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1847 Rupp History of Juniata County Pennsylvania

Rupp, I. Daniel. History and topography of Northumberland, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Centre, Union, Columbia, Juniata and Clinton Counties, Pa. : embracing local and general events, leading incidents, descriptions of the principal boroughs, towns, villages, etc., etc. : with a copious appendix, embellished by engravings. Lancaster, Pa.: G. Hills, 1847.

Transcribed by Nancy Piper








Chapter XIII Page 338-353 Juniata County


Juniata County was, by virtue of an act of March 2nd, 1831, separated from Mifflin County, and is bounded on the north by Union county; for a short distance on the east by the Susquehanna River; on the southeast it is bounded by Perry County; and, on the southwest, by Huntingdon County. Average length about forty miles; breadth nine; area in square miles, about 360, it contains about 230, 400 acres of land. Population in 1840 - 11,080. The population in the several townships in 1840, was as follows: Fermanagh, 831; Greenwood, 1,237; Milford, 1,829; Turbett, 1.319; Lack, 761; Tuscarora, 1,018; Walker, 1.423; Delaware, 956; Fayette, 1.291; Mifflin borough, 420.

This county, like all noticed, belongs to the great central transition formation of the State. Its surface is traversed northeast and southwest by several mountains. The Tuscarora Mountain forms the most of the southeaster boundary, dividing Juniata from Perry, and on the northwest the Shade and Black Log mountains separate it from Mifflin. The surface of the county, as well as the soil, is diversified. The mountains and hills are separated by intervening valleys. The principal streams are the Juniata River, Tuscarora, Lost, Licking, Colcalus, West Mahantango, Black Log.

The Juniata River passes through the middle part of this county. The Tuscarora creeks rises in Huntingdon county, runs northeast between 30 and 35 miles, passes through the western part of this county, in a northeastward course and falls into the Juniata below Mifflintown, being jointed by Licking creek. Lost creek rises by several branches, and flows into the Juniata River, about two miles above Mifflintown. Cocalamus creek rises in Greenwood Township and flows southeast into Perry County, and thence into the Juniata River some distance below Millerstown.

The geological features of the county are not so greatly diversified as in some counties. A series of nearly parallel belts of various rock formations range across this county from northeast to southwest, following the direction of the mountain ridges, and being brought successively to the surface by undulations or lines of elevation and depression. The variegated and red shale overlying the mountain sandstone, appears along the northwest side of Tuscarora mountain, and again on the Juniata above Mexico, having between those points a belt of overlying fossiliferous limestone and sandstone, as seen between Thompsontown and Mexico, on the turnpike. A similar belt of this limestone, with the sandstone accompanying, appears at Mifflintown, above which place we fine the read and variegated shale formation extending to the foot of Shade mountain. In the valley of Tuscarora creek, a few miles southwest of Juniata, the fossiliferous sandstone divides into two branches, having between them the overlying olive slate, which, still farther in the valley, is itself overlaid by the red shales and sandstones, next in series.

The soil in many parts is very productive, especially in the valleys in which limestone is generally at, or near the surface. The mountainous portions are broken and unusually sterile. The chief occupation of the inhabitants is agriculture. The finely improved fields, the well built house and huge barns, give strong evidence of the industry of this class of the community.


Page 342

The Juniata Division of the Pennsylvania canal and the northern turnpike road, from Harrisburg to Pittsburg, both pass through this county.


Page 342

The seat of justice, is situated on the north side of the Juniata river; it occupies an elevated site, commanding an extensive view of the adjacent and neighboring hills and mountains. It was laid out in the year 1791 by John Harris. It improved very slowly until 1831, when it was made the seat of justice; since, it has improved rapidly. It now (1847) contains about one hundred dwellings, some of which are very commodious, and of brick. It has the usual number of county buildings. There are also an academy, a Presbyterian and Lutheran church. The Methodists worship in the court house. There are 4 stores, 2 apothecary stores and three taverns.

The Juniata Division of the Pennsylvania canal passes along the river; and the Huntingdon township raod passes through town. A thriving trade is carried on here; it is the depot of all the surplus product of the adjacent valleys. A substantial bridge crosses the Juniata here, affording great facilities to the farmers of Tuscarora valley. The population is about four hundred and seventy-five. In 1840 it was 420.


Page 343

Laid out by Mr. Thompson, is a flourishing post village, about half a mile north of the Juniata river and State canal; and on the turnpike road leading from Millerstown to Lewistown; it contains about 50 dwellings, several stores and taverns, and three churchs - Lutheran, Seceder, Baptist - and a school house. Delaware run passes through and empties into the Juniata river.


Page 343

Laid out by Tobias Kreider, about 40 years ago, is a pleasant little village on the Juniata river and turnpike road, leading to Lewistown, three miles southeast of Mifflintown, contains between 30 and 40 dwellings, 3 stores, 3 taverns, a grist mill, saw mill and woolen factory; two churches - a Seceder and Methodist - and a school house. The mills and factory are on Doe run.


Page 343

Was laid out 15 or 18 years ago; it is a fine village, situated on the right bank of the Juniata river, at the mouth of Licking and Tuscarora creeks, two miles and a half below Mifflin. It contains three stores and a tavern. The Juniata is crossed here by a substantial bridge.


Page 343

In Turbit township, consists of a few houses; and a woolen factory and saw mill, owned by Mr. Hertzler.


Page 343

Both in Lack township, in Tuscarora valley, and on the Tuscarora creek, are very small villages, some three or four miles apart. They are in the southwestern part of the county.


Page 344

Or McAllisterville, was laid out by Mr. McAllister. It contains 12 or 15 dwellings, and lies at the foot of the mountain, girded by Coclamus and Lost creeks.


Page 344

Lies on the south side of West Mahantango creek and on the road from Calhounsville to Selin's Grove. It contains a number of dwellings and a store.


Page 344

Is quite a small village. The situation is very romantic.


Page 344-348

The first settlements in Tuscarora Valley were made by Scotch Irish, from the Cumberland Valley, about the year 1749. At that day the slate lands bordering the mountains, watered by clear and copious springs, were more esteemed than the limestone lands, where the water sunk beneath the surface, and expensive wells were consequently required. The adventurous pioneers, therefore, extended their researches over the mountains, and discovered the rich and well-watered valleys along the Juniata.


In 1833, at the circuit court sitting at Mifflin, an important lawsuit was tried, involving the title to a farm of 390 or 400 aces of the best land in Tuscarora Valley, above six miles from Mifflin. The farm was in controversy for about 50 years, before various courts at Carlisle and Lewistown. It is known among lawyers as the Grey property case, report in 10, Sergeant and Rawle, page 182. Many of the fact given in evidence are interesting as elucidating the history of the times; and the whole case, with the amusing scenes that occurred at the trials, and the marked originality of many of the principal personages, would constitute an excellent theme for a historical novel. The following statement of the case is derived, partly, from a sketch by Samuel Creigh, Esp., published in Hazard's Register, and partly from verbal conversation with a number of the eminent counsel in the case.

Robert Hagg, Samuel Bigham (or Bingham), James Grey and John Grey, were the four first settlers in Tuscarora Valley, and the first white men who came across Tuscarora mountain, about the year 1749. They cleared some land, and built a fort, called Bigham's fort. Sometime in 1756, John Grey and another person went to Carlisle with pack-horses, to purchase salt: as Grey was returning, on the declivity of the mountain, a bear crossed his path and frightened his horse, which threw him off. He was detained some hours by this accident; and when he arrived at the fort, he found it had just been burned, and every person in it either killed or taken prisoner by the Indians. His wife, and only daughter, three years old, were gone, - also Innis's wife and children. A man by the name of George Woods (he was the father-in-law of Mr. Ross, who ran for governor, and afterwards lived in Bedford) was taken outside the fort, with a number of others.

John Grey joined Col. Armstrong's expedition against Kittanning, in the autumn of that same year, in hopes of hearing from his family. The hardships of the campaign prostrated his health and he returned to Bucks county, his original home, only to die. He left a will, giving to his wife one half his farm, and to his daughter the other half, if they returned from captivity. If his daughter did not return, or was not alive, he gave the other half to his sister, who had a claim against him of 13 pounds, which she was to release.

In the meantime George Woods, Mrs. Grey and her child, with the others, were taken across the mountains to Kittaning, then an Indian village, and afterwards delivered to the French commander of Fort Duquesne. Woods was noted for his gallantry, and during their captivity at Fort Duquesne he represented to Mrs. Grey how much better married than single persons fared among the Indians and proposed a match. Mrs. Grey had no inclination for a partnership in misfortune and peremptorily declined. Woods was given to an Indian by the name of Hutson; and Mrs. Grey and her child were taken charge of by others, and carried into Canada. About a year after the burning of the fort, Mrs. Grey concealed herself among some deerskins in wagon of a white trader, and was brought off, leaving her daughter still in captivity. She returned home, proved her husband's will and took possession of her half the property. She afterwards married a Mr. Enoch Williams, by whom, however, she had no issue.

Some seven years after her escape, in 1764, a treaty was made with the Indians, by the conditions of which a number of captive children were surrendered, and brought to Philadelphia, to be recognized and claimed by their friends. Mrs. Grey attended, but no child appeared that she recognized as her dear little Jane. Still, there was one of about the same age whom no one claimed. Someone conversant with the conditions of John Grey's will, slyly whispered to her to claim this child for the purpose of holding the other half of the property. She did so, and brought up the child as her own - carefully retaining the secret as well as a woman could.

Time wore away, and the girl grew up, gross and ugly in her person, awkward in her manners, and as events proved, loose in her morals. With all these attainments, however, she contrived to captivate one Mr. Gillespie, who married her. A Scoth-Irish clergyman of the Seceder persuasion, by the name of Mckee, became quite intimate with Gillespie, and either purchased the property in question from him, or had so far won his good graces, that he bequeathed it to him. The clergyman made over the property to one of his nephews, of the same name. The clergyman had also a brother, McKee, who, with his wife, was a resident of Tuscarora Valley. His wife "old Mrs. McKee," was a prominent witness in the subsequent trials.

After a lapse of years, the children of James Gray, heirs of John Grey's sister, got hold of some information leading them to doubt the identity of the returned captive; and the lawsuits consequent upon such a state of things were speedily brought, about the year 1789. It would literally "puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer' to describe the multiform and complicated phases which the case assumed during a legal contest of more than 50 years, and would besides throw no light upon the history of the valley. The Williamses, the Greys, and the McKees, all claimed an interest by inheritance, - to say nothing of the Beales, the Norrises, and others who had bought into the property and several lawyers with large contingent fees. Many of the facts stated above were elicited during the examination, although some of them were not admitted by the court as legal testimony.

Mrs. Grey (or Mrs. Williams) said that when they were crossing Sideling hill she had examined the child Jane, and found a mark on her by which she had been able to recognize her. Mr. Innis was one of the captives, and remained with the Indians until the treaty; and when one day he chided Mrs. Williams for keeping a child not her own, she replied, "you know why I keep this girl."

Mrs. Innis told her that her daughter was not returned, that this was a German girl, and could not talk English when she came to Montral. Mrs. Innis herself had lost three children. One the Indians put under the ice because it was sick - the other two she got. One of these a gentleman of Philadelphia had, and refused to give it up, until Innis proved the child his by a private mark. Mrs. Williams said to one witness "No, this is not my daughter, but George Woods knows where my daughter is, as he has promised to get her." The real daughter, however, never was recovered.

Old Mrs. McKee, the principal living witness at a number of trials, and who spoke with a rich Irish brogue, on one occasion became quite garrulous, and entered largely into the history of the valley, to the great amusement of the court. Among other things, she described the spurious girl as a "big black ugly Dutch lump, and not to be compared to the beautiful Jenny Grey." Her historical developments so much interested one of the Jury at Lewistown, as old settler himself, that he, forgetting the restraints of a juryman - sent for the old lady to come to his room at the hotel and enter more at large into "the days of auld lang syne." The old man was a little deaf, and the old lady's voice could be heard throughout the house. One of the counsel, whose side of the case wore rather a discouraging aspect, overheard the old lady; and the next morning exposes the poor juryman, amidst a roar of laughter from the court and the bar. The case of course had to be ordered for trial before another jury.

The following is the deposition of George Woods, written by him or at his dictation, at Bedford, in 1789, but never sworn to. It was not without great resistance on the part of counsel, that the facts were introduced as testimony. The case was finally decided in 1833 or 1834, against the identity of the adopted child, and the property vested accordingly.

"Personally appeared, &c., &c., &c., George Woods, and saith, that about the 12th or 13th of June, 1856, he was taken by the Indians in the settlement of the Tuscarora, in the county aforesaid [of Mifflin,] and that the wife of John Grey and his daughter Jane, and others, were taken at the same time; - that we were all carried to the Kittannning town on the Allegheny river - and there divided among the Indians, - and some time in the month of July then next the said Indians delivered me together with Jane Grey, to a certain Indian named John Hutson; which said Indian took me and the said Jane Grey to Pittsburg, then in possession of the French; and after some days the Indian Hutson delivered me to the French Governor, Mons. Duquesne; from which time I heard nothing of the said Jane Grey until the winter after Stump killed the Indians up Susquehanna; at which time I found out the said Indian called John Hutson, who informed me that little Janey Gray was then a fine big girl, and lived near Sir William Johnson's - which information I gave to Hannah Grey, mother of the said Jen Grey."

"At the same time Hannah Grey showed me a girl she had taken out from the prisoners released by Col Bouquet for her own child. I then informed the said Hannah that the child she had taken was not her own child - said Hannah requested me not to mention that before the girl she had taken, for that, if she never got her own, she wished not to let the one she had know any thing of her not being her own child. Some time in the same year Col. George Croghan came to my house. I informed him the account I had got from John Hutson. He, Mr. Croghan, informed me that the Indian's information was true, and that he got the said Jane Grey from the said Indian; and had put her into a good family to be brought up; - all which I informed the said Hannah, - and this-summer-was-a-three-years the said John Hutson, and his son, came to my house at Bedford and stayed some time. I inquired about little Janey, as he called the child he had got with me - he informed me little Janey was now a fine woman, had a fine house and fine children, and lived near Sir William Johnson's seat, to the northward. I am sure that the girl Mrs. Hannah Grey showed me she had taken for her child was not the daughter of John Grey - and further saith not."

"Dated June, 1789 - never sworn to - used in 1815, 1817 - Mifflin county."


A number of persons were killed by the Indians, from 1856-1863, residing on the Juniata river; some in this county, others within the present limits of Perry. The following narrative, though already given in substance, will, it is believed, not be considered out of place here.


"The next I remember of, was in the year 1756 - the Woolcomber family, on Sherman's creek; the whole of the inhabitants of the valley were gathered to a fort at Geo. Robison's; but Woolcomber would not leave home; he said it was the Irish who were killing one another; these peaceable people, the Indians, would not hurt any person. Being at home, and at dinner, the Indians came in, and the Quaker asked them to come and eat dinner; an Indian answered that he did not come to eat, but for scalps; the son, a boy 14 or 15 years of age, when he heard the Indian say so, repaired to a back door, and as he went out he looked back and saw the Indian strike the tomahawk into his father's head. The boy then ran over the creek, which was near to the house, and heard the screams of his mother, sisters and brothers. The boy came to our fort and gave us the alarm; about 40 went to where the murder was done and buried the dead.

In the second war, on the 5th July, 1763, the Indians came to Juniata, it being harvest time, and the white people were come back to reap their crops: they came first ot he house of Wm. White, it was on the Sabbath day; the reapers were all in the house; the Indians crept up nigh to the door, and shot the people lying on the floor, and killed Wm. White, and all his family that were there, excepting one boy, who, when he heard the guns, leaped out of the window and made his escape.

The names of the 12 were Wm. Robison, who acted as captain, Robert Robison, the relator of this narrative, Thomas Robison, being three brothers; John Graham, Charles Elliott, William Christy, James Christy, David Miller, John Elliott, Edward McConnel, William McAlister and John Nicholson.

The persons killed were William Robison, who was shot in the belly with buckshot, and got about half a mile from the ground; John Elliott, then a boy about 17 years of age, having emptied his gun by random, out of his powder horn, and having a bullet in his mouth, put it in the muzzle, but had no time to ram it down; he turned and fired at his pursuer, who clapped his hand on his stomach and cried och! Then turned and fled. Elliott had ran but a few perches further, when he overtook William Robison, weltering in his blood, in his last agonies; he requested Elliott to carry him off, who excused himself by telling him of his inability to do so, and also of the danger they were in; he said he knew it, but desired him to take his gun with him, and, peace or war, if ever he had an opportunity of killing an Indian, to shoot him for his sake. Elliott brought away the gun, and Robison was not found by the Indians.

Thomas Robison stood on the ground until the whole of his people were fled, nor did the Indians offer to pursue, until the last man left the field; Thomas having charged and fired a second time, the Indians were prepared fro him, and when he took aim past the tree, a number fired at him at the same time; one of his arms was broken; he took his gun in the other and fled; going up a hill he came to a high log, and clapped his hand, in which was his gun, on the log to assist in leaping over it; while in the attitude of stooping, a bullet entered his side, going a triangular course through his body; he sunk down across the log; the Indians sunk the cock of his gun into his brains, and mangled him very much.

John Graham was seen by David Miller sitting on a log, not far from the place of attack, with his hands on his face, and the blood running through his fingers. Charles Elliott and Edward McConnel took a circle round where the Indians were laying, and made the best of their way to Buffalo creek, but they were pursued by the Indians; and where they crossed the creek there was a high bank, and as they were endeavoring to ascend the bank they were both shot, and fell back into the water.

A party of 40 men came from Carlisle, in order to bury the dead at Juniata: when they saw the dead at Buffalo creek, they returned home. Then a party of men came with Capt. Dunning; but before they came to Alexander Logan's, his son John, Charles Coyle, Wm. Hamilton, with Bartholomew Davis, followed the Indians to George McCord;s where they were in the barn; Logan and those with him were all killed, except David, who made his escape. The Indians then returned to Logan's house again, when Capt. Dunning and his party came on them, and they fired some time at each other; Dunning had one man wounded.

I forgot to give you an account of a murder done at our own fort in Sherman's valley, in July, 1756; the Indians waylaid the fort in harvest-time, and kept quiet until the reapers were gone; James Wilson remaining some time behind the rest, and I not being gone to my business, which was hunting deer for the use of the company, Wilson standing at the fort gate, I desired liberty to shoot his gun at a mark, upon which he gave me the gun, and I shot; the Indians on the upper part of the fort, thinking they were discovered, rushed on a daughter of Robert Miller, and instantly killed her, and shot at John Simmeson; they made the best of it that they could, and killed the wife of James Wilson, and the widow Gibson, and took Hugh Gibson and Betsy Henry prisoners. While the Indian was scalping Mrs. Wilson, the narrator shot at and wounded him, but he made his escape. The reapers being 40 in number, returned to the fort, and the Indians made off.

I shall relate an affair told me by James McClung, a man whom I can confide in for truth, it being in his neighborhood. An Indian came to a tavern, called for a gill of whiskey, drank some out of it; when there came another Indian in, he called for a gill also, and set it on the table, without drinking any of it, and took out the firs Indian, discoursing with him for some time; the first Indian then stripped himself naked, and lay down on the floor, and stretched himself; the other stood at the door, and when he was ready, he stepped forward with his knife in his hand, and stabbed the Indian who was lying down, to the heart; he received the stab, jumped to his feet, drank both the gills of whiskey off, and dropped down dead: the white people made a prisoner of the other Indian and sent to the heads of the nation; two of them came and examined the Indian, who was a prisoner, and told them to let him go, he had done right. - [Loudon's Narrative].

The same party went to Robert Campbell's on Tuscarora creek, surprised them in the same way, and shot them on the floor where they were resting themselves; one Geo. Dodds being there harvesting, had just risen and gone into the room and lay down on the bed, sitting beside him; when the Indian fired, one of them sprung into the house with his tomahawk in his hand, running up to where a man was standing in the corner; Dodds fired at the Indian not six feet from him; the Indian gave a haloo and ran out as fast as he could. There being an opening in the loft above the bed, Dodds sprung up there and went out by the chimney, making his escape, and came to Sherman's valley.

He came to Wm. Dickson's and told what had happened, there being a young man there which brought the news to us, who were harvesting at Edward Elliot's, other intelligence we got in the night. John Graham, John Christy and James Christy, were alarmed in the evening by guns firing at Wm. Anderson's, where the old man was killed with his Bible in his hand; supposed he was about worship; his son also was killed, and a girl had been brought up from a child by the people. Graham and Christys came about midnight.

We hearing the Indians had got so far up the Tuscarora valley, and knowing Collins' family and James Scott's were there about harvest, 12 of us concluded to go over to Bigham's gap and give those word that were there; when we came to Collins' we saw that the Indians had been there, had broke a wheel, emptied a bed, and taken flour, of which they made some water-gruel; we counted 13 spoons made of bark; we followed the tracks down to James Scott's, where we found the Indians had killed some fowls; we pursued on to Graham's, there the house was on fire, and burned down to the joists.

We divided our men into two parties, six in each; my brother, with his party, came in behind the barn; and myself, with the other party, came down through an oats field; I was to shoot first; the Indians had hung a coat upon a post on the other side of the fire from us; I looked at it, and saw it immoveable, and therefore walked down to it and found that the Indians had just left it; they had killed four hogs and had eaten at pleasure.

Our company took their track, and found that two companies had met at Graham's and had gone over the Tuscarora mountain. We took the run gap; the two roads meeting at Nicholson's; they were there first, heard us coming, and lay in ambush for us - they killed five, and wounded myself. They then went to Alexander Logan's, where thy emptied some beds and passed on to George McCord's.

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