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History of Cambria County.
WILLIAM PENN SEEKS TO PURCHASE INDIAN TITLE FOR THE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER—PENN SECURES THE DONGAN TITLE PENN'S DIFFICULTIES IN ENGLAND AND IN THE PROVINCE—TREATIES WITH
THE INDIANS—FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR CHARLES CAMPBELL
PROCURES A WARRANT FOR THE LAND ON THE CONEMAUGH AND STONEYCREEK RIVERS AT JOHNSTOWN.
The King of England, Charles II, desiring to perpetuate the memory of his friend, Admiral William Penn, for his victory over the Dutch fleet in 1665, looked with favor on the petition of William Penn, his son, for permission and a grant of sufficient land in America to locate a colony thereon; therefore, on March 4, 1681, at Westminster, the charter for Pennsylvania was granted. The boundary lines were given thus:
"All that tract or parte of land in America, with all the Islands therein conteyned, as the same is bounded on the East by Delaware River, from twelve miles distance Northwards of New Castle Towne unto the three and fortieth degree of Northern latitude if the said River doth extend soe farre Northwards: But if the said River shall not extend soe farre Northward, then by the said River soe farr as it doth extend, and from the head of the said River the Easterne bounds are to bee determined by a meridian line to bee drawn from the head of the said River unto the said three and fortieth degree, the said lands to extend Westwards, five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said Eastern Bounds, and the said lands to bee bounded on the North by the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of Northern latitude, and on the South, by a circle drawn at twelve miles distance from New Castle Northwards, and Westwards unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of Northern Latitude: and then by a straight line Westwards, to the limitt of Longitude above mentioned."
Under this authority Penn immediately began to make his arrangements to take possession, and appointed William Markham, his cousin, lieutenant governor, who arrived in New York Vol. i—1
in June, 1681. Markham found Captain Anthony Brockholls, deputy governor of New York, in charge of the Duke of York's colonies. Brockholls inspected the documents which Markham presented, and in acknowledging their validity gave him a letter to the settlers in Pennsylvania, requesting them to yield obedience to the new proprietor. On August 3, 1681, Markham organized a Council, which was the formal beginning of Penn's proprietorship, and began to buy lands from the Indians.
Penn sailed in the ship "Welcome," and landed.at Upland, now Chester, about October 28, 1682, when he was about thirtyeight years of age. Markham had had the city of Philadelphia laid out before Penn's arrival, but it was under his instructions, inasmuch as two years later Penn wrote: "And thou Philadelphia, named before thou wast born."
In the summer of 1683 Penn began to negotiate with the Iroquois chiefs of New York, who were in control of the tribes on the Susquehanna river, for that river and the lands on both sides of it. In July he wrote to Brockholls commending two agents he was sending to treat with the sachems of the Mohawks, Senecas and their allied tribes, for a release of the Susquehanna lands. In his letter he declared his intention "is to treat * * * about some Susquehanash land on ye back of us, where I intend a colony forthwith, a place so out of the way that a small thing could not carry some people to it." It seems very clear that Penn's intentions were to secure at once the Susquehanna river to its source, and to the extreme point, or, as he expressed it so plainly, "a place so out of the way that a small thing could not carry some people to it."
The agents, William Haige and James Graham, proceeded to Albany in August, and found that Brockholls had been superseded by Colonel Thomas Dongan, who had arrived August 25. 1683. Colonel Dongan is an important personage in the study of the history of Pennsylvania, in view of his term of service as governor of New York until 1688. He was a Roman Catholic, as was the Duke of York, and an enterprising, active and intelligent man, well qualified to manage the delicate relations then existing, especially so with the Iroquois Indians.
When Dongan heard of Penn's negotiations for the Susquehanna river it gave him much concern, and caused his justices, who were his advisers, to become panicstricken. They feared that Penn would plant a strong settlement on the Susquehanna, and that the Iroquois Indians, instead of bringing their furs to the Hudson river, would send them to what is now Philadelphia, by the way of the Susquehanna.
On September 7, 1683, the justices had a conference with such Indians as could be reached in their haste for action. These were two Cayugas and "a Susquehanna," who were closely interrogated as to the Susquehanna's geographical and trade relations with the New York settlements, especially Albany. These close questions caused the Indians to- be inquisitive. Their inquiries were: Why did the justices want to know! Were the white men coming to the Susquehanna? The chiefs were asked how this would suit them, assuming it to be correct, and they candidly replied "very well," as it- would be much easier and nearer to trade there than at Albany, "insomuch as they must bring everything thither on their backs."
The situation was alarming, and the justices hastily advised Dongan to find some way to prevent Penn from acquiring the "Susquehanna Indian title." On the 18th, Colonel Dongan informed Haige and Graham that it was considered "very convenient and necessary to putt a stopp to all proceedings in Mr. Penn's affairs with the Indians until his bounds and limits be adjusted," and furthermore "to suffer no manner of proceedings in that business" until they should be advised. The Indians were influenced by Dongan and his friends not to sell to Penn, being told that they had no right to do that, but should sell to the New York parties.
The situation was acute and prompt action was required; therefore, to control it, Dongan purchased from some of the chiefs, especially the Senecas, these lands and the river for himself. He seems to have been uncertain whether his position in this transaction was entirely honorable, although on October 10th he wrote to Penn avowing his purchase, and in another letter of the 22d he stated the "Indians had confirmed the sale;" however, he added, that he and Penn would "not fall out" over it.
Even this purchase did not clear the haze, and Penn's efforts were causing much uneasiness in New York for fear of losing the Indian trade. It went so far that in 1691 the Provincial Council of New York presented a petition to William III, earnestly requesting the dispossessing of Penn altogether. They represented that "The Susquehanna is situate in the middle of the Sinnekes country," and that it had been given to the Duke of York many years before Penn had received his charter. They further stated that Penn was endeavoring to buy it from the Indians in order to draw away trade to his province, and the King was assured this would do them great damage, because "All the Nations with whom Albany hath a trade live at the head of the Susquehanna river," and declared that "the inhabitants at Albany" had "only seated themselves there and addicted their minds to the Indian language and the mysteries of the said trade with the purpose to manage it." They insistently urged that if Penn's title to Pennsylvania should be affirmed that it should extend no further on the Susquehanna than the falls thereof. The falls are probably at the mouth of the Conestoga Creek, about fifteen miles north of the Maryland line. They preferred that Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut be re-annexed to New York.
The uneasiness which Penn's negotiations caused in 1683 had now become malevolent; it was bitter and vindictive toward the Province and its rulers. Penn was the central object for the attacks of those who disliked his religious views, his democratic system of government, despised his humane policy, or hated all of these. This was the beginning of Penn's troubles and the historical events relating to Barr, Carroll and Susquehanna townships in Cambria county.
In 1684 Penn returned to England with the fixed purpose of making a short visit and of bringing his family to Pennsylvania, but in the meanwhile James II had succeeded Charles II as King of England. Penn strove to use his influence for the persecuted dissenters, which included the Roman Catholics, and at first James assented, but political measures demanded the re-enactment of offending measures, however, and Penn continued to intercede for the oppressed people. This condition of affairs continued until the revolution of 1688.
William and Mary ascended the throne February 13, 1689, in full faith in the doctrine of the Church of England, which radically changed the situation. All the friends of the Stuarts were suspects. Penn was twice arrested on charges of treasonable correspondence with the banished James, and twice was he acquitted. He was accused of being "a cheat," also of being a Catholic, and under these strained conditions of affairs he remained in seclusion for three years. In 1693 three lords presented his case to William with the assurance there was nothing against him, and Penn was given his liberty.
However, his troubles were not confined to England, inas