Genealogy has become a hobby for me over the last 10 years. For me, it's like a puzzle, I love fitting the pieces together. But over the years, I've researched a lot that does not pertain to our family lines. Some for extended family, some for close friends, and some because I was trying to rule out lines to figure out where our line went exactly. I do not want these notes on my Heather's Genealogy Notes blog - because they are not our lines. But I do like to share all of my research, in case it benefits others. That is what this blog is for - research I have done that does not apply to our own family lines, but may be helpful for someone else.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chillisquaque Presbyterian Church, Burnt By Indians

In 1778 the Revolutionary War was well under way.  Native Americans in north and central Pennsylvania allied with the Loyalists, and were devastating small communities along the susquehanna river.  Most of the settlers fled their homes and relocated to Fort Augusta, while the Indians burn their  houses and farms to the ground.  

I do not know the exact date that the Chillisquaque Presbyterian church was burnt, but we do know it was the same year of the battle at nearby Fort Freeland, and it appears to have been the result of the same conflict.

"By 1779 Northumberland County was on the edge of the American frontier and Native Americans who sided with the British during the war had brought the conflict to local settlers. George Washington had ordered Major General John Sullivan to invade the Iroquoian homeland in order to relieve the pressure on the frontier, but before he could complete his campaign, attacks were made in New York and Pennsylvania in hopes that Sullivan would divide his force and make his army a less formidable foe to the Iroquois."

The paragraphs below are from a sermon by H.G Finney, originally preached in 1876, and so far they hold the most information I could find on the church being burnt to the ground.

"Imagination cannot conceive the perils with which the early settlers of this country were surrounded. Never could they have a consciousness of security safe throw trust in the Lord of hosts. The vast forest which surrounded them on all sides with a working place of the savage treacherous treacherous merciless Indian. Any hour of the night or when the day in overpowering numbers they might be upon them. When leaving home they could hardly ever be sure it would not be to find upon returning their wives and children put to the scalping knife or which was perhaps even worse scary captive by the savages and their homes and ashes. When they enjoyed the sharing precious privilege of meeting in their little church for worship or when they went out into their little stuffy field to read their small crop they must take their rifles along for defense against the scalp king Evil Joe.  Time came when the ever present danger seem so greatly to increase that they had to leave their homes and fleet of one of the small for which the government head cause to be constructed along the river. Probably it would be to Ford Augusta at Sunbury that seems to have been the strongest one among in them.

One of the fathers of mine yesterday tells me that his own maternal grandparents mr. And mrs. Session while sleeping with their bad for safety to one of their forwards were overtaken by some Indians. The child was killed his wife was left as it was supposed dead. And Mr Dawson was taken captive. Some friends found her lying there still alive. They took her to Fort Augusta. She recovered her husband some years after work either escaped or was exchanged infirmity years after where they lived as members of this church. Another father among us tells me that grandfather and grandmother Curry were riding along a path through the woods on the other side of Montour Ridge when attacked by some savages. First two sources shot and he has murdered and scalped. Soon after her horse made with similar fate and she is caught and lead away over the mountain several miles distant. But the following night she escapes and reaches her little home the next morning where her little children, the eldest seven, had stayed alone. He knows nothing of such experience.

One day of one of the years of the war the sad news started through the congregation that their church was in ashes. A company of cowardly Indians and set it on fire. The people that work hard in their property to get it. It was yet new. It was a precious place the house of God to more than a few of the people. Tears were shed as I told and heard a sad story. That's where they called the passed through many changes and trials. For years they were without any building. During those years of war sacrifice and suffering it is likely they had but little preaching. Whenever a minister did make the perilous journey through the woods to give them a day is preaching they would meet and worship there among the trees."


Shamokin News-Dispatch 
(Shamokin, Pennsylvania)
11 Sep 1937, Sat • Page 5

Shamokin News-Dispatch 
(Shamokin, Pennsylvania)
22 Aug 1930, Fri • Page 1

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