Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
1786-1789 Letters on the Kidnapping of Thomas Pickering
From Pennsylvania Archives
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

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typifies the lodgings of our settlers at this early date.
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Joyce, I have always been interested in the Pennsylvania-Connecticut land disputes since at least two of my ancestors were involved in it - Richard Mitchell & Thomas Keeney. Over the years I have collected a lot of information on it. Although it takes quite a while to read through all of the material from the Printed Pennsylvania Archives I feel that having copies of the correspondence dealing with the kidnapping does verify that it happened and make it real.  I did add a few notes of my own which are in bold. I hope you enjoy reading this.

The kidnapping of Timothy Pickering

as recorded in correspondence published

in the Pennsylvania Archives.

Continued From Part One
Pg. 353

Col. Timothy Pickering to Pres. Franklin, 1788.

Wilkesbarre, July 28, 1788.


In my last I mentioned the petition of the ruffians who lately made me their prisoner, and that I inclosed it to Council; but forgot to do it, being hurried by the bearer of that letter when I sealed it, & the others transmitted with it. I beg leave now to enclose that Petition, It may be worth preserving as evidence against the petitioners, if it answers no other purpose.

By Mr. Hodgdon I received several advertisements in which Council offer rewards for apprehending the villains concerned in that act of violence. I sent immediately for two active young men in whom I could confide, I engaged them to make up a party to go in quest of the offenders; and I have reason to think they might have succeeded, could the enterprise have been kept a secret: but the villains have too many abettors among those who are or pretend to be friends to law and regular government; and unfortunately also, the offer of the rewards was announced in the News Papers Printed as early as the 14th instant; & Mr. Hodgdon did not arrive till the 20th: and thus an expedition, the success of which depended on secresy[sic], in the first attempt has failed. The majority of the party however, yet persevere, and mean to pursue the offenders as long as any chance of apprehending them remains. I have pretty certain intelligence that four of them have fled by the upper road thro' the Great-Swamp; and these will doubtless take refuge in the States of New York & Connecticut. Their names I have heard, viz. Daniel Earl, Solomon Earl, Daniel Taylor &- Zebulon Cady. This Daniel Earl is the man who first offered to turn States evidence; and as he was probably possessed of more information than any other of the party, the Justices sent up a passport for him to come down; but his brother Benjamin having been taken, he fled before the passport could reach his usual residence.

The County Lieutenant has shown me a letter from Council, which was brought up by Mr. Hodgdon. I read it with pain because it indicated a continuance of that extreme forbearance & indecision of Government which have been the bane of every public measure to introduce the regular & full operation of law into this county. I hope Council will pardon this freedom of expression. My exertions to establish the authority of the State in this settlement have been constant and open: they have consequently exposed me to the resentments of an ungrateful people: But expecting a due support from Government, I have persevered. Even my late ignominious imprisonment did not discourage me. Distressing as it was to me and my family, I did not repine: For I consoled myself with the idea, that much public good would result from the evil: I persuaded myself that Government would now take decisive measures to produce a due submission to the laws. One I conceived should be to send and station in this county a permanent military force, undera brave, sensible and prudent officer. Nothing, else will prevent or crush the plots and conspiracies, or restrain the open violence of a turbulent & unreasonably jealous people. Even among the old settlers, there appear to be few who do not anxiously wish for Franklin's liberation. This violent attachment I have often wondered at. It cannot be merely the effect of friendship, affection & gratitude. The consideration of interest will alone solve the problem. The half-share-men have derived their imaginary property thro’ Franklin and by him only, released from prison and placed at their head, they expect to maintain it. But besides these, who are called half-share-men in the strictest sense of the phrase, there is a multitude of the old settlers to whom Franklin had the policy to grant half-share-rights, to interest them in the support of his plan of opposition to Pennsylvania. But independently of the influence of these grants of half-share-rights, the old settlers, habitually jealous of the Government and doubting whether their old rights of possession will ever be confirmed, ardently wish for Franklins enlargement; because, with him at their head they may hope yet to maintain, by craft and violence, what cannot otherwise be secured. However, whether I have hit on the real cause of the people's attachment to Franklin, or not, — that it is strong to an astonishing degree, and almost as general as it is strong, are serious truths.

The other measure is the confirmation-of the old settlers in their rights & possessions regularly acquired before the decree of Trenton according to the tenour of the confirming law, now suspended; or in some other way at last equally comprehensive. This confirming law. whether revived or not, added to their other grounds of claim, it is supposed will effectually operate, in a federal court to assure to this people all the lands therein expressed to be given or confirmed. And there can be no question. which will be most for the honour of the state, voluntarily to establish its own grants, or to let them be established by a federal court.—That their old possessions should be confirmed, seems to be the general voice of all disinterested persons who have any knowledge of the subject. The very commissioners who pronounced the decree in favour of Pennsylvania, at the same time strongly recommended this confirmation. And such confirmation alone, at that time, it is morally certain, would have given satisfaction—that not a man would have lifted his voice, much less his arm, against Government—that peace would have been restored, and the laws introduced—and, with these blessings, some thousands of orderly settlers, who now would have been good citizens, enriching the state with the surplus of their produce,-and by the payment of considerable taxes, contributing to the support of Government. But the opportunity of adopting this measure, so obviously prudent and expedient, having been lost; and such various proceeds and events as are within the knowledge of Council, having taken place, —something more seems necessary now, to secure the quiet of the county; and I think I may venture to say, that nothing short of the measures above mentioned will produce that salutary effect.

I have dared, Sir, thus freely to express my sentiments, from a consideration of the duty I owe to the State, & a feeling sense of the duty I owe to myself and family.—My coming hither was not originally an affair of my own seeking: it was proposed to me—it was urged upon me—on the ground of probability that I might be the instrument of giving peace and satisfaction to this settlement, & save the State from a great expence[sic] of blood & money in a civil war. On this ground I applied for the offices Government have been pleased to confer upon me: expecting, it is true, that those offices, joined to the convenience of managing to more advantage the lands I had taken up under the State, within or adjoining the county, would ultimately compensate for the difficulties I should have to encounter in effecting so desirable an issue of this inveterate dispute. I have now too much reason to repent the confidence with which I engaged in this undertaking. What have been the repeated distresses of myself and family, and what losses I must have sustained, Government can easily imagine. Whether these distresses shall be renewed, and whether I shall finally be ruined, God knows: The measures which Government shall now adopt, will probably determine my fate —and the fate of the county.

I have the honer to be

very respectfully, Sir,

your Excellency's

most obedient servant

Timothy Pickering.*


His Excellency the President of Pennsylvania

*See Col. Rec., Vol. XV., p. 505

Zebulon Butler to V. P. Muhlenberg, 1788.

Wilkesbarre, July 29th, 1788.


Your favour by Mr. Wigton was handed me in five days after its date—am very happy to find by it that Council are satisfied with those in office in using their endeavours to quell the tumult lately made in our County by those who made Colo. Pickering a Prisoner. Every possible exertion has been made that could be, retake Coll. Pickering and restore again peace and regularity among us—-and our efforts have been so far successful as to oblige the Rioters to release their Prisoner and meditate their escape from our County. Since the letter by the express to Council was carried, the Sheriff's Posse who at that time marched up the River, returned without doing much.—The situation of those places to which the Rioters usually resorted, was so very peculiar that it was found impracticable to meet them with any kind of advantage, if to meet with them at all. Finding this to be the case a number of Volunteers soon after the return of the Posse stole a march upon the Rioters and made of them Prisoners to the number of three, but then I ought to remark the night before their capture Colo. Pickering was released and sent down the River to his family. Since which time another Party have been up, and some of whom have this day return’d with Joseph Dudley, one of the Rioters, dangerously wounded. He was taken yesterday, at a Creek called Yosocks—in company with him, were eight more who unfortunately made their escape. A very few shots, if any were exchanged in the attack—By their route and what information we can get, they were on their march from this State to the Lakes. Their situation is very precarious. The People at Tioga point are mostly under arms, and are now in pursuit of the remainder of the Rioters, and in all probability have before this either drove them from the County or made them Prisoners. A full determination seems to be in every one's mind to crush and disperse all these who have been active in the riot. It gives me singular satisfaction to find that an attachment to Government very universally prevails among the People. Any force necessary to the free circulation of Law or to quell simular[sic] disturbances to the one lately taken place, we can raise at any hour.

Council encourages if any assistance should be necessary, that it shall be granted us. We return them our most hearty thanks for their assurances, but have every reason to conclude that the People of the County (by a very great majority,) are so strongly attached to government as to be able and willing to baffle and defeat all the machinations of the few, who are disaffected without any assistance from the State.

Never before this, could I determine with much precision what defence, for the support of Law would be, made by the People of the County, if necessary. But I now may with propriety I believe assert, the advocates for Government are so numerous that we never shall again be disturbed with such tumults and dissentions as we have been in times past.

By the concession of all those whom we have now in custody, they have been most grossly deluded by a very few designing Characters, in whom by woful experience they find no kind of confidence ought to be placed. Indeed, not only they, but, others, on whom we have ever looked with a jealous eye are now of the same opinion. Very generally the People seem now bent on peace, and will if necessary, to obtain it hazard their lives with much readiness and freedom, and the late rupture instead of diminishing, has encreased the friends of government. With this opinion I set myself down promising to the Inhabitants as well as to myself order and regularity for the future.

I am with Esteem,

your most obedient &

very humble servant.

Zebn. Butler.

N. B.—By Capt. Schotts I am informed that in consequence of representations respecting his conduct in the expedition up the River his character suffers much in the view of Council. I have only to inform that be was censured here, and on his own request, I summoned from the Battalion a number of Company officers who composed a regular Court of inquiry, and after hearing the Complaint and the defence of Capt. Schotts, the Court acquited him with honour.

yours as above,



To the Honourable Peter Muhlenberg, V. President, Philadelphia.

See Col. Rec., Vol, XV., p. 505

Pg. 358

Evidence of Joel Whitcomb, &c., 1788.

The evidence of Joel Whitcomb.

The sd Joel testifys that one Aaron Kilbourn told him to tell Mr. Keeney (the Prisoner) that he must come down to Capt. Dudley's, for the Troops were coming up, and if the Troops should not be at Mishoping to go down as far as Tankhannak. This same information, by special direction he gave to Garret Smith, who replied that he hurt his arm and could not very well go. The said Witcomb farther testifies, that in the afternoon (on the same day,) he was at Dudley's Mill and saw a Number of the Rioters there, among whom were Daniel Solomon & Benjamin Earle, Gideon & Joseph Dudley, David Woodward and some others whom he knew not. In general they observed that they must have sd Keeney & sd Smith along with them. He further says that a bag of flower Was taken out of a Canoe and carried to Mr. Kilbourn (the Prisoner’s house) to be baked for the Rioters. He further heard them say after the Troops had come up the River that they had fired on them and would again when opportunity offer'd.

Mr. Keeney, the Prisoner.

Says that he has been seen under arms he supposes since the taking of Colo. Pickering, but his Reasons for it were these. Wanting some tobacco and Cabbage Plants and hearing of none nearer than Mr. Parke’s he took his Canoe and arms went after the plants with an intention, (after getting them,) to hunt up Mahoopponer Creek. He saw the Rioters and says that those mentioned by the above witness were among them. He wholly denies of ever joining them or in the least countenancing their imprudent plan. Capt Dudley and Mr. Kilburn, meaning the Prisoners did countenance the proceedings.

Elijah Reynolds, Prisoner.

Says that he saw some grain in bags carried to the Rioters from Mr. Tylers house by one of Mr. Kilbourn's boys, but denies of ever having aided, or in the least assisted the Rioters. He knew nothing of taking Colo. P., untill informed by Tyler's family. The Rioters informed nothing what their designs were, but he imagined, altho’ they said, when they began their march that they were going a hunting, their designs were to take Colo P.

Joseph Earl, Prisoner.

Says that he knew nothing of the plan of taking Colo. P., until it was accomlished; at the time his Sons and others went down the River he was returning from Wilksbarre home. On his arrival he found his wife in tears, and upon requesting the Cause she said the Boys were gone to take Col. P——. In a little time afterwards, they returned to his house & Colo. P. a Prisoner with them. They all tarried a while at his house; and towards evening Colo. P. was taken across the River. His three Sons, two Dudleys and Hyd carried him over.

Ephraim Tyler. Prisoner, issuing Commissary.

Says that the Rioters had of him eighteen pounds of Pork, but denies that he ever was privy to the plan of taking Colo. P.

Martin Dudley, Prisoner.

Says that he was intirely ignorant of the design and plan of taking Colo. P——, until after it was accomplished. He has uniformly advised his Sons since and others concern'd, to release Colo. P. and submit themselves to law.

Joseph Kilbourn, Prisoner.

Says that he knew nothing, of the plan of taking Colo. P——, but advised his son not to be one of the Party, (Mark the contradiction.) He says that John Hyde was at his house last Sunday, going as he supposed to the Point, upon business. He confesses that his family baked bread, which he supposed went to the use of the Rioters. On the whole he confessed himself to have been under a false delusion and privy to all that has taken place. Informed was he (as he confesses,) that a step of the kind would meet the approbation of the County at large, but finds now that he has been deceived, and he believes other Persons concerned are not less sensible of it.

Col. Timothy Pickering to Pres. Franklin, 1788.

Wilkesbarre, July 29th, 1788.


This morning was brought hither Joseph Dudley, one of the persons who took me off, & for apprehending whom Council have offered a reward. His is badly wounded, it is apprehended mortally. The party mentioned in my letter of yesterday, worn out with continual watching & fatigue, had dropped their pursuit, save one, whose name is John Tuttle. He went farther up the river & informed a captain Rosewell Franklin that a number of the offenders were making their escape up the river. Capt. Franklin immediately collected a party of about fourteen, and on further information from one or two other persons, well attached to Government, that the offenders were at a certain time at Standing Stone on their way up the river, he concluded to lie in wait for them at Wysock’s Creek. The offenders advanced according to the information. But it was expected, as the creek was much swoln with rains, that they would have called to the house on the other side for a canoe; when it was intended that one of capt. Franklin's party should go over for them, but on his return, overset the canoe; and by thus wetting all their arms & ammunition, render the capture of them easy, without hazard of shedding blood, on either side. But three of the offenders, Joseph Dudley, Nathan Abbot, & Benjamin Abbot, came first to the creek and forded it. Capt. Franklin ordered them to surrender; when Dudley called out Don't fire—yet immediately raised his rifle to his face, on which several of Capt. Franklin’s men fired, and wounded Dudley and one of the Abbots. But they all attempted to make their escape—Dudley ran four hundred yards & dropped, & while Tuttle & another pursued him, the Abbots did escape. The rest of the offenders took to the woods, doubtless with an intention to cross the creek two or three miles above its mouth. Capt. Franklin however, rode forward, intending to go as far up as Sheshequenunk, (within four miles of Tioga,) or higher, to prepare the people to watch for the coming of the offenders & to seize them.

This day a woman whose son lives with John Jenkins, informed me that he had sent down to his wife to prepare to move with her family immediately to the Lakes. By the last accounts it appeared that Jenkins was engaged to survey lands in that country for the York lessees. The enclosed memorandum shows the present situation of the party who took and kept me prisoner, according to the latest information I have received. Concerning some of these, the Justices. as well as myself, wish to receive some direction from Council & the Chief-Justice or Judges of the Supreme Court.

I believe that in my former letter of the 19th or 20th instant, (I took no copy of it,) I informed Council that Daniel Earl* was the first of the party who offered to turn State's Evidence, and discover all concerned; and that he & his brother Benjamin the next day sent me a message that they both would turn State’s evidence, if they could be pardoned. Benjamin was afterwards taken; and his information on oath I now enclose. The father, Joseph Earl, who had been committed, but was discharged for want of evidence against him, was entrusted with the Justices passport, and a letter from me, for his son Daniel: but on hearing that Benjamin was taken, Daniel fled, & the letter & passport probably have not yet overtaken him.

The father of William Carney came down last week to enquire whether lenity could not be shown him, as he was not of the party when I was taken, & left it some time before I was released. I advised his surrendering himself, as a further recommendation to mercy. This day he appeared and gave the information contained in the enclosed paper, which I believe is true, to the best of his knowledge. The young man I find has sustained a good character; and I had formed so favourable an opinion of him during the day he was on my guard, that I had concluded voluntarily to recommend him to mercy, after he had quitted the party, & some days before I was released, he sent a message to Esquire Smith, informing that he was ready to deliver himself up.

Noah Phelps, by his wife, has this day prayed Esq. Smith that her husband might be admitted to bail; and he would forthwith surrender himself. She said they had a family of small children to provide for—a harvest of hay and grain to get in—and none to help them: That her husband joined the party unwillingly, at the same time that Carney joined them, and under similar circumstances of false information & threats. It appeared, however, that Phelps was with the party as late as the 15th of July (the day before I was released) and that he has not sustained a clear character: therefore Esq. Smith did not think proper to show him the indulgence he gave to Carney, whom he discharged on condition of his appearing when called, to do whatever shall be directed by the Chief Justice or the Judges of the Supreme Court, several of his friends also verbally engaging for him.

Joseph Dudley being so dangerously wounded, it is impossible for his captors to take him to Easton jail: Nevertheless I presume they will be deemed entitled to the reward as if they had delivered him there. Tuttle, in particular, has very great merit, for his zeal and perseverance. Council will observe one name to the petition is erased: It is Tuttles. Having made the party believe that he had joined them in heart, as well as person, it was necessary for him to sign in with them. He proposed the stratagem to some well affected persons, for the purpose of discovering my place of confinement, that he might then lead a party to deliver me & seize my keepers He came accordingly to my retreat, but the party released me before there was an opportunity to execute the plan. He also made me a tender of his services to go to the Lakes and bring off John Jenkins, before it was known that Government had offered a reward for apprehending him. And this was a principal object of this last expedition which Tuttle says he would have pursued, had not his companions given out.

In the expedition in which captain Ross was wounded, divers elderly men, fathers of families, were made prisoners, and brought down to Wilkesbarre, on suspicion that they were abettors of the party who took me. Of these one Reynolds was immediately discharged for want of evidence; and Joseph Earl (who had been committed) was, for the same reason, discharged on the 19th instant. Martin Dudley, (father of Gideon & Joseph Dudley,) Joseph Kilborn (father of Timothy & Aaron Kilborn,) Nathan Abbott (father of Nathan and Benjamin Abbott,) Ephraim Tyler, and Thomas Kinney, who is named in the proclamation of Council, still remain in the jail at this place. These men have applied to the magistrates to admit them to bail: but as they have been committed on evidence which the Justices deemed sufficient to warrant the measure, their authority now to admit them to bail is doubted. As the evidence against them does not appear very clear, and all of them have families in distress, some of them miserably poor, perhaps the Justices may be prevailed on to bail them Nevertheless, I am very desirous that particular directions may be speedily sent up concerning them, and all others whose cases I have particularly described. And I pray Council to take order in the matter as early as possible; and that when any directions are to come from the Chief Justice or Judges of the Supreme Court that they may be requested to forward them as soon as may be.

Stephen Jenkins (brother of John) has been apprehended (& is now in jail at this place) in consequence of the evidence against him in B. Earl's deposition. Daniel Earl also told me that Stephen Jenkins was as deeply concerned in the plot as any one.

Gideon Church has not been apprehended; because good policy seemed to require that a door should be left open for repenting sinners. He went out with the three first parties to apprehend the offenders and rescue me. By the last company of volunteers he was chosen their captain, and conducted with such spirit and judgement as pleased the whole of them; and they acknowledge that if they had fallen in with his advice they should doubtless have taken nine of the offenders: whereas they took but one B. Earl.

Old Benjamin Harvey (who lived at the lower end of the Shawnee flat) fled a few days after I was taken, and said (as I have heard) that some others would be obliged to follow him; yet the hint in Wm. Carney’s examination is the only evidence which has yet appeared against him. His flying, joined with his former conduct, affords a strong presumption of his guilt.

Evening, 11 o'clock. This moment the jailer here applies for a winding sheet, informing that Joseph Dudley is dead.

I am sir, with great respect,

Your most obedient servant.

T. Pickering

P.S. There has just been handed me a transcript of the examination of Thomas Kinney & other prisoners, heads of families, in the jail of this County, which I enclose. I have seen another account of their examination somewhat different; and from what I have heard, I conclude that enclosed is imperfect. Abbot's examination, I am informed, was private, at his own request., and the Justices did not commit it to paper. It is expected that further, and stronger evidence will appear against all of most of them.


His Excellency, the president of the state of Pennsylvania

Pg. 365

V. P. Muhlenberg to Timothy Pickering, 1788.

In Council,

Philadelphia, August 5th, 1788.


I am directed by the Board to inform you that your Letter of the 19th of July* did not reach them until Thursday last, and tho' it was generally reported that the Insurgents had liberated & permitted your return to your Family, yet your Letter was the first Authentic Account the Board recd on that Head. I wrote a letter to the Lieut. of the County on the 23d of last month, (a Copy whereof I enclose,) informing him that the Board would render every Assistance the Laws of the State would warrant to the Friends of Government—and that they were determined to enforce Obedience to the Laws —requesting at the same time the Lieut. would give Council the earliest information if any change should take place, favorable, or unfavorable.

The intelligence your Letter contains is however every thing we have heard from Luzerne that can be depended on, and as it is impossible for Council to proceed with any degree of certainty to enforce the plan in view, They have thought it necessary to send an Express, and request you will be pleased to give them full information how matters are situated. They request likewise your opinion—with the reasons annexed—whether an Armed Force is necessary to restore Order and good Government; and whether it will be necessary for the restoration & establishment of peace to the County to fix a post at Tioga! The Board direct me to inform you, That tho’ they wish this desirable end of restoring order & Good Governmt in Luzerne may be obtained by Lenient Measures, yet that they are now prepared to act with energy, and compel obedience to the Laws. Upon application of this Board to the United States in Congress, we have obtained their permission to employ the Troops of the Union agt the Insurgents. They are now marching to Rendevouz at Easton, where they will wait the Orders of the Board. This circumstance alone will convince you how necessary it is that Council should have the earliest & fullest information.

I am, Sir, with great Respect,

Your most obedient, and very humble Servant

Peter Muhlenberg.


Timothy Pickering, Esqr.,Luzerne County.

Pg. 364

V. P. Muhlenberg to Delegates in Congress, 1788

Philada., Aug't 6th, 1788.


By direction of the Board, I have the Honor to inform you—That we have this morning, by express, rec'd letters from Colo. Pickering and other Officers of Government in the County of Luzerne. From these it appears that matters have taken a more favorable turn than was at first apprehended. Colo. Pickering was liberated by the insurgents on the 16th of July, & the men who carried him off are now by their petition, praying Council to grant them a pardon. The proclamation issued by the Board has produced the desired effect—two of the rioters are now confined in Easton Jail—and some others in that of Luzerne—several have been Wounded, & Dudley, one of the most notorious, died in Luzerne Jail of the Wounds he rec'd. Those of the rioters who still remain, are dispersed, and seeking refuge on the Lakes. From this change of affairs, and the Accounts from the Western Waters, which seem to indicate that the Troops of the Union will be wanted in that Quarter, as well as from the shortness of the time limited for which the Troops can possibly be spared, & the consideration that the chief end for which the application was made is already answer'd—The Board are induced to request you would be pleased to inform The Honble. The Congress of the United States, that we gratefully acknowledge the favor conferred on this State by so readily granting the assistance requested—but as the emergency has ceas'd, & as the State will now have time to act deliberately, and as circumstances shall in future direct, we furrther request that the troops of the Union may now be directed to continue their route agreeably to their first destination. The Board have in the mean time directed a Commissary to proceed to Easton to provide for the subsistence of the Troops until further orders.

I am, Gent.,

your most obedient,

and very humble servant,

Peter Muhlenberg.

Secretary Biddle to Col. Timothy Pickering, 1788

Secretary's Office,

Philadelphia, August 7th, 1788.


Inclosed you have the opinion of the Judges on the late disturbances in Luzerne. Council agree with the Judges that the best method that can be taken with the Prisoners will be to have them prosecuted for a riot—the Att’y General will take the first opp’y to forward on the papers necessary for this purpose.

I am Sir,

your obedient and

very humble servant,

Charles Biddle Sec'y


T. Pickering, Esqr.

Col. Timothy Pickering to V. P. Muhlenberg, 1788

Wilkesbarre, August 9, 1788


Last evening I was honoured with your letter of the 5th with sundry enclosures, by express. The requests of the board therein mentioned, I believe I have in a great measure anticipated, by my letters of the 28th & 29thlt., sent by a Mr. Morris.

With respect to the first, for "full information how matters are situated" here—I have to observe, that the whole country is at present in peace; all the insurgents who have not surrendered themselves or have not been taken, having fled into the neighbouring States. On the 4th instant the two young Abbots, (Nathan & Benjamin,) were conducted to this place, having surrendered themselves to Nathan Kingsley, Esquire, at Wayalusing. Their examinations discovered nothing new. They joined the insurgents after they had taken me up the river. They are simple fellows, & appear not to have been intrusted with the secrets of their party. One of them is but about 17 years old. Their misconduct is probably chargeable to their father, Nathan Abbot, the old man now in Luzerne jail, who with an understanding not much better, has, it is said, a heart very depraved. He (as well as each of his sons) is a half share-man; and his disposition in regard to the government may be learnt from the deposition of Garret Smith, a copy of which I now enclose. By the same deposition the guilt of Martin Dudley & Ephraim Tyler is very clearly proved, & the guilt of Thomas Kinney put past a doubt. Joseph Killborn's own confession on his examination manifested his guilt. But several other depositions of their neighbours remain to be taken, when farther proofs of their guilt will appear; and perhaps some others will be criminated. These other witnesses are to appear here & give their evidences on the 18th instant. I have also the deposition of the wife of Thomas Wigton, which contains some original information, with a relation of many small circumstances, and much hearsay; & therefore I have not thought it necessary to send a copy to Council. One passage only I will here transcribe. After relating that John Jenkins called at her husband’s house at Mishoppen, the day after I was taken off, she says—"my husband asked Jenkins if he did not think this would be a bad affair, & lead to fighting? I don’t know (says Jenkins) but I swear (adds he) we must fight, in order to have peace."

A few days after young Dudley was buried, some people were for digging up the body, to expose it to a coroner’s inquest: for they said he was murdered by the party which took him. And I find that in the beginning of this week (while I was absent attending my wife on her way to Philadelphia) a number of the old settlers from Nantikoke & Shawnee (as many as eight or ten) came to Wilkesbarre, warmed with the same zeal for digging up the body of Dudley; but the Sheriff & some other gentlemen talked with them, and partly by reason & partly by threats, checked their zeal, & sent them home cool, and in appearance tolerably well satisfied. In fact, a disposition to murmur at every correcting measure of government & act of the magistrate, tho’ necessary for the establishment of good order, & strictly legal, prevails among great numbers of the people. Without referring to particular characters, whose conduct & declarations would nevertheless designate not their own only, but the disposition of a party, I beg leave to notice the late elections of militia officers in the upper battalion. John Jenkins & John Swift were chosen Lieut. Colonel & Major, by a great majority! and Martin Dudley, Joseph Killborn, & David Woodward (all names now familiar to Council) were chosen Captain, Lieutenant, & Ensign of one of the companies! Divers similar elections of disaffected characters took place in the same battalion. In a word, it would seem to have been an object with a majority of the electors to choose such men, not for the purpose of supporting, but, in proper time, of opposing the government of Pennsylvania.

In my letter of the 28th ult, I remarked that multitudes of the old settlers were half share-men. Within a few days past some of my neighbors have told me that they think one half of the old settlers and their sons are half-share-men. And I recollect that in January, 1787, at a town meeting called at my request, John Jenkins said, that of the half-sharemen then in the county, not more than 30 were New-Comers. Ebenezer Marcy, Esq., of Pittstown, (Lachawanock,) a sedate, observing man, says there are now fewer well affected inhabitants in that town than there were 16 months ago. In one word, altho' the measures taken by Council, & the officers & well disposed people of the county, in consequence of the late violent outrage on my person, have given the disaffected a severe shock, yet their disposition to murmur & excite disorder remains. They were at least as much shocked after their insurrection of last October, when they had had time to reflect on their unwarrantable proceedings, & expected the vengeance of government to overtake them: but they soon recovered their spirits, and began to meditate retaliation for the imprisonment of John Franklin, & this was to seize & detain me a prisoner. And as, instead of good officers and old soldiers, there was sent hither only an ordinary company of militia, this served to heighten their confidence in their own party, & increase their contempt for the force of the State.

The foundation of all the disorders in the county was laid by John Franklin, as an inhabitant & the prime agent of a junto of the Susquehannah Company. John Jenkins was a principal assistant. The people universally think that in times past they have been ill used & deceived by Pennsylvania; and these men (with other inferior agents) taking advantage of this strong and general prejudice, have found it easy by lies and sophistry, to persuade great numbers, that notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary, they will still be ill-used & deceived; and therefore that they have no security for holding their lands, but in their tomahawks and rifles. Their credulity is truly astonishing. On one side the most improbable lie and the weakest sophistry have the effect of plain truth & the strongest reasoning. Their incredulity on the other hand, is not less extraordinary. For instance, should the federal troops now rendevousing at Easton not march into this county (& I do not think it at necessary that they should) this class of the people will never believe they were intended to be marched hither, but will say the story was raised only to alarm their fears.

My former accounts of the state of this county, & what I have now said of its inhabitants, may chiefly be thus summed up. That the people, generally, having, during a long course of years, been bickering with Pennsylvania—having, at sundry times, greatly suffered by her attempts to subdue or expel them having, during the same period, entertained jealousies of her, lest one day she should crush them—these jealousies (as is natural to the weaker party) being in the greatest extreme, & having become habitual—the same jealousies also being still kept alive by the artifices & lies of a few designing men, and the indecision of government respecting their lands—many also being willing to hazard everything, rather than trust to the honour, faith & generosity of the State. Many (like the men who resorted to David) having fled hither from other States, to escape from justice, or their creditors—the mere half-share-men having no chance of holding any land but by overturning the authority of the State in this settlement—Many others having old possessions, & by themselves or sons, or both, also holding half-share-rights, & wishing to secure the latter (in many cases the more valuable lands) as well as the former; and thinking they have a very good chance of securing both, by temporizing, by making a partial submission to government, & keeping themselves in readiness to resist when a supposed favourable opportunity presents—and concluding from past uniform experience, that they may act thus with impunity—their head men in the settlement, and the junto of the Susquehanna Company (such as Judd, Hamilton, Benton, Beach, &c.,) being also closely connected with the New York Lessees, with whom, it is past doubt, this settlement was to act in concert, & from whom they expected to derive effectual support. From all these causes many of the inhabitants have an utter hatred of Pennsylvania, and many more have a greater or less degree of disaffection. And this disaffection has been confirmed by a ridiculous confidence that they were able to cope with all the force the State could send against them. Not that the militia of Pennsylvania were unable, if disposed, to subdue them; but Franklin & Jenkins have made them believe that a body of militia equal to this effect, & disposed to produce it, could not be raised; and that from the divisions in the State no other effectual force would ever come against them. Council knows that Franklin himself, tho’ far better informed than the mass of the people, had the madness and folly to attempt an open resistance to the State in arms. It was for this purpose he sent his written orders to his adherents, especially the half-share-men, to assemble in arms, in October last, to prevent the election of militia officers, signing himself Col. Commandant. I suppose Council is now possessed of two of his orders in his own hand writing—Mr. Ellicott took them with him to Philadelphia. On that day (had not Franklin fortunately been previously carried off ) the authority of the State in this county would doubtless have been utterly subverted, & every officer of government banished, or compelled to swear obedience to this New Commander. At this moment great numbers of half-share-men are in actual possession of lands allotted to them by Franklin & Jenkins, from Tunkhannock to Tioga; and I cannot believe that other claimants, (either Pennsylvanians or old Connecticut settlers) would be able to get possession of those lands in the ordinary course of law. For tho' many of these half-share-men have taken the benefit of the law to recover debts, or, being debtors have so far submitted to its operation; yet (like old Abbot, in Garret Smith's deposition) swear vengeance against any who shall attempt to dispossess them of their half-share-rights.

I therefore continue of the opinion, That in order to establish thepeace of the courts of Luzerne, it is necessary to fix a military post at Tioga. This appears to me to be the dictate of humanity and sound policy, as well as of necessity. If a regular force sufficient to overawe the turbulent, be there stationed, the laws will have their free and natural operation, & the exercise of force will perhaps never be requisite; thus the shedding of blood may be prevented. And a much less force will be adequate to overawe the disaffected, than to crush their rebellion when once they have flown to arms. I suppose, however that very few, even of the old settlers, deem it at all necessary to send troops hither, altho' it were only to form a post at Tioga. They (& among them Col. Denison) were of the same opinion after the tumults of last autumn had subsided. Yet it is a truth that the civil officers have not been able fully to execute the laws more than thirty miles up the river from this place. At Tunkhannock & upwards, as well criminal as civil process (so far as the latter respected lands) has been set at defiance. The coming of troops would hurt the pride of some, who would say it would be a reflection on the county; they say also that troops always plunder and do mischief; and they fear that measure will operate in the Assembly against their claims & petitions for a confirmation of their lands. Of the latter tendency I am not insensible; but tho' interested myself to obtain such confirmation, I feel no disposition to conceal my sentiments on this subject, or keep Government in ignorance of a single fact that may contribute to the forming a just idea of the state of this county. I confess that the exertions of the people here against the late insurgents seem to have had a very good effect; and the folly of attempting, by small numbers, so to violate the laws has been manifested. And in consequence hereof there will be need of fewer troops than if the late disturbance had not happened.

I beg leave to add another reason for fixing a post at Tioga. There are great numbers of orderly people, farmers and tradesmen, who would come and settle in this county. Divers such have, to my knowledge, been waiting for the establishment of peace, in order to remove hither; but they will not come until the authority of a government is indubitably established. The present calm, like the former, they will justly suppose to be deceitful. But surely 'tis of vast importance that the number of good citizens here should be increased—such would strengthen the hands of government; and after no long period, the laws having had their full operation, the troops might be disbanded. Should it be the determination of Government to raise a company of good troops for the purpose mentioned, it will be expedient that a part (perhaps a fourth) should consist of some faithful young men of the county, who are hardy & brave, who are woodsmen, and who know the inhabitants, particularly the most disaffected characters, and the country.

The letter to the Sheriff, with the warrant, &c., from New York I delivered to him yesterday, and requested him to concert measures particularly for seizing John Jenkins. The Sheriff is now going to Tioga and I hope his endeavours, with those of others who may be tempted by the offered reward, will be successful in seizing that atrocious offender.

I have the honour to be

with great respect sir,

your most obedient servant,

Timothy Pickering.


The Honourable Peter Muhlenberg, Vice President, &c.

Pg. 371

Deposition of Garret Smith, 1788.

I, Garret Smith, of the township of Braintrim, in the county of Luzerne, and of lawful age, testify and declare That on Sunday evening on the twenty second day of June last, I was at Meshoppen, and between the houses of Thomas Wigton and Martin Dudley, met Gideon Dudley, said Martin's son, when Gideon said he had a great secret to reveal to me, at the request of Major Jenkins, colonel McKinstry and John Hyde (the son of John Hyde of Wilkesbarre, as I took it) and asked me if I would keep the secret. I answered That I would, if it was not to injure myself or my neighbours. He then said it was to take Colonel Pickering, and carry him into the woods, and there keep him, untill Colonel Franklin was returned to the county or released (or such like expression he made use of). I told him I would think of it till the morning. The next morning I called at Captain Dudley's (having lodged at said Wigton’s) and told Gideon I would go home and talk with my wife, but rather thought I should go with them. I then went down into the mill, to Captain Dudley and asked him if he knew any thing about the affair of taking Colonel Pickering. He answered yes—but that he was unwilling that both of his sons should go I asked why. He answered for fear they should be found out—for if one was at home people would think the other was some where at work. I then asked him which was going. He answered, Gideon, and that he (Captain Dudley) was willing he should go, and support the cause, but wished his son Joseph might not go, lest it should be found out that his sons were in the scrape. I then said Captain Dudley, I am a poor man, if I go who is to support my family, while I am gone? He answered, I will—I have enough—After this I left Meshoppen to go home in a canoe. When I had pushed up as far Ephraim Tylers, I landed, and went to his house, where I found Joseph Dudley above mentioned, who immediately said to me—you are my prisoner for a while—(he had a tomahawk in his hand) Then Ephraim Tyler asked me if I was willing to go and take Colonel Pickering? Then Joseph Dudley added—speaking to me, you have promised to go, and must either do that, or go down to Lieutenant Kilborn's (that is Joseph Kilborn's) and there lay confined ‘till I return (meaning as I understood ‘till he and the party returned from the taking of Colonel Pickering) I then said I had not promised, but only that I would go home and talk with my wife and if she is against it I will not go. I then set off to go to my canoe, but was followed by said Tyler and Joseph Dudley, who took hold of me and by force brought me back to Tylers house. I then said to Tyler if I go what shall I do for provisions in going and to support my family while I am gone? Tyler answered—I have sent the flour of two bushels of wheat, and fifty weight of pork, to lieutenant Kilborn's out of which you can be supplied; and I will see that your family has provisions in your absence, and I will get a man or go myself to work on your land, and we will also allow you a dollar a day for every day you are gone.—To whom (said I) shall I look for this pay? He answered you may look to me for it. I then turned about, and said to him—I cannot go. Then Tyler's wife said she had dreamed last night, that the boys went to take an Elk, and that a person had been there and told the Elk, and that he was gone. Then her husband Ephraim Tyler said, If Garret Smith will give me his word and honour that he will go, or that he will not reveal the secret in three week, then he may go home. He brought a bible and asked me to lay my hand on it and swear, but I told him it was against my principle. He then asked me to hold up my hand, which I did, when he spoke to this effect—you declare that you will keep this a secret for three weeks, I answered I will, after Tyler said if I would give my promise, I might go home. Elijah Reynolds who was by, said Garret Smith has lived with Colonel Hay, and knows what he is about. —I rather guess it is best to have him sworn, And then Tyler offered me the bible, as above mentioned.—I then left them, and went home. The same day I thought of my neighbour Thomas Kinney, and as he was a half share man, I suspected he might be concerned in the affair. In the evening he came to my house, and we set out together and went up little Tuscorora creek to hunt. On our way I said to him Mr. Kinney, do you know any thing of this affair of the boys going to Wyoming? He answered yes—and added—The Pennamites, have drove the Connecticut (or New England) People, and plundered them, and now we mean to have revenge and plunder, and if you will go along, you shall have part—I forgot to mention, That while at Tyler’s as above said, Tyler told me, that if I would go along with the boys, I should have, besides what he had before promised, the place I lived on (part of which I supposed belonged to Doctor Smith) and the half of ten acres of goodwheat which James Smith then had on the ground,—for the other half must go to support the boys in the woods.—When Gideon Dudley proposed the matter to me, I asked him where we were to get support from? He answered—out of the settlement. I then asked him who was going to vindicate this cause. He answered—That colonel McKinstry was coming with five hundred men, in order to subdue the settlement—That he McKinstry was to take possession of John Hollenback’s mill and place and John Hyde of Doctor Smith's place. I asked—What are you going to do with John Hollenback? He answered—Damn him, tomahawk him as soon as we can see him.—I also asked him (before this) if Doctor Smith was concerned in the affair. He answered no—and that he (the Doctor) was a damned rascal. I also asked if Col. Butler was concerned. He answered—no, not that I know of.

The mark of

Garret Smith

Luzerne ss. August 7, 1788. Then Garret Smith who has subscribed the aforewritten deposition, being duly sworn, did declare, That the same deposition contains the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, to the best of his present recollection.

before, Wm. Hooker Smith,

Justice of the Peace.

I the said Garret Smith farther recollect and declare, That about a week before Colonel Pickering was taken, I saw Nathan Abbot, the elder at his own house (which is in the township of Braintram) and He then swore, That he would support his place where he then lived, and that he would kill any damned Pennamite that should ever set his foot on it. Said Abbot holds his place, as I have always understood, by a half-share right.

The mark of

Garret Smith

Sworn as above August 7th 1788, Before Wm. Hooker Smith, Justice of the Peace.

Pg. 399

Col. Timothy Pickering to Pres. Franklin, 1788.

Philadelphia, Sept. 24, 1788.


Captain William Ross is in town, & has been waiting since Friday for an opportunity of presenting to Congress several orders for the rewards offered for apprehending the ruffians who seized and kept me a prisoner; and for the information of Council, I beg leave to state the cases in which the rewards are now claimed.

Ira Manvil & Benedict Satterlee were two of the fifteen men present at the taking me off. They have been indicted, & pleaded guilty. They were apprehended by the five persons named in Dr. Smith’s certificate. Manvil & Satterlee were the only persons who in consequence of the proclamation of Council were committed to Easton Jail. That others, however, were not alike committed, was not the fault of their captors. The majority of the Justices did not think it necessary or expedient; and as the object of Council must have been only to secure the persons of the offenders, it was suposed by a construction of the proclamation, that the captors would be equally entitled to the rewards as if the offenders were actually committed to Easton Goal.

Benjamin Earle was apprehended by a party of about twenty men, who chose Gideon Church for their caption. This Earle was also of the party that took me. He offered to turn State’s evidence; and being admitted as such by the Justices, was not conveyed by his captors to Easton Goal.

Thomas Kinney was apprehended by the party commanded by Captain Ross, but was not present with the party that took me; but there is evidence of his joining them in arms. However, he has pleaded guilty, & is to be tried.

The four culprits above named were apprehended before it was known that rewards were offered.

Stephen Jenkins was apprehended by the last party, formed after the proclamation of council was issued. Of this party, were Christian G. Oehring, Willm. Smith, James Sutton, John Tuttle, & others. But Stephen Jenkins has pleaded not guilty, & for him the reward does not appear to be due before conviction.

Joseph Dudley also was apprehended after the proclamation of Council was published. Captain Rosewell Franklin (captain elect of a company of militia about Wysocks) raised a part of his company, &, joined by John Tuttle, lay in wait for a party of the offenders, but all save Dudley, effected their escape. He refused to surrender, Captain Franklin & some of his men fired & mortally wounded him. He was brought to Wilksbarre, & died a day or two after.

Aaron Kilborn is a lad of about 15 years old. He joined the armed party after I was taken—has been indicted, & pleaded guilty. The manner of his being apprehended (which was about the 15th of August,) is certified by Doctor Smith.

As some disputes may arise about the persons entitled to shares of rewards, I beg leave to suggest, whether it may not be expedient to order the monies to be paid to Captain Ross, for the use of the persons to whom the same are due: and to advise, that in case of dispute, the claims be heard & adjusted by any three of the Justices of the peace of the county.

I beg leave to add—That Captain Ross, since the first introduction of the laws of this State into the county of Luzerne, has manifested a uniform zeal to support the government of Pennsylvania, and a readiness to expose himself to any hazards which the welfare of the State could demand of a spirited & faithful citizen. Besides the loss of time occasioned by the wounds he received in pursuing the offenders now referred to, he has incurred an expence of upwards of eleven pounds, which his surgeons have charged for their attendance on him. But what is most unfortunate, he, by these wounds, is probably rendered an invalid for life. It would seem to merit the consideration of Council whether a reward should not be given him, not only as due for his exertions & consequent sufferings; but as an exemplary encouragement to other spirited & faithful citizens to engage in hazardous enterprizes when the peace & welfare of the State shall demand it.

I have the honor to be Sir,

very respectfully,

your most obedt. servant,

T. Pickering.


His Excellency, the President of Pennsylvania, in Council

Pg 400

Memorial of William Smith, &c., 1788.

To the Honorable, the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in Council met.

The memorial of William Smith, John Gore, Benjamin Durance, & John Tuttle, & Daniel Ross, Inhabitants of Wioming, in the county of Luzern, in the State of Pennsylvania.

Humbly sheweth,

That your petitioners were the only Persons that took & made Prisoners of Benedict Satterly and Irey Mandwell, two men who were of the Party which took Coronal [sic] Pickering Prisoner. The said Sattely & Mandwell we Brought before William Hooker Smith, Esqr., & Timothy Pickering, Esqr., for Examenation & Commitment, whare they Confessed Gilty & ware by a mitemas Committed to the Gaol at Wilksbury under the hand & Seale of Esqr. Smith. Some time after thare commitment the Gaol in this County was by the athorety thought to be Insufficent. The athorety then ordered the Prisoners to be Removed to Easton Gole, In Northampton, from whence they have since been Braught to our Last Court in this County, whare Bills of Indictment have bin found against them by the Grand Jury, which we Expect will more fully appear by copies of the Records from this Cort.

We your morilests humbly conceive that your Honors will be convinsd when you come to hear Captn. Ross’s Reports Concerning this matter, & our Conduct in this Struggle, that we are only Intitled to the Rewards offered by Government for the said Satterly & Mandwell, & we Do Expect Coronal Pickering will be in Town with Captin Ross, & will be able to Testefye In Regard to our Conduct, & we as in Duty Bound shall Pray.

Captn. Ross Receipt shall be Excepted by

Wm. Smith.

John Gore,

John Tuttle.

Benjamin Dorance.

Wioming, Septr. 13th, 1788.

This ma Certefye That Wm. Smith, John Gore, Benjamin Dorance, & John Tuttle, Have to the Best of my Knoledge Turned out on Every Scout (to oppose & Persue the Insurgents) as Loyal Subjects.

Wm. Hooker Smith.

Wioming, Septr. 13th, 1788.

Pg 401


Gideon Wostenhout Gave me an order to Council, as he Expected me to go to Philadelpa. to Receive the Reward offered for Aron Kilborn. I have Lost the order, I hope you will Indeavor to Git the money.

Wm. Hooker Smith.

Septr. 13th, 1788.


To Captn. Wm. Ross

Pg. 409

Gov. Huntington of Connecticut to Pres. Franklin—

Wyoming, 1788.

New Haven, Oct. 14th, 1788.


I did myself the honour some time past to address your Excellency on the subject of Imprisonment of John Franklin in Philadelphia, and afterwards received with much satisfaction information of the kind and humane proceedings of your Excellency & Council, relative to the prisoner in consequence of my letter on that subject.

I have now before me a letter from the same prisoner, wherein he acknowledgeth his situation hath been made as comfortable as close confinement could admit, both in sickness and health, except he is unable to procure comfortable clothing; but he complains grieviously that he is still held in close confinement without being admitted to bail, or the liberty of a trial for the offence wherewith he is accused.

I am also informed that the Legislature of Pennsylvania have suspended their act, which had been passed for quieting the settlers at Wyoming, and their consternation and uneasiness in consequence of the suspension.

It is presumed those transactions are well known to your Excellency & need not further explanation.

As the people first settled at Wyoming, under countenance of this Legislature, and for a time lived under the exercise of the Government of this State; Government have always thought themselves under some kind of obligation to take notice of their complaints and distresses; which is my apology for troubling Your Excellency at this time.

But considering the Irritable nature of the Susquehanna Controversy the powerful connections, which the settlers there have with a numerous class of Citizens in this State in both the ties of interest and consanguinity and the disagreeable consequences of wounding an old fracture when apparently almost healed; I have thought it expedient to address your Excellency on this subject, without laying the complaints above refer’d to, before the Legislature.

Let me then suggest to your Excellency, whether, it be consistent with the free constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to hold any person a close prisoner from year to year mere upon accusation, without admitting him to bail, or the liberty of a trial, when Government is in profound peace and full exercise.

And doth not the dignity of Government, and the dictates of sound Policy require that the act in nature of a grant which was passed for quieting the settlers at Wyoming, and securing to them their land, done with so much deliberation and notoriety, should be held sacred and inviolate, and that future disturbances, disputes and disagreeable consequences should be prevented if possible.

The prisoner above mentioned is apprehensive that the lawless & outrageous proceedings of the Banditti, who carried off that worthy Gentleman, Col. Pickering, may operate to his disadvantage. although as I am informed It was done without his knowledge or apprehension.

I have only to add that I am perfectly satisfied, your sentiments and inclinations will fully concide in all proper exertions, to alleviate the distresses & miseries of the wretched, among individuals and in promoting harmony, mutual conciliation and good neighborhood, between States and societies, so far as may be consistent with the principles of Justice and the honour and safety of Civil Government.

With the highest sentiments

of Esteem and Respect,

I have the honor to be,

your Exc'ys hble. Sert.,

James Huntington.


His Excellency, President Franklin.

Pg. 419

Record of Conviction of Kilborn and Parks—

Wyoming, 1788.

I certify that at a Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery held at Wilkesborough for the County of Luzerne the fourth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight, before the Honorable Thomas McKean, Esquire Doctor of Laws, Chief Justice, and the Honorable Jacob Rush Esquire, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Joseph Kilborne and Darius Parks of Luzerne County, Yeomen, were indicted tried and convicted by a Jury of the Country, for that they together with a number of others, on the twenty sixth day of June in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred; and eighty eight, at Wilkesborough in the said County, with force and Arms, to wit, with Guns, Knives, and Tomahawks, unlawfully riotously and routously did assemble and gather themselves together to disturb the peace of the said Commonwealth, and so being assembled and gathered in and upon Timothy Pickering Esquire, (then and still being Prothonotary of the Court of common pleas, holden in and for the said County, Register for the probate of wills and granting letters of Administration and Recorder of Deeds in and for the County aforesaid, and one of the Commissioners appointed by the Commonwealth for ascertaining the Claims of the Connecticut claimants to lands in the said County,) and the peace of God and of the Commonwealth aforesaid then and there being unlawfully, riotously, & routously did make an Assault and him the said Timothy, then and there unlawfully riotously & routously did beat & ill treat, & him the said Timothy Pickering Esquire then and there did unlawfully riotously & routously bind with Cords, imprison & of his natural Liberty deprive, and him the said Timothy Pickering Esquire, so bound as aforesaid, with force and Arms &c, unlawfully riotously & routously and against the will of the said Timothy, did take and convey away into lone and desert places in the said county, and him the said Timothy Pickering Esquire in the said lone and desert places from the day aforesaid until the fifteenth Day of July in the same year, bound with Chains and exposed to the inclemency of the weather, unlawfully riotously & routously did keep, imprison & detain, with a seditious intention to compell and procure the discharge and Release from Goal, of one John Franklin then lately before arrested, & committed to the Goal of the City & County of Philadelphia charged with High Treason against this Commonwealth & committed for the same—to the great damage of the said Timothy Pickering Esquire, to the evil Example of all others in the like Case offending and against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Whereupon it was considered by the said Justices, that the said Joseph Kilborn should pay a fine of one hundred Dollars to the Commonwealth and the costs of Prosecution and be committed to the common Gaol of Luzerne County for the space of six calendar months, that is ‘till the sixth day of May next, and that Darius Parks pay a fine of fifty dollars to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Costs of Prosecution and in the mean time remain in the Sheriff’s Custody.

Edw. Burd, prot. Supr. Court

Pg. 420

Record of Conviction of B. and N. Abbott—Wyoming,


I, Edward Burd, prothonotary of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do certify that at a Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery, held at Wilkesborough, for the County of Luzerne, the fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, Benjamin Abbott and Nathan Abbott, junior, of the County of Luzerne, Yeomen, were indicted and convicted, by their own Confession, of having on the twenty-sixth day of June last, at Wilkesborough, in the said county, together with a number of others, unlawfully riotously & routously assaulted and beat the said Timothy Pickering, Esquire, bound with Cords, imprisoned and deprived him of his natural Liberty, and conveyed him away to lone and desert places in the said County, and unlawfully riotously & routously kept imprisoned and detained the said Timothy Pickering, Esq., in the said lone and desert places, bound with Chains, and exposed to the Inclemency of the weather, from the said twenty sixth day of June until the fifteenth day of July, in the same year, with a seditious Intention to compel and procure the discharge and release from Gaol of one John Franklin, then lately before arrested and committed to the Gaol of the City and County of Philadelphia, charged with High Treason against the said Commonwealth, and committed for the same, whereupon it was considered by the said Court that the said Benjamin Abbot and Nathan Abbot, junior, severally pay a fine of twenty shillings to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and discharge the Costs of prosecution, and in the mean time remain in the Sheriff’s Custody.

Witness my Hand, the seventh day of November, in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.

Edw. Burd, prot.

Pg. 421

Record of Conviction of Zeb. Cade—Wyoming, 1788

I, Edward Burd, prothonotary of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do certify that at a Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery, held at Wilkesborough, for the County of Luzerne, the fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, Zebulon Cady, of the County of Luzerne, Yeoman, was indicted and convicted, by his own Confession, of having on the twenty-sixth day of June last, at Wilkesborough, in the said County, together with a number of others, riotously, routously and unlawfully assaulted and beat Timothy Pickering, Esquire, bound with Cords, imprisoned and deprived him of his natural Liberty, and conveyed him away to lone and desert places in the said County, and unlawfully, routously, and riotously kept imprisoned and detained, the said Timothy Pickering, Esquire, in the said lone and desert places, bound with Chains and exposed to the Inclemency of the weather from the said twenty-sixth day of June until the fifteenth day of July, in the same Year, with a seditious intention to compel and procure the discharge and release from Gaol of one John Franklin, then lately before arrested and committed to the Gaol of the City and County of Philadelphia, charged with high Treason against the said Commonwealth, and committed for the same, whereupon it was considered by the said Court that the said Zebulon Cady should be committed to the common Gaol of Luzerne County for the Space of three Calendar Months, discharge the Costs of prosecution, and in the mean time remain in the Sheriff’s Custody.

Witness my Hand, the seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.

Edw. Burd, prot.

Pg. 424

Col. Timothy Pickering to Pres. Mifflin, 1788.

Wilkesbarre, Nov. 15th, 1788.


This will be presented to your Excellency by Captain Ross. He takes with him John Franklin, to deliver to the Sheriff of Northampton; after which be proposes to go to Philadelphia, where, among other business, he will make application to Council for the reward due for some of the convicted Rioters of this county.

At the Court of Oyer & Terminer held here last week, Stephen Jenkins, Joseph Kilborn, Thomas Kinney and Darius Parkes, were tried and convicted of the riot committed here in June last, when I was taken & kept a prisoner in the woods. For Kinney, I believe the reward has already been paid, and Parker was apprehended by a constable on a warrant from a Justice of the Peace, in the ordinary course of law; for him therefore no reward is due. The captors of Stephen Jenkins & Joseph Kilborn I suppose are entitled to a hundred dollars for each of them. A claim will be presented for 100 dollars for the taking of Aaron Kilborn by Gideon Osterhout a constable. I doubted the propriety of this claim for I recollected that Esq. Smith told me he happened to be up the river in the neighbourhood of Kilborn's father's house, & hearing that the lad had come home, he issued his warrant for apprehending him, which was executed by Osterhout the Constable: but the latter says he took him on the proclamation of Council. Young Kilborn is but about fifteen years old, and on his examination, I remember he said he had come home with a view to give himself up, but was seized before he had time to set off for Wilkesboro’ for that purpose. He was brought to this place about the 20th of August last, at which time the party with whom he fled remained within the State of New-York, where he also might have continued, his brother (of full age) being one of them—had he not come home with a design of surrendering himself. These circumstances I thought it my duty to mention for the consideration of Council. I wish well to Osterhout for his steady attachment to Government, and because he has formerly suffered for it, from some of the gang who took me; and had he pursued young Kilborn when fleeing, or incurred any hazard in the act of taking him, I should have thought he merited the reward.

Zebulon Cady, another of the rioters, & a notorious villain, was seized by two sons of esquire Smith and Mr. Ochmig, during the sitting of the Court of Oyer & Terminer, before which he was brought; and being arraigned, pleaded guilty, & received his sentence. His captors richly deserve the reward: they broke open his house in the night, & took him with his arms in his hands, standing upon his defence.

The Attorney General said he should write to Council to propose the revocation of the proclamation: I wish it may have been done, & that the revocation may be soon published here: for I am apprehensive of collusion between the remainder of the rioters and their friends, for the purpose of getting the rewards; seeing the Court, commisserating the culprits for their poverty, & because misled by the Jenkinses & other men in years, have inflicted very light punishments. But I beg leave to suggest, whether with the revocation it will not be expedient to require all the officers & ministers of justice to apprehend the remaining rioters. It would also seem to me expedient to except John Jenkins from the revocation, but to reduce the reward to 100 or even to 50 dollars. This man was the prime instigator of the plot, and has gone hand in hand with Franklin, altho’ the Grand Jury did not find evidence to indict him of high treason. He has been indicted for the riot, on the clearest evidence; and the continuance of the offer of a reward will either insure the taking him, or keep him in York State, whither he went as soon as I was taken & where he still remains; and where, for the good of this settlement, it might be well if he should ever remain: for tho’ deficient in courage to execute, yet he has a heart base & wicked enough, to contrive any mischief whatever.

I have the honour to be,

Very respectfully, Sir,

Your most obed’t servant

Timothy Pickering.

P.S. On my return hither I found the enclosed return of the election of Justices of the peace had been lodged in my office: I now transmit the same, that Council may commissionate one of them; and beg leave to observe, that there will be a convenience in its being done immediately, lest there should be a defect of Justices at our next term, which commences the second of December, and at present there are but four Justices in commission in the county.


His Excellency, the president of Pennsylvania, In Council.

Pg. 451

No. 24.

Governor of Connecticut to Congress, 1784.

Lyme, December 24, 1784.


I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency a Resolve of the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut upon the memorial of John Franklin and others, settlers and claimants of lands at Wyoming and parts adjacent on the River Susquehanna, to which the Right of jurisdiction was lately in contest between the States of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It is not for me, and indeed, it would be improper to give any opinion with Respect to the merits of their claim in the stage of it while depending before you Honors. But this much is evident, that they ground their Title upon a purchase made from the Indians. The native proprietors of the lands many years ago under the jurisdiction and countenance of the colony of Connecticut in virtue of their charter from King Charles the second near Twenty years prior to the patent made to William Penn which scarcely left room for a doubt concerning their Title, and in this confidence which was supported and encouraged by this state, then colony, then asserting their Right to the said Territory, in pursuance of advise from the ablest Council in England and actually extending and exercising Jurisdiction over it for many years—the settlers parted with their property here and removed with their families into that country, then a wilderness, where they have at vast Expense built themselves houses, and extended their improvements—suffered every imaginable hardship, and braved innumerable dangers, have been an important barrier to the interior country, and in other ways rendered most essential services to these states in the late bloody contest with Great Britain. To deprive them of their properties and the fruits of their labors without a hearing or Trial in consequence of the decree of Trenton would be unprecedented and injurious when that court specially saved to them the Right of having a trial on the merits of their Title notwithstanding their determination between the States.

Congress have been pleased, upon their application to assign a day for the appearances of the parties, for the purpose of constituting a court agreeable to the ninth article of confederation which day happened as I am informed in the recess of Congress, and the Committee of the states, and so nothing further was done.

The unhappy distressed situation of the claimers, the illiberal and impolitic, I might have said cruel and barbarous treatments they complain to have received from the state and people of Pennsylvania must excite the compassion and Justice of every human breast and are fresh and cogent Reasons for bringing this unhappy controversy to a constitutional and speedy decision, and that they should be restored to their Rights, properties and Possessions of which they have been forcibly [deprived] and that even while their suit has been depending in congress, and that all proceedings against them be prohibited until their claim shall be finally determined. These claimers most assuredly are freemen and citizens and without regarding their merits and sufferings, intitled to have their claims tried in a legal and constitutional manner, all which is submitted to the wisdom and Justice of Congress, not doubting but such constitutional measures will be adopted and pursued as shall be necessary for the promotion of Justice and for the relief of the oppressed and for the preservation of Peace and Harmony.

I have the Honor to be,

with great Esteem and Regard,

Your Excellency’s most obedient,

humble servant,

Matthew Griswold.


His Excellency, The President of the Congress of the United States, copy by Joseph Gardner.

[Letter Book, Vol. I. p. 295-297]

No. 25.

Extract, Jos. Gardner to Pres. Dickinson, 1785.

To his Excellency John Dickinson, Esq.

New York, Jany. 27, 1785


Mr. Henry arrived here last Monday afternoon, and brought with him copies of the proceedings of the Government of Pennsylvania, relating to the Wyoming dispute since the decree at Trenton and also Your Excellency’s letter.

His arrival was very seasonable. The next day having been appointed for debating it in Committee of the whole House. But as neither of us could possibly in so short a time be fully possessed of the history of the facts we got it postponed and hope that it will not be revived at an early day.

Your Excellency’s.

very humble Servants,

William Henry,

Jos. Gardner.

[Letter Book, vol. I. p. 301.]

Pg. 453

No. 26.

James Wilson to Pres. Dickinson, 1785.

To His Excell’y, John Dickinson, Esq.

New York, Feb’y 26th, 1785


The Controversy respecting the settlements at Wyoming depends before Congress in a very disadvantageous state of suspense. I think that both the Interest and the Honor of Pennsylvania require, that a speedy and explicit decision should be had upon the complaints and representations which have been made against her. As far as I can learn those who style themselves Claimants under the state of Connecticut have not appointed or instructed any person to advocate or support their pretensions; and no attempts have been lately made to bring them forward. While matters continue in this undetermined situation, those people may flatter themselves and represent to others, that the complaints laid before congress stand uncontradicted, and that there may still be a favorable adjudication upon them. It is easy to forsee what a pernicious effect such sentiments will have upon the settlements in that part of the country. For those Reasons, I beg leave to express my opinion

Note from JW: failed to copy rest of article

Pg. 546 Pennsylvania Archives 1789

Record of Court against Aaron Kilburn—Wyoming, 1789.

I certify that at a Court of Oyer and Terminer and general Gaol Delivery held at Wilkesborough for the County of Luzerne the fourth day of November last, Aaron Kilbourne late of the said County yeoman, was indicted arraigned and convicted by his own confession of having on the twenty-sixth day of June last, at Wilkesborough in the said County with force and arms to wit: with Guns, Knives, & Tomahawks unlawfully, riotously, and routously asembled with a number of other persons, and gathered themselves together to disturb the peace of the commonwealth, and so being assembled together of having made an assault on Timothy Pickering Esquire, and him the said Timothy Pickering Esquire then and there unlawfully beat and ill treated bound with Cords imprisoned and of his natural liberty deprived, and of having unlawfully, riotously, and routously and against the will of the said Timothy taken and conveyed away the said Timothy into lone and desert places in the said County and him the said Timothy then and there in the said lone and desert places in the said County from the day aforesaid until the fifteenth day of July in the same year, bound with Chains and exposed to the Inclemency of the weather, unlawfully, riotously, and routously kept, imprisoned and detained with a seditious Intention to compel and procure the discharge and Release from Gaol of one John Franklin then lately before arrested & committed to the Gaol of the City and county of Philadelphia for High Treason, and that it was thereupon considered by the said Court that the said Aaron Kilbourne should be imprisoned for the space of one Calender month in the common Gaol of Luzerne County pay the costs of the prosecution and in the mean time remain in the Sheriff’s custody.

Witness my Hand, this 12th February, 1789.

Edward Burd. Prot. Sup. Ct.

Pg. 551

Relating to Capture of T. Pickering, 1788.

No. 1.

Deposition of Nathan Kingsley, 1788.

On or about the 14th Day of August, 1788, Daniel Shaw & Rubin Wells delivered Nathan Abbot, Junr., and Benjamin Abbot into my Custody as Prisoners, I Being the Highest Authority.

After some Small Examination I Delivered them into the Hands of Captain Waterman Bolding, to be Delivered to the High Sheriff of the County in order to be Confin’d in the County Gaol of this Place, Which was accordingly Done.

Nathan Kingsley, Justice.

Luzerne County, ss. Nov. 7, 1788. Then Nathan Kingsley, Esquire, above named, made oath to the truth of the above certificate by him subscribed, before

Matthias Hollenback,

Justice of the Peace.

No. 2.

These to Certify that Waterman Baldwin has Deliver’d the Bodys of Nathan Abbott, Junr., and Benjn. Abbott into the Gaol of this County. Given under my hand at Wilkesbarre, in the County of Luzerne, this Eighteenth day of August, A.D., 1788.

Lord Butler, Sheriff.

No. 3.

Luzerne County, ss.

Wilkesboro, Nov. 7, 1788. From the first account I had of the manner in which the two Abbots within named were delivered up to the justices at this place, (which happened in my absence,) I was led to think they had voluntarily surrendered themselves to Justice; but on enquiry, and the certificate of N. Kingsley, Esq., within written, I am now satisfied they were taken as therein is set forth.

T. Pickering

Clerk of the Peace.

Pg. 552

No. 4.

Report of Committee on Letter of T. Pickering, 1788.

The Committee to whom was referred the letter of Col. Pickering Bearing Date Novbr. 15th, 1788, relating to the reward for apprehending the rioters at Wyoming in pursuance of a proclamation of the Eight day of July last, Reports,

Aaron Killborn being taken by a Constable on a Justices Warrant on his Way to give himself up to be tryed for an Offence said to be committed in takin Col. Pickering. The person who apprehended him is entitled to no reward only the fees due him for Executing the Magistrates’ Warrant.

Zebulon Cady taken by Squires Smiths two sons, is justly entitled to the reward named in the Proclamation.

Stephen Jenkins convicted, and the reward to be paid to the party who first took him; he being on parole when the second party apprehended him.

Darius Parks taken on a Justices Warrant on a Common suit at Law, it is the Committees Opinion no reward should be paid for him.

Joseph Killborn tried and convicted, those who took him Intitled to the reward of 100 Dollars.

Thomas Kinney, the reward for taking him said to be paid.

It appears to your Committee that £112 10 was paid to Captain Ross on the 25th of September last, and upon the 26th of Do., there was an order drawn for £75, to be paid by Captn. Ross to the several persons concerned in apprehending the Rioters, which is to be accounted for.


Read in Council, Nov’r 25th, 1788.

These to Certify that James Smith, Christian Ochmig, & William Smith, has Delivered the Body of Zebulon Cady into the Gaol of this County. Given under my hand, at Wilkesbarre, in the County of Luzerne, this sixth day of November, A.D., 1788.

Lord Butler, Sheriff,


Deposition of Zebulon Butler, 1789

Zebulon Butler, Esqr, Lieutenant of the County of Luzerne, deposeth and saith, that on or about the twenty ninth of June, last, Stephen Jenkins, (now a prisoner in this County) was taken by a party of the militia then in pursuit of the rioters, and brought a prisoner to this place on suspicion of his being concerned with them. There being no prison or place of confinement, he was kept under Guard for some days. That he, the deponent, permitted the said Jenkins to go to his family, and return in four days for his Examination, which he punctually did, and Delivered himself to the authority; and he further saith that he was Informed by the civil authority that they had Dismissed the said Jenkins on condition that he would return whenever called for.

Zeb’n Butler.

Luzerne County, ss., January 31st, 1789. Personally appeared Zebulon Butler, Esqr., before me, Matthias Hollenback, justice of peace for said county, and made oath that the above and foregoing Deposition by him subscribed, contains the Truth according to the best of his knowledge.

Matthias Hollenback.

No. 6.

Petition of Gideon Osterhout, 1789.

To the Honble. Executive Council of Pennsylvania.

The Petition of Gideon Osterhout humbly sheweth, that your honourable board did Issue a proclamation dated July 8th, 1788, promising sundry rewards for apprehending John Jenkins, John Hyde and others, & in particular promising a reward of one hundred dollars to any person who shall apprehend & secure any person who shall be convicted of aiding and assisting in taking off Timothy Pickering Esq.,—that your petitioner did pursuant to said proclamation apprehend and secure one Darias Park and also one Aaron Kilburn, who were afterwards at the Supreme Court of October last, holden at Wilksbarre in the County of Luzerne, Convicted of the aforesaid offence of Takeing off said Timothy Pickering.

Your petitioner is ready to verify that said proclamation was in full force at the time, & that he did in fact apprehend & secure said Parks and Kilburn, and each of them did perfectly answer the description & Character of the persons required to be apprehended by said proclamation, and therefore Considers himself Clearly Intitled to the reward of one hundred Dollars for the apprehending Each of them according to the promise of Government, solemnly made and Published in said proclamation, and therefore prays for the order of your Honble.. board for the payment of the same—& your petitioner shall ever pray as in Duty bound &c.,

Philadelphia, Feby. 11th, 1789.

Gideon Osterhout.

This may certify that Gideon Osterhout, Constable, took and Brought down to the County Gaol, Darrias Parks, Concerned in a Riot against the State by order of Obediah Gore, Esq., Judge of the Court, as witness my hand at Wilksbarre, County of Luzerne this 30th day Jany. 1789.

Solomon Johnston, C. Gaoler.

To whom it may Concern.

No. 7.

Report of Committee on Rewards, 1789.

The Committee to whom was referred the Consideration of the rewards offered by Government for apprehending the late rioters in the County of Luzerne, find that the reward claimed by Gideon Osterhout for apprehending Durian Parks & Aaron Kilburn was refer’d to a former Committee of this board who reported that sd. Kilburn & Parks being taken on a Justice warrant no reward was due to sd. Osterhout, but your Committee find that sd. Parks was taken by a warrant from a Justice on suspicion of his being one of sd. rioters, and that sd. Kilburn was taken on the proclamation of government, and as appears by the record of Court therefore report that [the sum] of two hundred Dollars be paid for apprehending sd. Parks & Kilburn.

The Committee find that the reward offered by government for apprehending Joseph Kilburn & Zebulon Cady was refered to sd. former Committee, who reported that the reward of two hundred Dollars be paid for apprehending said Kilborn & Cady the present Committee Concuring with the former, and also that the reward of two hundred Dollars be paid for apprehending Nathan Abbott Jun., & Benjm. Abbott.


Read the first time Feby. 18, 1789.