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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 G. Freeze, author of History of Columbia County; Hon. John Blair Linn, author of Annals of Buffalo Valley; J. M. M. Gernerd, of Muncy, and publisher author of Now and Then, for much valuable aid. To that veteran historian, John F. Meginness, of Williamsport, I am deeply indebted for assistance in locating a part of the forts, as well as the information derived from his publications, especially his “Otzinachson,” or History of the West Branch Valley; to J. H, MacMinn and Capt. David Bly, of Williamsport, and Capt. R. Stewart Barker, of Lock Haven, for valuable aid; to Wm. Field Shay, Esq., and J. L Higbee, of Watsontown, for information and aid in locating sites of some of the forts; to David Montgomery, at Fort Rice at Montgomery’s for aid: to O B. Melick, Esq. of Bloomsburg, for aid in locating; to M. L. Hendricks, of Sunbury, for gentlemanly aid to the Commission when there; to Dr. R. H. Awl, of the same place, for information to the Commission. We found him a veritable storehouse of knowledge in all pertaining to Fort Augusta, to Sunbury and its surroundings.

I find it impossible to set out the claims of many of these forts to recognition without including the biography in part of some of the most active participants in the stirring events of their date, and consequently, our report will assume greater dimensions than originally expected.

The forts coming within my review according to the decision of the commission, were as follows:

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Buckalew