Indian Captures and Murders Western Pennsylvania Frontier
Insomnia and the love of history and genealogy drives my husband to do online research late into the night. When he finds something really exciting he actually wakes me to tell me! I'm usually equally as excited with his finds and this one really sticks with me.
Let me first say that all my life I've wanted to move to the Ligonier, Pennsylvania area. Why? I just felt drawn to it. Pennsylvania is the Keystone State. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is where Ben Franklin lived and where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Here in PA the Founding Fathers made the decisions to move to independence.
Many early settlers were Quakers that came here to Pennsylvania to seek two things they could not achieve in Europe; religious freedom and land that would be theirs. In our search for our ancestors we have found many of mine were in fact Quakers. Ligonier was the first Fort west of the Allegheny mountains on the way to Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh, PA. It was the gateway west for "pioneers" over those hard to cross mountains. For more info on Fort Ligonier see: http://fortligonier.org/
To get back to the Indian captures and murders: Nick, my husband, came upstairs with startling news one night about one of my ancestors we knew about but never heard this exact story before.
It appears as though my fifth great grandfather, James Means had come to Fort Ligonier with his family in 1777 to seek protection from the Indian allies of the British. He would have been about 12 years old. We knew he had a sister that was killed by the Indians but not any details.
This new info gave us stark details.
Four children, two were children of Robert Reed and two were children of Robert and Elizabeth Means. James and Rebecca Means along with Martha Ann and George Reed were headed out to pick berries in a clearing near the fort during the summer of 1778.
The story goes: "On their way and just as they ascended the hill on the other side of the Loyalhanna, the young men, who were walking ahead, met Major William McDowell, who was on horseback, coming toward the fort. At that instant, the whole party was fired upon by Indians lying behind a log. Young Reed fell dead, and McDowell's rifle was splintered by a bullet which glanced and wounded him in the hand. Young Means ran back to protect the girls, who had started to run to the fort. He was captured. The Indians soon caught Miss Means and tomahawked her; but Miss Reed succeeded in outdistancing her pursuers as she fled toward the fort."
"The garrison hearing the firing,a relief party"..."met Miss Reed a short distance from the fort," ..."conducted her to safety while the others proceeded to the scene of the firing, where they found the lifeless bodies of Reed and Miss Means."*
"Three years later young Means returned from his captivity and reported that the warrior who had chased Miss Reed was renowned as an athlete among the Indians, but had lost his prestige on account of his failure to catch the "white squaw".
James Means went on to marry my fifth great grandmother Rebecca McGrew a Quaker that was known for breaking Quaker rules by dancing! They went on to have 16 children!
What a happy ending!
Now I know my connection with Ligonier may have something to do with my ancestry!
Thank you for sharing your time with us.
If you would like more info on this area and Indian situation check out our blog on ***Col. Pomerroy who was the commander of Fort Ligonier at the time of my anscestors plight!http://restinginwestmoreland.blogspot.com/2011/07/lt-col-pomeroy-more-info-on.htmlhttp://fortligonier.org/
*"Pennsylvania In The Revolution, Fort Ligonier and It's Times. by C. Hale Sipe, Telegraph Press, Harrisburg, PA., 1932.
***There were frequent changes in Command of Fort Ligonier and Lt. Col. Polmeroy was in command in 1777.