History of Erie Co., Pennsylvania
Chicago: Warnerm Beers & Co., 1884
CONTAINING A HISTORY OF THE COUNTY; ITS TOWNSHIPS, TOWNS.
VILLAGES, SCHOOLS, CHURCHES, INDUSTRIES, ETC; PORTRAITS OF
EARLY SETTLERS AND PROMINENT MEN; BIOGRAPHIES;
HISTORY OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATISTICAL AND
MISCELLANEOUS MATTER, ETC., ETC.
I L L U S T R A T E D.
WARNER, BEERS & CO.,
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IN entering upon the publication of a history of Erie County, the difficulty and importance of the task were not underestimated by the publishers. A desire for such a work has long existed, a work that would faithfully present a correct, concise and clean record of events, beginning with the Indian tribes that once inhabited the land, thence tracing its history down to the present period.
The burning of the court house, on the 23d of March, 1823, which destroyed the records of the first twenty years after the organization of the county, has ever been a source of annoyance to those tracing the original titles to lands through the names of the first settlers. This work shows where the titles of the lands in Erie County originated, to whom the first sales were made, and the locations of the earliest pioneers, thus supplying many missing links in the fabric of its recorded history.
The book may be said to have had its inception in 1879, when Mr. Benjamin Whitman, having sold the Erie Observer, which he had edited since January, 1861, made a number of short tours over the county for the joint purpose of reviving old friendships and settling his outstanding accounts. After one or two trips he commenced writing up a series of articles for the Observer under the heading of "County Jaunts," and finding them received with favor, conceived the idea of expanding them into a history of the county. The effort of Mr. Whitman was more to give a plain and correct statement of facts than to indulge in fine writing, for which, it is needless to add, there is little opportunity in a work of this kind. His manuscript was purchased by the publishers, and is mainly embodied in the book.
He was largely aided in the collecting of his matter by Capt. N. W. Russell, whose father, Mr. Hamlin Russell, when on his death bed in l852, after a residence of half a century in Erie County, said to him, "I have made, a great mistake in not keeping, for the good of future generations, a historical record of the advent and progress of the early settlers. Your retentive memory can yet collect them, and put them in a shape that will be of great use to the inhabitants hereafter. Promise me you will do so." The promise was given, and has been fulfilled to a considerable extent in this work. "In the preparation of the matter," says Mr. Whitman, "Capt. N. W. Russell, of Mill Creek Township, deserves very large credit. His remembrance of early events is remarkable, and to his valuable assistance I owe more than I can express. His frequent sketches on historical subjects, printed in the newspapers, were really the foundation of the book, and in many cases I have not done much more than to elaborate his articles. Mr. Russell has, also, revised all the proof, and vouches for the correctness of the historical matter."
For the convenience of its readers, the book has been divided into five parts. The outline history of the State, contained in Part I, is from the pen
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of Prof. Samuel P. Bates, of Meadville. The history of Erie County, included in Part II, was compiled by Mr. Whitman, with the aid of Mr. Russell, as above stated. The history of the city of Erie, in Part III, was written by Mr. R. C. Brown, of Chicago, Ill., excepting Chapter IV, which is from the pen of Mr. F. E. Weakley, of Lebanon, Ohio. The township histories, in Part IV, embrace a portion of the matter furnished by Messrs. Whitman and Russell, with additions by Messrs. F. E. Weakley and J. B. Mansfield; while the biographical sketches in Part V, were collected by a corps of solicitors, and a proof of each sketch submitted by mail to each subject for correction. It is due to Mr. Whitman to add that the township sketches prepared by him were much more full than they appear in the book, the limits to which the publishers were obliged to confine themselves not allowing space for all of his matter.
The publication of such a work, for a patronage limited to a single county was a hazardous undertaking, and much solicitude was felt by the publishers on this account during the first stages of the enterprise, but whatever their misgivings, they were soon dispelled by the liberal patronage of the people of the county. An earnest effort has been made to render the book reliable and attractive, and to more than fulfill every promise made in the prospectus.
Acknowledgments are due to County, Township, (]ity and Borough officials, old settlers, members of the various professions and to citizens throughout the county, for favors and generous assistance in the preparation of the work.
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INTRODUCTORY -- CORNELIS JACOBSON MEY, 1624 -25 WILLIAM VAN HULST, 1625 - 26 -- PETER MINUIT, 1626 - 33 -- DAVID PETERSEN DE VRIES, 1632 - 33 -- WOULTER VAN TWILLER, 1633-38.
16 HISTORY OF PENNSYLVANIA.
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ERIE COUNTY constitutes constitutes the extreme northwestern point of Pennsylvania, and is the only portion of the State that borders on Lake Erie. It is bounded on the north by Lake Erie, on the east by Chautauqua County, N. Y, and Warren County, Penn., on the south by Crawford County, Penn., and on the west by Ashtabula County, Ohio. The length of the county along the lake is about forty-five miles, along the Chautauqua and Warren County lines thirty-six miles, along that of Crawford County forty-five miles, and along the Ohio line nine miles. It contains 745 square miles, or 476,515 square acres. Its mean or center latitude is forty-two degrees north, and its longitude is three degrees west from Washington.
Up to the 24th of September, 1788, all of the State lying west of the Alleghany Mountains was embraced in Westmoreland and Washington Counties. On that date, the section north of the Ohio and west of the Allegheny to the Ohio line was set off as a new county, which was named after the latter river. Pittsburgh was designated as its county seat. The population was sparse, and it was not until ten years later that a necessity arose in the Northwest for a separate governmental organization. On the 4th of April, 1798, Erie Township was erected with the identical limits of the present county.
COUNTY AND TOWNSHIP ORGANIZATION.The counties of Erie, Butler, Beaver, Crawford, Mercer, Venango and Warren were created by an act of the Legislature of March 12, 1800, their seats of justice being named at the same time. Being unable to sustain a separate organization, five of these, Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Venango and Warren, were united in one organization for governmental purposes, with the general title of Crawford County, under an act passed April 9, 1801. The county seat was at Meadville, and one set of county officers and one member of the Assembly served for the whole five. This relation continued until 1803, when the first county officers were elected in Erie County.
The townships originally established in Erie County were sixteen in number, as follows:
Brokenstraw, Beaver Dam, "Coniaute," "Conniat," Elk Creek, Fairview, Greenfield, Harbor Creek, "Le Boeuff," Mill Creek, McKean, North East, Springfield, Union, Venango, Waterford.
The following townships have been added, making twenty-one in all: Amity, Franklin, Girard, Summit, Wayne.
The name of Brokenstraw was changed to Concord in 1821.
138 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Amity was taken from Union in 1826.
Wayne was formed out of Concord in 1826.
Girard was set off from Elk Creek, Fairview and Springfield in 1832.
The name of "Coniaute" was changed to Washington in 1834.
That of Beaver Dam was changed to Greene in 1840.
Franklin was created out of parts of Washington, McKean and Elk Creek in 1844.
Summit was formed out of Greene, Waterford and McKean in 1854.
CITIES, BOROUGHS AND VILLAGES.The following is a list of the cities, boroughs and villages in the county, with their distances from Erie by railroad and common road. The distances by common road are by the most direct routes, measuring from the city parks. Those by rail, via the Philadelphia & Erie road, are from the water's edge at the foot of State street, and those by the Lake Shore and Erie & Pittsburgh roads are from the Union Depot. The stars (*) in the first column of figures indicate that the towns are not upon the lines of railroad, but can be reached from Erie partly by rail and partly by common road. In such cases the distances are given as by the railroad station that is generally used, as, for instance, Girard, West Girard and Lockport by way of Miles Grove, Algion, Wellsburg and Cranesville by way of Albion Depot; Wattsburg and Lowville by way of Union City, and so on. Where but one set of figures is opposite a name, it is an indication that the place is reached by common road only:
PLACES BY WHAT RAILROAD DISTANCE BY RAIL DISTANCE BY PUBLIC ROAD Albion Depot E. & P. 26 25 Albion Borough* E. & P. 27 24 Avonia L. S. & E. & P. 12 12.5 Belle Valley* P. & E. 7 4 Branchville -------------- ----- 12 Beaver Dam* P. & E. 34.5 26 Cherry Hill* L. S. & E. & P. 30 27 Corry P. & E. 37 33 Cranesville* E. & P. 27 23 Draketown -------------- ----- 18 Edinboro -------------- ----- 18 Edenville* P. & E. 25.5 22 East Springfield* L. S. 22.5 21 Elgin P. & E. 32 28 Freeport* L. S. 16.5 16 Fairview Borough* L. S. & E. & P. 12 12 Franklin Centre -------------- ----- 17 Girard Borough* L. S. & E. & P. 17.5 16 Grahamville* L. S. 18.5 18.5 Greenfield Village* L. S. 24 18 Harbor Creek Village L. S. 8 7.5 Hatch Hollow* P. & E. 31 18 Kearsage -------------- ----- 4 Keepville E. & P. 28 26.5 Lockport* L. S. 21.5 20 Lowville* P. & E. 37 18 Lovell's Station P. & E. 34 30 Le Boeuf Station P. & E. 22.5 19 McLellan's Corners -------------- ----- 21 Mooreheadville L. S. 11 10.5 McLane -------------- ----- 14 Middleboro -------------- ----- 10
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Miles Grove L. S. & E. & P. 15.5 16 Mill Town -------------- ----- 14.5 Mill Village P. & E. & A. & G. W. 34 19 Manchester* L. S. & E. & P. 10 10 Northville L. S. 20 19 North East Borough L. S. 15 15 North Springfield L. S. 20 21 Phillipsville -------------- ----- 14 Pageville* E. & P. 32 28 Sterrettania -------------- ----- 12 Swanville L. S. & E. & P. 9 9 St. Boniface -------------- ----- 7.5 Union City P. & E. 27 23 West Greene -------------- ----- 12 Weigleville -------------- ----- 2.5 Wesleyville L. S. 4 4.5 West Girard* L. S. & E. & P. 18 16.5 West Springfield* L. S. & E. & P. 27 25 Wellsburg* E. & P. 28 24 Wattsburg* P. & E. 35 20 Waterford Borough* P. & E. 19.5 14 Waterford Station P. & E. 19 14 Warrentown ------------------ ----- 3All points in the county accommodated by the Lake Shore Railroad can also by reached by the N. Y., C. & St. L., or "Nickel Plate" road.
The classification of the above places is as follows:
Cities -- Erie and Corry, 2.
Boroughs -- Albion, Edinboro, Elgin, Fairview, Girard, Lockport, Middleboro, Mill Village, North East, Union City, Wattsburg and Waterford, 12.
All of the rest are unincorporated villages, ranging in extent from a dozen to a hundred buildings, with a population of 50 to 450.
ORGANIZATION OF CITIES, BOROUGHS.Erie was incorporated as a borough in 1805, having previously formed a part of Mill Creek Township; divided into two wards in 1840; granted a city charter in 1851; and divided into four wards in 1858. South Erie was set off from Mill Creek Township and incorporated as a borough in 1866; consolidated with the city in 1870, and became the Fifth and Sixth wards, some additions having been made from Mill Creek.
The following shows the years in which the boroughs were incorporated:
Waterford, 1833; Wattsburg, 1834; North East, 1834; Edinboro, 1840; Girard, 1846; Algion, 1861; Middleboro, 1861; Union Mills, 1863; Fairview, 1868; Mill Village, 1870; Lockport, 1870; Elgin, 1876.
Corry was established as a borough in 1863, and granted a city charter in 1866. It is divided into the First and Second Wards, each constituting an election district. The name of Union Mills Borough was changed to Union City July 4, 1871.
ELECTION DISTRICTS.Below is a list of the election districts in the county, alphabetically arranged. They are fifty in number:
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HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 145
THE surface of Erie County is divided into five distinct sections, viz.: The Lake Shore plain, the series of dividing ridges, the valleys between the ridges, the valleys of French Creek and its tributaries and the high lands south of the last-named stream.
Four separate ranges of hills extend across the county from east to west, known respectively as the First, Second, Third and Fourth Ridges. The First Ridge rises to a height of 100 to 150 feet above Lake Erie, the Second to about 400, and the height of the Third and Fourth Ridges varies from 600 to 1,200 feet, their most elevated summits being in the eastern portion of McKean, the western portion of Waterford, the northern portion of Venango and the southern part of Greenfield. The separation of the ridges becomes more clearly defined along a line drawn through Harbor Creek, Mill Creek, Summit Waterford and McKean Townships than further east, but from there westward each ridge is as distinct as though it belonged to a system of its own. As the Third and Fourth Ridges extend westward they receded from the lake, until they run into Crawford County.
Three continuous valleys cross the county between the ridges, from the line above mentioned, broken in places by slight elevations, and known in succession as the Mill Creek, the Walnut Creek and the Elk Creek Valleys. These streams rise on the high ground of the Third and Fourth Ridges, and, after flowing westward for some distance down their respective valleys, suddenly turn to the north and break through the First and Second Ridges by a series of deep "gulfs" or gullies, which are a striking feature of the region. North of the First Ridge and between it and Lake Erie is a broad alluvial tract, from two to three miles in width, which extends along the whole water front of the county. Its general height above the lake is from fifty to sixty feet, but in the eastern part of Harbor Creek Township its elevation suddenly rises to nearly 100 feet and so continues almost to the New York line.
South of the dividing ridges are the valleys of French Creek and of the streams which empty into it, and still beyond are the hills which form the water-shed between that stream and Brokenstraw, Spring and Oil Creeks. The water on the north side of the main ridge flows into Lake Erie and on the south side to the Allegheny River. The dividing line between the waters is some eight miles south of Lake Erie in Greenfield and Greene Townships, twelve mile, in Summit, fourteen in Waterford, McKean and Washington, and sixteen in Franklin and Elk Creek. Along French, Walnut, Elk, Conneaut, Mill, Big Conneauttee, Little Conneauttee and Le Boeuf Creeks, Hatch Hollow Alder Run, Beaver Dam Run and the outlet of Lake Pleasant are very handsome valleys, from a quarter of a mile to more than a mile in width. The elevation between the Walnut Creek Valley and that of the West Branch of Le Boeuf Creek, both rising in Summit Township, is quite low; so moderate, indeed, that it is barely noticeable. The sides and summits of the ridges are much cut up with ravines, though considerable stretches of country are as level as the valleys.
146 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
The Pennsylvania State Geological Report gives the following as the elevations above tide-water of the points named: Surface of Lake Erie, 573-7/10 feet, Philadelphia & Erie Railroad summit between Walnut and Le Boeuf Creeks, 1,229; hill-tops on each side of the same summit, 1,355; hill-tops in western Waterford and eastern McKean, 1,470; Philadelphia & Erie Railroad station at Union City, 1,270; hill-tops southwest of Union City, 1,301; railroad station at Corry, 1,431; hill-tops east of Corry, 1,500; hill-tops south of Corry, 1,725; hill-tops along the Little Conneauttee, 1,196; hill-tops southwest of Edinboro, 1,400.
Jutting out from the mainland, in Mill Creek Township, is the peninsula of Presque Isle, which forms the bay of Presque Isle, the harbor of the city of Erie. It is a low sand bank, washed up by the action of the waves, some seven miles in length, and varying in width from a few rods to a mile and a half. Except at its head and foot, it is covered with trees and shrubs of almost every variety that grows in this latitude. The peninsula is indented with several shallow ponds, one or two of which run half way across Long Point. A peninsula of similar character, but much longer and wider, just out from the Canada Shore opposite, making the space between the narrowest portion of Lake Erie.
THE LAND -- ITS CHARACTERISTICS AND VALUE.The Lake Shore Plain has in general a sandy soil, while immediately south of it, along the First Ridge, is a wide and continuous strip of gravel. The valleys between the ridge are a mixture of clay and sand, making a mellow soil that is easy to work. On the high lands and slopes of the ridges, the soil is mostly of a clayey nature, somewhat damp and cold. That of the valleys of the French Creek system is a rich alluvial deposit corresponding in character to bottom lands the country over.
The lands which are generally regarded as the best in the county for farming purposes are those bordering upon Lake Erie. This favored section produces every kind of grain, fruit, vegetable, etc., common to the temperate regions. The lake tempers the climate so that it is less troubled by frosts than regions many miles south, and as fine melons, grapes, peaches, strawberries, etc., are raised as in any part of the State. A belt of swamp land about half a mile wide originally extended along the Lake Shore Plain, in an east and west direction, from Twelve Mile Creek to the Ohio boundary. Most of this has been drained, and is now fertile land. East of Mill Creek, on the line of the swamp, the rock comes nearer to the surface than west, and the results have been less gratifying.
The valleys of the French Creek system are equally fertile, perhaps, but are subject to frosts, which prevent the successful culture of the ore delicate fruits. On the high lands the frosts are less troublesome, but the nature of the soil adapts them best for grazing. Fruits of most kinds do better than in the valleys, but wheat, except in detached spots, does not succeed as well, and some of the more elevated townships do not raise enough of that grain to supply them with bread. Off of the lake shore the attention of the farmers is mainly given to dairying, which may be said to be the leading industry of the county. Aside from wheat, every other kind of grain does well in all sections. That grain has of late years, however, been grown with considerable success in various portions of the county south of the lake shore, and it is possible that in time it will be generally cultivated. The apple crop is everywhere sure and prolific. Large quantities of this fruit and of potatoes are annually shipped to the Southern and Eastern markets. A good deal of hay is baled in
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HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 149
the southern townships and shipped by rail. Hundreds of tons of butter are sent from the county to the large cities, where the Erie County make ranks with the best. Within the last ten years, cheese factories have been started in almost every township, which manufacture immense quantities of that product.
The price of land differs very much, according to its location. Along the lake shore, speaking only of farms that are outside the influence of the towns, very little land can be purchased for less than $75 an acre, and its value runs from that to $200. On the bottoms of French creek and its tributaries, the price is from $50 to $100. The high lands are estimated to be worth as low as $25 and as high as $75. In a few choice spots, the value of the latter is little less than that of the valley lands, but, as a rule, they bring a lower price. The highest priced farming lands are in the vicinity of Erie, Girard, North East, Fairview and Waterford, and the lowest priced are in Greenfield, Elk Creek, Franklin and Wayne.
CLIMATE, GEOLOGY AND TIMBER.The climate is more moderate than would be thought from the high northern latitude. The county lies within the same isothermal lines as Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania generally, but, while the average temperature corresponds with that section, there is less sultry weather in summer and more piercing wind in winter and spring. This is due to the proximity of Lake Erie, which has a wonderful effect upon the atmosphere. To the same influence is due the fact that the seasons are from one to two weeks earlier on the lake shore than they are in the southern part of the county, and that peaches, melons and grapes grow successfully in the first section, while they are almost a total failure in the other. It sometimes happens that good sleighing prevails in the southern townships when the ground is bare along the lake. In the spring, especially if ice is on Lake Erie, the winds are somewhat trying to those who are not acclimated, but this brief period of unpleasant weather is more than recompensed by the delightful summers, the freedom from fogs and miasmas, and the purity of the water. On the south side of the dividing ridge frosts are frequent in the late spring and early fall, but nothing of the kind is known along Lake Erie, except at the seasonable period of the year. The winters and summers are about of equal length, but it is seldom that either are extreme or unendurable. For at least six months in the year, the county is as delightful a place of residence as the most fastidious could desire.
A peculiarity of the county is the scarcity of stone, of which barely enough is found for ordinary home use. The entire lake front is underlaid to a height of four to seven feet above the water's edge with a body of soft slate, which is practically valueless for building purposes. The only quarries of much account are in Franklin, Le Boeuf, Summit and Waterford Townships, and these do not consist of vast masses of rock, but are merely thin layers, one above the other, ranging from five to twenty feet in total thickness. The stone is hard, of good quality and easily worked, but is saturated with oil, which causes it to blemish after exposure. Small quarries are found in Fairview, Washington, Amity, Venango, McKean and Union, but are rarely worked to advantage. There is little surface stone, and the most that is found consists of boulders that have been thrown up by some convulsion of nature.
When the county was first opened to settlement it was covered with a dense forest, consisting mainly of pine, hemlock, chestnut, walnut, cucumber, beech and maple. Perhaps two-thirds of the land has been cleared, and but little good timber is left. The pine and hemlock of the French Creek Valley were largely rafted to Pittsburgh. That of the lake shore was shipped to Cleveland,
150 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Buffalo and the New York markets. The county does not furnish building material enough now for home use, and at the rate the forests are disappearing it will not be long until there will be barely sufficient for ordinary farm purposes.
MINERALS, OIL WELLS, ETC.No minerals of any kind have ever been found in the county, except small deposits of iron, of the grade known as bog ore, in Mill Creek and Elk Creek Townships, and a few unimportant beds of marl in Waterford, Wayne and Le Boeuf. None of these are extensive enough to be considered worth working at present, though the iron ore was used to a slight extent during the early history of the stove manufacture.
Mineral springs, the waters of which are of a medicinal character, have been discovered in different localities. One in Elk Creek Township has considerable reputation and is much visited. Another in Erie, near the corner of Eighth and Chestnut streets, was once quite widely known.
Before the days of canals and railroads, a number of salt wells were put down at various points, and the manufacture of salt was carried on to a considerable extent. The most valuable of these were along the East Branch of Conneaut Creek, near Wellsburg. A salt spring still flows in Springfield, and salt licks prevailed in almost every township.
A great many test wells for oil have been bored, nearly every section having had from three to half a dozen experiments of that character. With scarcely an exception, a small yield of oil has resulted, but not enough to encourage the belief that it will be found in paying quantities. The most promising territory is in Union, Franklin and along Mill Creek, in Erie City. The Althof well in Erie produced oil enough for many years to warrant the expense of pumping. The oil that has been got in the county is of the heavy kind used for lubricating purposes. Natural gas is found almost everywhere by boring. The wells put down for oil have invariably yielded gas in a heavy volume, and in Erie it has been used in a number of instances for light and fuel. In the course of time, the gas diminishes and the wells lose their value.
Several extensive sink holes have been encountered, the best known of which is on the line of the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, near Waterford. They undoubtedly mark the beds of small lakes.
The most interesting natural curiosities are the "gulfs," or gullies, of the lake shore creeks, and the "Devil's Backbone" in Girard Township. Wintergreen Gulf, in Harbor Creek Township, five miles southeast of Erie, and the gulf of Six Mile Creek, near the Clark settlement, in Harbor Creek Township, are the most interesting of the gullies. The first of these has become a popular picnic resort. The views from the ridges overlooking Lake Erie are very fine at some points, especially about sunset.
Tamarack Swamp, in the northeast part of Waterford and the eastern part of McKean Townships, is about two miles long by 100 rods wide. Its waters flow into Le Boef Creek. Portions of the swamp have been drained, leaving a rich, black mold that is very productive.
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THE geological formations are comprised within the Devonian period, and include in the nomenclature of the State geological report, in descending order, Corry and Cussewago Sandstone, Venango Oil Sand Group, Chemung formation, Girard shales and Portage flags. The age of the upper strata has not been definitely determined. The Corry and Cussewago beds belong either to the Pocono, No. X, or Catskill, No. IX, formation, and the Venango Group is by different geologists ascribed to both Catskill and Chemung ages.
Topography. -- The mean level of Lake Erie above the ocean in New York Harbor is 573-7/10 feet. Facing the lake, a steep terrace of sand and clay, from 50 to 100 feet high rises, and through this terrace break three or four fair sized streams and numerous smaller ones, descending a slope which extends upward from the lake terrace to a line which may be drawn from the northeast corner of Greenfield Township, through Greenfield, Greene, Summit, McKean and Franklin. The slope is high and short at the New York line, hence the lake streams in the east part of the county are short and rapid. Along the Ohio line, the slope is long and low, and the streams here are larger. Walnut Creek heads only eight miles from the lake shore, but is fifteen miles in length. Elk Creek is thirty miles long, yet its head is only ten miles back from the shore. Conneaut Creek runs twenty-six miles in Pennsylvania, then crosses into Ohio. The course of all these streams is the same, first down the upper part of the slope toward the lake, then westward in a deep gully parallel to the lake, then out through a ravine straight to the lake shore.
South of the divide, French Creek is the largest stream in Erie County. The valleys are flat, one or two miles wide, and are bordered by low and gently rounded hill slopes, separated by low, flat table-lands. Swamps occur along the South Branch of French Creek, and Tamarack Swamp stretches across the water-shed of the divide, on the highest land of the Waterford (McKean) Township line; elsewhere in Erie County, swamps are rare. Several lakes are found in the low valleys.
Drift Period. -- There is little land in the county that has not been affected by the great ice-sheet which in glacial times moved southeastward over the entire county; except possibly the hilltops which rise 1,200 feet above the level of the lake; in them no erratic boulders have been observed. While the ice was smoothing down the lower flat country of the western townships, it was operating through the deep and narrow vales of the eastern ones, leaving the high hill-tops comparatively untouched. The character of drift deposits can be studied along the shore of Lake Erie toward the Ohio line, where they constitute a terrace bluff fifty to eighty feet high, out of which the waves are constantly removing the clay and fine sand, leaving the coarse sand, pebbles and boulders to be daily rounded and polished on the beach. The matrix is a bluish-white tough clay, imbedding fragments, mostly angular, of all kinds of crystalline rocks, with sandstone, shale, black slate and limestone, and occasionally a large boulder of granite or gneiss. Quicksand is abundant in the drift deposits of the townships back from the lake.
Buried Valleys. -- Scarcely a stream of any considerable size in Erie
152 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
County flows over a rock bed except those which cut deep ravines in the lake slope. The present water-courses meander along the upper surfaces of drift deposits, which fill up the ancient valleys to various heights above the old rock beds, even in some places where not living stream now flows. Bed rocks are seen along French Creek at Union, Mill Village, Le Boeuf and elsewhere, but the flood plain being two miles wide, there is ample space for a buried valley between the two wall slopes.
The most remarkable of these buried valleys are those through which two streams now flow in opposite directions from a common divide scarcely more elevated than other parts of the flood plain.
These ancient valleys were excavated, first, either by ancient rivers flowing from 100 to 400 feet below the present floors; or, second, by the great southward moving Canadian ice sheet, which as it retreated filled them up again with debris; or, third, they were first excavated by pre-glacial rivers, then deepened and widened by the moving ice and filled with its moraine to the present level. J. C. White, who make the geological survey of Erie County, ascribes the buried water ways to the plowing power of ice. The State Geologist, Prof. J. P. Lesley, takes exceptions to this view, and assigns the valleys to ancient rivers draining Northwestern Pennsylvania toward Lake Erie. Recent discoveries confirm this latter opinion. Prof. Spencer, of King's College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, has shown that a submerged valley bed crosses Lake Erie transversely, entering the present lake basin from the north, and by a bend northward and extending beneath the present drift filled water bed of Grand River, Upper Canada, then passing eastward into the head of Lake Ontario. Into this river channel, before the basin of the lake was filled, the Allegheny, French Creek, Mahoning and other streams doubtless poured their waters. Then came the glacial winter, and a thousand feet of snow and ice from the Laurentian Mountains moved slowly southward, filled the channel of this ancient river, damming back its waters and converting the forest-covered plain into an inland sea, banking itself against the Pennsylvania upland, and sending long glaciers across the country. By the melting of these glaciers, the valleys were filled with debris and a new topography formed. Lake Erie and the upper lakes were formed; the direction of Pennsylvania and Ohio rivers were reversed to the south. The pent-up waters of the inland sea found new outlets. The waters were lowered from terrace to terrace, and Niagara River was rapidly cut back till the present lake level was reached.
Terraces. -- Along Lake Erie, there are many fragmentary remains of old terraces, marking ancient higher levels of the lake surface. From the top of the bluff east of the Ohio line the land slopes up regularly and very gently, covered with a continuous beach sand and shore shingle to 225 feet above the present lake level. This sloping plain east of Erie, near Belle Valley, becomes a continuous flat at an elevation of 425 feet above the lake, covered in places with beach sand, etc. On the irregular escarpment of higher land, which rises from this flat on the south, no shore deposits were found. In Harbor Creek and western northwest townships, is the nearest approach to a series of terraces; three miles back from the lake, at 577 feet elevation, is a wide level, destitute of beach deposits; an abrupt descent to about 500 feet elevation reaches to the remnant of a terrace, covered with beach sand and shingle; then follows a rapid descent, wholly destitute of beach deposits to 300 feet elevation, to a broad sloping plain, covered with beach sand, etc. At the northern edge of this plain, 220 feet above the lake, is a genuine terrace of beach sand forty feet high, from the foot of which a plain one mile wide extends to the top of the bluff, 170 feet high, which descends steeply to the water's edge.
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Dip of the Rocks. -- Everywhere throughout Erie County, the strate appear to be horizontal, but in reality they possess a slight dip southward and westward. Along the Corry meridian it is twenty-five feet per mile; from Erie to the Ohio River, it is twenty feet per mile, and farther west it is slighter. The dip westward along the parallel of Wattsburg is eleven feet per mile, and along the southern line of the county seven feet per mile. Two miles south of Middleboro, there is a slight northward fall of the rocks. Many other slight variations and undulations may exist, but if so they have not been detected.
The Shenango Group. -- This group probably representing the Pocono formation, No. X, is the highest geological strata found in Erie County, The Shenango Shale deposit generally consists of blue, gray and brown clay-shales and in Crawford County varies from thirty-six to sixty feet in thickness; if found in Erie County at all, its bottom layers are left on the highest hill-tops. The Shenango sandstone, immediately below the shale, is from fifteen to thirty-five feet thick in Crawford County, and in Erie County caps two or three isolated knobs in Concord Township.
The Meadville Group, immediately below, and with the Shenango corresponding to the Cuyahoga Shales of Ohio, in Crawford County, consists of Meadville Upper Shales, Meadville Upper Limestone, Meadville Lower Shales, Sharpsville Upper Sandstone, Meadville Lower Limestone, Sharpsville Lower Sandstone and Orangeville Shales. In Erie County they have scarcely an existence. The Sharpsville Upper Sandstone crops out in the eat end of the county in a few isolated knobs.
The Oil Lake Group, a part of Pocono Sandstone, No. X, and supposed by Mr. White to be identical with the Berea grit of Ohio, includes the Corry and the Cussewago Sandstones and the Cussewago Limestone and Shale. The Corry Sandstone is found in a few of the highest hills in the southern parts of Concord, Union and Le Boeuf Townships. One mile south of Corry, about 300 feet above the city, and 1,160 feet above Lake Erie, are two quarries. Only eight feet of the sandstone have escaped erosion, and four feet are so shattered that the lower four feet only can be used. The Cussewago Limestone is exposed in D. Matterson's ravine, near the center of Concord Township, where it is a foot thick.
Beneath the Cussewago sandstone and down to the Venango group, a distance of about eighty feet, occurs a series of very fossiliferous drab, bluish and gray sandy shales, sometimes shaly sandstone, called the Riceville Shale.
The Venango Oil Sand Group includes the most important strata of Erie County. It varies in thickness from 250 to 350 feet, and crops out over most of the surface south of the great divide. In the counties further south, it is this group buried far beneath the surface that yields petroleum. The First, Second and Third Oil Sands there correspond with the Venango Upper, Middle and Lower Sandstones.
Venango Upper Sandstone. -- A coarse sandstone is the only reservoir of free petroleum, and a loose gravelly sandstone the only kind from which an oil producer expects a free flow in large quantities. The Upper and Middle Venango sands of Erie County are in the form of compact, fine grained, muddy flagstones, and consequently contain little or no oil. The Venango Upper Sandstone lies high up the hills and the flags are often grayish-white. Two miles west of Edinboro, at Anderson's quarry, they are bluish-white, smelling of petroleum. At Russell's quarry, just north of Corry, a bluish-white sandstone lies at 1,070 feet elevation above the lake, the seams and crevices of which hold petroleum. Underlying the Upper sand are pale blue shales, 90 to 100 feet thick, containing fossil shells of the Chemung type.
154 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
The Venango Middle Sandstone makes little show in Erie County, being merely marked by a greater number of sandy shales or flagstone layers in the mass of softer shales. At Harry Comer's quarry. however, in Washington Township, are exposed twelve feet of bluish-white sandstone, smelling strongly of petroleum. In the Maynard's Run bluffs, Amity Township, the same flags crop out 125 feet above the Le Boeuf Conglomerate. (Venango Lower Sandstone.) In the interval of from 100 to 125 feet between the Venango Middle and Lower Sandstones lie blue, gray and brown shales, very fossiliferous.
Venango Lower Sandstone. -- This famous "Third Sand" of the old oil regions outcrops on the great divide, and may also be seen in French and Le Boeuf Creek Valleys at the head of Elk Creek and Black Run and along Conneaut Creek, four miles above and below Spring Post Office. Its exposures always show it charged with petroleum, even where it is a sand and not a gravel rock. Its lower layers yield excellent building stone nearly everywhere, and it is the principal quarry rock of Erie County. There is often a division into an upper gravel or pebble rock and a lower sandstone. Petroleum pervades both, but there is more in the gravel rock. Among the quarries where it is taken out for building purposes are the Carroll quarries, Le Boeuf Township; Doolittle's quarry, Amity Township; Allen's quarry, two and one-half miles from Doolittle's; Reynolds' quarry, Summit Township; Howard's quarry, Franklin Township, and Goodman's, northeast from Howard's.
Its frequent exhibitions of petroleum with the numerous oil springs along its outcrop through Erie County have been a fruitful source of vain hope to explorers. Little supposing that the show came from the outcrop itself, and had nothing to do with the under rocks, explorers have drilled in almost every township to depths varying from 100 to 1,800 feet. Probably a half million dollars have been thus wasted in Erie County, sunk through measures underlying the exposed third oil sand, which the drillers were seeking far below. The whole petroleum deposit in Erie seems now to be practically voided, but a residuum of oil, lowered in gravity and partly oxidized, still remains, sufficient in places to unfit the stone for building purposes.
Below the Venango group are found 325 feet of typical Chemung strats, alternate groups of shale and sandstone, fossiliferous, with a thin limestone layer at the bottom. Some tolerably massive sandstone layers occur in the upper pat of the series, but no pebbles, nothing coarser than sand grains, have been noticed. It outcrops along the Lake Erie slope, and the top layers are exposed also in the valley of French Creek.
Beneath this is the Girard shale, a transition series between Chemung and Portage, a succession of ashen gray and bluish shales, with only an occasional sandy stratum. It is without fossils, except fucoids, and has a thickness of about 225 feet. It forms the drift-covered rock surface of Western Erie County facing the lake, and is finely exposed in every ravine which descends northward from the great divide, but especially along Elk Creek, above Girard. Seen from a distance, its blufs slopes look remarkably like the bowlder clay of the drift and sometime like vast banks of gray coal ashes. Its base or lowest laye is at lake level at Raccoon Creek, near the Ohio line, and 475 feet above lake level at the New York line.
The Portage Flags, the lowest strata of Erie County, consist of alternate layers of gray shale and thin layers of hard sandstone with no fossils except fucoids. The top layers rise from the water's edge two miles from the Ohio line, and slope up along the lake front until at the New York line they reach an elevation of 475 feet. Petroleum and gas issue from some of the thin sand layers. Collections of condensed gas undoubtedly exist, and in quarries not infrequently
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cause explosions. The gas and oil wells of Erie vary in depth from 450 to 1,200 feet.
The following is a list of barometric elevations above Lake Erie of various points throughout the county:
Corry (depot) 854 Feet Union City (P. & E. depot) 728 North East (L. S. & M. R. R.) 231 Moorheads (L. S. & M. R. R.) 195 Harbor Creek (L. S. & M. R. R.) 157 Wesleyville (L. S. & M. R. R.) 124 Erie (L. S. & M. R. R.) 113 Swanville (L. S. & M. R. R.) 152 Fairview (L. S. & M. R. R.) 162 Girard (L. S. & M. R. R.) 144 Springfield (L. S. & M. R. R.) 90 Concord Station (N.Y., P. & O. R. R.) 788 Union City (N.Y., P. & O. R. R.) 788 Mill Village Station (N.Y., P. & O. R. R.) 643 Beaver Dam 862 Eagle Hotel, Waterford 612 Cross Roads at Cranesville 882 Girard Junction (E. & P. R. R.) 124 Crosses (E. & P. R. R.) 192 Albion (E. & P. R. R.) 284 Belle Valley (Phila. & E. R. R.) 434 Langdon's (Phila. & E. R. R.) 562 Jackson's (Phila. & E. R. R.) 657 Waterford (Phila. & E. R. R.) 620 Le Boeuf (Phila. & E. R. R.) 644 Lovell's (Phila. & E. R. R.) 791 Cedar Ridge, Concord Township 1,285 Greenfield P. O. 852 Wattsburg 752 Cross Roads at Middleboro 497 Franklin P. O. 667
THOUGH one of the best-watered sections of the State, Erie County has no rivers and few streams of importance. A large number of creeks and runs have their origin on the dividing ridges, and course through the county in all directions, so that almost every farm has its running water, but only three or four are of sufficient size to be given a place on the general map of the commonwealth. The dividing ridges separate the water system of the county into two distinct divisions, which may be classed for the present purpose into the Northern and Southern. All of the streams which form on the north side of the main ridge flow into Lake Erie, and thence, through Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, to the Atlantic Ocean. Those on the south side invariably unite with the Allegheny River, which in turn pours its waters into the Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico. Of the southern streams the most important is French Creek, the common receptacle of all the rest, with the exception of the Brokenstraw, which flows through a corner of Wayne Township, and the head-waters of Spring Creek and Oil Creek, which have their sources, the former in Concord and the latter in that and Union Township. The principal tributaries of French Creek, within the county, are the South Branch, the Outlet of Lake Pleasant and Le Boeuf Creek. The Conneauttee, which rises in Franklin Township, and the Cussewago, the sources of which are both in that township and Elk Creek, join the same stream in Crawford County.
Of the lake shore streams, the leading ones are as follows: Conneaut, Crooked, Elk, Trout, Walnut, Mill, Four Mile, Six Mile, Twelve Mile, Sixteen Mile and Twenty Mile, the five last mentioned being named according to their distance from Erie city. The smaller streams which empty directly into Lake Erie, are Raccoon and Turkey Runs, in Springfield Township; Fort Run, in Fairview Township; Danford Run, the Head Run, and One, Two and Three
156 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Mile Creeks, in Mill Creek Township; Cascade and Garrison Runs in Erie City; Five Mile Creek, Elliott's Run and Scott's Run, in Harbor Creek Township; Spring, Spafford and Averill Runs, in North East Township; and several rivulets, the titles of which are variously given.
TRIBUTARIES OF THE ABOVE.The tributaries of the above streams are as follows, the terminus of each being in the township indicated:
French Creek -- In Greenfield Township, a number of creeks and runs; in Venango Township, Middlebrook Alder Run and Fritts Run of the West Branch, and Spafford Run of the East Branch; in Amity Township (East and West Branches unite), the Outlet of Lake Pleasant, Jones' Brook, Henry Brook, the Hubbell Alder Run, Deerlick Run, the Hatch Hollow Alder Run and Duncombe Run; in Waterford Township, Davis Run; in Le Boeuf Township, the South Branch, Le Boeuf Creek, Trout Brook, Colt Run, Mill Run, Moravian Run, Gill Brook and Mallory Run.
Le Boeuf Creek -- In Waterford Township, the West Branch, Boyd Run, Trout Run and Benson Run. (Boyd and Trout Runs empty into Lake Le Boeuf, which is really no more than an expansion of the creek).
The South Branch of French Creek -- In Concord Township, Scotch Run, Spring Brook, Lilly Run, Beaver Dam Run, Spencer Run, Baskin Run and Slaughter Run; in Union Township, Scotchman's, Wilson, Mulvin, Carroll, Pine, Tolbert and Benson Runs.
Conneaut Creek -- In Conneaut Township, the East Branch, the West Branch and Marsh Run. The tributaries of the East Branch are Frazier's Run in Elk Creek Township, and Crane and Jackson Runs in Conneaut Township.
Elk Creek -- In McKean Township, the South Branch; in Fairview Township, Fall Run and Little Elk; in Girard Township, the West Branch, Hall's Run, Brandy Run and Spring Run.
Walnut Creek -- In Mill Creek Township, McNair and Nece Runs; in Fairview Township, Bear and Beaver Dam Runs.
Mill Creek -- In Mill Creek Township, Bladen's Run.
Four Mile Creek -- In Harbor Creek Township, McConnell Run.
Sixteen Mile Creek -- In Northeast Township, the Borough Branch.
Hare Creek, the only tributary of the Brokenstraw flowing from the county, joins that stream in Warren County, below Corry. Its chief inlets are Bear Creek and Scioto Run.
The Conneauttee is joined by the Little Conneauttee a short distance across the line, in Crawford County, and by Pratt and Herbert Creeks in Washington Township.
PRINCIPAL SETTLEMENTS, RAILROADS, ETC.Most of the cities, towns, villages and important settlements are located upon these streams, having originated in numerous cases in consequence of the early establishment of mills. Mill Creek, Cascade and Garrison Runs flow through the city of Erie, and Hare Creek with two of its branches, through the city of Corry. Belle Valley is located along the banks of Mill Creek; Wesleyville on Four Mile Creek; Harbor Creek Village on Elliott's Run; Mooreheadville on Twelve Mile Creek; North East and Freeport on Sixteen Mile Creek; East Springfield on a branch of Crooked Creek; West Springfield on Turkey Run; Greenfield Village and Lowville on the West Branch of French Creek; Wattsburg at the junction of the East and West Branches of the latter
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[p. 157 graphic; p. 158 blank]
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stream; Mill Town on the outlet of Lake Pleasant; Beaver Dam on the run after which it was named; Elgin and Union City on the South Branch of French Creek; Mill Village on Mill Run branch of French Creek; Waterford on Le Boeuf Creek and Lake; Branchville on the South Branch of Elk Creek; Middleboro at the union of the South Branch with the main stream; Edinboro on Conneauttee Lake and Big Conneauttee Creek; McLallen's Corners and Draketown on the Little Conneauttee; Albion and Wellsburg on the East Branch of the Conneaut, and Keepville on the main stream; Cranesville on Crane Run; Sterrettania and West Girard on Elk Creek and Girard Borough on the eastern bluff overlooking its valley; Lockport on Hall's Run; Kearsage and Manchester on Walnut Creek; and Fairview and Avonia on Trout Run.
The Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad, after leaving the lake shore, crosses Crooked Creek, into the Conneaut Valley, and follows it into Crawford County; the Philadelphia & Erie rises from the level of Lake Erie to the Walnut Creek Valley, pursues the same to the Le Boeuf Valley, continues down the latter, crosses French Creek in Le Boeuf Township, and then runs up the South Branch to Corry; the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio follows the route of the South Branch to a point near its junction with French Creek, and from there keeps close to the banks of the main stream to a point below Meadville; the route of the Buffalo, Pittsburgh & Western road is along the head-waters of the South Branch in Concord Township. The abandoned Erie Canal entered the Elk Creek Valley in Girard Township, passed over the stream by a lofty aqueduct, and then followed Hall's Run and Crane Run to Conneaut Valley, which formed its route into Crawford County.
FEATURES OF THE STREAMS.The most striking feature of the lake shore streams is the deep channels they have cut in their passage from the high ground where they originate to the level of Lake Erie. These ravines or "gulfs" attend them all, to some extent, but are deepest and most picturesque along Elk Creek, in Girard and Fairview Townships, Walnut Creek in Fairview, Four Mile Creek in Harbor Creek, Six Mile Creek in the same township, and Sixteen and Twenty Mile Creeks in North East. The "Gulfs" of Four and Six Mile Creeks, where they have worn a course through the First and Second Ridges, are from 100 to 150 feet deep, and are well worth a visit by those who enjoy novel scenery. In Girard Township, at the union of the West Branch with Elk Creek, is the natural curiosity known as the "Devil's Backbone," which is yearly visited by many seekers after the picturesque. Another feature of the lake shore streams deserving of mention is the fact that, while those eastward from Erie City flow directly to the lake in a general northwesterly course, those in and west of the city, run almost exactly westward until within a short distance of the lake, when they suddenly turn to the north and soon after untie with the great current which pours over Niagara. This is the more noticeable of Mill Creek, which rises in Greene and empties into the lake at Erie; Walnut Creek which also rises in Greene, flows across Summit, Mill Creek and Fairview Townships, and terminates at Manchester; and Elk Creek, which rises in Waterford, crosses McKean, Fairview and Girard Townships, and enters the lake below Miles Grove. Conneaut Creek is to some extent an exception to the rule, rising as it does in Crawford County, flowing nearly due north through Conneaut Township to within a short distance of the Girard line, and then bending abruptly westward, forming the boundary between that and Springfield Townships, finally entering Ohio, and, after a devious course, becoming the harbor of Conneaut in that State. The peculiarity here noted is due to the successive hills, making
160 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
up what is known as the Dividing Ridges, each one of which forms a separate valley in which it is claimed the water was originally confined until a break or gulf was created through which a passage was found to the lake. The streams of the northern division have a rapid current and abound in tiny water falls, while the flow of those in the southern division is comparatively gentle. The latter are usually bordered by narrow strips of flat land, and the scenery, though of a pleasing pastoral character, affords little that is novel or inspiring. French Creek, all three of its branches -- the East, West and South -- and Le Boeuf Creek, were at one period navigable for rafts and flat-boats, and before the building of good roads were the chief avenues for bringing goods and provisions into the county. There has been no rafting to speak of on the branches of French Creek for forty years, while the business on the main stream may be said to have suspended about the time of the outbreak of the last war. All of the streams in the county were formerly much larger and more reliable. The cutting off of the timber has had an alarming effect in drying up the streams, and the seasons of high water which were once of two or three weeks' duration now last only a few days. There being no forests to retain the rain, the water runs off very rapidly, causing floods that sometime do considerable damage in the southern part of the county. All of the streams were at one time full of trout and other fish.
FRENCH CREEK AND ITS PRINCIPAL TRIBUTARIES.It is not the purpose of this chapter to describe any of the minor streams, an account of which will be given in the township sketches, to which the reader who wishes to know more about them is directed. Only those streams will be referred to here which possess something of a general interest by reason of their relation to two or more townships, or in consequence of their historical associations:
French Creek. -- This stream -- the most important in the county -- was variously known to the Indians as the Toranadakin and Innungah, the latter word having some reference to "a rude and indecent figure carved upon a tree," which the Seneca tribe found when they came to this region after having conquered the Eriez. The French at first gave it the name of the River Aux Boeufs, but changed it to the River Venango, being a corruption of the Indian word Innungah. When the Americans occupied the country, they dropped both the Indian and French names, and gave the stream the plain appellation of French Creek. The main stream is created by the junction of the East and West Branches in Amity Township, just south of the borough limits of Wattsburg. The East Branch takes its rise in Chautauqua County, N. Y., near the village of Sherman, and the head of the West Branch is usually said to be in Findley's Lake, about two miles over the New York line, in the same county. The former has a length of more than twenty miles, and flows through a corner of Venango Township. The length of the latter is about the same, crossing in its course the whole width of Greenfield and Venango. Both streams were navigable in the beginning of the century for canoes and rafts as far north as the New York line, but the erection of dams and the drying up of the water made Wattsburg in later years the practical head of navigation. After the junction of the East and West Branches, the creek traverses Amity, Waterford and Le Boeuf Townships, leaving the county to enter Crawford in the last named. It passes through the whole width of Crawford County from north to south, nearly in the center of the county, and after watering half of Venango County unites with the Allegheny at Franklin. Its length from Wattsburg to Franklin cannot be less than a hundred miles, or a hundred and
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twenty or twenty-five, measuring from the mouth to the source of either of the branches. By the time French Creek joins the Allegheny, it has become a good-sized stream, which deserves the title of river better than many that figure more prominently upon the maps. It was along the valley of this creek that Washington traveled on his visit to the French at Fort Le Boeuf, and he descended the stream in a canoe on his return journey. The last rafting from the mouth of Le Boeuf Creek was done in 1862.
Outlet of Lake Pleasant. -- This stream, as its name indicates, carries off the excess of water in Lake Pleasant. It issues from the foot of the lake, in Venango Township, and empties into French Creek in Amity, after a course of some three miles.
The South Branch. -- The South Branch of French Creek rises in Concord Township, flows through that and Union, and unites with the main stream in Le Boeuf, a short distance below the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad bridge. It has a course of perhaps twenty miles. The valley of the South Branch forms the route in part of no less than three railroads, the Philadelphia & Erie, the Buffalo, Pittsburgh & Western, and the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio.
Le Boeuf Creek was known to the French as the river Aux Boeufs and was at first supposed to be the main stream. It was so named from the number of cattle discovered by them on the flats near its mouth. The creek is formed by two stems, the eastern one of which rises on the Venango Township line, and flows across Greene Township, while the western has its source in Summit Township, the two coming together on the northern boundary of Waterford Township. On the edge of Waterford Borough the creek enters Lake Le Boeuf, from which it issues somewhat increased in size. It joins French Creek in Le Boeuf Township. From the head of the East Branch to the mouth of the creek, the distance is about twenty miles. The head of navigation was at Waterford Borough, just above the lake.
LAKE SHORE STREAMS.Conneaut Creek, the second largest in the county, rises south of Conneautville, Crawford County, flows in a general northerly direction through Conneaut Township, nearly to the Springfield line, then turns abruptly westward and continues into Ohio. After changing its course it forms the boundary line between Conneaut and Springfield. In Ohio it flows nine miles westward to Kingsville, then makes another sudden bend to the east, and comes back eight mile to Conneaut, where it turns again to the north, and, after a further course of about a mile, empties into Lake Erie not far from the Pennsylvania line, forming Conneaut Harbor. It is a very crooked stream, the length from head to mouth being fully seventy miles, while the distance by an air line is not more than twenty-five. More costly bridges cross this creek than any other in ERie County. The East Branch of Conneaut Creek rises on the northern edge of Crawford County, flows through Elk Creek Township, and unites with the main stream a mile or so northeast of Albion. In the latter borough it is joined by Jackson Creek, which rises on the Elk Creek and Conneaut line, near Crawford County. The East Branch is about ten miles long and Jackson Creek some five miles.
Elk Creek rises in Waterford Township and flows in a general westerly course through McKean, Fairview and Girard Townships to Lake Erie, north of Mile Grove. The length of Elk Creek is between twenty-five and thirty miles. An effort was made to have the mouth of this stream made the terminus of the canal, and various projects have been advocated for establishing a harbor there. The name of Elk Creek was given from the number of elk found in its
162 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
valley. Falls Run starts in Franklin Township and joins Elk Creek in Fairview. Brandy Run rises in Fairview Township and unites with Elk Creek in Girard. The West Branch, which also joins the same stream in the latter township, rises in Elk Creek Township. They are all small.
Walnut Creek, so named because its banks were lined with walnut trees, rises on the western edge of Greene Township, and flows through Summit, Mill Creek and Fairview, entering the lake at Manchester. Its length is about fifteen miles.
Crook Creek rises in Lockport Borough, and flows through Girard and Springfield to Lake Erie, a short distance from North Springfield. It is about ten miles long.
The Head run is the small stream that enters Presque Isle bay just above the Massassauga pleasure ground.
Cascade Run is historical because a portion of Perry's fleet was built at its mouth. It falls into the pay at the Pittsburgh docks, in Erie City.
Mill Creek is formed by two branches, the one rising in the extreme southeastern section of Mill Creek Township, and the other in the northwestern part of Greene. They unite near the southeastern line of the first-named township, and the stream enters the bay within the city limits of Erie. Mill Creek cannot be less than eight miles long.
Four Mile Creek rises in Greene, runs through the western edge of Harbor Creek, and enters the lake in the northeastern corner of Mill Creek Township, after a course of about eight miles.
Twelve Mile Creek heads on the line of North East and Greenfield Townships, and joins the lake in Harbor Creek. Its length is about seven miles.
Twenty Mile Creek rises in Chautauqua County, N. Y., and empties into the lake in North East Township, near the State line. It is from sixteen to eighteen miles long.
LAKES AND BAYS.Lake Erie. -- The whole northern front of the county is bordered by Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay, giving a shore line, with the various indentations, of fully forty-five miles. Lake Erie is one of the chain of "Great Lake," consisting, besides itself, of Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, St. Clair and Ontario. No one of these, except St. Clair, is excelled or equaled in size by any body of fresh water elsewhere in the world. The name Erie has been "held to mean 'cat,' thus giving the title of Cat to the tribe of Eries, and Cat Lake to the body of water." This, however, is disputed by one writer, who claims that the word "means raccoon in the original, and that the error as to meaning came into vogue by the confounding by the early French explorers of the wild cat with the raccoon, both of which animals abounded, but the latter being the most numerous." Recent measurements give the following results:
"The greatest length of Lake Superior is 335 miles; the greatest breadth, 160 miles; mean depth, 688 feet; elevation above the ocean, 602 feet; area, 82,000 square miles.
"The greatest length of Lake Michigan is 300 miles; its greatest breadth, 108 miles; mean depth, 600 feet; elevation, 581 1/4 feet; area, 23,000 square miles.
"The greatest length of Lake Huron is 200 miles; its greatest breadth, 169 m; mean depth, 600 feet; elevation, 581 1/4 feet; area, 23,000 square miles.
"The greatest length of Lake Erie is 250 miles; its greatest breadth is 80 miles; its mean depth is 84 feet; elevation, 578 7/16 feet; area, 6,000 square miles.
"The greatest length of Lake Ontario is 180 miles; its greatest breadth,
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 163
65 miles; its mean depth is 500 feet; elevation, 246 1/2 feet; area, 6,000 square miles.
"The length of all five is 1,265 miles, covering an area of upward of 135,000 square miles."
Lake Erie receives the outflow of Lake Huron through the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, and empties itself through the Niagara River into Lake Ontario. The outlet of the latter is the St. Lawrence River, which, after a course of some five hundred miles, falls into the Atlantic Ocean within the Dominion of Canada, the volume of water which it carries down begin greater than that of the Mississippi. By some geographers, the lakes are regarded as expansions of the St. Lawrence, which would give that river a length, from the source of the St. Louis, the most remote tributary of Superior, of about twenty-one hundred miles. Lake Erie is the fifth and most southerly of the chain. Its breadth varies from thirty to eighty miles. The narrowest part of the lake is between Long Point, Canada, and Presque Isle, and the widest is between Ashtabula, Ohio, and Port Stanley, Canada. The average depth of Lake Erie is less than that of any other of the chain, except St. Clair, which renders its navigation the most dangerous. It has few natural harbors, that of Erie being the best, but the mouths of a number of the larger streams have been dredged and protected by breakwaters, offering good facilities for shipping.
In commercial importance, Lake Erie excels any other of the chain. The Falls of Niagara, twenty miles below its foot, forbid direct navigation between Erie and Ontario. This has been remedied by the construction of the Welland Ship Canal. Vessels pass through this artificial channel to and from Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean. The lake seldom freezer over more than a few miles from shore, but instances have been known of the ice being clogged between Long Point and Presque Isle so that teams and wagons have crossed. Navigation usually closes about the 1st of December and opens early in April, though it has sometimes begun much sooner. Several winters are recorded when vessels have sailed every month of the year. The streams that flow into Lake Erie are small, scarcely adding as much to its supply as it loses by evaporation. The body of water that flows over Niagara Falls is estimated not to exceed that received by the lake through the Detroit River. The lake abounds in fish, the most common varieties being white fish, pickerel, bass, perch, herring, sturgeon and mutton-heads.
It is subject to fluctuations of several feet in the height of the water, according to the direction of the wind. The general surface is also higher in some seasons than in others, depending on the winter and spring weather along the upper lakes.
Some unaccountable phenomena are reported by old settlers along the shores of the lake. Just after sunset on the 30th of May, 1823, several swells were observed at the mouths of Otter and Kettle Creeks, Canada, being twenty miles apart, and the water suddenly dashed to a height of nine feet at the former point and of seven at the latter. The weather was fine and the lake had previously been calm. A similar incident was witnessed at the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek, in 1820, at that of Cunningham Creek, Ohio, in 1826, and again at that of Grand River, Ohio, in 1830. At the second point named, the water rose fifteen and at the third eight feet. Water-spouts are of frequent occurrence, and as many as three have been seen at one time. A whirlwind was experienced at Conneaut, Ohio, in September, 1839, which lifted the water of the lake to a height of thirty feet. Three monster waves are reported
164 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
as having dashed upon the dock at Madison, Lake County, Ohio, the first of which was fifteen or twenty feet high. "In 1844 or 1845, a wave came into Euclid Creek fifteen feet in height, carrying everything before it. On November 18, 1845, the water at Cleveland suddenly fell two and eight-tenths feet during a high wind from the southwest. The Toledo Blade records a change of ten feet on December 5, 1856."
A remarkable phenomenon occurred at Cleveland in July, 1881, which is thus described by the Signal Service officer at that port: "At 5:30 in the morning there was a slight breeze from off land in a southerly direction, and at 6 o'clock there was almost a calm, while to the northward a dark cloud appeared like a curtain, and at the same time was heard a rumbling sound. At 6:20 there came up a large green colored wave, with no crest, which approached from the northwest with great rapidity, and soon after the passage of the wave the wind returned to its original quarter. The cloud, wave and wind seemed to travel together. The wave was about nine feet above the present level of the lake. The highest barometer in the country occurred in the city yesterday morning, viz., 30.15. The recoil of the wave along the line of the shore caused two smaller receding waves, parallel to the shore, and from fifty to seventy-five feet apart."
Similar occurrences are reported as having happened on the other lakes. Col. Charles Whittlesey, of Cleveland, has kept a record of some of the most prominent of these events, from which we learn that "on Lake Superior, in 1879, opposite Isle Royal, there was a sudden fall of four feet in the waters. When they returned, they did so with a rush, the vibration continuing for several hours. In 1834, the waters above the Sault Rapids suddenly receded, and in half an hour returned with great velocity. In August, 1845, Dr. Foster states that while in an open boat between Copper Harbor and Eagle River, an enormous surge, twenty feet in height and crested with foam, rolled toward the shore, succeeded by two or three swells. Dr. Foster observed repeated flows and reflux of the waters in 1847, 1848 and 1849, which preceded or followed storms on the lake. In 1858, D. D. Brockway reported, in a perfect calm, a sudden rise of one foot and three inches, and in another two and one-half feet. The Lake Superior News of July 17, 1855, reports extreme fluctuations between the hours of nine in the morning and four in the evening. Father Andre, in 1670, while on Green Bay, reported a three-feet rise, but this was accompanied by a northwester. On April 14, 1858, the Milwaukee Sentinel reported a change of level in Lake Michigan of six feet."
Bay of Presque Isle. -- The Bay of Presque Isle, forming the harbor of Erie -- the only one in the county -- is a quiet and beautiful body of water, about five miles long, with a breadth ranging from a mile and a quarter to nearly two miles. The long and narrow sand bank which divides it from the lake is known as the Peninsula, or in French as Presque Isle, meaning "nearly an island." Within a hundred years, the bay extended by a narrow channel half a mile further westward than it does now, the action of the sands and the earth brought down by the two little streams at the head having caused the restriction of its limits. The entrance to the bay is at its eastern end, between two long piers which create an artificial channel 200 feet wide. Before the Government improvements were made, the mouth of the bay was nearly a mile in width, and obstructed by a bar which afforded only six to eight feet of water. Now the largest vessels upon the lake can enter easily, and when within the bay are secure against the worst storms. Two noble lighthouses direct mariners to the entrance, while the course of the channel is made clear by a series of range lights. At the head of the bay, the peninsula is only a few
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rods in width, and so low that the water sometimes washes over during winter gales. Within a few years, this neck has been protected by a barrier of piles and heavy timbers, at the cost of the General Government. A channel was opened across this portion of the peninsula many years ago, and several vessels passed through, but the experiment was unsatisfactory, and the passage was allowed to close up. The greatest depth of water in the bay is nearly opposite the Pittsburgh docks, where the lead touches bottom at twenty-seven feet.
Misery Bay is a small subdivision of the bay proper at its northeastern extremity. Its name was suggested by Lieut. Holdup during the war of 1814, when the vessels of the Lake Erie squadron were anchored there. The gloomy weather that prevailed, and the uncomfortable condition of the crews made the title eminently appropriate. Within this little bay were sunk two of the vessels of Perry's fleet, the Lawrence and Niagara. The former was raised and taken to the Centennial Exhibition in 1876; the latter still lies at the bottom of the bay on the side next to the lighthouse. Both of the bays freeze over in winter, and usually continue closed until about the 1st of April. They abound in fish, and are a famous resort for anglers. A number of pleasure yachts ply upon the quiet waters of the bays, and sail boats and row boats are always to be had at the best houses along the public pier. (For a further account of the bay and harbor, see Erie City.)
THE INTERIOR LAKESS.In the interior of the county are three small lakes -- LeBoeuf, Pleasant and Conneauttee -- all of which lie on the south side of the dividing ridge, and empty into French Creek.
Lake LeBoeuf -- This lake is in Waterford Township, on the southwestern edge of Waterford Borough. It is about two-thirds of a mile long, by half a mile wide. The lake is fed by LeBoeuf Creek and Boyd and Trout Runs. Its outlet falls into French Creek In LeBoeuf Township.
Lake Pleasant, in the southwestern corner of Venango Township, is about two-thirds of a mile long by a third of a mile wide, with a depth of five to fifty feet. It has no tributary streams except two tine rivulets, and is apparently fed by springs in the bottom. The outlet joins French Creek in Amity Township.
Lake Conneauttee lies on the northern side of Edinboro, and is partly in that borough and partly in Washington Township. Its length is about a mile, and its width a little over a half mile. The deepest water is about fifty feet. Big Conneauttee Creek enters at its northern extremity, and leaves at the southern, continuing on to Crawford County, where it unites with French Creek.
BRIDGES, CULVERTS, ETC.Where there are so many streams, it follows as a consequence that there must be a great number of bridges. None of these are very extensive or costly compared with the immense structures that are found in other parts of the Union. The most important public bridges are those which span French Creek in Amity, Waterford and LeBoeuf Townships; Conneaut Creek in Conneaut Township, and upon the line between that township and Springfield; the South Branch of French Creek in Union City and Township; Elk Creek in Fairview and Girard Townships; Walnut Creek in Fairview and Mill Creek Townships; the Big Conneauttee at Edinboro; and LeBoeuf Creek in Waterford Township.
166 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
The iron bridges of the "Nickle Plate" railroad over Crooked, Elk, Walnut and Twenty Mile Creeks, are the longest and costliest in the county. This company have made use of iron almost entirely in crossing the numerous streams along the lake shore. State street in Erie is spanned by three good iron bridges belonging to the railroad companies. The Philadelphia & Erie Railroad has a lofty trestle work over Mill Creek, near Belle Valley, and fine wooden bridges over LeBoeuf Creek, in Waterford Township; French Creek in LeBoeuf; and the South Branch in Union and Concord.
On the line of the Erie & Pittsburgh road, Crooked Creek is spanned by a formidable bridge and trestle work in Girard Township, while other bridges of importance cross Conneaut Creek in the township of the same name. The townships which are subjected to the most expense on account of bridges are LeBoeuf, conneaut and Springfield.
The Lake Shore Railroad formerly overcame the gullies of Twenty Mile Creek, Sixteen Mile Creek, Walnut Creek, Elk Creek and Crooked Creek by extensive trestle works, which have been replaced by substantial culverts and embankments that cost many thousands of dollars. Most of the streams upon the line of this road are now spanned by stone culverts or iron bridges. It is not to be doubted that wherever culverts are practicable the example of the Lake Shore Company will eventually imitated by the other railroad corporations.
Within the limits of Erie almost all the city bridges over Mill Creek have given way to durable stone culverts. An elegant culvert was thrown across the East Branch of Conneaut Creek, in Conneaut Township, for the use of the canal, which still remains, and is used for a public road.
The aqueducts of the canal over Walnut Creek, in Fairview Township, and Elk Creek in Girard, were at one time looked upon as wonders of engineering and mechanical skill.
MANY indications have been found in the county proving conclusively that it was once peopled by a different race from the Indians who were found here when it was first visited by white men. When the link of the Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad from the Lake Shore road to the dock at Erie was in process of construction, the laborers dug into a great mass of bones at the crossing of the public road which runs by the rolling mill. From the promiscuous way in which they were thrown together, it is surmised that a terrible battle must have taken place in the vicinity at some day so far distant that not even a tradition of the event has been preserved. The skulls were flattened, and the foreheads were seldom more than an inch in width. The bodies were in a sitting posture, and there were no traces that garments, weapons or ornaments had been buried with them. On account of the superstitious notions that prevailed among the workmen, none of the skeletons were preserved, the entire collection as far as it was exposed being thrown into the embankment further down the road. At a later date, when the roadway of the Philadelphia & Erie road, where it passes through the Warfel farm, was being widened, another deposit of bones was dug up and summarily disposed of as before. Among the skeletons was one of a giant, side by side with a smaller
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one, probably that of his wife. The arm and leg bones of this native American Goliath were about one-half longer than those of the tallest man among the laborers; the skull was immensely large, the lower jawbone easily slipped over the face and whiskers of a full-faced man, and the teeth were in a perfect state of preservation. Another skeleton was dug up in Conneaut Township some years ago which was quite remarkable in its dimensions. As in the other instance, a comparison was made with the largest man in the neighborhood, and the jawbone readily covered his face, while the lower bone of the leg was nearly a foot longer than the one with which it was measured, indicating that the man must have been eight to ten feet in height. The bones of a flat head were turned up in the same township some two years ago with a skull of unusual size. Relics of a former time have been gathered in that section by the pailful, and among other curiosities a brass watch was found that was as big as a common saucer.
An ancient graveyard was discovered in 1820, on the land now known as the Drs. Carter and Dickinson places in Erie, which created quite a sensation at the time. Dr. Albert Thayer dug up some of the bones, and all indicated a race of beings of immense size.
ANCIENT EMBANKMENTS.Equally curious are the pre-historic mounds and circles found in Wayne, Harbor Creek, Conneaut, Girard, Springfield, LeBoeuf, Venango and Fairview Townships. The principal one in Wayne Township, which is still in a fair state of preservation, is in the valley of the South Branch of French Creek, near the road from Corry to Elgin, and but a short distance east of the large springs which furnish water for the State fish-hatching establishment. It consists of a vast circle of raised earth, surrounded by a trench, from which the earth was unquestionably dug, the whole enclosing about three acres of unbroken ground. The embankment has been much flattened and reduced by the elements, but is still from one to two feet high and from three to four feet wide at the base. When the first settlers discovered it, the interior of the circle was covered with forest trees, and stumps are still to be seen on the embankment, the rings of which represent an age of several hundred years. Half a mile west, a little to the north of the road, on a slight eminence, was another and smaller circle, which has been plowed down, leaving no vestige behind.
The circles in other portions of the county are or were similar in their general features, with one exception, to the above. Those in Harbor Creek Township were situated on each side of Four Mile Creek, slightly southeast of the big curve of the Philadelphia & Erie road, on points overlooking and commanding the deep gulf of that stream. The one on the west side of the creek is still in a good state of preservation, but the other has been obliterated. The two Conneaut circles were near together, while those in Girard and Springfield, four in number, extended in a direct line from the western part of the former township to the southwestern part of the latter. One of the circles partially occupied the site of the cemetery at East Springfield. In Fairview Township, there was both a circle and a mound, the first at the mouth of Fort Run and the second at Manchester. The latter, at the close of the last century, was about six feet high and fifteen feet in diameter. Somebody had the curiosity to open it, in the hope of finding treasure, but was rewarded with nothing more than a small quantity of decomposed bones. A tree was cut on one of the embankments in Conneaut that had attained the age of 500 years. The circles in LeBoeuf and Venango were very much like those above described.
170 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
The position of some of these embankments would seem to favor the idea that they were provided for warlike purposes, while no speculation of that character is warranted by the location of others. That they were not the work of the Indians, as our fathers knew them, is the only thing of which we can be positively certain. The knowledge we possess of the red men assures us that they had neither the will nor the skill to provide such inclosures, either for defense or as places of worship. Every instinct of the mind impels us to the belief that they are the remains of a superior race to the Indians, who disappeared so completely and mysteriously that no trace of their numbers, their habits, their character, their origin, or their destiny exists in history or in tradition.
MORE STRANGE DISCOVERIES.Other evidences of a different population from the red men, as well as of an utterly distinct animal kingdom, have been found in the county. In the year 1825, while one Francis Carnahan was plowing along the lake shore in Harbor Creek Township, he turned up a strange looking bead, which he cleaned and carefully preserved. It fell in to the hands of L. G. Olmstead, LL. D., a traveler and archaeologist of some reputation, formerly a resident of Erie City, but later of Fort Edward, N. Y., who unhesitatingly pronounced it to be one of the celebrated "Chorean beads" of ancient Egypt, and kept it until his death as a relic of rare interest and value. Similar beads taken from tombs near the Nile are in the Egyptian collection in New York City, one other is in a like collection in Boston, and altogether, there are some thirty in the great museums of antiquity in Europe. They were employed in worship and worn as amulets, and were among the most cherished possessions of the ancient people of Pharaoh. Presuming the Harbor Creek bead to be genuine, of which Mr. Olmstead was thoroughly convinced, how came it there and what is its history? To say the least, it adds additional testimony to the proof furnished us by the mounds and circles that a race of people inhabited this section anterior to the red men, who were far in advance of them in progress and intelligence. Who they were, where they came from, and what became of them remains an unsolved problem.
The skeletons of extinct species of animals have frequently been found in the county, but perhaps the most extraordinary discovery of that nature was made near Girard Borough in the early part of May, 1880. A man in the employ of Mr. W. H. Palmer, while plowing, turned up some bones of a mammoth, which, upon investigation by scientific persons, were thought to indicate an animal fifteen feet long and from twelve to thirteen feet high. One of the teeth weighed three and a half pounds, having a grinding surface of three and a half by four inches, and pieces of the tusks led to the opinion that they must have been eight or ten feet long. The most curious feature of the case is that the animals of this class at the present day are natives of the tropics and require the equatorial heat and vegetation of the same region to enable them to reach maturity.
An equally puzzling revelation occurred some twenty-five years ago in digging a ditch on the Strong place, in Girard Township, near the Springfield line. During the work, a basswood stump was removed, and the men employed at the task were surprised to find beneath it a black ash pole nearly fourteen feet long, sharpened and burned at one end, and smoothed and rounded at the other. The pole lay in a horizontal position, four feet below the surface of the ground, where it could not have possibly placed at a recent day with out some mark remaining of its method of burial. Nothing of the sort was
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visible, the earth being clay, as firmly compacted as if it has been deposited on the spot at the creation of the world.
NATURAL CURIOSITIES.While the county is bare of objects of striking natural interest, such as are usually to be met with in districts of a mountainous character, it still contains some curiosities that are worthy of notice. Among these are the immense "gulfs" or gullies through which the lake shore streams descend from dividing ridges in the south to the level of the lake. The gulf of Four-Mile Creek, which is partially seen from the cars of the Philadelphia & Erie road at the sharp curve a little east of Erie City, extends from near the crossing of the Station road, about half a mile south of Wesleyville, to Ripley's mill, in Greene Township, a distance in a direct line of about four miles, and by the course of the stream of about one-half more. Its depth varies from fifty to a hundred and fifty feet, with sides that are almost perpendicular at some points, and its width is from one to two hundred feet. It is very crooked and irregular, and so dark and gloomy at certain points that the rays of the sun seldom penetrate it, and the grass and leaves are covered with almost perpetual dew. The deepest part is at a spot locally known as Wintergreen Gulf, some four and a half miles southeast of Erie, which has become a popular resort, and richly repays a visit from those who delight in the sublime and curious freaks of nature's handiwork. As the creek makes its way down the "gulf" it is varied by numberless pools and waterfalls, some of which are as pretty as the imagination can conceive. The "gulf," however, is very difficult to explore, and it will only be when some enterprising person or firm establishes more convenient means of ingress and exit that its interesting features will become generally known.
The "gulf" of Six-Mile Creek, which is wholly in Harbor Creek Township, is very similar to the other, and equally deserving of a visit. It commences about half a mile south of the Buffalo road and terminates a little north of the Station road, being about the same length as the gully of Four Mile Creek. Its deepest and most picturesque point is at the Clark settlement, where the banks are not far from a hundred and fifty feet high. Gulfs of a like nature attend every one of the lake shore streams, but are less picturesque, generally speaking, than the two above named. The most interesting are those of Twelve Mile Creek, near the lake; of Sixteen Mile Creek, on the southern part of North East Township; of Twenty-Mile Creek, near the New York line; of Walnut Creek where it was crossed by the old aqueduct; of Crooked Creek, in Springfield Township, and of Elk Creek, in the southern part of Fairview Township. In the vicinity of Girard Borough, the gulf of Elk Creek broadens out into a very respectable little valley, which, with its abrupt banks, sparkling streams, richly cultivated farms, and numerous buildings, forms one of the neatest bits of scenery in the county.
On Falls Run, a small stream that flows into Elk Creek from Franklin Township, is a cascade, some fifty feet in height, which is said to be quite attractive at certain seasons. In Girard Township, south of the borough, is the "Devil's Backbone," which owes its novelty, as in the other cases mentioned, mainly to the long continued action of water. The West Branch of Elk Creek winds around the base of a ridge for about one-fourth of a mile until it reaches its point. This it suddenly turns, and then runs in the opposite direction along the same ridge. The constant washing of the base has reduced the ridge to very slender limits, so that it has a width on top, in some parts, of barely two feet. The summit being about a hundred feet above the bed of the
172 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
creek, and the sides of the ridge nearly perpendicular, few persons have the courage to risk life and limb by venturing along the narrow footway.
A beautiful waterfall formerly existed on the bank of the bay at the mouth of Cascade Run, was destroyed in the building of the Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad and dock, to the inexpressible regret of many admiring citizens. The mineral spring in Elk Creek Township should not be forgotten in a recital of the natural objects of interest in the county. It is situated a mile or more up Frazier's Run, a tiny stream that empties into the East Branch of Conneaut Creek at Wellsburg, and is reached through a deep, wide and peculiar gorge, which is a favorite spot in that section for picnics and camp meetings. The water is strongly impregnated with iron, and beneficial in several kinds of disease.
Neither should the glorious sunsets along the lake shore be omitted in this connection. A gentleman who has traveled over the most attractive sections of Europe informed the writer that he never saw, not even at the most renowned places along the Mediterranean, more charming and inspiring sunsets than he witnessed from the ridges back of Erie during the summer and autumn. The best elevation from which to view the setting of the sun, as well as the lake shore country in general, is from the top of Gospel Hill, south of Wesleyville, but the views may also be had from Russell Hill, between Erie and Belle Valley, from Nicholson's Hill on the road to Edinboro, and from a point on the Ridge road between Fairview and Girard.
IN the State Library of Pennsylvania at Harrisburg, are two old French maps, one printed in 1763 and the other in 1768, in which rude attempts are made to show the leading geographical features of portions of the United States and Canada. Both represent the south shore of Lake Erie as having been peopled by a tribe or nation of Indians known as the "Eriez." A note on the margin of each reads as follows: "The ancient Eriez were exterminated by the Iroquois upwards of 100 years ago, ever since which time they have been in possession of Lake Erie," On the earliest of the maps the following is printed at a point along the lake between Cleveland and Sandusky: "The seat of war, the mart of trade, and chief hunting grounds of the Six Nations on the lakes and the Ohio."
The information above given in regard to the Eriez is corroborated in a French book printed in 1703, describing the voyages of Le Baron de Lahonton, an adventurous Frenchman, who spent ten years among the Indians, commencing in 1683. "The shores of Lake Erie," he says, "are frequented by the Iroquois, the Illinois, the Oumanies, etc., who are so savage that it is a risk to stop with them. The Errieronens and the Andestiguerons, who formerly inhabited the borders of the lake, were exterminated by the Iroquois." Incidentally it may be added, he refers to the Massassaugues as a tribe living somewhere near the western end of the lake. The latter are also alluded to in a memoir on the Western Indians, prepared by M. DuChisneau, at Quebec, in 1681. Their principal village, according to this author, was upon a beautiful island twelve leagues above Detroit, where they numbered sixty to eighty
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 173
men. Frequent reference is also made in the letters and memoirs of Frenchmen who visited this section, to the Flatheads, who would seem to have been settled somewhere south or west of the lake. All of the authorities agree that the date of the extermination of the Eriez was somewhere about 1650. It is claimed by most historians, that the word Eriez was the Indian expression for wild cat, but a recent writer contends that "this is a mistake, that it does not mean wild cat, but raccoon. The latter were abundant upon the lake shore, while the former were rarely seen." A French memoir, written in 1718, relates that one island in the upper part of the lake was infested to so great an extent by wild cats, that "the Indians killed as many as 900 of them in a very short time." It is possible that the French explorers, from whom the supposed meaning of the word has descended to us, mistook raccoons for wild cats. Records are in existence which show that the Eriez were visited by French missionaries as early as 1626. They were found to be living on terms of amity with the surrounding warlike tribes, and hence they were designated by the French, "The Neutral Nation." They were governed by a queen, called in the own language, Yagowania, and in the Seneca tongue, Geogosasa, who was regarded as "the mother of nations," and whose office was that of "keeper of the symbolic house of peace." The chief warrior of the tribe was Ragnotha, who had his principal location at Tu-shu-way, now Buffalo.
EXTERMINATION OF THE ERIEZ.The Eriez were able to preserve their neutral character until 1634, when a bloody dissension broke out between the several branches of the Iroquois family. During its progress two Seneca warriors appeared at Gegosasa's lodge and were hospitably received. They were preparing to smoke the pipe of peach when a deputation of Massassaugues was announced, who demanded vengeance for the murder of their chief's son at the hands of the Seneca tribe. This the queen, in her mediatorial capacity, was prompt to grant. She even set out with a large body of warriors to enforce her decree, and dispatched messengers to Ragnotha to command his assistance. The visiting Senecas flew to their friends to notify them of the queen's course, and a body of fighting men was hastily gathered in ambush on the road which her army was obliged to travel. The Eriez had no anticipation of trouble at that point, and the first they knew of the presence of the Senecas was when they heard their dreadful war-whop. The contest that ensued was one of desperation. At first the queen's forces gained the advantage, but the Senecas rallied and compelled the Eriez to flee, leaving 600 dead upon the field of battle. No accounts have been preserved of any further hostilities at that time, and it is probably that peace was effected upon the Queen's agreement not to enforce her plan of revenging the grievance of the Massassaugues.
The war of extermination between the Eriez and the Iroquois occurred about 1650, and was one of the most cruel in aboriginal history, From the opening it was understood by both sides to mean the utter ruin of one tribe or the other. The Eriez organized a powerful body of warriors and sought to surprise their enemies in their own country. Their plans were thwarted by a faithless woman who secretly gave the Iroquois warning. The latter raised a force and marched out to meet the invaders. The engagement resulted in a complete victory for the Iroquois. Seven times the Eriez crossed the stream dividing the hostile lines and they were as often driven back with terrible loss. On another occasion several hundred Iroquois attacked nearly three times their number of Eriez, encamped near the mouth of French Creek, dispersed them, took many prisoners, and compelled the balance to fly to remote regions.
174 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
In a battle near the site of the Cattauraugus Indian mission house, on the Allegheny River, the loss of the Eriez was enormous. Finally a pestilence broke out among the Eriez, which swept away greater numbers even than the club and arrow." The Iroquois took advantage of their opportunity to end all fear of future trouble from the ill-fated Eriez. Those who had been taken captive were, with rare exceptions, remorselessly butchered, and their wives and children were distributed among the Iroquois villages, never again to be restored to their husbands and brothers. The few survivors "fled to distant regions in the West and South, and were followed by the undying hatred of the Iroquois. * * * Their council fire was put out, and their name and language as a tribe lost." Sculptures and embankments on Kelly's Island, in the upper end of the lake, lead to the impression that it may have been the last stronghold of the Eriez.
Traces of the tribe were occasionally found by the French Jesuits in their wanderings through the eastern wilderness. A number were living as helots among the Onondagas of New York. They appealed to the missionaries to aid them in securing their freedom, but abandoned all hope when the request was refused. An early French writer, describing the Christian village of La Prairie, says a portion of the settlement was made up of fugitive Eriez. Students of Indian history are generally of the belief that the tribe was at one time considerably ahead of the other aborigines of North America in progress and intelligence.
THE SIX NATIONS.After the extermination of the Eriez, the country on the south side of the lake was possessed by the Iroquois, as they were called by the French, or the Six Nations, as they were known to the English. The Six Nations were originally a confederacy of five tribes -- the Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, Oneidas and Mohawks -- and were then styled the Five Nations. In 1712, the Tuscaroras, being expelled from the interior of North Carolina and Virginia, were adopted as a sixth tribe. Their territory stretched from Vermont nearly to the upper end of Lake Erie, embracing the head-waters of the Allegheny, Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers, and the seat of their "great council fire" was in the Onondaga Valley. The Senecas, who were the most powerful tribe, occupied the western part of the domain, having their headquarters on the Allegheny River, near the line between New York and Pennsylvania. The Indians in the northwestern part of this State were Senecas, intermixed with stray members from each of the other tribes. "The Historical Collections of Pennsylvania," a very reliable and valuable work, published in 1843, contains the following:
"The peculiar location of the Iroquois gave them an immense advantage. On the great channels of water communication to which their territories were contiguous, they were enabled in all directions to carry war and devastation to the neighboring or to the more distant nations. Nature had endowed them with height, strength and symmetry of person which distinguished them at a glance among the individuals of other tribes. They were brave as they were strong; but ferocious and cruel when excited in savage warfare; crafty, treacherous and overreaching, when these qualities best suited their purposes. The proceedings of their grand council were marked with great decorum and solemnity. In eloquence, in dignity and profound polity, their speakers might well bear comparison with the statesmen of civilized assemblies. By an early alliance with the Dutch on the Hudson they secured the use of firearms, and were thus enabled, not only to repel the encroachments of the French, but also to exterminate, or reduce to a state of vassalage, many Indian nations. From these
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they exacted an annual tribute, or acknowledgment of fealty, permitting them however, in that condition, to occupy their former hunting grounds. The humiliation of tributary nations was, however, tempered with a paternal regard for their interests in all negotiations with the whites, and care was taken that no trespass should be committed on their rights, and that they should be justly dealt with."
Jean de Lambertbille, a French officer in the Indian territory, writing under date of January 10, 1684, said: "Presents, conjoined with kindness, are arms which the Iroquois scarcely ever resist; on the other hand, threats, or even war, would have been equally fatal to the colony. * * * The Iroquois is daring, well armed, and makes war like a thief." M. Denonville, writing a year later, said of the various Indian tribes: "The Iroquois are the most formidable; they daily make prisoners among their neighbors, whose children they carry off at an early age and adopt."
FRENCH AND INDIAN INTRIGUES.French and English Intrigues When the French and English began to extend their settlements westward, the lake region was under the full dominion of the Iroquois, with the Senecas as the immediate possessors of the soil. Both nations appreciated the importance of having the good will of the Indians, but the adroit French were more successful in winning their friendship than their blunt and less politic competitors. As far back as 1730, the French Indian agent, Joncaire, penetrated this section, adopted the habits of the natives, became on of their number, and "won them over to the French interest." The French built up a considerable trade with the Indians, which yielded an immense profit. It consisted largely of beads, knives, trinkets and other articles of small value which were exchanged for skins, and the latter sent to Europe. The English viewed the projects of the French with mingled jealousy and alarm, sent out numerous agents, and succeeded in some quarters in estranging the Indians from their rivals, but not to any extended degree. Some of their traders were located at LeBoeuf (Waterford) when the advance troops of the French reached that point in 1753.
Friendly as the Six Nations were toward the French in a commercial sense, they did not take kindly at first to the occupation of their country by armed bodies of the latter. The expedition of Sieur Marin (or Morang), in 1753, and the erection of forts at Presque Isle and LeBoeuf, worked them up to a spirit of bitter resentment. A delegation of Senecas waited upon that officer at LeBoeuf to inquire of him "by a belt" whether he "was marching with a banner uplifted or to establish tranquility." He answered that his purpose was to support and assist them in their necessities, and to drive away the evil spirits that encompessed them and disturbed the earth, meaning the English. His manner and conduct appeased them, so that the Allegheny River Senecas zealously assisted the French with horses and provisions. During the fall of the year, the chiefs of the several tribes bordering on the lake and the Allegheny River were called together at LeBoeuf, told by the French commander that he could advance no further on account of the winter, but would be on hand in the spring with a strong force, and threatened with vengeance if they took sides with the English. On Washington's visit to LeBoeuf, in 1753, he learned that in addition to the Senecas, the Chippeways, Delawares, Chaounans, Ottaways and Orandeeks, tribes in the interior, were all in league with the French; 600 Indians took part with the latter at Braddock's defeat. The Indians of Western Pennsylvania were generally favorable to the French throughout the war.
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M. de Vandreil, in a letter from Montreal, dated August 8, 1756, wrote that "the domiciliated Massassauguas of Presque Isle have been out to the number of ten against the English. They have taken one prisoner and two scalps, and gave them to cover the death of M. de St. Pierre." This was the officer who commanded at LeBoeuf when Washington was there, and who was killed in battle near Lake George in 1754. A large body of Indians was gathered at Presque Isle in the same year. The small-pox breaking out among them caused so much alarm that they made haste to return to their homes.
In 1757, the English seem to have won some of the tribes over to their side, for we learn from the Pennsylvania Archives that the French kept "100 men in garrison at Presque Isle, being apprehensive that the English and the Indians might attack them there," and by 1759 the nation had reached the conclusion that they could very well dispense with the presence of both. M. de Vandreil, writing from Montreal, on March 31 of that year, state that "There is reason to presume that the Indians would wish there were neither French nor English at the beautiful river (the Allegheny), and that they are heartily tired of the war" -- a wish that is not surprising, as they were the greatest sufferers.
PONTIAC'S CONSPIRACY.The war closed in 1760, leaving the whole Western country under the domination of the English. Presque Isle was the last of the French forts south of Lake Erie to be abandoned. The parting between the French and the Indians was extremely affecting. The Indians called them their "brethren," and invoked the aid of the Great Spirit to give them a speedy return. Matters went along in comparative harmony between the English and the Indians for some time, but the latter were never hearty in their friendship. They liked the French better than the English, had been told that they would soon come back, and awaited the event with unconcealed anxiety. This feeling was encouraged by the French agents, and at last led to one of the most widespread, successful, and diabolical conspiracies on record. The most powerful and influential of the Western chiefs was the renowned Pontiac, head of the Ottawa tribe. When the English assumed domination of the country he was at first distant and sullen toward them, but in time his prejudices seemed to be conquered, and he even rendered some service that led them to believe that they could rely upon his co-operation. His friendship proved, however, to be assumed, and he was quietly at work fomenting a spirit of hostility among the several tribes, and organizing them for concerted action. His plan included a union of all the tribes west of the Alleghanies, including the Six Nations. The conspiracy was conducted with such secrecy and planned with so much skill, that almost before the English knew that hostile measures were on foot nine of the thirteen western forts had been captured, among the number being Presque Isle, LeBoeuf and Venango. Niagara, Pittsburgh and the two other forts were invested, "but withstood the attacks until relief arrived from the Eastern settlements."
CAPTURE OF LE BOEF AND PRESQUE ISLE.Fort LeBoeuf was assaulted on the 17th of June, 1783. It was commanded by Ensign Price, who had a force of thirteen men. Finding it impossible to hold the post, they crept out at night, managed to elude the savage enemy, and escaped to Pittsburgh. From LeBoeuf the Indians, consisting of about 200 Senecas and Ottawas, marched immediately to Presque Isle, which surrendered on the 22d of the same month. This fort stood upon the bank
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of the bay, on a point of land just west of the mouth of Mill Creek, that has been mainly dug away for railroad purposes. The following account of its capture is from Parkman's History of the "Conspiracy of Pontiac:" "There had been hot fighting before Presqu'ile was taken. Could courage have saved it, it never would have fallen. * * At one of its angles was a large block-house, a species of structure much used in the petty forest warfare of the day. It was two stories in height, and solidly built of massive timber; the diameter of the upper story exceeding that of the lower by several feet, so that through the openings in the projecting floor of the former the defenders could shoot down upon the heads of an enemy assailing the outer wall below. The roof being covered with shingles might easily be set on fire, but to guard against this there was an opening through which the garrison, partially protected by a covering of plank, might pour down the water upon the flames. * * * And now the defenders could see the Indians throwing up earth and stones behind one of the breastworks; their implacable foes were laboring to undermine the block-house, a sure and insidious expedient, against which there was no defense. There was little leisure to reflect on this new peril, for another, more imminent and horrible, soon threatened them. The barrels of water always kept in the block-house were nearly emptied in extinguishing the frequent fires, and though there was a well in the parade ground, yet to approach it would be certain death. The only recourse was to dig one in the block-house itself. The floor was torn up, and while some of the men fired their heated muskets from the loopholes to keep the enemy in check, the rest labored with desperate energy at this toilsome and cheerless task. Before it was half completed, the cry of fire was again raised, and, at the imminent risk of life, they tore off the blazing shingles and arrested the danger. By this time, it was evening. The little garrison had fought from earliest daylight without a minute's rest. Nor did darkness bring relief, for the Indians' guns flashed all night long from the intrenchments. They seemed determined to wear out the obstinate defenders by fatigue. While some slept, others in their turn continued the assault, and morning brought fresh dangers. The block-house was fired several times during the day, but they kept up their forlorn and desperate resistance. The house of the commanding officer sank into glowing embers. The fire on both sides did not cease till midnight, at which hour a voice was heard in French, calling out that further defense was useless, since preparations were made to burn above and below at once. Ensign Christie, the officer in command, demanded if any one spoke English, upon which a man in Indian dress came forward. He had been made a prisoner in the French war, and was now fighting against his own countrymen. He said if they yielded they would be saved alive, if not, they would be burned. Christie resolved to hold out as long as a shadow of hope remained, and while some of the garrison slept, the rest watched. They told them to wait until morning. They assented, and suspended their fire. When morning came, they sent out two persons, on pretense of treating, but in reality to learn the truth of the preparations to burn the block-house, whose sides were pierced with bullets and scorched with fire. In spite of the capitulation, they were surrounded and seized, and, having been detained for some time in the neighborhood, were sent as prisoners to Detroit, where Ensign Christie soon made his escape and gained the fort in safety."
ANOTHER ACCOUNT OF THE CAPTURE OF PRESQUE ISLE.A more vivid, shocking, and altogether different account of the affair was written upward of forty years ago by Mr. H. L. Harvey, and has appeared in
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several historical sketches of the county, but, after comparison with the official reports of the day, as published in the Pennsylvania Archives, the present writer is led to believe that Parkman has stated the facts correctly. The account of Mr. Harvey is to the tenor that three Indians appeared at the gate of the fort claiming to be on the way to Niagara with furs -- that, upon the pretence that their canoes were bad, and that they wished to sell him their stuff, they induced the Ensign in command to visit their camp, a mile east, with his clerk -- that, after a due season of absence about a hundred and fifty Indians reached the fort, bearing what appeared to be packs of furs -- that, upon being admitted, they drew their tomahawks and rifles, butchered those who resisted, and tortured to death those who were taken prisoner -- and that only two persons of all the inmates of the fort escaped, the one a soldier who had gone into the woods, and the other a woman who hid in the wash house at the mouth of the creek, was discovered the next day, taken prisoner, and ultimately ransomed. This story, though blood-curdling enough to please the most distempered mind, is hardly consistent with itself, and is not born out by the official documents. It is said that an occurrence somewhat similar to the account of Mr. Harvey actually transpired at Venango, and his informant, in some way, probably, got the two affairs mixed. The history of the event, as given by Parkman, agrees with that of Mr. Thatcher in his "Life of Pontiac."
For some time after the capture of the forts, the sparsely settled western country was a "dark and bloody ground" indeed. Hundreds of traders and settlers were shot, tomahawked and scalped, and no mercy was shown even to the women and children. Many babes had their brains knocked out before the eyes of their terror-stricken mothers; many shrieking wives were ravished and murdered in the presence of their tortured and helpless husbands. It was one of the most terrible episodes in border history, and seemed for the time to have crushed out all hope of the advance of civilization into the interior of the country. A covenant with the Indians of New York and Western Pennsylvania was made in the fall of 1768, but hostilities, though not upon an extended scale, were soon renewed. Early in 1784, a British Army of 8,000, under command of Gen. Bradstreet, passed up the lake in canoes. They stopped at Presque Isle and dragged their canoes across the neck of the peninsula to avoid paddling several miles around. After relieving Detroit, Bradstreet returned to Presque Isle, where on the 12th of August, 1764, he made a treaty of peace with the Delawares and Shawnees, which was scarcely signed till it was broken.
No authentic record of events in this section can be found from that date until 1794. The fort appears to have been abandoned, and it is probable that the English made no attempt to exercise more than nominal control over the country. A few traders wandered back and forth, but there is no knowledge of any permanent settlement. The whole region along the south shore of Lake Erie, and for many miles south and west, was known as the Indian country. Pittsburgh was the nearest white settlement on the south, and Cherry Valley, New York, on the east.
AMERICAN OCCUPATION.The treaty of Peace with Great Britain, which secured the independence of the United States, was made in 1782. By its provisions the British Government abandoned all claim to the western country, and agreed to withdraw its troops and yield up possession of the forts, block-houses and other military structures. In October, 1784, a treaty was made with the Six Nations by which they relinquished to the State of Pennsylvania all of the Northwest to a line parallel with the southern boundary of New York. By another treaty,
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made on the 9th of January, 1789, with a part only of the Six Nations, they acknowledged "the right of soil and jurisdiction to and over" the Triangle "to be vested in the State of Pennsylvania." Some dissatisfaction having arisen among the Seneca tribe in consequence of this act, the Legislature empowered the Governor to draw a warrant for $800 in favor of Cornplanter, Half Town and Big Tree, in trust for the use of the tribe and in full satisfaction of all demands, in consideration of which the said chiefs, on the 3d of February, 1791, signed a release of all claims against the State for themselves and their propel forever. On the 3d of March, 1792, the Triangle was purchased from the United States by the Commonwealth, and a month later an act of Assembly was passed to encourage its settlement by white people. State troops, to facilitate this purpose, were first stationed at LeBoeuf early in May, 1794. It was the intention to establish a post at Presque Isle forthwith, but events that will be related hereafter delayed the enterprise.
The treaties and deed referred to above were distasteful to a large element of the Six Nations, and even some of the Senecas refused to acquiesce in them, charging that Cornplanter and the other chiefs had been bribed to give the documents their signatures. The Indians regarded the presence of the State troops with great disfavor, and determined, if possible, to prevent the settlement of the territory. They were incited to this course by English emissaries, who hoped that by a rising of the Indian tribes they might cripple the infant government of the Union, and perhaps restore the western territory to the British crown. Among the most hostile to the progress of the Americans was the notorious Brandt, head of the Mohawk tribe, who still cherished the idea, originated by Pontiac, of building up a great Indian confederacy and restricting the control of the Union to the country east of the Allegheny. The following letter, witten by him on the 19th of July, 1794, to Gov. Simcoe, of Upper Canada, shows in a clearer light the aid extended to the hostile Indians by the British authorities:
"In regard to the Presque Isle business, should we not get an answer at the time limited, it is our business to push those follows hard. * * * Should those fellows (the Americans) not go off, and O'Bail (Cornplanter) continue in the same opinion, an expedition against those Yankees must of consequence take place. His excellency has been so good as to furnish us with a cwt. of powder, and ball in proportion, which is not at Fort Erie, opposite Buffalo; but, in the event of an attack upon LeBoeuf people, I could wish, if consistent, that his excellency would order a like quantity in addition to be at Fort Erie in order to be in readiness; likewise, I would hope for a little assistance in provisions."
It may be stated here that the Six Nations were dissuaded from joining the confederacy of Western Indians to oppose the Americans chiefly by the influence of Cornplanter. His course cost him the confidence of his people, but he was rewarded by the thanks of the United States Government, and received liberal donations of land at its hands.
THREATS OF AN INDIAN WAR.The above letter from Brandt anticipates our story somewhat, and required an account of some preliminary events in order to be correctly understood. Early in 1794, an Indian council was held at Buffalo, where there was a considerable Seneca village, to protect against the settlement at Presque Isle, on the result of which, it was given out, would depend the issue of peace or war. To this council Cornplanter, whom Brandt was seeking to win to his side, was invited. Meanwhile, an Indian had been killed in a drunken fray by a State
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soldier at or near Pittsburgh, which gave the hostiles an excuse for their incendiary conduct. The State officials "settled" the trouble by paying $100 to "replace" the dead Indian, and it is quaintly stated in the chronicles of the day that "many of his tribe were sorry that it was not their relative, that they might have got a share of the money." Soon after this, two canoes were fired into by the Indians as they were floating down the Allegheny, and four men were killed and three wounded. The officials of the General Government were fearful of an extended war, and urged Gov. Mifflin to suspend operations at Presque Isle, while the State authorities, on the contrary, were confident that the best way to avert the strife was to garrison the place with a respectable force. After considerable correspondence, including a personal letter from President Washington, operations were sulkily suspended by order of Gov. Mifflin, who was harshly criticised for it by the leaders of public opinion in the West.
The council at Buffalo was attended by Gen. Israel Chapin, U. S. Superintendent of the Six Nations, who wrote to the Secretary of War: "I am afraid of the consequences of the attempt to settle Presque Isle at present. The Indians do not acknowledge the validity of the Cornplanter sale to Pennsylvania." By request of the council, he went to LeBoeuf on or about the 26th of June, 1794, accompanied by Mr. Johnson, British Indian Agent, and twenty-five chiefs and warriors, to remonstrate with the State officers at that post against the placing of garrisons in the Northwest. The representatives of the Six Nations claimed to be anxious to live at peace with the United States, but pretended to be much disturbed by the presence of the troops, fearing that it would involve them in strife with the hostile Indians. They were assured by Ellicott and Denny, the State officers at LeBoeuf, that the soldiers could not move from there till ordered, and that they would await the commands of their superior in authority. The council adjourned without accomplishing anything of a definite character. During its continuance, it was reported that two armed British vessels were lying off Presque Isle, evidently for the purpose of intimidating the State officials.
Another Indian council was held at LeBoeuf on the 4th of July, 1794, at which the chiefs reiterated their purpose of preventing a garrison being stationed at Presque Isle.
RAIDS BY THE SAVAGES.The savages continued to be sullen and threatening for some months, and many persons looked upon war as imminent. Several raids were made upon the southern settlements, among others on Cussewago, near the Crawford County line. A Mr. Dickson, living near there, was fired upon by a party of Indians on the 10th of September. Twelve soldiers, sent from LeBoeuf for the protection of the settlement, were fired upon, and the Indians drove off several horses. Matters remained in this alarming condition till October, when news reached LeBoeuf of Wayne's victory on the Maumee. This had a wonderful effect upon the Indians of our vicinity. A number of warriors of the Six Nations had taken part in the fight, and the reports they brought back of Wayne's daring has a disheartening effect upon their comrades. The Senecas, who had been strongly urged to go into the war, gave the messengers a peremptory refusal. Notwithstanding this decision, disturbances broke out on several occasions, which continued to delay the establishment at Presque Isle. On Saturday, the 29th of May, 1795, four men who were journeying from LeBoeuf to the latter point, were attacked near the present Union depot in Erie, by a party of Indians, in retaliation, it is supposed, because some
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of their friends had been fired upon by whites along the Allegheny. Ralph Rutledge, one of the number, was killed and scalped, and his body, being afterward found, was interred on a piece of rising ground on the west side of State street, near its junction with Turnpike. His son was also shot and scalped, but lived to be taken to the fort at LeBoeuf, where he died. This is the last Indian difficulty known to have taken place in the county. A treaty of peace was effected with the Western tribes by Gen. Wayne at Greenville, Ohio, on the 3d of August, 1795, and another was made with the Six Nations at Canandaigua, N. Y., on the 9th of November ensuing. At this latter, which was described in the annals of the day as "the Great Council," 1,600 Indians were present, including Cornplanter, who was at the head of 400 of the Allegheny portion of the Senecas.
INDIAN VILLAGES AND GRAVEYARDS.Singular as it may appear, considering the fertility of Erie County, and the splendid facilities it must have furnished for hunting and fishing, there is no evidence that any large number of Indians ever make their abode within its limits after it became known to the whites. In 1795, there were Indian villages on Mill Creek, and at the head of the bay, each numbering from twenty to thirty families. Their corn fields were on the flat lands above, about half a mile southwest, partially covering the farms of James C. Marshall and A. J. Kelso. Other villages were located at Waterford and Cranesville. The latter was there when Mr. Colton, the earliest settler of Elk Creek Township, made his location in 1797. From all that we can learn through the ancient records, the village at Waterford was and had long been the most important in the county. Traces of the settlement existed until about forty years ago. The villagers had a burial place, orchard, extensive corn fields and vast herds of cattle.
On the Scouller farm, directly south from the Martin Warfel place, and in the southeast corner of the city limits, was an Indian graveyard, where the boys of forty years ago used to irreverently dig into the mounds and gather bones as relics. The first field east of the burial ground was cleared in 1821, and for some years after it was a frequent thing to find stone hatchets and other rude implements of the aborigines. it was the custom for many years after the incoming of the whites, for parties of Indians to camp near by and indulge in peculiar rites in commemoration of their ancestors. The last Indian encampment was in June, 1841, when about a dozen Indians spent a couple of days on the site. The mounds have all been plowed down, and no traces exist of this once sacred spot to the red men.
Numerous Indian graves, arrow heads, pieces of pottery, and other curiosities have been found in a grave on the Hunter place, bordering French Creek, in LeBoeuf Township. A graveyard was opened on the Ebersole farm, east of Erie City, which contained numerous bones, beads and other Indian remains. All of the bodies were in a sitting position. Graves have been found in spots all along the Ridge road from Ebersole's woods to State street in Erie.
As to the number of Indians in this section, the only authority we have is a letter from Andrew Ellicott to Gov. Mifflin, written from LeBoeuf, in 1794. In this epistle he said: "When I was at Niagara, in 1789, Mr. Street, who stored the presents from the British Government for the Six Nations, handed me a census of their numbers, which had just been taken, and on which the decision was to be made, and it amounted only to between 3,200 and 3,300 men, women and children." What became of the Indians, it is difficult to state. Many undoubtedly went westward, while others took up their
184 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
homes on the reservations along the Allegheny. Early in the century, bodies of Indians passed through the county occasionally on friendly visits between New York and Western tribes. Maj. G. J. Ball informs us that when a boy he saw parties of 100 to 150 red men, women and children, encamped on the parks in the city of Erie.
In an appendix to his published oration at the dedication of the monument to Cornplanter, in 1867, Hon. J. R. Snowden gives the following, as the location and number of the Seneca Indians at that date:
"On the Allegheny River, in Pennsylvania, fifteen miles above Warren, at Cornplanter's town (Jennesadaga), 80; acres of land owned, 300; on the Allegheny Reservation, in New York, a few miles above the Pennsylvania line, 900; acres of land owned, 26,600; on Cattaraugus Reservation, in Erie and Cattaraugus Counties, N. Y., about 1,700; acres of land under cultivation, 5,000; at Tonawanda, in New York, about 700; acres of land owned, 7,000.
"The Oneidas at the same time numbered 1,050. Some 250 were located in Oneida and Madison Counties, N. Y., and the balance of the tribe were in Brown County, Wis. The Onondagas and Tuscaroras were each 350 in number, the former living about six miles south of Syracuse, N. Y., and the latter about seven miles northeast of Niagara Falls."
Mr. Snowden adds: "The present condition of these remnants of the Six Nations is quite respectable. In most of the reservations they have schools and places of public worship. Many of them belong to the Methodist and Baptist Churches. The chief of the Six Nations, Stephen S. Smith, who made a speech at the inauguration of the Cornplanter Monument, is a minister in the Baptist Church."
The reservations occupied by the Senecas include about 40,000 acres. "They own the land in common, and are governed by a President and a Board of Counselors. Very few white people live among them. They are all civilized, and all have embraced the Christian religion, except a few who cling to the old Indian religion, and are called 'pagans.'"
CORNPLANTER THE SENECA CHIEF.This chapter would not complete without a short sketch of Cornplanter, the distinguished chief of the Seneca tribe, to whom reference is so frequently made above. He was a half-breed, the son of John O'Bail (or A'Bael), a trader in the Mohawk Valley, by an Indian mother. His English name was the same as his father's, and his Indian name was Gyant-wachia or Cornplanter. At the age of twenty, he was with the French at Braddock's defeat, and he participated in the various Indian campaigns that occurred during and after the Revolution, always against the Americans. As Cornplanter advanced in years, he grew to realize the strength of the Union, and from being its relentless foe, became its admirer and fast friend. His influence largely brought about the treaties of peace at Forts Stanwix and Harmer, in consequence of which he partly lost the confidence of the Senecas, and was supplanted by the more artful and eloquent Red Jacket, who had long been his rival. In return for his services upon these and other occasions, the State of Pennsylvania granted him a fine reservation, on the Allegheny River above Warren, where he spent the balance of his hears. Although he participated in the councils at Buffalo, to take measures for preventing the establishment at Presque Isle, it is claimed by his biographer that he was at heart friendly to the Americans and had pledged himself that the Senecas should not "take up the hatchet." His death occurred on the 18th of February, 1836, after he had passed the one-hundredth year of his age. He was a man of more than ordinary eloquence,
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although not equal to his rival, Red Jacket. The following is a brief sample of his style:
"I thank the Almighty that I am speaking this good day. I have been through all nations in America, and am sorry to see the folly of many of the people. What makes me sorry is, they all tell lies, and I never found truth amongst them. All the Western nations of Indians, as well as the white people, have told me lies. Even in council I have been deceived, and been told things which I have told to my chiefs and young men, which I have found not to be so, which makes me tell lies by not being able to make good my work; but I hope they will all see their folly and repent. The Almighty has not made me to lie, but to tell the truth, one to another; yet, when two people meet together, if they lie, one to the other, these people cannot be at peace; and so it is with nations, and that is the cause of so much war."
In 1866, the Legislature of Pennsylvania appropriated $500 to build a monument to Cornplanter at Jennessedaga, Cornplanter Town, Warren County, the place of his last residence. The monument was erected in 1867, and dedicated on the 18th of October of the same year.
THE French were the first white men who made explorations in the lake region. As early as 1611-12, Sieur de Champlain ascended the chain of lakes as far as Lake Huron. At a period extending from 1620 to 1640, the Indians were visited by numerous French Catholic priests, among whom were the celebrated Joliet and Marquette, on the double mission of spreading the Gospel and promoting the interests of their king and nation. In 1679, La Salle launched the schooner Griffin in Niagara River, and sailed with a picked body of men to Green Bay, in Lake Michigan, as will be found more fully detailed in the chapter on lake navigation. A french post was established at Machinaw in 1684, and a fort and navy on Lake Erie were proposed by M. de Denonville in 1685, but the idea was not carried into effect. The dominion of the country was not wholly given over to the French until 1753. They did a large trade with the Indians by exchanging beads, goods, provisions, guns and ammunition for furs, which were shipped across the ocean and sold at an immense profit. Although their possession was undisturbed, it must not be inferred that it was quietly acquiesced in by the English. The French claimed that their discovery of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi entitled them to the ownership of the territory bordering upon those streams and their tributaries. The English claim was based upon a grant by King James I, in 1606, to "divers of his subjects, of all the countries between north latitude 48¡ and 34¡, and westward from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea," and also upon purchases of Western lands made from the Six Nations by Commissioners from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, representing the mother country. A long and sometimes acrimonious controversy was waged between the foreign departments of the two nations over the question, and the leading officers in America, on both sides, looked upon it as certain to eventually result in war.
186 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
THE FIRST SOLDIERS.Previous to 1749, the French had done nothing of an official nature looking to the occupation of the country between Lake Erie and the Ohio. Their discoverers had taken possession of it long before in the name of the King, and from that time it had been a sort of common tramping ground for adventurous traders of both nations, without being directly subject to the control of either. In the year named, Capt. Celeron, with a detachment of 300 men, was sent by the Captain General of Canada to "renew the French possession" of the Ohio and its tributaries. He came up Lake Erie to the mouth of Chautauqua Creek, from which point he crossed over to the Allegheny, by way of Chautauqua Lake and the Conewango. Descending the Allegheny and the Ohio as far as the mouth of the Muskingum, he deposited leaden plates at the mouths of some of the most important streams, as a "monument of renewal of possession," and as a mark for the guidance of those who might follow him. One of these plates, buried at the confluence of French Creek with the Allegheny, was found afterward. The expedition caused much alarm among the Indians, who regarded it as the beginning of a scheme to "steal their country," and also created much commotion throughout the English colonies, whose officials saw in it a purpose to maintain by force what the French had before contented themselves with claiming in argument. An extensive correspondence ensued between the Governors of the several colonies, stirring letters were forwarded to the home Government, and the movement was universally regarded as the precursor of a long and sanguinary war. Among other plans proposed on the English side, Gov. Shirley of Massachusetts suggested the building of one or two war vessels each on Lakes Erie and Ontario, for the purpose of keeping the French in check.
In 1751, an expedition of French and Indians was organized in Canada to proceed to the "Beautiful" or Ohio River, and in May of that year a part of the force was reported to have passed Oswego in thirty canoes. For some reason the venture was abandoned, but warlike threats and preparations continued for two years.
ARMY OF OCCUPATION.Finally, in the spring of 1753, the long threatened occupation began. Quite a full account of the expedition is given in a letter preserved among the Pennsylvania Archives, from M. DuQuesne, General-in-chief at Montreal, to the French minister at Paris. It was in charge of three young officers -- Sieur Marin, commander, and Maj. Pean and the Chevalier Mercier, assistants -- and consisted of 250 men. The little army marched up Lake Erie by land and ice to Presque Isle, where it was decided to build a fort and establish a base of supplies. The reasons which prompted the selection of Presque Isle were the short portage to Lake Le Boeuf and the facility with which canoes could be floated down French Creek from the latter to the Allegheny. M. DuQuesne's letter describes the bay of Presque Isle as "a harbor which the largest vessels can enter loaded, and be in perfect safety. It is," says he, "the finest spot in nature, a bark could safely enter -- it would be as it were in a box." On the 3d of August the fort at Presque Isle was finished, the portage road, six leagues long, was "ready for carriages," the storehouse, half way across, was in a condition to receive stock, and the fort at LeBoeuf was nearly completed. No serious trouble was apprehended from the Indians, who were willingly assisting in the transportation of the stores.
From the same and other authorities we learn that it was the original purpose to establish the base of supplies at the mouth of Chautauqua Creek, but
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that when Marin reached there he did not like the position. He accordingly ordered Mercier, who was the engineer of the expedition, to proceed to Presque Isle and report upon its merits. The latter was gone three days, and gave such a glowing account of the advantages of the location that the army was immediately ordered forward. Among the members of the expedition was one Stephen Coffin, an Englishman, who had been taken prisoner by the French and Indians in 1747, and carried to Canada. When the expedition left Quebec he enlisted in it, and accompanied his command to Presque Isle. After a military experience of less than a year he deserted to the English, and on the 10th of January, 1754, made a deposition in which he alleges that the army reached Presque Isle over 800 strong, a statement that does not correspond with the report of DuQuesne. The following is an abstract of his story:
COFFIN'S STATEMENT.When they arrived at Presque Isle, work was almost immediately commenced on the fort. It was of chestnut logs, squared, and lapped over each other to the height of fifteen feet, about 120 feet on the sides, with a log house in each corner, and had gates in the north and south sides. When the fort was finished, they began cutting a wagon road to LeBoeuf, where they commenced getting out boards and timber for another fort. Presque Isle was left in command of Capt. Deponteney, while Marin, with the rest of the troops, encamped at LeBoeuf. From the latter point a detachment of fifty men was sent to the mouth of French Creek, but finding the Indians hostile to the erection of a fort, it returned, capturing two English traders on the way, who were sent to Canada in irons. A few days later, 100 Indians "called by the French Loos," visited LeBoeuf and arranged to carry some stores to the Allegheny, which they never delivered, greatly to the disappointment of the French. This and other causes, including the failure to build the third fort at the mouth of French Creek, disheartened Marin, who feared that he might forfeit the favor of the Governor General in consequence. He had been sick for some time, and had to be moved about in a carriage. Rather than return to Canada in disgrace, he begged his officers to seat him in the center of the fort, set it on fire, and let him perish in the flames, which they of course, refused to do. Marin, according to the deponent, was of a peevish and disagreeable disposition, and extremely unpopular among his brother officers. Lake in the fall, Chevalier Le Crake arrived at Presque Isle in a birch canoe worked by ten men, bearing, among other things, a cross of St. Louis for Marin, which the other officer would not allow him to take until the Governor General had been acquainted with his conduct. Near the close of October, all but 300 men to garrison the fort, were ordered back to Canada. The first detachment went down the lake in twenty-two batteaux, each containing twenty men, and were followed in a few days by the balance -- 700 in number. A halt was made at the mouth of Chautauqua Creek, where, with 200 men, a road was cut in four days to Lake Chautauqua, in the expectation that it might be a more feasible route to the Allegheny than the one by LeBoeuf. Reaching Niagara, fifty men were left there to build batteaux for the army in the spring, and to erect a building for storing provisions. Coffin places the total number of men who reach Presque Isle during the year at 1,500.
WASHINGTON'S VISIT.Marin died at Le Boeuf soon after the main body of the troops departed, leaving the forts at Presque Isle and Le Boeuf respectively in charge of Capt. Riparti and Commander St. Pierre. The latter was visited during the winter
190 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
by a gentleman who afterward rose to the first place in American love and history. This was no less a personage than George Washington, then in his twenty-first year, who was accompanied by Christopher Gist, an experienced white frontiersman, and one Indian interpreter. They reached Le Boeuf on the 11th of December and remained till the 16th, during which time Capt. Riparti was called over from Presque Isle to confer with Washington and St. Pierre. Washington's treatment, though formal, was courteous and kind, and he has left on record in his journal a warm compliment to the gentlemanly character of the French officers. The object and result of Washington's mission are given in the following letters, the first being the one he was charged with delivering to the Commander-in-chief of the French forces by Gov. Dinwiddie, of Virginia, and the second the reply of St. Pierre:
October 31, 1753.SIR: The lands upon the River Ohio, in the western part of the colony of Virginia, are so notoriously known to be the property of the crown of Great Britain that it is a matter of equal concern and surprise to me to hear that a body of French forces are erecting fortresses and making settlements upon that river within His Majesty's dominions. The many and repeated complaints I have received of these acts of hostility lay me under the necessity of sending in the name of the King, my master, the bearer hereof, George Washington, Esq., one of the Adjutants General of the forces of this dominion, to complain to you of the encroachments thus made, and of the injuries done to the subjects of Great Britain, in violation of the law of nations and the treaties subsisting between the two crowns. If these facts are true and you think fit to justify your proceedings, I must desire you to acquaint me by whose authority and instructions you have lately marched from Canada with an armed force and invaded the King of Great Britain's territory, in the manner complained of; that, according to the purport and resolution of your answer, I may act agreeably to the commission I am honored with from the King, my master. However, sir, in obedience to my instructions, it becomes my duty to require your peaceable departure; and that you would forbear prosecuting a purpose so interruptive of the harmony and good understanding which His Majesty is desirous to continue and cultivate with the most Christian King, etc. ROBERT DINWIDDIE.
From the Fort on the River au Boeuf
Washington did not extend his journey to Presque Isle, feeling, perhaps, that duty compelled him to report the French answer as speedily as could be done. Both sides were busily engaged during the winter in preparing for the war which was now inevitable. The French plan was to establish a chain of fortifications from Quebec along Lake Ontario and Erie and the water of French Creek and the Allegheny to the junction of the last-named stream with the Monongahela, where Pittsburgh now stands, and from there along the Ohio and Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico. Of these, we have already described the progress at Presque Isle and Le Boeuf. The forts at Niagara, the mouth of French Creek and the head of the Ohio were constructed early in 1754.
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The one at the junction of French Creek and the Allegheny was known as Fort Machault or Venango, and the one at Pittsburgh as Fort DuQuesne. Provisions and ammunition were sent from Quebec to Presque Isle, and from there distributed to the lower forts.
PROGRESS OF THE FRENCH.As soon as the weather would permit in the spring of 1754, troops were moved by both sides in the direction of the Ohio. The first French detachment to reach Pittsburgh, then known as the "Forks of the Ohio," was on the 17th of April. It was commanded by Contreceur, and consisted of 1,000 French and Indians, with eighteen cannon. Their voyage from Le Boeuf down French Creek and the Allegheny was made in sixty batteaux and 300 canoes. The English had put up a stockade at the Forks, during the winter, which was unfinished and guarded only by an ensign and forty-one men. This small body, seeing the hopelessness of defense, immediately surrendered. On the 3d or 4th of July, 500 English capitulated to the French at Fort Necessity, in Fayette County, after an engagement of about ten hours. The French seem to have been uniformly successful in the campaign of 1754. Deserters from their ranks reported that the number of French and Indians in the country during the year was about 2,000, of whom five or six hundred had become unfit for duty.
The records of the campaign show that Presque Isle was regarded by both the French and English as a post of much importance. DuQuesne, in a letter from Quebec of July 6, 1755, says: "The fort at Presque Isle serves as a depot for all others on the Ohio. * * The effects are put on board pirogues at Fort Le Boeuf. * * At the latter fort the prairies, which are extensive, furnish only bad hay, but it is easy to get rid of it. * * At Presque Isle the hay is very abundant and good. The quantity of pirogues constructed on the River AuBoeuf has exhausted all the large trees in the neighborhood." It was on the 9th of July, 1755, that Braddock's defeat took place near Pittsburgh, an event which raised the French hopes to a pitch of the utmost exultation, and seemed for the time to destroy all prospect of English ascendancy in the West. From 2,000 to 3,000 French and Indians are supposed to have passed through Presque Isla during the season.
FRENCH VILLAGE AT PRESQUE ISLE.An official letter dated at Montreal, August 8, 1756, says: "The domiciliated Mississaugues of Presque Isle have been out to the number of ten against the English. They have taken one prisoner and two scalps, and gave them to cover the loss of M. de St. Pierre." This officer had been ordered East in the winter of 1753, and was killed in battle near Lake George the ensuing summer. The same letter reports the small-pox as having prevailed at Presque Isle. A prisoner who escaped from the Indians during this year described Fort Le Boeuf as "garrisoned with 150 men, and a few straggling Indians. Presque Isle is built of square logs filled up with earth; the barracks are within the fort, and garrisoned with 150 men, supported chiefly from a French settlement begun near it. The settlement consists of about one hundred families. The Indian families about the settlement are pretty numerous; they have a priest and schoolmaster, and some grist mills and stills in the settlement." The village here referred to was on the east bank of Mill Creek, a little back from the lake, almost on a line with Parade street.
192 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
EVENTS OF 1757 AND 1758.No events of importance occurred in this section in 1757. The only chronicle we find relates that some of the Indian warriors aiding the French sent their families to the neighborhood of Presque Isle for the purpose of planting corn. A captured French ensign reported in his examination on the 20th of June that 100 men were in garrison at Presque Isle, and that apprehensions were felt by them of an attack by the English and Indians. The transportation from Canada for the troops was mainly by canoes, which were obliged to keep close to the north shore of the lake. Fort LeBoeuf was in charge of an ensign of foot. There were from 800 to 900, and sometimes 1,000 men between the forts, 150 of whom were regulars and the rest Canadian Indians, who worked at the forts and built boats. There were no settlements nor improvements near the forts, which would indicate that the village at Presque Isle had been abandoned. The French planted corn about them for the Indians, whose wives and children came to the forts for it, and were also furnished with clothing at the King's expense. Traders resided in the forts who bought peltries of them. Several homes were outside the forts, but people did not care to occupy them for fear of being scalped. One of the French batteaux usually carried sixty bags of flour and three or four men; when unloaded they would carry twelve men.
A journal written in November, 1758, gives this description of the two forts, on the authority of an Indian who had just come in: "Presque Isle has been a strong stockaded fort, but is so much out of repair that a strong man might pull up any log out of the earth. There are two officers and thirty-five men in garrison there, and not above ten Indians, which they keep constantly hunting for the support of the garrison. The fort on LeBoeuf River is in much the same condition, with an officer and thirty men, and a few hunting Indians, who said they would leave there in a few days."
THE ENGLISH GAINING.During the year 1758, the English made sufficient progress in the direction of the Ohio to compel the French to evacuate Fort DuQuesne on the 22d of November, their artillery being sent down the river, and the larger part of the garrison retiring up the Allegheny. A letter dated Montreal, March 30, 1759, announces that the French troops at Detroit had been ordered to rendezvous at Presque Isle, in order to be ready to aid Fort Machault if necessary, the commander at the latter being required, if too hard pressed, to fall back on Le Boeuf. The Indians, by this time, had lost confidence in the triumph of the French, and many were either siding with the English or pretending to be neutral. One of them, employed by the English as a spy at the lakes, reached Pittsburgh during March, and gave some additional particulars of the fort at Presque Isle. "It is," he said, "square with four bastions. * * * The wall is only of single logs, with no bank within -- a ditch without. * * * The magazine is a stone house covered with shingles, and not sunk in the ground, standing in the right bastion, next the lake. * * * The other houses are of square logs." Fort Le Boeuf he described as of "the same plan, but very small -- the logs mostly rotten. Platforms are erected in the bastions, and loopholes properly cut; one gun is mounted in a bastion, and looks down the river. It has only one gate, and that faces the side opposite the creek. The magazine is on the right of the gate, going in, partly sunk in the ground, and above are some casks of powder to serve the Indians. Here are two officers, a storekeeper, clerk, priest, and 150 soldiers, who have no employment. * * *
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The road from Venango to LeBoeuf is well trodden; from there to Presque Isle is very low and swampy, and bridged most of the way."
EVACUATION OF THE FRENCH.The tide of battle continued to favor the English, and they finally besieged Fort Niagara below Buffalo, compelling the French to withdraw 1,200 men from Detroit, Presque Isle and Venango for its defense. Its capture by the English astonished and terrified the French in this section. A messenger reached Presque Isle from Sir William Johnson, the victorious English commander, notifying the officer in charge that the other posts must surrender in a few days. The French knew that their force was too small to copy with the enemy, and began making hasty preparations for departure. Their principal stores at Presque Isle were sent up the lake August 13, 1759, and the garrison waited a brief time for their comrades at Le Boeuf and Venango when the entire army left in batteaux for Detroit. An Indian, who arrived at DuQuesne soon after, reported that they had burned all of the forts, but this is questioned by some of the authorities. Upon taking their departure, they told the aborigines that they had been driven away by superior numbers, but would return in sufficient force to hold the country permanently.
ENGLISH DOMINION.The English did not take formal possession of Forts Presque Isle and Le Boeuf until 1760, when Maj.Rogers was sent out for that purpose. Hostilities between the two nations continued, but the bloody wave of war did not reach Western Pennsylvania. A treaty of peace was signed at Paris in 1763, by which the French ceded Canada and confirmed the Western country to the British Crown. The Indians did not take kindly to the British. They were hopeful of the return of the French, and meditated the driving of the victorious rivals out of the country. In June, 1763, the great Indian uprising known as "Pontiac's Conspiracy" occurred, which resulted in the destruction of all but four of the frontier posts. Fort Le Boeuf fell on the 18th and Fort Presque Isle on the 22d of that month, as will be found more fully described in the chapter devoted to the Indians. Col. Bradstreet, with a small army, arrived at Presque Isle on the 12th of August, 1764, and met a band of Shawnees and Delawares, who agreed to articles of peace and friendship. From there he marched to Detroit, where another treaty was made with the Northwestern Indians. These proceedings seem to have been entered into by the savages merely as a deception, for in a short time they renewed hostilities. Another expedition, under Col. Boquet, was fitted out, and punished the troublesome tribes so severely that they were glad to accept the conditions offered them.
The independence of the United States was acknowledged by Great Britain in 1783. By the treaty of peace the mother country abandoned all pretensions to the western region. Her officers in Canada, however, still retained a hope of the ultimate return of the colonies to the protection of the British Crown. The English had, by this date, won the confidence of the Indians, who were kept hostile to the Americans by representations that Great Britain would yet resume possession of the country. As late as 1785, Mr. Adams, our minister at London, complained to the English Secretary of State, that though two years had elapsed since the definitive treaty, the forts of Presque Isle, Niagara, and elsewhere on the Northern frontier were still held by British garrisons. The actual American occupation dates from 1795.
194 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
THE FRENCH AND ENGLISH FORTS.Little remains to be added to the various statements above, descriptive of the French forts. Fort Presque Isle stood on the bluff overlooking the mouth of Mill Creek, on the western side, about 350 feet back from the shore of the bay. The British put it in repair and occupied it till after our independence was acknowledged, by which time it had almost gone to ruin. Its site was easily traceable as late as 1863, by mounds and depressions on the bank of the lake near the mouth of the creek.
The fort at LeBoeuf stood within the present limits of Waterford Borough, on the brow of the hill above LeBoeuf Creek, nearly in line with the iron bridge across that stream. A ravine, which has since been partially filled up, extended along its north side, down which flowed a rivulet, leading Washington to describe the fort as standing on "a kind of an island." Practically the same site was successively occupied by the English and Americans.
THE FRENCH ROAD.The French road commenced at the mouth of Mill Creek, where a warehouse stood, extended up that stream a short distance, and then struck off to the higher land, nearly following the line of Parade street, on its west side, through the city limits of Erie. A branch road led from the south gate of the fort, and connected with the main road in the hollow of Mill Creek. From the southern end of Parade street the latter ran across Mill Creek Township to the present Waterford plank road. The road that begins in Marvintown opposite the old Seib stand, and terminates at the farm of Judge Souther, is almost identical with the French thoroughfare. Leaving the Waterford plank, the French road took across the hills into Summit Township, which it crossed entirely, entering Waterford Township on the Charles Skinner place, and terminating at the gate of Fort LeBoeuf, about where Judson's Hotel stands. The route known as the French road in Summit is understood to be exactly on the line of its historical original. The road was laid out thirty feet wide, and was "corduroyed" throughout most of its length. It was easily traced when the first American settlers came in, was partially adopted by them, and portions of it, as above stated, are in use to this day.
IN the charter granted by King Charles II to William Penn, dated the 4th of March, 1681, the limits of Pennsylvania are described as "three degrees of latitude in breadth, and five degrees of longitude in length, the eastern boundary being the Delaware River, the northern the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude; on the south a circle drawn at twelve miles distance from New Castle (Delaware) northward and westward unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of northern latitude, and then by a straight line westward to the limits of longitude above mentioned."
Distinctly as these lines are stated, the boundaries of the State were long a subject of earnest and sometimes bitter controversy. Fifty years before the grant to Penn, King James I granted to the Plymouth Company "all the land
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lying in the same latitude with Connecticut and Massachusetts, as far west as the Pacific Ocean, not previously settled by other Christian powers." Under the construction placed upon this clause by Connecticut, more than one-third of Pennsylvania, including the whole northern part, belonged to that province. The dispute was finally settled by the action of Congress, which appointed Commissioners in 1782 to investigate the subject, who reported that "Connecticut has no right to the land in controversy," and that "the jurisdiction and pre-emption of all lands within the charter limits of Pennsylvania do of right belong to that State."
THE WESTERN BOUNDARY.A contention of almost like character took place with Virginia in regard to the western boundary of Pennsylvania. The former claimed the entire territory embraced in Penn's charter west of a line drawn a little to the east of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. This controversy was settled in 1786, by agreeing that the western boundary of Pennsylvania should commence at a point on Mason and Dixon's line, five degrees west from the Delaware River, and extend from there directly northward to Lake Erie.
The land in the northern and northwestern parts of the State was purchased from the Six Nations by Commissioners appointed by the Legislature, who met in conference with the Indians at Fort Stanwix (now Rome), N. Y., and concluded a treaty in October, 1784. The action of the Six Nations was confirmed by a treaty made with the Delaware and Wyandots at Fort McIntosh in January, 1785. Neither of these purchases covered the territory known as "The Triangle."
THE NEW YORK LINE.By mutual agreement between New York and Pennsylvania, Commissioners were appointed in 1785 to determine and establish the east and west boundary line between the two States, being the Forty-second degree of latitude. David Rittenhouse was the Commissioner on the part of Pennsylvania, and Samuel Holland on that of New York. These gentlemen merely took measurements to locate the point in the Delaware River where the line should begin, when cold weather came on and compelled the work to cease. Rittenhouse and Holland were succeeded in 1787 by Andrew Ellicott on the part of Pennsylvania, and James Clinton and Simeon DeWitt on that of New York. They surveyed the entire line from the Delaware to Lake Erie, planting a stone every mile, with the distance from the river marked upon it, and marking mile trees in the same manner. The distance from the point of departure to where the north line of Pennsylvania terminated on the shore of Lake Erie in Springfield Township, this county, was found to be 259 miles and 88 perches. The report of the above Commissioners was confirmed by the Legislatures of both States, and has ever since been accepted as the true northern boundary of Pennsylvania.
THE TRIANGLE.The charter of New York defined its western boundary as extending from the south shore of Lake Erie to the forty-second degree of latitude, on a line drawn from the western extremity of Lake Ontario. In determining this line it became necessary to agree whether the "western extremity of Lake Ontario" included Burlington Bay, or was at the peninsula dividing the latter from the lake. Andrew Ellicott and frederick Saxton, the surveyors sent out to establish the boundary, decided upon the peninsula as the proper point from which to draw the line, and the western boundary of New York was therefore fixed at twenty miles east of Presque Isle. This left a triangular tract, which
196 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
was not included in the carter of either State, and which was variously claimed by New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
During or some time after the Revolution, Gen. William Irvine was sent to the Northwest by the authorities of Pennsylvania, to examine into the quality of its lands and report upon the best manner of putting them into the market. While upon this tour he was struck with the fact that the State had no harbor upon the lake, and the great desirability of securing the one at Presque Isle. On his return to the East he interested a number of intelligent and progressive citizens in the project of purchasing the Triangle. After a protracted negotiation, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut released their claims to the United States Government, and the latter, in turn, conveyed the tract to Pennsylvania. The deed of cession by New York, was made on the 1st of March, 1781, and that of Massachusetts on the 19th of April, 1785. In the release by Connecticut she reserved 120 miles lying west of Pennsylvania's western boundary, within the present limits of Ohio, which became known as, and retains the title to this day of "The Western Reserve." The contract for the sale of the Triangle, made between the Representatives of the United States and Pennsylvania was ratified by Congress on the 4th of September, 1788. On the 18th of April, 1791, the governor was authorized by the Legislature to complete the purchase. March 3, 1792, a patent was issued to the State, signed by George Washington as President, and Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State. The consideration was $151,640.25. Below is a copy of the bill of sale from the General Government to the commonwealth:
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for the purchase of the Lake Erie tract in account with the United States, DR. July 19, 1792. To general account of sales of the Western lands, the property of the United States: For the purchase or consideration money of the territory and tract of land on Lake Erie, of which tract a survey and return hath been made and lodged in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States by Andrew Ellicott, pursuant to a resolution of Congress passed in August, 1789, by which return the said tract is found to contain 202,187 acres, at three-fourths of a dollar per acre, payable in gold or silver, or in certificates of the debt of the United States, bearing interest, according to the terms proposed by William Bingham and James R. Reid, delegates in Congress, to the late Board of Treasury, on behalf of the said commonwealth, and accepted by the said board on behalf of the United States $151,640.25 CR. By one certificate of registered debt. No. 558, dated 28th February, 1792, with interest from 16th August, 1779 85,032.08 By ditto, on interest from August, 1783 4,285.20 Principal amounting to $ 89,317.28 By interest arising thereon, calculated to 10th June, 1791, being the time Secretary of the Treasury informed he was ready to settle the account for said purchase 62,322.97 $151,640.25 TREASURY DEPARTMENT, REGISTER'S OFFICE, 6th September, 1796. Joseph Nourse, Register
RELEASE OF THE INDIAN TITLE.Pending the negotiations with the General Government, the State authorities proceeded to secure a release of the Triangle tract from the Six Nations, which was only effected after a protracted effort. The conference for this purpose with the chiefs and warriors of the several tribes was held on the 9th of January, 1789, and the deed from the Indians appears to have been signed sometime during the same month. The following is a copy of the document:
197 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
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Know all men by these presents, that we, the undersigned, chiefs, warriors and others, representing the following named tribes of the Six Nations, to wit: The Ondawagas or Senecas, Cayugas, Tuscaroras, Onondagas and Oneidas, for and in consideration of the sum of $2,000, to us in hand paid, by Richard Butler and John Gibson, Esquires, Commissioners for and in behalf of the State of Pennsylvania, the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge, and we for ourselves, our tribes, our and their heirs and successors, are therewith fully paid and satisfied, have granted, bargained, sold and assigned over, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, remise, release, quit claim and assign over unto the said State of Pennsylvania, all our right, title, claim and interest of, in and to all that tract of country situate, lying and being within the territory of the United States, bounded on the south by the north line or boundary of Pennsylvania; on the east by the western boundary of the State of New York, agreeable to an act of cession of the said State of New York and the State of Massachusetts to the United States; and on the north by the southern shore or margin of Lake Erie, including Presque Isle and all the bays and harbors along the shore or margin of the said Lake Erie from the west boundary of the said State of Pennsylvania to where the est line or boundary of the State of New York may cross or intersect the southern shore or margin of the said Lake Erie; to have and to hold, etc.
In testimony whereof, we, the said chiefs, have hereunto set our hands and seals this -- day of January, in the year of our Lord 1789:
Senecas -- Gyantwachia, or the Cornplanter; Gyashota, or the Big Cross; Kanassee, or the New Arrow; Achiont, or the Half Town; Anachkont, or the Wasp; Chishekoa, or the Wood Bug; Sessewa, or the Big Bale of a Kettle; Sciawhowa or the Council Keeper; Tewanias, or the Broken Twig; Souachshowa, or the Full Moon; Cachunevasse, or Twenty Cones.
Tuscarora Chief -- Hichonquash, or Tearing Asunder.
Senecas -- Cageahgea, or Dogs about the Fire; Sawedowa, or the Blast; Klondashowa, or Swimming Fish.
Onondaga Chief -- Oncheye, or the Dancing Feather.
Cayuga Chiefs -- Soahaes, or Falling Mountain; Otaschsaka, or Broken Tomahawk.
Oneida Chief -- Tekchiefs, or the Long Tree.
Seneca Chief -- Onesechter, or the Leaded Man.
Munsey Chief -- Kiatlahoh, or the Snake; Aqueia, or Bandy Legs.
Senecas -- Kiandock-Gowa, or Big Tree; Owenewah, or Throw into the Water.
N.B. -- The two Munseys signed as being residents of the land, but not owners.
R. BUTLER.In the presence of A. St. Clair, Joseph Harmar and others.
Twelve hundred dollars were also paid by the United States Government for the extinguishment of the Indian titles.
The cession of the Triangle gave great offense to a portion of the Indians, who claimed that they had not been fairly represented in the council. There was a good deal of talk among them of resisting its occupancy by the State, and at one time matters looked really serious, but by wise efforts what might have been an long and murderous border war was avoided. On the 3d of February, 1791, Cornplanter, Half Town, and Big Tree executed a second instrument, in which, after reciting the dissatisfaction that existed among the Seneca nation, they acknowledged the receipt of 4800 as full satisfaction of all claims and demands by their nation against the commonwealth, and "fully, clearly, and finally remised and forever quit-claimed" their interest in the Triangle to Gov. McKean, "from the beginning of the world to the date of these presents." It was several years after the signing of this deed, however, before the Indians became sufficiently quieted to enable settlements to be made with safety, as will be more fully related in another part of these annals.
INTERESTING DETAILS.The territory above purchased extends some forty miles in a straight line along the lake, and is about eighteen miles in breadth along the New York boundary, tapering from there to a point in Springfield Township, between four and five miles east of the Ohio line. It embraces 202, 187 acres, and the United
200 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
States received pay for it at the rate of three-fourths of a dollar per acre. The townships embraced in the Triangle are North East, Greenfield, Venango, Harbor Creek, Greene, Summit, Mill Creek, a small portion of Springfield, about two-fifths of Girard and McKean, and four-fifths of Fairview. The terminus of the Triangle on the shore of Lake Erie was marked by a stone on the Joseph Hewitt farm in Springfield, which has disappeared.
The old State line forms the southern boundary of Venango, Greene and Summit Townships, and the northern of Waterford and Amity. It passes through the boroughs of Girard and Middleboro nearly in the center. The portion of the county within the original limits of the State is some forty-five miles long from east to west by ten miles in width from north to south, being about two-thirds of the whole. The townships wholly in it are Wayne, Concord, Amity, Union, Waterford, Le Boeuf, Washington, Franklin, Elk Creek and Conneaut.
A corps of engineers have recently been at work renewing the monuments marking the boundary between New York and Pennsylvania, many of which had been destroyed or lost sight of. In the execution of their task they make use of blocks of Quincy granite, about four feet long and six inches square at the top. The stones "are dressed one foot down, that distance being left above ground. Heavy creases are cut at right angles across each. The letters 'Pa.,' and 'N. Y.' about two inches long, from Pennsylvania and New York respectively. At highways, street and railroad crossings, the tops of the stones are one foot by six inches in size, and in other particulars like the rest. Those of the ordinary size are set just one mile apart."
CONTINENTAL CERTIFICATES.In explanation of the "certificate" Mentioned in the bill of sale, it should be stated that in the contract for the purchase of the Triangle, it was stipulated that the Commonwealth might make payment "in gold or silver or in public securities of the United States, bearing interest." When the time came for closing the transaction, the State, with Quaker shrewdness, offered one of the funded bonds of the General Government, commonly known as "continental certificates," which were then in decidedly bad credit, and demanded that interest should be allowed, according to the terms of its fact. This was rather a surprise to the Federal authorities, and a long correspondence ensued, in which the Commonwealth seems to have had the better of the argument. After considerable delay, her legal right to pay in the manner proposed was conceded, and she turned over the bond and received credit for the accumulated interest, as is shown in the bill of sale above printed. It is apparent that the State drove a very sharp bargain, but whether the transaction was much to her honor, may admit of some debate.
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