Pennsylvania Indian Traders:Trading Paths



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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

Trading Paths

One of the earliest Indian Paths leading from the Delaware to the Susquehanna which the white settlers in Pennsylvania used after William Penn's coming is indicated on the map of a survey made by Benjamin Chambers for the Proprietary in 1688-89. This survey was made in accordance with the terms of a deed from the chiefs, Shakkoppoh, Secane, Malebore, and Tangoras, to William Penn in 1685, granting him the lands lying between Pennypack and Chester creeks, and backwards into the woods as far as a man can go on a horse in two days. The southern line of the tract, as marked in this preliminary survey, extended from Clayton's Mill (adjoining Philadelphia on the west), westward sixty-six miles to a point on the Susquehanna about three miles above the mouth of Conestoga Creek, and about the same distance south of the "Fort Demolished" of the Conestogas, which is marked on the plat of this survey.[1]

Thirty-eight miles west of Philadelphia, and two miles beyond the crossing Doe Run, an Indian Path [2] is marked, which ran in a direction northwest by west from the mouth of Christina up White Clay Creek to the Pequea Valley, by way of "The Gap." This was undoubtedly one of the early routes taken by the Minquas to the Swedish settlement at the mouth of Christina Creek; and was the path afterwards followed by Sylvester Garland and other traders from Newcastle, in their trading trips to the Shawnees and Susquehannocks, or Minquas. A branch of this main path led from some point in Chester County, probably within what afterwards became Highland or Sadsbury township, eastward through Fallowfield and the Bradfords to the northern part of Thornbury Township, in Delaware County; thence diagonally over the whole extent of Delaware County, crossing Edgmont, Middletown, Nether Providence, Ridley, and Darby townships, and entering Philadelphia at the head of tidewater on Cobb's Creek, near the site of Swedes' Mill. Going westward from Sadsbury Township, Chester County, the path led by The Gap in almost a straight line to the Conestoga Indian town on Turkey Hill. [3]

In 1700, the main road westward from the little colony at Philadelphia was an Indian Trail, leaving what is now Market Street, passing through Westchester, The Gap, the Long Lane, past [John] Postlethwaite's [trading-post and tavern], crossing the Conestoga at Rock Hill, passing over the Hill and crossing the Little Conestoga at Dentlinger's Mill, then down the west side of the Creek and in the Indian Town Road to the Indian Town of Conestoga." [4]


  1. See also plat of.original survey of Conestoga Manor, dated Feb. I, 1718 (Penna. Arch., 3d Ser., iv., map 11), which shows the exact location of Conestoga Town, and the approximate location of the Fort Demolished—1800 rods above the mouth of Conestoga Creek.
  2. Said by local historians to be identical with the Limestone Road, in Highland, West Fallowfield, Upper and Lower Oxford, and East Nottingham townships, Chester County; but more probably on the course now followed by the Gap and Newport turnpike through Mill Creek, New Garden, London Grove, Londonderry, West Fallowfield, and Sadsbury townships.
  3. Both roads are shown in part on the maps published in George Smith's History of Delaware County, Penna., pp. 138, 582. The latter path, from Philadelphia westward, after crossing Delaware County, through the townships indicated above, and through East and West Bradford in Chester County, branched at Thomas Moore's Mill, in Chester Valley (now Downingtown), and the north fork led by way of The Compass (Compassville) into Lancaster County, thence along the dividing line between Earl and Leacock, Penn and Hempfield townships, by Old Donegal Church to Conoy Creek, near the Conoy Indian town. This path was followed by Peter Bezaillion in his trading trips between Philadelphia, Conoy Town, and Paxtang, and a portion of the route in Lancaster County is called to this day, "Old Peter's Road."
  4. Lancaster County Hist. Soc. Coll., xii., 146.