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Tuscarora's Influence on Pennsylvania


(The following article was compiled from information supplied by the Coyle Free Library in Chambersburg , PA and provided to Tuscaroras.com by Linda Carter.)

April 28, 1898

The Society was entertained by Frank Mchaffey, Esq.

The following paper was read by Hon. A. N. Pomeroy:

PATH VALLEY BEFORE THE REVOLUTION

Hon. A. N. Pomeroy

Path Valley, situated in the northwestern part of Franklin County Pennsylvania, is parallel with the main, or Cumberland Valley, but separated from it by the Kittatinny and Blue Mountains, two ranges terminating near Loudin in Jordan's and Parnell's knobs. The Tuscarora Mountain bounds it on the west. The entrance to the main valley is very narrow. The west branch of the Conococheague, flowing south, drains Path Valley, which gradually widens as it extends northward. At the northern end a spur of the main ridge, called Knob Mountain, projects southward about eight miles, dividing the valley. The eastern folk, in which flows the main stream and which is very narrow, is called Amberson Valley, while the wider portion, or Path Valley, is drained by a tributary called Dry Run, which starts near Doylestown. At this place another stream has its rise, called Tuscarora Creek, which flows northward, cuts through Tuscarora Mountain, near Concord, follows the western side of that mountain through Juniata county and empties into the Juniata river at Port Royal, forming Tuscarora Valley. The two valleys are a continuous route, with a water course gap through the mountain, running north from the Cumberland Valley to the Juniata. The mountain limiting Path Valley on the west, the valley in Juniata county on the east, the valley itself, and the creek flowing through it, take their names from and will preserve for all time the memory of the Tuscarora tribe of Indians who were the original owners of the country of which the section forms a part.

The story of Path Valley begins on the shore of Lake Champlain. Samuel Champlain, as an ally of the Montagnais, an Algonquin tribe, accompanied by two Frenchmen on a voyage of discovery on the lake which bears his name, met on the evening of July 29, 1609, a flotilla of bark canoes, containing about two hundred Iroquois warriors of the Mohawk tribe, hereditary enemies of the Algonquins. The following day, on the present site of Ticonderoga, the two parties, met. It was the first exhibition of firearms the savages had ever witnessed. Champlain discharged his arquebuse and by it two chiefs were instantly killed. The two Frenchmen discharged their pieces, attacking the flanks of the astonished Mohawks, who fled in dismay to the forests, abandoning their canoes.

The same year, September 19, Henry Hudson in the Half Moon, was at the present site of Albany, only a two days' march from the scene of Champlain's battle and met and traded with the same tribe, the Mohawks. It was the beginning of an influence in America hostile to the French and friendly to the Dutch, who transferred it with their possessions to the English. The shot from Champlain's gun had a mighty effect upon the destinies of our country, for it arrayed the Iroquois nation forever against the French with an undying hatred and made them firm friends of the English. They made the power felt in the great struggle between France and England for supremacy in America, and affected by their friendship, the peaceful settlement of this valley.

The vast tract of wilderness from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, and from the Carolinas to Hudson's Bay, was divided between two great families or tribes, and separated by the radical difference in language. A part of Virginia and of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, southwestern New York, New England, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and lower Canada, were occupied, so far as inhabited at all, by tribes speaking various Algonquin languages. Like a great island in the midst of the Algonquins lay the country of tribes speaking the tongue of the Iroquois. Another smaller island of Iroquois, consisting of the Tuscarora and kindred tribes, was in North Carolina. The true Iroquois, or five nations, extended through central New York, from the Hudson to the Genesee, in the following order: Nearest the Hudson were the Mohawks; the Oneidas next west in the vicinity of Oneida Lake; the Onondagas in the vicinity of the salt springs: the Cayugas reaching to the shore of Lake Ontario, and the Senecas spreading to the south and west.

The Senecas were the more numerous. Among all the barbarous nations of the continent the Iroquois of New York stand paramount, and the annals of mankind do not afford, on the same grade of general civilization, any parallel to the political system which existed among them as a confederacy, or the tribe composing it. These people lived in castles which were towns with houses and their appendages; they cultivated the soil and had extensive orchards. The Iroquois was the Indian of Indians. A geographical position, commanding on the one hand the portal of the great lake, and on the other the sources of the streams flowing both to the Atlantic and the Mississippi, gave the ambitious and aggressive confederates an advantage they thoroughly understood and by which they profited to the utmost. Water, which a stone's throw separated, start, some for the Mohawk, and others by the Susquehanna, to the far distant Chesapeake. Patient and politic as they were ferocious, they were not only conquerors of their own race, but the dreaded foes and powerful allies of the French and English.

On the lower Susquehanna dwelt the formidable tribe called the Andastes. Fierce and resolute warriors, they long made head against the Iroquois of New York and were vanquished at last more by disease than by the tomahawk. They were known to the Dutch and Swedes as the Mingoes; the Marylanders as the Susquehannocks, and to Penn as the Conestogas. Upon their reduction in 1672, by the five nations, they were, to a great extent, mingled with their conquerors. The Tuscaroras in North Carolina engaging with the whites in a war in March, 1713, were defeated and for greater protection from their conquerors fled northward and joined the Five Nations in 1715, receiving land from the Oneidas, where Wincheser now is, some near Martinsburg, on the creek that still retains their name, and large numbers in Tuscarora Valley, Juniata county, which is a continuation of Path Valley, their principle castle being near Academia. It is owing to the strong ties of friendship between the Six Nations and the English that Penn was enabled to obtain the land comprised in this valley, and settlers were allowed to dwell in peaceful possession of it, while the title to the land was still held by the Indians, and that free from molestation, such a rapid settlement could be made. Had an alliance first been made between the Iroquois and the French, how different would have been the story.

The Tuscaroras did not all come north at once, but in detached fragments, covering a period of fifty-five years. During that time there was more or less mingling together of those north with those who located at points south. The main castle being at Milligans, in what is now Juniata county, attracted the various sections of the tribe to that place. It was by going backward and forward of the Tuscaroras that the path was formed which gave to the valley the name it has ever since borne. Originally is was called Tuscarora Path Valley, but subsequently the word Tuscarora was dropped, for after 1754 it is known simply as Path Valley, the continuation of the valley in Juniata county being known as Tuscarora Valley.

The Indians seldom diverge from a straight track. By reference to ancient or modern maps it will be seen that Path Valley was the logical route from the south to that portion of New York in which the Five Nations were located. In the retreat from North Carolina, to form an alliance with the five Nations, the Tuscarora's first entered and passed through Path Valley, some locating in Tuscarora Valley, as we have al-ready seen.

It would, of course, be impossible, in the absence of any allusion to the subject in the records, to even conjecture the number of Indians who made their home in Path Valley prior to its purchase in 1754. There is no account of any Indian town in the valley, but that they were there, transiently at least, in considerable force and prized the territory highly, is apparent from the vigorous and successful efforts they made by civil process to dislodge the early white settlers.

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