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Pennsylvania Indian Forts

To the Honorable the Commission appointed by his Excellency, Gov. Robert E. Pattison, under Act of Assembly, approved the 28d day of May, A. D. 1893, to examine and report to the next session of the Legislature upon the advisability of marking by suitable tablets the various forts erected against the Indians by the early settlers of this Commonwealth prior to the year 1783. This committee, having qualified, met in Harrisburg in November, 1893; after organizing, divided the State into five districts, one to each member to examine and report upon to the body at some time agreed upon. This being the time set, I respectfully submit for your inspection and approval the result of my investigations. Commencing my labors soon after returning home from Harrisburg, I found my territory, which comprised old Northumberland County, with her ample limits contained fifteen or sixteen of these forts, many of whose sites were unknown to the great mass of our citizens. Three to five generations had passed away since the stirring scenes that made these forts necessary had been enacted; in some cases the descendants of the early settlers had removed or the families died out of the knowledge of the present generation. One would wonder at this was he not acquainted with the settling up of the great West, where, for seventy or more years poured a steady stream of emigrants, who, I am happy to say, have done no discredit to the State rearing them. Those paying attention to archeology invariably assisted me to the extent of their ability whenever called upon. I am deeply indebted to Col. John...

Fort McClure, Columbia County, Pennsylvania

Col. Freeze says, the year 1777 and the next four or five following, were years of great activity and danger in the Indian fighting in and about what was originally Columbia county. The regular military authorities had done their best to protect the frontiers of the Pennsylvania settlements, but they had few officers and fewer men to spare from the Federal army, and therefore, the defense of the settlements fell upon the local heroes and heroines of the Forts of the Susquehanna. A chain of forts, more or less protective had been constructed, reaching from the West Branch to the North Branch of the Susquehanna, comprising Fort Muncy, Fort Freeland, Fort Montgomery, Bosley’s Mills, Fort Wheeler and Fort Jenkins. The great war path through the valley, known as the “The Fishing Creek Path,” started on the flats, near Bloomsburg, on the North Branch, up Fishing creek to Orangeville, on to near Long Pond, now called Ganoga Lake, thence across to Tunkhannock creek.1 It was on this very path that Van Campen, the most prominent Indian fighter on the North Branch was captured, in 1780, and no man better than he knew the great necessities of the section. The destruction of Fort Jenkins in 1780 had exposed the right flank of the protecting forts and the Indian marauders made wild work among our defenseless frontiers. On his (Van Campen’s) return from captivity he assisted in organizing a new force, repairing the forts dismantled or abandoned, and also stockaded the residence of Mrs. James McClure, and the place was thereafter known as McClure’s Fort. It is on the north bank of...

Fort Horn, Clinton County, Pennsylvania

Fort Horn was erected on a high flat extending out to the river and commanding a good view of the river up and down, as well as the north side of the river; is about midway between Pine and McElhattan Stations on the P. & E. R. R., west of Fort Antes. It was a place of refuge for those hardy settlers on the Indian lands on the north side of the river, as well as the residents on the Pennsylvania lands on which it was built. The river lands on the north side were outside the purchase of 1768, from the Lycoming creek up the river westward. These settlers were adventurous, hardy, brave. When I say they were mostly Scotch-Irish it will be understood they were also law abiding. As they were outside the limits of the laws of the Province, they had formed a code of their own and administered it impartially. In troublous times now upon these communities they all stood shoulder to shoulder, proving the saying that blood is thicker than water. A few soldiers are said to have been stationed here and the settlers on both sides the river joined them in scouting duty, sending word to those below of approaching danger; several light skirmishes took place between the men of the fort and the Indians, in which several lives were lost. On an alarm, the inhabitants of the north side placed their families in canoes and paddled to Antes, Horn and Reid’s forts; when danger passed over their families would return. Accompanied by John F. Meginness, the historian, J. H. MacMinn, a great-grandson...

Fort Reid at Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania

Fort Reid was the most westerly of the line of defenses thrown out in advance of Fort Augusta, for the purpose of covering that place and as a rallying place for the inhabitants and the scouts when hard pressed. The Continental Army had drawn largely upon the young active men of the region, leaving those less ht for active service at home to cope with an enemy, the most active and wily in border warfare of this kind in the world. In this forest country, with the inhabitants isolated by the size of their land claims, he could lay in wait, concealed for weeks if necessary, to await an opportunity to strike the settler when off his guard or in a situation in which he could offer least effective opposition. Not hampered with baggage, never troubled about keeping open his communications, as he could glide through where a fox might pass, and as noiselessly; armed by his master with the best of arms the time afforded, while the pioneers could scarcely procure ammunition enough to keep his family in meat; the Indian was bountifully furnished from the ample storehouses of the English. One naturally wonders how, with all the disadvantages against him, the settler held out so long; his staying qualities were wonderful; with these strengthened houses inadequately garrisoned as the only refuge for his family, he was a man who elicits our admiration. Reid’s Fort was the dwelling house of Mr. William Reid, stockaded in the spring of 1777; its location is on Water or River Street, in the built up part of the town east of the...
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