Pennsylvania Indian Traders:The Setting



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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

Native American Setting

During the greater part of the first two decades after 1700, that portion of Pennsylvania lying along the eastern side of the Susquehanna River, between its forks and the Maryland line, was regarded by the Provincial authorities as comprising four general districts, all of which took their names from the principal Indian towns located within their limits. These towns, which gave their names to the adjacent country, were:

PequeaShawneenear the mouth of Pequea Creek;
ConestogaSusquehannock town of Lying northwest of the creek of the same name, not far above its mouth;
Conejohela or Conejachera Ganawese or Conoy Nine miles above Pequea.[1](called "Dekanoagah" by Governor Evans in 1707), near the site of Washington Borough, in Manor Township; from whence that tribe removed up the river after 1707, locating a new town a mile or two below the mouth of Conoy Creek;
Peixtan or Peshtank (literally, Picts' Town; now written, Paxtang)Shawneeon the creek of the same name, at the site of the present city of Harrisburg.

Between 1735 and 1745 the Shawnees also had towns on Big (Halderman) Island at the mouth of the Juniata, and on the west shore of the Susquehanna opposite that island.

European Setting

Prior to 1729, this territory was all included within the civil jurisdiction of Chester County; and so continued until the erection of Lancaster County in that year. White settlers (Swiss Mennonites) began to come into this country as early as 1710. Indian Traders had been there for some twenty years before. In 1718, Conestoga Township was laid off, embracing all that part of what is now Lancaster County, between Octorara Creek and the main branch of the Conestoga. Early in the same year, 16,000 acres of land were surveyed by order of the Proprietary Government, lying between the west side of Conestoga Creek and the Susquehanna, under the name of Conestoga Manor. This included the Conestoga Indian Town; and now forms a portion of Manor Township, Lancaster County. In 1720, the township of West Conestoga was erected, embracing all the territory of Lancaster and Dauphin counties as at present limited, north of Pequea Creek. The following year, Pequea Township was erected, which included the white settlements along Upper Pequea Creek and its branches. In 1722, that portion of West Conestoga Township lying north of "Old Peter's Road" and Chiquesalunga (or Chickasalunga) Creek was erected into the township of Donegal, socalled on account of the great number of Scotch-Irish settlers from Donegal and other counties in the north of Ireland who, at the instance of Secretary James Logan, were then pouring into this district in large numbers. [2]

At the time of the erection of Lancaster County in 1729, the western boundaries of the townships bordering on the Susquehanna were as follows, beginning from the south:

  • Drumore—from the Maryland line to the mouth of Muddy Run;
  • Martock—from the mouth of Muddy Run to the mouth of Pequea Creek;
  • Hempfield (including Conestoga Manor)—from the mouth of the Conestoga to the mouth of Chickasalunga Creek;
  • Donegal—from the mouth of the Chickasalunga to the mouth of Conewago;
  • Derry—from the mouth of Conewago to the mouth of the Swatara;
  • Peshtank—from the mouth of Swatara to the foot of Kittochtinny Mountain.

Upper Paxtang, although not definitely erected as a separate township until 1767, seems to have included the territory along the river from the mouth of Fishing Creek at the base of Kittochtinny Mountain to the mouth of the Mahanoy.