Part of the PAGenWeb

S. Wright; 1873



Page 9 - 35
"Cumberland county, east of the Kittatinny Mountains, was organized in January, 1750.  It was then believed that a people of a common nationality should locate in the same settlement, and with such instruction from the Proprietary their agents sent the Irish, Scotch and English settlers to Cumberland, and the Germans to York county.  When organized Cumberland had 807 taxable inhabitants.

The country north of the Blue Hills was valued by the Indians as their best hunting grounds, and when in 1740 and '41 their rights began to be invaded by German and other squatters who had built cabins in Sherman's Valley, and on the Juniata, their complaints caused the Provincial government to order their immediate removal and to forbid others following their example.  After this nothing of a decided character was done to prevent settlements until a seat of justice was established in the North, or Cumberland Valley.  Previously there was no county seat nearer than Lancaster, Lancaster county.

Soon after the organization of Cumberland county, in 1750, it was decided that all persons living on lands north of the Kittatinny Mountains should be removed.  For this purpose Secretary Richard Peters was sent by the Lieutenant-Governor, James Hamilton, to remove all persons from the country north of the Blue Mountain.  These people had been warned and advised to leave in 1748, and now, the 23d of May, 1750, Richard Peters, Matthew Dill, George Groghan, Benjamin Chambers, Conrad Weiser, Thomas Wilson, John Finley and James Galbraith, Esqrs., accompanied by the under-sheriff of Cumberland county, went to the place where Andrew Lycon, George Calhoon, William Galloway an David Hiddleston had settled, where they found five cabins.   Taking all of the settlers into custody who suffered themselves to be taken, they set fire to the log cabins and proceeded from thence to Sherman's creek, where they found James and Thomas Parker, Owen McKeeb, John McClare, Richard Kirkpatrick, James Murray, John Scott, Henry Gass, Simon Girty, and John Kilbaugh, whose cabins were also burned.  These men were bound in recognizance of one hundred pounds each to appear and answer for their trespass at the next county court to be held at Shippensburg.

In order to prevent settlements in the future, or the return to their former residences of the persons thus driven out, Andrew Monture was licensed to settle and reside in any place he might judge convenient.  He settled on the north side of Sherman's creek, on the Elliott farm, about five miles from George Croghan's, who lived on the present Cumberland side of the Kittatinny, near Sterret's Gap, --Monture's run bears evidence of the location.  Frederick Starr, a German, with two or three of his countrymen, made settlements on Big Juniata, about twenty-five miles from the mouth thereof, and about ten miles north from the Blue Hills, at a place much esteemed by the Indians as their best hunting ground Starr's settlement was probably on the flat ground not far from the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge across Big Buffalo creek, in Oliver township, and was in all probability too close to an Indian encampment of the Six Nations.

Lycon, Cahoon, Galloway, Hiddleston and White probably built their cabins in Pfoutz's Valley, not far from Millerstown, which was then the site of the other of the only two encampments of Indians within the present limits of Perry county.  These Indians either willingly quitted their homes, or were forcibly compelled to leave them after the Albany Treaty of 1754.  They afterward settled in the country of the Ohio.  By the treaty of 1754 all the land extending from the Kittatinny Mountains to the Alleghany Mountainswas added to Cumberland county.  There are traces of either a long residence at Millerstown, or probably a fierce battle which was fought between the resident Delawares and the immigrating Shawnese.

The location of this conflict was no doubt near the canal bridge, for they were interred in a wide and deep mound west of the house now the residence of Mrs. Oliver, and found by the workmen who dug the canal.

These were the only Indian villages on the Juniata in Perry county, owing to the fact that the river was too much hemmed in by mountains between its mouth and Newport, and the distance to Millerstown was not great enough for two sets of people to live nearer, who depended upon hunting and fishing for a living.  The Newport Indians had the celebrated fishery now owned by Robert Mitchell, Esq., while those at Millerstown doubtless fished from North's Island, below the rope ferry, westward.  The hunting grounds of the former extended along the Buffalo creek, on the west, and into Buck's Valley on the east of the Juniata. This is said to have been abundant in deer and smaller game.

The Millerstown Indians had the range of Wildcat, Pfoutz's and Raccoon valleys, which furnished rich returns of deer, bear, raccoon, turkey, squirrels, etc.  Then the rarest of Juniata shad sported in their greatest abundance in its waters, while every tributary abounded in the speckled trout and salmon.

Fishing was followed as a business by the early settlers until 1840, during spring and fall, and yielded large returns.  The public works threw dams across the river, and saw-mills were erected on the tributary streams, thus preventing the return of the fish in the spring of the year to spawn, and destroying them by the sawdust.  The making of the Juniata canal marks the era of the downfall of the fisheries.  Since then fish-baskets have been erected below the Millerstown dam, but the Legislature has declared it an illicit business, and as such only is it now pursued.

Safe from all harm, except the net, spear and hook, it is hoped the fill will again multiply and fill our waters, as in days of yore.

After the burning of the cabins and binding the settlers in recognizance of 100 pounds each, settlements were made in various parts within the present limits of Perry county.  The arm of the Provisional government could remove the settlers and burn their cabins, but it could not prevent their returning.  The Indians threatened summary vengeance if the government did not prevent this.  Hence, to satisfy all parties and obviate further difficulties, the purchase of a large tract of land from the Indians was strongly recommended by Governor Hamilton.  This brought about the Albany treaty, to which allusion has been made previously, in which it was stipulated that for the consideration of 400 pounds, John and Richard Penn should have all tract of land extending from the Kittatinny Mountains east of the Alleghany Mountains.  The Indian chiefs and sachems who were not present at the treaty declared the whole transaction a fraud, and even those who were present afterward contended that they did not understand the points of the compass and if the line were to run to include the west branch of the Susquehanna they would never agree.  This treaty, according to Smith's Laws, vol. xxi., p. 120, included the land where the Shawnee and Ohio Indians lived, and the hunting grounds of the Delawares, the Nanticokes and the Tuletos.

On the 3d of February, 1755, the Land Office was opened for the sale of lands in Sherman's Valley and on the Juniata river.  While the sale of these lands was progressing, General Braddock was moving toward "Braddock's Field," where British pride and contempt for the advice of experienced American officers in Indian warfare paid for the dissatisfaction of the savages a year ago at Albany.  This was the longest retreat on record, and well evinced the leadership of Washington, who so masterly conducted the haughty red-coats from the scene of their leader's death.

Owing to the fact that Braddock's defeat left the whole frontier exposed to the ravages of the cruel and merciless savages, very little land was entered at the Land Office from the fall of 1755 to 1761.

All the settlements north of the Kittatinny Mountains were wasted by the savages and the improvements destroyed or deserted, and their inhabitants fled to Cumberland Valley for protection.  The settlers of Sherman's Valley, and on the Juniata, suffered in common with all others similarly exposed.  In Pfoutz's Valley, we have vague accounts of the torturing of white human beings while the relentless savages held their demoniacal revels around the fagots which slowly consumed their victims.  Such a scene is said to have occurred around a hickory tree at St. Michael's church, more than a century ago.  It is probable that the same hickory tree which now stands at the corner of the grave-yard was the one.

In Sherman's Valley Indian atrocity reached the highest degree of cruelty.  Here the well-known savage vengeance was wreaked upon man, woman and child.

From Robert Robinson's narrative we obtain the following: In the year 1756, a man named Woolcomber, living on the south side of Sherman's creek, not far from Center, declined to leave his home or remove his family, on the ground that it was the Irish who were killing one another; "the peaceable Indians" said he, "will harm no one."  

While at dinner one day, a number of Indians came into Woolcomber's house.  He invited them to eat, when an Indian answered that they did not come to eat, but for scalps.  When Woolcomber's son, who was then about fifteen years of age, heard the Indian's reply, he left the table and walked out of the house through a back door.  Looking back when he was out of the house, he saw an Indian strike his tomahawk into his father's head.  He then ran across Sherman's Creek, which was near to the house, and as he ran his fears were confirmed by the screams of his mother, sisters and brothers.  He came to our (Robinson's) fort and gave the alarm, whereupon forty volunteers went to the scene of the murder and buried the dead.  The Indians were never punished.  Woolcomber was a Quaker of the non-resistant kind; one who relied upon the promise of the Indian orator who assured William Penn, seventy-four years before that, "the Indians and English will live in love as long as the sun and moon shall endure,"  and thus sacrificed himself and family to his faith in a savage's promise.

In July, 1756, which we are induced to believe was subsequent to the murder of the Woolcombers, the settlers of Sherman's Valley gathered the women and children into Robinson's Fort, and went out in companies to reap the harvest.  

A party of Indians stealthily approached the fort and killed a Miss Miller, daughter of Robert Miller, John Simmeson, Mrs. Wilson, wife of James Wilson, and the widow Gibson, and carried with them as prisoners Hugh Gibson and Betsy Henry.

The reapers, hearing the firing of guns at the fort, returned home as hastily as possible, but they came too late to meet the savages, who had made good their escape.  

The following is Hugh Gibson's account of his captivity:  "At the time my mother was killed, I was taken prisoner, and suffered much from hunger and abuse.  Many times they beat me severely, and once sent me to gather wood to burn myself.  I was adopted into an Indian family, and lived as they did, though the living was poor.  I was fourteen years of age when I was captured.  My Indian father's name was Busqueetam.  He was lame in consequence of a wound received from his knife, while skinning a deer; and being unable to walk, he ordered me to drive sticks into the ground, and cover them with bark, to make a lodge for him to live in; but the forks not being securely fastened, they gave away and the bark fell down upon him and hurt him severely, which put him in a great rage, and calling for his scalping-knife, he would have killed me, but my Indian mother took care to convey the knife away and ordered me to conceal myself, which I did until his passion wore off, and we did very well in the future.  Some time after this, all the prisoners in the neighborhood were collected to be spectators of the death by torture of a poor, unhappy woman, a fellow-prisoner, who had escaped and been recaptured.  They stripped her naked, tied her to a post, and pierced her with red-hot irons, the flesh sticking to the irons at every touch.  She screamed in the most pitiful manner, and cried for mercy, but the ruthless barbarians were deaf to her agonizing shrieks and prayers, and continued their horrid cruelty until death came to her relief.  

"At last a favorable opportunity offered to gain my liberty.  Busqueetam lost a horse and sent me to hunt him.  After hunting some time, I came home and told him I had discovered his tracks at some considerable distance and that I thought I would find him; that I would take my gun and provisions, and would hunt for three or four days, and if I could kill a deer or bear, I would pack home the meat on the horse."  Thus lulled, the suspicions of Gibson's real design were not aroused until he had ample time to effect his escape. 

During the year following the murders by the Indians which have just been related, so many urgent petitions were sent to Governor Morris that he sent a message to the Assembly, stating that the people to the west of the Susquehanna, distressed by the frequent incursions of the enemy, and weakened by their great losses, are moving into the interior parts of the province, and I am fearful that the whole country will be evacuated, if timely and vigorous measures are not taken to prevent it.

The Assembly were at first disposed to regard this statement as the mere fancy of an excited mind, but the news of the horrible savage slaughter coming from so many quarters, they were induced to pass a bill for raising forty thousand pounds, but carefully incorporated into it a clause taxing the proprietary estates.  For the reason that the bill contained the odious clause relating to the proprietary, it was vetoed by the Governor.

The proprietary presented the Governor five thousand pounds about this time, which were immediately applied to the frontier defense of the colony.

Governor Morris and the Assembly disagreed as to the urgency of protecting the defenseless frontier settlements from the ravages of the French and Indians combined.  The matter, with the petitions of citizens of Cumberland county, was referred to the King of Great Britain.  The petitioners were heard in London, before a committee of the Privy Council, Mr. Paris acting as their agent, with Messrs. Yorke and Forrester as his counsel, and Messrs. Sharp, Henly and Pratt representing the Assembly.

The committee denounced the conduct of the Assembly in relation to the public defense since the year 1742, and characterized their militia bill as a flimsy pretext to exempt persons from military service, rather than to promote and encourage them to take up arms in defense of their homes.  

After considering the report of the special committee, the Privy Council were of opinion that the Legislature of Pennsylvania, as of every other country, was bound to support such government and its subjects; that the measures heretofore adopted by the Assembly for that purpose were improper, inadequate and ineffectual; and that there was no cause to hope for other measures, whilst the majority of the Assembly consisted of persons whose avowed principles were against military service; who, though not a sixth part of the inhabitants of the province, were admitted to hold offices of trust and profit, and to sit in the Assembly without their allegiance being secured by the sanction of an oath.

In February, of 1756, a party of Indians from Shamokin came to the Juniata to Hugh Mitcheltree's who lived near the river.  He had gone to Carlisle on business and got Edward Nicholas to stay at his house until he should return. The Indians killed Mrs. Mitcheltree and young Nicholas before they left.

From Micheltree's this same party of Indians proceeded up the river to where the Lukens now live. Mrs. William Wilcox and her son had crossed the river shortly before and while she was staying for a visit at old Edward Nicholas' house, they made their appearance, killed old Mr. Nicholas and his wife, and took Joseph, Thomas and Catharine Nicholas, John Wilcox, (the son who accompanied his mother over the river), James Armstrong's wife and two children, prisoners.  While committing these depredations in Juniata county, an Indian named Cotties wished to be captain of this party, but they did not choose him; whereupon he and a boy went to Sherman's Creek; and killed William Sheridan and his family, thirteen in number.  They then went down the creek to where three old persons lived, two men and a woman, named French, whom they killed.  Cotties often boasted afterward that he and the boy took more scalps than all the others of the party.

These murders were caused by the French, who offered large rewards for the scalps of the English which should be brought in by the Indians.

In autumn of 1756, James Bell and his brother agreed to go into Sherman's Valley to hunt for deer and were to meet at Sterret's Gap, on the Kittatinny Mountains.  By some means or other, they did not meet, and Samuel slept that night in a cabin belonging to Mr. Patton, on Sherman's creek.  The next morning he had not traveled far before he spied three Indians, who saw him at the same time.  They all fired at each other; he wounded one of the Indians, but received no damage, except that his clothes were pierced with balls.  Several shots were fired from both sides, each sheltered by the covert of trees.  He now stuck his tomahawk into the tree behind which he stood, so that should they approach he might be prepared.  The tree was grazed with the Indian's balls and he had thought seriously of making his escape by flight, but hesitated, fearing his ability to outrun them.  After some time the Indians took the wounded one and put him over the fence, one taking course and the other another, intending to make a circuit so that Bell could no longer secure himself by the tree.  But in trying to reach these advantageous positions they had to expose themselves, when he had the good fortune to shoot one of them dead.  The other ran and took the dead Indian on his back, one leg over each shoulder.  By this time, Bell's gun was re-loaded; he then ran after the Indian until he came within forty yards of him, when he shot through the dead Indian and lodged a ball in the living one, who dropped the dead man and ran off.  On his return home from the deer hunt, Bell coming past the fence where the wounded Indian lay, he dispatched him, but did not know that he had killed the third Indian until his bones were found years afterward.

In July 1756, a small party of Indians attacked the plantations of Robert Baskins, who lived near the present railroad station of the Pennsylvania Central, at the mouth of Juniata river.  They murdered Baskins, burnt his house, and carried his wife and children away with them as prisoners.  Another party belonging to the same band made Hugh Carroll and his family prisoners.

At another time, the Indians murdered a family of seven persons on Sherman's creek and then passed over the Kittatinny at Sterret's Gap, wounded a man, killed a horse and captured Mrs. Boyle, her two sons and a daughter living on Conadoguinet creek.

The following is from Robert Robinson's narrative:  "From 1761 to 1763 there was comparative quiet and security from the incursions of the Indians."

The number of settlers increased rapidly, and much land was secured by location right.

In June, 1763, the plan was matured for a concert of action among all the Indians upon every British post, but it was the 5th of July, and Sabbath day, when they came to the house of William White on the Juniata.  It was harvest time, and the reapers were resting on the floor, when the Indians crept up close to the door and shot them while in that position.  They killed William White and all his family that were there, excepting one boy, who, when he heard the guns leaped out of the window and made his escape.  The reapers all escaped through the back door excepting William Riddle.  Some swam the river; others escaped in different directions.  Riddle, hardly conscious of what he was doing, walked toward the front door, where a savage met him and fired his gun, but the ball grazing him he was fortunately enabled afterward to escape by flight.  This marauding party consisted of ten or twelve of the Shawnee tribe.  

The same band of Indians stealthily approached the house of Robert Campbell and fired at the persons in the house.  James Campbell was wounded in the wrist and taken prisoner, but there is no authentic account of any person being killed.  Immediately after the Indians had discharged their rifles, one of them sprang into the house, and with uplifted tomahawk rushed upon a bed on which George Dodds was resting, but fortunately his rifle was within reach, which he grasped and fired at random, wounding him in the groin.  The Indians retreated and Dodds went up-stairs and escaped hastily through an opening in the roof.  He went immediately to Sherman's Valley and spread the alarm.  He came to William Dickeson's, who sent a young man to inform the Elliots, who were then at Edward Elliot's farm harvesting.

This same marauding party of Indians proceeded up Tuscarora Valley until they came to the house of William Anderson.  The old man was seated at the table with the open Bible on his lap, conducting the evening worship, while his son and an adopted daughter were around him.  They shot the old man and tomahawked and scalped his son and adopted daughter.  Two brothers named Christy, and a man named Graham, who lived near Mr. Anderson, hearing the firing of guns at his place, fled and reached Sherman's Valley about midnight.  Their report spread new terror and alarm among the settlers.  In order to save Collins' and James Scott's families, who lived farther up the valley and had returned to reap their harvests, twelve men volunteered to go over into the upper end of Tuscarora Valley.

They went by Bingham's Gap, the outlet of Liberty Valley, and reached the valley early on Monday morning.  When they came to Collins' they saw by a broken wheel and their bark spoons where they had breakfasted on water gruel, that the Indians had been there, and that there, were thirteen of them.  They tracked the savages down to Jas. Scott's where they had killed some fowls.  Continuing on, they came to Graham's; there the house was on fire and burned down to the joists.  Here the men were divided into two parties, of which William Robinson was the captain of one and Robert Robinson, the narrator, the other. These parties made a circuit, but found that the Indians had just left.  They were joined here by the party of eleven or twelve Indians, who came up the valley.  Before leaving Graham's the Indians killed four hogs, dined heartily and at leisure, being satisfied that there were none of the settlers west of the Tuscarora Mountians who would pursue them.  From this place the Indians crossed over the Tuscarora into Perry County.  The pursuers took the path by way of Run Gap, north of Ickesburg.  The two paths met at Hickolson's farm where the Indians arrived first, and being apprised of their pursuers approaching, they lay in ambush for them.  They had the first fire and being twenty-five in number and only twelve white men in pursuit, they killed five and wounded Robert Robinson.  The particulars of this engagment are given by Robert Robinson, whom we have just mentioned as one of the participators, as follows:

"William Robinson was shot in the abdomen with buckshot.  John Elliot, a boy of seventeen, fired his gun and then ran, loading as best he could by pouring powder into it at random and pushing a ball into it with his finger, while he was pursued by an Indian with uplifted tomahawk, and when he was within a short distance of him Elliot suddenly turned around and shot the Indian in the breast, who gave a cry of pain, and turning fled.  Elliot had gone but a short distance when he came to William Robinson, who was weltering in his own blood upon the ground and evidently in the agonies of death.  He begged Elliot to carry him off so that the Indians would not find and scalp him; but Elliot being a mere boy found it utterly impossible to do so, much less lift him from the ground. Finding the willing efforts of this young friend fruitless to save him from the savages, Robinson said, 'Take my gun, and if ever in war or peace you have an opportunity to shoot an Indian with it, do so for my sake.' "

Thomas Robinson stood behind a tree firing and loading as rapidly as possible, until the last white man had fled.  He had just fired his third shot when his position was revealed to the Indians.  In his hurried attempt to load again, he exposed his right arm, which received the balls of guns of three Indians who fired at the same time.  He then fled up a hill with his gun grasped in his left hand, until he came to a large log which he attempted to leap over by placing his left hand on it; but just as he was stooping to make the leap a bullet passed through his side.  He fell across the log. The Indians coming up beat him on the head with the butts of their guns until he was mutilated in the most horrible manner possible.  John Graham and David Miller were found dead near each other, not far from the place of attack.  Graham's head was resting upon his hands, while the blood streamed through his fingers.  Charles Elliot and Edward McConnel succeeded in escaping from the Indians and reached Buffalo creek, but they were so closely pursued that when they had crossed the creek and were scrambling up the bank they were shot and fell back into the water where their dead bodies were found.

This little band of twelve, whose Spartan bravery is scarcely equaled in all the history of Indian and border warfare, consisted on three brothers Robinson, William, Robert and Thomas; two brothers Elliot, John and Charles; two brothers Christy, William and James; John Graham, David Miller, Edward McConnel, William McAllister and John Nickolson.

After this engagement, the Indians proceeded very leisurely to Alexander Logan's, feeling their security, no doubt, on account of the inhabitants having fled to the lower part of Sherman's Valley.

A party of forty men, well armed and disciplined, started for Tuscarora Valley to bury the dead; but when they came to Buffalo creek and saw them, having previously heard the reports of the settlers, which doubtless increased the number of the Indians, the captain thought it prudent to return.  In the meantime the six men who escaped in the engagement at Nickolson's went to Carlisle, and reported what they saw and experienced, whereupon a party of fifty volunteered to go in quest of the savages.  They were commanded by High Sheriff Dunning and William Lyon.  From the best information that could be had of the Indians, it was judged that they would visit Logan's to plunder and kill the cattle.  The men were ambushed and in readiness when the Indians appeared, but owing to the eagerness in commencing the attack by some of the party, but four or five Indians were either killed or mortally wounded, until they made their escape into the thick woods, whither pursuit was deemed too perilous. Previous to this engagement, Alexander Logan and his son, John, Charles Coyle, William Hamilton and Bartholomew Davis, hearing of the advance of Sheriff Dunning's party, and was engaged with them at Logan's.  In the engagement at Logan's there was but one white man wounded.  The soldiers brought with them what cattle they could collect, but great numbers were killed, and many of the horses were taken away by the Indians.  

The Indians set fire to the houses and barns, destroyed the growing corn, and burnt the grain in the shock and the hay in the stacks, so that the whole valley seemed to be one general blaze of conflagration as far as they went.  The distress of the settlers of Sherman's and Tuscarora valleys can better be imagined than described.  They were reduced from a plentiful and independent people to real objects of charity and commiseration within the short space of one week.  Carlisle was the only barrier between the frontier settlers and the merciless savages, and it so crowded that every stable and shelter in the town was filled to its utmost capacity and on either side of the Susquehanna the woods were the only shelter of many other refugee families, who had fled thither with their cattle, and whatever of their effects could be hastily collected and carried with them.

On the 25th of July, there were in Shippensburg 1,384 refugees from the settlements north of the Kittatinny, who were obliged to sleep in barns, sheds and temporary shelters.

To relieve these sufferers, the Episcopal, Christ's and St. Peter's churches, of Philadelphia, collected an amount of money equal to $2,942.89 in the currency of the present time, which was expended in supplying flour, rice and medicine for the immediate relief of the sufferers.  To enable those who chose to return to their homes, two chests of arms, half a barrel of powder, four hundred pounds of swan shot and one thousand flints, were purchased.  These were to be sold at greatly reduced prices to such persons as would use them for their own defense.

Induced by an offer which placed protection in their own hands, the settlers returned to their former homes, where they lived in constant dread of the wily foe until Bouquet occupied Fort Duquesne, on the 24th of November, 1764.  At this time the French and their savage allies were compelled to sue for the peace, which placed the frontier settlers of Perry and Juniata counties in conscious security from Indians ever afterward.

Rev. David Brainerd, in speaking of the Shawnese who lived on Duncan's Island, stigmatizes them as "drunken, vicious and profane."  They journeyed from the south, say their traditions and had no doubt inherited the vices of the various tribes with whom they contended in their wanderings northward, and hence, were ever ready to carry out the murderous designs of the French.

We have just learned what a scourge these Indians were to the frontier settlers of our own and neighboring counties, but we have scarce given in these pages a tithe of the suffering they caused, for they prowled about, night and day, seeking the unsuspecting moment to strike a fatal blow.

The record made by the sons of Perry during the Revolutionary struggle will be found in chronological order, under "The War Record".  It is worthy of a people who had so recently passed  the trials of which these pages bear a record.

Settlers occupied the lands from time to time in Pfoutz's Valley, along the Juniata and in Sherman's Valley.

The first land located by order from the Land Office, in Pfoutz's Valley, was by John Pfoutz, in 1755.  He was the first considerable land owner, by any right, hence had the honor of giving his name to the valley.  This valley was principally a German settlement.  The Germans either entered the lands themselves, at the Land Office or bought them second-hand from the pioneer Scotch-Irish who moved farther west.

Pfoutz's Valley is still characteristically a German settlement, though there are many persons unable to converse in any but the English language.  For our fertile soil the German is slowly exchanging his language; his children receive an English education, in the free schools, without dissent.  In fact, many of our best scholars were the children of German parents.

Pfoutz's Valley has a Lutheran, a Reformed and a Methodist church, with public worship frequently held in the school-houses.  

Although the soil of Perry county was first settled by English-speaking people, the farming population is now largely composed of German origin.  

The first settlement of Wildcat Valley, known as the settlements of the Juniata, were on the place now owned by James Patterson, by Joshua North, Esq., who owned a tannery where the stone farm-house now stands.  Martin Derr settled the property on which Capt. Joseph Ulsh now resides.  The Jacob Leas property was located and improved by William North.  John Shuman first improved, though David Miller was the patentee of the land, the Shuman property.  He built the mill which is still known as "Shuman's mill."  Conrad Steiger first settled and improved the property now owned by Henry Martin.  Davy Crcokett settled the farm recently owned by John Marshall.  Daniel Baker made the improvement rights on the farms owned by Henry Nipple and Benjamin Long.  John Sweezy settled the David Sarver farm.  John Betz settled the property owned by Reuben Grubb.

Old Mr. Ellmaker of the third generation, back from Enos and Reuben, who emigrated to Iowa when young men, and have since removed to the Willamette Valley, Oregon, was the pioneer settler of properties now owned by David Buchanan, John Gruff and Wesley M. Cauffman.  Charles Wright, Sen., cleared the farm out of the woods which is now owned by George Wright.  The places mentioned were the oldest settled portions of the valley, and do not date back further than the close of the Revolutionary War, when many emigrants from the eastern portion of the State removed west of the Blue Mountains.  There are three churches in the valley, Christ's Lutheran, in Liverpool township, built in 1844; Liberty Hall church, and Wright's church, in Greenwood twp.

Lewis Forge was east of Millerstown, on Cocalamus creek, in Pfoutz's Valley, and from all we can learn was operated as early as 1800.  The old forge hammer, broken through the eye, still remains in the dried-up race, while the stone abutment breastwork of the dam, on the east side of the creek, may still be see.   During our boyhood days the cabins were occupied by negroes.

The "old forge" with the legend variously told (the following is the substance of the various versions) of the Devil's Hole, about a mile distant, gave our daily cow-hunts an interest, and ofttimes a dread that will not soon be forgotten.

The legend of Forge Hill has sufficient local interest to claim the following recital:  Before Lewis's forge was in operation, it is related that the devil contracted with three men to prepare him an underground dwelling, and secure him a black sheep, without a white spot on it, until he should come to examine them.  A specified time was agreed upon for the completion of this subterranean abode, for which, and the sheep, the builders were to receive a half-bushel of silver dollars.  The work was completed, the sheep secured and the laborers awaited the coming of this satanic majesty. Precisely at the appointed time the devil appeared in the air, showing his cloven foot, to the no little discomfit of the builders, as he alighted at the open door of his intended abode.  He proceeded to an examination of the building which was constructed underground of logs, and covered with earth, so that it might appear at the surface nothing more than an elevation of the summit of a hill, requiring a sesame to open it.  The abode was pronounced satisfactory; when the sheep was produced with the greatest confidence that it was black enough to satisfy the requirements.  Imagine their utter astonishment when the devil no sooner saw the sheep than he demanded one of them, declaring that it was not without a white spot, as agreed upon, and in order to convince the contractors that such was the case he lifted it from its feet and turned it upon its back, when, lo, the white spot was there.  This so alarmed one of the men, who was a Dutchman, that he began to cry out:  "Heilig Yasu! Heilig Yasu!" whereupon his insulted devilship departed, taking with him the half bushel of money, leaving the chagrined builders in a bewildered condition, one of whom it is said remained insane during the rest of his life.

This is briefly the legend which has been handed down from parents to children, and firmly believed.  It probably had no better foundation in fact than that this so-called Devil's Hole was a robbers' cave.

As a sequel to the Indian history of this chapter, we present the following sketch:

Simon Girty (spelled Girtee in the old records) was born and raised in the Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania. His parents were Swiss Germans, and were much addicted to the use of strong drink and gambling, both of which became characteristics of Simon.  It was, doubtless, owing to the fact that Simon Girty's parents taught him by example these bad habits, and left him no legacy but one of dishonor, that he forsook the settlements to serve with young Simon Kenton on the frontiers.  He joined the Virginia militia and seemed anxious to distinguish himself as a soldier.  He was disappointed in being promoted and instead, through the influence of his colonel, publicly disgraced.  He fled from the settlements and took up his abode along with a number of others on Sherman's Creek, but here he was again followed by the whites, who burnt his cabin in 1750, and turned him loose to roam the wilds as an outcast under the bans of the law.  He took up his abode with the Wyandotte Indians, with whom he lived a foe to the whites, more cruel and relentless than his adopted people.  He made frequent incursions from the Wyandotte settlement to the Susquehanna. He is said to have slept during his stay at Halffall Hills in a cave next the river in the end of the mountain.  He came here for the purpose of watching the whites at Fort Halifax from the top of this mountain.  The narrow channel in the river at the end of Halffall Hills was named Girty's Notch.  The traveler is reminded of his approach to the notch as he descends the river by the sign "Girty's Notch Hotel."

The subsequent career of this notorious man is rather uncertain. It is probable that he was killed by Col. Clayton, in Kentucky.  It is related that Girty stole Clayton's wife from his home while the latter was with Forbes and Bouquet in the expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1757 and '58.  Clayton returned home after the war to find that his wife had been stolen by an Indian, which he devined to be Girty, whereupon he pursued the renegade with a savage thirst for revenge, and finally met the despoiler of this household on "the dark and bloody soil of Kentucky," where, in a desperate contest, Girty was slain.

Raccoon Valley, Rye township, Cumberland County, was settled by the Blacks, Nobles and Robinsons, in the order named, from the Juniata.

In this selection certain distinctions gave precedence of location.

Their pastor, Rev. Wm. B. Linn, having the preference, chose his portion near Robinson's Fort; the father of the Irvin families, in Saville township, chose their old mansion property; he was joined by Elliot's on the west and he in turn by a younger man, until we reach the Robinson, Noble and Black farms in Raccoon Valley, extending to the Juniata River.  This chain of settlements extended more than twenty miles, and included some of the best and most highly respected citizens of the county.  It is historic for its arrangement o families in chronological order, as well as the noble record made during every war in which its own or the general welfare was endangered.



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This page was last updated on:   02/10/2009

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