ePub 版

which time the savages are said to have fired his blockhouse about fifty times, but the soldiers extinguished the flames as often. It was then undermined, and a train laid for an explosion, when a capitulation was proposed and agreed upon, under which a part of the garrison was carried captive to the northwest. The officer was afterwards given up at Detroit.” He does not, however, give any authority for his statements, while most writers concur that all were destroyed. The number who escaped from Le Bauf is variously estimated, from 3 to 7. Their escape was effected through a secret or underground passage, having its outlet in the direction of the swamp adjoining Le Bauf lake. Tradition, however, says that of these only one survived to reach a civilized settlement.

So adroitly was the whole campaign managed, that nine of the garrisons received no notice of the design in time to guard against it, and fell an easy conquest to the assailants. These were, besides the three already named, Sandusky, Washtenaw, upon the Wabash river, St. Joseph's on Lake Huron, Mackinaw, Greenbay, and Miami on Lake Michigan. Niagara, Pittsburg, Ligonier, and Bedford, were strongly invested, but withstood the attacks until relief arrived from the east. ern settlements. The scattered settlers in their vicinity were generally murdered, or forced to repair to the forts. Depredations and murders were committed as far east as Carlisle and Reading, and the whole country was generally alarmed.

Gen. Bradstreet, in 1764, went up the lake with 3,000 men to the relief of Detroit, passing Presqu'isle with his barges on the 5th day from Niagara, and dragging their barges across the peninsula. After relieving Detroit, on his return, in Aug. 1764, he entered into a treaty of peace at Presqu'isle with the Delawares and Shawnese ; but it was soon broken by the Indians, and even one of Col. Bouquet's messengers to Gen. Bradstreet, from Pittsburg, was murdered on his way, and his head stuck on a pole beside the path. The frontier enjoyed no tranquillity until Wayne's expedition, in 1794.

The treaty of peace with Great Britain, in 1783, was followed by a treaty with the Six Nations, at Fort Stanwix, in Oct. 1784. At the latter, the commissioners of Pennsylvania secured from the Six Nations the relinquishment of all the territory within the state northwest of the boundary of 1768, (for which see Lycoming co.) This purchase was confirmed by the Delawares and Wyandots, in Jan. 1785, at Fort M’Intosh. The boundary between the state and New York was run out in 1785, 1786, and 1787, partly by David Rittenhouse, and afterwards by Andrew Ellicott and other commissioners on the part of New York. Gen. William Irvine, who had been much engaged in examining the donation lands, had perceived at an early day that the northern boundary would so strike Lake Erie as to leave to Pennsylvania not more than four or five miles of coast on the lake, and that without a harbor. His exertions were at once united with those of other intelligent men of the state to secure from the U. S., and the aboriginal proprietors of the soil, the tract since known as the triangle. The preëmptive right is believed to have been originally in the state of Massachusetts, from which it passed through various hands to the state of Pennsylvania. By a treaty, (proba made at Fort Harmar, near Marietta,) Jan. 9, 1789, with only a part of the Six Nations

“The signing chiefs do acknowledge the right of soil and jurisdiction to and over that tract of country bounded on the south by the north line of Pennsylvania, on the east by the west boundary of New York, agreeable to the cession of that state and Massachusetts to the U. S.; and on the north by the margin of Lake Erie, including Presqu'isle, and all the bays and harbors along the margin of said Lake Erie, from the west boundary of Pennsylvania to where the west boundary of New York may intersect the south margin of the said Lake Erie, to be vested in the said state of Pennsylvania, agreeable to an act of congress dated 6th June last,” (1788.) “The said chiefs agree that the said state of Pennsylvania shall and may, at any time they may think proper, survey, dispose of, and settle all that part of the aforesaid country lying and being west of a line running along the middle of the Conewago river, from its confluence with the Allegheny river into the Chadochque lake; thence along the middle of said lake to the north end of the same; thence a meridian line from the north end of the said lake to the margin or shore of Lake Erie."

On the 3d March, 1792, the governor purchased the tract from the U. S. for $151,640 25, continental money; and a deed of that date confirmed it to the state. The area of the triangle is 202,187 acres.

Notwithstanding the treaty of Fort Stanwix and that of Fort Harmar, the cession of the Presqu'isle lands was a sore subject to many chiefs of the Six Nations, and especially to their master-spirit, Brant, the Mohawk chieftain. It was claimed that the treaty was invalid, Cornplanter having sold their lands without authority. Brant's favorite design was to restrict the Americans to the country east of the Allegheny and Ohio; and he not only strenuously opposed and denounced every treaty that interfered with his plan, but was active in his endeavors to unite all the northern and western nations in one great confederacy, and, if necessary, to protect his favorite boundary by a general war. To this scheme he hoped, no doubt, to secure the cooperation of Great Britain, whose agents still held the Canadian posts, and covertly fostered the war carried on by the northwestern tribes. The settlement of the lands northwest of the Allegheny, and especially of the Presqu'isle lands, was never cordially acquiesced in by the Six Nations, not even by the Senecas; and Cornplanter, who had assented to the treaty, became very unpopular among his own people. It was charged upon him, at the council of Canandaigua, in Oct. 1794, that he and Little Billy had received, at Fort Harmar, $2,000, and at Philadelphia $2,000 more, as the price of Presqu'isle.* Nevertheless, Cornplanter himself is found protesting to the U. S., at Buffalo cr., in June, 1794, against the garrison established by Gen. Wayne at Presqu'isle, when he went out against the Miamis.

Soon after the cession of the triangle, the settlement law of 1792 was passed, and these lands were included in its provisions, with those south of the old provincial boundary. The first settlements in Erie co. were made by pioneers under that law, and the same scenes of litigation occurred which have been alluded to under the head of Crawford co., (p. 260.) Many instances of personal violence occurred between contending claimants. Lynch law was the favorite code. The squatters would league together to prevent the legal claimants from depriving them of their improvements. This region suffered, in common with all that west of the Allegheny, from hostile incursions of savages. It was some recompense, however, to such as were driven off in this way, that they thereby secured a title to their lands without being compelled to perform a five years' actual residence, in compliance with the law. Tradition even states that some land-jobbers, when no actual invasion took place, were in the habit of getting themselves alarmed, attacked, and driven off by parties of white men disguised as Indians; and on these fictitious attacks they procured preventive certificates. (See p. 261.) Such an arrangement would hardly seem to have been necessary; for the frontier was, beyond all question, in a dangerous and deplorable state, and sufferings were endured by the daring pioneers, the relation of which chills one's blood. Their titles at one time had like to have been disturbed by a claimant whose lien was much older than the law of 1792, and who could enforce it by a process more to be dreaded than that of Judge Lynch. The following extracts are from a letter, dated 19th July, 1794,

Stone's Red Jacket, p. 138.

written by the Mohawk chieftain, Joseph Brant_Thayendanegea—to Col. Smith, " for Gov. Simcoe,” of Upper Canada. The letter is contained in Col. Wm. L. Stone's Life of Brant.

"In regard to the Presqu'isle business, should we not get an answer at the time limited, it is our business to push those fellows hard, and therefore it is my intention to forın my camp at Pointe Appineau; and I would esteem it a favor if his excellency, the lieutenant-governor, would lend me four or five batteaux. Should it so turn out, and should those fellows not go off, and O'Bail (Cornplanter) continue in the same opinion, an expedition against those Yankees must of consequence take place. His excellency has been so good as to furnish us with a cwt. of powder, and ball in proportion, which is now at Fort Erie; but in the event of an attack upon Le Boeuf people, I could wish, if consistent, that his excellency would order a like quantity in addition to be at Fort Erie in order to be in readiness: likewise I would hope for a little assistance in provi, sions.

“I understand some new regiments are raising or to be raised. In that case I would consider myself much favored should some of my relations, young men, have an equal chance of being provided for. A few days ago I sent seven men to Cadaragara, to remind O'Bail that he should watch any movement of those people (the settlers at Presqu'isle) very narrowly; and that he should be ready to march immediately after the expiration of the time, should they not then evacuate that place."

This letter exhibits in a strong light the slender thread by which depended the peace between the United States and the Six Nations, as well as with Great Britain. Indeed, in all the wars of the northwestern frontier, Brant and other individual chiefs were conspicuous on the war-path. Gen. Wayne's treaty with the northwestern tribes put an end to Brant's ambitious designs, and the wave of civilization rolled on across the Ohio and Allegheny.

Among the earlier settlers of this county were Mr. Wm. Miles, Robert King, Martin King, Gen. Charles Martin, Mr. Wm. Connolly, now of Venango co., Col. John Reed, father of Rufus S. Reed, Esq., Thomas Reese, an early surveyor, who is still living, John Cochran, Thomas Foster, Robert Brown, Daniel Dobbins, Mr. Kelso, Thomas Wilson, James Duncan, Gen. Callender Irvine, and others whose names have not come to our knowledge.

Mr. Wm. Miles, who is still living at a very advanced age at Girard, was at Fort Freeland, on the W. branch of Susquehanna, when it was captured in 1778. He was then a lad or a young man, and was taken prisoner to Canada, where he remained until after the close of the revolution, when he crossed the lake, and settled in the Presqu'isle country. He was one of the corps of surveyors for laying off the donation lands, in 1785. He related the following anecdote to a friend, who communicated it to the compiler.

"When the surveyors all started from Pittsburg, in a body, they placed their instruments, baggage, &c., in two canoes, and took several Indians along as guides and boatmen. These Indians had been recommended to the party by the fur traders. The latter, however, were jealous of the new surveys, as a settlement of the country would destroy their trade, and they exaggerated to the surveyors the dangers of their undertaking, and the hostile dispositions of the Indians Mr. Miles had suspected these Indians, who had been recommended by the traders, and remon. strated against taking them, but was overruled. On the route the surveyors stopped at the last white man's cabin on the river, some 15 miles above Pittsburg, to refresh themselves, leaving the Indians to take care of the canoes. On returning to the river after an hour or two, Indians, canoes, instruments, and baggage, were all gone! What was to be done? Miles asked if any one bad in his pocket a map of the river. One was fortunately found. He readily discovered that the Indians, on the presumption that they had ascended the river, must necessarily pass a very circuitous bend, and might be easily overtaken by taking a straight path through the woods. The compass was gone, but Miles was enabled to steer the straight course by his knowledge of the moss on the trees, and other Indian signs. They came out above the bend, secreted themselves in the bushes, and waited the approach of the Indians, who soon hove in sight. When

the old chief found he had been detected, he very coolly and cunningly determined to pretend ignorance and innocence, and stepping out of the canoe with a smile, greeted the surveyors with, How do? How do ?

ERIE, the seat of justice, is situated upon a bluff affording a prospect of Presqu'isle bay, the peninsula which forms it, and the lake beyond. The borough is regularly laid out with spacious streets; the site is level, the soil dry and porous; the buildings generally are well-constructed, the public edifices, except the courthouse, are splendid, and in short, the town is one of the pleasantest in Pennsylvania. Its commercial advantages too, are, or soon will be, in accordance with its external appearance. The harbor, four miles and a half long by half a mile wide, is one of the best on the lake. It has been recently much improved, and steamboats enter without difficulty. The eastern entrance has a channel from 11 to 20 feet deep, and the U. States is engaged in improving the western. The harbor is generally free from ice at least a month sooner than that of Buffalo. The peninsula was, within remembrance, a sand-bank, but is now covered with a growth of young timber. The state canal from here to the mouth of Beaver is nearly completed, (three miles only unfinished,) and as soon as it is opened a considerable increase of business may be anticipated. The canal basin connected with the harbor is 2,000 feet long by 1,000 wide. The town contains the usual county buildings, and 7 churches, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, Associate Reformed, German Lutheran, and Roman Catholic; a female seminary; the Erie bank; a splendid Doric temple of marble, formerly used by a branch of the U. S. Bank of Pa.; the Reed House, which is a magnificent hotel on the plan of the Astor House ; several other good hotels; an academy, 2 flouring-mills, 2 iron foundries, and many stores and forwarding houses. Mill creek, near the town, furnishes an ample water-power, and still more will be obtained from the locks of the canal. Population in 1820, 617; in 1830, 1,451; in 1840, 3,412. Erie is 120 miles from Pittsburg, 90 from Buffalo, and 100 from Cleveland.

The town of Erie was laid out by Gen. Wm. Irvine and Andrew Ellicott, in 1795, in conformity with the act passed 18th April, of that year. Suitable reservations were made of certain lots for the use of the United States to build " forts, magazines, arsenals, and dock-yards thereon.” Mr. Ellicott had charge of the corps of surveyors, and Gen. Irvine commanded a small detachment of troops for the protection of the surveys. A monument, similar to an ordinary grave-stone, is standing at the northeast corner of the town, on the brow of the bluff, inscribed ERIE, 1795. N. lat. 42° 8' 14". The first section of the town was incorporated as a borough 29th March, 1805. The place at that time contained about 100 houses. The academy was incorporated in 1811; and the land for the lighthouse was granted the same year to the U. States.

Gen. Wayne, when he went out to the Maumee in 1794, established a small garrison here; and on his return in December, 1796, he died at the garrison, in a small log-cabin, and was buried, at his own request, at the foot of the flag-staff. A rude paling, and a rough stone with the initials A. W., long marked his resting-place, until, in 1809, his remains were transferred by his son to the churchyard of his ancient place of worship in Delaware co.

In the large view here inserted, may be seen on the right side of the

square the splendid mansion of Rufus S. Reed, Esq., and beyond it the Erie bank, of which he is president. On the left of the square, beyond the courthouse, is seen the magnificent Reed House, a lasting monument of the enterprise of the gentleman whose name it bears. Such is the appearance of the square in 1843.—Let us look back about fifty years. Mr. Wm. Connolly, now of Franklin, says he came out to Erie in the spring of 1795 with his cousin Thomas Reese, surveyor of the district, who is still living. In June of the same year he saw land there Col. John Reed, father of Rufus S. Reed, in a bark boat, with a quantity of groceries, ilquors, and Indian goods. Col. Reed was the first white settler of the place. He proceeded to erect a log-cabin, and soon after made it a double cabin, and called it—not the Reed House-but the Presqu'isle Hotel ; where he entertained the traders and travellers of the lake shore. Col. Reed was from Rhode Island. The jovial scenes that may have been enacted around those primitive firesides by Indians, soldiers, traders, surveyors, speculators, and casual adventurers, may be more easily conceived than described.

While the region around Pittsburg was dependent upon Northern New York for its supplies of salt, Erie and Waterford, though not large, were busy towns, (see p. 86.) During the last war, too, there was much heavy transportation of military stores across the Le Boeuf portage, for the use of the squadron on the lake. Navigation by steam was commenced on Lake Erie in 1818, when the first steamboat was built at Black Rock: she bore the significant name of Walk-in-the-Water. The novelty of the sight as she made her first trip through the lake excited great curiosity, especially among the aborigines. She was lost in 1822. The Superior immediately succeeded her. The most important impetus, however, was given to the growth of Erie by the great projects of internal improvement which originated between 1830 and 1836. Heavy expenditures were made by the U. S. on the harbor ; the canal to Beaver was surveyed and located; a great railroad was projected through Warren, McKean, Lycoming, and Columbia counties, to connect with the Danville and Pottsville road; another to join the New York and Erie railroad; and a branch of the U. S. Bank of Pa. was located here. The spark of speculation being lighted, speculators from Buffalo and Rochester and New York city came in with the most modern inventions for making money without industry, and the town shot ahead with dangerous rapidity.

The following extracts from successive newspapers of that day, will serve to show the rapid progress of the speculation.

June 12th, 1830.—The spirit of speculation which has wrought such wonders upon the line of the Erie canal has never visited this borough. No extensive business is done on fictitious capital. The soil is owned by its occupants, and no part of it is covered by foreign mortgages. No branch of business is overdone, if we except, perhaps, one or two of the professions. The growth of Erie has at no time exceeded that of the surrounding country. Its increase has been commensurate only with the increase of business. It has consequently never felt those reverses which always attend villages of mushroom growth. Many men with small capitals have become independent, and some opulent. Erie possesses advantages which must forever secure to it important and lucrative business. Its harbor is decidedly the safest and best on the lake. Our water privileges are equal to our present wants, and an increase may be expected from the construction of the Pennsylvania canal.

That Erie will be a successful rival of her sister villages on the borders of the lake, we have not a shadow of doubt. But let not her growth be forced. Every doubtful or chimerical speculation should be discountenanced, and, above all, let not our village lots fall into the hands of those who calculate great speculations on their rise. This is the bane which is most to be dreaded

« 上一頁繼續 »