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Indian Troubles Inevitable

Milestones Vol 24. No. 4

Once white settlers began migrating into the Beaver Valley, it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of fighting with the Indians.

As the pioneers pushed forward, Indian hunting grounds were converted into farms. Conflict was inevitable. The Indians used the wilderness. The white man exploited it.

The Indians did not understand the white conception of land ownership and they regarded the white settlers advancing onto their hunting grounds as the cattlemen of the Old West regarded the farmers on the range.

The Delawares, who occupied most of the Ohio River Valley, did not look upon the whites as being a superior people.

Unlike themselves who the Delawares thought were an original people existing unchanged from the beginning of time, they considered the white man "a troublesome race."

The Indians' first contact with the white man came with the traders. As early as 1720 a French trader, James Le Tort, was reported on the Ohio River and few years later, the French authorities at Montreal sent representatives to establish interests along the Ohio.

The English traders were soon to follow and by the mid 1700's George Croghan had established a trading post at the mouth of the Beaver River at the Indian settlement of Sawkunk, the present site of Beaver Borough.

According to another Englishman, Conrad Weiser, the Delaware had 165 warriors along the Ohio River, Shawnees, 162, and 462 warriors of various other tribes.

Among the Delaware and Shawnees on the Ohio were representatives of the Iroquois Six Nations consisting of small bands of warriors under the leadership of an eminent chief placed there to protect the interests of the confederacy.

Decades before the white man began to penetrate the wilderness, the Iroquois gained control of the territories occupied by the Delaware and smaller tribes.

The Iroquois confederacy included the tribes of the Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Senacas, and Tuscarora.

One of the most important Indian settlements in the western province of Pennsylvania at the time was at Logstown along the Ohio River.

During the battle between the French and English for dominance in the new colonies, both sides attempted to make treaties with Indians at Logstown to gain control of the Ohio River.

The Delaware and Shawnees were the principal tribes at the Logstown settlement. Bands of the smaller tribes which also occupied the settlement included the Senaca, Wyandot, Mohawk, and Miami.

In 1748, Croghan and Weiser delivered presents to the Indians at Logstown and the British flag was raised over the settlement. Treaties were made and for a while the British strengthened its position on the Ohio River.

The Ohio Company, a land company organized in Virginia, received permission from the Indians to build two forts at Logstown.

Peace between the white settlers and the Indians was short-lived. The early traders were chiefly responsible for arousing hostilities with the Indians. They took advantage of the Indians' appetite for rum and cheated them out of their furs and skins.

Until the advent of the white traders along the Ohio, the Indians never killed more game than sufficed for their own needs. Following the white man's influence, Indians soon learned the use of firearms and adopted the practice of slaughtering animals for furs and skins in exchange for money.

The present site of Rochester was once known as Logan's Town because of the great Mingo chief Logan who had his lodge there in the latter part of the 1770's.

Logan was baptized as a child by Moravian missionaries when he was given the name Logan after James Logan, the secretary of the province under William Penn.

A friend of the incoming white settlers, Logan, as did many tribal leaders, protested against the sale of liquor to the Indians by white traders.

While he was on a hunting trip in Ohio, a band of outlaws under the leadership of Captain Cresap, an unscrupulous land thief, invited the Indians of Logan's camp across the river to a tavern where almost the entire party, including Logan's mother, brother and sister, were murdered.

What followed was called Logan's War or Dunmore's War in which Logan revenged himself upon the white settlers for the killings until a peace conference a year later ended the fighting.

Logan is reported to have said at the conference: "I appeal to any white man to say that he ever entered Logan's cabin but I gave him meat; that he ever came naked but I clothed him.

"In the course of the last war, Logan remained in his cabin an advocate of peace. I had such affection for the white people that! was pointed at by the rest of my nation.

"I should have ever lived with them had it not been for Colonel Cresap who last spring cut off, in cold blood, all of the relatives of Logan, not sparing women and children. There runs not a drop of blood in any human creature.

"This called upon me for revenge; I have sought it. I have killed many and fully glutted my revenge. I am glad there is prospect of peace on account of the nation; but I beg you will not entertain a thought that anything I have said proceeds from fear..."

Indian warfare consisted of raids by which the Indians swooped down on the unsuspecting enemy followed by a retreat to a safe territory with plunder and captives.

Raiding parties could see no reason for sparing women and children. Children were potential warriors and women potential bearers of warriors.

During the Indian wars, hundreds of whites captured by Indians were adopted into Indian families to take the place of warriors who had fallen on the field of battle.

Generally, they were treated with kindness and looked upon by the Indians as their own flesh and blood. Indian relations with white women were above reproach. When white women were adopted, they were taken as daughters and wives not prostitutes.

Only a few captives were ever burned at the stake and those instances, according to historians, had the aspects of a religious ceremony.

At times, the flesh and especially the heart of the victim was eaten by the Indian in the belief that the strength and courage of the enemy might be transferred to the warrior.

In contrast to the white settlers, the Indians rarely whipped their children. They punished disobedient children by ducking them or a dash of cold water in the face to cool hot tempers. Indians expressed horror at the way the white man mistreated his children.

Beaver County Times 175th Anniversary Edition