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History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania
edited by John F. Meginness; ©1892




IN the early part of August the panic began to subside, and small bands of settlers well armed, officered, and prepared for any emergency, began to creep into the valley. They came to look after their deserted homes and to secure cattle, horses, and other effects that had been left behind. They found a few small bands of Indians engaged in the work of pillage who fled on their approach. Houses and cabins from Muncy to Antes Fort had been burned. At Wallis’s and Loyalsock there was much destruction. Wallis's stone house, with its walls three thick, was too strong for the savages to destroy and it stood solitary and alone. All the out buildings were reduced to ashes. The improvements at Lycoming had disappeared or were greatly damaged. When the advance party reached King's improvement above Level Corner, two miles east of Larry's creek, they found the remains of his log cabin and barn yet smoking. Hurrying on to Antes Fort they found the mill, which contained a small quantity of grain when the commenced, and the adjacent buildings, reduced to ashes. The smoldering embers were not yet extinct, showing that the Indians had only been there a short time before their arrival, and the odor of burning grain tainted the atmosphere. The stockade or fort, which was constructed of heavy logs, could not be burned, and it stood there as firm and strong as when first erected.

This advance party collected what stock they could and drove them the valley the to places of safety. The upper part of what is now this county presented a sad scene of desolation. The vandals had plied their work more industriously here than lower down. Blackened spots of ground marked where houses and barns stood had stood and presented a strange contrast to the ripened fields of golden grain which surrounded them.


Colonel Brodhead moved more swiftly than any of the officers who were to take part in the expedition. Under date of July 24, 1778, he writes from Muncy, stating that when he reached Sunbury he found that he was too late to be any service in assisting the people at Wyoming, whither he had been ordered, consequently, he had come to this place. Finding that the inhabitants had either fled or we flying determined "to fix on two principal posts and keep up a line of scouts between them," but had found his plan "impracticable on account of the inaccessible mountains and thickets." His scouts, therefore, were "employed in watching the Indian paths, and scouting so far towards the different posts as it was practicable."

He had with him at Muncy, which is supposed to have been Wallis's, 125 men. "This post," he writes, "is of much importance." "On I being informed," he says, "by a small scout that the enemy were burning some of the buildings up the West Branch, about ton miles off, I sent a captain and thirty-nine men to endeavor to intercept them; they returned late last evening and reported that they found several places where the Indians, about ten in number, had lain and slaughtered swine, sheep, and cattle. Part of the swine were used by the savages and part carried off. The buildings of several of the inhabitants were burning when the captain reached that place. He pursued their tracks until they had left the I purchase' before he returned, but could not come up with them."

This was at Lycoming creek, which was the boundary line of the "purchase," and it was just ton miles west of where Colonel Brodhead had established his headquarters. The Indians operated in, small bands, which enabled them to move quickly, to disperse, and hide in the thickets on the approach of a superior force.

Colonel Brodhead and his force were closely watched, for he observes Last evening one of my sentinels, at this post, discovered an Indian approaching in a skulking manner towards him. At the distance of 150 yards he fired at him, when the Indian ran off." Colonel Brodhead remarked further that, "great numbers of, the inhabitants are now collected in large bodies reaping their harvests." He found this country "a really fertile one," but as he could remain with the distressed people but a few days, and his anxiety for them was daily increased, "unless they meet with timely succor the country will be once more evacuated."

The presence of Colonel Brodhead inspired confidence among the people, but as he was under orders to execute a movement in the western part of the State, he could not remain long. That his efforts were appreciated by the inhabitants is apparent from the following extract from a petition to the Supreme Executive Council, dated Muncy, June 10, 1778:

Upon being Informed of the melancholy event of the 26th of June last at Wyoming, the few militia which were stationed at the little stands through the county were called into the town of Sunbury, which so much alarmed the country that every inhabitant without exception were flying from the county, when they were informed that Colonel Brodhead, at the head of the Eighth Pennsylvania regiment, who was with General McIntosh on his March to the westward, and who at his own particular instance had obtained a permit from the General to come from Carlisle to their relief. This account gave new life to the sinking spirits of such of the inhabitants as had not gone too far with their families to return, and induced your petitioners once more to attempt a stand; but are at the same time under the greatest apprehensions of danger when they are informed by the Colonel that he has no orders to stay amongst them.

Therefore, in consideration of the premises, your petitioners humbly pray that you in your wisdom will take the distressed situation of this county into your serious consideration, and, if an application to Congress be necessary, to obtain an order to continue Colonel Brodhead's regiment or some other Continental troops among them; that you, as the fathers and guardians of the people, will interpose and give them every assistance which to you in your wisdom may seem meet.

The following names were appended to the petition: Nimrod Pennington, Peter Burns, John Hollingsworth, Erasmus Boersch, Zachariah Trig, Daniel John, Samuel Wallis, David Berry, Joseph Webster, Joseph Arbour, Albert Polhamus, Peter Corter, William Jones, William Hepburn, Matthew Blekley, Paul Ricketts, Peter Jones, Michael Coryell, Lott Bottman, Joseph Hall, Richard Sutton, Albert Covenhoven, Ludwig Bottman, Ebenezer Green, Jr.; Benjamin Lauden, Ezer Green, John Patton, Jacob Lawrenson, Edward Rardon, James Giles, Henry Silverthorn, Jacob Cotner, John White, Oliver Silverthorn, John Brady, Joseph Craft, Samuel Brady, John Hall, James Patten, David Austin, James Brady, Powell Sheep, Jerome Feneet, Caleb Knap, Joshua Knap, Peter Smith, Paul Sheep, Ebenezer Green, Benjamin Green, James Brady, Jr., Daniel Hill, Henry Hill, Samuel Armstrong, Thomas Oliver, Philip Adams, John Hill, William Watson, John Humpton, Joseph Newman, James Hampton, Thomas Johnson, George Silverthorn, Ovukney Sephenstopeson, George Barclay, John Corunnory, Robert Covenhoven, James Covenhoven, Frederick Leaf, James Hepburn, Stephen Chambers, Thomond Ball.

General Armstrong, writing to Vice-President Bryan from Carlisle under date of July 24th, expressed his belief that the whole of the Indian tribes have not yet taken up the hatchet against us," otherwise their attacks would have been more vigorous. He was of the opinion that the blow at Wyoming was the "plain result of British virulence that the expedition was" planned, commanded, and, in part, executed by whites. "It is also natural to suppose," he continues, "that the expense is paid by Britain, and the plunder promised to the savages, which among other reasons, induces me to believe they will in a short time return." He did not think it was "altogether visionary to believe that this infamous descent had been designed as a stratagem in aid of the British arms for the purpose of leading Congress more readily to listen to terms of peace."

Colonel Brodhead left the valley in the early part of August and resumed his western march. The first militia to arrive at Sunbury were under Gen. John P. De Haas, who, it will be remembered, had offered to command a body of volunteers on the 13th of July. Council had accepted his services, and while he remained he tendered valuable assistance in the work of reorganizing and stationing the troops for defensive purposes.


August 1, 1778, Col. Thomas Hartley reported from Sunbury that he had arrived there a few days before with a detachment of his regiment and some militia. He mentioned that he had found General De Haas there, who "had come up (I presume) with an intention of assisting and supporting the people. He had detached sundry parties of militia for that purpose." Here we have an outcropping of that sensitive feeling which so often prevails among officers regarding rank. If Colonel Hartley had not felt that way he would not have. said in his report, when referring to General De Haas, that "I presume he is here for such a purpose."

General Potter, also writing from Sunbury August 1st, says : "I came here last week to station the militia. I found General De Haas here, who said he commanded all the troops. The next day Colonel Hartley came and showed me his orders to command the troops, and politely requested me to take the command, which I declined, as I never was very fond of command, and this is a disagreeable one. I rather chose to, act as a private gentleman, and do all the good in my power; but people will make observations."

Colonel Hartley was surprised at the destitution and wretchedness of the people, caused by the "Big Runaway," and he makes reference to them in these words: "Four-fifths of the inhabitants fled with such effects as they could carry from this county. Many of the men are returning, but unless I can support four or five posts between the Great Island and Fishing creek, I fear few of the women will return again to their former habitations. A most extraordinary panic seems to have struck the people."


Colonel Hartley did not remain at Sunbury long. In company with General De Haas, he proceeded up the West Branch to survey the country and ascertain where it would be best to establish posts. They had all the force with them that was available and they kept a sharp lookout for Indians. Above Wallis's farm they found a few settlers who had returned, but they were "wavering and doubtful." Straggling Indians were seen almost daily. After a careful examination of the country they found no one of the dwelling houses that had escaped destruction so situated that they could be fortified, or made the nucleus for a post of any kind. It was clear that a post should be established near the dwelling house of Samuel Wallis. It stood in the most thickly settled part of the valley, and for miles up the river the country was inviting. The large streams falling into the river from the north, along which Indian paths ran, made it necessary to have a force of men centrally located so that they would be in easy reach if the enemy was found descending any of these streams in force. Concerning the location Colonel Hartley wrote:

The inhabitants strong pressed that they should have troops amongst them, and that some fortress should be built to cover that part of the country and afford an asylum to their families in case of necessity. General De Haas and several other gentlemen were with me; we considered and examined on all sides we found none of the houses properly situated to admit of a stockade fort of any real use. We found these settlements In danger. They were useful from their fertility of soil and the industry of the inhabitants, besides being the frontier; for, if these people once gave way there would not long be an inhabitant above Sunbury or Northumberland; a valuable country would be depopulated, and some thousands of persons ruined. Added to this, if the settlements towards the Bald Eagle and Great Island were to return and to be covered and supported, there was a necessity for a secure post about midway. Upon the whole, we were clearly of opinion that a fort ought to be built near Samuel Wallis's, about two miles from Muncy creek. I therefore directed one to be laid out accordingly.

The site having been selected, Capt. Andrew Walker was directed to take his company and erect a defensive work as, quickly as possible. The location was on a knoll a few hundred yards north by east of the Wallis dwelling, and was an excellent one, as it was high enough to afford a good view of the surrounding country. At the base of the knoll was a good spring of water. That spring is there today and a large elm spreads its branches over it.

Captain Walker and his men went to work with a will, and they made such rapid progress that on the 1st of September Colonel Hartley wrote from Sunbury to the authorities at Philadelphia, stating that the work of building the fort had been pushed with such vigor that it was nearly completed. He was greatly pleased at the industry and skill shown by Captain Walker and his men. "I never before" he says, "saw so much done by so few, hands in so short a time. We have a four pounder mounted, and if he had four swivel's to place on the bastions, the place would be very secure with a small garrison."

This new and important defensive work, the only one in this county erected under the direction of military officers and by military authority, was named Fort Muncy, in honor of the valley and the farm on which it stood. It was about three miles west of the borough of Muncy and ten miles east of Williamsport. Next to Fort Augusta, it was the most important stronghold in the West Branch valley. The bastions were built of fascines and clay and the curtains were protected by stockades, in which quarters for the men were erected. It is regretted that nothing has been left on record showing its size and cost. Colonel Hartley says that the "militia and inhabitants," assisted his men in the work of construction. It continued to be a post of great importance for several years, and as late as 1782, as will hereafter be shown, it was used as a place of rendezvous for troops.

All traces of this stronghold have long since been wiped out. When the extension of the Philadelphia and Reading railroad was built to Williamsport, the knoll on which it stood was cut through. The excavation is deep, and passengers can not fail to notice it on account of the view of the old mansion house to the south being suddenly shut off when the train dashes into the out.

A covered way led to the spring at the foot of the hill for the protection of parties going for water. There is no evidence that there was a well inside the enclosure, but it is likely there was, for a work of that kind would certainly not be left without such a convenience in case of siege. To the east and southeast there was a growth of heavy timber, but south, north, and west, the ground was cleared. There were cultivated fields to the west and north, for even at that early day Mr. Wallis was carrying on farming on a large scale and rapidly extending his improvements.

For some time before Colonel Hartley and his officers selected the site for the fort, Samuel Wallis had been urging the authorities to build a defensive work there, and in a letter to Timothy Matlack under date of August 8th, be expressed his gratification that it had been commenced.

Colonel Hartley remained at Sunbury several days awaiting orders and supplies for his contemplated expedition into the Indian country. On the 10th of August he wrote that he had disposed of the militia at different posts, and every man of his regiment who could possibly go had been sent in some direction. "We have lent every aid to reap and get in the harvest; much more will be saved than I could possibly have imagined." Berks county had furnished its quota of militia, but he was sorry to say that Lancaster county had fallen far short. As Northumberland county was so "distracted and distressed," little aid could be expected. As many of the inhabitants who had fled had not returned, few men could be found to serve in the militia. In this letter he spoke of enclosing a "rough plan" of Muncy fort, but it has been lost.

At this time no women or children had ventured to return. As the Indians had gained so much plunder by their previous raid, he expected they would soon return. He had no trouble with the militia and spoke well of them. "It will be necessary," he thought, "to have at least two iron four or six pounders" for Fort Muncy, and "ten or twelve swivels." These guns he asked Council to have forwarded to "Coxels Town as soon as possible," from whence he would "endeavor to got them up by water or some other means." The militia of the county were "poor indeed." Many of them complained "of having four or five months pay due to them." If they could get this money, he believed, it would afford great relief. The time consumed in protecting the harvesters had prevented him "from sending a detachment on the Indian paths," but he hoped to be ready to move in a short time. Col. Henry Antes bore this report to the Supreme Executive Council, and he noted, therein that he would be able to give them "further information."

Samuel Wallis, writing to a member of Council, said that Colonel Brodhead's regiment "did great service" and he was much pleased with Colonel Hartley. Referring to the order of Council requiring a quota of 300 militia from Northumberland county, he was at a loss to know "what kind of intelligence" they had from this section. For he was sure if they "had been well informed of the distressed, distracted, and confused situation," from "which the people have not yet recovered, they would have judged it impossible to call for 300 of our militia." But as the Committee were safely ensconced in Philadelphia, it is doubtful if they ever realized for a moment the extent of the destitution and misery of the people here. If they had had a just conception of the condition of affairs they never would have asked for 300 men, when there was less than that number in the whole county.

Colonel Hartley called the attention of the Council to the great distress they were, in "for want of medicine chests for the militia." The small quantity brought for the use of his own regiment had been cheerfully divided, but the sick and wounded of the inhabitants and militia were constantly increasing, and more medicine was required. He begged Council to immediately send a well filled medicine chest to Coxes's Town and he would see to having it forwarded. Most of the stores he had brought with him were exhausted, and he desired to impress upon Council the fact that they were "now destitute of most of the conveniences of life," but, he patriotically observed, "We shall with pleasure submit to every inconvenience, as we have a prospect of being useful to our country." Of such material were patriots made in the dark days when they were struggling for liberty and independence.


The demoralized condition of the people at this time also interfered with the civil administration of affairs. The courts were broken up. On the 8th of August the justices of the courts through Thomond Ball, deputy prothonotary, notified the president of the State Council that business was much impeded for want of an attorney to prosecute for the Commonwealth; that it was the second court at which no State attorney had appeared, and many persons had to be admitted to bail; that the, long suspension of justice, from February, 1776, to November, 1777, had rendered the people licentious enough, and a further delay of executing the laws must lead them to lengths too difficult to be recalled; tippling house keepers, the notorious promoters of vice and immorality, remained unpunished, though frequently returned, for want of an indictment; that there were two prisoners for murder, one was admitted to bail and the other in close confinement, who should be brought to trial.

In the meantime work was rapidly progressing at Fort Muncy; and though late in the season, efforts were made by harvesters to gather what grain they could. Nothing serious occurred till the 8th of August. On this day a corporal and four men belonging to Colonel Hartley's regiment with three militiamen, were detailed to guard "fourteen reaperg and cradlers, who were also armed, to cut the grain of an unhappy man, who had lost his wife and four children, murdered by the Indians." The "unfortunate man" was Peter Smith, who drove his wagon into the Indian ambuscade in the plum tree thicket on the 10th of June, near Lycoming creek and a massacre occurred. His farm was on the river, a short distance west of Loyalsock creek, and the field can be pointed out to this day. Smith was from Hunterdon county, New Jersey. A little stream of water, now known as "Bull run," ran through his improvement. The only names of the twenty-two men engaged in this harvesting party that have been preserved, are those of the owner of the crop, Peter Smith, James Brady, and Jerome Van Ness. The other nineteen are lost. Of this number, it will be borne in mind, eight were soldiers. It was the custom at that time, when a working party was not accompanied by a commissioned officer, to select one as a "leader," who was called "Captain," and obeyed accordingly. Young Brady, on account of his shrewdness, bravery, and dash, was chosen to fill this position.


According to Colonel Hartley's official account of the affair the party proceeded to the farm "on Friday (August 7th) and cut the greater part of the grain." They intended to have finished the job next morning, but during the night "four of the reapers improperly moved off," This left but eighteen, all told, on the ill-fated premises.

The next morning, Saturday, the harvesters went to work; "the cradlers, four in number, by themselves, near the house; the reapers somewhat distant. The reapers, except young Brady, placed their guns round a tree." He thought this was "wrong and put his gun some little distance from the rest." Had they obeyed him they might have fared better. "The morning," observes Colonel Hartley, "was very foggy." The party had gone to work very early it appears, for "about an hour after sunrise the reapers and sentry were surprised by a number of Indians under cover of the fog. The sentry retired towards the reapers, I and they," all except Brady, began to retire immediately. He ran for his rifle, pursued by three Indians, and when within a few rods of it was wounded by a shot. He ran for some distance and fell, when he received another wound from a spear, was tomahawked, and scalped in an instant."

His scalp was considered a fine trophy by the Indians, as he had very long and bright red hair. After it was removed, tradition says a little Indian rushed up and struck him four times on the head with his tomahawk.

"The sentry," continues the report, "fired his gun, but was soon after shot down, as was also a militiaman. Another militiaman was missing, supposed to be killed." The cradlers, on, hearing the noise of the attack, ran and ascended a hill in rear of the field, from whence they had a view of what the Indians were doing. Evidently fearing an attack, "the Indians in a few seconds left the field." "The corporal and three men, who were with the cradlers, proposed to make a stand, but they thought it imprudent." The cradlers then fled rapidly and made their way to Wallis's to give the alarm. The corporal and his "three men then pushed right down the road. At Loyalsock they were fired upon by the Indians, but on returning the fire the Indians fled, and the soldiers retook two horses from them, which they carried to Wallis's."

James Brady, when he recovered consciousness, rose from where he had fallen and made his way to the house. Being scalped he presented a pitiable appearance, and he was very weak from the loss of blood, his wounds having bled profusely. He found Jerome Van Ness at the house, who had accompanied the party for the purpose of preparing their meals. He dressed his wounds as best he could, when Brady begged him to leave him, but he refused.

As soon as news of the attack reached Captain Walker, who was busy superin-tending the erection of Fort Muncy, he immediately went in pursuit of the savages with a strong force; "but they had gained too much time," and were safe in the mountains. It was thought there were about thirty Indians in the party, and it is likely they had remained in concealment during the night for the purpose of attacking the harvesters in the morning; and, finding the party divided, they selected the weakest squad and made the assault quickly and then fled. The presence of Captain Walker's force at the fort was a menace to them, and no doubt prevented them from doing further damage.

When Captain Walker arrived on the ground and saw the condition of Brady, he quickly made arrangements to send him to Sunbury for treatment. A bier was hastily constructed and he was carried to the river and placed in a canoe, and a party of men started with him down the river.

The foregoing account of this unfortunate and sad affair is drawn from Colonel Hartley's official report, and as it was written at Sunbury, it is lacking in detail. Other accounts represent that when Brady ran from his pursuers he succeeded in seizing his gun, and wheeling shot one of them dead. He was then shot through the arm, and stumbling over a sheaf of wheat was pounced upon, tomahawked, and. scalped before he could rise. Another account says that after shooting the first Indian, he grasped his gun as he fell, and shot another before he was overcome. These are traditionary stories unsupported by corroborative evidence, and are likely to be exaggerations of the fight. Brady, however, was very athletic and strong, and no doubt sold his life as dearly as possible.

Tradition also says that when he recovered consciousness he succeeded by walking and creeping on his hands and feet in reaching the cabin of Van Ness. On hearing the firing he had concealed himself, but seeing Brady approaching in his terribly wounded condition, came forth from his concealment and went to his assistance. After aiding him all he could, Brady begged him to fly, as the Indians would probably return and kill him. Van Ness refused and insisted on remaining by his side. Brady then requested to be helped to the river's edge, when he drank copiously of water. Then begging Van Ness to bring his gun he lay down and fell into a doze. When Captain Walker approached the noise awoke him, and jumping to his feet, thinking Indians were near, cooked his gun and prepared to shoot. Finding the party was composed of friends he requested to be taken to Sunbury, where his mother was, having fled thither with her family in the "Big Runaway." He was as well cared for as it was possible; a canoe was provided and he was placed aboard and a few friends started with him. Robert Covenhoven was one of the number. On the way down he thirsted greatly for water, and before reaching Sunbury became delirious. He seemed to be suffering from concussion of the brain, caused by the violent stroke of the tomahawk.

It was nearly midnight, when they reached Sunbury, but his mother having received news of their coming, was at the landing to receive them and assisted to carry her wounded son to the house. He was a pitiable object to behold, and the grief of the mother was very great. The young Captain lived five days, which would make his death as occurring on the 13th of August, 1778, he having received his wounds on the 8th. On the day he died his reason returned for a short time and he described with great minuteness the bloody scene through which he had passed. Early writers have stated that be said Chief Bald Eagle was the leader of the Indians, and scalped him. But it was afterwards proved that he was mistaken. Bald Eagle had been dead several years before this bloody affair occurred. He was killed on the Ohio river above the mouth of the Kanawha, his body placed upright in a canoe, which was sent adrift, and in this position he was found floating down the stream. This discovery also destroyed the pretty romance indulged in by so many writers that Capt. Sam Brady afterwards avenged the death of his brother by shooting Bald Eagle through the heart on the Allegheny river.

The death of young Brady under such sad circumstances caused much sorrow. He was the second son of Capt. John and Mary (Quigley) Brady, born in 1758, while his parents resided at Shippensburg, and he was in his twenty-first year at the time of his death. He came with his parents to their stockade house at Muncy some time in 1775, and from that time he was a participant in many stirring adventures along the river. As nearly as can be told the spot where he was stricken down and scalped, is now occupied by the saw mill of Ezra Canfield, a short distance west of the mouth of Loyalsock creek. He was buried at Sunbury, but all trace of his grave has long since been lost.

Jerome Van Ness, who first cared for the young hero after he had received his death wounds, was the same man who had settled on and improved sixty-seven acres of Muncy manor before it was surveyed in 1776. He must have been seventy years of age at the time of the attack on the reapers, for according to Rev. John Bodine Thomson, the records show that he was baptized in the old Dutch Church of the North Branch of the Raritan, New Jersey, August 6, 1706. What became of him is unknown.

Many anecdotes of the illustrious Brady family have been preserved, and one in particular relating to James is worth noticing in this connection. John Buckalow, son-in-law of Mordecai McKinney, was one of the early settlers on Muncy manor. His family was intimate with the Bradys, being near neighbors. At that time it was the custom for the men to wear long hair, plaited, and tied behind the head. James had a luxuriant and remarkably fine head of bright red hair. One afternoon "the young Captain of the Susquehanna," with several others, was at the house of Mr. Buckalow. Mrs. Buckalow "done up" Brady's hair. He was lively and full of humor at the time. While at work Mrs. Buckalow remarked: " Ah! Jim, I fear the Indians will get this red scalp of yours yet." "If they do," he facetiously replied, "It will make them a bright light of a dark night". In less than a month the noble youth fell beneath the tomahawk, and the savages had his scalp!

Hugh Brady, who afterwards rose to the distinguished position of a major general in the United States Army, had great respect and admiration for his elder brother James, and in his reminiscences of the family thus spoke of him: "James

Brady was a remarkable man. Nature had done much for him. His person was fine. He lacked but a quarter of an inch of six feet, and his mind was as well finished as his person. I have ever placed him by the side of Jonathan, son of Saul, for beauty of person and nobleness of soul, and like him he fell by the hands of the Philistines.


On the 15th of August Council informed Colonel Hartley that according to the, idea entertained by Congress regarding fortifications in the interior, no expense could be incurred in erecting them. He was at liberty, however, to place those, "temporary forts," where, in his judgment, he deemed best. Furthermore, Council was "sorry to inform" him that they saw no probability of being able to furnish the, cannon he asked for Fort Muncy, as "the fitting out of privateers had taken all the small cannon that could be had by any means, and to get them made would be a, work of too much time." The medicine had been forwarded, but "the stores" had not. "The distress for want of money can not be relieved. at present. We have pressed Congress on this subject for some time past, and have earnestly solicited assistance from the Board of War, but without success." To the militiamen in the field who had not been paid for months this was not encouraging, but to keep up hope Council added, "it shall be sent forward as soon as it can be obtained."

Colonel Hunter, after Colonel Hartley took charge, remained silent for a long time, for, at least, nothing appears from him on the records till the 20th of August. At this date he notifies Council that "agreeable to the resolve of Congress of the 8th of June," and the "instructions of Council of the 10th," he had raised a company of about sixty men to serve for six months, appointed the officers, and they are now doing duty. The expense of raising the company was large, "as each man provided himself with a good rifle and accoutrements." For this Service the men were to have "eighty dollars." Colonel Hunter also called the attention of Council to those militiamen who had served their "tour of duty in this county," stating that they complained very much about not getting their pay. Many of them were poor, "especially those who lived above Loyalsock creek, who lost their all and are in great distress. When they moved down their families to these towns" (Northumberland and Sunbury,) he ordered the commissary to issue them provisions, and Colonel Hartley still allowed it.


On the 1st of September, 1778, Colonel Hartley, writing from Sunbury, informed Council that recently he had "been out with several detachments up the West Branch," on the lookout for Indians. He was not sure that they had killed a single one, but it would have been in their power to do so several times if they had had cavalry. The savages frequently appeared in open ground, but they were too, swift of foot to be overtaken by his men. From his observation he was clearly convinced of the utility of horse, for however sagacious the Indians are they can not always choose their own ground." The horsemen, he claimed, should "be armed with a sword, two pistols, and a short rifle-the latter would be necessary to intimidate the enemy, and the soldier might occasionally act, on foot." He had therefore written to the Board of War requesting them to send him "an officer and twelve horse." He renewed his request for "twelve swivels for the county," for in case the militia are withdrawn they would be "essentially necessary." He was inducing the people to put in some fall crops. A number of persons had returned to their habitations, but they were ill at ease, fearing a visit from the savages at any moment.

The Indians were constantly on the watch for stragglers from Fort Muncy. Only a few days before the writing of this letter "three German militia, without arms and without permission, went out of the fort to dig some potatoes within sight of the garrison. They were immediately attacked by one white man and some Indians. The enemy discharged all their pieces at once. One militiaman fell and was scalped; one ran off; the other was seized and had a tussel with a stout Indian, but was rescued by the troops." The white man who appeared with these Indians was a Tory. These miscreants were worse than the savages, for they frequently induced them to commit acts of atrocity which they would not have thought of doing.

Soon after this affair George Gortner (or Cottner) was killed not far from the fort. About the same time Thomas Hunt was also waylaid and shot. He was out searching the woods near the creek for cattle when the Indians fired at him. The shot took effect in his abdomen. Of course he was scalped. He was buried on the ridge back of the barn of Joseph Gudykunst, and his resting place was long marked by a large sandstone. The new road from Muncy to the creek now crosses the spot where his ashes repose. Gernerd's Now and Then (September, 1877) mentions the grave of a man named Childs, who was killed by the Indians on Glade run, not far from Brady's fort. It was under a plum tree. Another grave, whose occupant was unknown, was pointed out for a long time under a clump of apple trees, near the creek. A peculiarity of this grave was that the hat and shoes of the occupant were to be seen for a long time resting on the little mound, and were regarded by the early settlers " as very sad mementoes." He had been killed by the Indians. There were many other graves in that beautiful valley of early pioneers who fell by the hands of the foe, but they have long since been forgotten. It was the custom in those times to bury the unfortunates near where they fell, and without coffin or shroud. The only mark left to indicate the, spot was a little mound and a stone, without inscription.

Colonel Hartley reported that the detachment. of his regiment which had been serving in Northampton county had reached him, but their "clothes were, all torn by the woods, and they were in the utmost want of hunting shirts and woolen overalls or leggins." He hoped therefore that "200 of each" would be sent to him at once. No medicine had yet arrived and the militia were very sickly. The inhabitants are recovering fast from their fright, but if the State did not replace some of the militia whose time was out, "hundreds of families will have to be maintained as paupers."

This report was forwarded by Capt. John Brady, father of the unfortunate James Brady, who had just been buried. He was on his way to rejoin the Continental army, his leave of absence having expired.


Some time in September, or about three months after the bloody occurrence of June 10th at Lycoming creek, William Winter, who had settled near the residence of Amariah Sutton and made an improvement, returned from Berks county with some ton or twelve men to out hay in a meadow a short distance above the mouth of Lycoming creek, for the purpose of feeding the cattle he proposed bringing up late in the fall. The meadow was in what was known at that time as "Locust bottom." It was covered with a luxuriant growth of coarse grass or wild timothy, which grew so high that when a man was sitting on horseback it was level with his head. Through this bottom the Philadelphia and Erie railroad now runs. Six men went to work at cutting grass. William King was among the number. They had placed their guns against a tree and had out but two and a half swaths, when a party of Indians fired on them, killing four. King being untouched dropped his, scythe and ran to the river, into which he dashed, and swimming to the other shore escaped, although fired at several times. One of the mowers dropped in the grass and managed to conceal himself until night, when he made his way to the river and raising a sunken canoe started on his way to Northumberland. He reached that place in safety the next day, and while relating that all had been killed but himself, and how he had escaped, King suddenly appeared in their midst. His clothes were torn into tatters by the briers and thorns as he made his rapid flight over the mountains.

Winter and the balance of his party were at the cabin near what, is now the corner of Third and Rose streets, Williamsport, and he was engaged preparing their dinner. Hearing the firing they quickly discerned the cause, when they concealed themselves until the Indians departed. When it was safe they went to the meadow and found four of their comrades killed and scalped. Fearing to remain long enough to prepare graves and bury them, they gathered the bodies together and hastily covering them with a thick layer of new mown hay, hurried away in the direction of Fort Muncy, and thence to their homes in Berks county.

Early the following spring (1779) Winter and a party of men returned, and on going to the spot where they had placed the bodies, removed the hay. Much to their surprise they found that the hay, had preserved them from decomposition. They were then removed to the place where the slain of June 10, 1778, were laid, and buried. This was in what is now known as the old Lycoming burial ground on West Fourth street, and these four bodies were probably the second lot of unfortunates buried in that ground.


Congress having directed Colonel Hartley to make an incursion into the enemy's country for the purpose of destroying some of their villages, he was busily engaged for several weeks in making preparations. He had hoped to be able to get together a force of 400 men, besides seventeen horse, which he had mounted from his own regiment and placed "under the command of Mr. Carbery." From his report to Congress of the expedition, we are enabled to condense the facts. The place of rendezvous was Fort Muncy. The troops began to concentrate on the 18th of September, but when he came to enumerate the strength of the force, he, found that it only consisted of " about 200 rank And file. "This was a disappointment, as be thought the number rather small to accomplish much, but he consoled himself with the reflection that as the enemy had no knowledge of his design, he would be able to make a diversion, if no more, while the inhabitants were saving their grain."

On the morning of September 21, 1778, at 4 o'clock, the force moved from the fort, "carrying two boxes of spare ammunition and twelve days provisions." Every available man that could be spared from the fort was taken along. They crossed Loyalsock at the fording and passed up the road to the point where it was intercepted by the Sheshequin trail. The weather was rainy and he encountered much trouble in the "prodigious swamps, mountains, defiles, and rocks" which impeded his course. They had to open and clear the way as they proceeded. The Sheshequin path, which he took, ran up Bouser's run, east of Williamsport, and crossed over the hills to Lycoming creek, which it ascended. The great swamp to which he alludes, was located west of the limestone ridge below Williamsport, and embraced the level scope of country as far west as Miller's run. It was caused by a great watershed, and a portion of it is there to this day. Its only outlet was the sluggish rivulet known as Bull run. The territory originally covered by the swamp embraced more than a square mile, and it extended back to the foot hills. Accord-ing to tradition it was "prodigious," and in' continued rainy weather was almost impassable.

The Indian path being very narrow, had to be widened to admit of the passage of the troops and horses; and this was the first work of the kind done on it. The "mountains, defiles, and rocks," were found on Lycoming creek. It will be remembered that the Moravians described the route up that stream as terribly gloomy and dangerous. Although the Indians laid out paths, they were not road builders. If a tree, thicket, or rock obstructed their passage, they went around it; they never removed anything.

Colonel Hartley says they "waded or swam the River Lycoming upwards of twenty times." The commander thought the "difficulties in crossing the Alps, or passing up Kennipeck, could not have been greater than those his men experienced for the time," but, he was pleased to say, "they surmounted them with great resolution and fortitude."

As they progressed in their march they found "in lonely woods and groves," the haunts and lurking places of the savage murderers" who had desolated the frontier, and "saw the huts where they had dressed and dried the scalps of the helpless women and children who had fallen in their hands."

At the head of Lycoming the expedition took the trail leading to the North Branch, the objective point being Tioga, a concentrating point of the Indians. On the morning of the 26th Colonel Hartley's advance guard of nineteen met an equal number of Indians on the path, approaching them. The guard had the first fire and killed a chief, whom they scalped, when the rest fled. A few miles further they discovered where upwards of seventy warriors bad lain the night before. They were coming down to attack the settlers, but learning of the approach of Hartley's force became panic-stricken and fled to give the alarm. No time was to be lost and the force advanced rapidly towards "Sheshecunnunck," (Sheshequin) in the neighborhood of which they took fifteen prisoners. Here Colonel Hartley learned that a deserter from Captain Spalding's company at Wyoming had given the Indians notice of his approach. This caused him to move "with the greatest dispatch towards Tioga," advancing his horse and some foot in front. Several of the enemy were seen but they fled rapidly. It was nearly dark when Tioga was reached, and as the troops were much fatigued, it was impossible to proceed further that night. I Another prisoner was taken, from whom it was learned that the Indians had been advised of the invasion. Their forces had been on a raid to the German Flats, where they had taken eight scalps and brought away seventy oxen intended for the garrison at Fort Stanwix. On their return they were to have attacked Wyoming and the settlements on the West Branch again. A strong force of Indians was collecting at Chemung –probably 500– and they were building a fort there, Colonel Hartley was also informed that "Young Butler had been at Tioga a few hours before" he arrived "that he had 300 men with him, the most of them Tories, dressed in green," and they had fled in the direction of Chemung. It was their intention to give him battle in some of the defiles if he proceeded in that direction.,

On gaining this knowledge Colonel Hartley decided to advance no further, but to proceed down the river in the direction of Wyoming. The village of Tioga was burned together with Queen Esther's palace. Robert Covenhoven, who accompanied the expedition, was the first man to apply the torch. All the huts within reach, together with a number of canoes, were destroyed. The horse pursued the enemy for some distance, but as the main body did not advance they returned. The con-sternation of the enemy was great, and had his force been sufficient to cope with him, Colonel Hartley was of the opinion that he could have inflicted great damage.

On the morning of the 28th the little army crossed the river and marched towards Wyalusing, where it arrived that night much exhausted. The march was continued next day under great difficulties, as the enemy had recovered and was, assailing their rear and flanks. After considerable fighting, the loss of four killed and ten wounded, and much delay, Colonel Hartley reached Sunbury on the 5th of October.

After the Indians were defeated in their attack, with considerable loss, they did not pursue any further. Colonel Hartley thought their force was fully 200. In his march he had made "a circuit of nearly 300 miles in about two weeks, brought off nearly fifty head of cattle, twenty-eight canoes, besides many other articles."

Capt. John Brady, who had been sent home from the Continental Army I to accompany Colonel Hartley, Captain Boone, Lieut. Robert King, and other officers, did great service, and Colonel Hartley mentioned their names in his report. He left half of his detachment at Wyoming, with five officers, to assist in watching the savages. In closing his long and interesting report Colonel Hartley says: "My little regiment with two classes of Lancaster and Berks county militia, will be scarcely sufficient to preserve the posts from Nescopeck falls to Muncy, and from thence to the head of Penn's valley."

The success of the expedition gave great satisfaction to the authorities, and the Supreme Executive Council unanimously passed a vote of thanks to him for his "brave and prudent conduct in covering the northwestern frontiers of this State, and repelling the savages and other enemies."

At the time of sending his report Colonel Hartley, made a requisition for 300 round bullets for three-pounders, 300 cartridges of grape shot for the same bore, 1,000 flints, six barrels of powder, a quantity of twine and port fire, a ream of cannon cartridge paper," and other small articles. He said, furthermore, that they had "eight three-pounders on the frontiers," from which it is inferred that they were mounted at Forts Muncy and Antes. There is nothing on record to show that small cannon were taken any further up the river; indeed, it is doubtful if Antes Fort mounted any guns, although there is a tradition that the latter work had a small cannon or two, and the tradition was afterwards strengthened by the finding of a few small cannon balls near where the fort stood.

The Indians did not relax in their efforts to secure scalps. The day before Colonel Hartley wrote his report (October 7th), two sergeants belonging to his regiment at Fort Muncy imprudently captured a short distance outside of the enclosure. They were immediately attacked by lurking Indians and one of them killed and scalped; and as the other could not be found it was supposed he was taken prisoner. Smarting under their defeat at the hands of Colonel Hartley, the Indians were still murderously inclined and sought every opportunity to molest the settlers.


The stirring events of the year now drawing to a close were a terrible set-back to the people of this valley, both in the development of wealth and increase of population. The assessment list of Muncy township for 1778, which has been preserved, shows the following taxables, as compared with the list for 1774: David Austin, Nathaniel Barber, Michael Baker, John Brady, Charles Brignal, Peter Burns, Benjamin Bizart, David Berry, Mathew Blaney, Elwood Biddle, Jonathan Benjamin, David Benjamin, George Bartley, Daniel Brown, John Buckalow, Elizabeth Bonser, William Bonham, James Chambers, Michael Coon, Peter Cool, Henry Cooper, Henry Carmer, Joseph Craft, Peter Courter, Albert Covenhoven, James Clark, John Carpenter, James Carpenter, George Cottner, Cornelius Cox, John Carr, Andrew Culbertson, Margaret Duncan, William Ellis, Andrew Flaht, William Gannon, Zachariah George, Samuel Gordon, Robert Guy, James Giles, Charles Gillespie, John Hampton, Thomas Hunt, James Hinds, William Hammond, Jacob Huck, John Hall, John Coats, Silas Cook, John Covenhoven, Daniel Hill, Amos Hyland, Joseph Hayland, William Hull, Joseph Hamilton, James Hampton, Mary Hoagland, John Hinds, (grist and saw mill,) James Hall, Samuel Harris, (one slave,) David Ireland, Peter Jones, Daniel John, Benjamin Jacobs, Caleb Knapp, Abraham Lafever, Frederick Leuf, (one slave,) Cornelius Low, Gaines Lukens, Enos Lundy, Jacob Larason, Patrick Murdock, John Morris, Mordecai McKinney, (two slaves,) Hannah Newman, Joseph Newman, Thomas Newman, Jr., Thomas Oliver, Daniel Prine, James Patton, Nimrod Pennington, (one slave,) Israel Pancull, William Patterson, Alexander Power, Albert Polhemus, Statia Potts, James Parr, William Roddman, James Robb, (first constable in Muncy,) David Robb, Henry Richard, John Robb, Edward Reardon, Robert Robb, William Snodgrass, Peter Smith, Amariah Sutton, Richard Sutton, John Shoefelt, John Scudder, Paulus Sheep, John Stryker, Joseph Sutton, Barnet Stryker, James Sutton, Henry Scott, George Silverthorn, Oliver Silverthorn, Michael Smith, . Cornelius Sharp, Henry Thomas, John Thompson, Solomon Tidd, Jerome Van Nest, Mirrah Voorhouse, Cornelius Venanda, Samuel Wallis, (four servants, one negro, one mill,) Joseph Jacob Wallis, (one negro,) Joseph Webster, Daniel Williams, Peter Wychoff, David Westman, Andrew Westman, Joshua White, William Watson, Fleming Wilson, Francis Turbutt. Twenty-four single freeman are mentioned, but their names are not given.

This assessment was made in the early part of the year, for the reader will observe that a number whose names appear on the list, were killed by the Indians during the summer and autumn. Notably may be mentioned David Berry, the Benjamins, George Cottner, William Snodgrass, John Shoefelt, John Thompson, and William Hammond. There were others no doubt who perished from the same cause. The name of Robert Covenhoven does not appear in the list, but it probably was among the single freemen, as it is known that he was here at that time and was conspicuous as a guide and Indian fighter.

It will also be noticed that there were seven slaves held in the township at that time. But one "negro" is credited to Samuel Wallis, but it is surmised that his four servants "were slaves" also, which would increase the number to eleven.

Many of the foregoing settlers suffered greatly during the flight from the valley, and several never returned. One of the saddest cases, perhaps, was that of Albert Polhemus and his wife Catharine. They fled to Northumberland with their seven children, where, in a few months, both died, leaving their family to be cared for at public expense.


As autumn waned and winter came on apace, the savage gradually ceased his inroads on the settlements and the inhabitants were, for a time, in a measure free from molestation. Worn out and wearied by his harassing service against the Indians, which required -sleepless vigilance, Colonel Hartley yearned to be relieved. He was at Sunbury on. the, 20th of November, but soon afterwards took his departure, leaving a position of his regiment in garrison at Fort Muncy, with other detachments at the different posts requiring protection. His departure from the valley was greatly regretted by the people as his service had been eminently successful.

Col. Thomas Hartley was born in Berks county, September 7, 1748. His father gave him a good education, and, At the age of eighteen he commenced the study of law at York with Samuel Johnston, a relative and distinguished member of the legal profession. He was admitted at York, July 25, 1769, and in Philadelphia on the 10th of August following. He rose rapidly in legal distinction and had built up a lucrative practice when the Revolution opened. In 1774 he was made vice-president of the committee of observation for York county, and again in 1775. July 15, 1774, he was chosen a deputy to the Provincial Conference held at Philadelphia, and a delegate to the Provincial Convention of January 23, 1775; December, 1774, he was made first lieutenant of a company of associators, and in the December following he was made lieutenant colonel of the First Battalion of York county. Congress, on the 10th of January, 1776, appointed him lieutenant colonel of the Sixth Battalion of the Pennsylvania Line, and he served in the Canada campaign of that year. On the 27th of December, 1776, General Washington, by authority of Congress, issued commissions to raise two additional regiments in Pennsylvania, and the command of one was given to Colonel Hartley. He commanded the First Pennsylvania Brigade, Wayne's Division, in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. In 1778 he was sent to the West Branch valley with his veteran regiment to punish the Indians. He was the recipient of many honors; was a trustee of Dickinson College; served twelve years in Congress, and died at York, Pennsylvania, December 21, 1800.

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