My Mom, Ruth,
was born and raised in Grove City, located in the northwestern area of Pennsylvania. Her father's family were among
the first white settlers. Ruth spent the last years of her life compiling histories about the family for a history.
When Ruth died, my sister and I put all her documents into a box. This past weekend I pulled the box out, sorted,
organized, and began reading. I would like to share a particular history involving Cornplanter and the Seneca people.
This is a rather lengthy history, but I hope it is worth reading. There were several accounts and so I have put
them together to hopefully create a brief history. Most of the information was taken during an interview, but some
came from property deeds, and other legal documents, given to Ruth by her Uncle Sam. She wrote it out by hand,
and then transcribed it by typewriter at a later date. Please feel free to pass this history on to others.
April 11, 1783: Official end of the American Revolution
June 24, 1783: Congress relocates from Philadelphia to Princeton to avoid angry & unpaid war veterans
July 8, 1783: Supreme Court of Massachusetts abolishes slavery in that state
October 7, 1783: The Virginia Supreme Court grants freedom to slaves who served in the American Revolution
The government could not pay the revolutionary war veterans so, in 1783, an Act was passed by the
legislature setting aside certain lands lying north and west of the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers called "donation
lands" for the exclusive benefit of the soldiers who served in the Revolutionary Army. The soldiers were furnished
with certificates of their service. This Act was passed the year before the final extermination of the Indian title
to the lands was begun. A treaty of 1784 had brought the territory within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth
but because whites were not moving to the area the Indian people were fairly secure. These lands were surveyed
into tracts of 200, 250, 300, and 500 acres, for the convenience of officers and soldiers according to the amounts
due them. Previous to the year 1788, the whole northwestern portion of Pennsylvania was included in Westmoreland
County. On September 24, 1788 the legislature authorized the formation of a new county to be called Allegheny,
out of portions of Westmoreland and Washington Counties. From this time until 1800, the region now comprising Mercer
County was part of Allegheny County.
This area of Pennsylvania was first occupied by the Six Nations: Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk, Onandaga,
Cayuga, and Tuscorora who were taken in around 1712 when driven from North Carolina, by the whites. Between 1781-1758
the French passed through the region journeying between the Ohio River and Lake Erie, but they had not made an
attempt to possess the lands from the Indian people. In Mercer County the Deleware, Seneca, and Erie people were
most prevalent. A Seneca named Cornplanter was the best-known leader. Cornplanter had three villages, and the largest
consisted of nearly 80 lodges in Mercer County. Some lodges were 50-70 feet long, but most were 20-25 feet in length.
Cornplanter's other two villages were at Big Bend at the Shenango River, and at Pine Swamp in Jackson Township.
There were thousands-and- thousands of Indian people living there at that time. There was plenty of game: bears,
wolves, deer, foxes.
White settlers adopted the Indian style of clothing
and were taught by the Seneca and Delaware how to make buckskin clothing. They also learned how to make moccasins
of deer skin for the winter and everyone went barefoot in the summer. The Indians also taught the settlers how
to tap maple trees and to make maple- sugar candy. I (Ruth) remember being a child and watching Jake McDowell make
this candy for me and my brothers. The Indian people and whites got along quite well until the land divisions started
and whites began pouring into the territory around 1810-1820. Most of the whites were ex-revolutionary soldiers.
There were also a lot of homesteaders who agreed to use the land while fulfilling certain requirements. An unwritten
but understood requirement was to get rid of the Indians. After a time the whites cleared the land of its forests
and began farming flax and raising sheep for wool. They made a home-spun cloth of linsey- woolsey on spinning wheels
In 1796 the four Uber brothers (John, Michael,
Abraham, and Simon) came from Westmoreland County and settled in Mercer County. They were among the first white
settlers to the area. Most of these first white settlers were war veterans and were overwhelmingly German and Dutch.
This story was told to Ruth Margaret Uber (who
was age 24) on Wednesday, March 1, 1933 by Serena Uber McDowell (b. 9-1-1850, d.10-28-1950, age 100) and her husband
Jake (died age 96) and Samuel Uber (b. 3-23-1873, d.1963, age 90). Serena, Jake, and Sam heard these stories, many
times, from Guy Uber (b.1802, d.1895, age 93). [These ages are not uncommon on my Mom's side of the family.]
This event took place sometime around 1822-1823
when relations with Cornplanter's people had become very tense because their land continued to be taken from them
according to the ongoing rewriting of the treaties and legal documents. Guy Uber was about 22 years old when this
Peter Uber II had a son named David who had two
children named Amy and Simon (named for his grandfather, one of the original settlers in 1796).
Peter II made the trip from Findley to visit his family
in Mercer County and found that an Indian uprising had occured and that his two grandchildren had been adopted
by the Seneca who would keep the children until the land dispute was settled. The uprising consisted of a few Seneca
coming along and taking the children away by hand. No force was used because the children knew the Seneca. Guy
said that Amy escaped one night (a few days later) and walked down a stream so that the Seneca could not track
her (a method she learned from them) and a few days later she was found by Peter II who had organized a search
party. Amy spent more time trying to find her way home than she did being adopted. Guy noted that within days the
rumor was spread throughout the territory that Amy had been "brutally tomahawked," but in fact Amy was
in perfect health and had been treated very well during her one or two days of adoption. Even people who knew the
truth continued to tell this lie which was repeated as fact in the churches.
Simon was raised by the Seneca. In his late teens
Simon returned to visit his family but quickly became discontented and returned to the Seneca. Guy said that Simon
talked about Cornplanter and the other men as being very smart, and kind while the Uber's did not do much except
to pray over Simon. He said Cornplanter had given him to a good couple who had raised him. Simon returned a year
or so later to introduce his Seneca wife but the young couple was treated badly and they only stayed one or two
nights. Guy said Simon loved the Seneca people and that he was a deeply religious man following the teachings of
a man named Lake. When Simon and his Seneca woman left...they never returned and Uber family members never saw
them again. Over the years he sent word when children were born but he never brought them to the Ubers' and the
Ubers' never made an attempt, that anyone is aware of, to visit him at his Seneca home which was in a village,
on the Allegheny River.
Ruth asked Serena why the Uber's had made no attempt
to rescue Simon after having found Amy wandering about in the woods. This is what she was told: the Uber's were
dower/dedicated Presbyterians with hints of Puritanism. They spent a lot of time praying and on Sundays were in
church practically all day. Simon rebelled against this while Amy was a real fire-and-brimstone girl. Uncle Sam
said the Seneca probably turned Amy loose because she was a pain and the Uber's didn't look for Simon because it
was a relief to have him gone. Serena said some of the capture stories got to be very famous and were taught in
schools, but they were mostly made up or exaggerated. Both Sam and Serena said that the Indian people didn't hurt
That is the end of this particular story. I have looked through Ruth's papers for more
but there isn't anything else.