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Over the years, Indian arrowheads have been found along Sherman's Creek in New Germantown, Blain, Millerstown and Duncan's Island, as well as many other places in and around Perry County.

It is recorded in the provincial records that the area known today as Perry County was of great importance to the Indians.  It was a famous hunting ground.

One of the earliest records of Indians in Pennsylvania is the "Jesuit Relations of 1659".  It tells of a ten-year war between the Mohawks and the Pennsylvania Indians. By the end of the war, the Mohawks were nearly wiped out.

Captain John Smith, of Virginia, gives one of the first descriptions of Pennsylvania Indians.  Chief Powhatan had told him about a mighty nation (in Pennsylvania) that "did eat men".  Smith stated, "Many kingdoms he described to me to the head of the bay, which seemed to be a mighty river, issuing from mighty mountains betwixt two seas."  Captain Smith was able to locate an Indian that understood Powhatan's language.  Smith asked to meet other Indians; the Indian returned with sixty other Indians, which Smith described as "gyant like people."  From a description given by the Indians, one of the oldest maps of the inland regions of Pennsylvania was drawn.  Five Indian towns were included on the map.  The 2nd lowest down was called "Attaock"-- which corresponds with the Juniata; perhaps the village later known as Juniata, on Duncan's Island.  These Indians were reportedly of the "Andaste tribes", who used the dialects of the "throat-speaking Iroquois."  The Iroquois used no lip sounds, they spoke from the throat with an open mouth.  Smith described their voices as "hellish". Captain Smith found that the natives were fearful of the "great water men", who regularly dwelt along the Potomac and Susquehanna.  He reportedly met 7 canoe loads of these men, but was unable to understand any of their language.

In 1614, 3 Dutch settlers from Albany came down the Susquehanna and crossed to the Lehigh and the Delaware.  They were eventually captured by the Minequas.  A paper map, which traces their travels, identifies a tribe called "lottecas", west of the Susquehanna, in the location of the Juniata River.  Another map, which was published in 1655, almost accurately places the Susquehanna, but does not identify the West Branch of the Juniata.  Over the next 50 years, approximately 15 more maps appeared, all using almost the same river outline.  On each of these maps where the Juniata belongs, appears the name of a tribe called "onojutta Haga".  'Onojutta' meaning a projecting stone and 'Hage' meaning people or tribe (Mohawk).  

The Iroqoius (or Five Nations) began their conquest, aided by firearms purchased from the Dutch, around 1640.  The Andaste tribe in Pennsylvania, which included the "Standing Stone" Indians on the Juniata, were either subdued and/or incorporated into the Iroquois own tribes.  The Iroquois claimed all the lands of the Susquehanna and it's branches, selling the lands to William Penn and his heirs.  They referred to this region as "the Susquehanna River, which we won with the sword."

The area known today as Perry County was at that time, a deserted space.  Around 1713-14, with the consent of the 5 Nations, the Tuscaroras (originally from the Carolina's area), were allowed to settle here, "on the Juniata, in a secluded interior, not far from the Susquehanna River."  The Delawares (aka- Leni Lenape) settled here c1720-30 and later, the Shawnee.  

The great trail or path to the southwest was called the "Tuscarora Path", most likely called such because of the tribes settlements in the area.  They were located in the part of Perry County called Raccoon Valley ( and in Tuscarora Valley in Juniata Co., and Path Valley in Franklin Co.).  

There was an Indian trail that went west along the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers.  This trail crossed at what is now known as Clark's Ferry (at Duncannon).  Another trail went over the Blue Mountain at what is now known as Sterrett's Gap (aka- Croghan's Gap)-- also known as the Allegheny Path.  A trail also went over the same mountain at McClure's Gap, crossing the Tuscarora Mountain.  

As late as 1745, an Indian village was located opposite the west end of Duncannon, on Duncan's Island.  It was known as "Choiniata" or "Juneauta".

It appears that an Indian village was once located near Cisna Run.  The village was probably on the lands owned, at one time, by George Bryner and W. H. Loy.  It was on the north side of Sherman's Creek, on a branch of the creek.  In 1919, Mr. Bryner was able to point out (to H. H. Hain) a mound, near Sherman's Valley Railroad, that looked like a small knoll.  Mr. Bryner stated that the late William Adair said that it was once the site of an Indian log hut.  

An Indian cornfield was once located in a bottom field on Sherman's Creek-- opposite the point where Moose Mill was located and between the Bryner and Loy homes.  Around 1919, in the same vicinity, the following items were unearthed by a plow:  Indian tomahawk, tanning stones, skinning stones and many arrowheads.  On the farm once owned by A.N. Lyons, William Adair reportedly plowed up an Indian soapstone pot.  All the previously mentioned farms (Bryner & Loy, and Lyons/Adair) are located on the old Indian trail (aka-- "bridle path").  The path was on Bower's Mountain, opposite Cisna Run, from where it crossed west to Kistler and around the foot of the Conococheague Mountain to Juniata County and to the west.

Even after the pioneers began to settle in the county, there were some Indians that would not leave with their tribes.  They chose to stay in their homes rather than move on.  

An old Indian that resided near Warm Springs in Carroll Township, was known as "Indian John".  There is also a story regarding an Indian woman, who lived near Cisna Run, who reportedly ate corn-bread with the late Mrs. Cisna (the grandmother of Dr. W.R. Cisna).

The Hunter family reportedly resided on a tract of land located between Blain and New Germantown (this being the same land that was later sold to Mr. Briner in 1809).  It is said that during an Indian invasion, a boy and girl from this family were captured by Indians. The girl reportedly escaped and was able to return home, but the boy did not.  The Hunter boy was reportedly heard from, many years later, by a George Black.  

There is "legendary evidence" that an Indian Burial Ground is located in Blain, at the old Presbyterian Cemetery.  There have been many arrowheads found in this area and also, while digging a new grave one time, two skulls were found against one another, with the skeletons extending in opposite directions.  It is believed that it was customary for Indians to bury their dead in this manner.

An Indian grave reportedly exists on Quaker Ridge, near Warm Springs.  It is surrounded by pine trees.

In Carroll Township, on the old Burrell farm, the elderly residents recall the legend that three Indians are buried here.


History of Perry County, Pennsylvania; H. H. Hain; Harrisburg; 1922.



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This page was last updated on:   02/16/2009

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