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




FEW settlers were murdered by the Indians during the winter of 1778-79. The inclement weather prevented them from making incursions. Andrew Fleming settled on Pine creek near where the house of Matthew McKinney now stands. On Christmas day, 1778, he took down his rifle, telling his wife that he would go out and kill a door. He started lap, a ravine near his cabin, and had not been gone long when the report of a gun was heard. The day wore away and he did not return. His wife became alarmed at, his absence and proceeded to look for him. Going up the ravine she was startled on perceiving three savages skulking in the underbrush, and her worst suspicions were aroused. Hastily returning she gave the alarm, when several neighbors collected and went out to search for the missing man. They had gone but a short distance when they found his dead body. Three bullets had been fired into him, one of which entered his eye. His scalp was removed. The Indians could not be found, having fled when they found they were pursued.

Captain Walker with his company remained at Fort Muncy during the winter. In a letter to Capt. John Hambright, a member of the Executive Council, under date of April 17, 1779, he says: "On the 2d of August, [1778] we were ordered by Colonel Hartley to build this fort…. On the 20th of September the garrison, which consisted of one captain, two subalterns, four sergeants, and sixty rank and file, were drawn out-except one subaltern and eighteen men on an expedition under the command of Colonel Hartley. On the 9th of October we again marched into it; bad weather coming on, we began [building] our barracks, magazine, store house, etc. When this was finished we were comfortably prepared against the winter; but in the spring I found the works much impaired. I then set the garrison [at work] to repair the works, and raised them eighteen inches high; then we put two rows more of abattis round the works." The Captain and his men had no time to idle. Their duties were arduous, and at the same time the most extreme vigilance was required to guard against surprise, both in the fort and outside. Referring to the labor of building and strengthening the fort, the Captain says: "In the course of this time one-third of our men were constantly employed as guards to the inhabitants, and I may affirm, in harvest the one-half were employed in the same way. Nor can any man in the county ever say he asked a guard, (when he had a just occasion,) and was denied. During this time the troops were not supplied even with ration whiskey; almost naked for want of blankets and clothes, and yet I have the satisfaction to inform you that they did their duty cheerfully. I from time to time did promise them some compensation for their trouble and industry. The works are now finished, and in my opinion tenable against any number our savage enemy can bring, against them. As to my own part, I beg leave to observe, that I neither claim merit nor reward for what I have done. It is enough that I have done my duty. The sole cost this fort is to the State is building two rooms for the officers, making the gates, and sentry boxes."

In this letter Captain Walker speaks twice of enclosing a "plan of this fort," but the editor of the Pennsylvania Archives says in a foot note that it could not be found. His appeal in behalf of his men for some "reward" for what they had done in the hours of emergency which surrounded them is strong, not to say pathetic, but nothing is found on record to show that they ever received a penny reward" for their arduous, dangerous, and patriotic services.


Nothing of unusual interest occurred in the vicinity of. Fort Muncy until the 11th of April, 1779, when Capt. John Brady was waylaid and shot by three Indians about one mile east of the fort. Brady had made himself particularly obnoxious to the Indians on account of his activity in opposing them. He took an active part in Colonel Hartley's expedition and attracted the attention of the Indians by his bravery. Having been ordered to remain at home from the Continental Army to assist in guarding the frontier, he was active as a ranger and the savages thirsted for his blood.

His family had returned from Sunbury, whither they fled when the "Big Runaway" took place, and were occupying their fortified house at Muncy. At this place Brady made his headquarters. On the fatal 11th day of April he had taken a wagon and a few men and proceeded to Fort Muncy for the purpose of drawing supplies. After securing the provisions he started the wagon back to his house. He was riding a fine young horse and lingered some distance in the rear of the wagon and guard. Peter Smith, "the unfortunate man" who lost his family in the bloody massacre of June 10, 1778, was walking by the side of the horse and conversing with Brady. He was the same man on whose farm the cradlers and reapers were cutting his harvest at Loyalsock the day James Brady was scalped.

When within a short distance of his home, instead of following the road taken by the wagon and guard, Brady proposed that they take another road which was shorter. They did so and traveled together until they came to a small stream now known as Wolf run. " Here," Brady observed, "It would be a good place for Indians to hide," when instantly three rifles cracked and Brady fell from his horse dead as the frightened animal was about to run past Smith he caught it by the bridle, vaulted on its back and was carried to Brady's Fort in a few minutes. The report of. the guns was distinctly heard at the fort and caused alarm. Several persons rushed out, Mrs. Brady among them, and meeting Smith coming at full speed and greatly alarmed, excitedly inquired where Captain Brady was. Smith, it is said, replied: "In heaven or hell, or on his way to Tioga" meaning that he was either killed or taken prisoner by the Indians. Tioga was the point they generally made for with their prisoners.

The wagon guard, with several others, quickly repaired to the place where the firing occurred, and there, as it was feared, the gallant Captain was found lying dead in the road. The Indians, who had no doubt been dogging his footsteps from the time he left his house, were in such haste that they did not scalp him or take any of his effects. It was about midway between Fort Muncy and Fort Brady where they lay in ambush, and so anxious were they to make sure of killing him that they paid no attention to Smith, but all three fired on him at once. And as they knew there were plenty of armed men at both forts, and that they would be pursued at once, they dashed into the bushes and put themselves at a safe distance as quickly as possible. They cared not for his scalp, it was glory enough to know that they had slain the man they all hated and feared.

His death caused much excitement among the few inhabitants along the river, as they all regarded him as an invaluable man in those days of peril, and his loss was well nigh irreparable. His widow was greatly distressed and felt the blow most keenly. Her lot was a hard one. Only eight months before her son James was stricken down by the same bloody hands that had slain her husband.

His daughter, Mary Gray, of Sunbury, who was fifteen years old at the time of the assassination of her father, retained to the last moments of her life (December 3, 1850) a vivid recollection of the startling scenes of that day, and could relate the circumstances with great minuteness. She said that two balls entered his. back between the shoulders, showing that the miscreants fired at him after he had passed their place of concealment. The third shot missed him, if there were three, as it was always claimed; but Smith, in his excited condition, might easily have mistaken the number. Mrs. Gray said that her father carried a gold watch, and his parchment commission as a captain in the Continental Army in a green bag suspended from his neck. These were undisturbed.

When the body was found, strong arms tenderly assisted in carrying it to his late home, where preparations were begun for the funeral. A coffin was probably made of bark. There were no plain or costly burial cases in those days in the pioneer settlements, but the hero of many a well. fought battle reposed as calmly in a bark or deal, board coffin as he would in the most magnificent casket of modern times. His funeral, which took place two days afterwards, was attended by all in the settlement who could get away., All the men bore their arms, for they knew not the moment the lurking foe would assail them. The services were short, for there was no clergyman present to read a prayer or pronounce a fitting eulogy over his rude bier. What brief services took place were conducted by some sturdy friend, whose rifle stood within easy reach. The cortege moved across Muncy creek, up the Toad, and by the lonely place where he was, instantly stricken down in the prime and vigor of his manhood, to the burial ground on the brow of the hill, within sight of Fort Muncy. There his grave had been prepared. Captain Walker, with a firing squad, was present, and, a salute fitting to his rank was fired over the grave as the coffin was lowered to its last resting place. There were few dry eyes at that burial scene over 112 years ago. All felt that a friend and protector had been taken and as each man firmly grasped his rifle he resolved that he would never relax, in his efforts to avenge the death of the fallen patriot while war lasted, or the red fox prowled in the forest.

The mourners returned to the saddened home from the lonely grave on the hill. There were no gay equipages or prancing steeds to convey them. Men carried their trusty rifles. Sadness and gloom settled over the Brady homestead at Muncy. The widow, whose cup of sorrow was now full to overflowing, speedily gathered her younger children around her and fled to the home of her parents in Cumberland. county the following May, less than a month after the death of her husband. She had passed through the trying scenes of the "Big Runaway," but now that her husband was gone she could no longer remain in the settlement. Her eldest son, Sam-uel, the renowned scout and Indian slayer, was a captain in Colonel Brodhead's regiment, and was absent on a western expedition. It. is said of him that when he heard of his father's death he raised his hand and vowed to high Heaven that he would avenge the murder of his father, and while he lived he would not be at peace with the Indians of any tribe. And terribly did he carry out his vow. He slew many and made himself a terror to all redskins on the western borders. Having fully avenged the death of both his-father and younger brother James, and peace, being restored, he died at his home near Wheeling, December 25, 1795.

It was never positively known what Indians were concerned in the death of Capt. John Brady. The secret was profoundly kept and perished with the deaths of those who, committed the atrocious deed. The spot where he was killed is still pointed out. The ground afterwards became a part of the farm of Joseph Warner, and is now owned by Charles Robb, Esq., of Pittsburg, whose ancestors were among the earliest settlers at Muncy, and were there when Brady was killed.


The Brady family, on account of its patriotism and identification with the stirring times of the Revolution and border wars, has always occupied a conspicuous niche in history, and the heroic deeds and thrilling adventures of its prominent members, if fully recorded, would fill a large volume. Capt. John Brady, second son of Hugh, came of Irish parentage, and was born in Delaware in 1733. He received a, fair education and wrote a plain. round hand, as shown by his autograph now in the possession of the author. He taught school in New Jersey for a few terms before his parents emigrated to the Province of Pennsylvania and settled near Shippensburg, Cumberland county, some time in 1750. He learned surveying and followed it before the Indian troubles became, serious. In 1755 he married Miss Mary Quigley, of Cumberland county. Her parents and relatives were ancestors of the, Quigleys now so numerous in Clinton county. John and Mary (Quigley) Brady had thirteen children, eight sons and five daughters. Two sons and one daughter died in infancy. Samuel, the eldest, was born in 1756. At the time of his birth "the, tempestuous waves of trouble were rolling in upon the infant settlements in the wake of Braddock's defeat," and "he grew to manhood in the troublous times that, tried men's souls."

On the breaking out of the French and Indian war John Brady offered his serv-ices as a soldier, and July 19, 1763, he was commissioned a captain of the Second, Battalion of the regiment commanded by Governor John Penn, and took part in the Bouquet expedition. For this service he came in with the officers for a grant of land, which he selected west of the present borough of Lewisburg.

Meanwhile, moved by the "restless, mysterious impulse that molds the destiny of the pioneers of civilization," Captain Brady had taken his family to Standing Stone, (now Huntingdon,) on the Juniata. There his son Hugh, afterwards major general in the United States Army, and twin sister Jane, were born, July 27, 1768. In the summer of 1769 he moved his family to a tract of land lying on the river opposite Lewisburg, which he had reserved out of the " Officers' Surveys," and there he made some improvements. His profession as a surveyor called him to various places in the valley, and visiting Muncy manor he became impressed with the beauty of the location, richness of the land, and charming surroundings, when he selected a tract, as already stated, and decided to settle there. In the spring of 1776 he erected a stockade fort and soon afterwards took his family to it.

When Northumberland county was erected in 1772, and the first court was held at Fort Augusta in August of that year, he served as foreman of the first grand jury. In December, 1775, he accompanied Colonel Plunkett in his ill-advised expedition against Wyoming. Soon after the breaking out of the Revolution two battalions of associators were raised in Northumberland county, and commanded respectively by Colonels Hunter and Plunkett. In the latter Brady was appointed first major, March 13, 1776. July 4, 1776, he attended the convention of associators, held at Lancaster, as one of the representatives of Plunkett's battalion.

The term of associators for mutual protection ended with a year and nine months' service. After that regiments enlisted for the war were raised. William Cooke was made colonel of the Twelfth, which was composed of men enlisted in Northumberland and Northampton counties. John Brady was commissioned captain of one of the companies, October 14, 1776, and on the 18th of December it left Sunbury to join the Continental Army in New Jersey. When Washington moved his army to the banks of the Brandywine to intercept Howe, Brady was present with his company and took part in the engagement. He also had two sons in this battle. Samuel was first lieutenant in Capt. John Doyle's company, having been commissioned July 17, 1776. John, his fourth son, born March 18, 1762, and then only fifteen years old, was there also. He had gone to the army to ride some horses home, but noticing that a battle was imminent, insisted on remaining and taking part. He ,secured a gun and joined the company. The Twelfth regiment was in the thickest of the fight, and Lieutenant Boyd, of Northumberland, was killed by Captain Brady's side. His son John was slightly wounded, and he fell from a shot in the mouth. The day ended with disaster and the Twelfth nearly cut to pieces. Luckily Captain Brady's wound was not serious. The shot only loosened some of his teeth. As he was suffering from an attack of pleurisy, (from which he never entirely recovered,) he was given leave to visit his home. On the 1st of September, 1778, he reported for duty, but as the field officers of his regiment had been mustered out, and the companies distributed among the Third and Sixth regiments, Captain Brady was sent home by General. Washington's orders, together with Captain Boone and Lieutenants Samuel and John Daugherty, with instructions to join Colonel Hartley and assist in defending the frontier. Brady and his companions reached Fort Muncy September 18th, joined Colonel Hartley, and, as already stated, participated in the expedition to Tioga.

Captain Brady was one of those men to whom Colonel Hunter referred in his letter of December 13, 1778, "who would rather die fighting then leave their homes again." His son John, who took part in the battle of Brandywine, was elected sheriff of Northumberland county in 1794, and was in office when Lycoming county was erected. He died in 1809. The personal appearance of Capt. John Brady has come down to us through tradition. He was six feet in height, straight, well formed, had dark hair and complexion, and hazel eyes.


The little cemetery where he was buried is on the face of the hill near Hartley Hall station, at the junction of the Williamsport and North Branch with the Philadelphia and Reading railroad, ten miles east of Williamsport, and is plainly visible, from the cars as they pass up and down both railroads. At the time of his interment only a few burials, mostly of persons killed by the Indians, had been made there. it is among the oldest cemeteries in Lycoming county, and is still used for that purpose. For many years it was negleited and became overrun with briers and brambles. But of late years it has been neatly kept. It is known as Hall's burial ground and belongs to that estate.

The spot where Captain Brady was laid is a lovely one, and a fine view of the surrounding country is afforded. The public road between Muncy and Williamsport passes the cemetery, and by looking over the picket fence the grave of the patriot soldier can be plainly seen. The grave was not attended for many years and was finally lost eight of. Gen. Hugh Brady, his youngest son, often sought it in vain. At last his daughter Mary, then the wife of Gen. Electus Backus, U. S. A., was made acquainted with it by Henry Lebo, an old comrade and Revolutionary soldier, who was present at the funeral. On his deathbed he made a request to be buried by the side of Captain. Brady, and his request was carried out. Lebo was in the battle of Germantown and was badly wounded. After the war he came to Muncy, married, and for many years kept a public house by the roadside on one of the Hall farms. He had several sons and daughters. Robert W. Lebo, a well known citizen of Port Penn, is a grandson.

Although it had often been suggested that a monument should be reared in honor of Capt. John Brady, a hundred years passed before it was done. Through the untiring efforts of J. M. M. Gernerd, of Muncy, enough money was raised by one dollar, contributions to erect a beautiful cenotaph to his memory in the cemetery, of Muncy, three miles away from the place where the ashes of the hero commingled with the soil. It was formally dedicated and unveiled, October 15, 1879, in the presence of a great throng of people, including many descendants of the distinguished dead. Hon. John, Blair Linn, of Bellefonte, delivered the historical address, in which he recounted the many noble deeds of the deceased, whose grave had remained neglected and unmarked for the full round period of a century. In closing his eloquent oration he used these words:

To Captain Brady's descendants, time fails me in paying a proper tribute. When border tales have lost their charm for the evening hour; when oblivion blots from the historic page the glorious record of Pennsylvania in the Revolution of 1776; then, and then only, will Capt. Samuel Brady, of the Rangers, be forgotten. In private life, in public office, at the bar, In the Senate of Pennsylvania, in the House of Representatives of the United States, in the ranks of battle, Capt. John Brady's sons and grandsons and great-grandsons have flung far forward into the future the light of their family fame.

From far and near, all over this grand valley, the most beautiful to us the sun in his course through the heavens looks down upon, we have come to dedicate this monument to the memory of its pioneer defender - Capt. John Brady.

At thy feet, then, Oh I Mountains of Muncy! thy solemn Red Men fled before the mystic sound of coming civilization; we, before the tramp and tread of States; we dedicate this granite landmark to Brady, the pioneer, the Corypheus here, of title by improvement and pre-emption; a system which began by the rock at Plymouth, and will continue until the last echo of the woodman's axe dies away amid the surges of the Pacific.

In thy bosom, Oh I Valley of the West Branch I we dedicate this memorial to the eagle-eyed sentinel, who one hundred years ago peered through the dusky twilight for thy foes. Here, on these heights, in this holy bivouac of the dead, let it forever stand sentry of his compatriot slain of Antietam, of Fredericksburg, of the Wilderness, of Atlanta, of the mourned battlefields of the war for the Union, whose last "All's well!" is still echoing gloriously through the Republic.

On thy bright waters, Oh! Noble Susquehanna! which mirror in thy winding course so many, many scenes of domestic peace and comfort; so many scenes of Eden-like beauty, rescued from primeval wildness, only listening, in thy quiet course to the sea,

To the laughter from the village and the town,
And the church bells ever jangling as the weary day goes down.

Surrounded by these venerable fathers who have lingered in life's journey to see this happy day; surrounded by the life and beauty of this grand old home of brave sons and patriotic daughters, under the auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic—the "Cincinnati" of the war for the Union-in solemn joy we dedicate this monument to our benefactor. And as we gaze upon it, let us resolve, that as this government came down to us from the past, it shall go from us into the future —a blessing to our posterity, and the hope of the world's freedom.

The ceremonies were opened with prayer by Rev. E. H. Leisenring, after a parade, with music, and were imposing and impressive. The poem was composed by Col. Thomas Chamberlin. It opened with a description of the valley and surrounding mountain scenery, the coming of the settlers, their trials and vicissitudes, the attacks of the Indians, the flight, return, and final death of Brady.

The cenotaph is plain but massive, and is constructed of Maine granite in four handsomely proportioned piece, consisting of a base, a sub-base, a die, and an obelisk, the whole rising to a height of twenty-seven feet and weighing about twenty-five tons. It rests on a solid foundation of masonry hidden from sight by a sodded terrace nearly three feet high, and is in proportion to the size of the circular lot in the center of which it stands. The total elevation of the cap of the shaft is about thirty feet. The date, "1779," is cut about the center of the shaft on the front face, in raised figures; the name, "John Brady," in heavy letters in the die, and the date of erection, "1879," in the center of the sub-base. On each side of the die is a large polished panel, bordered by a neatly chiseled molding. to correspond with the lines of the die and shaft. The faces of the letters and figures are brightly polished, and all other exposed parts of the cenotaph are finely out. Its artistic proportions are pleasing to the eye, and it is much admired by visitors to the cemetery. It cost about $1,600.

In the cemetery at Hall's, where the remains of Brady lie, together with those, of his compatriot and friend, Lebo, granite markers were also placed. They consist of thick slabs, 30x21 Inches, set on bases 14x29 inches, and they are forty-four inches in height. The stones are unpolished, except the fronts, on which the epitaphs are cut in plain letters. The foot stones are in the same simple style without lettering. The money required to erect these markers, about $70, was also raised by Mr. Gernerd by means of an autograph album at twenty-five cents a signature. The inscriptions on these markers read as follows:

Captain John Brady fell in defense of our forefathers, at Wolf Run, April 11, 1779, aged forty-six years. In memory of Henry Lebo, died July 4,1828, in the seventieth year of his age.

There side by side sleep the patriot hero and his faithful friend. Near by stands a lonely pine tree, through whose branches the wind sighs a soft, plaintive requiem for their departed spirits. And notwithstanding more than a hundred years have rolled away since Brady was laid at rest, in this quiet retreat, many strangers and others still visit the spot and stand with uncovered heads in the presence of the dead.

When the widow of Capt. John Brady, bowed down with grief and sorrow, bade adieu to her home on Muncy manor and started for Cumberland county her youngest child, Liberty, born August 9, 1778, at Sunbury, was only about seven months old. She was named Liberty, because She was born after Independence was declared, and was the thirteenth child, corresponding with the thirteen original States. She grew to womanhood, married William Dewart, of Sunbury, and died there, without issue.

Although so overwhelmed with the weight of misfortune which had overtaken her, Mrs. Mary Quigley Brady did not sit down to pine in grief over her hard lot. She was made of sterner stuff, and proved herself a type of the Roman matron of old. Having recovered somewhat from the shock caused by her misfortunes, she determined to return to the West Branch valley and found a home for herself and children on the tract of land granted to her husband west of Lewisburg through the "Officers' Surveys," for his services in the Bouquet expedition. With this resolve she left the home of her parents the subsequent October and performed the wonderful feat of riding on horseback, carrying her young child, Liberty, and leading a cow, from Shippensburg to, her Buffalo valley home. How the other children got through is unknown, but they did and joined their resolute mother. There she lived until October 20, 1783, when she died, aged forty-eight years. A marble tablet in the cemetery at Lewisburg, with an appropriate inscription, marks her grave.


After the death of Brady the Indians seemed emboldened and began their nefarious work again. They knew that their most dangerous enemy was dead, The authorities, however, were on the alert. April 14, 1779, President Reed wrote Colonel Hunter that General Washington had ordered General. Hand to march from Minisink to Wyoming " with about 600 men," which he thought would be a competent force for the protection of this valley as well as Wyoming. He recommended Hunter to apply to him for a sufficient number of men to support the post at Fort Muncy. A now company of militia was being recruited, and commissions were forwarded for Captain McElhatton, First Lieut. Robert Arthur, and Second. Lieut. John Daugherty, the officers recommended to command it.

On the 27th Colonel Hunter acknowledged the, receipt of the commissions for the 7 officers to serve for nine months, and informed President Reed that Arthur had declined to serve, and McElhatton and Daugherty had not yet reached the county. He did not know whether they would accept, but if they declined be thought others could be secured who would.


The outlook continued discouraging. Colonel Hunter informed Council by letter that they were at a great loss for medicine for the "poor wounded men." Dr. Benjamin Allison, who had " always attended the militia of this county," be continued, "both in the camp and at Sunbury, had consumed what he had of his own, and never was allowed anything but his pay as surgeon. He had lost his case of surgical instruments, and there were, none in the county. This fact he mentioned, because he did not know where to apply for another."

This letter was carried to the Supreme Executive Council by James Hepburn, who was also instructed to impart other points of information not alluded to in the correspondence.

About this time Captain Walker, who built Fort Muncy, and had rendered such efficient service in the way of protecting the infant settlements, seems to have taken his departure, but the records fail to give the time or where he went. Probably his departure was caused by the consolidation of Colonel Hartley's regiment with the Now Eleventh, on account of its decimated condition. It is a source of regret that so little has been preserved of the personal history of this brave and faithful officer. Colonel Hartley says that he entered the service with him as a lieutenant in his Continental regiment, from Pennsylvania, "and on account of his merit was appointed captain on my request, January 23, 1778, and whilst under my command he was a punctual, brave, and deserving officer, and acquitted himself with the highest reputation." The last we hear of him was when he was transferred to the Second regiment, Pennsylvania Line, January 17, 1781.

William Maclay, writing to Council April 27,1779, expressed much alarm for the safety of the settlements. "From the incursions that are being made it seems that the whole force of the Six Nations is being poured down upon us. How long we will be able to bear up under such complicated and severe attacks, God only knows." He feared that "the spring crops will be lost," and that the want of bread will be "added to our other calamities." The constant cry was for more men to protect the frontier. He believed that the most effectual way of striking a blow at the savages would "be to carry another expedition immediately into their own country," and he strongly advocated such a movement.

Mr. Maclay also advocated "hunting the scalping parties of Indians with horsemen and dogs." Dogs, it was known, would follow, and even seize them when urged by their masters. For this scheme he was subjected to some ridicule, but that did not shake his confidence in its success. But it does not appear to have been carried out.

So threatening did the Indians become on the West Branch, that General Hand was at last convinced that he must do something to protect the people here. On the 15th, of May he reported a garrison of 100 men at Fort Jenkins, 100 at

Fort Muncy, and 70 at Sunbury. These were all Continental veterans drawn from the Eleventh regiment. There was a local company of militia enlisted for nine months, commanded by Capt. John Kemplen, stationed at Bossley mills, and smaller detachments at Fort Freeland and minor posts.

While the preparations at Wyoming were going on for Sullivan's expedition up the North Branch, there was little disturbance on the West Branch, and for a few weeks the inhabitants enjoyed a period of comparative quiet. But the Indians, like Sullivan, were preparing for a grand coup de main. If he invaded their country they proposed to sweep down through the West Branch valley with a strong force, lay the country in waste, and hang upon his rear as he ascended the river. These plans were laid by the British and Tories of the north and the Indians were willing to carry them out. With a strong force in his f rout and rear they hoped to crush, him. But while Sullivan succeeded in crushing the Indians, the West Branch valley was scourged worse than it had ever been before. Sullivan claimed 'that when his expeditionary force moved it ' would attract the attention of the Indians and they would neglect other portions of the country and hasten to attack, him. In this he was mistaken.

As summer came on the ravages of the Indians gradually increased. The country seemed to be filled with small roving bands and no one considered himself safe. In the latter part of June the Eleventh regiment was withdrawn to join Sullivan at Wyoming. As the greater part of the supplies for his force were transported up the river in boats from the depot that had been established at Sunbury, there was such a demand for men for boating purposes that it was almost impossible to get any one to serve in the militia. As high as 200 boats were employed at one time.

On the 26th of June Colonel Hunter informed Council that, exclusive of the, militia at Fort Freeland and at Potter's Fort in Penn's valley, he had been able to, collect but thirty men, and they were stationed at Sunbury to protect the stores. The term for which the two months companies of militia had enlisted had expired, and he was practically without men to defend the frontier. This emboldened the, Indian scouting parties and they increased their ravages.


In the meantime rumors were reaching the settlements almost daily of the, approach of a large force of Indians, and the fear of the inhabitants was greatly increased. Since the regulars had been withdrawn from Fort Muncy it was used as a place of rendezvous for the settlers. Col. William Hepburn had charge of the fort, and to him the people looked for orders and advice. With true military instinct, he determined to send scouts up Lycoming creek to ascertain if there were any signs, of the enemy approaching in force. Robert Covenhoven, who was noted for his sagacity, coolness, and acquaintance with the Indian paths, was selected for this dangerous duty. He preferred to go alone, as he thought he could, better elude observation than if accompanied by any one. Avoiding the main trail up Lycoming, and by keeping well upon the mountains, he cautiously crept through the wilderness towards the sources of the stream, mostly at night. Somewhere in the vicinity of what is supposed to be Roaring Branch, he gained the first evidences of the presence of the savages. He could distinctly hear their whoops of defiance in the depths of the forest. They evidently fancied themselves secure in those wild retreats, because they were so far from the settlements; they had no idea that white men would advance that far to observe their movements. But the daring, keen-eyed spy was there to watch them. Covenhoven secreted himself in a thicket, where he felt secure, and observed them during the day. They appeared to be concentrating in force, and as shots were frequently fired, he came to the conclusion that they were cleaning their guns and making preparations to descend the stream for the purpose of murder, pillage, and destruction.

Satisfied that a strong force was coming, the wary spy quickly retraced his steps over the rugged hills, through the thickets and defiles. The journey was a dangerous one, but being vigorous and strong he made rapid progress. Striking an Indian path as he approached Loyalsock-probably the great Sheshequin trail-he followed it a short distance. Suddenly it occurred to him that be might meet Indians if he continued in the path, and he stepped behind a large tree to rest. He had been there but a few minutes when two Indians came jogging along and passed him, humming a rude ditty. Had he kept the path they would have met him, and as there were two to one, be might have been killed and the settlers would have been left in ignorance of what was coming.

Reaching Fort Muncy Covenhoven informed Colonel Hepburn of what he had learned and gave it as his opinion that great danger was near. Acting on his advice, the inhabitants were at once apprised of their danger and preparations were at once made to leave the fort and fly to Sunbury for the second time. Although there was much fear among the people, they were less excited than at the time of the " Big Runaway," and a panic did not seize them.

As the main body of the invading force hung in the northern forests, evidently waiting for reinforcements, small bands of Indians descended into the valley and ravaged the country. On the 23d of July, 1779, Colonel Hunter wrote to Col. Matthew Smith: "We have really distressing times at present in this county. Immediately after the evacuation of Fort Muncy the Indians began their cruel murders again. The 3d instant they killed three men and took two prisoners at Lycoming; the 8th instant they burned the Widow Smith's mills and killed one man; the 17th they killed two men and took three prisoners from Fort Brady, and the same day they burned Starrett's mills and all the principal houses in Muncy township; the 20th they killed three men at Freeland's fort, and took two prisoners."

These ravaging bands were but the advance guard of the heavy force collected in the fastnesses of Lycoming creek, which would soon descend to sweep the valley as with the besom of destruction. In the same letter Colonel Hunter said these murders had so intimidated the people that they were "really on the eve of deserting the county entirely, as there is no prospect of any assistance to enable them to got their harvests put up." He thought that the army at Wyoming would draw the attention of the Indians in that direction, but it did not, and affairs were worse here now than they ever had been. He had just returned from "a little scout along Muncy Hill," and had seen such evidences of Indian depredation and horse stealing that he did not believe that the little forts at Freeland's and Boone's could stand long if the Indians came in force.

William Maclay, writing to President Reed, of Council, on the 26th of July, reported that General Sullivan was about ready to move and he had high hopes of his success, but Northumberland county was in a deplorable condition. Sullivan had stripped her of all the troops, and "without a single man save the militia and fourteen men under the command of Captain Kemplen, and almost every young man of the frontier engaged in the boat service, they suffer more than ever from the savage depredations of a horrid enemy. Everything above Muncy Hills is abandoned."


When Colonel Hepburn found it necessary to abandon Fort Muncy he placed the women and children on boats in charge of Covenhoven and started them down the river, while many of the men marched by land as a guard. Information was sent to Freeland's, Boone's, and the smaller posts to fly, as the enemy was coming. But the settlers assembled at the two latter places thought Covenhoven was magnifying the danger and refused to leave. But bitterly did they repent for their incredulity.

In the meantime the enemy entered the valley in force about the 26th or 27th of July. And as nearly as can be told, there were about 100 Tories and British and 200 Indians. The former were under command of Capt. John McDonald, a notorious and bloodthirsty Tory from the vicinity of Albany, while the Indians were led by Hiokatoo, a Seneca chief, and the husband of Mary Jemison, the "White Woman." Hiokatoo was born on the banks of the Susquehanna in the year 1708, and was well acquainted with the country. According to Mary Jemison's Biography (see page 185) he was a cousin to "Farmer's Brother," a Seneca chief who had been justly celebrated for his worth. At the time of the invasion Hiokatoo was an old man of seventy, and had always been noted for his cruel and bloodthirsty disposition.

The white and red devils came down Lycoming creek, as foreshadowed by Covenhoven, and dispersing over the valley proceeded to burn and destroy everything in the way of improvements they could find. Much to their chagrin they found Fort Muncy evacuated, but they burned all the woodwork and made it a ruin as far as vandal hands could do. The British and Tories labored hard to demolish its ramparts and make it utterly defenseless, and as subsequent accounts will show they succeeded.

Just previous to the advent of the main body, a scouting party in Muncy valley captured several families. Among them was the family of Abraham Webster. Four of his children were attacked. The oldest, a son, was killed; the other three, two daughters and a son, were carried into captivity. Abraham Webster was an Englishman by birth and settled on what was the farm of the late Henry Ecroyd. The son who was taken prisoner was named Joseph, and was twelve years old at the time of his capture. At the end of twelve years he returned, married, and settled. He remembered the route well that his captors traveled. One of his sisters was thrown from a canoe in Seneca Lake by an enraged squaw and drowned; the other was never beard from.

Robert Guy, who had settled on a tract of land lying between what was afterwards known as Shoemaker's mill and Muncy, had been warned to leave but still lingered. On the approach of one of these marauding bands a messenger was despatched from Brady's fort to warn him again to fly as the danger was imminent. He was found at work in the field. Hastening to the house he told his wife of their peril. While she prepared a chaff tick for two of their children, he brought two horses to the door. Then ripping the tick open in the middle be removed a portion of the chaff, threw the tick over the back of a horse, placed a child on each side, and then mounted to hold it in place and rode away. In the meantime his wife, with a babe in her arms, mounted the other horse and joined him. It being too late, as they supposed, to go to the fort, they rode on down the river and did not stop till they reached Carlisle. So great was their hurry to got away, they left everything behind. They remained at Carlisle until the war was over, when they returned, but they found all their buildings in ashes.

McDonald, the infamous Tory, and his savage colleague, Hiokatoo, were greatly enraged when they found that the settlers had escaped, and they ordered their forces to scour Muncy valley and burn every cabin, house, outbuilding, barn, and haystack they could find. Fort Brady was burned with the other buildings. The fair and beautiful valley was laid waste from end to end and all the stock collected for their own use.

Learning from his scouts that the garrison still remained at Fort Freeland (now in Northumberland county) McDonald hurried thither and captured the place on the morning of July 28, 1779, and carried the male survivors into captivity.

McDonald and Hiokatoo, flushed with victory, quickly retraced their steps over Muncy Hills, and hurried north via Lycoming creek, the same route, they came. General Sullivan's army was then moving up the North Branch, and Indian runners were dispatched to urge McDonald to hasten back. He reached the Chemung country in advance of General Sullivan and probably participated in the battle of Newtown, where the Indians in a pitched battle were defeated.


Col. Adam Hubley, of the Eleventh regiment, who was with Sullivan at Wyoming, wrote President Reed that he thought 500 men should be sent to the West Branch; "as they would have it in their power to effectually scour that country and be at Tioga nearly as soon as the main body. This would have given relief to the poor inhabitants, and would by no means have delayed the expedition." That Colonel Hubley was right in his views will appear plain to any one. But in giving this opinion he did not wish to be understood as casting any "reflection on the commander;" he was confident he was acting "from pure principles, and for the good of the. public in general." Colonel Hubley had heard of Captain McDonald leading a party of rangers and Indians to the West Branch. He thought the object of the invasion was for the purpose of harassing the rear of Sullivan's army. But in this view subsequent events showed he was mistaken. McDonald was hurried north for the purpose of protecting the Seneca country.

There was some friction between General Sullivan and the Supreme Executive Council regarding reinforcements. The former complained that the latter did not furnish him with the number of men they promised. Council complained that. so much better encouragement was given in the boat service that 450 men were drawn off, making it impossible to fill the militia companies. Then when they wanted a force to resist the invaders "he not only called off every man he possibly could, but took away every ounce of ammunition, though earnestly requested to leave some for the use of the inhabitants." The result was, says President Reed, there was nothing left for them to guard but the "ashes and ruins of the houses."

Lieut. Col. Adam Hubley succeeded Col. Thomas Hartley in command of the Eleventh regiment, on the resignation of the latter, and had charge of Fort Muncy and the other posts, until he was ordered to join Sullivan at Wyoming. He was, therefore, well acquainted with the wants of the inhabitants of the West Branch valley, and sympathized deeply with them in their distress.

The appeals for assistance made to Col. Matthew Smith, by Colonel Hunter, William Maclay, and others, were not in vain. He replied that he was for immediate action and had fixed on Sunday to march with fifty men. True to his promise the company marched, and on the morning of the 3d of August Colonel Smith announced from Sunbury that he had arrived there "with sixty Paxtang, Boys." The neighboring townships were turning out volunteers. "Cumberland county," he observed, "will give a considerable assistance," and the following day he expected to move up the West Branch. "Provisions are scarce, but we intend to follow the savages, and we hope to come up with them; as the number of cattle they have taken is great, they must make slow progress on their return home."

Reinforcements rapidly followed and on the 5th Colonel Smith found he had 500 men ready for service. He hastened up the valley, reconnoitered the country around Fort Freeland, and was at Fort Muncy in a few days, which he found destroyed. The country presented a pitiful appearance. Scarcely a cabin was found standing. It was noted as a singular fact, however, that the Indians scarcely ever destroyed corn in the cribs. Perhaps they reserved it for their own use. Before it was considered safe to occupy the country settlers came up in canoes, and securing as much corn as they could carry, quietly dropped down the river at night. This was done several times at Amariah Sutton's improvement at Lycoming creek.

Colonel Smith and his party advanced as far as Lycoming creek, but there is no record that they crossed into the Indian lands. A small body ascended the stream as far as Eeltown, (now Hepburnville) which was an Indian village of some note when white settlers first came, but finding no signs of the enemy they returned. Realizing that the savages had too great a start to be overtaken, and considering it dangerous to follow them too far into the wilderness, Colonel Smith gathered his forces together and returned to Fort Augusta, whence in a few days they departed for their homes in Paxtang and Cumberland county, after an absence of about two weeks.

Thus, for the second time, was this valley invaded and devastated, and the inhabitants compelled to fly with their wives and children. How many perished or were carried into captivity is unknown, but the number was large when the strength of the settlements is considered. Twice, therefore, was the country from Muncy Hills to Jersey Shore baptized in fire and blood. The deeds of savage atrocity committed in the summers of 1778 and 1779, within what is now the fairest, richest, and most thrifty portions of Lycoming county, were of the most startling character, and the bloody scenes attendant upon the scalping of men, women, and children were so cruel and merciless as to appall the stoutest heart.

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