William Trent, Fur Trader
- Thomas Trent1711 - 1711
- William Trent, Fur Trader1715 - abt 1787
Facts and Events
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
William Trent (1715 – c. 1787) was a fur trader and merchant based in colonial Pennsylvania. He was commissioned as a captain of the Virginia Regiment in the early stages of the French and Indian War, when he served on the western frontier with the young Lt. Colonel George Washington. Trent led an advance group who built forts and improved roads for troop access and defense of the western territory. He was later promoted to the rank of major.
Trent had gone into fur trading by 1740, aided by capital from his father, a wealthy shipping merchant of Philadelphia who was the founder of Trenton, New Jersey. The younger Trent took on George Croghan, an Irish immigrant, as his partner, as he was effective in developing trading networks with Native Americans.
In 1744, Trent purchased vast lands in the Ohio Country west of the Appalachian Mountains. From then through the 1780s, he was a key figure in encouraging westward expansion by Anglo-American settlers past the Appalachian barrier, as he wanted to sell his land in parcels for development.
Stockholder's in the Ohio Land Company
- Thomas Lee, President of Company
- Nathaniel Chapman, Treasurer
- John Mercer, Secretary and General Counsel
- George Mercer, Company Agent to England
- Robert Dinwiddie, Duke of Bedford
- John Hanbury, London Merchant
- Augustine Washington Jr.
- William Trent
- Lawrence Washington
- George Fairfax
- Thomas Cresap
- The Ohio Land Company sent Col. George Washington and William Trent into the area to hold onto the lands that the Company had been granted. In 1754, William Trent constructs a fort. But in April, the French take the fort, naming it Fort Duquesne.
- Hanna, Charles Augustus. The Wilderness Trail, or, The ventures and adventures of the Pennsylvania traders on the Allegheny Path: with some new annals of the Old West, and the records of some strong men and some bad ones. (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Wennawoods Publishing, c1995), Page 84.
It has sometimes been stated that George Croghan and William Trent were brothers-in-law. How they became so is not clear. William Trent's only sister, Mary, married Nathaniel French, of Philadelphia. Trent himself married Sarah Wilkins, possibly a daughter of one of the Indian Traders of that name. Croghan 's nephew, it will be remembered, was Doctor John Connelly, the Loyalist. Connolly was the son of John Connelly, Sr., a native of Ireland, and of Susanna Howard, sister of Gordon Howard, one of the early Indian Traders of Lancaster County. She first married James Patterson, the Trader, and after his death. Dr. Thomas Ewing, of Lancaster. John Connolly, Sr., was her third husband. Doctor Connolly, their son, married Susanna Semple, daughter of Samuel Semple, the innkeeper of Fort Pitt, who furnished Washington such good entertainment in 1770. If Croghan's wife was a Wilkins, and sister to William Trent's wife, it is possible she also may have been a sister to Samuel Semple's wife, the mother of Susanna Connolly; and this would have made Connolly Croghan's nephew, by marriage. The name of Croghan's own daughter, as shown by his will, was Susanna; which was also the Christian name of Connolly's mother, as well as that of his wife. But it is difficult to see how Croghan could have been a brother-in-law to Trent, who married Sarah Wilkins, and also to John Connolly, Sr., who married Susanna Howard, the widow of Doctor Ewing, unless, indeed, Sarah Wilkins and Susanna Howard may have been half-sisters, and one of them Croghan's wife's sister.
- Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. (Online: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.).
- Finding aid prepared by Kate Colligan, Angela Manella, and Matt Gorzalski. Ohio Company Papers, 1736-1813, DAR.1925.02: Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, . (ULS Archives Service Center University of Pittsburgh Library System: University of Pittsburgh, January 2009).
The Ohio Company, founded in 1747, represented the trading and land prospecting interests of a handful of Virginia planters. In 1748, company representative George Mercer secured a land grant from the British Crown for 200,000 acres in the Ohio territory, a colloquial term for what is now modern day West Virginia, much of Ohio, western Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland. The company employed frontiersman Christopher Gist to survey the area of the grant and negotiate a treaty with the Native Americans in the 1750s. Gist embarked on three separate journeys into the Ohio territory in 1750-51, 1751-52, and 1753-54. The Ohio Company’s efforts in the contested region were largely stymied by the outbreak of the French and Indian War, despite its continued existence until its formal dissolution in 1779. Members of the company included Virginians George Mason, brothers Lawrence, Augustine, and George Washington, Virginia colony Governor Robert Dinwiddie, and British merchant John Hanbury. This collection includes manuscript copies of the Case of the Ohio Company, a collection of materials compiled by George Mercer to demonstrate the progress made by the Ohio Company, and a number of debt notes related to the company’s trade in dry goods. The collection documents the involvement of John Mercer, James Mercer, George Mercer, George Mason, George Croghan, Thomas Cresap, Adam Stephen, and William Crawford in the company. Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically by following the respective "Digitized Folder Contents" links within the finding aid.
- , Page 35, 36.
Page 35 - Edward Ward, the ensign who surrendered the fort at the forks of the Ohio is mentioned in a history of the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church, near Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. When Trent's company disbanded at Wills Creek, Ward also returned to his home, but only for a brief period. In the spring of 1756 he was again in the service of the Province, this time as captain under Lieut.-Colonel John Armstrong. Robert Callender, of Silver Spring, Rev. John Steel, Hugh Mercer, John Potter, Hance Hamilton and Joseph Armstrong were also captains in the same battalion… Capt. Ward was with Armstrong in his memorable expedition against Kittanning, and accounts agree that his company suffered severely in the attack upon that Indian stronghold…
Page 35 – In July, 1756, Fort Granville was garrisoned by Capt. Edward Ward's company…
Page 36 - Edward Ward continued in the military service of the Province while soldiers were needed, which then was all the time. Through the years of 1757 and 1758 his company was stationed to the westward of the Susquehanna, at the forts which were scattered along the edge of the frontier, rendering the terrified and distressed inhabitants what protection they could. In the fall of 1758 he joined Forbes Expedition against Fort Duquesne, and when possession was taken of its abandoned ruins he was privileged to stand in triumph on the very spot where in April, 1754, he had been humiliated in defeat…
Edward Ward dealt extensively in lands and in 1769 was assessed with nearly 6,000 acres within the present bounds of Bedford County; also a large tract in the Juniata Valley. He lived longer at Carlisle, Pennsylvania than at any other place, but in 1767 he settled in Allen township, and on the Cedar Run, where now is the village of Eberly’s Mills, built the first mills that were erected in the eastern end of Cumberland county. There he continued until 1771 when his name disappears from the records, and of his subsequent history nothing is known.
(Note: Besides Hannah Sample, he married a Silver. Possibly a daughter of James Silver, the pioneer of the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church.)