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History of Wyoming, 1845
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History of Wyoming
Charles Miner
1845

 
 
History of Wyoming, by Charles Miner, in a series of letters, this son William Penn Miner, Esq

Letter 5

The peace concluded in Easton, allows us but a moment's respite from the record of war and crime. Turning to more congenial themes, we seized a moment and trace with pleasure, the progress of the Moravians in propagating the gospel among the Indians. A large number of the Delaware Nation were established in the valley. Waughwawame, their principal town, being situated not far below the site now occupied by Wilkes-Barre. Those suffering many privations, his zeal of the missionaries did not cool; neither did their faith waiver, nor their efforts relax: their soles seemed to glow with the divine ardour; success crowned their labors; several hundred Indians received the rite of baptism. Nor was it a mere formal profession on their part, for their lives were wholly changed, and the moral precepts of the gospel regulated their conduct, while their hearts yielded assent to its doctrines. At Wyalusing, or as it is written by the German missionaries, Machwihilusing, a number of Christian Indians had united together, without a teacher, for purposes of worship, and hither the Rev. David's Zeisberger repaired, and became their pastor. Under his wise direction, the settlement soon assumed a very pleasing aspect. Order, industry and neatness were established; lands were cleared and fenced. Grain, cattle, horses, poultry, every sort of useful stock were introduced, and schools were opened for the education of Indian children. A bell, the first, probably, ever heard in Pennsylvania, north of the Kittatinny mountains, sounded from the Chapel, calling the Indians to worship. Methinks, as it tones, loud and clear, vibrated on the undulating air, and were born by the breeze beyond the hills, to the strange Indian, roaming the forest or approaching the place, the sound must have come like a spirit’s voice, a death knell to his race, awakening special wonder.

Three years thus passed, the settlement flourishing; a row was in a desert, and giving the highest promise of future usefulness, when the sudden outbreak of Indian war reached 30 years, and created the utmost alarm. It had been a delusive hour of sunshine in the midst of a gathering storm. Strange as it may appear, though near the Iroquois, and in daily intercourse with them, the missionaries had not the least intimidation of their purposes against the white settlements. When hostilities commenced, Mr. Zeisberger, and the other preachers, were left unmolested. But emminent danger threatening the Christian Indians, near Bethlehem, occasioned the recall of the pious missionary, and he attended them from that place to Philadelphia, whither they were sent for safety from the fury of the exasperated frontier inhabitants, who had been led to believe, notwithstanding their religious professions, that the Moravian Indians were guilty of the cruel murders perpetuated upon their friends.

In the meantime, Wyoming was the theater of highly interesting events. In a previous letter, I have stated the belief that King Tedeuscung was doomed, sooner or later, to destruction. Indian revenge may sleep, but never dies; the hour may be postponed for months or years, but at last will, a sure as fate. Tedeuscung, besides the independent heirs assumed in Easton, had slain with his own hand the chief who commanded the Iroquois war party in the devastation of Gnadenhutten. War upon of whites having been now renewed, it is not improbable that the King may have declined to lead his tribe to battle. Certain, however, it is, that for sometimes several of the Six Nations had been visiting at Wyoming, without any ostensible object, mingling, socially, with the Delawares, and appearing on friendly terms with the old chief. Whiskey had been obtained, which, when in his power, the Indian propensity was too strong to be resisted, and he drank until inebriation overpowered his senses, and he lay sleeping in his wigwam, scarcely conscious of life, and wholly unsuspicious of danger. In the debt of the night, on the 19th of April, 1763 the hut of Tedeuscung, and 20 of the surrounding dwellings burst, almost at the same moment, into flames, and thus the great Delaware King miserably perish.

Indian cunning ascribed to the murder to the New England people, who were just commencing settlements and the valley.

It is sufficient to say, in the absence of the slightest evidence, that such a measure on their part would have been a compound of wickedness and folly, so stupid and base, that it can not be supposed true, for a moment. Surrounded by savages, far removed from the whites, their policy was too obvious to be mistaken, namely, to conciliate the Indians, by every fair means. The charge was made in far deeper malevolence than mere wanton mischief, for the destruction of the Connecticut settlers had also been resolved upon by the Six Nations.

The preceding year, that is, 1762, a considerable number of emigrants had arrived in the valley from Connecticut. After sowing grain, the return to their families, with whom, early the following spring, they came back, prepared to establish themselves permanently, bringing their stock, household furniture, indeed, it is most probable, all they possessed on Earth. Strange to say, although many inquiries have been faithfully pursued, wherever the least prospect existed in obtaining information, they have proved fruitless, and I am unable to state from what towns in Connecticut they came, or who were their principal leaders. Their town was build near the river than the Indian village of Maughwawame, on the flats, below Wilkes-Barre. This season had been favorable; their various crops on those fertile planes had proved abundant, and they were looking forward, with hope, to scenes of prosperity and happiness; but suddenly, without the least warning, on the 15th of October, a large party of savages raised the war whoop, an attacked them with fury. Unprepared for resistance, about 20 men fell, and were scalped; the residue, men, women and children fled, in wild disorder, to the mountains. Language cannot describe the sufferings of the fugitives, as they traversed the wilderness, destitute of food or clothing, on their way to their former homes.

Mr. Chapman states, that Col. James Boyd, ordered by Gov. Hamilton, prepared to Wyoming, found the valley abandoned by the Indians, who had scalped those whom they had killed, and carried away their captives and plunder. The bodies of the slain lay strewn upon the field, and Col. Boyd having caused them to be decently interred, withdrew with his detachment down the river. I am not able to reconcile this with certain information derived from the Rev. Mr. Elder's correspondence with Gov. Hamilton.

Extract of a letter from John Elder to the governor, dated Paxton, 30th September 1763.

"As a number of volunteers from this County, on the return of Col. Armstrong, design to scout a little way into the enemie’s country, our troops would gladly join the volunteers, if it's agreeable to your honor; and as that favor, they imagine has been granted the troops on the other side of the Susquehanna, they flatter themselves it will not be refused these two companies. Their principal view is to destroy the immense quantities of corn left by the New England men at Wyoming, which, if not consumed, will be considerable magazine to the enemy, and enable them, with more ease, to distress the inhabitants, etc." how the corner of new England settlers could be spoken of September (17)63, as "left," those people being then in undisturbed possession, I cannot conceive, unless it was a delicate mode of covering their purpose, by cutting off their means of subsistence, to expel them.

Lieut. Gov. Hamilton, under date, Philadelphia, October 5th, (17)63, answers:-

"Was regarded to what you mention, touching an expedition into the Indians country, I could have no objection to their scouting as far is Wyoming, and destroying the corn, and if any left there," etc.; but positively prohibits the troops destroying the Indian Wyalusing settlement, which was contemplated.

Another letter for Gov. Hamilton, is dated, October 10th, 1763:-

"Having wrote to you a few days ago, I should not have anything to add at this time, but for a letter commissioners and I have received for Mr. Robert Callender, acquainting us that Maj. Clayton has applied to him to for its provisions for 200 men, for 20 days, by which is conceived that he hath an intention of going upon some expedition against the Indians, without having communicated the same to me, and received my approbation. A step I can by no means approved in an officer bearing the king’s commission," etc.

On the 17th October, Commander Elder, writes:-

"Your favor of the 10th, I received last night, and am sorry to find that our proceedings are anyway disagreeable to legislature. Our two companies, fired with resentment, on hearing the barbarities committed by the savages, and willing to serve their country to the utmost of their power, signified to me their strong desire to join in any expedition that might be undertaken against the common enemy. And encouraged by your acquainting me that, "you had no objection against our destroying the corn left at Wyoming, I ordered them to proceed on and service; strictly prohibiting them, in obedience to your honor his command, to make any attack on Wyalusing. The party, though small, set out from Hunter’s, last Tuesday, in high spirits; so that it is impossible to suspend the expedition now, as the troops are, by this time, advanced, I doubt not, as far is Wyoming. What success they may have, I know not; but if they destroy the corn and improvements made there, by the New England men, to the great displeasure of the Indians, and in contempt of your honor his authority, and can happily intercept the murdering party on the return from Northampton, I presume it will be a considerable service."

Commander Elder again writes to the governor, under date, Paxton, 25th October 1763.

"I acquainted your honor, the 17th instant, that it was impossible to suspend the Wyoming expedition; the party is now returned, and I shall not trouble your honor with any account of their proceedings, as Maj. Clayton informs me he transmitted to you, from Fort Augusta, a particular account of all of their transactions, from their sitting out from Hunter’s, to the return to Augusta. The mangled carcasses of those unhappy creatures, who had settled there, presented to our troops a most melancholy scene, which had been acted not above two days before their arrival; and by the way the savages came to Wyoming, it appears they were the same party that committed the ravages and Northampton County," etc.

Thus it would seem the expedition of Col. Clayton to Wyoming, was principally intended to destroy the grain "left" by the New England people, and also, their improvements. The Indians, two days before, had effectually prevented any resistance. The corn and buildings left, were now given up to destruction.

Did not Col. Clayton bury the dead? It is impossible to believe otherwise of the gallant soldier!

Was Col. Boyd with him? They could not have been two kernels, with 200 men!

Capt. Lazarus Stewart was, probably, in command of one of the companies. It is not a little curious to anticipate, Col. Clayton and Capt. Stuart once more met at Wyoming, nearly ten years afterwards; the former, again, on an expedition to destroy the Yankee settlement-while Stewart was defending them.

Col. Stone supposes this deed to have been perpetuated by the Delawares, in revenge for the death of Tedeuscung, while our convictions are clear, that it was the work of the same hands that slew the king. Two men, named John and Emanuel Hoover, were at work upon a chimney, being built in a house on the flats, when they were made prisoners by the Indians, who had already another captive with them. The Indians immediately took the path northward, and ascending the hill, there near where the Plains School House stands, in Wilkes-Barre, they met a man coming down, thoughtless of danger, carrying a small bundle in his hand. Instantly surrounding him, they drew their spears, and before he had time to beg for life, or cry, "God have mercy on my soul," trusted through, and he fell, covered with wounds; after scalping him they marched on. They took their prisoners to near where Geneva now stands, in the settlement of the Six Nations; from whence John Hoover and the other prisoner, whose name we do not know, attempted to make their escape;- the latter found his way to the white settlement at Shamokin, and afterwards published, in the state of New York, a pamphlet, containing an account of his captivity and sufferings; a copy was in the valley in 1785, but cannot be found. His brother Emanuel visited Wyoming after the Revolutionary war, and related the circumstances to Cornelius Courtright, Esq., to whom I am indebted for nearly all I have been able to learn of the massacre of 1763. From these facts it is plain that the mischief was perpetrated, not by the Delawares, but by the Six Nations.

After the murder of Tedeuscung, the Christian Indians fled to Bethlehem, but upon the restoration of quiet, they returned in 1765 to the Susquehanna, and made there resting place again at Wyalusing. The people of that now highly cultivated and populous place, we cannot doubt, will be pleased to see the description of the Moravian Indians settlement. "Having, after many toilsome wanderings, reached the Susquehanna, they got a few boats, some sailing up the river, and others traveling along its banks, and arrived at Machwihilsing, on the 9th of May, after a journey of five weeks.

"Having fixed on a convenient spot for a settlement, they immediately began to erect a town, which, when completed, consisted of 13 Indian huts, and upwards of 40 houses built of wood, in the European manner, besides a dwelling for the missionaries. In the middle of the street, which was 80 feet broad, stood a large and neat chapel. The adjoining grounds were laid out into neat gardens; and between the town and the river, about 250 acres were divided into regular plantations of Indian corn. The burying ground was situated at some distance back of the buildings. Each family had its own boat. To this place, they gave the name of Friedenshuetten, (meaning "Huts of Peace.") This new settlement soon assumed a very flourishing appearance. The inhabitants were industrious, and dwelt together in peace and unity. Many Indians visited the town, admiring the fine situation and good order maintained in the place," etc.-Christ. Library.

At Sheshequin, or as it is written by the Moravians, Tschechshequaunink, there was a large settlement of Indians, many of whom became converts, and missionary, Rothe, attended to their spiritual wants, and pious zeal.

For six years, those two congregations under the guidance of the Moravians, continued to flourish in peace; but many causes now combined to render them uneasy in their respective situations. The Six Nations had sold the land on which they lived without consulting them, to the Connecticut people. Neighboring white settlers persisted in tempting the weaker brethren was spiritous liquors; and more than either, the Delawares or the Ohio were ancient station emigre and join their religious brethren in the West. In consultation with Zeisberger and Heckewelder, at Wyalusing in 1770, the final decision to remove was adopted, and the succeeding year, about 250 Indians from that place set out on their way to Ohio, divided into two parties. One chiefly of men, with 80 oxen, and other stock in proportion, went through the wilderness, suffering great privations and hardships. Another party, with the women and children, descended the river in canoes, spend a day at the beloved Wyoming, shed a tear over the graves of the buried friends, and then departed from their almost worshiped Susquehanna, to return no more forever. The state of these poor creatures, at nearly the close of the Revolutionary war, I am happy it is not my painful duty to record.

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