Pennsylvania Indian Traders



Welcome to the Old Chester Tapestry
……………………..The Tapestry
Families Old Chester OldAugusta Germanna
New River SWVP Cumberland Carolina Cradle
The Smokies Old Kentucky

Old Chester



Pennsylvania Indian Traders
Indian Trading Posts of Pennsylvania
Based on The Early Traders of Conestoga, Donegal, and Paxtang, in Hanna, 1911, The Wilderness Trail
Pennsylvania Indian Traders:The Setting
Pennsylvania Indian Traders:Earliest Pennsylvania Traders
Pennsylvania Indian Traders:List of Sketches
Pennsylvania Indian Traders:1718 Tax Assessment
Pennsylvania Indian Traders:License Lists
Pennsylvania Indian Traders:Trading Paths


From Hanna, 1911.

During the first quarter of the eighteenth century the largest extent of unoccupied and unexplored land in North America east of the Mississippi and south of the Great Lakes was the wilderness lying contiguous to the Ohio River and its tributaries. Before the close of the first quarter of the following century, that wilderness had been so far subdued as to witness the planting and growth of a small settlement at the heart of the great artery which gave it life, a settlement which, before the passing of another hundred years, was destined to become the most important center of the industrial activity of the world. But during the hundred years between, that land had been the scene of more terrible, more sanguinary, and more fatal battles than had ever been fought on the territories of the American Colonies before. That soil had been drenched with the blood of more slaughtered foes and massacred innocents, white and red, than perished by violence elsewhere within the bounds of those colonies in all the actual battles of Spanish and English, English and French, British and American, from the accession of Queen Anne to the death of George Washington. ...[T]he first attempts of the American colonists towards the conquest of the West were feeble and tentative. And as great inventors, great generals, and great statesmen often win their chief successes by wisely building on foundations laid by others, so was the ever conquering march of the pioneer towards the setting sun first preceded, guided, and led by a few score of brave but inglorious men, known as Indian Traders, the most of whom have passed into deep and, to judge their lives by modern standards of conduct, well-merited oblivion. Yet the unforeseen results of the petty commerce of these men involved the bringing on of the Seven Years' War between England and France, and prepared the way for American Independence, and American Expansion. These Indian Fur Traders of Colonial days, and particularly the Pennsylvania Traders, who formed the great proportion of the first English explorers west of the Alleghany Mountains, and who were the first among the English to "venture themselves and their goods farther than any person formerly did," were a class that was stigmatized by some of the Provincial governors as being made up largely of men who were not content to live by cheating the Indians among whom they traded, but must also often debauch their customers' wives in the bargain. Brave, cautious, mercenary, dissolute, adventurous, disloyal, chivalrous, cruel, generous, crafty, as individuals, these Traders undoubtedly were; just as a like number of men in any other so hazardous a calling would probably be. The perils of their trade, like those of the soldier's, made them at many times regardless of those ethics of conduct so essential to the well-being of a community; and, unlike the soldier, the many opportunities for illegal gain in their dealings, stimulated and developed their cupidity to such a point that many of the Traders did not scruple to cheat the Indians in the most outrageous manner. But the story of their lives and adventures, the trials they endured, the dangers they faced, the difficulties they passed through, and the final great catastrophe in which perished nearly all the Traders "in the Woods" at the outbreak of Pontiac's War, is a story most thrilling and one of the most instructive in the pages of American History. ...In a "Review of the Trade and Affairs of the Indians in the Northern District of America," prepared for the British Lords of Trade by Sir William Johnson about the year 1767, that personage writes: "
Before the war commenced in 1744, and until that which ended in the reduction of Canada, etc., the trade of the Northern District, tho. limited and under many disadvantages, was not inconsiderable. Indeed, the circumstances of situation and other disadvantages prevented more than two of the colonies within that district from enjoying much of it. These two colonies were New York and Pennsylvania. If Virginia is admitted into the Northern District, it must likewise be admitted to have had a large share of trade, particularly in deer skins, etc., but excepting it out of this review, we shall consider the trade as principally possessed by the two before mentioned colonies, and of these two, New York had the greatest advantage from its occupying a post on Lake Ontario, to which there was a good water communication, with very little interruption, which enable them to get the most valuable furs. The Traders of Pennsylvania penetrated to sundry places on the Ohio, and many of them to the country of the Twightwees [on the Wabash and Miami], etc.; but their purchases being chiefly in deers' leather, transported by pack-horses, and having tedious journeys to make, their returns could not be equally beneficial. The Traders in both colonies were chiefly composed of the frontier inhabitants, who, having some acquaintance with the Indian language, and being necessitous, were the easier induced to such undertakings in a country where credit was easily had for goods. New York bade the fairest for being the principal, if not the only barcadier for the most valuable part of the fur trade, and certainly enjoyed a good deal of it; but to improve its advantages, other measures and other men should have been made use of than the ordinary Traders. Those who traded to Oswego were for the most part inhabitants of Albany, Schenectady, and the Mohawk River, the posterity of the Low Dutch, who, being very ignorant, and accustomed to the strictest parsimony in diet, clothing, and all other expenses, had no idea of extending the trade or bringing large cargoes, but contented themselves with a certain profit arising from a small quantity of goods, which they took care to trade off within the compass of three or four months, the issues of which maintained them in idleness for the remainder of the year."


See also: A History of the Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania with Numerous Historical Notes and References, by George P. Donehoo, 1928. fide The Point

  • PA Archives, Sec. Ser., II. 619-621 provides a list of traders licensed by the Province from 1743 to 1748,
  • PA Archives, Sec. Ser., II. 621 to 627. from 1762 to 1775