Movers And Shakers
This post will be followed, 'down the road', by more detailed ones on southwestern PA & other places. Here is a link to a good site; with particular places names and geographical areas.
In a very real sense, the much faded history of the greatest rival nations of this era were at a pivotal place and leads on to yet another rival nation rising from this cannon fire and battlefields, skirmishes and dimly lit rooms full of whisperings and meaningful discussions; that one would become the greatest, the United States of America itself.
It was here in these woods and backwaters so much of the early fighting was decided by a panorama of folks, famous and little known, as well as in so many other localities. In these confines much of our future was realized.
The well known 1755 march to the forks of the Ohio, now Pittsburg, by General Braddock with 2,400 troops and a young George Washington. They traveled with their baggage train, some Indians, some women, cooks, etc., through parts of Maryland, and Pennsylvania, mainly, southern Somerset, eastern Fayette, and up along Westmoreland counties for the more southerly route. Not far from Jumonville and near Dunbar, modern Fayette County, Thomas Dunbar kept the reserve contingent and artillery. Much of the equipment was left behind on their, almost, mad rush down to Will's Creek,Cumberland when word of the defeat and hasty retreat was given.
George Washington was one of the few officers left alive to keep a level head and, traditionally, gave the eulogy at Braddock's passing and quick burial in Farmington.
Now, the intent here is not so much to undertake a large expose of sorts that would well involve professional historians, scholars of esteemed and gabled halls, (as stuffy though they may come across to most and plain boring to some others, regardless the sources of quality information is still invaluable and deserves respect), from learned campuses of our finest universities in the land, providing seemingly endless rounds of debate and research brought to bear out of the text books for us; but, the idea here is rather to share a layman's fairly 'simple' point of view for a general understanding of a basic review of these regional matters. The previous course has been aptly done in many quality books, peer reviewed articles and what-not in a more knowledgeable atmosphere than could ever be possible in this form of enlightenment. That is clearly beyond the dictates and scope here given.
If it seems to anyone that special knowledge is being claimed in a technical way then apologies should be made, as this is all related to 'standing on the shoulders of giants' and is the only point of view of this blog. If you need more information, it can easily be found online and through books in the fine libraries of our towns and cities where you are encouraged to go to learn more details from more educated minds and it is intended to follow given links to proper material also. If this is a result, then this website will have succeeded at its core purpose more than ever could be imagined! Obviously this is not meant to be the final word on any given subject matter. No, this media is only expected to cover a brief span of the highlights of these fascinating times and people, though it may eventually cover a larger amount of regional history, particularly, with an eye to certain pivotal areas. So, I intend to gather some facts and stories, while relaying what has been expressed and is confirmed by those in authority, without any crossed fingers behind anybody's backs. The only agenda here is really a genuine love of local culture and tradition. Maybe that is all that the average man and woman, girl and boy requires at the end of the day, or so it is assumed.
Near here, any forces in the, so-called, French and Indian War, as elaborated elsewhere,were involved in traveling the Catawba Indian Path, Glade Path and Nemacolin Path and old Braddock Road and somewhat involved with the building on the trader paths of the lesser known Turkey Foot Road and the Ohio Company,as well as using the Burd and Forbes roads concerned mostly with Fort Ligonier and Bushy Run.
The Quakers of the state and the Virginians, many of whom laid claim to areas of what became the future Greene, Washington, Westmoreland and Fayette, (named after the Marquis de Lafayette), counties; the settlers from the east and those from Virginia as well, the British and French traders, and the patchwork of tribes of Native American Indian factions, certainly make for a unique part of Americana, particularly Pennsylvania, and our richly woven tapestry of regional and local history.
An important point, sometimes overlooked, which will be made here to help keep perspective, is that, Washington, Gist , etc.,early in their lives were surveyors and land owners and were preeminently Virginians, not Pennsylvanians. Interestingly, these men laid claim to much land often for the Ohio Company, inside present day Fayette and Westmoreland Counties and some of those surrounding ones later carved out of these as well. This appeared to be largely done under the aegis of the government of the states involved as interpreted by their rights in the disputed places and based partly on conflicting charters and some of the Indian treaties. Eventually, the varied contributions of many of those early men of the south would be of enormous impact, but at the time, in most cases, they were sent under the authority of the governor of that state as it was thought to be rightful territory and was perceived to be at the time.Therefore, the borders had this aspect of a stormy relationship, at best, and PA settlers moving in from the east near to Redstone Old Fort and from the Maryland region, were discouraged by the Virginians and by their own state government and, of course, some Shawnee, Delaware, and other Indian tribes. Until the dispute of state lines were resolved by the Mason Dixon line boundaries set by the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Pennsylvanian settlers were mostly forbade to populate the west of the state with only occasional exceptions from Philadelphia for a few well favored by the eastern powers that be. Here's some informed links for more research should anyone inquire. Otherwise these eastern settlers were refused holdings on pain of death, no less! (Charles Augustus Hanna). See his Google book about 'The Scotch-Irish.'
Washington himself, by far the most famous of the Washington family, had claims to various scenic and quality surveyed lands in this once disputed area of southwestern Pennsylvania, including much of Perryopolis, decided that the territorial squabbles appearing to be favoring the Pennsylvania side, basically said they were not worth the trouble and sold off most of his valuable properties.
Of the Indians that once roamed these hills, were the Seneca of the five Nations of New York including the Ottawa and from the east, the Delaware or, the 'Leni Lenape' as they are often called; the Shawnee, an independent and spirited people from further south, pushed off north by different Indian disputes, who were moving through the Ohio territory and some other areas simultaneously; as well as some Wyandot, Nanticoke, even Erie, along with Cherokee and Catawba , (on the link, please scroll to 'history'), to a lesser extent in the far south, the last mostly in the making of Braddock's Road that would become part of the National Road, and the 'Pike' and Route 40. As to the heritage of the Indians themselves in the development of our perspectives could, hopefully, be more deeply addressed in future posts. Much more could be said and written and much has already been by eloquent and talented writers.
Of course, of the Native Americans in PA, the Delaware chief, Nemacolin, who was also known as 'Nehemiah Cohen', ending his days in the Ohio country, was an early trail blazer in whose guidance led to the following of parts of the famously named trail. And the Catawba Path (though some try to attribute a doubtful version of his ancestry to the Shawnee, at times), and those, such as the half-king, Tanacharison, or so he was described by the British, is of more concern to us, (1700-1754), a probable 'Mingo' and advisor to Washington, as sometimes was 'Queen' Alliquippa. The Half-King was very much involved in the battle at Jumonville Glen, and responsible for the controversy of the scalping and killing of the brother of the commandant of Fort Duquesne, one Captain Coulon de Villiers. Tanacharison was variously claimed to be adopted and not a full-blooded Seneca and originally, a Catawba Indian. From the area of Lake Erie to the Logstown near Ambridge, PA, he dwelt and moved on, and the fascination of their influence has followed us into the future. This led to the Fort Necssity encounter at the Great Meadows, (an area Washington came to own a fair piece of),,and this was Washington's only real defeat. The Half King was too wise to get directly into this skirmish and moved on toward the Susquehanna River and, finally, Harrisburg.
But, regardless of exact ancestry,being a keyplayer too, on using some of the more major indian paths, the Nemacolin and including somewhat, the Glade, becoming the 'Pike' to the great western regions, north and west, respectively. Much of this hard work led to the creating of the more modern Route 40 and the 'state road' which followed the old road fairly close.
But, it is to be made clear their raw feelings, the sides they took, sometimes reluctantly, the politics, geography, the in-fighting, as well as the reasons for the involvement they had, much were related to their customs and beliefs. We feel enriched by their legacy in many ways. It is not to be underestimated. Their wars were at times 'our' wars too, were they not ? Well, atrocities were committed and recounted on both 'sides' during difficult times and extreme situations and they lived their lives by what they held dear: the land was paramount in those experiences. Many things that meant so much to them, we only have scant fragments in old records and diaries filtered through a white mans outlook. Though they died with an honor, (as should be added, to be fair, so did many of the French and British, German, Scotch-Irish, etc.), the dignity of tribal attitudes and traditions, war paint, peace pipes and all, many of the villages and burial grounds in the valleys of the mountains around here are barely remembered and were plowed under and re-buried, unfortunately.
In the old days, the occasional arrow heads and spears points, beads and such, were still to be found near the places they settled and spent fairly brief amounts of time at. All in the slow, steady pursuit of what is always called progress, for lack of a more appropriate name, maybe, in the years gone by, done apparently without much thought, Eventually to be ignominiously hustled off this stage of frontier time and place with some pat intentions, brutality sometimes not withstanding, as the Trail of Tears indemnifies. Off to the formal reservations provided by the government, with some fighting continuing from the Apaches and Comanche, the land they had enforced for them to stay put on, and not to the extent originally promised.
And that, friends, seems a tragedy of obvious proportions, indeed, from retrospective. Not a lot more can be said here to do justice without a broader brush and a smaller one for detail, so it is to links to specific quality websites that are better equipped to acknowledge these aspects better with depth you should clearly be directed, and attempt is made in these posts to accommodate that.
Please check out the editorial on ' Citizenship and Steps of Progress.'