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




THE territory embraced within. the limits of Lycoming county originally belonged to Berks, which was erected March 11, 1752. Twenty years later Northumberland was formed out of Berks, and twenty-three years after this, Lycoming came into existence. At that time it covered a region vast enough in its proportions to constitute a, State, and three-fourths of its territory was practically an unknown wilderness.

Penn supposed he had purchased a portion of this territory as early as 1696, but dissatisfaction arising among the Indians, another deal was made in 1736. Then followed the purchases of 1758 and 1768, which covered about three-fourths of Pennsylvania. Out of this territory many counties have been formed.

The West Branch valley of the Susquehanna, known for its beauty, richness of soil, and variety of scenery, was originally covered with heavy timber, save cleared spots near the mouths of its principal tributaries, which were used by the aborigines for agricultural purposes. The mountains were wooded from base to summit with pine and hemlock, whose evergreen foliage imparted a somber appearance to the scene. Owing to the heavy forests which covered both valley and mountain, the streams were larger than they are today. After the denudation of these forests by what we practically term the "advancing tide of civilization," the volume of water in river, creek, and rivulet gradually decreased, because a supply to keep them at a regular stage is no longer held by the mosses, decaying wood, and other absorbents; and sudden and destructive floods are of more frequent occurrence.

For years there has been much discussion among writers regarding the aboriginal inhabitants of the valley. Several have contended that a superior race once dwelt here, and they have been called Andastes. Works, evidently intended for defensive purposes, have been pointed to as evidences of the existence of a people possessing a higher order of intelligence than those who were found here by the whites. This theory, for it is nothing else, has long prevailed, and the question has often been asked, "Who were the Andastes?"

The Indians were commonly known among the white people by the names Iroquois, Mengwe, and Five Nations. At the period when the whites first became acquainted with this territory, the Iroquois proper extended through central New York from the Hudson river to the Genesee, and comprised five distinct nations confederated together, which, beginning on the east, were known as Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. West of them were the Hurons, the Neutral Nation, and the Eries; on the south were the Andastes, on the Susquehanna, and the Delawares on the river which bears their name; on the east the various Algonquin tribes, which inhabited the district now known as New England.

As early as 1620 the tribe called Andastes dwelt in the valley of the Susquehanna, but little is known of them. They are spoken of by different writers under various names, the most frequent of which are Susquehannocks, Minquas, and Conastogas.

In 1750, a Cayuga chieftain informed David Zeisberger that a strange tribe of Indians, whom the Cayugas called Tehotachse, but which were neither Iroquois nor Delawares, formerly inhabited the Susquehanna valley, and were expelled by the Cayugas. As further proof of their existence it may be cited that in a letter written by Capt. Joseph Brant, the noted Indian warrior, to Col. Timothy Pickering, relative to the Iroquois claim to the northern part of Pennsylvania, and dated at Niagara, December 30, 1794, he says: "The whole Five Nations have an equal right one with another, the country having been obtained by their joint exertions in war with a powerful nation formerly living southward of Buffalo creek, called Eries, and another nation then living at Tioga Point [now Athens], so that by our successes all the country between that and the Mississippi became the joint property of the Five Nations. All other nations inhabiting this great tract of country were allowed to settle by the Five Nations. "That the Andastes are the people referred to by both Zeisberger and Brant there is little doubt. From the evidences of their existence we are warranted in concluding that they were the most populous and powerful of all the Algonquin tribes. That they inhabited both the North and West Branch valleys of the Susquehanna, and that their villages were scattered along both rivers, as well as the main stream to its mouth, is conclusive. And that they were the most warlike of all the eastern nations, there is little doubt, and carried their conquests over the tribes of New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. For nearly a century they waged almost an unceasing war with the Iroquois, by which the whole valley of the Susquehanna was stained with blood. It was this fierce and warlike people who probably constructed the mounds and fortifications, the crumbling ruins of which were distinctly visible a hundred years ago. They were the builders, probably, of the earthworks which once existed on the bluff near the mouth of Wolf run, which were visited and described by Conrad Weiser in his first journey up the West Branch in 1737.

He informs us that the "fortification was on a height and was surrounded by a deep ditch. The earth was thrown up in the shape of a wall, about nine or ten feet high and as many broad. But it is now in decay, as from appearance it had been deserted beyond the memory of man." This defensive work was undoubtedly very powerful when first constructed. Its ruins showed it to have been curved at the extremities so as to extend to the edge of the cliff, which was very steep and probably twenty feet high. At the base now flows a stream known as Wolf run. On the eastern side or approach the ground was level for a long distance. There was a ditch on the east side from which the earth was taken to form the embankment. It is believed this work was surrounded by palisades, and that it possessed gates made of timber. When Conrad Weiser saw it in 1737 it was so old that the timber had succumbed to the ravages of time. Not a vestige of this ruin now remains to mark (missing text) site, and the Philadelphia and Reading railroad was excavated through the bluff on which it stood.

The builders of this fortification probably constructed the mound which the whites found or an open plain not far from the north bank of the river near what is now Hall's station on the railroad. Nearly a hundred years ago this mound attracted much attention and was often visited by antiquarians. It was symmetrical in form, and on account of its antiquity was regarded as a prominent landmark. Those who have left descriptions, or indulged in speculations concerning it, say, that it "was probably not more than seven and a half feet high," which would require a base diameter of about thirty feet. The mound was visited in 1839 by O. S. Fowler, the phrenologist, who was in search of crania, He was accompanied by J. Roan Barr, and several other gentlemen, of Muncy. At that time the mound, according to the recollections of Mr. Barr, was "from three to five feet high." Many bones and fragments were found after digging, but only one nearly perfect skull was secured, which Mr. Fowler carried away the mound was undoubtedly a place of burial, and on account of the great number of implements of war, and trinkets, found in its soil, a large number of bodied had been deposited there

Samuel Wallis who became the owner of the ground in 1769, and soon after-wards engaged in farming always called the open space, in which this prehistoric sepulcher stood his "Indian grave field." The early settlers, unable to account for its existence, regarded it as a curiosity. Some writers have ascribed great age to it, but it is believed to be less than 300 years old. Gernord, a local antiquarian of Muncy, stoutly maintains that it was of comparatively recent origin. It have been erected by the last tribe of Indians inhabiting this valley previous conquest by the Five Nations; but how long they were engaged in building it we know not. He bases his theory of modern origin on the fact that an iron tomahawk, evidently made by white men, was found in the mound among the relies disinterred by the vandals who desecrated it. This is no evidence of recent origin, for how easy would it have been for modern Indians to have buried this implement in the soft loam of which the mound was composed long after it had been built by descendants of those whose ashes commingled with its soil. The assertion, too, modern, though rude, clay pipes were found there may be disposed of in the same way it may be five hundred years old and it maybe less than three. The same may be said of the crumbling earthworks seen by Conrad Weiser near the mouth of Wolf run in 1737. And the fact that nearly all trace of the mound has disappeared is not strange, when we consider that grave robbers were digging in its side for more than fifty years, and that the plowshare of civilization has been at work leveling its sides for at least a century. Is it not strange, after the work of these destructive agencies, that its exact location can be pointed out at all?

The site of this burial place of the Andastes, or Susquehannocks, is nearly obliterated, and in a few years it will be wiped out entirely. It is only marked now by a slight rise in the ground, on which a few gnarled locust trees are growing. But it is still worthy of a visit, on account of its strange and weird associations, by those who love to ponder over the memories of the extinct people whose ashes have served to enrich the soil of Wallis's "Indian grave field" no matter whether (missing text) lived a thousand years ago, or only three hundred.

The story of the decline and final extirpation of this once fierce and warlike people is a sad one. Parkman informs us that prior to 1600 the Susquehannocks and the Mohawks came into collision and the former nearly exterminated enemy in a war which lasted ten years.

Soon after this the power of the Andastes began to wane, and their prestige rapidly departed. As early as 1650 they were so hard pressed by the tribes of the Five Nations from the north that !hey abandoned their town on the North Branch above Wyoming, as well as on the West Branch, and slowly retired down the river. Continual wars for years had resulted in so thinning their ranks that they were no longer the powerful nation of yore; and they were so hunted by their fierce and relentless enemies that the legislature of Maryland in 1661 authorized the Governor to aid them with the provincial forces.)

The war soon degenerated into one of mutual inroads, in which the spirit of vindictiveness was the controlling factor, when the former, greatly reduced by pestilence and famine, so rapidly melted away before the superior numbers of there untiring and implacable foes, that in 1672 they could muster only 300 warriors, and extermination stared them in the face.

In 1675, Colden and other writers inform us the tribe was completely over-thrown and dispersed. Too proud to submit as vassals of the Iroquois and too week to contend against them in the field, they forsook the Susquehanna and took up a position on the western borders of Maryland, where for many years they kept up a savage border war with the whites. A remnant of this once valiant tribe, now called Conestogas, continued to subsist along the Susquehanna for nearly a hundred years after their prestige had departed. Charged with theft and other crimes, they were forced, to escape the vengeance of the whites, to seek safety in the jail at Lancaster. There the Paxtang Boys, as a band of lynchers, found them on Sunday afternoon December 27, 1763, and there the last Andaste miserably perished !

After the Iroquois had succeeded in driving the Andastes from the Susquehanna region, they next made war on the Lenni Lenape and soon succeeded in subduing them. The Delawares were allowed, after their capitulaton, to stay in their old homes; and eventually they were permitted to occupy the country of the Andastes. It was shared with the Shawanese and Tuscaroras. The confederation, with their conquered subjects, the Delawares and Shawanese, used the country in common, mainly for hunting and fishing purposes. The term Lenni Lenape, as applied to these people, was general in its application and embraced a number of tribes, quite distinct in their character, yet speaking the same language and meeting around the same council fire. Those tribes embraced in their subdivisions the Unamis, or Turtle tribes; the Unalaehtos, or Turkeys, and the Monseys, or Wolf tribes. The former occupied the country along the coast between the sea and the Kittatinny or Blue mountains. They were generally known among the whites as the Delaware Indians. The Monsey, or Wolf tribe, the most active and warlike of the whole, occupied the mountainous country between the Kittatinny mountains and the sources of the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers.

The Indians remained here as occupants of the soil until the encroachments of the whites compelled them, about the year 1750, to gradually vacate the West Branch and seek new places of abode west of the Ohio river. But it was with great reluctance that they departed, and they frequently returned to linger around the graves of their ancestors. It was while making these incursions that they committed many deeds of atrocity, because their vindictive feelings were aroused on finding their favorite hunting grounds occupied by pale faced strangers. The Monseys, noted for their fierce and warlike character, were the principal occupants of the territory now embraced within the confines of Lycoming county.

Notwithstanding the aborigines of this valley, like all others of their class, were called savages, they were withal a noble race when in their primitive condition, and by some writers they have been styled the "Romans of the New World."


The Indian confederation, known as the Six Nations, having acquired the lands formerly occupied by the Andastes or Susquehannocks, supposed they had control of them. But in this they were mistaken. Thomas Dongan, Governor of the Province of New York, thinking that he possessed control over all the lands lying south of his Province because he had nominally purchased them of certain chiefs, proceeded to lease them to William Penn. This lease, which is a curious document, as well as the first instrument relating to this portion of Pennsylvania, was executed, January 12, 1696. It may be found in Vol. I, Pennsylvania Archives, pp. 121, 122.

William Penn purchased the lands for £100, and the deed was made January 13, 1696, The wording of the deed is almost ail exact copy of the article, and Thomas Dongan receipted for £100, the consideration named therein, in the presence of the same witnesses.

The Indians occupying these lands were then induced to confirm the sale to Penn, "in consideration of a parcel of English goods," by signing a deed relinquishing, all claims to the same.

It appears that dissatisfaction still existed among the Indians regarding the transfer, for on the 1st, of April, 1701, an article of agreement between William Penn and representatives of the Susquehannah Indians was drawn and signed, in which the sale was confirmed.

Nothing further regarding this great purchase occurred until thirty-five years later, when, owing to dissatisfaction again breaking out, a council was called at Philadelphia to consider the matter and restore good feeling if possible. The Six always disputed the authority of those who made the original transfers, claiming that by right of conquest they alone were entitled to make contracts, although they had tacitly acquiesced. There was a large attendance at this council, and after much parleying the chiefs signed a pre-emption deed releasing all claims to the Susquehanna lands in consideration of a certain lot of goods. As this deed is one of the most curious made by the Penns, during their many transactions with the original occupants of the soil, the consideration mentioned is given herewith

Now know ye, that in consideration of, the premises afs'd, and of the several Quantities of Goods herein mentioned, viz: 500 pounds of powder, 600 pounds of Lead, 45 Guns, 60 Strowd water match Coats, 100 Blankets, 100 duffle match coats, 200 yards of half-thick, 100 shirts, 40 hats, 40 pair of Shoes and Buckles, 40 pair of Stockings, 100 hatchets, 500 Knives, 100 houghs, 60 Kettles, 100 Tobacco tongs, 100 Scissors, 500 awl blades, 120 Combs, 2000 needles, 1000 Flints, 24 Looking Glasses, 2 pounds of vermillion, and 100 Tin pots, besides 25 Gallons of Rum, 200 pounds of Tobacco, 1000 Pipes, and 24 dozen of Gartering, by the said Proprietaries, John Penn, Thomas Penn and Rich'd Penn, well and truly paid and delivered.

The chiefs representing the Five Nations were then named in the deed, followed by those of the other tribes, all expressing "themselves to be fully satisfied, contented, and paid, and thereof do acquit and forever discharge the said Proprietaries, their heirs, successors, and assigns by these presents."

This deed, which is very long, is signed by seventeen witnesses on behalf of the Penns, and among them appears the name of Conrad Weiser, the, famous interpreter and guide. On behalf of the Indians appear the names (unpronounceable) of eight Onondaga chiefs, six Senecas, four Oneidas, two Tuscaroras, and three Cayugas.

The territory of Lycoming county lies within the bounds of the district specified in this instrument. The deed is dated June 7, 1737, forty-one years after William Penn's transaction with Dongan. A manuscript copy, beautifully engrossed, is in the possession of Howard R. Wallis, of Muncy. It was made for his great grandfather, Samuel Wallis, who was an extensive land speculator, and was found among his papers, It is over one hundred and eighteen years old and is one of the rarest instruments of writing in existence in this county.

After the execution and sealing of this pre-emption deed, the representatives of the Six Nations then signed a release of the lands in dispute, thereby making the line of transfer complete. All of the foregoing instruments may be found in Vol. I, Pennsylvania Archives, pp. 494-499, where they may be consulted by the curious.


It can not be stated with any certainty when the first white man appeared in this valley. The story of Etienne Brule, as related by Parkman, is somewhat indefinite. Brule was interpreter and guide to Champlain, the French Governor of Canada. In the summer of 1615 a French expedition was sent against the Iroquois. The Hurons, who were friendly, informed them that there was a powerful tribe living south, who were willing to send 500 warriors to aid in the war against the Iroquois. Brule, hearing of this, sought permission from Champlain to take twelve Indians and visit the Andastes to urge them to hasten forward the reinforcements.

The request was granted and the intrepid Frenchman started on his perilous mission. Just where he struck the head waters of the Susquehanna is unknown, but there is no doubt that he descended that river. Some writers are of opinion that he was at the fortification on Wolf run, near Muncy. If such was the case, he was undoubtedly the first white man to visit this section.

As adventurers the French were bold, daring, and hardy. No dangers deterred them from penetrating the wilderness at that day in their efforts to secure territory for New France, and they met the natives in many instances and ingratiated themselves into their favor, when other Europeans would have shrunk from the task. Brule, however, had a hard time. He was taken prisoner by the Iroquois and suffered terribly from bad treatment before he escaped. He was absent three years before Champlain saw him again. On his return he described the country and the people he had met. He speaks of a palisaded town of the Andastes on the upper waters of the Susquehanna which contained a population of 800 warriors, or about 4,000 souls. He might have been mistaken in his estimate, as this would have been a very large population for an Indian town. If it was situated in what is now known as Mancy valley, it shows that the country at that time was as attractive to the Indians as it is to the whites of today. Such being the case, it is reasonable to suppose that the Andastes chose the valley as an inviting place to found one of their largest towns.

Whether Brule passed down the North or West Branch to the main river, it is undenied that he was the first white man known to descend the river, and carry tidings of the appearance of the country and the people back to the French commander in Canada, over 270 years ago!

The next white man to pass through the valley was Conrad Weiser, when he made his journey to Onondaga in 1737, nearly 120 years after Etienne Brule. There is no doubt about Weiser's visit, for he left a written record of his journey, and spoke of visiting the ruined fortification on Wolf run. This was on the 20th of March. On this perilous journey he was accompanied by the famous Indian chief, Shikellimy, afterwards vice king of the Six. Nations at Shamokin, two other Indians, and a German.

In the forenoon of the 21st they reached Muncy creek. It was very high and they were taken over in a canoe, not without great danger. The next day, he says, two English traders attempted to cross, but their canoe was over turned by the force of the current and one of them drowned, and the other only escaped by swimming. He does not state which way they were traveling, but it is likely they were on their way up The river to the Indian town on the Loyalsock, or the Great Island. This is the first mention we have of white traders ascending the river this far, but it is not likely that they were the first, as we hear of them being at Shamokin as early as 1728. The Indian trader was an adventuresome individual, and he did not hesitate to brave the dangers of flood and field to meet the Indians to dispose of his wares.

On the 22d they reached the Indian village of Otstuagy, situated near the site of Montoursville, and so named from a rock on the opposite side of the river. This rock, which was a conspicuous landmark for many years, was destroyed by the construction of the Philadelphia and Erie railroad.

Weiser notes in his journal: "Before we came in sight of the village we reached the large creek [Loyalsock] which looked more dreadful than the one yesterday." An ice flood was very likely prevailing at, that time. And from his remarks regarding their approach to the village, we infer that it was situated on the west side of the creek.

It is probable that they tarried a day or two at the Indian town for rest after getting over the Loyalsock. It would be interesting to know bow the crossing of this turbulent stream was effected, after their rough experience at Muncy creek, but he failed to note a anything about it in his journal.

After leaving Otstuagy Weiser and party struck the Sheshequin path, which intersected the trail they were following a short distance west of the village, and crossed the hills to the north of the present city of Williamsport to Lycoming creek. The horrors of their journey up this stream are vividly depicted in his journal, and show what a dense and almost impenetrable wilderness existed in the gorges of Lycoming creek at that day. On reaching it he says:

We came to a narrow valley about half a mile broad and thirty long, both sides of which were encompassed with high mountains, on which the snow lay about three feet deep. In it ran a stream of water. also about three feet deep, which was so crooked that it kept a continued winding from one side of the valley to the other. In order to avoid wading so often through the water, we endeavored to pass along the slope of the mountain the snow being three feet deep and so hard frozen on the top that we walked upon it but we were obliged to make holes in the snow with our hatchets, that our feet might not slip down the mountain, and thus. we crept on. It happened that the old Indian's foot slipped, and the root of a tree by which he held breaking, he slid down the mountain as from the roof of a house, but happily he was stopped in his fall by the string which fastened his pack hitching on the stump of a small tree. The two Indians could not go to his aid, but our Dutch fellow traveler did; yet not without visible danger of his own life. I also could not put a foot forward until I was helped. After this we took the first opportunity to descend into the valley, which was not until after we had labored hard for half an hour with hands and feet. Having observed a tree lying directly off from where the Indian fell, when we got into the valley again, we went back about one hundred paces, where we saw that if the Indian had slipped four or five paces further he would have fallen over a rock one hundred feet perpendicular upon craggy pieces of rocks below. The Indian was astonished and turned quite pale; then, with outstretched arms and great earnestness, he spoke these words: "I thank the great Lord and Governor of this world, in that hr has had mercy upon me and his been willing that I should live longer." Which words I, at that time, put down in my journal. This happened on the 25th of March, 1737.

These touching words were uttered by Shikellimy, who has been often styled the great and good Indian." He was the father of Logan, the noted chief who made the eloquent speech relating to the white race which will. live as long as history exists.

The rocks over which Shikellimy came so near being precipitated formed the cliffs near the present village of Ralston. The traveler informs us that they continued their journey through the gloomy wilderness, although at great peril. At one time Weiser was so overcome by exhaustion and hunger that he seated himself by the roots of a tree, expecting to die. Shikellimy, who was in advance, came back in search of him. Finding him as described, he stood silently for a moment and then said: "My dear companion, thou hast hitherto encouraged us; wilt thou now quite give up? Remember that evil days are better than good days. For when we suffer much we do not sin. Sin will be driven out of us by suffering, and God can not extend his mercy to them; but contrary wise, when it goeth evil with us, God hath compassion on us." These sublime words coming from the lips of the old Indian, had the desired effect. Weiser says they made him "ashamed," and he rose up and traveled on as best be could until the journey was finished.

Five years later came Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian missionary, who traveled through what is now Lycoming county. He was accompanied by his daughter Benigna, Anna Nitchsman, J. Martin Mack, and two friendly Indians. Zinzendorf was a very pious and devout man, and labored zealously for the conversion of the Indians to the Moravian faith. During his mission he made a marked impression among the Indians, and the influence of his good work was long felt. Shikellimy became a convert to the Moravian faith, and as he was the chief ruler over all the tribes dwelling on the Susquehanna, it can readily be seen what a good effect must have resulted from his conversion. He adhered to the Moravian faith to the close of his life, and was buried by the rites of that church at Shamokin, December 17, 1748. Zinzendorf and his party left Shamokin on the 30th of September, 1742, and traveled up the West Branch. During the second night they encamped near Muncy creek. The Count spoke enthusiastically of the beauty of the scenery and the richness of the foliage. He expressed some surprise at not seeing any snakes, which he had been informed were very numerous; and there was a species which lay on the tops of the low bushes ready to spring on passing travelers. None of these were seen. The country, however, abounded in reptiles, bears, and other wild animals. Conrad Weiser, according to the journal of the Count, accompanied them. When they approached Otstuagy sometimes called Otstonwakin - Weiser rode ahead to the village to notify the inhabitants of the approach of the party. It was then the residence of the celebrated Madame Montour, a French half-breed, who located there as early as 1727. In a short time he returned, accompanied by Andrew, the oldest son of Madame. The following extract from the journal of Zinzendorf gives a description of the appearance of Montour, and the meeting with his mother:

Andrew's cast of countenance is decidedly European, and had, his face not been encircled with a broad baud of paint, applied with bear's fat, I would certainly have taken him for one. He wore a brown broadcloth coat, a scarlet damaskin lapel waistcoat, breeches, over which his shirt hung, a black Cordovan neckerchief, decked with silver bangles, shoes and stockings, and a hat. His ears were bung with pendants of brass and other wires plaited together like the handle of a basket. He was very cordial, but on addressing him in French he, to my surprise, replied in English.

When a short distance from the village, Andrew left us and rode ahead to notify the inhabitants of our approach. As soon as they saw us they discharged their firearms, by way of salute, and repeated this mode of welcome on our arrival at the huts. Here we dismounted and repaired to Madame Montour's quarters. Her husband, who had been a chief, had been killed in battle with the Catawbas. When the old woman saw us she wept. In course of conversation, while giving her a general account of the Brethren and their circumstances, I told her that once of our towns was named Bethlehem.

The Indians erect either a stone or a mound in honor of their deceased heroes. This custom is decidedly Israelitish. Early in the morning of the3d of October we heard a woman walling at the grave of her husband. There is a promiscuous, Indian population in this village. Madame Montour brought two children to me and asked me to baptize them, alleging the custom of the Canadian Fathers as an excuse for her request. I refused telling her that whenever a Brother settled here we would take the matter into consideration, as we were in the habit of baptizing only such persons as we thought we would have frequent opportunity of reminding of the significance of the rite.

About the 9th or 10th Count Zinzendorf turned around and crossed the mountains to Wyoming valley, where he had a very interesting visit with the Indians of that place. Andrew Montour, who was proficient in several tribal languages, accompanied him as guide and interpreter.

This visit of the distinguished Moravian missionary to what is now the central part of Lycoming county 150 years ago marked the beginning of a new era in Indian affairs.

The next Moravian visitation was in June, 1745, when Bishop Spangenberg, accompanied by Conrad Weiser, David Zeisberger, and several converted Indians, passed through the valley on their way to Onondaga. On the 8th of June they crossed Muncy creek and followed the path to Otstonwakin, which they reached at noon. After crossing Muncy creek the Bishop records in his journal that they "found half a deer, which an Indian from Otstonwakin had shot, and being unable to carry all of it home, he had hung the rest of it up in a tree, so that whoever needed it might take it which we did."

The Indians at Otstonwakin received them kindly and treated them to boiled meat, which they placed before them in a large kettle. No reference is made to Madame Montour. Probably she was absent, as she was in the habit of moving about a great deal. After refreshing themselves they proceeded in the afternoon on their journey, and at dusk came to Lycoming creek, which they called the "Limping Messenger," and encamped for the night. This name is not inappropriate, when we consider the tortuous windings of the stream and the many ripples it contains. To reach it they probably took the Sheshequin path, as a "cut off," which ran through what we now call Blooming Grove. Portions of this Indian highway are still visible in a forest north of Williamsport.

While encamped on the "Limping Messenger"their horses, which had been turned out to graze, strayed back to Otstonwakin some time during the night, and some of the party had to be sent in search of them. This delayed their movements until noon. It would be interesting to know just where Spangenberg and his party encamped. It is likely that it was near where the path debouched from the hills, in a ravine, a short distance below what is now Hepburnville.

Having recovered their horses Spangenberg and his party resumed their journey up Lycoming creek in the afternoon of June 9th. He speaks of entering the "wilderness," and says that their path through the valley lay between the "Ant Hills, one hill resembling another, side by side, and so high that we [they] could scarcely see to the summit. They are all peaked and resemble ant hills." His comparison was a good one, for those who will take the trouble to observe them carefully will be struck with their striking resemblance to immense ant hills. According to Lewis Evans's map of 1749, they were called Burnett's Hills by the Indians, and the path was marked as running through the "Dismal Vale!"When one studies the face of the narrow valley today and notes the bills on either side, it requires no effort of the mind to imagine what it must have been in its primitive condition. And yet the changes wrought by improvement have made the narrow valley one of the most attractive places in the county. There are several little villages busy manufactories, and handsome cottages with lovely surroundings. A railroad runs through it, and before it passes over the northern boundary of the county it has crossed the "Limping Messenger"on iron and wooden bridges more than twenty times.

In the evening of that day the good Moravian informs us that they went into camp for the night at the "Coffee House." This was probably a hut or camp on the ground now occupied by the village of Trout Run, as that would be about the distance they would travel during the afternoon. It could not have been more than a stopping place, for no white man had yet erected a cabin in that dismal solitude. The hemlock and pine grow so thick that their evergreen foliage so completely shut out the light of day that the travelers could scarcely see the sun shine.

On the 10th they continued their journey. The Bishop says:

It rained hard all day. Our course was north for ten miles, then we turned northeast. We are still between the Ant Hills, and follow the Diadachton. The forest is so dense that for a day the sun could not be seen, and so thick that you could not see twenty feet -before. The path, too, is so bad that the horses often were stuck, and had to be extricated from the bogs; and, at other points, it lay full of trees that had been blown down by the wind and heaped so high that we were at a loss whether to turn to the right or to the left. In the evening we came to a salt lick, where elks frequent, and camped for the night.

"The Diadachton" referred to is what was supposed to be Lycoming creek. Its history will be given at the proper place. The salt lick was either at the mouth of Red run or near the village of Roaring Branch. Salt was afterwards sought on the former stream, and in a land sale a salt reservation was once made in what would now be in the eastern part of Jackson township.

The following entry in his journal shows how they finally emerged from the wilderness of Lycoming creek:

JUNE 11 – Set off from the salt lick* and traveled northeast; reached the end of the Diadachton and left the Ant Hills behind us. The path was very bad, so that one of our horses almost broke his leg, by getting into a hole between the roots of a tree. In the afternoon we old roast of bear, which Indians had left on the hunt. As the meat was good we prepared it for dinner. In the evening we came to the Bear's Claws and camped. The Indians took the claws from the bear and nailed them to a tree, hence the name. Here an Indian from Tioga lodged with us. From him we learned that our messenger was already one day's journey ahead of us.

The end of what he terms the "Diadachton" was the source of Lycoming creek at the Beaver Dams in Bradford county.

After completing their journey to Onondaga Spangenberg and party returned by the same route. Their experiences were even more trying than on the outward journey. Not only had they to contend with the same horrors of the swamps in the vicinity of the present villages of Ralston, Bodines, and Trout Run, but a succession of severe rain storms made traveling almost unendurable. The heat was very great, and the ground had become so saturated with water that the greatest care was required to guard against falling into quagmires, The unforeseen delays caused by the storms exhausted their slender supply of provisions, and the outlook was exceedingly gloomy and discouraging. They had struggled in the thickets of the wilderness for eight days, and when they reached Otstonwakin, on the Loyalsock, they were almost exhausted. Here they met with a bitter disappointment. The Indian village was deserted, not a fire burned in a single lodge, and not a morsel of food was to be obtained. Riding on, in garments wringing wet, and barely alleviating the worst pangs of hunger with a few fishes which they had caught in the Susquehanna, they laid down on the bank of the river at noon of the 7th of July, 1745, utterly overcome and prepared to die. They could go no further. It was an hour to try their souls. A handful of rice constituted the remnant of their provisions. The records inform us that the Bishop and his young companions, faint and silent, waited to see what God would do for them, while Shikellimy and his son, with the stoicism of their race, resigned themselves to their fate without a murmur. While thus sitting in this disconsolate condition, offering silent prayers for their deliverance, an. aged Indian emerged from the forest, sat down among them, opened his pouch, and gave them a smoked turkey!

After having refreshed themselves and rested, they resumed their journey and passed on down through Muncy valley. Their Indian rescuer accompanied them and encamped with them at night, when he produced several pieces of dried venison which they greatly relished. The next day they reached Shamokin, where a trader supplied them with fresh provisions and starvation no longer stared them in the face.

Count Zinzendorf, it will be remembered, expressed some surprise at not seeing any snakes on his journey up the valley in 1742. If he was disappointed in this respect, Spangenberg and his party were not. The latter records in his journal that they came upon a rattlesnake nest in the Muncy Hills near the river. At first a few of the reptiles were discovered basking in the sun. No sooner, however, did they kill these than the whole neighborhood seemed to be alive, and a rattling began which was frightful. Snakes crawled out of holes in the rocks and from between loose stones, or darted from thickets and lifting their heads above patches of fern, soon showed themselves in such numbers that the travelers were almost surrounded and were glad to beat a hasty retreat.

Rev. David Brainerd was the next evangelist to visit this valley on a mission of peace to the Indians. He came in August, 1746, about a year after Bishop Spangenberg. At the intersection of the Sheshequin and Susquehanna paths, a short distance west of Montoursville, he met and preached to a large body of Indians. Mr. Brainerd was suffering from consumption when he made his memorable visit and had a bard time. He extended his journey to a town near the present site of Linden and conversed with the natives. His visit was a short one, as he found himself unable to endure the hardship of sleeping on a bed made of the boughs of bushes, with no covering but the canopy of heaven, and he hastened to return. His experiences among the Indians of the West Branch and at Duncan's island, on the main river, were very interesting.


In the Summer of 1748 David Zeisberger and John Martin Mack made a journey up the West Branch from Shamokin, for the Purpose of visiting the Indians and ascertaining the extent of the famine which was reported to be prevailing among them. He records that they reached Otstonwakin on the 10th of July and found it entirely deserted. They made no stop, but continued on. At night they were greatly tormented "by punks and mosquitoes, despite the five fires between which we [they] lay down to sleep."

They resumed their journey on the 11th and passed many empty Indian huts. In the afternoon they reached Long Island (opposite Jersey Shore), and crossed over to it. A few deserted huts were found. Here Martin Mack climbed a tree to look out for some human being, for the grass and weeds were so high that they could see no distance. From the tree he saw an Indian on another part of the island. He descended and made for the point, where he found a hut in which an old woman and several others were down with the small pox. On asking where the Indians of this region were, he was informed that many had died of small pox, and others had been driven by famine to the white settlements. Nearly all the Indians who dwelt on the island were Delawares, and the number was not small.

The missionaries continued their journey that afternoon to the Great Island, which they reached in the evening. They found a few Indians, principally women, in a starving condition. The men had nearly all been driven away by the famine. When informed that their visitors were not traders, the Indians were greatly surprised and could not understand the object of their visit. On asking an Indian if they could lodge in his hut he took them in cordially and spread a bear skin for them to sleep on, but he had nothing for them to eat. The father of this man, about seventy years of age, was dying of the small pox and was a most pitiable object. In Dearly every hut they found a case of small pox. In one hut hung a kettle in which grass was stewing, which they ate with avidity. Their condition was deplorable and the visitors were greatly affected. Green, hard grapes, which a party brought in, were quickly seized and voraciously devoured.

After tarrying a few days among these starving people, Zeisberger and his companion started on the return trip in the afternoon of the 13th. They camped that night "on a large flat rock by a creek," where they ate some moldy bread, the last of their stock, "and built four fires to keep off the vermin." From his brief description it is hard to locate the place where they camped, but it was probably on Pine or Larry's creek, as they reached Otstonwakin at noon of the 14th. They arose early from their rocky bed and Zeisberger caught a few fish which served them for breakfast. When they reached Otstonwakin they succeeded in spearing a "large fish with a pointed stick," which they took to their camp "on a high bank of the Susquehanna, where Bishop Spangenberg & and company had dined on the way to Onondaga in 1745, and ate the fish for supper."

It would be interesting to be able to locate the exact spot where they camped. From the nature of the ground there is no "high bank "on the river at this point, which leaves us to infer that the camp must have been on the high ground on the west side of Loyalsock, some distance north of where it falls into the river. The underbrush and timber on the flats' on the east side must have been very dense at that time, and there was, no doubt, heavy timber on the high ground on the west side, which completely shut out all view of the river, and the evangelists supposed they were nearer to it than they really were. From the topography of the surrounding country we can arrive at no other conclusion.


The last visit of Moravian evangelists to the dusky inhabitants then living in the territory now comprised within the limits of Lycoming county was made by John Martin Mack in 1753. He was accompanied by several friends, and reached Shamokin from Bethlehem on the evening of the 24th of August of that year. On the 26th he prepared to ascend the river in a canoe, accompanied by "Brother Grube." In his journal, under date of August 27, 1753, he makes this entry

After dinner we reached Muncy creek, forty miles from Shamokin, where we put up our canoe with an Indian we knew, as the water began to grow rapid. Here we met several drunken Indians who teased us for tobacco, and began to get cross. Finally Brother Grube gave them several cuts and they were satisfied and let us go. We slung our packs on our backs, and by evening reached Otstonwakin. Mack pointed out to Grube the spot where Zinzendorf and his party had pitched their tents. Proceeding several miles further we camped for the night by a creek.

AUGUST 28.–Towards 9 am. We Came to a small town where Madame Montour's niece Margaret lives [ Newberry] with her family. She welcomed us cordially, led us into the hut, and set before us milk and watermelons. Brother Grube told her that Mack had come from Bethlehem especially to visit her. "Mother," said Mack, "do you know me ? ""Yes, my child, she replied, "but I have forgotten where I saw you." "I saw you," he said, "eight years ago on the island at Shamokin, when you were living with your brother, Andrew Sattelihu." Hereupon she bethought herself, that at that time she had come from the Allegheny and was on the way to Philadelphia. She was very friendly to us, and much pleased that we had visited her. She was yet sorrowing for the loss of her son and son-in-law, who were killed last winter in the war against the Creeks. We told her we would leave our packs here and proceed to the Delaware town at Quenischaschacki. "Oh ! "she said, "the Indians up there have for some weeks been drinking, and we would undoubtedly find them all drunk." On arriving at the town we found all quiet, and the people modest and friendly. We visited several huts and inquired diligently about Christian Renatus, and found that he had gone to peel bark for his brother, the Captain, who is building a new hut. We remained until evening, and then returned to Margaret's town, who again furnished us with food. We had a long conversation with her on many subjects, and she spoke particularly of Andrew Sattelihu; and of her husband, who for six years has drank no whisky, and who had already prevailed upon two men from drinking.

She desired us to visit her very soon again, which we hoped to do. French Margaret is also held in high esteem by the Indians, and allows no drunkard in her town. Her husband is a .Mohawk, who understands French well, as also their children, but they do not speak it.

By noon we reached our canoe at Muncy creek, and found that a blanket and some provisions wrapped in it had been taken. Having had nothing to eat, we obtained some corn from a woman. Below Muncy creek we visited a small Shawanese town, which a few years ago was built by some families from Wyomick.

"French Margaret" was a Canadian half-breed and a niece of Madame Montour. Her husband was named "Peter Quebec." Previous to 1745 they were living on the Allegheny river, and it was that year that Mack met her on the island in the river opposite Northumberland, where she was visiting. Her place of residence was near the mouth of Lycoming creek, on the west side, and it is noted on Scull's map of 1759 as "French Margaret's Town." The site of her village is now within the limits of the Seventh ward of the city of Williamsport. The fact that she had prohibited the use of liquor in her village shows her to have been a woman

of more than ordinary character for the time in which she lived; and this is probably the first recorded instance of the enforcement of prohibition, which shows the doctrine to be of great antiquity. The statement that her husband had not drank rum for six years shows that he was a strict observer of the temperance decree of his wife, which was something unusual for an Indian.

From the testimony of Mack it would appear that the luscious watermelon was introduced early into this country, for Margaret welcomed them to her wigwam by setting "milk and watermelons" before them. A novel feast, it is true; but it was undoubtedly the best this dusky Indian woman could do. She was termed the "lesser Indian Queen," and frequently attended treaty meetings at Albany, Easton, and Philadelphia. Much respect was shown her by the Indians within her little realm, whose confidence she seemed to enjoy.

In July, 1754, we learn from the Moravian records that "French Margaret, her Mohawk husband, and two grandchildren, traveling in semi-barbaric state, with an Irish groom and six relays of pack horses, halted a few days at Bethlehem on their way to New York. During her stay she attended divine worship, expressed much gratification at the music and singing, and was also pleased to find sisters who were conversant with French." She never returned to her habitation on Lycoming creek.


Hard times and the rumors of war continued on the West Branch. The French, who occupied the western part of the Province, were threatening an invasion, and friendly Indians were in a state of alarm. Several of the latter came from the Ohio, and, through Conrad Weiser the interpreter, informed Governor Morris that they desired to settle at Otstonwakin. At the same time the Governor was apprised that a number of white people from New England had formed themselves in a body for the purpose of locating on the Susquehanna and in the rich valley of Muncy.

On the 12th of June, 1755, Weiser notified the Governor that he had just returned from Otstonwakin, where he had been with ten men to fence in a cornfield for the Indians, in accordance with his instructions. When he arrived at the place he found that the Indians who had petitioned the Governor for assistance had mostly deserted the place for want of provisions, and chiefly for having lost all their corn by severe frosts between the 29th and 30th of May last, which was the second frost that had appeared in the valley since their corn was up, and it had been entirely killed. He only found two Indians, with their families, in the town ; they were very thankful for what had been done for them, but as they had no hopes of raising any corn from what they had planted, they thought it useless to have a field fenced. He left them one sack of flour, and on his way down the river left one with the Indians he found at Muncy. On this journey he was accompanied by John Shikellimy, who had succeeded his father as reigning chief at Shamokin. He informed the Indians whom they met of the threatening condition of affairs with the French, and that a declaration of war was imminent.

This was the turning point in Indian affairs on the West Branch. The dusky inhabitants had been forced to leave on account of the continuance of the famine, brought about by late frosts annually destroying their corn; and as their small stores had been entirely exhausted they could not recover. Hence the abandonment of the valley.

* The " salt lick " was located on what is now known as Salt Spring run, a tributary of Roaring Branch creek, which falls into the latter about one and a half miles from the present town of Roaring Branch. Experiments were made there by the early settlers for salt, and as late as 1865 a well was drilled to a depth of nearly 600 feet near an old well, when salt water and gas were developed.

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