m. 16 Apr 1691
Facts and Events
Acquisition of Land in Hampshire County, VA
Acquisition of Land from Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants 1742-1775, Vol. 2:
About Col. Thomas Cresap
From pages 602-604, History of York County, Pennsylvania. John Gibson, historical editor. Chicago: F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1886.
Col. Cresap was born in Skiptown, Yorkshire, England, in 1702, and came to Maryland when fifteen years of age. In 1732 he gave his occupation as that of a carpenter. He settled at the mouth of the Susquehanna, where he was engaged in boat-building. In 1725 he married Hannah Johnson, of Maryland, whose father, Thomas Johnson, March 24, 1725, had surveyed to himself Mount Johnson Island, at Peach Bottom Ferry. Cresap soon after went to Virginia, but he was not long there before an attempt was made by a dozen or more persons to drive him away while he was engaged in hewing timber for his dwelling. He defended himself, and cleft one of his assailants with a broad-ax; he then returned to Maryland, and took out a patent for a ferry over the Susquehanna River at the head of tide-water, which must have been at or near the terminus of the voyage of Capt. John Smith, of Virginia, up the river in 1608; while located there his restless and roving spirit led him to visit the rich valleys thirty miles farther up the right bank of the river, now in Hellam and Lower Windsor Townships, and reported the state of affairs there to Lord Baltimore, who contemplated as early as 1721 to extend the northern boundary of his province on the west side of the Susquehanna to the northern limits of the fortieth degree of latitude. Gradually a few settlers from Maryland moved up to Conojohela (incorrectly Conodocholy) Valley. They were aggressive to Pennsylvania settlers near them. It was not the policy of Baltimore or his followers to purchase lands from the Indians; they drove them away by force of arms, and hence we find that the Maryland settlers treated the Indians on the west side of the river with cruelty. They had no person capable of holding the ground they had taken against the Indians or the followers of Penn, who were on the alert to prevent Baltimore from getting a foothold upon this disputed land. Cresap came up to Conojohela Valley in March, 1730, and built a block-house upon the banks of the river three and one half miles below Wrightsville, near the site of Leber's Mill. In the same year he took out a Maryland patent for several hundred acres of land near the river for "Blue Rock Ferry" at same place. In 1731 Cresap was commissioned a justice of the peace for Baltimore County. After many attempts to capture him, he was finally taken on the 25th day of November, 1736, by Sheriff Samuel Smith and twenty-four armed men. His wife stood by him and fought at his side.
At this time he had at least two and perhaps three of his children with him, the eldest being about nine years of age. In the meantime his wife and children resided with his cousin Daniel Lowe, who drove one of the German settlers from his place in Grist Valley (Kreutz Creek), near the Codorus. Col. Cresap's education was limited, but he became a land surveyor, and was of great service to Lord Baltimore in extending the western boundary of Maryland from the source of the south branch of the Potomac due north, which added at least one third more territory to Maryland. In 1735 he took out a Maryland patent for a group of islands at the Blue Rock Ferry, called the "Isles of Promise." Gen. Jacob Dritt afterward became the owner of these islands, which were sold to John B. Haldeman. About 1730 Cresap again moved beyond the frontier and took up about 2,000 acres of land in Maryland along Antietam Creek where he established a store and Indian trading post. He accumulated a large quantity of furs and peltries and shipped them to England, the vessel was captured by the French and he lost everything. He moved farther west to within two miles of Cumberland, where he again embarked in the Indian trade until the French and Indian war when he raised a company of Rangers. He had a number of skirmishes with the Indians and stood his ground manfully assisted by his sons. He was elected a representative for a number of years from Washington County to the Maryland legislature. When the French and their savage allies attempted to wrest the entire territory west of the Alleghany Mountains from the English, he and his sons at their own expense raised two companies of volunteer soldiers. Col. Cresap became a very large landholder. He became totally blind a few years before his death. He married a second time, it is said, when he was eighty years of age. He died in 1790, at his home in Alleghany County, Md., aged eighty-eight.
His first wife Hannah Johnson, during "Cresap's war," frequently mounted a horse and rode with the mounted militia in battle array, with a sword by her side. And when Cresap's stronghold was surrounded by militia from Donegal, she knew how to handle a musket, she never manifested any fear, but superintended the construction of a house, and the building of some flats, in the absence of her husband at John Hendricks', now the upper end of Wrightsville, where forcible possession had been taken of Hendricks' plantation by Cresap. And while there she saw a flat filled with armed men crossing the river. She mounted her horse and sounded a bugle, and rode rapidly to Cresap's fort, three miles and a half further down the river, and returned at the head of the militia.
Thomas and Hannah Cresap had five children -- three sons and two daughters -- as follows: Daniel, remained in Washington County, Maryland, became a very large landholder and a celebrated hunter as well as farmer. He was about fourteen years of age when the family left York County. By his first wife he had one son, Michael, who commanded a company in Dunmore's war in 1774, and was afterward colonel of militia. By a second wife he had seven sons and three daughters, to wit: Daniel, Joseph (James C. Cresap, a descendant of Joseph, is now a lieutenant in the United States Navy, and is stationed in Annapolis, Md. The Blood of the Cresaps ran through the veins of the late Gen. Ord and the late attorney general, Luther Martin), Van, Robert, James, Thomas, Elizabeth, Mary and Sarah. Daniel marched in his uncle's company to Boston in 1775. James was for a number of years in the Maryland legislature.
Thomas, second son of Col. Cresap, was killed by an Indian -- whom he killed at the same instant. He left a widow and one child. The Brents of Washington come from this son.
Michael the youngest son of Col. Cresap was born in Frederick County, Md., June 29, 1742. He was the successor to his father in the Indian trade, and owned a large trading store at "Old Town," a few miles west of Cumberland. He was an Indian fighter from his youth. In 1774 he employed several men and descended the Ohio River and was engaged in the business of erecting houses and clearing lands for the settlers, and while thus engaged he received a circular letter from Dr. Connolly the commandant at Fort Pitt, that there was danger of an Indian war, and that a number of the Indians were upon the war path. The settlers became greatly alarmed; he and his party hastened up to Fort Wheeling, and anticipated an attack upon them by the Indians, by first striking them. Some of his party killed several Indians near Wheeling, and afterward they went up the river and killed the family of the celebrated Indian chief Logan and several others. Capt. Cresap, it has since been proven, was not with either of these parties in person at this time. It turned out afterward that Connolly was entirely mistaken as to the Indians being on the war path, and he was the primary cause of the killing of Logan's family. It did not take Logan and other Indian warriors long to put on the war paint after his family was killed. The border settlers suffered fearfully along Cheat River, Dunkard Creek and the Monongahela. Their cruelties were followed by "Dunmore's war." The Virginians fought a great battle at Point Pleasant on the Ohio, which brought about a treaty of peace with the Indians. Col. Connolly attempted to shift the blame of inciting the border settlers to destroy the Indians from his own shoulders to Capt. Michael Cresap. (It is possible that Connolly inherited a prejudice against Cresap. He was born on the eastern side of the Susquehanna River opposite Col. Cresap's fort; Cresap and his men destroyed a dozen or more houses for the Indian trader, James Patterson, who owned a plantation on the east side of the Susquehanna, where Cresap lived, and had owned it for a dozen years before Cresap came up from Maryland. Dr. Connolly was the son of Patterson's widow by a third husband.) Col. John Gibson, who reported Chief Logan's famous speech, was born in Lancaster. Capt. Michael Cresap was held in very high esteem by his neighbors. He was the first person in Maryland to raise a company of volunteer riflemen. He marched at their head to Boston in 1775, where he fought with great bravery. He took very sick and was compelled to return to New York, where he died. Michael Cresap left five children -- two sons and three daughters, viz.: Mary, married Luther Martin, Esq., the distinguished advocate who defended Aaron Burr; Elizabeth, married Lenox Martin, Esq., brother of Luther, who left a large family; Sarah, married Osborn Sprigg, Esq. -- she left four sons.
Samuel Smith's adversary, aka "The Beast of Baltimore" and "The Maryland Monster". Cresap was a surveyor and a defender of the Calvert's boundary claims. In 1736, Smith, a Pennsylvanian, burnt Cresap's home to the ground while attempting to arrest him for the murder of Knoles Daunt. Once arrested, Cresap was taken by Smith and his men to a Philadelphia jail (upon entering Philadelphia, Cresap is said to have exclaimed to George Aston, one of his guards, "Damn it, Aston, this is one of the Prettyest Towns in Maryland"). Apparently, Cresap was so obnoxious that the Pennsylvanians quickly asked him to leave the prison and return home. He replied that he refused to leave until he was ordered to by the King. The order came on August 18, 1737. Kenneth P. Bailey, Cresap's biographer, seems to indirectly connect the "Maryland Monster" nickname with this event. (Thanks to Keith Woodward) [Mason's Journal Entry]
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For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Thomas Cresap.
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Historical Note: Thomas Cresap was born in Skipton, Yorkshire, England. The date of his birth could have been 1692 or 1702 as derived from depositions given by him in 1732 and 1758. In 1931 the Cresap Society placed a tablet in Skipton listing his birth as 1694. He arrived in North America about 1710 and settled in Maryland. In 1727, he married Hannah Johnson. They had seven children between 1728 and 1742. His will was probated in 1790, and that year is generally accepted as the year of his death.
Thomas Cresap earned a place in Maryland history as a "Maryland Monster" for his conflict with Pennsylvania settlers in the 1730s. He also surveyed Maryland's western frontier and, about 1749, cleared the land between Cumberland and Pittsburgh for what became the National Road. In 1755, at the request of Lord Baltimore, he located the source of the Potomac, leading to the establishment of the boundary between Maryland and Virginia. Cresap also served in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Thomas Cresap's youngest son, Michael Cresap (1742-1775), is remembered for leading Cresap's Riflemen from Frederick Town to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775 and for his involvement in Indian murders during Dunmore's War, recounted by Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on Virginia (1797). He died in New York City and is buried in Trinity Churchyard.
The Bruce and Cresap families were connected through the marriage of Phoebe Cresap (?-1826) to William Bruce in 1808. Phoebe was the daughter of Joseph Cresap (1755-1827), a son of Daniel Cresap (1728-1798), the oldest son of Thomas Cresap. Phoebe and William Bruce's two sons were Daniel Cresap (1809-1880) and Andrew (1811-1832).
Another branch of the family is named Neff. Annie Neff married William L. Cresap (great-great-great grandson of Thomas) in 1872. Annie and William produced at least one daughter, Helen Neff Cresap (b. 1899).
In 1916, descendants of Thomas Cresap organized the Cresap Society. In 1919, they erected a monument to Thomas Cresap in Cumberland, MD. In June 2004, the Cresap Society actively maintained a website which included an extensive Surname Index at http://www.rootsweb.com/~cresap/index.htm.
Stockholder's in the Ohio Land Company