Fort Menninger, Union County, Pennsylvania
Fort Menninger was erected at White Deer Mills, or at the time of building the Widow Smith’s mills; it was built about eighty rods from the river, on the north bank of White Deer creek, covering the Widow Smith’s mills, to which a gun barrel boring establishment was added in 1776, and is said to have turned out a good many of that much needed article. The fort was situated west of the mills forming the apex of an irregular triangle of which the mills formed one base and the small stone house, said to have been erected by the Widow Smith before the Revolution, which is not doubted, the other; its walls are two feet thick, and the building is in good condition, having a more modern addition to it at present. The fort and mills were abandoned at the time of the Big Runaway in 1779, and the fort burned by the Indians July 8, 1779. In John B. Linn’s Annals of Buffalo Valley, pp. 239 and 249, we find: “In a petition to the Assembly of this year, 1785, by Catharine Smith, sets forth that she was left a widow with ten children with no estate to support this family except a location for three hundred acres of land, including the mouth of White Deer creek, whereon is a good mill seat, and a gristmill and sawmill being much wanted in this new country at that time, she was often solicited to erect said mills, which were of great advantage to the country, and the following summer built a boring mill, where a great number of gun barrels were bored for the continent, and a hemp mill. The Indian war soon after coming on, one of her sons, her greatest help, went into the army and, it is believed, was killed, as he never returned. The said mills soon became a frontier and, in July 1779, the Indians burned the whole works. She returned to the ruins in 1783, and was again solicited to rebuild the grist and saw mills, which she has, with much difficulty, accomplished, and now ejectments are brought against her by Messrs. Claypool and Morris, and she, being now reduced to such low circumstances as renders her unable to support actions at law, and therefore, prays relief, &c. The Legislature, of course, could grant no relief under the circumstances and the petition was dismissed.” She is said to have gone to Philadelphia and back thirteen times on this business. Her house was where Doctor Danonsky now (1874) lives, on the Henry High place, part of the old stone house being used as a kitchen. Rolly McCorley, who recollects the mill last built by her, said it was a small round log mill.” A part of the foundation of this mill serves the same purpose in the fine modern mill of today owned by Captain David Bly, of Williamsport, who was born here and pointed out where, when a boy, he saw the remains of Fort Menninger removed from. Fort Menninger was built in the spring of 1778. Troops were stationed here a part of the time after its destruction. In November 1779, fourteen men were stationed here, and most probably occupied the Widow Smith’s stone house.
Gen. James Potter (In Pennsylvania Archives, Vol. Viii. P. 562) under date of Sept. 18, 1780, says: “I marched the remainder, consisting of 170 men up the West Branch to Fort Swarts. I then went to Col. Kelly, who lay at the mouth of White Deer creek, with 80 men.”