and addresses of the Lancaster County Historical Society"
April 3. 1908
Why was Postlethwaite’s
chosen and then abandoned as the county seat of Lancaster County?
Minutes of the April
Meeting, Lancaster Historical Society. Vol. XIL NO. 4; Lancaster, PA.
Giving an authentic sketch
of the conditions as they appeared here before the scenes were changed
by the first Europeans.
Also, brief sketches
of the Susquehannock or Conestoga Indians, the Traders, Penn's Troubles,
the Palatines, Councils held at the Indian Town of Conestoga, Beginning
of Lancaster City, Conestoga Manor and the location and present owners
of prominent places which were intimately associated with Postlethwaite's;
adding a sketch of John Cartlege, the King's first magistrate of what is
now Lancaster County.
Going from Millersville
to Safe Harbor, one would little suspect that you pass through the main
street of what was once the county seat of Lancaster county. There is nothing,
whatever, to suggest to the traveler as he passes along the road, from
George Fehl's corner to the hill at Rock Hill, that that section was ever
anything else but a few excellent farms. Yet, we all know that less than
two centuries ago it was the most prominent place in what is now Lancaster
county. Historians call it Postlethwaite's', because John Postlethwaite
had a tavern and a trading-post where George Fehl's house now stands, but,
knowing this, one would naturally ask. why should he have located in such
an out-of-the-way place? But, what is more surprising is that when Lancaster
county was formed, in 1729, this place was of such prominence that it was
selected for the county seat of Lancaster county. When that decision was
made, John Postlethwaite hurriedly fitted his building for a temporary
Court House, which is now George Fehl's dwelling house.
In this building the
first sessions of Court were held. A prison was built, with a high wall,
just west of what is now Hiram Warfel's dwelling,
and our oldest residents still remember seeing portions of the wall along
the south side of the road there. The ancient and massive arched walls
on which Mr. Warfel's dwelling is built indicate that they were built at
that early period, also, and were probably the dungeon part of the prison.
Mr. Warfel tells us that at many places about his farm he finds old stone
foundations of log buildings.
There are about thirty
licensed public houses, such as Postlethwaite's, in this county at that
time,^ but Postlethwaite's was of more prominence and commanded more license
than any others. A place of such prominence may have had a church or a
meeting house and a number of residents. It was probably laid out in streets
and plots, as its competitors, Wright's Ferry and Lancaster, were. But,
singular as it appears, that all this should have been located there, still
more surprising is it that all should have so completely disappeared. It
was these unusual conditions that have led the writer to investigate. We
find the prominence of Postlethwaite's was due, first, to the Indian history
surrounding it, and, secondly, to the first European settlements. In order
to see why this site should have been a place of such prominence, one must
see this section as it appeared at a much earlier period, and review it
step by step.
Authentic Sketches of
This Section Showing Its Appearance Before the Changes Caused by Europeans.
The first view we have
of this beautiful and fertile section is when it was inhabited by the great
tribe of Susquehannock Indians, who are thus described by Alsop in his
quaint, but forcible, way, about 1660:"The Susquehannocks are a people
looked upon by the Christian inhabitants as the most noble and heroic nation
of Indians that dwell upon the confines of America; also, are so allowed
and looked upon by the rest of the Indians, by submission and tributary
acknowledgment, being a people cast into the mold of a most large and warlike
deportment, the men being for the most part seven feet high in latitude
and in magnitude and bulk suitable to so high a pitch, their voice large
and hollow, as if ascendinr out of a cave, their gait and behavior straight,
stately and majestic, treading on the earth with as much pride, contempt
and disdain as can be imagined from a creature derived from the same."
These statements are
substantiated by Captain John Smith, who saw them at the head of the Chesapeake
Bay fifty years before, and also by skeletons which have since been unearthed
in this section. This section was then a veritable Indian paradise, with
its great forests, its beautiful springs and streams, and with the Susquehanna
River widening out almost into a lake, where grapes, nuts, fish and game
were abundant, as Alsop again describes: "Fowls of all sorts and varieties
dwell at their several times and seasons here, especially the turkey, whom
1 have seen in whole hundreds in flights in the woods. The Fawns, the geese
and the ducks arrive in millions: multitudes about the middle of September
and leave about the midst of March, and plenty of almost all sorts of fishes
live and inhabit the several streams and rivers here, far beyond the apprehension
or crediting of those who never saw the same."
About a century afterward,
in 1763, the settlers here filed a petition complaining of the dams as
destroying the former shad, salmon and rockfish* in the Conestoga, and
the trout in its tributaries. Alsop continues: "The deer are mighty
numerous in the woods, and are little or not at all affrighted by the face
of man. They will stand almost until they be caught, being daily killed
by the Indians and brought in to the English. There is such a glut of their
flesh that it is rather denied than esteemed or desired."
Acrelius says of this
section about 1750: "The soil, which is at some places 20' feet deep,
is so strong and black, that it is not adapted to growing wheat, but suitable
for growing maise and hemp." When the early explorers met the Indians
they found them more agricultural than after their needs were supplied
through the traffic with the traders, after which their clothing and their
habits greatly changed. Their squaws rudely cultivated" corn, pumpkins,
melons, tobacco, etc., all of which were unknown to Europeans before that
Capt Smith states about
1609: "The Indian Cabins are in the midst of fields or gardens, which
are small plots of ground, some 20 acres, some 40 acres, some 100 ' acres,
some 200, some more, some less." The early explorers and first settlers
depended almost entirely upon the Indians for food. Smith again states: "I
durst undertake to have corn enough from the savages, for 300 men, for
a few trifles." Hudson's and Harriott's accounts also correspond to
Smith's statement. When Gov. Calvert arrived in Maryland in 1634 the natives
had such a store of corn that he traded 1,000' bushels of it and sent it
to the colony in New England in exchange for other commodities.
The Fur Traffic.
But with the arrival
of Europeans these scenes changed. European traders found it immensely
profitable to exchange beads and other inexpensive articles for the valuable
hides for which this section was then especially noted. William Claybone,
an Englishman of a prominent family, who was granted a charter to trade
with the Indians, and located on the Isle of Kent, at the head of the Chesapeake
Bay, in 1621, was, perhaps, the most prominent trader among the Susquehannock
Indians. In 1632, he exported beaver skins alone to the amount of forty
thousand crowns in gold. The profit on them was estimated at thirty fold.
He acquired an immense estate through this trade. The Dutch at New Amsterdam
(now New York); the French Canadians along the St. Lawrence, and the Swedes
along the Delaware, soon were in sharp competition for the Susquehannock
trade. Among the animals then native here were the black fox, which is
now scarce in remote Canada, of which a single pelt commands $150; also,
many black squirrels, fishers," otters, wildcats and panthers, and
the beavers, of which no sign remains except the name of two of our streams.
There was also a great traffic in bear, deer and elk skins, and Alsop,
Lindstrom and the Indian pictures on the rocks at Safe Harbor tell us the " Buffalo
was here also. Many of the trifling articles, as beads, ornaments, implements,
clay pipes, etc., which those traders gave the Indians in exchange for
their valuable peltry, have since been ploughed up at the various Indian
village sites of our county, and are interesting and valuable assistants
in determining the period when the village sites were inhabited, and to
what class of traders the wares belonged.
When Wm. Penn arrived
in 1682 game had already become reduced through this wholesale slaughter,
yet the contest for the Susquehannock trade was still on between the French
Canadians, the Dutch, the Swedes and the Marylanders. As there was great
danger of these traders inciting the Indians to attack his little colony,
he very wisely called the chiefs together, purchased their land and made
a peace treaty with them, lest his colony might meet with the same fate
that had befallen the Dutch colony at Schwanendal (now Lewes, Del.,) who
were massacred fifty years before. Many obstacles confronted him, and perhaps
his greatest disappointment was when he found that the 40th parallel (which
by Lord Baltimore's charter' was clearly Maryland's northern boundary,
and which Penn had actually agreed to, in 1680), did not give him a harbor
on the Chesapeake Bay, and scarcely enough of one on the Delaware, and
especially when he found that Crispin Bezar and Allen had located his "great
town" just south of this line. This involved Penn and Lord Baltimore
in a boundary dispute which not only occupied the proprietors of the two
provinces, but caused endless trouble " between individuals, occupied
the attention of the Privy Councils of at least three monarchs, and was,
not adjusted until eighty years afterward in the establishment of the Mason
and Dixon line. However, every effort was made to colonize his province.
As the colonists were crowded in they pushed northward and westward toward
the Susquehanna. The westward route they followed was an old Indian trail,
long in use in the trade between the Dutch & New Amsterdam and the
Susquehanock Indians. The first settlers along this route, through what
is now Delaware and Chester counties, were English, Welsh an Scotch-Irish.
There were many Quakers among them. These settlements were made principally
between 1685 and 1700; very few went beyond the Brandywine, although some
Indian traders, adventurers and land speculators were then already investigating
the Susquehannock lands.
Derivations of the Word
Conestoga, and the Compact Which Resulted in the Indian Reservation at
In Penn's first treaty,
at Shackamaxon, he had treated with the Susquheannock Indians for the Susquehanna
lands, but not with the Five Nations of New York, to whom they were then
tributary. The Susquehannocks ^'^ were not an Algonquin tribe, as the Delawares
were, but were of the same linguistic stock as the Five Nations. The Dutch
and Swedes called the Susquehannocks, Minques and several similar names.
The Marylanders named them Susquehannocks or Susquehannas, and the French
Canadians used their tribal name, Gandastogues,'^ meaning cabin-polemen,
from Andasta, the peculiar cabin pole which they used In the construction
of their cabins. They also often called the Andastas. The name by which
they were known here, Conestagos, was merely a modification of Gandastoquis,
the name by which the French Canadian traders knew them. In 1635 they could
muster 1,300 warriors. They were bitter enemies of the Iroquois, or Five
Nations, with whom they were at war about twenty-five years, from about
1650 to about 1675, until finally through the united efforts of the Five
Nations they were reduced so much by war and smallpox that in 1675 they
could muster only 300 warriors and were completely overthrown. They were
then made tributary to the Five Nations, who claimed all the Susquehannas,
or Conestogas' former land possessions. It can now be seen why it became
necessary for Penn to make a second treaty for the Susquehanna lands. As
Penn was then in England, he engaged his friend and agent. Col. Thomas
Dougan, a former Governor of New York, to purchase the Susquehanna lands.
After holding several councils with the Five Nations in New York, Governor
Dougan finally succeeded in getting " "the river Susquehanna
and all the islands therein, and all the land laying on both sides of the
river, and next adjoining to the utmost confines of the lands which are,
or formerly were, the right of the people called Susquehannas." This
deed was conveyed to Penn, January 13, 1696, in consideration of 100 pounds
sterling, and was confirmed by two Susquehanna chiefs, September, 1700.
The remnant of the tribe remaining here did not approve of the above sale,
so Penn, on his second arrival from England, sent for them, and held a
council with them at Philadelphia, in 1701. At this council he told the
Conestogas that he had been informed that they were sorry that he had purchased
the Susquehanna lands from the Five Nations, whereupon he drew out a great
roll of parchment and spread it out on the ground, saying to them that,
although he had sent a great many goods in a vessel to New York for the
land, it should be in common among them, that the Conestogas should enjoy
the same privileges on the Susquehanna lands as the English. It is very
probable that the Indian Reservation which was here in Manor was the result
of this compact.
The First Routes to the
Susquehanna Lands and Some Early Visits Here.
As already referred to
at that period (1700), the main road westward from the little colony at
Philadelphia was the Indian trail, leaving what is now Market street, passing
through West Chester, Gap, the Long Lane, past Postlethwaite's, crossing
the Conestoga at Rock Hill, passing over the hill, and crossing the Little
Conestoga at Dentlinger's mill, then down the west side of the creek, and
in the Indiantown Road to the Indiantown of Conestoga. It was probably
along this road that trade was carried on more than half a century before
Penn's arrival, between the Dutch at New Amsterdam and the Susquehannas,
or Minquas, as they called them. There was another old trail from the Susquehanna
lands down along the eastern shore of the river, and led to New Castle,
on the Delaware, by way of Christina or Minqua creek, as the Swedes called
it. Along this route trade was carried on between the Swedes and the Susquehannas,
or Minquas, as they called them thirty years before Penn's arrival. It
was along this route, known as the New Castle route, that James Logan,
then Secretary of the Province, accompanied by two New Castle Sheriffs
and ten others, made his first visit to Conestoga in 1705. During the same
year the noted Quaker preacher, Thomas Chalkley, also visited here. At
this time the French and Marylanders were inciting the Indians at Conestoga
to make the Proprietaries trouble, and it required some effort to keep
the links of friendship bright. In 1706 Governor Evans, with several members
of his council, also went to Conestoga by the New Castle route. Before
reaching Conestoga he stopped == at the Indian village of Pequan, which
Rupp says was at the mouth of the Pequea creek, where the Indian-trader
and interpreter, Martin Chartier, was located. Here Governor Evans met
the chiefs of a number of tribes, the Nanticokes alone having seven towns.
In 1707 Governor Evans again visited Conestoga with William Penn, Jr.,
evidently with the design of having a gay time, and by all accounts conducted
themselves in a very unbecoming manner for such dignitaries.
Perm's Troubles and the
Arrival of the Palatines.
Many trying conditions
existed then. It was only with a great struggle that Penn and his heirs
succeeded in retaining their rights to their province. Through the efforts
of their enemies the governing of Penn's province was given to Governor
Fletcher, of New York, who directed the administration from 1693 to 1695.
Regaining his rights, Penn returned from England and personally administered
from 1699 to 1701. Becoming involved in debt, in 1702 he returned to England
and mortgaged his magnificent province for 6,600 pounds (about $30,000).
After being harassed by his creditors for a number of years, he was imprisoned
for his debts in 1708, and was confined in the Fleet Prison a long time.
Meantime, the French claimed his province west of the Susquehanna, and
the Marylanders claimed it to the fortieth parallel. Finally, when about
completing arrangements to sell it to' Queen Ann, in 1712, for 12,000 pounds,
he received an apoplectic stroke, which left him in a hopeless state of
imbecility, until he died, in 1718. During all this period great efforts
were made by his commissioners and representatives to colonize the province,
not only with the purpose of deriving funds from the sale of land to meet
his obligations, but to establish possession claims in his trouble with
Lord Baltimore and the French. I briefly touch on Penn's trouble here and
in England, because it was principally those which spurred on the great
efforts made to colonize his province, by offering great inducements and
distributing tracts, among which those of Falconer and Pastorious were
most effective. This, in connection with the thirty years of civil and
religious wars of Europe, resulted in the settlement of the Palatine colony
here, which caused) the second stage of importance surrounding "the
great Conestoga road," and Postlethwaite's. From the foregoing it
must be inferred that the Indian trail leading from Philadelphia to Conestoga
was used very little by Europeans before 1709, settlements having been
made only as far as the Brandywine. About 1709, or a short time before,
a number of Mennonite families, from the Palatinate, along the Rhine, went
out this trail, beyond the English and Welsh settlements, and located just
east of what is now Strasburg, in the Pequea Valley, where they purchased
10,000 acres of some of the choicest agricultural land in the province.
This was the first permanent settlement in what is now Lancaster county.
This colony, many of which were persecuted Swiss Mennonites, and French
Huguenot families, was augmented and extended throughout the fertile limestone
basin northward and westward until in 1717 it composed about 125 of those
sturdy families who came from the garden spot of Europe, and have contributed
so much toward making this the garden spot of the Union. It will be seen
by looking over this list of names that the descendants of almost every
one of these settlers still live in the same locality in which their forefathers
settled in the wilderness almost two centuries ago. What this province
then needed was not squatters and land speculators, but men who paid for
the land and got down to work. This was what it had secured in these Palatines.
Important Official Events
at the Indian Town of Conestoga.
After this colony had
settled here the Conestoga trail became the popular route to the Susquehanna.
In 1711 Governor Gookin came by this route and held a conference with the
Conestoga Indians on June 18, asking them to protect the Palatine colony
recently settled there. The Conestogas assured him "that they were
safely seated," and never, as long as the Indians were here, was this
colony molested. On the 22d of September of this same year the Tuscarora
Indians, who were a related tribe to the Conestogas, massacred about 100
Palatine families who had settled near Roanoke, North Carolina. The year
before Gov. Gookin went to Conestoga he sent Col. French and Henry Worley
to deliver a message to the Conestoga Indians, and it may be of interest
to know what the expenses of their trip were. The following items show
them: To bread, 4s. 2d.; to meat, 12s.; to rum, 1 pound 10s.; to two men
hire for baggage,='^4 pounds; to John, 1 pound 4s.; total, 8 pounds, 5s.
2d. ($44.21). The only way they could have traveled was by horseback, with
pack horses, as at that period this road was still only an Indian trail.^^
In 1714 it was opened as a road to the Brandywine, and in 1718 it was opened
from the Brandywine to Conestoga. It was called "The Great Conestoga
Road," all of the present Lancaster county, except the northern and
southern extremities, was called Conestoga, but at this period almost all
of the Indians were located along the river between Turkey Hill and Bainbridge.
Col. French was sent to. Conestoga, where he held a council and delivered
a message from the Governor June 28, 1719, and on June 27, 1720, Secretary
James Logan, "having had some business up the farther end of the Great
Valley,"" held a council with the Indians at Conestoga.
The next notable event
at Conestoga Indiantown was the visit of Governor Keith, in 1721. It appears
at that time, as the settlers were crowding in, and as game was becoming
scarcer, the Conestoga Indians extended their hunting trips down beyond
the Potomac river, into territory claimed by the Indians of Virginia, which
resulted in causing trouble, so Governor Keith first made a trip to the
Governor of Virginia, and returned by way of Conestoga, where he held a
council with the Indians July 6th and 8th, 1721. He also got consent of
the Indians to survey a Manor of 10,000 acres, just across the river, in
what is now York county. Governor Keith's object in locating it there was
to gain possession rights in the boundary dispute. What an imposing sight
it must have been, to have seen Governor Keith, with his seventy or eighty
horsemen, many of them well armed, when they met the chiefs of the Conestogas
and the deputies of the Five Nations!
the County Seat of Lancaster County.
Soon after Governor Gordon's
visit public sentiment demanded the organizing of this county. At that
time this section was Conestoga township, Chester county, and the county
seat was at what is now Chester, Delaware county, over seventy miles away.
What now forms Lancaster county had about 2,000 taxpayers,^' whose petition
was granted, and Lancaster county was formed. Postlethwaite's tavern and
trading post was located adjacent to the Indian town of Conestoga, where
all the Indian transactions of importance of the past occurred, and It
was practically the termination of the "Great Conestoga Road," the
only road then laid out from Philadelphia to the Palatine Colony, which
was the very foundation and salvation of the province. It was then only
natural that the beautifully located tract at Postlethwaite should be chosen
as the site for the county seat, especially as this trading post and tavern
was' more prominent, and was more patronized, than any of the thirty other" similar
blouses then in the county. Consequently, the King's Magistrates John Wright,
Tobias Hendricks, Andrew Cornish, Thomas Reed and Samuel Jones, met at
Postlethwaite's in June, 1729. Bills of credit to the amount of 300 pounds
were loaned*^ by Giovernor Gordon for building a prison and Court House
at Postlethwaite's. Accordingly, the prison was completed and John Postlethwaite
had made temporary accommodations in his house for court proceedings, where
sessions were held, first Tuesday of August, 1729; first Tuesday of November,
1729; February 3, 1730; May 5, 1730, and*' August 4, 1730. At these five
sessions sixty-four suits were entered and disposed of.
The Beginning of Lancaster
City and the Removal of the County Seat, But suddenly there was a change
in the situation of affairs. There were competitors in the field for the
location of the county seat.
At Wright's Ferry, now
Columbia, Sheriff Barber had taken up a tract of 1,000 acres in 1726, on
part of which Magistrate, now President Judge, John Wright had also located.
Judge Wright was also one of the four commissioners appointed to select
a site for the county seat. These gentlemen were so confident of securing
the county seat that they had already built a prison there, and Wright's
ferry would probably have been chosen had it not been for the interference
of Andrew Hamilton, an eminent Philadelphia lawyer, who was a former Attorney
General of the province,^"* and his son. Col. James Hamilton, who
was afterward a Lieutenant Governor'of the province. They saw the advantage
of being in possession of a tract on which so prominent a town as this
county seat would be located.
John Postlethwaite had
the most prominent location, and was a very prominent man in the community.
Sheriff Barber and the President Judge, John Wright, were plopuiar men
of considerable political influence, but the Hamiltons were stars of greater
magnitude, and the tract which the Hamiltons selected is the present site
of Lancaster. This tract was fully four miles north of the "Great
Conestoga Road" to Philadelphia, and fully five miles" south
of the old Peter Bezellon road, which was laid out in 1726, and led from
the early settlements of Paxton and Donegal to Philadelphia. This was the
only other laid-out road from this section to Philadelphia. There is no
evidence that there was even a prominent Indian trail there, and, strange
to say, at the organization of the townships in 1730 Lancaster township
was of so little importance, that, although supervisors, overseers of the
poor and constables were appointed in the fourteen other townships of the
county, the number in proportion to their prominence, Lancaster township
was the only one" in which no officers were appointed. It was said
George Gibson had a tavern there. We can not see that there would have
been any inducement to have a tavern there before this period, nor did
he have' a license at that period; neither does a Gibson deed appear until
ten years afterward, when Gibson received^* lot 221, of Lancaster townstead,
where he no doubt built his "Hickory Tree Tavern."
1740 was still a very
early period, and Gibson's was probably the earliest tavern of prominence
there, which was remembered by some elderly person long ago, who was n(ot
there at the beginning. By the time the county was organized all the desirable
tracts of land in "the great valley," as Logan terms it, were
taken up, mostly by Palatines, who came to stay and refused to sell it.
Roody Mayer (Rudolph Myers), ^= a Palatine, had settled on this tract as
early as 1712, and Ellis and Evans clearly show us that at least a== portion,
and probably all, of the tract on which Hamilton located his "Townstead "
in 1730 was a portion of a tract of about 5,500 acres, warranted 1717, which
had been taken up by twelve Palatine families, ten or more years before.
That they paid for it is also shown by Surveyor General James Steel's postscript,
"Thou need not insist on these men's bonds, because they are to pay
down the money without delay. Some of them, however, neglected to take out
their patents, which Hamilton took advantage of, claiming a portion of it
by a title of an unlocated tract, granted in 1682, long before any settlers
arrived here. This tract Col. James Hamilton submitted to the four commissioners
who were appointed to select a site for the county seat. Three of them approved
of this location. The fourth one did, for some unknown reason, not sign the
certificate. When their report was submitted to Governor Gordon and his council
the commissioners were asked in whom the title of the land rested. They replied
that they had not investigated that matter. The report was not then approved,
and the Governor sent for ex-Attorney General Hamilton (who was the father
of Colonel James Hamilton) and requested him to make" a thorough investigation
of the land in question. One week after the commissioners' report was filed,
in March, 1730,Surveyor John Jones surveyed the land and laid out
"Lancaster Townstead." They immediately set about to build a prison
and a temporary place for the Court, which "were completed for the November,
1830, session of Court. The lots were sold and the town was boomed, just
as Philadelphia was before and Yorktown afterward, and quite a few other
towns since. The same year a petition was granted for a road sixty-six feet
wide from Lancaster to Philadelphia. This is * what is now known as the "Old
Road," although it was never opened its full width. As to Colonel Hamilton's
pecuniary interests, it will be found that he reserved ground-rents on all
the lots sold, and, by glancing over the journals of a few men who visited
Lancaster at different periods, we can form some conception of why he was
so much interested, which was at least partly the cause of the removal of
the county seat from Postlethwaite's.
Witham Marshe, who visited
Lancaster in 1744, states: "All the owners of lots and houses here
pay ground-rents, greater or less, according to the grant of them by James
Hamilton, Esq., who is the proprietor of the town." Governor Pownall,
in 1778, states: "When Lancaster was laid out it was the desire of
the proprietor to raise an annual revenue from the lots." How well
Hamilton succeeded can be seen by the statement of Shopp, in 1783, who
"Hamilton, a distinguished lawyer, used his influence to have the town
of Lancaster located on land belonging to him, and his family still draw
an annual income of one thousand pounds ($4,866) from ground rents." These
Hamilton ground-rents have caused considerable trouble in the past, and some
of them are being collected from," properties in Lancaster city to-day.
However, Col. Hamilton
knew his position, and we see today how well he selected his location for
the county seat. It will also be remembered that at the very time when
Court was in session at Postletliwaite"s Thomas Cresap began building
his fort, just across the Susquehanna, in defense of Lord Baltimore's northern
boundary. When he considered. "Philadelphia - the finest city in Maryland," and
as Penn's "great town" was in disputed territory, it is not likely
that those in authority wished to risk another town location, as Postlethwaite's
is about two miles south of the fortieth parallel, which passes through
what is now Strasburg, Millersville and Washington Borough.
All subsequent councils
between the Governors and the Indian chiefs and all else of importance
were after this period done at Lancaster. As Lancaster grew and flourished,
the Great Conestoga Road and Postlethwaite's lost prominence, until today
the Great Conestoga Road is but an ordinary byroad, and little more than
the sites of former places of prominence surrounding Postlethwaite's remain.
In conclusion, I believe
it will interest many of us, although more particularly the citizens of
Manor and Conestoga townships, to know the' locations and a few additional
facts concerning some of the places and persons referred to in this paper.
After starting his "great
town" of Philadelphia, one of the first things Penn did was to follow
an old English institution of establishing manors. Lord Baltimore had done
likewise in Maryland as early as 1636, but Lord Baltimore's manors had
a court leet, and court baron, and were partly selfgoverning, had military
power, and were partly designed as a military'' strength of his colony.
Penn's manors were not designed that way, or, if so, through his financial
troubles the design was not carried out. Penn's agents would select a choice
tract of land, which, with a few exceptions, were surveyed and granted
to either himself or his heirs, proprietaries, and after the land around
these tracts was sold and settled these manors would be divided up and
sold to the settlers, reserving quit-rents on them, which were used by
Penn's commissioners to meet his obligations, and later for his heirs.
In all, there were about 75 of these manors scattered about the State.
Beginning near Philadelphia, they were established westward, as the frontier
was extended. The eighth one selected was Conestoga Manor, whose boundary
was the same as our present Manor township, except that its northern boundary
was a straight line across the course where the present Charlestown road
is now located. This is the road going eastward from Wertz's Hotel, at
Washington Borough. Conestoga Manor was surveyed in 1717, and then divided
up and sold to the settlers. At first the entire southwestern portion,
known as Turkey Hill, was reserved for a reservation for the Conestoga
Indians, which was finally reduced to 411 acres. On this reservation the
Indian town of Conestoga was located.
was practically the termination of the Great Conestoga Road, as before
stated, the road led to the Indian town of Conrivei', northward past Blue
Rock, then up the river. At Blue Rock the proprietaries reserved 3,000
acres for a time, probably for the location of Penn's "town on the
Susquehanna," but it was afterward sold to settlers. The ferry crossing
the river at this point was the most prominent along the Susquehanna before
Wright's Ferry was established, being the one used by the Cartleges, James
Patterson, Peter Chartier, and other Indian traders. No doubt Governor
Keith crossed here on his return from Virginia in 1721. John Penn, a grandson
of Wm. Penn, who made a tour through Eastern Pennsylvania, in 1788, made
this note in his journal on April 15: "Prom Lancaster I rode alone
over to Blue Rock. The road Conestoga, and from there the Indian trail
led out to the Susquehanna wants frequent direction. I spent a great part
of the day examining the grounds, not returning until dark. The consequence
of this ride was the resolution I made of keeping or purchasing near 200
acres round a spot admirably calculated! for a county seat. It is the highest
situation there, and commands the distant banks of the Susquehanna, and
several islands, which might, many of them, be collected into one front
prospect. The grounds behind and on each side fall finely, and may be seen
from this spot, to the extent of the above number of acres, except in a
few low places, in some of which a strong supply of water runs through
excellent meadow lands, now perfectly green." Blue Rock is now almost
forgotten. It is the point where the Blue Rock Road reaches the river.
About a century ago an enterprising =' individual tried to boom a town
there, and had received a charter for a bridge across the river.
The Locations of Cresap's
Fort and the Indian Town of Conestoga, Where the Conestoga Indians Were
Massacred. Just across the river,in York county, can be seen the massive
walls of Thomas Cresap's fort, which he built in 1729. It is now the basement
of the dwelling of B. C. Gnaw, and is durable enough to last at least another
century. Cresap had been granted this tract, including a charter for Blue
Rock Ferry, by Lord Baltimore, and bravely defended Maryland's northern
boundary for seven years, when he was overpowered by the Pennsylvanians
and taken in chains to Philadelphia and imprisoned. Going from Blue Rock
back to Indian town, along the Indian trail, about one-half-mile southeast
of Blue Rock, on the H. G. Wittmer farm, and westward to the river, we
find, through the many Indian-trader articles found there, a recent Indian
village site. Again, following the trail about two and one half miles eastward,
we reach the Habecker mill farm, where the trader beads, clay pipes, etc.,
reveal another recent Indian village site. About one half mile east of
the Habecker fann, at the neglected spring on the property of John Ehrhart,
is still another recent Indian village site. It is highly probable that
as recent as during Governor Gookin's visit, in 1711, when the Indians
were still numerous, that they occupied the sites near the river. In the
vicinity of the Habecker farm, and what is now locally known as Coffee
street, also still known as Indian town, the last reservation of 414 acres
was located. It is supposed that Captain Civility's cabin,"' in which
Governor Keith first met the four Deputies of the Five Nations, was located
near the spring where Isaiah Hess now lives. The last Indian cabin was
standing on the opposite side of the road, just east of the run. It had
been moved there from Ehrhart's spring, and was occupied by Isaac Koons,
when Rupp visited it fifty years ago.""
In a few bark-covered log-cabins of their own construction on the west side
of Ehrhart's spring the last twenty Conestogas lived) six men, five women,
six boys and three girls, the last^"" remnant of the once powerful
and haughty Susquehannocks, the last of the Conestogas who protected our
first settlers, and supplied them with their first food. They, in return,
lost their hunting grounds, leaving them little more than miserable beggars,
trying to eke out an existence by making and selling baskets and hickory
brooms, and while thus engaged, on December 14 and 27, 1763, were cruelly
massacred by the pale faces whom they nursed and befriended.
A very rare tract, written
and printed by Franklin in 1764, states that Shehaes, one of the slain,
had assisted in the second treaty of Wm. Penn, in 1701, and narrates the
massacre as the most horrible that was ever heard of, and was perpetrated
by a mob of Presbyterian settlers, calling themselves "The Paxton
Boys," led on by Rev. Mr. Elder, persuading themselves that they were
doing God's work.
About one-half-mile southeast
of Ehrhart's spring, now the estate of the late Daniel L. Shank, was the
home of John Cartlege. The old log house, a building about twenty feet
square, which Rupp also visited, was located near the southeast corner
of the present dwelling. In that house Logan met the Indian chiefs in 1720,
and there Governor Keith held his notable two-day council with them in
1722. After John Cartlege's death, Magistrate Andrew Cornish 'married Cartlege's
widow and also lived at the Cartlege home, when in 1728 Governor Gordon
held a council with the chiefs in the same house. John Cartlege was no
doubt the most prominent man In this section at that period, and the first
living in what is now Lancaster county who held an official position. He
was a son of Edward Cartlege, a prominent Quaker from Ridings, County of
Darby, England, who located at what is now Darby, Delaware county, Pa.,
in 1683, where John Cartlege was born, March 5, 1684, and married Elizabeth
Bartram (an aunt of John Bartram, the botanist). He moved to Conestoga
about 1712, where he bought 300 acres of land, and in 1616 was given'^
200 acres additional for pasture for a period of fourteen years, in consideration
of the good service he had done among the new settlers of these parts,
as well as among the Indians. He was a licensed Indian trader, was an interpreter
of the Delaware tongue, was an Indian agent for the Proprietaries and was
appointed" His Majesty's Magistrate July 4, 1718. He was a prominent
Quaker, as were also his descendants, two generations after him. The unfortunate
occurrence which resulted in his imprisonment, which I have already related,
preyed on his mind to such a degree that he died about 1726. The Shenk
farm is a portion of the above tract of land. The venerable Joseph Wright,
who is now over eighty-two years old, is John Cartlege's great-great-grandson,
and still lives on a portion of the Cartlege tract. Mr. Thomas Wright,
of Millersville, is a great-great-great-grandson. To these gentlemen I
am indebted for some of the above information.
The Postlethwaite's Grave
Yard and Cartlege's Grave.
west of George Fehl's home (where the first sessions of Court were held),
just west of the line fence between Adam Murry and Hiram Warfel, in the
corner of Mr. Warfel's field, on the north side of the road, the old Postlethwaite's
grave yard was located; it was about fifty feet square. Mr. Jacob Fehl,
who, if still living, would now be about 120 years old, and whose ancestors
lived at Postlethwaite's several generations before he did, always staunchly
maintained that the grave of the first Judge of Lancaster county was there.
And Mr. Warfel states that some years ago some of the members of the Lancaster
Bar were making an effort to place a monument there. This grave yard must
have been more than a family grave yard, as is shown by the fact that it
is positively known that Wm. Wright was buried there. Wm. Wright was married
to John Cartlege's daughter, and owned and lived on the old Cartlege property.
There was no grave yard on the Cartlege property then, but after Wright's
death, in 1756, this property was divided between his four sons, each locating
on a portion. Each one of the four tracts was then provided with a family
grave yard. The widowed mother lived with her son, Thomas, at the old Cartlege
home many years, and died in 1815, at the age of ninety-six years. Although
her husband, Wm. Wright, was buried at Postlethwaite's," by this time
that place had so completely lost its former prominence that she desired
that her remains should be interred in her son Thomas' family grave yard,
and where her inscribed tombstone can be seen, just west of the buildings
on the Shenk farm. The above seems to prove that before the family grave
yards were placed' on the Cartlege property Postlethwaite's was their grave
yard, and it is only natural that the English-speaking community would
have placed a public burying ground there at a prospective town site, which
was their custom. There may also have been a meeting house there. It is
not positively known where John Cartlege's grave is, but from the above
one would naturally conclude that his remains and also those of his widow
and her second husband, Magistrate Andrew Cornish, were placed in the Postlethwaite's
grave yard. John Wright was President Judge when five of the King's Magistrates
presided at the first Court, held at Postlethwaite's," and is considered
the first Judge of Lancaster county. Whether John Cartlege was known as
Judge, Justice or Magistrate we don’t know, but, as he received his appointment
as the King's Magistrate ten years before John Wright settled at Wright's
Ferry, there is no doubt it was he to whom Mr. Fehl's tradition refers.
About twenty-eight years
ago a former owner of the Warfel property removed the tombstones and ploughed
up the Postlethwaite's graveyard. Old residents state that there were at
least half a dozen inscribed tombstones there, and also a number of uninscribed,
older ones. There was one unusually large, roughly-dressed limestone among
the older ones. It is not positively known if it bears an inscription or
not, but this stone most likely marked John Cartlege's grave. It can be
found walled into a pigsty nearby. All the Mennonite and Quaker graves
in this section of that early period are marked by rough stones, without
inscriptions, and very few bear inscriptions before 1750. Very likely that
was the case with the older graves there. These uninscribed tombstones
only assist in concealing, instead of revealing, much of the past which
we would like to know.
Minutes of the April
Lancaster, Pa., April
The Lancaster County
Historical Society held its regular monthly meeting this (Friday) evening
in its quarters in the Smith Library Building, on North Duke street, there
being a very good attendance of members.
President Steinman was
in the chair, and a majority of the officers were present.
The names of Henry N.
Howell, of this city, and Ira R. Kraybill, of Mt. Joy, were presented for
membership, and, under the rules, the applications will be acted upon at
the next meeting.
Librarian Sener announced
a number of valuable donations to the Society since the last meeting, as
Report of Lancaster Board
of Health 1907; History of England, The Peruvian Princess, an old novel,
Corderie Colloquiorune, 1762, Pocl<;et Hymn book of 1800, Map oi Pennsylvania,
Mrs. Mary Bair; two local view post cards, D. B. Landis; Twenty-first Annual
Report U. S. Inter-State Commerce Commission; Report of the U. S. Coast
and Geodetic Survey for 1907; Proceedings Philosophical Society, No. 187;
Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1907; Carnegie
Library Bulletin, Penna-German Magazine, Linden Hall Echo, Bulletin N.
Y. Public Library, and Bulletin N. Y. State Library for March, 1908; postal
card of Genl. John A. Sutter, from E. E. Habecker; Henry Clay medal from
H. B. Vondersmith, pamphlet on Mt. Vernon, Vir., from E. W. Shippen, Meadville,
Pa. Tribute to Old Lancaster (purchased).
Mr. George H. Ranck,
formerly the owner and publisher of The New Holland Clarion, presented
to the Society a complete file of that newspaper from its first issue in
1873 until 1903, thirty volumes in all. This, we believe, is the only complete
file of this paper in existence, and is the Society's only file of a county
newspaper and is an acquisition of unusual value.
The thanks of the Society
were extended to the donors.
The essayist of the evening
was Mr. David H. Landis, of Windom, who read a very entertaining paper
on the subject, "Why "Was Postlethwaite's Chosen and Then \ba.ndoned
as the County Seat of kiancaster County?"' Postlethwaite's was one
of the earliest taverns and trading posts in Lancaster county, being located
at what is now Rock Hill, in Manor township. It was one of the principal
points along the famous Conestoga Indian trail, the main route in those
early days from Philadelphia to the Susquehanna River. Mr. Landis dwelt
at length on the Susquehanna or Conestoga Indians and the developments
which led up to the determination to make Postlethwaite the county seat.Through
the efforts, however, of Andrew Hamilton, who laid out the town of Lancaster,
and from the fact that at that time Lancaster was a settlement of considerable
size, the location of the county seat was changed. The paper showed much
research and is a valuable addition to the Society's work.
Attention was called
to the fact next year will mark the two hundredth anniversary of the first
settlers locating in Lancaster county and the suggestion was made that
the event should be appropriately observed.
----The paper brought
forth some interesting discussions, which were participated in by Dr. Joseph
H. Dubbs, F. R. Diffenderffer, S. M. Sener, President Steinman, H. Frank
Eshleman, Esq., and others.
The thanks of the Society
were extended to Mr. Landis and the paper was ordered to be printed in
After the close of the
regular meeting, the Executive Committee held the usual monthly session,
at which some unfinished business was concluded, and new topics taken up,
which will be laid before the Society at its next monthly meeting.
Note that John Warfel was the purchaser
of the Long Lane property of the Christian Eyman estate in 1835