THE SCOTCH-IRISH OF PENNSYLVANIA
By Ex-Chief Justice Daniel Agnew, of Pennsylvania
Taken from "The Scotch-Irish in America: Proceedings and Addresses of the Second Congress at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 29 to June 1, 1890".
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:—
The settlers of Pennsylvania all have had their memorials written except the Scotch-Irish. The English, Swedes, Germans and Welsh have had earnest friends to collect and preserve the records of their coming, occupancy and acts. Even varieties, the Quakers, Moravians, Huguenots, and others have been sketched and their histories told, but as yet no friendly hand has gathered and garnered the memorials of that hardy race, the Scotch-Irish, which did so much for Pennsylvania in planting cabins, breaking up the virgin soil, and subduing the earth— none has recounted all the hardships endured, the dangers met, the defenses against the red men, and the battles fought for liberty, independence, and free institutions. The men of no nation have done more for permanency and wealth of the state.
The purpose of this brief sketch is not to perform this meritorious work, or to trace the race to early centuries, in search of the causes-which formed its character. Be it, that long before John Knox, its virtues began and settled in a strain of men, patriotic, zealous in pure religion, undaunted in courage, fixed in principle, endowed in body, and endued in mind, with strength, vigor, endurance, clearness and readiness. We know them as they came here.
The province of Ulster in the north of Ireland found them, invited by James the First to settle on the escheated estates of rebel earls, and to improve a country infested by robbers. They were Protestants, drawn thither by the king to occupy the places theretofore filled by the adherents of the church of Rome But persecution and distrust setting in, and vexed by burdens and injustice, they fled, and many found homes in Pennsylvania in the early days of its settlement.
Though scarcely tolerated at first, their industry, firm principles, religious convictions, unbounded courage, personal vigor and superior knowledge, made them leaders and impressed their qualities on every soil they occupied. Time has long passed, until now the gray of twilight is settling on all their early events, obscuring them until it is difficult to redeem much from oblivion. Yet something remains, and to rescue it before night has veiled it in darkness, is the duty of those who can lift any part from the gloom of the past. Scotch-Irish societies are forming, and some have met to assist in this work of love. Perhaps among the results of this late activity a partial history will spring from the seeds of investigation, clothe it with verdure, and prevent the memorials of a noble race from dying out and its achievements from being lost to the world.
Hoping to furnish a small contribution to this stock, and to the cultivation of a long deserted field, I pen this short sketch. In the early settlement of the province, the Scotch-Irish were found in the eastern counties in Chester and along the Maryland line, and in Northampton, Lancaster and Northumberland, then filling all the eastern part of the province. Their advent into Northampton was very early, and chiefly in Allen township. Among them are Boyds, Browns, Craigs, Walkers, Kings and McNairs, Hays, Latimore, Wilson, Young, Gibson, Riddle, Armstrong and Gray. Another collocation, known as the "hunter settlement," located near the mouth of Martin's creek.
But the German emigration from the Palatinates on the Rhine, beginning as early as 1700, and continuing into the middle of the century, brought to our shores a race equal in industry, but more local in habits. As this people came the Scotch-Irish gradually retired, inclining westward. A fact aiding this result was the evident unfriendliness of the Quaker proprietaries, who looked upon the Irish more as squatters than colonists. In 1724, James Logan, secretary of the province, said of them: "As they rudely approach me to propose purchase I look upon them as bold and indigent strangers, giving as their excuse, when challenged for titles, that we had solicited for colonists and they had come accordingly."
It is true they often located without pre-emption, but they were bold and hardy, and the very men to meet the privations of the wilderness and stand against the incursions of savage foes.
The following extract from Logan's letter to John Penn, of November 25, 1727, throws light on the subject. He says: "We have many thousands of foreigners, mostly Palatines, so called already in the country, of whom fifteen hundred came in this last summer, many of them surly people, divers papists among them, and the men generally well armed. We have from the north of Ireland great numbers yearly. Eight or nine ships this last fall discharged at New Castle. Both these sets frequently sit down on any spot of vacant land they can find, without asking question. The last Palatines say there will be twice the number next year, and the Irish say the same of their people. Last week one of these latter (the Irish) applied to me in the name of four hundred as he said, who depended all on me for directions where they should settle. They say the proprietor invited people to come and settle his country; they came for that end, and must live. Both they and the Palatines pretend they will buy, but not one in twenty has any thing to pay with. The Irish settle generally towards the Maryland line, where no lands can honestly be sold till the dispute with Lord Baltimore is decided."
This claim that Penn invited settlers was true, and is evident from Logan's letter; for nothing less could have induced so many to sail from Germany and Ireland.
Many of the Irish settled in Paxton and Donegal townships, then in Lancaster, now in Dauphin county. It was the violent conduct of the "Paxton boys" at Conestoga and Lancaster toward the Indians, which perhaps caused much prejudice to arise against the race. It is difficult now to defend wholly their conduct toward the Indians, yet it must not be forgotten that many of the inhabitants of these townships had been most barbarously killed and scalped by the savages, who were looked upon as implacable foes.
Collisions between the Germans and Scotch-Irish occuring, induced the proprietaries, in 1755, to encourage the Germans to locate in the east, while the Irish went westward.
Among the settlers in Lancaster county were the parents of John C. Calhoun, who lived in Dromore township, but afterward found their way to South Carolina, where the senator was born. Robert Fulton, the inventor of the modern steamboat, was of this stock and born in Lancaster county. Some settled about Marietta and below Columbia.
"The Barrens," as a part of York county was called, contained a large settlement of this people. From York county came Judge Hugh Henry Breckenridge and James Ross, of Pittsburg, Senator Rowan, of Kentucky, and James Smith, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Judge Ellis Lewis also came from this stock. In that part of York, now Adams county, we have the McPhersons, McLellands, Campbells, Allisons, Wilsons, Morrisons, Stewarts, Worrells and others, claiming extraction from the same source.
Gradually this aggressive race made its way up the Juniata and its tributaries, finally crossing the Alleghany mountains. It is said that in 1748, the Kittoctinny valley was well settled by them, and they still pressed westward. The Indians claimed the lands along the Juniata, and complained of their encroachments. This led to measures on the part of the proprietaries to dispossess the Irish. In 1750, Richard Peters, the secretary, made an elaborate report to Governor Hamilton, on the subject of these alleged encroachments and the steps taken to dispossess the settlers, ending in numerous convictions and expulsions.
These proceedings brought to light the names of many of the Scotch-Irish of that day. Among them, George Cahoon, George and William Galloway, Andreas Lycon, David Huddleson, James and Thomas Parker, Owen McKeeb, William White, John McClure, Richard Kirkpatrick, James Murray, John Scott, John Cowan, Simon Girtee, John Killough, James Blair, Moses Moore, Andrew and Arthur Dunlap, Andrew and Alexander McCartie, David Lewis, Felix Doyle, Robert Baker, John Armstrong and John Potts. At Big Cove were found Andrew Donaldson, John McClelland, Charles Stewart, James Downey, John McMean, Robert Kendall, Samuel Brown, Roger Murphy, Robert Smith, William Dickey, William Milliron, William Cowall, James Campbell, William Carroll, John Martin, John Morrison, John McCallin, James and John Wilson. These names strike me forcibly, as many are names (christian and surname) of persons I knew in my early practice in Beaver county. Doubtless these were descendants. In the proceedings against the Irish many cabins were burned. Hence the name of the "Burnt Cabins" a locality formerly well known. These troubles led to the treaty of 1754 at Albany, which however was disputed by the Indians and gave no satisfaction, and Juniata valley, especially its upper portion, became the scene of many Indian incursions and barbarities.
Among the early settlers of the valley was George Woods, once captured and given to an old Indian, who was unable to control him, and finally consented to let him go. He became a surveyor, finally settling in Bedford. In 1784, he laid out Pittsburg, on one of the manors retained by the Penns, under the order of Tench Francis, their agent and attorney. His son John Woods, became one of Pittsburg's most eminent lawyers, and a daughter married James Ross, also eminent, and a senator of the United States.
Aughwick, a valley looking out upon the Juniata, between 1750 and 1755, brought into notice a remarkable character, Captain Jack, known as the "Black Rifle," or "wild hunter of the Juniata," a giant in stature and strength, active, skillful, brave and familiar with the woods. Late in an evening of the summer of 1752, returning to his cabin on the Juniata he found it in ruins, and his wife and two children victims of the tomahawk and scalping knife. Prostrated at first, soon desolation gave place to revenge, and raising a small band he pursued the savage marauders of the valley from time to time, like a hound on the panther's track. Many a warrior, overtaken by his merciless and unflagging pursuit, fell before his unerring rifle, and the scalp-lock hung from his girdle. Many whites, too, were saved by him from a dreadful death. The offered services of himself and his band were refused by the foolhardy Braddock, whose disaster followed his ill-timed rejection of it, and of the counsels of Washington. The life of Captain Jack (whose real name seems to be unknown) was the foundation of a historical tale intensely interesting, told by a Pittsburger, the late Charles McKnight. Its leading scenes revolve around Fort Duquesne and the head of the Ohio.
Another man of mark of Scotch-Irish descent came into public view from the same valley, Colonel George Croghan, Indian trader and agent, often employed by the proprietaries. His conferences with the Indians at Logstown in 1751, Fort Pitt in 1759, and Redstone in 1768, and his journals of these events remain us lasting memorials of his strong character and attachment to the province.
Probably the most beautiful valley lying on the Juniata, looking out upon Lewistown and extending many miles westward, is the Kishicoquillas. A varied scene of sun and shade, prairie and stream, carpeted with grass and flowers, intermingled with trees and shrubs, it was the favorite haunt of the Redmen until reached by the Scotch-Irish, who soon dispossessed its early owners and made it their own. It is celebrated as the early home of Logan, the Mingo chief and white man's friend, but who was afterward found on the Ohio, where all his kindred were murdered by the whites, making him an enemy; and whose speech was made famous by Jefferson, telling the world of his wrongs, and that not a drop of his blood ran in the veins of a single human being.
Among the early Scotch-Irish settlers about Lewistown and westward, were the McClays, McNitts, Milliken, Larkins, Wilson, Bratton, and Stockpole. Farther on and nearer Standing Stone (now Hunt-ington), were Elliott, Hayne, Cluggage, McMurtrie, Anderson, McGuire, McElevey, McCormick, Donnelly and others. Still westward were the Caldwells, Tussey, Ricketts, Bell, Travis, Dean, Donaldson, Mitchell and many others.
Besides those on the Juniata, many Scotch-Irish ascended the Susquehanna, and were found in Northumberland county, some around Fort Augusta (now Sunbury). Then, ascending the west branch, they made their way westward and northward, facing the hardships of those regions, which were many and cruel. Others found their way into the present counties of Clinton and Centre, and spread over Lycoming. All this region was infested by the northern Indians of the Six Nations, under the influence of the French and then of the English, who came down bringing desolation upon the unprotected settlers, many of whom became victims of the rifle and scalping knife. Especially numerous were these descents during the Revolutionary war. The principal incursion was that of 1778 (known as the "great run away,") when all the settlers of that region fled.