The Indian Occupation
     Of Mother Bedford

Evidence Of Indian Occupation In Mother Bedford

   The counties that make up Mother bedford include a number of sites associated with the Indian tribes which occupied this general south central region of Pennsylvania. As noted below, the village of Assunapachla was located in what is present-day Blair County. The town of Frankstown was established on the site of that village. In Huntingdon County the Borough of Huntingdon is located on the site of an Indian village. The name of that village was derived from two words, Onio and Kaniote. The English derivation of the combination of those two Indian words was Juniata. The earliest Euro American visitors to this region described the "standing stone" which stood in the Indian village. Apparently, the "standing stone" was a rock upon which the genealogy of the tribe was inscribed. As the white settlers moved into the area, the Indian tribe moved away, taking with them the "standing stone". The white settlers who moved into that region fabricated their own version of the obelisk in wood. The name of Standing-Stone was used by the white settlers as an informal name of the site. Other sites of Indian occupation exist in Huntingdon County, such as the Workman Site near Saxton. Centre County, to the north, includes sites such as the "Eagles Nest" on Bald Eagle Mountain and sites along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The present-day county of Bedford contains a number of sites located along the Dunnings Creek besides the site on which the Borough of Bedford stands, where the trading post of Raystown was located. In the west, across the Allegheny Mountain range, the Indian village known as Kickenapawling's Old Town was located where the present-day city of Johnstown in Cambria County stands.

   The records concerning excavations of all sites are maintained in the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Those records are open to the public for research, but some of the information they contain is not available for publication. The disclosure of the exact locations of the recorded excavation sites might cause problems for the owners of the land on which the sites lie. There have been between fifty and one hundred sites excavated within Blair County alone.

   Assunepachla was an Indian village located in the vicinity of the present village of Frankstown to the northeast of Hollidaysburg. James Le Tort and Jonah Davenport were Indian traders within the bounds of the Province of Pennsylvania in the early 1730s. They submitted depositions to the Provincial Council about their activities and discoveries in the central regions of the province in 1731. In his statement, Le Tort noted that there were approximately twelve Delaware families residing in the village of Assunnepachla upon Choniata. In those families there were thirty-six men. The village was situated on an Indian trail that would later become known by the white settlers as the Frankstown Path. The Indian village would have been located to the northeast end of the present-day village of Frankstown. When Conrad Weiser travelled through this region on his way to the Ohio Valley in 1748, he noted in his journal that he "came to Franks Town, but saw no Houses or Cabbins". The assumption might be made that any Indians residing at the village had moved out during the seventeen years that elapsed between 1731 and 1748. The History Of Huntingdon And Blair Counties, Pennsylvania stated that a great number of the male warriors residing at Assunepachla left this region in 1755 to give aid to the French in the Ohio River Valley during the French and Indian War. When that conflict was ended a proportion of those warriors who had left Assunepachla then returned and once again took up residence there. The narrative in that volume continued by stating that in 1758 when General John Forbes' army marched into Bedford County, the spies sent out by the tribe returned to the village with a greatly exaggerated report of the British army's size. The entire village was so alarmed by the reports that it disbanded and the tribe moved westward across the Allegheny Mountain. That narrative, therefore, places the date of the end of Assunepachla as an Indian village at the year 1758. U.J. Jones stated that "relics of rudely-constructed pottery, stone arrow-heads, stone hatchets, &c., have repeatedly been found until within the last few years". His statement would have referred to the 1850s. Despite the fact that private excavations have, no doubt, been conducted at the site, the results of any such studies have not been published. No major archaeological excavation has ever been conducted at the site.

   The Frankstown Path was an Indian trail connecting Harris' Ferry (present-day Harrisburg) and Shannopin's Town (present-day Pittsburgh) by way of Kittanning. Its western terminus gave it the auxiliary name of the Kittanning Trail. The fact that the name given to this trail is of Euro American origin might induce the reader to think it was laid out or developed by the white traders or settlers. Many of the roads established by the white settlers were laid out along the course of previously established Indian trails. But what name the Indians gave to this trail, if indeed they gave it any name at all, has not been recorded in any public document.

   The Frankstown Path/Kittanning Trail started in the vicinity of the ferry established across the Susquehanna River circa 1725 by John Harris. Harris' Ferry, as the enterprise became known, was established near an Indian village of the name Peixtan, where the city of Harrisburg currently stands. It traveled southwest through the vicinity of the towns of Carlisle, established in 1751 near Le Tort's Spring, and Shippensburg, settled circa 1750. From that point a trail continued in the southwest direction going through the gap between Sideling Hill and Rays Hill and passing by the vicinity of the present-day town of Bedford. That trail would, in 1758, be widened by the army led by General Forbes in his campaign against the British at Pittsburgh. At the vicinity of Shippensburg, a second trail headed off in a northwestern direction. That trail passed through a gap in the Kittatinny Mountain and then broke into three branches. Each of those branches traveled across a valley which, because of the three pathways crossing it, would take the name of Path Valley. Those branch paths traveled north, variously crossing over, or passing through gaps in the Conecocheague, Shade, Black Log and Sideling Hill mountains and following the courses of the Aughwick and Little Juniata rivers eventually reaching the village of Standing Stone. There a trail diverged and headed northward through the vicinity of the Eagle's Nest, which was located along Bald Eagle Creek. A second path headed southward to intersect with the Forbes Road path in the vicinity of Fort Littleton. The Frankstown Path continued from Standing Stone along the course of the Little Juniata River, and then the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. It traveled in a southward direction through the Canoe and Turkey Valleys to reach the trading post and Indian village in the vicinity of Frankstown. At the vicinity of the Indian village of Assunepachla, the trail branched to form a "Y". The main branch turned west and basically followed the courses of Burgoons Run and Kittanning Run to the Kittanning Gap in the Allegheny Mountain range. From there it crossed the "clearfield" until it reached the Indian village of Kittanning.

   Henry W. Shoemaker stated in his article, Old Highways And Inns Of Blair County, in the book, Blair County's First Hundred Years 1846-1946, that Stephen Franks, "called 'Etienne Francois' by the French voyageurs...was really a German Jew, closely related to Joseph Simon who became the pioneer fur trader of Central Pennsylvania." According to Mr. Shoemaker, "the Simon, Franks and Gratz families, all related, and all fur traders, pioneered the Frankstown Road to the west, making the first recognized highway route in the present confines of Blair County." Mr. Shoemaker, as with most historians who preceeded this time period, did not feel it was necessary to reveal his sources of information. Unfortunately, because of that, his claims cannot be verified or denied. His information is refuted by the volume, Indian Villages And Place Names In Pennsylvania. In that book the statement is made that Frankstown was "named for Frank Stevens, a prominent Indian trader, who went westward as early as 1734." According to that volume an error had been made by John Harris when he prepared a table of distances of sites from his Harris' Ferry. In that table he added an apostrophe to the name "Stephens" in the reference: "to Frank's (Stephen's) Town - 5 Miles", but it should not have been included in that position. The volume also pointed out that while Frank Stevens was a prominent trader, there was no record of a trader named Stephen Franks. These claims cannot be verified or denied because, unfortunately, source references for all of that information are likewise not given.

   The one thing that most sources agree on is that the village from whom the Frankstown Path's name was derived was not named in honor of an Indian chief named Franks. The History Of Huntingdon And Blair Counties, Pennsylvania noted that following the Indian trader's death one of the local chiefs had taken the name of Frank because of the friendship the trader had had with the local tribes. Apparently an erroneous impression had been made that the name was given to the town in honor of an old Indian chief.

   Before we end the discussion about the Frankstown Path one more thing should be mentioned. According to maps which show the route of the Indian trails across Pennsylvania, the Frankstown Path is shown as forming a "Y" in the vicinity of Assunepachla/Frankstown. Only the one branch's course was already discussed, the other branch, though perhaps not as celebrated as the first, was nonetheless a trail used by the Indians and later the settlers who moved into this region. That second trail continued from Frankstown in a southerly direction. It traveled along the course ofthe Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River through the present-day Blair County townships of Freedom and Greenfield in the valley that was later given the name of the Indian Path Valley. The trail eventually reached the Dunnings Creek and followed its southeastward course to join with the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. A number of sites of Indian occupation have been located through the Indian Path Valley which lies along the west side of Dunnings Mountain.

   A field just north of the town of Claysburg has, for many years, yielded arrowheads when it is plowed in the spring. Another site, in the vicinity of Friesville to the west of Claysburg, revealed evidence of Indian occupation. While the new Route 220 highway was being constructed along the west slope of Dunnings Mountain, to the east of the village of Sproul, some Indian artifacts were uncovered in 1986. During the excavation of a site associated with the Sarah Fuurnace, Indian artifacts werediscovered which revealed usage of the area as a temporary "campsite" dated to between 3000 BC and 1200 AD. The inhabitants of the site would have been ancestors of the Susquehannocks, but a specific tribe could not be identified.

   A notable Indian has been identified to have resided within what is today Blair County was the one known by the Indian name of Tachnechdorus, or by the English name of John Logan. Commonly referred to simply as Logan, he was born a son of the Iroqouis statesman, Shickellamy. According to Paul A.W. Wallace in his book, Indians In Pennsylvania, the following information is known about John Logan.

   Shickellamy is believed to have been born to a French father and a Cayuga mother. The matrilineal tradition of the Cayuga tribe led to his being raised by his mother within the Indian tribe. He was taken captive by the Oneidas when he was about two years old and spent his formative years with that tribe. As he grew up, Shickellamy exhibited the character and mental capabilities to be an administrator. He was therefore chosen by the Iroquois in 1728 to negotiate with the colonial officials on matters affecting the Indians and the encroaching white settlers. He continued in the function as the principal Indian negotiator in the Pennsylvania region until his death at Shamokin on 17 December, 1748. Of his four sons, the second born was Tachnechdorus. The name Tachnechdorus, in the Indian language, means "spreading oak". Tachnechdorus' birthdate is not known, but being the second eldest son of Shickellamy who died in 1748, and serving as one of the negotiators at the Albany Congress of 1754, he was probably born circa the 1720s or 1730s. His younger brother was named Tahgahjute, but was commonly known to the white settlers as James Logan (nicknamed for the secretary to William Penn). Tachnechdorus, who was nicknamed John by the white settlers, was mistakenly referred to as John "Logan" through an erroneous analogy to his younger brother's "white" name. Tachnechdorus/John was also often referred to simply by the name of "Logan", and that is how he will be referred to in the discussion that follows.

   Logan followed in the footsteps of his father, Shickellamy and became a diplomat. He participated in the Albany Congress of 1754. His career as peaceful diplomat did not last long. In 1763 some of the Indians murdered by the Paxton Boys at Conestoga were related to Logan, and although he did not take any retaliatory action against the whites, his friendship toward them was probably affected. In 1774 thirteen members of his family were murdered by white settlers at Yellow Creek in the Ohio Valley. In response Logan helped instigate the Shawnee War, later known as the Lord Dunmore's War.

   Logan was residing in the Kishacoquillas Valley of Centre County circa 1766 according to the History Of Centre County, Pennsylvania. According to that source (which was actually quoting Jones' History Of The Early Settlement Of The Juniata Valley), Logan moved from the Kishacoquillas Valley circa 1771 to settle along the Ohio River below the mouth of the Big Beaver River. The death of Logan came about circa 1774 following the murder of his family by "some marauding whites" in May, 1774. Apparently Logan began drinking after that incident and was himself murdered as he traveled between Detroit and Miami.

   U.J. Jones, in his History Of The Early Settlement Of The Juniata Valley, made the claim that the Indian called simply "Logan" by the white settlers was actually the younger brother, James Logan. According to Jones, the manuscripts of Edward Bell mentioned a "Captain" Logan. It was Jones' assumption that there were two Indians known by the name of Logan; Logan, the Mingo chief, also known as James Logan the son of Shickellamy, resided in the Kishacoquillas Valley and left there for the OhioValley circa 1771. The other man, known as Captain Logan, or John Logan son of Shickellamy, to the settlers, resided in the "upper end of Huntingdon County" and later in the valley and near the spring, both of which bear his name, in Antis Township. Jones attempted to clarify the situation by noting that the one named Captain Logan moved from this region when the Revolutionary War began to the vicinity of Chickalacamoose near present-day Clearfield. There he acted as a spy for the white settlers.

   The Logan's Spring is situated in Antis Township to the east of Bellwood Borough. It lies to the west side of old Route 220 a short distance north of the Route 220 and Route 865 intersection.

   According to local tradition, John Logan resided in a hut or cabin beside the limestone spring which flows at about 500 gallons per minute. The first settler known to have resided in the same location was John Henshey who bought the property in 1820. Henshey built a log dwelling beside the spring to its west side. John's son David enlarged the original structure circa 1830 and it still stands today as a residence.

   Logan's Spring, in Antis Township, is not the only site to be identified with John Logan. In the Borough of Tyrone, to the north of Logan's Spring, is the site of "The Big Spring". This site was identified and marked by the Blair County in 1918 as the site of the residence of Tachnechdorus/ John Logan. The bronze plaque which was placed by the Blair County Historical Society reads as follows: "The Big Spring" Near this spring for many years resided Thachnectorus "The Spreading Oak" alias Captain John Logan (1718-1820) Eldest son of Shikellemus, vice-gerent of the Iroquois Federation in Pennsylvania and a staunch and tried friend of the white men in the Juniata Valley during the Revolutionary War. It is quite possible that Logan resided at both sites during the time he resided in this general region.

   W. Ray Metz in his article, The History Of this Territory Prior To 1846, in the book, Blair County's First Hundred Years 1846-1946, provided the following information on the Logans. Captain (John) Logan was of the Cayuga tribe and was educated by Moravian missionaries. He inherited the "vice-regency of the Iroquois (Mingoes)" when his father, Shikellemus, died on 06 December, 1784. He was blind in one eye and therefore was disqualified from joining the council of chiefs. John Logan was married around the year 1738 to a Shawnee "half-breed" named Vastina, who bore him six children. In 1747 Vastina and five of the children died from a plague. The surviving child, called "Little Logan" took up residence in the Seneca Reservation at Cold Spring on the Allegheny River. Captain Logan resided, after the close of the Revolutionary War, on property owned by the Bell family, at (as Mr. Metz put it) "Tuckahoe". Tuckahoe is a name given to the northern end of Logan Valley at an early time. It is not clarified in Mr. Metz's article whether Logan's residence at "Tuckahoe" was near Logan's Spring in Antis Township or the Big Spring at Tyrone. Logan left this area to reside with his son at Cold Spring, but he came back from time to time to visit with his friends here. He died in 1820 at the age of one hundred years.