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 Western Pennsylvania in 1760
A Journal of a march from Fort Pitt to Venango and From Thence to Presqu' Isle
From the Papers of Capt. Thomas Hutchins, Geographer General of the United States
[Source: The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. II., Philadelphia, 1878, Page 149-151 ]

[The following journal is in the Hutchins' Papers in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. It is possible that it contains the observations of Hutchins himself, who, at the time it was written, was an officer in the 60th regiment. The Value of the paper is in the topographical picture it gives of the western portion of our State in its original condition. It the first volume of the papers of Charles Lee, published by the New York Historical Society, is a letter by Lee to his sister, in which he states that on November 19th, 1759, while stationed at Niagara, he "was order'd out on a scout with one other officer and fourteen men, to discover (if possible) what was become of the remains of the French Army which escap'd from the Battle; we had," he writes, "the satisfaction of being the first English who ever cross'd the vast Lake of Erie; we pass'd through the French Forts of Presq' Isle and Vinango, descended down the Rivers of Buffalo and Ohio, and in 14 days arrived safe (tho' naked almost starv'd) at Fort Duquesne," at which place, he added, he found his sister's friend "Mallier, who was in good health but a little in liquor, as, indeed, were most of the officers I saw there." If Lee is correct in the assertion that his party was the first English one to journey over the route it did, it is safe to conclude that the description given in the Hutchins Journal is the earliest we have of our western territory after it came under the undisputed control of Great Britain.]

Left Fort Pitt 7th July, 1760, about half an hour past three o'clock, P.M.; marched 4 ½ miles, the first half of the way through a Rich Firtile Bottom, and the other through a dry Gully between two Hills, at the end of which we encamped on the side of an Hill, where were several good Springes.

8th. Decamped early in the morning, and Marched 16 Miles. About 7 Miles from Fort Pitt found two or three very small Runs almost dry; three Miles further a sharp descent to a small Creek, then Crossed a Meadow three Hundred Yards over, and went up another Hill, the ascent of which is not Difficult: Here you see many Hundred Acres of clear Land or Barrens, the Soil of which is bad, excepting only the Meadows. From this Creek we found no Water till within half a Mile of our Encampment. This whole marsh is upon high Ridges with very small Intermissions the Soil, except on the Barrens, is tolerably good, and indifferently Timbered with small Black and White Oaks, very little Water, but a Redundance of Pea Vine and other Food. The Woods are open and free from underwood - Course to the Eastward of North.

9th. At Six in the Morning Crossed the Hill at the foot of which we Encamped the Preceding Night, and entered some Meadows and low Grounds, which Continued near five Miles; then Crossed two deep and dry Gully's, and ascended an high Extensive and Barren Ridge, a Mile and a half in length. Here we fell into a Small Bottom, and from this place alternately crossed little open Bottoms and small Barren Hills, till we came to a very high and difficult one leading down a Creek about 12 yards over; called the first Branch of Beaver Creek: From our last night's encampment to this place (10 Miles) we found no Water, a bad Soil, very little Timber, and a Good deal of underwood and Plenty of Food even on the Barrens. Passing this Creek, we went through a very thick Bottom and ascending a Gentle Hill continued on the Ridge near two Miles, when we gradually descended into a small, Dry, infertil Flatt, which, after a Mile and half's March brought us to the second Brank of Bever Creek, 30 yards over, where we Encamped. Marched this day 10 Miles. Course N. & by E.

10th. This morning ascended a very steep and high Hill, on the Ridge of which we continued for a Mile, then went down a pretty smart descent to the third Branch of Bever Creek, and Crossing it passed through 300 or 400 yards of low thick Bottom, and gained the foot of a Pretty high sidling Hill, which soon lost itself in fine level open woods, and these Continued to the fourth Branch of Bever Creek, which is at least 11 Miles from our last night's Camp. After Crossing this Creek, you go through a think Swampy Bottom, 400 yards Over, and then fall in with the same kind of Woods you traversed in the morning. Five Miles from the Fourth is the Fifth Branch of Bever Creek, these three Branches, particularly the last, are only little dirty Runs: A Mile from the Fifth is the Sixth Branch, where we encamped. This Branch is a pretty little Brook, with fine, Rich, open Meadows gently descending to it on each side: These meadows are perfectly clear two Miles in length, an dare half a Mile over - Marched 17 Miles this day. Course to the Eastward of North.

11th. After ascending the rising Ground on the North side of the brook, we entered a very narrow rich Meadow, which soon brought us upon flatt, level, open Woods that Continued two Miles, when we came upon the 7th Branch of Bever Creek, a Shallow, rapid, rocky Stream, 60 yards Over; passing which, and a thick Shrubby Bottom on the other side, we came on the same kind of Open Flatt Woods as before, which Continued, this day's March (14 Miles), interrupted every two or three Miles by a small Run and a thick Bottom. The Soil and Timber Still Continues Bad, and the Food Grows worse. Course N. & by East.

12th. The first 10 Miles of this March are through flatt open woods, at the end of which you ascend a Chestnut Ridge, whose descent to Lecomic(1) or Sandy Creek is extremely steep and difficutl; having crossed this Creek, which is 4 Miles from Vanango, you ascend another Chestnut Ridge three miles in length, whose descent to Venango is likewise steep and difficult. From our Encampment this morning we had Water every two or three Miles. Lecomic is a Considerable Creek, 50 or 60 yards over. Three or 4 Miles before we came to the first Chestnut Ridge the Roads were so full of fallen trees that it was very difficult to pass. The Soil very Bad and Food scarce. Marched this day 16 Miles. N. & by E. Easterly.

(1) This is the second Indian name discovered, and added to the aboriginal nomenclature of our territory since the issue of the Historical Map of Pennsylvania in 1875. The other was communicated by Mr. John G. Freeze, and is to be found in the Magazine, Vol. I, p. 225, 6.

13th. Marched at one o'clock, P. M., and Crossed French Creek due North, 100 yards over, Running East into the Ohio; had low ground for a Mile, then ascended a Steep Hill, at the N. W. Foot of which is a small Run, from whence we marched 2 ½ Miles through a low Rich Bottom to Sugar Creek, 10 years over, five Miles from Venango. The Bottom continued a Mile further and is full of Runs: We now ascended another steep Hill, and alternately traversed little Hills and low Bottoms for 4 Miles, and then Encamped; the Woods are open and very young, the Soil and Timber somewhat better than on the other side of French Creek. Marched 10 Miles this day. Our Course N.W. & by West.

14th. Marched through low Grounds upon or near the banks of French Creek, almost all this day. Runs at the end of One, two and three Miles, and at 4 Miles a Creek 12 yards wide. Seven Miles from Camp we came upon an high Sidling Hill opposite Custologa's Town, which is situated on the South West side of French Creek. Two Miles further are three Mingoes Hutts, a Mile beyond which we met with the Richest Meadows I ever saw, quite clear, more than two Miles in length and half a Mile Broad. At the end of these Meadows are three more Mingoe Hutts, near which we Encamped having marched 13 miles. Course N.W. Excellent Food, fine open Woods, but no Timber.

15th. Marched through very Rich Bottoms, commonly called Swamps, almost all this day. Runs at four, Eight, and Ten Miles distance from last night's Camp. At 11 Miles distance we Recrossed French Creek, (80 years over, but extreamly shallow) found about half a mile of pretty high open Woods, then fell into a swamp 2 ½ Miles over, full of the largest Cyprus Trees I ever saw. Crossed a Creek 30 years over, and encamped on the North side. This Creek and the 4 Mles one mentioned above both Run Eastward. Marched 14 Miles this day, over Course N. N. E.

16th. This morning we ascended a pretty high Hill and Continued upon very high Ground, tho' very swampy, for 6 Miles (in which in neither Water nor encamping Ground); then Crossed a Branch of French Creek into a fine Meadow near a Mile Square; from whence we had a good Waggon Road two Miles through flatt open Woods to Le Beauf, which stands on a small Branch of French Creek, over which is a very good Bridge; this Creek, half a Mile below, Runs through a Lake a Mile over, but is itself not ten yards wide. We encamped about a Mile beyond Le Beauf, having Marched 10 Miles, there being no more Water till within two Miles of Prisqu' Isle. Our course this day N. N. E.

17th. This day's March was (two Miles open dry woods near Prisqu' Isle, and oen mile at the other end excepted) a Continued Chestnut Bottom Swamp, near Nine Miles of which are laid with Loggs, but much out of repair. Marched this day 14 Miles. Our Course North.

 

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