SHENANGO TOWN

Wyandot and Delaware Indian town-About 1750-1785

In the middle 1750s, perhaps for some time before, about 100 Delaware Indian persons lived in Shenango Town, an Indian village in what is now West Middlesex (PA), just south of Sharon.
The village itself is a part of the American history that immediately preceded and followed the American Revolutionary War.
Chief of Shenango Town was Loyallaughaland, listed as one of 12 Delaware Indian chiefs who attended an Indian treaty at Pittsburgh in April and May 1769. He later became a Christian convert and was baptized as "Simon."
Indian people who lived there adopted white people into their families to take the place of family members killed in the Indian wars with the white settlers. They lived a harsh life, fighting the ravages of severe winters, illness, hunger and adversity with whatever ammunition they could gather from the land.
For medicine they found herbs which they boiled in water to take by mouth, or bear's oil with which they anointed affected parts of the body. They planted corn and fished to supplement the meat they obtained by hunting. Among their uses of the corn was hominy or dumplings, made of coarse Indian corn meal boiled in water.
Their homes were log cabins, built in a semi-circle which made up the town. Inside, deerskins were placed on the floor in front of the fire and used for beds. They bathed in the Shenango River where the youngsters also swam and paddled water during the hours of play.


Travel was by foot

They traveled by foot and received provisions from the French who had forts in western Pennsylvania before their defeat by the British in the French and Indian War. And, from the villages, the young men set out in bands of warriors, marauding white settlements, returning with the proof of their victories---scalps and prisoners.
They used their white prisoners as servants, forcing them to carry wounded Indians on their return home.
For the following information about Shenango Town, The Herald is indebted to William A. Hunter, chief of the division of history of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Hunter has published many papers and articles on the history of Pennsylvania, many of them dealing with Mercer County. The following information is taken from one of his unpublished papers, written April 25, 1947.
The town of Shenango is first mentioned on a map drawn by Lewis Evans, printed in Philadelphia in 1755. It was shown as "Shaningo's T.," on the east bank of a branch of "Bever C." (Beaver Creek). Along the east side of this stream a trail runs south to "Kishkuskies" (New Castle), supposed to be 20 miles away; another trail leads east to "Weningo" (Franklin), 40 miles away.
From Kishkuskies a trail follows the south side of the "West Branch" (Mahoning River) to "Salt Springs (Niles, OH)," 35 miles distant.
Shenango Town also appears in John Mitchell's map of the same year, published in London. Here, however, it is not named, but is identified as " 'Owendoes,' first settlement on the Ohio." Shenango Town is shown upstream from Kuskuskies, but on the west bank of the river.
In his 1947 paper, Hunter says the Owendoes, or Wyandots, were Huron Indians who, driven from their old home by the Iroquois, settled about Detroit. One band of them, under Chief Nicolas, later moved to Sandusky, where, encouraged by British agents, they killed and robbed five French fur traders, in May 1747.


Smallpox epidemic

Next spring Nicholas and his band moved to the Muskingum River. Sept. 8., Conrad Weiser, the British agent, held a council with some of the Wyandots at Logstown. Nicholas himself seems to have remained at the Muskingam with part of his band. In 1751 there was a smallpox epidemic in Ohio. In a letter written Aug. 10 of that year, the French governor of Canada reported that Nicholas was dead.
However, in correspondence with Hunter in April, he said that Nicholas, or Orontony, the Wyandot chief, attended the council held by Conrad Weiser at Logstown in September 1748, and that, in an unpublished note, Weiser says the Wyandots had settled at Kuskusky (present New Castle). The exact site was near West Pittsburgh.
"Perhaps," said Hunter, "John Mitchell, not knowing just where Nicholas settled, mistakenly assumed it was at Shenango Town, north of Kuskusky."
Hunter adds, "It may have been these Wyandot who established our Shenango Town, but we cannot be sure. Nicholas' warriors probably didn't associate much with Frenchmen, and this may explain why the French seem to have been unfamiliar with the town."
"Wyandot Indians were not numerous in this region, however, though the United States took care to purchase their claim to the region in 1785. In the period after 1755, many or most of the Indians at Shenango Town were Delawares."
Dr. Hunter adds that, although it may seem strange that most of the available information regarding Shenango Town comes from the time of the French and Indian War (1754-63) and of Pontiac's War (1763-64), it was during this time that information of the border country was most valuable and was most likely to be preserved in official papers. After Braddock's defeat on July 9, 1755, bands of Indians swarmed over most of Pennsylvania, burning, killing and taking prisoners. Stories told by prisoners who returned home held great interest, and a number of them were reprinted."



Life in Shenango Town

One of the best sources quoted by Hunter for an account of Shenango Town was written by John McCullough, captured at the age of 8 in Franklin County and adopted by a family of Delaware Indians with whom he lived eight years, the first two at Shenango Town. McCullough's recollections gave a vivid picture of life in Shenango Town and are reprinted elsewhere in this edition.
Two other captives of this period were Marie LeRoy and Barbara Leininger, who stayed a while at Kuskuskies. They managed to escape their captors and return home. Their story, told in German, was published in 1759, while the war was still going on.
A fourth captive whom Hunter mentions is Wauntaupenny, a Delaware captured near Bedford in May 1757 and questioned by the Colonial officers. (The whites took Indian prisoners, just as the Indians took whites.)
It was from these accounts that Hunter assembled his information on Shenango Town. The Indian prisoner said there were 80 Delawares in the town at the mouth of Beaver Creek (Saukunk), 100 at Kuskuskies, 100 at Shenango and 10 at Venango.
At Shenango all 100 Indians apparently were Delawares. These towns were at the borders of the Delaware lands. Marie LeRoy and Barbara Leininger said the Indians abandoned these towns in 1758 and moved to Muskingum.
It was about this time that John McCullough's Indian family left Shenango. They moved only to the Mahoning River, remaining there until 1765 when they moved to the Cuyahoga.
Information tying Shenango Town in with historic events of and preceding the Revolutionary War period is given as follows by Hunter.
The event which led to the abandonment of Shenango and other Indian towns in 1758 was Gen. John Forbes' campaign, which forced the French to abandon Fort Duquesne (thereafter Fort Pitt), on Nov. 24. In the next year, the French abandoned Forts Machault (Franklin), LeBoeuf (Waterford) and Presqu' Isle (Erie) as well, and so far as this region was concerned, the war was practically over.



Town abandoned

From later information, it is clear that Shenango Town was only temporarily abandoned in 1758, though it possibly was a smaller town thereafter.
In April 1759, while the French were still at Franklin, two Pennsylvania teamsters were captured near Ligonier by Delaware Indians. They escaped some days later and got to Pittsburgh.
In the written report of their adventure, they related that two days after leaving Venango (Franklin), they reached the river five miles above Kuskuskie (New Castle), and that two days after this they passed Shenango Town, and reached the Ohio River just afterward.
"However," according to Hunter, "it is evident that by 'Shenango Town' these men meant Logstown (Ambridge), and that for some reason they were using 'Shenango' in its French sense."
The British officer who received this report, and sent it on to his superior, Col. Henry Bouquet, did not understand this, and after the reference to the Ohio, he inserted a note: "This must be a mistake, it is a branch of Beaver Creek."
Hunter explains, "Obviously, this officer knew Shenango only as the name of the Indian town in present Mercer County. Obvious, too, is the fact that he knew so little about this region that he supposed two men traveling toward Pittsburgh might pass Shenango Town after passing present New Castle. The officer was Hugh Mercer, for whom this county later was named!"
Two years later, in July 1761, Col. Bouquet was informed by his officers at Venango and Presqu' Isle that letters they had earlier written had been lost by their carrier. An Indian had found them, however, and had them at his house at Shenango. He would deliver them to Pittsburgh. The name of the Indian, who might be considered the first resident postmaster of this region, is not mentioned, Hunter adds.




Pontiac's War

The period of relative quiet in western Pennsylvania which began in 1758, ended suddenly in 1763 with Pontiac's War, when the Indians, disturbed by the loss of their French allies, made a desperate attempt to prevent British occupation of the Ohio lands.
The British garrison was wiped out in June 1763. The others in western Pennsylvania, except Pittsburgh, were forced to surrender. Pittsburgh was saved by the Battle of Bushy Run Aug. 5-6, and Bouquet's expedition into Ohio in October 1764 ended the war.
Bouquet forced the Indians to give up their prisoners, among them John McCullough, then living on the Muskingum River.
Hunter credits Thomas Hutchins for information on Shenango Town in this period. Hutchins, a Colonial army officer, who served in western Pennsylvania, later became geographer to the United States. An account of Col. Bouquet's Ohio expedition, published in 1766, contains a map drawn by Hutchins.
On this map an Indian trail from "Kuskuskie Town" runs east of the river northwards to "Shenango," shown on the west bank of the stream, then on to Pymatuning Town on the north bank, crosses an angle of the river (Big Bend), and crosses several little hills to Venango Fort.
Westward from Shenango Town, on "Big Beaver Creek," (Mahoning River) is Mahoning Town, and farther up the stream is "Salt Lick Town," These are the towns where John McCullough had lived just after leaving Shenango Town in 1758.



This same account of Col. Bouquet's expedition contains an appendix, "Number of Indian Towns," situated on or near the Ohio River and its branches. Among others, this appendix traces the route from Pittsburgh toward present Cleveland: "from Fort Pitt to Kuskuskies Town (New Castle) on Big Beaver Creek is 45 miles up the east branch of Beaver Creek to Shenango is 15, up ditto to Pymatuning is 12. to Mahoning on the west branch of Beaver Creek is 32 miles.
A few weeks ago, Hunter found some interesting information to be added to his account of Shenango Town. He sent it to The Herald for inclusion here as follows:


Moravian mission

From 1770 to 1773, the Moravia Church, headquartered at Bethlehem, PA, maintained an Indian mission just north of the present town of Moravia which was just south of New Castle. The Delaware Indian name of the mission was Languntoutenink or, in German (the Moravians were German-speaking), Friedensstadt (City of Peace).
Originally, the Indians here were converts from a place in present Forest County, but in 1772 the Moravians closed two missions on the Susquehanna (at Wyalusing and Sheshequin) and the Indians from these places joined the ones at Friedensstadt.
This mission soon had visitors from nearby Indian villages, including Shenango Town.
May 6, 1770, two Indians came "from Shenege, up this creek," and others came from Kuskusky and Mahoning. Indian traders stopped, too, including on July 5, 1771, a friend of the Moravians. John Anderson, who was trading at that time at "Shenege."
Chief of Shenango Town was Loyallaughaland, spelled Laweloochwalend by the Moravians.
On Feb. 15, 1772, the chief of "Shenenge" paid a visit and stayed overnight at this mission. He made repeated visits later, and later in the year when the mission Indians from Wyalusing were on their way to Friedensstadt, he and other Indians made a 100-mile trip to meet them.
As Loyallaughaland, this chief is listed as one of the 12 Delaware Indian chiefs who had attended an Indian treaty at Pittsburgh in April and May 1769. The Moravian spelling of his name, "Lawelloochwalend," was said by John Heckewelder to mean "one who walks between two others." (The word, "loyal,"or "lawel," means "middle," as in Loyalhanna which means "middle river."


Indian chief

Hunter also found two other listings about this Indian chief in the diary of the Moravian mission at Schonbrunn in Ohio.
The diary notes Laweloochwalend's arrival in Sept. 20, 1773. Two days later it reports that, by way of Abraham (an Indian convert), he turned in his idol, which another Indian had given him, telling him that, if he offered bear's meat to the image, he would never become sick and would always have good luck in hunting, but if he did not do this, he would die. So he was afraid to destroy the idol himself, but wanted to get rid of it. So he gave it to the missionaries to do with as they liked.
In 1773, the mission on Indians moved from Friedenstadt to a new mission, Schonbrunn, on the Tuscarawas River (near the present New Philadelphia, Ohio). On Sept. 20 of that year, Laweloochwalend came to visit them and asked to live there and become a convert. He left for home Oct. 9, then on Oct. 26, returned with his family. Nov. 13, he went back home to get some of his belongings.
He was baptized at Schonbrunn April 2, 1774, as Simon. April 12, 1777, his wife was baptized as Judith.
July 3, 1774, the diary mentioned by Hunter notes that Simon's brother, a distinguished Indian and a preacher among them, who had been hostile toward the missionaries and had avoided them at Languntoutemunk, had come to Schonbrunn about eight days before on a visit and was so impressed that he wanted permission to stay.
He had set out from Kuskusky that spring to go there, but happening to be in a Mingo town when it was attacked by the white people (this during Lord Dunmore's War), he had had to flee.


Relatives lived apart

"Unfortunately," said Hunter, "there doesn't seem to be anything more about Simon's brother. The incident illustrates the fact that Indians, like other people, had relatives in different places. Simon had lived at Shenango, but his brother was from Kuskusky."
The Indian chief died July 5, 1778, at the mission of Lichtenau (another Ohio mission). The mission death notice, according to Hunter, says that "He must have been more than 100 years old for he was able to say that when the first house in Philadelphia was built, he was living there as a boy."
"This probably should not be taken too literally," says Hunter, "for old Indians' ages were not certain, and 'Philadelphia' probably meant, to the Indians, the oldest-settled southeast part of Pennsylvania, not just the town itself."
Simon's widow, Judith, was killed March 8, 1782, when a party of Virginia militia massacred almost 100 of the mission Indians.
In his unpublished manuscript, Hunter lists a description of the trail from Mahoning to Venango, take from one of the Thomas Hutchins' manuscripts that was preserved by the Pennsylvania Historical Society. It is as follows:
"Half a mile below this town (Mahoning), the path crosses Beaver Creek (Mahoning River) at a good ford, eight yards wide. The path then leaves the creek on the left hand and takes through low, wet, swampy land for nine miles, to Salt Lick Town (Niles, OH) on the west side of the same creek.
"After crossing the creek at a good ford, the path leads through level land, six miles, to the partings of the Venango Road."


Path to Pymatuning

"The left hand path goes about three miles to Pymatuning Town, on the same creek. After crossing this creek, the path goes through level land, well timbered, eight miles, to the same creek again, eight yards wide, here is a good ford and a number of Indian graves."
"Then nine miles, along level, shrubby land, to a large run, five yards wide, very swampy."
"Eight miles farther, through wet land and swampy in some places, to a lake on the right, two miles long and a half wide, the head of Sandy Creek"
"Then 2 miles along a ridge, to the crossing of Sandy Creek, eight yards over."
"Two miles farther, down the creek there ascend a steep hill, the path then is over short ridges,14 miles to Venango."
Shenango Town probably was abandoned (along with Pymatuning and other Indian Towns) in 1778 as a result of the "Squaw Campaign."
"This land remained in Indian ownership until 1784," said Hunter, "but there is little more to tell of their town of Shenango. The Delawares were withdrawing from their frontier towns into Ohio, and farther west. The Seneca Iroquois who remained were small hunting bands rather than permanent residents."
"Another map by Hutchins, published in 1778, shows this region very much as did the old map. A very interesting map, printed in 1783, but based on earlier information, appears in the French version of Cre'vecoeur's 'Letters from an American Farmer.' The village of Shenango appears here as an Indian town on both banks of the Shenango. It is unlikely, however, that the town was ever again as large or as important as it had been about 1755."
Hunter sums up the last days of the Indians in Mercer County as follows:


Delaware, Wyandot land

By the Treaty of Fort Stanwix Oct. 23, 1784, the United States bought from the Iroquois all of Northwestern Pennsylvania, except the Erie Triangle. By the Treaty of Fort McIntosh (Beaver) Jan. 21, 1785, the government bought the Delaware and Wyandot claims to the same territory.
At both councils, it was agreed that the Indians should retain hunting rights in this area. Immediately thereafter surveyors arrived. In 1785, Gen, William Irvine made a tour of inspection through the Donation Lands of northwestern Pennsylvania. Gen. Andrew Henderson began to lay out Donation Lots across the central part of Mercer County.
In the following year, Andrew Porter's party surveyed the western boundary of the state from the Ohio to Lake Erie.
In a letter written in 1799, Henderson wrote of Pymatuning Old Town that "In 1785 there were some cabins, which would have been useful of settlers, but are long since destroyed by fire."
Henderson's district did not include the site of Shenango Town, but here, too, the Indian settlement must have been in its last days.
The final Indian troubles in this region began in 1790, and were ended by Anthony Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers Aug. 20, 1794, and the Treaty of Greenville (Ohio) , Aug. 3, 1795.
Mercer County had no white settlers to be troubled by this warfare, but David Meade's settlers left their homes at present Meadville and sought refuge at Franklin.
David Meade's father, Darius Mead, was captured by Indians in the summer of 1791. Members of a rescue party followed his captors over the trail westward from Franklin. They found Mead's body and that of an Indian in Mercer County near the Shenango River and buried them where they lay.
"The place was apparently unmarked," says Hunter, but if it was at the first crossing of the river, it was somewhere above Big Bend."


Linger at Shenango

A few Indians lingered at, or near, Shenango Town. John Adlum, on a map of about 1791, showing the newly-run state boundaries, noted that "There is an Indian town on or near the Shenango branch of the big Beaver Creek about 30 or 35 miles from Fort Franklin. It contains about 12 or 15 families, some of whom a certain John Ray informed me were Delawares."
"But," said Hunter, "the first settlers who began to arrive in Mercer County just after 1795, seem to have known nothing of Shenango Town. They and their descendants found Indian graves near the town site, and plowed up rifle barrels and kettles which they suppsed had been buried for safekeeping, but which in reality, must have marked other burials."
The Indians whom the settlers met were hunting bands, dominated by Cornplanter's band of Seneca, and apparently supervised by Kiondashowa, one of the Indians who witnessed the sale of the Erie Triangle in 1789.
These early settlers, most of whom had never before seen an Indian, were sometimes uneasy about their neighbors, but there is no record that any of them was ever actually harmed.
On the other hand, at least two Indians were deliberately shot by white men -- Flynn was killed by Hugh Carr and Harthegig by James Jeffers.
As game became less plentiful, and settlers more numerous and less friendly, the Indian hunters gradually moved away. The last bands left about 1812, and except for a few later visitors, they never returned.


Excerpted from The Herald, Sharon, Pa., June 29, 1976


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