Indian Captures and Murders
Western Pennsylvania Frontier

Some families included in these narratives are: Allshouse, Anderson, Armor, Ault, Eisaman, Fisher, Franks, Gaither, Gongaward, Hawkins, Haymaker, Henry, Hupp, Kepple, Kern, Kuhns, Link, May, McDowell, Means, Mechling, Miller, Peak, Reamer, Reed, Rodgers, Rosensteel, Rowe, Rugh, Steiner, Ulery, Vandvke, Wenzel, and Wolfe.

ATTENTION! Do you have any stories of Indian trouble lying around in your files? I've come across a few in my own files which I'm gradually putting up here. If you have something in your possesion that relates to Indian murders, captures, etc., involving colonists or early Americans, especially in Pennsylvania, if it is copyright-free, and if you don't mind sharing it with the genealogical world, please let me know. I'll be happy to give full credit to the contributors. This area of my site seems to be very popular and I'd like to see it grow.


Murders and Captures Near Fort Ligonier
Kern Murder at Lone Apple Tree
Miller's Blockhouse, Washington County, PA
Anderson Ambush on Racoon Creek
The Henry Massacre
Wedding at Miller's Blockhouse

Murders and Captures Near Fort Ligonier

"When the Indian allies of the British invaded Westmoreland County in 1777, Robert Reed and his family sought refuge in Forst Ligonier. His eldest daughter, whose name is given as Rebecca by some authorities, but which should be Martha Ann, according to Laura McClure Good, of McKeesport, a great-granddaughter of Robert Reed, was a great favorite with the garrison and the refugee families, distinguishing herself in running foot races with various athletes of the garrison. In the summer of 1778, Martha Ann, ger brother, George, Rebecca and James Means, children of Robert Means, left the fort to gather berries near a clearing about two miles away. On their way and just when they had ascended the hill on the other side of the Loyalhanna, the young men, who were walking ahead, met Major William McDowell, who was on horseback, coming towards the fort. At that instant, the whole party was fired upon by Indians lying behind a log. Young Reed fell dead, and McDowell's rifle was splintered by a bullet which glanced and wounded him in the hand. Young Means ran back to protect the girls, who had started to run to the fort. He was captured. The Indians soon caught Miss Means and tomahawked her; but Miss Reed succeeded in outdistancing her pursuers as she fled toward the fort.

"The garrison hearing the firing, a relief party headed by a young man named Shannon, proceeded in the direction of the firing. These met Miss Reed a short distance from the fort, and Shannon conducted her to safety, while the others proceeded to the scene of the firing, where they found the lifeless bodies of young Reed and Miss Means. Three years later young Means returned from his captivity and reported that the warrior who had chased Miss Reed was renowned as an athlete among the Indians, but had lost his prestige on account of his failure to catch the "white squaw." Later young Shannon married Rebecca (or Martha Ann) Reed.

"The Ulery family lived about two miles south of Ligonier. In the month of July, most likely in the year 1778, the three girls, Julian, aged twenty, Elizabeth, aged eighteen, and Abigail, aged sixteen, were raking hay a short distance from their home, when they were attacked by Indians. The girls ran toward the house whith their pursuers close on their heels. Abigail was unable to keep up with her sisters, and when the latter got into the house, they immediately closed and barred the door, thinking that Abigail had been captured. The father then shot through the door, wounding one of the Indians. In the meantime, Abigail ran into the woods above the house, and hid herself among leaves and weeds in a depression made by the uprooting of a tree. The Indians came near where she lay concealed; but the wounded member of the band was moaning so piteously that his companions, without making further search for Abigail, carried him away, and soon disappeared over the brow of the hill above the Ulery home. No doubt this Indian died, for shortly afterwards a newly made grave was found at that place, and many years later the grave was opened and human bones exhumed by Isaac Slater.

"The following day, Julian and Elizabeth went to work in the same field, when Indians, evidently the same band that made the attack the day before, got between the girls and the house, and succeeded in capturing them. Julian and Elizabeth struggled desperately with their captors. Then, in the hope of making the girls reconciled to going along with them, the Indians gave them new moccasins. The captives still struggled, and were dragged along to the rivulet near Brant's school house, when the Indians became desperate and told them to make a choice between captivity and death. The girls struggled all the harder, and were then tomahawked and scalped on the spot. The Indians then hurried on, but presently returned to remove the moccasins from the girls, when they found Elizabeth partly recovered, and sitting up against a tree. An Indian then sunk his tomahawk into her brain. Julian was conscious but lay still, and the Indians thought her dead. She recovered but was never strong, and her scalp never healed. She spent her days on the homestead with her sister Abigail, whose descendants, the Slaters, have resided on this historic farm for a number of generations. The present Slater farm house stands only a few yards from the spot where the frontier cabin stood. Children attending the Brant public school play in the meadow where Julian and Elizabeth Ulery were captured and under the large oak by the rivulet where Elizabeth gasped out her sweet, young life."

taken from Pennsylvania in the Revolution, Fort Ligonier and Its Times by C. Hale Sipe, Telegraph Press, Harrisburg, PA, 1932.

Kern Murder at Lone Apple Tree

"Michael Kern was killed by Indians at Lone Apple Tree near Ligonier. He and his daughter were away from home, both riding horses, having been away to obtain salt; when on their way home, passing a cabin which was surrounded by brush-heaps, Indians lay in ambush intent on killing any who might fall into their trap. Upon arriving at the place the Indians set fire to the brush, which endangered the cabin; remaining hidden until Mr. Kern and daughter arrived and having dismounted to save the cabin from the flames, the Indians coming out of cover sprang upon their victims. Mr. Kern with alacrity reached his horse, quickly mounted and rode furiously, holding to the mane of his horse. The Indians brought him down, not until life had become extinct, and still holding the mane until the handful of long hairs pulled out. The Indians not satisfied with their cruelty, bit the fingers of the unfortunate man in a horrible manner.

"The daughter failing to mount, the remaining Indians seized and scalped her, leaving her for dead. Recovering consciousness the poor girl managed to get home a-foot. Having passed the terrible ordeal, she recovered, although disfigured for life - remained unmarried and lived to a good old age."

from the Story of the Kern Family, prepared by Allen Edward Harbaugh from years 1876 to 1907, Mill Run, Pa, 1907 (Thank you Jenni Riberkof!)

Miller's Blockhouse, Washington County, PA

On the evening of August 24, 1781 Jacob MILLER Jr.; Francis HUPP, brother of John; and Jacob FISHER, on a scouting expedition, were invited to spend the night at the cabin of Jonathan LINK on Middle Wheeling Creek, just east of the present state line...The men were unaware that Indians would surround the cabin in the night. The next morning FISHER & HUPP were shot as they stepped out of the cabin. LINK & MILLER were taken captive. The Indians then headed northeast toward Dutch Fork to attack the cabins there. William HAWKINS was visiting at the cabin of Thomas PEAK. HAWKINS & Presley PEAK, son of Thomas, were taken captive. The Indians then divided into 2 groups. One went up the Creek to the HAWKINS cabin, the other down toward the GAITHER's cabin. At the HAWKIN's cabin they captured Elizabeth, the HAWKINS daughter, who was ill in bed. The mother & 3 younger children had heard the shots at PEAK's & had fled into thick hazel bushes. The Indians passed within a few feet of them, but did not find them. ...the Indians killed LINK & HAWKINS, not liking his red hair. MILLER escaped the first night by chewing his thongs. Elizabeth HAWKINS must have been released after the War, for she married David GIBSON. Presley PEAK was released at Quebec November 2-1782.

Source: KEYHOLE, Vol. XVII no.1 JAN 1989, The Genealogical Society of SW PA./ Creigh's History of Washington County by John HUPP, Jr./ Draper Papers 2S153-4.

Miller's Blockhouse account

quoted in Appendix p46 History of Washington County by Alfred Creigh, B Singerly, Printer, Harrisburg, Penna 1871 from letter from John C Hupp MD of Wheeling, West Virginia, to Dr Alfred Creigh 3/31/1861 I have at your request elicited the following facts in relation to the siege of Miller's blockhouse from the lips of my aged father. He received them from those who, on this day seventy nine years ago, were its courageous and heroic defenders……

The most of the men were absent from the blockhouse on this occasion, some of them being at Rice's Fort, which was about two mile further down the creek. Of this fact the Indians most likely were apprised and on this account the attack on the blockhouse is supposed to have been deferred and the ambush protracted in order to destroy the men on their return to the blockhouse.

Of those who were in this rude shelter on that fatal Sabbath morning were John Hupp Sr, wife and four children Margaret, Mary, John and Elizabeth; Jacob Miller Sr and several of his family, the family of Edward Gaither, and an old man named Matthias Ault. The sun had appeared above the eastern hills, tinging with his feeble rays the summits of the lofty trees of the dense forest that surrounded this primitive place of defence. The quietude of the woods was undisturbed save by the occasional chirp of the wooded songster, caroling his morning anthem.

One of the matrons of the blockhouse had fearful forebodings that some awful calamity was about to befall her husband , and followed him to the door, entreating him not to carry into execution his determination to accompany his friend on that morning in search of a cold that had estrayed. The night previous she had dreamed that a coppersnake struck its fangs into the palm of her husband's hand, and that all her efforts to detach the venomous reptile were unavailing. This vision she interpreted as ominous of evil to her husband. But despite the entreaties and importunities of his wife John Hupp Sr set out in company with his friend, Jacob Miller Sr, in search of the estray.

They entered the path leading across the run and through the woods in a northeasterly direction from the blockhouse and were soon out of view. Soon the quietude of the woods was disturbed by the crack of a riflle which quickly followed by a savage warwhoop issuing from that portion of the forest into which Hupp and Miller had just entered.

This alarm filled the minds of the women with consternation and apprehension as to their fate. But Hupp being in the prime and vigor of manhood, fleet and athletic (if not morely overpowered with numbers), his quick return to the blockhouse was confidently expected by the inmates. But he had fallen a victim to the foe that lay concealed patiently awaiting the approach of some ill-fated person.

The two unsuspecting men had been allowed to follow the ambushed path as far as the second little ravine on land, now owned by William Miller (the blockhouse was located about midway between William Miller's spring and the graveyard—from this limpid fount the blockhouse received it supply of water). Here from his concealment behind fallen timer, a savage fired upon Hupp, wounding him mortally; he, however, after he was shot, ran some sixty or seventy yards and sank to rise no more. Miller, being an elderly man, was boldly rushed upon by the merciless wretches with loud and exultant yells and tomahawked on the spot.

Flushed with success, the savages now left their hapless victims, scalped and pilfered of all clothing, to join in the beleaguerment of the blockhouse.

While this tragic scene was being enacted, the wild excitement and confusion among the women and children at the a block house, with no male defender but the old man Ault, can be better imagined than described.

But at this trying moment, Providence panoplied a female here with courage sufficiently unfaltering for the dire emergency, in the person of Ann Hupp. Having now realized the dread forebodings of her vision, and shaking off the shackles of despondency, she now turned to calm the moral whirlwind that was raging amongst the frantic women and children—to inspire them with hop and to rally the only and infirm male defender.

She in the meantime had deputed Frederick Millder, and active lad aged bout eleven years, as messenger to Rice's fort for aid. But in this strategy she was foiled, for the lady had gone willingly and heroically only a few hundred yards down the peninsula on his dangerous embassy, when he was intercepted by the Indians. Retracing his steps he was pursued by two savages with hideous yells and uplifted tomahawks. This frightful race for life was witnessed from the blockhouse with anxiety the most intense. Every moment seemed as though the lad would certainly fall beneath the deadly stroke of one of the two bloodthirsty pursuers, each vieing with the other which should strike the first and fatal blow.

A fence was to be scaled by the boy without a blunder, or death—certain, instant death—was his doom. Summoning all his boyhood and failing strength he leaped the barrier fence, touching it merely with his hand as the foremost Indian's tomahawk struck the rail, accompanied with a yell of disappointment when both savages fired at him.

In his struggle to escape, his arm being flexed, one of the balls took effect passing through his flexed arm both above the elbow and between that joint and the wrist, whirling him around several times.

Now subdued shrieks conmingled with joy and terror were heard in the blockhouse as the female hero who sent out the boy ambassador received him in her arms as he bounded to the door exhausted from the race and loss of blood.

At this moment the Indians leaping from their concealment appeared in every direction around the blockhouse and a hot and continuous firing commenced. The female band, with Ault as their counsellor, in despair and anguish were forced to the conclusion that the blockhouse would now soon be taken by storm or envelop them in its flames, and with o hope of a successful resistance were about to 'give up.'

Again in this crisis of terrible trial, Ann Hupp proved equal to the emergency. Encouraging the trembling Ault and the weeping women with the consoling language of hope—nerving her arm and steeling her heart to the severe duties of the moment, she with true Spartanism snatching up a rifle fired at the approaching savages, and then 'ran from porthole to porthole' protruding its muzzle in different directions—to convey the idea of great forces in the house—at each presentation causing the savages to cower behind trees or other objects for protection. This happily conceived and promptly executed strategy of this pioneer heroine, without doubt saved the inmates from what was otherwise inevitable—an immediate and horrible death.

A number of Indians had taken shelter behind a stable that stood not far from the blockhouse; emboldened by their firing not being promptly returned from the blockhouse, one of them would occasionally step out to view, holding up before himself as a shield a 'clapboard' and then quickly retreat again to his shelter. He at length stepped out boldly into an open space defiantly stretcing his savage frame high in air, at which Ault was prevailed upon to fire; but palpably without doing any harm. This exasperated the savages, causing the assault to become still more terrible.

At this stage of the siege the women say and recognized three of their men approaching in great haste from the direction of Rice's Fort, when they commenced screaming at the top of their voices and beckoning the men in the direction they supposed to be the safest point to pass the Indians in gaining the blockhouse.

While the Indians stood in confusion and wonderment, not comprehending the meaning of the screams, the men rushed forward, passing very near to where some of the savages stood, and before the Indians sufficiently recovered from their surprise to fire upon them, they with faces red and turgid from the race, bounded into the blockhouse unscathed.

The names of these three daring spirits, who thus perilled their lives to save their helpless mothers, brothers, and sisters from savage fury or perish with them were Jacob Rowe, Jacob Miller Jr, and Philip Hupp. One of these Jacob Rowe being about ten years old in the fall of 1776 when in company with his mother and three brothers and his father Adam Rowe on their way to Kentucky, made a hair-breadth escape from the Indians at a point not far from the mouth of Grave Creek. Here the little caravan was attacked by a party of marauding savages who killed Mrs Rowe and her oldest son and took captive Daniel Rowe, the youngest child, aged about seven years. Jacob escaped by running into a thicket of willows near at hand when closely pursued by a large muscular Indian who had his little brother Daniel Rowe a captive on this back, and this is the last account ever heard of the captive boy. After his escape Jacob trembling with fear, travelled all the day stealthily through the wild and dense woods along the deep and dark hollows and over precipitous hills lying in hi way back to Buffalo, and when nightfall overtook him with all its hideousness in the midst of the deep woods, he overcome with fright, fatigue and hunger, nestled himself down amongst the leaves at the root of a fallen tree for the night. (He died with a throat affection which was doubtless founded on that, to him, cold, dread and dreary November night.) The next day he arrived at Buffalo was received into the arms of his sister, Ann Hupp, to whom the weeping land related the tragic scenes he had witnessed on the previous morning.

Adam Rowe and his son Adam also returned to the neighborhood and afterwards went to Kentucky; but Jacob Rowe remained with his sister, and was her survivor some three or four years.

After the arrival of these men in the blockhouse, the fury and boldness of the savages somewhat abated, and during the rest of the day the firing was less frequent and finally ceased.

Evidently filled with chagrin and disappointment, they skulked about the neighborhood till nightfall, and nothing more was ever heard of them, they no doubt fearing a reinforcement, left druing the night bearing away with them only the scalps of Hupp and Miller. After the loss of her husband, Mrs Hupp and her children in accordance with her own wish were taken by her brother-in-law Philip Hupp to his cabin near where the village of Millsborough now stands, where they remained four years and again returned to Buffalo, where subsequently she married John May, whom she survived several years, and on the 23rd day of June, 1823, died in the sixty sixth year of her age. Two of her children, John Hupp and Elizabeth Rodgers, still survive, and are living on Buffalo Creek having seen the pioneer heroes and heroines of their youth one by one fathered to their fathers, they now stand the last of a race who learned from their lips those thrilling incidents of pioneer life.

The loss of these two men to the neighborhood was severely felt at a time when men were so much needed; but all hearts in that blockhouse were overflowing with thanks and gratitude to a kind and merciful Preserver for vouchsafing to them his aid and protection when their great and terror-filling peril was impending, and for saving them from the ruthless hands of merciless savages.

About noon on Monday the men ventured out from the blockhouse, going sadly and cautiously in search of Hupp and Miller with the purpose of performing for them the last sad rites of the dear departed. About three hundred yards from the blockhouse, they found the body of Miller lying near the bloody path, and following the traces of blood on the leaves and other objects over which Hupp had run, his body was promptly discovered.

Their mutilated and frozen bodies were born to the peninsula and laid side by side a few yards from the blockhouse, in the same grave with 'puncheons' for their coffin, and today after lying clustered around the grave of these two pioneers the remains of Jacob Rowe, Jacob Miller Jr, (Capt) Frederick Miller, the heroine Ann Hupp and her daughter Margaret Titus. When living the cement and panoply of affection and goodwill bound them together at once in the tender natal, social and moral ties of domestic kindness, friendship, and love and the union for defence; and when dead they are not separated.

Frederick and Captain Jacob were sons of the unfortunate Jacob Miller Sr. Frederick Miller died on the 27th of March 1814, aged forty three years, and Captain Jacob Miller died August 20, 1830, aged nearly sixty eight years. Obediently and tryly yours, John C Hupp, MD

Captain Jacob Miller in 1782 distinguished himself at the sieges of Rice's fort and Miller's blockhouse.

Anderson Ambush on Racoon Creek

"The Land of Thomas Armor adjoined that of Dillow and not far away, on Racoon Creek, was that of William Anderson. In July 1779, William Anderson was shot from ambush and wounded but managed to get to the cabin of Armor. Tom Armor was a man of great strength, and he put Anderson on his back and carried him two miles to Dillow's Fort.

In the meantime Mrs. Anderson had heard the shot, grabbed her baby and raced from the cabin into the woods. She left behind two boys, aged four and seven years, who apparently were playing outside. The Indians captured the boys, ransacked the cabin, set it afire, and then searched for Mrs. Anderson. They couldn't find her and, eventually, left. The little boys were never heard from again." From THE SETTLERS' FORTS OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, by John A. DeMay

The Henry Massacre

from Boucher, History of Westmoreland County:

George Eisaman, only son of Andrew (youngest son of Peter and Maria Catherine Kepple) and Anna Maria (Wolfe) Eisaman. was born September 5, I799, was a farmer all his life, although a cabinet and coffin maker by trade, at which he worked occasionally. He was a lifelong Democrat. and a prominent member of the Lutheran church. He married, October 26, I823, Sarah Steiner, daughter of Adam and Anna Margaret (Henry) Steiner, of Hempfield township, issue: Lewis. born September 2, 1824. married Harriet Mechling and after her death married Lucinda Reamer. He died January 6, 1889. His widow- lives at South Side, Pittsburgh. David, born July 20, I826, died unmarried March 22, I849. Mary, born March 11, I828, married Samuel Wenzel, and for her second husband David Rosensteel; she is now a widow and resides at Greensburg. Cyrus, born 4 August 18, I830, married Sarah Reamer, died June II. I867. Sarah, born July I2, I833, married Reuben Kuhns resides in Greensburg. Hetty, born December I1, I835, married Philip J. Gongaware, resides at Weavers Old Stand. Joseph, born February 22, I838, mentioned hereinafter. Catherine, born May 23, 1840 died March 8. 1867: she was the wife of Joseph Vandvke. Lucetta, born Feb- mary 1, 18~3, married A.M. Allshouse resides in Hempfield township. Amos, born April 12, 1845, mentioned hereinafter. George Eisaman, father, died July 27, 1889. He survived his wife many years, her death occurring December 1, 1878.

Sarah (Steiner) Eisaman was descended from an old Westmoreland county family also. Her Grandparents on the maternal side having been Catherine Franks of French birth, who married, about 1770, Frederick Henry, a resident of Northampton, Bulrlington county, New Jersey. In time they removed to Westmoreland county, settling near Harrold Church, where they made a clearing and erected the necessary cabin and out-buildings. Three children were born of this union. Some time about the year 1778, while the husband was absent, a band of Indians burst on the settlers, burned the Henry cabin murdered the wife and infant child, and carried the daughter and younger son away. Immediately upon the return of Henry a posse of settlers was formed to trace and if possible re-capture the prisoners. The Indians were followed to their camp upon the present site of Pittsburgh, a fierce skirmish ensued, the children retaken, the murderer of the wife and child identified, tied to a tree and dispatched by the daughter, Anna Margaret. Anna Margaret Henry was born September 20, 1771, in the New Jersey home. In 1793 she married Adam Steiner, and of this marriage was born Sarah Steiner, who became the wife of George Eisaman.

Wedding at Miller's Blockhouse

Rugh Jr., the son of a German immigrant, came from old Northampton County in eastern Pennsylvania across the Allegheny Mountains into the western wilderness about 1772. He built his own cabin and grist mill on wilderness within present-day Franklin Township near Murraysville. His early land warrant of 302 acres was eventually recorded on 23 Aug 1784. On 13 July 1782 he was with his wife Phoebe, their 2 children, and his mother attending a celebration the day after a wedding. It was at a location then known as "Miller's Blockhouse", the home of the Samuel Miller family.

The entire party was suddenly attacked by Indians, supposedly incited by the British. Several were killed, including Michael's mother, Francina Rugh.

Mrs. Miller was scalped and managed to survive only to wear a skull cap for the rest of her life to hide her lack of hair.

On that same day another element of the same group of raiders attacked and totally burned and destroyed the county capital town of Hannastown. Fifteen persons at "Millers" were taken prisoner. Michael and his family were among those captives.

All the prisoners were taken to the Indian camp near what is now "Oil City" Pennsylvania where the survivors spent the winter. Michael's infant son died there.

Michael and Phoebe were taken the following spring to Canada where they were held as POWs by the British. Their daughter, Mary, remained behind with the indians.

At war's end Michael & Phoebe were released, sent to New York City, and thus were then able to make their way home.

According to a story related in 1881 by Mrs Hannah Rugh Rowe (aged 88 in 1881), the daughter, Mary, was eventually discovered with some Indians who had come in to town to trade.

Her face and arms were stained to hide her real color, but she was recognized. For the sum of ten dollars she was released.

Soon after his return from captivity Michael built and moved into a new house on his property in Franklin Township.

When the new government was formed after the Revolution, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Philadelphia to represent Westmoreland County.

Upon the expiration of his term he returned to the farm in Franklin Township, where he built a fine new home and where he continued to reside until his death. This house became known as "Philadelphia Mansion" and eventually "The Haymaker House" (having been inherited by Michael's son-in-law, Jacob Haymaker). It still exists today on Bull Town Road midway between Newlinsburg and Poke Run. The nearby Bull Town Golf course is located on what was once Michael's land.

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