Penn's Creek Massacre

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Penn's Creek Massacre
Part of the French and Indian War
Penn's Creek Sunrise.jpg
Penn's Creek
Date October 16, 1755
Deaths 14
Non-fatal injuries
1
Assailants Native Americans

The Penn's Creek Massacre was a massacre and Indian raid that occurred on October 16, 1755 near Penn's Creek where it flows through Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, US. The Indians killed 14 people, captured 11 people, and wounded one person, who escaped.[1] The Indians responsible for the raid were Delaware Indians.[2] They were dressed in war paint and war costumes during the attack. The area near where the massacre took place was also later rumored to be haunted.[3]

Background[edit]

Indian raids and violence were fairly common in Pennsylvania during the autumn of 1755.[2] The Penn's Creek Massacre was encouraged by the French army.[3] The Delaware Indians who committed the raid were relatively harmless to European settlers until shortly before the massacre.[4]

In 1754, the land near where the Penn's Creek Massacre took place was bought, and by the summer of 1755, there were 25 families living there. Meanwhile, on July 9, 1755, a combined force of American and British soldiers led by General Edward Braddock was decisively defeated while attempting to capture Fort Duquesne. Excited by their victory, a group of Indians began a raid. This raid started in Buffalo Valley and went on to Penn's Creek.[5] Raids also occurred on much of the frontier. This was primarily due to Philadelphia's Provincial Government's failure to intervene after the French Army won the battle on July 9. Settlers in the area that the Indians were attacking, which ranged from the Juniata River to Sunbury, requested that the Provincial Government send aid, but it did not.[6] In early October 1755, Indians set out for confluence of West Branch Susquehanna River and Susquehanna River. They passed through Clearfield County and Centre County before climbing over Paddy Run and proceeding to attack settlements along Penn's Creek.[7]

The attack[edit]

Early in the morning of October 16, 1755, a small group of Delaware Indians attacked the settlement of Penn's Creek on West Branch Susquehanna River. After firing several shots,[8] they first attacked the farmer Jean Jacques Le Roy, with eight Indians attacking him with tomahawks. The Indians then captured Le Roy's son and daughter, along with another girl who was living in the house, before plundering and burning down the house.[2] A neighbor of Le Roy's, named Bastian, heard the conflict and saw the smoke of Le Roy's house burning, arrived on horseback, and was killed.[4] Two of the Indians then travelled to the Leininger household, approximately 0.5 miles (0.80 km) away. There, they demanded rum, but were given tobacco instead. After they smoked a pipe, the Indians stated "We are Allegany Indians, and your enemies. You must all die!". They then proceeded to kill the men in the household and take two more prisoners.[2][9] They killed a total of 14 people in the settlement of Penn's Creek.[4][10]

After the attack, in the evening, a group of the Indians returned to the top of a hill near the two plantations they had attacked. Later, the rest of the group of Indians returned with six scalps, stating that "they had a good hunt that day".[8]

Aftermath[edit]

The scalped bodies left behind from the Penn's Creek Massacre were discovered on the evening of October 17, 1755.[4] Once news of the event spread to the Thirteen Colonies, many people throughout them became panicked.[7] A few days after the Penn's Creek Massacre, John Harris created a posse of approximately 40 men[7] and traveled up from Harrisburg to investigate. They discovered the remains of the people killed in the massacre and continued up to Sunbury to gather information from friendly Indians who were in that area.[5] The posse was attacked on the return trip, at the isle of Que.[7] Some of both Harris's men and the Indians were killed in the subsequent battle.[7] Some of the Indians who were responsible for the massacre itself traveled eastward in small groups after the event, away from the Susquehanna River and up Swatara Creek.[5] Others traveled westwards towards Kittaning, a community on the Allegheny River the morning after the event.[4] The Indians who traveled up Swatara Creek attacked several more people in Berks County and Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.[5] The event also caused Conrad Weiser to be placed in charge of a group of troops near Tulpehocken.[11] Fort Augusta was built in 1756 due to the Penn's Creek Massacre.[5] In early 1756, the Augusta Regiment was formed to defend frontier settlers.[7] The area near where the massacre took place was near the frontier. The frontier receded soon after the event, and people who re-settled the area a few years later almost did not know of the previous frontier's existence.[5] The prisoners Marie Le Roy and Barbara Leininger were freed in 1759.[4] The British also realized the military strength of the French west of the Allegheny Mountains for the first time.[7]

The Pennsylvania Historical Commission and the Snyder County Historical Society jointly erected a memorial devoted to the Penn's Creek Massacre. It was dedicated on October 15, 1915 and erected on October 16, 1915. The memorial took the form of a plaque and is located on South End Old Trail north of Selinsgrove.[12] The event is also memorialized on a second Pennsylvania state historic marker.[13]

A stream is situated near the spot where Jean Jacques Le Roy died. It was historically known as LeRoy's spring, but its name was later changed to Sweitzer's Run.[4]

As of 1915, there were Penn's Creek Massacre anniversary committees.[7]

Reports of supernatural occurrences[edit]

There is a local legend that if one crosses Penn's Creek with headlights at night, the ghosts of those who were killed in the Penn's Creek Massacre will appear. Also, in the 1960s, there was a claim that a house near the location of the massacre was haunted.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 255 Years Ago This Week...The Penns Creek Massacre of 1755, Snyder County Post, 2010, retrieved 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d Ruth Ann Denaci, The Penn's Creek Massacre and the Captivity of Marie Le Roy and Barbara Lenninger, retrieved 2013  Requires JSTOR access.
  3. ^ a b c Jane Kessler (February 16, 2009), Restless spirits of the Penns Creek massacre, retrieved August 2013 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g John B. Deans, The Penn's Creek Massacre, retrieved August 9, 2013 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Charles McCool Snyder, John W. Downie, Lois Kalp (2000), Union County, Pennsylvania: A Celebration of History 
  6. ^ Pete Wambach (October 16, 1981), Penn's Creek Massacre, retrieved August 10, 2013 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Book Committee (Selinsgrove, Pa.) (1915), Souvenir Book of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania 
  8. ^ a b Sipe, C. Hale (1929). The Indian wars of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg: The Telegraph Press. pp. 207–208. 
  9. ^ Ruth Ann Denaci, The Penn's Creek Massacre and the Captivity of Marie Le Roy and Barbara Lenninger, retrieved 2013  Requires JSTOR access.
  10. ^ Ruth Ann Denaci, The Penn's Creek Massacre and the Captivity of Marie Le Roy and Barbara Leininger, retrieved 2013  Requires JSTOR access.
  11. ^ Conrad Weiser, retrieved August 10, 2013 
  12. ^ Penns Creek Massacre, 2008, retrieved August 9, 2013 
  13. ^ Snyder County Historical Society (2013), State Historic Markers in Snyder County, retrieved August 10, 2013