudders were well-to-do people for the time, and as Mrs. Scudder was the first white woman to locate in the settlement, her advent was an event of more than ordinary importance.
On the breaking out of Indian hostilities John Scudder fled with his little family to New Jersey, as many of the settlers from that State did. When peace was restored they returned and occupied their improvement. Scudder and his family saw much of the hardships of pioneer life and tasted of the bitter cup.
ORGANIZING THE MILITIA.
As the Revolution progressed the times became more critical in the valley. English agents were at work to cause disaffection among the Indians and turn them against the settlers on the frontier. The Committee of Safety, therefore, had to be extremely vigilant. Complaint being made that the battalion of the upper division of the county had not yet met to hold an election for field officers, a resolution was introduced and passed recommending to the officers that three committeemen from each township meet at the house of John Scudder, February 24th, elect officers, and return them on the 26th, so that they might be recommended to the Committee of Safety. It does not appear whether the terms of the resolution were carried into effect or not. At the meeting hold on the 26th progress in officering and forming companies was reported, when the Committee adjourned to meet March 13th. At this meeting the following officers for the Third Battalion were reported: Colonel, William Plunkett; lieutenant colonel, James Murray; majors, John Brady and Cookson Long. Seven companies were organized. Henry Antes was captain of the First, with Thomas Brandon and Alexander Hamilton as first and second lieutenants, respectively. Samuel Wallis was captain of the Second company, with John Scudder and Peter Jones as first and second lieutenants. , John Robb was captain of the Third company., and William Watson and Robert Nelson, first and second. lieutenants.
THE COMMITTEE PERPLEXED.
At this meeting Chairman Hambright was instructed to inform the Committee of Safety that applications are frequently made to them by parties for recommendations as officers to go into immediate service, and that the Committee is at a loss what to do. If, however, men are to be taken out of the county for Continental service the Committee' preferred that officers should go with them. If more men would be required the Committee begged to suggest, inasmuch as Northumberland was a frontier county, that two or three companies be raised, officered, disciplined, and put under pay, and hold in readiness to go upon any service that might be required of them. The Committee bad information that Hawkins Boone had enlisted several men, and that he declared he had authority and money for that purpose from Congress, and that he was "to be a guard to the Congress." In this way he had "drawn off some men from the different companies of military associators." This the Committee did not like, and Chairman Hambright stated that they had cited him to appear before them and show by what authority he was so acting. It appears, however, that Captain Boone treated the Committee with contempt by refusing to appear. The Committee thought that when men were enlisted in the county they had a right to know for what service they were intended.
The friction between the authorities and the Committee seemed to increase, which was largely caused by the demoralization of the times and the excitement consequent upon the war. At a meeting held March 25,1776, it was reported "that several recruiting officers belonging to battalions of different counties in, this Province" had lately come to this "infant frontier county and drained it of a number of useful men, to the prejudice of the same." A resolution was passed to the effect "that for the future no officer or non-commissioned officer be allowed to recruit men in this county, except the officers who are or may be appointed therein." Chairman Hambright wrote to the Committee of Safety informing them of the condition of affairs and recommending that the officers of the new battalion, of which William Plunkett had been chosen colonel, be commissioned. In behalf of his committee he then entered a remonstrance against the way the people of the county were being treated by the Committee of Safety, in allowing recruiting officers to come here and enlist men. He considered such action a grievance that should be resented.
At a meeting of the Committee hold on the 13th of August, 1776, new officers were reported to have been chosen in the respective townships to serve on the Committee of Safety for six months from that date. Muncy township reported the following: Mordecai McKinney, James Giles, and Andrew Culbertson.
The Committee met monthly, unless called together earlier by some extraordinary business. The next meeting was held September 10th. Complaint was made against Aaron Levy and John Bullion that they had a quantity of salt on hand which they refused to sell for cash, according to a former resolution of the Committee. A resolution was passed that the salt be seized and placed in the hands of William Sayers to be sold at the rate of fifteen shillings per bushel, but no single family was to be allowed more than half a bushel at one time. Sayers was instructed to keep a particular account of every bushel sold, and when it was all sold he was to return the money to the Committee, after deducting one shilling per pound for his trouble for selling it, "and six shillings and four pence for porterage."
Levy and Bullion were disposed to hold their salt for a high price. They were traders. The peremptory seizure of the salt was the first act of confiscation in this valley of which we have any account.
Two disaffected persons, named William Chattim and James Parker, were reported to the Committee as "not behaving themselves as friends to our country in general, and had armed themselves with two pistols." They were brought before the Committee, when they confessed that they were "two of his Majesty's soldiers," and were prisoners. The Committee ordered them to be sent to Lancaster, where a number of English prisoners were already bold, and their arms (the two pistols) were ordered to be sold at public sale and the money arising therefrom to be applied to the expense of sending them away.
The Committee was in session again on the 12th of September, and it was reported to them that " the two different quantities of ammunition heretofore forwarded to the care of the Committee," was found to afford a quota of only half a pound of powder and one pound of lead to each associator! This was a very limited supply to fight Indians and guard the frontier.
The Committee being informed that there was "a dividend of salt in Philadelphia," which was "allotted for this country by a late resolve of Convention," it was decided to appoint William Maclay and Mordecai McKinney to proceed to Philadelphia, take charge of the salt, and have it forwarded here and placed in their charge for distribution among the people. Instructions were also issued that it should not be sold at a higher rate than fifteen shillings per bushel.
On the 23d of November, 1776, Robert Fruit, chairman of the Committee, acknowledged that he had received "seventy-seven bushels of salt" from the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia, which he had delivered to Marcus Hulings to be forwarded here. The bill showed that it had cost at 15s per bushel, £57 15s; cost of casks and packing, 13; porterage and cooperage, 18s; transportation from Philadelphia to Middletown, £13 9s 6d; storage at Middletown, 8s 6d; carriage from Middletown to Northumberland £11 11s-total, £87 2s. The transportation from Middletown was by bateaux up the river. Compared with the price of salt today it will be seen that it was an expensive luxury at that time.
At this meeting the Committee instructed Robert Frait their chairman, to memorialize the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia by letter, setting forth the condition of affairs on the West Branch. He at once informed the Committee that the exposed condition of the northwestern frontier had caused his Committee to be vigilant. Every movement of the Indians was carefully watched, and there was no longer any doubt but their sympathies were with the enemy. Those Indians who were lately friendly to the settlers had withdrawn from among them, and they were fearful they would next appear as enemies.
Such being the outlook, he thought some men should be raised for the defense of the frontier to keep up the spirits of the people. They were much dispirited because they had not been supported, "We are not now able," he continues, "to keep the single and disengaged men in the county; they consider fighting as inevitable, and choose rather, under pay, to have to do with a humane enemy, than at their own expense to encounter merciless savages. The county by this means loses not only the most useful of our men, but the best of our arms are carried out of the county, so that upon a late review a general repair of the remaining arms was found necessary."
THE ROBB CASE.
As the feeling of uncertainty increased, and the excitement caused by rumors from the battle fields of the Revolution kept the public mind inflamed, the labors of the local Committee became more onerous. At a meeting on the 14th of December, 1776, convened by "express from Capt. John Brady," several grave charges effecting the loyalty of Robert Robb, of Muncy, were laid before them. The charges were:
1. That the Congress had blinded the eyes of the people.
2. That he has discouraged the men drafted to go in the militia, and that he had influenced George Silverthorn so that he nor any of his family would not fight against the King of Great Britain.
3. That the terms Lord Howe had proposed were such as we should accept of, or what would be pleasing to him.
4. That Benjamin Franklin, one of the Congress, was a villain, and had behaved as such often.
5. That it was Mr. Robb's opinion there was bribery in the Convention.
Accompanying these charges were a number of affidavits. Thomas Newman, who made his mark, swore that he heard Robb say that the conditions of peace offered by Howe suited him, and that he believed Franklin was a rogue; "that, he had led the government into two or three scrapes already known to him; that it was thought Franklin had a pension from home; that the Convention was bribed." Lord Howe had used the Committee sent to treat with him politely, but they had used him ill. Deponent thought that the Committee should consider these things.
Joseph Newman, probably a brother or son, confirmed the foregoing charges, and then signed his name.
John Morris, who was also able to write his name, testified that he had heard Robb say that peace was kept back by Congress, and that it was well known what Rittenhouse and Franklin were; that it was a minority that held this new form of government, and that the majority should not be ruled by the minority.
Another witness, James Giles, had seen Robb pull out a paper and read Howe's terms of peace, and then heard him say that he believed our rulers kept peace back.
John Silverthorn had been at Robb's house and then went with him to a "chimney raising, in the neighborhood;" that while there I Robb pulled out a hand bill which gave an account of General Washington's army being in need of a reinforcement, and said in public that it was necessary for every one to turn out that could go; after a while he pulled out another paper, which he said was a declaration of peace from Lord Howe and read it in public; after reading said paper Mr. Robb said he came on purpose to see Mr. Newman, whether or not he thought proper to call some of the neighbors together in order to see whether the declaration was of any effect or not, (as he was one of the town Committee,) and how they would take it, as he could not depend on his own judgment on such an occasion, as being but one person." Deponent further said that "after the papers came out with an account of what passed between General, Howe and the Committee at Staten island, he was telling Robb that he heard them read at Mr. McKinney's, and Mr., Robb said that he thought it would not be proper to lay down their arms till peace would be concluded on better terms than these for the benefit of the country."
Lieut. John Scudder swore that "Robb said that the King's troops are able to learn us to beat themselves, as Peter the Great said of Charles, King of Sweden, and Robb never did anything against the cause of America, but always encouraged the same to the best of his knowledge."
After hearing the evidence on both sides the Committee concluded that Robb had behaved so as to give just grounds for the Committee "to suspect him of being not only unfriendly but even inimical to our common cause," and it was resolved that "Robert Robb shall either take his gun and march immediately with the Militia of this county into actual service for the defense of the United States, in order to wipe off the present evil suspicions, or otherwise be committed to the care of Col. James Murray, to be by him sent to some proper place of confinement until released by further authority." The sentence was signed by Paul Geddes, chairman, by order of the Committee.
Robb, however, did not feel inclined to submit to the sentence, and he notified the Committee that he desired "to appeal to the Council of Safety of this State." The Committee therefore passed a resolution that he "might appeal to said Council under the care of the said Colonel Murray."
The trial and sentence of Robb by the local Committee of Safety evidently caused some feeling in the community, which required years to efface. Robb no doubt felt aggrieved, as he doubted the authority of the Committee to so act toward him. And it is likely that the whole affair grew out of personal feeling on the part of a few individuals, who took advantage of the excited condition of the public mind to manufacture sentiment against him. The evidence of two of the most reputable witnesses, Silverthorn and Scudder, is to the effect that he never did anything inimical to the cause of the people, but really favored the war for independence.
Robb evidently had been goaded into making remarks about the moral standing of a few members of the Committee, and smarting under these charges, they wanted to punish him for treasonable utterances. The Robb family was a prominent one in the settlement and had taken an active part in the struggle for liberty. They were good citizens then, as their descendants are today.
Robb was subsequently indicted by the grand jury of Northumberland county for misprision of treason, tried at November sessions, 1780, acquitted, and discharged upon payment, of fees. The fact that his trial was for misprision of treason shows that he was not regarded as clearly guilty of the charges made by certain parties, but that his remarks were misconstrued. His prompt acquittal bears out this conclusion. Years afterwards he was appointed a justice by Governor Mifflin, which attests the esteem in which he was held by his friends and neighbors.
A NEW COMMITTEE.
The old Committee, of which Geddes was chairman, having ceased to exist, the new Committee chosen to serve for six months met at Northumberland, February 13, 1777, and organized. Muncy township returned John Coats, James Hampton, and William Hammond. Thomas Jordan was chosen chairman, and John Coats clerk. The Committee adjourned to the 11th of March. At the March meeting much business of importance came before the Committee. Capt. Benjamin Weiser reported that a number of persons who had been out under his command in the militia of this county with the Continental Army in New Jersey, had deserted and returned home. This was a grave charge and demanded prompt action. It, was ordered that a day of muster be designated for these persons to meet and march off to camp and serve out their time; and if they failed to obey this order they were to be taken up and committed as deserters.
It was announced that a letter had been received from the Committee of Bald Eagle township, together with a resolution, against the selling of grain, which they wished to have considered in full Committee before taking final action. The resolution was as follows:
February 26, 1777.-We the Committee of the township of Bald Eagle, met, and as a complaint was made to us by a number of the inhabitants that there is a quantity of rye that is going to be carried out of the township for stilling, and that there are some of the inhabitants who have not sold their grain as yet, nor will not sell without they get eighteen pence or two shillings per bushel above the highest market price that grain is bringing in the country, but will keep it and carry it off; and as it appears to us that a great number of the inhabitants of the township will suffer if such a practice is allowed to go on; therefore, we
Resolved, That no stiller in this township shall buy any more grain this season for to still, or still any more than what he hath already by him. And, further, we resolve that no grain be carried out of this township till the necessity of the poor is supplied, or till the 1st day of May next; and any person having grain of any kind to dispose of, and will not take the market price at Sunbury, deducting a reasonable carriage, or the highest price that it will be there when the grain is wanted, we allow to seize on it and take it by force, and pay them their money. Given under our hands the day above mentioned.
After careful consideration of the question, the full Committee referred back the resolution in this form:
Resolved, That the Committee of Bald Eagle is the most competent judges of the circumstances of the people in that township; that therefore the affair be referred back to them to act as they shall see just cause, but in the meantime that they be cautioned against , using too much rigor in their measures, and that they keep by moderation as much as possible, and study a sort of medium between seizing of property and supplying the wants of the poor.
The conditions of the country were serious at that time. The Revolutionary war was at its height; the savages were threatening the frontier, and the people were kept in a constant state of alarm and fear. But in no other part of this valley does it appear that such extreme measures were adopted as in Bald Eagle. The general Committee, judging from the cautious wording of their resolution, were in doubt as to the propriety of such sweeping measures being endorsed by them, and threw the weight of responsibility of the township Committee.
Another complaint from the same township shows that the people, or a portion of them at least, were imbued with strong notions regarding the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Committee had a complaint before them of a "certain Henry Sterrat profaning the Sabbath in an unchristian and scandalous manner, by causing his servants to maul rails, etc., on that day, and beating and abusing them if they offered to disobey such unlawful commands." This was an easier question for the Committee to solve than the one relating to the confiscation of grain, for they promptly issued orders "that the Committee of Bald Eagle township where he [Sterrat] now resides, be recommended to suppress such like practices to the utmost of their power." Sterrat was a settler in what is now known as Long Island, but what became of him is unknown. Perhaps after being suppressed by the Committee for Sabbath breaking and beating his servants, he left the township.
A STRANGE CASE.
At a meeting, of the Committee on the 17th of April, 1777, William Read, of Bald Eagle township, was reported to them as having been taken into custody for "refusing to associate and bear arms in behalf of the States." On being brought before the Committee and asked his reasons for doing so, he informed them that he was once concerned in a riot in Ireland "commonly known by the name of the Hearts of Steel, and was taken prisoner, tried, and acquitted upon his taking an oath of allegiance to the King, and coming under solemn obligations never to lift arms against him for the future; he therefore looked upon it as a breach of his oath to muster or bear arms in behalf of the States, as the arms of the States were now employed against the King to whom he had sworn allegiance." His respect for his oath was a surprise to the Committee, and they were at a loss how to proceed. He was then asked if "he had any objections to the cause the United States was now engaged in," to which he replied that he had not, and "would be as forward and willing as any one to join in it, could he do so without breach of his oath." This was a poser for the Committee again, and caused further consideration. He was then asked if he would take an oath of allegiance to the United States, to which he promptly replied that "he would if it did not oblige him to take up arms." This seemed reasonable, as well as patriotic, and the Committee submitted the form of an oath to him, to which he was qualified as follows:
I do swear to be true to the United States of America, and to renounce and disclaim all allegiance to the King of Great Britain, and promise that I will not either directly or indirectly speak or act anything in prejudice to the cause or safety of the United States, or lift arms against them, or be any way assistant to their declared enemies in any case whatsoever.
This was satisfactory to the Committee, and he was dismissed on "paying the sum of seventeen shillings and one penny halfpenny," which was the cost of bringing him before them.
A GLOOMY OUTLOOK.
Although the outlook for peace and safety on the frontier was exceedingly gloomy, there was a constant influx of new settlers during the year 1777. They came mostly from New Jersey. That State being overrun by both the British and Continental armies had much to do with the exodus to this beautiful valley. Doubtless they imagined it would be easier to encounter the Indians than to stand the ravages of the foraging parties of the contending armies, and they were willing to take the risk in a new country.
With all the appeals that could be made by the Committee of Safety to the Supreme Executive Council, that body was slow to take any steps for the better protection of the frontier, and the inhabitants were kept in a constant state of alarm, because they had, good reasons for believing that the savages contemplated attacking them. Efforts were made by Capt. John Brady and others to make a treaty with the Mousey and Seneca Indians, who were known not to be on very good terms with the Delawares. The Indians agreed to a conference, and on an appointed day assembled at Fort Augusta to the number of 100 or more, dressed in war costume. It had been the custom at all former treaties to make large presents, but as the people, owing to their impoverished condition, bad nothing to give, the Indians refused to treat. They left the fort apparently in good humor to return to their towns up the river. It was after their departure that the incident of Brady's upsetting a whisky barrel at Derr's trading post occurred. Fearing that Derr would furnish them with liquor, and dreading the consequences, he followed them, and, as be anticipated, found the Indians engaged in drunken revelry at the post. A barrel of rum stood at the door with the head knocked out, which Brady promptly overturned. Derr had thoughtlessly given it to them, because they complained of not receiving a treat at the fort. One Indian who witnessed the spilling of the rum, but was too drunk to prevent it, told Brady with a horrid grimace that he would one day regret his act. From that day Brady was a marked man. Derr's trading post stood on the great path leading up the river, on what is now the site of Lewisburg.
Soon after this fruitless conference the Indians left their habitations at the Great Island, which seems to have, been their headquarters, and retired further north. Before leaving they cut clown their corn and destroyed everything that might be of service to the whites.
FIRST INDIAN MURDERS.
As time wore on the Indians, grew more bold and threatening, and during the summer, autumn, and winter of 1777, the settlers were kept in a continued state of excitement on account of the rumors which filled the air. it is much regretted that no full record of the names of those killed, and carried into captivity, have been preserved. The only record we have of those dark and bloody days consists of letters hurriedly written by militia officers, in command of small companies scattered through. the valley, and directed to the Executive Council at Philadelphia, and preserved in the Colonial Records and Archives of the State. As many of these letters were based on rumors, the statements were sometimes exaggerated, and frequently barren of details.
On a Sunday morning in June, 1777, Zephaniah Miller, Abel Cady, James Armstrong, and Isaac Bouser left Antes Fort and crossed the river into the disputed territory, with two women, for the purpose of milking several cows that were pasturing there. It did not occur to the part that Indians were lurking there, and that the cow with the bell was kept back as a decoy. They were there, however, and the cow was detained for the purpose of luring, them on, Cady, Armstrong, and Miller started to find her. As soon as they entered the bushes they were fired on by the concealed foe, and Miller and Cady fell severely wounded. They were pounced upon and scalped in the twinkling of an eye. Armstrong, who was injured in the back of the head, succeeded in getting away. When the shots were fired Bouser and the women ran and concealed themselves.
The firing alarmed the militia in the fort, and a number hurried across the river, despite the orders of Colonel Antes, who feared it might be a decoy to draw the force away, when the fort would be assailed from the other side. Reaching the shore they, soon found Cady and Miller where they fell. Cady was not dead. He was carried to the river bank, where his wife, who was one of the milking party, met him. He, reached out his hand to her and almost immediately expired. Armstrong was taken across the river to the fort, where he lingered in great agony till Monday night, when he died.
As this party was on the land claimed by the Indians, they no doubt took advantage of this fact as an excuse for attacking them. Having secured two scalps they quickly fled, and when a pursuing party was organized and crossed the river, they, were some distance away. The pursuers, however, moved swiftly and soon came in sight of them at what was known at that time as the "race ground." The Indians. stood and fired, then broke and fled, pursued by the whites. They ran across what. is now the western part of Jersey Shore and escaped in the swamp. It was dangerous to enter the tangled thickets and the pursuers returned. They fired several times at the retreating foe, however, and thought they did some execution, as marks of blood were seen on the trail as if they had dragged away their killed or wounded. The Indians probably fled in the direction of Pine creek and then ascended that, stream to their hiding places.
EXCITEMENT AND ALARM.
This affair caused great excitement in the settlements along the river, and the authorities called upon the militia to be on the alert. Scouring parties were sent out to look for Indians. In the meantime the authorities at Philadelphia were calling for reinforcements for Washington's army, and the people of Northumberland were begging for help to protect them from the savages. The situation was truly alarming and discouraging.
Under date of September 10, 1777, Colonel Hunter informed the Executive, Council that, although the "first class of militia" were held in readiness, to march to join Washington's army, the inhabitants were, greatly in fear of the Indians. coming upon them. There were rumors that two hundred hostile Indians were concentrated "about forty miles above the Great Island." Col. Cookson Long had been sent with his company to ascertain if the report was true. The Colonel closed by saying that he wanted "five hundred stand of arms," and Captain Lowdon, who was the member of Council from this county, would state the facts to Council.
On the 27th of October, Colonel Hunter acknowledged the receipt of £750 for the use of the militia on the frontier, and 500 pounds of powder and 1,2000 pounds of lead, "but no rifle guns." Ammunition without guns was useless.
Referring to the order of Council to disarm all persons who had not taken the oath of allegiance, Colonel Hunter said he "could not with any propriety take the army from those on the frontiers," because "they were willing to stand in their own defense against the savages, yet never said they would not take the oath, but wanted time to consider." Colonel Kelley, he continued, was on the frontier with fifty men looking for Indians. Favorable reports would encourage, the people to, go back to their habitations. Since the first alarm," he adds, upwards of 500 women, and children assembled at three different places on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, viz: at the mouth of Bald Eagle, Antes mill, and Lycoming.
BUILDING DEFENSIVE WORKS.
Several brave parties, among them William King, Robert Covenhoven, and James Armstrong, had commenced the erection of a stockade near Lycoming, creek for the protection of refugees. It consisted of logs eight or ten feet long, planted in the ground side by side, with the tops leaning outward, so that the works could not be scaled. It covered, perhaps, half an acre, and was located near what is now known as Fourth and Stevens streets, Williamsport. It was at this place where the women and children alluded to by Colonel Hunter were assembled. The work was not completed, owing to the evacuation of the valley, which soon followed, but that it served as a temporary place of resort is not doubted.
COOKSON LONG'S COMPANY.
The muster roll of Capt. Cookson Long’s company, of the Second Battalion, county militia, has been preserved, and may be found on page 329 Vol. XIV, Pennsylvania Archives. That the reader may see who composed that company of rangers along the river at that time it is reproduced in full. Many familiar names will be recognized, as descendants of these rangers dwell in the county today. Other names are strange, because the owners were either killed or left the valley when their terms of service expired.
Captain, Cookson Long.
First Lieutenant, James Hayes.
Second Lieutenant, Joseph Bonser. Ensign, Joseph Newman.
Privates.-Robert Covenhoven, James Covenhoven, Ebenezer Cook, Peter Wykoff, George Barclay, Joseph Wykoff, William Jones, Peter Styker, William Snodgrass, Joseph Gannon, Frederick Leefe; Cornelius Low, James White, Ezekiel Brown, Thomas Silverthorn, Thomas Johnston, Ebenezer Green, John Andrews, Alexander Fullerton, Joseph Cowan, Adam Wisner, James Ramsey, George Stechman, Samuel King, Matthew Cunningham, Michael Brown, Henry Dougherty, Johnston Cheney, Benjamin Jordan, Samuel Blair, Ralph Slack, Joseph Hall, Edward Collopy, Joshua Napp, Philip Cotner, Henry Hill, David Richards, Robert Wilson, Abel Slaback, William Slaback, Henry Stryker, Patrick Donahue, John Muckilvaine, John Dunlap, John Williams, John King, Adam King, John Muckilear, Michael Seele, Peter Roddy, John Luce, Patrick Hughes, William Wyley, Andrew Donaldson, Thomas Clarke, Zephaniah Miller, James Van Camp, Richard Matlock, Cornelius McMickel, William Camel, Robert Fleming, blacksmith, John Reed, James McMickel, William Reed, John Kinkade, Andrew Boggs, Robert Fleming Creek, William Dewitt, Isaac Reed, James Dunn, Barnabas Camel.,
On the point of a high bluff, just below the mouth of Antes creek, the famous Col. Henry Antes built a stockade in 1776. It became a place, of some note and was frequently occupied by settlers for Safety. A small body of armed militia was stationed here for some time, and it was here that Job Chilloway caught the sleeping sentinel, the circumstance of which has been related. No records remain to show the size of the enclosure, or whether cannon were ever mounted on its ramparts. Tradition informs us that there was a small cannon brought from Fort Augusta and placed in position; and the finding of an iron cannon ball years afterwards, near the base of the hill, leaves little room to doubt the truth of the tradition.
Colonel Antes was conspicuous as one of the defenders. He was born near Pottsgrove, Montgomery county, October 8, 1736, and when quite a young man came here and settled. July 29, 1775, he was appointed a justice of the peace; January 24, 1776, captain of the Eighth Company, Second Battalion, Associated Militia, Col. James Potter; and on the 13th of March he commanded a company in Colonel Plunkett's regiment in his unfortunate raid on Wyoming. March 13, 1776, he was made captain of the First Company, Third Battalion; April 19, 1776, captain of a company in the Second Battalion of Associators. May, 1777, he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Battalion by the Supreme Executive Council. His commission was beautifully engrossed on parchment and signed by Thomas Wharton, president of Council, and Timothy Matlack, secretary. It was kept by his descendants a long time as a precious relic.
Soon after locating he built a grist mill at the foot of the bill on which his stockade was erected. This was before Wallis built his mill on Carpenter's run. It was the first mill in the western end of Lycoming county, and was gladly welcomed by the early settlers. The original was long since destroyed, but the site is occupied by one of modern construction. Before his mill was erected, when the fort was being built, coarse flour was made by grinding wheat in a large iron coffee mill, and the bran was removed by a hair sieve. One person was kept running the mill all the time in order to keep up the supply of flour. This primitive mill was kept as a relic of pioneer days until 1865, when it was lost in the great flood of that year.
Colonel Antes was first elected sheriff of Northumberland county in October, 1782. He gave his brothers Frederick and William Antes "as sureties for the faithful performance of the duties of his office." He was re-elected in 1788, and on the 22d of November he gave the same sureties on his bond.
Colonel Antes was married twice. By his first wife, Maria Paulin, whom he married, May 11, 1756, he had five children. She died in March, 1767. On December 8th of the same year he married Sophia Snyder. By, her he had eight children.
This distinguished patriot, soldier, and civil officer, died, May 13, 1820, aged eighty-three years, nine months, and five days, and was buried in the little cemetery on the hill near where his fort stood. In recent years searches were made for his grave, but no trace of it could be found. It is greatly lamented by his friends that an humble stone at least was not reared to mark his last resting place.
THE BROWN-BENJAMIN TRAGEDY.
In the autumn of 1777 a band of hostile savages appeared on the Loyalsock and committed an atrocious outrage. Daniel Brown was among the earliest settlers in this part of the county. He had two daughters married to two brothers named Benjamin, and they lived near the cabin of their father-in-law. On the alarm of the approach of the Indians, the Benjamins, with their families, fled to the residence of Mr. Brown and made preparations to defend themselves. The Indians made an attack on the house I but met with a stout resistance, which was kept up for some time. During the fight an Indian was killed by a shot from a gun in the hands of one of the Benjamins. This greatly enraged the assailants and finding they could not dislodge the besieged, they managed to set fire to the house. The flames made rapid headway and a horrible death stared the inmates in the face if they remained inside. What was to be done? Remain inside and be consumed, or come forth to be, dispatched by the tomahawks of the savages? Either alternative was a fearful one. The Benjamins finally decided to come forth and trust themselves to the mercy of their foes. Brown refused, and remaining in the building with his wife and one, daughter, all three were consumed. When the Benjamins emerged from the door one of, them carried his youngest child in his arms. A burly savage brandished his, tomahawk and with a fiendish yell buried the glittering steel in the brain of Benjamin. As he fell his wife, who was by his side, shrieked and caught the child in her arms. His scalp was quickly torn from his head and exultingly shaken in her face.
The remainder of the survivors were seized and carried into captivity. This horrible tragedy occurred on what was long known as the Buckley farm, on Loyalsock.
The Benjamin families lived a few miles northeast of Williamsport. Three brothers and a small sister were taken prisoners. Their names were William, Nathan, and Ezekiel. The name of the one who was killed is not known, and the name of the sister has been lost. After a few years the captured boys were released and returned. The young sister grow up among the Indians, married, and had several children. Long after peace was made her brother William went after her and induced her to return. She remained here some time, but being always discontented and unhappy, she was permitted to return to her Indian comrades. What became of the wife of Benjamin, the meager accounts of the affair do not inform us, but it is probable that she was soon afterwards released.
This bloodthirsty attack, when the particulars became noised about, added fresh fuel to the flame of excitement and set the inhabitants wild with terror. That the Indians had entered into an alliance with the British to make an attack in the rear could be no longer doubted, and many families left the valley for better security. What could be done to stay the avenging hand of the savage? This was the grave and imperious question which stared every settler in the face. Must they abandon their improvements to the torch, remain, and be butchered or carried into captivity? The Supreme Executive Council had been appealed to in vain. Nothing, comparatively, was being done for their protection; but, instead, the constant cry was for men to reinforce the Continental army. Were ever pioneers in a worse predicament? Helpless to protect themselves; destitute of arms and ammunition; a few poorly clad and half-starved militia all that they could rely upon to stand between them and a powerful and wily foe, backed by the sympathy, encouragement, and gold of a strong nation. Such was the condition of affairs in the territory now composing Lycoming county in the closing months of 1777.
TROUBLE ABOUT MAGISTRATES.
The troubles of the people were not alone confined to the savages. They had some difficulty about the election of magistrates, as the following petition, the original of which has been preserved, will show. It was prepared under date of December 2, 1777, and addressed to the Supreme Executive Council, under this head: "The memorial and petitions of the inhabitants of Muncy township in Northumberland county in this State humbly sheweth:
That WHEREAS, The General Assembly of this State was pleased to pass an act for revising and putting in force such and so much of the ancient laws of this Commonwealth as was agreeable to and consistent with our present Constitution, and for establishing courts of justice within the same, and passed an act for electing magistrates In the several townships in this State, in pursuance of which a number of the inhabitants of this township met and elected two persons for justices of the peace, viz: Messrs. Mordecai McKinney and Andrew Culbertson, each having thirty-six votes; but as said election was opposed by about fourteen designing persons, who had a separate election and made return of the same, and both returns being presented to your Honors, we were thereupon informed that you were pleased to order us to hold a new election, which we accordingly did and again elected the same two gentlemen, Mordecai .McKinney and Andrew Culbertson, the former having forty and the latter forty-eight votes, and made return.
We likewise at the same time sent down a petition to your Honors signed by a great number of the inhabitants of our township setting forth the situation of the township on account of waters 'and other inconveniences, and craving that both the persons chosen might be commissioned, as they live one at or near each end of the township, as more fully set forth in said petition.
But we are well convinced that the approach of the enemy to our metropolis [Lancaster], where your Honors were then sitting, must of consequence put the House into great hurry and confusion, which we are satisfied has been the reason that our petition has been either postponed or neglected.
The inconvenience we labor under at present is very great, having no magistrate near us on any side, and though we are content to bear our part of hardships of whatever kind in the time of public calamity, yet we beg that your wisdoms would be pleased to grant us relief as speedily as possible by granting us the prayer of our petition, etc.
That all our trouble may end in prosperity and peace; that government may prosper in your hands, and truth and justice flourish apace, is the earnest desire and prayer of Muncy township. Signed by William Hepburn, John Coats, Israel Parshall, Nathaniel Barber, James Hinds, James Hepburn, Robert Covenhoven, Albert Covenhoven, Joseph Sutton, David Benjamin, Jonathan Benjamin, Onina Voorhees, John Stryker, Barent Stryker, John Strayker, Richard Hall, Jacob Houck, John Buckalow, James Hampton, Thomas Newman, Sr., Joseph Newman, Daniel Perine, Cornelius Low, Sr., Samuel Gordon, Cornelius Low, Peter Stryker, John Hall, John Covenhoven.
The return of this election, held August 16, 1777, is signed by John Coats as inspector, and Joseph Newman and William Hammond as judges. The petition referred to shows that the first election was held April 25, 1777, and the petitioners claimed that the opposition which they encountered was "by a small body of men who combined together at the apparent instigation of a reputed Tory, and held a separate election in opposition to ours under pretence of being landed freeholders." In the last election the memorialists state that they allowed no one to vote" who bad not taken and subscribed to the oath of allegiance;" whereas, "on the other hand the promoters and supporters of the opposition are chiefly persons who have either refused or hitherto neglected to swear allegiance to the States, and may yet make a tool of one who bears the mask of a Whig to support their cause, which they could not with so good a grace do themselves."
This petition, which contains more signers than the one copied, is "dated Muncy township, August 21, 1777". The name of Amariah Sutton appears on it; also William Snodgrass, John Thomson, and Daniel Brown, all of whom were soon afterwards killed by the Indians. Peter Smith, the unfortunate man, approved of it by making his mark.
The above petition is copied from a time stained paper containing the original autographs of the signers, just as they wrote them one hundred and fifteen years ago. Andrew Culbertson lived on the south side of the river, within what are now the limits of the borough of DuBoistown, and Mordecai McKinney, resided on Muncy manor. When the petitioners speak of the inconvenience caused by "waters," they have reference to Loyalsock creek, which, when swollen, was a turbulent stream and dangerous to cross; and without a magistrate at the upper and lower end of the settlement, they would be subjected to great "inconveniences." It will be noticed that the Benjamin family, several of whom figured in the tragedy, was a large one.
Richard and John Hall were, respectively, the great-grandfather and grandfather of John B. Hall, of Williamsport. They were of English origin and emigrated from New Jersey before the Revolution and located above the mouth of Muncy creek, and assisted Captain John Brady to build his palisade fort, and when he raised a company of volunteer rangers John Hall was selected his orderly sergeant. Hall was a blacksmith by trade and was the only Smith at that time within a radius of twenty miles. His shop stood on the bank of the river opposite Butler's ripples, at Micheltree's Landing, and he had charge of the ferry. Both Richard and John Hall, father and son, were buried in Hall's graveyard.
There are several other signers who were prominent here during and after the Revolutionary period, notably William Hepburn. Albert Covenhoven was the father of Robert Covenhoven, the celebrated scout and guide. Descendants of the Strykers live in Williamsport today. Nathaniel Barber was one of the early settlers at Loyalsock.
The prayer of the petitioners was granted, for the records show that commissions were issued to Culbertson and McKinney.