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weekly in town on business, that they had not met each other during the last fifteen years. It is no less remarkable that during this period they had repeatedly visited each other's families, but it so happened that the party visited was inoariably from home on the occasion.”—Crawford Messenger, 1831.
There are several small villages in Crawford co.; CENTREVILEE, TITUSVILLE, CAMBRIDGE, ROCKVILLE, SAGERSTOWN, EVANSBURG, HARTZTOWN, ADAMSVILLE, ESPYVILLE, HARMONSBURG, CONNIOTVILLE. Their position and distance from the county seat may be best learned from the map.
The history of the range of counties in Pennsylvania“ north and west of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers, and Conewango cr.," would be incomplete without some notice of the provisions of various laws under which the land in those counties was disposed of and settled, and the numerous vexatious lawsuits which grew out of those provisions. The following very concise summary, which is all that the restricted limits of this work will admit, is drawn up principally from the copious notes in the 2d vol. of Smith's Laws of Pennsylvania, with the addition of a few facts collected from other sources.
Depreciation Lands.—During the revolution, between the years 1777 and 1781, the value of the “bills of credit” issued by the state, as well as of those issued by Congress, continued gradually to depreciate from one per cent. almost to one hundred. The debts contracted both between individuals and public parties, during this period, it was found very difficult to settle subsequently, on account of incessant disputes as to the amount of depreciation to be deducted from the face of the money paid. The legislature passed a law, 3d April, 1781, fixing a scale of depreciation, from 14 per cent. to 75 per cent., varying for each month between 1777 and 1781, according to which all debts should be settled. For the indebtedness of the commonwealth to the officers and soldiers of the Pennsylvania troops in the army, certificates were given in conformity with the scale, and these, called depreciation certificates, were receivable in payment for all new land sold by the state. The land N. W. of the Allegheny was sold by the Six Nations to the commonwealth in Oct. 1784, at Fort Stanwix, and the sale was confirmed by the Delawares and Wyandots at Fort McIntosh, (Beaver,) in Jan. 1785. Previous, however, to this purchase from the Indians, the state, on the 12th March, 1783, more effectually to provide for the redemption of the depreciation certificates, ordered to be surveyed and laid off in lots of not less than 200, nor more than 350 acres, the district of land bounded by the Ohio and Allegheny on the S. E., as far up as the mouth of Mahoning, or Mohullbucteetam cr.; thence by a line due west, and thence by the western boundary of the state—with the reservation of a tract of 3,000 acres opposite Pittsburg, and another 3,000 at Beaver. These lands were to be sold at such times and under such regulations as the executive council might direct.
Donation Lands. The same act of 12th March, 1783, which appropriated the depreciation lands, also ordered to be located and laid off another district north of the former, bounded by the Allegheny river on the S. E. as far up as the mouth of Conewango cr., thence by a line due N. to the New York line, thence by the N. and W. boundaries of the state, and S. by the deprecia. tion district. The Erie triangle was not then a part of this state. These lands were appropriated expressly to fulfil a previous promise of the commonwealth (made 7th March, 1780) "to the officers and privates belonging to this state in the federal army, of certain donations and quantities of land according to their several ranks, to be surveyed and divided off to them severally at the end of the war." The lands were surveyed in lots of from 200 to 500 acres each, enough of each kind to supply the different ranks. A major-general was entitled to draw four tickets, by lottery, of 500 acres each; a brigadier-general three of the same; and so on down to the drummers, fifers, corporals, and “private sentinels,” who drew one ticket of 200 acres each. The donation districts were distinguished by numbers 1, 2, 3, &c. The eastern part of donation district No. 2, having been reported by Gen. Wm. Irvine, the agent, as being generally unfit for cultivation, the numbers of lots therein were taken out of the wheel, and provision was made elsewhere for such officers and soldiers as were thus cut off. The district thus rejected was called the Struck district.
Various regulations and restrictions were made by law regarding the mode of survey, entry, transfer of title, and limit of tine for perfecting the soldiers' title to their lands; and the limit of time was subsequently, extended by various laws from time to time. To fulfil the object of the donation and depreciation laws, it did not by any means require all the lands in the region north and west of the Ohio and Allegheny, and the remainder, the struck district included, reverted to the state, to be disposed of to other settlers.
[The reader is here requested to refer to the Outline History, pages 42 and 43 of this volume,
for several passages on this subject, which our restricted limits will not permit us here to repeat ; also to Erie, Beaver, Butler, and Warren counties.)
The Land Law of 1792.-With a view of bringing into market unseated lands, which had been rejected on account of high price, and also to encourage an increase of population on the remote frontiers of the state, the legislature passed, on the 3d April, 1792, a 'law throwing open for sale all the vacant lands of the state included in the purchase of 1768 and previously, at the price of £2 108. (Pennsylvania currency) per 100 acres ; lands in the purchase of 1784, east of the Allegheny and Conewango, at $5 per 100 acres; and the lands north and west of the rivers Ohio and Allegheny, and Conewango cr., except the donation and depreciation lots, at £7 108. per 100 acres. No condition of settlement was attached to the lands east of the Allegheny; but those northwest of that river, &c., were only “offered for sale to persons who will cultivate, im. prove, and settle the same, or cause the same to be cultivated, improved, and settled," &c., at the price above named,“ with an allowance of 6 per cent, for roads and highways." Any person intending thus to settle was entitled, on application and payment, with proper description of the land, to receive from the land-office a warrant ordering a survey of the tract, not exceeding 400 acres. Surveys could not be made on lands actually settled previous to the entry of the warrant, except for such actual settler himself. The most important section, however, in this celebrated law was :
“Sect. 9. No warrant or survey, to be issued or made in pursuance of this act, for lands lying north and west of the rivers Ohio and Allegheny, and Conewango cr., shall vest any title in or to the lands therein mentioned, unless the grantee has, prior to the date of such warrant, made, or caused to be made, or shall within the space of two years next after the date of the same, make, or cause to be made, an actual settlement thereon, by clearing, fencing, and cultivating at least two acres for every hundred acres contained in one survey, erecting thereon a messuage for the habitation of man, and residing, or causing a family to reside thereon, for the space of five years next following his first settlement of the same, if he, or she, shall so long live; and that in default of such actual settlement and residence, it shall and may be lawful to and for this com. monwealth to issue new warrants to other actual settlers for the said lands, or any part thereof, reciting the original warrants, and that actual settlements and residence have not been made in pursuance thereof, and so as often as defaults shall be made, for the time, and in the manner aforesaid, which new grants shall be under, and subject to all and every the regulations contained in this act. Provided, always, nevertheless, that if any such actual settler, or any grantee in any such original or succeeding warrant shall
, by force of arms of the enemies of the United States, be prevented from making such actual settlement, or be driven therefrom, and shall per. sist in his endeavors to make such actual settlement as aforesaid, then, in either case, he and his heirs shall be entitled to have and to hold the said lands, in the same manner, as if the actual settlement had been made and continued.”
Much controversy arose out of this act. The ninth section, and particularly the proviso in that section, was the subject of serious and bitter litigation for more than twenty years, before the , highest courts both of the state and the U. States. The most distinguished lawyers and judges repeatedly delivered conflicting decisions on the points at issue, and it was only settled at last, in 1805, by the decision of Chief-justice Marshall, of the Supreme Court of the U.S. Even this decision left open many secondary questions, which perplexed the courts, and, literally, “puzzled the Philadelphia lawyers,” for many years afterwards ; and many of them were only settled eventually by special legislation. During all that time, the improvement of that section of the state was retarded, while the regions in New York and Ohio, beyond it, were rapidly increasing in population and wealth. It is important to keep in mind, in considering this subject, the disturbed state of the western frontier at the time of the passage of this law, and for three years subsequently. (See Outline History.) Judge Washington says, “Though the great theatre of the war lay far to the northwest of the land in dispute, yet it is clearly proved that this country during this period was exposed to the repeated eruptions of the enemy, killing and plundering such of the whites as they met with in defenceless situations. We find the settlers sometimes working out in the daytiine, in the neighborhood of forts, and returning at night within their walls for protection; sometimes giving up the pursuit in despair, and returning to the settled parts of the country; then returning to this country, and again abandoning it. We sometimes meet with a few men daring and hardy enough to attempt the cultivation of their lands ; associating implements of husbandry with the instruments of war—the character of the husbandman with that of the soldier—and yet I do not recollect any instance in which, with this enterprising, daring spirit, a single individual was able to make such a settlement as law required."
When quiet was again restored to the frontier, by Wayne's treaty in 1795, pioneers and speculators flocked from all quarters into the districts beyond the Allegheny. Some had already made partial settlements there, and had been driven off “ by the enemies of the United States :" others were old soldiers and officers, now for the first time able to make their
locations; others had purchased for a trifle from the generous and reckless old soldiers their titles to numerous tracts; others were land-jobbers, who furnished means to tenants wherewith to make settlements on the
jobber's account; others were the agents of wealthy companies and associations, having in view the same object; and others came in on their own account, under the very general impression that, as no one had yet been able to complete the five years' residence required by the law, they were at liberty to select such tracts as they found untenanted, although some previous settler, not yet returned, had made improvements upon them. The state of things which ensued when the titles of these various classes of people began to conflict with each other, may be readily conceived. In the numerous lawsuits which followed, those of the great land companies were the most important, since they involved a vast extent of territory. Of these companies there were three-the Holland Land Company, the Population Company, and the North American Land Company. Of the latter, little has come to our knowledge, except that it was recognised, with the others, in certain legislative provisions.
The Holland Land Company. At the close of the revolution several wealthy gentlemen of Holland, William Willink, and eleven associates, had a very considerable sum of money to receive either from the United States, or from Robert Morris, the distinguished financier of the revolution. This money had been borrowed of them, it is believed, for the purpose of carrying on the war. Preferring still to keep it invested in this new country, they purchased of Mr. Morris, in 1792, an immense tract of land west of the Genesee river, in New York; and about the same time they took up by warrant a great number of tracts east of the Allegheny river, in Pennsylvania, under the law of 1792. Many of these tracts they still hold. They also caused to be settled, or made endeavors to place settlers on a great number of tracts west of the Allegheny: Judge Yeates on one occasion said—“The Holland Land Co. have paid to the state the consideration money of 1,162 warrants, and the surveying fees on 1,048 tracts of land, (generally 400 acres each,) besides making very considerable expenditures by their exertions, honorable to themselves, and useful to the community, in order to effect settlements. Computing the sums advanced, the lost tracts by prior improvements and interferences, and the quantity of 100 acres granted to each individual for making an actual settlement on their lands, it is said that, averaging the whole, between $230 and $240 have been expended by the company on each tract.” To those settlers who had been prevented, by the wars on the frontier, from making an actual settlement on their lands, a certificate of the fact of prevention had been issued at the land-office. These were called prevention certificates, and were supposed to entitle the holder to a patent, without any further attempts at completing a settlement and five years' residence after the peace.
Many of these certificates had been purchased by the Holland Land Co. On some they had received patents; but on a change of administration in the land-office, any further issue was refused. This raised the question on which was founded what is known in the law-books as the
great case of the Holland Land Co.,” and upon which depended a vast number of titles in Western Pennsylvania. “The question is, whether the conditions of actual settlement, by reason of the Indian hostilities for two years after the date of a warrant for lands across the Allegheny, are extinguished or dispensed with, by the proviso in the 9th section of the act of 1792." Our limits will not admit of following the question through the courts. Suffice it to say, that in 1805 the Supreme court of the U.S. decided the question in the affirmative, and the Holland Co. being thus excused from making further attempts at residence or settlement, were confirmed in their titles, and eventually obtained quiet possession of their lands. Many tracts, however, of other claimants depended upon actual settlement; and the question as to what constituted an actual settlement, was not fully settled by the courts for several years after the decision of the Holland Co. case. This whole subject is ably and copiously treated in Smith's Laws of Pa., vol. 2, and in the general index, vol. 5,-to which those are referred who wish to investigate the subject more in detail.
The Pennsylvania Population Co. was an association of wealthy gentlemen, organized in May, 1792, of which John Nicholson, the great land speculator, was president, and Messrs. Cazenove, Irvine, Mead, Leet, Hoge, and Stewart, managers. Their stock consisted of 2,500 shares, which, as each share represented 200 acres, was vested in 500,000 acres of land. Any one transferring to the company a donation tract of 200 acres, was entitled to a share of stock. The title to their lands was vested in trustees, to be held in common, and the proceeds divided pro rata among the stockholders. John Nicholson, individually, soon after the passage of the law of 1792, had ap.
plied for, at the land office, 390 warrants, to be located in the “triangle" (Erie co.) then known as the Lake Erie territory, and for 250 warrants more on the waters of Beaver creek, amounting to about 260,000. Before, however, paying the purchase money on these tracts, he transferred his applications to the company, (in May, 1792,) who paid for them, and perfected the title. They also took up about 500 warrants more in Erie and Crawford counties, on 30th May, 1792.
The people of this region, in common with those of many other parts of the state, have been recently (1842) very much alarmed and excited by the revival of an antiquated claim of John Nicholson's heirs to certain lands. So far as the claim concerns titles derived through the Popu. lation Co., it is thought by learned counsel that no part of the company's land was ever vested in John Nicholson individually.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, formerly included in Lancaster co., was established by the act of 27th Jan., 1750. Its limits, which then included the whole country west to the boundary of the state, have been gradually reduced by the formation of other counties. Length 34 miles, breadth 16; area, 545 sq. miles. Population in 1790, 18,243; in 1800, 25,386 ; in 1810, 26,757 ; in 1820, 23,606 ; in 1830, 29,226; in 1840, 30,953.
The Kittatinny mountain, like a vast wall of regular height, sweeps round the northern boundary of the county; the South mountain bounds it on the southeast. The Susquehanna flows along the N. E. end of the co. The Conodoguinet flows through the whole length of the county. The Yellow Breeches creek drains the southern part. The surface of the county is, like that of the Kittatinny valley, generally undulating ; the southern half being composed of limestone land of most exuberant fertility, the northern of slate lands. No county in the state can boast more beautiful or more highly cultivated farms, than this. The population was originally Scotch-Irish, but they have been to a very great extent supplanted by the German race. The manufactures, besides those of a domestic character, are principally of iron. The county abounds in iron ore and forests, along the mountains, and contains some six or seven furnaces, a large rolling-mill, and several forges. There is an extensive woollen factory on Mountain creek. The Cumberland Valley railroad passes through the centre of the co., touching at the principal towns. The Harrisburg and Pittsburg southern turnpike pursues nearly the same direction as the railroad. Another turnpike runs from Carlisle south to Baltimore.
Previous to any settlement by the whites in the Cumberland valley, the Shawanee Indians had occupied the lands on the Conodoguinet for a hunting-ground. It appears from the elaborate researches of Redmond Conyngham, Esq., that “about the year 1677 the Shawanees, driven by persecution from Carolina and Georgia, came to the mouth of th Cones. toga, in Lancaster co., and obtained the consent of the Susquehanna Indians to occupy the flats.” “The Shawanees also claim that they were permitted to occupy the flats at the mouth of Conestoga, and were promised hunting-ground and protection by Markham, and that this promise was confirmed by William Penn at Shackamaxon; that a treaty of purchase was afterwards concluded with the Shawanees of their claim to the lands they occupied on the Susquehanna, they consenting to remove
to lands on the Conodoguinet, surveyed for their use by order of the proprietaries. The intrusion of the white settlers upon their hunting-ground proved a fresh source of grievance; they remonstrated to the governor and to the assembly, and finally withdrew and placed themselves under the protection of the French. Big Beaver, a Shawanee chief, at the treaty of Carlisle in 1753, referred to a promise made by William Penn at Shackamaxon, of hunting-grounds forever.”
A purchase was made by the proprietaries, in Oct. 1736, from the Six Nations, of all the lands west of the Susquehanna “to the setting sun, and south of the Tayamentasacta hills, as the Kittatinny mountain was called by the Six Nations. Previous to this, unauthorized settlements had been made in a few places on the Conodoguinet and Conococheague, by emigrants from the north of Ireland ; and after the purchase, although the land was not surveyed, they were rather encouraged to settle here, for the purpose of preventing intruders under Lord Baltimore's title. These settlements gave rise to the complaints of the Shawanees.
When the county was erected, in 1750, it contained 807 taxable inhabitants, and was represented in the assembly by Joseph Armstrong and Hermanus Alrichs. Robert M'Coy, Benjamin Chambers, David Magaw, James M'Intire, and John M'Cormick were the commissioners to select the site for a courthouse. Shippensburg was selected as a temporary seat of justice. The commissioners of this county and those of York disagreed in regard to the boundary line; those of Cumberland wishing it to commence opposite the mouth of the Swatara, and run along the ridge of the South mountain, while the others claimed that it should follow up Yellow Breeches cr. The difficulty was settled by act of assembly, in 1751, and the present line adopted.
The courts were first held at Shippensburg, but were removed to Carlisle in 1751, after the town was laid out. The orphans' court, during the years 1750 and 1751, seems to have followed the judges. At one time it was held at “William Anderson's,” another time at “Antrim," sometimes at “Shippensburg,” and then again at “ Peterstown.”
The following is a literal copy of the first record in the court of quarter sessions :
“At a Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace held at Shippensburg for the County of Cumberland the twenty-fourth day of July in the twenty-fourth year of the Reign of his Ma. jesty King GEORGE the Second Annog. Dom. 1750,
Before Samuel Smith Esquire and his Brethren Keepers of the Peace of our said Lord the
pl and submits to ye Ct. And thereupon it is considered by Bridget Hagen the Court and adjudged that ye sd Bridget Hagen Restore the Sum of six pounds seventeen shillings & sixpence lawfull money of Penna unto Jacob Long ye owner and make fine to ye Governor in ye like sum and pay ye costs of prosecution & receive fifteen Lashes on her bare back at ye Public Whipping post & stand committed till ye fine & fees are paid."
When the courts were removed to Carlisle, great complaint was made by the people of Conococheague, which was then quite a populous settlement.
Shippensburg they were fully persuaded would have quieted the whole county, though it was northeast of the centre; yet that it had pleased the governor to remove the courts of justice to Letort's Spring, almost at one end of the county; and they asked the assembly to take into consideration their grievances—the governor, though repeatedly applied to, having refused them redress. They alleged that it would always impoverish them to carry and expend their money at the extremity of the county, whence it would never circulate back again ; that neither the interests of the proprietaries nor the prosperity of the town of Carlisle would be advanced by change ing the seat of justice, and that no good wagon road could be made across the North inountain " until beyond Shippensburg up the valley."