McCormicks Fort, Huntingdon County, PA



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Source:Weiser, 1898

See also Steele's Fort, Franklin County, PA


McCormicks Fort was located in Huntingdon County, within the Juanita River watershed. It was erected sometime in 1778 by Robert McCormick and his neighbors, and provided protection for the settlers during the time of the Revolution. The fort is believed to have been later used as a barn, until torn down in the 1850's.

This fort should not be confused with McCormicks Fort on the Conadoguinet, which was constructed before 1757 during the French and Indian Wars, of which little is known.


From Weiser, 1898, with some reorganziation and editing to improve continuity. The interested reader may wish to examine the original available through Google Books to follow the original presentation.


In consequence of rumors rife in 1778, of the country being filled with Indians the people of Stone Valley, north of Huntingdon, determined to build a fort. While making arrangements for its erection, Mr. McCormick stated that inasmuch as the population of the valley was not very large and the labor and expense attending the erection of a fortress very great, he would agree that his should be put in repair, pierced for defence and that the people should fort with him. This was accordingly done, and in a very short time, his house was converted into Fort McCormick, into which nearly all the settlers of Stone Vallev fled at once.

This was a blockhouse or a stockade erected about the same time for purposes quite similar to that of other fort erected in this area. They all had their places individually in the early history of the State and particularly in ithat concerning this section, namely, Huntingdon county, and while it would seem unwise to rank them in the degree of importance with reference to the more staunch and better known forts erected and held under the Provincial authority, with places and fortifications holding a large garrison and occupying a well known position in the history of the Indian times, they are, nevertheless, entitled to all the mention which the meagre data at hand justifies us in bestowing upon them and their character in the frontier line of defences and as places of resort and safety from the attacks of the savages.

We here state that this fort was located on land belonging to Robert McCormick, afterwards on the land of John M. Oaks, and which is now owned by John M. Johnson, and its site was about a quarter of a mile from where Neff's Mill now stands, in Huntingdon county. Mr. Henderson further states that he is able to show the sites of these forts, and especially after a rain when the fields are ploughed. It is indicated then by the color of the soil, which is darker than that surrounding it. I think gun flints, arrow heads, old iron, pottery, pipes and other articles can be still found.

Mrs. Mary C. Oaks, widow of the late John M. Oaks, who now lives in Huntingdon, says that she can point out the exact location of the fort; that it was shown her by her grandfather, William Ewing, and she heard many stories of occurrences that took place there, during the times when the people had to protect themselves from the savages and tories. She says, that about forty years ago, while living on the McCormick farm (about 1854) an old barn that had been standing many years was torn down and that she noticed peculiar notches in some of the logs. On inquiry, she was told that these logs had been in the fort and that the notches were portholes. Mrs. Oaks details many circumstances which seem to establish the claim that the fort stood there and was used for the protection of the people from the Indians.

Miles Henderson, Esquire, Neff's Mills, Huntingdon county, Pa., states that McCormick's Fort was on the farm near Neff's Mills. John Hagian also gives graphic accounts of this fort as well as of Rickett's, and Mr. Ewing, nephew of Katharine Ewing, who was captured by the Indians with Miss McCormick, near McCormick's Fort, in 1782, is still living. He often heard his Aunt Katharine tell of this event, and has several times related it to the writer.

It was near this fort (McCormick's) that a daughter of Mr. McCormick, in company with Katharine, daughter of James Ewing, and an aunt to our friend and neighbor, Huston Ewing, still living near, was captured by the red men The two girls were captured on the Ewing farm adjoining the one on which the Fort stood. This capture occurred in October, 1782. They traveled for seven days through sleet, rain and snow until they reached the lake and carried prisoner to Montreal, Canada. Miss McCormick was given to an old Indian woman who happened to take a fancy to her; she was treated as one of them .It was during the winter of 1782 that McCormick learned of the fate of his daughter, it being the first word of any kind whatever he had of her. He immediately started after her on horseback and after a long and weary journey, by paying a heavy ransom secured her. As for Katherine Ewing, an exchange of prisoners took place and Miss Ewing was sent to Philadelphia and from there made her way home.

Miss McCormick was a sister of Robert McCormick, Sr., who died some years ago in Altoona, and an aunt of William, Robert and Alexander McCormick, of that city. The farm upon which these two named girls were captured is now owned by Samuel and Joseph Duff.